Don’t Throw Your Life Away, Do Something Amazing With It

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“Our hearts, our hopes, our prayers, our tears, our faith triumphant o’er our fears, are all with thee – are all with thee!”
― Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

It was a long flight back home. I was 13 at the time, and getting ready to head back to Georgia after several weeks of visiting my grandmother’s cabin in Maine. I had memories of lobster, learning how to quilt, and a large green lake.

It had been a great trip, not the typical fun-filled adventurous one that most kids my age would have loved, but it was perfect for me. Maine was hauntingly beautiful, a place for writers and dreamers.

“Noni” wasn’t an easy person to get along with, but this particular ambient transformed her somehow. Giving a bit of softness to those hard edges. And although our relationship as grandmother/granddaughter would never have that easiness that others do, we had our moments.

I stared out of the small airplane window, and inspired by the beauty, I reached into my bag to take out pen and paper, when I suddenly found a neatly wrapped gift with a small note on the top. Touched by the unexpected offering, I immediately opened and read it.

To my Cindy,

If you are going to be a poet, you need to read the best.

Remember to keep everything you write. Don’t throw anything away.

Someday you’ll do something amazing with it all.

Love, Noni

They were only three lines on a small note, but the message impacted me. As I opened the gift, my mind raced to all of the disagreements and unwelcome memories I’d experienced with my grandmother. Far too many to count. She had been a source of sadness in many ways, and yet, here was her small and big attempt at leaving part of her legacy behind.

I took out the small hardcover and smiled.

The Poetry of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.” A writer from Maine.

The Contrasts in Life.

People surprise us. The best writers have a way of showing villains as humane, and heroes as faulty. Why?

Because every person you meet has a light and shadow-self. We’ve encountered them all before, sometimes they are in the form of our bosses, family members, ex’s and friends. We changed our feelings for them depending on their attitudes and actions. At times they were the “bad-guy”, and at times, they were our soothing balm. And whether those people stayed in our lives or not, they changed us somehow. For better or worse.

I learned many things from Noni, she taught me things I didn’t want to follow in my own life, but she also taught me about strength and persistence. She was the epitome of contradiction, brash yet affectionate. Our relationship would forever remain complicated, but I still remember that book of poetry fondly, I still remember her immortal words of encouragement to keep writing.

Keep it all.

Maybe you have had these big dreams that got washed away by reality. Difficult experiences like loss, heartache, and financial hardship have a way of making us toss out all our brilliant ideas. Maybe you’re clinging on to these bitter memories and using them to rationalize your mantra of “I’m just not good enough.”

Here’s the thing: you have to go back.

There are tidbits of yourself that were thrown away when you left unpleasant experiences behind. The ones where you said “Never again”. There is no question that leaving abusive and harmful relationships are the best thing we can do. But what about those parts of ourselves that trusted, and loved unconditionally? The ones that still believed the world was a safe place? We have to go back and retrieve those parts of ourselves.

Hold on to your idealism, as much as your skepticism.

The trouble is that we’ve placed our doubts way ahead of our hopes. We’ve been taught to think of idealism as a weakness, something to prune out, and we rely on our skepticism to help navigate our lives. By avoiding more than we choose to include.

We need both.

We need the latter for critical thinking and analysis, and to rule out the things that are no longer beneficial to us, but we also need to believe in our crazy ideas. Don’t throw those out. Don’t throw out the better parts of yourself with the bad experiences lived.

I still remember Noni’s note till this day, and though she referred to my own writing, I’ve realized that her words relay a much greater message:

Don’t throw your life away.

Do something amazing with it.

©C.R. Lamothe 07/25/2013

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What are some of your own experiences with letting go and holding on to the past? Does it interfere in your dreams? Let me know in the comments below.

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Filed under Creative Inspiration, Creative Journey, Idealism, Our Pursuit of Happiness, Poet, Start Writing, Uncategorized, Your Path

Shaping Our Destiny: A Lesson in Human Willpower

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I have this recurring memory that seems to linger with me before falling asleep. I’m six years old again, standing on a diving board. Terrified.

There’s a good amount of distance between my small body and the large pool of water, and my instructor is about to blow her whistle, so that I’ll dive head first into that seemingly massive amount of blue liquid.

I’m not afraid of falling. Not at all.
I’m afraid of crashing into the water and never resurfacing.

Most children were afraid of falling. The height of the diving board while staring down at a glistening pool evoked episodes of crying fits for my peers.

Not me.

