Humans, Yeah…But Love Them Anyway

A fellow blogger recently reminded me of the following: a “poem” that circulates around the intarwebz under the title “Anyway” and is generally attributed to Mother Teresa. After doing some research, I discovered that the original was penned by one Kent M. Keith and entitled “The Paradoxical Commandments.”

It seems worth reblogging.

The Paradoxical Commandments

People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.

If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.

The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.

People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.

People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.

Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway.

~ Kent M. Keith

(A version of these was made famous by Mother Teresa.)

The last two “commandments” stir up a lot of thoughts and mixed emotions in me. On one hand, every one of these resonates with me, and I want to shout, “YES! The world would be a glorious place if every one of us believed these things and acted on them!”

On the other hand, I struggle with setting healthy boundaries. The fight is not as tough as it once was, but there are still areas of my life in which I know my boundaries are ridiculously shoddy. (And I have a hard time not beating myself up about this.) So, to someone who has difficulty with drawing a firm line in a healthy place, Mr. Keith’s final two “commandments” can feel intimidating.

At what point do I withdraw (not my love but my self)? Where do I need to draw the line so that I’m not enabling instead of helping? For I know that there are, indeed, situations in which loving someone means not giving them my all. How do I know when I’m approaching the need to set that boundary? How do I know when I’m right on the line?

How do I know when I’ve crossed it?

These aren’t questions anyone can answer for me. The answers depend on the situation, on the people involved, and on my level of comfort (which, again, also corresponds to situation and persons). Relativity strikes again, I suppose. I just have to keep reminding myself to be patient — with me. It’s frustrating to have come so far in learning these boundary-setting skills…and then discover that I still have so much to learn.

But. In the meantime, “The Paradoxical Commandments” are good ones to live by, and I stand by the truth of that statement. Even the final two will, I think, lead one into a more meaningful and intentional life.

And that, really, is the kind of life I want: one that’s deliberate, intentional, infused with meaning. I don’t want to look back at my life and see a woman who has let fear or complacency or apathy rule her. I don’t want a life in which individuals or society have determined my choice, my direction, my goal.

Every one of Keith’s commandments resonates with my desire and my passion to brighten the corner where I am.

Every one of Keith’s commandments resonates with my desire and my passion…

“…to live deliberately…to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life,
To put to rout all that [is] not life and not when I…come to die
Discover that I [have] not lived.”

~ Henry David Thoreau
(adapted)

Loving people “anyway” — not giving up on them, not casting them aside — seems like a good way to do that.

The One With Remarkablogger Michael Martine

“Money pays the bills but it doesn’t do anything for your heart.”

–Michael Martine,
Remarkablogger

Greetings, inklings! Today’s post is my interview with Remarkablogger Michael Martine, who blogs all sorts of fantabulous whats, hows and whys for blogging and business. His humor is dry, his style straightforward, and his advice spot-on. He loves helping others accomplish their business dreams. I hope he inspires you as much as he does me!

Plus, he’s as big a fantasy nerd as I am, which just makes him cramazing fun to talk to. ; )

Courtney: How did you decide to start coaching bloggers?

Michael — That’s a great question. Unfortunately, I don’t coach bloggers. Bloggers are cheap and broke and the worst clients. I coach business owners who use blogging and social media as marketing tools. This isn’t just semantics: the mindset, goals and–very important for me–budgets of the two groups are very different from each other. I decided to become a blog consultant because it dawned on me that it was sorely needed and would be fun as well as profitable. If there’s a gold rush, don’t run to the hills with everyone else, sell pickaxes and a prospecting manual instead. There is a whole new world of freedom available to anyone with the courage and means to live there. The means in this case is an understanding and strategy about how online business and marketing works. You bring the courage and I’ll help with the means.

CC: In your post What Narcissism Taught Me about Marketing, you share painful childhood memories and don’t shy away from honesty about your flaws. What gives you the courage to make yourself so vulnerable to all of your readers?

