The Self-Development Tips Series 1: The Art of Loving Yourself

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I’ve been thinking a lot about relationships this week. In fact, I am always thinking about relationships in some way, as I do believe they are one of the most important things in life. So very important.

Yet, when you think of relationships, what is your first thought?

Is it of yourself, or someone else? Most people will say someone else. Why? Because, I think, we are in many ways programmed to think externally first.

However, it is always, and will forever be, the ways in which we look internally first that we will then be able to turn our gaze outward.

Meaning that how we think about and treat ourselves is exactly how we will think about and treat other people. What to do?

We must learn to take care of ourselves, love ourselves, be good to ourselves, and find ways to make time for ourselves.

Photo by Dennis Ottink on Unsplash

It is very common, however, to think that by taking care of others we are, in effect, taking care of ourselves. Not so. When we “take care” of others at the expense of our own self-care, or at the expense of their own development, we help no one; and, no one grows.

What can we do?

We can begin to develop a healthy relationship with ourselves now. Today.

It is through developing a relationship with ourselves that we can begin to love ourselves for the human beings that we are. And, guess what? As we develop a loving relationship with ourselves, our external relationships will become more stable, and loving.

It is then that everyone in our sphere, starting with ourselves, has the ability to grow and develop. Does this mean that our relationships will be easy? No. It might mean that some of them will be more difficult.

Especially if we have created relationships with people that have superseded our own relationship with ourselves.

However, once we begin to look inward, and make choices about what’s best for ourselves, we can begin to move ourselves forward.

And, create that loving relationship with ourselves that is absolutely necessary and needed in order to have healthy relationships with anyone.

Alright, so how and where do we begin? And, what strategies can you use to get in touch with yourself, and begin to create, develop, and maintain the most important relationship in your life?

Let’s take a look at a few that I use daily.

Quiet Time

Until about three years ago, I was always on the go. Always. I didn’t ever really stop until it was time for bed. And then, I would not sleep well. When I started to incorporate quiet time into my day, I immediately noticed the health benefits.

If quiet time was so beneficial, why didn’t you incorporate it into your life earlier?

Because I didn’t know how. When you live one way, that is what you know. Sounds silly. It is, however, very true. Unless someone else shows you another way, you will continue to do things that are not beneficial for you.

All the while, there is another way, you just don’t have access to it yet.

If you are always running, I suggest building in quiet time into your day. How? Any way you can. Know that when I write quiet time, I mean any time you can get away from technology and other people.

As much as I love people, and all of my relationships, as I’m sure you also do, we all need a break from the constant stimulation. Needed.

Photo by Kristina Flour on Unsplash

Journaling and Writing

Journaling and writing are also helpful. As I’ve written in other posts, I’ve been writing for some time, however, I only began to write introspectively these past couple of years.

Writing about how you are feeling, what your hopes and dreams are, and how you intend to achieve them is a totally different type of writing.

When we write as a way to understand ourselves better, we open up the possibility of actually getting to know ourselves better. And, to have a quality relationship with ourselves, and everyone else, we must know who we are. Very important.

When we get to know ourselves, really know ourselves, diving deep into why we feel as we do, and getting clearer on the things that have happened in our past, which we are still holding onto, we can begin to heal.

And, it is inside of this healing where our deepest and most profound transformation can occur. Learning to love the person we were, are, and will be. Special.

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Meditation

I’ve written about my meditation practice in several posts now, and, indeed, on this topic it is no different. The health benefits I’ve experienced from learning how to mediate, and to incorporate meditation into my daily routine have been, and are, profound. Why?

Because it is your time. Just for you. A time for introspection, to learn about yourself. What makes you, you, and how your humanness works. When you sit, you get to know more about how your mind and body work, and how they work together.

And, inside of a learning like this, you have more access to understand yourself and all of humanity in a whole new way.

In the article, Creating a Meditation Practice: 3 Steps in 4 Minutes, I write about some simple steps you can take to create a meditation practice. It takes time, dedication, and creating the habit. If you are a beginner, it is also helpful to have someone coach you along the way.

What is most important? Taking the time you need to begin a meditation practice if it is something you’ve been interested in. Why wait?

Photo by Le Minh Phuong on Unsplash

Dietary Needs

For the longest time I didn’t focus on my diet. In fact, it was one of those things that bothered me terribly, as I was very overweight, yet, I continued to eat poorly.

Not loving myself for a long time.

It is important to eat well. What we put into our body has direct implications for how our mind and body functions. Really. When I began to focus on my diet, which started slowly, I would take one thing out of my diet at a time that was unhealthy for me. Then, I would take something else out. Takes time.

