Tag Archives: book

Without Judgment

Last week, I completed another exercise from Louise Hay and Robert Holden’s small but action-packed book Life Loves You: 7 Spiritual Practices to Heal Your Life. 

This practice involves sitting comfortably with your hand on your heart and repeating the following question once every minute for 15 minutes: What is it like to be me when I’m not judging myself?

So I sit. I hold my hand to my heart. And I ask. And I ask. And I ask.

I’m at a loss. I don’t know, is my answer.

I realise that I’ve always judged myself. Compared. Felt less than, not good enough, unworthy.

I’ve always been striving for perfection, wishing I were different. Then feeling so bad about myself that all my energy left me and I didn’t have the motivation to change.

I closed myself off to the good that life was trying to give me and I couldn’t appreciate the good within myself.

Surely, as a child, I was once myself without judgment. But I can’t think back to a time when I wasn’t on high alert. Judging myself and attempting to mould myself into someone who could be loved and accepted.

I tried so hard to be perfect. So even as a very young child, I was anxious and exhausted a lot of the time.

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Me as a perfect child

I decide now that I can give myself the unconditional love that I was so desperately hoping for. I can open myself up to love despite my imperfections.

Instead of trying to alter myself and hide what’s “wrong” with me, I can finally allow myself, my whole self, to be loved. Why deny myself love?

Who could be so mean to snatch love away from a human being the moment they detect an “imperfection”? Well, I’m no longer going to tolerate such cruelty. And I understand that I’ve been my own worst tormentor, my own worst victim.

I rub my face. I throw my head back and I blow out years of sadness, disappointment, hurt, fear and rejection.

I’m surprised when I start wailing. The words that tumble out of me are those of an infant, a toddler, a small child.

They’re not logical and I have no control over them. I let them out. I witness. I soothe.

I choose to love and accept myself without judgment. I understand that, while I continue to judge myself, I’m going to judge others too. And this judgment creates a barrier to love, presence, forgiveness, possibility and peace.

The second part of this exercise is to complete the following sentence five times: One good thing that could happen if I judged myself less is…

I take out my journal and I write. I write about presence and beauty, enjoyment, freedom, happiness, confidence, acceptance, unconditional love and peace. I write:

“One good thing that could happen if I judged myself less is that I wouldn’t care what others thought of me. I wouldn’t try to change myself or hide parts of myself in order to be liked. I’d be me. And people would love me.”

Are you willing to try this exercise? You’d be surprised at what reveals itself!

sharon vogiatzi life coach

favim.com

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The Lightbridge Mystery

Hi guys. I have some exciting news for you. Recently, I wrote a children’s book for my honorary niece Cici Lily’s birthday. On Saturday, it went for sale on Amazon for Kindle for just 99 cent.

The book has been described as a “real page-turner” and it contains a wonderful message for children and adults alike.

If you like what you’ve been reading on my blog, you might like to check it out. And feel free to share.

Thank you so much for your support and encouragement over the years. It really means a lot.

Here’s the link for The Lightbridge Mystery

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00TV3DIRO

The Lightbridge Mystery on Amazon Kindle

Life is short. Live it.

The other night, I watched The Diving Bell and the Butterfly – a film based on a memoir written by a man suffering from Locked-in syndrome. Locked-in syndrome is a condition in which a patient has full awareness but cannot move due to complete paralysis of all voluntary muscles in the body except for the eyes.

At the age of 43, Jean-Dominique Bauby, editor of fashion magazine Elle, had a massive stroke. He woke up 20 days later to discover that he was almost completely paralysed. The determined French journalist wrote his memoir by memorising what he wanted to say then dictating the text to a transcriber by blinking his one functioning eyelid (a system known as partner assisted scanning). It took him 10 months (at an average of four hours a day). He died two days after its publication.

I don’t know whether I felt depressed or inspired after watching the movie. This man had everything taken from him – his career, his partner (who abandoned him after the stroke), his health, his speech, and his independence. Understandably, he expressed his desire to die. But then he realised that, apart from his left eye, two other things were not paralysed – his memory and his imagination. He went on to write a bestseller and set up a Locked-in syndrome association. He had lost so much but the spirit within him was still able to create something extraordinary. And then he passed away.

