12 Essays 2019, Bits of wisdom, Inspirational, Journal of a dreamer, Shorts, Wisdom, writing

The Story of Vulnerability

The Story of Vulnerability – May Essay

Well, now things get serious. We talked about Time, Communities, Travelling and Inspiration. All in the light of being creative and living that creative and authentic life that most of us strive for. Have been struggling with this month’s theme, as I looked at the list of topics I wanted to talk about for a while, feeling like none of them would suffice. Or be good enough. Because, oh, yes… I was feeling vulnerable.

Don’t we all?

Anyhow, here I am, end of the month, a fresh-brewed mug of tea with mint from the garden and linden from some friends’ garden, windows open, listening to the outside noise, happy it is all nature sounds, even in the midst of a bustling city.  Evening, just ended the workday and am ready to relax, but not too relaxed as this essay is getting on my nerves, because if there is something I am good at is not showing any signs of vulnerability. It is always kept in check, packed under millions of other layers, ignored and frowned upon as we all do.
Since the beginning of this month, I have been part of a lovely project on Instagram (a wonderful project that I totally encourage you to try) organized/inspired by Juliane from @onebouquetperday. Juliane started it in 2013, so it has been going on for a while, but just this year I have found it. When I began, I thought it would do me a lot of good to go in the garden early in the morning and pick some flowers, as everything was in bloom and looked amazing, and to capture that moment of peace in a single photo. I also thought it would last for a week. Little did I know. I am going (strong) in my fourth week now, and totally loving it. It just adds that little something that was missing from my morning strolls at sunrise in the Garden of Eden, as I call this little sacred space we tend to.
How is this tied with the vulnerability you ask. Well, since you ask… Every project you do with other people makes you put yourself “out there”. You know, in the real world. And everything you create or do or think or say in such environment leaves you open for criticism, ironies, bullying, comparison, and all the other things that made you – an introvert- NOT put yourself out there.
Therefore, I encourage you to try to find a small project, anything that may bring you out of your shell, and damned be the fear that will try to silence you. Dare to be vulnerable. Show your heart to the world. Do not hide your gifts.
I still say it as a whisper that I am a writer. And still, try to disguise it and explain it and justify it by adding- well, I try… well, I’d like to think I am... and so on.
But allowing myself to be open to criticism and showing my soul to strangers has brought me more joy and happiness than bad vibes.
So, do it. Be vulnerable. Be authentic, tell people about your thoughts and wishes, about your ideas and allow your creative part to be free. Unleash that vibrant energy that fills your lungs and raises your spirit high to go “out there”. And accept your vulnerability. Care for it. Talk about it. Understand it. But do not let it control your life and do not live your life out of fear of what would people say or think. That is their problem, not yours. Yours is to be true to yourself, no matter what.
Go to group therapy. Talk about your soul and your fears. Play and allow yourself to be present. Tell people about your creative side. And about your desires and thoughts and feelings, especially.
Or write stories for your friends. Taking Neil Gaiman’s writing course in the past month (oh boy, what a treat!!) I have started to really enjoy writing short stories. So much that I decided to write 10 stories this year for 10 of my friends based on one photo of theirs from either Instagram, or blog or another social platform of their choice. Mind you, most of my friends have a gift for photography and I would like to thank deviantArt for meeting most of them back then. Oh, the glorious days of dev. I miss them sometimes. Now, back to writing and being vulnerable. I have already written two, started the third which will be posted really soon. You can read them in the Short Stories page of this website. They are different as the people I write for are different. They have a piece of soul from me, from them, and some mystical inspiration that was captured in that photo.  Here’s yet another way of being vulnerable- telling your friends- Hey, I wrote a story about this picture of yours. Or even worse- hey, I think about writing a story about this picture of yours– worse because then you have informed them and they will have expectations. (yes, hard to live with that, I know. hahaha)
Try to be more present and do more “out there” for the people to see, allow yourself to be vulnerable and step by step you’ll learn how to do it, how to trust people and how to believe in yourself. There is this book that I’ve been reading for a while now, “Hardwiring Happiness” by Rick Hanson about experience-dependent-neuroplasticity (try to say that three times fast) which discusses retraining your brain to think and act positively by changing its wiring in response to experience, repeated stimuli, environmental cues, and learning. And how to learn from good and positive experiences. I believe that is an experiment worth doing with yourself. Learning how to see more good than bad and how to give more impact to good experiences.
Don’t you?
This month’s post is also delivered in 1000 words in full, as promised.
Roxana

