Creative expression through the written word

Archive for January, 2013

Whose responsible anyway?

“Look at the word responsibility—“response-ability”—the ability to choose your response. Highly proactive people recognize that responsibility. They do not blame circumstances, conditions, or conditioning for their behavior. Their behavior is a product of their own conscious choice, based on values, rather than a product of their conditions, based on feeling.” ~ Stephen R. Covey from The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People

Okay, so I admit it….when I first read this I thought, WOW, pretty cool. Then I really started thinking about it and pretty soon my inner dialogue was, “Well crap-o-lah!” I mean lets just take a look at this for a second. The word Response-Ability, the ability to choose your response. Great. Fantastic. I get that every moment is a choice and I am the chooser to how I respond to each moment. Got it – next.

Highly productive people recognize that responsibility. Okay, so I understand that too. If you are actively seeking to “be aware” you are cognizant of your personal responsibility to choose how you respond to everything. Again…pretty standard stuff but lets move on here.They do not blame circumstances, conditions, or conditioning for their behavior. EEK! (Come to a screeching halt)…..What did I hear you say? Um….hmmm….I consider myself to be a pretty balanced person and I know there are definitely times in my life when I blame circumstances, conditions or past conditioning for my behavior. I can admit it because I know everyone else does it too. True not everyone will own up to it but that is something they have to work on. So, to be highly effective and proactive I need to stop doing this? Well there is a life mission if ever I heard one. Too bad I’m already almost 44. This would have been so much easier to learn how to do when I was say…a newborn?

Their behavior is a product of their own conscious choice, based on values, rather than a product of their conditions, based on feeling. So this has me pondering. How do I base my behavior on values rather than feelings? Don’t I have to KNOW what those values are? How do I discover them? I already try to adhere to my own personal set of ethics and walk with integrity but I’ve always found when I let my heart (feelings) speak it leads me to amazing places. So here I sit, pondering, wondering, just how many people are truly responsible by Stephen Covey’s definition? Who truly walks through life behaving according the concept of “being able to choose your own response” and accepting everything that comes with that “second by second” choice? I’m hoping I’m not alone in needing to grow in this area. Man do I have a LONG way to go yet.

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Hi ho…Hi ho…to the library I go

871147_989689881 I love libraries. There is something very appealing about walking into the library and seeing rows and rows of books. I love the quietness disrupted by the sounds of movement or pages turning. I love to see rows of book spines facing me like siren calls to adventure. I love seeing a book I have read in someone else’s hands and secretly knowing the journey they are about to undertake when they open the pages. I love looking at the book covers and wondering about the artist that created them.

Really, there isn’t much I don’t love about the library. I always enjoy it when I go but I just don’t go often enough. I’m not sure why I don’t go more often. It makes sense to borrow books from the library rather than go out and spend money to purchase the book. (Not that I don’t like supporting authors by purchasing books) As I was looking around my local library I realized I would probably really enjoy working a day or two a month at the library. (Have laptop, can travel) The atmosphere is calming and sometimes that is exactly what I need to productive.

I actually know people who have never been to the public library. That’s just sacrilegious in my book. So here is my plug for supporting your local library. Next time you get an hour of free time, head to the library and see what kind of adventures await you in the myriad of books sitting on the shelves waiting to be taken home and enjoyed. You’ll be glad you took the time…I promise!

I read…therefore I am

ReadingBooks…they are a passion. Actually, they are more than that. They are an obsession. I love books. I realize we are in the digital age and books are so easy to “take along” with you in the form of smartphones, tablets, iPhones, iPads, mp3 players and multiple kinds of eReaders. I will admit that I absolutely love reading books on my phone and my tablet. It’s extremely convenient.

That being said, I would call myself a traditionalist because nothing replaces the feel of a book in my hands, the smell of a new book when it is opened or the highlighting and notes in the margins of books that I have found inspirational. I can look at a well-loved book and the worn cover, creased spine, sometimes tattered pages and feel overwhelming gratitude for the author that has given me so many hours of pleasure.

Books and reading are an essential part of who I am. If I couldn’t constantly be in the middle of some story or another I wouldn’t know what to do with myself. I find there are so many thoughts in books that make me think, that challenge my own ideas, that engage my sense of humor or tap into so many of my emotions it feels like I am on a roller coaster but that is what I love about books and reading. I’ve learned so much about myself from books.

