Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Are You Where You Need To Be?

If you are anything like me a lot of your state of mind comes from your physical location in the world. It is simply a fact that some places feel more like home to us than other places do. There is nothing wrong with the places we do not resonate with, they are just not for us. The problem we can sometimes encounter is how do we know which places are better for us without actually leaving our area, and what do we do if we find out that our current geographical location isn't working for us.

Studying geography may be mind blowingly boring to some people but the benefits are far greater than just being able to win party trivia games. Getting a feel for the places, histories and peoples of places you feel you have always wanted to visit can also help key you in to a possible permanent location as well. Maybe the government is more progressive, or the people generally more laid back. Perhaps the climate is for you, or you feel you want to trade in the concrete jungle for a crystal clear blue ocean. Maybe you've lived in a desert all your life and want to have white Christmases from now on. These things can be learned by studying.

The next logical step is to actually visit the places you have learned about. See if they are as safe as they claim. You will want to see what it would be like to live there, what you would have to give up and what you would gain. Worst case scenario you have simply marked it off your list and can focus on somewhere else. Or perhaps after all of your studying you will find that where you are right now is where you are supposed to be.

The one piece of advise I would give is never let money be your primary factor in where you live. Happiness is much more important and if you really are meant to be someplace the universe will provide much more abundance than you could ever possibly use, and much more than you would have staying in a place you did not absolutely love.

Grant Virtue

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Re-Learning How to Write

Who taught you to read? For most people it is a pretty easy question to answer. It could have been a parent, sibling, tutor, teacher or any number of people. It is a fundamental skill that serves you your entire life. 

Now where did you learn how to write? This is a bit of a trickier one to answer because we are taught how to write bit by bit, piece by piece over a long period of time. During that time we hopefully develop our own style, but it is all too easy to pick up some bad habits from our teachers. Also since it does happen over such a large period of time sometimes we find ourselves not knowing a certain writing technique when we need it, or forgetting it when we want to use it because we learned it far too long ago and completely out of context.

Just as every other skill in life it is important to take time to learn more about writing if you would like to be serious at it. At the very least it can lead to inspiration or give you the proper motivation necessary to finish writing your book.

This does not mean you have to go back to school, although that is a terrific option. Fortunately for all of us there are dozens of great writing books in our local libraries and book shops. If you are a procrastinator, like I can be, I recommend the book No Plot? No Problem!: A Low-Stress, High-Velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days. However if you would simply like some basic (and not so basic) advice on technique the book Writing Fiction For Dummies is a priceless treasure.

However you re-learn how to write you are sure to be doing yourself and your readers a great favor by giving your story that extra push towards greatness.

Grant Virtue 

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Life Happens One Minute At a Time

Pracrastination may be highly tempting. Believe me, I have been known to be a master at the craft. Sooner or later though the time comes that you will have to do what you have been putting off, or risk it not being done ever.

Many times we set goals for ourselves, say at New Years or before and after big events in our lives. Most of the times these are really great and healthy goals that probably deserve to be followed through on. A good portion of the time we do not achieve these self imposed targets however. Most people assume it is because we lack follow through, are not disciplined enough, or they were too hard and we set the bar too high.

The truth of the matter is not that we've ever really consciously decided to throw in the towel, it is that we put it off too long. When you delay or procrastinate something for too long a period of time it becomes exceptionally easy to completely forget about whatever it was you were trying to achieve. Perhaps you feel you've been away from it for so long that not starting is easier than starting over.

Life, for better or for worse, keeps moving whether we want it to or not. Sometimes it is full of tasks we feel that we do not want to accomplish but we know we need to. Try this on for size, stop reading for one second and think of the most awful thing on your to-do list. It can be the book that you never finished writing, the dishes, a call to a family member, or whatever else it is. If you were able to think about it that quickly then it is on your mind in some place, and it is time for you to do it.

Make that the first thing you finish on your list. Once it's done, it is done and you can get on with your life without anything hanging over your head. If it is something really good for you, say a new exercise regime, then you have already started and every day will just get easier from here. If it is your book then you have proven to yourself that you can write, so get in there and do it. If it is that phone call then you made the effort and reached out. Now you can go have some guilt free fun!

Grant Virtue

Monday, August 9, 2010

Out With the Old

Clutter is a universal truth in life. The more we live the more we acquire until such time that we find we cannot even move about, let along grow and acquire more.

It is not just possessions but feelings, opinions, beliefs and people that can clutter our lives. Sometimes you need to clear some outdated or no longer useful things from every aspect of your life.

It may sound cold and callous to say that people can become clutter, but just like everything else in our lives some people are here to teach you a very important lesson or two and then move on. It is the mutual hanging on to each other when the energy has long been spent that can lead to unhealthy relationships, both romantic and platonic.

Opinions are another area that should receive frequent weeding out. When we find ourselves so entrenched in a position, belief or political viewpoint that we think anyone who feels differently is somehow damaged it may be time to see if you are a bit cluttered. Try the other side on for a change, become your own Devil's Advocate and see if you can't at least gain some perspective on how the other side lives.

Ultimately though our space does dictate how we live our lives, and a cluttered space does eventually lead to a cluttered mind. This week try to come up with a very short list of things that you have around you that you no longer need. Post them up for sale on eBay or TripleClicks, donate them to a needy charity or see if one of your friends or neighbors has a need for it. It may be a small step, but ultimately it can lead to a much clearer head and personal space.

Grant Virtue

Sunday, August 8, 2010

It Is Never Too Late

Have you ever wanted to try something new, or wanted to return to an activity you used to participate in but feel you have been left too far behind?

Perhaps you used to paint, but feel that too much time has gone by and now you are rusty. Or you'd like to go back to school but don't even know where to start and don't want to be the oldest one in the class. Maybe you used to play the violin and would love to take it up again but have completely forgotten the fingering for first position. Even if you have never tried any of these but simply want to start and feel intimidated, there is one thing to remember:

It is never too late.

The quest for knowledge is lifelong. Trust me even the most famous of painters, violinists, lauded professors, all of them have more to learn if they give themselves the chance and permission.

The same applies to you. Never be afraid of starting out or restarting from the beginning. Most of the time it is in these beginning times that you have the most amount of fun practicing and learning new things.

Think about it this way, if you find painting fun then you will probably find learning about painting to also be fun. The first year of classes you take will teach you more techniques than your second, third, or fourth year will. You have more ground to cover in the beginning and so much more fun to have.

So jump in, have fun, learn something new or relearn something old. You will be better off for it and the world gains that much more beauty through your knowledge, art and music.

Grant Virtue