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.

 

 

Ouch and Developing Hind’s Feet

Life is full of serendipity and synchronicity, and although time (timing) plays a role, it truly does not matter how long it has been, how many years have gone by, because when life, God, the Universe … fill the blank — wants to convey a message to you, everything comes to a halt so you may listen and pay attention. It has been my experience.

As a quick update, and following my earlier post, I broke my right arm near the shoulder, so it has been painful and I am undergoing physical therapy. I have not been able to tend to my writing as it was painful to write, but I am feeling better now. During this time, I have done a lot of reading. Right now I am reading a book that I read about 20 + years ago – Hind’s Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard – an allegory dramatizing the journey each of us must take before we can live in “high places.”

The book was given to me by a priest. I read the book when I was younger (much younger) and I loved it. It inspired me then, but little did I know the difference that the span of 20+ years makes when you read it again. I had forgotten about the book. I had lent it to a friend, years had gone by, and out of sight out of mind. Recently, I got a package in the mail from my dear friend, and in it I found the book with a lovely note that expressed how she was organizing her home and found the book and was returning it to me “since books are like children and should not be separated from their parents for too long” (her own words).  When I saw it, I became excited since I had forgotten about that book entirely. Then I thought, “there is a reason why I should be reading this book now, and I believe that there is a message in it for me.” Little did I know that the book contained the wisdom I needed at this moment, but moreover, the words were new to me; a different kind of understanding developed this time, as I read it. Is it the wisdom of years and experiences gone by or the need for those words at this moment? Maybe a combination of both, but I am grateful to my dear friend and I believe that she was inspired to send me the book that my soul needed now while many of my systems are being tested. How beautiful and amazing life is despite the many tests and situations it presents us with, when we least expect them. It all ties in and we are all connected in this beautiful reality and beyond.

We live in a material and dimensional reality which many times we measure by L (long) x W (wide) x H (high) but when we halt, listen, and yearn for more we can start living by another reality L (life) x W (wonder) x H (heights/new heights) and experiencing existence at another level, more meaningful, more magical, more divine. Here I leave you with another inspirational picture – a flower from my garden that may seem simple at first glance but which contains a whole universe when we look at it closely.

Photo by M.A.D.

Photo by M.A.D.

 

 

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 🙂

 

 

 

The Dinorah Chronicles – The Book of Sharon

I am very happy to announce  the release of the second book of The Dinorah Chronicles trilogy – The Book of Sharon.

It is available through Amazon and CreateSpace in paperback and Kindle edition.

By now, you already know how much I love to find theme songs/videos in YouTube for my novels and what better opportunity than this one to leave you with this awesome song by the Editors – I want a forest. The youtuber is frogfromnz.  When I heard this song, I could not think of a more perfect song for the novel. The Youtuber did a great job with the video as well, and I certainly love this song by the Editors (by now, you probably know that I love the Editors).

I hope you enjoy it, so here it is.

 

PS – Thank you to all of you who have liked and follow this blog; it means a lot. Sometimes, it may take a while for me to catch up, but I always try to do my best and visit as well 🙂

 

 

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.

 

 

 

Blue Season – Systems Crash

Photo by MAD

Photo by MAD

As human, you may have experienced a blue season. It is when one of your support systems fail or crash. As organized people we have many support systems, some basic – family, friends, marriage, home, finances, health … – other systems are unique to your particular situation or life arrangement. A blue season may be brief or lengthy, come at once or crawl up on you. No matter its nature, it is still a blue season, and a whole bucket of emotions come with it. If you are lucky, you deal with one failing system at a time; however, sometimes, all systems crash at once. This is when your humanity is tested in all areas, and if there’s an echo of divinity in you, better take a good hold on it, because you’ll need it – even if you don’t believe.

What happens when the big test comes? The answer is as unique as we are, and so is the solution or outcome. The tools to use during this time appear in you somehow, and you pick them up or ignore them. During a blue season, whether a single test, or the big one, emotions and feelings run wild, solutions evade or play hide and seek, the mind plays inhumane tricks on your ego, and the physical you collapses, rendering yet another of your systems (health) weak. If you are among the Job (bible character) category, all your systems will fail at once, and Mega Blue Season it is. Better hold on tight for the ride, because this one is a wild one, and most likely, when you are crawling breathless, you will still find strength to yell, “Not fair, not me!” Just in time to collapse once more. But where did the idea of wanting a fair life came from? From our humanity.

