I have so often been told to visualize the future I want. “Send out positive thoughts. Invite the universe to present it to you.”

I’ve always figured it doesn’t work because I’m too much a skeptic. Perhaps it’s because, as this article suggests, having once visualized what I want, I stop trying. My brain – that so-easily deluded brain that we all trust so implicitly – has decided I’m already where I want to be, so it encourages me to stop trying to get there.

Visualizing the worst seems counter-intuitive at first, but there is much to be said for it. If nothing else, you are planning ahead, even if unconsciously, what you might do if things don’t work out as you’d hoped. So you are better prepared for whatever result eventually arises.

It’s not seeking failure. It’s accepting that you need to be open to learning, to new approaches and new ideas. Turning all life experience into an opportunity to develop yourself, not to stagnate on one only-possible path.

Failure, even if only acting foolishly in a social setting, is an indicator that you are acting at your current limits. The key is to see failure as an opportunity to expand those limits.

From:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2012/jun/15/happiness-is-being-a-loser-burkeman

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Discovered  / the Friendly Atheist / today. He approaches the subject as I do, with kindness and tolerance. He is far more public than I, though.

/ This post / on the Supreme Court decision not to hear the case against putting a religious reference on public  bank notes.  I loved the suggestion made in several of the comments. On paper money, cross out the ‘god’ of ‘in god we trust’ and insert ‘reason’.

A perfect, silent revolution. Maybe if enough money is altered, the courts will realize that putting god on money isn’t tradition, it’s religion. Worth a try, anyways.

I would also amend one comment – it’s not just banks taking prayer instead of money – if the government  truly wants to insist that religion and money are necessary adjuncts – let’s all pay our taxes with prayers!

Two articles in today’s news.

The / first article /  is on how to increase your intelligence and maximize creativity. No, not some get-smart-quick scam. It’s an enjoyable read from Scientific American, and the last half of the article details five ways you can open yourself to new ideas, new skills, and increase your working intelligence. Certainly something we should all strive for. I have to comment, though: I never thought I would read phrases such as “absolutely oodles of terrible things written” in Scientific American. Delightful!

The / second article / is from The Guardian. I am an atheist. I am what I preach: a person who respects everyone’s right to choose to believe or not; or to chose what to believe, as makes them most comfortable. I only oppose anyone who wishes to impose their beliefs onto others, most especially into education or government policy. Written by a Christian minister, this article  has brilliant insights into our increasingly diverse world. I love this quote:  “how do we, as Christians, survive and flourish in a marketplace of faiths?”.

A note for writers: we live in our heads. We pull out ideas, images, memories and turn them into words and stories. Where do we get these inspirations? (Writers are always asked where they get their ideas) Following the five points of the researcher on intelligence and creativity can only be a boon. Stimulation not just of other ideas, but of people and place. That was one of the most unexpected benefits of the writers conference I recently attended. I left there with my brain burgeoning with ideas, new ways of seeing thing, new thoughts to consider. Not mind-blowing: most definitely mind expanding. And enhancing.

I went to my very first writer’s conference. I publicly acknowledged that I am a Writer (pause for effect). I went to diverse talks on diverse topics and learned far more than I’d expected to. It was beneficial and stimulating.

I also had the ironic, somewhat muted pleasure of helping hand the platter: you know, those people to whom life always hands things on a platter? I am not Hebe, but I can hand with the best.  I am glad that I was helpful; not being a card-carrying saint, I cannot help but wish for similar easy recognition. Great things can happen at conferences. I have seen it.

I was not handed a platter, but I was handed a path, and for that I am grateful. I have been wondering how I should pursue my dreams, and now I see a clear path laid out before me. That frightens me. I am not by nature a direct sort. But out of all the talks, through all the workshops, and thanks to the mental acceleration of that intense weekend, an idea was born.

Sometimes, perhaps always, one must conquer one’s fears and one’s inertia and step out into a new world – a new way of living. To do otherwise is to stagnate.