MM — I don’t care what other people think about me, but I have to live with myself, so honesty beats lying. It also makes for juicier reading.

CC: In that same post, you write:

“On the other hand, as a one-person business (which most of you are), you are also something of a one-person ‘cult of personality.’ Which is odd, because in the right situation, people actually will care about what you had for lunch.

“The way this works is that you have to connect your personal stuff to the lessons your followers want from you. You have to connect specific personality traits to your brand and express them in your content marketing.”

How does “one-person cult of personality” in content marketing apply to honest, open bloggers who don’t consider themselves a business?

MM — It’s what makes people want to follow you, regardless of whether you have anything to sell to them. While it seems weird to say “be a slight caricature of yourself” and “be authentic” in the same breath, all I’m saying is that people remember certain things about you and you have influence over that. You also still have to decide on a logo and colors, which are also part of your brand. You’re deliberately crafting a certain look and feel in order to communicate specific ideals. Is this dishonest? No, of course not. So, neither is it dishonest when considering how to “color” your writing voice or your speaking. Deliberateness and purpose are not dishonest.

CC: A few weeks ago, one of your posts caused a ruckus because some of your readers took exception to your calling them either pimps and prostitutes. When you have a controversial idea for a post, do you always implement it?

MM — Controversy and shock value are somewhat related but I never post anything just for shock value. Dividing people is a great way to get comments and a reaction. Things are never so simple or black-and-white, but when you reduce the terms of the debate to an either/or situation in order to get people to think, it allows for great discussion. Whether you get that great discussion or your comments devolve into a FOX “news” show is up to you. It’s your blog.

I think about what kind of reaction or discussion that will happen before I post. I think about how the topic meshes with my brand. For a site with the tagline “No-Bullshit Blogging for Bitchin’ Businesses,” dividing the online business world into pimps and prostitutes to get a discussion started and drive traffic makes perfect sense. If you’re too squeamish or dainty to follow me down that road, I don’t want you on my site because you’re never going to be a client of mine.

CC: What’s your most effective way of dealing with readers’ criticism?

MM — Real criticism is valuable and I love to receive it. I will thank you for it. If somebody is just bloviating because they’re pissed off, well… they’ve already made themselves look bad. People can and will think whatever they want, and facts be damned. Having said that, it almost NEVER happens on Remarkablogger because my readers are smart and have good manners.

CC: What are your criteria for deciding whether or not to post the controversy?

MM — I kinda already talked about this (yay for reading the questions in advance… ) but let me add this: I don’t post because a topic is controversial. I post because I think it will help people who may need me as a blog consultant move closer to hiring me, which is how all businesses should decide to publish marketing content. Let’s not forget that’s what we’re doing here. We’re marketing. If we do it right, it doesn’t look like it. But it is.

CC: What’s your favorite part of helping others be more genuine in their blogging?

MM — Getting emails and having conversations with people who tell me their business is better because they implemented my advice and ideas. That’s the best feeling. Money pays the bills but it doesn’t do anything for your heart.

_______________________

Courtney here again. I want to thank Michael for saying yes to my interview request and for taking the time to give such thoughtful replies to all of my questions! And hope that you, my inklings, find his tips and openness as encouraging as I do! Here are a few of my favorite quotes from his interview:

There is a whole new world of freedom available to anyone with the courage and means to live there.

…[W]hen you reduce the terms of the debate to an either/or situation in order to get people to think, it allows for great discussion.

I don’t post because a topic is controversial. I post because I think it will help people…

…[M]y readers are smart and have good manners. 😉

So, dear readers, what do you have to say?

How difficult is it for you to be genuine in your blogging? How much do you worry about what others will think of you?

What are you going to do about it?

Indie Author Freaks Out: Details at 11

In her Twenty Things NOT To Say To A Writer: A Handy Safety Guide, Laura Resnick tells us that a career of writing books “…is insanely competitive, disastrously unstable, and skull-crushingly difficult to do.”

