Falling Awake

What wakes you to yourself?

"Falling Awake" is the title of my memoir (if I ever finish it).

“Falling Awake” is the title of my memoir (if I ever finish it).

Each week I try to spend some reflective time in gratitude. I bring to mind all that I am thankful for, and it fills my heart with healing and acceptance for all the things in my life that are not going as well. But this week, a few unexpected questions popped up. I found myself feeling grateful and wondering just how I ended up so… well… lucky. I have the best friends and family a person could ever hope for. But how, exactly, did that happen?

For many years, starting as far back as the middle grades, all I wanted was to be left alone to write my stories and songs. I didn’t want to be around people until I had finished… until I believed my creations ready to be heard, seen, felt.

I have always been driven to create. For every song I wrote, another came on its heels, and always, always, more ideas waited in the wings. Stories pour out of me onto the page. And for every story I write, there are 20 more screaming for my attention.

I have always known my purpose on earth. I came here to create.

It took me years to learn that I also came here to love, to awaken, to evolve, and to experience all that real life has to offer; good, bad, happy, sad, fortune and misfortune.

For the longest time, I felt I didn’t belong here… on this planet. I felt out of place in the human world, perhaps, in part, because of my dyslexia… that and my over-abundant imagination, which got me in trouble periodically throughout grade school. So as a child, I somehow decided it would be a good idea not to need anyone. After all, I had my stories to keep me engaged, and my characters to keep me in good company. I poured love into my stories and received an immeasurable love in return.

Being a writer has brought me great joy, nearly all my life.

And for years, I couldn’t understand why the humans around me loved and accepted me so completely. I paid them little or no attention, at least not while I was possessed by a plot… submerged in a story, exploring other realms and alternate universes… falling in love with the beings that populate my curious worlds.

I wondered how it was that I possessed any friends at all, let alone the amazing, caring, intelligent, loving, loyal, fun, interesting, laugh-til-our-sides-hurt, cry-til-our-hearts-heal type of friends. And my family is the same way for me. So how did I get so lucky? It seems no matter how I ignore them, they still love me and are always willing to listen to my songs or read my books when I emerge from my creative hibernations.

Some figured out they can, by reading or listening, learn all about what has occupied my mind “as of late.” But then, when I do finally return, it takes me a while to figure out how to interact with real humans again and I usually end up jabbering. On and on I go about the worlds I have visited, as if I’ve been to Italy and met the Pope in Rome, or taken tea with the Queen at Buckingham Palace. As far as I am concerned, I have dined with royalty, solved the mysteries of the universe, flown on the backs of dragons. My experiences, my memories, even my emotions, all say I have been away… far, far away on a very long and wondrous journey, to distant lands, enchanted with magical creatures. I’ve marched with comrades and battled monsters, found true treasures and inner riches, shared love and laughter, tragedy and tears, faced invincible foes, unbeatable odds, and lived to tell the tale. I have danced with heroes and become one myself by association.

I’ve always believed in the power of dreams. The world is a magical place for me, not just in words but in everyday life, because when you believe, magic happens.

I am one of the luckiest people I know, not because I have had it easy, quite the contrary—I have had more than my share of trials and hardships—but because the pain of those experiences has not robbed me of my wonder, my intuitive senses, my faith, my capacity to love, or my ability to forgive.

Where many of this world occupy their minds with worry or stress, fear or anger, problems and pitfalls, and all manner of human drama, I spend most of my brain cells on the creation of worlds, creatures, minds and hearts, and all the extraordinarily strange things that emerge from the depths of my creative soul. And I often occupy my non-writing hours studying human nature and relationship to better understand not only my characters but my friends and family as well.

But there’s no denying it. My thoughts are more occupied with the stuff of fantasy than reality. And although that can get me in a heap of trouble sometimes, when I forget to take care of the practical things, like paying bills or filing taxes, it also means I am usually in a pleasant mood, noticing the beauty in all that surrounds me. It means I have not lost my child-like wonder of this magnificent world. It means I smile… a lot. It means I ponder the big questions—what are our spirits made of? What’s “out there” beyond our grasp? Is time an illusion?—instead of the small questions, like what’s for dinner, or where to buy a new pair of shoes.

