Creativity, mindset, writing

News Break Ghost-Rejected Me

Not every Medium writer is permitted to board this gravy-train.


Sometimes the writing life can feel like one big hustle. I’ve got the tattoo on my left leg and the garter on my right. I’m wheelin’, dealin’, writing. I’m holding a wild deuce one day and the next, I’m folding, ready to walk away.

The Jack is my all-time favorite AC/DC track but I don’t always know how to play them fast, I’ve never actually contracted the Clap and I’m definitely not always holding a Royal Flush.

But that’s life. You get to play the full house. Count your money. Then, life plays a card that’ll bring you down. A lot like writing, really.

I’ve played cards on Medium that have earned 37k+ reads and over $2,800 per/article. These pieces continue to create revenue in the long-tail. But they’re the wild cards, and frankly, like many writers here on Medium, I’m feeling the pinch since the platform implemented those changes back in late 2020.

So, what does a writer do?

Flip it or double down?

Flip It

I read about the News Break hype back when the news began to spread across the Medium community like a wildfire. Who could miss that? I checked it out but the idea fell to the wayside until one of my more successful Medium writer friends emailed me. He was heading over to News Break and thought I should too.

Hustle.

So, I applied to be a part of their Creator Program, but it turned out that I couldn’t even get formally rejected by News Break. They ghosted me. Twice.

That was a wild deuce without the wild part.

I don’t know if it is because they think that my writing is crappy, my topics off-beat, or if it’s that I’m too Australian for an American based platform. Not to offend, but the rest of the world is starkly aware that a good portion of America believes that the sun rises and sets just for them. And I don’t possess the Medium Star power the likes of fellow talented Aussie writer, Tim Denning.

Ghosting is a real thing in the writing world as much as it exists within our interpersonal relations. It’s so real that it’s almost tangible. I have encountered phantoms, ghouls, and doppelganger spooks in this word-slinging landscape. I’ve even bumped into the Ghost-of-Rejection-Past revisited.

Whatever that means.

Whether you’re dealing with other writers, submitting to an agent, a magazine, or a publisher, or even writing platforms like News Break, you have got to be prepared for the ghost-rejection.

It happens to the best of us.

So, how do you handle the ghost-rejection?

Double Down

We can either let the ghost-rejections haunt us or we can grab a stick of Palo Santo and ghost-bust them the fuck out. Life isn’t just a one-round Poker game, it’s a continual shuffle at Earth Casino. The decks, dealers and your hand may vary, but the table is always in front of you.

You can either play your cards or you can let them play you (and oh, haven’t we all been played at some point).

In a recent blog post written by Seth Godin titled, I’m Just Doing My Job, he asks the question: What if you replaced “doing” with “improving” or “reinventing” or “transforming”?

Repeat: Improving. Reinventing. Transforming.

Three of a Kind in my face.



Right away, it connected. I knew he was right. Godin strikes me as a man with much wisdom and life experience. And even though there has been an occasional instance where I might question his generously imparted life-lesson titbits, I knew that he was onto something here.

Thinking about how to apply those qualities offer us the double-down key. Especially when we’re looking Down the Barrel of a ghost-rejection, or feel as if we’re about ready to give up.

Those three characteristics make for a shift in mindset that is both positive and affirmative in reconnecting with your creative fire, remembering in your heart why you chose the writing life in the first place — your Kicker cards.

The game is endless. You’re not always going to be on an Upswing, but you can think about getting All-in with the above-mentioned Three of a Kind.

A while back, I asked another wise man to take a look at an article I had written about the link between creativity and sexuality titled, The Truth About Love, Sexuality & Creativity. It was around the same time that I first started out writing posts and I had been worried about offending readers.

A wise man told me:

“As far as offending and unsettling, you should be trying to do that. People you “offend” are not your readers anyway. Write from your heart and don’t worry about being polite.”

So, I did.

Eventually, that advice paid off and continues to do so. This, despite almost drowning in the wake of the Medium changes and News Break ghost-rejecting me.

Doubling down looks different to everyone but for me, it means playing the Card of Hearts. Ideally, our heart should be evolving — improving, reinventing, and transforming each time we are called to throw the cards down. So when we get up and dust off our pants, our words remember why we started writing back when.

Get back in the game and do your part in making a difference somehow. That’s what a writer does.

We keep writing with heart and taking risks in pursuit of our dreams.

I’ve got the tattoo on my left leg and the garter on my right. I’m wheelin’, dealin’, writing


This post first appeared on Synergy, Medium

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Creativity, Love and Connection, music

Dirty-Love Dozen

A Grunge-Rock Love Journey.


Honestly, I’m not a Valentine’s Day kind of woman. I won’t lie, there was a time when it might have meant something to me. When I fell for the “flawless” romantic Valentine’s Day hype we see in the media. You know, the pipe-dream feeding us the scoop about how important it is to celebrate love on this one particular day of the year. As if those 24-hours could actually determine the authenticity of your relationship. The bigger the bouquet, the bigger the love, right?

Wait. Don’t answer that. It was a rhetorical question and I was really talking about bouquets… hmm…. where was I?

Big love-things and bigger bouquets aside, I could care less about Valentine’s Day now.

In truth, I like to think of Valentine’s Day in the essence of it’s dark, messy and mysterious history because real life love is like that. Love can be dark, messy and certainly as mysterious as the shady origins of Valentine’s Day.

A bit like a Grunge-Rock love journey, really.

Let me explain.

Romantic love is wonderful. It’s an experience most of us want to create in our lives. To connect deeply, soulfully and honestly with your lover is one of life’s greatest gifts because each time we love, we learn how to open our heart that little bit wider.

But as much as love can activate the best version of ourselves is as much as it has the ability to take us on a journey through the dark night of the soul.

An unforgettable odyssey that causes deep reflection and insight, and transforms us into new states of awareness — better people. We learn so much about ourselves through love and heart pain.

