Concise Characterisation by James Gault

Please enjoy this guest post by author, James Gault, and feel free to share your thoughts.

Ogg Paperback

Name of Books :
Hard Times, by Charles Dickens and Ogg by James Gault

The extracts:
The beginning of Dickens’ Hard Times, where we hear Mr Thomas Gradgrind’s speech to the pupils of the school.
‘NOW, what I want is, Facts. Teach these boys and girls nothing but Facts. Facts alone are wanted in life. Plant nothing else, and root out everything else. You can only form the minds of reasoning animals upon Facts: nothing else will ever be of any service to them. This is the principle on which I bring up my own children, and this is the principle on which I bring up these children. Stick to Facts, sir!’ 
from Hard Times by Charles Dickens

Ogg and Antonia have been transported in time and place to a shady night club in fifties USA.
A squat balding fifty year old tuxedo with a cigar stood before them. 
“You havin’ a good time?  I ain’t seen you ‘round here before.”
“We’re from out of town,” Ogg drawled, and Antonia choked on her sparkling water.
“Well, you sure picked the right place for good entertainment. I’m Harry. Harry Biaggi. This is my joint.  D’ya like it?”
“Well, yeah, Harry, I do. It’s a real nice place you got here.”
“We try to be classy. Howd’ya find us.” Harry snapped his fingers as he said this and a bow-tie appeared and slid a seat under him. He sat down.
from Ogg by James Gault

The explanation:
If we read the opening few pages of Jane Austin’s Emma we see a common way for authors to introduce characters. Emma’s family, biography and character are presented to us in intimate detail, and before we start her story we feel we know her like a good friend already, and we can sympathise with her successes and failures and feel the delights and angst which follow. For this particular novel, the detailed early establishment of the character is important because the author needs to arm us with the tools to judge Emma.
This kind of approach to characterisation is out of fashion now: it slows up the action and needs inspired writing to keep the reader’s attention, and is especially distracting for any but the very main characters.

Nowadays, we expect to discover our characters rather than be asked to judge them. We expect to get to know the characters slowly as we read their story. We form first impressions, then we develop these impressions and sometimes we misjudge and need to correct our assessments. The discovery of the characters is as important to us as the development of the plot.  The characterisation is drip fed to us, and the personality of each individual has to permeate each part of the story.
For protagonists that first impression is of prime importance, while for minor roles it is the only information we get. So we expect the author to imbue our first meetings with the characters with indications of what kind of people they are: by what they say, by what they do or by both.

The excerpt from Hard Times is only six short sentences of dialogue, but how much does it tell us about the speaker? He is self-opinionated, he at least claims to be rational, he expects to be listened to and obeyed. He speaks in short sharp sentences, in commands and assertions. No debate is permitted. We don’t know what he looks like, we don’t even know his name, but already we don’t expect we’re going to like him very much.

In the second extract, all the elements are employed to create an impression of Mr Biaggi: description, dialogue and actions.  All of this is condensed into a short dialogue. Biaggi is presented as middle aged and overweight but well dressed. He has the strong accent of a man from the gutter who has made it to the top – others jump to satisfy his every wish. But he also has an aura of feeling inferior: he is anxious to please and be liked and appreciated. In the novel his is a walk on part, we never meet him again, but he leaves an impression and sets the tone for what follows.

The point of both extracts is to note the denseness of the character information which is presented at the same time as the plot is developed. The reader has to work hard to catch all the points, but the ongoing development of the story never flags. This is what I am calling Concise Characterisation.

 

About the author:

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James Gault, born in Scotland, has recently retired to SW France after spending ten years in the Czech Republic. There he enjoys the sunshine, writes novels, short stories and English Language textbooks.

He also produces the on-line literary magazine Vox Lit with monthly notes by writers for writers and readers, news, features (short stories, poems and extracts from novels.)

He has written three novels, all available on Amazon as e-books and paperbacks:
Teaching Tania (Young Tania tries to put the world to rights with the help of her English teacher – a comic detective story)
Ogg (Supernatural being tries to teach teenage Antonia how to think rationally as they try to save the world from destruction – comic philosophical thriller)
The Redemption of Anna Petrovna (Young woman in ex-communist country tries to build a career in a totally corrupt society – political psychological thriller

He is currently working on a detective thriller set in Scotland, France and Spain.

As well as ELT books and his novels, he has written short stories published in various reviews and magazines. In 2007, he won the writing prize from the British Czech and Slovak Society for his short story ‘Old Honza’s Day Out’.

In his time James has been an IT specialist, a businessman and a teacher as well as a writer, and has traveled extensively throughout Europe. He has worked with and taught English to students of many nationalities. He has an international outlook on life and his writing reflects both this and his other interests.

Apart from writing, his passions are politics, philosophy, film making, computer system development and his grandchildren.

Books by James Gault:

OGG (Kindle Edition)

The Redemption of Anna Petrovna (Kindle Edition)

Teaching Tania (Kindle Edition)

THAT DEVOTED GIRL SHATTERED BY YOUR TRUTH IS FREE

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I had a dream about you last night and woke up crying. I couldn’t sleep after that.

In the dream, you were angry with me—full of anger, full of hate. You had shut the door on me and left me out in the cold. I kept calling to you with a child’s unbearable anguish. You didn’t hear.

At some point, I cried, “Help me, daddy,” and finally, you came. I thought you were going to hit me or hurt me with your scarred and violent soul, but you didn’t. You hugged me. Well, you didn’t just hug me. You gave me the kind of hug I’d wanted from you since childhood, the comfort I always needed, and I didn’t want to let go.

I miss your smile and your jokes, Dad, your handsome face, and all of your wisdom, but I have to ask. Does a father realize he is the first man a girl gives her heart to completely? The first man she trusts blindly and devotedly? Did you realize?

I used to think I was hard to love.

Whatever people said—men especially—I wanted to believe them. Deep down, I didn’t. Not a word. And every time a man took something from me that I didn’t want him to have, every time a man tried to silence me, belittle me, or make me doubt myself, I punished him, pummeling him with words and crushing him with goodbye. I could be angry with them but not you.

What if things had been different between us, though? Would I had been less vulnerable or had the confidence to be my authentic self, knowing I was worthy and lovable? Would I have chosen more wisely? Would I have stopped running and hiding, oblivious to my weaknesses and my desperate needs? Would I have respected myself more? Might I have found someone I could love, for real? Someone who could have loved me back? Because I didn’t let them … I made sure they couldn’t.

Well, no matter, that’s all changed now. I picked up the shattered pieces of my heart and began to love myself.

It’s hard not to feel that twinge of emotion when I hear father tributes of the heroes who boosted confidence and taught children to believe in themselves. I honestly wish everyone could beam with that pride, feeling safe, content, and protected in that eternal bond.

It’s easy to defeat someone when you have all the power, when you are on a pedestal from the start, and you make all the rules. You can create vulnerability and punish the very same, though you don’t mean it. You can erase one’s humanity because of your denial, your self-loathing, and your shame, though you’re not aware. You can damage a person almost beyond repair. And, after the wrecking ball, cleanup of that wreckage rests solely on those tiny shoulders. Yeah, those shoulders get bigger, but somehow it all gets harder and more complicated.

I cleaned up that mess, though. The void lasts forever, and many people can attest to that, but I got those things I needed. It just takes ongoing effort to hold on to them.

And by the time I had a child of my own, I knew all too well what a child needs. I was able to give him that, but I couldn’t give him YOU. Oh, he’s brilliant and kind and funny, and so very loyal. Like you, he’s hard and strong but with such a tender heart. He needed you, and he still needs you, though he’d never admit it now. He’d been shattered right along with me, but we rose to the challenge, and he loves with his whole heart like I do. I’m proud of him, and I’d like to think you’d be proud of him, too, but it doesn’t matter now.

Look, maybe you didn’t give me what I needed, but you gave what you had. I saw a brave and modest man, generous with assistance and advice—a hero to many, and I know why they love you. I know why I loved you. Sure, it’s easy to love someone when you think they are perfect; when you hold them up on a pedestal and pretend they are everything you need and always wanted. You fell off that pedestal when I was twelve, Dad, but I loved you so much, flaws and all, and I still do. That’s unconditional love, and though you couldn’t give that to me, you still get it. Because guess what? You deserved that, too, from the people who didn’t give it to you.

Yeah, I knew why you were the way you were, though you accepted no excuses from me when I fell short. You could never understand me, but I understood you. Though you couldn’t hear me, yours was the loudest voice I’d heard in my entire life—a voice that continued to bellow in my ear for a lifetime. It kept me from standing up. It kept me from fighting, and it kept me from winning until I did all those things because I couldn’t lose any more. I climbed in spite of you, because of you and for you, because you couldn’t do it yourself, and I understand that.

When you were angry, devastated, and tortured, I tried to tell you it would be okay, that I was sorry for you, and that I loved you, but it seemed too much for you to bear at the time. Then, in the end, I forgave you, and you forgave me. It took a lifetime, but we got there.

Sigh. There are many things we never got to do, Dad, and it’s too late now. You’re gone. But I do have some fond memories of you that I will cherish always.

And here’s what I wish.

I wish I could go back in time with you—to those boyhood days when you were punished severely for no good reason—when you were invalidated, shamed, ridiculed, and ignored, just to tell you how awesome you were, and all you could be and do with your life. I’d say I believe in you, and that you have everything you need to succeed. I would say over and over that I love you to the moon and back, so you would know how worthy you are of that love. And maybe you would have grown up to be what you wanted, and have felt no shame. Then when it was your turn, you could have done the same. You would have known I was not an extension of you and didn’t have to represent you or your ideals. Perhaps you would not have expected such a conformist “go with the flow” type of kid who didn’t make waves but sang to a song you couldn’t possibly hear. You would not have lost empathy. You wouldn’t have cared how others saw me or what they would think. You’d have simply treasured me for the person I am. Imagine that!

The aching in my heart is that I want that for everyone. I wish all men and women who didn’t get what they needed as children would give that and get it back in abundance however they can. And I’m infinitely grateful to every hardworking mom and dad who gets up every day ready and willing to get it all right, including you.

Rest easy, Dad, and know you will always be in my heart.

“Children are the most fearless souls on earth.”― Lailah Gifty Akita, Think Great: Be Great!

Further Reading:

10 Ways Strong Women Move Past Their ‘Daddy Issues’

Why Dads Matter — Especially to Girls

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© Copyright May 31, 2016 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission.

CHANGING YOUR PERSPECTIVE ON CRITICISM HELPS!

“What other people think of me is none of my business.”

Yes, I’ve heard that, too, but I agree only in part. We still have to be accountable for our behavior, and it doesn’t help to stubbornly insist we are fine—and that whatever we do is okay regardless of how many people say otherwise.