12 Essays 2019, Bits of wisdom, Inspirational, Journal of a dreamer, Shorts, Wisdom, writing

The Story of Inspiration

The Story of Inspiration – April Essay

It only takes a moment. Or a lifetime. To get inspired is what we all crave and to find meaning is what we’re all struggling with. Inspiration hits when we least expect it and it may hit hard without consideration. It may come when cleaning the house and we find ourselves in a pile of clothes searching for NASA pictures to print for the new office. Or when driving far away on an orange code for storms and we end up in a coffee shop surrounded by drenched strangers sharing a cinnamon bottle. Or when we’re reading. Oh, I love that one. Reading is the best way to get inspired. We just witnessed someone else’s inspiration. And then there are times when one has to write 1000 words essays, and gets to 122 and is just stuck. Uninspired.
The advice I have received and follow (or try to) is that inspiration comes when we’re actually doing the work. Then inspiration will come. One way or the other. The magical thing is that we cannot plan it, change it, store it or manoeuvre it as we wish.
People are a constant source of inspiration. People-watching is a well-known activity for creatives. We just spend hours watching people, on the streets, in coffee-houses, buses, in museums, wherever and whenever possible. Not in a creepy way, but in a way that will inspire Art. People equal Art. The purest form of art is humankind. One would argue that nature is, but hear me out. Humanity in itself is magical. We live and breathe and create and destroy, love and struggle with the same passion. And this passion is the fuel for inspiration.
There is something extraordinary in the way people live their lives, and there are stories everywhere we look. As long as we keep our eyes open and soul open, it is impossible not to get inspired.
But, hey, let’s assume we’re stuck, uninspired and we know not where to look. What do we do when we’re in the middle of a project and there’s nowhere to go anymore? I have listened to Neil Gaiman’s inspiring words on writer’s block. And he talks about two steps. One is to take a breather. And the second one is to retrace our steps and, by doing that, we will find where the story went off course.
Long walks help. This is my go-to breather. Regardless of where my steps may take me, different city, different country, a park, a library, a bookstore, a church, a forest, a coffee house, the simple act of getting out of my head is, most of the times, enough to get me back to the writing table. Not necessarily cured, but willing to try again. And to tell the story.
The weeks I spend most inside are the weeks where I feel most uninspired. Stuck. Truly empty. And so I grab my coat, my shoes, and my bag and get out. Some days I have to force myself to get out. Some days it works, some others it doesn’t. Some days are harder than others. And we all know them. The days when we’re too drained to even move from the bed, desk, sofa. The days when the gloom is clouding all our thoughts and slithering deep in our bones, leaving us fatigued, breathless, and weary. I do not use lightly the word “depressed”, as it is too close to home, but we all know this kind of days.  When we’re unable to move. And then sleep helps. A long shower helps. A decent cup of green tea helps. A good old book helps. A conversation with a friend helps. Journaling helps. Music helps. Gardening helps. Ironing, dusting, cleaning the house, rearranging the shelves, the sock drawer, repotting some plants, lighting a candle. It all helps. Action beats inaction at any time. Action is the only answer. Even, or perhaps, especially when it is so damn hard.
Another place I find myself wandering when things get tough is a museum. I can go alone, not talk to anyone, marvel at the art, get inspired, drink a good cup of coffee, buy some flowers and some fresh bread and some fruits for home afterwards. They’re usually not crowded (do not think at the Mona Lisa room now), extremely airy and with great lighting, very well curated and truly truly inspiring. Best part of it, we can take your time with ourselves. With art and with our thoughts. All in one room. Boom, inspiration comes!
One of my dreams is to write a road-trip book. Adventures, friendship, love, heartbreak, discoveries, coffee shops, and the long road in front of you. Have been gathering material for some time now, took some epic road-trips in the past and day-dreaming about a longer one across America, from one National Park to another, with a bunch of good old friends, just wandering the world and seeing the majestic beauties of the giant sequoias, the Joshua trees, the Grand Canyon, Glacier Bay, Yosemite, Zion… even the names sound fabulous. There’s so much beauty in this world and there’s so much to explore, and to see to get inspired, that even keeping a Pinterest board with these wonders will do the work for the moment. And then, there’s Japan. Calling me louder and louder. And Iceland. And the Hymalaians. And Africa and India, and Peru and Brazil… There’s no place in this world where I wouldn’t want to go. Last month I wrote an Essay on Travelling.
This month’s essay is a mess. Ideas came at me all at once and none, in particular, stayed long enough to actually develop it. That only proves the above idea that inspiration hits in mysterious ways. Chaotic ways and we should grab it while we can. When I started these essays, I promised myself they will be raw, no rewriting. Just thoughts on paper on some topics I care for.
This is the result.
Roxana

