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.
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Tape measure (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Is it worth it? I have asked this a few times. It is a question that one time or another will cross your mind and heart. The answer to it is as individual as we are. It comes down to not so much the Why or What or even When but of How Much. How much do you want something (Fill the blank)? This is where the answer is. I have read countless of books on achieving goals/dreams and many of them focus on the Why. Find your why and you will find a reason. This is true; however, sometimes a reason is not enough, no matter how powerful. Sometimes it comes down to how much you want something, and is it worth the pain to achieve it. By pain I mean all the things you will have to do, modify, change, refuse, sacrifice, endure … to persevere to get what/where you want.
Is it a matter of time? To each its own, time is irrelevant, I have found (although necessary as a measure in the physical). It is my perception of time that matters. How long am I willing to keep on going, on believing, on working towards this or that, on waiting, on just being there, on trying, on moving on, on … How much am I willing to give? How much of my time, my energy, my effort, my hope, my faith, my focus, my interest, my … How much? How much longer will I … persevere? Is it worth it? The answer is as individual as you are. How Much for you is all about You. You, Me, we are in constant evolution. You, Me are one and of the same. It adds another layer, doesn’t it?
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What is bliss? It is defined as: supreme happiness; utter joy or contentment. I define it as finding your balance, your equilibrium. Each individual’s bliss is different. And everyone operates at a different level. Sometimes, we burn ourselves running after what we think will make us happier: more money, another step on the corporate ladder, a bigger paycheck, or many other ideals. In our search and journey we realize that something is missing, even when the prize has been obtained. In the intense focus and chase of our goal, we fell out of balance – we lost our bliss.
Somehow, our prize is not as shiny as we thought it was. And soon, we set our eyes on another goal, and the race starts all over again. Setting goals, and planning is great, but we also have to find the balance while achieving them, otherwise we lose appreciation and become empty vessels looking for fulfillment. So, how do we follow our bliss without ending up tired and disappointed?
Because everyone is unique, there is no recipe or mold. The answer is within us, and all we have to do is look inside and figure out what makes us, not only happy, but whole. When we realize what it is, slow and steady steps will take us there, while enjoying the process on the way. Each day will bring its own rewards, but its challenges, too.
We live on an instant fast-paced society. Everything was due yesterday. We are conditioned to react and think fast. If we want to follow our bliss, we will have to slow down the speed of life, or at least our perception of it (our attention). When we live mindfully we are slowing down the speed and opening our minds and hearts to what makes us whole and happy. Some of us, will make radical changes, others, small adjustments. For some, the climb is steep, for others a small turn in the road. But the rewards are living a happy and balanced life in harmony with one’s self and the world around us. What could be better than that?
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People who are artistic and creative may tend to get anxious at times; I am one of those people. We tend to over think, over analyze, many times about our art or endeavors, although that may seem as a contradiction. Creative people are not as flaky as many times they have been misrepresented – if anything I would accuse my self of being silently overly dramatic. There are many reasons why anxiety might try to creep into your day and ways in which you can deal with it. Sometimes, it is just a matter of putting order in your day and in your mind.
- A creative or artistic person who stops creating ends filled up and ready to explode. This will lead to a feeling of anxiety and uneasiness. Keep creating; it may be your bread and butter but also an outlet.
- Artistic people love beauty and we see beauty in the oddest of places and objects. Many creative people are shopaholics. This may become a source of anxiety – even if you are overspending on work supplies. We need to control spending because it creeps up in a feeling of guilt; that is a source for anxiety, since many artists and writers are in a controlled budget.
- Respect what you do; it is not a hobby (if applicable), it is your job. When we don’t treat our day as a work day and give it the seriousness that it deserves we are inviting others to think of and view our art/work as a hobby. This will come back to haunt the artist/writer and be a source of anxiety as well. And this takes us to number 4.
- Money is necessary but it is not all. Many times, for the creative person, results are more valuable than money; however it starts with how you view what you do.
- Give some structure to your day. Many creative people refuse to work with a tight schedule or agenda; however, working with none is dangerous as well. Find a balance to what works for you. Plan your workday but also leave room for changes and variety – nothing worst for creativity than falling into a rut, it can shut you down.
- Take a break during the day. Do something unrelated; it keeps you sane and happy.
- Don’t forget to give thanks. Start your day by being thankful for everything and you will see a difference in the way your day goes by. You will approach your art/work with a positive vibe.
I wrote this post with the artists and writers on mind; however, this may apply to your passion, whatever that may be.