The amount of clarity you gain by removing foods loaded with artificial ingredients and high levels of sugar is profound. Not something I ever really understood or knew about. It is loving yourself to create a diet that is rich in nutrients.

A high-quality diet will fuel your mind, body, and soul. Believe me.

There are plenty of articles out there about creating a healthy diet, and you can also work on your diet with your doctor. What do I know? That eating more naturally produced foods, vegetables, beans, fruits, and nuts has been very beneficial for me.

My diet has been totally plant-based for almost a year now, and I wouldn’t change a thing. Well, except, the change that comes from continuing to learn about new ways to purchase and prepare new foods.

Photo by Stéphan Valentin on Unsplash

Exercise

I’ve always believed in exercise, and through most of my life have enjoyed walking. However, I never really developed a healthy exercise habit until about 2 years ago. Exercise is important. We all need it.

Further, exercise also gives you time for yourself. Time to explore your own needs when it comes to being with your body. You can develop a healthy exercise habit or routine by simply creating the space in your day to do so.

I know. It sounds easy, and yet it can be difficult. Understood. Many people ask or wonder about how to develop the motivation to keep up a regular exercise routine. In the article, Motivation: Is it an inside or outside job?, I write about the fact that motivation comes from within.

Motivation comes from the doing of that which you want to do regularly. Simple. People often say they aren’t motivated, so they can’t get to the gym, or that they are too busy, so there is not time to go for a walk. Normal.

However, the only way to become motivated is to actually go to the gym, or make the space in your day for a walk. That’s it. And, after you’ve done so, and continue to do so, in time, you will find your motivation.

You will also have developed another healthy habit, and routine. Loving yourself.

Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash

Sleep Well

Sleep is so important, yet in the United States in particular, we often disregard our sleep in favor of other activities. Though I sleep better than ever before, I still struggle in this area.

It’s like that though. You develop yourself, loving yourself, a little at a time. You learn, you create new habits, some old habits hang around longer than others, then they also eventually go away. All the while I am inviting you to persist.

Persist in loving yourself, and allowing yourself the time needed to recuperate from your day. So very important. When we do not give ourselves that time, we will not be our best the next day. It’s just not possible to be your best when you are tired.

Believe me, I know. I spent many years sleeping poorly. Staying up very late, drinking too much, and sleeping, well, like you would imagine. Not well.

And, like the rest of this article, it takes creating the healthy habit of loving yourself enough to ensure that you get the rest you need.

When you are fully rested, you have the opportunity to be your best the next day. For yourself, first, and then for all of those around you.

Photo by Kinga Cichewicz on Unsplash

Alright, there we have it. There are 6 different tips that when worked on, over time, can bring you more time, energy, rest, peace, and overall well being.

And, inside of increasing our overall well being, we are practicing the art of loving ourselves.

For, it is inside of the love that we show to ourselves first, that we can really begin to love other people. When we don’t show ourselves the love we deserve, by taking care of ourselves, we cannot really love other people. Not really.

Loving starts with the love you show yourself. Show yourself love today, then, by taking up a healthy habit you’ve been avoiding or putting off.

It takes creating the time, and taking action. Remember, developing your new healthy habit will take time. Yet, I am inviting you to persist in your quest to develop your healthy habit. Why?

Because you are worth it. Learning to love yourself is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself. And, it is also one of the greatest gifts we can give to each other, and all of humanity.

#exercise, #healthy-diet, #healthy-habits, #journaling, #loving-yourself, #meditation, #motivation, #personal-development, #quiet-time, #relationships, #self-development-2, #sleep, #well-being-2, #writing

The Blog + Video Series: 3 Reasons Why Avoidance is an Ineffective Strategy

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Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash


As some of you may know, I am now also creating videos to accompany some of my blogs. Here, then, is a blog I wrote a few weeks ago, and a video that was created to engage with you in a different way. Some might also find having access to both narrative and video formats helpful. Be well.

3 Reasons Why Avoidance is an Ineffective Strategy

Avoid much? We all do. However, some of us avoid more than others. Might that be you? It was me for a long time. Why do you imagine avoidance is an ineffective strategy? Not sure. Let’s take a look at three reasons why.

1. It is not healthy

When we avoid things, we are, in effect, continuing to hold those things within us. Continue to do that, and you will be carrying around a lot of unnecessary baggage. Tiring.

