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Saturday, September 24, 2016

WHERE WE WANT TO BE



Are you where you want to be  ...

   in your book ... in your career ... in your life?

Few of us could answer YES to that question in all the areas of our life.



Are we trying too hard to DO
 and forgetting simply to LIVE.



1.) ASK: DO YOU EVEN LIKE YOUR JOB OR YOUR DREAM?

What prompted you to that profession, to that dream (say of writing).

In the bustle of the struggle, we forget to think of the answer to that question.

Ask: Is this for me?

If the answer to that question is YES focus on what is most important at work, 

instead of worrying about your own expectations.


STILL ...

The odds are you are NOT happy at work.

52.3 % of us are not according to a new study.

 The prospects for long-term work with the same employer have eroded 

and employees have been saddled with ever-higher health plan deductibles and payroll deductions.


2.) WHAT TO DO TO BECOME HAPPIER IN AN UNHAPPY JOB 

Decide what is making you unhappy about your job and change what you can.

Sometimes you cannot change the external so then you must try to change the internal.  

Change the stories you are telling yourself about your situation -- 

 “I can’t stand this,” “This is awful,” or “I should be doing something else with my life.”

Unpleasant does not mean unbearable.  

Life has its seasons (each teaches us important lessons if we but listen.) 

Cursing at the rain never kept anyone dry.

We are where we are.  

Try to find the humor in each hour or try to bring a smile to a co-worker.

Perspective is everything:

There are those in the Third World who would be astounded that you are miserable compared to where they are in their lives.


3.) BUILD MEANING WHERE YOU CAN 

Find meaning where you can.  Sometimes the relationships are what makes a job endurable.

Other times, the relationships are what gnaw at you.  

Those miserable people teach you how NOT to be,

and they have to live with their dissatisfaction and bitterness every minute.

Imagine being angry within all the time.  

There is worth in even the most minor of tasks if we do them with pride and integrity.


4.) CONNECT YOUR JOB TO BED-ROCK VALUES

Your job allows you to pay the bills and to care for your family -- that, at least, is positive.

If possible, place photos or reminders of those you love on your desk, in your locker ...

You will feel better for doing what is needed for them.

Perhaps your job allows you off time to pursue your dreams or to pay for tuition to reach your dreams.


 5.) MAKE YOUR OWN MANTRA

Come up with things to think as you go about your work day such as:

What Blessings Are Mine Right Now?

Remember to Practice Kindness Today.

Let Go of What I Cannot Control.

Listen to What My Heart Is Trying To Tell Me.

Be Productive Yet Calm -- Inch By Inch and It is a Cinch.

Just Breathe.


 6.)  FOCUS ON WHAT MATTERS MOST

We often create unachievable expectations for ourselves.

 Re-evaluate what you are doing and what you really need to do. 

Look for the quality, not quantity of work. 

Stop equating hours with doing a good job at your work or with your dream.



7.) LEAVE WORK AT WORK -- ESPECIALLY DURING DAYS OFF.

Plan the day and week to get what’s most important done during work hours.

 Make tasks fun or enjoyable; they are not tasks but just part of your life. Experience them.



8.) GIVE YOURSELF THE GIFT OF FREE TIME

 It’s not just becoming more efficient at work. You need to grant yourself permission to do less, and to begin living your life again.

Whatever re-charges your emotional batteries, plan a segment of time each day to do it.

It is a proven fact that if you do only 2 minutes of planned exercise a day, you will feel happier.



9.) DROP THE SUNDAY NIGHT BLUES.

 If you feel a sinking feeling in your stomach each night before you start your work week,

 realize that 5/7 of your life is made up of your employment.

Seek ways to bring a smile or happiness to each hour you are working (or writing).

Insist that you are going to make those 5/7 of your life worth living.

Look for reasons to laugh or smile each hour.  

Look for a stressed face at work and try to ease the tightness you see there.


10.) LIFE IS FLEETING ... EXPERIENCE IT; DON'T SIMPLY ENDURE IT!

IN TIME FOR HALLOWEEN!



"It is not that there are no monsters.  There are.  But if we do not show mercy to one another, why should we expect it from them?" 
 - Samuel McCord 

Just in time to give to yourself and to others for a Halloween Treat is my audio book of HUNTER'S MOON!

Go to its Amazon page and try out its sample and see if you like it.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

WRITER'S BLOCK_What to Do About It


“Neurotic inhibitions of productivity.” 

That was what Dr. Edmund Bergler called it in the 1940's.  Who the heck is Edmund Bergler anyway, you ask?

He was the man who first coined the term : Writer's Block.

After conducting multiple interviews and spending years with writers suffering from creative problems, 

he discarded some of the theories that were popular at the time.

They hadn't drained themselves dry. They were not victim of a lack of external motivation: pay the landlord.

Nor did they lack talent nor possessed by laziness nor were they simply bored. 

In a 1950 paper called “Does Writer’s Block Exist?,” published in American Imago

a journal founded by Freud in 1939, Bergler argued that a writer is like a psychoanalyst.

 He “unconsciously tries to solve his inner problems via the sublimatory medium of writing.” 

A blocked writer is actually blocked psychologically—

and the way to “unblock” that writer is through therapy. 

Psychiatrists all over America are now rubbing their hands 

in eager anticipation of hordes of anguished writers.

Not so fast there, Doc!