My experience as a published author now encompasses exactly 13 days. So far, I have learned three very important things about this skull-crushingly difficult business, and I am going to tell you about them now.

3 Newbie Lessons from Getting Published

1. When promoting your book, start off strong — but pace yourself.
Thus far, Twitter, Kindleboards, Facebook, and blogging have been my greatest allies in promoting Colors of Deception. I’m tweeting and posting — and to my delight, followers and friends are retweeting and reposting. (Thanks, everybody! You guys are cramazing.)

The result of all this networking isn’t just book sales, though — it’s connections all over the place. It’s encouragements coming in from all sides. And it’s tweets and messages that deserve a personal response.

Right now, I’m happily responding, and I’m making the social media work for me. But I’m also thinking ahead to when I start my next writing project — soon. And when I start it, the networking must take a backseat. I might even have to lock the networking in the trunk.

Because if I’m networking all the time, I’m not writing. If I’m not writing, I’m not me. If I’m not writing, there won’t be any books to network about. So as I’m thinking ahead to the next big project, I’m reminding myself that when it comes to book/blog promotion,

I am a writer first and a business second.

Maybe third.

2. Not everyone will support you. And that’s okay.
I wrote a little about this last week, when I mentioned my tweet about others’ silence. Sometimes, that silence is a worse rejection than an in-your-face confrontation. When you publish a book, you want every single person you know to shower you with congrats. Not that you want heaps and oodles of attention*, but an acknowledgement would be nice, right?

Well, not everyone is going to acknowledge your accomplishment — and that’s okay. Do you acknowledge every single accomplishment of every single person you know? If the answer to that is yes, you can color, paint, and doodle me impressed. Me, I have to answer that question with no. And the reasons behind my negation are legion and would make a whole series of blog posts.

But it all boils down to this: Frankly, I can’t keep up with everybody.

And I can’t expect everybody to keep up with me, either. ; )

Here’s the deal, though: We don’t need everyone in our lives to acknowledge our authorial accomplishments. I think about it this way: When I lose tweetlings (aka followers) on Twitter, it doesn’t mean I’ve failed; it means I’m refining my audience. If people stop following me, it means they weren’t my audience in the first place.

The same applies to my books: If someone doesn’t acknowledge my publishing success, it just means that person isn’t my audience. Maybe they don’t read novels. Maybe they don’t read my genre.

Whatever the reason for their silence, it’s not the end of my world. It’s just the refining of my audience.

3. Book Launch Parties freak out my subconscious.
The Book Launch Party is tonight, and I’ll be posting about it on Thursday. Vintage timeless Coffee is hosting the shebang, and I know it’s going to be fantastic.

That knowledge, however, didn’t prevent the weird dream I had two nights ago of driving my dad to the book launch and heading the wrong way up multiple one-way streets. I tried making a U-turn in front of a lady in a red Dodge Charger, and she almost took the front of my car off.

Fortunately, I understand what’s going on here. I’m an introvert. There will be people at this party whom I don’t know. I’m an introvert. They’re going to want me to say something in front of everyone. I’m an introvert. There’s a reason I chose writing over a career in public speaking. ; )

In spite of my subconscious’s quiet little freak-out, here’s what I know:

I’m surrounded by a kaboodle of supportive friends and family.

Nothing bad is going to happen.

I’m going to have an incredible time.

___________________________
Are you an indie or self-published author?

Do you find this business “insanely competitive, disastrously unstable, and skull-crushingly difficult?” Why or why not?

What are your words of wisdom for the indies and self-pubbed?

What are your sub-/conscious fears about publishing, and how do you deal with them?

___________________________

* Let’s admit it: We writers do like the attention. 😉

Remarkablogger and El Edwards Told Me To Write This

Universe? Is that you?