It doesn’t mean we have to believe every negative thing anyone says about us. It’s more about the willingness to consider what others have to say, whether we like what they’re saying or not. It’s about our responsibility to learn, grow, and evolve.

Everything comes back to balance for me, but when you’re able to set aside ego and keep an open mind, discernment about what to take personally and what to blow off becomes easier.

You can surely tell if something is malicious or plain stupid.

For example, and speaking as an author now, we put our work out there before a world that seems divided on just about everything. Everyone has opinions, not all of them based on reality or given by someone who has a reasonable frame of reference. Someone may read about a tragic event and say it isn’t an accurate portrayal. You can write something that did happen or describe someone that was very real, and someone might see it as a misrepresentation because that’s not what they’ve experienced. People also have personal biases and triggers. And, yes, sometimes the reason they don’t like something has more to do with them than you. I have seen fellow writers get two-star book reviews for reasons that had nothing to do with the book. Some trolls will say negative things merely because they can.

But most of our antagonists or legitimate critics in life, personally and professionally, are people with their own agendas who may or may not have a vested interest in us. And sometimes, they are right on the money.

Unfortunately, however, some people fear criticism so much that they’re not able to live their dreams or find true happiness, They may put a toe in the water but never dive in.

What I have to say may help. It’s worked for me.

  1. Change Your Relationship with Criticism

Years ago, I grappled with panic attacks and debilitating pain. I read somewhere that I could change my relationship with pain by changing my perspective on it.

That helped tremendously, and I soon realized you could do that with just about anything.

Criticism, like pain, isn’t comfortable. It feels horrible, and we don’t like feeling horrible, so we tell ourselves we can’t handle it.

Take yourself out of fear mode and the feeling of helplessness and powerlessness. Acknowledge that you’re not comfortable. Tell yourself you can handle it, then decide how you will do that. You want to find the solution, control whatever it is you can control, and let go of whatever you can’t. Stress only makes things worse.

You’re not alone. What’s happening to you is happening to others, maybe even at the same moment. So many people have been through it. You are no different from any of them and no less capable of handling it. Maybe it seems so much worse because it is happening to you.

  1. Take Yourself Off the Pedestal

On a professional level, people could tell us a thousand times about all the famous people who’d been rejected over and over before the world realized how amazing they were. Many will say, “Well that won’t be me. Oh, but, what am I going to do if it is? How can I control that?”

You can’t, and it’s not easy to get past all that righteous indignation you feel. Someone is criticizing or rejecting you or your behavior or your work, and you instinctively want to defend yourself. You become angry. You feel sad or ashamed. It hurts.

Understand first, that you are not the exception to every rule.

In recovery circles, we laughingly refer to ourselves as “just another Bozo on the bus.” It may sound a bit harsh, but it’s a way of humbling yourself, and taking yourself off the pedestal. I like to think of myself as just another writer, another voice in the choir, and mostly just another person trying to learn and figure things out. That’s an accurate description. We are babies in this astounding old universe, and it’s okay to accept that we’re all vulnerable—not only to the force of nature and random happenings but to each other.

When we respect that, we don’t see people as enemies and haters. We see them as people struggling to survive, like we are.

You are not this person the whole world is watching, and with ridiculous expectations, all the while hoping you will fail or die. I know we meet some nasty people in life that make it seem that way. It’s not surprising that we end up seeing people through such a negative lens. But let’s refuse to believe anyone is that obsessed with us or that petty.

No matter what’s happening, we need to believe that the world is with us, and that the universe supports us.

And with this shift in perspective, there’s little need to be competitive or combative, no need for drama or denial or damage control.

I don’t know about you, but I can think of better things to do than spend my time and energy doing damage control for the sake of my ego. It’s a full-time job, really, with plenty of overtime—controlling how the world sees us and everything that we do. In fact, the business of hiding an inferiority complex behind some shield of superiority is downright exhausting. It becomes impossible to admit you are wrong and say you are sorry. It has you taking credit for all the good in situations and relationships but none of the bad.

  1. Listen to Learn

Do you enjoy a challenge? Do you love to overcome problems and obstacles? I know I do. Understanding that you can do better helps. Wanting to do better can save your life.

Sometimes, we are lazy about fixing stuff. It’s overwhelming. It’s too much work. The reality of life is harsh and can bring unbearable pain. Denial is much more comforting.

I can tell you that, in the past decade, many people have praised me for things I once sucked at, and that’s because somewhere along the line, someone provided me with valuable insight. I was willing to work at it, and so I benefited in the end.

Every critic is a teacher, planting seeds for our improvement and healing.

As far as I can tell, we have to keep listening to learn. On both a personal and professional level, there is always room for improvement. I am obsessed with learning more and more about things that have affected me in my life—things that tripped me up when I had to deal with them in others or myself. I want to learn all I can, not because I’m looking to point fingers but because awareness is everything. I’ve loved those big hallelujah moments where I’ve said, “Hah! So, that’s what’s been going on!” Those were game-changing, life-altering moments. I can’t help feeling grateful for every one of those opportunities.

So, fall in love with the process of learning, growing, evolving, and recovering. It helps us to succeed more and suffer less. And do it with the understanding that this is precisely how it’s supposed to go. Everything is an opportunity for growth, and even shitheads can make valid points. Embrace it. Accept it.

It’s all part of a divine process that is always happening, and we are both a part of and a child of that divinity.

 

 

 

Related:

IT’S GOOD TO BE VULNERABLE! WHY I REFUSE TO TAKE MYSELF SO SERIOUSLY  Kyrian Lyndon

© Copyright April , 2018 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission.

BEFORE YOU FORGET AGAIN: YOU ARE AN AMAZING TRIUMPH!

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The robin in your tender heart
Hungers for the red berry
That titillates your tongue.
She carols as the snow falls—
And not with the chorus of the dawn
In radiant spring.
What might have been?
Your voice silenced,
The spirit of you
Destroyed,
I see glimpses of your fire
From the light that has vanished
From your eyes.

Your wings soar,
Only not to follow
Your heart.
And your heart is that of
A child,
Deeply vulnerable,
Precious,
So sensitive,
And sweet.
You inspire me
To change my perspective
With your unique vision
Of the world.
You shine with your brilliance,
And you don’t know.
Your bursts of laughter
Make me smile.
As always, you are the light
In my darkness;
Your spirit is the fire I feel
In the sun’s warmth.
You were the dawn of my awakening,
And the splendor of my dreams.

And I have cried
For your heart
More than I have ever cried
For my own.
I am torn apart by
The intensity of your pain.
It is profound sadness
I feel,
When I think I’ve reached you
And then hit another wall…
Hard.

I fear losing you forever
To your grief,
As I grieve, too,
For the subtleties
And cues
You don’t understand.
Avoiding the eyes of others …
Your intense frustration
In trying to get it right,
And thinking you have it all wrong.

You have it right,
So right—
Always did,
Always will.
I only wish you could know
The joy
Of being free.

The tentative smiles,
The looks of uncertainty,
Prompt me to tell you,
You got this.
You’ll be fine.
Whatever the passion,
Let it burn.
It will save you.

Retrieve every shattered fragment
Of your soul.

Accept it,
Embrace it,
Bless it with your peace.
Give it mighty and glorious wings,
And let it fly where it leads
Without fear,
Into the twilight of an infinite sky.

Be happy,
Shine,
Glow.
Love,
Dance,
Sing.
Celebrate yourself
And don’t stop singing
Your life’s song.
The song is your vision,
Your passion;
It belongs to you.
Without it,
You wither and die.

Don’t you, for one moment,
Let anyone crush your beautiful spirit.

Know, too, those who have crushed you
Have been crushed.
Those who pain you have been pained.
Still, you can rise again,
Become completely alive again
And shine on,
Just as you did before all the hurt began.

You are not defective,
My dear one,
Not a burden,
Nor do you struggle alone.
I’m here with you.
I will always be with you.
You are
In every way
Beautiful.
Though you don’t see that,
And you never have.
I just love you.

 

© Copyright October 9, 2016 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission.

WHEN YOU HEAL YOUR HEART, YOU LOVE BETTER

 

Photo credit: Jasmine Waheed

 

Not everyone likes to plunge into that seemingly endless abyss where we face painful truths and endure the grueling process of healing.

Some deliberately avoid it, or they scatter a little bit of dirt to the side and then dart off in another direction, taking cover until they feel grounded enough to dig a little deeper.

People like us, though, we want to keep digging.

We’ve already been traumatized and shattered, you see, and, in those moments, we learned some of the best lessons of our lives. So, we know we’ll be okay. We know, too, that we are learning to love with our whole hearts.

Amazingly enough, we’ve been walking away from people that have exploited our vulnerabilities. We’ve been doing it for a while now, and we’re getting better at it. Maybe we were condemned for it, too, at one time or another, but we’d do it again in a heartbeat.   You see, we know we are vulnerable. We know how vulnerable we are. That is good because before we understood this, it was easy to lead us, to fool us, and to enslave us.

We’ve become patient with our healing process, and we’re trying hard to become more patient with the healing processes of others.  We’ve been around long enough to wonder what is worse— dealing with our own fears or the fear that motivates the masses.

It often seems that people don’t truly want to understand each another, or they simply want people who are different or feel differently to go away.

Letting go is easy for some; I know.  For us, it is painful and confusing. Maybe the energy needed to explain isn’t there, or we’re tired of explaining, tired of the world, tired of ourselves. We examine our motives, our expectations. We don’t always like our motives. We don’t always trust our egos, and that’s a good thing. People without clarity of conscience don’t question themselves. They won’t say, “I’m glad I caught that. I can refrain. I can resist. I can do the right thing.” They’ll just keep doing what they’re doing, often not understanding what they’re doing or why.

So, yes, the world can overwhelm. It makes some of us want to keep our worlds a little smaller, and, in our broken moments, we need time to fix things in our hearts.

We will work through the sadness.  In a poet’s heart, anyway, it has its honored place. We’ll embrace it, feel all of its intense beauty, and we’ll let it run its magnificent course.

Those of us who do this work and this digging do it because we’ve had it with being terrified, with trying to protect our hearts and our secrets—the image, the illusions, the payoff. We’re tired of the denial that was our sole comfort, our only way to survive. When we came to fully accept that we are all just struggling humans, equal in importance, the shame that drove us to compete and control began to dissipate.

We kept replacing false with real, and we’ve hung on to hope. It’s not as easy as living in denial, but we know we have to get better. We know we have to do better.

For what it’s worth, as I see it, the truth is never one extreme or the other. There’s a lot of gray, and we always need balance.

