Listen to the Whisper

On Wednesdays, I share posts, fables, songs, poems, quotations, TEDx Talks, cartoons, and books that have inspired and motivated me on my writing journey. I hope these posts will give writers, artists, and other creatives a mid-week boost.

In her latest book, The Path Made Clear, Oprah Winfrey opens each chapter by sharing key lessons and personal stories. In Chapter 3, she shares the following spiritual principle.

Your life is always speaking to you. It speaks in whispers, guiding you to your next right step. And in many situations, the whisper is also the first warning. It’s a quiet nudge from deep within saying, Hmm, something feels off. A small voice that tells you, This is no longer your place of belonging. It’s the pit in your stomach, or the pause before you speak. It’s the shiver, the goosebumps that raise the hairs on the back of your neck.

Whatever form the whisper takes, it’s not a coincidence. Your life is trying to tell you something.

Heeding these signs can open the doors to your personal evolution, pushing you toward your life’s purpose. Ignoring them–sleepwalking through your life–is an invitation to chaos.

Life is about growth and change, and when you are no longer doing either, you’ve received your first whisper.

Pay attention to what makes you feel energized, connected, and stimulated. Follow your intuition, do what you love, and you will do more than succeed.

You will soar.

Source: The Path Made Clear, pp. 44-45


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14 Tips from Stephen King

On Wednesdays, I share posts, fables, songs, poems, quotations, TEDx Talks, cartoons, and books that have inspired and motivated me on my writing journey. I hope these posts will give writers, artists, and other creatives a mid-week boost.

Here are 14 tips, distilled from Stephen King’s book On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, a must-read for all writers and wannabe writers.



Start. Right. Now

On Wednesdays, I share posts, fables, songs, poems, quotations, TEDx Talks, cartoons, and books that have inspired and motivated me on my writing journey. I hope these posts will give writers, artists, and other creatives a mid-week boost.

Whenever I need a strong dose of motivation, I pick up one of Jen Sincero’s books. Here’s a great pick-me-upper from her latest release, You Are a Badass Everyday.

Waiting until you know exactly what you’re doing or until all of the circumstances are just right or until you have a a large pile of extra cash lying around is the best way to wake up at ninety-seven years old, fishing your teeth out of a cup by the bed, wondering what the hell happened to the life you were so excited to live. Procrastination is just fear in the form of brakes, and fear is not the boss of you.

Start. Right. Now.

And here’s a tip: start small. Chunk your to-dos down into manageable bits of time or break your tasks up into friendly baby steps instead of trying to get the entire thing done in one intimidating leap. Especially if what’s been dogging you is something you’ve been successfully putting off for a while. For example, if you’re struggling to commit to a meditation practice, sit in silence for seven little minutes a day, then after a while up it to eight minutes and then nine and then you’re on your way. If you’re writing a book, sit at your desk with your phone turned off, the internet disabled, armed guards at your door, and do not get up until you’ve written one brilliant paragraph.The next time you show up for work write two brilliant paragraphs, then up it to three, and then four, and then you’re on your way.

Motivation, commitment, focus–these are all muscles that, like any muscle, require strengthening. If you push yourself too hard right out of the gate, you’ll hurt yourself and walk in wide circles around that gym instead of going inside whenever you’re in the neighborhood. If you build slowly and steadily and chunk it down, not only do you save yourself some pain, but you’ll start noticing changes almost immediately. And there ain’t nothing that makes you show up, and keep showing up, like getting results.

Source: You are a Badass Everyday, pp. 125-126


Dealing with the Facts

On Wednesdays, I share posts, fables, songs, poems, quotations, TEDx Talks, cartoons, and books that have inspired and motivated me on my writing journey. I hope these posts will give writers, artists, and other creatives a mid-week boost.

Years ago, I read Marshall Goldsmith’s book, MOJO: How to Get It, How to Keep It, How to Get It Back If You Lose It. At the time, I was dealing with some personal challenges and needed to get myself back on track. Here’s one passage that continues to resonate with me.

Waiting for the facts to change–instead of dealing with the facts as they are–is a common response to a setback. It’s the response of the owner of a dying business who refuses to cut costs or lay off workers during a continued downturn because a turnaround is just around the corner. It’s the response of a shopkeeper in a decaying part of town who gamely sticks to his product line and his way of doing business even as customers disappear, revenue shrinks, and neighboring stores shut down. The area will come back, he thinks; it can’t simply vanish.

When people wait for discomfiting facts to change into something more to their liking, they’re basically engaging in wishful thinking. It’s the opposite of over-committing because it leads to underacting (or under-committing and not acting at all). Instead of doing something, you’re frozen in place while you wait for a more comforting set of facts to appear. In a world that’s constantly rushing forward, this is akin to moving backward. That’s a mojo killer.

When the facts are not to your liking, ask yourself, “What path would I take if I knew that the situation would not get better?” Then get ready to do that. If the world changes in your favor, you haven’t lost anything. If the facts do not change, you are more ready to face the new world.

Source: MOJO: How to Get It, How to Keep It, How to Get It Back If You Lose It by Marshall Goldsmith


Reawaken Your Creativity

On Wednesdays, I share posts, fables, songs, poems, quotations, TEDx Talks, cartoons, and books that have inspired and motivated me on my writing journey. I hope these posts will give writers, artists, and other creatives a mid-week boost.