Our mortality is something we are born with. Sometimes, I think we ignore the fact that this lifetime will not last forever. We get so caught up in routine and obligation that we are often oblivious to the beauty and wonder of the world around us. We become disheartened and apathetic, or frustrated and angry, so gratitude and appreciation seem irrelevant.

Life is short. So, we should do the things that make us feel thankful to be alive. Last week, I took my mother to see the New York Spirit of Gospel. The vocalists astounded us with their talent. They encouraged us to shake off our self-consciousness, get up off our seats and dance, clap and sing along. The performance was all the better because we joined in.

We spend so much time passively watching the world do its thing. But it’s only when we actively participate that we come alive. So, get out there and really live. Life is a gift if that’s how you choose to see it.

The world is full of miracles and adventure, blessings and delight. And there are so many ways to acknowledge this. Money or mobility don’t have to be an issue. You can travel to foreign lands or visit spectacular spots within your own country. You could walk through whispering forests and across the backs of ancient mountains. Or simply allow the deep tones of a cello to awaken your senses.

Embrace life and each other. Laugh long and hard and often. Learn how to surf or bake or speak Spanish. Tell someone you love them. Admit to your fears and share your passions. Swim in lakes and oceans. Feel the earth’s water on your naked skin. Dance. Cry. Sing. Love. Live.

Images: http://favim.com/image/31398/; http://xaxor.com/photography/25467-appreciating-life-photography.html

Being a writer (and being the only one who knows it)

Before I was even able to write, I was writing. I wrote page upon page of squiggles that resembled the jagged patterns on a heart monitor. Not long after that, I was reading the likes of Pinocchio and The Little Red Hen. And I hadn’t even started school yet.

I am eternally grateful for my literacy. It’s one of the greatest skills I’ve ever been taught. That and swimming.

In primary school, I proudly gave an illustrated short story about princesses and witches to my first class teacher. She returned it, without comment but with red marks highlighting all my spelling mistakes. That didn’t stop me. I found the poems I’d given my third class teacher stuffed into the back of a cupboard. I was surprised and hurt but I wrote on. I made booklets and cassettes of my poetry for my kind, enthusiastic grandparents. And finally, in fourth class, my teacher Mrs Molloy praised my writing and urged me to continue.

I went on to win numerous writing competitions in secondary school. I was published several times in the Leinster Leader. I enjoyed writing essays for English class. Even in exam settings, I was able to lose myself in my writing. I thrived on learning palatable new words and using them in my prose. An examiner once docked me marks for describing the ocean as “cerulean”. She said it wasn’t a real word. Check the dictionary, woman!

Poetry and free flow writing helped me in my darkest moments. Even though life was scary and hopeless, I had the ability to create something beautiful and inspiring.

However, there came a time when the confidence in every area of my life was completely obliterated and I stopped writing. When people asked why, I told them that I simply wasn’t inspired any more, or that I was too busy.

Thankfully, I’ve worked hard on myself and rebuilt my confidence. But I worried that I wouldn’t have the necessary angst to be able to write, now that I was happier and my life was more stable. My best work had always come in my most desolate moments.

But I hadn’t reckoned on the power of living in the present moment to boost my creativity. My motivation and positivity increased. My sense of humour was heightened. Because I resided less in my head, I became more aware, observant, and alive. This translates wonderfully in a person’s writing.

I went on to study Journalism, where I had my own column in the college magazine. I wrote articles for our class newspaper. I had travel features published in magazines like U and Backpacker. I enjoy writing snappy reviews on Yelp, which has helped rekindle my creative spark. And now, I’m thoroughly enjoying creating this blog.

I get a kick out of depicting objects, situations and emotions using language. I adore playing with words and inventing never-before-used descriptions. I love the smell of books and the ambience of a bookshop. And getting sucked in by the first page of a novel is like what I imagine taking crack cocaine must feel like. For me, great literature isn’t just the classics and the novels that win the Man Booker Prize. It can be a witty newspaper column, a vibrant travel feature, a heart-rending or hilarious blog post, a compelling thriller.

