Life Mapping

If you are a goal-setter you might like the idea of life-mapping. Life-mapping can be done in many ways. It represents the big picture of your many goals and dreams and what you would like to carry out in the long run. It is a healthy exercise as long as you use it as an inspiration to enrich your life, and it does not become an obsession, meaning that one might focus on it solely and not live fully because things are not happening the way one intended them to happen. Many times, especially if you believe in Divine intervention, things might not work out the way we want or plan, but in the end, it was all for a greater good – a better ending.

I have practiced life-mapping for some time. I have used time lines, picture boards, and even a treasure map style to highlight long-term dreams and goals. One thing I can say is that a lot works out as planned, but many other things do not, despite putting the work and walking the path. However, I still like the idea of life-mapping and practice it to keep me inspired and on track. Right now, I am using a different style that I thought about, and is easy to post anywhere and is more portable than a picture board. You can carry it on your planner, and it gives you an overall glance of your dreams and goals. I believe that you are never too old to do life-mapping. It is never too late to enrich your life and enjoy it more, so in my eyes, this practice stops at your death-bed.

The idea was inspired by my icon to-do-list. It is life-mapping by using icons that represent what you want, and you can do this as a time-line or as a step by step map to guide you. Here is the life-map I came up with, and I can share it here because the icons mean something to me, and not necessarily mean anything to anyone else, so in a way it is still somewhat private. A picture or an icon can have as many meanings as you give it. The meaning is up to you. This life-map was done using Microsoft Publisher. I started using footprints and changed to cat prints because after all, our family includes 6 cats, so they are in the journey as well. In addition, I left empty fields at the end to fill as needed, and these are represented by a potted plant with an interrogation sign. I used two pages for mine, but you can make your icons smaller and fit them on one page, or use as many pages as you would like. You can also use only a few icons to represent the important points only, and not necessarily every detail. It is a good idea for visual people. You may also do it in 3-5-10 … year increments or overall. Other ideas include drawing your icons if you are artistic, or painting them. In addition, if you want to make it more detailed you can dedicate a journal or planner just for life-mapping. Mine is just a more general approach. Life-mapping is ever changing, but it serves as visual inspiration, and it can be adjusted as necessary.

Life-Mapping

Life-Mapping

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I hope you enjoy this idea.

 

 

 

Divine Organization – Prayer and Theology Journal

On a earlier post I talked about getting back on the saddle and renewing my work/life vows. Another step that I am taking is starting a prayer/theology journal to organize my thoughts and study different sacred works, starting with the Bible and following with other sacred texts and authors . Of course this will become a lifetime activity, as I have felt the need to learn more about different faiths on this planet. I am not pursuing a degree in theology but instead want to learn as much on my own. After all, our time on this planet is so short, I think not enough to learn and enjoy everything that we want to experience.

This journal is divided into three sections – Journal – Theology/study – Prayers. Of course being creative, it cannot just be a regular journal, so I took my time to find the perfect one for me and did some decoration to its pages as well. This particular one I found at Staples, the same day I went looking for the huge binder for my Home/work/life Management System (see earlier post). The cover art couldn’t have been more fitting for this type of journal. I find that taking a bit of time in the morning to meditate and learn helps me become more productive during the day, as well as setting the mood.

Here is what it looks like.

Prayer/Theology Journal

Prayer/Theology Journal

Decorated pages

Decorated pages

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Of course, as I continue this part of the journey, I will end up needing more journals, but I am happy to combine my regular journal-writing practice with the study of the sacred texts, and into a devotional time. It works for me. In searching for a better way to do the study part, I will keep some points in mind.

  • Start the study with my faith (Christianity/Bible) before moving on to other faiths
  • Pay attention to the title, time, and writer or writers, as well as language (original) and how translations have affected the book. In addition, how different groups have adopted variations on interpretation (for example – Christians and Jews interpret the book of Jeremiah differently).
  • Note any main topics/ideas of a particular book, chapter, or passage and cross-reference.
  • Note my interpretation and application to my life

One thing that I am not doing is following a particular study program/system because I don’t want to rely on a sole interpretation, but will use any material that will enrich my understanding or offer cross-reference points and enhance the learning experience.

 

 

What’s New

To me, reviews are just opinions and the reason I never leave negative reviews. What I don’t like someone might enjoy. When I enjoy a book I leave a positive review, and if I think the book will be of great help to writers I will mention it here. I just finished reading Never Too Late – Your Roadmap to Reinvention by Claire Cook. I enjoyed this book. It is her first non-fiction and shares her experiences as a best-selling author and her views on reinvention. It is written in a conversational and warm tone, as she talks to the reader and shares her wisdom through many years of hard work and dedication to the craft. She shares many personal and significant experiences that many writers will appreciate. The book is great for aspiring writers who are looking for an honest and real view of what navigating these waters feels like. In addition, it will benefit people who are on a journey of reinvention and betterment of their lives. As most of you know, Claire Cook is the author of many novels and she has a unique style. One of her first novels was made into a movie – Must Love Dogs.

