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The Stray Russian Blue

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How Having Zero Friends Surprisingly Made Me A Better Person

“A man is rich not by what he owns but what he can do without.” — Immanuel Kant

It was in 2014 when I carried my two luggage to head to a different country and start a new life with my future husband. It was a very exciting phase after enduring three years of long distance relationship. Behind the excitement, a huge feeling of anxiety and discomfort exist.

“Why are you leaving your career?”

“Are you willing to start all over again?”

“Are you sure about your decision?”

These are some of the questions given to me. I was 100% certain that I’m willing to embrace the life ahead of me. After all, I will be with the man I love.

It should be easy, right?

FALSE.

Fast forward to this date, I am still struggling in some areas. I can’t drive, so it limits me more to see people. Sometimes, loneliness is pretty unbearable.

It’s been nearly three years, and I still have ZERO FRIENDS. And by this, I mean someone that I can consider my kindred spirit.

“Let’s buy a new sofa set, so you can invite your friends at home,” my mother-in-law said. I grinned and said, “I have no friends to invite.”

On the early years, it was a hard pill for me to swallow. I volunteered to look after kids, attended crochet and gardening groups, and joined cooking contests for the hope of finding new sets of friends. But then, they are so scarce and far away from me.

Is it because of my race? Is it because how different I look compared to them? Is it because of my accent?

I eventually got tired chasing people to come into my life.

I miss the feeling of being invited to eat outside. I miss the small chit chats. I miss the feeling of having friends.

Even my friends back home were far beyond reach. I could not confide to them about my situation for the fear of adding emotional burden to them. They are all busy. I can’t swim with them anymore. I need to swim on my own.

A surprising thing happened to me on this journey.

What Having Zero Friends Taught Me?

1. No One Else Can Motivate Me Better Than Myself

“The will to win, the desire to be successful, the urge to reach your full potential…these are the keys that will unlock the door to personal excellence.” — Confucius

As human, I look for others’ approval before I commit myself to something. I look for encouragement from others like my friends to evaluate if I am heading in the right direction. But nobody knows what the outcome would be.

I realized I have to follow my intuition. If there is something I desire that does not violate the law of God and nature, I go for it.

I remind myself that I can do it. There is only learning to have whether I succeed or not. I don’t need anyone’s approval. I need to hear my own voice whether I should go for my dreams or not.

In teaching, intrinsic motivation is more encouraged instead of giving bribes like stars and rewards. This will push the student to excel if there is an inner drive to help fuel the goal. It comes from within the individual out of will or interest.

2. Find Out My Strengths and Weaknesses

“If you’re being ignored, that’s a good time to concentrate on finding yourself and creating your own mystery.” — Lykke Li

When I am surrounded by people who are always willing to help me, it makes me rely on them so much. But when I have no one to ask for help, it opens new areas for learning.

I was told I am good in theories but not much on practical. My friends pampered me with tasks that require more of cognitive skills. Since no one is there to help me, I had to turn my weaknesses into strengths.

I discovered myself, even more, when there are no outside noises to dictate what I can or cannot do. It gives me the chance to know myself even further. It is a time to create myself.

3. Learn Anything My Heart Desires

“Learn to get in touch with the silence within yourself, and know that everything in life has purpose. There are no mistakes, no coincidences, all events are blessings given to us to learn from.” —Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

Since I have no one to seek counsel with, I opened myself to more room for learning. I read books more than I ever did in my entire existence. I attend courses and seminars. I join conferences to improve myself.

My situation gave me a limitless perspective. In the past, I had no interest learning other areas because my circle of friends is the same. I never wanted to get out of my comfort zone.

But since I have no choice, I found out it is exciting to try and discover something new. Who would realize that reading philosophy books are fun? How would I know I can actually learn how to sew? How will I know I have the courage to join a cooking contest and win the 2nd place?

I found out that I can learn anything if I have the determination and persistence to do it. I don’t need other people’s go signal to try something new. Learn without guilt. Try without reservations.

https://unsplash.com/search/photos/happy?photo=QJ1j4HOdNtI

4. Discover A New Set Of Imaginary Friends

“Power may be produced through friendly alliance of minds.” — Napoleon Hill

Well, the truth is I have friends. It’s just that they don’t exist physically. But they sure come up to me when I need them. They give me pieces of advice that sometimes are very hard to swallow when I need one. They don’t sugar coat their messages. They hit you right at the core just like real friends do.

I met my new set of friends from books I read, documentaries I watch and seminars I listen. I study them carefully. I try to get to know them better day by day. I write down all the important messages they have for me.

Sometimes they keep me awake at night. When I try to solve my problems, they are there seated on a round table brainstorming for the great plan. They never fail to give me the right message. They always remind me of my goals and dreams.

Even Napoleon Hill has his own Master Mind Alliance. Napoleon Hill is one of my great friends. Would you believe that lots of famous presidents, entrepreneurs and people belong to this set? I trust them, and I believe they have my best interest in mind.

Who said friends should only be physical, right? I define them as people who push me to become better and aid me when I need them.

5. Have Stronger Faith Than Ever

“Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward of this faith is to see what you believe.” — Saint Augustine

Having no friends right now helped me to strengthen my faith more than ever. It reminds me that everything happens for a reason. It is a belief that tomorrow is going to become better than today.

Most importantly, my faith in myself became stronger. It constantly reminds me that I can do it and can push myself even further.

When there is no one to cheer me around, I need to be my own believer. It removes doubts and fears of the unknown. It inspires me to take that brave step that even real friends won’t think I can. It fuels my determination to soar higher than my current situation.

