Inspiration Vault: Back to Abnormality

I heard a story today.

A young dad had a son who’s suffering from ADHD (attention deficit┬áhyperactivity┬ádisorder). It went so badly that the son was expelled from school. He had bad grades and always picked fights with other children.

According to the dad, their family was in disfunction and almost broke apart.

The doctors told him that his son could only be treated with drugs. All of them had made him “like a living zombie.” He didn’t want his son to live the rest of his life like that. But there’s no alternative, the doctors told him.

In desperation, he searched for opportunities of treatment overseas. That’s when he found a training program in the US. After three months of treatment there, his son was treated well, and showed little symptoms after that.

In the end of the speech, the dad said that he went through all that and it was worth every tear and sweat. Because he made his son normal again.

It was a beautiful story of a parent going against all odds, fighting for his child’s life. But what struck me in the end was he said that his son now is “normal” again.

I think what he’s really glad about is his son will from now on, has “a normal life”.

I don’t have kids. And I believe it must have been very tough for the family to have a “trouble-maker” like that. It can be very destructive to the family if it cannot function like the other families in a society.

But I’m just wondering about this idea of a “normal person”. Is it real? How is it defined? Who can say that someone is normal and the other one is not?

A lot of things in human history have been once defined as “abnormal”. In most cases, they had to be “corrected”. But the idea of something or someone is not normal is not defined by the thing or the person himself. It is defined by its surroundings — whether it’s accepted and functional in its societal context.

We run a very strict society everywhere. That’s just how things have always been done. What we like, what we hate, have mostly programmed into our perception of the world since we were born.

When people talk about some crazy things others do, they like to say “there’s a wire misplaced in his brain.” Because it seems like he’s not behaving in a way which the general knowledge wants him to be.

We live in a society that accepts “normality”, that condemns “abnormality”, but sometimes celebrate other “abnormality”.

The abnormal people we celebrate are the ones who achieved something that the majority couldn’t, through a way that normal people might not want to or not able to go.

The “abnormals” must have behaved through their lives on an acceptable but despised situation. They have always been “the weird ones”, “the misfits”, the puzzle piece that never fit. Until one day, they do.

That’s when they got celebrated for something “extraordinary” for the majority of “normal” ones.

Who’s changed? What changed?

Maybe no one. Because we’ve all gotta play the rules or we are thrown out of the game. We either play safe, or play risky, but by achieving a common goal, to make sure that we are not outed.

I have a friend who had been diagnosed with ADHD when he’s a child. He had problems in school, went to mediocre college to study something that he didn’t like. But then changed his path to become an expert in IT Security when others thought it was too late for him to change his profession.

He had problems with emotions because people around him had problems accepting how he was. But it didn’t stop him to become a brilliant man — an intelligent, insightful, wise, and caring friend.

I’m not sure if he thinks so that he’s lucky to be “normal”. I don’t think he ever thought that he’s back to “normal” when his childhood ended. He’s still suffering from being a misfit. But he told me that he’s actually glad to be “abnormal”, even it has been bringing him much more struggle and pain.

“I spend a lot of time only in my head.” he said to me, “I go from topic to topic just not to get bored. I can’t focus for a long time but I read fast and gained lots of info while other people can’t. But I also spend a lot of time asking myself questions. I eat shitty food and smoke cigarets. I don’t exercise but I walk a lot with my dog.

I’m not sure what I feel as happiness matches other people’s definition. I am who I am. And I don’t spend time on thinking about that. It’s just in your head. I do what I’m doing. And no room in my head for judgement. That’s it.”

Toxic Surroundings? Get The Hell Out

I wanted to put this in my Inspiration Vault at first. But then I was wondering whether I’m really inspired by the toxic vibe I got today from a so-called friend of mine.

I’m still quite upset.

There’s always a spur of moment, where I might feel irritated and even mad. But I’d hold back my will to react immediately. Because I don’t want to do stupid things to hurt others just because I’m emotional.

Well, today I got an very emotional blame in really mean words via LinkedIn message because of a delayed reply (for two days).

It wasn’t the first time I told myself that I need to get out of that friendship.

He was all about soul-sisters and really good friendship love. And he doesn’t deliver.

The worst of all is that he’s over thirty-three now and still behave like a teenager.

