Tag Archives: Your Life’s Work

Thoughtful Thursday #246 – A Better Life

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Improving your life is a spiritual practice because it requires mindfulness.

What is mindfulness? Focusing one’s attention on the present moment.

This is what being spiritual means, being mindful of your own actions and adjusting your actions on the road to improvement.

Simple enough but not easy to do. Keep trying, spiritual things take a while.

Thoughtful Thursday – #244 – Stream of Consciousness Writing

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I usually write with stream of consciousness because it’s easy and therapeutic. Here’s an article about several writers who use this method very effectively. From Quiklit.com.

10 WRITERS WHO USE STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS BETTER THAN ANYBODY ELSE

By May Huang

A narrative technique that has perplexed and fascinated readers for centuries, the stream of consciousness technique has been used by many writers to trace the seamless (and oft erratic) musings of characters such as Mrs. Dalloway and Stephen Dedalus. Below are 10 writers whose works – ranked amongst the finest in English literature – feature the stream of consciousness technique.

Okay, but what is Stream of Consciousness?

Stream of Consciousness is a type of writing that originated with the works of psychologist William James (Brother of Novelist Emeritus Henry James). Basically, its purpose is to emulate the passage of thought through your mind without any inhibitors. For that reason, sentences become longer, less organized and more sporadic in style. Its lack of structure is not for everybody, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t any order. Stream of consciousness permits deeper patterns of order to emerge, ones based on the genuine movement of information in your brain. It also permits writers to simulate different forms of consciousness, such as dreams, comas, drug use and hallucinatory seances.

  1. Dorothy Richardson

Considered the pioneer of the stream-of-consciousness technique, 20th century British author Dorothy Richardson was the first author to publish a full length stream-of-consciousness novel: Pointed Roofs. In fact, it was in reviewing Pointed Roofs that British author May Sinclaire first coined the term ‘stream-of-consciousness’ in April 1918.

On one side was the little grey river, on the other long wet grass repelling and depressing. Not far ahead was the roadway which led, she supposed to the farm where they were to drink new milk. She would have to walk with someone when they came to the road, and talk. She wondered whether this early morning walk would come, now, every day. Her heart sank at the thought.” from Pointed Roofs

  1. William Faulkner

Recipient of both the Nobel Prize in Literature and the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, American author William Faulkner used the stream of consciousness technique to great effect in The Sound and the Fury and As I Lay Dying, exploring the depths of different characters’ inner conflict through disjointed, unpunctuated narrative. In one short paragraph, the reader is at once exposed to different smells, sounds and movement:

“Nonsense you look like a girl you are lots younger than Candace color in your cheeks like a girl A face reproachful tearful an odor of camphor and of tears a voice weeping steadily and softly beyond the twilit door the twilight-colored smell of honey suckle. Bringing empty trunks down the attic stairs they sounded like coffins […]” – from As I Lay Dying

  1. James Joyce

Dublin born writer James Joyce employed the stream-of-consciousness style in all of his novels, including Finnegans WakeA Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and – of course – the 1000-page, 265,000-word long Ulysses. It is easy to get lost in any paragraph in the novel, as the protagonist Stephen Dedalus guides us quickly – and disjointedly – through his thoughts and surroundings. One moment he is asking himself, “Would you go back to then?” and the next he is on Grafton street, pondering whether to buy a pincushion while the “jingle of harnesses” sounds in his ears. Then, out of the blue, he answers himself and concludes that it would be “useless to go back.” Next thing you know, he’s moved on to Duke Street and we’re not quite sure how he – or we – got there.

  1. Virginia Woolf

 

Recognized as the most important feminist writer (and perhaps one of the most important writers in general) of all time, Virginia Woolf used the stream-of-consciousness technique to great significance in her work. Paying scrupulous attention to detail and describing even “the footman’s hand,” “parcels and umbrellas.” Woolf takes readers through different minds, perspectives and surroundings in Mrs. Dalloway. She makes us wonder who is speaking – and about what.

  1. Marcel Proust

French writer Marcel Proust also used the stream-of-consciousness style in his works, notably in the seven-volume long Remembrance of Things Past, in which even the simple childhood memory of eating a petite madeleine plunges one into the “vast structure of recollection.” Reading Proust, one is caught up in the taste and smell of the pastry, “the water-lilies on the Vivonne” and “Sunday mornings at Combray” – all of which are memories that converge in the narrator’s stream of consciousness.