You would think that by avoiding things we are uncomfortable with, do not want to do, or face, that we are creating more space within us. However, that is not the way it works. It’s the idea of the situation we are faced with that will continue to haunt us. Especially, if we believe deep down that we should be doing that thing, or facing that situation.

Let me give you an example

For a long time, I did not pay attention to my calendar. Now, in the position I am currently in, that ineffective strategy will not work for long. At that time, I knew that I should be paying more attention to my calendar, working to schedule myself more effectively, however, I ignored it. Why?

I simply didn’t want to take the time needed to work through it. Simple. Instead, I avoided it at all costs. What happened? People began to ask why my calendar was such a mess. Nice. I love when those we trust inquire, and make us think. Helpful. As was digging into my calendar and making the necessary adjustments.

Before doing the work in my calendar, it bothered me every time I looked at it. However, by organizing and prioritizing my calendar, I traded a fixed amount of time to do the work, with a continuous mental distraction. More effective.

2. It keeps you stuck

When we spend our mental energy on avoiding things, we have less mental capacity to try and do new things. Essentially, we sacrifice some of our creative potential. How much is sacrificed?

Depends on how much you avoid things. If you avoid often, then your creative potential will be severely impacted.

And, being stuck is no fun. Often, people are not even aware that they are stuck; nor do they recognize that they are avoiding things. The years I spent avoiding, I was aware of some of my avoidance, most I was not.

Here is another example

As I’ve written about in other posts, there was a time when I drank a lot. Too much. I knew that there was an issue, however, I made justifications and excuses for my behavior. Sort of a double burden. As my avoidance of the real issue, which at the time I was unaware of, was compounded by creating excuses and justifications. Exhausting. Really.

And, ultimately not helpful. Not physically, mentally, or spiritually. When living this way, you end up on the proverbial hamster wheel.

Doing the same thing every day, knowing you are doing it, making excuses and justifications for doing so, all the while staying in place. No movement.

3. You cannot grow

When we are avoiding, we are not moving; and, if we are not moving, we are not growing. Simple.

Growth is such an important part of the human experience. Some growth just comes our way. We didn’t invite it, yet it shows up on our doorstep. Some growth we actively seek out. We look for the opportunity.

Either way, having experiences that help us grow is one of the most wonderful things about being human.

Yet, when we spend large amounts of time avoiding things, we are limiting our ability to grow. Why? Because, when we spend that much time avoiding things, we have no capacity to seek out growth opportunities. We are too busy. Too busy avoiding, and making excuses and justifications for why we are avoidant.

Final Example

When I was working in the private sector, I took on a new assignment with a new sales team, and within 6-months, I was exhausted, and heavily avoidant. I went from a top-performing team, to a team that was in need of development. As was I.

Instead of welcoming the growth opportunity, however, I avoided it, and actually ended up leaving the company within another 3 months. Why?

I was exhausted. That is true. Yet, why I was exhausted had less to do with the work, and more to do with my mental attitude.

I was avoiding the opportunity to grow, and making excuses and justifications for why it wasn’t working. Well, the only thing that wasn’t working was my thinking. And, that is okay. It is not a judgement. It happens to people all the time.

The point is to become aware of these types of opportunities. Being aware of how we avoid things creates the opportunity to better understand ourselves, and all of those around us.

It also provides us the opportunity to grow, if we choose to engage with ourselves, inquire into our avoidance, and do something about it.

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Photo by Carl Heyerdahl on Unsplash

What can you do?

Here are three strategies I use to get out of my avoidance, and into action.

  1. Notice when you are avoiding something, and write it down – wiring it down creates more awareness about whatever it is that you are avoiding.
  2. Create time to reflect and contemplate – create the time necessary to better understand why you are avoiding the task or situation. Until you really know why, you will probably not move forward in that area of your life.
  3. Take an action – once you are clear on why you are avoiding something, take an action. Create a context to make some progress on the task or situation. It doesn’t mean that it will be complete, or solved, however, you will have moved forward.

When we are less avoidant, we have more time, more creative capacity, and more energy to do more things. Essentially, we can hold more. And, when we can hold more, and do more, we can be more.

Remember, we are all at times avoidant. Yet, if you find yourself more avoidant than you’d like to be, try some of the strategies outlined above, and get yourself moving again.

#avoidance, #getting-unstuck, #growth-and-development, #personal-development, #reflection, #self-development, #taking-action, #writing

Writing and Life Series #4: On Pain and Healing Through Writing

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How many of you write as a release? Write to get the ideas, thoughts, concerns, dreams, wishes, and hopes out of your head and into a format that you can read and reflect upon. Yes, no? Maybe?