6. Develop My Relationship With My Husband

“My best friend is the one who brings out the best in me.” — Henry Ford

Having zero friends around helped me to become closer to my husband. I learned the value of giving and taking. I appreciate the time I spend with him. He gives the right advice without any reservations.

He always believes in me. I learned the real meaning of “trust.” When friends are scarce, that’s when I realize the importance of people in my family. The ones who never left me and accepts me for who I am.

Conclusion

Having friends is fun, of course. Having someone to share happy moments with. Having someone to shed a tear with. Having someone to laugh with the silliest jokes ever.

I cried several nights wishing I have some. But circumstances make it more difficult to find them.

While I’m hopeful that I will meet them at the right time, I am also thankful they aren’t here right now. This phase helped me value the importance of friendship, but it likewise helped me to see that to be a better friend, I have to befriend myself first.

 

See Original post: https://byrslf.co/how-having-zero-friends-surprisingly-made-me-a-better-person-27b67ebe70fa

A Review: Whisper to Me by Nick Lake

**May contain spoilers**

 

Nick Lake’s Whisper to Me is not what I was expecting it to be. You know like the usual YA contemporary romance, well, I was right with the contemporary though but reading its synopsis as a basis of what this book is all about will surely make you thought of the same thing, which is totally wrong. Why? Please, refer to the sited synopsis of the novel.

“Cassie is writing a letter to the boy whose heart she broke. She’s trying to explain why. Why she pushed him away. Why her father got so angry when he saw them together. Why she disappears some nights. Why she won’t let herself remember what happened that long-ago night on the boardwalk. Why she fell apart so completely.

Desperate for his forgiveness, she’s telling the whole story of the summer she nearly lost herself. She’s hoping he’ll understand as well as she now does how love — love for your family, love for that person who makes your heart beat faster, and love for yourself — can save you after all.”

See? It was pretty hideous for a synopsis. If you think that’s just it, I’m telling you now you’ve been deceived! I feel sorry for myself thinking it’ll be just like that. But come to think of it, that’s how most synopsis work, to capture the interest of a reader and most likely, one way to deceive them from thinking it is what it is. Evidently, Whisper to me is just plain remarkable. It’s a combination of thriller/mystery and love with participation of mental health awareness which for me is really a genuine and recommendable novel.

The entire story or the entirety of the letter Cass has made already answered what were meant to be questionable. You know like the part when Cass thought that the reason why the guy she’s crushing on keep on helping Paris is because he’s more drawn to it turns out it is just his way to get close to her

** “I know better now. I know you were helping Paris because you liked me, and I liked Paris, and so automatically you liked Paris.”**

And that part when she was hiding her feeling towards that guy (I honestly don’t know if the guy’s name was mentioned. Seriously, I can’t remember his name.), there were all answered right away not only because Cassandra immediately mention the words “You know that by now.” but because this entire book, this story is an apology letter. She wanted to be forgiven, she’s asking for second chance. This is one of the factors that made this book unusual to me and I like it for that.

Aside from those unpredictable twists and turns, this story enlightens its readers to a new realization — self-discovery. Cassandra hated herself because of the thought that she killed her mother the voice that she heard since the beginning that she has found that foot on the beach shore was none other than her voice alone. According to the psychiatrist that her friend Paris has recommended her to, she has developed anger, hatred, disgust and that all that the things that her voice whispers to her were all a product of her mind. This is a spoiler, I know but I’m not forgetting that I warned you in the first place. There is lot of passages that I really found uplifting most especially if you suffered the same illness like them. I advise you to just read the book for I want you to feel the intensity of realization Cassandra has finally found throughout the book. I assure you it will worth your while.

Regarding the mental health issue in this book, I admire how Lake creates a picture of what people with mental issues (voice hearers) experience, how they deal with it, what they usually feel and the likes… it is such a brave act to open up in this way. Throughout that scenario, I have this thinking that Nick Lake must have suffered the same illness as Cassandra and that what he states in this novel was all based on his own experience. Probably, I am not certain but who knows, right? Because not all stories that authors claim to be fictional are entirely fiction. Some are plain true. (After reading the author’s note which I never forget to read, Yes, Nick Lake has also suffered into mental illness. Cassandra’s story has been his way to spread awareness regarding mental health that people suffering through it will get better with proper help that they need. They will get better we just have to help them get better. ) and I’d like to commend the participation of Greek Mythology because of how it took part on the story. The way Lake connects it to the storyline is just relevant to how everything goes.

And lastly, the execution of the story. The book is divided into two parts: PART BEFORE and PART AFTER. I must admit that the way it was chosen to be as it is suit well because I was amused by how different the story shifts into one genre into another. The PART AFTER has suddenly turned into a good thriller novel, some kind of a mystery like Nancy Drew. It was so good. I had myself aching for answers on what’s going to happen without wanting the issue to be solved immediately. Do you get what I’m saying? I wanted it to end because of the answers bounded by curiosity that I wanted to get a hold but then I do not want it to be done because it’s just so good. This is so out of my expectation.

Amazing twists and turns, well-written and good choice of wordings.

Notable Passages:

“It’s so hard, when you fall for someone — the temptation is to look back on the past and rewrite things so they seem more significant. I mean, hearing a voice is extreme. But often, even when we’re supposedly sane, our own thoughts can be foreign to us.”

“It’s not for us to find people. Or to make them pay. You take revenge, all you do is throw away your soul. Sometimes things happen that you can’t control. Sometimes we lose things we can’t get back. And there are some things we just can’t ever know.”

