Just as I sit down to write this message for you, Never Tear Us Apart by INXS starts drifting through my opened office window. The neighbours are using their outdoor sound system. At least they have the fortitude to play decent music.
Kirk Pengilly owns the saxophone that carries along the summer breeze. I begin to smile but it hardly forms as the music transports me elsewhere. Now, the half-buried awaken within me and I’m trying to catch the breath of eternal soul, making wine from love and pain.
“We could live for a thousand years, but if I hurt you, I’d make wine from your tears.”
It’s got to be one of my favourite song lyrics of all time.
Then, I’m back at my desk and entangled with a ghost, and somewhat grateful that I have cried tears enough to make wine.
Words are a Writer’s Wine
And some of our most powerful stories are born from the pain of heartache, loss and love. At Living Out Loud, our writers are making wine and sharing those unique perspectives with those who are intended to read and learn from their great work, and we couldn’t be more grateful to be a part of it.
February has been our busiest month ever, and we are so excited to welcome and publish the work of our new writers as much as our regulars who continue to support our cozy little corner of Medium with their beautiful “wine” — every piece is helping to give life and shape the fabric of Living Out Loud, and it’s our pleasure to serve our writers and readers in synergetic, intoxicating connection.
Miss Harley and I have recently created a Slack group for our writers so that we can keep in touch outside of Medium. Our Slack group is a great tool for writers to use in case they wish to express any concerns or questions that they may have about a piece, or even to just pop in to say “Hey” once in a while.
We’ve also created a LOLWriter’s Collection Playlist on Spotify just for fun, and would love to hear about your favourite tunes so that we can make this playlist something really unique.
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!
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.
“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 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.
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:
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.
Every now and then, we might wonder what that special person in our lives sees in us, or ponder why it is that they love us.
“I love you.”
Love isn’t a word to be taken lightly, though, at the same it is one of those “habit” words that we so often get used to saying without always putting in the feeling behind the phrase.
Doesn’t mean that we not sincere. Not all at. I think it’s more that by saying those three special words, it somehow helps to keep our faith in each other, even when said mechanically.
I know it works that way for my children, who utter those three words to me countless times on any given day. Yes, I am blessed — there are people in this big wide-world who love me and who I love back with all my heart and then some.
The last few weeks, love has been a running theme here at Living Out Loud. We have had the pleasure of welcoming and publishing some new writers, and we are excited about creating a loving community where readers and writers can connect and share their experiences and perspectives under one little nook of the web — a space that we share with anyone who wants to join us.
Thank you to our wonderful writers who have shared a snippet of themselves; their hearts and souls — the stuff that makes them real. In case you’ve missed out on the latest stories, I’ve bundled them together for you below.
Lexi’s Wants to Know Your Forever Answer:
Why do you love me?
I love you because….
You know everything about me and you’re still around.
You piss me off and laugh when I call you an asshole.
You instinctively know when I need a hug.
You let me be who I am and love me even more for it.
Ambition isn’t simple. It’s a glorious hope of a better life, a contented life; maybe the ideal life that we’ve always wanted to lead, but it isn’t simple.
It feels that way when we first set out pursuing whichever dream we have latched onto with gusto. Isn’t it just a case of setting goals, taking a deep breath and diving right in?
I’ve wanted to be an author for as long as I can remember and the path to success seemed straightforward at first. Write a book and plonk it on Amazon, just like everyone else did. But before long, I realised that there was much more to self-publishing than I initially thought – I needed newsletters, advertising, a tantalising social media presence complete with engaging posts and hilarious tweets.
One thing was clear as time went on: the more I learned, the more I realised how little I knew.
Before I released my first full-length novel, Scorpio’s Grace in November 2019, I tested the waters by publishing a short story The Witch’s Touch. That soul-crunching combination of flinging my first piece of work out to the world for everyone to see, plus the realisation that I was woefully new to the industry, created a feeling I was all too familiar with. The feeling of unearned praise and bewilderment that someone might enjoy reading what I wrote: imposter syndrome.
My first 5-star reviews of The Witch’s Touch really sealed the deal. I was plagued with thoughts that the reviewers were just being nice or that their standards were so low that even my books looked good to them. From then on, every smidgeon of praise came with the same light elation and a side helping of despair. Because someone, somewhere was going to realise that every book I ever wrote was an overrated pile of garbage.