How you fold the experience within your inner-sanctuary makes all the difference between inviting bitterness or benevolence into your life.

We don’t need Valentine’s Day to remind us of that. We just need to understand what love means to us, and how far we’re willing to go for that unique, soulful connection.

My Grunge-Rock Love Journey playlist is for anyone who has known deep love and dark pain, and who, despite everything, has fully realized that love isn’t always like a mushy love song or a romantic movie. Love has a dark side that burns a trail toward the light inside of us if we embrace it.



#1 Love Hurts by Nazareth

“Love is like a flame. It burns you when it’s hot.”

Personally, I can resonate with the energy of love and its sweet darkness through this song.

Love Hurts was originally released by the Everly Brothers on their 1960 album, A Date with The Everly Brothers. But when Nazareth covered the track in 74’, the band’s lead singer Dan McCafferty hit new realms of despair with his emotionally raw vocal delivery. Reminding us about the pain of deep love and ardent passion.

Love Hurts introduces our Grunge-Rock Love Journey because the flame burns, magnetizes and leaves a scar on our soul like nothing else.

#2 Heart-Shaped Box by Nirvana

“I’ve been locked inside your heart-shaped box for weeks.”

Apparently, there was much confusion about how Cobain meant this song to be interpreted. Some speculated that it may have been about cancer. Others, thought it was about drugs.

Me? Right away, the meaning of Heart-Shaped Box echoed the power of the feminine. Courtney Love confirmed my inklings when she said:

“You do know the song is about my vagina, right? Throw down your umbilical noose so I can climb right back, umm. On top of which some of the lyrics about my vagina I contributed…”

Nirvana’s omnipresent Heart-Shaped Box reflects the intricate love dynamics between the masculine and feminine energies.

#3 Sex Type Thing by Stone Temple Pilots

“You wouldn’t want me to have to hurt you too, hurt you too?”

Despite thatthis song may have been composed by Scott Weiland with a very dark subject matter in mind, it’s coming in at track three because my interpretation borders along exquisite lust and sexual power.

“I know you want what’s on my mind.”

Need I say more?

#4 Desire by Meg Myers

“Boy, I’m gonna love you. I’m gonna tear into your soul.”

Sexy. Powerful. Incredibly haunting. Ms. Myers captures the bone-deep yearning of desire with a rebellious flare that resonates like the hunger of a new lover.

Track four, Desire brings a demanding contrast of murky-pure revolution to love. Move me from the inside or move on, buddy.

#5 Touch, Peel and Stand by Days of the New

“And now I stand, and I peel for more.”

Sex or drugs? It’s said that song-writer Travis Meeks wrote these lyrics about “the apple in the garden of Eden — you can touch, peel, and then stand with it, but you’re told not to eat it. In the end were gonna do what were told not to do. It just takes time for us to find that reason.”

Some types of love can be a little messed-up, complicated and extremely addictive.

This acoustic post-grunge number packs a sexy feel that for me, embodies that darkly primitive and at times, disturbing connection between lovers.

#6 Tainted Love by Marilyn Manson

“And the love we share seems to go nowhere.”

Tainted Love was composed by Ed Cobb and originally recorded by Gloria Jean in 1964 before Soft Cell blasted their cover into the UK record charts in 1981. Marilyn Manson, however, brings a unique gothic flavor to this track that captures toxic love perfectly.

When love seems to go nowhere beyond a tease, it’s time to run, baby.

#7 Mudshovel by Staind

“And you rip me apart with the brutal things you say.”

I’m not a musician, so I am unfamiliar with correct muso-lingo, but damn, I love it when the heavy riffs drop at the opening of this grungy rock metal number.

It gets me every time.

The brutal way singer Aaron Lewis delivers the lyrics over the pulsating rhythm of heavy guitar is powerfully intense. You can just feel and relate with his torment and pain.

This kickass track will get you moving one way or another through the process of love. Remember to use your middle finger while you’re jamming it at the one who hurt you.

Rage has its purpose.

#8 Like Suicide by Seether

“And it’s the same old trip, the same old trip as before.”

Flowing the toxic relationship theme into this hard rock/nu metal combo, track eight is serving up an audio slice of love-gone-wrong. Like suicide describes the cycle of old games and emotional blackmail which, frankly, none of us need.

For those who’ve known that twisted, player-of-hearts who delights in setting you up to fall and fail, Seether brings enough thrash here to help keep your resolve — we will not be used by love.

#9 Torn by Creed

“Yes, I’m the one who, the only one who would carry on this far.”

Speaking of love, Creed articulates the above-mentioned dark night of the soul perfectly in this spiritual, soul-searching hard rock track.

The thing about loving someone deeply is that it ignites personal change and causes you to question everything. Including all that you believed to be true.

This song is a journey in itself.

#10 Butterfly with Wings by Smashing Pumpkins

“And what do I get for my pain? Betrayed desires and a piece of the game.”

In 1997, Butterfly with Wings won a Grammy for Best Hard Rock Performance, and has got to be one the most popular and recognizable songs produced by Smashing Pumpkins.

The push-back track. This song sends a clear message about transformation and breaking out of “the cage” — societal conditioning, oppression, cultural expectations…. heart pain. The same elements apply in love because love was never meant to conform, be conditioned (by holidays like Valentine’s Day) or obey “human” rules.

We hurt and then we somehow find our wings to fly a new journey. We discover who we truly are.

#11 Voodoo by Godsmack

“I’m coming back again.”

The constant beat of the drums combined with the percussion instruments in Godsmack’s Voodoo lends a tribal feel that is both hypnotic and sexy, clinging to your hips like a new revelation. That’s what this song does to me.

Besides, they do say that love is like a drug….

Life just showed you a part of yourself that was previously unknown. Breathe in, breathe in — you’re coming back again, anew.