For most of my life, I didn’t. I didn’t regularly write out any of the aforementioned. Not because I wouldn’t have found it beneficial, more because I didn’t really know how. Sounds funny. It is true though.

I would tinker with writing here and there, yet never really developed a system to do so. What I realize now is that having a systematic way you write, or enter into any creative process is, at least for me, very helpful.

It is how I can continue to do so. To write through my pain and heal.

I find that writing of any kind, on a whiteboard, in a journal, in a computer document, anything, is very therapeutic. Why? Because you can then study what you are thinking, instead of simply thinking about it.

There is an important distinction here.

If you only ever think about something, you don’t really do anything with it, with the exception of maybe obsessing over it or worrying about it. Which, in the end, does nothing to move you forward as a human being.

Photo by Anh Nguyen on Unsplash

What are some of the writing strategies I use to work through my pain and heal?

I have several different ways that I get ideas out of myself and into the world. And, all of them work well. For, it is really less about the strategy, than that you develop the habit of writing through any situation or context that you find yourself in. From pain toward healing.

Here are some strategies I use daily.

  1. Whiteboards – I have three at home, and many at work, which include a complete whiteboard wall in my office. Very helpful. And, yes, there is also pain and healing that happens at work. It’s not just in our personal life that we need a release for our pain, whether that is frustration or some other emotion we are working through. I actually think that it is in the writing, considering, and working through the pain that healing occurs.
  2. Post-its – on the go, these work very well. I will typically then collect them on a piece of paper, or tape them to a larger 2’x3′ post-it, so that I can play with the ideas. See what’s there, and what possibilities I can see for moving forward.
  3. Journaling – I don’t write in a journal as often today, yet it is still a strategy that I recommend. Especially if you are new to writing about your own pain.

Those are the top three I’ve used, and use daily. And, they all work well, and can be used in combination. Example.

I will also tape post-it’s to pieces of paper, and put them on my magnetic whiteboard. Good visual, and easy to move around, and play with.

Photo by Paul Hanaoka on Unsplash

Why write through your pain to heal?

Because we all need the release. When we hold all of our pain inside, we cannot heal. It will reside within us, and actually make us ill. Not helpful.

Moving forward from pain, especially deep pain, requires visiting that pain often. Understanding it, working on it, and eventually releasing it. Carrying it around is unnecessary, though many people live this way.

Writing opens us up, and is a safe way to get out that which resides within. There are many different ways to write about pain. You can simply write about the pain, or you can create poems, or other stories about the pain.

What matters more than the writing medium you use, is that you provide yourself the opportunity to heal. Very important.

Photo by Jude Beck on Unsplash

Know also that it takes time to heal. You may write about something that is causing you pain, and not know healing from that pain for some time. For me, it also takes reflecting upon the pain in my writing.

When I can sit and contemplate that pain, I can see more, and have new insights. It is common for me to go back to something I’ve written several times before I can see a pathway to healing. Very normal.

How can you get started?

Start writing. Write on anything and at any time. Get your pain out of you and into the world so you can actually see it, and work on it. Important.

If you leave your pain inside of you, that is where it will always remain. Literally.

Choose times that work best for you, and create a habit of writing often. For it is in the healthy habit that you create to write about your pain often, that you have the best opportunity to know healing from that pain, and all pain.

Developing a healthy writing habit that is honest and reflective of the pain that lives inside of you creates a connection between your mind and your heart. And, it is inside of the connection between the two that all healing lives.

Write well and heal well.

#healing, #introspection, #journaling, #mind-and-heart, #mindfulness, #self-development, #self-inquiry, #strategies-for-healing-from-pain, #writing, #writing-about-pain, #writing-to-heal

Writing and Life Series #3: Writer’s Block and A Collaborative Invitation

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I’m sure countless blog posts have been written about how to “deal” with writer’s block. Though I’ve only been blogging for a couple of months, I have been writing for over 10 years.; meaning that I am interested in this topic, as it happens to me from time to time. Further, I’m interested in ideas you have, and strategies you use to become unblocked.

A couple questions to guide the conversation

  • When does writer’s block affect you most?
  • What happens when you are blocked?
  • How often do you have writer’s block?
  • What strategies do you use to unblock yourself?

Alright, so in this post then, I will address these questions from my standpoint, and then invite you to comment on your’s.

When does writer’s block affect you most?

Interestingly, I’m not sure there is a pattern I can discern about the timing of writer’s block for me. I know that there are times when writing is easy. When the words just flow through me and onto the page. I once thought that “being in the flow”, was a product of feeling more inspired about a piece. I’m not sure if that is actually the case. Why?

