The Naked Soul Talk Show | A Daily Podcast

The Naked Soul Talk Show: A Daily Podcast

Woohoo! Friends, creatives, seekers, and entrepreneurs! Here it is. Share all you can. Please spread the good news! Coming soon to iTunes/Radio. And NOW AVAILABLE on YouTube.

The Naked Soul Talk Show: Full Human Potential and Daily Growth

Welcome to The Naked Soul Talk Show with Salil Jha and Neha Rizal. Learn with us as we dig deeply into ways to initiate breakthroughs in our personal lives in relationships, health, and body- consciousness, discuss the law of success as it manifests in careers and finances, learn how to attain mastery of any skill, share rags to riches stories, and delve into what it means to have a purpose driven life and how to create one via lifestyle design (the 80-20 rule).

We have guests from all over the world from various ethnic, spiritual, educational, and cultural backgrounds. But all of them have one thing in common: the desire to be better than they were yesterday. Naked Soul is a transpersonal talk show.

Here, we will explore how to realize measurable self-growth and manifest success by turning our dreams into realistic goals and eventual realities. Build your own inner-GPS. Create a map for a success-lifestyle: plenty of time with family, and no bosses, no alarm clocks dictating your day, instead indulgence in creative pursuits and the enjoyment of a free life, passionately lived.

The Naked Soul is a place where we transform our “Daily Grind” stories into “Daily Win” stories. Our goal is to empower each listener so that they live their full human potential.

Are you ready to heal, grow and kick-start your soul-evolution and become world class?

The Naked Soul Podcast Ep. 01: Chris Jones on The Art & Business of Writing

The Naked Soul Podcast Ep. 02: Simone Salmon on Writing Books & Taking a Transformational Journey

 

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Did you know about the free VIP pass offer to the Naked Soul Club? Subscribe your email address now and be part of this tight-knit community of lovers, readers, writers, adventures and other people just like yourself. I send great contents directly into your mailbox. Once a week. Sign up now and stay in the touch!

Do you listen or watch podcasts/talk shows? If yes, what are some of your favorite podcasts or talk shows? What kind of podcast would you like to listen to? If you have suggestions, feedback, and thoughts, please feel free to leave a comment and I will try to honor your requests. (The first 10 commenters are always my favorite.)

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How to Become a Millionaire Before the Age of 30?

Today, I am going to tell you my story. Well, not everything but a small chapter of it.

When I was about 9 or 10 years old, I always thought I would ever find a job. As a kid watching my dad go to work and do office work was beyond my intellectual capacity and therefore I mistakenly believed that I can never do a job. I am just not qualified.

One night I wrote a letter to my Dad. I think I wrote something like “Papa, please never stop working. I don’t think I will ever get a job.”

My mom and brother asked me to show what I have written. I was so embarrassed by the fact that I admitted I am totally unqualified that I tore the page.

I had to struggle with them to do it. My brother and Mom wanted me to show it to them. It was kind of cute from their perspective that I wrote a letter to Dad. I ended up crying.

Well, this is when I was in Mihijam, a very small town in the eastern part of India. Years later I moved to the US to continue my education in Computer Engineering.

I took a small bank loan to fund my education. My family was middle class and I knew that I am accountable to every single dollar. The success or failure of my American Dream was in my own hands.

I learned and accepted early on that I am 100% responsible for my own future success or failure.

I started working part-time in College and building relationships with people in positions. I was a regular churchgoer during my college years. This saved me hundreds of dollars and hours by staying out of drinking and partying.

In hindsight, spirituality saved me both time and money and it helped build a rock-solid foundation for my future growth.

I used to read a lot. I was big-time into documentary films. But what really used to motivate me was writing and thinking about starting my own business someday. I used to come up with business ideas and discuss them with my friends.

I was a hungry young man ready for any challenge. One day, a young man in his mid-thirties came with a Business offer and I was in awe. It was like God sent.

It turned out to be the Amway MLM business. I joined and worked hard at it. At my peak, I was almost halfway to Platinumship, the first step of Amway’s success ladder.

Well as most MLM stories end, Amway did not work for me and I went back to focus on reading and writing.

A year later, I started an IT company with one of my college friends, and part-time I was also teaching new graduates healthcare and information technology.

Around the same time, I got a high paying full-time job offer with Dell as Senior Software Quality Advisor.

For three years I worked at Dell and in parallel ran my own side IT business. I made some money that allowed me to buy two real estate properties in Noida, India for $150K USD during the Indian real estate boom.

Since I carried no debt at this point in my life, I was also able to invest heavily in the Stock market.

I bought Apple shares when they were below $400 mark per share (before the stock split).

I bought tons of Medical Marijuana stocks at $0.02 and later sold at $0.30 a share.

Fast-forward to today, I am still working as an Independent IT Consultant, and I continue to write.

Earlier this year, I published my first book Naked Soul: The Erotic Love Poems which surprisingly turned into a big success in the Love Poems category on Amazon.

I have two more books coming out soon (they are currently being edited). I also offer one-on-one book marketing consultation.

I have no debt, my car is paid off and between my current stock portfolio, real estate investments, other investments, and savings, my net worth is approximately $1.03M USD (if I liquidate everything).

Having said it all, I also must add that I do not feel accomplished yet. Most of this money is tied to non-liquid assets such as Real Estate and Gold. Moreover, my goals are higher and I know this is just the beginning.

Hope my story provides hope and inspiration to some of you who may be thinking out loud that if they can make it.

Keep working hard where your heart is. The rest will come to you on its own.

 

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Did you know about the free VIP pass offer to the Naked Soul Club? Subscribe your email address now and be part of this tight-knit community of lovers, readers, writers, adventures, and other people just like yourself. I send great content directly into your mailbox. Once a week. Sign up now and stay in the touch!

Do you want to become wealthy? Are you working on your goals or are you gonna give up? Tell me in the comments and I’ll try to answer your questions. The first 10 commenters are always my favorite and I like to personally communicate with them. So share your thoughts.

Thought Experiment: Can the End of This World Start a New Beginning

An interesting philosophical question is a question “Is the end of the world a new beginning?”

Scholars have pondered this question for centuries and it served as the focus of a 2000 documentary by PBS’s frontline program “Apocalypse! The Evolution of Apocalyptic Belief and how it shaped the Western World.”

In the above-mentioned documentary, the biblical book of Revelation was explored in detail. The book of Revelation is one that has sparked the interest of readers more than any other book in the Bible and recounts how the end times will play out including the reign of the man referred to as the Antichrist.

James Tabor, a professor in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte, wrote of the book of Revelation:

“If you open the Book of Revelation and simply begin reading it as an unfolding scenario, it goes something like this. There will be wars and famines and disease epidemics and heavenly signs that will alert the world to some sort of crisis. Then will come an Antichrist as he’s called, or a political ruler, that will establish control over the whole Earth. He’ll be backed up with a religious ruler, who’s called the false prophet. They together establish a unified social, economic, and religious system that dominates the world. The only thing opposing them is the people of God and these two prophets, they’re called the two witnesses, who appear in Jerusalem, and begin to speak against this power. The rest of the book, really the last half of the book is about the overthrow of this system. The beast, the false prophet, who has the number 666, the Antichrist, is overthrown with judgments and plagues.”

The book was written by Saint John the Apostle who visualized the events of the end times in a series of visions while he was imprisoned in a cave towards the end of his life for his testimony about Jesus Christ.

God banished the nonbelievers to hell while the believers would live with God in a peaceful and secure kingdom. This new world was described in verses from the book:

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. I heard a loud shout from the throne saying, Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”

The apocalypse was depicted in a popular Christian fictional book series, Left Behind, in which the end of the world occurs and all of Jesus Christ’s believers vanish and are sent off to paradise in heaven while the non-believers or doubters of his teachings remain on Earth under the reign of the Antichrist.

By the end of the series, the husband of one of the believers begins to have an awakening in his faith in God and along with his daughter is reunited with his wife at the end of the series. The Antichrist meanwhile was banished to the depths of hell.

How will the world end?

That is still an unknown question but an article published in The Good News recounted the ways that politicians, educators, and scientists predicted how the world would end. The causes included nuclear warfare, environmental disasters, planetary pollution, overpopulation, killer diseases, and collision with a comet or asteroid.

A professor of theoretical physics, Michio Kaku, at City College of New York described what the aftermath of an asteroid collision would be like when he said, “An asteroid only a kilometer across would create cosmic havoc by impacting on the earth. The shock wave would flatten much of the United States. If it hits the oceans, the tidal wave it created could be a mile high, enough to flood most coastal cities on Earth.”

One such collision actually occurred in 1908 when a meteor or comet exploded over Siberia and flattened 1,000 square miles of forest which equated to 80 million trees. The energy released by the collision created tremors that were reported as far away as London.

The most likely scenario for an apocalypse according to scientists and scholars is a nuclear war. Austrian theologian Ulrich Kortner stated:

“The nuclear threat constitutes not a temporary, but rather an irrevocable global threat. The actual possibility of an end to all life is now a constituent part of our reality.”

Before his death in 1996, one of the world’s most recognized scientists, Carl Sagan, wrote,

“The development of nuclear weapons and their delivery systems will, sooner or later, lead to global disaster.”

Modern Day Theories & Events

It remains undetermined though when the world will end. Astrologers had long held that the world was expected to end in 2012 and companies capitalized on this by having “End of the World” sales.

Events were posted on Facebook in commemoration of this momentous occasion. The day the world was expected to end was December 21, 2012, which of course did not come to pass.

However, in October 2012, many New Jersey residents did experience a major shift in their universe due to the intensity of Superstorm Sandy. Homes were destroyed and several residents left the state due to issues with insurance companies regarding the rebuilding of their homes.

The aftermath of Sandy is still widely felt throughout the state as there is still uncertainty about when everyone will be able to return home.

It was truly the greatest storm I had seen in my lifetime and I remember volunteering afterward to help organize clothes, canned food, and lunches for those who had been forced to seek shelter elsewhere.

It is now evident that the apocalypse has been a major topic for discussion for centuries. Many refer to the Bible for its prophecies of when and how the end of the world will occur.

My Personal Thoughts

I personally do not believe that the end of the world will play out in any of the above-mentioned scenarios.

I am of the opinion that the world will keep on going, well, until we either destroy it ourselves or a man-made conscious, super-intelligent, powerful A.I. (Artificial Intelligence) takes over the planet earth.

But, whatever be the case, the end is never truly an end but only a new beginning. For now, I sincerely hope that we can end global conflicts so that we can become a unified global civilization and do not aim to destroy each other.

It will be easier to fight an alien civilization or man-made machines if we are one than if we have our nukes pointed out to each other.

Peace to all. Enjoy your day.

Read Next

 

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Did you know about the free VIP pass offer to the Naked Soul Club? Subscribe your email address now and be part of this tight-knit community of lovers, readers, writers, adventures, and other people just like yourself. I send great content directly into your mailbox. Once a week. Sign up now and stay in the touch!

This post was written from a spiritual/religious perspective but there can be many other scenarios that I have not discussed here. What are your thoughts on the end of the world? Do you think the world as we know it will end? Or, will there be only a forward journey? Tell me in the comments and I’ll try to answer your questions. The first 10 commenters are always my favorite and I like to personally communicate with them. So share your thoughts.

How To Grow As A Person When You Work A Long and Boring Job?

I was there and I am thankful for my fate to endure such long hours.

My life completely changed when I was forced to work in an environment with long hours and a long commute.

I realized I have to do something about it. (I was sleeping earlier but it woke me up.)

How To Grow As A Person

When you have a 10-11 hours long workday, how do you grow as a person? Spiritually, intellectually, emotionally and financially. This is a fair question and an important one.

I used to asked this question to myself and my colleagues. Sometimes this question used to scream at me at night. My job was very technical (debugging code and sql stored procedures) and I was learning and growing as far as my technical skills were concerned.

But, the focused screen time was taking a toll on my eyes and after my job, I did not want to look at any screen which emits light. I was done for the day.

That said, it was also true that I am not a kind of person cut out for a 9-5 or 8-6 job! I am a person cut out for 7-7 (irony?) but as an entrepreneur.

How much do I make an hour? About $200. Will spending one hour to write this blog help me make my hourly rate? Nope, not even a single dime… but here I am. (Because I like doing this and therefore do not mind the hours.)

It’s not about hours, it’s about passion and growth

Why do I do what I do and make my day 7-7? Because, I am passionate about my mission in life and I have the freedom to work on whatever project I want, whenever I want.

It’s Monday, 10:30 am. No problem. I am going to spend an hour writing this blog.

My heart is in answering questions, writing blogs, writing books, running my own company, and investing. I am learning every day. I am growing every single day. On all fronts. Spiritually, emotionally, intellectually and financially.

I try and tend to accomplish at least 20 hours of productivity each day (during my 7-7). I structure my time to do this. I have a routine (even though I work from home). And, I read a lot.

What can you do in your situation? How to grow financially, intellectually, physically, and mentally?

The 5 Point Solution

1. First celebrate yourself
Celebrate the fact that you have a 8-6. A lot of people do not have a job or they have an underpaying job for their skills. You may not realize this but you are in an advantageous situation over many other (reading this answer right now).

May be you are commuting 2 hours daily for your job. Listen to podcasts and audiobooks. That is your 2 hours of daily reading. Powerful.

2 hours daily x 5 days a week = 10 hours of reading/week
i.e. 40 hours of reading/month
i.e. 3-4 books each months + dozens of self-development, business, entrepreneurship podcasts

Imagine, after 6 months of doing this how powerful your mind will become! How much knowledge you will have!

2. Meditate, Visualize and Affirmations
When you wake up in morning, spend 10 minutes (not too much to ask for) to meditate (if that’s your thing). If not read a spiritual book (again depending on how you define spirituality and what is spiritual for you).

If nothing comes to mind and meditation is not your thing, just practice deep visualization of how you would want to shape your life. Visualize clearly that everything that you desire have come to the fruition. Visualize them as vividly as possible. Feel the emotions.

You can also read aloud your self-affirmations. An example would be:

“I am a positive person who is happy for my long commute so that I can listen to uplifting audiobooks and podcasts.”

“I am a happy person who likes to learn as much as I can on my work. I am happy for my job because it provides for my family.”

And so on..

3. Meal and life planning
Since you have time consuming job, I would assume it is also stress inducing. You should cook on Sunday evening for your next three days of lunch. On Wednesday evening, you should cook lunch for Thursday and Friday.

If your team eats out on Friday, join them. Make connections. Build relationships.

Stick to your lunch box on the rest of the days. Try to eat on your own (if possible). Or, with other folks. It’s up to you.

Take a small walk. Let new ideas come to your brain whenever you take a break from your work. Be it small tea or coffee breaks or be it a small walk.

Spend these moments alone. Atleast try to. That is when your inner fire will transform your passion into great ideas.

Besides, the above benefits, you are also saving money on lunch dollars if you are currently eating out. This small saving will pay off in big ways in terms of self-discipline, routine, structuring your life and allowing yourself the luxury of having the free time during lunch hours to think hard and come up with ideas that will make your life better.

4. Exercise and evening ritual
If you are in a relationship and have kids, spend time with your family. If you have to drop your kids for classes or gymnastics, you should participate with them as well.

Swimming? How about you and your partner swim as well with your kids. Music lessons? How about you train yourself in music too. Pick up an instrument that you always wanted to learn.

Gymnastics or dance? How about you start training your body just as you are training your mind.

If you are single, you are lucky. Eat light dinner. Go straight to the gym and workout. Give your best. Lift heavy weights. Challenge your body to its maximum limits. Run as if you are preparing for a coming zombie apocalypse.

This is how you grow your physical self. This is how you become mentally tough. This is how you show to yourself, you are serious. That you are committed to transforming your lifestyle.

5. Weekends are yours to keep
Weekends are sacred. Use those 48 hours as if your life depends on it because it does.

Let’s say you are single. (People with family will have a somewhat different structure on weekends. I can cover them in an another quora question.)

