Creativity unleashed by Sandra Yuen MacKay

Life and art from a unique perspective


Into the Light and other stories

Posted by symackay on November 16, 2009 at 10:49 PM

Life is made of stories. I'd like to share some stories I've been experiencing.

I've been working hard at my writing, but publication of my novel and memoir seem in the distance right now. I'm at a point where I think my edits are paying off and I'm closer to approaching some editors and expanding my horizons. I had some urging from others to get busy and start submitting a.s.a.p., but three months ago, I don't think these two manuscripts would have been accepted by any editor, because they weren't ready yet. For me, writing is like aging fine wine. I start off with the best ingredients, take care and let it ferment. This waiting period gives me time to be objective and improve the writing.

So I'm reading "You can be happy no matter what: five principles for keeping life in perspective" by Richard Carlson, PhD. It's an awesome book, but someone commented why is it called a "self-help" book if the writer of the book and the text is helping you? Are you really helping yourself or looking for someone else to give you the answers? Food for thought.

Anyway, part of this book discusses ways to avoid the impact of negative thoughts. Thoughts are influenced by mood which make them subjective at times. People who are happy don't actually have a lot of peripheral thoughts in their heads, or so the author supposes.

People with mental illness believe their passing thoughts to be real. They can't separate their thoughts from their perception of reality. They may have low moods which feed into negative or paranoid thinking.

The writer suggests not to discuss or mull over negative thoughts or memories because that gives them power over you. Instead, let them go.

I lie in bed thinking about stuff that happened years ago or conversations that may have never happened. How do I let go? Exercise or watching tv is helpful in clearing my mind of disturbing thoughts. Art and writing are helpful, but there's always downtime, when things pop into my head.

My story, in reference to this book, is that I read a chapter about being content in the present. I, like many others, try to achieve in life to reach successes. However, if one always raises the bar or seeks more and more achievements, one may not find satisfaction. So upon reflection of my life this far, and seeing where I am in the present, I think I recognize the value of my work and my person. I don't need to compete in life but rather savour the warm, fuzzy moments and dismiss the worry that I'll never reach X,Y,Z right away.

I'm not saying, I shouldn't try to publish my books, or that I shouldn't try to publicize my art, but instead I should remove the urgency and take the time so that the work will be of higher quality.

So I'm supposed to be presenting at "Into the Light," a conference on mental health. The story there is that it fell into my lap. I have a general idea of what I need to say, but I won't know the specifics of the presentation until I get there. In other words, I may be winging it. This is new for me, because I used to write my speeches verbatim. Hopefully, through this experience, I will gain confidence in speaking on the spot. I'll let you know how it goes.

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