Libra Horoscope for week of July 5, 2012 Goldfish that are confined in small aquariums stay small. Those that spend their lives in ponds get much bigger. What can we conclude from these facts? The size and growth rate of goldfish are directly related to their environment. I’d like to suggest that a similar principle will apply to you Librans in the next ten months. If you want to take maximum advantage of your potential, you will be wise to put yourself in spacious situations that encourage you to expand. For an extra boost, surround yourself with broad-minded, uninhibited people who have worked hard to heal their wounds.
Stop stopping. Stopping is the worst thing. Stopping breaks your momentum. Stopping is the start of decay and regression. When you choose to stop, you set yourself the task not only of getting back up to the same speed as before but also to the same altitude — the same level of Japanese. Taking a break from Japanese will hurt your Japanese. A lot. Each time you stop, you lengthen the road to fluency. When you stop, you quite literally become like Sisyphus: forever pushing the rock of your Japanese ability up the hill, only to have it roll down each time you pause. And just like Sisyphus, you have to retread the same ground to get back up where you were. Always restoring, never progressing; it’s a huge freaking waste of time.
Basic things to keep in mind
What I’m setting up for myself to successfully train for the marathon uses the same principles I’ve followed for every other long-term project or big goal I’ve wanted to accomplish. It’s how I started my first business. It’s how I became a coach. It’s how I climbed Mt. Hood.
Here are the basic things to keep in mind:
- Know your goal – understand why it really matters to you
- Create and follow a plan – it doesn’t have to be elaborate, but knowing what you need to do really helps
- Build a base at the beginning – keep it small and doable as you gain experience and build new habits
- Intensify over time, as your skills improve – challenge yourself to steer clear of ruts
- Cut yourself slack, you aren’t going to be able to do every single step perfectly – know that, be okay with it and keep going
- Enlist the help of other people – don’t underestimate the power of having people in your corner
Be honest with yourself about how hard you’re willing to work. One thing I noticed as a trainer and as a professor is people want to achieve something, but aren’t willing to put in the effort to get there. They say they want to work hard but when you work them hard, they run. Don’t be the person who runs. The discipline it takes to do that is uncomfortable and unpleasant sometimes and you must be willing to enter that discomfort. Look at advanced degrees: two out of three people don’t complete their PhD. It’s punishing. I’ve cried because of the stress numerous times. Every day I have to reaffirm my efforts at my dissertation, at lifting, at personal relationships. But it’s so, so worth it in the end.
What you are aware of, you are in control of; what you are not aware of is in control of you. You are always a slave to what you’re not aware of. When you’re aware of it, you’re free from it. It’s still there, but you’re not affected by it. You’re not controlled by it; you’re not enslaved by it. That’s the difference. —Anthony deMello, from Awareness: the Perils and Opportunities of Reality
Kato Lomb explained that your micro-environment (the bubble in which you live) is more important than your macro-environment (the country in which you live). In other words, what matters most is the things that you deliberately expose yourself to all the time rather than those that you come across by accident.
Alan Weiss, of whom I am a groupie, just published a quote that rocks my world. The full article is in the June 2012 issue of Balancing Act.
If someone pays you for your wisdom and advice, you’re a consultant—a “brain.” If someone pays you for your work and delivery, you’re a subcontractor—a pair of hands. Both constitute legitimate and respected work, but the former can charge based on value delivered and the latter can charge only on time spent on the job.
Consultant vs. contractor
It’s unfair to compare Android tablets to the Titanic. History shows that the Titanic didn’t back away from the iceberg and then ram it again, twice.
Don’t read a book once carefully. Read it 10 times, 100 times, sloppily.
Lawrence Pearsall Jacks, a Unitarian minister, summed it up decades ago:
The master in the art of living draws no sharp distinction between his labor and his leisure, his mind and his body, his work and his play, his education and his recreation. He hardly knows which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence through whatever he is doing and leaves others to determine whether his is working or playing. To himself, he is always doing both.
What is more important than happiness is involvement. We want to be involved with our lives, other people, projects, and the creative process. In that involvement, we will experience a range of moods, emotions, feelings from high to low. It comes with the territory. And, in those wonderful moments, when you are happy, it is something to appreciate for what it is, an exquisite interlude that makes up in height for what it lacks in length.
Many pro authors say you should try a dumb trick if your writing is moving frustratingly slowly: just banish a certain part of your A to Z for a bit. This paragraph can’t contain any “A”s. Try it. You find that your brain has to slow down and focus on that arbitrary limit. It distracts you, making you pick all of your words with caution.