I guess that is one of the reasons that it was hard to claim I was a writer. I truly look up to writers. I admire and respect them so much. I value their courage to put their thoughts and opinions out into the world. I guess my dream is that someday, something I write will impact and change another persons life in a positive way and that person will be grateful that I had the courage to sit down and put my thoughts and opinions out in the world too. So, I suppose it all begins here, where digital pen meets digital paper and in the meantime, I read books as one would breathe air, to fill up and live.

Two Basic Needs

0Today I attended the first half of a two-day training on Non-Violent Communication. So, you may be wondering what exactly Non-Violent communication is. I knew very little about it myself when we started. Well, simply defined it is the ability to create a quality of connection with yourself and others through compassionate listening and speaking so as to understand everyone’s needs and so that everyone’s needs are equally valued. That’s a big mouthful to say, that it is communicating in a way that shows I care as much about your needs as I do about my own. (or at least that is my layman definition) Anyway, I really learned a lot today. There were several quotes and key points I took away from the training. I have pages of notes and a few “ah-ha” moments that I get to ponder for two weeks until the next training day. There are so many things that I could share with you but I think the thought that has settled into my mind for deep consideration is this: “We all come into this world with two basic needs. Unconditional love and unconditional acceptance.” – Cat Zavis

Isn’t it amazing that everything can boil down to those two things? Everything we say, do, think, feel, experience and create is an attempt to bring us one or the other of these things. Even the negative expression of these actions is an attempt to bring us these two things. It is unconditional love and acceptance that we yearn for in the deepest part of our soul and we will do anything to get it. This isn’t a conscious thought behind our behaviors. It’s just a subconscious motivator, a filter if you will, that we live our life by. If you can look at everyone you come in contact with through the eyes if understanding that they are looking for unconditional love and acceptance even if their behavior doesn’t appear to show that, it completely changes how you see people. It changes how you will interact in the world.

Since the new adventure of writing has been my topic of late I did a little bit of internal investigation on how this thought tied into my recent decision to work on my writing and blogging. Once I applied the light of our two basic needs to the fear of me writing for the public it became crystal clear. I desperately want unconditional love and acceptance and I am afraid that the “Trina” the world will see through my writing won’t receive those two things. It is the core of the fear that has been holding me back. One of the tools you learn in Non-Violent communication is empathy – to self and to others. Now that I recognize the core of the fear I can give myself empathy and slowly erase the fear. It’s a step of faith, just like walking into the writer’s group the other day. Only this time the step of faith is into myself. It is a step of faith that I can love myself and accept myself in the role of writer. So I ask you….where in your life are you challenged to love yourself unconditionally and with unconditional acceptance? Are you brave enough to have empathy for yourself and see where it takes you?

If you are then this quote is for you: “Out beyond ideas of right doing and wrong doing there is a field. I will meet you there.” – Rumi, the Sufi Poet

Never worry until your heart stops beating

me-worryI read this quote today….”Worry is the misuse of imagination” – Dan Zadra

The more I have thought about it today, the more I have decided that I love that quote. Being a writer I have a very vivid imagination. I use it all the time to create storylines, characters, problems, resolutions, other  worlds, etcetera. I dream about stories, I daydream about stories. This is a good thing right? Well, yes it is, but I also have spent years holed up in my imagination afraid to step into the light. I’ve allowed my imagination to create a world where no one wants to read what I write, where people sit in judgment on the thoughts I express and where criticism is the worst thing that could happen to me. Its just as vivid a world to me as the ones my characters live in. That voice of darkness whispers through my mind just like the voices of the characters that I write. I have spent so much time wrapped up in that imaginary world that I didn’t even realize it was imaginary. I know…How sad is that?!

However, what I love about that quote is that worry is simply the misuse of the imagination. That means I can start at any moment to use it correctly. It’s a choice. I can choose to let my imagination “run away with me” or I can choose to “run away with my imagination”. There is a vast difference between the two and as I am willing to look at where my imagination has taken me along for a ride of fear and doubt, it creates the opportunity for me to take back the driver’s wheel and direct my imagination where I want it to go. Sounds productive…sounds healthy…now, if only it were that simple.