When I finished work on Scorpio’s Grace, my nerves were shot. This wasn’t just some short story; this was a full-blown novel. Over 6x the size, which would surely give everyone 6x the chance to realise that I was a fraud.
But as release day approached, the feelings of inadequacy got pushed to one side. Who had time for that when there was release parties to plan, newsletters to send and those side-tickling tweets to post?
By the time Scorpio’s Grace was released and had seen its first 5-star review, I had forgotten all about being an imposter. An occupied mind has little time to worry.
Two things happened when I finally took a moment to consider my self-worth again.
Firstly, I got a chance to reflect on what an amazing experience the release of Scorpio’s Grace had been. Organising the release and celebrating with author friends powered me through the process of publishing and scattered all thoughts of insignificance to the wind.
Secondly, I realised that if I hadn’t had the time to remember to feel like a fraud, perhaps I had worked hard enough to have earned just a little of my own self-respect.
Just like that, the 5-star reviews started to feel a little more deserved, and I began asking myself more positive questions. Questions like: are you really that bad an author if this many people enjoy your books?
Imposter syndrome affects a lot of creatives and it isn’t easily fought. For many of us, imposter syndrome will always be a factor in our lives, but we have a medium of control over how it affects us. Remembering past successes and taking a brief moment to enjoy some of those good reviews are crucial to building self-esteem based on realistic feelings of achievement.
As sure as the sky is blue, there will be a 1-star review on its way sooner or later to test our self-confidence without us constantly questioning our own abilities.
So, if Imposter Syndrome is preparing to strike, give yourself some credit. Remember a crowning achievement, read that good review or maybe, just maybe, gift yourself an unexpected compliment.
The battle to recognise our self-worth is never-ending, so our efforts to combat our doubts must be relentless. Grab a cookie, we’ve earned it!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In 2017, I created a blog because I had read someplace that an author should have a blog as part of their online presence. I was new on the publishing scene, having written and published one novel with limited knowledge and without much of a solid plan.
Alas, I did what I thought I should be doing — I created a website, organized paid promotion and began networking with other authors. Then, the blog came along.
The problem was, although I had these great plans to use this interactive platform to write about topics that matter, and hopefully relate to other people, I didn’t have the courage to get vulnerable enough to express myself in that way.
2019 has been a transformational year for me. It was a year that forced me to face my inner-darkness and fears, as well as the light and love within; a year dedicated to soul-growth, laying new foundations and stretching my perspective. A year spent forming and cultivating a relationship with my authentic self on a deeper level.
Writing has been a big part of this journey.
Maybe it was the words. Or perhaps it was the process of sifting through the layers to discover deep truths. Whatever it was, expressing myself through reflective writing has become much more than an act of self-discovery — it has enriched the relationships I most treasure.
I have learned, really learned that to be present is the most important present I can give to the people in my life. This is especially true for my children who continue to teach me invaluable lessons through their unconditional love and admiration.
I have surrendered to expectations and learned how to protect myself from deceitful people. I’ve discovered that boundaries are important; that hurtful and ruthless words are like knives; that some people do not have the capacity to understand nor care how deeply their actions can cause pain; and that the unjust behavior of others says more about them then it does about me.
Fear is a forceful and vicious emotion. Love is much more powerful.
It is through the act of deep thinking and reflection that propels us to higher states of being. True appreciation finds us when we question ourselves, the world and its meaning.
This is when we realize all that we hold dear and precious — as well as all that seeks to harm us.
There are times in our lives when we get to choose which path to take — the easy way is, well, easy. It requires playing it safe, Resisting change (with a capital “R”) and staying put. It requires little effort and risk on our part.
There is nothing wrong with playing it safe. But keeping the walls up denies us opportunities to bond with one another. It rejects new ideas, pushes against our natural state to reach for more and broaden our perspectives.
Living this way doesn’t feed the soul nor catapult us into becoming the best version of ourselves. This way is to remain as you are — to exist in a way that denies your soul what it seeks above all else; expansion. Love. This way is the ordinary way.
Opportunity for soul growth can arrive through various mediums. Sometimes, and quite usually, exponential growth is followed when we experience a crisis of some nature. Other times, it is when we encounter those who spark something dormant within that causes a significant shift to take place at a deeper level.
How can you explain to someone who doesn’t understand what happens when we encounter a significant other? How can you communicate the real magic of deep connection and the creativity born from the fusion to someone who hasn’t experienced it?
It is near impossible, but I’ll try.