“I have learned that some people come into our lives, and then are gone. And that part of the thing, part of life, is to accept that fact, to accept that they’re gone. But there’s something else too: and that’s realizing that a part of them will never be gone. We think of lives as stopping, suddenly. But they don’t. They are like waves, like ripples, like echoes that continue to resonate from their point of origin, out into the world.”

Ratings:

5 stars for entirety: structure, concept 2.5 stars on the cover. (It was somewhat misleading. The cover gives the reader an impression of plain contemporary novel which definitely is not just like that. I don’t know, I believe there has to be more suitable covers for this book. It’ll surely become more marketable if only they realized that. No offense.)

See original post: https://medium.com/ceeart/a-review-whisper-to-me-by-nick-lake-a684805ffdf7

BOOK REVIEW: SPINDLE FIRE by LEXA HILLYER

 

First of all, I have no idea that Spindle Fire is a duology novel so I will make this straight, right after I finished the book I was like “That’s it?” and totally not satisfied with how it ends I haven’t read the second book yet which I heard is a direct sequel from the first book. Spindle Fire has left different and various feels in me that I have to spill them out in order for me to start a new book again.

 

That being said, I will be sharing thoughts and my all-out review about this book so that if you find yourself aching for YA Fantasy novel and you have come to a decision to read Lexa Hillyer’s Spindle Fire, you’ll have an idea about it though on the latter part of this review , there will be SPOILERS.


 

So, Spindle Fire is a retelling of the classic children fairytale, Sleeping Beauty, but only bounded by tangled twists and turns of events, so tangled that I had to leave it for a day then go back to it the next day because of Hillyer’s writing. I think being a poet has contribute to the complexity of her form of writing, you could easily notice that because poetry also took part in the entire book.

The story narrates about the journey of these two sisters, Aurora and Isabelle who shared disabilities due to tithing faeries in the event of Aurora’s christening. Basically, Aurora lacks the sense of touch and voice while Isabelle is blind. Her sense of sight was tithe by a fae named Violette. Supposedly, it was Aurora, the fae was asking for the princess sight in exchange for a magic that she has given to contradict Malfleur’s curse, the king object for he has given enough to the faeries. In that case, he took advantage of Violette’s indistinct wish, she was asking for the sight of the king’s daughter, not stating that she was talking about Aurora herself, there, he offered Isabelle’s sight to be tithed. She was the king’s illegitimate daughter but Isabelle did not let it hinder her to have a strong bond with her sister.

 

WHAT I ENJOYED, LIKED, LOVED or simply the GOOD THINGS on this book.

The UNEXPECTED PLOT TWISTS

I used to draw speculations every time I read a book it is one-way for me to know whether a book is predictable or not, in that way, I could easily identify if a book was well-written, has a good structure and concept or it is simply cliché. Just to inform you, I’m a sucker for incredible plot twist. I have read several plot twists that left me devastated and Spindle Fire just didn’t INSTEAD it has left me astounded. As much as I wanted to spill those unexpected plot twists, I won’t because aside from it will only spoil you, I also want you guys to read this book because the plot twists that I’m talking about will definitely keep you up till dusk.

Keep this as a hint:

Two sisters,
reaching for each other 
amid the dark tale of 
two fae sisters..One fell for a mysterious man…
‘where did you come from/”
One is torn between two lovers,Go and unveil the faes past,
one is connected to the other…Hold on. 
Wait, what?

The CHARACTERIZATION

I admire how Lexa Hillyer depicts her characters. We characterized Aurora as a sweet, innocent princess yet a little clever who roams around the palace only to prick her finger and fall into a deep sleep. In this story, it’s different. Yes, she’s still the sweet and beautiful Aurora that we got used to, it is just that Hillyer made her courageous, getting her out of the comfort zone to encounter experiences that would make her stronger. (HINT: She is no longer just a damsel in distress)

And of course, Isabelle or Isbe as what Aurora calls her is such an amazing woman. Despite of her being blind and the bastard daughter of the king, she doesn’t let it restrain her from going beyond the limits, building a strong relationship with her sister Aurora, protecting her from any odds.

The rest of the characters that you will encounter are well-characterized as well. Gilbert, Isabelle’s childhood best friend, the faeries… Trust me though some of them didn’t get to play much on the entire story they’ll still give you the picture of who they are and what role do they took part in that era.

The Setting

I don’t know maybe because I love historical fiction, this kind of era hypes me up. I’m thinking Spindle Fire’s time were on 1300s because if I’m not mistaken the earliest known version of Sleeping beauty were composed between 1330 and 1344. I love the setting because it creates a beautiful and majestic imagery on my mind whenever I imagine the glamour of men and women wearing their gowns with wide petticoats; a tunic, cote or cotte with a surcoat over a linen shirt men usually used, architectural designs of palaces…I have nothing to say but SPLENDID!

Think about it, aren’t they such a pleasant picture to imagine?

The Role of Poetry in the story

I mentioned earlier that Lexa Hillyer is also a poet. I was impressed by her because she was able to relate it within her novel. She has composed several poems in this book all of which I really like but this one stands out the most, the rose lullaby as she call it in the story.

WHAT I DISLIKED, WHAT MADE ME GO ‘WHAT?’ or in other words, the CONTRARY OF GOOD THINGS that I find and notice in this book. You may now leave this review if you plan to read the book. SPOILER ALERT!

First on my list…

 

The “?” on some scenario.

I know that there will be a sequel on this book but I don’t understand why the author has to left some characters hanging at the end of the story? I was uncomfortable, it’s like my mind was craving for answers that were left unsaid, Hillyer could have at least gave a hint about what will happen next. AT LEAST A HINT! but no they were simply left untold, leaving its readers confused

Will Gilbert and Isabelle ever see each other again?

