Changes in the New Year

Hello,

Happy New Year! Like all years, 2015 saw lots of growth and change. I received my Master’s in English and Creative Writing, I moved, I became and atheist and a vegan, and lots more. 

2016, baby!

2016, baby!

As I plan to focus even more on my writing this year, I have decided to consolidate my blogs into one. I will still be writing about the same things, but all on one site.

If you would, please visit http://ravenburnes.wordpress.com for all my latest musings. Feel free to drop me a line and let me know who you are as well.

Here’s to love and growth and passion in 2016!

Peace and love,

Raven Burnes

My Preemptive Gratitude List (PGL version 2014), Coming Soon…

Wow, this year has been great — and also weird.  A good weird, mostly.  Also…just weird.  But I’m so grateful!

I’m grateful for all the cool things I’ve gotten to do this year and all the wonderful people I’ve met.  I’m grateful for my renewed commitment to my art and my writing, and for all the work I did this year. I’m grateful for my boys – for who they are as young men and for everything they’ve accomplished.  I’m grateful for El Massivo and his Guardian (you’re everything!).  I am grateful for all the fun times and success I expect to have in 2014.  And I’m grateful for all of you who read this blog and encourage my progress.

So, tonight I will be finalizing my goals for the New Year.  My goals will consist of all the things I want to be grateful for at the end of next year.   I call this my Preemptive Gratitude List, instead of my New Year’s Resolutions.  I want to appreciate things while they are happening, and appreciate the people in my life while they are with me, in real time.  I want to know I’ve really lived – not according to what “people” think  – but according to what’s really in my heart.

My goals keep me from simply existing.  They warn me not to settle.  They push me to be the very best I can be.  And they help me to avoid wandering aimlessly through life.

There’s a saying that states if you don’t know where you’re going, how will you know when you’ve arrived?  Also, if you have no destination, any old road will take you there.  But the real reason I do my Preemptive Gratitude List is that I believe in living life intentionally.  (I also really like checking things off and feeling smug).

So, my lovelies, best of luck for an awesome New Year.  If you’re not pursuing your dreams already, make 2014 the year you finally follow your bliss!

Love, peace and blessings…

The Power of Focus

Focusing is not something that comes naturally to me.  I tend to juggle, multi-task, and exhibit other sub-clinical ADD-like tendencies.  However, I truly believe in the power of focus.

Almost all of the greats in every field (with Leonardo da Vinci being the first exception that comes to mind) mastered their particular fields by focusing intensely on perfecting that one discipline.  Ford had his cars, Edison had his inventions, Disney had the creation of fantastical worlds.

My problem has always been my love for – and competency at doing – many different things.  But more and more I am coming to appreciate (and reluctantly embrace) the power of focus.  Because I can do a lot of things competently, I have had trouble narrowing my focus to just one thing.  However, in 2014, my intent is to focus.

My plan is to take the first three or four months of next year to decide what I should focus on.  The rest of the year will be implementing a plan to master that specific something.

Wish me luck!

Peace and blessings.  And until next time…follow your bliss!

20" X 25" white colored pencil on black illustration board.

20″ X 25″ white colored pencil on black illustration board.

When Things Fall Into Place

Yep, sometimes it happens.  Sometimes things just fall into place.

Sometimes something – or someone –  you didn’t even know you wanted and needed falls into your lap – drama free.

Sometimes something that you needed, and thought you’d have to do without, shows up – just shows up!  No begging, no bargaining, no strain, no nothing.

Sometimes Happiness is just on the next block – you know, the one you thought was just as sketchy as the block you’re walking on?  Sometimes that block is shiny, and clean, and people meet you there with hugs and balloons.

Sometimes things just work out.

So, do I advocate sitting on your bum, hoping, wishing, for all your problems to be solved – for the things you want to just show up in your life with no effort on your part?

No, but I would advocate Faith.  Not necessarily faith in a particular deity or even in yourself. I advocate Faith in the process of Living.  And I discourage Worry.  Worry chases things away.  If you live long enough, and if you allow it, sometimes, out of the blue, good things come.  Good things come.

So, here’s to Faith and Worry-Free Living!

Peace and blessings and follow your bliss…

(no drawings today, but I finished the first draft of my screenplay! I’ll post it next week.)

Why I Write

This past Wednesday I had my first workshop as a writer.  For those who are unfamiliar, a writer’s workshop is a critique session.  Certain writers are selected in advance to have their stories “workshopped”.  The week before, the participants are given the stories to be workshopped.  They read the stories and prepare feedback for the author.

I had been dreading my workshop because I still wrestle with self-worth issues.  Nevertheless, it was a great experience.  I was given some good suggestions for my story, although most of the feedback was positive. (What a relief!) In fact, I have already incorporated the suggestions in my rewrite (to view my short stories, please see the “Writing” page on this blog).

During the workshop the writer is not allowed to speak.  He or she can only take notes.  Afterwards the participants can ask questions of the writer and/or the writer can ask questions of the participants.  One question in particular that I received from one of my classmates has been haunting me for the past few days.

He asked me “Why do you write?”  I was completely taken aback as I had no idea this question was coming.  No one had asked this question of anyone else so far, and we have been doing these workshops for several weeks.  I don’t remember what I said, but I can assure you it was idiotic.