We’d been practicing diving for several weeks now, and I’d wake up with nightmares of standing there, unable to bring myself to jump.

This experience was my first glimpse into human vulnerability.

Since then, I’ve gone through many such moments, when I’m forced to look my fear in the face and make that decision about jumping or not. Without asking for it, life will give us many diving boards, perhaps in the form of a career change, in relationships and decisions we’re not yet ready to take.

But we’ll find ourselves at that precise moment in time, where we either radically move forward, or back down and stay in a situation that is no longer beneficial to us. Often times we’re paralyzed not knowing what to do.

One thing is for sure. However you cut it

We. Will. Be. Vulnerable.

We’ll consider the drastic fall, a plunging into the unknown, and a likely possibility of never resurfacing. No excuses.

So why take the leap? What compels us to not back down?

Sheer Willpower.

That driving force that steers us into the unfathomable, into the abyss of change. We’re all born with this gift. To do as we wish, to plunge ahead or coward away.

This is how we shape our destiny.

©C.R. Lamothe 07/15/2013

“It matters not how straight the gate,

How charged with punishments the scroll,

I am the captain of my fate,

I am the master of my soul.”

William Earnest Henley

Can you remember diving boards life has thrown your way? How did you face your fear of delving into the unknown? Please share your experience in the comments below.

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We Have to Marry Our Passions

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Wrestling with our demons.

This is a fact that happens to most writers and creative’s. We have those voices in our heads that show us these amazing universes and creative worlds within us. We cherish these and invite them in for coffee, because they’re the ones who inspire our work and get us motivated to change the world.

But what about those other uninvited guests? The voices that plague our self-worth, questioning every decision we make. The voice of our inner skeptic. For some reason, we don’t shut them out; we listen earnestly, to the many “what ifs” of all the possible scenarios that could go wrong if we fail. We press up our ears to the door of self-delusion in order to hear that “we just aren’t good enough.”

Why do we listen?

Because we want the voices to be right.

Sounds insane huh? Why would we want to fail? After all, we’ve always dreamt of being successful at our work, helping others, and being of service. So then, why would we want to give reason to chaos?

Because we’re afraid of the responsibility that comes with success.

As simple as that.

We’ve gotten used to our comfort zone; in fact, we have a warm blankey and a pile of movies we need to watch before starting to pursue our dreams.

Taking a step towards creating the life we want is a commitment to our own personal growth. It’s a responsibility that we are taking, and an acknowledgment that we in fact, have an active role in our destiny.

“If it’s meant to be, it will be, and if it isn’t, then it won’t be”, is one of our best cop-outs when it comes to defeatist self-talk. We’re wiping our hands of all responsibility that might be connected to the steps we have to take to get to where we want.

So, how can we climb out of this hole we’ve buried ourselves in? By throwing down the blankey, our self-proclaimed comfort zone that we’ve cautiously built over the years, and stepping into the wilderness of our souls.

We have to marry our passions. Yeah, that’s right.

It’s time to get into the nitty-gritty hard work that comes with making the choice to persevere, to face our fears of a life long commitment to doing what we love.

It’s only when we commit, that we can truly progress. When we’re faced with no way out, but to reach the top of that mountain. There’s no going back once you’ve had a taste of that beaming sunrise. It’s the same when it comes to creating our future. We can’t keep dating our dreams to expect a worthy outcome. We have to bring out the big guns, and marry our passions.

Because only then will we give birth to an amazing life legacy.

©C.R. Lamothe 07/12/2013

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Do you agree that it’s necessary to commit to our passions to succeed? Or maybe you have a story you’d like to share in the comments below about how you worked through your own demons. Would love to hear from you!

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Time to Rein in Our Imagination

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Have you seen that scene in the movie Avatar, where the main character has to grab hold of a large dragon-like creature to prove himself?  The blue colored one that Jake tamed to gain the Na’vi’s trust was known as the ikran or banshee for humans.

That’s what my imagination looks like in a nutshell.

A fierce, magnificent animal that I must try to get a hold of. And we struggle initially, simultaneously in a tango dance. Because we’re both free spirits and want to go our own ways. But there’s magnetism between us, and I secretly know that we’d both fly to broader heights soaring together instead of apart.

So comes the tricky part.

Seizing and reining in my imagination, so that we work together, and it doesn’t fly off alone. Wait a moment. What exactly does reining in your imagination mean anyways?

Sounds like a lot of fluff right? Wrong.

