Category Archives: Inspiration

Visit To Earth

I wrote this post back in October and never published it (or any other post since for that matter). I’ve had an interesting few months, filled with all sorts of things. I’ve been trying to balance my day job with my writing and it hasn’t been easy. Hoping 2013 will make that easier. Happy new year to all!

This past week I had the great nerve of taking a week off. I know, I know, a week off is almost unheard of nowadays. And in all fairness, I had my work ball-and-chain, aka smartphone, on me at all times and checked email a few times a day; but it was a vacation regardless.

To make it even better, not only did I have a week off, but I also got to spend it in a magnificent village on the Central California Coast called Cambria. And, the cherry on top: I drove there! Imagine: no standing in a security line, no limit on how many bags I can take with, no limits on liquids (which came in quite handy since I stopped en route and acquired a serious stash of Dreamweaver), no worries about what to wear that’s both public-ready and comfortable, no headphones necessary to listen to my music and books. And I stuck mostly to the PCH,  which meant that the views stayed spectacular as soon as I hit Malibu.

I did a lot of thinking this week. And how can one not have lots of quality thoughts with this view before one’s eyes?

I won’t bore you with the details of every rumination I had, but I will bore you with the most important one:

We, the people, are effing messed up.

There’s so much beauty around us yet we fail to see it. And there are so many truly significant things in this world that need our attention and energy–HUNGER, POVERTY, WAR, DISEASE, SOCIAL INEQUALITY, EDUCATION–yet we waste our lives on absurd pseudo-problems and ridiculous emotions (guilty as charged right here, by the way).

I know this is not an original thought. In fact, many have been talking up a storm about this forever. And yes, there are those who are focusing on the right issues. But in our country in particular, we also seem to have an overwhelming number of people who are glamorizing the idea of savage capitalism, who believe value is equal to wealth, who desperately want to start new wars and put more resources toward killing others, who think people who are poor are so because they’re lazy and entitled, who think the color of one’s skin or one’s gender determines one’s superiority. I could go on forever, but I have a feeling I don’t have to. I have a feeling that those whose souls still dwell in the land of humanity, know what the issues are. Now only if there were enough of us to start a spiritual revolution that would make all these issues things of the past.

You may think it’s a bit strange (and even ironic) that I would start with my great vacation, and I would end on this serious, somewhat depressing note. The point I’m trying to make here is that we don’t need to renounce our current lives in order to be human every day. We don’t need to give up our worldly possessions in order to make a difference in this world. I can still have a vacation, which I’ve earned in the environment I live in, and at the same time try to become a better person and course-correct. Excess and ignorance do not equal happiness or peace of mind. Living in the present and manifesting our humanity, however, will get us closer to it than anything else.

I’ll leave you with some more shots from my week in Cambria.

Cambria CoastBoardwalk on Moonlight Beach Vineyard Houses Little Sur Inn Sunrise Furry friend Surfers Boardwalk2 Houses 2


The Pace Of Nature

I wonder how many people have true patience. And most importantly, what true patience feels like.

I feel like I’m confusing patience with fear sometimes — as in, “yeah, of course [insert thing you desire most] isn’t going to happen just yet, I have patience” when in fact, what you really mean is “I’m so crazy scared that [insert thing you desire most] isn’t going to happen, that I’m going to shield myself from the avalanche of pain by trying to want it less.”

Sometimes I feel like I can be patient. But it’s always with things that I don’t hang my spiritual hat on. Because when it comes to things I most desire, I find it very hard to be patient. And that’s why I wonder how many people truly know what patience is, and how many are just using the word patience to describe fear, laziness, cowardice, lack of focus, lack of passion, false wisdom…

Today I’m trying to be truly patient.

 

Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience. — Ralph Waldo Emerson

The keys to patience are acceptance and faith. Accept things as they are, and look realistically at the world around you. Have faith in yourself and in the direction you have chosen. — Ralph Marston

For anything worth having one must pay the price; and the price is always work, patience, love, self-sacrifice – no paper currency, no promises to pay, but the gold of real service. — John Burroughs

Abused patience turns to fury. — Thomas Fuller (or Francis Quarles?)

