THE WAY TO THE SECRET GARDEN (INSIDE YOUR HEAD)

Just this morning a coworker told me about her recent vacation to a family lakeside cabin in mountains of Pennsylvania. She said her favorite memory of the whole trip was picking huckleberries that grow wild around the lake. Her family fashioned a metal pail with a shoestring from the handle so they can hang the pail around their necks. This way have both hands free to pick berries. With the most serene expression on her face she said picking those huckleberries for an hour was the best therapy in the world.

These moments, to me, are like visiting a secret garden inside your own head that only you can access. The time spent in this garden is special and it is sacred. Our world today is so demanding that to stay balanced we need access to the garden more than we realize. We need the visit the garden as much as we need to breathe oxygen. For most people a trip to this garden is can be triggered by some external thing or memory (most often connected to childhood). When discovered, this trigger can act as a magical pathway to that wondrous place.

When we were young it was easy. We could find the garden instantaneously. Our lives were uncomplicated, we still believed in magic, our heads weren’t filled with excuses of why we couldn’t do things. Somewhere between childhood and where we are today our worlds became a lot less a land of laughs and magic and much more of a scary and dangerous place. A small portion of this scariness is real but most of this is false perception, propaganda, and conditioning. These false perceptions keep us from achieving our best life.

It’s easy to see that we don’t have to live each moment of our lives in fear once we find our way to the garden. The trick, as a lost and stressed-out adult is rediscover our triggers that we once could so easily access. Ask yourself…what made me happiest as a child? Once you have the answer to that question think how this can be integrated back into your life as an adult, even if it’s silly. The sillier the better, we need more silliness!

As I child during summer vacation my feet rarely touched the ground. Except for meals I was on my black Huffy BMX bike from sun up until the streetlights came on. As an adult I can still spend hours not only riding my bike but also restoring them. My father taught me how to fully dismantle a bike and restore it by the age of eight. My latest project was a 1958 Raleigh three speed bicycle and it’s a gem. Any time spent with or on a bike transports me instantly to the garden.

One major hurdle to finding our triggers is technology. You must put your mobile phone on airplane mode and ignore it for a while. As useful technology can be, it occupies all of our attention and robs us of our chances to experience these sacred moments. It’s difficult to calm our minds and be present when we’re constantly connected. In all reality have you ever paid attention to how many times you check your mobile device in an hour? It’s astonishing. Anything that keeps your ears from tuning in to the music of life is a roadblock to the garden and the music I’m speaking of can’t be found on iTunes.

What are your triggers? I urge you to delve into your deepest of memories and answer this simple question. Once you find your triggers I urge you incorporate these things back into your routine and see how quickly your life changes.

Do you know someone who needs their own trip to the garden? If so please share this post with them. By all means, after you revisit your garden come back and let us know how it felt. I guarantee the world will seem like a better place.

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Eric Vance Walton is a novelist, poet, aspiring world traveler, and tea junkie. He invites you to follow his unfolding story by “liking” his Facebook author page at for updates and promotions on his current and upcoming projects. You can find Eric’s new book One Word At A Time: Finding Your Way as an Indie Author, on Amazon in print or as an ebook.
Article © 2015 Eric Vance Walton

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10 TIPS FOR BETTER UNDERSTANDING CREATIVE PEOPLE

If you are not creative but have creative people in your life the following list may help you decipher some of our perceived oddities. If you are a creative person you might recognize some or all of these attributes in yourself and find some comfort in the fact that you’re not alone.

With a little understanding and compassion we can all happily coexist and even learn from one another. Here are some tips to help better understand us:

1. Absolutely by no means sneak up on us. We are often deep in thought and we are easy to startle.

2. Most of us tend to be empaths (whether we realize it yet it or not). This means we have the ability to be very “in tune” with others and feel their negative and positive emotions. This is confusing to us until we figure it out. Other’s emotions tend to easily transfer to us and we can misinterpret them as our own. Because of this it’s very important to pay attention to the company you keep. William Gibson’s quote (often falsely attributed to Sigmund Freud) comes to mind here, “Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self-esteem, first make sure that you are not, in fact, just surrounded by assh*les.” Also, we tend to make most of our decisions based on gut feeling instead of intellectualizing as analytical people do. Sometimes this works out, sometimes it doesn’t. It’s a roll of the dice.