Anyone who has struggled with trying to get his or her thoughts organized has known about this black-eyed creature. Let’s call him “Eros” just for kicks. He’s a stubborn one, not easily won over. Scattered and untamed. And that’s when you come along. The one with concrete ideas and structured thinking. Together you’d be brilliant. The two components needed to be successful.

But first you have to catch him. And that’s not an easy task. If I learned anything from watching Avatar, it was that the key in doing this, was to find your connection with the creature so that you’d both become one. You would be in control of where you both fly.

What’s this have to do with writing?

Your imagination is like the big unruly child within you. Wild eyed yet innocent. But it needs discipline and structure. Routines such as setting up a time for daily writing will help balance out our right and left side of the brain. Showing up and doing the work, even if you aren’t feeling “inspired” that day.

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We’re too often afraid of really confronting our insecurities, and later wonder why we’ve failed to fly. The dread of failure holds us back, but there’s no other way to gain control of our dreams if we aren’t willing to do the dirty work first. Getting uncomfortable, and being willing to move out of mediocrity by taking hold of imagination’s wings.

This won’t be an easy task, and things will become more difficult before they fall into place. We are taming our wild child, our inner rebel, and learning how to work together as a team.

How can this be done?

Confront a small fear each day.

Whether that be sharing a piece of your work with a friend, or signing up for a new class to help boost your confidence. Do whatever needs to be done to eradicate the power your insecurity has over you.

Take action

Set up new routines, but overall, become aware of where the work needs to be done. Be determined to do the heavy lifting, because you’ll never know just how beautiful your dreams can be until you’ve taken the leap of faith to jumpstart them.

 ©C.R. Lamothe 06/24/2013

Have you tamed your unruly imagination? What are some lessons you’ve learned on the way? Leave a comment about your own experiences with  “Eros”

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Creative Rebirth: A Spiritual Transformation

Spiritual Transformation

We have to reinvent ourselves.

We fall apart; we’re disarmed and vulnerable. We’ve been broken, wrecked, and ruined before.

But we get up.

We transform. Like the phoenix who etches his wings before being consumed by his own flames. This mythical bird becomes ashes and is reborn from them. So it is with us. But we don’t immediately identify that we are in fact transforming.

We’re stuck. Unable to realize that everything we’ve been through is the catalyst to creating the life we’ve always imagined.

Why?

Because we are too focused on the pain, and there’s no blame in this. We have the scars to prove our lost childhoods and loved ones, the heartache experienced time and time again. We’ve been let down, failed; we’ve let our fears take over. Been consumed by our glorious flames.

But then something happens. We revive ourselves. We, in fact, have all of the potential to heal our wounds, to reborn from our ashes.

How do we do this?

Our Stories

We have a spiritual catharsis. When we take all the battle scars, the rejection and pain, and realize it’s all part of a greater purpose. We have new eyes, new ears, to help others, to grow and change lives with our stories.

We become storytellers and writers, artists and healers.

But we won’t immediately know this. We have to readjust to our ‘new’ selves, and we’ll deny our great calling by finding refuge in distractions. And when that happens, there is a clue to knowing we’re in the midst of that process. Suddenly, there is no comfort in our surroundings, and life has become just a tad more opaque and boring. The things we used to love no longer satisfy us.

This is the moment we get the urge to create.

Except we’re unsure of ourselves. Maybe we’ll doubt anyone else wants to hear what we have to say. We’re uncertain of how to begin. And at this I say

Begin Anyways.

Own the phoenix within you. Learn to fly by falling, tell your story. Don’t be blinded by the flames. This is your creative rebirth

Your spiritual catharsis.

©C.R. Lamothe 06/19/2013

Have you had battles to overcome and came out on the other side? Please share your own experiences in the comment section below.

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Forge Your Own Path, Don’t Wait for Approval

Artwork by Gudi

“If the path before you is clear, you’re probably on someone else’s.”
― Joseph Campbell

We have to figure out what we want, what we really want to do with our lives, because only then are we set free to create, to explore, to rise above all the obstacles life has put in our way. We need to seize the day, and make all of the necessary changes to forge our journey. Not waiting for other people’s approval.

There will always be excuses, either from outside or within, telling us to go back to the path already taken. It’s so much easier to go down someone else’s trail, to follow in their footsteps, because our own path is yet to be created. And we’re afraid of all the bruising, and the scary wilderness of our own souls. But there will come a point where that fear is replaced with wonder, where the excuses turn into curiosity. You see, our spirits will urge us into the unknown, inexplicably drawing forth our courage. This is the spiritual journey, the creative venture.