It means I would make a terrible wife, and yet I have a man who loves me and treats me like gold. It means that I am loving and loyal to my friends, even when I am ignoring them, and they are loving and loyal in return, even when they’ve been ignored.

It means I am absent-minded, and often clumsy and awkward in the “real world,” yet those around me not only forgive my foibles and idiosyncrasies, but also help me find my keys, pick me up when I fall, and remind me when it’s their birthday without making me feel bad that I forgot.

The other day, while searching book 3 of The LightBridge Legacy manuscript for a quote, I found this; You are what you focus on. What occupies your mind will soon occupy your life. If that is hatred, you will find a representation of hate in everything you feel, see, touch. If that is love, you will see the presence of love all around you.

And it’s true… for I see heroes everywhere I look. Is it wrong to see past a person’s facade to the hero inside? Some think so. I have been accused of seeing only what I want to see, of not facing reality—the hard truth that people are cruel and self-centered. I’ve been blamed for always seeing the good and believing the best in people, even when it’s not there. And yes, that means I can be seen as naïvé at times, a target for the unbelievers and wrongdoers of the world, but, in truth, I would rather think the best of people and be taken advantage of every once in a while, then view the world with cynicism and skepticism and become jaded. I believe negativity is a form of mental pollution. It requires constant, vigilant recycling.

What if positivity is actually a superpower?

To look upon the world and its people with kind eyes is not a failing or a fallacy or a weakness. It took me years to learn that. It doesn’t mean I don’t see all that is “wrong” with the world, it only means that I have chosen not to regard adversity as bad or unnecessary. I’ve made a conscious choice not to judge harshly the actions of others because I truly believe we are all doing the best we can with the circumstances we’ve been given (or have chosen).

I believe that our souls choose for us those experiences that will help us evolve, but it is up to us to see the lessons and take the next step toward awareness. Those who do harm in this world have not yet awakened to their purpose. They are sleepwalkers who have not yet opened their eyes to what is good. There will always be sleepwalkers and sleep-wakers.

I have done my share of sleepwalking, but something always wakes me to myself. Often it is a book. Sometimes written by others, spiritual mentors I call them, and sometimes, it is my own stories that wake me. Putting pen to paper has such organic, ancient ties that it brings me back to myself again and again, and allows me access to my own wisdom. We all have that place in ourselves that knows the answers, that place that is connected to spirit, and it is up to us, each individually, to reach inside and listen. The more we do, the less we sleepwalk.

Love is the teacher here, no matter the lesson.

And love is the lesson, no matter the teacher. To awaken is to see that “every choice we make is either an expression of love or a call for love.” To awaken is to see anger, hate, malice (in yourself and others) and to feel only compassion, for these are all fear-based calls for love.

Those who express fear in hurtful ways are sleepwalking inside their own nightmares and have not yet found a way to wake themselves. If you return their hatred with hate, you do not contribute to their awakening, you reinforce their nightmare. If you reciprocate with love, you create the tiniest crack where light can shine through. You never know when someone might just see that light and walk toward it.

To be awake is to always make the choice for love.

Merry Christmas!

Elayne G. James

PS: I am compelled to explain that when I say ‘”love” I am not talking about reaching out to sleepwalkers in all their rage, taking their hands, and telling them you love them. That will, at best, be ineffectual, and at worst, enrage them more. No, the love I refer to is what I call “beaming.” It takes only a moment. It is completely silent and exhibits no visual indicators. I just picture my heart opening up and beaming light, love, and acceptance directly to them. Often, they will not know what hit them, only that their anger is diffused a bit and they don’t quite feel like yelling anymore. It is an amazing thing to witness. But even if my “beaming” elicits no response at all, the good has been done, and I feel differently inside. Of course, I don’t always remember to do this when I am swept up in a moment of swirling emotion, but when I do have the presence of mind to take a step back and choose love over fear, miracles usually follow.
Elayne G. James is the author of the 
adventure/fantasy coming-of-age series,
The LightBridge Legacy, and a warmhearted 
holiday novel, The Saint of Carrington.


 

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ELAYNE G. JAMES Q&A FROM GOODREADS

EGJ’s Answers to GoodReads Questions (updated winter 2016):

How do you deal with writer’s block?

