Why I Was Writing the Wrong Novel

I nestled into a bean bag on the floor and surrounded myself in pillows, partially in self-pity. I connected my computer to the bigger screen, ignoring the words of loathing in my head as my spine was crying out at me from the intense strain I put on it by sitting in strange places to get work done.

I clicked on the beloved winter classic of Little Women. With my eyes transfixed on the screen, I remembered why I loved the book so much as a child. The words are painfully still relevant to women’s issues and the ability to achieve in a patriarchal world.

Societal expectations still run rampant, they have only shifted with time. Yet, something struck the writer in me with a breakthrough of realization.

In the story, the character Jo brings a finished manuscript to the professor and asks for his honest opinion. Being fond of him, she values his insight, but his response to her writing was not what she expected. She was writing what everyone wanted in the publishing industry, not from the heart. She was limiting herself in writing the story that needed to be written.

She was ignoring the idea to write from a place of vulnerability. The raw material that creates a novel that not only entices people, but it shifts perspective on real issues.

Sitting wrapped up in pillows and blankets, I realized why I could not finish my novel. I was not writing from the heart. I was ignoring the real issues that I wanted to address with my writing.

Why We Limit Ourselves As Artists

In a conversation with a friend, I realized how much we limit our potential as artists. We replace it with fear, doubt, and the feeling that we are completely alone in our journey. We ignore writing and addressing the real issues of today because of negativity that has been beaten into us over time. We fear the backlash of what we really want to say, and what we really mean when we say it.

For the past month, I was writing the wrong novel. I created a sequence that did not have my heart in it cause I was writing what I thought people would expect of me. What the industry would expect of me. I was not creating the depth that as I writer I know I am capable of.

When we limit ourselves, we let fear control our decisions. We let doubt creep into our artistic potential for greater things. The negative voices that speak to us seem reasonable, practical, believable. Yet, being an artist isn’t practical, nor is what any parent has encouraged their child to pursue.

Being an artist takes vulnerability that the world often shuts down. Not everyone will understand the depth you try to reach with your writing. Yet, the novels that have impacted me the most are the ones that write from a powerful place of vulnerability that force us to pause and think about our own actions that perpetuate negative narratives in society.

We limit ourselves as artists, full well knowing those negative perspectives will hurt us. We know the internet trolls, the uninformed opinionated comments, and the world will try to crush the very thing we put our soul into. The very thing we carefully created with our heart’s understanding.

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What Could You Do With the Absence of Fear

The more I curl into myself, the more fear surrounds me. It is a darkness that traces my steps that no one else can see. While I smile and talk to people like I know what I am pursuing, the truth will always be that I simply don’t. I write thousands of words a day, but they do not always say what they need to.

What could you achieve as an artist without fear?

We grew up with people telling us we had a nice hobby, but it could never become a “real job”. Perpetuating the negative narrative towards artists is detrimental to their craft, and disheartening for people who work tremendously hard to make their dreams a reality.

The negative narrative spins many artists into a dark depression that few return from. They work multiple jobs trying to make ends meet because society beat them into submission, making them believe they could not achieve greatness in their daily life.

The fear remains because we have been told to justify it our whole lives.

Why I Was Writing the Wrong Novel

For weeks I sat down with other writers, chatting about various grammar rules and word use, all the while staring at a looming word count. I do not consider National Novel Writing Month to be a failure to me because I did not make it to the finish line. I choose to see it as an opportunity to shift to writing the novel that needs to be written.

The one that I was afraid to dive into because of social barriers to vulnerability.

I was spending too much time thinking about others comments and beating myself up about my career to actually listen to the novel that has been spinning in my head for years. I spent the whole month in my head, but not in my heart.

Watching Little Women reminded me that it is the novels that dive into the essence of humanity that make the most incredible impact. Moving forward, I intend to dive into the issues that need saying. The stories that have not had the opportunity to be heard, until now.

In the new wave of feminism, we need more women writers, artists, and filmmakers that talk about the important issues of our time. The stories that need to be said.

To my fellow creatives, create with vulnerability.

The world needs your art.

Your soul.

Your courage.

It is through such vulnerability that we can begin to shift the negative narrative about what we do, and the fear that keeps us from reaching our potential to create things this world needs.

Will you join me?

 

 

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Why We Need to Pay Attention To Narratives

As children, we hear a lot of stories. Stories of fame and fortune, to humbling children’s stories that teach lessons of character and strife. We are dazzled by stories, and continue to be captivated well into adulthood.