I talk a lot about synchronicity. That’s when a bunch of unrelated stuff happens, but it’s all pointing toward the same thing, and it happens and points over and over again until you turn your stubborn head and open your eyes to it and say, “Okay, I get it!”

And then you do something about it.

The Synchronized Universe Hits You in the Head (Ouch)

I guess this is what people used to call “serendipity.” But I prefer synchronicity, because I like the idea that a bunch of coolness in the universe gets synchronized in order to get a person’s attention. I think synchronicity affects every single one of us every single day — we just don’t pay enough attention to realize it.

I also believe that synchronicity is a conscious force that rejoices in our every breath and wants to permeate our every moment with beauty, truth, and goodness.

(At this time, I’d like to insert yet another plug for Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, the book that taught me to pay attention to synchronicity.)

I walk through life as half asleep as the next person, I guess…but sometimes, synchronicity slaps me upside the noggin and says, “Yo! Human! Get your heart and mind out of this befuddled daze you’re in and look! I’ve got all sorts of cramazingness waiting for you — all you have to do is reach out and embrace it!”

You get hit in the noggin often enough with love like that, you’ll eventually start looking for it.

I’ve been looking for it. And this week, I found it. Without further ado or adon’t, here’s what synchronicity plopped into my lap this week.

Remarkablogger

In comments on his post WARNING: Perfectionism will Kill You, Michael Martine and I had the following exchange:

Michael: Do what feels right to you but be aware of the edges of your comfort zone, your self-censoring and your perfectionism. …Being a little scared to hit Publish because you were raw or personal or opinionated is a good thing. : )

Courtney (that’s me): You really do hit the nail on its proverbial little head, don’t you? ; ) It’s true, I do censor myself too much. I’m still overcoming lifetime of training that says, “Don’t say that; you’ll offend someone. Don’t say that; you’ll hurt someone’s feelings.” Not that I want to hurt anyone’s feelings — but I do want to write truth, no matter how gritty it gets.
Oh crap. There’s another new blog post to write. *sigh* ; )

Impassionate

Every morning, I listen to El Edward’s Impassionate, audio posts designed to start your day with a little kick of joy and optimism. A few days ago, El talked about going big or going home. She encouraged her listeners to get out of our ruts and get out of our comfort zones. If there’s something we feel passionate about — or something we could become passionate about, if we’d only allow ourselves — then it’s time to stop dithering and worrying. It’s time to get out and do.

Go big.

Dream or Nightmare?

Sometime along in there, between impassioned audio posts and admonishing blog comments, I woke up one morning from a very disturbing dream. I’ll spare you the rather awful details, but here’s the gist of it:

I dreamed that I was marooned on an island with a large group of people. Most were strangers; some were acquaintances. But while I was on this island, the whole group — strangers and non-strangers alike — regularly attacked me. I endured the torment for weeks before I managed to escape. “Escape” consisted of submerging myself in a pond beneath a dock by day, then creeping around at night to find food.

Eventually, the dream switched to a later time at which I was accusing some of my attackers — the acquaintances. Through tears, I demanded to know why they had treated me so horribly. I never got an answer.

Unstressed Syllables and Twitter

You’d think that by this time, I would’ve been getting the message. But no, synchronicity had two more nudges for me…and they came in the form of my own unexpected self-expression.

In this week’s edition of What I Learned About Writing This Week on Unstressed Syllables, I wrote on Allen Ginsberg. He said something really stunning about following our inner moonlight. In WILAWriTWe, I respond by taking myself to task for not having the guts to speak truth in its bluntest, basest form.

Later, “out of nowhere” (ha ha), I tweeted this:

Sometimes, the loudest rejection you can hear is another’s silence. Ignore it! Listen instead to the supportive voices who rejoice with you!

Egad and zounds, Watson-by-George, I think she’s got it.

Let’s Recap

Remarkablogger Michael told me to stop self-censoring and start saying what I really need to say — but be respectful of the consequences.