First: I listen to Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones on CD. Natalie did a tenth-anniversary version of Writing Down the Bones as an audio book, where she reads the book (the first book she ever wrote) and then comments on her own writing from the perspective of someone who has had ten more years of experience. She speaks directly to the writer in all of us, to our fears and faults, our insecurities and doubts, our soaring creative spirit and our earthbound reality issues. She is eloquent and inspiring. This book is healing for me in many ways. It never fails to bring me back to myself and back to my writing.

Second: I take a time out from the book I’m working on / having trouble with, go to iTunes and create a soundtrack for my book as if it were a movie. I focus in on orchestral pieces that embody or support the “feel” of the story arc and add a more modern tune at the beginning and end (like a credit roll song).

This helps to clear my mind–concentrating on something that is not writing but still creative– and then when I return to the book I have a fresh perspective AND a soundtrack to play while I’m writing that is wonderfully inspiring. It works every time! Try it! You’ll be amazed! Envisioning your book as a movie helps in other ways too. Thinking in the visual mode makes for great, concise descriptive passages and snappy/lively dialogue. And, of course, it is a lot of fun!

Third: I hit the road. If the first two don’t do the trick, I plan a road trip. Getting out of town, taking myself out of my daily life has never failed to get me unstuck. New surroundings and new experiences inspire me to write new thoughts. I take my laptop, but almost always end up just writing in my journal. There is something about putting pen to paper that creates that flow I’ve been missing. It’s very organic. I come home refreshed and ready to work. And now, with AirBnB.com it is easier than ever to get a place for a few days without breaking the bank. And who knows, you just might be inspired by the people you’re staying with, in addition to the beauty that surrounds you. I highly recommend it!

What’s the best thing about being a writer?

The best things about being a fiction writer are:

FUN: Building whole worlds using nothing but a vivid imagination.

LOVE: You get to fall in love over and over again with each new character.

FREEDOM: Which to me means waking up in the morning and asking yourself, “What do I want to do with my time today?” and having the answer be, “I want to work on my book.” And then being able to do so!

PERSONAL GROWTH: Always learning new things, expanding your world and opening up to new and different points of view when researching for a story, is a wonderful, never-ending source of education and intrigue.

COURAGE: Having a book out in the world challenges you to push past your comfort zone and can even teach you that you are braver than you think.

TOUCHING PEOPLES LIVES: Having readers write you to say how much they love living in the worlds you have birthed, or to let you know even that your words helped them get through a difficult time in their lives, makes it all so worth it.

INSPIRATION: Being a writer means opening up to inspiration and letting things come through. Once that portal is open, it can inspire you in many other ways. It can ignite your soul.

GRATITUDE: I love my life and I am so grateful to be able to create freely (and to live in a country that allows full creative freedom).

What’s your advice for aspiring writers?

Aside from the usual (hone your craft etc.), my top 4 best pieces of advice (for fiction writing) are as follows:

  1. Don’t intrude upon your characters. Let them tell you what they want to say and do. Don’t force your opinions on them. Let them have their own unique point of view.
  1. Know the difference between Active and Passive Voice. Active voice draws the reader into a story, passive voice makes the reader feel like an observer. In passive voice, the subject does not do the action, the action is done to the subject. In active voice, the subject is engaged in the action. Tip: Look for the over use of the word “was” or “were.” They are red flags for passive voice.
  1. Everyone tells aspiring writers to “write what you know,” but I would change that to “write what you want to know” and do the research! When I start a novel, I spend half my time researching and half my time writing. Writing what I already know is a “safe zone” that gets boring fast.
  2. “Show Don’t Tell” sounds like good advice but as a young writer, when I was just starting out, I didn’t really understand exactly HOW to accomplish this, let alone master it. Until I heard Natalie Goldberg’s explanation of Show Don’t Tell, I didn’t truly GET IT. So for those of you who are writers and still struggle with this, here is Natalie’s very clear and easy to understand explanation:

“There’s an old adage in writing ‘Don’t tell but show.’ What does this actually mean? It means don’t tell us about anger, or any of those big words like honesty, truth, hate, love, sorrow, life, justice, etc. Show us what made you angry. We will read it and feel angry. Don’t tell readers what to feel. Show the situation, and that feeling will awaken in them. Writing is not psychology. We do not talk about feelings, instead the writer feels and threw her words, awakens those feelings in the reader. The writer takes the readers hand and guides him through the valley of sorrow and joy without ever having to mention those words.