As we get older, the stories we pay attention to change. In the age of fast media, we absorb more information in a day than our minds can often handle. We have the unique ability to shape what we see through social media likes and suggestions.

Whether we pay close attention to political narratives or movie plot lines, what we choose to focus on effects us more than we may realize.

The Focus of Narratives

In the pendulum of opinion, narratives take on a particular course based on exposure and experience.

In a recent popular campaign titled #metoo, women and men channeled their experience and exposure to sexual harassment. The social media hashtag soon took on a greater meaning as it developed traction among people who resonated with the phrase. As more stories were shared, the greater the intention of the movement became. It was no longer just a formation of victim and survivor stories.

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The narrative of the #metoo campaign is a cultural shift of ideas about how we approach and treat people who have had to deal with ridicule and injustice of the system in society. It is changing the opportunity to report harassment and be taken seriously while doing so.

In recent news, several Hollywood big shots have been exposed for their harassment against women who were simply trying to do their job. Today, Hollywood and several other cities follow suit in marching for the #metoo campaign as more than just a statement, but an act of solidarity.

For years, women and men have stayed silent about abuse against them because the system gave favor to the powerful. While the narrative still has a long way to go, it does open up doors for a needed cultural shift. Not only in the justice system, but in the everyday narrative of daily life.

What We Can Learn From Narratives

When I was in fourth grade, I came to the harrowing conclusion that Lewis and Clark were not the greatest explorers of the rugged United States. I was standing in an exhibition my father had brought me to, listening to the audio recording of the trail to the west coast. In school, they taught us that they were men of valor. While listening to the tape in a museum, I painstakingly had to shift my view of men who were celebrated as great explorers.

Their very existence caused a ripple of cultural misunderstanding and violence.The narrative I had learned in school had to shift. My younger self grieved the old narrative and soon was revealed the injustices that history wanted to categorize as normal.

As adults, narratives become harder to change. We may have one idea about something because of the single exposure we had. Every controversial subject speaks to the idea of single exposure, and the unwillingness of people to see through different eyes.

As a society, we need to take a step back to see the many perspectives that create a single narrative.

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Each narrative constructed in a story, in a news article, or in our lives is comprised of a network of experiences that create a conclusion. There is truth weaved in almost every conclusion, but society and justice cannot progress if people are not willing to take a walk in someone else’s shoes.

Why We Need to Pay Attention

We need to pay attention to narratives in media, in the stories of our friends and family, and the own string of chapters to our own life.

Why you ask? Because narratives have the power to shape history. To shape herstory. To make a difference. To expose injustice and to meet it with action. Just like the #metoo campaign, we need to listen to stories with intention, and with abandon to our own prejudices and misunderstandings.

What we learn from narratives is the good and bad in the world, and the light and darkness within ourselves. It is up to us how we react and respond to narratives in our own lives, and in the lives of those around us.

Shifting How We See Narratives

In The Narrative Series, we have talked about the topic of how we see and create narratives. How we shift narratives comes with a deeper understanding of how we originally process narratives.

What we are exposed to, whether by force or by choice, affects how we are able to see perspective.

Coming up next in the series is diving into how we can shift narratives…and why some choose not to.

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This blog is supported by the generosity of viewers like you. If you’re interested in this series, consider supporting Bethany Jane Writes through PayPal at bethanyjanewrites@gmail.com.

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How We Learn Narratives

As you walk down the main street of your town, what do you see?

You may see people passing by, displaying a piece of their lives. Perhaps they are eating in a rush or looking in shop windows. Each person is carrying their own story along with them. Stories that seem to play out in their heads and through daily interaction with what is presented to them throughout the day. Every person you pass by is constructing a story of what is around them, trying to make coherent sense of actions around them and in their own life.

Sarbin calls this a “story-shaped world”. We create stories, whether real or fictional around us all the time. We constantly are trying to find coherence, and one way to do so is to construct a narrative that coincides with our worldview.

How We Construct Narratives

In Clark and Rossiter’s article Narrative Learning in Adulthood, they discuss scholars view on how we construct narratives in our own lives. We often are told narratives through cultural values, religious history, traditional rituals, as well as through movies and television. We constantly are being displayed a narrative that we have to somehow construct into our own understanding.

We learn narratives in our upbringing through the town we grew up in and the lessons we are taught as children. As we develop and experience life, we constantly reconstruct our idea of who we are. In part, narratives are the story of who we are as individuals and as a society.