Today, I treated myself to a Jodi Picoult novel. I admire the extremely detailed research Jodi does for each of her books, the controversial subjects she deals with, and how she delves right into every nook and cranny of her characters’ minds. As I nibbled on a blueberry muffin, I began to read. I actually had to have a moment of silence for the way she described the sound of a newspaper being perused, “It made a nice noise, like the rustle of leaves…”

I am a writer. I don’t have a multi-million euro book deal just yet. I haven’t even written a novel, let alone had one published. And I don’t get paid for the online writing I’m doing. Sometimes, I get asked why I don’t turn my writing into a real job. The truth is, there’s nothing I’d love more than to write for a living. But I don’t want to be a reporter. Being awoken at four am to report on a devastating crime or accident, travelling to war-torn countries, and doorstepping the loved ones of the recently deceased does not appeal to me. I’m just not cut out for such a stressful lifestyle. Living on constant adrenaline is something I’m finally putting behind me and I’d rather not welcome it back into my life. There’s no doubting that these brave, determined reporters are writers too. But, as snobby as it sounds, I want to be a writer writer.

Here’s how to be a writer:

1) Do it with love

Write from the heart and readers will fall in love with what you’ve written. Don’t write what you think others want to read. Write what you know. This will make it authentic and utterly readable. And don’t just do it to become rich or famous. Write because you love it. Then, if you’re one of the lucky ones to make a career out of it, it will never be a chore. I don’t know who’s reading this blog and I’m certainly not getting paid to write it but I love doing it nonetheless. Having said that, if anyone wants to turn it into a book, I’m all ears!

2) Write, write, write

Writer’s block is a common phenomenon but don’t let it get the better of you. Don’t know what to write? Write anything! Anything at all. Jot down (or type) the first thing that comes into your head and get into a flow. The beauty of the computer is that you can return to your writing and, with the simple click of a mouse, you can edit as you see fit.

3) You don’t have to do it alone

Become part of a creative writing group. Before I went back to college, I  joined a wonderful group in Newbridge called Scribblers. I quickly got into a routine of writing weekly pieces, and the encouragement and support from the other members helped me start believing in my talent. Alternatively, you could enrol in a scriptwriting or copywriting class. There are also college courses you can do, which are excellent for pushing authors to complete a piece of work and to get published.

4) Create a blog

It’s free and extremely easy to set up. And it’s less daunting than writing a book as you can start off with short instalments. The instant feedback in the form of comments is encouraging and allows you to interact with your readers. You can also keep tabs on how many views your blog is getting and which of your posts are most popular.

5) Share

Show your writing to trustworthy family members and friends. They can offer you support, encouragement and constructive criticism. Share your blog posts on Facebook and Twitter to expand your readership.

6) Freelance

Anyone can submit articles to newspapers and magazines. Not everyone gets published, of course, but at least you’ll be putting yourself out there and making a name for yourself in the media world. Some publications will even pay you for your contributions.

7) Enter competitions

Keep an eye out for any competitions you can enter. Radio shows regularly host writing competitions. I once entered a competition and had my piece read out on the Marian Finucane show, published in a book, and a couple of hundred euro were thrown my way as a result! Winning (or even getting shortlisted) will give you some recognition and a hell of an ego boost.

8. Silence the inner critic

If your internal (and extremely negative) voice has anything to do with it, you’ll never do anything constructive. Tell the part of you that’s doubting how good you are to shut the hell up and just do it!

9) Read aloud

Before publishing your blog, submitting an article, or entering a competition, read your work aloud. This allows you to see how it would look to a potential reader. If it has you laughing, crying and giving yourself a moment of silence, you’ve probably done a good job. You can then correct your mistakes and edit a bit more before you allow others to enjoy your masterpiece.

10) Live

The more life experiences you have under your belt, the more you’ll have to write about. So, for the sake of good literature, get out there and get a life. No asking me twice!

11) Believe

Believe in your talent and never give up. You may have noticed that a lot of famous authors recount harsh tales of years and years of rejection before finally being discovered. I once heard a rumour that someone removed Charles Dickens’ name from one of his manuscripts, sent it into a publishing company, and it was turned down! So, as the old saying (or was it an Aaliyah song?) goes, if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.

Writing is art too. Inspiration can come from the simplest of sources. Van Gogh created a masterpiece by painting a kitchen chair!

Images: http://weheartit.com/entry/12410178; http://favim.com/image/194059/; http://likeariot.tumblr.com/; http://holunder.deviantart.com/art/listen-feel-and-imagine-182338777?q=gallery:Holunder/6445147