Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Lammas 2017

I don't know what it is about this time of year, but I am all kinds of restless and distracted. Summer always is that way, at least since I had a kid that started school. The lack of routine and social interaction can lead to those feelings all on their own. However, I realize that life comes with seasons that naturally produce their own sorts of vibrations.

Today is a minor festival in the Wheel of the Year, known as Lammas (or Lughnasadh). It is traditionally celebrated on August 1st and is known as the Festival of the First Harvest. The more I research this ancient celebration, the more I realize I'm not the only one who feels restless this time of year.

I love summer, the only thing I love more than summer is fall, probably because it follows summer. There is something magical that happens in the sunlight and the long days of the hottest months (if you are in the northern hemisphere at least.) But at this point, the mark between the summer solstice and the Autumn equinox, I am finally saturated with Vitamin D and beginning to miss the productivity that school and autumn represent for me.

I read about the history of the Gaelic festival known as Lughnasadh named after the god Lugh. He held a feast and athletic event to honor his mother who died of exhaustion to make way for the agriculture of the Ireland plains. The mythology is fascinating, but still the legend hits home in a subtle way.

We planted a garden this year and are already reaping some of the fruits, specifically tomatoes. The peppers are coming and the herbs have already been supplying us throughout the summer. There is something fulfilling about harvesting food sowed by your own hands. In a world where the supermarket is the closest a field as we come, even this small harvest is significant to me.

It also so happens, that this is known as the time to make bread as the first grains are harvested. We have been making our own bread starter to do just that. I am excited to bake that first loaf. Though, due to other obligations, that will probably have to wait until next week, but still the celebration is still strong in my heart.

There is a restlessness that is natural with the steady quickness of the harvest and the preparation for winter. We are only in the early stages yet, but the sun is setting earlier and earlier in the night sky and I am already anticipating the cooler days and nights to come.

In another place I researched this celebration, it was called the "Tide of Ebb and Flow." I can see that too. I feel like I'm in a sort of limbo. I was excited as summer began. Living in the Pacific Northwest gives me a new appreciation for warmth and sunshine. I grew up in South Carolina and knew heat and summer thunderstorms during the summer months. Now, it is dark and damp most of the year, it is during these precious summer months that I can relax and just be.

Yet, somehow, I feel restless and lost in a way. It is during this day, the Lammas celebration, that I begin to meditate on why I've been feeling this way. I am both sad and excited to see the sun dip lower in the sky earlier in the evening as we head once again toward autumn and the fun of school, football and routine. But I don't want to dismiss this precious time either. I am grateful to the sun and the ability to slow down and live in the moment.

This summer I have lacked focus and decisiveness, but I have gained inspiration in droves that I can't wait to bring into the cool autumn air with hour blocks of time to focus and write once again.

Life is full of seasons and I for one am grateful for their passing and their encouragements to seek contentment in the moment.

This has been a season of both joy and frustration. It is a season of transition, so I expect nothing less. I am thankful for the time, the sun and the harvest. I yearn to grown in this season, in this moment, and bloom in the next. My restlessness is undeniable, yet from it have learned that growth happens when we least expect it and by finding a balance and graciousness for this season I am prepared for the next.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

I Think I Need To Fail More

There is an old saying, "The master has failed more times than you have tried."

I imagine this saying with a meme of Yoda, old and sage, guiding young Skywalker to fulfill his destiny.

photo credit
I laugh along with it, just like everyone else, but then I start to see some truth in his words.

Writing has been a passion of mine for most of my life. I've written about it recently in a post called, Why I Write. But even though I've been writing for years, even being published in newspapers, magazines and literary books, I want more. I want to write a novel. I want to make a career out of writing. The thing I realize it this... I need to fail more.

Which means I need to produce more. Because the result of doing a lot of work is not always grand success. Sometimes it is as simple as finding a process that works, an inspiration that calls, or a motivation that entices me to finish.

I need to write and publish more, without a fear of failure. So what if two out of ten posts are a complete flop. At least I continued my practice of developing ideas and putting them out into the world for review. I can learn from what doesn't work more easily than I can learn from what does. People are always more specific in things they dislike as opposed to things they like.

When someone reads a post or a book they either hate it, nod at it an then move on, or it inspires them to create something of their own. I always aim for the latter, am happy with the nod, but it's from the haters that you can learn to be better at your craft.

Now don't get me wrong, haters are gonna hate. There are going to be people that just don't get you, think completely differently, or are just having a bad day. Nonetheless, there is always constructive criticism worth listening to and developing from. There is no use getting worked up over this, it is all part of the process. It is just another failure on your way to becoming a master of your craft.