Clark and Rossiter also reveal that,

At other times it’s a matter of constructing a narrative for ourselves that enables us to deal with an experience. An example here would be responding to an illness by constructing a narrative of restoration and hope, as opposed to a narrative of victimization, struggle, or loss. The choice of narrative—the sense we make of an experience—determines how we respond to and manage that experience.

Narratives help us adapt to new chapters in life, which gives us the ability to choose how we respond. When life throws challenges, it is experience and learning that guides us to a new place of self. It is the construction of a story of all the things we have been through that help us to our next chapter in life.

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How We Adapt to Narratives

We learn how to adapt to narratives as we grow up, but also through our cultural background. If you come from an individualistic culture like the United States, chances are you have grown up with the understanding that the individual creates their own narrative, not the community around them.

Clark and Rossiter point out how Americans will look for power differentials and how culturally, their rights often weigh above responsibility to the community. If you grew up in a collectivistic culture, you are taught that the community creates the narrative. Your responsibility to your community is greater than your own individual decisions.

No matter what type of culture you have grown up in, the narrative will continue to shift as you create your own worldview. In today’s world, we have the opportunity to learn from the narratives around us, no matter how far across the world they are.

The Internet has opened many new possibilities to see into other understandings of the world. Whether that is through social media feeds, or through articles we encounter in the news. For many, it is the experiences abroad that teach us the most about shifting how we construct the narrative we have been living. Often referred to as a paradigm shift.

Narrative Learning

Narrative learning is not only about understanding the cultural story we have come from, but also our own understanding of we are. It is in our story of self that we learn to adapt, to change our perspective, and to understand the narrative we have been born into.

Narrative learning also coincides with experiential learning. Through experiences in life, we learn to create and re-create our story. Our own personal narrative plays a part in the societal narrative. In turn, this gives power that can be used for good, or bad.

How we live our lives effects those around us. How we write our narrative determines how we choose to interact with the world.

What Can We Learn From Narratives?

Every single day, you are creating your own narrative. From going to work to coming home, you interact with people each day that shifts how you are creating your own story. While some choose to be more introspective than others, we all are constructing our own narrative through conscious and sub-conscious understanding.

What can we learn from narratives you ask?

Stay tuned for the next article in the series…

bethany-jane-writes-the-narrative-series-3This blog is supported by the generosity of viewers like you. If you’re interested in this series, consider supporting Bethany Jane Writes through PayPal at bethanyjanewrites@gmail.com.

Want to continue the discussion on narratives? Follow on Facebook or Instagram!

 

Introducing The Narrative Series

What is a Narrative and Why is it Important?

Take a moment to think about what the word narrative means to you. When faced with the term, people often think of fiction stories. They dive into once upon a time beginnings, one with princesses and knights fighting something evil in an imaginary land.

However, a narrative is a series of events, fictitious or real. In every language, in every origin idea of existence, we have created the art of the narrative through the way we communicate. In the academic field of communication, it is otherwise known as homo narrans. The idea of seeing humans as storytellers.

books-1245690_1920We develop our own meanings for narratives and how they apply to our lives. Whether the narrative is what we have been taught to believe growing up, or it is one we have prescribed to in our later years, it is stories that shape our ideas about the world and who we are in it.

Narratives are what guide our life, and our future. We speak in stories about our day, our own past, and of our dreams ahead. By knowing our own narrative, we can help connect to the narratives of others, and the history that deserves a place in the books.

The Narrative Series

In my upcoming The Narratives Series, I am diving into the art of the narrative in a few ways:

  • How we understand narratives
  • Why and how we buy into narratives
  • Ways we perpetuate good and bad narratives
  • Keeping calm when the narrative seems outside our control
  • Shaping the narrative for the future

Narratives apply to every single person in this world. Whether you are running a PR campaign, reaching out to social media outlets, or are simply trying to understand a life story, narratives are key to achieving a better understanding of the world.

Be a Part of the Narrative

Come join the journey by following through email updates and getting the latest from Bethany Jane Writes!

Feel free to come and participate in the dialogue during the series to communicate your ideas and thoughts about how narratives develop in your own life. From one storyteller to another, all ideas and perspectives are welcome.

Keep an eye out for a sneak peek coming soon!

coffee-2511065_1920p.s. Does this series interest you? Consider supporting the arts through PayPal by sending it to bethanyjanewrites@gmail.com. All proceeds go towards supporting the production of this series for the continuation of creating valuable content!

