Medieval Social Times

Times have changed in the last few decades, or have they? With the advantages and perils that the internet brought to our society, what looks to me like an extreme righteous mentality seems to dominate social media. This strict social conscience – a righteous mob – seems eager to point a finger and to burn the victim/person right away. It seems to feed itself, and the power of the mob creates martyrs of social media when guilt is assumed without giving the person the benefit of the doubt, a chance to present truth or facts that will point to redemption/innocence. Sometimes it seems as it is not even about the cause, but of how I ( the me, me, me) fit into it and can also participate in the latest crucifixion.

Why am I bringing this up? Well, as writers we develop characters and we try to portray them as credible and real as the pen allows. This only means that we make use of language, imagery, certain types of words – historical and period appropriate, popular and unpopular views, and even cliches, which might be necessary to create the story’s “environment” in order to tell it as best we can. How does this forced mentality, this “medieval” social mob hysteria affects writers today? Are we faithful to our story without letting the pressure of the times bind the pen, or do we quietly censor it? Do we exercise its free will or are we cautious about being perceived as the personification of our words? How do we separate character from writer without giving in to the righteous mob inquisition? It seems to me that sometimes, people cannot separate one from theother, and this might present a challenge for writers.

Will these medieval social times have an influence on future writers, their minds, and by default the pen? Will stories become diluted? Diluted enough to be politically correct? Historical fiction writers are presented with a challenge. It has been said that books, whether fiction or not, speak of the times when these were written, of the social conditions and atmosphere of the time. It permeates throughout the pages of a book, and many times, it remains alive between the lines.

A New Page

New Year, new page. The arrival of a new year is an exciting time. It signifies a new beginning, a clean slate, a new page, a new opportunity to do the things we could not accomplish the past year; it is a chance to do better. We reflect on the past year and make new goals, new plans. Dream new dreams. Look into the future. A new year is full of new expectations and good wishes. Overall, we welcome a new year with a sense of hope and joy. There is something special about receiving the new year – a sense of renewal. I thought about it the other day, as I looked back at all this year brought into my life, and also, at what it took away. I realized that every single day offers this same opportunity of renewal. When we first open our eyes each day, it is a new slate, the chance of a new beginning, to do better than yesterday. Until next year.

Happy New Day! Happy New Year!

Inkspeare

Photo by M.A.D.

Your Way is My Way

Every soul has its journey, every person a purpose for living, but sometimes, it is not as clear as we would like it to be. The following words are according to my journey.

For many years, I worried about not knowing my true purpose in life. I read and studied countless books on finding your purpose or “true purpose,” and became a “positive thinking book junkie.” Although it helped me very much and I enjoyed reading those, it left me feeling the same – yearning to know and find my purpose in life. I worked/trained for every interest I had as far as jobs/careers, and although I enjoyed those very much, I felt that was not it. I was far from my purpose. Agonizing about it did not help. I admired the people who seemed to have found their meaning of life, their way in life. When I heard people say, “If you love what you do it never feels like a job,” I became more confused about purpose. Well, I had fulfilled many interests that I loved, however, I still ended up feeling without purpose and hungry for meaning. A very smart woman who had been a teacher all her life and was now retired told me once, “I hope you find what you are looking for.” She said this after I told her that I could not see myself doing only one thing for the rest of my life. What a sharp woman; she saw what I did not at that time. Part of my misunderstanding was to believe that a career path/earning income and purpose were one and the same. These are two different things, and although one can find purpose through a career, a career does not have to be one’s purpose. Once I understood that, I viewed purpose in a different light.

Writing has always been in my heart, although put aside for a long time, as a career path that is. I found the path again after a series of unfortunate events, and because I felt I had nothing to lose, I gave it a try. I feel at home when I write. Is it my purpose? I don’t know, nor am I waiting for it to become. It gives me purpose. Only God knows what my purpose is; He created me. Once I realized this, I stopped worrying about finding my purpose. It did not make sense anymore. I don’t have to feel incomplete, hurried, or worried about time running out and not finding my way in life. Instead I say, “God, your way is my way.” By knowing this I am open to do, be, and exist just as He wants of me. His way is my way, and that is purpose enough for me. The search was over once I understood that.