But just so you know? When we shut down, when we distance, when we go deep or even go away, we don’t hate you. We don’t want to hurt you. We’re grateful that you have been part of our experience. We’re grateful for what you’ve taught us. We’re grateful for every blessing we have. Our hearts are bursting with love and often joy, and we still care. We continue to root for you, no matter what, and we’re always ready to listen, ready to resolve, and ready to heal.

Yes, we finally learned to love like that.

Recommended Link:

How to Make Your Ego Your Bitch by Gary Z. McGee

© Copyright January 30, 2017 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission. 

SHADOWS OF MY SOUL by Kyrian Lyndon

 

SHADOWS OF MY SOUL

Reality to me is the dusk,
Prevalence in the shadows.
It is cloaking,
Grasping,
Discerning
In a world of darkness.
It is torment.
It is restraint.
The beauty of the peaceful lull amid the
Trees just before sunrise
Lies in contrast with the hazy tumult of my
Self-inflicted tomb.
I am in awe of every vision.
I bask in the passion of every caress.
Every bit of air I breathe is a godsend.
I could listen with the stillness of the ocean
Before daybreak
To the waves amid a blue-violet sky.
I could dance with flair and gaiety to the music
With a glow that illuminates me.
There is no one else I’d rather be—
Unless it were to love you.
You are all that I crave.

© Copyright March 1, 2005 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission from the author.

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I CAN NEVER AGAIN FORGET TO BE GRATEFUL

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Feature photo by Carli Jeen

Years ago, I thought I had accepted that life was unfair. Coming to terms with that somehow unburdened me. It cured me forever of the “why me’s.” What it didn’t seem to cure me of, however, is the “why anyone?” With countless people suffering all over the world, I have spent the past couple of years feeling anxious, feeling frustrated.

I’ve come to realize that no matter how much I hurt for the world, I must acknowledge that I really am one of the luckiest people alive. I love my life. I love what I do. I have everything I need and more than enough of what I want.

I have to remember that, no matter what is going on.

So here is a just a short list of reasons I am grateful. I decided to share it because so many of us are trying to find some peace in this challenging time.

I am grateful to everyone I have ever known, and what they have taught me.

I am grateful for the forgiveness that brings peace and second chances.

I am grateful for solutions.

I am grateful for change.

I am grateful for truth.

I am grateful for freedom.

I am grateful for all our heroes, warriors, and survivors.

I give thanks for everyday pleasures.

I am grateful for all the beauty that surrounds me.

I am grateful for home.

I am grateful for people to cherish in my life.

I am grateful for this moment.

I am grateful for imperfection, silliness, and madness.

I am grateful for fantasy and imagination.

I am grateful for kindness, for hugs, and for all the love and light in the universe.

I am grateful because there is something beautiful in everyone.

I am grateful to be alive, to have this day.

I am grateful for fond memories of childhood that overshadow the painful ones.

I am grateful for increasing clarity and for having been ready to heal.

I am grateful for all I have been able to resolve internally, for the darkest moments, and rising from every fall.

I am grateful for the realization that my ego was my worst enemy and distorted my perception.

I am grateful for learning from my mistakes, for being able to work through the tough stuff.

I am grateful that I am not bitter.

I am grateful for not giving up, for hanging in there until it was okay.

I am grateful for laughter.

I am grateful for all the learning and evolving.

I am grateful for the beaten dragons.

I am grateful for finding my truth and my voice.

I am grateful for letting go of unworthiness, for self-respect, and learning to stand up for myself.

I am grateful for learning how to be strong, how to share joy, for having learned to trust my instincts and myself.

I am grateful for defying limitations.

I am grateful for the desire to grow finally exceeding my desire to hold on, for the strength and courage to let go of the things that weighed me down.

I am grateful for the doors that opened for me and the doors that, after teaching me what I needed to learn, closed behind me.

I am grateful for the shedding of masks and my embracing of authenticity.

I am grateful for the ability to see people and things as they are, including myself.

I am grateful for being able to see things from another’s point of view.

I am grateful for the ability to feel empathy and witness the empathy of others.

I am grateful for the amazing struggle that is life.

I am grateful for the ability to keep learning, for all the opportunities to be better and do better, and for all these reasons to smile.

Lastly, I am thankful to those who care about my journey and what I have to say. Thank you for reading and for listening to me.

To those who are struggling, I walked through fire to get here, and I am still walking. Don’t you give up!

Every bit of gratitude brings hope.

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© Copyright November 9, 2017 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission.

 

SHE STOOD ALONE ON THE EDGE IN DARKNESS

Through forests of emerald-green bliss,
She pranced,
Embracing the colors of endless play—
The rainbows of summer.
She was a child of the earth.

Her tiny voice sang,
And she danced!
No danger lurked in her twinkling eyes.
Everything in her fearless laughter
Was colored with mirth.

She built castles on the shore
By a peaceful and provident sea
That was never foreboding.
She skipped beneath the golden clouds
Like the world belonged to her,
As if there were no cares
And all who loved her
Would keep her safe.

“Do not lose her,” I said.
“Do not lose that child.
She needs you so desperately.”

And then she had this grave fear of the sea,
This somber foreboding.
It seemed so vast and so deep
From the shore,
A leviathan-green, hellish monstrosity
Full of strange creatures that devoured things.
It was all that lay between her
And some faraway place
On the other side of the globe.

Somehow, it was not so frightening now.
Neither was the past,
The present,
Or all the future obscurities—
Not even those people she once had cherished.

The peace of the waters subdued her now,
As she listened to the thrash of the waves.
She was just playing with a stick in the sand.

There was a noted ambiguity
Whenever she spoke of this place.
Certain moments when she embraced the glorious light
And gazed intently into the darkness.
There were moments, too,
When she felt it creep and crawl around her,
When she ached and trembled,
Longing to free herself from its grip.

While seething within,
She wore the mask of kindness,
Harmless and alluring,
With resentment like hemlock,
Beautiful yet wilting,
Glowing yet tarnished,
Beckoning,
Flourishing,
Standing tall,
And unyielding…
Toxic to all
In her flowering beauty.

The sun was setting,
Salmon clouds under a sky of dodger blue,
Flocks of geese
On a sprawling lawn.
A waxing gibbous moon
Beckoned
Like she needed a guide,
A divine light.

“Come forth,” it said.
“Come home.”
And some of the fear waned
As she went forth,
But nothing really changed.

She stood alone on the edge,
In darkness,
A faint silhouette
Gazing at the night sky.
Rain fell,
A sprinkler to the trees
Thrashing in the wind.

She would flee,
Abandoning places,
Suddenly unrecognizable faces.
The glowing sun of Helios
Was a beacon
For eternal bliss,
Yet deceiving.

The caves beckoned.
Every corner,
Every crevice,
Held its own mystery,
Its truth.

Still the perilous journey
Was madness—
Pretty colors and then
Darkness.
It seemed to have no end.

She heard a child crying,
A child from long ago,
A prisoner of her soul.

Stone walls around her,
Hissing sounds,
Deep, treacherous waters—
Her mind was a fractured maze.
No one could see.
No one could hear.
No safe place to run,
She had to find the way
Out…
Home…

Every stone that healed
Brought her closer to
The truth,
The light.

The climb was steep,
But she held on,
Clawing her way
In blindness,
Accepting,
Facing,
Grieving.

Raindrops glistened on the rocks.
Flower petals littered
The wet grass.
She saw vibrant orchids
In the fading light of the moon,
And, alas,
Tranquil waters glistened
Aqua blue.

Like the ancient alchemical goddess,
She was crowned—
A newborn only beginning
To awaken,
Beginning to see,
Her soul bursting
With bliss.

The beauty within
Became the beauty
Eyes could see,
Not perfection—
Courage, perhaps…
Determination,
Defiance,
And love.

She was free.
No jewel could sparkle with
More radiance,
And the years could not tarnish its shine.

From Remnants of Severed Chains © Copyright October 17, 2015 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission.

WINNING THE SELF-SABOTAGE BATTLE WITH SELF-LOVE

Photo cred: LisaBPhoto

We all become conscious, at some point in our lives, of ways we can sabotage our physical well-beings. When it comes to sabotaging our emotional well-beings, and even our financial security and stability, things seem to become more complicated.

Brilliant individuals are sometimes incapable of motivating themselves enough to change their lives or gravitate toward the ideal. They tend to become problem-oriented rather than solution oriented, boxing themselves in with an almost unwillingness to compromise. They may set impossible goals instead of practical ones.

Maybe someone convinced them they didn’t deserve success, or they convinced themselves based on how someone made them feel about their competency or their judgment. Either way, these old tapes keep playing in their heads, telling them they can’t accomplish anything, can’t succeed, can’t win, and there’s not enough to go around. In this predicament, we fear success as much as we fear failure, because they are two sides of the same coin. We keep that coin as a reminder that we don’t trust ourselves with the dreams we cherish or the plans we’ve made.

We tell ourselves we don’t deserve success any more than we deserve money. Perhaps once we get our hands on the latter, we don’t manage it well. I’ve been there. I can attest to the fact that when you finally realize you do deserve these things, you’ll likely find yourself working your tail off, accomplishing one goal after another. We have to be rid of whatever that little voice is in our head that says we can’t do it, and we’re not good enough, and that all this is impossible. We can, we are, and it’s not.

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We get into this pattern of self-pitying victimhood. There is nothing wrong with acknowledging that we’ve been a victim of something or someone, or expressing anger about it, and shedding tears. We have a right to our grieving process. But sometimes we get use to the payoff—attention, pity, praise, the temporary ego fix. So instead of becoming solution oriented, we become more and more problem oriented, more and more likely to want an audience of sympathizers. And we get stuck there because solving problems would take that attention away and whatever else we get from being constantly burdened. It’s not that we don’t deserve to be comforted. It’s that we don’t move forward. We don’t get better.

This pattern normally goes hand in hand with excessive worry about people and things. Social media is a perfect example, because it mirrors life. I have seen people in a pattern of deactivating accounts only to resurface in a matter of days. Sometimes it may be that they legitimately need a break, but very often it’s because expectations are not being met. People are not responding to them in a way they could perceive as favorable. They’ve made assumptions about what people think or what someone meant, and after a considerable amount of time wasted on obsessive worrying, they take a drastic action to disengage. When they come back, it’s because they need to try it all again. They have too much riding on acceptance. It’s all self-defeating because we create unrealistic expectations, and we tend to assume wrong. Comparing and assuming tends to cause more mental anguish than is warranted or bearable. All we can do is be who we are, our ever-improving version of that.