 

 

 

 

A Home to Return To

I am honored and ecstatic to present my story that is featured in the top finalists for Travelex’s The Next Great Travel Writer! To check out the other finalists and my story on the site, click here

Feel free to comment and share! 

Without further ado, here is my story…

A Home to Return To

With gripping fear and writhing pain, my soul finally understood. Amongst the crowded terminal, the tears slipped slowly down my cheeks. I tried to hold in the gasps of air that dared to escape as I burrowed my head into my backpack that still smelled of spicy sweet. Every fiber of my being wanted to run back through the halls of the terminal, and back onto the plane with its nose pointed towards the land I left my heart in.

In hour seven of an eight-hour layover, I came to realize the reality that I had to board a plane back to Oregon. I had to leave behind Thailand and let it breathe only as a memory.

I walked with slow steps onto the plane with bloodshot tired eyes. I shoved my backpack up on the shelf and slipped into my seat by the window. I looked out at the tarmac trying not to grieve my homecoming. I missed the warmth of my family, but something changed within the walls of my heart while walking the red dirt roads of Thailand. Something I could not quite explain.

An older couple smiled at me and motioned they were the two seats sitting next to me. I smiled in return as they stumbled into their seats.

“You look like you’ve been some places!” The lady chuckled to herself.

I realized I probably smelled from not showering in a couple days, and my hair was swirling every possible direction. I laughed genuinely before responding, “I was living in Thailand”.

Her husband peered out from the other side of her and inquired, “How long have you been away from home?”

“Four months”, I replied.

“Oh dear, your parents must be greatly missing you!“ The wife said with a smile.

The flight attendants then started their safety speech as the plane moved into position for take off. I stared out at the wing as the plane turned towards the runway.

I dreamed for years of traveling to Thailand, yet I never thought of what happened after the dream was fulfilled. No one can adequately prepare you for what comes next.

Everything felt different, yet everything was the same.

The plane lifted into the sky that shimmered a soft dark blue. The same blue of a child’s shoes that ran through the rural village. My mind drifted into memories that pushed and pulled on my heart, flowing me into a remembrance that felt fresh and alive.

It was a village that was unlike any part of the world I had known.

The dirt was a soft red that was soothing against the wild jungle that crept at the edges of the northern tribal land. The air sent wisps of smoke from the kitchen fires with the sweet smell of bamboo. The women bustled around in brightly patterned skirts shushing the children that asked questions in a language I could not understand.

It was as if stepping back in time.

My heart filled with a sense of wonder and awe as I let the scenery swirl around me. To the western world, this place would seem like a poverty stricken village. No electricity, no running water, and untainted by the flashy world of popular culture. Yet, they were the happiest people. I had traveled to other tribal villages, but I never experienced one that felt familiar, like it was a home I was returning to.

The Karen tribe was welcoming to my travel partner and I as we were introduced to the members of the tribe. The children scurried around us in excitement, reaching out to grab our elbows in a sign of greeting.

“Tableu” they said to us in Karen. I figured it was only used as a greeting, but it turns out it can mean a multitude of things. The days in the village passed in a happy blur, as I learned from the movements of the people. From the lady who owned a boisterous monkey, to the songs the village sang softly at night, it all seemed surreal. It felt like a dream, a far off heaven of people who enjoyed the simplicity of a loving community.

When the view of the village left my site for the last time, it tore at my heart. With a raw feeling of heartache, I turned my head towards the future, hoping the village would be a home to return to.

My mind jolted out of the memory as the pilot spoke on the intercom, “Landing in Portland, cloudy skies”.

“Have a lovely homecoming!” The lady next to me said cheerfully.

“Thanks, it will be good to be home!” I said in return.

As much as I wanted to believe the words that came out of my own mouth, I realized that they were not entirely true. When you return from a different home so endearing to your heart, it can be hard to explain to family your experience.

Yet, as much as the hardship of reverse culture shock came to claim me, the memories still stay alive. In my dreams, conversations, and stories, the traveler in me stirs with the gentleness of community, the love of strangers, and a village across the world that will always feel like home.

How Stephen King Helped Me Persevere As a Writer

I closed Stephen King’s book On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft with a newfound understanding of my own craft. Not only did King inspire me to keep on the path of my dreams, but he reminded me that hard work pays off. If you continue to read and write as much as you can, you will find your voice.