A man who is a master of patience is master of everything else. — George Savile

He that can have patience can have what he will. — Benjamin Franklin

Genius is eternal patience. — Michelangelo

The two most powerful warriors are patience and time. — Lev Tolstoy

Patience, n. A minor form of dispair, disguised as a virtue. — Ambrose Bierce

Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet. — Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Patience has its limits. Take it too far, and it’s cowardice. — George Jackson

Patience is the support of weakness; impatience the ruin of strength. — Charles Colton

Patience is the art of hoping. — Luc de Clapiers

Patience, that blending of moral courage with physical timidity. — Thomas Hardy

Patience is the best remedy for every trouble. — Plautus

 


You Know How I Feel

This is the perfect metaphor for the writer I dream of being (I wish I were?). I bow down to young Carly Rose’s perfect mix of innocence, talent, confidence, and old soulfulness. Here is hoping she’ll hang on to this amazing spirit forever and won’t listen to those who will invariably come out of the woodwork and will try to project their own bitterness on her.


This Girl Is On Fire

The latest addition to my Karina Vega play list…


Shadow And Bone

Fantasy reads fall into three categories for me: #1) (most frequent) good plot, bad-to-mediocre writing, #2) bad plot, who-cares-about-the-writing (it’s usually bad), and #3) (hardest to find) great plot, great writing.

Shadow and Bone is a definite #3. An incredibly talented writer, Leigh Bardugo creates a vivid world of magic and medieval darkness, complete with teenage romance, a coming-of-age-with-fireworks story, and the cherry on top, a really intriguing villain (the kind you hate to love and keep rooting that he’ll turn himself around–I won’t say if he does or he doesn’t).

But the true gem of this book was the writing. It flowed as effortlessly as a hot knife through butter. I highlighted so many passages that I might as well had highlighted the whole thing. My hat off to Leigh Bardugo (and her editor) for her skills. The best compliment I can pay is to say that I can’t wait for the second book, and unlike with many other series, this time I’ll remember every single detail of the first one.

I probably couldn’t say much more than some of the reviewers on Amazon and elsewhere have already said, and I don’t want to take away your reading pleasure by slipping in spoilers because of my enthusiasm. So I’ll just urge you to read it–if you’re a fantasy fan, you’re bound to like it.

 

Find Shadow and Bone here

The publisher also made the first five chapters available for free here

And this is the UK version, entitled “The Gathering Dark”

 

Enjoy!

Kai


Machine Gun Preacher

I just finished watching “Machine Gun Preacher,” a movie in which Gerard Butler portrays Sam Childers, a man who turned his life around and is now running a charity in Sudan and Uganda.

A few thoughts:

– Devastating. What’s happening in the African war zones comes to my mind frequently, but I have to admit that at times it all becomes a little bit of a philosophical concept than an on-the-ground reality. Movies and documentaries are good reminders to keep the reality top of mind.

– I wish it didn’t take movies to remind us of these atrocities, but I’m grateful that they exist and someone realizes the importance of making them.

– It’s hard not to feel guilty; I try to remind myself that feeling guilty doesn’t solve the problem. And that compassion is completely different than guilt. So I donate what I can, and I hope that one of these days I’ll be able to get involved in more significant ways.

– It’s also hard not to feel disgusted by everything that’s happening around you, by all the trivial pursuits and petty complaints; unlike guilt, I wish everyone realized how few things in this life, in this world, truly matter, and we all started behaving more like human beings and less like rabid wolves. I know I engage in stupid, petty things all the time, especially during my work day. I’ll make a much more conscious effort to not do that anymore and this time I won’t need another movie to remind me of what really matters.