I see and hear many people who are worried and stressed out about finding their true purpose in life. They fear that they will grow old not knowing. I understand how they feel; I’ve been there. It is the reason why I decided to write this post. When I understood it wasn’t my burden to know, I was able to see beyond the limits of material and earthly fulfillment. A Jon Bon Jovi song comes to mind – “you are where you are supposed to be” – or something along those lines. My journey is/has purpose, but my purpose is in part my journey on this earth, and it is much more. It is how I have come to understand its meaning. It doesn’t mean that I will sit around waiting for enlightenment and clarity of mind; for me, the process is the journey, and the journey, the pathway to a different kind of purpose. My aimless search for purpose took me to the understanding that my Creator’s way is my pathway to complete fulfillment. When I become restless or unclear for whatever reason it may be, the most sincere prayer I can say is – Your way is my way.

Image by M.A.D.

Every Little Blessing

For us who celebrate Thanksgiving day, when we think of this day, most likely, a turkey will pop up in our minds. The holiday and the turkey that is traditionally served as a meal have become one and the same. Turkey or not, Thanksgiving symbolizes a time to pause and reflect on all the blessings we have received during the year, and give thanks. We live at such a hurried pace that we forget to thank the Lord for everything that we have been blessed with, and when we really think about it, we have plenty to be grateful for. Even the tiniest of blessings in our lives counts. Just to be able to write this post is a blessing for me. Just think of all that it encompasses – I am able to write because I had the blessing of an education in a public system, and later on a college education, which made possible becoming able to read/write and later on, developing my interests (things that we take for granted but for many others are not possible). I am able to write this post because I have been blessed with health – mentally and physically. An internet connection, and a PC makes this possible too, but for it to happen these had to be invented at one point. All of it, small blessings that are many times, taken for granted. When I think of all the other little blessings that make this possible, it brings to mind a truckload of other blessings, and so on.

There is so much to be thankful for, from the moment we open our eyes to receive another day until the moment we go to sleep and rest. One blessing is preceded by an infinite amount of other blessings that made it possible, and if we go back in time/history, an entire humanity has been blessed and connected by tiny blessings. Right now, I am writing this post from the USA, and later on, you might be reading it on another part of the world via your PC, phone, or other device, but it is all interconnected and it all comes from the same source of blessings. Isn’t it a wonderful thing?

Any day is a good day to give thanks for the infinite blessings we enjoy, and to realize that every little blessing counts. Happy Thanks Giving!

Faith vs. Letting Go

Faith – A confident belief, trust. Loyalty; allegiance. (American Heritage Dictionary)

We put our faith in many things. God/ the Divine is the obvious, but to a certain degree, also in other people, organizations/institutions, the government, processes … and so on. Faith that is based in earthly things can be disappointing. Faith in God/Divinity is uplifting and sustaining of one’s soul. Many times, life will not go according to plan or as we hoped, and that is when faith determines much of the outcome. When presented with vicissitudes or when our belief system is crumbling for any reason, we have the choice of acting in faith, awaiting in faith, or letting go. I find that this is always the case. We either keep believing that there is someone on the other side of our faith watching and listening, or we let go of whatever we hope the outcome to the situation we are faced with might be. Whether it might be letting go of a dream, a person, an idea, a quest, or even our better selves.

In my last book, The Five-dollar Miracle, this is one of the themes weaved throughout the story. I believe that when in doubt, stick with your faith.

Photo by M.A.D.

Everyday Miracles

We usually think of a miracle as something unusual, out of the ordinary, of divine origin or intervention, and outside of our human ability. Miracles come in all sizes, but all miracles have a big impact. In my last story – The Five-dollar Miracle – what starts as a small one-time miracle ends up having a large scale impact. We view miracles as something divine, however, miracles happen in our earthly realm. The human element has to be present, and usually on the recipient side, although the giving side – the instrument – experiences the miracle as well. If we chose to see miracles in our everyday living, life would taste sweeter.