Finding your voice is learning to understand yourself and the world around you. To see deeply into the connections and the pulse of life. King says to write what you know, because readers will connect with you when there is heart on the page. It is the heart of the characters that drives the story into something believable and relatable.

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The rest of it-and perhaps the best of it-is a permission slip: you can, you should, and if you’re brave enough to start, you will. Writing is magic, as much the water of life as any other creative art. The water is free. So drink. Drink and be filled up. -Stephen King

Writing is magic. It is something that flows from my heart, up into my brain, and out through my fingers tapping at the keys. It is something I define myself as, as well as reveals how I interpret the world around me. King’s book is filled with advice that I think I was seeking to understand. I had been disenchanted with how many writers were trying to sell classes about how to write better, but really, all I needed was to channel my passion.

Write First With the Door Closed

King says to write first with the door closed. Remove all distractions and wrap yourself in an intimacy with your writing. As the first draft is finished, then you can write with the door open and introduce it to the world. Whenever I was required to write for review, I lost the intimacy of my writing with the fear of judgement from those around me. I wondered why I was feeling disconnected when it came to the pressure of performance, but then I realized I needed to write first with the door closed.  Once I felt a piece was ready, then I could open the door.

“Your stuff starts out being just for you, in other words, but then it goes out. Once you know what the story is and get it right-as right as you can, anyway-it belongs to anyone who wants to read it. Or criticize it.” -Stephen King

Writing has the power to be incredibly intimate, even with readers who are across oceans. The key is letting people see pieces of your heart on the page. There are billions of people in the world, which means there are billions of people who may have the chance to connect with you through stories. For centuries, humans have communicated through the power of stories, and the craft only continues to grow as more people come to understand their passion.

Your Story Is Important

As King says, there are many bad writers out there, but there are also many good ones. Ones that have a powerful ability to create stories that interact with the human spirit. When I was a child everyone believed me to be a great author, but I unfortunately had a bad run in with a literary teacher who shut down my passion for writing. It took me years to realize that I was selling myself short by not sharing the inner workings of my heart and interactions with the world.

Your story is important. It is needed. We are the masters and the main character of our own story, but it is the personality and the heart within that creates a life. Whether it is fiction or non-fiction, your story is important. Passion should drive you to understand how to master your craft and become the writer you always hoped you would be.

Stephen King helped me persevere when things were uncertain. When rejections came my way, and when I suffered a job loss. Yet, when bad things happen it gives redirection. Despite being hit by a reckless driver calming his pup, King persevered. Why? Because he loved writing. He loved his craft (and he loved his wife dearly).

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Nevertheless Persevere

Nevertheless persevere. Whatever your passion is for writing, persevere. Nothing in life comes easy, but it takes hard work and the fight to make your dreams come to fruition. Every single day I write, not only for myself, but in the professional world too. I write because I love what I do, and I have a passion for the written word.

Every day I write, and every day I am a step closer to mastering my craft and pursuing my passion. King taught me that the first steps in being a great writer, is to read and write with all the time you possibly can give. For the only way to get better, is to practice.

With hard work, comes a whole new understanding of what passion really looks like. Whatever your craft is, practice it. Pursue your passion with fervor and the beautiful understanding of perseverance. For every day is a day closer to your dreams.

The Key to Living a Wanderlust Lifestyle

I solemnly looked at the side mirror of the tow truck to see my beloved van strapped to the back of the truck. When you live the wanderlust lifestyle, you find that transportation is a key element for traveling. For the vanlife, your car is essential.

The tow truck driver started up a conversation for the long drive back down the mountain, and I realized that my love for travel seemed strange. While many settle where they are and feel completely at home, I have a hard time feeling at home staying in one place.

I feel more at home with people, traveling to different places, and behind the dashboard of my beloved minivan on the open road. While my freedom on wheels was strapped to the back of a tow truck, I reflected on the key factors of living the wanderlust lifestyle.

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In each season of my life, there comes different understanding of living with no borders, no confinements, and no permanent home. Living on the road is far different than living overseas for a time, yet there are fundamental factors that exist within each season.

Live With Risk

Living with risk is an essential part of a wanderlust lifestyle, in fact, it is impossible to live without it. If you life the vanlife, you know that anytime your car could breabethanyjanewrites-backpackk down in the middle of nowhere, get stuck in the mud, or be sideswiped by an inattentive driver.

If you are a backpacker, then you know the hostel you booked could be shut down, your stuff could be stolen while out getting dinner, or the possibility of rain suddenly soaking all of your belongings. We learn to live with risk, and laugh it off as it comes, then adapt as needed.