What about the war that Malfleur planned? That’s the purpose of her Vulture army, right? I was expecting for an intricate narration for the war that will took place because it happened already, the moment Isabelle and William reached Aurora in the tower, the war is taking place. There is no vivid picture depicted of it when in fact it is one of the most important scenarios. Why? because, (1) Gilbert is now part of Malfleur’s Vulture army, Hillyer could have used that opportunity to create a little hint for us to know that they’ve seen each other even a glimpse and on the sequel everything will be revealed to Isabelle. (2) Isabelle’s proper “Yes, I do.” to Prince William. On chapter 34, it was never stated that Isabelle clearly said ‘Yes’ to William’s proposal but it was obvious that she wanted to. So does that mean, their love story isn’t settled yet?

What happened to the unfulfilled love of Aurora and Heath?

Sommeil is a dream land created by Belcouer, Malfleur’s sister where Heath and few other people lives. Please, don’t tell me everything is all just Aurora’s dreams. I am still rooting for their story. Will they end up together? Will Heath be able to escape the dream land and join Aurora in the real world? I have a feeling that Hillyer will again come up with an incredible plot twist. I hope so.

 

Generally, I enjoyed reading Spindle Fire but I couldn’t say that I technically love every single thing of it. I honestly didn’t like much of her writing style. I already mentioned that I even had to abandon the book for a day in order for me to finish it due to Hillyer’s complex writing (as I call them) but it’s quite impressive to know that she was able to use her professions into it (which is Poetry, goodness! I love poetry!) But in terms of execution, it flops. I admit the way every chapter is told between one character to another is a pain on the head. There was never a time that I did not review the character’s previous chapter just for me to catch up on what’s going to happen. It is difficult to comprehend but once you spend time scrutinizing every chapter, characters, it isn’t impossible that you’ll get the entire story.

Ratings: 3.5 out of 5

 

© to medium.com. See original post: https://medium.com/ceeart/book-review-spindle-fire-by-lexa-hillyer-5c0cbe1cd0c4

Google Doodle: Musical celebration for Oskar Fischinger

Known for his incredible musical animation, creating over 50 short films along with his around 800 canvases, the man behind the special effect in Fritz Lang’s movie Woman in the moon in 1929 which led him to undergo various experimentation to create more animations, has began his career in Hollywood at Paramount back in 1963 which did not turned out well at first until the help of his fellow abstract artist and co-founder of Solomon R. Guggenheim.

Oskar Fischinger died in 1967, in celebration of his 117th birthday; Google invites us to create our own composition. Have you tried Google doodle’s musical tribute? Check out mine. https://www.google.com.ph/webhp?doodle=32501999-QA0A0AIAEAEA0AIAEAEA0AIAEAEA0AIA0AQAIA0AEA0A0g0A0A0A0A0ABA0A0AQA0C0B0A0E0A0C0A0E0A0I0I0Q0Q0Q0C0ABK0A0A0A0A0A0q0A0A0A0A0A0K0o0F0A49a8&nord=1

As an honor to Fischinger’s creations, I have gathered few of his notable animations back in 1931, 1934 and 1938.

OPTICAL POEM 1938

For Kreise 1934 and Studie Number 8 in 1931, click this link for preview as I could not share the embedded from this article due to, I don’t know…human error? My bad, sorry. : http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/0/oskar-fischinger-watch-amazing-musical-animations-created-decades/

FROM THE FILM SQUARES IN 1934

CVM_fischinger8147d SQUARES 1934.jpg
http://www.oskarfischinger.org/

 

 

Kudos, Oskar Fischinger !

See original post: https://medium.com/ceeart/google-doodle-musical-celebration-for-oskar-fischinger-4434371c20e2

Living an Extraordinary Life Means Giving Up a Normal One

“If you want to live an exceptional and extraordinary life, you have to give up many of the things that are part of a normal one.” -Srinivas Rao

The larger mob of society will never experience true success.

Why?

Because this majority is unwilling to become the CEO of their life — they’d rather someone else call the shots.

They are unwilling to take risks, to fail publicly, and be forced to try again after getting knocked down.

They are unwilling to sacrifice what is good for what is great.

In short, they are unwilling to give up their “normal” life.

But this is what is required to live an extraordinary life. You must give up the “normal” life for something far more valuable.

Evolving is painful.

The more you evolve into the best version of yourself, the more you’ll be required to give up. You’ll reach a point where you’ll no longer be able to tolerate negative relationships. Eating bad food. Spending your time on time-wasting activities.

Giving these things up is painful. Most people aren’t willing to do what needs to be done.

Living the Life No One Else Is

“Live like no one else now, so later you can live like no one else.” -Dave Ramsey

I have only just began to take some major steps to live an “extraordinary” life. It’s been hard as hell sometimes.

The first major step for me was counseling. Over the course of 3 years, I underwent some serious emotional recovery of the wreckage of my past. My history is full of broken family relationships, sex addiction, intense shame and self-loathing; all emotional baggage I never dealt with.

I made the choice to get all this shit out in the open. To tell a therapist about the time my high school girlfriend of 2 years dumped me after I admitted I had a problem looking at pornography, and then proceeded to tell all her friends about it.

Or when members of my family favored my cousins over me because I didn’t party, do drugs, or sleep around like they did.

I realized an extraordinary life meant confronting and resolving all the shit that happened to me. Shit happens to everyone, but most people don’t deal with it. That’s the sign of a “normal” life.