Talk to your friends who are equally motivated and positive as you are. Cut off from people who are negative and time-money-and-blood suckers. By now, you probably know who they are in you life.

Limit your Facebook and social media time to 30 minutes each day on weekends.

Take a trip to somewhere new or go for a hike. When you walk, your brain thinks smarter and faster. When you are moving, your brain gets stronger.

During afternoon or in the morning, (depending on your schedule), sit down and come up with ideas on how you can make some passive income.

Think: How can you save more money? How can you cut your overhead cost by 10% and invest that money? How you can earn more money?

Spend some time learning about money, investing and the world economy.

Think about all the hard questions about your life and try to come up with answers. If you do not have the answers, it’s okay. Ask questions to others and find the answer. Your goal is to just explore possibilities at this time.

I can promise that if you do this for just 6 months, you will be transformed into a new soul in a more youthful and stronger body.

 

Now that you are smarter, get a new job
Now, you are ready to look for a new job and start a business on the side. If you are not a risk taker, then you would come up with ideas on smart money management and smart investment techniques and strategies. Business is not for everyone and it’s okay to accept that.

In such case, you would simply want to improve a skill that you have. Assuming, you are already happy with the money.

Or perhaps, you would just like to relax and take things as they come. Whatever you wish or want, you have the mental and spiritual toughness to face it with grace and gratitude.

Don’t forget to cook your meals on Sunday night. Respect money and it will serve you. Learn discipline and it will take you to the next level.

Have fun in the process. Life is too short to spend figuring out everything when all the beauty of this creation is right in front of you. Take it easy and enjoy the process.

Good luck!

 

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Did you know about the free VIP pass offer to the Naked Soul Club? Subscribe your email address now and be part of this tight-knit community of lovers, readers, writers, adventures and other people just like yourself. I send great contents directly into your mailbox. Once a week. Sign up now and stay in the touch!

So are you ready to take control of your life, your finances and your future? What challenges are you currently facing? Tell me in the comments and I’ll try to answer your questions.  I would like to help you with your situation. The first 10 commenters are always my favorite and I like to personally communicate with them. So share your thoughts.

Naked Soul Meaning: What Does It Mean To Be A Naked Soul?

 

Naked Soul Meaning

As an observer, writer, wanderer, and storyteller, I believe that to be naked is to show up, to be present, to express my truth in life. It’s to overcome my own self-imposed limitations and to transcend external influences that are often authoritarian or fear-based. To me, this expression of truth can become a sacred romance.

Therefore philosophically speaking, being a Naked Soul is a sacred romance between one person and the world around him.

When we love, we unguard our hearts. We disarm and disrobe ourselves down to the core. Whether we love to travel, to write, or to wrap our arms around another, we only love authentically. That is being truly naked.

How can you be totally naked? It’s not undressing your body. To be naked is to undress and be naked with your heart’s truth. It’s the only way to uncover what resonates with your own soul.

 

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Also, please check out our upcoming podcast. As we speak, a lot of interviewing and recording is going on in the background.

 

The Naked Soul Podcast Series

Hosted by Salil Jha and Neha Rizal

The Naked Soul Podcast is an extensive series of over 200 timeless conversations from the popular authors, bloggers, health and fitness coaches, spiritual mentors and successful entrepreneurs.

Sign up here on the blog, iTunes, and please subscribe on YouTube channel to stay in the touch whenever a new episode is released.

Tune in for wisdom and insights from the leading thinkers, writers, adventurers, and explorers of our modern time.

 

Topics Covered on the Podcast and as well as this blog

  • Addiction and Overcoming Addictions
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Authorprenuership
  • Aging and Longevity
  • Altered States of Consciousness
  • Alternative Medicine
  • Astrology, Human Design, and the Enneagram
  • Self-Awareness
  • Biofeedback and the Quantified Self
  • Body Awareness & Bodywork
  • Zen
  • Business & Entrepreneurship
  • Compassion
  • Consciousness
  • Cosmology
  • Creativity & Creativity Process
  • Dance
  • Death and Peaceful Dying
  • Dreams and The Dreaming Mind
  • Enlightenment & Evolution
  • Feminism
  • Futurism
  • Gaia
  • Global Awareness
  • Healing
  • Holographic Model of the Universe
  • Hypnosis
  • Imagery and Mandala
  • Intuition
  • Jungian Psychology and Archetypes
  • New Language Learning
  • Leadership Theories and Best Practices
  • Literature & Arts
  • Magic and Cults
  • Best Management Practices
  • Metalearning (Learning How to Learn)
  • Martial Arts, Budo, and Tao
  • Meditation and Mindfulness
  • Memory Enhancement
  • Metaphysics
  • Mind-Body Connection
  • Music and Creative Expression
  • Mysticism
  • Mythology
  • Personal Paradigm Shift & Individual Transformation
  • Parapsychology
  • Peak Performance
  • Personal Development and Self Help
  • Personality Types
  • Poetry
  • Psychedelics and Drugs
  • Psychology & Psychotherapy
  • Quantum Physics
  • Relaxation Techniques (Mind, Body, Heart, and Soul)
  • (Morning, Evening) Rituals and Positive Habit building
  • Science and Deep Space
  • Sexuality and Eroticism
  • Shamanism
  • Social Awareness
  • Spirituality
  • Stress Management
  • Sufism
  • Synchronicity
  • Tantra
  • Tibetan Buddhism
  • Transformation and Self Growth
  • Transpersonal Psychology
  • The Unconscious, Super-conscious and Sub-conscious
  • Yoga, Health and Fitness
  • Writing Life, Writing Tips
  • Self-publishing, Book publishing, Book Marketing
  • Author Brand Creation, Platform Building

 

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Did you know about the free VIP pass offer to the Naked Soul Club? Subscribe your email address now and be part of this tight-knit community of lovers, readers, writers, adventures and other people just like yourself. I send great contents directly into your mailbox. Once a week. Sign up now and stay in the touch!

Are you a Naked Soul? How would you define one or yourself? The first 5 commenters are always my favorite and I like to personally communicate with them. So share your thoughts. Any other questions or comments please feel free to share below.

Read Next

Secrets to a Long and Happy Life: Live Day by Day





Today, I am going to tell you a secret. The secret was known to few people since the ancient times. In our modern age, the secret is well known to the researching scientific community. But do we really know it?

My guess is you have heard of it but probably not aware of how to bring the changes in your own life. We are going to look into some of the practical steps that personally worked for me and you can give them a try as well.

The secret is:

Live Day by Day

Positive thinking results in development of good habits. Good habits and having an optimistic, positive mindset creates a happy, feel-good emotions. A happy person lives in the moment and is able to enjoy life deeply.

Positive thinking is the result of building good habits. So what are these good habits? Let’s take a look at them one by one.

1. Looking for the big picture.
Life is short. Before you were born the Universe existed for 13 billion years and after you will be home the Universe will keep on going for equally long time. The fact that we are here for a short period of time makes us think of time in a unique way. Life is short. Try to make the best out of it. There is no gain in fighting and arguing. In any adversity, look at the bigger picture. Ask yourself: will this thing still matter 5 years from now? 20 years from now? If the answer is “No”, don’t stress yourself.

2. The attitude of gratitude.
Whatever you have and whoever you are as a person, father, leader, daughter, employee, anyone who you think you are is the product of countless people and their miniature help and support to you. Sure you have done the hard work and the bulk of it but remember the phone you are using is built by someone in China, designed by Apple in California and uses chips and hardware a made in Germany and Japan. We all are living well because hundreds of thousands people are contributing to each other. There is plenty to be thankful for.

3. The Law Of Self-fulfilling prophecy.
It is true that what are you think is what you will attract in your life. This is not magic but science. By dwelling on a thought you are focusing on it. If it is negative and about despair, your brain will automatically give more importance to matters related to despair and hopelessness. Likewise, if you think of learning and education, your brain will automatically start spending brainpower (energy and focus) on things that you want to learn. You will begin to self educate yourself.

4. Association.
A lot of what we eat, do, watch and talk are highly dependent on who we hang out with. If you are into fitness but five of your closet friends (with whom you spend most time) are into pizza and unhealthy food and lifestyle, there is no way you can be fruitful in leading a fit lifestyle. That said, if you start associating yourself with positive people, you will pick up their habit and start thinking positive, talking positive and living a positive life.

5. The Power Of Spoken Words.
The spoken words have tremendous power. Whatever comes out of your mouth shapes your thinking in a major way. Also what you speak (in front of others) crates an image of you. And by your image you shall be reared and judged. If you have set up an image of no-nonsense, cool and happy person, your peers and surrounding will start treating you in cool, fun and positive way. Chose your words carefully. They literally carry the power of life and death.

6. Books.
Read a lot of great books. Read whatever you can afford and get your hands on. Good or bad, all books are helpful. I would add read mostly good positive books but also read a few bad ones. On purpose, but why? The good books will feed your soul. The good books will uplift your soul and will motivate you, inspire you, teach you and tell you how you can become skilled and great yourself. The bad ones on the other hand will teach you what not to do.

Now, let’s talk about living in the moment.

Living in the Moment


Observing life is the key. An active act of observing occurs when you are mindful. Thoughts will arise and vanish on your mental plane, you should just watch them. Dwelling on any thought or chain of thoughts is the root of anxiety.

Buddha’s journey to enlightenment started right after his acute observation of the world around him. People get sick. People get old. People die. Life is short and full of trials and miseries. Happiness is but for a moment. Time is fleeting.

The Big Picture in the Small Moment
Once you get some perspective about life and your humble position in this vast Universe, you’ll begin to appreciate what you have and you will begin to calm down and take things easy.

For example, your friends got an A+ in each subjects; your neighbor married a hot girl; your uncle won a million dollar lottery — yes, so what! Isn’t it good for them? If these would have happened to you, wouldn’t you be happy? If yes, then why are you not happy in other’s happiness? This is a big lesson. Those who learn it early, win it bigger, while smiling all the time.

The lesson is:

It is not other’s life that you should be concerned with but yours own. Be cheerful in other’s success and weep with those who are hurting.

Be a madman. Be mad in love. Be fully present in the moment, so present that you are one with the reality. Be madly in love with seeking wisdom. Workout, love your body. Above all, love this short life. The days may seem longer on some occasions but trust me, you only get to be in your twenties once.

Make love with another human being.

Kiss under a beautiful sky when the sun is touching the horizon.
Let the winter breeze pinch your face.
Have your hands ready for hugging others.
Sometimes cry, you will fall in love with yourself.
Be nice to others, everyone is in some sort of pain.
Above all, be nice to yourself.

 

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Did you know about the free VIP pass offer to the Naked Soul Club? Subscribe your email address now and be part of this tight-knit community of lovers, readers, writers, adventures and other people just like yourself. I send great contents directly into your mailbox. Once a week. Sign up now and stay in the touch!

What do you think about the connection of positive thoughts with your internal biology? The first 10 commenters are always my favorite and I like to personally communicate with them. So share your thoughts. Any other questions or comments please feel free to share below.

Female Vs. Male Perspective On The Erotic Visual Art | The Nudes, The Paintings, The Photographs

Maja by Goya (ca. 1803)When we think of representations of the erotic in the art, the first thing that comes into our minds is the classic nudes which were an object of fascination for many male painters throughout history. It’s not accidental that I made a clear gender emphasis here. When talking about a male perspective on the erotic in art, we cannot help but ask what about the female perspective on artistic eroticism.

In this post, I will be stressing these two main valences of the nude in art. The reason is fairly clear: the nude was a major theme even in more traditional and less daring artistic trends such as the Renaissance, Romanticism, and even Greek and Roman art.

Erotic Visual Art

Female Beauty or Female Body

To begin, let’s start with a question. What can we say about such a generalized masculine take on the erotic in art? First of all, it centers on corporeality. The female body is the object of fascination and delight.

Secondly, in the works of many male artists, we find a somewhat detached perspective that is meant to show us physical qualities without much subjective involvement.

The eye of the artist (as well as the eye of the beholder) is free to add eroticism to the nude. However one cannot help noticing the feeling of distance that makes the body itself the foreground of the art rather than whatever excitement and feelings of pleasure the nude may produce.

 

The Male Perspective

Male erotic art focuses on beauty and objective physical features, while eroticism is supposed to be extrapolated from the whole endowment of the body that is painted naked. It’s understood that a gorgeous body incites and arouses; however most male painters who approached the nude intensively in their work prefer leaving this aspect in an implicit form.

You may notice that many famous nudes play with light and elaborate contrasts to intensify the beauty of the female body. It is thus fairly easy to say that light variation and games were also used as a means of conveying erotic feelings.

If subjective perspective was usually deemphasized while pure carnality stayed in the foreground in an attempt to objectify the body to a certain extent, at least intense contrasts and shades could offer a more sensuous experience to the viewer. It’s as if light and shadow touched the female body, isn’t it?

For certain artists, the female body is treated as a sacred object that was only half-eroticized. Just think of painters such as the Spanish romantic painter, Goya (click to see their paintings),

Or, Botticelli, an Italian renaissance painter;

Or, Ingres, a French neo-classical painter;

Or, Waterhouse, an English pre-Raphaelite painter.

 

Ingres’ La Grande Odalisque (ca. 1814)

In more classic art you notice a form of veneration of the female beauty. Thereâ€s almost always the same (almost respectful) distance that paradoxically creates a cunning form of erotic tension: the farther away the womanâ€s body is, the more desirable it appears, doesnâ€t it? We all know how well this can work in real life. The classic nude plays precisely on this touch of “unavailability” of the naked woman.

Eroticism arises out of variation and a feeling that the body is unattainable, not close enough, not visible enough in all its details and angles. If you pay attention to more traditional paintings, the woman is either lying on a sofa/bed/another vertical surface in the most frivolous and nonchalant posture possible, or reveling in the beauty and freshness of nature, sometimes among other people.

The most significant and appealing parts of the female body are highlighted with a focus on curves, breasts, and belly area. Another striking element is usually the hue of the skin whose variations can have highly erotic effects.

 

What About Male Nudes?

You are probably wondering this. Well, sometimes you find the male body depicted in sculptures such as Michelangelo’s David or The Age of Bronze by Rodin. However the erotic aspects of the male nude are slightly deemphasized.

In earlier centuries the stress fell on the female body as an object of erotic pleasure. The male nudes represented alone in sculptures or paintings are rather images of bravery, physical beauty, perfect posture etc.

The Age of Bronze (ca. 1877)

You rarely find the male body fetishized to the same extent as the female nudes. Shape and muscle tonus are more important than curves, intimate body zones, or sexualized postures. It is the female body that contains an aura of powerful fascinating eroticism which is intensified by extreme variations on the same theme.

How many nudes were painted during the Renaissance, the Baroque, the Rococo, or later? Probably over ten famous paintings. You surely know Goya’s enigmatic Maja or Botticelli’s Venus (see below).

Obviously each artistic trend had its own notions of what was most erotic. The Renaissance praised exquisite, serene, undisturbed beauty and harmony of forms, while the Baroque claimed that full-figured bodies with sensuous and smooth flesh are quite appealing and erotic. For example, look at The Three Graces (click).

 

Sandro Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus

 

Late 19th -20th Century

Male painters who lived in later centuries approached the nude and the erotic by reproducing patterns that were already familiar against the background of a whole new stylistic imprint. For instance, Edvard Munch was one such Norwegian expressionist painter known best for his anxiety-filled dark paintings which suggest alienation, confinement, anguish, and other negative emotions.

However even with such an emotional palette he also approached the female body in a rather challenging way. For instance, he painted his famous Madonna (click to see) which eroticizes the religious icon of the Virgin Mary.

Munch’s Woman in Three Stages

Not something insignificant at all! Munch keeps his gloomy and somewhat disturbing painting style while approaching a subject that is so delicate and yet so arousing. It is especially the male public that responds to this eroticization of the religious figure; however itâ€s safe to assume female viewers are also quite permissive towards good art and a provocative attitude.

Picassoâ€s Les Demoiselles

Another amazing example of the erotic as transfigured through the lens of a modern artistic trend is Picasso’s Les Demoiselles. This famous painting introduces us to a cubist take on the female body.