Living with chronic health problems has forced me to put my health at risk in order to live the wanderlust lifestyle. I take risks with food, hiking up mountains that may cause days worth of recovery, and driving miles away from any medical facility.

Yet, no matter the risk, I know my heart continues to yearn to see more places across the globe.

Risk is a part of living the life you choose, and that comes with learning in the process. For every time you put yourself in front of risk, you learn how to weather any storm, any circumstance, and any food poisoning that may come your way.

Learn To Adapt and Count Your Blessings

Learning to count your blessings can come in many forms, but at the most basic level, counting your blessings is having access to clean water, a place of safe shelter for the night, and having food to eat. The more I travel, the more I come to appreciate the simple things, like running water or a hot cup of tea.

When you live on the road, water is the miracle of hydration and washing up. Not all terrain will offer good water, but with the modern world the way it is, there is usually access to water. Many places you may have to spend a couple bucks just to use the restroom, but the miracle of running water has the ability to calm even the weariest of travelers.

Living with wanderlust also means you sleep in new or strange places. The first time I slept on the side of a road, I was beyond nervous about it. Yet, when traveling deals a new hand, I learn to adapt accordingly. Whether it is sleeping on a bamboo floor in a remote village, a noisy hostel, or in a van beside the road, I have learned to adapt and adjust to my changing surroundings.

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Follow the Spirit of Wanderlust

Wherever your heart takes you in the world, follow the spirit of wanderlust. No matter your form of travel, the key in truly living a wanderlust lifestyle is to follow what your heart speaks to you. With any form of lifestyle, there comes sacrifice, hard work, and lessons along the way.

Those who follow the spirit of wanderlust know the challenges of the open road, but also know how to thrive on risk and continue to count their blessings in every circumstance. Minimalists and wanderers alike learn to have little, to experience more.

With every step into a new experience, my heart leads with an exhilaration of a newfound life. One that is vastly different than what most experience, but is beyond worth the risk. Traveling teaches you what you need, how to survive in an uncertain world, and to appreciate the very basic of human needs.

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As I drove the van away from the mechanic, I knew that whatever risk I may take in the future, I know I can count on the goodness of humanity, the beauty of the open road, and the grand opportunity to travel across the globe to see more, to be more, and to be a better person for this world.

 

 

How To Overcome the Fear of Minimalism

When I was a child, I used to think hiding from my fear was the best solution to addressing it. When there seemed to be monsters in the closet, I would bury myself under all the possible blankets I could find and pull in all my furry stuffed animals into the covers with me. Only under the covers could I block out the impending doom of my closet.

As I got older, my closet seemed to overflow with childhood memories and a large collection of clothes. Rather than addressing the continual overflow, I simply shoved items into every possible corner in order to shut the closet door from any potential monsters.

It was not until I moved around a lot that I discovered my own fear with minimalism. My personality holds a memory to every item that comes into my space of consciousness. From stuffed animals I carried around as a child to the fancy dresses I wore to events as I got older, each item I felt connected to. Every time I reached to out to an item to set into the donation pile, a memory would constrict me from ever letting it go. Yet I wondered, was the fear of losing memory even helping me in my journey?

What Fear Does

Fear keeps us from truly being ourselves. Fear restricts understanding of the future and traps your consciousness in a box. Fear drives some people, while others it cripples from reaching their goals. Fear is what keeps many from experiencing the world, and it keeps many from ever really understanding what life could be.

While I wrestled with my fear of losing my own history, I realized that many items I held onto were painful memories. While I once treasured them with the happiness of a season, not every season ended well. Even t-shirts from high school harbored memories of my past that were no longer serving me. So why on earth did I fear losing these memories?

Truth is, fear was crippling me.

As a writer and an empath, I will try to find meaning in anything and everything. Each item I pulled out of my closet, I wanted to feel those memories to remember what brought me to where I am. There comes a point though when it is time to let it all go. The memories no longer serve you if you are not nearly the person you were all those years ago.

So I reached for the dress that I used to run around the house in before my first date and let it go. That season has long since passed, and the fear of losing it no longer crippled me.

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Process of Letting Go

Overcoming fear comes with the process of letting go. When it comes to approaching the minimalist lifestyle, there are multiple facets of your life that teach you to let go. Many people start with their clothes in the closet, but it also comes down to choosing to let go of the things that no longer serve you.

