About Me

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Born in the US, raised on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, lived in Italy, the US, and Canada. Lover of language, travel, colour, and the natural world.

Friday, July 1, 2011

For everything there is a sign

"O SON OF MAN! For everything there is a sign. The sign of love is fortitude under My decree and patience under My trials." Baha'u'llah, The Hidden Words

A friend read this Hidden Word to me on Tuesday. We were talking about how to move through periods of life that are challenging with grace, commitment, determination, faith and joy. Everyone who has ever tried to do anything that is the least bit risky in life has gone through periods of tests and challenges, but usually when we read about these moments they are within the context of a larger story that ends in triumph. A best-seller, a movie....you know what I mean. The stories that inspire us to keep going when life is throwing massive tests in our direction are usually the ones from people who have already pushed on through and come out triumphant. We do not so often come across stories of what life was like for these people when they were in the middle of those tough times, and I'm thinking that is because when they were there, very few of them were certain they would triumph in the end.

I was reading a blog entry today by Yaro Starak. The title of the entry was 'How to remain productive when you feel like giving up.' You can read it here. I thought this article was good because although Yaro has made a successful business out of his blogging and helping others to be successful bloggers, he very clearly went through some tough times getting there, and is very honest about how hard you have to work to succeed as an entrepreneur.

I am very definitely in the phase of developing my business (which is writing) where I feel discouraged a lot. Unlike a few months ago, it is not that I am not getting any writing jobs. It's that the number of writing jobs I am getting is not growing fast enough to support me yet. I say yet because despite feeling discouraged, I recognize deep down that I do not actually want to give up. That this is my passion and my gift, and that I have to keep trying. I believe that I will succeed. I just wish it would happen a little faster!!

Over the last few weeks I have gone from writing only for myself to writing a minimum of two travel articles a month, at least one tea description a month for a small tea company, and at least one or two other articles a month for various companies. Today my first printed piece was published in the Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op quarterly paper. Yesterday one of my travel articles was published online at Bootsnall, and I was contacted by a company that markets handcrafted food products and is looking for writers a couple of days ago. Compared with two months ago, I am actually making a lot of progress. But it is slow going, and there is a steep learning curve. I know how to research, and I consider myself a relatively strong writer, but I have never had to write under time constraints. Researching and writing the quality of writing that I know I am capable of in a short period of time is a learned skill, and one that I am very much immersed in at the moment. Because I am working as a freelancer, I have to constantly be scoping out future article ideas and sending off pitches, which in itself is time-consuming. There is a lot to think about, and none of it is second-nature to me at this early point in my career.

There is a distinction for me between the idea of being patient, and the how one actually ACTIVELY practices patience, because while accepting that I need to be patient is one thing, coming up with practical ways to do this that do not involve just sitting back and waiting for something to magically happen is another thing entirely. When I am discouraged, it feels like the weight of the world is hanging over me, and motivating myself to get going can sometimes take a hell of a lot of energy. Coming up with practical things I can do when I hit that wall is helpful. I know I will get where I want to be eventually, but right now I am down here in the valley of hard work and struggle, with very little reward for all my hard work, so what I need is a what to do list for the days when the going gets tough.

One of the things in Yaro's article that stuck out to me was the question "what can you create today?" I like the idea of asking myself this question because when I am struggling to get past a threshold, taking on huge projects is hard. Putting this question in front of me is much more doable. It does not have to be big, but it has to be moving me towards my goal. Any small act of creativity will do to help get me over that blip in the road until I am speeding along again full-force.

I decided to put it into practice today. Despite all the great things that I have going on with my writing this week, today was a blip day. The reason for the blip was that most of my friends back in Canada are all hanging out at a very cool camp in the forest this weekend, and I would really, really like to be there with them. But since my salary is practically non-existent at the moment, I will probably not be traveling at all this summer, let alone taking to the skies to join friends in Canada. I was sitting at my desk this morning and thought to myself: OK. You have to do SOMETHING. Or, as Yaro would say, "What can I create today?"

What I created was a lovely description for the tea company I write for, and this blog entry. I had committed to researching and writing one tea description a week, and pulling myself together and creating this little description helped me to make my goal. I had also been meaning to re-commit myself to my blog as I have been noticing that as I write more and more for others, I seem to be doing less of it on my own blog. As I finish writing this entry my father arrives home all excited with the newly printed Co-Op Reporter. True to their word, they did indeed give me a full page article. And an email just came in from the National Holocaust Museum with some excellent news about contacts for the research I am doing for my novel. I'd say it is working. :-)

So word from the trenches is to keep slugging away troops. Get up. Get moving, and take a step forward, even if it is only an inch. I am starting an official list of ways to keep moving. I now have number one thanks to Yaro.

Happy Friday people. And if you are stuck, remember to ask yourself "What can I create today?" and go for it. Let me know how it goes. And if you have other suggestions for my list, please give me a holler.


  1. great to read this today.. i'm definitely in a bit of stuck sort of funk. it's always helpful to read your reflections.

    i'm not working on any big goal except patience and detachment from everything that is difficult for me. :) today i was watching a special story about the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. tears softly rolled down my cheeks the entire time. my heart misses that land and its people so much. it inspired me to write the kids in the neighborhood where we began a Baha'i School. that was my way of creating something..

  2. thank you for that, Pamela. I am sure they are going to love getting your letter! I think one of the hardest challenges in my life is letting go of places and people that I care about deeply, and continuing to move forward with my life. It is something I have yet to completely figure out. As you move through this, perhaps you can share how you have found ways of being detached and at the same time finding joy in where you are now. I have been finding the Baha'i writings to be a great source of inspiration.