Because there are other times when I’m not necessarily feeling all that inspired by a piece, and the words are harder to come by, yet they do come. In time. Some of it, I think, has to do with being patient. With not forcing the writing, but letting it come in it’s time.

I cannot tell you how many times in the past 10 years I’ve left a particular piece, to only pick it back up again later, with a renewed interest and insight. Often. I think this actually happens more with blogging. I’ve got at least 4 or 5 pieces that are in my drafts at this moment. When will they get finished? Your guess is as good as mine. I guess when it’s time.

What happens when you are blocked?

I’ve addressed this a little, yet will expand a little more here. When I am feeling blocked, it’s as if I know what I want to write, yet the process is not really working for me at the moment. Sometimes, as aforementioned, for several moments, which can last days. Depends.

The piece I wrote on the sound of rainfall yesterday took several days to complete; and, when I look at it, I am confused as to why that is. It’s a very small piece, yet did take more time. Conversely, the piece I wrote, which I think was my longest post thus far, about the sociological imagination, though much longer, only took a couple of hours. The words just came.

There was a time when I would force the writing. This is not a strategy I recommend. The reason is simple. Because when you force writing, like anything, you are immediately in a space of frustration, and that will make its way into your writing. Not so helpful. Instead, what I typically do is back away from the keyboard, and just let the piece sit.

How often do you have writer’s block?

It happens a couple of times a month. I should also mention that I write everyday. So, there is that. How often you are blocked might be a product of how often you write. Not sure.

Sometimes I am so blocked about a particular topic that I just let it sit. I will go back to it occasionally, yet may or may not pick it up again. At this time, I have a couple different posts that are sitting in my drafts that I may or may not ever finish. Don’t know.

I do know that I believe that if they are meant to be finished, they will be. And, if not, they won’t be. And, at this point in my life, I am okay with that.

What strategies do you use to unblock yourself?

There are several strategies that I use to unblock myself. They all depend on the context. Here are a few with context.

  • I’m having a hard time even coming up with a new idea – when this happens to me, I go on a long walk. I usually walk every other day, so it may be an extra walk I put into my week, or the one that I am already planning to take. Either way, I think best when I am away from everyone and everything.
  • Write everything down – particularly when I am blocked, yet I do this all the time, when I have new ideas, I write them down. Anywhere, on anything. Sometimes, I put them on a post-it, sometimes on my whiteboard, and sometimes on my phone. Doesn’t matter, I make sure to capture them somewhere.
  • Go through my ideas – one of my favorite strategies to use when I am blocked is to go through the ideas I’ve been collecting. Sometimes that works, sometimes not. Depends. Either way, having ideas to draw upon is very helpful.
  • Take a day off – not a strategy that I employ often, yet have done so. Taking some time away from writing, like anything, can provide more clarity, and the space for new ideas to generate.

I’m sure there are other strategies I could capture here, however, the ones listed above are by far my favorites.

Now what?

Well, if you haven’t tried one of the strategies listed above, try one, try more than one. For me, it is about trying something. Making sure to take action to provide yourself the space to ponder and reflect. And, then to see what comes.

It is actually in times when I’ve been the most blocked that I’ve come up with some of my best ideas. Some have made their way to the page, some will at some point. When? Don’t know. And, for me, that’s some of the fun of writing. The expectation of the new idea, the process of getting that idea out, then onto the page. The fun in playing with the idea until there is a level of satisfaction, and it is ready to post. Fun.

Alright, now I would like to hear from you. I am inviting you to post to the four questions above, as I’ve done in this post. A collaboration of sorts. If we can get enough people to post, I will commit to collecting those ideas, and creating a new post with all of our ideas. That would be fun. And, that is an idea that just came to me now. Creativity. Love it.

#becoming-unblocked, #blogging, #collaboration, #creative-process, #creativity, #writers-block, #writing, #writing-process, #writing-strategy

Writing and Life Series #1: On Writing and Vulnerability

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Photo by Patrick Fore on Unsplash

I’m sharing with you today a post that I wrote on one of my other sites. I like this one quite a bit, and seeing as the topic is writing and vulnerability, I thought I’d be vulnerable once again, and share it here.

I received a comment on this post from someone that talked about just how vulernable you have to be to blog. If you take the time to read the post, which I invite you to, let me know your thoughts on vulnerability in general, and more specificalluy about how you feel about writing and vulnerability. Enjoy.

