Why We Follow? Why We Lead?

Why we follow? Why we lead?

The fact that we are social and gregarious might seem to answer the question, and to a point it does; however, whether you consider yourself a follower or a leader is only important because of the Why. I think we are a bit of both throughout our lifespan. Sometimes we lead, sometimes we follow. If we discard the image of the big leader followed by a multitude we do ourselves a favor. Many people aspire to be leaders; other people get offended if they are labeled as followers, almost as if one would cancel the other, when instead, we must be open to be both if we want to grow our humanity, and our spirituality. There will be times in our lives when we will have to step as leaders, and other times we will yearn to follow, and even the leaders will find themselves after the path of teaching by learning the yearning of the followers. We have been taught that one is better than the other, or greater than the other, when it is just a different side of the same coin, a different tonality of the same color. The only thing that will decide which side it is at a particular moment in our lives is the Why.

Why we step to lead or yearn to follow? In the Why we found the meaning, and it must be powerful enough to move us, otherwise, we end up pursuing illusions whether we lead or follow. Whatever we look for, the nourishment we need, or need to give, becomes the reason, the fuel, the dream … Somewhere in the process, what developed inside us, and has been there, we manage to transport it outside ourselves, and the search for it starts, and we lead, and we follow, and we keep searching, and leading, and following – and living.

How to Tame a Multi-Creative Spirit

TameChanged from natural wilderness to a manageable state. (American Heritage Dictionary)

 

The above definition will serve the tone of this post. As creatives we have an abundance of inspiration flowing, and many times, this same flow overwhelms our creative spirit. A person who seems to have many talents, or ways in which this flow of inspiration is expressed may find it difficult to focus on one talent, thus making it challenging to grow or develop a talent further. A multi-creative spirit may find itself in creative chaos at a particular moment becoming a bit confused as where to focus the intention to create. A writer may feel the need to pursue painting or photography, or any other artistic interest, pulling himself/herself away from the writing career that he/she is following. Many times, this burst of creative passion leads to doubt as to what path to follow. A person may be talented in many areas, however as human beings we live within the constrictions of a material world ruled by time and space, making it difficult to create as much as we wish to, and leaving us in creative exhaustion, spreading ourselves too thin, and eventually opening a door to frustration. So, what is a multi-creative spirit to do?

Focus seems to be the answer. Whether you are great at writing or painting or many more creative venues is not the issue here, but how to manage your creative state in a way that leaves you feeling outside of creative chaos, more fulfilled, and with a clear vision. It is fine to love all your talents and feel equally passionate about them, however one of them will need to be placed first in your fulfillment scale. Prioritizing next the rest of your passions. You may want to dedicate more time developing and growing as a writer, while enjoying your painting as a hobby or as a secondary source of income or fulfillment and not necessarily tied to your income, to present an example. This will take the pressure of the need to be “great” at every talent or perform 100 percent in all, at all times. It brings to mind the adage, “Jack of all trades, master of none.”

As we live, we evolve, and so do our interests and passions. Wanting to excel in all our creative passions/interests might feel natural; however, when we learn to tame our multi-creative spirit it might lead to a better use of our talents, less frustration, and peace of mind, thus a more relaxed state of being that becomes fertile ground for inspiration to flow without the natural constraints that we put on it. In the end, it may work to our advantage and facilitate a state of creativity that leads to mindful fulfillment and nourishing of the creator in us. In this way we respect our gifts, as well as our creative self, and ultimately, the Creator and Giver of it all.

Respecting Your Craft

Each one of us has a journey, and as we walk the path, we give of ourselves, inspire others, take what is given to us, celebrate, and we share our talents. We work hard at a craft that we identify as our talent, our calling – that thing that makes the heart flutter with delight and anxiety at the same time, and gives us joy. Whether for you it is writing, or something else, how you treat your craft will determine how far in your journey you will go with that particular talent. It starts by respecting your craft.

Respecting your craft is personal; you decide how hard you work at it, and the priority you assign as well. You decide to block time in your busy schedule, and to respect that time as an appointment with your talent (or Muse). You decide how far you let others interfere, how much to share, and your level or degree of dedication. You deprecate your craft when critics belittle, or you stand up straight, dust off the venom spores, and keep the focus. You crumble in defeat, or you realize that it is just another step in the long journey, and after all, every soul is on a journey, and as you learn to respect your craft, so will you learn to respect another’s journey – understanding and vision come from doing, and living. Respect your craft. “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.”- Matthew 7:12

Bovine Rant

Poetic rant.

 

Photo by M.A.D.

Photo by M.A.D.

 

Bovine Rant

 

It was at times when I did not follow the herd that I was ignored.

At times when I walked to the beat of my tune that no one heard my voice.

When I painted my picture that eyes were shut.

When I opened my door that other shut theirs.

It was at times when I disagreed, that silence befell.

The rest of the time, the pasture was green.

It was the hardest lesson I understood,

Stepping into my journey did not make me bad,

And refusing to judge got me out of the barn.

 

Maria Antonia Diaz

Art of Selling

First of all, my best wishes for the New Year. This post will take a retrospective tone, my view on becoming an indie author, and what I have discovered on the journey. Last year was very challenging in the personal and the professional aspects, however, I can say that I passed the test – it was the feeling as I received the New Year. I took some time off to think and regroup, and I put writing aside for a while (hence Sunrise Souls is not finished). I am glad that I did this because it made me focus on my journey, and I realized that I create my writing journey and walk its path, and that I don’t have to follow another’s journey – even when it is full of great ideas and awesome “to-do’s.”  It is the spirit of indie – to create and give life to my art form, whatever it may be.