What are you currently working on?

In addition to the final edits for The LightBridge Legacy Book II: Riddle of the Gate World, (which should be released early 2017), and my Christmas book, The Saint of Carrington, which will be released this month (Nov. 2016), I am writing a new series called THE DRAGONBOND BOOKS, about an orphaned boy who is raised in a 200 year old library in Franklin Massachusettes, and on his 9th birthday, inherits a dragon egg along with a book written in an ancient language that depicts the proud lineage of his ancestors, a people they called the Dragonbond Tribe. I am having a blast writing it. It’s basically a “boy and his dog” story but the dog is a dragon and they get into all manner of mischief together.

How do you get inspired to write?

Dreams are a huge thing for me. I write while I’m sleeping. A great many of my stories have come from dreams. And when I am steeped in the writing process, I often fall asleep working on the story and dream entire scenes that go into the book the following morning.

Also, doing research for a story or a character is a powerful way to get inspired. I do tons of research before and during the writing process. I really enjoy it because the story becomes real to me and my fictional characters come to life with real-world details.

If possible, I go and roll play my characters out in the world. I once wrote a story where the main character was handicapped, so I rented a wheelchair and spent the entire day in it. I went to the mall and learned not only how difficult it is to get around (how many places you just can’t go), but also how incredibly different people treated me. What an amazing lesson that was! And when I was ready to write that character into my story (in his POV), I had a firsthand experience to draw from that added depth to the character’s inner life/emotions.

Where did you get the idea for your most recent book?

The LightBridge Legacy came from a reoccurring dream I had as a child where I was in possession of a magical device that could take me anywhere (or when) I wanted to go in the blink of an eye.

The Saint if Carrington came from a conversation I had while working in the theatre. We were talking about Santa Claus and I said,” my parents never told me that Santa Claus didn’t exist so I still believe.” I was in my mid-twenties at the time so everyone laughed, but I wasn’t actually joking. When I got home, I jotted down the idea in short story form, about a town that has lost its faith and a boy who has lost his father, and how they learn to believe in Christmas (and Santa Claus) again.

The Dragonbond idea came from a long-standing desire. I always wanted to write a dragon story. Then one day I wrote the line: My name is Secret.” and that is how it started. A boy named Secret and a Dragon named Zeek. After that, I was hooked. It doesn’t take much. I am a nerd through and through.

Elayne G. James is the author of the adventure/
fantasy coming-of-age series, The LightBridge 
Legacy, a new holiday novel titled The Saint of 
Carringtion, and the upcoming Dragonbond Books.
For more info visit: http://www.ElayneJames.com

The Value of Art for Art’s Sake

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Today is Tax Deadline Day (That’s right: This year’s deadline is actually April 18) where many of us are thinking about… well… money, when it comes right down to it. But as an artist, money can mean many different things. It can signify success, yes, but it can also feel like a weight, tying you down to a specific outcome, if, for instance, you have been hired to create something for someone else. It can signify a form of approval or validation–when someone buys our art it’s usually because they like it. Most of us need to feel that kind of validation once in a while. But in the case of Art for Art’s Sake, it’s a different scenario.

The idea of Art for Art’s Sake or Art for Self is something that’s been on my mind lately. I truly believe that the need of other’s approval can be an artist’s/writer’s undoing. The making of art purely for self-expression can be one of the most fulfilling ways to create. There is a vast and diverse spectrum of motivations for human creativity, and all have played a role in contributing to the world’s greatest masterpieces.

But Art for Art’s Sake seems to me one of the purest, and it has been a creed of mine since the day I proclaimed myself an artist (at age 11), but it’s tough not to stray from this path. I have found that if I do stray… if I find myself motivated by ego or money, for instance, what I’m creating ends up adversely affected. When I write for myself and put the good of the story first, what I turn out is equally affected but in a wholly positive way. The first draft is always and only for me. The last draft is often for others. Steven King said, “Write with the door shut. Edit with the door open.” That is great advice.