In the nineteen-seventies and eighties, the Yale University psychologists Jerome Singer and Michael Barrios 

tried to gain a more empirically grounded understanding of what it meant to be creatively blocked. 

To give you the Cliff Notes version of their findings:

 Blocked writers did, indeed, suffer from 

flagging motivation, felt less joy in writing, daydreamed less, and could not recall their dreams.

Ah, Ha!

The famous prolific writer, Graham Greene, fell victim to the dreaded Writer's Block 

and stumbled onto a solution that worked for him.

In his fifties, he faced a creative “blockage,” as he called it, 

that prevented him from seeing the development of a story or even, at times, its start. In his youth, he had kept a dream journal.

The dream journal proved to be his savior.

 Dream journaling was a very special type of writing, Greene believed. 

No one but you sees your dreams. No one can sue you for libel for writing them down. No one can fact-check you or object to a fanciful turn of events.

He once told a friend:

 “If one can remember an entire dream, the result is a sense of entertainment sufficiently marked to give one the illusion of being catapulted into a different world . . . .

 One finds oneself remote from one’s conscious preoccupations.”

 In that freedom from conscious anxiety, Greene found the freedom to do what he otherwise couldn’t: write.

 Such escapes allow writers to find comfort in the face of uncertainty;

 they give writers’ minds the freedom to imagine, 

even if the things they imagine seem ludicrous, unimportant, and unrelated to any writing project.

Greene once had the following dream:

"I was working one day for a poetry competition and had written one line

‘Beauty makes crime noble’

when I was interrupted by a criticism flung at me from behind by T.S. Eliot. 

‘What does that mean? How can crime be noble?’ He had, I noticed, grown a moustache."

Suffering from Writer's Block?  

Why not try putting down your last dream into prose?  

As Louis L'Amour wrote: "The water does not flow until you turn on the faucet." 

Go ahead: explore your inner self.  You might be surprised what you find.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

THE SOUL SELECTS HER OWN COMPANY


I was sitting alone at my table in the darkened Meilori's. The light of my laptop showed the dismal numbers of those who have bought my books this month.

Fingertips pressed softly on my shoulder.  "May this wayward soul sit down?"

I looked up.  Emily Dickinson, dressed in a black Victorian dress, stood smiling sadly at me.


Her voice was gentle, low, and caring.  I smiled back.  "Of course."

I got up and pulled out the chair for her.  She flowed down into as lady-like ghosts often do here at Meilori's.

As I sat back down, Emily slid a small volume to me.  Its cover was dark and light lavender.  Its simple title: POEMS ~ Emily Dickinson.

"This first volume of my poetry appeared on this day in 1890, two years after my death.  

My early editors, the critic Thomas Higginson and family friend Mabel Loomis Todd, made many changes in an effort to make my poems more 'conventional,' but these had not allayed the priggish critics."

 Emily picked up the volume from in front of me and read one of her "versicles" as her critics called them:

"The soul selects her own society,
Then shuts the door;
On her divine majority
Obtrude no more.

Unmoved, she notes the chariot's pausing
At her low gate;
Unmoved, an emperor is kneeling
Upon her mat.

I've known her from an ample nation
Choose one
Then close the valves of her attention
Like stone.
"

Emily withdrew a folded newspaper clipping from her dress pocket.

"I told others that my critics bothered me not.  But here is the lie: this aged review by Thomas Bailey Aldrich from THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY of January, 1892.  It reads as follows:

'But the incoherence and formlessness of her — I don't know how to designate them — versicles are fatal…. 

An eccentric, dreamy, half-educated recluse in an out-of-the-way New England village (or anywhere else) cannot with impunity set at defiance the laws of gravitation and grammar.'"

Her hand gently covered mine.  "You are of worth, young sir, because you care.  Your prose is of worth if only one soul is uplifted because of it."

Emily smiled, “I know nothing in the world that has as much power as a word. Sometimes I write one, and I look at it, until it begins to shine.  I read one of yours and it does the same."

Her eyes sparkled,   “We turn not older with years but newer every day.  You are newer today than yesterday for you have suffered, you have learned -- so you are a new you."


The ghost of Mark Twain sat down beside me with a laugh.


 "Besides, son, where are those critics of Miss Dickinson here now?  Who do folks remember?  Emily Dickinson or that Thomas Bailey Aldrich?"

He winked at Emily who blushed, and he grinned,
"I believe that the trade of critic, in literature, music, and the drama, is the most degraded of all trades, and that it has no real value--certainly no large value...

However, let it go. It is the will of God that we must have critics, and missionaries, and congressmen, and humorists, and we must bear the burden."

Emily scolded him.  "That is all very well and good, Samuel, but what about your feelings for poor Miss Jane Austen?"

Mark looked like he had bitten into a slug.  "Agh!  You're right, of course.  I haven't any right to criticize books.  And I don't do except when I hate them!"

He rubbed his face. 


"I often want to criticize Jane Austen it is true.  But, Lordy, her books madden me so that I can't conceal my frenzy from the reader.  Therefore I have to stop every time I begin."

He took out a cigar and lit it as Emily's nose wrinkled in distaste and went on, 


"Everytime I read PRIDE AND PREJUDICE I want to dig her up and beat her over the skull with her own shin-bone!"  

Emily gently removed the cigar from his mouth, putting it out defiantly.  "It is so heartening to see how you have mellowed with age, Samuel."

He glared at me.  "Now, you see why gentlemen are a dying breed, Roland."

"Or at least a smokeless one," I smiled.