Dream A Little! Imagine!

“As you enter positions of trust and power, dream a little before you think.” Toni Morrison

Spiritual gurus and coaches of positive thinking say that before you do anything important in your life, you have to remember to dream. You have to see yourself doing what you want to do. You have to see yourself as the person you want to become. You have to imagine and see yourself realizing your dream. To achieve success you have to dream. You have to imagine.

Dream a little! Imagine! 

Early in the 1990s I read the book ‘Writing’ by Kenneth Atchity. It was part of the writing program I had enrolled in at the time. In it the author introduced the ‘Thought Control Process.’ He explained that thinking about negative things or about depressing things was a waste of time. He suggested an effective way to get rid of those thoughts. Every time you found yourself driving along and thinking dark thoughts, you train yourself to switch to positive thoughts, like thinking about something you love to do most. 

To switch away from my dreadful and gloomy thoughts and depressing feelings, I will think about a writing project. And l will try and write entire scenes or even stories in my head. I will be happy doing so. Whether I will remember some or all of it when I am awake the next morning is a different story. But one thing I know for sure is that my negative thoughts will not bother me because I will be happy imagining.

seller

When we have something important to take care of, don’t we make it our priority? We concentrate on our task ahead and try to stay focused and take control of our thoughts and situation. Most of the time we spend nights tossing and turning and wondering about how the task can end, especially if it’s something hard, like an interview or a presentation or a talk. I personally rehearse scenes or think over multiple scenarios in my head if I have something scheduled the next day, even if it is as simple as having coffee with a friend.

If this is the process that all these professional speakers and coaches talk about then I am all for it and happy to do it. But sometimes I can’t help but feel that ‘I am in the woods’ as the saying goes. Especially when I am trying to make a decision. Because here is the thing.

One thing I think I am good at is collecting information, reading and taking notes, and preparing the ground for what I want to do, or the project I want to work on. But dreaming about it and actually doing it are two different things. 

When I have done my research and I think I am ready to start work on my project I feel dubious. My feelings are like a seesaw and one day I am happy and the next I am wishing for something else. Is this fear then? Is my fear blocking my chance of success?

Eleanor Roosevelt said:

“You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”

I like to take risks but at the same time I am afraid to lose the sense of security that I have. Am I afraid that if I pull it off then my life will change? 

I have learned from experience that if I allow myself to try things I think I cannot do, or rather I cannot do perfectly well, and do them, even if I have to sweat for it, the experience helps me hone my skills and grow in spirit. At the end of the day I am a happier person even if I complain and nag and fuss about it.

Paul Auster wrote:

“The world is so unpredictable. Things happen suddenly, unexpectedly. We want to feel we are in control for our existence. In some ways we are, in some ways we’re not. We are ruled by the forces of chance and coincidence.”

ChK

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Wouldn’t It Be Nice?

On Sunday night, I watched the movie “Limitless” starring Bradley Cooper and Robert De Niro,based on the novel The Dark Fields by Alan Glynn. 

The film is about a writer, Eddie Morra (played by Bradley Cooper), who is blocked and cannot write and is facing a deadline. His apartment is a mess and so is his life. His girlfriend breaks up with him and he is stressed. Then he runs into his ex-brother-in-law who gives him a drug, called NZT-48.

Thinking that no harm can come from taking only one pill, Eddie takes it and within seconds his life changes. He cleans his apartment and sits and writes his book, which he finishes in four days. All of a sudden he is filled with this energy and power to learn things, new things, like how to play the piano, or how to speak in different languages, and he does all that in a significantly short time. He even remembers incidents from his past that he didn’t before. He sees people and images in brighter colors. Soon he becomes successful and gets back with his girlfriend. Then of course he finds himself in dangerous situations and he always manages to get out. 

Later in the film when his girlfriend is in trouble and being chased by a killer with a knife in hand, Eddie tells her just to take a pill and she will know what to do and how to get out of that situation. 

It was one of those films that left me with a good feeling. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was some kind of medication we could take to make us smarter? To make us write those good books we always dream of writing, to help us learn new languages, to help us know better and do the right thing, or have the right answers. Or to know what to do when caught in a life threatening situation and facing danger…

maze 

Sometimes when I am so overwhelmed by life, so swamped by responsibilities and the expectations of others, I become so distraught and panic-stricken, so overwrought and exhausted. And I start wishing for some external power or some magic to help me face my fears and get me out of the dire situation I find myself in. I go to bed after having yet another bad day, hoping and wishing that tomorrow might be different. Hoping for a miracle, for the break that may never come. 

At times like that, when I feel anguished and sort of lost and sleep won’t come, I make a wish list in my mind. I make a list of all the things I want to do and all the things I want to be. It helps me get connected with myself. It helps me to remember who I am and where I want to be. It helps me to stay focused. It helps me to calm down and to not panic. 