Like many independent authors, I was feeling the pressure of the indie movement (as a general) presented to us by the “new-born gurus,” and which I thought was becoming as rigid as traditional publishing in some aspects. I noticed that “one-way of doing things” was emerging, as well as criticism from the pros who were leading (not on purpose but by default in most cases) the masses of newborn indies who were trying to walk before they learn to crawl, maybe because they felt the same pressure to keep up with the rapid changes while not realizing that the pros and gurus did their crawling and hard work before walking, and took their time. I also saw the insane craving for sales, writing tons of books fast, and making money while the market “is not too saturated,” and that did not make sense to me because it was not part of my journey. The more I learned about this movement, the more I understood what I wanted my journey to be, as well as my pace and method. I guess that in short, I can say that I am not a follower but appreciate many points of view and understand that there is more than one way of doing things.

As I gave myself the time to do nothing, I found myself watching two major shopping networks during the holidays. I don’t watch too much television, and I did not buy anything, but I kept coming back to these hosts who understood the art of selling and promoting. I was mesmerized by the choice of words in description, and by the feelings that these words created in an almost non-perceived way. At one point, I heard the callers repeating the same words of the host, as if they had made the discovery. These hosts were doing the impossible – they were practicing the art of selling from afar, of selling something via the air waves, something not yet tangible to the audience, but these callers wanted it badly. The key to their selling was not to sell, but to create a strong desire, a “want it now – have to have it” feeling. They are successful at it. Although I have a strong background in sales (real estate and jewelry/diamontology), and always knew that the key to selling is not to sell at all, it was the level of descriptive selling and choice of words that caught my attention and admiration of their craft. Some of these hosts do a three-hour show on a line, and many seem to have a huge following of customers for many years. Many recognize a caller from time to time. All this lead me to think about my writing, not so much about selling or promoting, but about the necessary time to create, to build a story with the right words, and to let these words do most of the selling, awaking feelings in the reader. I am not saying that an author should not sell or promote a product, it is a necessary practice. What I am saying is that I should put more attention on the product (the writing and crafting of the story) that on the number of books, sales numbers, or revenue. I want to make a living from my writing, yes, but I don’t want that to be my sole focus/effort.  Going back to the shopping network hosts, the ones who seemed to sell more, were the hosts who focused the effort on creating a love affair with the product.

One thing that became clear during this time is that I will pursue my writing on my own terms, while keeping an open mind about new developing, and while enjoying the journey. A journey that I want to create at my own pace and space while being true to my work ethic and working style. It is the indie spirit after all.

In Retrospect

As the end of the year approaches it is natural to look back and contemplate all the things that we could have done better, and those that were accomplished, but usually, as human nature dictates, we focus on the first. As writers, many times we are hard on ourselves for not producing more, faster, even when we have dedicated an entire year to the craft. It is as if madness had taken over our souls, that is, the madness of the pen, and for a while the only thing that may count, absorbing all our energy and persona. Is it madness of the soul or of the mind? Maybe a bit of both, maybe none. Maybe of the heart. And we dare to follow our heart where it will take us because we are writers, and mad at it.

Well, for me this year has been a bit of a surprise in many areas but one thing that is a constant is my love for the story. I am still working on trying to meet the deadline for Sunrise Souls, however insane that may seem.

One thing I learned over the past year is that inspiration listens to mood, and mood to no one, however I control my mood – allow the mood in understanding – to regain inspiration. Many times, we take inspiration for granted, and it lets us know that it lives in us but we must give it life. It doesn’t flutter around like the Muse we call it, or resides outside ourselves, in another realm – no, it is a part of us, one that is to be summoned by will and faith, and even by desire, one that must be respected and encouraged, and dignify. When we respect ourselves, our work, our surroundings, we are summoning inspiration, our Muse of all sorts, and with it Creativity and audacity. Writing is not for the faint of heart or spirit; in it many souls have gone mad or desolate, but also in it others have grown wings to other realities, paths to other worlds, the solace of the word, inkblood to the soul, inkspear to the heart, and freedom to the mind, but overall essence of the soul.

I will continue to try to meet my goal this year, and await the next with joyful anticipation of good things to come, although these have always been in the now. I wish you all a happy and healthy Holiday Season, and beyond, and a very Merry Christmas to those who celebrate it. May you inspire this new year.

Love,

Inkspeare

On Falling Behind and a Carton of Eggs

Today, the dreary feeling that has haunted me for weeks grew stronger as I made my morning cup of coffee. The thought blinded my conscience as if plastered in large neon green letters all over my head – I AM BEHIND! Worry settled in another day and inspiration took cover behind my wishful thinking. One thought led to another and before I was aware a feeling of guilt creeped inside my heart. Desperation fluttered inside my gut and I gasped for air as I stared at the carton of eggs that I had just emptied. Somehow, the printed cursive blue letters called on me, and I read – “This is the Day which the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalms 118:24  What an oddity, I thought, printed on the inside of the egg carton I found the perfect words that I needed to hear. I decided to make those words my inspiration today and every time I might feel that I AM BEHIND. Because it does not matter if I am behind or not, or my perception of it – my truth is that behind or not, “this is the day which the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” And that is what I decided to do.

I realized that my perception of time and reality has nothing to do with God’s timing and plan; and that even when I might feel that I am behind (on work, on chores, on projects, on life … fill the blank) I might not be at all – I might be just where I am supposed to be on my journey. Although I have heard and read these words many times, it took a carton of eggs at the right time to make them meaningful when I needed them. I grabbed the scissors and cut out the words from the egg carton and placed them in front of me, at eye level near the computer screen, as a daily reminder. Somehow, breakfast tasted better. Here is a picture of the cut-out. I hope it inspires you as well.

Photo by M.A.D.

Photo by M.A.D.

 

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.

 

 

 

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.