#12 The Chemicals Between Us by Bush

“I’d like to thank, all of my lovers, lovers, lovers.”

The final song of the Grunge-Rock Love Journey is a digitally-effective vintage take about the everlasting bond between lovers and the imprint we leave on each other. Like a tribute to love and connection.

Featured in the popular American drama series, Charmed, songwriter Gavin Rossdale, explains the lyrics as “the differences between lovers.”

Our great loves may not always last forever, but the love each relationship brings into our life experience is an intimate path designed to expand our hearts and teach us more about ourselves — who we are, what we want and don’t want, and the things we do or don’t do along the journey of love.


At the end of the day, I believe that the best kind of love isn’t always supposed to be about settling in your comfort zone. Great love is meant to challenge, transform and free you like a Grunge-Rock Love Journey.


Also published by Living Out Loud on Medium

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life, writing

My Words Dried Up

by Catherine Evans


I’m just starting to find them again


Towards the end of 2019, my words stopped.

I had no words to express myself, my thoughts and feelings, about what was happening in Australia — bushfires, destruction, loss.

I still don’t have words to express that, or for the global pandemic that happened next. Nor for the chaos around the world, the illumination of broken of systems, and everything that is happening.

At the beginning, I panicked. A writer without words is pretty damn useless.

I took photos of nature while I turned inward, searching for what was blocking my words. Was I not voicing something? Was I not in touch with myself? Was there a fear of publishing? Some other fear? What was wrong with me?

As the year progressed, and words remained elusive, I thought about my learning style. When I do a writing course, I learn so much that I have to stop writing until I can process all the knowledge. It’s weird, but it’s how I work.

Living in tumultuous times is a form of learning. I’m constantly analyzing what I’m seeing, hearing, and learning. What’s causing this? What do I need to do now? How can I do better? What does this mean? These questions aren’t too dissimilar to what I ask myself when I’m learning new skills for writing.

My struggle to process, understand, adjust, and change, has left me with little energy to produce words. I’m still trying to understand what is happening — there’s no way I can produce words.


How did I manage?

A few years ago, I made a conscious decision to ‘go with the flow’. If words weren’t flowing, I needed to honor myself and spend the time doing something else.

I took the year off. After a time, I even stopped berating myself for my ‘failing’.

As 2020 inched towards a close, my fingers began to itch and my brain began to find a word or two. Nothing substantial, let me assure you, but a word, then a thought. Ideas started to pop into my mind. Characters left a snippet of a conversation behind.

I became ridiculously excited and planned writing, books, going back to what I was doing before.

Ha! Life. I think it may have other plans for me.

I got 5000 words into a planned 60, 000 word story…and it’s rubbish. Usually I can get much further before I decide that, then push on because I know it’s my fear talking. This time, I don’t think it’s fear. Not that I really know.

I suspect I’ve changed. If I’ve changed, then my writing will need to change because it’s such a strong part of me.

The problem with that is that I’m not yet sure how I’ve changed and what that means for my writing — and that’s more than a bit frustrating!


Now what?

Which brings me here, today, where I have a few words…but I’m not sure what they say, where they fit, what they mean, or why I’m writing them.

However, maybe there are others who’ve lost their words too. If so, you’re not alone.

If not, then I’m alone, and that’s okay because I’m still working things out. I do that best alone.


Originally published by Living Out Loud on Medium


About Catherine Evans

From Medium: Catherine Evans is an Australian, writer and creator. Inspired by nature and living. Weird thoughts are entirely my own, and I know they’re often not like other people’s!

Browse Catherine Evans at her Website.


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Creative Writing Energy Podcast, Creativity, Soul, writing

The Creative Secrets of Shamanic Drumming

You’ve got to feel the beat.


“It is of the first order of importance to remember this, that the shaman is more than merely a sick man, or a madman; he is a sick man who has healed himself, who is cured, and who must shamanize in order to remain cured.”
― Terence McKenna

Shamanic drumming is a purposeful soul journey usually undertaken in the company of like-minded people. The experience is intimate and personal, yet it is also qualified by an undeniable element of unification — deliberate togetherness.

Before social distancing kicked in with COVID-19, I was regularly attending drumming circles and learning from my very cool Shaman teachers, Bastian and Tiger.

Each session offered an insightful and unique experience in a profoundly personal way. There is just something about letting yourself go with the beat of a drum, and then connecting your energy with the vibration as it reaches in your heart-space, uplifting and energizing your being in such a critical way that it becomes a part of you.

It’s like smudging for the soul.

After each session, I always left the studio with a renewed sense of creative flow — it’s as if those sacred experiences existed to further open my awareness into my sense of self, which spilled over into my creativity, helping to keep those vital bonds between imagination and reality ignited.

Shamanic Drumming

From Shamanic Drumming:

“Shamanic drumming is drumming for the purpose of inducing a range of ecstatic trance states in order to connect with the spiritual dimension of reality. Practiced in diverse cultures around the planet, this drum method is strikingly similar the world over.”

Shamanic drumming uses a repetitive rhythm that begins slowly and then gradually builds in intensity to a tempo of three to seven beats per second.

Admittedly, it usually takes me a little bit to shake off the ‘real world’ feels and relax into the changed, esoteric-like atmosphere. Though, once we begin, it feels as if I have crossed an invisible threshold into a different realm — one that I am always reluctant to leave behind.

You have to intentionally let go of any inhibitions that may prevent you from benefiting from the spiritual medicine offered by the drumming session if you really want to gain insights from the journey.

More from Shamanic Drumming:

“The ascending tempo will induce light to deep trance states, and facilitate the shamanic techniques of journeying, shapeshifting, and divination. Practitioners may progress through a series of trance states until they reach the level that is necessary for healing to occur.”

What is Shamanism?

Shamanism is universal and not bound by social or cultural conditions. It is the most ancient and most enduring spiritual tradition known to humanity. Shamanism predates and constitutes the foundation of all known religions or religious philosophies.