I felt buried in my memories and stayed in that feeling for many years every time I opened my closet. As time pushed me away from old memories, I realized that many of those memories were wrapped in the pain of loss. Reaching out to that old dress only presented a feeling of loss, not beauty or hope.

When you go through your things, are there memories that you need to let go?

Are there seasons in your past that you only remember when you come across the items in your home? If so, then it may be time to let go. Letting go starts with forgiving the memory, and letting go of the items that no longer serve your happiness in life.

Overcoming Fear of Minimalism

Everyone has their doubts at they begin a journey of minimalism. It can be hard letting go of things in your life, yet there is freedom in it. Overcoming your fear gives a profound sense of freedom and resilience for what life may throw at you next.

When you look around your house, what helps you be a better you? What drives you every day to make a better life for yourself? When you let fear stand in the way of your lifestyle, then you are only hiding under the blankets hoping the monster of life will go away.

In your own time, find the time and space to go through the things that constrict you from approaching a lifestyle of freedom.

Overcome the fear of minimalism to give more space in your life for the things that truly matter. Whether you are going through years worth of things, or only a few items that harbor memories, take courage. Your memories and your things are only a piece of you, they do not define you.

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From the beginning stages to the every day of minimalism, it is possible to overcome the fear of minimalism to begin living the life you have always dreamed. Do not let fear stand in the way of letting things go in your life.

For when you let go, it allows space in your life for greater opportunity towards freedom and a life well lived.

Traveling With Chronic Health Problems

Darkness enveloped the sky, much as my energy seemed to drain the color from my face and push my conscious into panic. Every limb held weight, every piece of my brain wanted to quit, yet as I looked up at a sky full of stars I had never seen, it all seemed worth it.

Traveling with chronic health problems is a point of stubbornness and a form of capability. There are many people around the globe who set their health aside to be able to live where they feel called. All who know how many specialists they saw back home in attempts to bring their body to a normal level.

In my travels living with chronic health problems, I have learned how to adapt and how to be prepared to counteract flares of pain. While not everyone may understand my conditions, I have come to understand my levels and how to manage at a functional level to make travel the beautiful experience it can be.

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Know What You Need

Owning up to your chronic health issues is about knowing what you need. It may mean taking on extra baggage to counteract flare-ups, but when a bad day comes, you will be thanking yourself for bringing the items you needed.

I have always preferred the more natural route for handling chronic issues, which means I look out for certain foods while traveling. Food or drinks that contain turmeric and ginger work wonders to help decrease inflammation and pain. My personal favorite drink of choice is Kevita, which will help your gut rebalance and keep inflammation at bay.

While there are many different kinds of chronic health issues, always talk with your specialist what you could bring along to help you stay at a functional level. In some cases that may mean scheduling rest days into your travel schedule in order to keep up your stamina. Find what works for you, so you can travel to your full capacity, but always be prepared for what your body may decide to throw at you.

Be Humble Enough To Tell Someone

You most likely are traveling with other people, which means they are bound to notice you are having a hard day. If you are anything like me, you will be more than stubborn with being quiet about having a harder day where it seems that all your energy is seeping out of your pores. Those are the days where you hear all the comments in your head where people told you to just stay home.

Take courage, for the people you travel with should be people you can lean on during the hard days. Be humble enough to share your tough day with those around you so they can help counteract where you may not be strong enough.

Whether you had planned to trek through the jungle that day or were just going for a short walk around a quaint town in Europe, find ways where your people can help you have a better day. You do not have to live in the misery of chronic health problems alone, even while you are out experiencing the world.

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Chronic Health Backpack Necessities

Whenever and wherever I travel, I always have a small backpack with me full of chronic health problem necessities. Carrying these items have never steered me wrong, and I have used each item multiple times in every trip.

  • First Aid Kit (band-aids, anti-bacterial ointment, gauze, medical tape, ace bandage, emergency ice pack, emergency space blanket)
  • Baking Soda (draws out poison from bug bites and decreases inflammation)
  • Sunscreen (Snow fields to desert sands, it all burns)
  • Scarf (combats cold and heat, can be used as a sling or a wrap)
  • Anti-Inflammatory Pills (ibuprofen, naproxen, turmeric, ginger)
  • Prescription Medications (back-ups/spares/what you need)
  • Water (ALWAYS a necessity, I personally carry around a water pack and not just a water bottle)
  • Power Bars (something with protein in it, your body needs protein to heal and repair properly)
  • Snacks (banana chips, apple, occasionally chocolate, sometimes a sandwich for long days)
  • Sunglasses (bright blindness is a real thing)
  • A pen (if you’ve been through customs before, you know why)
  • A small notebook (keep track of new places or important information)
  • Contact Card (if something happens to you or your phone, you will be able to contact your people or consulate)

Functionally Travel By Being Courageous

As someone who has lived across the sea, traveled to different countries with only a backpack, and has lived out of a van to see over 18 National Parks, it is possible to travel with chronic health problems. The real secret is being courageous. There are many healthy people who do not choose to travel, which makes you all the more brave for choosing to.

