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Whether consciously or otherwise, at every moment of any day, we are making decisions. Even apathy and inaction is a choice; a decision made to take no action. Each of us has the opportunity to make the best use of our time, or to allow time to flood by as we sit on the sidelines of our own lives. Life is a choice we make thru our planning and actions, or by apathy and/or ignorance. Which person are you? It’s a decision you can make this second. It is organic, changing, expanding, contracting, and you can alter your life choices at any time. Your life is a result of the decisions you make, or don’t make. It seems obvious, and yet I myself have only recently internalized the depth of this information. Life is a decision. It’s a series of decisions. That statement doesn’t mean I have control over all the events that happen in my life and on the fringes of my life, but it does mean that I always have control over how I respond to any given stimuli. Consciously responding with thoughtful consideration is a higher road choice, for instance, than over reacting in a barbaric, non-contemplative knee-jerk reaction. For the past few months, I have made some rather large life changes. I’m now committed to conscious control of my life. My vows to do things differently, to actually consciously, boldly choose my path, have been tested, and have been altered as a result. In spite of life occasionally getting in the way of my aspirations, I’ve managed to stay oddly positive about all the events taking place. Simultaneously, I am committed to find the good, or at least the valuable lesson, in every episode despite how nefarious or taxing. When a close friend died, for instance, I took time to dig deep into my psyche in order to unearth the gift in his passing. It sounds impossible, right? The first time I was instructed to “find the gift” in a particularly painful event, I lashed out at the facilitator. But as time passed, I did discover that every seemingly negative situation, even the death of a loved one, has another side that glitters. Patience and pondering have reinforced the idea, and now it automatically makes any event just a little easier to swallow. Currently, my commitment is to meditate daily for at least 15 short minutes, and to write each day at least 1000 words. As a result of that commitment, I successfully completed a nonfiction manuscript of over 150,000 words. The first hundred thousand words came quite quickly and with relative ease. It is the tedium of editing those words, of choosing only the most valuable and precise sentences, of throwing out my not-so-well written prose that brings the yawns. But editing must be done, sort of like a life-lesson of balancing the fun with the chores. It builds character, and frankly, how few of my friends, relatives and acquaintances have the tenacity and dedication to sit down every day and write a book? It’s a self-esteem building activity, and I’m all about the importance of self-esteem building. I’m a big picture sort of writer. I love the concepts, get ‘great’ ideas on a continuous basis, and start a LOT of articles and books. I’m decidedly not the sort of person who will ever count beans for a living. The small stuff is important, and I seriously am repelled by small stuff. Let someone else sweat it! I’m off to writing the big words, the large word counts, the creative concepts that come from meditative moments in warm scented baths. Writing the book proposals and query letters is instrumental in getting published, and so I consciously make a decision to perfect my shining letters to agents and editors. I don’t pretend to like it though. Not for a second do I consider that I have any innate strength or talent in query writing, although with all the practice, I probably am perfecting the process even as I wince. It’s part of my conscious commitment to take more control of my life that demands I write those queries, send them out to the perfect parties (having researched and determined just who those parties might be), as I envision at least one of them reading my application with excited enthusiasm. My decision to live consciously has also included growing a thicker skin. I’m collecting ‘rejection letters’ on a regular basis (again) and have gathered them into a rather large volume that sits on my desk. At any time that my ego may attempt to get too big for her britches, I can just pull out the equalizer and cut that ego back down to size. It doesn’t happen often. Life most Earthlings, I wrestle with the balance, the homeostasis, the fodder which provides the substance for the books I write. I’ve also designed a little book for writing down nice things, complements that others give me about my writing. I write the date, the circumstances, the quote, and the person’s name (if I have managed to get it). This when, where, what and who bolsters me when things get to me. When I’m feeling especially vulnerable, or depressed, or even hopeless, I pull out the collection of positive comments from admiring readers, college professors, and even from elementary school teachers. “Keep writing. You’re good.” I have reread that dog-eared praise many times, and in the spirit of pay-it-forward, I have said those identical words to aspiring writers. Who knows, maybe my name will end up in their little book of complements too for time when their ego needs a little TLC. Commit to the practice of perfecting. Whatever you do, keep doing it. You’re good at it. 😉

~From Paris with Love & Light