What does it tell you? Isn’t it highly erotic? Of course it is, especially due to the free spirit and bold aggressive sexuality of the woman in the painting. Their bodies are depicted in sharp angles and stylized shapes, but they still maintain the provocative beauty of the female nude. The color of their skin is also extremely alluring, especially when you are free to indulge in contrasts and comparisons.

Obviously cubism is pretty abstract art and the female faces may seem a bit mechanicized and devoid of feeling….but in this painting itâ€s the bodies and the exhibitionistic postures of the women that matter. The woman is no longer represented as a big cat lying gently and idly on a sofa while exposing her beauty to the viewer. Female sexuality is now raw, harsh, active, mobile, insinuating of real sex due to the women’s aggressive and ostentatious positions.

To sum up, the male perspective on the erotic focuses on the female body as an object of pleasure and artistic transfiguration. The emphasis falls on form, color, games of light and shadow, and capacity to enter ingenious contrasts either with a darker room/wall/piece of furniture, or with the lively colorful nature, if the women are outside. What is eroticized is the body itself while the face and expression are deemphasized. It’s physicality as well as an ability to appear somewhat distant that are in the foreground in the male (and rather traditional) take on the erotic in art.

 

The female perspective

When it comes to the female perspective on the erotic, one must mention right from the start that it was far more limited in former centuries due to the position of the woman in the whole society and culture. Even if a woman painted (which was not very frequent), her themes were much more quiet and decent. A woman couldnâ€t afford the same freedom to approach the body or other aspects of the erotic. Thus female painters whose art does delve into sexuality are quite close to the 21st century.

 

Georgia O’Keefe

Let’s look into the most prominent one. How could we not talk about Georgia O’Keefe? She is probably the embodiment of the female erotic in painting. Extremely fascinating and sexual as a woman, Oâ€Keefe herself led a life that praised female power and complexity. Her face retains an aura of mystery and quiet strength. She was also quite daring as a woman and posed naked for various photos.

Obviously she was a woman in full touch with her sexuality who was not afraid to use her body as an object of art and public pleasure. But what about her own paintings? Thereâ€s something totally different going on in female erotic art. Oâ€Keefe didnâ€t paint nudes. She painted the female erotic itself. Many of her paintings depict flowers in elaborate vivid colors from a rather close angle.

Georgia O Keeffe ca. 1915

Some of them are quite overtly evocative of the female genitalia. But itâ€s not only the shape and sexual symbolism that strikes us in Oâ€Keefeâ€s paintings. Thereâ€s a distinct emotionality conveyed at the same time. You can feel exuberance and love of life in almost every petal of the flowers in Oâ€Keefeâ€s paintings. Thereâ€s a sharp vibrant vitality screaming through all her paintings that you cannot not associate with sexuality.

Georgia O Keefe

 

The Use of Natural Imagery

Sometimes floral or other kind of natural imagery is depicted for its own sake … as an eulogy to the beauty in the environment. However thereâ€s something distinctively feminine in her whole style and perspective. You could hardly picture a male artist painting all that floral and flowery sophisticated imagery. Thereâ€s a finesse of lines that embody femininity and an eye for the right angle and distance that also suggest a female perspective. It doesnâ€t feel like a detached or objectifying look or lens.

For example, as you have seen above, there is definitely that living emotionality in Oâ€Keefeâ€s paintings. The close-up to simple wonders in the natural world which also evoke female sexuality in a more or less explicit way convey a typically female dexterity in playing with distance and seeing deep inside of things. Strong vibrant colors, ingenious intimate floral shapes, visible emotional undercurrents in most of her paintings … all that speaks more than one hundred nudes, donâ€t you think so?

Oâ€Keefe didnâ€t paint human figures, but she did paint the female erotic itself. Actually her art doesnâ€t limit itself to suggestions of female eroticism; however even when she alludes to male genitalia, the perspective remains a feminine one. For example, look at this painting, called Yellow Calla.

O Keefe’s Yellow Calla

Itâ€s already fairly obvious the female erotic is tightly connected with emotionality in visual art. If Oâ€Keefe is the epitome of colorful vitality, thereâ€s another famous female painter whose life was marked by different events and whose art reflects another kind of emotional landscape, namely Frida Kahlo.

 

Frida Kahlo

Frida Kahlo was a very sexual and independent woman who acted according to her own feelings and listened to the beat of her own drum instead of paying too much attention to social or cultural convention. Her art is also typically female in a very intimate, very sentimental way. As you probably might know, Frida had a quite tragic life after a severe accident. Her paintings reflect her tormented internal life as well as her powerful sexuality, although in a more twisted form. Her paintings represent the female body in a distorted and suffering-bound form while still being eroticized. Look at her The Broken Column.

The Broken Column

Frida Kahloâ€s paintings emanate a specific sadness and darkness and are remarkable through a combination of the natural and the erotic. The body is often presented in association with the natural environment. Itâ€s as if earth and nature were sexualized, while the body itself feels at home in a natural setting among trees and leaves.

What is striking in Kahloâ€s paintings is the fact that sexuality is communicated primarily through the body, but the face of the figures who are represented are still important. Itâ€s not the expressionless and coldish face in traditional nude paintings that almost fades in the background as the body is fetishized and objectified.

Frida Kahlo’s Two Nudes Painting

Kahloâ€s art also lends emotionality to the erotic through the faces she paints which are often sad, deep, wrapped in thought, melancholy etc. What may have well been pure love of life in Frida Kahlo turns into deep grief and confined, restrained sexuality in her paintings. It is nonetheless a typically female perspective which enriches the erotic with very complex emotional nuances.

 

Eroticism Emotionalized

Is the female perspective on the erotic always emotionalized? You may think it is, but letâ€s not fall in the trap of generalizations. Modern art allowed for a wide array of styles and during the 20the century it was fairly easy for a woman to play an active part on the cultural scene. Her style didnâ€t have to closely respect existing trends, originality and purely personal views were more welcome, and she could even challenge men through a bold and unconventional approach, if she wanted to.

In this context some female artists chose the path of high emotionality and subjectivity in which the erotic was treated as a part of their more encompassing vision. Others preferred walking the more common road of “en vogue” styles and didnâ€t intend to distinguish themselves as particularly feminine through their perspective.

 

The Grey Zone – Tamara de Lempicka

Such an artist is Tamara de Lempicka whose art deco style is so neutral and dry, yet impressive, that you can easily forget sheâ€s female. And yet she did approach the erotic in her own way. She painted many nudes whose harsh and slightly coarse lines and angles remind us of Picassoâ€s style.

Tamara de Lempicka, portrait photograph, Paris, ca. 1929

There is a sharpness and an aggressive impulse in her paintings that almost seems male. Look at this one for example. Does that lower the value of her art? By no means. Sheâ€s just a very interesting case. She is a female painter who chose to “ungender” herself as an artist and approached the classic figure of the nude in a novel, even daring way without resorting to emotionality or allusions of feminine sensitivity.

Tamara’s approach to physicality and sexuality are straightforward, exhibitionistic, and provocative through a slightly ironic tinge. Quite wonderful for a female painter! She is an interesting example that suggests an escape from femininity into a grey area in terms of gender imprint.

I will end my post with a more “casual” form of art, but not less valuable – photography. I wonâ€t get into what male photographers (and perspective) does with the human body and sexuality. Especially in modern and contemporary times the erotic often becomes NSFW when it comes to this very accessible and less demanding art. However letâ€s not consider it easy!

Sally Mann’s Black and White Work

Sally Mannâ€s Photography

Photography can be highly sophisticated and meaningful when weâ€re talking about an extremely talented artist. To illustrate what both photography and a female perspective can do with the erotic I decided to look into Sally Mannâ€s work a bit. She is one of the most gifted photographers ever alive and sheâ€s a woman! Why am I stressing this aspect now? Itâ€s precisely because of the nature of her works. Had she photographed only landscape, buildings, or fashion models, her gender wouldnâ€t have been so significant. But she had her personal pet figures and motifs, namely children.

Sally Mann is incredibly creative and ingenious. She has an extraordinary eye for detail, she senses light and shadow as the air that one breathes, and she has a gift for very inventive, provoking, and ambivalent scenes and images that stir contradictory reactions. On the one hand, you notice her refinement and her use of subtle and even graceful expressions, postures, and facial features; on the other hand, you canâ€t help responding to the challenging and thought-provoking side of her photographs.

Some of her works arouse mixed emotional responses. Yes, the children she photographs are very special and itâ€s obvious she chose unique looks, a strange convincing gaze, a fragile body. At the same time she juxtaposes this allusion of innocence and spontaneity with a few bold provocative images such as a dead doe, a fire that breaks out during a picnic …and last, but not least, an erotic feeling.

Well, as you probably already know that Sally Mann eroticizes some of her children. It depends on the photograph. Sometimes you get an ambiguous image in which atmosphere and vibe seem to prevail and a naked body looks accidental. The gymnast girl on the table is a great example.

Other times Sally Mann pushes boundaries full force as she literally represents a child dressed in adult clothes and embellished with make-up while displaying a naked upper body. The girlâ€s expression is serene, confident, unflinching, adult-like.

Whatâ€s even more provocative and edgy is the way she sometimes overtly sexualizes children when she places them in clearly sexual postures whose realism is amazing. Look at this girl sitting on a wooden fence.

 

Conclusion

As you could see, the female perspective on the erotic can range from a rather classical emotionality or sentimentality typically associated with this gender to highly daring and even slightly transgressive approaches that somewhat defy and even overthrow gender conventions.

Does it make a clear difference if the artist is male or female when it comes to the erotic? As you could see from this post, the answer is affirmative: more often than not the artist will let their own gender have a say in their imagery, vision, and approach to the erotic. This difference is by no means meant to create a boundary though; it is only about fascinating distinctions and fine nuances that derive from a gendered perspective on the erotic.

 

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What is your perspective on the erotic art? Do you think man and woman view and approach it differently? The first 10 commenters are always my favorite and I like to personally communicate with them via email (sort of like buddies). So share your thoughts. Any other questions please feel free to share with the community.

The Pain of Perfectionism | Writer Anxieties, OCD and Coping Mechanism

This perfectionism is driving me crazy

It’s getting late, you’ve been working on your article for days now, thankfully, after several “final” drafts and edits, as well as the umpteenth reread, you’re now feeling confident enough to submit your work to your client or ready to hit the publish button.

Moments after you’ve hit “send”, you let out a heavy sigh; you are relieved, elated; and it feels good because the deadline has been met or the project is now complete.
Adrenalin is kicking in, you’re actually even feeling slightly emotional, but happy.

This should be where the chapter ends; the beginning of your mind focusing on something else, or at least, as it’s late, you should be turning in for the night. But when you do, you can’t sleep.

Instead of enjoying some satisfying well-earned slumber time, your mind is slowly succumbing to niggling self-doubt. You let out another sigh, this time it’s one of dread. What if the client hates what I have written? Oh, why did I press “publish” tonight when I could have revised it one more time? I should’ve waited until the morning before submitting.

The Pain of Perfectionism

And so it goes on and on until you finally manage to get to sleep, just as the birds are beginning their chorus. And when your alarm goes off a little while later, the article (or the blog post) is the first thing on your mind. At this point you want to scream out loud and groan, you do both, annoyed and angry at yourself for caring so much.
Sound familiar to you?

Have you ever felt: I am so unhappy with what I sent yesterday, so today I am going to spend time correcting all the things I’ve been feeling unhappy with. In whatever free time you have, you focus on editing until it’s time to take a break, but then the next time you pick up you have lost your flow.

So you re-read the entire thing again before once more, you painstakingly begin deleting words, adding sentences, removing paragraphs and adding other smaller details and arguments to polish your work, word by word, paragraph by paragraph. One page at a time.

Zen and The Art of Writing

Writing well is the formation of thoughts in coherent topics and subtopics. Think of your grand idea as a big house. And your subplots as various rooms in the house. You start with the boundary or the overall description of the house but then you move inside.

You talk about the lawn and the backyard and the fences. Inside each room, you describe what is present there. You do these things until your hands give up due to being tired.

Next time you pick up, you remember the grand plot and move on to the next room and talk about it. You then go on to the kitchen and to the bathroom. But once finished, usually depending on:

1) the completion of the main story,

2) word count goal,

3) time, you edit it

You read your edited work and again find several holes. You find tangential stories which are not really driving the main plot or main argument that you are making. You remove them.

Similarly, you find holes where you are missing information so you find phrases that act like glue, joining the two chains of thoughts or paragraphs into one story. As you find these holes, you re-write and complete your story. You edit it again. Sometimes re-inserting a lot of what you have previously deleted!

You keep working on it until you have no time, energy or emotional interest left in the project. This is when your work is complete. It is not perfect yet, and you realize it will never be.

Creative by nature is anti-perfection. “What is imperfect is complete,” says Zen wisdom. Finally, you re-send the piece, hoping that your client hasn’t been anywhere near the article you have sent previously.

Work-Related Anxieties

I am devoting this blog to this topic because while I am sure many of us feel it, I haven’t seen too much written about it. Anxiety-like this is perfectly natural. It is a working style of the creatives, I believe.

First, you have to let your idea come out. You watch it from a little distance, then the draft is written and corrected. We don’t polish when we create, nor do we know how to complete the full story. Only after 80 percent of it is laid out, do we go on to finish the remainder.

I am not as crazy as those “other” writers

 

My first book Naked Soul: The Erotic Love Poems was written and published this way. I sent a manuscript with 150 poems and finally selected 95 for publishing. Then I later added 13 more poems (during various rounds of editing) and made changes to the Introduction and book’s back matter.

I sent the book for editing a third time (with my second editor). That’s how the book came out nicely. But ask me today, I can tell you, if the book still exists as a manuscript, I would replace certain words and leave out a certain poem and I would add another one and then rewrite some lines, and so on and so forth.

A book really never ends. There is always something more that you can do to make it perfect, a masterpiece.

 

“Everyone has talent. What is rare is the courage to follow the talent to the dark place where it leads.” – Erica Jong

Courage to Write

The “courage” in the above quote is highly important. I think us writers are actually too hard on ourselves at times, but the very nature of the beast dictates that we will be judged.

Writing invites judgment; judgment from others and judgment from ourselves, but we are probably our own harshest critics when we should really be kinder to ourselves.

I believe that writing takes commitment, skill, patience and most of all, courage. We need to remember this whenever any hint of self-loathing or the confidence-wrecking gremlin kicks in.

“A lot of writers believe that the trauma and the angst that you feel is an essential part of the craft.” – Amy Tan

If it leaves a writer in a negative state then I don’t know if I would agree with Amy Tan‘s “essential” part, but normal yes! Is it essential? I am not so sure. It depends (writer to writer).

However, in his book The Courage to Write: How Writers Transcend Fear, writer, Ralph Keyes documents many of the anxieties that writers feel and acknowledges that fear and anxiety are both normal. But he, like Amy Tan, also believes that anxiety is an important and essential part of the writing process.

His book includes anecdotes and strategies from other writers (naked writing anyone?) and offers useful suggestions for his readers such as scheduling your writing time into your most productive time of day.

I know that this isn’t always possible, but not writing during your least productive time of day (in my case, late at night), is, and in my opinion, should be avoided at all costs.

Fear is the Opposite of Courage

Other famous writers have spoken about their coping strategies too. In an interview writer Jonathan Franzen confesses that, in the past, he has feared fame and reproach continually. And the way he has taken refuge from himself and transcended his fear?

Well, through writing and trying to create good sentences, which he feels loyal enough to continue with. So, basically, he overcomes his writing anxieties, with, more writing! As he is a bestselling author, this strategy has obviously been working well for him.

It doesn’t seem to matter how little or well known a writer you are, similar demons seem to manifest in so many of us. Author, Cynthia Ozick has also confessed her fears in this quote from brainyquote.com:

“I am afraid that the act of writing is so scary and anxiety filled that I never laugh at all. In fact, when people tell me that such and such a scene or story is comical, I tend to gape. I did not intend comedy ever, as far as I know. It’s probably all a mistake. I am essentially a lugubrious writer.”