Writing and Life Series #1: On Writing and Vulnerability

In the past day or two, I’ve written a couple of posts on vulnerability. I am constantly amazed at the importance of recognizing and participating in our own vulnerability. It is in those spaces, where we find our most vulnerable selves that we also find wealth beyond measure. For me, it is not money, or prestige, I’m after, it’s creativity and innovation. And, to create and innovate, you must be vulnerable.

Here is me being vulnerable with you right now. Though I’ve never really liked to read poetry, I like to write it. Not often, just here and there. And, here is one, I’ll share with you now.

The seed looked up at the sky,

and the sky said,

sow.

I’ve never before showed this poem to anyone. Actually, I don’t think anyone knows that I like to write poetry. Vulnerable. Actually, this poem can be written another way, which I just thought of, so let’s put that one in too.

The seed looked up at the sky,

and the sky said,

sow?

Writing in itself is a rather vulnerable pursuit, like any other art form. This is why creativity and vulnerability are so closely related. In order to be creative, and to develop a creative outlet through any medium, one must be willing to be vulnerable.

What I’ve recognized these past two years is that when we are vulnerable, we get back so much more by doing things that we once might have declined to do, or resisted doing. A sense of accomplishment, yes, and a visceral understanding of what it is like to live through experience, rather than through thinking about experiencing something. Experience is everything. The ultimate knowing.

What can you do? You can be vulnerable. How, you ask?

Here are a couple of suggestions.

  • Do something you’ve been planning to do, yet have made excuses and justifications for why it is not necessary, or it’s not the right time. Just do it. No pun intended.
  • When a friend asks you to go somewhere, or do something with them, and your natural inclination is to say, no, because you are too tired, or have something else to do that you think is more important. Do it anyway.
  • The next time you have a thought or insight about doing something artistic, or creative, don’t put it off, or make excuses about not being creative. Express your creativity.

Just a couple of suggestions. Whether you try those out or not, please remember one thing.

We are all creative beings, every single one of us. Humans are naturally creative.

Some say it is our highest quality. Not sure. Yet, I do know how it feels to be vulnerable, and to be creative. It feels scary and uncomfortable, and exquisite and amazing all at the same time.

So, if writing is your thing, write. If it is art, then do art. If you don’t have a creative outlet yet, do some research and pick a medium. There are many. It matters less what the medium is, than it does that you create the space for yourself to be the creative being that you are. And, it takes being vulnerable to get there.

Originally published on the4catalysts.com

#poetry, #art, #blogging, #creativity, #vulnerability, #writing

Writing and Life Series #1: On Writing and Vulnerability

Photo by Patrick Fore on Unsplash

In the past day or two, I’ve written a couple of posts on vulnerability. I am constantly amazed at the importance of recognizing and participating in our own vulnerability. It is in those spaces, where we find our most vulnerable selves that we also find wealth beyond measure. For me, it is not money, or prestige, I’m after, it’s creativity and innovation. And, to create and innovate, you must be vulnerable.

Here is me being vulnerable with you right now. Though I’ve never really liked to read poetry, I like to write it. Not often, just here and there. And, here is one, I’ll share with you now.

The seed looked up at the sky,

and the sky said,

sow.

I’ve never before showed this poem to anyone. Actually, I don’t think anyone knows that I like to write poetry. Vulnerable. Actually, this poem can be written another way, which I just thought of, so let’s put that one in too.

The seed looked up at the sky,

and the sky said,

sow?

Funny, and fun. Just a short few years ago, I did not possess the vulnerability necessary to write poems in a post like this, or in any other forum. However, as I’ve written elsewhere, vulnerability, like any trait, can be practiced. And, when practiced, you get used to doing it. For, it is in the actions we take, that we become more comfortable doing those things that make us uncomfortable.

Writing in itself is a rather vulnerable pursuit, like any other art form. This is why creativity and vulnerability are so closely related. In order to be creative, and to develop a creative outlet through any medium, one must be willing to be vulnerable.

What I’ve recognized these past two years is that when we are vulnerable, we get back so much more by doing things that we once might have declined to do, or resisted doing. A sense of accomplishment, yes, and a visceral understanding of what it is like to live through experience, rather than through thinking about experiencing something. Experience is everything. The ultimate knowing.

What can you do? You can be vulnerable. How, you ask?

Here are a couple of suggestions.

  • Do something you’ve been planning to do, yet have made excuses and justifications for why it is not necessary, or it’s not the right time. Just do it. No pun intended.
  • When a friend asks you to go somewhere, or do something with them, and your natural inclination is to say, no, because you are too tired, or have something else to do that you think is more important. Do it anyway.
  • The next time you have a thought or insight about doing something artistic, or creative, don’t put it off, or make excuses about not being creative. Express your creativity.