Real connection will rattle your senses to ignite change. It will feel as if a key turned within your soul to open a door you never knew existed. Once you cross the threshold, there is no way to “unknow” all that is revealed — which is everything beautiful and dark within.
Most of all, it is through these sacred people that touch our lives that we find the courage to free ourselves of limited thinking; the courage to be bold with our creativity and find the spirit to become who we are meant to become.
I found the courage to explore and question myself, and the world. As well as the courage to write in new ways and dare to envision an alternative future.
It is when we are willing to die to our former selves to embrace new ways of thinking and being that we truly grasp the meaning of existence. This isn’t some New Age quack notion — life is about getting vulnerable, living big and loving furiously. It is about taking risks, connecting to others and sharing our experiences in order to help each other grow. It’s being brave enough to take the messy path because you sense it’s worth deep in your bones.
This year, I chose to shed a part of myself in order to emerge into myself.
Does that make sense?
A large part of this process is still being played out through the words I create and share with whoever takes the time to listen.
Most of us are aware that storytelling has been used to articulate the experiences and tribulations of our earliest ancestors to guide, teach and inform. Through the ages, story has existed to provide cautionary warnings to their predecessors, but it also through storytelling that we have searched for the sacred dimension of life.
Blogs are an exceptional platform for the continuation of this kind of storytelling. Posting our words enables us to share personal experiences — to teach, connect with and help one another. They provide a way that allows us to get real and gritty; to explore life and everything encompassing the human experience.
Through sharing words and telling my life experiences on Whispering Ink, I have worked through parts of my life to bring a collection of posts designed to connect with people; and hopefully a small part of that body of work found the person in most need of reading the words.
If I achieved that, then I am forever grateful.
This year has been a year of revolution. In facing my own insecurities and fears, I have been able to embrace a new version of myself — a woman who is slowly learning to believe in herself. A woman who has been reminded of higher-love and what it means to accept the things she cannot change — who took a deep breath and published some of the deepest parts of herself.
As the end of the year arrives, I look back on the struggles 2019 brought with a sense of gratitude. I took risks and stepped out of my comfort zone more times than I care to recount. I laughed and cried; I weaved through confusion and told the people that matter how I feel. I wrote words that reflected a journey lived with heart and shared those stories with the world.
I regret nothing.
In the end, it is our willingness to be authentic that counts. It is through connection and reflection that ignite inner-growth. But it is through the creation of words and sharing our experiences that fosters the power of true expansion.
My words and stories may not matter to everyone, but they matter to me and that’s enough.
Thanks for all your support throughout 2019. New Year Happiness to You!
My love affair with books began at a tender age. My brother and I were allocated a space along our parents’ bookshelf to stack our collection of books. I’d spend hours thumbing through them and dreaming myself into the pages before rearranging their order in a way I thought just. Come evening, I’d select one, climb onto my mother’s lap and listen to her read a story I’d heard a hundred times over.
Hansel and Gretel, Snow White, The Three Little Pigs,
Jack and the Beanstalk. These
were just some of the stories I had come to treasure. To the child in me, there
was something spellbinding about the notion of a child-eating witch concealed
behind an alluring house made from gingerbread and candy. It was frightening
yet exciting at the same time and I couldn’t get enough.
my cherished collection of fairytales helped to form some of the fondest of my
childhood memories with my mother. Those moments snuggling up with her on the
sofa and gazing at the pages as she turned them have become a part of me. And
the essence of those stories has become the foundation for my own journey as a
childhood obsession with fantasy tales didn’t stop at books. Long before
Netflix and other streaming options were available, free-to-air TV was
exciting. We had a choice of four channels and that was it. Sounds extremely
limited to the Netflix junkie, but at least we avoided choice paralysis, which
is a phenomenon I regularly face nowadays.
can’t tell you how many times I’ve scrolled through Netflix and clicked through
to read a few blurbs only to become overwhelmed by the decision. This might
sound strange, but I don’t like the idea of wasting “watch time” on a shitty
show. I might spend up to 20 minutes scrolling, clicking, reading and
procrastinating before finally giving up to move onto another activity – one that
doesn’t involve too many options on offer.