Not the good kind of teenager who’s positive and energetic. (I was energetic but not really positive when I was in high school… I was into Linkin Park, so I was a good kid.)

But the worst part of being a teenager: all the emotional drama, the gossip, the love affairs where the ex would stalk him because she’s just so in love with him and she’s also loveable and crazy…

You know what? It’s fine. This kind of crap is not what I like, but I can put up with. But just don’t throw mean words on me with passive aggressiveness because I didn’t have the time to reply your messages.

Communicate. Like an adult does.

(I’m doing more of a “letting things out” than a writing exercise… so no, this is definitely not an inspiration, yet.)

Then it comes to my conclusion: I’m getting out of this. Life is too short to be in any kind of relationship that makes you feel bad for no good reason. (There are good reasons to make yourself feel bad… like when you are learning about something new by making mistakes. Make sense?)

I’ve thought about doing this to end this friendship a few times. Tried, but failed. I think that’s because I didn’t want to end things badly with anyone. I didn’t want to hurt people (even if they’ve hurt me), didn’t like confrontation, and also, didn’t want others to dislike me.

But nothing is worth putting my own mental health in jeopardy.

Handling difficult people, if it’s not really really essential, is a huge waste of emotional energy.

They drain your life out of you, literally.

I need peace and tranquility. So I can recharge my energy.

Anyway. I’m going to go to sleep and waiting for this whole thing to transform into inspiration for me, like all the other negativities always do.

Hope you, who’s reading these words now, are safe, and healthy (both physically and mentally).

Inspiration Vault: Clouds

Some days, even when the sky is clear blue, you just feel down.

Clouds

You look around: everything is beautiful and fine. But you still don’t feel as positive as you usually do.

And you ask yourself: why is that? Why I’m not feeling good?

The truth is, what we are taught for all our lives — we should look for happiness, a state of being that is constantly filled with happy thoughts and positivity, is unrealistic.

Because this is just not how life is.

Life is filled with ups and downs. If you feel down once a while, it’s not just ok. It’s necessary.

Like the cloudy days. It’s a nice alternative to the sunny ones. And the sunny days are alternative to the rainy, and snowy days.

Inspiration comes with changes.

Being still can be fun if you are a painter.

Changes, especially inexplicable and unwanted ones, are the reason to look deeper at our minds and thoughts, to engage with the discomfort that comes with them, and to search for a more enduring concept of peace and happiness.

Easy Novelty

We are limited by words.

We are limited by the world in front of us. We see, but we only see what’s before our eyes and not everything beyond that.

All we need to do is to shift our perspective. And that is the most difficult thing.

Where does novelty come from?

It doesn’t lie in the new things that we haven’t experienced.

It hides in the things we are used to. And the comfort we are stuck in.

The way to break through is to narrate the story from another person’s view. A view that we might not be happy with, that from the core, disrupts us.

Seeing

Stop hiding in something that only suits your needs. Start seeing.

Looking for the new in the old things.

Give something meaningful to you to another person. And ask them to make meanings out of it.

In this way, you see new things taking shape. And that’s the novelty you will be surprised to see.

Inspiration Vault: Long Walks

After watching “Midnight in Paris” again, I was brought back to my strolls in different cities by Owen Wilson’s adventure in late night Paris.

Long walks in a city have always been one of my favourite activities to do alone, or with really good company. Don’t know if it holds true for you too. I’ve met people who complain about walking too much and sore legs after one hour walking.

But I can joyfully accept a 5 hour long walk with a good conversationist in a beautiful city, as long as I’m not in heels.

The beauty lies in the simple but dynamic form: when I’m alone, I observe the street, its people. I listen, I smell, I feel the vibe. If I’m with someone I enjoy the company with, I can enjoy both the conversation as well as the scenery around us.

In the movie, Wilson’s character, Gil, take long walks in the street of Paris alone and with “a girl of his dreams”, literally, since she’s living in Paris and the 1920s. Both are the most Romantic symbols for Gil that are unattainable and nostalgic.

Wilson’s character wonders alone in Paris. In the sunshine and in the rain. I wouldn’t go so far to say “that’s the dream”, but being able to walk slowly around in a magnificent city as Paris. That must be a blessing.

One thing is subtle but significant: Gil (Owen Wilson) doesn’t walk in Paris because he lives there. He’s not walking in his world, but in a place that serves as the stage of his imagined “Golden Age”. That’s why Paris is magical for him.