Many stress about their looks, their bodies. Perfect is boring, and there is beauty beyond someone else’s chosen ideal. Beauty does, indeed, come in all shapes, colors, and sizes, and people will have all sorts of opinions on what looks good.  In fact, I realized at one point, that I never cared if someone didn’t like the hair color I chose. I knew how I wanted to look. I would never consult anyone about it, not even my significant other. So if we are trying to satisfy ourselves rather than appeal to every single person on the planet, we should set the standards for ourselves not appease clothing designers, the model industry, or the men who rate women on AskMen.com. Because when we’re finally okay with how we look, imperfections and all, we exude the confidence we need to get oh just about anything. And if that’s not enough, we get to focus more on being the best human we can be. When we finally love who we are, we learn to respect ourselves and treat ourselves better.

While it’s normal to want attention and approval, it’s the excessive, almost desperate need for it that can destroy us if we let it. People take unnecessary risks for the fix without realizing. They may trust the wrong people, throw caution to the wind, make excuses for bad behavior, cling to people who have repeatedly demonstrated the harm they’re capable of inflicting upon others. We don’t even realize that the payoff is attention we craved, validation we needed, admiration we couldn’t resist. Because it comes at just the right time, and creates such a bondage that we continue to crave it from a dangerous source.

Sometimes it’s less extreme. We try to be generous with people regarding our time, our attention, our praise, but we do this with relationships we don’t honestly want to nurture because we want to be nice. I find that when people want to be nice or perceived as nice, they immediately have expectations and create obligations. Then, on top of the resentment about doing something they don’t want to do, and the expectations or obligation that likely won’t be met, they go from ‘nice’ person to fire-breathing dragon in a matter of seconds. So what happens next is far from what they initially intended. People get hurt.

Well, it’s okay not to want to be friends with everyone. It’s okay to feel emotionally exhausted and want to have only genuine relationships. It’s okay to walk away when you’re not feeling it, not trusting it. It’s okay to save that overflowing generosity of spirit for those who matter to you. You can still do nice things for others along the way if you want. Quite simply, it doesn’t have to be like wearing a thorny crown while carrying a cross over your back.

I’ll say this. The more I become aware of how people think (thanks to social media), I tend not to want to meet any more people or reconnect with people from the past. I’m happy to avoid everyone outside my window… even while loving to hear them all out there—the comforting humdrum. Isolating can be a peaceful, healing thing, but it can also be another way of self-sabotaging if we don’t check it. I’ll admit, I have to push myself to get out there and deal with the world as it is, on its terms. Whether I like it or not, it’s necessary. I’ve had to accept that I’m not always going to be comfortable, and I’m not always going to be safe.

I still believe, though, we have to take our time getting to know people, especially when we are very empathetic. Because while we can recognize serious issues people have, our compassion for what they’re dealing with can override any need to protect ourselves. Unfortunately, we have to because these people can hurt you and will do so again and again. We need to pay attention. We need to be careful. We have to stop tolerating disrespect under the guise of being noble and humble. That only creates a perception of some superior self that is false. Yeah, we want to be the nice guy, but if we are real with others, we become something better than ‘nice’. We are kind.

I’ve come to believe that one of the best things we can do in life is heal the vulnerabilities that make us susceptible to all this self-sabotage. Once we find the courage to seek answers, then acknowledge, accept, feel, cry and release anger, we heal, we learn, and then we grow and evolve. It’s an ongoing thing that just keeps getting better. We deserve that.

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Of course, life would be so much easier if we could make a habit of staying in the moment and being fully present in that moment. We wouldn’t be worrying about what happened yesterday or an hour ago, or what’s going to happen tomorrow. I have to remind myself constantly, but it works particularly well in moments of crisis and panic. A wise friend taught me to stay in the solution. Think about what you can do at that moment, not what you can’t do. Control what you can. Amazing how that helps. tiny-smileys-yesemoticons-032

“As soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live.”—Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Healing Shame by Robert D. Caldwell, M.Div.

IT’S GOOD TO BE VULNERABLE! (WHY I REFUSE TO TAKE MYSELF SO SERIOUSLY.)

photo credit: Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement

 

Don’t take yourself too damn seriously!

Accept that you are vulnerable, and make peace with that.

Be fearless!

If I had said these things to my younger self, it would not have had much of an impact. I wasn’t ready. But at some point in time, other people said these things to me, and even though I still wasn’t ready, they planted a seed. And every time someone plants a seed, he or she brings us closer to eventual healing and understanding. It certainly worked that way for me because, despite my stubbornness, I am always listening, and I always want to be a better version of me than I was yesterday.

So, last year, I read the first criticism of my work from a reviewer. Admittedly, it wasn’t scathing; she had many nice things to say, but I was able to handle that in a way that I couldn’t have all those years ago.I was curious more than anything, and I wanted to understand her point of view.

It was because, by then, I had stopped seeing myself the way I saw myself at the age of seventeen and for many years to come—as the writer, the destined one, or, ack, some kind of chosen one. I had come to accept that I am one writer in an endless sea of writers— just another voice in the choir.

Some people don’t like this perspective—at all. Back then, I would not have liked it either.

I’ve heard, in response, “You have to take yourself seriously or no one else will, right?”

Oh yes, for sure, but we can be serious, and we can be too serious. For me, the shift in perspective, from taking myself too seriously to taking myself just seriously enough has worked well.

When we see ourselves as a part of everything and not the center of everything, we begin to want for others what we want for ourselves—success! We’re not in competition for that because we know there is enough to go around. When we’re taking ourselves too seriously, those other people do not exist except as competitors. It’s about us and us only, so whatever happens to us is more important than what happens to everyone else. Less than favorable outcomes are magnified and often unbearable.

It helps to take it down a few notches and strive for a little humility. That includes checking ourselves and questioning the motivation behind decisions we make.

It’s not as hard as it sounds, and, eventually, it becomes a part of who we are.

By striving to keep my ego in check, I’m in a better position to handle criticisms and failures because I don’t have to prove I am beyond reproach. I haven’t placed myself up on a pedestal where I see myself as superior to and separate from others. I don’t believe I am so important that my haters are just sitting around watching and waiting to laugh at me when I fail. If they are, then they’re wasting precious time and won’t be able to achieve very much in their lives.

What this mind shift does is; it gives us permission to be vulnerable—permission from ourselves because no one else is stopping us. Then, instead of worrying about what others will think, we just write from the heart. We focus on learning to master our craft—something we absolutely cannot do when we think we already have it all down.

Of course, we all want praise. We want the glowing five-star reviews. There‘s nothing more gratifying than knowing your work has touched someone profoundly or thoroughly entertained as intended.

Friends kindly remind us that we all face rejection and that no one is above criticism. That’s true; someone has criticized every successful writer we know. But hearing that is not quite as comforting as it’s intended to be, so we secretly hope to be the exception.

We might be—if we tiptoe around—if we ask only our friends for reviews. We’ll get fewer reviews, but they’ll all be five-stars, right? On the other hand, if we want to reach millions of readers, we have to throw ourselves fearlessly into the arena, making ourselves more vulnerable to criticism.

Writer friends have said to me, “But, what about the internet trolls?”

Well, the truth is, people who take themselves too seriously are the perfect target for trolls. They are the ones who will argue with the trolls, thinking they will somehow get that person to sympathize or agree. It won’t happen because trolls lack empathy, or, let’s face it, they wouldn’t be trolls. If they know they’ve upset you, they will continue to provoke you. You can’t get caught up in the futility of that.

At the same time, not everyone who doesn’t like your work is a troll. There is legitimate criticism. We can get it from beta readers, good editors, and yes, honest reviews.

When it comes to betas and editors, we want that person who will say, about a particular scene, “You can do better than that.” We get lazy sometimes even with so much at stake. It’s wonderful to hear someone say, simply, “Oh, it’s great, I love it!” But if you’re still trying to iron out the kinks in your story, that’s not going to help you. I want to know where they got confused, where they got bored, what annoyed them, what characters they liked and didn’t like. That will help me determine whether I’m getting the effect I want. Not everyone will agree, of course, so it helps to get several people looking at your work—people who are not afraid to be objective and possibly upset you. Personally, I will not beta read for most people because I know I will give the honesty that I’d want myself, and I realize not everyone can handle that. I have gotten upset myself once, but I got over it fast. We don’t always have to agree with someone’s criticism, but we need to be open to it.

My beta readers have me laughing hysterically with some of their comments, especially with things that need fixing or clarifying. A simple, “Really?” or “Seriously?” can have me in a fit of giggles. The times we are laughing together on the phone or in person are the most fun. Even if they say, “This guy sounds like a douche,” I’m only going to be concerned if he’s not supposed to be sounding like a douche, and then we talk that stuff out. A bit of lightheartedness and a good sense of humor is key.

In an early draft that I wrote many years ago, I had decided to start at the beginning of my character’s life. By page 455, she was still twelve! I can’t help laughing now about how ridiculous that was. I had so much to learn about brutal editing (cut, cut, cut), where to begin a story, proper outlining, etc., and I’m still learning!

In my latest book, Shattering Truths, I was anal about how I wanted to tell this story. It is deep and personal, not my story, but a story about things I had witnessed over the years and one that had become very precious to my heart. It’s hard to be flexible when you are that emotionally involved, and, honestly, we become emotionally involved in all of our books, so we are incredibly biased. I needed feedback, and then, simply, to let go of what wasn’t working.

The truth is, we never stop learning, and there is always room to improve! I’m sure even the most successful writers would admit that, so it helps to embrace the learning process. Our confidence will increase as we evolve.

It’s all about honesty and integrity, and just being the best you can be. 🙂

 

© Copyright April 15, 2017 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission.

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FIRE IN THE SOUL

Interesting conversations with readers give me a lot to think about, so I like to provide a platform for those conversations.

Someone recently brought up amateur/aspiring v. professional.

I have known people who create guidelines for when a person can call himself or herself an author (or even a writer). It’s the same with most artists. Are they amateur and aspiring or professional and experienced?

Many of us have had this burning passion or determination to do something since childhood. Ideas and urges came, and we responded. We delivered. I feel we know whether we identify as poets, writers, artists, musicians before we ever have a book published, show our work in a museum or get on stage with a band. We may be aspiring to succeed and to master our crafts, but we are not aspiring to be what we are.

I remember a fifth-grade poetry assignment. The kid behind me copied my poem. When the teacher (nun) caught him, he told her he copied it from a book. I imagine he thought he’d get in less trouble for that, I don’t know. Maybe he just wanted me to go down with him. Nevertheless, she believed him. She asked for the book, and I was so confused that I was trying to find this book that didn’t exist… in my desk. (Nuns raising their voices to me invoked terror.) Then something strange happened. All these kids began calling out that this boy was lying because I was a writer, and I had always been a writer… other ten-year-olds! Amusing as it seems, they touched my heart for a lifetime. She asked me again if I copied the poem from a book, and I finally found the courage to say I didn’t. She gave me a gold star and displayed it on the wall for Parent-Teacher Conference Day. I will never forget this; how the kids knew this thing about me because it was already part of my identity.