Thank God (or whatever you choose to call it) for colors. Colors make a difference. We understand colors, just as we understand music, tunes… We can make the shades of blue whatever we want – perception? No, it is more than that, more like painting a response. We can paint our response the shade we want, until we dilute the blue to a pure white, coming out of it drenched in light, stronger, wiser, glad, and alive. Be grateful for that; I am. It is humanity at its best, or maybe a small grain of the divine seed in us. Whatever it is, it is there inside every one of us to call upon in the hour of need, during the blue season.

Easier said than done? Maybe doing has nothing to do with it. Maybe knowing is just enough. In the end, it will always be up to us. The response is up to us. Whether one or all systems crash during the blue season, how we respond during its length will determine the outcome. And that is all there is to know, as long as we choose to know.

When Your Inner Critic Befriends the Naysayers

Boom! This is an explosive combination. Inner Critic + Naysayer(s) = Dangerous Liaison. If you are human, you have an inner critic living inside you. It is a ruthless, sneaky, negative, tricky, hopeless saboteur who celebrates doubt, chaos, fear, weakness, and illogical self-punishment. It creeps when you least expect it and creates the perfect environment for growing failure.  It sucks that you have to live with this innate character 24/7 but it does not have to be like that; you, the real you – the positive, enlightened, spiritual, self-assured, divine, and blessed soul who happens to live next to it, have the total control and will to overpower the inner critic. Because the inner critic knows this, it has to find outside help to validate itself, to become stronger, and to overpower the real you. It is when it welcomes any naysayer available for grabs. The inner critic delights in such presence and input; it is the perfect companion to build together an environment fertile for growing the fruits of failure – the enemies of the spirit. Because of this, you have to be vigilant and smart about the kind of company you keep, as well as the kind of conversations you encourage. Too much of it will weaken you, and will lower your defenses. It will dwindle your faith and will consume your inspiration. It will slowly envelop you in a fake comfort-blanket of self-pity and lethargy that will keep growing until it destroys you.

It is normal to have doubt, fear, even a bit of self-pity sometimes; after all, we live in blood and flesh bodies in a material world. However, it is when you allow the inner critic to form the above equation that you empower it.

Photo by M.A.D.

Photo by M.A.D.

 

Answering Your Calling – Enjoy the Process

Animation of the structure of a section of DNA...

Animation of the structure of a section of DNA. The bases lie horizontally between the two spiraling strands. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Life is full of surprises, of twists and turns, of straight roads, of the predictable, of the inevitable, of the good, and of the not-so-good … life is a miracle. It seems short many times, too short; other times, it may seem as an eternity, depending on what chapter are you living or reliving. When we are young, we live day by day, as if life is eternal; with the pass of time, we realize that it is not, and so our search for meaning begins. We experience mid-life crisis, moments of enlightenment, moments of despair, epiphanies, and absolute sense of loss. Time becomes important, precious, our best ally, and our worst measure of self. We come to a halt; suddenly, we need more, meaning and purpose – we want to find our calling. So we set on a journey of discovery, introspection, and awe. A journey that is different for every human being. To each, its own, says the adage. We focus on finding, and we search and question, ponder and wonder … and we become exhausted. We have not found our calling. Maybe, there is nothing to be found. How can we find what is already there?

We don’t have to find our calling, we have to answer it. Each human being is here for a reason, an important and unique (as DNA) purpose. It is engraved in us, and no matter how much time goes by, the calling is still there. Our searching is part of the process of discovering to be able to answer when we are ready – in perfect synchronicity, in harmony. Instead of enjoying this process, we become frustrated, impatient, sad, lonely, angry, desperate, hopeless, doubtful, without faith … we forget about the now, the moment that is part of the whole that becomes the calling. When we become aware of the now, we begin to answer. Wonderful and magical things happen as we become present.