She explains how she overcomes her fears stating, “I have to talk myself into bravery”. Cynthia acknowledges that she does fear-setting before she writes, with every sentence and sometimes with every syllable.

In Dan Halpern’s publication: Who’s Writing This?: Fifty-five Writers on Humor, Courage, Self-Loathing, and the Creative Process, an outspoken critic, Susan Sontag, outlined her discomforts and admitted: “the writer is me: not my double” making me both Frankenstein and the monster.

I totally get that. For me, writing is my soul mate but can be my nemesis too, it’s love and hate, success and failure, but I’ve come to understand that the good parts always weigh heavier than the bad.

The more I read up on writer anxieties, the more I come to understand that all writers feel this way at times. Knowing that even extremely well-known writers have felt (and still may feel) the same feelings as we do, can bring some comfort to an anxious author.

Actually, it’s not even just authors I should be addressing here as what I am talking about isn’t only something that affects authors or other creative types (although we might be the ones to beat ourselves up a bit more about our work, etc.)

Even composing something as simple as an email or text message to a person we are trying to impress can encourage negative/self-deprecating feelings no doubt to a lesser degree, but maybe enough to bring on those gremlins.

Work without anxiety or be ready to be punished

What Can Writers Do

What can writers do about their writing anxieties? I’d be lying if I said a “one size fits all” cure was in existence to alleviate every writer’s anxieties. Using a combination of strategies can go a long way when it comes to steering us poor creatives into a better place.

Know Yourself as a Writer

Be aware of the warning signs and distress triggers before your anxieties build up and take you to an impossible place. e.g. If you know you get anxious near deadline time worrying about whether you’ll make the deadline at all, set yourself a deadline one day before the piece is actually due.

Moreover, get a friend to look at your work with fresh eyes one day before you submit it as well, to ensure that it’s grammatically correct, etc. when it’s finally time to hit the “submit” you’ll hopefully feel less stressed.

Tiredness is not your Friend

I mentioned earlier that writing during your least productive time should be avoided. Rise early to complete a piece if the morning is when you do your best work.

If you know that the last time you submitted your work to client during the evening, you lay awake worrying about it, submit during the day instead, that way if you feel low about it afterward, re-writing or re-reading in the day is more productive than feeling overwhelmed at night when the gremlins can take over.

Be Rational

If you don’t hear from a client, see your work on their website or in their publication when you were expecting it to go in, it does not necessarily mean they hate it.

The client may be busy dealing with office catastrophes or scheduling your work to fit into a different magazine issue etc. Or she/he could be at lunch or on vacation. All manner of things could be occurring, so hold fire on beating yourself up. I know, it’s a cliche, but sometimes, no news really is good news!

Step Away from your PC

We all know that things can get more than frustrating when you’ve been working on something for a long time. Fresh air is your friend, go get some then surprise yourself on your return the Frantzen way, by creating some kick-ass sentences to ignite your confidence and lessen the frustration.

Love and Laugh

Ok, forgive me for rounding this off by getting a little sentimental, but writing can be like love in some ways. The reason why we become consumed by love is because we have an overwhelming desire for someone. We let writing anxiety consume us because we care so much about doing a good job once we’ve had the guts to expose ourselves within the writing arena.

And like the love arena, you feel so bad about your work when you don’t know where you are with the client, the same way as being unsure of how things stand with a loved one exposes vulnerabilities. But being elated in either arena can make everything okay (which is why we love and which is why writers write; love is a worthy risk despite its torture.)

Being a writer is a worthy risk despite its torture too. It takes courage to love and courage to write, be proud of yourself for caring so much, despite the pain.

Take it easy, boy

On a final note, try not to take yourself too seriously, laugh lots and enjoy your craft. Whenever you or any of your writer friends need something to ignite a smile, read this edition of the Pessimist about writing:

It will most likely turn every single coping mechanism I’ve written about on its head, but if it’s humorous anxiety obliteration you’re after don’t hesitate and click on the link.

If you’d like to share any coping strategies that I haven’t mentioned here, be sure to get in touch.

 

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Did you know about the free VIP pass offer to the Naked Soul Club? Subscribe your email address now and be part of this tight-knit community of lovers, readers, writers, adventures and other people just like yourself. I send great contents directly into your mailbox. Once a week. Sign up now and stay in touch!

Do you suffer from trying to be perfect? If you have relatable thoughts or experiences of having or dealing with the pain of perfectionism, please share. The first 10 commenters are always my favorite and I like to personally communicate with them via email. So share your thoughts. Any other questions please feel free to share with the community.

What is Meta Learning? Strategies for Teaching Meta Learning or Learning It

Our brain, perception, and learning

For those who might not know the meaning of meta-learning, it simply means, “learning about the learning.”

Meta is a root word that comes from the Greek, which generally means beyond. (An example would be, metaphysics). Meta also means something that is “self-referencing”. (An example would be ‘meta-learning’.) It is almost symbolic as in where a Zen haiku says “the ocean is in the drop of water and the drop of water is in the ocean”.

The word “meta”, when used with a noun, takes the meaning of a simple object or process to a whole new level. For example, consider these two words: Meta-Data (data about the data) and Meta-learning (learning about the learning). Or, consider this: Meta-physics (beyond physics).

4HC Method

Tim Ferriss in his book The 4-Hour Chef (4HC) talks about DiSSS and CaFE. This is his prescribed formula and it is quite good. I have tried it myself and it works well for any skills (be it computer programming or martial arts).

DiSSS stands for Deconstruction, Selection, Sequence, and Stake.

CaFE stands for Compression, Frequency, and Encoding.

 

You can read about it more on a long-form blog post that I wrote a few weeks ago called, “Best Meta Learning | Rapid Learning| Accelerated Learning Template and Methods In The World.”

Teaching Meta Learning

Learning and teaching are two sides of the same coin. When you learn, you are actually teaching yourself something. Likewise, when you teach something (to others), you learn the material in new ways. Your nerve cells make new connections and new reference points which helps you in recalling the learned material faster at later a time.

I would break down the principle and process of Meta-Learning into 3 various phases.

1: The 80/20 rule

I am fascinated by the 80/20 rule. 80/20 rule basically reduces the learning material and shortens the learning curve of any skill. What this means is to attain mastery of any new skill, it may take a student 6 months to 2 years instead of a standard 10 years of practice.

An example:

The power of the human mind. Meta-learning is actually natural.

 

2: The Flow State

I am also endlessly fascinated by the process and mechanism of the creative-flow-state. I try to ask questions such as: How to achieve Flow state intrinsically? How to take creativity beyond the reach of few naturally gifted people to everyone by transforming creativity into a learned skill?

How to make education and learning process more fun, practical and approachable for most people? Questions like these keep me awake at night once a month or so. I then go on to research, experiment and apply the answers that I come up with or learn from others. Whatever sticks, I make that in the toolkit for daily/weekly/monthly practice.

3: Meta Learning

The last step is to follow a structured approach to meta-learning.  It is a more refined method of learning new skills at a much higher rate and with faster results.

I call it: DR. BevO, DaD, Me, MoM & our CAT, BiTS

You can read about it more on a long-form blog post that I wrote a few weeks ago called, Best Meta Learning | Rapid Learning| Accelerated Learning Template and Methods In The World.

 

In short, it means (the steps are):
D = Deconstruct

R = Reference (cross POV)
Bev = Bird’s Eye View
O = Order (sequence)
DaD = Draw Diagram
Me = Memorize
MoM = Mental Maps
C = Cheat Sheet (CliffsNotes)
A = Action  (& Practice)
T = Time it
B = Buddy (Partner)
T = Teach
S = Stakes (& Rewards)

You first work on DR. BevO.

D = Deconstruct
R = Reference (cross POV)
Bev = Bird’s Eye View
O = Order (sequence)

Then learn while practicing, and practice when learning by engaging in Dad, Me, MoM & our CAT.

DaD = Draw Diagram
Me = Memorize
MoM = Mental Maps
C = Cheat Sheet (CliffsNotes)
A = Action  (& Practice)
T = Time it

Consider this example of a mind-map:

Mental map for memory. Look at the use of various colors.

In the last phase, you can do all three or just one, it doesnâ€t matter. You get to pick. Pick one, two or all three of BiTS.
B = Buddy (Partner)
T = Teach
S = Stakes (& Rewards)

 

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Do you have a favorite meta learning method that you follow (or have followed in the past)?  If you have tried Naked Soul method or The 4-HR Chef’s (or Tim’s method) DiSSS and CaFE, please share your success stories. Any other comments or questions, please feel free to share your thoughts with us.

A Definitive Guide to Defeat Seasonal Pollen Allergies: Tips On How To Soothe Your Eyes & Nose

This is a mix of various pollen

I hate allergies. I have never been allergic to anything in my life (up to age 29), until last year. Then suddenly, one fateful evening in early May 2014, my eyes were red and itchy, my throat was sore and I was feeling feverish, flu-like symptoms.

I went home, ate a light dinner and went to bed. Next day I woke up and my eyes were still red and itchy. I did not have a fever but my nose was slightly dripping and I was sneezing all day long.

This went on for a couple of days. At night, it used to get worst. I had trouble sleeping due congestion in my nose. I just could not breath form my nose anymore. Night time was the worse. I had to breathe from my mouth and in the morning I will wake up pain in my throat due to the dry air. Damn! This was getting worse.

My job was affected, so was my focus and concentration. I was not able to do anything properly. I was irritated all the time and used to get angry at the slightest of anything trivial, benign or frustration-worthy. Life was suddenly hell and I had no idea how did I get here and how to get out of it.

After a week or so, I finally took the lesson home that this is not the seasonal flu and I am having seasonal allergies. People at work started to tell me, I am having seasonal allergies. Seasonal allergies? 

What in the world is that? I have never heard of pollen allergies before? Really. I am allergic to something in my environment. But, I have been living here in Boston for almost four years and I never had allergies before. Before Boston, I lived in California, Arizona and North Dakota (in all seasons).

I never had any allergies there as well. I never had any allergies in India where I was growing up and lived until age 22. How can I be allergic to pollen or whatever is causing me allergies? I needed to find out the answers.

Two Types of Allergies

Allergies can be:

a. Seasonal

b. Perennial

There are two types of allergies: seasonal, which are more common, and perennial that happens throughout the year for no particular or specific cause but due to any number of variable causes, for eg. dust mites, dust, change in temperature, etc.

Seasonal Allergies (Pollen Induced)

In this blog post, I am going to talk about only the seasonal allergies that are caused due to an allergen (eg: pollen) during the spring season or early summer (May and June).

If you get itchy, watery, red eyes and drippy nose during a specific time of the year, you are like me and this post is for you. (For others, this post may serve as informational but this is not written for any other kind of allergies.)

Also, this post is not medical advice by my own story and how I cured my seasonal allergy problem. (This post is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.)

I have been suffering from both Eye Allergy and Nose Allergy for the past 2 years. I was waiting to find out what happens this year.

Around May 7th or 8th, I started to get the symptoms and I was, oops, I am indeed really allergic. Took me two seasons to accept the truth. I am going to share, what I did (immediately) to get rid of my allergic symptoms and problem.

First Thing First

If you are having the same symptoms as I have (as described above), first, however, you must see an allergist to find out if you truly have allergies before making drastic changes at home or starting a medication.

You may be unsure about the cause of your allergy symptoms, get a skin test or a blood test to identify the allergens that cause your problems.

The bigger red hives means I am allergic to that particular allergen.
Here you can see I am not really allergic to anything from this batch.

All insurance plans cover allergy checkup and tests and these tests are simple and can tell you a wealth of information about your body. Here, you can see what a typical skin allergy test looks like and what results you get at the end of it.

The test is about 30 minutes long. You can easily schedule the test during one of your lunch breaks.

In total, I was tested for 36 most common allergens.
The last batch of test, my both arms fully covered with needle pricks.

After the test, I found out that I am not allergic to pets (dogs and cats), dust mites and mold, thank God! Sorry, folks, I won’t be covering the allergies caused by pets in this post.

But after your test, if you find out you are allergic to pets, the simplest thing to do is not have pets and avoid contacts with them. For more information, you can google and learn more. If you do good research and find something new, please share in the comments below.

 

Watch Out for April – June

Seasonal allergies happen only at certain times of the years, usually early spring through summer and into autumn. They’re caused by exposure to allergens in the air, commonly pollen from grasses, trees, and weeds, as well as spores from molds.

When a person has seasonal allergies, the body’s immune system mistakenly reacts to substances like pollen or mold as invaders. These substances are called allergens.

An allergic reaction occurs as the immune system tries to fight off the allergen. These pollen induced seasonal allergies affect an estimated 40 million people in the United States alone. As you can see, you and I are not alone. This is a big issue. I hope there is a better cure for this. For now, let’s keep reading on.

 

Myth: If you are not allergic to pollen, you are safe and you won’t have it.

Truth: You can become allergic to particular pollen or substance later. Look at my test results above. This is called “acquired disorder”. [6]

What are Pollens

Pollen is a fine to coarse powder containing the micro sperm cells of seed plants, which produce the male sperm cells. These sperm cells. Need I say more.

Pollens are protein that seem like an intrusive foreign substance to the body’s immune (defense) system. Our body does not accept any foreign proteins (amino acids) without a grain of salt.

And this is a good thing and this is how we fight bacteria and viruses but this self-defense mechanism gets bad when it starts fighting a natural, non-harmful substance such as tree pollen.

 

Forms of Seasonal Pollen Induced Allergies

Eye Allergy is an allergic reaction to pollen that affects the eyes. Eyes may become watery, itchy, sore, red and/or swollen.

Nasal Allergy is an allergic reaction that gets worst at night with nose congestion, dry throat and thus resulting in sleep deprivation.

Hay Fever is an allergy to pollen that is present in the air at certain times of the year. Symptoms include itching in the nose, the roof of the mouth, throat, and eyes; sneezing; stuffy nose; runny nose; and tearing eyes.

Usually, your eye allergy will happen along with nasal allergy symptoms. Likewise, you can have all of them at once or only one prominent one.

 

Two Common Allergy Triggers

Your Overactive Immune System

Many things can trigger an allergic reaction. That’s when your body’s defenses attack a usually harmless substance, such as pollen, animal dander, or food. The reaction can range from mild and annoying to sudden and life-threatening. About 1 in 5 Americans have allergies. 

Pollen

Pollen from grasses, trees, and weeds can trigger hay fever or seasonal allergies. You might be sneezing and have a runny or stuffy nose and itchy, watery eyes. Treat these with over-the-counter products, prescription drugs, and allergy shots. To prevent symptoms, stay inside on windy days when pollen counts are high, close windows, and run the air conditioning.

 

Nasal Allergies

Let’s move on to nasal allergies, understand it and then defeat it for good. With nasal allergies, there are five things that happen when an allergic reaction occurs:

There’s sneezing, itching, runny nose, mucus formation, and nasal congestion (swelling of the mucous membranes).[1]

As an example, as soon as you crawl in bed prepared to get a good night’s sleep, you realize that you can’t breathe through your nose. So, you position yourself differently on the pillows and just as you get comfortable and find a good breathing position, postnasal drip (thick mucus) starts to collect in the back of your throat, causing you to cough — and cough.

The more you cough and try to breathe through your congested nose, the more miserable you feel.

Thus, all night long, you toss and turn and cough and snore instead of sleeping. The next day, you awaken feeling exhausted and irritable because your allergies have wreaked havoc with normal sleep.

Gravity is to Blame

Sinuses are small airbags, found in the bones of the face. When they cannot drain properly, it is very difficult to breathe through your nose. This problem can worsen at night when you lay down.

Gravity plays a role in sinus drainage. While in a lying position, the sinuses may drain down the back of your throat, causing irritation. If you lay on one side or the other, the sinuses will drain to that side, making it difficult to breathe through the nose.

 

Allergens

Allergies could cause nighttime stuffiness. If the night is the only time you appear to have problems breathing out of your nose, you may be allergic to the material and or stuffing, that is contained in your pillow. Allergens cause an influx of histamines, which lead to a stuffy nose.