Sometimes, synchronicity is a series of tiny miracles. Coincidences in our favor are small miracles too. Just think of all those instances in your life when you have said, “Wow, I got lucky,” or “A little bit more and it would have …” (fill the blank). I believe that each one of us have experienced a miracle (big or small) at one point in our lives. I have experienced many in my life. One of them, I will share with you on this post.

Many (many) years ago, I had come out of work, and I had to cross a bridge as part of my 45 minutes or so commute. On my drive home, I felt this nagging voice in my head urging me to go to my favorite clothing store, which was on the way. I was tired and wanted to get home right away but the nagging voice kept insisting so much that I ended up going to the store. It was more like a nagging thought that originated outside of me, not audible. I parked my car and said to myself, “what am I doing here? I don’t want to be here; I’m tired.” But once more, the nagging thought pressed on suggesting I go inside and look around. I went inside the store and quickly looked around, and because I was not in the mood to browse, I decided to head out. When I reached the glass door, I could see my car, and next to it, I saw this enormous muscular man who was just standing by the driver side. It was twilight already and I felt intimidated by his presence, so I pretended to browse some more, not thinking much more of the large man outside. I ended up spending almost an hour at the store, and of course, did not buy anything. Tired, I decided to go to my car. I looked around and the enormous man was nowhere to be seen. I went inside my car and went home. The next day, as soon as she arrived, my boss asked me if I was alright. I answered, “Yes, why do you ask?” She said that there had been a very bad accident at the bridge around the same time I went home, so she thought I was caught in the mess. I searched the news and the accident had happen around 5:45 pm, at the same time I would have been crossing the bridge on a regular day. Then, I understood my miracle, and related it to her – the insisting/nagging thought that took me to the store, and the enormous man standing next to my car when I was about to leave.

I believe that my Guardian Angel was nudging my thoughts. I believe I saw my Guardian Angel that day.

Millennials

The other day, I was thinking about previous generations, as well as historical novels. I am not sure what prompted the thought, however, it took me all the way to the Millennial generation.

Usually, there are many generations represented in a story. Writing characters that are defined by their generation is not an easy task. In memoirs, the generational gaps and influences are more easily identified and naturally present than in a work of fiction. Futuristic stories present a challenge when timelines cross, even when a futuristic novel is all made up as far as time, place, and life of the characters, in general. All this made me think about my generation as well as one generation that in my opinion, has been misrepresented – the Millennials.

I am from the later years of the Baby Boomer generation, one of the largest and most talked about generations in the USA. Baby Boomers have met their counterparts in the sense of a most talked about generation, and much has been said about Millennials. Unfortunately, not all positive, and many times disserving.

Millennials were born between 1981-1996. Many points of view describe Millennials in a negative way, from being lazy to overly sensitive, and many other labels in between. Many times, when I hear someone complaining about Millennials they are unknowingly referring to someone who is from a post millennial generation. It seems to me that Baby Boomers and Millennials tend to clash the most. I think Baby Boomers have a hard time passing the baton, especially, to a generation that likes to do things differently.

There are many things I love about Millennials. I love that Millennials are very creative. They seem to enjoy the process of finding new ways, especially when things that were done “the Baby Boomer way” do not work for them. Society has changed so much in the past few decades, and many of our societal rituals and processes have undergone dramatic changes, many times due to technological changes. What worked for Baby Boomers may not work as well for Millennials. Many of them might see our system as broken.

Millennials seem to operate more openly, in general. They seem to view their day as a whole. I find that my generation compartmentalized everything – work, home life, social life … . One of the biggest sins in the “work life” for my generation was to bring your personal life to work. Your personal issues were very private and should remain so. Millennials are not bothered by this, and they do not understand why an older person might be annoyed by this behavior. This wholesome and open approach to living engulfs many facets of the Millennial’s life. I love that they seem to find time to have fun while living. Baby Boomers scheduled fun for a more appropriate time – when they were set in life financially or on a well deserved vacation. Baby Boomers worked hard all their life, many times postponing the joys of living until the golden years. Of course, the times, challenges, and the economy were different those days, and this post only makes a general comparison between these two generations. It is not meant to be judgmental of any generation.