3. We will occasionally have outbursts when ideas come to us or mumble incoherently to ourselves. When this happens please excuse the wild look in our eyes and our scrambling to find some way to quickly record those ideas. We are like channels and when we’re in the creative flow complex ideas hit us spontaneously and swirl inside our heads. When this happens we tend to shut everything else out until we record those ideas. If we don’t write them down chances are we’ll forget them and we’re afraid that we might lose them forever.

4. Life can be especially difficult for us. As a creative we’re either: 1. working a job that doesn’t afford us the chance to use our creativity and satisfying our creative urge on our own time; or 2. pursuing our creative passions as a full time career. Both are equally as challenging. Those of us who fall in the first category usually have money to pay the bills but often have to work the equivalent of two full time jobs. Those creative people brave and smart enough to figure out a way to monetize their passion to the point of making a full time income usually have the stress of trying to financial make ends meet . As James Altucher (The Choose-Yourselfer-and-Chief) explains, finding multiple revenue streams is often the answer. Either way we’re very busy folks.

5. We’re typically introverts in varying degrees. Even if we truly enjoy and appear comfortable socializing it can sometimes take more energy for us. This is partially attributed to #2 above.

6. It can sometimes be difficult for us to make other, non-creative people, understand how we feel (and vice versa) but it can be done with patience and practice. In my opinion, this is why so many creative people express their feelings and emotions through their chosen art.

7. Most of us creatives are eccentric and rebellious. We feel smothered by routine and conformity. Creative people tend to not follow trends. We see through propaganda and it makes us angry and agitated when we feel someone is trying to control us for their own agenda.

8. We tend to enjoy altered states of consciousness because we quickly learn that achieving these altered states of consciousness can open up our creative channels. Those of us who are lucky discover that through meditation we can achieve this altered state without the outside help of drugs, alcohol or anything external. Meditation is the creative person’s best friend, personally and professionally.

9. We need quiet time to devote to our creative passions. Creating is what feeds our souls and we get frustrated and depressed when we don’t have the time to do this. Please be respectful of a creative person’s privacy when they are creating. If you give them the gift of this time they will be happier in all other aspects of their life.

10. Honest support and feedback is invaluable to us, even if it stings at first. I can only imagine how frustrating and tiring it is for non-creative people when their creative friends and relatives are constantly and enthusiastically sharing their latest idea. It’s easy to say you like everything but if the idea stinks, tell us it stinks. You might save us valuable time and give us ideas to polish our idea and make it better.

Pass this along handy guide on to all of your friends, creative and
non-creative alike. It’s a big world and it takes all kinds. As the French say, “Vive la difference!”

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Eric Vance Walton is a novelist, poet, aspiring world traveler, and tea junkie. He invites you to follow his unfolding story by “liking” his Facebook author page at
https://www.facebook.com/EricVanceWaltonAuthor for updates and promotions on his current and upcoming projects. You can find Eric’s new book One Word At A Time: Finding Your Way as an Indie Author, on Amazon in print or as an
ebook.

Article © 2015 Eric Vance Walton

Soul’s Breath

Soul’s Breath
The sun’s twisted spires

warm all but those who

are huddled deep within

the solemn shadow’s grasp
even then some find solace

by the mere sight

of its golden glow
muse for me is like the sun

once it rises it heals,

shining in all the right places,
fear and doubt huddle and squint,

nestled in their dark nooks, 

blinded by brightness
this great internal sunrise

creates such lasting Peace

and contentment that you 

can no longer feel smothered by life

muse is the soul’s breath,

nothing more, nothing less.
~Eric Vance Walton~

Embrace the Wobble

At this point most of you are already aware of my origin story so I won’t delve into the details. For those of you who don’t, the short version is I’ve been writing for twenty years while working a full time job with the