TV in Australia back in the ‘70s and come Sunday, I’d curl up on the lounge
with my mum and watch movies like Tarzan or an Elvis flick. My mother
loved Elvis. Who could blame her? The guy oozed charisma. The best part about
those years were the times my folks allowed me to stay up a little later to
watch reruns of movies like Hans Christian Andersen,Chitty Chitty
Bang Bang, or my favorites, the original Charlie and the Chocolate
Factory and The Wizard of Oz.
girls, flying cars, chocolate fountains and Oompa Loompas. Other worlds
brimming with good and bad witches, talking brainless scarecrows, cowardly
lions and a magic yellow brick road. Story heaven. That’s where I found myself
while sprawled across the floor tangled in blankets and pillows before the
telly way past my bedtime.
through the movie I battled the tendrils of sleep clawing at me from behind my
eyelids. I battled hard till the characters discovered their victorious
resolutions and the credits scrolled across the screen. Then, I’d drop into bed
feeling exhausted and satisfied, finally succumbing to sleep.
back, I can see clearly how stories and books have played such an important
role in my life. Stories have served as entertainment and inspiration. They
have opened magical portals to unearthly realms and strengthened my
imagination. They’ve taught me how to dream and about the beauty of love that
exists in our world. They’ve also shown me the twisted depths of evil,
vengeance and spite, as well as transporting me into the minds of characters
I’ve come to love.
Stories demonstrate parts of the human condition we might otherwise miss because they stretch our perspectives, broaden our senses and nurture qualities such empathy and compassion. Following the journey of even a fictional character can impact us in unexpected ways, particularly when the story theme resonates.
tween years saw me delving into the chirpy Sweet Valley High series. You
know, the accounts of those gorgeous adolescent American twins Liz and Jessica?
They had the most interesting life, what with their contrasting traits,
boyfriends and other serious teenage dilemmas. For example, what to wear to the
don’t do Prom night here in Australia. We do the Formal. It’s probably
something similar minus the corsage. My formal and I resembled an image not
unlike Morticia – long black hair, red talons and a black velvety skin-tight
mermaid style dress I bought in the city. Turned out, another girl wore the
same dress. Oh, the drama! Not me, her. I couldn’t have cared less. She, on the
other hand, took one look at me and ran into the bathroom crying. Lol!
dilemmas. Sweet Valley High eat your heart out.
was drawn to the dramatic, dark works of Virginia Andrews during my later
teenage years. I’d read each book in The Dollanganger series several
times over; the same holds true for The Casteel series. Ah, Heaven and
Dark Angels. If there be Thorns … Seeds of Yesterday.
These stories are not of the feel-good variety that I enjoyed as a child, or a
tween for that matter. They were satisfying nonetheless, even if they caused me
to weep uncontrollably and feel an overwhelming sense of injustice and sorrow
for the protagonists. How could Julian be such an ass?
enough that I named my first born after one of the characters – and my Julian
isn’t an ass. Well, most of the time. Nor is he a dancer as far as I know.
wasn’t long before the racy and perverted pages of a Jackie Collins novel found
itself in my hands. As in, all of them. I reread them a few times over too.
God, how I loved Chances and Lovers and Gamblers. Gino Santangelo
was like an Al Pacino in my mind … let’s not get into how much I love Pacino.
He’s der bomb. Enough said.
“To live in the hearts we leave behind is not to die.”
Robbins from A Stone for Danny Fisher.
A Stone for Danny Fisher is a story that looks at the effect of the Great
Depression on a lower-middle class Jewish family. It’s also a story that will
stay with you long after you finish the last page.
of my most comforting memories belong to bookstores. Real books with real
pages. I can think of nothing better than to step into a bookstore and blend
into the aisles for some serious book hunting. Rarely can I resist walking past
a bookstore. The low-key independent ones are particularly alluring. They seem
to emit a sense of warmth with their overstuffed shelves and nooks and crannies
existing among the smell of real books wafting through the air. Much like
hippie shops that are crammed to the brim with interesting and exotic items as
the scent of incense curls into your being while you’re browsing.
shops stock some great reads, too. Usually, it’s where I head first – to the
book section at the back of the shop to flick through the works written by some
of our most enlightened philosophers and spiritual teachers. The Tarot cards
and crystals are cool to look at too.
to the traditional books and I have many authors to thank along my reading
journey. Each book that has found me engrossed within its pages has laid the
groundwork to create the writer I’ve become and the writer I will become as I
continue to plow out my own writing career.
like Anne Rice, David Baldacci, Sally Beaman, Dan Brown and Bryce Courtenay
have made their mark, along with Thomas Harris, Jilliane Hoffman, John Grisham
and Patricia Cornwell. I’ve enjoyed works by Julie Ellis, George R.R. Martin,
Alice Sebold and Elie Wiesel. More recently, Elizabeth Hunter and Julie Kagawa.