The next step for me was actually attending a rehab program to overcome my sex addiction. Counseling, coupled with recovery and rehab, was the hardest struggle I’ve ever had to go through. I still struggle. But now, I can live an extraordinary life because I’ve dealt with my past and stopped letting it call the shots.

These are signs of an extraordinary life.

Everything Has a Cost

“Good is the enemy of great. And that is one of the key reasons why we have so little that becomes great. Few people attain great lives, in large part because it is just so easy to settle for a good life.” -Jim Collins, Good to Great

People who prefer to live a “normal” life don’t want to pay most of the costs of an extraordinary life.

Everything worthwhile in life has an opportunity cost. If you accept opportunity “A,” that means passing on opportunity “B.”

You have to give up something in order to accomplish something else.

If you want to live an extraordinary life for the long-term, you’ll need to give up some things in the short-term. Some of these things may be dear to you, which makes them extremely difficult to let go. No one said this would be easy.

For some, that means stopping looking at pornography entirely so you can start to actually connect with others.

It might mean giving up some of their favorite foods so they can finally see abs they’ve never seen before.

It might might mean seeing friends less often in order to do the worknecessary to succeed.

It might mean declining wedding invitations because the trips are too expensive. Maybe it means giving up sleeping in so you can have more time in your days. Maybe it means saying no to opportunities at work so you can remain a loving, present father to your children.

All great opportunities costs “good” ones.

An extraordinary life costs a “normal” life. You can’t have both.

You will have to sacrifice something that you value less than whatever it is you ultimately want.

Make no mistake, this is a high price to pay. In fact, many people simply decline the offer of an extraordinary life after they discover how much it would cost.

And that’s OK. An extraordinary life isn’t for everyone.

But if you want to live the extraordinary life no else is living, you’ll have to start living a life no one else does. This means giving up a “normal” life.

The 3 Things Everyone Needs to Sacrifice

“It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation. “ -Herman Melville

Everyone has different, unique things they’ll need to sacrifice in order to begin living an extraordinary life.

But there are 3 things everyone will need to give up.

1. Security and Certainty

One of the cornerstones of an extraordinary life is giving up the safety nets, security, and guarantees of a normal life.

Maybe this is a steady paycheck at a job that will never allow you to reach your full potential. Maybe it’s the static 9–5 schedule. Maybe it’s a guaranteed retirement plan.

Of course, you don’t have to live in this scenario for the rest of your life. This lifestyle is exhausting at first — you’re always on your toes, never knowing when the next paycheck is coming in, unsure of the future.

But the extraordinary life gives you full control over your life and actions, at the cost of the comfort of having others call the shots.

This is one of the hardest parts to give up, and takes a long time to really sink in for even the most dedicated entrepreneurs, adventurers, and risk-takers.

2. Fear of Judgement

“The worst part of success is to try to find someone who is happy for you.” -Bette Midler

If you post a status on Facebook that says, “I got the job!” you’re likely to get dozens, even hundreds of likes.

But if you post a status that says, “I finally started my own business!” you’re likely to experience little engagement at all.

Which brings us to the next requirement of an extraordinary life: letting go of your fear of judgement.

Trying to explain your extraordinary life to others will begin to seem like a lost cause. Most people are afraid you’ll achieve the dreams they never did, and so they attempt to protect themselves from that failure by bringing you down.

The extraordinary life looks crazy to an outsider. They don’t understand it, and they’re afraid of it. To an individual living a “normal” life, the characteristics of an extraordinary life seem foolish, stupid, and unrealistic.

They don’t understand why you go to the gym even when you’re exhausted. They don’t understand why you’d wake up at 6am on the weekend when you could be sleeping in. They don’t understand why you’d prefer a wild, inconsistent, frightening life full of uncertainty when you could choose the comfort and safety of a normal one.

So they judge you. They criticize you, condemn you, and ostracize you by singling you out as stupid, naive, and silly.

You must ignore this.

You will never succeed if you continue to take more stock in what your critics say than what you belief about yourself.

This is another extremely difficult thing to give up. Separating ourselves from the herd is scary, and the criticisms and warnings from others might even sound wise.

Let it go. This is your life, not theirs.

3. Other People’s Definition of Success

In the words of Srinivas Rao:

At some point, I realized that I had to give up other people’s definition of success. This is one of the most difficult things to give up because it is so deeply embedded in our cultural narratives that it becomes the standard by which we measure our lives. Even as entrepreneurs we have collectively agreed that fame and fortune are the markers of success.

But, giving up other people’s definition of success is incredibly liberating and ultimately leads to the fullest expression of who you are and what matters to you. It’s not a one-time thing. It’s a daily habit of comparing less and creating more.

“Success” doesn’t just mean what the larger mob of society says it means: “lots of money, fame, and fortune.” Many people with fame, fortune, and lots of money have terribly empty, imbalanced lives.

Your success isn’t defined by what other people say.

“Success is continuously improving who you are, how you live, how you serve, and how you relate.” –Benjamin P. Hardy

No one can define your success but you. If you continue to let others tell you what success is, you’ll never reach it. Even if you did, it wouldn’t be a true success, because it’s not what you really valued.

No, living an extraordinary life means defining your own version of what success is. You can begin to spend your time on what really matters to you.

Do you really want 100,000 Twitter followers? Do you really need to be in the Forbes 30 Under 30 list? Do you really want to be a New York Times Bestselling Author?

Or is your version of success more narrowed, more focused, more specific?

If you want to live an extraordinary life, your definition of success must be your own. If we are always chasing what other people tell us to, we’ll never experience true success.

Let go of other people’s versions of success. Define your own success, and achieve it.

That is true success.