As another example, my nephew was drawing since the age of five. I have never seen anything amateur about his approach, his expression, or his final product. (As an aside, he’s amazing.)

People may tell you things like, well you’re not published, you’re not an author, or you’re not a writer, even though you have been doing this thing ever since you can remember.

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If there is anything to separate the amateurs from the pros, for me, it is the desire and willingness to give your best and give your all.

Pros focus on mastering their craft. They set goals. It is a priority in their lives, and they will devote as much time to it as is possible. They can’t “not” do it. They know the passion is the fire in their soul. It’s their heart. They know it’s who they are.

Whether we are good or not, that is another story, but we have control over that, too.

From early on, characterization and dialogue were my strengths. Description was my weakness. I was not observant. I kept my mind clouded with other things, the obsessions of the moment. Eventually, I realized I had to work hard on that area, and I did with much success.

There’s no doubt in my mind that we often feel we don’t measure up, as people, as artists. If we believe that, that’s when we work to get better: identify problems, find solutions, expand our knowledge, and hone our skills. The desire exists for a reason, and learning is perpetual. We can always do better. That is all a part of mastering.

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© Copyright February 7, 2015 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission.

RECLAIM THE GIFT THAT MAKES YOUR SPIRIT SOAR

Photo Credit – Angela Marie Henriette

 

My nephew, Christopher, was about six when he gazed out the window in the backseat of the car and said, “I’m just afraid I will run out of things to draw.”

He began at an early age, sketching and drawing—leaving people in awe of his talent. You see the brilliance in his eyes when he talks to you, especially about art. When I ask him if he can do a certain thing, the answer is, “Of course, I can!” He is chock full of confidence.

It is not hard to believe in someone like him. We not only believe in him, but we also celebrate him. He touches our hearts and remains such a light in a dark world.

I feel the exact same way about my son who was educating strangers about Jupiter’s moons in the first grade. They are two people who came into the world with gifts and talents, and a clear sense of who they were from an early age. I can attest to this much: when you know, from childhood, what you are and what you love, you cannot imagine any other life. I feel strongly; people must allow you to be the person you are, not the vision of you and your future that they have in mind.

It is easy to recognize the apathy and pain of someone who never lived their dream; someone left to wonder what the outcome might have been had they followed their heart. You see glimpses of their fire, traces of the light gone from their eyes. They had their spirits crushed, their voices silenced, their true selves obliterated.

Children need to hold on to their natural confidence and infectious enthusiasm, along with the ability to trust their instincts. My heart tells me, we need to not only believe in them but also show them how much we do.

Perhaps this is one reason experiencing an incredible contribution to the arts– everything from singing and drawing to dancing—can move me to tears. I realize people make incredible achievements every single day, ones I don’t see. They may not have an audience or applause, but their achievements are no less important. But seeing people get out there, doing the thing they love most and nailing it speaks to the person inside many of us that might say, I want to do what I love as fearlessly as that. I want to celebrate that moment where I have the audacity to succeed and reach the hearts of others, all of us sharing the passion and joy. It is one of life’s beautiful and most cherished experiences.

For me, it is.

In these moments, I don’t think about the harrowing destruction of our world or of humanity. It is a brief lull because I don’t want to ignore that. It has affected me profoundly since childhood, and while I search my heart for solutions, I can only counteract with love and a message of oneness. I believe each of us can do that in some way, especially if we have a voice or means of communicating our passion and love to the world. It is one small contribution of many until we can do better.

Those of us who have made it thus far with our dreams intact are eternally grateful. Whatever the passion – no matter what happens in life, it is there, and it saves you. It just might save others, too.

© Copyright August, 2014 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission.

WHEN YOU RECLAIM YOUR FAITH, HEART, AND SPIRIT

In Catholic elementary school, one priest admitted to our eighth-grade class that none of the Bible stories we’d learned in the lower grades were meant to be taken literally, that they were just “examples” to give us an idea. I had to ask. An idea of what? What the church wanted? What God wanted? What men who were writing this book thousands of years ago wanted? He wouldn’t say, and though I went on to Catholic high school, there continued to be mixed messages from adults regarding religion.

At first, I took what was worth keeping and dismissed the rest. I read that in a quote somewhere, and it sounded like a good idea. 🙂

Someone later told me if I didn’t believe and support 100% of what the Bible said, I was a “cherry picker.” It ruffled my feathers at the time; I was young, but, in truth, most of the people I knew were cherry picking right alongside me.  They wanted to believe in a higher power, in eternal life. They wanted to feel safe and protected, be loved unconditionally and always forgiven, and to know they could always count on prayer. We wanted to be loyal to our faith while having empathy for others, realizing it isn’t all or nothing, one extreme or the other. We knew that fear-based worship had nothing to do with love.

Since then, I’ve watched many of the most faithful people suffer— not just from financial difficulties and health problems but feeling lost, feeling down, fearing they’d never get what they wanted, what they needed. Despite their praying and continuous efforts, their unmet expectations continued to disappoint them. They often repeated the adage that if you don’t suffer here on earth, you suffer in the hereafter (something like that). Well, we all suffer, but I don’t believe there is a loving father of all creation who wants his children to suffer continually and mercilessly.

Granted, a lot of the time, too, we cause our suffering, thinking everything is about us. Because we can be such masochists, we don’t want to confront certain things to find out that what we’re torturing ourselves with has no basis in truth or that, much of the time, whatever it is doesn’t matter. Some people, too, while vulnerable and suffering, want others to suffer with them. They want to punish and destroy, harm where they might have helped, and I don’t believe that is part of any divine plan. We have the capacity to cause ourselves and others so much pain. 😦

Stopping negative thoughts, for so many of us, is often easier said than done. Even a simple concept like staying in the moment so that we won’t worry needlessly about our past or the future often eludes us. We need a constant reminder to do that! We have our distractions, our obsessions, things that may impair our judgment and distort our reality, and all the time we spend living in false realities, people can take advantage of our weaknesses and vulnerabilities and keep us in bondage. But that’s something we have to fix. No one can fix it for us. No one can even help us fix it if we’re not willing to do all the work. And it’s hard work. 😉

This aside, there were many reasons I questioned what I’d been taught as a child. My indoctrination had sorted me into a belief system that worshiped a patriarchal god whose texts subjugated women, enabling a patriarchal society where that subjugation could continue to varying degrees across the globe.

And the funny thing is, for the longest time, I still wanted to believe much of what I’d been taught in my younger years. I was so desperate to believe that, at one point, I sought out devout Christian friends who had what I saw as unshakable foundations. I thought they could say something that would convince me I was wrong. Those people shut me down or shut me out as if I could corrupt their thinking.

You know, it was okay at one time (even cool) for people to go on their little spiritual journey, and the outcome mattered only to the individual. Mine went all the way from Siddhartha and The Prophet to Way of the Peaceful Warrior and beyond. I read about Paganism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Pantheism and more recently the beautiful Bahá’í faith. Everything I learn fascinates me. Back in the 90s, I befriended an Egyptian family who passed along much of what was good about Islam and talked about some of the things they struggled with, not unlike many Christians with the harsher truths of the Bible. These days, however, people seem to get upset when you don’t believe what they believe. Even the word journey seems trite.

Exploring is important, though—especially having that freedom to explore. When you do it extensively, the outcome, whatever that may be, brings you to a much higher level of authenticity. You can embrace whatever you choose to believe with less concern about whether someone is going to try to prove you wrong, mock you, or corrupt you.

Still, when you dare to conclude that you don’t believe what your parents and teachers taught you, you find yourself struggling to figure out where you do fit in and what you do believe. You tough it out without your happy place in moments of distress, without feeling safe or protected, and you listen to people make harsh judgments about people like you—that you edged God out, that you don’t have a moral compass, that you are egocentric.

And yet, in my own moment of truth, I became a better person than I ever was, an increasingly more authentic and less narcissistic person, because I wasn’t trying to believe something that didn’t  make sense to me or fit in where I didn’t belong. I wasn’t pretending to be something I wasn’t, without realizing, and I had stopped building the false self I continually needed to expand on with the accumulation of more shame and feelings of inadequacy. I’m not saying this is true for everyone. It was true for me because I lived in a false reality about everything, including who I was.

While I never believed there was anything about me—ethnicity, religion, color, socioeconomic status, that set me apart from anyone else or made me better than anyone else, I did start out in life believing I was on some mission empowered by God. And without realizing, I had disconnected myself from others.

Of all I had learned, one of the things that stuck with me above everything was the whole love one another thing. Yes, I really liked that part. Isn’t it a basic theme in all religions? But it wasn’t the non-believers I’d see hating and punishing one another without conscience.

And there was that perfect love hath no fear business in a society that seems overrun by fear. It began to seem as if allegiance to a god was some way of feeling righteous and superior enough to justify atrocious behavior toward one another—all fear-based and with this tunnel vision about getting to this perfect place called Heaven where we never have to die. Of course, we are human, and as humans, we often fail, but at some point, we have to look at the bigger picture, realize what’s happening and start looking for answers. Because we want to do better, don’t we?

One of the biggest problems in this world is that people don’t get along, don’t respect each other, and often don’t regard one another as fellow human beings. They can’t understand one another because they don’t listen to each other. They don’t put themselves in someone else’s place and say, “That could be me.” Instead, they look for reasons why that wouldn’t happen to them because they always behave the right way, or they are the “right” sort of person their god wants them to be. It enables them to detach. It’s always this idea that people reap what they sow until tragedy hits home. And it’s easier for some to believe what they want to believe without further exploration because they can be like the child who has to hide and protect his or her cherished toys so that nobody can take them away.

I would never want to shut down people who don’t believe what the holy books say or the people who don’t know what to believe. I don’t want to dismiss the cherry pickers trying to find a safe middle ground or silence the faithful. They are all entitled to their beliefs, as long as they are not committing or condoning crimes against humanity.

I believe, too, those who bring hate into the universe, using it as a weapon, and a divisive tool, these people are significant only at the moment because their time is over. People advocating hate, violence, and oppression serve no divine purpose in doing that. Our higher power is not a means to bury others, to condemn them. That power would connect us not divide us and bring us all together in the end. No loving deity would send some hateful bully to fix what is wrong in our world, and no one who carries that much hatred will go very far, because hate cripples and ultimately destroys. We have defeated that before, and we will defeat it again.

We can fight with a warrior’s resilience and never fight alone.

Our job is to keep resolving things internally, so that we continue to evolve as humans, deepening our understanding, our empathy, and our compassion. Suffering can be a beautiful thing when we are constantly evolving, but not if we’re stuck in the same place emotionally without learning from everything we endure. Every one of us can enlighten as we evolve, heal, learn, grow, and transform.