This last year and a half has been one new step after another. It doesn’t get any easier: the steps get bigger. But the confidence that I can and will keep walking grows. Not yet the light at the end of a tunnel, but a path that might take me where I want to be.

And perhaps, just perhaps, that path is a greater thing than a life handed to me. I don’t know. I don’t have a choice or a way to compare. I do have the hope of achieving a dream through my own efforts. And after all, I have help. There are people who wish me well, who offer assistance, and who I can help, too. Despite my slightly sour grapes comments above, being able to help others and to help yourself gives far more of that contentment that is happiness than any amount of receiving. Self-respect comes not from being told you’re worthwhile, but from knowing you have accomplished something of worth.

amended: I meant to add this later on the day I posted this, but got sidetracked. I am aware that for most people who get the breaks, they have put in long hours of hard work preparing. But for every one who does all the work and gets noticed, there are dozens (thousands?) equally ready and equally capable who go unseen. That’s life. Yup. Doesn’t make it any easier. And no – I am not ready for my novels to be noticed. I am ferociously editing. In a month or two?  Fingers crossed. My comments are mostly philanthropic, not personal.

This weekend I am attending the San Fransisco Writer’s Conference.

I have never attended such a thing before. In fact, I have never (except to a few family members and this blog’s readers) publicly announced I am a writer before. I have read that others have the same hesitance. Perhaps timidity, perhaps superstition, perhaps even ego (after all, how many times do you want to stammer excuses when asked, “Hey, haven’t you gotten published *yet*?)

It has been, so far, an experience of highs and lows. One very frustrating event where poor moderation led to a session that lasted far too long and ended with several people not getting their chance to shine; but for the most part, the speakers have been excellent and the range of information broad.

Social media dominates. Alas, we poor writers have to learn to publicize ourselves. Gone are the days of sitting in your nest producing fledglings books, and then letting others worry about the flying lessons. Especially if one goes with ebooks and self-publishing, which sound quite enticing after several workshops on the topic, one must find ways to Build One’s Platform. I cringe.

There is an element of excitement, the lure of the challenge, but it is to force myself out of my lifelong comfort zone. Worthy aspiration, terrifying prospect.

I am writing tonight because I am skipping out on the evening’s events. A fifteen and a half hour day around myriad bustling bodies, then six hours sleep, followed by a nine-hour day was too much. Veterans of various maths conferences, both my offspring wonder that I would go to all the sessions. “I’m paying for it,” I reply. For the conferences they’ve attended, they’ve been fully subsidized, which encourages a less stringent attitude. They did socialize extensively with all the other mathematicians who found beer and football more to their taste than the esoteric ramifications of the elusive equilibrium.

If asked if I would recommend attending a writing conference,  I’d say, “Yes. Go to your second one.” Not to be facetious: truly, there is a mindset, a way of functioning that has to be learned, by me, at least. Some people are natural networkers and they seem to have met all the right people and gone to all the right sessions. For introverted types like me, and I went to a session today by Dan Poynter titled ‘Self-Promotion for Introvert’, it can be frustrating. I know I need to network. I want to network, but somehow I end up off in a corner all the same.

My poor networking skills led to the discovery that men establish bastions. Although there are a large number of them here, they seem to cling together. Lesson one on the first morning – do not, as a female, sit at a table where three or more men are already gathered. Other women do not arrive. Other men do, and they ignore you.  Yes, yes – generalization. Allow me the luxury of writing for effect and not for total accuracy. I have had several nice chats with men; it’s not that they’re unapproachable, merely that they are more comfortable in a pack. It’s not just women who clump; the stereotype holds across genders, guys.

I must ascend the knee-boggling steep hills again to be at the conference hotel at 7:30 in the morning. An hour not fit for man nor beast, but one that has been decreed. So I am off to polish my pitch yet again, and get some sleep.

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