But does the need for monetary compensation, or the desire to share what we’ve created, and in turn, to be applauded, muddle the process? This is a question that has arisen since I have entered the world of publication and promotion. I must admit, my desire for an audience has grown stronger in the last few years, born first from the need to give back to a world that has given so much to me.

There was a time when it seemed all I did was take from the artistic world (writing and creating in a vacuum without ever sharing any of it). Several years ago I came to the decision that it was time for this love affair to be reciprocal. And perhaps my age had something to do with it as well. The knowledge that my life was nearly half over (if I’m lucky), prompted in me the desire to leave something behind. I never had children of my own. My books are my only legacy… the only proof that I have existed.

The “creative muses” have been very generous to me. So how do I return the favor? I can make sure my words teach, guide, lift spirits, open hearts, and promote a reverence for life in others the way my favorite books have done for me. I wish to be a part of the family of writers that have changed the world one heart/mind at a time. Yes, these are tall aspirations, but it is a deep desire in me that grows stronger every year I walk this beautiful earth.

And if I knew that from this day forward, no one would ever read my books? Yes, I would still write, still tell my stories, because they breathe within me and need to breathe outside me. Once a story is emerging inside, I cannot deny its existence. My innate creative nature takes over at some point and the process develops a life of its own. Art must be born.

I had a great art teacher in college. I will never forget what he said about the nature of creativity. It was in a Three-Dimensional Design class. He strolled over to the student sitting next to me who was staring at a lump of clay. When asked, she said “I don’t know what to do. I can’t do it.” He responded by saying, “You don’t think you can run out to the ocean and stop the next wave do you? Art will happen. The first thing we must learn is how NOT to stand in its way.”

I remember thinking BRAVO! All the ideas humans have about art, the list of “reasons” they create, muddy the process. Indeed, the art that has touched me through the years has usually been created by someone who was “driven” to create. These are my people and my heart recognizes them. Some have wondered if Van Gogh, who sold but a single painting during his lifetime (The Vin Rouge) ever felt the sting of his inability to find an audience. If he’s in this family of soul-driven artists I spoke of above (and I believe he is) then the answer is no, not while he was creating. During the act of creation, there is nothing but the creation…there is not even an artist, just the art. That is how it feels.

When I write, I, as the conduit, eventually disappear, transmuted into energy, a presence, like wind on water…able to influence the surface, but the depth and breadth below is a quality unto itself. For this kind of artist, the only time you think of an audience is after the fact, when you see what has come through you and want to share it (or you’re starving and have a sincere desire to eat).

Art has always been an inner path for me, and a personal driving force in my life. And although I am now pursuing a more outward path (of publication and promotion), the thought of where my art will end up never enters my creative process, and therefore is not muddled by future agendas. I suppose the question of Art for Art’s Sake is for each artist to answer for themselves. For me, the process of creation is as natural as lightning seeking ground. We all need an outlet for this amazing energy coursing through us. I choose to create… to write… songs, stories, thoughts and ideas. This is my outlet. What is yours?

 

Elayne G. James is the author of the adventure/
fantasy coming-of-age series, The LightBridge 
Legacy, a new holiday novel titled The Saint of 
Carringtion, and the upcoming Dragonbond Books.
For more info visit: http://www.ElayneJames.com

What I Learned From Starship Captains

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Welcome to Part Three of How to Be the Hero of Your Own Story. I just have to say, this is the most fun I’ve had with research in a long time! I’ve learned so much from the heroes I’ve studied… things that have changed my life (no lie).

What follows is my favorite list by far (being the fantasy/sci-fi geek that I am). Starship captains are some of the BEST heroes to learn from because of the standards they hold themselves to in everyday life and the myriad situations that put those standards to the test.

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Here is what I have learned from studying Starship Captains…
•    Never give up.
•    Never lose your sense of humor.
•    Never let unbeatable odds get you down.
•    Negative thinking is a complete waste of time (and extremely destructive).
•    Always care more about people than situations or possessions.
•    Always work for the greater good.
•    Never lose sight of the goal, but stay aware of what’s around you.