The Road to Mastery

Last night at the writing group someone mentioned that a speaker at a big writing convention in Seattle said that writers should aim to release 4 books a year. 4 books a year? Are you freaking kidding me? I can’t get one done in a year! okay, admittedly I don’t work on my writing enough but holy crap, really? 4 frigging books a year? I don’t mind saying I wasn’t the only one to react in a “non-positive” way at that announcement. I did feel a bit better about myself to see all these other writers, some published, reacting in a similar way. However, I’ve been thinking about it all day and was reminded of an email I received from Brian Johnson, the creator of en*theos and the Philosopher’s Notes which I had kept. I went back and found the email. It was titled “Practice, Practice, Practice”. Now if that isn’t a portent of the direction my life is taking I don’t know what is. Anyway, in his email he quoted a couple of things from Eric Butterworth:

“Ask the great athlete or the concert pianist or the successful actor if they arrived at the place where they need no further practice. They will tell you that the higher you climb in proficiency and public acceptance, the greater the need for practice.” ~ Eric Butterworth from Spiritual Economics

How about this:

“The great piano virtuoso Paderewski was once playing before an audience of the rich and the royal. After a brilliant performance, an elegant lady waxed ecstatic over the great artist. She said, “Ah Maestro, you are a genius!” Paderewski tartly replied, “Ah yes, madam, but before I was a genius I was a clod!” What he was saying was that his present acclaim was not handed to him on a silver platter. He, too, was once a little boy laboriously practicing his scales. And even at his peak, behind every brilliant performance there were countless hours of practice and preparation.” ~ Eric Butterworth from Spiritual Economics

The point he was making was that no one becomes a master until they put in the time to become a master. Everyone starts somewhere and it is the dedication you put into the craft that makes you great. In a later email Brian says something about the actual amount of hours that it takes to become a master. It was something like 10,000 hours. When my husband and I did the math we figured out that it equals 8.5 hours a day in dedicated practice to become a Master. Now I don’t know about you but the thought of giving myself 1 hour a day to write seems like a stretch and a HUGE commitment. I guess that is where I am though and that means that is where I have to start. So for me…..I am going to start with blogging more frequently, attending the monthly writer’s group and setting aside at least 1 hour of my day to journal and work on my writing.  Mastery of the craft is the goal but its going to take baby steps to get there.

A Step of Fatih

So today I took a deep breath and did something I have talked about, thought about, dreamt about, but never had the nerve to do. I joined a writer’s group in my home town called the Upstart Crows. So what’s the big deal you ask? Well, since I was 15 years old writing has been a secret passion. It has been an escape and an outlet for my creativity. I used to write stories for my friends when I was in high school, often featuring their current love interests and all the typical drama that makes up the life of a teenager. It was something fun for me and my friends loved it. When my boyfriend went into the Navy I would send him a chapter a week in the mail of a love story featuring us and as he made friends on the ship I added them into the story and created love interests that were their “dream girls”. The guys would pass the chapters around the ship.

I even wrote a short story in my high school English class and I have had other people suggest that I should try to get that story published. And there lies the crux of the matter. Something that has always been so much fun for me becomes a thing of great fear when I think about writing for the general public. Crazy I know but I actually think I am afraid of being successful. I mean, what happens if I actually can write and people like what I have to say and then, God forbid, I have to write on a schedule or finish a story to completion?

Of course there is that voice in the back of my head that says, “You aren’t a writer. No one would want to read what you write. People will think it is awful and criticize you.” and of course then there is the voice that says, “People are going to know that you wrote those words, they came from your mind.” It’s almost as if I am afraid that people will be able to see me through my writing. To understand me, to really know me and it scares the crap out of me.

I have the saying, “You have to want it more than you are afraid of it” as my phone background so that I see it multiple times a day. Tonight, I finally took a step of faith and went the first meeting of the year for the Upstart Crows writing group. I didn’t know a single person there and I went by myself. I sat in a room with 20 other people and announced myself as a writer, declared I write romances and made the commitment to myself to take this step of faith and see where it will take me. Yes, it’s scary as hell but at least I am doing something now instead of just dreaming about someday.

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