I truly believe the continuous goal is healing—not simply individual healing but collective healing. We each have our gifts and our tools for contributing to the greater good, and it’s one big, collaborative effort, during which time we need to remain connected as part of a larger entity.

If we must keep influencing ourselves with thoughts, let those thoughts be reminders that we are divine, created by the divine, and divinity surrounds us, and in that way, we have much more power than we know.

We have that power for a reason.

We don’t see everything just yet, and we don’t know everything, but we are creating the future, the world we want to live in, and the world we will leave our children. I’m also going to dare to believe we can keep evolving toward a much higher consciousness and create the idyllic world we envision.

 

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Photo credit: The Goddess of Every Sweet Dream by June Yarham

© Copyright August 2, 2016 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission.

THAT DEVOTED GIRL SHATTERED BY YOUR TRUTH IS FREE

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I had a dream about you last night and woke up crying. I couldn’t sleep after that.

In the dream, you were angry with me—full of anger, full of hate. You had shut the door on me and left me out in the cold. I kept calling to you with a child’s unbearable anguish. You didn’t hear.

At some point, I cried, “Help me, daddy,” and finally, you came. I thought you were going to hit me or hurt me with your scarred and violent soul, but you didn’t. You hugged me. Well, you didn’t just hug me. You gave me the kind of hug I’d wanted from you since childhood, the comfort I always needed, and I didn’t want to let go.

I miss your smile and your jokes, Dad, your handsome face, and all of your wisdom, but I have to ask. Does a father realize he is the first man a girl gives her heart to completely? The first man she trusts blindly and devotedly? Did you realize?

I used to think I was hard to love.

Whatever people said—men especially—I wanted to believe them. Deep down, I didn’t. Not a word. And every time a man took something from me that I didn’t want him to have, every time a man tried to silence me, belittle me, or make me doubt myself, I punished him, pummeling him with words and crushing him with goodbye. I could be angry with them but not you.

What if things had been different between us, though? Would I had been less vulnerable or had the confidence to be my authentic self, knowing I was worthy and lovable? Would I have chosen more wisely? Would I have stopped running and hiding, oblivious to my weaknesses and my desperate needs? Would I have respected myself more? Might I have found someone I could love, for real? Someone who could have loved me back? Because I didn’t let them … I made sure they couldn’t.

Well, no matter, that’s all changed now. I picked up the shattered pieces of my heart and began to love myself.

It’s hard not to feel that twinge of emotion when I hear father tributes of the heroes who boosted confidence and taught children to believe in themselves. I honestly wish everyone could beam with that pride, feeling safe, content, and protected in that eternal bond.

It’s easy to defeat someone when you have all the power, when you are on a pedestal from the start, and you make all the rules. You can create vulnerability and punish the very same, though you don’t mean it. You can erase one’s humanity because of your denial, your self-loathing, and your shame, though you’re not aware. You can damage a person almost beyond repair. And, after the wrecking ball, cleanup of that wreckage rests solely on those tiny shoulders. Yeah, those shoulders get bigger, but somehow it all gets harder and more complicated.

I cleaned up that mess, though. The void lasts forever, and many people can attest to that, but I got those things I needed. It just takes ongoing effort to hold on to them.

And by the time I had a child of my own, I knew all too well what a child needs. I was able to give him that, but I couldn’t give him YOU. Oh, he’s brilliant and kind and funny, and so very loyal. Like you, he’s hard and strong but with such a tender heart. He needed you, and he still needs you, though he’d never admit it now. He’d been shattered right along with me, but we rose to the challenge, and he loves with his whole heart like I do. I’m proud of him, and I’d like to think you’d be proud of him, too, but it doesn’t matter now.

Look, maybe you didn’t give me what I needed, but you gave what you had. I saw a brave and modest man, generous with assistance and advice—a hero to many, and I know why they love you. I know why I loved you. Sure, it’s easy to love someone when you think they are perfect; when you hold them up on a pedestal and pretend they are everything you need and always wanted. You fell off that pedestal when I was twelve, Dad, but I loved you so much, flaws and all, and I still do. That’s unconditional love, and though you couldn’t give that to me, you still get it. Because guess what? You deserved that, too, from the people who didn’t give it to you.

Yeah, I knew why you were the way you were, though you accepted no excuses from me when I fell short. You could never understand me, but I understood you. Though you couldn’t hear me, yours was the loudest voice I’d heard in my entire life—a voice that continued to bellow in my ear for a lifetime. It kept me from standing up. It kept me from fighting, and it kept me from winning until I did all those things because I couldn’t lose any more. I climbed in spite of you, because of you and for you, because you couldn’t do it yourself, and I understand that.

When you were angry, devastated, and tortured, I tried to tell you it would be okay, that I was sorry for you, and that I loved you, but it seemed too much for you to bear at the time. Then, in the end, I forgave you, and you forgave me. It took a lifetime, but we got there.

Sigh. There are many things we never got to do, Dad, and it’s too late now. You’re gone. But I do have some fond memories of you that I will cherish always.

And here’s what I wish.

I wish I could go back in time with you—to those boyhood days when you were punished severely for no good reason—when you were invalidated, shamed, ridiculed, and ignored, just to tell you how awesome you were, and all you could be and do with your life. I’d say I believe in you, and that you have everything you need to succeed. I would say over and over that I love you to the moon and back, so you would know how worthy you are of that love. And maybe you would have grown up to be what you wanted, and have felt no shame. Then when it was your turn, you could have done the same. You would have known I was not an extension of you and didn’t have to represent you or your ideals. Perhaps you would not have expected such a conformist “go with the flow” type of kid who didn’t make waves but sang to a song you couldn’t possibly hear. You would not have lost empathy. You wouldn’t have cared how others saw me or what they would think. You’d have simply treasured me for the person I am. Imagine that!

The aching in my heart is that I want that for everyone. I wish all men and women who didn’t get what they needed as children would give that and get it back in abundance however they can. And I’m infinitely grateful to every hardworking mom and dad who gets up every day ready and willing to get it all right, including you.

Rest easy, Dad, and know you will always be in my heart.

“Children are the most fearless souls on earth.”― Lailah Gifty Akita, Think Great: Be Great!

Further Reading:

10 Ways Strong Women Move Past Their ‘Daddy Issues’

Why Dads Matter — Especially to Girls

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Featured photo at beginning of blog by Fritz Zuber-Buhler

© Copyright May 31, 2016 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission.

BEFORE YOU FORGET AGAIN: YOU ARE AN AMAZING TRIUMPH!

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The robin in your tender heart
Hungers for the red berry
That titillates your tongue.
She carols as the snow falls—
And not with the chorus of the dawn
In radiant spring.
What might have been?
Your voice silenced,
The spirit of you
Destroyed,
I see glimpses of your fire
From the light that has vanished
From your eyes.

Your wings soar,
Only not to follow
Your heart.
And your heart is that of
A child,
Deeply vulnerable,
Precious,
So sensitive,
And sweet.
You inspire me
To change my perspective
With your unique vision
Of the world.
You shine with your brilliance,
And you don’t know.
Your bursts of laughter
Make me smile.
As always, you are the light
In my darkness;
Your spirit is the fire I feel
In the sun’s warmth.
You were the dawn of my awakening,
And the splendor of my dreams.

And I have cried
For your heart
More than I have ever cried
For my own.
I am torn apart by
The intensity of your pain.
It is profound sadness
I feel,
When I think I’ve reached you
And then hit another wall…
Hard.

I fear losing you forever
To your grief,
As I grieve, too,
For the subtleties
And cues
You don’t understand.
Avoiding the eyes of others …
Your intense frustration
In trying to get it right,
And thinking you have it all wrong.

You have it right,
So right—
Always did,
Always will.
I only wish you could know
The joy
Of being free.

The tentative smiles,
The looks of uncertainty,
Prompt me to tell you,
You got this.
You’ll be fine.
Whatever the passion,
Let it burn.
It will save you.

Retrieve every shattered fragment
Of your soul.

Accept it,
Embrace it,
Bless it with your peace.
Give it mighty and glorious wings,
And let it fly where it leads
Without fear,
Into the twilight of an infinite sky.

Be happy,
Shine,
Glow.
Love,
Dance,
Sing.
Celebrate yourself
And don’t stop singing
Your life’s song.
The song is your vision,
Your passion;
It belongs to you.
Without it,
You wither and die.

Don’t you, for one moment,
Let anyone crush your beautiful spirit.

Know, too, those who have crushed you
Have been crushed.
Those who pain you have been pained.
Still, you can rise again,
Become completely alive again
And shine on,
Just as you did before all the hurt began.

You are not defective,
My dear one,
Not a burden,
Nor do you struggle alone.
I’m here with you.
I will always be with you.
You are
In every way
Beautiful.
Though you don’t see that,
And you never have.
I just love you.

Feature photo by Amy Treasure

© Copyright October 9, 2016 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission.

SPOTLIGHT: EVOLVE – YOU MAY BE THE ONE I WANT TO FEATURE!

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A while back, I decided to host a radio show for the opportunity of sharing a platform with others.

As it turns out, I have less time to invest these days, but I know these inspiring stories give people hope and incentive to triumph. For this reason, I have decided on an alternative that requires a lesser time commitment.

I plan to feature guests on my blog in posts that will include an interview and much more.

You qualify if:

• You have overcome difficulties, recovered from trauma, addiction, illness, etc. (It can also be that you dealt with the above as a parent or spouse.)
• You manage an ongoing disability or psychological disorder, or you cope daily with a loved one’s disability/disorder.
• You are an awareness advocate/activist helping others.
• Your story is inspiring.
• You have a talent that is unique and inspiring.

If you meet these requirements, this is what I need from you:

1. One or more current photos of you
2. A bio if it seems relevant to the post
3. Your story or a work sample, possibly both
4. Links you would like to share in order of preference
5. Your e-mail address

Send this to kyrianlyndon@kyrianlyndon.com.

When I receive your submission, I will send interview questions to the e-mail address you provided. You can type the answers or record them on audio or video. Once I receive the second submission, you are next in line for a guest spot.

Please note the following:

Send your initial submission as soon as possible. This project has a limited run with only twelve spots per year.

Be sure to include everything to avoid delay.

Be fully clothed in photos and videos you submit. That goes for males and females—no bare chests, etc.tiny-smileys-yesemoticons-015

You can be candid and creative, as long as your content is appropriate.

I will notify you before your post goes up, and I’ll give you the link to post. I will also share it with thousands on my social media sites. It will remain on my site under the Spotlight: Evolve tab.

So by all means, get started! It will be fun and could result in some new fans or friends for you. 