Just a couple of suggestions. Whether you try those out or not, please remember one thing.

We are all creative beings, every single one of us. Humans are naturally creative.

Some say it is our highest quality. Not sure. Yet, I do know how it feels to be vulnerable, and to be creative. It feels scary and uncomfortable, and exquisite and amazing all at the same time.

So, if writing is your thing, write. If it is art, then do art. If you don’t have a creative outlet yet, do some research and pick a medium. There are many. It matters less what the medium is, than it does that you create the space for yourself to be the creative being that you are. And, it takes being vulnerable to get there.

#poetry, #becoming-vulnerable-and-creative, #creativity, #innovation, #vulnerability, #writing

Blue Bird

Photo by gerhard crous on Unsplash

Recently, on a daily walk, I passed a blue bird. The bird was perched on a tree stump, waiting, watching. As I came around the corner, the bird looked up, seemed to notice me, then flew to a tree branch just a few feet away. I continued toward the bird, wondering, watching.

As I continued toward the bird, it again took flight, this time flying toward the park and the many trees surrounding it. It again perched on a tree branch, not too high, not too low, just about the right height for me to still see it, as if I was supposed to. I followed.

I drew closer, and the bird stayed on the branch. I wondered to myself whether or not the bird would once again take flight, not wanting to startle it, I moved slowly toward the tree. As I got closer, I had a realization.

The realization was this – that the the dance I was doing with the bird reminded me of writing, especially writing in previous years.

When I used to write, I would sit down with an outline in hand, and follow that outline as I was taught. It never occured to me that there was another way to write. Not for a long time. It was not until about a year ago, maybe 2, that another way showed up. Literally.

What I mean is that when the timing is right, and the subject is right, the words flow as if they were previously created, and I am remembering them. However, the words were, and are, not something I’ve created, nor written before. They are, however, words and strings of sentences, and concepts that I have thought of before, or learned somewhere before.

It is interesting. The real difference is the inspiration behind the writing. That is the difference to me. When I am inspired about what I am writing, as I am in this moment, the words just show up. Simple. However, when I am not inspired, as I was last Saturday, they do not come so easily, or I force them, which never really works, and is not in the least bit healthy.

I would know about forcing writing. I forced a 100 page thesis to completion about 5 years ago, only to have to start it all over again. Uncomfortable. Yet, as I’ve written in other posts, it is in the most uncomfortable moments where you can grow the most. Ultimately, redoing my thesis made me a better writer, and the thesis a better final product.

Where, then, do we find the inspiration to write; to have the words just flow as if they were always meant to find the page. That I do not know. I do know, however, that practice and patience help. As does an openness to writing in new ways, about new things. Effectively, trying something new.

So, when you find that the words do not come, be patient, and continue to write. Write something else. Try something new. Then, maybe in the writing of something new, or in the trying of something new, you will find the words will flow onto the page; and, may even make their way to the other pages of the other things you are writing.

#inspiration, #patience, #writing

Why do we write?

Photo by Aaron Burden

Why do you think people write? I’ve been thinking about this this past week, as my writing has increased, well, exponentially since the shelter-in-place order went into effect. And, now as States and Counties all across the United States start to reopen, I am wondering more about my own intention to write, and how it may or may not change in the coming weeks and months.

As we get busier doing things that we’ve not done in some time, we will all need to set our intention to continue to do those things we’ve picked back up again during the COVID-19 shelter-in-place orders were put into effect. For me, that will be continuing to write.

Writing is an outlet. It is an outlet for many things, such as creativity, innovation, passion, inspiration, and so much more. It is interesting to reflect upon my writing the past 10 years, most of which involved writing in school. Though I did not take the “traditional” path to and through higher education, without it, writing would not be as present for me as it is today.

Factually, I did take time away from writing, as, for a long time, I did not consider it an endeavor that would yield much for me. However, that was long ago. Today I realize that when I am writing about something that inspires me, or moves me in some way, the words are not hard to find.

There are many reasons people write, and have written for centuries, across all cultures and geographies. I believe most people write today, and wrote throughout history, to communicate their ideas to other people. Writing is no different than any other art form. When someone creates a painting, or a sculpture, or a piece of ceramic stoneware, they are communicating a passion for that medium that lives deep within them. Writing is the same.

Even the most simple writing is elegant. I love to read. It was not always that way. I did not grow up reading. It was not until I was in my 30’s that I picked up reading as a habit that would last until today, and will continue until I am no longer on this earth.