Paris, just as the 1920s, for Gil is something he holds as the ideal world he’d like to live in. But until the moment when he starts to feel attracted to a Parisian girl from his own time, Paris is not his world.

Same goes for his walks in the city. He has been an outsider watching, and mostly, imagining what has happened there. The city doesn’t belong to him. And he doesn’t belong to it.

He wants to “move there”. To be part of it.

But what he has to learn is that, moving to Paris could only be as fulfilling as he would think when he accepted his reality and started to appreciate the messiness and the precious beauties in this home world.

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That’s the thing. When I’m alone, walking down the street, and the next, and the next, I’m spending half the time watching other people, dogs, and buildings; the other half time, I’m spending with my own thoughts.

Not everyone can do these long walks. Now I can also hardly find the patience for it.

I didn’t want to say “time”. Because we all have time. It’s just the mindset and perception of time changed.

But, what a shame.

If I can just spend a day somewhere in a beautiful city by myself, in the streets, that’d be not only wonderful, but I’d really be proud of my own strong and clear mind.

Because no fear for time is the greatest martial art for the mind.

Another thing about long walks that I really love, is to walk and talk with a really good friend.

I used to do that a lot with some friends back home where I grew up.

We met up somewhere, and started talking, and then walking.

No destination. No restaurant. No bars.

Just a friend and I, in the street of a busy city.

We passed by street food stands. We ate, and then kept walking.

We walked for hours, hardly touched our cellphones.

Anything we saw along the way could potentially spark up a new topic or a sequel of what we just went over.

We laughed hard, crazy.

We laughed so much that we had to crouch down, didn’t care what other people were thinking.

Today’s me would have hated us back then. So careless and loud.

So rogue and not give a damn.

So free.

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What I can’t forget is that, while feeling so free, I was feeling very safe as well. Not like it’s dangerous to walk with one person in the city (at night, maybe), but the sense of “security”, the feeling of “certain” and “sure” of yourself and everything in your life…

Because the person you can talk these long walks with must be very special.

You talk for hours but it’s not just about you nor only about her/him, but both of you.

I’m sure you know this feeling: when someone talks to you for hours and they are only talking about themselves. And then it’s your turn. But later they start to “reply” to what you said, and immediately go back to themselves again? (I’m not saying you are innocent in this. I bet you are just like me, sometimes talk about yourself the whole time too.)

Well, what can I say? They are just not the people you can take long, and enjoyable walks in Paris with.

But I hope you have at least one person in your life that you can do this with.

With someone you feel loved and supported, and you will love and support her/him with all your heart.

Don’t ask me “how will I know if this person is the one or not”. Ask yourself. If it’s right, you know. And then you go and ask him/her:

“Would you put on some walking shoes and stroll in the city with me?

Make sure take a bottle of water. And we will stop for ice cream.”

Good luck.

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Inspiration Vault: Dreaming

People say that, when you are asleep, your conscious mind (who’s doing the most work for us to function “normally” when we are awake) goes to sleep mode, but our emotional brain parts are still active. Even more active than they are when we are awake.

That’s why dreams don’t make sense, but the emotions in them are usually very, very intense — therefore, very very real for us.

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That’s when I get confused: usually I can well associate my emotions to reasoning, and combining the context given by reality, I can explain the emotions I feel. But emotions in dreams don’t make sense for my brain after I’m awake again.

This is not only confusing, but frustrating at times.

I bet many of you have had similar experiences.

I consider myself as relatively self-conscious. At least I’m always “consciously” trying to be aware of my thought and emotions. But I’m still scared sometimes of how intense dreaming emotions are.

They are all different kinds of emotions: love, jealousy, sadness, fear…

Sometimes I feel extremely in love, and I can’t wait to go back to sleep to revisit that feeling.

Sometimes I’m relieved when I wake up, for I just spent a very long time escaping from some crazy hunters. They were chasing me closely the whole time.

Sometimes I dream of someone and wake up, suddenly feeling extreme sadness because they are not there with me.

At these times, I used to ask myself: does my dream tell me something about myself? Of what I really want, how I really want to live, and who I really am?

When I ask myself that, I was desperately trying to reject the functionality of my reasoning. Because the motive that’s discovered here, at an unconscious moment, is supposed to be the purest. For the purest deserves the bravest.