There are many more, but I’m afraid I might be here all day if I were to list all
reading tastes vary. I’ve never been one to stick with any genre. The same is
true for my tastes in music and movies, although I am clear about my dislikes.
For instance, most American comedy flicks make me want to bang my head against a wall – it has to be pretty distinct and special from the standard to grab and keep me around. Which, let’s face it, rarely happens. I’m not into Bond movies and or anything that remotely resembles a Bond. And I don’t like Marvel movies much either (don’t hang me, Spiderman!).
I enjoy movies and stories that grip me, that make me feel something and that can keep my interest all the way to the end. I’m into stories that show me something different, entertain and teach me or stretch my perceptions in new ways. Mostly, I’m into stories that manage to etch a new memory I can’t forget.
Sometimes the memory is the story. Other times, it’s the moments in which the story is experienced. Either way, it becomes special.
books are like real people. You cannot replace the experience, the authenticity
or the memories they create upon your life and imprint upon your soul.
“There are no accidental meetings
between souls.” – Sheila Burke
At some point we’ve
probably all contemplated our purpose during this lifetime. It is not unusual
to find ourselves pondering the big stuff:
What is my purpose?
What can I share and contribute to the world?
What is my legacy?
How can I make authentic connections?
What is my life’s meaning?
Sound familiar? It is logical that we reach
a stage in our lives when we yearn for something more and meaningful—a time
when we set out to seek answers about our world, our existence and soul
purpose. In Maslow’s five-stage hierarchy of needs, this self-discovery phrase
of life rests at the top of his five-tier pyramid model in motivational
psychology. Self-actualization is the process of realizing personal potential
and self-fulfillment, as well as seeking personal growth and peak experiences.
It is the desire to become everything we can become.
Creative writing is a soul-calling or
soul-urge. I have yet to meet a writer to have stated otherwise. I mean, just look
at what we put ourselves through – We choose to sit for prolonged periods at a
time to slave (and sometimes procrastinate) over words. It is like homework. To
most people it sounds like tedious homework, and let’s face it, sometimes it
can feel that way. It is during those doubtful moments that remembering why you
began writing that will help to bring you back to your truth. Your why. For
what reasons did you begin writing?
I’m going to assume that you write books
because your soul urges you to create stories to share with the world. Writing
is a soul-driven occupation navigated by the wings of passion. Each writer is
driven by an unknown force to create and release their messages to the world. It
is through creating literature that we find meaning and purpose to our lives. It
is through the creative soul connections we encounter along the way that we
find ease and divine symphony as we fuse together to create for a higher
I have discovered so much about myself
since I began writing. I can vividly recall the feeling that encapsulated me
when I sat before a blank screen to begin writing my first book. It was like
nothing I’d ever felt before – an acute rush of tingles and exquisite surges
filled my being. It was as if my soul rejoiced in the moment. It was a
confirmation that I’d finally discovered my soul purpose; my life purpose.
My writing journey has been a wonderfully
fulfilling experience that continues to nourish and feed my soul. I still
haven’t stopped learning about myself, others and the world. Since I began
writing, I have almost become a different person. What I mean is that while I
had been living an authentic life prior to writing, the act of producing words
has somehow reinforced and cultivated my self-perception, driving home my
beliefs and values. Below I have listed some of the points that have come to
light and/or strengthened within me since I have been writing:
I am worthy of having a voice and expressing myself.
What I have to say counts.
To value myself as a writer, a woman and a human being.
Not everyone will like what I create and that is perfectly fine.
Not everything I create will work and that’s okay too.
To own my truth and be proud of those truths even when others judge.
Living in fear is a life half lived.
It is okay to give the kids a frozen pizza every now then. This will
not harm them, and it doesn’t make me a bad mother.
Sometimes the tooth fairy is forgetful, but she always makes up for
it the following evening.
The words I create have power to uplift spirits an inch at a time.
I can make a difference and I am strong and tenacious enough to keep
trying, no matter what.
Regardless of what I am working on, I have an unlimited resource of
creativity available to me that I can access any time.
Connections are important to soul growth and creating. I have
learned to cherish, honor and appreciate those connections.
I am not perfect and that’s okay.
People will appreciate and respect my imperfections as well as the
honesty I bring to my work.
Writing from the heart will attract the right audience for me.