At this time of year, it can be difficult to motivate ourselves. If you’re experiencing the winter doldrums, try reawakening your creativity with one of these suggestions.



Buy the Artichoke

On Wednesdays, I share posts, fables, songs, poems, quotations, TEDx Talks, cartoons, and books that have inspired and motivated me on my writing journey. I hope these posts will give writers, artists, and other creatives a mid-week boost.

While reading Chellie Campbell’s book, The Wealthy Spirit, I came across this entertaining and inspiring story about risk-taking.

Amy Frelinger, one of my class participants, came in one afternoon exasperated about an experience she had at the grocery store. She had seen an older woman in the produce section looking over the artichokes. The woman picked up one, then another, of the vegetables, turning them around and around in her hands, frowning. Noticing Amy watching her, she smiled and said, “I don’t know how to cook these, do you?” Amy said that she did, and gave her some simple directions on how to steam the artichoke and then eat it with melted butter.

Another woman overheard the conversation and chimed in with the suggestion that she dip it in herb salad dressing. Soon there were several people making suggestions on different ways to cook artichokes, encouraging the older woman to try it. The woman listened and seemed to enjoy the conversation, but eventually she put the artichoke back, saying, “I’m just not sure about this.”

Amy was aghast. She was incredulous that the woman couldn’t take the risk to cook an artichoke. “It only cost $1.49!” she exclaimed. “How big a risk could it be?”

Step outside your comfort zone today. Take a risk. You don’t have to quit your job, get divorced, or move to another country yet. Practice with little risks. Shop at a different grocery store. Drive a different route to work. Try out a new restaurant. Watch a foreign film with subtitles. Cut your hair. Go to a concert. Sleep on the other side of the bed.

Cook an artichoke.



Life is Good

On Wednesdays, I share posts, fables, songs, poems, quotations, TEDx Talks, cartoons, and books that have inspired and motivated me on my writing journey. I hope these posts will give writers, artists, and other creatives a mid-week boost.

During my cancer journey, I noticed one of the patients at the Juravinski Cancer Centre wearing a T-shirt with a grinning stick figure and the message: Life is Good. I asked about the T-shirt and learned that it was part of an apparel line launched by two enterprising young men in Massachusetts. Many cancer warriors throughout Canada and the United States wear these T-shirts during their treatments.

Here’s the inspiring story of Life is Good…

The story of Life is Good begins not with the company’s founding but in the childhood of Bert and John Jacobs. The youngest of six children, the two brothers grew up in Needham, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston. Life in the Jacobs household was, by many people’s standards, hard. The second floor of their small home had no heat. Their dad had a temper. And they couldn’t always afford basic necessities. Their mom, Joan, joked that she bought them food they didn’t like so that it would last longer.

Despite all of this, Joan was a resilient and cheerful woman who focused on the positive. Every night at the dinner table, she asked all six children to share one good thing that happened to them that day. As the kids talked about finding a Rolling Stones CD at the dump, hearing a funny joke, or learning something cool in school, the energy of the room transformed. Everyone started laughing and smiling. Joan’s optimism lifted them up. “I like running out of money,” she would tell them, “because then I don’t have to worry about what I need to buy.” From her, the boys learned that joy comes form our mindset, not just your circumstances.

In 1989, when they were in their twenties, Bert and John started a business designing printed T-shirts, which they sold on the streets of Boston. They also traveled up and down the East Coast, selling the shirts door-to-door on college campuses, each time making barely enough money to fund the next road trip. They slept in their van, ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and showered when they could.

On the road, they spent a lot of time talking. During one trip, they discussed the way the media inundates the culture with stories of murder, rape, war, and suffering day after day. Though bad things happen and it’s important to know about them, they agreed, the world is also full of good news. They thought of Joan and her ability to turn a light on in a dark room. They decided they wanted to promote her values in their work, to create a symbol that would serve as an antidote to the cynicism they saw in the culture–a superhero whose power was optimism.

John sketched a grinning stick figure on a T-shirt. He called the character Jake. When they got back to Boston, they threw a party and pinned the new T-shirt on a wall. Their friends loved it. One of them wrote on the wall next to the T-shirt, “This guy’s got life figured out,” with an arrow pointing to Jake.

Original Drawing of “Jake” from April 1994

The brothers distilled that phrase to three words: “Life is good.” Then, they printed the image of Jake and the phrase on forty-eight T-shirts. When they set up their stand on a sidewalk in Cambridge, they sold all of the shirts in less than an hour–a first for them. That was in 1994. At the time, they had $78 to their name. Today, they run a $100 million lifestyle brand.

As their business grew, they started receiving letters and emails from people who had faced and were facing difficult life circumstances, including cancer, the loss of a loved one, homelessness, and natural disasters. These people wrote about how moved they were by the Life is Good message, and how they had emerged from their adversity with a deeper appreciation of and gratitude for life.

In 2010, the company launched a non-profit arm called Life is Good Kids Foundation, devoted to children who are living with illnesses, violence, abuse, poverty, and other adversities.The primary program of the foundation is called Playmakers, an initiative that offers training and enrichment workshops to childcare providers like teacher, social workers, and hospital workers. Since its founding, the foundation has trained over 6,000 Playmakers who are working to improve the lives of over 120,000 kids each day. Each year, Life is Good donates 10 percent of its net profits to help kids in need.

Life is Good Website

Source: The Power of Meaning by Emily Esfahani Smith