In Conclusion

Ultimately, it’s up to you what you’re willing to sacrifice to achieve an extraordinary life. There is no formula. But one thing is certain: you will need to sacrifice.

It will be hard. It won’t be pleasant.

But the life you’re achieving — the extraordinary life — will be more rewarding than a normal life could ever be. Your relationships, finances, health, knowledge, passion, and purpose will all reach levels higher than ever before.

The cost of an extraordinary life is great.

Is it worth it to you?

 

This blog was originally published by Anthony Moore. See original post: https://theascent.biz/living-an-extraordinary-life-means-giving-up-a-normal-one-222f37972c32

45 Things That Might Help You Be A Better Human

A short list of ways to improve your life and maybe even the lives of others.

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I’ve started a (nearly) annual tradition of writing about things I’ve learned or observed about life on my birthday (I try to write as many things as my age, so yeah, I’m 45). I don’t write these because I’ve mastered life or am an expert on anything, but mainly as a reminder and challenge to myself that I need to grow and learn and change.

Hopefully you’ll find something interesting, amusing, or even helpful for your life.

  1. Actively put limits on yourself. Try not saying more than 100 words in a day. Wake up in the morning 10 minutes earlier every day for a week.
  2. When you find yourself feeling angry when speaking with someone, shut up and just listen.
  3. When you encounter a new thought or idea, accept it as truth for 24 hours. Not because you’ll eventually believe it but because it’ll change your perspectives and allow you to understand others (and I lied, sometimes it will change your beliefs).
  4. Take one of your existing beliefs (or assumptions) and question it’s validity. Read about opposing views. You will get defensive, even angry. Do your best to suppress your desire to attack. This is almost the same as above. Together, this is the only way to adapt, grow, and evolve what you understand and believe about yourself, others, and the world.
  5. Constantly experience life as if you’re searching for a moment to photograph.
  6. Don’t become so consumed by your career, or family, or hobbies that you neglect personal relationships because one day when your kids are grown and you’ve moved away and your career is over, you’ll find yourself old and alone and regretting that you didn’t purposefully invest more time into your friendships.
  7. Create an alternate reality version of yourself where a major milestone in your life that didn’t happen. How would your life be different? Would it be better or worse?
  8. Try communicating for a day using only emojis.
  9. Spend a day sending notes (via Facebook or Twitter or Snapchat or email or even a letter) purposefully and specifically praising those who are important to your life (at least once a year).
  10. Invest in some non-traditional socks — the uglier and crazier the better.
  11. Make a playlist of songs from your childhood. Mine would include “Baby Elephant Walk” — I can vividly remember dancing around in our living room, moving the coffee table out of the way, and pacing the floor with my body bent down, holding my arms together as they dangled in the air like a trunk — more Barry Manilow than I care to admit, and “Little Nash Rambler”.
  12. Find some puppies and let them devour you in their furious furry love.
  13. Every year (on your birthday, since it’s an easy date to remember, hopefully) go through all the things you own and donate anything that you haven’t worn or used in that entire year (I also highly suggest you do this with your kids and their toys).
  14. Support whatever you believe in, whether financially or volunteering.
  15. Find somewhere that makes you happy and peaceful — that doesn’t cost money, that you can get to quickly and easily, and where no one you know will interrupt you — and just sit in silence for 15 minutes (for me, it’s on the banks of the Ohio in downtown Cincinnati when I get to work in the morning).
  16. Play laser tag (mostly because it’s really fun to shoot kids — oh you know what I mean).
  17. Find an interesting topic and try and learn as much as you can about it in 60 minutes (it’s why the internet exists!), like rubber bands, switchblade combs, vinyl records, or those three-legged, small, table-like contraptions they put in the middle of pizza so the boxes don’t crush into your food.
  18. Buy a headlamp. They’re cheap and you’ll be amazed at how often you’ll need to see in the dark while also having both hands free.
  19. For fun, think about a name you wouldn’t mind changing to. But take it seriously (would you really want to be called Chavez Dumplings? That’s for me, because that’s a stupid online alias I used to have). Would you be different than you are now?
  20. Buy two pairs of your favorite shoes (because there is no guarantee that they will always exist).
  21. Find a simple, non-linear (meaning something you can stop and start at any time) game that you can play or do as a family while eating dinner. For us, it is (was) Akinator.
  22. Go to a movie alone. Get your favorite movie foods. Preferably a movie that you really want to see but would be ashamed to admit.
  23. Collect something (preferably inexpensive), perhaps enamel pins, interesting coffee mugs, branded coasters, or velvet clown paintings. I collect well-designed playing cards.
  24. Ask yourself “is this the most important thing I can be doing right now?”
  25. Visit a local art museum. Find a painting you love. Observe it for 10 minutes. Every year go back to that same painting for the same amount of time and try to find something new.
  26. If you feel stuck on a problem or a thought or a fear, get some crayons and color in a coloring book, or work a challenging puzzle, or play Solitaire. Engage your mind in something completely, and you’ll find that a solution for a problem will surface, your anxiety will vanish, and you fear will dissipate.
  27. Get a tattoo. Find a local tattoo artist whose work (and style) you love. Tell them about who you are — where you’re from, what you do, who you love, etc — and let them create something for you.
  28. There is no tomorrow. You will never reach the horizon. Don’t live for the unknown and unknowable.
  29. For the love of God if you’re not listening to podcasts, then start. There are so many amazing podcasts. When you find a favorite, write to them and tell them you love what they do.
  30. If you aren’t intrigued by a book by the first chapter, stop reading.
  31. Get a favorite hat. Mine is this one made from Wire And Twine (hat by Legacy Athletic, so so so comfortable). Why? Because everyone needs a comfort blanket.
  32. Learn a curse word in a foreign language.
  33. Practice finding positive attributes in people you really (really) dislike. This doesn’t mean you will suddenly like, tolerate, or forgive them, but it will help assuage your hate (and hurt).
  34. Learn one new fact a day. This is a great place to start or here or here. For example, today I learned about this.
  35. Whenever you find yourself wanting to skip a minor action — like hanging up a towel, putting socks in a drawer, putting dishes into a dishwasher, cleaning up that spill — take the extra few seconds it would take to do it and do it.
  36. Slow down. Always. The flow of life traffic will tempt you to keep up and before you know it, everything is going by in a blur.
  37. Always keep a package of bandaids, a stain remover pen, and a spare shirt and pants somewhere quickly accessible. You never know when you’ll be eating lo mein that splatters over all your shirt.
  38. Learn something new about your parent(s) while you can.
  39. Find a new way to say something you’re feeling. Rather than saying “I’m furious” say “I’m filled with the bubbling rage of a cat wearing a sweater” or instead of saying “No thank you” say “I’d rather bathe in a tub full of bacon grease”.
  40. Stop watching the news. Substitute that time with reading. Or eating. Or even just looking out the window at that one squirrel who seems to have lost his mind. There are so many things better than watching TV news.
  41. Allow auto-complete to write your sentences. I’m now about ethics at half year things — that was me trying to type “it’s not as easy as you’d think”.
  42. Eat a vegetable you don’t like once a week for a year. Prepare it in different ways. I guarantee by the end of the year you will like that vegetable (like how I love Brussels sprouts to the point of obsession).
  43. Watch and listen. Wherever you are — at home, in a mall, at Costco, on the street — stop for just a few minutes and observe people in what they do and say and act (obviously don’t be creepy about, don’t ask for an autograph or inject yourself into their conversation or start clapping).
  44. If you have appliance that breaks, see if you can repair it yourself. For example, the ice maker in our refrigerator broke, so I researched the brand on YouTube, watched several repair videos, found the part online and replaced it myself. It’s an amazing feeling. I know it’s meaningless, but in a world where everything is a hidden disaster solving even the most insignificant problems is fulfilling (and therefore meaningful).
  45. Challenge yourself to write a list of things you’ve learned about life based on your age (I’m kidding, don’t do it, it’s nearly impossible).