Today’s spot belongs to Dr. Tom Bibey: Stories of the Bluegrass Music Road (Physician Bluegrass Fiction), and a very special blog it is. Dr. Tom Bibey, a physician and a bluegrass musician, is also an indie writer. His book The Mandolin Case came out last year in May. Dr. Bibey (or Dr. B, as he is called by people who know him well) has a very special way to write his blog; when you read it, it feels as if he is talking to you, even if you don’t know how his voice sounds like – it is almost as if he is present in the page – and that makes for awesome blogging, in my opinion. His blog tells his story, his work, and his passion. I also like that the blog is easy on the eyes, well-organized and labeled – you know where everything is.
You will follow his experiences and book signings as well as southern insight, and if you love bluegrass you are in for a treat, because according to Dr. Bibey, it is the only physician bluegrass fiction blog around – so that in itself makes it very special. If you enjoy a lighthearted and wise conversation on the page, with southern charm and great vibe, visit Dr. Tom Bibey: Stories of the Bluegrass Music Road . Just as he calls it “Almost ‘Bout Perfect Life – find out from Dr. Bibey why is that so. This one, in my book, is one awesome blog!
I wake up early, around 5 am, everyday. If I went to bed late that only means that my focus and concentration suffers the next day – I feel as a zombie all day, and have trouble putting sentences together. Cats jumping and playing around all nite long, only makes it worst. The foggy feeling continues all day – and despite all the coffee – unless I imitate my feline friends and take a quick catnap. It may be 15-20 minutes but it certainly makes a difference – I feel refreshed and my mind is a bit more clear. It also helps me with energy levels.
For some, it may be difficult to take a quick 15 minute break of shut-eye, but resting your eyes by closing them and maybe closing the door to your office (or going to the restroom) may work, if you need that jolt of energy. Even after you get home, you can benefit of those fifteen minutes if you need them.
For writers, especially if you have a crazy schedule and are balancing many projects at once, catnapping will work wonders. It gives you that little extra jolt of energy to focus much better.
At one point, taking naps used to be a common thing in our society; we became busier and hurried, relinquishing this short pleasure. Some cultures still use naps, and I bet you they live in a less cranky society. The amount of daily noise in our lives has also intensify, making napping almost impossible. If you live in a large city, then that might not be a problem, since you are used to sleep thru all kinds of noises.
My point to all this rambling is to use cat naps as a tool to help your focus and writing disposition, especially when you have deadlines, and may have gone to bed late at night. A catnap on time may save a squiggly line.
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Simplifying your life may sound easier than done. That is because when we decide to (truly) simplify our lives, the process has percolated in the spiritual sense. Something has happened on the inside that is starting to manifest on the outside. The truth is that we do not recognize this; we just feel the desire of simplifying our material lives and this is where we usually start. Suddenly, we start decluttering our home and environments in which we spend most of our time. We declutter our desk, closets, attic … and the healing begins. This is necessary to make space on our cluttered minds and hearts to welcome the things that are needed for our healing. This is a personal process, for some people, it takes longer than for others, and you arrive at this cleansing stage on your own terms and in different circumstances. The important issue is that you arrive and let the growth begin.
What started as material decluttering suddenly transforms into spiritual decluttering as well, and the path’s design is personal – unique to you. Each one of us are here on a journey – whether a short or long journey. Many times, people watching you from the outside do not understand this much-needed cleansing and may think that you are going nuts, even try to dissuade you to hold on to your stuff – “Get a storage space,” they will suggest, “You will be sorry you got rid of that one day,” and some other similar remarks. However, it is up to you – it is always up to you to continue your journey.
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One of the areas that we seem to neglect the most is having a good night sleep. One of the biggest culprits – chores, TV, PC, and all our favorite shows and movies. It is truly hard to dedicate the proper amount of hours to sleeping. However, I have found that when I go to bed earlier, I am more productive the next day and my mind seems more clear. For me, eight hours seems to be the perfect amount, others need more, others less.
Sleeping well makes me less grouchy and it actually helps my writing. I can write more in less amount of time, and it also helps my inspiration – ideas flow more fluently. I recommend sleeping as a tool for better writing – it does sound funny, but true, at least in my case.
When I feel less tired and more refreshed/awake the tone set for the day is totally different and I can carry out many things that have been put aside for lack of energy or “time.” Somehow, suddenly there is time for more …
Give it a try, and see if it helps your writing and your day, overall.
Simple Abundance – A Daybook of Comfort and Joy by Sarah Ban Breathnach
Although this book has been around for a while now (1995) it wasn’t until recently that I got to read it. Immediately I loved it. I have to admit that it has sat in my library for a year, maybe two; I just did not have enough time to get to it – but it kept calling me. Finally, I listened and read it. I did not read it as intended, one chapter a day, instead I read it until my eyes became blurry, and then came back for more day after day.
I recommend this book to anyone that is in the path of a simple life and needs inspiration. Its principles are even more true more than a decade later. If you are in search of simplicity and abundance, you will enjoy this jewel.