I love that Millennials see the world in a global way, less regional. We are one planet, and that makes sense to me. They love to travel and explore, and see traveling as a way of life, not as a vacation. This view makes them more open to other cultures. I love that Millennials seem to process information differently than previous generations. This fast and focused way might render them insensitive to previous generations sometimes; even labeled as having no good manners. I am not a scientist or in the medical field, but I have read that the brain constantly makes connections and those connections are based in part, on outside stimuli. We can all agree that things have changed a lot in the past few decades. I love that Millennials have a sense of humor, a bit different, and it might render them insensitive to previous generations as well.

Many Millennials are parents by now, others are starting careers, and in a way, one day they will become the Baby Boomers of future generations, and maybe then, we’ll understand each other better.

How do you represent a particular generation in your novel?

The State of a Nation

Yesterday, I found myself thinking about many things going on in this nation – political, moral, financial, social, ethnic … the list goes on. At first glance, it appears as a big mess going on in all directions. One particular issue I thought about was the new abortion law in New York, and the same issue and political mess in Virginia (USA). I’ve always been a very open minded person and one to consider many points of view before making up my mind. This is one issue that no matter how I look at it, I cannot understand or justify. How is it not a crime to end the life of a baby, especially at the point of delivery? How is it not immoral? We call the construction of a border wall immoral, but not the killing of a baby? How did we get here as a nation?

I was asking myself that when these words crossed my mind – “The state of a nation depends on the evolution of its people.” A sort of answer to my question. Then, I thought about these two words.

Nation – An aggregation of people organized under a single government. (American Heritage Dictionary) 

Evolution -A gradual process in which something changes, especially into a more complex form. (American Heritage Dictionary)

What have we evolved into? Our currency reads, In God we trust.

Genesis 1:27 – God created man in his image, in the divine image he created him; male and female he created them.

We have not understood the meaning of life.

 

The Story of Your Life

Photo by Maria Diaz

I believe we are open books, living stories. I believe that there is a book (the book of life) with our story and name in it, and we are free to fulfill that story or not (free will). Sometimes, it feels as if we are on track, everything goes so well and things flow accordingly. At other times, it feels as if every step we take is met by a struggle, a stumble, or a road block. Sometimes, it may feel as if one cannot move at all. Life block, I call it, similar to writer’s block.

The flow of life may not be smooth at times, but it is always constant. From the minute we open our eyes in the morning (or at night) we are making choices/decisions. From what to wear, eat for breakfast, or even if we will get up at all, get to work … to more complicated choices such as career, marriage, and many other issues. Every time we take a step forward (or backward) by deciding, whichever that might be, we are writing the story of our lives. However, it is not only about “me” because those choices/decisions cross over to other people’s lives. I may think that I am living “my life” but my story is intertwined with the story of others. It is happening right now, as I write this post. Someone out there will read it eventually, and will think about these words – our stories have crossed. “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” – Luke 6:31 Could not have said it better.

As writers, we love to make up stories; its is the air we breathe. However, the most important story we’ll ever write is our own.

The Ever Presence of God

Today, I sat to write a blog post. I stared at the wall. Nothing came to mind right away. It felt as if the inkwell was dry. I thought about writing as a topic, maybe a secondary theme in my novels; the inspiration eluded me. Only one single thought kept crossing my mind over and over, a sort of phrase – the ever presence of God. After I dismissed it a couple of times, I went back to writing as a topic, and then, I surrendered to this phrase and decided to go with it wherever it took me.

Sometimes, we feel alone, lost, and the disappointments in life have piled up on top of one another forming a huge mountain, unsurmountable, at least to our human eyes – the mount of “if and nevers.” It starts eating away your thoughts, your inspiration, your confidence, your happiness, your trust. Then, you feel removed from purpose, far away from your Creator, unable to hear or feel the divine presence.

I looked up the word ever. Ever – At all times. At any time. In any way or case; at all. (American Heritage Dictionary) Then, I understood. The ever presence of God is constant, at all times, at any time, in any way or case; at all.

It is good to know this. It is a good reminder. It is of comfort to know this. The ever presence of God is. Whether we feel alone or far away. It just is, and ever present. Today, I sat to write a blog post. The ever presence of God was there.