And that is my action.

I thought, I really needed to act on that. Because my dreams showed me.

For the sake of the length of this post, I’m putting this part short. So what I did was that I stopped myself from asking those questions, to read too much into my dreams.

The thing is: our brains are programmed to solve puzzles around us. They need to do something in order to make sense of the world.

They like to put pieces of information together in order to understand the things happened and why the things happened in the way they did.

That’s where the problem appears if I ask myself too much about what “happened” in my dreams.

We can certainly take something from why we felt how we felt in a dream: it might just be one of the things that you care about or you think is important. But that’s the extent of it. Not more than that.

Stop trying to make sense of the dreams. Accept what happened there as what they are.

You know what? More often than not, they don’t mean anything for the present you. That’s the mind playing trick on you, to make you “feel” strongly again if you haven’t had that for a while.

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And what’s more: same with the world our conscious mind is living in.

Many things are just not to be understood. It’d be great if you can just accept them and let go.

So the next time when I dream of my ex revealing his enduring love for me, I will not go all over his social and wondering whether he’s really thinking of me. (“I mean I don’t care. Really. But that’d be something…)

Because that’s just a waste of my current, beautiful life.

Inspiration Vault: Isolation

Minimisation of social interaction these days is driving many people crazy.

But the introverts are not included. Like many of them might say.

Really?

I put myself somewhere in between of introvert and extrovert. This quarantine time has been a good test for me to find out to which side I’m leaning towards.

It turns out: I’m more of an introvert, since I hardly craved for social (face to face) interactions with other people beside the person I’m living with. And I’m glad just to stay at home and go outside for a walk.

I do miss bars sometimes. But that’s the extent of which public place I miss.

Oh, and swimming pool.

Anyway. I like to be alone and do my own stuff. But this isolation time has taught me so much about myself, and the world around me, than I ever expected.

Introverts enjoy being at home and not going to have small talks with others. This is what we thought we know.

But most of the times, the location is not the problem. “The others” are. And especially the social obligation to make meaningless interactions with them…

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The truth for me is: mandatory quarantine like this really gives me more space in my life. That’s how I feel. Spacious. I focus better when I’m at home; I enjoy spending quality time with my live-in boyfriend better. I’m much more aware of my inner activities: how I’m feeling about this and that, and why?

It’s like the five senses. When one sense is compromised, the other four will strengthen.

Normal live routine, especially conventional social interactions, is much more limited. Therefore part of your brain is triggered. You start to observe more clearly many other aspects that have been intensified.

Your brain, for evolutionary reasons, will probably perceive the intensified aspects (neighbours dog’s barking, birds chirping, your partner’s snoring even when he/she’s taking a short nap) as negative. But there will be time coming, where you adjust yourself in this new condition of work and life. You accept the isolation as a fact, and gratefully observe the intriguing process of how your mind adjusting to it.

That’s to say, isolation is your chance to a month-long meditation retreat!

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Don’t miss this paid, and socially praised meditation retreat!

PS: I’m inspired mostly by Seth Godin’s Get to vs. have to podcast and blog. Highly recommend it!

Inspiration Vault: Friendship

If you are lucky, like me, you have one or two people in your life who you know that you can always turn to no matter what happens.

We see this type of connection a lot in the movies, TVs, literature… most of media has a huge library of materials depicting how great these friendships are.

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But we should keep in mind: when I talk about friendship, I’m only talking about mine. Because every set of connection is different.

Roses are all under the same name. But not just the fox knows, we all do, that every rose is meaningful and beautiful in his/her own way.

We all want different things out of different relationships. It’s always selfish, really. Friendship especially those developed from our childhood, is the least selfish.

Trust building is much easier when you are a kid/teenager. And trust is built through constant experiential and emotional bonding. That bond is normally strong.

That’s why we all feel more true to ourselves when we are surrounded by our closest friends.

Again, friendship develops all the time in our lives. I’ve made some really great friends along the way.

But what I’m writing about here, is about a friend of mine since I was 16.

Today is her birthday. And she’s in the lab right now, doing test on Covid-19.

She has always been the brave one, wanting to be at the front line changing the world. She works at a university. She wasn’t listed for the job. But she volunteered.

She’s not always the warmest of my friends but she’s always the one with the strangest idea and weirdest humour that matches mine 100%.