So, now that I have had time to think about it, this is why I write:

I write because having a story inside of you is like feeling a sneeze or a yawn coming on.  If, for some reason, the sneeze or the yawn doesn’t come, it is very frustrating.  For years, I was in this condition – having stories come to me but not having the confidence to write them down.

I write because in my stories I can communicate my feelings in a safe way.  I did not grow up in a “safe” home, where feelings could be expressed freely and received with love.  So I learned to stifle and suppress most of who I am to avoid screaming fights, bullying, and even violence.  In my stories I can say and do (through my characters) whatever I want. And if I don’t want anyone to read what I’ve written, I don’t have to show it to anyone.

I write because it comes naturally to me.  I have read a large number of  books and articles because I am an introvert.  I don’t consciously copy any author in particular, but because I have read so many authors, I have somewhat of  a sense of what makes a story interesting.

I write because I like the feeling of having something tangible that I created.

I write because I can’t NOT write.

Incidentally, these are also the reasons why I make art.  My wish for all of you is that you find the thing in life that you can’t not do – and do it to the fullest.

Peace and love, and – follow your bliss!

Writing and Research

This week has been all about getting stuff done.  Somehow, someway, I completed 2 short stories and a play in the last few weeks.  I still have a screenplay to finish, and some other random assignments, but I couldn’t be happier over what I’ve accomplished so far!

What I am learning, especially, is the importance of research.  There are a lot of things I want to write about that I have no direct experience with.  I do most of my research on the internet.  However, I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to actually listen to people talk and ask them questions about their lives.  If you get in the habit of doing that, you can create characters that really feel authentic.  I just posed some interview questions to a friend today and can’t wait to get the responses back.  I am so excited to see what I learn!

People are infinitely fascinating.  If you tend to get bored with people easily, it may be because you are only skimming the surface layers of life.  Once you peel back those layers, ask the right questions – and listen – it is amazing how interesting people really are.

As far as my art goes, I put the final touches on my Samhain painting and finished a watercolor from last week.  If each day were 48 hours instead of 24, perhaps I could get a ton of writing and a ton of painting done.  But as it stands, each week tends to focus on one or the other!

Have a wonderful week of peace and beauty. And always, always, follow your bliss…

Managing One’s Spiritual Vibration During The Creative Process

This week has been a whirlwind of creativity for me.  I’ve finished the first draft of my play and of my (not-so) short story.   My short story exceeds the 4000 word maximum by a lot.  Even after editing, I’m still at over 6600.  I’ve got some extensive editing ahead of me.  But, as challenging as the whole process is, I can’t believe how much my energy soars after spending several hours writing.

The same is true with painting.  On Thursday I spent seven straight hours painting, taking breaks only to go to the bathroom.  Afterwards I felt exhilarated rather than exhausted.  In that time I wasn’t hungry, I wasn’t tired, and I barely said anything.  It’s crazy.  Red Bull ain’t got nuthin’ on creativity!

This got me to thinking about energy, which is the source of all life.  Energy is everything.  It is God, it is the devil, it is “the mood” in a room, it is the chemistry between two people.  Energy is everything.  So, why does it increase after several hours of what should be draining work?

To me, the answer is a little deeper than “i’m just interested” in it.  I’m interested in a lot of things, but only creating affects me like this.  My belief is that creating things – fine art, writing, acting, woodwork, sewing, etc. – raises our vibration.  Vibration at the personal level is the speed with which one’s spiritual matter is moving.  The faster it’s moving, the closer we are to the roots of our divinity.  We understand that on a physical level,  atoms in gaseous materials vibrate faster than those in solid matter.  On a spiritual level, the speed of our personal vibration at any given time reflects our closeness to or estrangement from our divine nature.

Certain activities – like creativity, prayer, kindness, service, etc.  bring us closer to our Divine nature and raise our vibration.  Other activities – gossip, back-stabbing, greed, hate, violate our humanity and lower our vibration.  This affects us on a physical and psychological as well as on a spiritual level.  In other words, the vibrational level of one’s activities must match one’s personal vibration, otherwise one will tend to self-destruct.

For instance, if someone engages in very low-vibrational thoughts and activities but at the same time attempts very high-vibrational activities such as extended meditation, or extensive creativity in music, art, etc., there will be a severe clash in energies.  The person, in order to relieve their discomfort, may turn to drugs or excessive alcohol or sexual drama in order to cope with the excessive energy.  In other words, it’s like flowing 3500 watts of electrical energy through a system that can only tolerate 500 watts.  Unless a change is made the person will burn out on drugs and alcohol, seem increasingly crazy, or live a shortened life.

So when we feel our levels of creativity peaking, it is important to adapt to the higher energy level.  We must be more diligent in associating with people on the same path.  We must eat foods that will replenish, rather than deplete our energy.  We must allow our bodies to get the exercise they need in order to process the extra energy.  All of this is done in order to preserve the creative life and keep the channels flowing.

For those readers who are unfamiliar with this way of thinking, I would invite you to investigate it and experiment with these concepts before dismissing them out of hand. For those who already know what I’m talking about, I hope this is a reminder  to remain diligent about such matters and respect the creative process.

May this week bring you the blessing of creativity and the responsibility to handle it.  With peace and love I encourage you to follow your bliss.

So mote it be…