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© Copyright August 25, 2015 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission

THE RELENTLESS PURSUIT OF A DREAM: THE HEART’S MOST REWARDING JOURNEY

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In the natural world, I don’t talk much about writing (though I probably should). When I do, people often open up about their lifelong passions. Most of them seem to feel that although they’d love to do something about those lifelong dreams, they’ll never get the chance. What I believe, though, is that those passions tell us who we are.

For me, it began with the The Wizard of Oz. (I think it inspired many writers.) I was four or five the first time I saw it. They had me at Somewhere Over the Rainbow, but every scene that followed left me spellbound. By the age of eight, I wrote fairy tales and years later went on to poetry. At sixteen, I wrote a novel. It was rather an aimless story, and my idea of a hero at sixteen should have been a big red flag—as in, you need therapy, Kid, but it was over five hundred pages! tiny-smileys-yesemoticons-005

Me Along the Journey

Me Along the Journey Then and Now

Another inspiration came to me at nineteen—someone else’s story that moved me. I submitted it directly to Random House, which you could do back then. They rejected it, but I followed up and ultimately learned they were willing to reconsider it if I reconstructed it in the manner they suggested. I was a cocky little egomaniac, so I didn’t. I scrapped that, too, and went in a different direction with Soul of a Child, my third attempt at a novel. It was the best of the three since I was learning to master my craft, but I kept getting sidetracked—relationships, work, other career options, illness, tragedy, one distraction after another.

Somewhere between 2003 and 2005, I began toying with the idea of reconstructing the three books into a series. Initially, I was too distracted to focus. I had to set small goals, just do it for an hour a day and then work up from there. As the momentum began to build, I made writing my priority. That meant waking up at four a.m. every day to work a few hours before getting ready for my job at a law firm. I may have fallen asleep anywhere between seven and nine p.m., but it was worth it to me.

In 2009, I completed the first book of that series, except I had started at the beginning of my protagonist’s life, and she was still twelve on page four hundred fifty.I realized then; I had been doing it wrong from the start. (This is why you need patience and resilience.) Not that I expect everyone to run into this particular problem, but there are plenty of problems to go around.

It occurred to me that, in this undertaking, I had tunnel vision. I was trying to get everything in and everything accurate as if someone had subpoenaed me to testify. Second, I was writing about my life. That hadn’t been the plan initially, but since such a peculiar story had developed, I felt compelled to share it. Then, starting at the beginning of a protagonist’s young life in a novel can be tricky—and boring if you are not careful. Charles Dickens, a master storyteller, pulled it off brilliantly in David Copperfield, but I obviously didn’t.

It was time to start over yet again. And this is all part of the learning process. You learn what a dumb-ass you are, and you fix it. That’s true of life, in general, if you’re doing it right, and it’s certainly true of writing.

I had to part with much of the material I initially wanted to include. As a writer, I knew that deep down. The emotional connection to this saga was blinding me. One of the first things we learn as writers is to write what we know, but it’s okay to learn as you go, to research, and to, quite frankly, make shit up. It’s fiction, damn it. If someone wants to write about his or her life, that’s great. It wasn’t working for me. Fiction is what inspired me, so I reached a point where it no longer mattered what actually happened to someone at some point and what didn’t. That made it a lot easier. I could focus on the storytelling aspect. Once again, the foundation had to be tweaked, all of that groundwork. I would end up with a fictitious story loosely based on a story that was true for someone at some point or another (as it should be). tiny-smileys-yesemoticons-010Isn’t that how it usually goes?

I went through thousands of pages of notes and poured over the old manuscripts. Eventually, I had everything organized into folders. Now and then, I show someone the obsessively, compulsively, and meticulously organized file folders on my hard drive, and they can’t believe what I’ve done here. I can’t believe it either.

My eyes were blind sometimes after a day’s work. I fought distractions like they were demons. I put together two volumes of poetry while working on this first book of the series and got one of them published. (The other will be out soon.) Those are good distractions, but there were not so good ones. And there were also sudden waves of anxiety (seemingly out of nowhere) not to mention the occasional moments of outright fear. I drank water, opened windows, got air, and just let myself breathe; reminding myself it will all turn out okay. My fellow writers understand this: Often it is just you and the moon, you and the rain, or you and the sun outside your window reminding you that life is passing too quickly. But it is, indeed, okay. In fact, most of the time, it’s quite peaceful and beautiful.

I have been fortunate to receive an abundance of praise thus far for whatever I have put out there. I am fortunate, too, to have wonderful friends and family members, particularly my son, my sister and my nephew, all of whom have cheered me on at every turn. Their encouragement and support mean more than they know.

I have writer friends who can attest to the fact that you will lose people along the way. In fact, when I was dreaming of all this at eight, I had no idea what a thick skin I would need. Some people will wage a personal passive aggressive war with you, and you can’t waste too much energy there. The “not enough to go around” syndrome is real, and the people who suffer from it perceive your gains as their losses. Leave them to sort it out. You don’t have to. People will get mad at you for even wanting what you want, or they want you to fail for whatever reason they decide. Let them. You did the hard work, earned your accomplishments, and that’s what matters. It helps to focus on that, keep working hard, and doing your best. The rewards come, and then they keep coming.

I know, too, that no matter how tough it may get, I’m in. I have always been a writer and will always be a writer. It’s what I do and who I am, and I’ll deal.I have immense gratitude for being able to do what I do and for the privilege of sharing it with others.

If you ask me, it is a miracle that I managed to get this far, but I have completed the first book of my series. It is now in the hands of my editor. It was such an insanely long journey that I marked the day and time, August 17, 2015, at 5 pm. And since all the groundwork is complete, the subsequent books in the series won’t be far behind.

It’s a trite saying by now, but if you don’t believe in you, no one will. For many of us, getting to that level and staying there is in itself, a journey. I know, too, we can always find reasons, excuses not to do it. You have to muster up some courage and become part of the celebration of triumph. As I see it, there are two corners, the cheering corner, and the grimace corner. Everybody in the cheering corner gets a taste of victory. Camaraderie begins, and it leads to making dreams come true. It’s contagious. In the grimace corner, they just continue to whine, criticize, and make faces. It’s about what’s in your heart. Ignore them. Just do it. I’ll be holding your hand from afar.

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© Copyright August 17, 2015 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission.

WHAT IS THE HEART OF YOUR MOTIVATION?

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If you are an author, you know this, we don’t just write a book and query agents or publishers. We are entrepreneurs, hustling to compete in an oversaturated market. Beyond the ongoing creative process, you devote a lot of time and effort to marketing, interacting with your potential audience, avoiding controversial issues, and essentially walking on eggshells.

It’s hard to fathom how an artist of any kind can be both cautious and authentic and avoid controversial issues. Can you imagine Oscar Wilde or Mark Twain navigating their social media platforms? It would be hilarious.

Doing any of the above, let alone all of it requires an extraordinary amount of motivation. Considering this, I often wonder what others think and dream about while assessing their goals and struggling to achieve them.

I had decided, before second grade, I wanted to help people “escape” if only for a while. I dreamt of making fantasies come to life while delivering messages of love, kindness, and hope. Ten years later, I wanted a mansion, fancy cars, and a full staff. I clipped an article titled “What to Do with Your First Million” and followed its advice to live as if I was already there. I found the celebrity hotspots and frequented them while remaining unfazed. I went for the expensive champagne. My father dared to suggest I become an advertising copywriter. I told him I would not waste my talent to sell bottles of soap and junk like that.

Being twenty-something also presented what seemed like easy opportunities to model or marry up, along with opportunities to break into print on someone else’s terms. In my estimation, these “opportunities” were not easy if I had to invest in something that had nothing to do with my ruling passion or something in conflict with that passion. It seemed a colossal waste of oh so precious time and energy to continually nurture those things.

My opinions, needs, and wants have changed over the years, as I’m sure is true for many. People take different roads, and the one I stumbled onto was the longest route possible. It had to allow for interminable growth and healing.

Some may remember the vision boards of the 90s. What I might have put on those boards at seventeen and twenty-one wouldn’t be on there now. Yeah, a bigger, better place is always great. I like a lot of space. I realized, though, I could be happy anywhere that is reasonably comfortable, and I’m happy with what I have. I don’t need a lot of money to do what I want in life. I’m already doing it. I love what I do and feel privileged to share it with anyone. (I’m talking about writing fiction now, not blogging, which I hate.)

Of course, it’s not a bad thing to want money. We have to want it. It pays the bills, gives you security. You can eat. It puts you in a position of being able to give it to people who need it. It allows you to pursue things you want to pursue. So yes, if anyone wanted to hand me a million dollars, I’d take it.

Being motivated to hustle and sell is another story. Caring about having that bestseller or how many books you’ve sold requires that hunger I had at seventeen and twenty-one. Yes, we all want it, but you may need to move a few mountains to get it and can’t be too lazy about that.

It’s seems easy enough to pretend to be what everyone wants and say all the things people want to hear so that you can sell a gazillion books, right? I know the sort of things I’d need to say and do in that regard and yet still find it impossible. I’m sure I am far from alone in that.

If what I contribute to the world has the best possible impact on someone, it’s well worth it to me. So, yes, every time another person reaches out to express his or her appreciation, it’s hard to want more than that.

The motivation to provide an escape, make fantasies come to life and deliver messages of hope in this bizarre world, remains. Far as that goes, I have come full circle, back to my childhood heart.

Above all, however, writing is the ultimate refuge. In constantly feeling the world’s pain, individually and collectively, that, too, becomes part of the motivation. Writing, for me, is that comforting place. Even those who write dark literature would agree that what horror they write pales in comparison to real world horrors. We want those blessed intervals of complete, total control of what is happening, and what happens next. We can delude ourselves, but more often, we share the suffering, the healing through a process of grief, and sometimes we fix the broken in ways we can’t do in life.

For these reasons, writing consumes me. It leaves me with little time to nurture more than a handful of relationships or to build what others have. At times, I feel a sense of loss, and then I remember that I created all I had ever wanted—a peaceful existence where I could write and share and then spend precious hours with people who mean the most. I’ve come to treasure that, along with life’s simple things.

I may have to kick it into high gear, but it helps to understand what drives you.

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© Copyright June 25, 2015 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission.

WHY AUTHENCITY MATTERS

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The freedom that comes with authenticity is something we can all relate to on some level, unless, of course, we never had to feel different or less than.

If we have, authenticity is a bondage broken. It is a proud and happy triumph for those who understand how important it is for everyone to feel acceptance in their skin, not the skin that meets the approval of the masses without question.

No matter what belief system people subscribe to, they would not want a diseased or disabled child to suffer because their God might have intended it. They would not think to say this happened for a reason, so let’s leave it alone, and do nothing to remedy the situation.  No one would want them to suffer or die. And when a person is born into this world with a dilemma of identity that puts him or her at odds with the world, they do suffer. The only part of them that is real is either dead or dying, and the only thing that saves them is acceptance.