I have suffered from more health problems than the average person my age, but it will never keep me from traveling. Even bad test results have always pushed me to outside in the world all the more. Life is short, which is why I choose to travel, even despite having chronic health problems.

The key is being prepared in order to counteract your health problems and have a functional time exploring the world. Not every day is going to be easy, but it does promise to be an adventure. Whatever your form of travel is, take courage and functionally travel to the best of your ability.

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Travel to see better, to be better, and to live better than you ever have before.

 

 

Why Minimalism Is Not About Less Stuff

When you open your closet, what do you see? Do you see articles of clothing that you wear often, or clothing that harbors a heavy feeling?

In the age of fast fashion, it can be hard to maintain a sense of minimalism. Many choose not to take on the minimalism philosophy of life for the reason they like their things.

Yet, what if I told you that minimalism is not about less stuff?

What Minimalism Means

Minimalism is defined as “a style or technique (as in music, literature, or design) that is characterized by extreme spareness and simplicity”. In today’s popularity of the craze, it is living with less things for you to freely live your life in a more meaningful way.

Iminimalism-image-2 recently watched the documentary Minimalism: a Documentary About the Important Things, which follows the journey of Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus. The documentary was in part promoting their book, but it also was showing people a different way of minimalism.

Rather than getting rid of everything you own just to gain some emotional clarity, it is revealing every person has a different idea of minimalism. The root point of the concept is to get rid of things that do not add value in your life.

Why Minimalism Is Not About Less Stuff

The word stuff can be stifling in itself, but stuff does have the power to add value in a person’s life. If you enjoy books and sharing them with your friends, then chances are you may have not approached the philosophy of minimalism with a light heart.

Even if you have library full of books, you can still approach your life with a sense of minimalism, but not in the way you think.

As a child, you may have filled out a questionnaire in school what items you would take with you if you were deserted on an island. What are those items now? Are they things you have bought while on a shopping spree, or are they things that people have given to you or have memories?

The Source of Value

In a comprehensive study about perceived value, it came to the conclusion that value is a cominimalism-imagemplex concept to comprehend. Every person perceives value in different ways, based on their experience and personal nature.

The art of minimalism is not demeaning the value of the things you own, it is the process of discovering what items give value in your life. If you are still holding onto old sweatshirts from exes, or boxes you never care to look inside of, then it may be time to go through your things and let go of what is not serving you.

The point is to keep the things that add value in your life, and to get rid of the things that cause you stress, or harbor bad memories. By getting rid of things that add to the stress of life, it gives you the opportunity to live the life you want.

How to Know What is Valuable For Your Life

Do you find yourself standing in front of your belongings, wondering where to begin? Simply start small. Keep track of the things you wear often, or the items you use purposefully every day. What is serving you? What is not serving you?

Only you can decide what is valuable for your life. You have the privilege and power to determine what items you own that help you live a better life. Minimalism is in part about privilege, but it is also a philosophy that is moving away from the classic American dream of having a big house full of things.

When you get rid of things that keep you locked in a space of stress, your life has the chance to open up. You can save more money, spend more time with family, and live a life with purposeful meaning.

Find Your Own Way of Minimalism

In the documentary, they interviewed Courtney Carver, who was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, which soon led her to creating Project 333. Her project gained thousands of followers, but it was not just the following or even the concept of the project that caught my attention.

Getting rid of things in her closet helped her get healthy from a diagnosis that was out of her control. Many people suffer from fatigue and chronic pain, and a part of that comes from a lifestyle that is stressful and demeaning.

The key is to find your own way of minimalism to live a healthy life. Find freedom by not just having less stuff, but adding more value to your life. Find balance, clarity, and better living through the power and privilege of value.

Do not just go through your things, but dive into your life, your heart, and your understanding of value to give space for a healthier mind, body, and lifestyle.