“It’s so easy to rush ahead into fear and panic. It is easy to miss the beauty that awaits us in the here and now. So much of life is like taking a photograph. We must pause to catch the moment and savor our delight.” Julia Cameron 

ChK

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It’s Been A Long Time

It’s a cold wintry morning here in Montreal. The temperatures have dropped to double digits below zero. Most of the time I am okay with it but sometimes it gets to me and I find it hard to continue without feeling blue. I anxiously wait for spring to come, hopefully it will soon.

Today I feel shaky. It is a day where I feel even nature is conspiring against me. Montreal is feeling overwhelming and I am longing to be in Dubai with my late husband. I am longing for some sunshine and sandy beaches, and I am missing our life together. I am missing him terribly.

Husband  
To be honest I don’t really know why I feel the way I do sometimes. I try to find beauty around me. God knows I try, but on some days like today I look and look but fail to notice anything.

I ask myself: “What is it that I am looking for? What do I truly want?” And I find the answer in my writing and the progress I am making, or rather, not making.

I have been doing this for years now. My book was published in 2004. And in 2009 when I quit my teaching job I told the principal at the time that I wanted to focus on my writing (the real reason of course being to spend time with my then ailing husband). She asked: “But how will you make a living? Is your book selling?”

No! My book did not sell then and it is not selling now. Despite the fact that whoever reads it loves it and is moved by the story and the characters, and that it “makes them cry.” 
Which is enough to make me happy.

In 2011 when I started my blog I wasn’t sure what I was doing at the time. But gradually I found my footing and started having followers. When a year later I was freshly pressed that was validation enough for me to go on doing what I have always wanted and loved to do. Write!

It’s been a long time since that day in August 2012. Nothing much has happened after that. I have had over a hundred Facebook shares for one of my posts this last month. A blessing and an increase from the fifty something shares I had before. I am grateful for my readers and followers.

I knew what I was getting myself into and I wasn’t expecting much. I know that chances are I will not make money from my writing, and in the same way no publisher will want to publish my second book or third because they won’t comply with the market demand. 

At the moment I am shaky. My enthusiasm feels shattered. And instead of dreaming the impossible and saying “wouldn’t it be lovely if” I keep repeating to myself “that would never happen.” 

What possible good comes out of this? I ask myself. What’s next? Why do I do it then?

Why do I keep writing? Because it brings me relief from the turbulence of my own thoughts, calms my soul and soothes away my anxieties, and saves me from sinking into depression. 

And if I can reach that one person, if my articles or books can resonate with that one reader, then I am happy again.

ChK

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Someday When I Have The Time

Rereading one of my books on writing and time management the other day, I came across the following checklist:

– You never seem to find the time to start writing that project you’ve been dreaming about.
– You hear yourself saying, “I don’t know where the time goes.”
– You spend most of your time responding to external pressures instead of to your inner vision.
– Your whole life seems to have been “one big interruption.”
– You’ve been planning to “get started” all your life.
– You keep attending creative writing classes and do no writing on your own. 

And the list goes on. I checked true on all the points listed above, even the last one. Though I don’t attend creative classes anymore, I do find myself rereading almost all of my books on writing over and over again instead of actually writing. 

Kenneth Atchity writes:

“Talent and discipline combined together with time can make your dreams come true.” 

Talent: the abilities, power, and gifts a person is born with; a special often creative or artistic aptitude.

Discipline: control guided by obedience or training, orderly conduct.

Time: the measured or measurable period during which an action, process, or condition exists or continues: duration.
(Britannica Webster Dictionary) 

Sometimes when I hear myself say, “Someday when I have the time, I will finish the project I started decades ago,” I quickly realize my mistake and think, “No one will give me the time. If I want something so badly I will have to make the time for it.” 

It’s getting worse, this time thing. I can’t seem to be able to manage my time like I used to. I lack control. I lack discipline. What I do now on most days is procrastinate and keep postponing my projects, only to realize that life itself has a deadline, the most arbitrary deadline of all. 

Clock

John Grisham wrote:

“I had no time to write – zero time. But I figured I could make time if I could carve out little segments. I knew it would be a slow process, but I didn’t care because I was in no hurry. I learned two very valuable lessons in doing that. One, you can’t get in a hurry. Two, write every day if you want to see your novel completed. My goal was to write a page a day. Some days I could only find thirty minutes, some days two hours. Sometimes I would write five or six pages, sometimes just one. But writing every single day is of utmost importance. Especially if like most beginning writers, you have another full time job.”

Have a great week!
 
ChK

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When Was The Last Time?

Kenneth Atchity once wrote:

“One of the first questions I ask when a writer needs help to become productive is, “When is the last time you sat and wrote? Not sat down and stared out of the window, but actually moved your hand across the page or your fingers on the keyboard.”