When I think of her, my heart is filled with an unexplainable, warm feeling.

And I’m so proud, and wish her well.

This is my best friendship experience. This friendship is an amazing source of inspiration for me and my writing. Because it touches me deeply. Even thinking about it gives me physical reaction of being cared about, and a sense of security.

It is just wonderful.

Who’s your friendship inspiration?

I’d love to hear all about it.

Where Do Contents Come From?

I’ve been struggling with sticking to schedules for all my life.

All my plans stuck at the second day of execution.

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The truth is, the goal setting and the planning parts are usually ok. I stopped setting my goals too high when I was in kindergarten (like “getting up at 6 am and doing my homework until 8 am” so that I could “playing from 10 am to 10 pm…”). And I never had a problem to set my schedule to the minute, which I know now, was not so wise.

The reason that I could hardly get through the second day of the plan was mostly because my ideas usually ran out on that day.

No idea, no content.

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See, I used to think that ideas are GIVEN by the mysterious force from beyond to the truly talented. And of course, I was one of the talented.

So I wasn’t worried that I’d have problem to get more ideas if I wanted to.

But the reality is brutal: without an idea with which I could draw the content out, I normally just forgot about the plan at all. (It’s too bad to have so much going on in your life, right?…)

This thought of “having too much going on in my life” is just BS. Seriously. For me, and for you too.

I know too many people who are doing many things for themselves on the side of their jobs and demanding family duties.

(I probably need some examples here, but I’m just going to leave this blank for now, since I have this post to make today to stick to my schedule… oh well…)

So the question really is: where do ideas come from? I have no content. I need ideas for creating content!

Here are two things I take as essentials for content generating:

Accumulation of input

If you are having enough input, any sort of input, there will be thoughts coming at you all the time. This is a universal knowledge.

But not just reading. Reading is important — literature, non-literature, news piece. All of that.

There are many other things that can be counted as your input. Anything that moves you, touches your heart.

Music, conversations with people who have great stories, movies, and just life experience in general, are great sources.

The key here is, you write down anything that pops in your head when you have input. That’s how ideas start to flow.

And before you know it, you see the dots lined up in some way — you are ready to put them out as a piece of content.

The myth of inspiration

Don’t wait for inspiration. It only comes at times, most of the times you are not “ready” to make them your reality.

Most writers tell you that they just work when they have to work. Inspiration is a myth. Because when you have an idea, it’s easy to note it down. But making it into something you can show to other people is the hard work that you need to have enough dedication to pull through.

So just read and write down stuff. Anything really.

Inspiration will hit you with a bat, or flow through you like a ghost.

The real trick is to notice it before it goes away and never show up in your mind again.

Another thing: try to find key word for a day’s work.

Work from there. Just one word. Into one thought, one line.

Then you might have something that will surprise you.


These two things above are about fast content generating. But they don’t have to be confined to the modern types of media.

I can see myself writing a book, better — a novel, with ideas that I got piled up from several books and articles I read, and movies I saw, or music I heard. Maybe I will have my poetry collection one day, where every inspiration was gathered from the small things that touched my heart in the deepest way during the years of me working at an ordinary job.

These are possible.

Keep the process simple. That’s the way to do.

I Am Going This Way – Content is Always NO.1

I know there are many people want to start doing something online by building up a great website, choosing a catchy name for the brand, and oh, spend a lot of time and money on branding. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. In fact, traffic comes in this way and the production can surely come along.

But I’m going the other way. I believe, content should come first.

Even if it means that it might take a very long time to become anything.

Why am I building my own brand this way?

Simple:

Point 1: I have no money to spend on all that. Well, that one is straightforward enough. It’s kind of a limitation for my options but a good one. So I can really focus on what I am able to do at the moment.

Point 2: I simply believe in that Content is King.

I’m not that kind of person who can envision herself to reach some big goals in the future (or even a few days later) and then put her actions for today right on the course. I can’t even make myself do 15 minutes yoga every morning.

I don’t have a consistent way of living — that’s especially not good for doing something creative and wanting to become something in the future.

So I’m just going to have fun for now.

A lot of fun.

Here, this is my “setting goal” phase.

Just to have fun. A goal that’s clear and easy to keep. Right?

Let’s see how I will keep having fun with my content as much as possible. ­čśë

Content is King.

Remember…

So what’s my content?

Wait. That’s for another post.