An allergic reaction may be caused by laundry detergent and the direct contact your face has with the sheets and pillowcase as you sleep.


Nose Allergy Medications

Two types of allergy medications may help nasal allergies.

Antihistamines: Antihistamines can help with sneezing and postnasal drip.

Decongestant: Decongestant medications help with stuffiness and nasal congestion. A better and more effective approach to treating allergies might be the inhaled nasal steroids and intra-nasal antihistamines.

These inhaled nasal puffs and sprays address all four allergy symptoms of sneezing, itching, runny nose, and mucus formation, and nasal congestion and swelling of the mucous membranes.

If you try the inhaled nasal steroids, it’s better to start taking it two weeks before pollen season begins to prevent allergy symptoms. You may plan on staying on inhaled nasal steroids for months, if needed, to keep allergies at bay and avoid sleep deprivation.

I am using Nasacort Allergy 24 HR. That’s all and I am doing perfect.

 

DIY Nose Allergy Relief

Drink More Water
Another thing that you can do is drink more water, which works to thin mucus. Thin mucus does not stick to the back of the throat and cause postnasal drip. You’ll know that you’re well-hydrated if you’re hitting the bathroom frequently.

 

Closed Windows
Keep the windows closed in the bedroom to keep out pollen and nighttime dampness.

 

Pillow Height

Raise the head of your bed a few inches. The higher the head, the less the nasal congestion with allergies. (This works well for me).


Exercise

Exercise for 30 minutes daily, inside a gym. Do not walk outside (even if it is sunny and bright outside). Wait until mid-June. It is not that you cannot go outside, you can on proper medication but go out only when it is necessary. 

Talking about exercising, your blood will flow easier, you’ll have superior posture (on account of stronger back muscles) and also your sinuses will shrink, eliminating the stuffy nose during the night concern.


Herbs

Herbs like Aloe Vera, Eucalyptus, Mint/Peppermint oil, Ginger, and Olbas oil, all have the skill to soothe and also cure aggravation and also swelling in the nasal lining.

Ginger is actually used to make a powerful nighttime herbal tea, that clears the sinuses and also throat. It seems to have the additional advantage of stopping nausea. Ginger tea might end up being through boiling fresh ginger roots, or perhaps using packages of dried ginger.

Use these herbs by adding the essence oil to a bowl, and position it near whenever you rest, to inhale in the vapors. One may likewise place a couple drops of Eucalyptus essence oil, or even Olbas oil to the pillowcase, to add in the calming vapors while sleeping.


Steam therapy

To use steam therapy, boil various ounces of the free of moisture herbs, and also pour the boiled water in a ceramic bowl. Place a towel over the head, covering your head and the bowl completely, to ensure that absolutely no steam escapes. Take deep breaths of the herb water throughout your nose to soothe the nose lining.

 

Why Allergies are Worst At Night (When I go to Sleep)?

There can be several reasons for this (and this seem to be a common ailment for most allergy sufferers, including myself). This is what I researched and did in order to sleep well at night.

1. Allergen could be in your face or hair – wash your hair and body right before you go to sleep.

2. Shoe outside – Pollen can enter your bedroom through your shoes, so keep your shoes outside.

3. Change your bedding daily – all of the pollen and other allergens that accumulate on your bed during the day are collected in your pillow and bedding. Wash them and change them every two days. You can also place a clean towel on your pillow.

I bought two allergen-impermeable (allergy proof) pillow covers from Amazon.

Eye Allergies

Now, let’s understand eye allergies and then defeat it for good.[2For many seasonal allergy sufferers, pollen irritates their eyes the most. They suffer from allergic conjunctivitis, an inflammation of the white part of the eye, the back of the eyelids and front of the eyeballs.

Allergic people may become especially miserable in spring and early summer as grass pollen season kicks into high gear. Grass pollen are especially irritating to the eye. So are ragweed pollen, which will begin spreading later in the summer. (In my skin allergy test, I found out that I am not allergic to Ragweed pollen, Halleluljah!)

Even though people blink an average of 15,000 times a day, pollen still gets in their eyes.[3The good news is that the same treatments and self-help strategies that ease nasal allergy symptoms work for eye allergies, too.[4]

Allergic Pink Eyes

 

Symptoms of Allergic Pink Eye

The five major symptoms of allergic pink eye include:


Redness in the white of the eye or inner eyelid, Increased amount of tears, Itchy eyes, Blurred vision and Swelling of the eyelid.

Eye allergies can be annoying but they pose little threat to eyesight other than temporary blurriness. Remember, like all allergies, eye allergies are caused by a glitch in the body’s immune system. There is nothing wrong with your eyes or vision.

The allergy starts when the conjunctiva (the mucous membrane that lines the eyelids and covers the whites of the eyes) comes into contact with something that, while actually harmless, is seen as a threat.

In a mistaken attempt to fight off the threat, the immune system makes antibodies that cause your eyes to release histamine and other substances. That, in turn, makes eyes red, itchy, and watery. The most characteristic symptom of eye allergy is itching.

 

DIY Eye Allergy Relief

The first approach to controlling eye allergies should be to limit your exposure to allergy triggers. Here are several steps that people can take to reduce pollen’s irritating effect on their eyes:

Stay Indoors

Stay indoors when pollen counts are highest, usually in mid-morning and early evening. Close the windows and run the air conditioner (window fans can draw in pollen and mold spores).

 

Outdoors

If you go out, wearing eyeglasses or big sunglasses can help block pollen from your eyes. Driving? Keep the windows closed and run the air conditioner.

 

Pillows
Limit your exposure to dust mites by encasing your pillows in allergen-impermeable covers. Wash bedding frequently in water that’s at least 130 F. If your mattress is more than a few years old, consider getting a new one. Old mattresses are often teeming with allergens.

 

Clean floors with a damp mop

Sweeping tends to stir up rather than get rid of allergens. So use damp mop. Especially if a pet shares the house with you, consider replacing rugs and carpets, which trap and hold allergens, with hardwood, tile, or other flooring materials that are easier to clean. Go with blinds instead of curtains.

Clean your kitchen and bathrooms with a bleach solution.

 

Humidity
To stop mold from growing inside your home, keep the humidity under 50%. That might mean using a dehumidifier. Clean the dehumidifier regularly.

 

Eye Cold Compress
Don’t rub your eyes. That’s likely to make symptoms worse. Try cool compresses instead. A bag of frozen peas or a moist washcloth that has been placed briefly in the freezer can reduce itching when put over the eyes.

Allergy Medications for Eyes

Over-the-counter and prescription medications can provide short-term relief of some eye allergy symptoms. Remedies include:

1. Sterile saline rinses and eye lubricants can soothe irritated eyes and help flush out allergens.

2. Eye drops containing ketotifen can relieve allergy symptoms for up to 12 hours. They won’t cause rebound redness even with long-term use. Refrigerating eye drops may help in providing additional relief of allergy symptoms.

3. Oral antihistamines can also help. Walgreens, CVS or any pharmacy will have medicines from well-known brands. These tend to be less sedating and most of them will provide you long-lasting relief.

I am not taking anything specific for eyes. Your choice of medication will depend on what is more severe for you: eyes, nose, fever or throat, etc.

Summary

I have included here everything that I have tried. Also, I have removed anything that is confusing (words or language). There are other methods of course but they either did not work for me or they are not convenient enough to practice. 

If your allergy symptoms are severe or only getting worse or not improving despite trying everything that I have mentioned, you should definitely consult your doctor and ask for Immunotherapy.

 

What did I buy?

Allergy Control Pillow Encasement (two of them) – this is #1 bestseller from Allersoft

 

Medicines?

1. Nasacort Allergy 24 HR (1 unit) – works for multi-symptom

2. Wal-Zyr, 10 mg Antihistamine (Cetrizine) (1 unit) – from Walgreens

 

Most Important

Monitor daily pollen forecast. If pollen counts are high, try to remain indoors or at least limit outdoor trips to rural areas.

I monitor daily pollen forecast on Weather.com.

 

That’s all. And, I am back to life like a normal person I used to be, with no major symptoms, peaceful night sleep, and open nostrils. (The only mild symptoms I still have is itchiness in my eyes, that too occasionally).

I hope my research and story help you if you are suffering from seasonal allergies. If you happen to know someone who is suffering and have watery, red eyes. Do her a favor. Share this post with a person affected by allergies. Her vision is already blurred, and this will save him countless hours of google search time and conflicting information and confusion.

 

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Are you suffering from seasonal allergies? Did you have it since childhood or you developed it later? If I have missed some simple solutions to treat allergies, please let me know in the comments below. Also, if you are going to use the tips from my experience, and find success, please leave me a comment as well. Any other questions, please feel free to share your rich thoughts with us.

How To Get Out Of $50,000 Debt | Tips On How To Overcome A Large Debt

 

Part One of a Three Parts Series

Every time I have lost money is when I have tried to make more money than what I was already making. ~ Salil Jha

Week 1

I have been hit hard (twice now). I have got an IRS bill for $17,000. This needs to be paid in 30 days. Five months ago, I got a similar tax bill from IRS asking for $8000 in various taxes. I took a loan from my girlfriend and paid $8000 thinking it was a big fat check for an expensive business lesson. I thought to myself, I have already learned a lot in my various business venture. But, unfortunately, this was just the beginning.

This is a story of resilience, positivism and making lemonade out of life’s lemons. This is my story. A true story. A story of an immigrant boy trying to chase his American Dream and the mistakes made on his perilous journey.

I started an IT consulting business in Oct 2011. My primary goal to start Precog LLC (the name of the company) was to generate some side income and possibly grow the business to enough profit so that I eventually sponsor my H1B visa and Green Card through it while making good cash.

The goal was also to help recent college grads to find jobs and help them in whatever way possible. There were a lot of bad and abusive companies in the IT consulting realm and our goal was to purge the abuse of innocent and poor college students.

The company was started by Albert Pen, my good friend and me. The company was incorporated in his name, the same month he got his Green Card. I was the man running the engine. Albert was the legal structure beneath our company.

One thing that I did not mention yet is that Precog was not originally conceived as an IT consulting firm.

The groundwork of Precog started in early 2010 when two of my good friends and I thought of building an electronic stretching machine. Our ideas was to make stretching easier to learn for martial artists, yogis, gymnasts, and any fitness enthusiasts.

But, one of my friends had another idea, a rather big idea to build flying drones and sell the idea to state governments.

The Birth of an Entrepreneur

Look, back in 2010, a Canadian company was in fact building and selling drones (UAVs) to DC police. Their product was in $20,000 USD and we wanted to build something for half the price.

We started to work on the first prototype, leaving the electronic stretcher idea on the back burner. As we got more involved in our overly ambitious project, all of us started to realize that we need more capital than what we had initially planned for.

Together we spent $6500 into the project and as you can probably predict from the story line, we lost it all. One of my friend who has spent into a powerful computer took his computer and factoring that still lost about $1000. I lost about $3000 in this failed venture.

So this was the beginning of Precog. And this Precog was about to be transformed into a service-oriented company where you do not have to invest a lot of cash up front.

The Precog LLC Era

I worked very hard building Precog. I created a website for our company and began to advertise our services. Soon, I had several interested students calling me for IT training and assistance in job placements.

I started to teach classes, often charging $500 for each student per course. Initially, I was mainly working with recent college graduates.

The first 6 months were tough. Not for the business but tough on me. I was working a full-time job and I was running Precog part-time. I used to wake up early at 6 AM, do a training session, then get ready for the job.

During my lunch hours, I used to call and screen my students and answer to new inquiries. In the evening, after returning from my job, I used to take another class, sometimes two classes in a row.

I was working with various vendors. I was working with my students over the phone to prepare them for job interviews. I was talking to clients and other marketers. It was an all-consuming job. I believe I used to work ~16 hours a day, maybe longer on some days.

In the first 10 months, I invested almost $10,000 USD without much return. This was the turning point for Precog. It was “do or die”.

One of my friend, Matt Joy, who was trying to find a job came onboard during this time. Matt took charge for saving Precog. He was Godsent. Precog not only survived but actually thrived after Matt joined the team. Soon, we hired a marketer from India. His name was Daniel. And now we were a strong team of three, making some real cash.

The $750,000 Venture

We placed more than a dozen consultants between 2012-2014. We trained a lot of students. We were making some noise. This was late 2012. Things were looking sunny. We did over $500,000 in revenues in 2013 alone. In total, we did almost $750K in business in two and a half years of Precog’s life.

The business was doing great but my mind and body wanted to give up. I was single and occasionally dating. I thought to myself, business and money can come anytime but this is the time to find my life’s partner. My focus shifted from business and money to relationships.

2013 was hard on me personally. None of my relationships were lasting more than 3months. Matt was getting frustrated with me because he was all pumped up and wanted to take Precog forward. I, on the other hand, was distracted between dating and running a company.

I did not have the energy or interest in doing so. By this time I also began to realize the tax and accounting complications that Precog was facing. We had consultants working in 8 different US States.

All the tax paperwork in itself was 20 hours of work per week. The stakes were high, money was rolling in, and the business was getting complex.

 

Week 2

This past week, I have been thinking of ways to repay my $50K debt. The breakdown of my current debts are like this:

$18000 IRS/Business Dissolving Cost

$14000 – Girlfriend’s loan

$18000 – Credit cards debt

—————————–

$50,000  Total debt

 

This past week, I canceled some small monthly payments (to stop the slow bleeding). Subscriptions such as Spoitfy premium, TU Credit Monitoring and Audible membership were the first three to go.

These small monthly savings will not amount in big numbers but it is for the motivational purposes. These steps gave the mental confidence that “I CAN DO IT.” And I have 2 years to clean this mess up without significantly downgrading my lifestyle.

I am not giving up on music, reading or financial know-how. Instead, I am switching to Pandora’s free account, switching to Kindle eBooks (much cheaper) and Credit Karma’s free credit monitoring. I do not have any upcoming big purchases or loan request so I really do not need any credit monitoring at this time.

Next, I gave ultimatums to all other people I have employed on eLance for blog writing, manuscript editing, etc. This is going to save me $140 per month starting May 1st.

However, I have decided to keep one editor to edit my two upcoming books and one Virtual Assistant to help me grow my public platforms. In total, this is $200 per month expense. It is important to note that these costs are not new addition but the continuation of on-going expenses so I won’t feel a blow but will have to suffer the heat, well at least for now, until I find a better solution for my requirements.

I took advantage of Citi double points credit card offer. This will let me use $1700 credit for next 18 months without any interest.

I applied in my girlfriend’s name and got another $6700 for 21 months at no interest. These two credit cards will give me enough credit to use for the next one and half years.

In the coming months, I will be paying off all my existing credit cards where I also pay interests on purchases and existing balance. This way I’ll be saving $30-$40 in interest each month.

My girlfriend and I also applied to TD Bank’s checking, debit and credit offer which is offering $200 cash back and 5x points per dollar spent for the next 6 months. Together, we both will be able to get $600-$1000 back from TD bank’s offer in next 6 months. In the coming months, we will be looking for similar bank offers where we can earn or save a few hundred bucks.

The $10,000 credit union loan that I applied, I am still waiting to hear back from them. In the meantime, I applied for a $10,000 loan from my local Credit Union in my girlfriend’s name as well. If she will get a better rate from the Quincy Credit Union, we will take the loan in her name with Direct deposit payments. I’ll be transferring the monthly amount to her.

 

The other things I have decided to do are:

1. Call Xfinity and cancel the service in my name and get the service in my girlfriend’s name. Being a new customer, she will be getting better rates than what I am paying right now. If she gets the same rate, then I will cut the TV in our package and only keep the high-speed internet. This will bring in additional $20 monthly saving.

2. Once the free APR Citi credit card arrives, buy a new router and model through our new credit card and ask Xfinity to take off their rented Modem and Router. ($10/month savings)

3. Ask my employer to take off my health insurance ($397/month). Expected savings $280 per month.

Total monthly savings: ~$350 – $500 (per month)

In part 3, I’ll be focusing on selling old iPhones and other electronic devices that we are not using. Also, how meal planning and bringing lunch from home is saving me additional $200 in foods by not eating out.  My goal for part 3 write up (next week) is to save another $350 – $500 each month.