Believe and trust in myself and the universe.
you relate to any of the above? Do any of these points resonate with you?
Words are power
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. In turn, embracing
these rich inner layers will produce an unbridled fever that shines through my fictional
and non-fictional writing.
Aside from the inner-growth, self-discovery and enrichment that your writing can bring to your life, we must acknowledge that our words can be extremely healing and enlightening to others. Too often we underestimate the power and importance of creativity. Therefore, there is a certain amount of responsibility that accompanies our work as writers. A certain amount of faith the universe has entrusted to us. This faith is also apparent within the connections that cross our paths throughout our writing journey.
We meet many people in our lifetime. Some are good and others are not. People cross our paths all the time, whether it be through social meetings and mutual acquaintances, work opportunities, meeting someone by chance at an event or some other scenario. They come and go, and mostly they may drift into the background of your past, barely summoning enough effort to be thought of again.
Then sometimes our paths collide with
someone special – a kindred spirit that seems to stir something deep within us
as if our souls have known that person long before we encounter them. Perhaps
long before this lifetime. Often, people will come together to create something
profound and important. It is through these crucial soul connections that our
own creativity is renewed and energized, which can bring positive change to the
How do we know when we’ve encountered a
profound creative soul connection?
Have you ever met someone with whom you
feel an inexplicable connection? Upon meeting them you may have felt an instant
pull that defies logic or reason. Even before getting to know them, you sensed
a special dynamic that you felt compelled to explore. I have been fortunate
enough to have encountered a kindred spirit or two during my writing journey.
These special people have come into my life for the purpose of collaborative
creation and to produce change at a deeper level within myself. Personally, I
think that is how you know when you’ve met someone crucial – you unite for the
sake of creation and their presence in your life somehow evokes a personal
Meeting Catherine was like that. We met
when I attended one of her workshops during the Wollongong Writers Festival. I
remember looking over all the workshops on offer prior to booking. I was
immediately drawn to Catherine’s. I took notice of the underlying feelings that
accompanied me when deciding whether to attend the event, and honestly, cannot
fully articulate why, but I knew that something profound and important would
result from attending. Specifically, there was a deep sensation surrounding
Catherine, and that was before we had met.
Catherine is unlike anyone I have ever known. What I mean is that from the start it felt as if Catherine was someone I already knew before we even met. She was familiar to me. There exists a unique and special bond between us that we are both aware enough to recognize and appreciate. Our union has brought change to both our lives in positive and meaningful ways. The combination of us may appear highly contrasting on the surface – we often find a sense of amusement in contemplating our union. We think in different ways and our work is distinct from each other. Yet, it is those offbeat divergences that complement one another, and it seems to work. It has resulted in writing Creative Writing Energy together; a title we are excited about because the topics are a shared passion. Moreover, we are honored to share the culmination of our connection to bring that positivity direct to you in the form of these words.
Keeping that in mind, let’s look at some of
the signs to be aware of that may signify a profound connection has entered your
They change you on a profound level. You will gradually sense that there
is something about you that will never be the same. You may begin to feel a
significant shift in your inner landscape that often reflects in your outer life.
The energy exchange that you have with a soul connection on a
professional level will ignite your creative flow and bring a sense of “inner-knowing”.
In short, these connections will make you want to be a better writer and
They bring contemplation to your life and make you aware of the things
you love and hate about yourself. These individuals will always mirror your own
qualities. In the creative realm, embracing these qualities will bring more
passion and integrity to your words.
You know that you won’t forget them. We meet so many people over the
course of our life. Our memories fade over time but soul connections cannot be
easily forgotten. The imprint they leave on your soul, your work and life
cannot be erased.
It is delicious, is it not? Soul work and
life’s mysteries. The most important thing to remember when it comes to our
creative soul connections is that when it happens, you will know. Writing
doesn’t always have to be a solitary process. There is no mistaking the divine
phenomena that exist when two souls come together to create for a higher
purpose – you feel it all the way from your crown to the tips of your toes and
it feels wonderful.
Therefore, the next time you sense something different or profound about someone you encounter along your writing journey, don’t be too hasty to push it aside. Allow yourself to submerge in the feelings and sit with the current of energies and acknowledge your intuitive powers. It is often these special connections that reveal to us more about ourselves and begin to shine a light on the path leading toward our higher-creative minds. It’s amazing what soul connections can help us to achieve as artists and as human beings.
Excerpt from Creative Writing Energy: Tools to Access your Higher-Creative Mind.