Where to Go from Now

Where to go from now?  This is a question that many of us ask, as we tend to worry sick about the future – career, finances, relationships …  We make plans, lists, life maps … you name it, in the hopes of being too careful about how we live our lives and plan our future.  We dream of better days, success, and happy lives … and that is good – planning for the future is good; however, we forget about the Now.

It doesn’t matter if you consider yourself a worry wart or  not, we all do it – we lose sleep about the promotion, the query, the bills … however, we forget to live the life that we have been gifted on this day.  Sometimes, it takes an unfortunate event, or a series (in stubborn cases) to make us realize that the important moment is the one that we have been given by our next breath, and the gift of a brand new day.  NOW is what truly matters.  I was having this conversation with one of my sisters and we agreed on how futile it is to sweat the big and small stuff when it hasn’t even showed up.

One of my favorite quotes from the bible Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 reads,

“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to
embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.”

I like it because it reminds me of the Now and of the human condition and nature.  In my opinion, this verse “gets us.”  Sometimes, we don’t even understand our purpose under the sun; however, the Now is always there, and all we have to do is live it.

Next time the question “Where to go from now?” pops in your mind (or heart) answer it with a simple NOW.

Planning Your New Year – Resolution Solution

The New Year is around the corner, and we start thinking about new goals, plans, starting anew, and the inevitable – all the goals that we set and did not accomplish.  We feel guilty, and at our worst, as failures.  So we take the pen and paper and start all over again, sometimes repeating the same goals – promising ourselves:  “this year for sure …”  I’ve been there.

Setting goals and naming things that we want to accomplish should not be a painful or shameful process.  It should be a guide, a road map of what we want to do and where we want to end up.  But goals should be realistic and measurable.  Just saying: “I want to lose weight” is not enough.  Instead, go thru a series of questions like:  how many pounds, how, when will I schedule the how, and most important – why?  Why do I want to lose the weight?  Your motivator is your best weapon.  If you don’t know your why, most likely, another year will pass, with no results.  This formula should be applied to every goal or project that you plan for the New Year.

Take a planner or your PC and schedule in your goals, daily, weekly, or however you figured out that you will work at them throughout the entire year.  If you have a reminder every day of your goal schedule, then it is likely that you will work at them with more enthusiasm and determination.  Set an automatic reminder in your PC.  The list of goals written on December 31st is not enough – it has to be planned.

Start thinking realistically of the things that you want to accomplish this coming year; make your list, but don’t stop there – map out a schedule to make them real.  At the end of the year, even if some of them did not work out, most will – and you will feel better and more productive.  I find that by doing this, by the end of the year I see that I have crossed out a good part of my list.  Some goals are still there, but I am a few steps closer to them, and I can always continue to work on them.

One thing that I have observed in some people if that they take their goals as written in stone and will not deviate, even when there is a need for some modification.  Many times a goal is missed just because of this, which is ironic.  In addition, goals should be taken as a guide to where we want to be and not as a horse blinder that will prevent us to enjoy the scenery in the process.  It is good to set some goals but it is also good to leave some room for flexibility, change, and modification.

Happy New Year Planning!

You are What You Read

How many times have you heard the adage “You are what you eat?”  The same can be said about reading.  You are what you read.  Whatever you feed your brain, that is the connection that you are promoting.  The connections that form in the brain are the result of the stimuli that we receive.  So, if we feed the brain garbage, we better beware, because that is the connection that we are forming.  Despite all our medical and scientific advances, much of how the brain works is still a mystery.  But we know for sure that the brain is making connections as we learn and receive more stimuli.

So when Rene Descartes – the philosopher – said, “I think therefore I am,” we can say that he was not only referring to the cognitive and thinking process, but for sake of this argument, of the possibility of becoming in the sense of what we feed our brains.  How does a college student become a physician?  By learning, reading, and studying to be one.  He becomes the information that he studied.

The possibilities are infinite.  By feeding our brain the right kind of information we become.  Take your goals into consideration.  For example, do you want to be in a better financial position?  Then, start feeding your brain the kind of information that will take you there.