Week 3

Now, I am at a phase where action means more than planning. I have prepared a very detailed plan and now it is all about execution. The key here is quick action.

The first thing I did was email my website hosting company that I will be shutting down Precog’s website (i.e. $375 per year saving). I also listed both the domain and website for sale and auction on both GoDaddy and Flippa. I hope to at least sell the domain name and recover whatever I can from the sale.

I also listed my other domain names for sale which I am not using or plan on using in the next 2 years. In total, I have put five domain names on sale.

Next, I emailed MyLLC (the registrar for Precog LLC) that I would like to dissolve the business. There are some paperwork and a $99 fee. I am working on it and hope to close the business by April end. I found out that I have not paid my 2014 fee for NV and there were several other interests and penalties. In total, I paid $500 due on Precog since Oct 2014. Another $500 bill added to the debt bucket.

My girlfriend and I went to Quincy Credit Union and signed our loans. I borrowed $12,500.00 at 12.65% interest rate on 24 months repayment term and my girlfriend borrowed $7000 at 11.65% interest rate on 12 months repayment term.

I hope to repay this amount back in 24 months and 12 months respectively. I am setting aside $1200 to pay back these two loans. Starting month 13, I will continue paying $1200/month to QCU towards my $12500 loan to cut the time short and save on interest.

The next day I transferred $14000 to Albert and asked him to deposit the amount in Precog’s account. We have $3000 plus change in Precog’s business account and this will take care of the check that we will write to IRS.

I opened all my Credit Cards account and organized my balances and interest rates. I found an interesting thing. I had Credit Cards ranging in 11.15% – 23% interest. Since my big loans are in 11.65% – 12.65% range, I decided to pay off all Credit Cards which is charging me > 12.65%.

Luckily, my girlfriend does not carry any debt on her credit cards and therefore we do not have to factor in any cash there. After looking at all our credits, this is the summary.

Pay Citi, US Bank, and Chase in full and stick with Capital One (11.15%) and Discover (15%). Since the bulk of my credit card debts are consolidated in my Discover card (~11000), I have no other choice but to keep the debt there for now.

This past weekend, I started to find out all the electronic junk and books that I do not need and gathered a pile of items to be sold. I listed both our old iPhone 4S, two old digital cameras, and 2 books.

I have about 20 more books to put. At the time of writing this, I have already sold both iPhones (within 12 hours of listing on Amazon for $95 + shipping) and one book (The Art of War by Robert Greene) for $8 + shipping. I’ll continue to do this until I am rid of all the things that I do not need, use or have touched in a year or so.

Also, anything that I am not using and does not need and that cannot be sold, I will simply donate or throw away.

Keeping your home and mind clean and organized helps you in better managing your debts. I mean, it is not scientific but it works for me and few others.

I called home and explained the situation to my parents and discussed my options with my elder brother. They were stressed by the news but after talking for about half-hour, everyone got calm understanding that the situation is under control.

We continued the meal prep on Sunday and this is our third week on meal planning. I believe, meal-planning itself is saving us ~ $300-$400 each month by not eating out our lunch and dinners.

Meal planning is not only effective to save lunch dollars but also dinners. And when you do eat out, for most of the nights, you can eat at Panera and Chipotle. Note, you have to avoid restaurants because you pay for the meal and then you pay tips and end up getting drinks. So sticking to Chipotle/Panera type food joints works best.

Last week, I also called my employer and canceled my Health Insurance ($397/month pre-tax dollars). I have been on health insurance from January –  March.

If I go out of it (I understand it is a risk but it is a calculated risk that I am willing to take). By going out of health insurance, I will incur MA state tax penalty in 2016 for 9 months.

This fine will be half of the premium amount of the cheapest health insurance. By paying a fine 12 months from now and by paying it far less than what I am spending on health insurance is a better choice for me.

After taxes, this might increase my paycheck by $300 per month. I will also try to take advantage of 3 months no-penalty gap period between health insurance enrollment periods. This way I will buy cheap health on my own in 2016 and not have 3 months of coverage.

I have always had health insurance and therefore I am up-to-date with my physical, dental, vision, and everything. I feel, going out of health insurance for say 12 months is risky but worth the bet given my miserable financial situation.

I called and email all my friends to whom I have loaned money. I explained my situation and they started to pay back. I got $330 from Norm Matthews and $140 from Sean Attitude.

Tim Robert said he will try to pay me back $1410 as soon as possible and Bill Tequila said he would like to pay me back $800 loan from last year. Â In total, this will bring me $2680 in cash. I’ll use this extra cash to pay off the high-interest credit card debts or my income tax liabilities once I do my taxes for 2014 this coming week.

I have ~ $250 in my OptionHouse stock brokerage account. I have to make a decision whether I liquidate my remaining position and get out or leave the money there. $250 is not a big amount. A hard thinking line for me but I hope to come to a decision very soon.

 

 

Week 4

I started this week with some excitement and joy of paying off three of my low balance (but highest interest rate) credit cards. In total, I paid off close to $3000 in outstanding debts. Doing this is going to save me $50 in monthly interest. I also canceled my PostPlanner subscription from May. This will save me $29 each month. Phew right there, just in one day I have saved myself another $80 each month.

 

I put aside these three credit cards (Citi Diamond Preferred, Amazon Chase Visa, and US Bank Visa) on my card box (and out of my wallet). I deleted these cards from all recurring payments and moved all automatic monthly payments to my Discover Visa and Capital One Master Cards.

As of today, all of my credit card debt now reside in three cards: One Citi Double Cash (0% interest, a new card that I applied and got), a Discover card (holding the biggest portion of my debt, almost $12000 at 15% interest) and one CapitalOne card (11.15% interest, the cheapest card in my wallet).

 

I mailed $10,000 check to IRS by a 2-day priority mail so that it can reach on Monday, 04/13. I wrote a letter, signed it and sent it along with all the forms and supporting documents proving my unintentional mistake.

In my letter, I basically requested IRS to forgive my penalty (~ $2500) and to add back my educational credit of $1415. I’ll call IRS in 10 days and check on its progress. If I receive some financial breakdown, it will help.

If I do not receive any financial breakdown, Albert will take on the missed education credit payoff and I’ll pay off the rest of the balance within 5 business days once we hear back the final word from IRS.

Lastly, it is worthy to note that for the past few weeks, I have been tracking all of my expenses in an excel sheet across 50 different areas. This sheet as I continue to fill in and track my daily expenses has been mind-blowing.

For example, even after doing meal-planning, I have spent almost $500 on eating out while my grocery expenditures have been only $125 so far.

This is 4:1 ratio. This clearly shows that there is a lot of room for cost cutting and improvement. I hope to update on this after 8 weeks of tracking. I am sure, I’ll discover surprising findings.

Money you can earn and spend but time – time is a finite resource. You can’t borrow it, you can’t store it. It moves only in one direction and there is only a finite amount that you have got. To be successful, while in debt, you have to work extra hard to make up for not having money. You have to solve each problem creatively. ~ Salil Jha

Week 5

IRS cashed my $10K Precog tax check on 04/15, that’s good news. Who would call loss of $10K a good news? Well, when you have messed up and there is no way out, any little progress (similar to drinking bitter medicine to cure illness).

Now, this IRS bill is not something that I should have paid because, overall, it was indeed a net loss. What went wrong is that during the tax filing, we did not show enough expenses thinking we have already saved on taxes (once our tax due became $0).

We stopped and did not add any further expenses. And now, after IRS did an audit and a match on our revenue, they came up with additional $40,000 in our 2013 income and since we were $9000 in the loss, after doing the simple math, made a decision that our net profit in 2013 was $31000.

This $31K was then taxed at a higher rate (sort of understatement tax penalty) and assessed a Self-Employment tax of 15% (which is ridiculously high). 

Anyways, let’s move forward with our story. I called Discover Personal Loan to check if I can take a loan to pay off my remaining Credit Cards and lower my interest payments.

I qualified for $15K loan at 11.99% and paid off my remaining Credit Cards. After a while, I will seek to refinance this loan again at a lower interest rate, say between 8-9%. How?

Since consolidating your credit card debt into one personal loan often helps in credit score within a few months. This is one reason that I did not try to move my one credit card balance to another credit card with 0% APR.

The goal for me here is to not only eliminate debt (by changing my spending habits) but also to improve my credit score which in turn will open up future opportunity to further lower my interest payments and therefore the overall debt burden.

 

At the time of writing this:

My total credit card debt = 0 (Zero dollars)

My IRS debt = 0 (Zero dollars)

Loan from my girlfriend = $14000

My other loans: $34500

Quincy Credit Union (in my name) = 12,500 ($595 per month x 24 months)

Quincy Credit Union (in my girlfriendâ€s name) = $7000 ($620 per month x 12 months)

Discover Personal Loan (in my name) = $15000 ($690 per month x 24 months)

Quick Maths

So, as you can see from week 2 (above: my total debt amount roughly remains the same. $48500 instead of $50,000 but now at least I have put up a plan to pay it off in 24 months without changing my employment or sacrificing too much on my lifestyles.

However, my game plan has just begun.

Continue Selling

I continue to sell my electronic gadgets and equipment that I do not use. Books sell as well but they bring on a very little amount of change (when we are talking about $50K).

I sold our two old iPhones (4S) for $200. Tim paid back $500 to me (actually just today). Tim still needs to return me $1115.

I have deposited $7500 in Precog’s business bank account just to wrap up Precog and pay off the remaining bill to IRS.

Both I and my girlfriend received our TD Bank cards this last week which is giving us $200 cash back for spending $500 in first 90 days. We have switched all of our expenses (and subscriptions and/or automatic payments) to TD card to meet $500 threshold.

On the flip side, last week, we also did our personal taxes and ended up paying $5000 and $900 to IRS and $52 and $200 in State Tax to Massachusetts (my girlfriend and I, respectively).

She had to pay a lot of federal tax because of how her I9 and W4 was set up with her ex-employer. She has had already anticipated and planned for high tax amount and therefore these taxes did not affect us financially.

Nevertheless, this was a lot of money going out of our bank accounts. At the end of the day, after paying over $6100 in taxes, we felt broke looking at our checking account balance.

Weeks 6-8

This past three weeks I have been selling my older books and other non-necessity items on Amazon and as a Garage sale in my building. I sold a few electronics toys to my friends and colleagues at work.

I am currently enjoying $0 in Credit Cards debt. As I mentioned above as of today my credit score has jumped from 670 to 720. Having a loan is actually a good thing for the Credit report and not having a Credit card debt is also one of the best things you can do regarding your personal finance.

At this rate, I hope within 6 months, I’ll be able to take loan offers at a much lower rate than what Discover is currently giving me (11.99%).

Conclusion & Next Steps

I’ll end the first part of this story here. I’ll have a second blog post on it with more details in 6 months. We’ll revisit my total financial debt and what new measure I am employing to get rid to the single penny.

Hope this post has been inspirational, motivational and educational in some regards.

Remember, to be successful, to get out of your debt, you have to work extra hard to make up for not having money. You have to solve each problem creatively. This is a blessing in disguise. You will get to exercise all the creative brain cells if there is such a thing inside the human skull.

You have to make sure that you are not losing time by missing out on good opportunities. Remember there is a thing called “opportunity cost”. You have to keep moving forward with time and not wait until you are out of debt.

I hope to shed some light on this topic in my next blog post as well. See you in six months.

If this blog post has been helpful to you or if you have faced a similar situation in the past, please DO SHARE your thoughts in the comments section below.

 

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Did you know about the free VIP pass offer to the Naked Soul Club? Subscribe your email address now and be part of this tight-knit community of lovers, readers, writers, adventures and other people just like yourself. I send great contents directly into your mailbox. Once a week. Sign up now and stay in touch!

If you have tried any of above-mentioned methods and/or tactics to successfully get rid of debt (whether a small sum or large), please share your success story. Also if my post has made you laugh or helped you by motivating you or giving you a direction, I would love to hear from you. Any other comments, please feel free to share your rich thoughts with us.

7 Tips On How To Connect With Influencers | The Right Way To Introduce Yourself

Do want to know how to influence an influencer? In this short blog post, we’ll talk about 7 simple, easy-to-do, specific tips (and proven tactics) to help you connect with the influential people in your niche or any well-known expert you admire. 

Whether it is a celebrity, currently in the limelight or a fading star, yet impossible to reach out. You can meet and get in touch with almost anyone if you want to. Even the Mr. President (44th).

But first, let’s talk about who is an influencer? For our blog post, we will call a person an “Influencer” if they’re well respected and highly visible in their industry.

These are the highly successful people who have earned the trust of their audience (or readership) through the content they create and provide.

These are the people who have built their credibility as an “influencers” in their niche for some time. They are well known and they have millions of fans on social media and TV.

For example, Seth Godin and Neil Patel in the Marketing space, Maria Popova, and James Altucher in blogging, Tony Robbins in motivational speaking, Elon Musk in disruptive technology, and so on. The list goes on.

My point here is two-fold:

No. 1, there is no shortage of influencers in any industry.

No. 2, they come in all shape, size, and background. Some are well known by more or less anyone in the general public (example, Bill Gates for Philanthropy and Business) and some are well known in their specific niche but are largely unknown by the general masses (example, Pat Flynn in Podcasting on Passive income).

Nevertheless, an influencer’s blessing can take you or your cause to the next level. Be it a charity fundraising event or a new book that you are publishing or a tech start-up.

How To Connect With Influencers

1. Write about the Influencers whom you want to meet. Write in a newspaper, magazine or simply on your blog.
2. Email these Influencers how you have used their teachings and applied their methods and found success. Send them a success case-study.
3. Engage with them/comment/mention/follow when they do not even know you. Communicate with them on their social media. When they ask for feedback, be sure to leave one. If they are asking specific questions, be sure to answer them.
4. Find where these influencers are teaching and lecturing. A lot of the Influencers also guest speak or teach somewhere. Find out and attend their classes, conference or event. You’ll get plenty of opportunity at the event/class to introduce yourself.
5. Reach out to these Influencers (by email first) and tell them how can what you do can help them to solve a specific problem.
6. Volunteer and meet them where their heart is. If the person you are trying to reach out also happens to support a cause that you are equally passionate about, meet them there — where two hearts are united as one.
7. Organize an event and invite these Influencers to speak or present. Even better, tie it to a cause or charity or for education. For example, a college campus or a local town hall meeting. 

Say Yes to fear and Goodbye to comfort-zone.

I have met a lot of great and wonderful people by doing the above 7 steps. The names are not big enough to drop it here in this post but, let me openly challenge myself in front of the internet public and say this: I am going to follow the above 7 steps and meet some of the big names that I have mentioned in my blog.

Once, I have successfully made an introduction to them and have something more solid to show for, I’ll do a follow up blog post.

In the meantime, how about, some of you take my challenge as well. If you think you have a wonderful plan that will make this planet a better place for everyone, why not try to meet some of the Influencers in your field and share what you are doing to meet them.

Please share your thoughts and stories (success as well as failures) in the comment below.

 

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Did you know about the free VIP pass offer to the Naked Soul Club? Subscribe your email address now and be part of this tight-knit community of lovers, readers, writers, adventures and other people just like yourself. I send great contents directly into your mailbox. Once a week. Sign up now and stay in touch!

If you have tried these methods and tactics to successfully introduce yourself to an Influencer, please share your success stories and how this has helped you. Any other comments, please feel free to share your rich thoughts with us.

Best Meta Learning | Rapid Learning | Accelerated Learning Tools, Templates & Methods

Rapid learning is a skill that can be acquired by anyone. Likewise being highly efficient and productive is also a skill and lifestyle habit that can be learned and integrated into one’s life.

Let’s talk about productivity first before we get into the world of #MetaLearning.