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  • Never compromise your personal vision. Know who you are and be it. Know your path and walk it.
  • Don’t let anyone tell you not to do what you know is right.
  • Never waver in your resolve, but adapt the plan when appropriate or advantageous.
  • Stay open to new points of view.
  • Put heart in everything you do.
  • Always remain positive even in the face of certain failure.

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  •    Choose your attitude. Don’t let someone else choose for you.
  •    If there’s no other way, play rough.
  •    Pick your battles carefully. Don’t make fighting your first choice. If you have to fight, win. If you   don’t have to fight, head for an exit.
  •    Never make someone feel ‘less than’ for voicing an opinion or idea.
  •    Consider all options outwardly, weigh your options inwardly, state your decision affirmatively.
  •    Listen to the council of  close friends and  brilliant colleagues, then make your own decision.

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  • Allow yourself to trust even after you’ve been hurt.
  • Never forget where you come from.
  • If you’re lost, remember there’s always a way  back, even if you can’t see it.
  • Establish your intention and choose your direction at the start of each new day.
  • Be an optimist and realist at the same time.
  • Be open to trying new things (even if they sometimes get you in trouble).

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  •    Choose a path  that can coexist with your  values and spiritual  beliefs.
  •    Embrace any chance to grow.
  •    Allow yourself to be vulnerable to your closest friends and family.
  •    Admit when you’re wrong.
  •    Stay physically fit and mentally aware.
  •    Pay attention to what people say and do.

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  • If an idea or a relationship isn’t working, give it every chance to succeed, then assess the situation fairly, and if it is still not working, abort.
  • Stretch your mind and the limits of your reality.
  • Never insist on being right, instead, always look for truth.
  • Define your mission. Recruit those who are aligned with your vision.
  • Never fear an adventure into the unknown.
  • Listen to your instincts and use your intuition.

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  •    Live in the now, but be open and ready for what lies ahead.
  •    Heal the wounds of the past. Don’t allow past pain to limit your present or your future.
  •    Study human interaction and apply the science of compassion.
  •    Be an advocate of the human spirit.
  •    Embrace ingenuity and creativity.
  •    Be passionate while maintaining control.
  •    Eyes open. Always.

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  • Be an impartial witness. Don’t take sides.
  • Use your heart along with your head.
  • Never abandon manners in a social situation. Learn the customs of foreign cultures before entering their domain.
  • Never complain about unfortunate circumstances.
  • Embrace change but respect history.
  • Don’t let your temper get the better of you. But if it does, get over it quickly.
  • Listen to people’s stories.

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  • Communicate as concisely and accurately as possible. Use clear, simple language.
  • Do not be quick to judge.
  • Develop a sixth sense about danger and who to trust.
  • Never let fear stop you. Allow it to inform you.
  • Listen to your  gut, even if your head refuses to go along.
  • Take responsibility for those under you r command. Inspire greatness. Encourage ingenuity. Cultivate loyalty.

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  •    Don’t waste time arguing or responding to criticism.
  •    Be open-minded in your approach to life and old fashion in your values.
  •    Embrace a childlike fascination with the world  and a wise man acceptance of it.
  •    When possible go slow, build a foundation.
  •    Don’t defend your ego. Defend your friends.
  •    Make forgiveness a priority because it is the only way to be free.
  •    Don’t get angry at yourself for things that are beyond your control.
  •    Wait patiently, but not passively. Always be gathering information.

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  • Believe in something greater than yourself.
  • Walk with purpose through life.
  • Always act as if what you do will make a difference.
  • Express anger at situations instead of at people.
  • Cultivate a quiet calm in the face of adversity. Don’t be quick to react or jump to conclusions, but instead, quietly assess the situation and formulate a plan based on acute observation.
  • Be in a constant state of readiness with utter calm.

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  • Never make another person feel small. Evaluate those around you and honor them for their skills, traits, and contributions… if need be, find the smallest positive attribute to praise.
  • Rid your mind and heart of expectation and enter each moment with a clean slate. With zero expectations, the mind is never disappointed or caught unawares.
  • Resist the temptation to overreact, or become upset at a difficult interlude. Always be looking for more pieces to the puzzle, and continue to gather information in an effort to see and comprehend the whole picture before making a decision to act. And then, when ready, move forward with full conviction.