In essence, shamanism is the spiritual practice of ecstasy. Ecstasy is defined as a mystic, prophetic, or poetic trance. One of the core beliefs of shamanism is that innate wisdom and guidance can be accessed through the inner senses in ecstatic trance. Practitioners enter altered states of consciousness in order to experience direct revelation from within.

Shamanism is about remembering, exploring, and developing the true self. Shamanism places emphasis on the individual, of breaking free and discovering your own uniqueness in order to bring something new back to the group.

Shamanic practice heightens the ability of perception and enables you to see into the deeper realms of the self. Once connected with your inner self you can find help, healing, and a continual source of guidance. To practice shamanism is to reconnect with your deepest core values and your highest vision of who you are and why you are here.”

How it Works

Shamanic Drumming circles come together all over the world with the sole purpose of healing the human spirit as a collective. I think that now, more than ever, the world can use those who have the ability to see beyond the chaos and pain enough to uphold the positive transformations which are bound to take place when the dust settles — that which will rise from the ashes of this prophetic era.

And make no mistake, Shaman teachers and students alike; and those in touch with their spirituality work quietly and tirelessly to help keep the vision and vibrations positive for the future. Regardless of your beliefs, collective consciousness and mindset plays a vital part in the unfolding future — and is there a better way to release the negative tension than pounding hard on something?

A nice thick layer of animal hide?

With thanks and gratitude.

Susan Z from 7th Sense Stories knows about Shamanic drumming and explains how the process works:

“How it works is the healing drum pattern projects onto the body a supportive resonance or sound pattern the body can attune to. This sympathetic resonance forms new harmonic alignments, opens the body’s various energy meridians and chakras, releases blocked emotional patterns, promotes healing and helps reconnect us to our core. The sound patterns also enhance your sense of empowerment and stimulates your creative expression.”

The journey aspect of a Shamanic Drumming circle involves a guided odyssey into another realm; a rumination to the soulful beat of the drums accompanied by other beautiful sounds, the burning scent of incense, essential oils and a dedicated altar.

The practice essentially leads us into an induced trance where boundaries cease to exist and clarity comes calling, as we give and receive from earth energies. It is here that completes the modest, yet significant finale of the entire journey — where secrets abound and creativity unfurls through group Shamanic Meditation.

Healing

The healing power of drums, is, in my opinion, phenomenal.

The drumming has a way of grounding and reacquainting you to your primordial beginnings — when the deep resonating beats strum through your being, you get a glimpse of yourself as a part of the greater whole.

It is a most humbling experience which soothes and heals from the inside out, and also helps to activate your own natural healing powers.

The Powerful Benefits of Shamanic Drumming Healing Include:

  • Reduces stress.
  • Enhances creativity.
  • Improves your concentration.
  • Encourages the body to desire a healthier lifestyle.
  • Makes you feel happier.
  • Opens up acceptance of self.
  • Slows the aging process.
  • It is beneficial to your cardiovascular health.
  • Boosts your overall immune system.
  • Induces a deeper self-awareness by prompting synchronous brain activity and promoting alpha waves.
  • Helps to release negative feelings and emotional trauma.

Shamanic Drumming really does help to connect you with your creative resources as the process cleanses and purifies lower vibrational feelings that may have been dwelling deep within. It’s like shedding the BS and releasing the ego long enough to sense who you really are beneath the crud we so often present to the world.

And what lies beneath is where the magic really begins.


Originally published by Living Out Loud on Medium

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poetry, writing

Please — Stop the Madness!

A Poem by Harley Christensen


Constant chatter…

Pummels my mind.

A barrage of opinions…innuendos…wild conjectures…

Everywhere I turn…screaming for attention.

Warning: Possible Information Overload

Too much to process…

Nowhere to escape.

Can’t…think…straight…

Warning: Fatal Error Has Occurred — Must Shut Down

Entering recovery mode…

Silence greets me…

Precious, beautiful silence.

Stop the madness…

Embrace the quiet.


Originally published by Living Out Loud on Medium


About Harley

Harley Christensen is originally from a speck of a town in the Pacific Northwest, currently living in Phoenix, Arizona with her significant other and their mischievous motley crew of rescue dogs (aka the “kids”).

She is the author of the Mischievous Malamute Mystery Series and a new six-part series of suspense novellas, called Six Seasons

Visit Harley’s Website: https://www.mischievousmalamute.com/about-harley/

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Creativity, life, mindset, writing

Seasons of Life


Hello friends,

Welcome to the very first Living Out Loud newsletter!

Super exciting.

So, the world is still spinning on crazy as we continue to move through transitional times, but the warmer days here on the Australian eastern seaboard are beginning to renew my sense of hope for the future — how are you doing?

We are moving into Spring on this side of the globe, and the new season brings cool themes like love, joy, hope and rebirth, which fits nicely with the recent launch of Living Out Loud (LOL).

New Beginnings

I’m a huge fan of Jim Rohn and his masterful lessons using the seasons of life.

Rohn:

“Life is like the changing seasons — you cannot change the seasons, but you can change yourself. So, the first major lesson in life to learn is how to handle the winters …. There are all kinds of winters: the “winter” when you can’t figure it out, the “winter” when everything seems to go awry. There are economic winters, social winters and personal winters.”

Pandemic winters…

I don’t think anyone would debate how 2020 has brought along with it a long, cold winter. Rohn was right when he said that we cannot change experiencing the winters, though we change how we deal with them.

“But here is what you can do: You can get stronger; you can get wiser; you can get better. Remember that trio of words: stronger, wiser, better.”

The new decade has forced us to practice more humility than ever before — it’s forced change and transformation on both a global and personal scale.

This year has grounded us so much that many of us are reassessing our lives and really honing in on what’s important.

Love. Connectedness. Authenticity. Heart. Soul. Living Out Loud. Finding You.