12 Essays 2019, Shorts

The Story of Time

The Story of Time -January Essay

Time is a weird concept. It can be measured in seconds, minutes, moments, memories, breaths, feelings, laughter, words, songs and books. The best spent time, however, is that one we do not measure. We do not feel passing.
Time well spent is the one that turns into memories.
Remember that time when…I wish I could turn back the time… Time waits for no man…
But it does exist. As in nature’s course, there is time for different activities. There is a time for everything.
To every thing there is a season,
and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate;
A time of war, and a time of peace.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
It is important to recognize where we are in every moment while we are alive. And respect it. Perhaps for some is a time of growing or of planting, maybe sowing, for others is a time for dancing, laughing or perhaps breaking down. We must acknowledge that time and honour it.
We must not await time out.
Some of us have been waiting for something all our lives. For a sign, a certain day, a certain season, or even for a certain mood. For something exterior to validate and motivate our internal wishes and desires. Oh, how much time have we wasted waiting for the weekend. Or for money, love, inspiration, summer, a better life, a better exchange rate.
And how frustrated we’ve become with every second waiting and waiting and seeing nothing changes.
Nothing will change, however, with that mindset. Because time is our own commodity of our own making.
Pondering now on how January is almost at the ending and New Year’s Resolutions and wishful thinking started already to dull their light, and we find ourselves again at our old antics, again on the run, again restless, at war with ourselves. Or even worse, stuck, uninspired, unmoved, cold and lifeless. Feeling unworthy of goodness. Undeserving. Fake. Impostors. Not good enough. Simply not enough.
There is a reason for that. And it is simple. The time for resolutions, wishes upon a star, on the New Year’s fireworks, on a birthday cake, on a dandelion, on a shooting star (and so on) is over. All gone!
Some very wise men once said- The time is gone, the song is over. (check it out here). To paraphrase them I would say that the time is gone, the waiting is over!
That time is over.
It is done!
We’ve dreamt it. We’ve wished for it. We’ve longed for it. We’ve even prayed for it and manifested it. That is great, but enough.
Now it is the time to do it.
Good, but…how?
We should start with what we can. Changing that mind frame. Working on an idea, or a seed of an idea. With the first step- be it a word, a flower, a 5 minutes meditation, a 76-form Tai Chi routine, a sequence of Sun Salutation, 10 minutes walk, an apple, a healthy dinner, ironing 1 shirt, 6 cycles of deep breathing, calling 1 person, 10 min hike, writing 2 emails, texting back, throw away just 1 piece of junk, recycle 2 papers, plant a tree, say no to one plastic straw or even just by saying Hi to someone we’ve been meaning to get in touch with again.
Without pressure, without expectations, without analyzing (or overanalyzing- hey, I’m feeling your pain, my friend!), without beating yourself up, without guilt.
Start our first month of this blessed year with a word. Chosen wisely. And enwrap ourselves in it. Build around it, plant around it, dance around it. You get my point.
How can we make the most of this year by reporting all our actions around a word? By calling it a call to action. A hope. A dream. A wish…
Picking our theme for the year and then working towards that goal. With small steps, with big leaps of faith, with both.
As long as at the end of the year we will have something to “quantify” and measure our growth, we’re on the right path.

Food for thought and soul:

  1. Do you feel restless (go to the thesaurus and pick any of the following: antsy, agitated, anxious, fidgety, UNPEACEFUL) or perhaps, au contraire… you are just stuck, uninspired, humdrum, indifferent, desolate, dulled, LIFELESS? Do you want to change that? Then pick your dream word. It can be a word, a phrase, a saying, a chapter, an entire book series if you want. Write it down. (disregard this step if it is an entire fantasy trilogy concerning hobbits or a seven book series with muggles in it)
  2. Do you want more, something else, something different, anything at all? Even if it means to shake yourself a bit. (*the correct answer is YES!) Can you link it somehow to your dream word?
  3. Thinking about what you want to achieve (you know what it is), what would be the first step?
  4. Why aren’t you doing it? (*list your fears, worst-case-scenarios, insufficiencies, motivations or lack of them)
  5. What would it take to convince you to do it? (*insert any type of bribe here- I suggest you think big! I mean, you’re only trying to convince yourself. So you have to be smart and creative and use all the arsenal you have. You know yourselves so it will be easy. I know bribing only goes this far, it is sometimes frowned upon, even considered the bane of our own existence, but- hey, I said no guilt, haven’t I?)
  6. Breathe. Deep, for at least 6 cycles. Repeat if necessary.
  7. Ignoring, or in spite of step # 3, take step #2+ step #4 and START.
  8. Keep going. Until you’re done. Or moved. Or calmer. Or happier. Then, on to the next step. It may (or may not) get easier with every step.
  9. Optional -tell your friends about it. You can start with me. Afterall we’re a part of a small tribe, right? We’re building here a small village fit for a tribe of awesomeness.
Sending my love out there to you, darlings.
Until next time, let’s keep in touch!
Roxana
Post Scriptum: For those counting words, I confirm my essay has now 1000 words as WordPress knows to count.