Countless are the times when I sat at my desk to write and didn’t and left the page to go and do some other chores, chores that were totally unnecessary. Julia Cameron associates this with fear. She says that we creative human beings are blocked because we are afraid. That’s why when the time comes for us to sit down and really start our project we panic and stall and move on to do something else.

Many are the nights that I have gone to bed, my head full of ideas of what to write the next day. Sometimes I write sentences and entire paragraphs or stories in my sleep. But come morning, instead of going directly to my page, I do anything and everything to avoid that moment.

Is it really fear then that dominates my thoughts? Is it my experience with the printed page? The fact that I haven’t seen any results yet? Do I need some kind of confirmation to go on writing? I don’t know but I know for sure that on days that I don’t write I become miserable and sulk the entire day. In the end I can do nothing but succumb to my desire to write and I become if not a better at least a happier person.

The Writer

It’s always that first step that separates the doers from the dreamers, not only in writing but everything else. The first steps we take towards our dream no matter what that dream is. And for me no one explains this better than C.V. Cavafy when he writes: 

THE FIRST STEP

The young poet Evmenis
complained one day to Theocritos:
“I’ve been writing for two years now
and I’ve composed only one idyll.
It’s my single completed work.
I see, sadly, that the ladder
of Poetry is tall, extremely tall;
And from this first step I’m standing on now
I’ll never climb any higher.”
Theocritos retorted: “Words like that
are improper, blasphemous.
Just to be on the first step
should make you happy and proud.
To have reached this point is no small achievement:
what you’ve done already is a wonderful thing.
Even this first step
is a long way above the ordinary world.
To stand on this step
you must be in your own right
a member of the city of ideas.
And it’s a hard, unusual thing
to be enrolled as a citizen of that city.
Its councils are full of legislators
no charlatan can fool.
To have reached this point is no small achievement:
what you’ve done is already a wonderful thing.”
 
ChK

     

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2015 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 290,000 times in 2015. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 12 days for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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I Wish For Some Peace

As I sit in my comfortable home in Montreal and watch the news of refugees and their flight from terror, I can’t help but think about when we were forced to leave Beirut in search of a safer and more stable place. 

I may have mentioned earlier that both my late husband and I were born in Lebanon to Armenian refugee parents, and we grew up there. When the civil war started we were both students, he was a sophomore in university and I was still in high school. The situation was terrible. There was danger everywhere.  

The year was 1984. Nine years into the civil war, the situation was getting worse and terror lurked in every corner. It was a time when different militias fought against each other. The capital Beirut was divided into two parts, East and West. We were married and had rented a tiny studio in West Beirut so we could be close to his workplace. I wasn’t working that year. 

Fighting escalated between the two sectors. Bombs fell around us on a daily basis. I was so paranoid that I could even hear the bombs sent our way the moment they were launched from the East. I would wake up in the middle of the night, wake my husband and we would cower in a corner of our room and wait for a bomb to fall on us or somewhere nearby.

Some nights the bombing would be so intense that we would seek refuge in the basement of the building, situated under the parking lot, with a huge gas tank in the corner. The advertising company where my husband worked at the time as a graphic artist decided to close its offices in Beirut. Who had money to spend on advertising when survival was the main priority of the people living there? We wanted to leave the country to escape the danger but didn’t have the means, since he was the only one working, and with rent and other bills and expenses to pay we couldn’t afford to travel.

I prayed and prayed for a safe way out. And soon our luck changed and my prayers were answered when the company offered to transfer him to their Dubai office. For us it was a blessing. That’s when we became refugees too, but refugees with a privilege.

Traveler

We made it out of there and Dubai became our home away from home. It was hard leaving everyone behind though. 

I remember our first Christmas in Dubai, away from our families and friends. I remember looking for a Christmas tree. The only shop that sold trees (artificial ones) and ornaments was a shop called Habitat. We didn’t have much choice in decorating the tree. I remember buying artificial Christmas flowers made of white cloth as there were no red ones, and my husband hand-painted them red so we could put them on the tree. It felt good trying to start a new life in a new place we could call home. 

Christmas has passed and New Year is just hours away, and with all the trouble around the world, with millions of people trying to flee their homes in search of a safer place, I truly understand their situation. I just pray and hope that somehow peace returns to the world so people can live with some dignity. 

Wish

As for me I can say it has been a good year even though I had some major challenges to face, and I haven’t been able to post frequently. I am not much of a fan of resolutions but this year I am up for a new challenge and a new page, a new year. And as a promise to myself I will try to be more present on my page. 

I wish for some peace and stability in the world, a happy and healthy and successful year to all, and to my fellow bloggers and writers I wish that the writing bug catches you all! 

Happy New Year!

ChK

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