I find this a helpful post, whenever I found one I always want it to share to my lovely readers. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I do. Check out the original post here:  https://medium.com/@wiseacre/45-things-that-might-help-you-be-a-better-human-875ace9c5b16

The Ego And The True Self (or, Three Great Quotes About The Inner Life)-Dan Pedersen

In his book Fear of Life: The Wisdom of Failure psychotherapist Alexander Lowen wrote that it is the fate of modern men and women (particularly in western society) to become neurotic.

The Oxford Dictionary of Current English defines Neurosis as “a mild mental illness involving symptoms such as depression, anxiety, or obsessive behavior.”

Lowen had this to say as part of his introduction:

“The neurotic individual is in conflict with himself. Part of his being is trying to overcome another part. His ego is trying to master his body; his rational mind, to control his feelings; his will, to overcome his fears and anxieties. Though this conflict is in large part unconscious, its effect is to deplete the person’s energy and to destroy his peace of mind. Neurosis is internal conflict. The neurotic character takes many forms, but all of them involve a struggle in the individual between what he is and what he believes he should be. Every neurotic individual is caught in this struggle.”

As a way of dealing with this inner struggle we tend to idealize ourselves, rather than see and accept ourselves as we really are. Or as another psychoanalyst put it:

“No one dealing with analytic psychology can fail to be struck by the tremendous and unnecessary burdens which man has placed upon himself, and how greatly he has increased the difficulties of adaptation by his rigid intellectual views and moral formulas, and by his inability to admit to himself that he is actually just a human being imperfect, and containing within himself all manner of tendencies, good and bad, all striving for some satisfactory goal. Further, that the refusal to see himself in this light instead of as an ideal person in no way alters the actual condition, and that in fact, through the cheap pretense of being able only to consider himself as a very virtuous person, or as shocked and hurt when observing the “sins” of others, he actually is prevented from developing his own character and bringing his own capacities to their fullest expressions.” ~ Beatrice M. Hinkle, from the intro to Memories, Dreams, Reflections by Carl G. Jung

The ego keeps us focused on a false self, an actor we create who fulfills a role in society’s play. But the true self has no desire or need to do things to improve itself or others, it lacks nothing, it is at perfect rest.

Author Jim Palmer put it this way in one of his blog posts:

“In the depths of our true Self we are peace, freedom, well-being, and contentment. On the surface of our lives there is drama because of our preferences, attachments, and not seeing things as they truly are. Your true Self is undisturbed and undisturbable. But this Self is masked by all the drama we are creating on the surface of our lives as we seek to attain happiness in ways that can never produce it.”

Indeed, a great post. Check the original post here: https://medium.com/personal-growth/the-ego-and-the-true-self-or-three-great-quotes-about-the-inner-life-74e7afe25294

Why I’m beginning to love audio books?

 

I usually read with a physical book or e-book on my hand, audio books has not been my thing through my past years of reading. I began reading from textbooks which was lent by the government, distributed to us way back when I was in grade school. After years of relying in different textbooks, I began to develop interest with novels and fiction young adult novels really got me.

Before I begin with my reasons of why I’m starting to love audio books, let me share the reasons why I don’t. Also, allow me to share a brief history of audio books based on what I have researched.