I added her book to my website under the recommended reads on writing. In addition, I added a FAQ on writing and indie publishing. I am planning on sharing a few posts on what I am doing to get back on the saddle and sort of renew my vows to myself and my work/life. I see it as a way of reinvention or starting a new page. There is no such thing as jumping out of your skin into another but you can certainly shed off what doesn’t serve you anymore. It is one journey with many roads, detours, and wherever you need to turn, backtrack or rest along the way, there is a place to reflect, breathe, and figure out your next step. After all, it is your journey and you make it whatever it may be.

Back on the Saddle and the Need for a Blank Slate

Sometimes, when you come to a halt, being that a physical, material, emotional, psychological, or spiritual pause, the need to start fresh arises. After change, a rock on your boat, or any kind of disturbance, there is that silent pause, a very personal and intimate moment that only I recognize, and the prelude to what comes next in action. It is not so much the defining moment but the silent moment that makes the next one possible – whatever I may or may not decide – choose – act. It may be a source for strength or not, because it depends on how I embrace change, view it, and the emotions/feelings that I associate or attach to it. From that silent moment on, I either get back on the saddle (even in the midst of change) or not.

It is at that moment of truth that the need for a blank slate presents itself, summoned by vision and attitude, faith and determination. Back on the saddle again, I resolve to start on a blank slate, or a new page. One thing I know for sure is to change the ink, to not write in old ink on the pages of the new journal of life. A blank slate is a wonderful start, even if it may not look it right away. Vision becomes clearer as the writing starts once more.

We are writers of our lives. Sometimes we write to slow, too fast, or scribble; other times, we run out of ink in the middle of a page – an important page many times – and we pause, refill, and continue writing the great novel of our lives, which is eternal.

 

Eternal Fibers of the Soul

I am an observer of life by nature. Even as a child, I spent hours in solitude observing and thinking (according to my mom). While going to my physical therapy sessions, I have been able to meet and observe many of the people working very hard to heal their body. This experience inspired this poem.

 

 

Eternal Fibers of the Soul

 

Broken promises, broken dreams

Broken bones, broken links.

Stretched fibers of the soul,

Ligaments of faith, wisdom, and hope.

 

Pieces coming together,

Bits of healing, bits of pain,

Bursts of living, crying, hustling

Not in vain.

 

Crooked steps,

Blind hope turns to faith,

Reviewed, renewed, redone,

Outstretched but not undone.

 

Eternal soul

Fibers of humanity

Flesh and bones

All in one, one in all.

As You Become

ProphecyAn inspired utterance of a prophet, viewed as a revelation of divine will. A prediction of the future, made under divine inspiration. Such an inspired message or prediction transmitted orally or in writing. The vocation or condition of a prophet. A prediction. (Definition by The American Heritage Dictionary)

 

The topic of prophecy is found in my novels, and I find it very interesting and compelling. Our history is filled with prophecies (good and bad), although I find that our fascination for Doomsday supersede the good examples. From apocalyptic predictions/revelations to hopeful promises of a new Earth, and heaven, our curiosity extends as we try to make sense of the world(s) that surround us. Whether we belief on prophecy or not, of any kind, I think that it begins with us, and the extent of our minds in the material world – what we believe, what we entertain, and what we do or how we react to natural and man-created events. As I ———-(fill the blank) I ———— (fill the blank). As we believe, think, focus, and act/react we become. We create and fulfill our own prophecy.

People might argue that some things we cannot control and are beyond our manipulation – Acts of God/Nature – we call them. However, every step we take (before or after) leads to a path. Nothing happens “just because” (that would be called God/Universe). Science looks for explanation, so it falls outside. What about a natural disaster? We do not control natural (not manmade) events; however, why were we in the vicinity when it happened? Certainly, there where steps that took us to reside there, travel there, born and stay there … it is called “the free-will” to decide our lives (without knowing the future and under present circumstances) – it is Life! It is the steps that we take (how we react and act) when natural or unnatural events occur in our lives that determine how the story unveils. As we write the story of our lifes, we become.

Most of us cannot read minds, foresee the future, or are psychics. We rely on our senses, information, intuition, and emotions to decide. We create our own prophecy as we go, but what we cannot do is expect different results from obvious or predictable behavior. We might have a revelation along the way that will serve as warning to change our behavior and set on a different path to obtain different results. Free will is not so much set on the absence of future events but on how we constantly create the future in the now, and how our past has become our future for the same reason.

