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Sunday, April 30, 2023

Overcoming Obstacles and Rejections

Life can be quite strange and complex. You keep finding closed doors; maybe that is a sign to look elsewhere or maybe to knock harder on them. If only “going with the flow” instead of “swimming against the current” always led somewhere worthwhile…

First of all, if you want to get anywhere far, you have to get used to things not always being in your favor - to encountering obstacles and facing rejections. Don’t take it personally and don’t assign meaning to it. There is more going on in life and life does not revolve around you alone. You have to understand that, at all times, you are competing against different and opposing forces coming from and going in various directions. And it’s on you and your will to get through them regardless.

There are countless lines, frequently quoted and shared, stating or claiming this or that about such a phenomenon, but many, if not most of them, are oversimplifications that won’t always accurately apply to specific situations and circumstances. So, be wary of relying on them as they may lead you stray. See if they truly resonate with where you’re at or not if you will take them in.

In any case, it may be worth reflecting on why things aren’t running smoothly when they aren’t. Maybe there is something that you must change in yourself or in what surrounds you.

Often, obstacles are there to show us our shortcomings. To test us and challenge us to overcome them, to go around them, over them, or through them. And similarly, rejections can teach us about criteria. About which principles, values, preferences, and attitudes entities are governed by. They have something to do with you, not everything. Basing your sense of inherent worth on how you measure up against these will probably be off, as this is situational and circumstantial rather than universal and doesn’t quite factor in your potential, as well as counterproductive, for it could gravely discourage you.

When it is as though the whole world is against you, there are a few possibilities:

a) You are a catalyst for change,
b) your kind is going extinct,
c) you are indeed rotten,
d) other.

May God and the universe be with you if ‘a’ or ‘b’. Work on yourself if ‘c’.

And remember, internalizing failures to wallow in them doesn’t serve you. Take a moment to properly process them as you must, but ready yourself to get back up and keep going, knowing there will be more. Fearing obstacles and rejections, and avoiding them, is a surer path to failure. You are not powerless.

Points on Persistence

 #1  When you really want something and you are sure you truly need it, you are more likely to find or make a way.

 #2  Keeping your eyes on the goal(s) makes it harder to be discouraged by what is or gets in between. Don’t be short-sighted.

 #3  There are times to keep trying, times to change course or approach, and times to give up. It is not simple, but you must learn to discern when is what.

 #4  Not everything is meant for you and walking away from some things does not necessarily make you weak. Sometimes it is wise.

 #5  There is merit and reward in going after quick and guaranteed results, but you may gain more by being able to delay gratification and persist over a long and uncertain period without it. 

Tuesday, April 25, 2023

My Grandmother, my Foundation…

Today, April 25th, is my grandmother’s birthday. May she rest in peace…

I normally avoid speaking of the dead, since it can make things uncomfortable and awkward for people, but my grandmother is one of the few I have always admired the most and, although we are still different in many ways, she left a lasting impression on me.

As some of you may already know, I am agnostic, so I don’t fully believe nor disbelieve the existence of heaven. But her parting makes me wish it’s true, that she is somewhere better and can still guard me and guide me in spirit.

However, even if that isn’t the case, I pondered plenty about it, and it still makes sense to honor her, her legacy, and her wishes - even if she isn’t around anymore, at all. She devoted the remaining years of her life to taking care of us and leading us in a good direction. So, basically, it is the least I can do to continue to carry a part of her with me. Furthermore, I discovered that not doing so left me void and rootless. She is an undeniable part of my history as I am part of hers.

She was the one who raised me. My father was not around (divorced and out of the picture) and my mother was mostly sick and bedridden. But I had a magical childhood regardless, thanks to her. She was a small business owner and an investor. People loved her because, while she wasn’t one to be messed with, she showed extraordinary solidarity with neighbors and others in need. Her work practically consisted of supporting people. And much to my delight, two of the most grateful to her owned, one, a stationery shop and, another, a toy shop. One of her ways of helping them and their businesses thrive was letting me go in whenever and pick whatever I wanted. We got discounts, they got extra sales. Was I spoiled? Hmm… Arguably. It could still be justified by the fact that these things helped me develop my innate abilities. It also seems that she noticed I was extremely introverted and a bit autistic early on, even if she didn’t know it by these names, and made sure I had, besides my bedroom, an entire, separate room in the house only for me and be completely undisturbed while I played and created there - unless I was fine with company. Maybe she was like that, too, and saw herself in me. Hence, could tell how important it was for me to have my own space. She showed me love through action the most and emphasized to me that family are those you can count on that genuinely care for you. I would bet that she was aware of how controversial, yet essential, that would be for me down the line. First and foremost, she strived for our well-being and to keep us from needless suffering. I had no idea how rare this was until later, but greatly appreciated her regardless.