El’s Impassionate reminded me to stop dithering around in my comfort zone, get out, and go big.

Less than a week after I published my first novel, my dream revealed that I’m feeling vulnerable to strangers and acquaintances. (Me, feel vulnerable after publishing a book? Shocker.)

Allen Ginsberg admonished me to revel in being different, in being a little crazy, in being a little dark.

My tweet knocked me on the noggin, saying, “Hello? Helloooo! Anybody home?”

“Okay, I get it!”

The creative, benevolent, loving force that rules my life is sending synchronicity my way.

I am determined to open my arms and receive it.

I will speak the truth.

I will speak the fears, the loneliness, the rejection. I will speak the joys, the all-encompassing wonder, the acceptance. I will not hide these things from others. I will not secret them away for fear of the consequences.

I will not hide my heart.

And that is why I wrote this blog post. : )

P.S. A shout-out to Judy Dunn of Catseyewriter for inspiring the title. ; )

Photo credit Julie V. Photography.

I Wrote This Because You Are Beautiful

Beauty and Wonder

I want to tell you something important.

Finding the right words won’t be easy. I always have trouble communicating what’s most important to me. But I’ll do my best.

I want to tell you that you’re amazing.

You’ve been through a lot. You’ve come through what the world would define as hell. And yet, you’re still here.

Not only are you still here, but you’ve gone beyond simple existence, and you’re living. You’re interweaving your life with others’. Do you realize how much courage that takes? It’s simple enough to do — but it would’ve been far simpler to retreat into mere existence and shun every opportunity of connection.

You have a tremendous amount of courage.

You also have a raw passion hidden somewhere deep inside you. Why have you hidden it? I can’t answer that. But the moment I asked the “why,” you felt at least the hint of an answer resonating in your spirit. I can’t answer your “why” — but you can.

You have this fiery energy built up inside of you, just waiting for you to release it. The prospect frightens you, because you already suspect just how much passionate energy is actually there. And you don’t know what it would do if you let it out.

But you, love, were created for passion. You were created with talent, imbued with skill, and gifted with every resource you need to channel and use that passionate energy. You were created to be something that no other person in this world is, has been, or ever will be.

You are talented. You are skilled. You are gifted.

You are beautiful.

You are valuable. You are worth every bit of talent, skill, and beauty that has been poured into you. You are worth taking risks for. You are worth sacrificing for.

You deserve not to stand in your own way.

You are worthy of eliminating the habits that are holding you back. I don’t know what those habits are — but when you read the phrase “habits that are holding you back,” something resonated in your spirit again. You know which of your habits are dampening your passion.

You deserve to ignore the people in your life who belittle you. You deserve to ignore the people in your life who refuse to encourage you. You deserve to ignore the people in your life who tell you — through their words, attitudes, or actions — that you can’t possibly achieve anything beyond the average. Or even the mediocre.

You deserve to treat yourself better than those people treat you. You deserve to treat yourself better than those people treat themselves.

You deserve to surround yourself with people who will not only support you, but also lift you up.

You deserve not to be subject to fear. And the wonderful news is that you aren’t subject to fear.

You do not have to let fear rule over you. You do not have to let fear rule you.

You don’t have to be afraid of what might happen if you released your pent-up passionate energy. You don’t have to be afraid of following the path upon which your natural talents lead you.

You don’t have to be afraid of saying no to the people who try to tear you down. You don’t have to be afraid of saying yes to the people who want to build you up.

You don’t have to be afraid.

Don’t be afraid.

You are beautiful, and you are possessed of tremendous courage.

You are beautiful, and you are possessed of tremendous courage.

You are beautiful, and you are possessed of tremendous courage.

You are worthy of honoring your gifts.

You are worthy of finding your purpose and following it with that pent-up, consuming passion.

You were created to pursue that passionate purpose with all the talents, gifts, and resources at your disposal.

You are meant for wonder.

Go out and do what only you were made to do.