Basically, audio books are recordings of stories narrated by a person for people to enjoy. In history, audio books are known as Phonographic books, it was one of the original applications envisioned by Thomas Edison to support the blind (which would speak to blind people without effort on their part), and it was also meant to support people suffering from dyslexia. Dyslexia is a disorder that involve difficulty in learning to read or interpret words, letters, and other symbols, but that do not affect general intelligence. During 1950’s and 1960’s, phonographic books gain its popularity due to its benefits not only for people with disability but also to some institutions like schools and libraries which made way for these businesses to go ahead and take advantage of the opportunity.

Caedmon Record, one of the pioneers in the audio books business was formed in New York, 1952 by the help of two college graduates namely; Barbara Holdridge and Marianne Roney. Their first release was a collection of poems from Dylan Thomas whom was narrated by himself.

Aside from Caedmon records, Listening Library also took the opportunity to take part in the emerging industry. They are first to distribute children’s audio books to schools, libraries and other special markets. It was founded by Anthony Ditlow together with his wife in 1955 in their home in Red Bank, New Jersey. Ditlow was said to be partially blind.

Lastly, also one of the early pioneering company in audio books, was founded in 1956 by Arthur Luce Klein and his wife, Spoken Arts had produce over 700 recordings and were best known for poetry and drama recordings.

These early pioneer of audio books all benefited from LP Records, a vinyl record format which was soon considered as standard in the record industry. It plays a big help because of its capability to make longer recordings, is practical and more affordable. Indeed, audio books have been a great help in the 50’s to 70’s era and I believe till now. So, you may want to ask me why I don’t prefer using it. Though we are all aware that each of us is entitled to whatever it is that we want to use as a reading material. My reasons may be considered shallow to you but it is okay because I don’t mind it. As I’ve said, we are entitled with different perspective when it comes to our preferences in reading medium so your criticism is alright and In fact, I would be glad to know about it.

· I don’t prefer using audio books for the reason that I won’t be able to feel a physical book’s pages including its genuine scent.

· Hitting the previous button just because I was not able to catch-up to what it says or I misheard something will be a much waste of time than if I just turn a page back to read it again.

· I live in a country where internet is as slow as a turtle (most people called it “turtle-net”) so imagine I’m in the midst of listening to an audio book, playing my favorite novel or collection of poetry and then all of a sudden, it buffers. Isn’t it a great piece of interruption? Can you stand waiting for the audio to playback without the assurance of it not buffering again?

· The speaker’s reading speed. Although there is a modulation section in the app that I’m going to introduce later, this is still a factor that could affect people from using audio books, the speaker’s accent as well. Are you sure you’ll be able to understand every single pieces of word that a British speaker would say?

· It can probably reduce my reading efficiency. Why? Because I remember things better when I see them than just listen to them. I don’t know if we shared the same thoughts on it, this is how it’ll affect me.

I believe that’s all my reasons. You see, this blog is about why I begin to love audio books not mainly about why I just don’t like them and the likes. It all started just last week when I have found this audio book app on Google play store. It didn’t catch my attention at first because as I have said, I’m not into it. I don’t know, I just found myself reading its information, and how it works…etc. Curiosity, I believe. The reviews are appealing plus the eye-catching 24,000 free audio books from all-time favorite authors. The one I’m talking about is Librivox Audio Books. According to what I’ve read, the books can be streamed over the internet and can also be downloaded as a collection without any charge. It is also mentioned that you can even find books read by a favorite narrator. This app allows you to stop playback with a sleep timer, and unlimited bookmarks are available for each book. I tried this app once, yesterday to be certain and all I can say for now is that I kind of like how it was recorded, the voice that has been used on the first story, the accent isn’t that hard to comprehend. I’m just not sure if it’ll be the same on other books. By the way, the book that I have tried to listen to was the Grimm’s Fairy tales by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm which is a very popular classic book. There will be different speaker on every story; I’m hoping that they possess the same accent.

Overall, yes, I am beginning to love using audio books. I thank Librivox for creating such an influential app. I did state earlier my reasons why I don’t prefer audio books, right? I won’t just let this end without plotting my realizations, the advantages of using audio books and why I now prefer using it as one of my reading medium because similar to physical books and e-books, audio books also leave us with advantages that is worth giving a shot to know if it is really worth your while. Try and see for yourself.

· Listening to audio books is also one way to relaxation.

· While simply listening to it, you can do anything. Only if you know how to balance your focus to still comprehend on the story.

· I can jot down things that I find worth jotting down, sensible parts, you know and use it as one of my statuses on social media the next day.

· Just like reading a physical book or an e-book, I could go and play it back whenever I want it. I just badly need a good internet connection for this but I think a single book is enough to worth a while, right?

· I heard that many audio books are read by the authors themselves. So obviously, they know what mood or tone they were going to use when reading a certain line. Hearing a story with a good choice of mood and tone adds efficiency to listeners. Isn’t it amusing to hear your favorite author’s voice reading his/her piece?

“I’m kind of old-school and love nothing more than sitting, opening a book, and reading it. But I also love listening to audio books.” ~ Nick Cave

© to  https://medium.com/ceeart/why-im-beginning-to-love-audio-books-1df3c40d3706

What it means when you can’t answer the question, What do you want to be when you grow up? — ideas.ted.com

Not all of us are born with one main interest — and we should see that as our biggest strength, not our weakness, says Emilie Wapnick, a writer, coach, artist (and then some). Do you remember being asked, as a little kid, what you wanted to be when you grew up? When I think back,…

via What it means when you can’t answer the question, What do you want to be when you grow up? — ideas.ted.com

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