We also read for entertainment. It relaxes us, and takes us to another world.  When is time to come back to reality the reading material that we choose to advance ourselves, is as important as the air we breathe.  Many of us use reading as an escape to reality, or a tool for learning, but it can be much more.  Reading can be a positive power of suggestion, a tool to make you achieve your potential.

So, next time you pick up that book (or magazine, or whatever) – are you feeding your brain a healthy diet?

The Power of Change

Cover page cuverture Turning the Tide On Clima...

Image via Wikipedia

I have met people who do not like change.  They simply don’t like things around them to be different, whether change is for the better or not.  There is risk in change – the unknown.  For some people, this is scary; simply put, they prefer the known to the unknown.  The known comforts them.

I welcome change, whether good or bad, if there is such a thing as bad change.  I believe that when we see our circumstances to be changing for the worst, it is just a matter of perception.  Change always bring something new and different.  With this, it brings the opportunity for new challenges, growth, and new lessons.  It brings the chance – requested or unrequested – of creating something new of the experience or change.  In a way, change is creation.  Change is always forward, even when it is perceived as a step backwards.

Some people may disagree with me on this.  For example, if you were to lose everything you own, you would perceive this as a negative change in your life.  However, this could be the best opportunity for you to start anew, to create a second life, an exciting opportunity.  Yes, no one thinks of being in that situation, and I don’t know of anyone that would consciously welcome it; however, many people in today’s economy have gone thru similar change.  The perception of this change is what will make them powerless or powerful individuals.  This is the power of change.

The Reason to Create

Barnstar Creator

Image via Wikipedia

Why do you create?  For whom do you create?  Approaching our craft with this question in mind can help focus our work.  It also helps set the mood for the day, even when you are not in your best mood.  It helps discern the goal – for what you work for or towards. 

When you approach your craft with Love, you are in for a great day at what you do best.  When you approach your craft with love for your Creator, then it makes all the difference.  You are gifting something to others and to your “God” or however you happen to call him/her/it.  Assuming this attitude will not only get you thru your daily task, it will improve it, make it better, because you are offering it to your Creator.

Next time you are about to paint, write, or do what you do best, answer this question.  The answer will set up the mood of the day.  If your answer is – for the agent or publisher, for the pesky boss … then maybe you should go back and reexamine your reasons.

If you don’t believe in a spiritual level, then the answer should be for you – for your contentment and happiness.

We all have to work to pay the bills, care for the family, and many other commitments; however, it is how we approach our craft that makes the difference.

Writer’s Wisdom 94

Writing for a Higher Purpose

Why do you write?  Have you ever thought about it?  Many writers dream to see their work published, or the movie come out, and their name in the best seller’s list.  This is all good, and striving for the best should always be there in our most important to do list.  However, we run into problems when this is all we care about, and all we strive for – becoming published and known.  When you put such amount of pressure on yourself, creativity will suffer. When your focus becomes something else outside writing, and your attention leaves the page, your work suffers.  When being published becomes more important than writing, you have lost yourself as a writer.

When listening to best-selling author’s being interviewed, most of them express that they love to write, and they would not have it any other way.  They are thrilled at how things have turned around for them, but number one seems to be the love for writing.  And by loving what they do, and doing what they love, the money seems to come at the right time.

You may think writers have to eat too.  And that is the absolute truth, however, you can make an income without losing focus.  It is when your attention is taken away from the story and put on the $$$ that your work will become weak. 

Why not write for a Higher Purpose instead?

Writer’s Wisdom 76

Juggling Act

When you write for a living, you will probably cram your schedule with as much writing as you can, and many projects at once – some short-term, others, long-term assignments.  A lot of time can be spent in projects that do not generate enough income.  Learning to decide which projects to put aside and which ones to pick up is not as easy as it seems.

While a project may give you instant rewards, another will reward you much more in the long run.  Also, you may have to put aside your favorite project to handle a more profitable one.  Or you might have to cut a project to a few days a month, if that project is not generating what you want – and sometimes, cut it altogether.