With all of this in mind, it’s natural that change will always seem a little daunting as it eventually leads us toward a new beginning.

We want to know how you feel about change and new beginnings, because even though we cannot get in touch in real life, we are still connected here — through sharing our stories that will uplift one another as we embrace change together.

Lexi’s New Beginning Prompts

  • What do new beginnings mean to you?
  • How do you feel about new beginnings — embrace or resist?
  • Opportunity? Change? Trepidation?
  • In thinking about new beginnings, what’s one word that resonates?
  • Send us your article about new beginnings, or pop a reply below.

Now, in case you missed the latest LOL stories, here is some of what went down:

Creativity, Relationships & Real Life Now

Fiction

Poetry


That’s all from us for now — until next time, #BeLove & #RealLifeNow

– The LOL Editorial Team

Lexi, Kim and Harley

Originally published on LOL on Medium.

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Author, Creative Writing Energy Podcast, Creativity, writing

Bringing Yourself to the Page


Life is a series of thought-provoking moments, eliciting our emotions and imprinting our psyche. Life is creation in-action. No one gets a free ride. We all love like crazy; maybe feel pangs of hate; take a deep breath before a leap of faith, and sometimes we get hurt — we learn and grow through pain. We sing with angels and rejoice with heart — we bleed, break and scar. Whoever ever said that life was easy, huh? It’s not. And neither is sitting with your emotions to confront your deepest truths.

Consider what Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, Carl Jung had to say about the meaning of life:

“The most terrifying thing is to accept oneself completely. People will do anything, no matter how absurd, to avoid facing their own souls. We meet ourselves time and again in a thousand disguises on the path of life. Real liberation comes not from glossing over or repressing painful states of feeling, but only from experiencing them to the full.”

Hmm… that explains a lot. I may have just had an epiphany.

Moving on.

If, as Jung suggests, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light of meaning in the darkness of mere being, then the expressive use of a pen may surely help pave the way toward enlightenment.

Yes?

How about using your writing in a more meaningful way — as an outlet to document and sift through your human experience — and then bring what’s on the inside to the page?

“Who looks outside, dreams’ who looks inside, awakes.”

  • Carl Jung

I’m talking about the deep, convoluted feelings that make you tick and drive purpose in your life — there’s a wealth of experience and lessons learned buried in your past. Use those little wisdom-nuggets.

Writing emotional responses evoked from our experiences is a great asset to writers. It’s the perfect outlet to work through your emotions, drive home your beliefs about the world, and then incorporate them as an important theme in your stories.

Right? Every great book brings an authentic message delivered with its underlying story theme. The way I see it, story theme gives us the opportunity to spread change to the world in our own small way.

Like layering up the good stuff.

It’s the reason you probably started writing in the first place.

The fact is that you are a complex creative-creature with many layers and depth. No one sees the world in quite the same way as you.

You view life through the fluidity of your unique perspective as you evolve, change and reach for new experiences.

Don’t be afraid of what’s deep inside.

More from Jung:

“Sometimes you have to do something unforgivable just to be able to go on living. We only gain merit and psychological development by accepting ourselves as we are and by being serious enough to live the lives we are entrusted with. Our sins and errors and mistakes are necessary to us, otherwise we are deprived of the most precious incentives to development.”

Sounds delicious, does it not?

Making mistakes and doing something that may be considered unforgivable might sound absurd to some, but I think it sounds more like living your truths.

I also feel as if more of us need to embrace the flaws that make us who we are instead of feeling ashamed about them  Imagine if we could drive home that message in our stories? Or something similar?

Sweet glory.

Bringing your flaws and unique worldview to the page by exploring your inner-most emotions, perspectives and feelings is a gift not only to yourself but to others.

Think of it like this: You are the flesh and blood; the tangible and malleable. Yet, you are also a part of the mysterious — the light and the dark. Which ultimately means you have so much of the rich stuff to offer through your words.

Your emotions are your greatest muse.

“Everything begins with words — our stories, thoughts, messages. Each word has its own vibration, too. It is these vibrations that create the reality that surrounds us. Words create more than just stories; they inform our universe, our lives and our reality — and they teach us. Through creating words, I have managed to reacquaint myself more fully with my soul and to live a more authentic, love-driven and passionate life.”

– From Creative Writing Energy

Other benefits of exploring your feelings through writing:

Clarity

By expressing yourself and communicating complex ideas in a much more effective way, you will discover more about yourself and learn how to honor it by bringing your deepest truths and beliefs into your work.

Eliminates stress

Emptying your mind through writing helps to eliminate stress. Capturing those moments, developing and working through your ideas produces a ripple effect; since not only do you declutter your mind, but it is also a process of rationalization — story themes right there.

Productivity

Writing activates neurons in your brain and gets you set to face the day. Serious writers have demonstrated that setting goals or systems in their daily writing habits significantly increases the possibilities of achieving them.


Some fellow writers swear by starting their day with a little self-reflective journaling. Journal writing your feelings teaches you about you and helps to strengthen your writing skills and find your voice.

It also encourages greater self-awareness.

“The only meaningful life is a life that strives for the individual realization — absolute and unconditional — of its own particular law.” — Jung

Writing down what you have in mind regularly — your dreams, worries, fears, deepest desires, is a viable path toward self-realization.

Writers often use snippets of their self-reflections in their work because it’s important to create characters that feel real to our readers. Well, I know that I tend to lean on my past experiences and feelings when tapping into the essence of my characters.

“Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your writing.”

– Gustave Flaubert

So, if I’m feeling a little like:

Frustration

I might use the edge to help drive story conflict. You know, inject some attitude into my words. Helps to release the tension too, by the way.

Then I take it deeper, spinning my characters with sass and diving into the gritty, dark, even profane.

Heartache

Even better. Well, maybe not so much for me, but my character’s benefit from my soul-crushing pain. Lucky them. The fact is that words created from an aching heart have a way of bringing depth and authenticity to the page.