– What an amazing spirit Sam Childers seems to possess. What he’s doing is outstanding. And I bet that the reality is a lot more harrowing than even the movie portrayed. It also turns the idea of individual transformation on its head and provides an example of how one person living on the fringe of humanity, where little hope ever exists, can end up changing and making a massive difference in the world if they put their mind to it.

– I hope that Carpe Terram will someday become a beacon of life for those in need. I realized that what I described in Healers is much too timid. I am going to be a lot bolder in Rebels, and make sure the message of freedom and food for all is much clearer and more vividly illustrated (even if it’s still fiction).

– Everyone should watch this movie. Because I think collectively we can make a difference, even if it is simply by donating. Everyone can make a difference if they want to.

You can find the Machine Gun Preacher site here. You can donate to their charity here. And this is the movie trailer:

 

 

Carpe Terram!

Kai


Snow White and The Huntsman

Today I went to see Snow White and The Huntsman. If you don’t like spoilers then this is where today’s blog post ends for you. Thanks for reading!

But if you have seen it or can’t stay away from the temptation of a spoiler, read on after the trailer…

***SPOILER ALERT***

You have to have some creative chops to bring depth to an old good vs. evil children’s story. Especially one in which you cast Kristen Stewart, and pitted her against Charlize Theron. (Sorry, I just think Kristen Stewart only knows how to play Kristen Stewart. Bella Swan, Snow White… same character, different wardrobe.)

So, while the movie wasn’t as wowing as the trailer promised, here is what I think made it worth watching:

1. The characters have more depth than in the fairy tale. Snow White is still the beautiful little princess, but she’s not this confident, smiling, amazingly joyful, full of love woman, she’s just a scared teenager (of course, it helps that Kristen Stewart only knows how to play SAI – scared, anxious, insecure). The wicked step-mother is even more evil than in the story, but her evilness comes from a spell cast on her as a child by her own mother (which she couldn’t have really controlled), so she’s not evil just because that’s who she wanted to be. (And Charlize Theron does an amazing job on the role.) The seven dwarves are still good-hearted people, but with a lot of spunk and gritty looks.

2. The relationships are more realistic than in the fairy tale: the prince doesn’t get the princess; the “commoner” does. Or so I like to think. The ending can be left to interpretation, but I believe she picked the Huntsman (especially since it was his kiss that brought her back to life, not the prince’s). (Which brings me to another point: really, just one dry kiss while she was technically dead? It was a movie for adults. Spell it out next time, it would be nice to know what they feel about each other, otherwise it’s kinda pointless.)

3. The setting was dark and more Game of Thrones than Disney theme park. You could feel the terror everywhere, and the depressing medieval setting and the dark forest were characters of their own. As was the mirror (which looked more like a gong or an over-sized gold plate).

So if you like a good twist on an old story, you should watch it.

P.S.: Next movie I’m going to see? Magic Mike. That trailer was hysterical (I want to see it for the humor, who cares about Channing Tatum and Matthew McConaughey stripping? Just the way men buy Playboy for the articles.) Plus, I need something to balance out the “dryness” in Snow White. 😉


Imagine A World

This reminded me of the message in Healers… (Especially the final words: Do Epic Sh*t :))

(Source: http://www.highexistence.com/images/view/imagine-a-world/)


True To Who You Are

A while back I shared Jessie J.’s Who You Are. A friend sent me another version, filmed in NYC in the subway, from what the singer calls “The Boombox Series.” It’s cool to see, because it’s such a powerful “I am who I am and I’m not afraid to show it” message.


Song and Cry

I’m a big Jay-Z fan. I find him to be refreshingly anti-cliche. In fact, if you haven’t already, you should read his book Decoded, it’s a great read.

Someone has decided to mash-up Jay-Z and Radiohead and came up with Jaydiohead. The result is pretty cool. So here is one of the mashed-up songs (warning: it’s explicit):


Who You Are

From time to time I’ll share music that inspired me while writing Healers. Here is the first one: Jessie J. — Who You Are.