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Do What You Can With What You Have - Elisabeth's Motto

It is pointless to dwell on the unalterable facts of one’s life. It is better to do what one can with what one has.

Elisabeth says this in Aspiring, Part 1 of the Siblings’ Tale, and it is essentially her motto. This is what she applies throughout her life and it is the reason why she is able to overcome a deep depression in Becoming, Part 2 of the Siblings’ Tale.


Elisabeth who doesn't allow her circumstances to trap her, nor to define who she is.

Seizing the day and making the most of the complexities life throws our way is something many of forget to do. We easily become bogged down in the problems that drag us downward, and in time we often begin to believe that our circumstances are fixed and unchanging. However, if we could look at the things in our lives we can change, at the abilities we have which can actually take us forward, and if we have a goal we strive towards, then we truly can leave our past behind us and achieve success.


It can be very hard to distinguish between those things that we cannot change and those we can. Often, we spend inordinate amounts of resources and energy trying to change things we can’t really, while ignoring opportunitites that could help us bypass the wall we’re so doggedly hitting our heads against.

William A. Ward famously said

The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.

It is the act of adjusting ourselves to the wind that takes us forward. Elisabeth is ostracised by the Royal Circle of mages because of her background. Instead of allowing the marginalisation to cripple her training as a magic-user, Elisabeth first teaches herself what she can from the information her mother left her, and then, later, Elisabeth finds a teacher who is willing to help her. She does not accept the fact that she should not be taught because that is what the queen thinks. Instead, Elisabeth follows her mother’s belief in her. Elisabeth goes against what she is told and achieves many things because she finds a way around the obstacles in her path by using the opportunities that do present themselves to her.


In many ways, this is something I wished I had known sooner. I spent decades allowing other people’s definitions of what an author is define mine, instead of acknowledging that because I have been writing novels since I was twelve that made me a writer. It is also likely I would have published sooner had I allowed myself to believe I was a writer from the very start. Instead, I had to first come to terms with the fact that I am a writer because I write. Then I had to acknoweldge that perhaps the imaginary of the poor writer who has to scrape to make ends meet is not necessarily relevant. I don’t need to make a living from my writing, but it is possible to do so if I allow myself to find alternative ways of making it work for me. Finally, I had to accept that to be published is what is important, not who you are published with.


Since I have succeeded, and achieved this thing I’ve always wanted to achieve, I would like to say this to you. You are what you believe yourself to be. If you believe what others say, then that is what you are, but you have the greater power because you can adjust your thoughts so they can become the boat that takes you where you really want to be.


Thank you for reading. Please share your thoughts in a comment. What advice do you wish you had known from an early age? What is your life’s motto?


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