Real feelings mean readers will relate to, care about and resonate with your character and their world because everyone has been hurt in some way.

Love

Need I say more?

We can’t get enough of the love-stuff. It’s where alchemy and magic abounds.

Personally, I spend more time than I probably should contemplating the concept of love and exploring its meaning, and I’m not even a romance writer, per se. Regardless, love always winds its way into my writing. Every time.

Love affects us all. It’s the universal language we all know and understand, and bringing it to your story creates real-world feelings and connection.


Go on, give it a try — dig deep, unravel yourself from the inside out and let your emotions be your greatest muse.


Originally published by Living Out Loud on Medium

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Creativity, writing

Value Distractions to Be More Productive and Creative

Make conscious connections.


Why do you get your best ideas in the shower?

I don’t need to talk to you directly to know that there are days when you spend an embarrassing amount of time in front of expensive equipment staring blankly at the screen, only to later get your best ideas in the shower.

Right? We think that we need more focus, that we’re not motivated or talented enough. We begin to chide ourselves for our lack of productivity which can then fast lead into a negative feedback loop.

We think “If I just tried harder, worked harder, focused harder” then the ideas will flow and productivity will resume. Only, your brain feels like a dried-up prune with nothing left to give — it’s your biased brain signals that now have you suppressing ideas you see as unrelated.

By trying to force the ideas and creativity, you’re essentially shutting down new thoughts and ideas and hindering your productivity.

You are focusing too hard and it’s paradoxical. You need to be able to shut off distractions so you can focus and get your work done, but now you’re stuck.

Mark Fenske, co-author of The Winner’s Brain explains that some of our best ideas happen in the shower because “shampooing hair and lathering up doesn’t take a lot of cognitive focus — Other parts of the brain can start to contribute.’’

This means we engage in more free association and mind wandering: “And that’s really critical for innovation.’’

I get it. You want to be able to fulfill your creative potential and productivity during your working hours. But when you try to dig in and focus, you find yourself back at the start, frustratingly staring at a blank screen.

So, if you are stuck on a problem, or want to improve your productivity and creativity, an interruption is what you need to free up your mind and force an incubation period.

Shelley H. Carson, author of Your Creative Brain says: “A distraction may provide the break you need to disengage from a fixation on the ineffective solution.”

The Blue Mind Concept

Wallace. J. Nichols is the author of Blue Mind: The surprising science that shows how being near, in, on, under water can make you happier, healthier, more connected, and better at what you do — Nichols reinforces Carson’s observations about distractions: “When a person gets distracted, his mind gets a break and the dopamine released during this time helps a person to create some new creative ideas.”

I am a writer. My income is solely based on my words — whether it be through client work or writing my own articles and projects. This means that if I don’t sit down and write each day, I won’t create revenue. I won’t get paid. Sometimes, I get stuck and feel as if I have no more words left in me to produce, or that everything I write is rubbish.

I used to feel guilty when I had an unproductive or uncreative day. But I learned to shift my mindset around both productivity and creativity. Now, I choose to appreciate and value the “distraction” times rather than resisting them.

These are the times when I might feel an urge to get to the water. Being around water helps to clear my mind, balance and ground me. So that when I get back to my desk, I’m ready to get back into it.

Being present with water does something to you — as a person and creative. Here’s why:

Time for Distractions

“A wide-open landscape of wild water is a beautiful, involved, intimate connection — it is something larger than ourselves.”- Nathan Oldfield

We were all born with the potential to create beautiful and meaningful things. It’s just we sometimes need to get distracted from the complex tasks from our daily life. Water and creativity have many things in common and are intertwined.

Nichols:

“Our body has a larger part made up of water and that makes sense when we talk about the correlation between water and creativity. More focus, energy, and our mental and physical fitness are a gift of water.”

We want to reach our full creative potential. We feel better when we’ve put in a productive day. But here’s the thing: If we don’t create blocks of time to self-care, we will never be able to realize and achieve all that we can.

Being near the ocean greatly affects mental well-being. You don’t even need to swim. Just being near the water naturally enables a meditative state. The visual stimuli your brain receives from viewing the water literally opens your mind to new thought experiences — creativity.

If you are fortunate enough to live near a body of water like I am, then you’ll have access to its many benefits such as:

Fresh Air: Air exposed to water, and especially seawater is charged with a good number of negative ions, this fresh air helps your body absorb oxygen.

Strengthened Immune System: Increased relaxation and decreased stress means a strengthened immune system.

Better Sleep: Exposure to water is known to relax the mind and body unlike anything else.

Greater Happiness: Scientists have determined that looking at and enjoying water floods the brain with feel-good hormones. This means that people exposed to water are often more relaxed and happier in general.


But you don’t necessarily have to live near water to gain the benefits of water. You can swim in pools, take baths or sit near a fountain so that you can hear the running water. It’s about finding a way to use water to distract away from your desk, replenish and connect with yourself.

Nichols Blue Mind Concept States:

“When you get into the water, your body doesn’t need stout muscles that uphold your body. Water itself will hold it and help you feel more relaxed. And when this happens your brain areas taking care of this muscles get a break.

Somatically, auditorily, and visually your body is getting a break, actually the rest. And the brain goes to its default mode, a contemplative and self-referential perspective. The freed-up brain areas now can work on other things, let say your creative thinking, and you feel a different way.”


Water is the great sustainer of life and can also be the great sustainer of your productivity and creativity. Even when you are at your workplace and busy going at it, take a break and drink pure water. As Nichols reminds us: “That’s what flow is — relaxing into what you know well and letting creativity happen. Water, literally and metaphorically, allows us to do that and allows you to move in all different directions.”

Water bodies resonate with each other — valuing distractions and consciously connecting with water can change your life for the better and will have a positive effect on your creative and productive output.

You just have to be open to it.