  1. Jack Kerouac

American writer Jack Kerouac’s On the Road is now remembered as one of the defining novels of the Beat Generation – as well as a modern example of stream-of-consciousness writing. Originally written over a course of 3 weeks on one scroll of paper (deemed the ‘original scroll’),On the Road is based on Kerouac’s road trip across America, a journey at times vividly recounted in continuous stream-of-consciousness prose, fusing both description of land and memory:

The brown hills led off towards Nevada; to the South was my legendary Hollywood; to the North the mysterious Shasta country. Down below was everything: the barracks where we stole our tiny box of condiments, where Dostioffski’s tiny face had glared at us […]” from On the Road

  1. José Saramago

Portuguese Nobel Prize Laureate Jose Saramago, like Woolf, also liked to alternative between narratives and use stream-of-consciousness in his writing. In Blindness, Saramago uses long sentences and eschews quotation marks to enhance the seamlessness of his prose, allowing the stream-of-consciousness to run free of interruption:

The very air in the ward seemed to have become heavier, emitting strong lingering odours, with sudden wafts that were simply nauseating, What will this place be like within a week, he asked himself, and it horrified him to think that in a week’s time, they would still be confined here, Assuming there won’t be any problems with food supplies, and who can be sure there isn’t already a shortage, I doubt, for example, whether those outside have any idea from one minute to the next…” – from Blindness

  1. Samuel Backett

The second French writer on this list, Samuel Beckett used the stream of consciousness technique in his Three Novels (Molloy, Malone Dies and the Unnamable) to deliver a stream of observations and musings on time and existence. In fact, Molloy defies conventional grammar and tense rules in order to emphasize the continuity of the narrator’s non-stop train of thought:

What shall I do? What shall I do? now low, a murmur, now precise as the headwaiter’s And to follow? and often rising to a scream. And in the end, or almost, to be abroad alone, by unknown ways, in the gathering night, with a stick.” – from Molloy

  1. Fyodor Dostoevsky

Although Crime and Punishment is Russian writer Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s best-known work, his 1864 novella Notes from Underground also sits amongst the classics of Russian literature. Throughout the novel, the ‘Underground Man’ expresses his continuous train of thought through long, comma-filled sentences (even in brackets).

If you take, for instance, the antithesis of the normal man, that is, the man of acute consciousness, who has come, of course, not out of the lap of nature but out of a retort (this is almost mysticism, gentlemen, but I suspect this, too), this retort-made man is sometimes so nonplussed in the presence of his antithesis that with all his exaggerated consciousness he genuinely thinks of himself as a mouse and not a man. It may be an acutely conscious mouse, yet it is a mouse, while the other is a man, and therefore, et caetera, et caetera.” – from Notes from Underground

  1. Toni Morrison

83 year old African American author Toni Morrison published several books on slavery, the most compelling of which is undoubtedly Beloved. The story of a ‘ghost baby’ who returns to her family in the form of a grown woman, Beloved is both a harrowing tale about the horrors of slavery as it is a testament to the unrelenting power of memory. Morrison uses stream of consciousness in one of the final chapters to reveal the intermingling of three characters’ thoughts:

Beloved

You are my sister

You are my daughter

You are my face; you are me

I have found you again; you have come back to me

You are my Beloved

You are mine

You are mine

You are mine

I have your milk

I have your smile

I will take care of you

You are my face; I am you. Why did you leave me

who am you?” – from Beloved

 

 

Thoughtful Thursday #243 – How To Get Unstuck

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Are you a victim to perfectionism or failure, racing thoughts, numbness, confusion, addictions, inability to trust, poor self talk?

We can treat ourselves in such an awful way by not taking care of ourselves physically and mentally.

Actually mental health is paramount for a successful life.

One way of easing our troubled minds is to ask questions.
Why was I triggered by that comment, why did I slink away from a potential intimate moment, why did I run away so fast that it actually scared me, why did I act that way?

Take a piece of paper or open a word document and start writing every possible scenario, keep going until you can’t think of anything else. By doing this you release all the power of holding these types of concerns in your head.

I guarantee you will be surprised at the insight and peace you experience.  Asking questions to yourself is another tool in your resource box for getting unstuck and have clear mental health.

Thoughtful Thursday #242 – Avoidance, Procrastination and Coming Out On The Other Side

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We all avoid and procrastinate actions that we really don’t want to do for a myriad of reasons. Fear, feeling inadequate, uncomfortable with the unknown, anxiety ridden are just a few reasons to avoid an action that could be very beneficial to us.

Let’s look at a scenario, I need to recertify for my job, I procrastinate and think I can just wing the test without studying. I take the test and fail, I can take the test again and I avoid studying again. I fail again. Now I am kicking myself for not studying, at this point my job is on the line and I could suffer ramifications. I feel stupid and embarrassed, what do I do now?

I must step back and seriously study. If there are other resources to help me  I must use them. I can take the test again with confidence and come out on the other side by passing the test.

Coming out on the other side increases my confidence and hopefully I won’t do that again.

I know it’s hard but choosing to take action instead of avoiding and procrastinating will make your life so much easier, less stressful and give you peace of mind.

Thoughtful Thursday #241 – Am I Unloveable

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Sometimes our behavior makes us seem unloveable. We get unflattering feedback of our strange behavior and cringe with embarrassment. We get rejected because we seem aloof and unapproachable. Maybe we are single and think we just have not found the right person. Or perhaps we think we need a trip to Tibet to find ourselves. Are we that strange?

A Full Stop is Necessary.

Part of maturity and growing as a person is asking questions.