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That’s the Captain’s List. See you next time when I share my own personal list of Hero Traits, in Lessons Learned from Life and Leaders.

Thanks for spending time with me!

Elayne

Elayne G. James is the author of the adventure/
fantasy coming-of-age series, The LightBridge 
Legacy, a new holiday novel titled The Saint of 
Carringtion, and the upcoming Dragonbond Books.
For more info visit: http://www.ElayneJames.com

How to be the Hero of your Own Story – Part Two

Are you the hero of your own story?

Heroes

Your life is your story. Your choices are your path. Don’t let someone else choose for you. Take the lead. Be your own hero!

As a writer and a student of human nature, I have the on-going pleasure of studying the many different aspects of life, our world, and its varied characters. One of the most fascinating of these is our culture’s archetypes, and heroes are arguably among of the most enduring and endearing of the archetypal class. Heroes in their myriad forms have been requisite to story, myth, and legend throughout the history of humankind. What follows is Part Two of my hero traits list… a collection of high caliber qualities and attributes I believe we can all aspire to:

  • Heroes don’t “chase” their dreams. They set goals, put a plan in place, gather the best team they can find (only those loyal to their cause), and then create their own destiny!
  • A hero knows that words have the ability to wound or heal, destroy or transform. A hero uses words carefully and speaks truth willingly. A hero is never threatened by the truth, nor defeated or dejected by someone else’s version of the truth.
  • Heroes do not seek the approval of others, their validation comes from within.
  • A hero knows that the best way to cope with failure is to immediately identify it as a “rerouting” on the path to success.
  • Heroes know that they are constantly evolving —that they can reinvent themselves whenever necessary—that for a personality, stagnation equals defeat. Forward movement equals success.
  • A hero knows that there are always two choices in a difficult situation. You can choose to be the victim or the victor. The hero always chooses the victor mentality. He knows that victimhood is the act of falling prey to one’s own defeated thinking and a belief in powerlessness.
  • Victims always wish they were somewhere else, doing something else, or with someone else. Heroes never wish they were somewhere else. If they wanted to be somewhere else they would just go.
  • A hero does not indulge in self-pity. Self-pity equals powerlessness.
  • Heroes aren’t afraid of change (unless it’s a change of clothes in a phone booth).
  • Heroes don’t waste time complaining. They focus on solutions.
  • A hero knows that it is human nature to question, and does not need to be excepted or encouraged by others in order to proceed with an intention.
  • Heroes always follow through on a promise whether made to someone else or to themselves.
  • Heroes never react to what they imagine someone else thinks, wants, or needs. They ask questions, gather data, assess the situation, and, once satisfied, act accordingly.
  • A hero knows that nothing of greatness, no true measure of happiness, no deeply satisfying accomplishment, is ever achieved without desire and faith, vision and imagination, effort and energy, courage and commitment, purpose and passion.
  • Heroes own their own potential and see the power in responsibility. Taking ownership is the highest form of focus, discipline, and direction known to man. Effortlessness is an insidious virus with the power to destroy lives.
  • A hero knows that absolute focus is the key to all great human achievement.
  • Heroes never let mistakes or failure stop them. They always try to make things right, but also know that it isn’t always possible, and forgive themselves when things don’t work out. They know the value of moving on.
  • Heroes don’t waste time responding to their critics. They take note, retain what is useful and discard what is not.
  • A hero sees every problem as a challenge and every challenge as an opportunity.
  • Heroes learn from every situation and grow into better human beings because of the experience.
  • Heroes do not compare themselves to others.
  • A hero uses their past experiences to meet the next challenge, not to judge themselves.
  • A hero doesn’t throw away any lesson. All lessons, pleasant or difficult, joyful or painful, brief or everlasting, can be drawn upon for support when facing a challenge.
  • Heroes keep an open mind when entering a new situation, and keep a watchful eye for that which can benefit them and others.
  • Life is a set of experiences. A hero does not judge. All experience is useful.
  • The hero never gives up.

The hero’s journey continues in Part III (What I Learned From Starship Captains). See you next time!