I’ve said many times that it is harder to write something simple, than it is to write something complex. It is difficult to write something in a very simple way, with less words communicating the same idea that it might take someone else many more words to convey.

Take the current book I’m working on. Lot’s of language, too complex, and yet, I will endeavor to continue writing that book. Anything less is not an option. Yet, in the editing phase, when I someday get there, I will take the time needed to simplify the complexities. Simpler is better. Yet, remember, simpler does not mean easier. In fact, often times it may mean it is harder to do.

I think people also write as a way to work through their inner selves. Digging deep within to get in touch with their humanity. Sometimes these people write for the masses, sometimes they write in their own personal journal. Know that either way, both are considered writing endeavors, and those that do them, are writers.

You do not need to be famous, and have sold millions of copies of a book, or books, to be considered a writer. If you write, you are a writer. Simple. Do not let anyone tell you different.

#communication, #covid-19, #creativity, #innovation, #intention, #writing

Finding Writing Amidst the COVID-19 Health Crisis

To find something insinuates that you’ve lost something. Now, I’m not sure that I ever lost writing, however, I am sure that writing is back in my life in a way it was not previously.

Throughout my day I reflect upon the writing I’m now engaged with, and find myself grateful for the time the COVID-19 health crisis has provided me. Not grateful for the health crisis, mind you, grateful for the space provided to slow down, take in all that is surrounding me, and engage with things I enjoy.

It started with a conversation I had with my oldest son just prior to the shelter-in-place order being put in place. We were talking about the additional time people would have, being removed from their daily routines, and that with that extra time people might begin to imagine and create new things to do. I believe my son actual said something like, we will probably look back on this time as one of the most creative times ever. I agree.

I’ve noticed a lot more creativity in the world, from people creating new routines to keep themselves busy, new hobbies and activities to stay fit and healthy, new business models to engage shoppers in new ways, and much more.

I created a site called covid-19creativity.com as a place to warehouse my own creativity during the health crisis, and beyond. I just added the4catalysts.com website, and one other on youth development, to covid-19creativity.com so that all of my creativity is in one location.

Writing is pure creativity. As pure, I think, as any other artistic medium. It is a space created intentionally to communicate through language to both the intellectual and emotional parts of ourselves. In fact, I think the best writing is that which addresses both the head (intellect) and the heart (emotions). Not an easy task.

I never did lose writing, then. It was simply laying dormant within me awaiting the right time to reemerge. And, that time is now. So, if there is something you like to do, and you’ve had that inkling to give a try, do so. Take that first step, and see what happens. You might be surprised at what you get back. I sure was.

#artistic, #business, #covid-19, #creativity, #hobbies, #intention, #writing

Writing from the Head and the Heart

There is a difference for me in thinking about something and actually doing that something. I’ve been thinking about writing my whole life, and have only actually written during a very short period of it.

A couple of years ago I read the book by Stephen King, called On Writing. A great book, by the way. In that book King asks you to practice writing by imagining a situation taking place in a house, and you have to write the character, yourself I think, out of that situation. Out of the house. I did that, and have started several other stories, including the one on this site, yet have, to date, finished none. So far.

Yes, I wrote in college, and even completed a thesis. Yet, that is not the kind of writing I’m talking about. Writing a thesis or a dissertation is about thinking. I’m talking about the kind of writing that comes from the heart. The kind of writing that moves, touches, and inspires people. Maybe even puts people into action in their life.

Now, I am not insinuating that the book I am now working on will do that. Yet, in the book I am now working on I get to write from both the head and the heart, which is also distinct.

The difference, for me at least, is that I get to let go of the way I normally think, and get in touch with a totally different aspect of myself. Maybe this is a normal experience for those that write often. I would not know. It is, however, an experience that I like quite a bit.

As for writing, I don’t think I like it all that much. Especially the editing process. Difficult. Yet, there is a very real release in writing, which is quite intoxicating. And, it does provide that outlet for the realease of ideas, which I do have many.

For me the distinction on writing from the head and the heart is where you create from – are you creating from that thinking part of yourself, where you are analyzing every aspect of the paper or book to ensure it is reliable and valid. Or, are you writing to write. Writing from the heart, which only really requires that you can stick with it until you have all of the ideas out of you.

Both forms of writing serve a purpose. Both are needed. For me, I have just realized in the last couple of years, that while I do enjoy reading both kinds of books, from the head and the heart, I much more enjoy writing from the heart.

#creativity, #head, #head-and-heart, #thinking-and-feeling, #writing