Originally published by Publishous 06/02/2020

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Creative Energy

Value Your Creative Energy: The Benefits of Connecting with Your Higher-Creative Mind


The higher-self is a term associated with a variety of belief systems, but its basic premise describes an eternal, conscious and intelligent being which represents our most authentic state.

The higher-self embodies our spirit which is expressed through our human vessels — the part of ourselves that exists beyond the conditioning learned throughout our life experiences. Conditions such as fear and ego fixations, limiting beliefs, negative thinking patterns and old wounds.

Our higher-selves are never lost to us — your soul or spirit is ever-present and flows with unhindered and effortless love from the higher-realms.

When we refer to the higher-creative mind, we are speaking in terms of the creative resources available to us from that sacred space within. The incredibly creative part of you that remains hidden and unexplored, and brimming with story concepts and fascinating characters you have yet to meet.

But sometimes, we can lose touch with this part of ourselves. Life happens and we easily become weighed down with everyday stresses and responsibilities which can lead to feelings of disconnection. With the Corona virus currently ripping through the world, this is apparent more than ever right now.

We can tell when we are disconnected to our higher-selves because this state breeds lower vibrational feelings such as anxiety and depression, as well as other negative ways of thinking about ourselves and the world.

This is when problems are likely to arise with your creative output.

We have all been there. Some days, it can feel as if your creative well has dried up — that there are no more interesting words and stories left in you to tell.

It’s normal to experience creative burn-out from time to time. I do. I know how it feels when creativity seems out of reach. When you believe there is nothing left inside of you to creative and bring to the world; at least, nothing worthwhile. We want to produce our best work, and yet, it’s impossible to always be on top of our game.

Sometimes, a small shift in our perspective is all it takes to kick-start the creative juices again, and taking the time to replenish our creative resources is important if we are to thrive as prolific artists and writers.

In fact, recharging the creative batteries is a vital component in the life of a creative. We need to refill our spirits with renewed energy, and we need to allow ourselves time to unwind in order to create a fresh space for revived and invigorated visions and the formation of new ideas.

Often, it is the simple activities that are most helpful in clearing our creative blocks and managing stress levels. The core notion lies in the necessity to separate yourself and your mind from your work and creative project for a block of time.

We may be facing uncertain times and even isolation, but that doesn’t mean we have to be totally limited in finding ways to refresh our creative palettes. Here are a few things you can do to help pull you out of a creative rut (current circumstances permitting):

· Take a walk outside — preferably someplace that encourages positive feelings. Sunshine, trees and air will do wonders to replenish your imagination, and besides, it just feels good to be out and away from the computer sometimes.

· Go veg out at the beach — dig in your toes and imprint your mark into the sand while soaking up the purifying salt air for a few hours (my favorite!).

· Spend time with your children/dog or cat. Laughter uplifts the spirit and children have a knack of bringing out your inner-child. Animal therapy is a proven mood-booster.

· Coffee with a treasured friend — great conversation and connecting with someone special can cure the most contrite of hearts.

· Catch a flick or binge a series on Netflix — movies and TV are modern-day oral storytelling. Inspiration right there.

· Cook up a storm — this can be an extremely pleasant activity in switching up your focus. When we take away the “chore” aspect of cooking and do it for the pleasure, cooking transcends into something utterly delightful.

· Take a drive to destination inspiring — the world is brimming with naturally rustic beauty. Whether it be inhaling the country air over rolling green pastures, breathtaking views from mountain peaks, or dreaming on the wings of an eagle over rugged ocean cliffs, there is sure to be a slice of the magic near you.

The above suggestions are great ways to help improve your mindset when you’re feeling flat on the creative front. It is likely you’re already practicing similar activities. I think we all know when we need to just close down for a while and think about anything other than our work-in-progress or all tasks that are piling up on our desks.

This is true for our higher-creative minds, too. The more time spent intentionally cultivating that inner-resource, the greater your access will be to those extraordinary invisible realms.

We do this through connecting to the higher-self.

Deliberately choosing to spend time on strengthening your relationship with your inner-spirit is an act that will help nurture the bonds with your creativity.

It’s not hocus-pocus. It’s not even “woo-woo”. Those labels are formed by those who don’t get it. Think of it like this; there is so much more to our world and existence than what we are able to acknowledge and perceive. Often, it is fear driving the ridicule behind those who negate alternative thinking and practices with their labels.

Being willing to open your mind to different ideas and ways of being will add richness to your life. It’s like traveling — the experiences will broaden your perspective and increase the good stuff like empathy, love and kindness.

Connecting to your higher-creative mind will help you achieve:

· A holistic sense of well-being

· Forms of awareness

· Trust in yourself

· Trust in the creative process

· Honor the incubation period — allowing the ideas and thoughts time to stew

· Build on your intuition

· Value vulnerability

· Push past fear

· Free expression

· Keep the creative channels flowing.

When it comes to the higher-creative mind, there are some simple methods we can practice to help get you there and keep you there during your creative output sessions.

Catherine Evans and I are going to discuss all of this and more during our Creative Writing Energy presentation in next month’s WriteHive 2020 convention, where we hope to help you pave a way to connect with and honor your higher-creative mind.

WriteHive 2020 is a free online writing convention featuring everyone from huge names in the literary industry to brand-new writers, and will be live across the world from April 18th — 19th.

Check it out here: https://www.writehive.org/

We hope to see you there.


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Author

Write with Feeling: How Relationships Bring Depth to Our Characters


Do you struggle to create full-bodied characters?

Churning out words, outlining and wrapping your brain around plot twists, story themes and arcs can often be mentally exhausting, and then we have to make sure our characters have depth enough to resonate with our readers.

“I know the feelings but I don’t know how to express them in words.”

That’s what my new client said during a recent meeting. She had reached out for assistance after reading some of my work. She has an important story to tell.