It wasn’t all fun and games, though. She was definitely strict. As a former math teacher, she insisted I’d learn math early on and got me ahead in that department. I didn’t grow up to become a math wizard, but I’m grateful for the brain exercise! And speaking of exercise, she wouldn’t let me turn into a lazy potato either. She didn’t allow me to do house chores because they made me sick (and we had maids), but she pushed me into sports and forced me to stick with a routine. I resented her for it at the time but then understood. Also, I ended up enjoying rollerskating and dancing and she was beyond approving and encouraging of that. More than anything, though, she applauded my artistic tendencies. It made me so happy to see her happy when I made art.

I probably have failed her in many ways. Letting unworthy people take from me, tolerating treatment I don’t deserve, putting myself in harmful situations, not utilizing my gifts enough… If I have regrets, those are some of my biggest. But I’m not done yet and I’m still turning life around and making the best out of my time on Earth.

So, now you know that, among my guarding and guiding principles and values, are those my grandmother contributed. And they are sacred.

Sunday, April 23, 2023

Should you have a Muse?

Muses are greatly sought after, for sure, and often as though they are divinely sent. But should you lean on them? What is it about them that makes them so inspiring?

A muse is an abundant source of inspiration to artists. Typically a person. Dead or alive, near or far. This person, by what they do and say, or by their mere existence and what they are, is able to trigger our thoughts and feelings as well as our imaginations and our senses to an extent that propels us into making art - at least if we’re not closed off to it and resisting it.

Muses can come into your life when you least expect them and elude you while you most yearn for them. For some, few can be their muse. A seemingly once-in-a-lifetime occurrence. For others, it doesn’t take so much. Cherished despite regularity. This is because it is not only on the muse to be inspiring, but also on the artist to be inspired. And being easily inspired can be a blessing (if given appropriate outlets and successfully making the best of it) and a curse (if failing to properly manage and regulate it, frequently knocked off course by it).

The effects of a muse are similar to those of drugs and at times also as powerful. They may energize you, wake you, lift you, relax you, take you on a trip, open your mind, expand your horizons, clarify or distort your views, and more. And it can be anywhere from a picnic to a roller coaster ride. It may be addictive and you may be at the mercy of it. They can take a hold of you and leave you desperately craving for more.

Regardless, muses aren’t necessarily responsible for you and your state. They rarely are. Unless it is someone that is consciously and intentionally manipulating you for their gain or moving you for yours, it is mostly on you what happens. Some may not even realize that they are somebody’s muse. And some would rather not be. So consent plays a role here, too. Are they okay serving as inspiration in such a manner? And if so, are you being considerate enough?

There are pitfalls to avoid. Besides extreme and severe obsession and dependence, idolizing and pedestaling can be troublesome for all involved. Remember, they are still people. They will have flaws and shortcomings. They may not match your idealization of them. And they are not here solely to please you. Furthermore, your art could suffer if closely tied to an unfavorable muse, one that doesn’t quite align with your path and potential or that you have outgrown. Sometimes, you must exercise some detachment and settle for other means of inspiration.

Points on Inspiration

 #1  Inspiration is a surge of energy, possibly overflowing, that allows you to make art with ease by adequately utilizing your capabilities to channel it.

 #2  When you make art while inspired, the process is more enjoyable and may even tune out everything else that could obstruct or distract you. Your best works may happen while you’re inspired.

 #3  You can find inspiration in other works of art, but you can also draw it from the universe, the world, life, people, and your own self. Sometimes it even comes in dreams.

 #4  For steady and consistent work, discipline is more reliable than motivation. Yet, motivation can be more constant and less elusive than inspiration. Relying solely on inspiration can lead to unpredictable results unless you can count on your ability to actively and repeatedly get it.

 #5  Reference and inspiration are not the same. When you use something as a reference, you are using it to copy, compare, or contrast traits and attributes. When it is for inspiration, it is so it will spark or prompt something new and different by taking it in and letting it pass through you.

Thursday, April 20, 2023

Taurus' Basics

Transit Date: Late April.
Middle of Spring.