Instead, they are stigmatized, rejected, harassed, and deprived of essential human rights. There is character assassination by cultivated perception. These things destroy a person in such a way that it may as well be murder.

As a society, we have come a long way. Generally speaking, we have evolved to see that not all battles are physical. There is much bravery in terms of mental and emotional struggle. Countless individuals embark on a painful, almost unbearable journey from shame to authenticity and acceptance. Let’s revel in the notion that a big chunk of the world gets it, that everyone deserves to feel worthy and enough.

Many will never survive this type of journey. We need the survivors, as they become warriors who fight every obstacle in their paths and advocate for those who have not been able to advocate for themselves. They pave the way. Yes, that is brave. Freedom from shame and bondage is a gift that gives endless light while creating genuine love. That’s how you create a better world.

 

 

© Copyright June 3, 2015 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission.

FIRE IN THE SOUL

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Interesting conversations with readers give me a lot to think about, so I like to provide a platform for those conversations.

Someone recently brought up amateur/aspiring v. professional.

I have known people who create guidelines for when a person can call himself or herself an author (or even a writer). It’s the same with most artists. Are they amateur and aspiring or professional and experienced?

Many of us have had this burning passion or determination to do something since childhood. Ideas and urges came, and we responded. We delivered. I feel we know whether we identify as poets, writers, artists, musicians before we ever have a book published, show our work in a museum or get on stage with a band. We may be aspiring to succeed and to master our crafts, but we are not aspiring to be what we are.

I remember a fifth-grade poetry assignment. The kid behind me copied my poem. When the teacher (nun) caught him, he told her he copied it from a book. I imagine he thought he’d get in less trouble for that, I don’t know. Maybe he just wanted me to go down with him. Nevertheless, she believed him. She asked for the book, and I was so confused that I was trying to find this book that didn’t exist… in my desk. (Nuns raising their voices to me invoked terror.) Then something strange happened. All these kids began calling out that this boy was lying because I was a writer, and I had always been a writer… other ten-year-olds! Amusing as it seems, they touched my heart for a lifetime. She asked me again if I copied the poem from a book, and I finally found the courage to say I didn’t. She gave me a gold star and displayed it on the wall for Parent-Teacher Conference Day. I will never forget this; how the kids knew this thing about me because it was already part of my identity.

As another example, my nephew was drawing since the age of five. I have never seen anything amateur about his approach, his expression, or his final product. (As an aside, he’s amazing.)

People may tell you things like, well you’re not published, you’re not an author, or you’re not a writer, even though you have been doing this thing ever since you can remember.

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If there is anything to separate the amateurs from the pros, for me, it is the desire and willingness to give your best and give your all.

Pros focus on mastering their craft. They set goals. It is a priority in their lives, and they will devote as much time to it as is possible. They can’t “not” do it. They know the passion is the fire in their soul. It’s their heart. They know it’s who they are.

Whether we are good or not, that is another story, but we have control over that, too.

From early on, characterization and dialogue were my strengths. Description was my weakness. I was not observant. I kept my mind clouded with other things, the obsessions of the moment. Eventually, I realized I had to work hard on that area, and I did with much success.

There’s no doubt in my mind that we often feel we don’t measure up, as people, as artists. If we believe that, that’s when we work to get better: identify problems, find solutions, expand our knowledge, and hone our skills. The desire exists for a reason, and learning is perpetual. We can always do better. That is all a part of mastering.

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© Copyright February 7, 2015 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission.

HAPPY FALL

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Ode to Autumn
by John Keats

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep,
Drows’d with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twinéd flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,—
While barréd clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

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John Keats is one of my favorite poets and for most of my life, fall was my favorite season.

I grow more resistant to the dark evenings of fall as I get older and more inclined to embrace the endless light of summer. However, autumn would not be the same with infinite light and glorious sun, would it? It is a cozy time of cool breezes, warm fires, and precious memories. The darkness, while haunting and a bit unsettling, has its mesmeric beauty.

The video below shows the splendor of fall with audio of Eva Cassidy’s spellbinding voice in ‘Falling Leaves’, a song about autumn and loss. For me, it is bittersweet. My husband died young on a summer day. I can relate to this sentiment—saying goodbye to two seasons. As I parted with a season of light, I parted, too, with a season of love. It is the end of a time and a necessary rebirth, yes bittersweet but beautiful.

Happy Fall!

PASSIONS AND DREAMS

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My nephew, Christopher, was about six when he gazed out the window in the backseat of the car and said, “I’m just afraid I will run out of things to draw.”

He began at an early age, sketching and drawing – leaving people in awe of his talent. Every year his mom helped him put together a calendar featuring his artwork.

You can see brilliance in his eyes when he talks to you, especially about art. When I ask him if he can do a certain thing, the answer is, “Of course, I can!” He is chock full of confidence.

It is not hard to believe in someone like him. He is, above all, kind, caring and a sensitive soul. We not only believe in him, we celebrate him. He touches our hearts and remains such a light in a dark world.

I feel the same way about my own son who was educating strangers about Jupiter’s moons in the first grade. They are two people who came into the world with their own gifts and talents, giving you a clear sense of who they were from the start. I can attest to this much: when you know, from childhood, what you are and what you love, you cannot imagine any other life. I feel strongly, people must allow you to be the person you are, not the vision of you and your future they have in mind.

It is easy to recognize the apathy and pain of someone who never lived their dream, someone left to wonder what the outcome might have been had they followed their heart. You see glimpses of their fire, traces of the light gone from their eyes. They had their spirits crushed, their voices silenced, their true selves obliterated.

Children need to hold on to their natural confidence and infectious enthusiasm, along with the ability to trust their instincts. My heart tells me, we need to not only believe in them, but also show them how much we do.

Perhaps this is one reason experiencing an incredible contribution to the arts – everything from singing and drawing to dancing – can move me to tears. I realize people make incredible achievements every single day, ones I don’t see. They may not have an audience or applause, but their achievements are no less important. Seeing people get out there, however, doing the thing they love most and nailing it speaks to the person inside many of us that says, I want to do what I love as fearlessly as that. I want to celebrate that fearless moment where I succeed in reaching the hearts of others, where we all participate and share the passion and joy. My heart sings in contentment. It is one of life’s beautiful and most cherished experiences.

For me, it is.

In these moments, I don’t think about the harrowing destruction of our world or the harrowing destruction of humanity. It is a brief lull, because I don’t want to ignore that – all the suffering, all the pain, all the hatred. It has affected me profoundly since childhood, and while I search my heart for solutions, I can only counteract with love and a message of oneness. I believe we all can in some way, especially if we have a voice or means of communicating our passion and love to the world. It is one small contribution of many, until we can do better.

Those of us who have made it thus far with our dreams intact are eternally grateful. Whatever the passion – no matter what happens in life, it is there, and it saves you. It just might save others, too.

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© Copyright August, 2014 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission.

TREASURES

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As I read Peter Cottontail to my son for the third or fourth time, feeling a bit tired, I bungled a line.

He said, “No, mommy, he lost one shoe amongst the cabbages and the other shoe amongst the potatoes.”

Yes, that is important! I hugged him dearly for that.

It was quite an improvement from six months earlier when he ripped Alice in Wonderland to shreds.

I wanted to be a relaxed, nurturing parent. I did not want to raise my son in a palace of dangers. I childproofed. I permitted him to take books from the bookshelves, sit in a pile of them and explore. When he tore up the book, that party was over. I had to tell him only once, because he knew already, I was reasonable and always for him, on his side. I taught him, we love books. We respect books. We read them. We enjoy them. We never destroy them, and we never crush the spirit of their creators.

The love affair with books began in my own childhood. I fell in love, first, with writing and reading. Writing is still the love of my life.

The fantasy genre inspired me – Wizard of Oz, Pinocchio, fairy tales. It provided me with a much-needed escape from reality.

As I grew, the books I cherished most fit into the category of literary fiction, which is reality-based and generally more profound and philosophical. However, I never heard the term ‘literary fiction’ or all this talk about genres. Many people are still confused about it and have no idea what literary fiction is. I was confused myself.

I struggled to categorize my work. Yes, there is a love story. There are quite a few. There is a psychologically thrilling mystery. There are many of those. Yes, it is dark and intense with elements of gothic fiction and quite a bit of horror, but the ongoing saga does not revolve around any particular theme. Do you know why? It is literary fiction.

Literary fiction is pretentiously termed ‘serious’ fiction, though that could be misleading. It indicates a profound work with literary merit, a celebration of language, a critically acclaimed classic. However, genre fiction can also be poetry in motion and a work of art worthy of acclaim.

If I have to answer as to whether I am working on ‘serious’ fiction, well if it means painstaking torture, yes, I am quite serious, and this is as serious as it gets.

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The well-constructed plot in literary fiction should be riveting, but it is not the focus. Literary fiction has a slower pace with many rewards for your patience along the way.

It is character driven with well-developed, introspective characters. The story is about the character’s journey. We become emotionally involved in his or her reality, the struggle, the challenges, the losses and triumphs. We glimpse into the character’s psyche, experiencing the love, the hate, the joy, and the pain. Works of literary fiction are good human-interest stories that move and inspire those of us fascinated by the human condition. Genre novelists can create deep characterization, but this is the hallmark of literary fiction.

Literary fiction defines some of the best books ever written: Wuthering Heights, Pride and Prejudice, David Copperfield, Frankenstein, Dracula, The Iliad, The Odyssey, Rebecca, Little Women, 1984, Brave New World, Anna Karenina and many Shakespeare tales. The list goes on. My favorite authors, including Charles Dickens and the Bronte sisters, wrote literary fiction in classic Victorian-style, which I love with all my heart.

I believe creative work in every category has potential for greatness. I have yet to find a genre unworthy of respect. I don’t think we should make fun of people for enjoying some nonsense book or series where the writing isn’t up to par. As professionals and critics, we may seek a certain quality, but I am of the opinion, if there is a mass audience for a book or series, and it made scores of people happy, it has earned its place in the world of literature. I am simply another writer in an endless sea of writers and one of billions of readers. It doesn’t matter whether I like it. Readers, by consensus, have the final word.

Here is the bottom line for those of us who share this passion: books are a treasure. I feel fortunate in a world of books. I am infinitely grateful. I am giddy with delight. This is our inspiration, our high, our bond. There is plenty of room for everyone, and I am beyond thrilled to be on this journey.

I would love to hear from you about what you love to read or write. In the meantime, enjoy these videos as part of my celebration of literary fiction with an appreciative nod to all genres.

 

© Copyright August 2014 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction of text permitted without permission.