There are stories to be written, adventures to be conquered, paintings unrevealed, dreams itching to materialize. This is the moment, not tomorrow or the day after. Don’t let your soul drown in its own longing to be discovered and fulfilled.

Start today.

No one else can do it for you.

Forge your own path, don’t wait for approval to begin following your heartyou won’t find it outside. It has to come from a fearless place within. The inner voice that won’t listen to other’s self-imposed rules.

Even if it’s a tiny step forward, even if your leg trembles, and you find a million reasons why you shouldn’t. Don’t ask for permission, you already know the answer, deep inside; it’s always going to be “yes”.

The world needs more storytellers and dreamers who act upon their dreams. Because in the long run, we are on this earth to do great things.  To look fear in the face and not be consumed by it.  To love insanely, and listen to the hidden yearnings of our hearts.

 ©C.R. Lamothe 06/17/2013

Do you have a dream that you’ve been too afraid of starting? What are some of the obstacles getting in your way? Please share in the comment section below.

©C.R. Lamothe

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Feeding Pigeons & Blessings in Disguise

Boston Park

Many years ago, while on a trip visiting my friend in Boston, we made our rounds to some of the most popular stops, including one in Boston Park. It was a cold day in February, and the huge pond was completely covered in ice. You could see many people (including squirrels) making their way across, enjoying the sunny afternoon. There were numerous activities happening all around us, but one particular person caught our eye, a man standing in a corner covered in pigeons.

It seemed like hundreds were walking up to him, while he continuously sprinkled breadcrumbs all around. They flocked up and down and even sat on his soldiers, some on his head, it was a sight to behold. To our pleasant surprise, the man took out a small bag of breadcrumbs, and nodded for us to feed the birds as well. Delighted by the idea, we gratefully took the bag and began participating in the relaxing activity.

Feeding Pigeons

We were only 16 at the time, and intrigued with his gesture, began asking him questions about how long he’d been coming to the park, clearly the pigeons had developed a fondness for him. He began explaining that he’d been visiting everyday for the last few months to meet with his feathered friends, enjoying the natural beauty, while providing their daily food. It seemed like an ordinary occurrence until something unpredictable happened: he mentioned being diagnosed with brain cancer.

We couldn’t help but suddenly feel that instant sadness that happens when someone seemingly content and full of life, gives us a jolt of bad news. The man then began speaking about how finding out about his illness had changed his life. It had given him a reality check.

One day, amidst his uncertainty and sense of impermanence, he had wandered to this place that gave him a sense of purpose: providing a service to others. Smiling while telling us his story, he had found his own catharsis with these beautiful birds, and though this action of feeding them everyday seemed like a completely random thing to do, his serene tenacity has been a constant reminder for me all these years later. He didn’t want to keep wasting time on things that upset him and caused him stress; but instead concentrate on the disguised blessings all around.

Gratitude

We often think of “Being Happy” as a goal we must arrive at, when everything is perfect: our family, relationships, our careers, and our lifestyles. And though we can continually strive to create better circumstances for ourselves, there is no real guarantee that this will achieve our ultimate goal. In someway or another we are all facing hardships and circumstances that are out of our control, but a closer look and reflection, can make all the difference with the way we view the world and our purpose in it.

The other night, after watching a particularly “feel good” movie with my husband, we stopped to reflect on all the little things that make us happy. Among the list, we included: going out to share a hot cup of chocolate together, watching corny reality shows, having ridiculously long discussions about sci-fi theories late at night, and listening to the rain while playing the guitar. But as we continued delving deeper, I came to understand; that what made me the happiest had to do with people.

Getting to know their stories, passions, heartaches and victories. Listening to what makes us all human, and how we can all relate to each other. The way we overcome obstacles in our pursuit of happiness is probably one of my most favorite things about loving life and writing.

When we write, we are using our words as a medium to reach out and touch other hearts.

Many times, we’ll feel blocked by all of the obstacles being thrown at us, and easily forget the small things we happen to love about this “human experience.”

In essence, happiness is gratitude for the blessings we have, for those tiny moments that can sneak into a seemingly difficult life. And it’s also the peace we receive by being of service to others. No matter the hardships we’re facing, we can still do a small kindness that will end up changing our whole life. Whether that be helping our family or even complete strangers, or feeding pigeons in the park, the love we put into those actions will create the happiness we are so desperately searching for.

 © C. R. Lamothe 6/10/2013

Blessings

I would love to read some of your own “blessings in disguise” in the comment section below.

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