E.G.James

How To Be The Hero Of Your Own Story – Part One

hero

Want to know the BEST ADVICE I’ve ever received as a writer AND as a human being?

Here it is:

Hero Of Story 2

Be the hero of your own story! Yes! For me that means living my life by all the same principles and doctrines I hold for my protagonists like:

  • Never giving up when the going gets tough.
  • Meeting every challenge with integrity, ingenuity, and creativity.
  • Saying yes to the adventure of life and helping the people I meet along the way as much as I can.
  • It means being fiercely loyal to my true friends, being there for them no matter what, and never giving up on them when it seems all hope is lost.
  • Using my head alongside my heart and never losing site of my dreams and goals, and always remembering why I set out on this glorious journey in the first place.
  • Being open to synchronicity, serendipity and the infinite realm of possibilities.
  • Using my intuition and trusting my gut even when everyone else thinks I’m crazy.
  • It means achieving what I set out to accomplish, but also giving myself permission to alter my course and change my mind if what I thought I set out to do turns into something else.
  • Tending to the needs of my soul, in addition to the needs of mind and body.
  • Having the courage to be who I am, even if that makes me a freak, a geek, or an alien from another planet.
  • Setting my intention to wake up every morning with gratitude and a positive attitude, and look for the good in every situation.
  • It means be brave, be strong, be honest, be compassionate, be patient …not only with others but also with myself.
  • AND it means that if I fall short in my ability to achieve any of these fine attributes on any given day, that I allow myself to be human, forgive myself for my mistakes, regroup if I need to, and then say “onward!”

Getting this advice, this grand challenge—to be the hero of my own story—had such an impact on me that I spent an entire year investigating what makes a hero, determined to uncover those distinct characteristics common to all (or at least most) of our heroes today.

So I researched heroes in their myriad forms (film, books, television, comic books, and of course, some of my real life heroes as well), to chronicle the various personality traits and attributes that make up this rare breed of human.

What I found changed me. I knew if I wanted to be the hero of my own story, I had to find a way to embody these qualities and live my life in an entirely new way. The transformation is still in progress, of course, but it is a worthy adventure.

So for the next few weeks, I will be sharing what I have learned about becoming extraordinary in our everyday lives and the little changes we can render along the way that will make a big difference.

See you soon. Part Two is coming up the next week.

Elayne G. James

Author of The LightBridge Legacy Series

Whose life is it anyway?

Vintage Reflection

Have you ever met someone who had your life? The life you knew you were meant to live? Someone you meet purely by chance and strike up a conversation with to pass the time in line or at a luncheon. And in this conversation you learn this other person is living the life you should have had all along, but didn’t. You realize that somewhere along the way you turned left instead of right and ended up where you are, on the other side of the table sipping tea from the wrong cup.

I listened to this woman tell me about her life, living every dream I’ve ever had, being everything I’ve ever wanted to be, even looking exactly how I always wanted to look, and by the end of the conversation I didn’t recognize myself anymore. I couldn’t fathom how I got here, and how she got there. I looked at my life—a good life—but all I could see was how wrong everything turned out . . . all my stupid mistakes, all the bad decisions I made to lead me away from my path . . . and there, right in front of me, was the woman I would have become if only . . . if only . . . if only.

What’s worse? I liked her. She was wonderful, beautiful, graceful, kind, generous, and immensely happy. So I’m denied even the chance to be envious. How can I begrudge her the life she has so obviously deserved, and I so obviously never earned?

Yet it is mine and I walk away knowing why I do not have it . . . because she does.

Where do I go from here? Knowing someone else has my life? And tell me, whose life do I have? Will someone meet me on the road someday and say,

“You! You’re the one.

You

Have

My

Life.”

___________________________________

What is this?

Okay, so I have a folder that’s been on the desktop of every computer I’ve ever owned. I call it the Bottom Drawer. It’s where I throw all the bits and pieces of writing that pour out of my brain unattached to any story or project. The file has become quite fat over the years. I decided to go spelunking to see what I might find. I’ll be digging into this “bottom drawer” of mine for time to time, to see what I might share, grab-bag-style. This one is probably 25 or so years old transferred here exactly how it was originally written, formatting and all. Just thought it was kind of odd and interesting.