I want more of this. Not that I like failing, but to become better, you have to challenge yourself and step out of your comfort zone. This can be hard and you may not be good at it, but keep trying, it will be worth it in the end.

I want to fail more so that I can be better. And because it means I am giving all of myself to my craft. I want to keep working and trying to improve. Most of all, I want keep doing the thing that I love in the hopes of inspiring others to do what they love. If I can do that, for even one person, then all of my strife, rejection and success will be worth it. The simple act of writing is enough for me.

Don't be afraid to fail, be afraid to stop trying to do new things and explore what you love to do.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The Balance of Inspiration and Motivation

Any project, big or small, needs both inspiration and motivation to complete. I apply this directly to my writing, but honestly it pertains to my hobbies as well.

Inspiration is an animating action or influence for creation, providing a reason to start a project. I find insight in my writing, but also in my yoga practice, my cross stitch, my painting, my cooking, and my reading. Honestly, the list could go on. I find an idea to explore and give myself room to do just that. Inspiration helps me convey a concept, at the very least it gives me a reason to try something new or do something that I already love.

Motivation is having a strong reason to accomplish a task. This is what you need to finish a project. I've seen numerous motivation posters calling to make it to end of the race or the day. It is what makes you persist through the doubts and setbacks. It is what we need to be able to share a complete idea or product with others.

You need both. It must be a balance. The inspiration begins the journey and the motivation sees it through. It can work in any medium; however, I apply it most to my writing. I get a thought, or spark an idea and want to move forward and find the right combination of words to aptly share that idea with others.

However, life gets in the way, constantly. I get distracted and nothing makes sense. Someone needs me or I have another project that needs to be priority. Some days I'm just too tired to even bother. Those days without motivation irk me as much as the days without inspiration.

Sometimes I am ready to work, I have the motivation, but I can't decide what to work on or where to go next within a project. I lack the inspirational influence to create something new. I steadily write notes that surround me, but it seems if I wait too long to expand on an idea it floats away never to return.

The balance between inspiration and motivation is difficult, I'm not going to lie. It remains a consistent struggle. To create a habit of writing that is continuously seeking new input and refining designs for output, is the key to be able to do it forever.

This habit is still in progress for me, but I'm becoming more confident in my abilities. I'm starting to see where I need to reach for to make my passion into a force to be reckoned with. There will always be good days and bad days. Projects that shine and others that fall flat. But that is okay and it is part of the process. Some things work and some don't, but you have to keep trying. Don't fear incorporating new things into your practice and yearn to grow as an artist and as a person. You never know how far you will go when you seek both inspiration and motivation.

Try, fail, and then keep moving forward. Be inspired and be motivated to share it with the world. Now go!

Friday, April 28, 2017

Novel: Leap of Faith

The inspiration for this novel slapped me in the face during a rare getaway experience in Las Vegas, Nevada. This excursion was the first trip I have taken on the West Coast that wasn't immediately surrounding Seattle, WA where we moved almost three years ago. I went with my best friend, we've known each other since we were four, and had the time of our lives.

I had never been to Las Vegas before and found it fascinating. The expansiveness of lights and sounds overwhelms the senses. People from all over the world come to this city, for many reasons. There's the gambling of course, but I wasn't very interested in that.

Fine dinning also brings a lot of tourism to the city. I heard about the food scene, of course, but still, I didn't expect it to be so sensational. We ate at Carlos' bakery, most well know as Cake Boss and Buddy V's Ristorante. They were both indescribable, a real treat. Of course we also ate at Chili's, but there is something amazing about chili cheese fries as a pick me up after walking miles in the heat on a Wednesday afternoon.

Another favorite for Vegas tourists are plentiful and diverse shows. Everything from music to theater, dance to illusionists, aquariums and so many Cirque Du Soleil shows you could see a different one everyday of the week. We enjoyed Mystere tremendously. The entire show fantastically stimulated all the senses and I eagerly absorbed every moment.

In the afterglow of all of these wondrous encounters, I realized the other allure to the city. Las Vegas is a location that doesn't follow the rules; a rebel with a reputation for extravagance. You can drink on the streets and dress in any way and you would not stand out, simply by the extreme range of diversity.

In a city where anything goes, I could imagine it easily becoming a sanctuary for people trying to find something absolutely unique. But then, what happens when you don't find it? Do you move on to keep looking or do you get stuck?

In Leap of Faith, Aria is down on her luck. After a series of bad choices and irrational circumstances she seeks out a place so different from where she began that she doesn't even recognize herself anymore. The move from South Carolina to Las Vegas, Nevada was supposed to be an adventure to find herself. It started out amazing, but after almost three years of mediocre accomplishment, she begins to wonder what she's even looking for anymore.