After an extraordinary experience, her quest to bring her unique story into the world fell short when it came to expressing high-level concepts and deep emotion through the written word.

Enter, me.

It is true that I write about love, relationships and soul connections in addition to my fiction work. I post these articles regularly on Medium and my blog. When the year is out, the articles are then culminated into a book - a keepsake documenting both my nonfiction writing pieces along with my own personal journey.

Life lessons and personal growth.

Some people baulk at the idea of sharing their personal experiences publicly. There was probably a time when I might’ve reacted the same way. It’s different now. I feel different now. I’m not the same person I was when I first began writing.

I realized that by sharing our experiences and perspectives, and then expressing the lessons we’ve learned from those fragments in our lives is one of the most powerful ways we can impact the world and help one another.

Obviously, not all of us are writers. There are many other ways to make a positive difference in the world. Humanitarians and those in service occupations seek to promote human welfare. The magical paint strokes of gifted artists have the capacity to uplifts spirits; thereby raising vibrations through the loving energy invested in the creation.

The same is true for words.

Yehuda Berg said:

“Words are singularly the most powerful force available to humanity. We can choose to use this force constructively with words of encouragement, or destructively using words of despair. Words have energy and power with the ability to help, to heal, to hinder, to hurt, to harm, to humiliate and to humble.”

As a word smith, and whether you write nonfiction, fiction or both, it is vital to have a firm understanding of the power literally at your fingertips.

Not every writer has the desire to burrow into their deepest selves to divvy up those experience-gems publicly. I can understand that. There is a certain amount of vulnerability and courage required when you begin the deep, meaningful work - and make no mistake, releasing messages into the world at an intimate level takes a brave heart (and maybe a firm set of balls).

Either that, or those of us who journey through the murky territory are just plain crazy.

Psyche.

The good news is that we don’t necessarily have to roll up our sleeves and get gritty (and maybe a bit soppy) by revealing our inner-most selves in order to make real connections and benefit the human experience through our words.

The fact that you write is gift enough. Throw in some passion, a generous side of imagination and the beautiful resources existing within the fabric of your past experiences, and you are a potential change-maker.

Smile.

You just felt the little tingles ignite at the base of your spine, right?

At least, I hope you did.

Those zingy feelings are more than just confirmation that a draft is blowing from the window you left open in the other room - they are a part of your inbuilt intuitive system and appear as way of confirmation when the truth rings true.

Learn to trust your tingles.

Grab your cape and give yourself a pat on the back, too. You, dear writer, are a gift to the world and your words have power. Used with intent, love and courage our words become a force to be reckoned with. We have the capacity to influence, create waves and stir the pot to bring meaning to the lives of those who read our work - particularly when created with the breadth of our hearts.

We can achieve this through delving deep within; stripping the layers to extract the nuggets from past and present relationships; looking back on memorable experiences and reflecting on our most intimate feelings to examine the way we relate, perceive life and love others.

After all, love is the ultimate source of emotional resonation. It is the most profound emotion we will ever experience.

Whether romantic or platonic, whirlwind and complicated or long term and lifelong, it is love that has the power to nourish meaningful relationships, crush our hearts and teach us important lessons.

“When Love speaks, the voice of all the gods,

Makes heaven drowsy with the harmony.”

– William Shakespeare  -  From Love’s Labour’s Lost.

Is it no wonder that the greatest writers in history explored love in all its forms through their literature?

There was only one Shakespeare. There is only one you.

Love in literature is boundless because it defies barriers by appearing across all genres and age groups, as well as periods in history. The presence of love in our stories has the ability to bring acutely heartfelt and memorable moments to the page, regardless of the outcome.

We all know about love and relationships to some degree. Even hate is love turned upside down. Honestly, we learn so much and gather bucket loads of personal data through the relationships we form; and we can use these insights when developing our characters to bring authenticity into their worlds and connect with readers.

To help get you into reflection mode, let’s take a deeper look into what Greek philosopher, Aristotle had to say about relationships. He described three kinds of relationships, with only one of which is built to bring true happiness.

First: The Relationships of Pleasure.

These are the romantic interludes fueled by passionate sex, a possible side of drugs and a generous helping of ego. Insert a playlist that looks like Metallica’s Master of Puppets and Bulletboys Smooth up in Ya, and you get the drift. These affairs are more about body and less about soul and connecting - never a great recipe for lasting happiness.

Second: The Relationships of Utility.

These types of relationships may be grounded in materialism or hopes of gathering status of some sort. They can also include relationships that involve a need for each other for the “necessities of life” and raising children. Aristotle describes the friendship of utility as shallow, easily dissolved, and for the old.

Keep in mind that even though he may have been coined “the father of philosophy” he was just one Greek guy who liked to explore high-level concepts … with a very thick beard.

Third: The Relationship of Shared Virtue.

Like a classic Rod Stewart song, Aristotle firmly advised hauling up your sails over stormy waters in search of what he called Relationships of Shared Virtue. This is where you arrive on the shores to find a partner who truly gets you in soul - your core self.

It’s that real-connection love who will ignite change, challenge and inspire you to grow into your highest potential.

Jack Nicholson’s character in As Good as It Gets said it best when he said: “You make me want to be a better man.”

Of course, the above relationship examples described by Aristotle are brief summaries of the complex bonds and emotions that we experience through those who touch our lives. Yet, taking a look at what some of the world’s greatest philosophers had to say about the human condition can act as a springboard to unlocking parts of our past when creating full-bodied and dynamic characters - ones that imprint a lasting memory on our readers.

Deep reflection is a muscle you can strengthen to bring the essence of your story to a place where the power of your words has the potential to positively influence and improve the lives of your readers. Even if only an inch at a time.

Keep it real.

It’s worth investing the time to reflect on your past and present loves to give your characters depth and relatable complexities. Aim for the Kindle highlights.

Just like love, your words can change lives forever.


Originally published by The Ascent at Medium.


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