In living we prophesy as we become.

Photo by M.A.D.

Photo by M.A.D.

My husband keeps this on his desk, and I will add that the game goes on and on and …

 

In Between the Lines – Good vs. Evil

The topic of Good vs. Evil fascinates me. Since I was a child, this idea has evolved being shaped by my upbringing, religion, stories that my grandmother told, urban legends, books, Hollywood movies … in short, by how my mind made sense of all this, and how it interpreted it in the material and spiritual. Although good and evil might seem as black and white, I suspect that there are many shades of gray in between, and our human nature battles in the midst, making sense of it all. If anything, we deserve credit for that. This theme is present in my novels as well.

As a species we thrive in the material contributing to the good and bad on this planet. As spiritual beings we strive to do better. Whether you believe or not in the concept of good vs. evil, of God and the Devil, yin and yang, polarities … or however you want to explain this duality or antithesis, the reality is that we all get sucked in by its allure and fascination, even if you practice atheism – engaging in a hot topic. Good vs. Evil captures the human mind since the beginning of the Homo Sapiens (wise man) or Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, if you prefer that version.

According to one of the most influential books in history, Adam and Eve were seduced by evil, and disobeyed God. But before this, Lucifer had become the devil, and taken a few fallen angels with him. Cain ( son of Adam and Eve) had a bit to do with evil as well. And this is where the concept of evil gets interesting and were shades of gray start painting shades of humanity. When we think of Cain, immediately, we process in our minds (if you know the story or read it in the Bible) that his sin was the act of killing his brother Abel. Yes this was a horrible offense, and so far the first murder in the Bible, since mankind was born. However, the book of Genesis tells a more interesting story – what happened before the murder. What was it?

This is what the book of Genesis tells us about the sin before the sin (in short). This is from the New International Version.

Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. 3 In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. 4 And Abel also brought an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, 5 but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.

6 Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? 7 If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” (Genesis 4: 3-7)

 

It seems that Cain got upset and jealous of Abel because God liked Abel’s offering better than his. Why this? Upon reading this passage it shows that Abel offered God the fat portions from the first-born of the flock, in other words, the best of the best. While Cain gave “some of the fruits of the soil” or in other words, a good-enough offering, but not the best of the best. And this is what God saw, and I guess that he read both brothers hearts in the offerings, and why he liked one offering better than the other.  This made Cain angry and jealous of his brother, but God, being God and all, gave him a warning of things to come, if he continued with this attitude (If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” ). This is profound. When I read this, I saw Cain’s sin issue in respect to his brother, in a new light, and it made me think of the layers of depth in the concept of good vs. evil. These few verses have so much to chew on, but it was this prelude to Cain’s sin of murder that fascinated me the most. Then, I thought – Why did Cain give a mediocre offering? What was going through his mind? It was this thinking that started it all. Then, I came up with a possible explanation. Since Cain worked the land very hard to yield some crops, must likely he knew that his goodies were hard to come by and with much effort (after all, this wasn’t Eden anymore and he had to work for it) therefore, he gave “some.” In other words, he was being stingy with the one who gave and made all – his God. Again, this is so profound because it reveals another layer. In venturing to read Cain’s thought and personality, I think that he had a trust issue. He lacked Trust. Cain was not so sure that God would provide for him, therefore, he was a bit stingy with his offering, and this was in my opinion, Cain’s first offense. He did not trust his Creator and he did not show his trust/love in his offering like Abel did. This attitude was the catalyst that opened the gates that caused Abel’s blood to flow by his hand.

Pondering the shades between Good and Evil may help us to write better and deeper characters, and to craft a story that would give the reader more layers to peel. As writers, we should not be stingy with our offering to the reader, and always try to give the best of the best, according to our ability.

 

Next In Between the Lines topic – Trust

In Between the Lines – Destiny

Destiny is a very strong theme in my novels, in many levels, earth-bound, personal to the characters, and even as spiritual duty. Destiny is a word that we use in casual conversation; many times, whether we believe in destiny as a preordained course of events or fate, or not. If we don’t believe in the strict definition of destiny or in predestination, we may tend to believe in purpose, and seek the purpose of our lives, “that thing” that we were born to do here on Earth. Purpose is a more digestible word for many. As humans, we crave meaning, and we tend to attach meaning to things/life/events and that meaning is given a layer of sentiment and feeling. It is our nature, whether we tend to analyze these things with our brain or not, we end up doing it. In short, we need a reason to wake up in the morning and keep going; we need purpose. If we don’t have it, we search for it, a lifetime, if necessary. If we never find it, in our deathbed we might say that we missed our purpose in life. Many turn to depression and wither away because they don’t find purpose in their lives. Tragic.