How am I making my life difficult. We may draw a blank here but keep asking.

How do I react when I am  annoyed, angry, happy.

How do I react when I am tired. Am I difficult around money, what do I worry about. What are my beliefs around sex.

There are tons of questions to ask and none of them are meant to make you feel guilty. The answers to these questions are to make you aware of your own patterns and how others in your life may perceive them, be it annoying or not.

Growing up to be a whole human is not easy but step by step you will become how you are meant to be.

 

Thoughtful Thursday #240 – Mind Your Mind

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Paying attention to what you are thinking is an important step in a healthy mind.

Mindyourmind.org has some steps to help you have a healthy mind.

Top 10 Easy, Everyday Ways to Improve Your Mental Health

  1. Spend Time Outdoors
  2. Share a Laugh
  3. Express Gratitude
  4. Get Quality Sleep
  5. Exercise
  6. Dance
  7. Talk (to a friend, to your cat…)
  8. Take a Break
  9. Sing (in a choir, in the shower…)
  10. Your idea here!

From Psychology Today: The mind can sometimes be a wonderful, creative instrument. However usually, the inner dialogue is anything but constructive. Remember – you are not your mind, and never let yourself be tricked by it.

Quote by Denis Avey, Author: The mind is a powerful thing. It can take you through walls.

Buddha: “It is a man’s own mind, not his enemy or foe, that lures him to evil ways.” “We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.” “There is nothing so disobedient as an undisciplined mind, and there is nothing so obedient as a disciplined mind.”

We can never stop thinking but we can pay attention to what the chatter is all about and allow us to be a little more detached. Having a healthy mind is a lifelong journey. A journey so worth the effort.

 

Thoughtful Thursday #239 – Secret History

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Now hang in there with me as I explain what a secret history is: a secret history is your hidden beliefs.

The beliefs that are not even conscious, the beliefs that come from fear or terror or emotional hurt. Our beliefs try to protect us from being hurt again, You can hear it say, don’t go there, remember what happened last time. Don’t talk to her, she looks mean, Don’t take that risk, you will fail like all the other times. Don’t talk to him, you’re too shy, ugly, dumb, less than everyone else.  On and on these beliefs hold us prisoner and not allowing us to live up to our full potential.

Some beliefs we would never vocalize. It’s too dangerous for anyone to know how we really feel. Some beliefs we go to our graves with.

This is your secret history of  negative beliefs. It’s time to examine them one by one, scary as it is. Perhaps we can reverse the negative beliefs into positive ones.

I am worthy to be in the world, let me smile at her, I can take a tiny risk, it’s OK to fail because it’s a learning experience. I can express my love and feelings without worrying about rejection. What can I do to help someone else.

Hopefully we will be creating a new secret history of positive beliefs and be a light for ourselves and someone who may need it.

Thoughtful Thursday #237 – Bad News Good News

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Bad News : trauma recovery work never ends. Trauma stays in your DNA, in your subconscious, in your dreams, in your worries, in your decision-making, in your choices. Trauma is embedded in your cells.

Good News : trauma recovery is indeed possible, trauma recovery is uncomfortable and our defenses will throw many distractions at us because they think it’s dangerous to feel. When we are ready and can sit with being uncomfortable without running away something happens. We become healed, because we didn’t run away, we allowed and trusted the organic process of feeling what we have avoided for so long and allowed the experience to fade away. Is recovery a simple linear process, not at all. The results are worth the effort.

Thoughtful Thursday #235 – Mind Blindness

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Mind blindness is my code for believing anything you are told or believe to be true, especially when it is not.

Mind blindness causes prejudice, destructive false beliefs, tons of fear, missed opportunities, misrepresentation, isolation, sadness and creates many reasons to thwart camaraderie and friendship.

It is no easy feat to see our own mind blindness yet so easy to see it in others. It is easier to judge rather than see our own huge false beliefs disguised by mind blindness.

First, let’s start by uncovering our own false beliefs about ourselves, let’s stop beating ourselves up as not good enough, or rich enough, or wise enough or good-looking enough.

Let’s acknowledge that we have our blind spots but we have so much to add to the world. Let’s be open and honest enough to examine and question our own mind blindness.

Ask questions, why do I believe as I do, why do those I know act as they do, what is the truth behind that mystery that is bothering you.

You may be very surprised at the result of questioning your own mind blindness. The more we question what we believe the more open we we are to understanding no only ourselves but most other people too.

 

Thoughtful Thursday – #234 – Emotional Triggers

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Sometimes we feel weird all of a sudden and don’t know why. This can be an emotional trigger. Perhaps you were reminded of a bad time in your life and the feelings and memories are buried deep in your mind and body.

If you can detach from the trigger for a moment by writing or some other grounding activity you will get a better perspective of how your inner world is working. Remember: a lot of recall is subconscious and it usually comes up as a feeling then a thought then an action.

With compassion, acknowledge what your inner world is sharing with you  and thank it for sharing the hurt and trauma of a long-held memory.

By this method you can process and rearrange any painful memories.