Roman is an easy going software engineer who just hit his big break with a promotion and his first out-of-state convention to represent the company. All of his work finally paid off. It's all he's focused on since his father passed away his senior year of high school. Now that he has everything he's wanted, is there anything else to look for too?

On an irregular night with longtime friends, Aria experiences an encounter that she can't quite explain, but somehow knows it's exactly what she's been looking for all these years. Roman hasn't looked up from his books or his despair for so long that the trip to Las Vegas opens his eyes and his heart in ways that he couldn't even imagine.

A chance meeting between two very paradoxical people changes both of their lives forever. But what happens when the night ends? They are two different people living on opposite sides of the country. Is that the end for them, or will they consider taking a leap of faith?

Leap of Faith will be my first publish-ready book. I'm currently in the editing stages of this project learning as I go what it takes to finish writing a book. This is an incredible journey and a dream in the making. I hope to begin deciding on my publishing process by Autumn of 2017.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Why I Write

I have been writing ever since I was young. I don't know when I started, it has always been a constant in my life. When life gets rough, I reach for a pen and scribble my grievances. When joy overwhelms me, the ink flows freely still.

I know I have always tried to figure out how people work. I was not exactly a loner, but I enjoyed observing others. I always looked for a connection. And most of the time, I found one.

I don't write to make money. I don't write to gain fame. I write because I enjoy a good story.

Life is hard. It doesn't matter who you are or what you do, living brings daily challenges. Life is a series of bad days and good experiences. But this is the one thing that we all have in common. The trouble is that we forget that we are not the only ones with troubles.

I believe storytelling is a way to bridge that gap. Through the power of words we can connect. '

"The names and faces change, but the story stays the same." This is a mantra I have heard my entire life. The longer I live, the more I believe it. I am in my thirties now and I still remember thinking that was the ancient years. To my daughter I am. And yet, I still feel young, and more inspired now than ever before. Experience, both good and bad, has allowed me to make connections with the world, the people within it and the systems that govern it.

I write because it is a part of me. I write because a good story transcends segregation. I write because I am thrilled by the idea of always connecting, evolving and learning just a little more than I knew before, especially about myself.

People always say to follow your passions. However, how do you know what that is? I suppose writing is a passion, but to me it feels like more of a lifeline. Without putting words on paper, I am lost. It is how I make sense of my surroundings. It is how I understand emotions. And it is how I relate to others.

What do you do? Writing is only one form of creative expression. Any way that you connect with the world and with yourself. Creativity is a very powerful skill, no matter what style you use. It can save you from a wild spiral into self-destruction.

The crux is, it can sent you there too. Look at all the writers and artists who have suffered over the centuries. The creative process is powerful, and yet necessary, for ourselves and the world beyond us. What then are we suppose to do with this double-edged sword?

Wield it. What else are we suppose to do?

The creative process can be summed up in one word., adventure. I don't know what that means for you, but for me it means hiking up to the peaks of innovation only to slide down the avalanche of self-doubt to discover a trail once again that you didn't even know existed.

Creativity is a wondrous world. One which I hope every soul can experience. Whatever your creative endeavors, believe in yourself and they will see you through.

Why do I write? It's simple. Because to not to would be absolute absurdity.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Celebrate Small Victories

It is amazing how easy it is to get overwhelmed while working on a big project. Have you ever noticed that? I'm in the middle of editing a novel, trying to prepare it for publication, and the amount of work that needs to be done is staggering. One day I feel like I have it all figured out needing only time and the next I feel crushed under the weight of expectation.

I relate to this phenomenon in response to more than just writing my novel. Building the foundations of this Website has spurred despaired feelings as well as several other crafting and life projects. The point is, it doesn't take much to rouse self-doubt.

Don't fear! There is a way through this paralyzing reaction.

My approach is to take a very large project and break it down into many very small steps. Then, if possible, split those steps into even smaller steps. The goal is to make each item on the list so minuscule that it would seem silly not to get it finished today.

A substantial project will take a great amount of time no matter what way you look at it. Take the time to section off what needs to happen within the time frame you intend to finish and make each item an accomplishment you can achieve within the amount of time you can work on it in one day. By breaking down a daunting task into easily manageable pieces, doing any action on it feels like a very productive endeavor.

Now, celebrate that victory!

This concept is helping me really keep moving on editing my novel. It is the motivation to drive you from one day to the next. As long as you keep those tiny goals you set, you will be well on your way to accomplishing your larger venture.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017