Destiny or purpose – that thing that you must do before you leave Earth – may or not, prevent you from living your life in the now, depending on how you approach its meaning. I think that if we live in the now and are grateful for the moment, while listening to it, our purpose becomes inevitable and unavoidable. It stops being in the future, distant (by our perception) and weaves itself in our daily lives, moment by moment. Somehow, balance is restored between the material being and the spiritual being that is us, and with nature and everything that surrounds us – we become one with the universe, with all that is, whether you call it God, the Universe, or Science. Is there purpose or destiny in that? Maybe or maybe not, or maybe it is intelligent design, or the way that was meant to be? Maybe it is us, our own nature and the nature of things, of it all. Who knows, and will we figure it out? Does it matter that much? It seems to matter; otherwise, we wouldn’t be searching eternally. Without it we feel as feathers floating in the wind, aimlessly, and taken away by life’s current, and without meaningful act. However, we forget that life in itself is purpose.

Photo by MAD

Photo by MAD

 

Note – I will be away from this blog for a week – see you soon 🙂

 

 

 

Picking Up the Pebbles, Carrying the Rocks, and Embracing Boulders

Present Universe/Earth – The location

Human – The vessel

The Material – The physical state, the condition in the vessel

Change – Fuel, motivator

Target – The journey, the material experience in the vessel at the location

Goal – Growth through the experience, enjoyment, discovery, being, creation, union … to each its own journey, One as Many

Time/Space – Now (always Now, other measure of time is irrelevant)

Report – Ongoing

 

Although life might seem a weird experiment at times, it is a journey, a destination in itself, and a different experience for every person. It presents its challenges as a way to keep the journey going in the now. Without challenge, conflict, unfortunate events, fortunate events … without change, there cannot be movement, journey, growth. It is necessary as fuel to keep us going. Imagine a life of perfect harmony, everything goes one way – perfect, and nothing happens that will let you have/create a frame of reference that serves as a compass to evaluate your journey. If everything is as perfect as it can be, how would you know the difference? Simply put, without a compass/navigator you might be lost.

Many times, change (fuel) will present itself in various degrees of difficulty, as much fuel as we might need to propel us to the next level. I truly believe that. Sometimes, the size of a pebble, other times as a rock, or even a giant boulder. Sometimes even as the entire quarry. However, if growth is the goal, the natural way would be to keep walking the path, pick up the pebbles, carry the rocks, and even embrace the boulders, and if we have to go inside the quarry, may we find the message in its walls. And when we do, evolution continues.

Photo by M.A.D.

Photo by M.A.D.

 

 

 

Time Lapse in Writing

Time is one of the trickiest subjects when writing a story. Not only does your world has to be convincing enough when writing fiction, the pass of time is something to keep in mind throughout the story. Depending on your story, you will have to keep track of the days that had gone by naturally, as the characters go about their lives – days, years, age, technology changes … It doesn’t matter if you are writing historical fiction or a modern romance, the pass of time is something to be aware of and keep track. If the protagonist went to work on Monday, and went to sleep that same day, but was meeting with someone on Wednesday, it would be unnatural to wake her up and take her to meet that person – where did Tuesday go? Another example is aging characters appropriately if the story demands it, as well as characters dealing with issues that are age related. In a series, time becomes tricky, and something to watch out for, as in the case of many years going by in the story, from the first book to the second book. You will have to age characters, but also technology in many cases. In addition, some people might not be able to come back because naturally they would be dead. I will use one of my novels as an example, and something I caught “on time” when writing it. It had to do with the pass of time – more than 20 years – and the mention of an aged character in the second book. In the first book, the character retained the title of Mayor, and referred to as Mayor Degan many times. In the second book, I caught myself referring to him as Mayor Degan, when he was at least 20 years older (no problem there, he was aged appropriately), however impossible to be retaining the title for that long. In my mind, the writer’s mind, he was still Mayor Degan, however I had to call him now by his name – Blake Degan. He was not even a character that interacted much throughout the story, but was a necessary one. Time affected even this character.

Supernatural characters might be able to play with time, but it still has to be mentioned in some way, as part of their condition, otherwise it might confuse the reader. Maybe they don’t age, or they can make themselves age according to time … somehow, the writer has to make this known to the reader.

Technology is another issue, not only in the topic of time, but on location as well. As an example, if internet connection is being used as part of the story, it is obvious that the internet speed is different in New York City than in a remote country location. These small details might not seem important, but they are.

The phrase “Time will tell” comes to mind.

Photo by M.A.D.

Photo by M.A.D.