How To Learn Like A Machine

Understanding Efficiency vs. Effectiveness

Effectiveness is getting greater or equal output for a given input. Efficiency is having a superior process so that for a given input the output is always exponentially greater.

Productivity 101

80% result with 20% work

1. Create a morning ritual (the first 90 minute).
2. Establish a daily routine (daily structure).
3. Establish a weekly routine (weekly short term objective).
4. One postcard size to-do list (to be disposed at the end of day).
5. Keep a pen, dairy and a voice recorder always handy.
6. Do your most important task during your most productive hours (in terms of mental energy and freshness). Do your least important or auto-pilot work during your weakest hours (again speaking in regards to mental energy).
7. Practice Lucid dreaming and practice conscious dreaming to strengthen your visualization skills.
8. Sleep 8-9 hours. This sounds paradoxical but it’s true that sleeping 33% of your time keeps you super productive for the rest 66% of your waking hours.
9. Seek creative solutions to your complex problem in your dreams. Harness the power of your unconscious brain.
10. Master a ritual or routine that helps you to get into the “Flow state” faster. Get into the flow state as often as possible, and aim to stay there for as long as possible.

Meta Learning Explained

As with most things in life (or word), there is no one best thing or way. One technique might works for someone while another may prove helpful to another.

Also, ion our context of methods to learn faster, the best technique will also vary based on the subject at hand. For example, learning music or musical instrument is significantly different from learning investment strategies in the stock market.

The Word ‘Meta’

The word “meta” comes from Greek and it means “beyond” (or after). This is why we have words like Metaphysics (beyond conventional physics). Etc. Meta also means “self-referential”. In Computer Science, metadata means “data about data”. Metacognition means “cognition about cognition”.

 

Tim Ferriss and Josh Waitzkin

Tim Ferriss‘ DiSSS and CaFE is a good method for learning cognitive tasks such as Language learning, Computer Science as well as for physical activities such as Archery and Brazilian Jujitsu.

Tim’s method is external, dismantling and then rebuilding, and effectiveness driven. This is explored in depth in his new book The 4-Hour Chef.

Josh Waitzkin‘s art of learning (meta learning) focuses on integration, transformation and channeling. His method included conscious unlearning (instead of ignoring).

Josh’s method is systematic but creativity driven. Josh explores his ideas in his autobiographical book The Art of Learning.

Best Rapid Learning Tools and Methods

In my own experience, I have learned 5 languages so far and I am currently learning Nepali (my 6th language).

I am a published poet and I’ve worked as a coder and as well as solar panel plasma depositor.

I am a black belt in Shotokan Karate and at the same time a start-up guy. I am a blogger and also work a full-time job. I have traveled to all 50 US States and 32 countries so far (as of 2019). So how am I managing all this within the constraint of the 24 hours that we all have?

I have utilized both DiSSS, CaFE and Josh’s Art of Learning principle. Moreover, what has worked for me is a combination of everything plus my own experiments as outlined below.

I learned SQL and programming from nothing. I learned dancing from not knowing how to move. True that I had a background in martial arts (a form of dance-like art) and true that I studied engineering and took a few computer languages class. But, still, in my own mind, I was a zero. How did I do that?

Learn fast and have fun in the process

An Effective Meta Learning Template

 

DR. BevO, DaD, Me, MoM & our CAT BiTS

This can be further broken down into three layers (top, inner, and outer) of organized learning principles.

 

Layer 1 (The top layer): DR. BevO

Layer 2 (The inner layer): DaD, Me, MoM & our CAT

Layer 3 (The outer layer): BiTS

 

The top layer: DR. BevO

Step 1: Deconstruct and Dissect.

This step is all about methodically breaking down a body of knowledge in order to study its internal parts and complex interconnection.

What is the minimum useful unit of knowledge? For a foreign language, it would be a word. For a programming language, it would be a syntax.

 

Step 2: Reference framework (to not reinvent the wheel)
Pick a reference framework. To learn a new skill, find out what one you already possess and if you have to teach it to someone totally new, how would you structure your classes and why?

For example, if I have to teach someone Martial Arts, I’ll start with the four most common kicks among the top four schools/styles. Learning most common (& effective) four kicks will put you in top 10% of fighters.

SQL or Programming – Most common functions, syntax and/or statements
Learning most common syntax and statements will make you query work 80% of the time.

Think first and think deep.

 

Find and study the “normal (i.e average)” and the “experts/masters/anomalies”. Ask these questions and write down the answers.

Question 1. What do the average people do?

Question 2. What the experts or master do not do that the average do?

Doing this will help you to determine:
– List for quick reduction
– The goal is to not become a master or mimic a master but to simplify so that you can enter first and then go on to conquer.

 

Step 3: Bird’s Eye View (View from 30,000 ft)
Look at the extreme and center. Do this to filter out whatever intimidates you. You can always come back to the additional learning materials later. Compress the most important 20% or so into a 30,000 ft map (to be used later).

A bird’s eye view map. This step is related to navigation and to correctly size your problem. This step is also to get a reality check. Once you know what you are up against it is easy to fight it by breaking it down into smaller conquerable pieces.

 

Step 4: Order

Order is to sequencing your learning material into modules (linear and later overlapping). In other words, what’s the most effective order for learning these parts that you broke down in step 1 – 3?

 

The inner layer: DaD, Me, MoM & our CAT

This is the second layer of learning. Here it is all about putting the pieces together. This is the battleground. In layer one, you have done all the planning and you have made your strategies. Now, time for the action. Are you ready?

 

Step 1: Draw diagrams
Draw as many diagrams as many you can. Connect the dots. Connect the concepts together. Find correlation. Find overlap. Find opportunities for integration. Find the opportunity for improvements. Question and find the gaps.

The more you draw and trash and draw better knowledge diagrams, charts, and maps, the more efficient you will become at the application of your newly acquired knowledge. This will also help you with the next step.

An example:

Memory mindmap

 

Step 2: Memorization
Memorize the map. Memorize 20%. Memorize the syntax. Memorize the kicks. Memorizing in this step is about rapid memorization.

If some of the things do not make sense, still memorize. Slowly, slowly, you’ll learn to connect the dots. Do not worry about understanding the full theory here, just remember the most basic units of your learning material.

 

Step 3: Mental Maps

Creating mental maps is going a step further than drawing knowledge charts and diagrams. Mental maps are where you start to connect the dots between what you have understood so far. Mental maps also take advantage of your 30,000 ft view to help you understand what you need to do next to reach your ultimate goal. This map is the map for your beginning to end the journey.

Note, mental maps will keep refining as you get better in the application of what you have learned and when you start to understand what you have bluntly memorized.

 

Step 4: Cheat sheet (no bigger than one page)
This is to be made by you. Irrespective of how small or big this gets, you alone must create this. Again, as with the whole theory behind this method, you’ll keep refining your cheat sheet.

A cheat sheet is what you have learned. This contains mostly what you have not memorized and the essence of what you have memorized already. You can also prepare CliffsNotes of any books, articles, etc that deals with the skill that you are trying to learn.

An example of using a diagram to organize information

 

Step 5: Action (& Practice)
Action means to practice in real-time. This is where you get comfortable with the hands-on phase of any skill acquisition. This means real-time coding. This means kicking high. When in action phase, you are NOT to learn new things unless and until you have mastered the things that you have broken down so far.

(You can, however, dig deeper into what you are practicing if time permits.)

Remember iteration is the key concept. If you are learning SQL selects (for one database table) with group by, order by, and all the other basic SQL commands then until you are master in all the variations of select, do not jump to joins (selecting data from two or more database tables).

Practice with the diagrams you have drawn and the cheat sheet. Refine your diagram and cheat sheet as you make mistakes in action/practice phase. Also, needless to say, you are also modifying and improving your mental maps.

 

Step 6: Time it (Distributed learning)
Two things to do in this last phase. Time your learning window and then test yourself. By failing to remember or do something you’ll feel that internal kick which will make your brain in super-receptive mode. Remember, sometimes real learning happens when you have failed a test. So fail many times in mock tests before the real test comes.

Secondly, distribute your learning sessions. Rather than sitting whole night or two days straight, split your session. Do something fun in between or you may even play with something totally different. It is better to keep the primary focus on one difficult thing at once but you can surely have fun with something that does not require high cognitive energy.

Note, you learn well when you are enjoying your subject. That’s how you get into that flow state. And to enjoy your subject, you need that mental energy. You do not want to be fatigued.

 

The outer layer: BiTS

This is the third layer of learning. You need only one of the following three. If you can do more than one, even better. But you must have at least one of these to keep you in accountable and interested in the game. Make learning fun, make it a game.

 

Step 1: Buddy system
Having a buddy whether it is programming or martial arts helps you quiz one another, challenge one another and therefore learn faster. The more fun a new adventure is, the faster you master it.

 

Step 2: Teaching
Find someone whom you can teach what you have learned and what you might not have learned. Teaching others is one the fastest way to learn something yourself. If you cannot find someone to teach, teach yourself. Play a mind game with yourself. Quiz yourself and answer to yourself.

 

Step 3: Stakes

This is all about staying in the game long enough to reap rewards for your hard work. Too many people quit a new skill after some trying because they feel it is not worth it. First thing to note here.

1. Are you motivated by negative outcome (fear) or positive outcome (anticipation of reward)?

If you are the fear type then you need to find out what psychological and social mechanisms can you set up for maintaining your inner discipline?

For example, you can publicly share your goal with your friends so that you feel accountable. On the other hand, if you are internally motivated, perhaps, set up a reward for yourself if and when you achieve a milestone (or mini-goal).

 

Summary:

D = Deconstruct
R = Reference (cross POV)
Bev = Bird’s Eye View
O = Order (sequence)
DaD = Draw Diagram
Me = Memorize
MoM = Mental Maps
C = Cheat Sheet (CliffsNotes)
A = Action  (& Practice)
T = Time it
B = Buddy (Partner)
T = Teach
S = Stakes (& Rewards)

 

Hope this helps in reaching and achieving your goals. Please feel free to leave me your thoughts in comments below.

 

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Did you know about the free VIP pass offer to the Naked Soul Club? Subscribe your email address now and be part of this tight-knit community of lovers, readers, writers, adventures and other people just like yourself. I send great contents directly into your mailbox. Once a week. Sign up now and stay in touch!

Do you have a favorite meta learning method that you follow (or have followed in the past)? If you have tried Naked Soul method, please share your success stories and how this has helped you learn a new skill faster. Any other comments, please feel free to share your thoughts with us. 

Can An Unlikely Person Transform Your Life? You Never Know

Do you believe an unlikely person can transform your life? This is an interesting question with a resounding answer that a person can absolutely change your life for the better.

Random encounters on streets / The Naked Soul Partners

Can An Unlikely Person Transform Your Life

This article will delve into the stories of people who seem like they were destined to meet each other as well as my own personal experiences related to this.

Story of Emmett

Our first heartwarming story emerged from Farmington, Minnesota last July of a three-year-old boy, Emmett, who became friends with his 89-year-old neighbor, Erling, a WWII veteran who had flown combat missions in Europe.

Emmett was only two when he visited the tomato garden of his neighbor because he loved tomatoes and slowly they began to interact with each other in different ways. Sometimes they would race lawnmowers together.

One day Erling set up a croquet set in his yard so he and Emmett could play together. They continued to visit each other during the winter but sadly their visits were put to an end when Emmett’s parents put their house up for sale so they could have a bigger house where Emmett and his little sister could both sleep on the same floor.

Erling would also be moving to live with his sick wife in a senior apartment.

I also developed a close relationship with someone unexpected. I had always had trouble making friends and sat alone during my lunch period in high school.

A lunch aide, Kelly, walked over to my table one afternoon and began talking to me helping to bring me out of my shell.

Every day we would talk and I visited her often in the kitchen. Her company helped me feel less lonely and she looked out for me when I was finally invited to sit with a group of my classmates and students from lower grades.

Whenever we run into each other now, we still make time to talk. I’ll never forget how great she made me feel about myself at a time when I was very awkward and still developing into the person that I am today.

Story of a Homeless Veteran

Our second story is of a young woman who became friends with a homeless veteran named Tony.

Tony hung out near her workplace and over the course of a few months, they began having lunch and snacks together where he would share his war stories and family while she talked to him about her problems and family.

They developed a deep level of trust with each other and when she was going through a very difficult time in her life he listened to her and pushed her to continue working to fulfill her dreams.

What makes this story even more remarkable is what happened one day when she was still full of self-pity. He gave her a watch head and said, “I don’t have much but I wanted you to know that you have done what many others would not, simply by being my friend.”

She realized that by reaching out to him she had received the incredible reward of a beautiful friendship.

Unlikely Friendship of an Imam and a Rabbi

World Peace / The Naked Soul Partners

Sometimes friendships transcend religious differences. This was evident in the story of a rabbi and a Muslim imam who met each other when they were being interviewed by CBS after Pope John Paul II’s death about his interfaith outreach.

Both men at first hid their quiet ignorant beliefs from one another and the rabbi said, I grew up in an environment as an Orthodox Jew where Muslims were the enemy, Muslims were to be demonized, Muslims were not to be trusted. I clearly brought to the table many biases, prejudices, prejudgments.

The rabbi called the imam several months later extending a gesture of peace and deciding to learn how to foster a better dialogue between the two religions.

They organized the first summit of rabbis and imams in New York in 2007 and began a process where the rabbi would speak to congregants at the imam’s mosque while the imam would speak to worshippers at the rabbi’s synagogue.

They co-authored a book about starting an interfaith dialogue entitled “Sons of Abraham: A Candid Conversation about the Issues that Divide” and “Unite Jews and Muslims” that breaks down misconceptions about both religions.

Story of Friendships

Friends / The Naked Soul Partners

I developed a meaningful friendship with a coworker who has some personality traits that differ from me. She is more assertive and extroverted than I am but has a sensitive side which she expresses when discussing her family and her dog.

We joke around with each other and she always knows how to get a smile out of me even when I am having a tough day. I never would have expected to develop such a significant relationship with a coworker but know that despite any issues we have with each other, she will always be there to defend me if necessary.

There have been many depictions of unlikely friendships that have developed in movies and television.

Toy Story / The Naked Soul Partners

Many have been in animated movies such as Toy Story where one toy, Woody, serves as a boy’s favorite toy for years while the other, Buzz Lightyear, was a birthday present; Up where a boy scout befriends an elderly man and helps him learn to love again after the death of his beloved wife; and the friendship between the young girl, Lilo, and her alien friend, Stitch, in Lilo and Stitch.

These cinematic relationships show that despite differences between each character, they are able to look past them and develop meaningful friendships.

The most obvious example of unlikely friendships can be seen on the classic 90s sitcom, Friends.

The six friends have unique personality traits that elevate the humor found in each episode from the commitment-phobic Chandler Bing and his Casanova roommate, Joey Tribbiani, to the neat-freak Monica Geller and her second roommate, the more laid-back and approachable Rachel Green.

Romantic entanglements even ensue between characters including the occasionally tumultuous relationship of Dr. Ross Geller, Monica’s older brother, and Rachel and the marriage of Chandler and Monica.

Friends has stood the test of time and in its more emotional moments depicts the strength of a group of companions that can always be depended on.

It is clear then that unlikely people can indeed transform your life. Whether it stems from a chance encounter or an arranged meeting, friendships can begin in many different ways.

Be open to meeting new people as perhaps this can lead to an enduring relationship.

 

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How I Am Growing My Author’s Platform? How To Find Your 1000 True Fans

How To Find Your 1000 True Fans

I believe in cultivating a tribe around my writing which resonates with my voice. I write both fiction and poetry.

At some point in time, I want to write a memoir too. I am not a single genre writer. I like to read all kind of things and likewise, I want to write on different subjects.

Growing one’s audience is like growing one’s tribe. My tribe is my “community”. These are my readers, fans, fellow writers, friends, and those who share my values.

Cultivating a tribe is more than creating a community. Cultivation requires constant refinement, intimate communication between me and my fans, encouraging reader engagement, and most of all audience-trimming. Before, we talk about “fan-trimming”, let’s find out what having a tribe does for us?