goal of someday making my writing my full time gig. For my plan to be successful each day I need to provide value at my day job, produce new writing, promote my writing, try to be the best husband/uncle/son/beagle-papa/friend that I can be, and deal with all of the other responsibilities life thrusts upon me.
To make it all work I’ve honed a juggling act over the years that maximizes the productivity of nearly every minute of every day. I envision each aspect of my life to be like the spoke of a wheel. Most of the time the wheel rolls wonderfully well, that is, until a spoke gets out of balance. When even one spoke is unbalanced the wheel of life begins to wobble. Sometimes the wobble is caused by circumstances beyond our control.
I’ll provide a little backstory, my wife and I bought our craftsman-style bungalow at the worst possible time in the Fall of 2007. It just happened to be at the eve of the Housing Crisis of 2008, when real estate prices were at their peak. Lucky us. Like millions of others we were duped to believe the myth concocted by the banks that you would never lose money on real estate. We all have witnessed how that worked out. Two years after the crisis began we owed $60,000 more than the market value of our home but we continued to make the payments.
Fast forward to 2015 and the market has come back with a vengeance and we want to get out while the getting’s good. We’ll break even if we’re lucky. For the past few months my wife and I have been working hard to get our house ready to sell and are looking for a new place to live. We want to downsize and find a condo that will be much less expensive and require less time and effort to maintain. These two life events have created such a wobble that the progress in writing my second novel, Truth Is Stranger, has completely ground to a halt. There just aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done.
I’m not whining… okay maybe I am whining just a little, but I know I’m not alone. Many creative people find themselves in this same predicament but it can be a stressful and anxiety-inducing way to live. After all, you have this wonderfully creative outlet that fills you with such positive energy and joy but it doesn’t yet pay the bills. You have to eat and you don’t want to be homeless so as a result your creative endeavor is usually the first thing to suffer when life becomes overly demanding.
As a writer, I understand how easy it is to become frustrated and depressed when the demands of life make it so there’s no time to write. Being stuck in the wobble makes me feel as though the dream of writing full time gets further out of reach with every revolution of the clock. This is especially true since everyone says it’s not a good idea to wait more than eighteen to twenty-four months between the publishing of your first and second novels.
I’m no stranger to the wobble. I’ve been here before and have learned a few things about it that I’d like to share. Following are some tips that I’ve discovered to survive the wobble unscathed:
1. Be gentle with yourself and with others. During demanding times it’s easy to be hard on yourself and those around you. Take a deep breath and release any feelings of guilt for not reaching your goals as fast as you planned. Also, it’s important to never become too busy to express gratitude to those in your life who make you happy.
2. Continue to create something every day, even if it’s something small. When times are particularly demanding I write haiku on my phone while I’m walking the dog. I’ve found that whether I’m working on a poem, a blog post, or a novel, the joy that comes from the spark of creation is just as great.
3. Take care of you (both body and mind). Eat right, exercise and get adequate sleep. Your health is your greatest asset. If you have a healthy body it’s much easier to have a healthy mind. You need to keep your wits about you during times of wobble. Keep your body in the best shape you can and you’ll be surprised what you can accomplish during demanding times. Remember, often times the untrained mind is the weakest link, it will cry “surrender” long before the body does.
4. Meditate. This will help to keep you calm and grounded despite what life throws at you. Meditation also fosters feelings of compassion and altruism even if these feelings are not in your nature. One quick way to forget about your challenges is to help someone else. I’ve been meditating regularly for over twenty years and even a few minutes of meditation per day will cause lasting positive effects in more ways than you can imagine.
5. Trust that the universe is unfolding as it’s meant to and look for lessons and opportunities everywhere. Life rarely plays out the way we’ve planned but we must remember that the journey is half the fun. It’s surprising what great lessons the journey has to teach us. We must be flexible and always remain aware to the lessons that are being presented to us.
6. Don’t worry that ideas or opportunities will stop. When you truly believe ideas and opportunities come from a limitless place inside of you it helps stifle a lot of the anxiety that comes from the wobble.
7. Continue to promote. Promotion is the one thing you can’t stop doing as a writer. Even if this means you need to occasionally recycle old content or post quotes or memes. You have to regularly stay in front of your audience to keep them engaged and coming back.
8. Harvest ideas from everything in your life, even your struggles. Write down ideas, even if you can’t immediately act on them. This post is a good example. I reaped a blog post from my the depths of my current wobble.
9. Give yourself permission to say no to those who demand your time. I learned this important lesson from James Altucher, a mentor of mine. He says if requests for your time don’t immediately spark a “Hell Yes!” response from you learn how to politely decline them. This holds true especially during times of wobble when your time is even more precious.
10. Make time for joy and laughter. Both of these things reduce stress and increase your quality of life tremendously.
11. Keep in mind challenging times never last forever, the wobble will end at some point. In my experience challenging times rarely last long. In fact, the wobble seems to end just after you get to a point where you feel as if it never will. As the saying goes, it’s always the darkest just before the dawn.
12. No matter what, never stop taking steps toward and believing in your dreams. I’ve lived long enough to realize there’s nothing in life worse than regret and as long as you’re advancing towards your goal each day, even if it’s just a little bit, there is nothing to regret.
Be one with the wobble. Learn from it what you can and you will come out stronger on the other side. Stay strong and wobble on!
~Eric Vance Walton~