This is why writing for a living is like a juggling or balancing act – you have to be balancing projects and deciding which ones to give a priority, which ones fit your needs at the moment, and which one to drop or revisit later.  Timing is also important, as a project that may have seem profitable initially, may not be, if you are spending more time in it than you originally planned.

Writer’s Wisdom 60

Befriending Uncle Sam:  A Writer’s Responsibility

It is the beginning of February and tax season is almost here- in the USA (April).  I have started to prepare my documents and crossing my fingers.  As a freelance writer you might get many assignments and jobs here and there.  Being used to the odd flow of things, record keeping may be a bit relaxed sometimes.  It is important that you keep track of your paid work and develop a system to track your income and the documentation you need for your taxes.  If you come up with a system that you have easy access to while you are working, you can log on any items daily and avoid last-minute rush.

Think of all the benefits that an organized system will get you.  Number one is having more time to dedicate to your writing and a clear mind to tend to your muse.

Autopsy of an Email Scam

Email scams keep getting more creative, elaborate, and humorous.  I get many on my email inbox, and have learned to recognize them blindfolded (ok, maybe not blindfolded).  The ideas that these scammers come up with keeps my writing list full.  Let’s take a look at one that I received today, and I am sure many of you have seen.  Take a look at what it looks like: 

CHEVRON/TEXACO OIL&GAS COMPANIES END OF YEAR PROMOTION.
  

Congratulations 

You have been chosen to receive ($852,000.00 USD)in the on-going CHEVRON/TEXACO OIL&GAS COMPANIES END OF YEAR PROMOTION.
Please Send your Names,Telephone Number & Contact Address to Mr Kenneth Davids at(awardpayment@sify.com)to file for your claims.
Note:All email response should be sent to the claims processing officer (MR Kenneth Davids) to his official email address at awardpayment@sify.com
OR Dial +2348034481687 for more information on this program.
Yours Sincerely,
Mrs.Lay, Sandy.
Online Co-ordinator…
CHEVRON/TEXACO OIL COMPANY.  
 
 Sandy Lay
Accounts Receivable
Vi-Jon, Inc.
8515 Page Avenue
St. Louis, MO 63114
 

Office (314) 592-1429  

 This e-mail (including attachments) is covered by the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, 18 U.S.C. 2510-2521, is confidential and may be legally privileged, and is not to be used by anyone but the intended recipient(s). If you are not the intended recipient, you are hereby notified that any retention, dissemination, distribution or copying of this communication is strictly prohibited. If you have received this e-mail in error, please notify the sender by reply e-mail or call Vi-Jon, Inc. at 314-427-1000 and delete the message. 

Unfortunately, many people will fall victims of this scam before the end of the year.  To recognize these scams, look at the signs throughout the email. 

1.  The most obvious is:  Why would the Chevron/Texaco company would want to give me that amount of money, called in the email “a promotion”?  

 2.  Take a look at the amount of grammatical and punctuation errors in the email.  Even if you are not good at grammar and punctuation, look at the obvious spacing mistakes that jump out at you.  Also, take a look at the split words that are not supposed to be written like that (on-going, co-ordinator). 

3.  Did you notice how in the first paragraph it reads:  please send in your names? – names is in plural, which gives you an idea of the mentality of the scammer.  He/she has in mind all the names that will be captured via the email, all the potential victims. 

4.  Look how the email makes a point of creating an “official environment” by using words/phrases like:  to the claims processing officer (MR Kenneth Davids) to his official email address – this is an effort on their part to build trust in the reader’s eyes. 

5.  All this is followed by improper spacing, commas, and many other errors, leading to the end of the email where the person who is emailing identifies herself as Ms. Lay, Sandy (who gives you her many titles) – in an attempt to make it official, and hopefully by now, you are hooked and pick up the phone. 

6.  And as in a last attempt to convince you, what follows is an email disclaimer with “official wording” citing the law. 

So here you have it, the more you look at it in detail, the more signs screaming scam you will find.  If anything, it has provided me with a good laugh and writing material.  Hopefully, this autopsy will help you in learning to dissect your own email scams.  Have a good laugh.