Position: 2nd.
Element: Earth.
Quality: Fixed.

Symbolized by: The Bull.
Typically Associated with: Perseverance, taste, possessions. 

At Best: Decided and unstoppable.
At Worst: Brusque and stubborn.

For context and more of relevance, please read about The Zodiac.

Sunday, April 16, 2023

What Drives You?

What gets you going? What tempts, compels, and propels you into action? Are you stuck and stagnant? Or simply letting things pass you by?

You can call it laziness, but that may be an oversimplification of what is actually happening. Certainly, there are people that by nature are more active than others. At least visibly. Maybe even have more trouble remaining still than remaining in motion. However, usually, something is lacking if we’re apathetic.

Besides making sure that you have rested enough, are well-fed and hydrated, and have done the required exercises to get yourself flowing, you may want to check on your thoughts and feelings. They could be holding you back and weighing you down. Furthermore, your beliefs. These have tremendous power to either limit or free you. And you may have to dig deep to access and alter them. How neat and tidy you and your space are can also majorly affect your will.

That being in order, it is known that there are mainly 2 motivators: Fear and Desire. Nevertheless, these can be further broken down and can take several forms. Also, should be interpreted in their wider definitions. But essentially, Fear pushes you away from a point and Desire pulls you closer to a point.

They are not necessarily mutually exclusive and at opposite ends either. For example, you may fear missing out on something while simultaneously desiring to engage with that something. In such a case, both fear and desire are leading you to the same point while being closely related to that point. Alternatively, they may seem separate and at a distance from each other. For example, you may fear the repercussions of missing an appointment while desiring the potential benefits of making it there. Or one instead of the other. But in reality, it gets much more complex than that and there could be numerous fears and desires at play at the same time, pushing and pulling in different directions, from and to different points.

They may be subconscious and operate subtly in the background or come into awareness as more pressing matters. Thus, bringing them to light is recommendable, to decide what to keep and what to discard, as well as how much priority they should have. Within them, could be emotional and mental forces. Such as love, hate, joy, sadness, anger, contentment, etc. Or intrigue, fascination, bewilderment, and so on.

If these forces are significantly conflicting, they are prone to lead to self-sabotage or even self-destruction, if not just delay you. But if, instead, they are effectively aligned, they could feed into each other and basically make you unstoppable.

Sorting them out might not be an easy job. And it could take from days to years to optimize them to satisfaction. But it is something that, if you cannot take the time fully for it, you can gradually do it on the side while you carry on with current responsibilities and commitments. Reflecting here and there and making small adjustments within and outside of yourself.

Furthermore, it is important to identify what, overall, are your most powerful drivers. They may be circumstantial and dissipate upon serving their purpose, or they may be ingrained and forever with you. In either case, taking advantage of them will be favorable.

Points on Fuel

 #1  Many different things can fuel you into motion and manifestation. Some are more effective than others, depending, and they all have pros and cons. They also have varying types and degrees of risk.

 #2  What fuels you will be present, in one way or another, in what you do and make. Even when it has been heavily transformed or covered, some traces may remain. But in any case, its existence cannot be fully erased from your work. Only denied (which isn’t very advisable).

 #3  Fuel may take over you to the point where you become a medium for it rather than its owner. You may still have some control over it, but it can be overpowering. As though something, for better or for worse, possessed you.

 #4  Not everything goes, but a lot does. Destructive, negative, and other questionable and reprimandable energies may be valid or even essential in certain circumstances.

 #5  Works that are not fueled by much can come across as empty, shallow, and lacking in substance. And many will pick up on this.

Thursday, April 13, 2023

Reclaiming Your Center

What is your center? What is at your core? And have you strayed from it?

Normally, when we’re out of our center, a sense that something is off can pervade us. We may begin feeling unease and anxiety might kick in. We may not feel like ourselves and, taken too far, find ourselves feigning and faking. Our energy levels might suffer too, depending on whether you’re the kind of person that is significantly charged or drained according to how aligned or misaligned you are with your true self. Overall, it is not a positive or constructive state. It can be tolerated and endured, but it is not optimal - especially if you wish to live a genuine and fulfilling life.

At the core of you are your most deeply and strongly held principles, values, and gifts. These sit there to guide and aid you through life toward manifesting your greatest potential as a human being.