Okay, that was just one paragraph without using the letter “E” and it took me about three hours to assemble. It’s a great writing trick because all too often, you get trapped by your own writing style. Water carves grooves in rock after a number of years, you see. When that happens, that’s becomes the only path the water wants to take. An arbitrary but ironclad rule forces your writing to flow into new directions.
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[I]n nooks all over the earth sit men who are waiting, scarcely knowing in what way they are waiting, much less that they are waiting in vain. Occasionally the call that awakens—that accident which gives the “permission” to act—comes too late, when the best youth and strength for action has already been used up by sitting still; and many have found to their horror when they “leaped up” that their limbs had gone to sleep and their spirit had become too heavy. “It is too late,” they said to themselves, having lost their faith in themselves and henceforth forever useless.
– Friedrich Nietzsche
“A character who needs the accoutrements of worldly success will never be seen by the audience as heroic. Heroes are invariably ascetic, denying themselves pleasures and comforts that ordinary people take for granted.… In war films, the hero often declines invitations to partake of food or sex…. The hero can’t relax, can’t have fun. In westerns … all he owns in this world is in that tiny bundle behind the saddle we see when he first appears. We don’t know if he ever changes his shirt or if he even has a shirt to change into, so minimal are his earthly possessions. In detective, police, mystery, and spy films, the central character usually lives in a one-room apartment … but it’s hard to say the hero lives there – it’s where he flops when he’s overcome with exhaustion.… Like religious and mythical heroes of earlier years, the hero is in this world, but not of it. He denies himself the pleasures ordinary mortals yearn for precisely because he isn’t an ordinary mortal.”
—Howard Suber, The Power of Film
All stories, no matter how fanciful, consist of information, and it behooves a serious young writer to simply know a hell of a lot so s/he can draw upon it for fictioning. Also, dig deep until you touch the mystery of things; as Ford Madox Ford (I think it was) said, “Upon close examination, a good literary style will consist of a lot of small surprises.” And where do those surprises come from but an ability to pluck from the riches in a mind’s lexicon?
Actually, I’m pretty much of an independent, thinking that the chief error of Republicans is the assumption that people are grownup, rational and honest; on the other hand, the chief intellectual sin of the Democrats is their assumption that people don’t have to be any of those things.
His advice to would-be scriptwriters is “just write. The big break is easy if you’re good enough. I hear people saying, ‘I’m desperate to write – I’ve written this script.’ And I want to say: ‘Why haven’t you written 50 scripts?’
“The first 50 will be shit and so will the next 50 and probably the 50 after that,” he continues. “You have to write all the time and not worry so much about going to the right parties or the contacts you have in the business – they’re completely irrelevant. And stop badgering people for advice because there almost is none – If you write a truly brilliant script, it will get on the telly.”
If the sad truth be known, writers, being the misfits we are, probably ought not to belong to families in the first place. We simply are too self-interested, though we may excuse the flaw by calling it “focused.” As artists, writers hardly are alone in this failing. In Stephen Sondheim’s masterwork, “Sunday in the Park With George” (at least the first act was a masterwork), we are shown the gloriously self-involved Seurat dotting away at isolated trees and people in his all-consuming pursuit of the famous park painting. Among those consumed by his zeal is his mistress — not technically family, but in the family way. He ignores her, leaves her high and dry. He’s an artiste, after all. If one took a straw vote of the audience a few minutes before the first act ended, they gladly would have stoned the miserable son-of-a-bitch artiste to death. But then, in the very last scene, the separate parts of Seurat’s painting coalesce before our eyes. Everything magically comes together. And the audience gasps, weeps in wonder. So who is the superior character — the man who attends to the feelings of his loved ones, or the artist who affects eternity?
The world of orderly decency, harmless ceremonies and modest expectations, i.e., family life, is not the writer’s. One morning at breakfast, when she was in the first or second grade, E. L. Doctorow’s daughter, Caroline, asked her father to write a note explaining her absence from school, due to a cold, the previous day. Doctorow began, “My daughter, Caroline… . ” He stopped. “Of course she’s my daughter,” he said to himself. “Who else would be writing a note for her?” He began again. “Please excuse Caroline Doctorow… . ” He stopped again. “Why do I have to beg and plead for her?” he said. “She had a virus. She didn’t commit a crime!” On he went, note after failed note, until a pile of crumpled pages lay at his feet. Finally, his wife, Helen, said, “I can’t take this anymore,” penned a perfect note and sent Caroline off to school. Doctorow concluded: “Writing is very difficult, especially in the short form.”