In some cases, the center of someone can feel like a small area that one must constantly watch out for to not step out of. But in other cases, it is wide enough for you to basically forget about while you move around. Both cases (and everything in between) have their pros and cons and serve their purpose in the diversity of life. However, more likely than not, it will expand over time to some degree as roots and trunks do to hold the spread of broad and thick branches.

Unfortunately, we can lose ourselves to people and situations. Meeting them where they are and adjusting to them. Often compromising a bit too much to go along and get along. People and situations can certainly promote growth and expansion, but if they are significantly steering us off course or chipping away at us, it is time to reconsider our position. The environment we’re in may not be suitable for our personal development and could be improved or should be left. Yet, at times, it is more a matter of taking some time away to reclaim our center after the environment’s stimuli heavily influenced us, pulling and pushing in different directions, and recognizing where our limits are to be firmer with them when we rejoin.

Once you let go of what had been taking you from your center, you can be disoriented or even void. You may have forgotten what moves and fills you independently from it. You may realize that much of what you were being and doing wasn’t really “you”. As though you were under some sort of spell. Or drunk and just now sobering up. This is natural.

To reclaim your center, you can begin by giving yourself space and silence to be alone and return to yourself. This can be done by meditating, going on walks, journaling, etc. Then, continue on to engage in activities that you know you love or suspect you would love. Take your time. (Particularly if you have been severely neglected and/or abused.)

It also helps, for future occurrences, to set or create a “home” point. Somewhere you can go to that effectively brings you back to your core. This can be a place, a room, a mixtape, a scrapbook… Whatever prompts or transports you to where what most matters to you is. Feel free to get artistic with it until it successfully centers you. This way, you can venture and roam, temporarily visit and stay in foreign areas that may have you out of your element but still be worth experiencing, without many worries - since you have established a spot with links that can automatically or quickly “reset” you.

Points on Balance

 #1  You require balance to maintain your equilibrium as you stand or move forward. This matters in the short term but more so for the long term.

 #2  To be balanced, it doesn’t necessarily mean splitting things equally. Balance can be for you 70% of something and 30% of something else, for example.

 #3  It is tempting to believe that, to be balanced, you must learn to perfectly juggle everything everyone cares about. But you must find what you personally need and want in your life, to what degree, and work with that instead.

 #4  Trying to retain balance at all times is a losing battle that can frustrate you. Sometimes you stumble or are knocked over and you must give yourself plenty of wiggle room to truly regain your balance.

 #5  One of the easiest ways to lose your balance is overextending yourself for something or someone that won’t catch you or give you a hand.

Tuesday, April 11, 2023

Home of Adventurous Kittens

There are actually 6+ of them. The plan was to get a cute group picture with everyone, but they were all over the place. Actively venturing out. So, that didn't happen. What I did get, though, was a compilation of the chaos.

Life has been hectic for me lately, and I’m still not fully out of the hecticness of it. Getting there! And these kittens, although their moms were exemplary as caregivers, were part of what kept me occupied. Besides setting up their space, I’ve been checking on them every once in a while to make sure they were well-fed, comfortably warm, and still breathing. Not to mention the constant worrying in the back of my mind. So far, however, it looks like they’re growing up to be strong and courageous.

I would not have guessed that I’d end up in this role, watching over cats. It all started around a decade ago, upon finding a lost and sickly orange kitten in the streets and taking him in. Since then, every other wandering cat in need of a home has been welcome (unless seriously harmful to the rest). It also seems that neighbors have identified this place as a sort of cat shelter and have also sneakily dropped cats here. Which is fine! (Better than leaving them to die.)

I’ve learned much from having cats - about them and about me. And it is now baffling to me when people dislike cats or expect them to be anything other than cats. Their personalities range widely and I won’t deny the existence of problematic and even malicious cats (some can indeed be jerks). But at the end of the day, they are curious creatures that can surprise you. With love, laughter, and more. If you cannot appreciate cats, then you do not deserve cats. Hmph!

I set aside and am currently setting up an outdoorsy indoors space for these kiddos (a.k.a. a catio) where they can safely play, eat, rest, and basically have all their primary needs met. At least for as long as this is their home. I’m looking forward to making upgrades to it throughout the year (likely getting stuff from Amazon for it, to make it more cozy and functional! 📦📦📦).

Fun Fact: Cats are naturally sun-seeking and enjoy basking in the sun. They are relatively heat-tolerant but are still at risk of being burnt by extreme temperatures. Therefore, keeping them away from scalding hot objects and fire is important.

Note: I've had adorable dogs, too. But that's another story.