Your tribesmen are your brand ambassadors.
Your tribesmen are your cheerleaders.
Your tribesmen are your sales agent.
Your tribesmen are your trusted beta-readers, advisers and market feedback.
Your tribesmen are your allies and friends.
Your tribesmen are your supporters and they want to see you succeed.
 

As you can see from the above bullet points, trimming becomes essential to preserve the quality of your support network, your tribe. Your tribe members can be anywhere but they are not your fans or followers on Facebook and Twitter.

Most often they are your email list subscribers and the ones those who frequently comment on your blogs, Facebook and/or Instagram posts. They actively engage with you and your writing. You should cherish them as your real family.

In this blog post, I want to share my journey and the adventure I have had since I decided to publish my work.

I started Naked Soul blog back in October 2014. I published my debut poetry collection “Naked Soul: The Erotic Love Poems” on Jan 9, 2015, and the eBook came out on Jan 22, 2015.

I was already having some presence on various social media and promoted my book on Google, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Pinterest. But if you are new, you can start now. Social media is cool and it helps a little. Note the word “little“.

I sent out emails and contacted bloggers to review my book. I created an email list using MailChimp and started sending out helpful tips and interesting stories from which we all can learn. I started traveling and meeting new people. I found new characters for my second book (coming out soon) based on the people whom I have met on my adventurous journey.

So what is our focus in this blog post? And, why am I doing this all? A 12-14 hours of daily writing, reading tons of books, developing new connections with people – why all this hard work?

If you are a writer or blogger yourself, you may very well be asking these same questions. So what are we trying to achieve here?

My good guess would be — we are trying to grow our audience size. We are seeking outreach to people whom we can touch and impact positively through our stories.

We are trying to tell our stories to those who would benefit from our writing. But, how do we do that? How do we meet our true fans? How do we connect with our readers? How do we grow our network and meet new readers?

I think I have an answer (tried and tested by me previously). Continue reading to take a first-time look at my detailed plan outlined here. As I mentioned, I started this blog in October last year and joined various social media around the same time (+/- a few months). Following my plan outlined here, I grew my Facebook page to 15K, Instagram account to 20K followers, Pinterest account to 3.2K followers, Twitter account to 15K followers, YouTube account to 1000+ followers (with 1 million+ views) and my mailing list to over 300 subscribers.

During this time, I was also able to get on SlideShare with three slides, got over 38K views on my Google+ page, and created my presence on Tumblr, and on top three online poetry portals (Hello Peotry, PoemHunter, Deep Underground Poetry).

I am going to outline my plan to grow my author’s platform further to a target goal that I have set up for myself for this year.

How to Grow Your Author Platform

1. Write More Books

I have these upcoming books in the next three years. God’s Original Psalm is the project that I am currently working on.

  • Naked Soul: The Journey Of Love (Genre: Poetry/Romance)
  • Naked Soul: The Sacred Intimacy (Genre: Poetry/Erotic)
  • Naked Soul: God’s Original Psalm (Genre: Spirituality)
  • Letters By A Young Christian Mystic (Genre: Spirituality)
  • Friendship (Genre: Non-fiction, Self-help/Relationship)
  • How To Travel The World Under $30,000 USD (Genre: Travel)

The best thing a writer can do is to “write more books”. Pretty obvious, right? But isn’t. Majority of the people spend time figuring out one secret technique that will make them an overnight success. I wish magic was real.

The best way to grow your author’s platform is to simply write more books. The more good books you write the luckier you’ll become. Almost like magic.


2. Improving My Organic Search Rank on Google for Greater 
Discoverability
– More quality content and Frequent blogging
– Guest blogging with other bloggers and writers
– Make blog posts shareability easy for your readers.

More quality content and Frequent blogging

I am taking blogging more seriously. I have been blogging since 2005 and have had numerous blog. After years of soul searching and discovering my authentic voice, my genuine voice, I have started this blog and this blog is going to my open diary taking note of my various adventurous journeys.

My second goal is to build a passionate community around the Naked Soul Blog by engaging the blog readers through “Comments”. Often times, what is not answered or covered by a particular blog post is answered by a reader’s comment. Comments help all the readers.

 

3. Building a Huge Email List of Interested Readers
– From blog email sign-up form
– From Facebook page giveaways, quizzes, etc
– From Instagram giveaways, etc
– From new one-on-one connections made online

 

4. Outreach & Connection With My Readers on Social Media

  • Instagram: by words as pictures and good, heartfelt captions
  • Facebook: by poems, blog post links, and videos
  • Pinterest: by pictures
  • Twitter: by tweeting short poems and quotes
  • YouTube: by videos
  • Goodreads: by posting blogs, answering fan’s questions, giveaways

 

5. Growth on Social Media Using Specific Tools

You might not need these but in case if you want more tools to explore. I would recommend sticking to the basic four.

I have used them all and they all are good and the reason you do not want more tools is simple: you won’t have any time left.

 

6. Build a Team of Core People

Your job will be to assign tasks to your team member. If you are starting out, chances are you have a day job and are busy. You may want to hire one, two or more Virtual Assistants (VAs) depending on your needs and present situation.

If you have book launch coming up, I highly recommend getting a VA. For the launch of Naked Soul: The Erotic Love Poems, I hired a VA from Zirtual, a US based company.

In the coming months, I will be working with two VAs from India (at the same cost of one VA from Zirtual). I have not hired anyone yet but hope to do so within a month or so. Once my team is set up, I will:

  • Decide what will my team do vs what I do? (task delegation)
  • Help my VA in outreach to bloggers and other writers
  • Train my VA on using all of the above-mentioned tools (but I’ll be managing the tools, overall strategy, and the setup)

 

7. Be Active in Facebook group for writers and on Goodreads

– Help other writers as much as I can.

– When requested and provided an Advance Reader Copy (ARC), write a book review.

– If requested write a book blurb, book’s back cover material, book’s Introduction and/or a Foreward if our genre overlaps.

– Help and promote similar (overlapping)  writers on my blog and social media

– Share and exchange our experiences and stories from our writing journey (quite an adventure so far)

The more help you provide, the better and effective you will get at using your own advice. Moreover, there is no such thing as “giving too much”. The more you give away for free — the better it is for your long term career.

Make friends, early on. Trust me, this is going to be a long ride. You’ll need a group of friends to keep you motivated in tough times.

 

8. Get Reviews From Reputable Bloggers, Book Reviewers, and Magazines

This is important. After writing your best book, the next most important thing is to get some great reviews and some media coverage. The “media” that I am talking about is not the old school “Press Release” but the presence of your book everywhere on the World Wide Web.

In other words, your book should be present everywhere a book is allowed. Internet mainly.

Getting 2 or 5 good reviews will help you get more reviews. Your initial book reviews will shape your later reviews. Also, remember, once you have collected about 25 reviews, it will be relatively easier for you to pitch your book to mid-size bloggers.

If you manage to cross 100 reviews, you may very well get coverage on The Huffington Post (books) and Amazon’s editorial newsletter and blog, Omnivoracious.

 

9. Find and Connect With the Mavens in My Field

– Keep building quality relationships on Goodreads community with Goodreads mavens

– Keep posting new works and building relationships with fellow mavens on poetry portals such as Deep Underground Poetry, Poem Hunter, Hello Poetry, etc

– Keep discovering and connecting with the mavens everywhere: Social media, Blogosphere, etc.

 

Recap

The above 9 bullet points describes my 80%-90% of activities. Using these methods (and only these 9 methods, eighty-to-ninety percent of the time) I am going to find, meet and build a one-on-one relationship with my 1000 true fans. This will take time, true, but they are all tested strategies proven to work.

 

9 Things That I Will NOT Be Doing

Below is the list of 9 another things that I will *NOT* be doing because I will probably run out of time doing the things mentioned above. (Remember 80/20 rule?) 80% of your results are produced by the 20% of your core work. So, what happens if you use 80% of your time on that 20% of core work that produces 80% of your results? Magic. After all, magic is not completely dead.

But if you have time, energy or capacity to DO these tasks as well, good for you! These are the other things (ideas) that I have tried to some degrees and find them to be useful.

But remember, prioritize your time. As an author you can *also* benefit from doing these. Here you go:

1. Attend writing/books related meetups and build new connections with readers and writers. The goal here is to not overkill it. Attend a few meetups each month. Build quality connections.

2. Join book clubs; or start a new book club in your area (or try one online). This is a low-investment approach to book marketing. The goal here is not promote your book, but be seen as the expert in your domain and/or genre.

3. Try LinkedIn publishing. If you are a full time writer go for it. But, if you are like me doing a day job and writing part-time, then you are better off not mixing up your LinkedIn (professional network) with your writing life.

4. Try podcast (in addition to blogging) to reach whole new group of audience. If I have to start one thing from this list of 10, this will be my first pick.

5. Participate in local, state, regional and/or national poetry contests. Usually, it is a high investment, low return strategy. But like a lottery (with a shower of good-luck), if you WIN, you can use the award as a book blurb in your marketing. This kind of things don’t sell books directly but brings curious readers to you. And some of them will eventually get your books.

6. Plan a book tour and do book readings. (It does not have to be grand. Start local.) A national or even a multi-state book tour would fall under my next section. But, if you are doing it locally (using your car and no overnight hotel stay), you can give it a shot. It is fun too. And it feels good as well.

7. Participate and do open mike poetry and/or poetry slams. Depending upon your city or town, this can be a good place to find your next fan.

8. YouTube – Record your readings (poetry or fiction) and share it on your YouTube channel, Facebook Page, Google+ and on Goodreads.

9. Organize Google hangouts and do live poetry readings. Engage with your fans and interested readers.

 

9 Things That I Do NOT Recommend (Time Wasters)

Below is the list of 9 things that I firmly believe to fall under time wasters. It is not that these activities will not help you but chances are they will not be worth your time, money or brain-power.

1. Try to approach bookstores to keep your book (even with the book-returns clause). First of all, sadly your endeavor is not going to be successful and even if you manage to get one or two bookstores keep and display your books, they won’t be able to give your copy a prime spot when there is already hot books out there competing for that tiny space.

2. Try to join forces with local merchants to store your books on display on commission basis. Not worth the time and effort.

3. Try to sell your books to your family members, close friends and anyone who meets you. Not a good strategy from a long term perspective. You do not want to alienate people. By pressurizing people into hard-sales, you’ll most definitely make them avoid you in future.

4. Promote your ebook for free. Only offer free books if you have other books available in the series. If you only have one book (assuming you have honestly put in a lot of time into it and it is > 175 pages), price it $2.99 or may be even $0.99.

The reason you do not want a free book is because, free-book readers are also harsh and critical. And it is simply a high risk to get in a spiral of bad reviews. One good review gets you another good reviews. One bad review gets you another bad review. You do not want your writing career to start with 3.5 star rating. Do you?

5. Paying for reviews or Buying reviews on Fiverr or anywhere. Damn it. It is both sad and pitiful that so many amateur writers are into buying reviews. It hurts you more than anything else. Readers are smart and moreover, you want your reviewers to read your book and like your writing.

It is better to send ARCs (Advance Reader Copies) to interested readers and request them to review (good or bad).

6. Send Direct Messages to random people (read: strangers) on Facebook, Instagram, Goodreads or anywhere. Do not do this. This will not get you more than grand total of 0-5 sale and ton of hate and annoyance. Again, think long term. You do not want to piss of your readers even before they got a chance to become your reader.

7. This one does not require a bullet point in itself but it is important. Do not spend a lot of time marketing your book on social media. Again, read point #6. If you are just starting out, more often than not, your shouting about your own book would only come off as self-promotion and annoyance.

Social media’s primary purpose for most reader is entertainment and connection. Discovering a new book from a no-name author would be the last priority any Facebook user can think of.

8. Big budget advertisement. If you do not have atleast three or more books out, you are better of not having a big advertisement campaign. When you promote big, your message will be seen by many potential readers (and book buyers).

Some of them might not like your advertised title but may find your other book interesting. If you have only one book, the ROI is usually a big waste of money. Save this money for later. You’ll need it.

9. Use my personal Google+ and Facebook page to reach out to more like-minded people. There is nothing wrong in doing this. But from my personal experience (and of countless other writers and artists) — this eventually sums up to only one thing — A Waste Of Time.

 

Last But Not The Least

A quick note on social media. Social media is important. There is no denying that but focus on using a few rather than all.

I feel the most important ones for a writer are (in order of importance): 1. Facebook, 2. Instagram, 3. Pinterest, 4. YouTube, 5. Twitter, 6. Google+. And you can stop right here.

This is more than you can swallow.

 

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Did you know about the free VIP pass offer to the Naked Soul Club? Subscribe your email address now and be part of this tight-knit community of lovers, readers, writers, adventures and other people just like yourself. I send great contents directly into your mailbox. Once a week. Sign up now and stay in touch!

What are your thoughts about growing your tribe? Have you tried any of these methods or tools yet? If yes, please feel free to share your experience with us? Please leave your thoughts and input in the comments below.

Are All Poets Penniless: Do Poets Die Hungry?

This week I have been trying my best to stay level headed post Naked Soul: The Erotic Love Poems book launch.

Truthfully speaking, I have been as excitable as a chef just before the Thanksgiving! My debut collection of erotic love poems was published in eBook on January 23 and I have sold just over 100 eBooks in the first month alone.

The softcover was released on January 9th and is also doing excellent. So far it has sold over 150 copies. The big sales number came right before the Valentine’s Day. (No surprise there.)

Well, 100 or 150 might not seem a big number and certainly it is not but what I can tell you is at the time of drafting this blog, my book is at Top #7 in Love Poem and ranked Top #47222 out of 3,000,000+ eBooks on the Amazon Kindle store.

Labor of Love or Fate of Drudgery

The reason I am taking about the sales number and book ranking is because, well, I thought it is worth talking about this ancient curiosity shared by all: “Are all poets penniless?”

Is poetry a labor of love or an occupation of toil and drudgery? I am hoping to bring some perspective and calm to my current ‘pressure cooker†mind with this current blog. This post is not just a note to myself but a new balanced perspective, something to consider, specially by the writers, poets and all the artists out there.

To start with (and I am not trying to tempt fate here or anything!) I am focusing my attention on a handful of great poets who only achieved fame and wealth after death. Well, some great poets might have died poor but their legacy is certainly richer than many of the rich from the recent times.

Are All Poets Penniless

Years, decades, and even a century or two after their passing, several major literary geniuses (who may have been blessed with the odd peak of recognition while alive) have gone on to have an unimaginable impact on the literary world – dominating classrooms, bookshelves, literati events and book groups, not just Stateside but across the globe.

Let’s take a look at some of these writers and poets.

Emily Dickinson

Emily Dickinson was born in December 1830 in Massachusetts. A sociable youngster who maintained good relationships and friendships throughout her childhood and youth; she began writing poetry in her teens. Itâ€s clearly obvious from her writing that the death of close friends and family members during adolescence strongly influenced her.

Her Poem Because I Could not Stop for Death is the first that springs to mind.

 

Because I could not stop for Death,
He kindly stopped for me;
The carriage held but just ourselves
And Immortality.

We slowly drove, he knew no haste,
And I had put away
My labour, and my leisure too,
For his civility.

We passed the school where children played,
Their lessons scarcely done;
We passed the fields of gazing grain,
We passed the setting sun.

We paused before a house that seemed
A swelling of the ground;
The roof was scarcely visible,
The cornice but a mound.

Since then ’tis centuries; but each
Feels shorter than the day
I first surmised the horses’ heads
Were toward eternity.

 

Her most intense writing period began in her late twenties and lasted several years, she is said to have written a staggering 1100 poems during this time; some of which she did share with close friends and family, but the majority of which, she kept to herself. Pretty much a recluse by the time she died aged fifty-five in 1886, Dickson had written around 1800 poems.  It was following her death (and against her dying wishes) that family members decided to publish and share her magnificent work some years on.

 

John Keats

John Keats was born in London, England in 1795. The poor guyâ€s short life was plagued by death from an early age – with both parents dying by the time heâ€d reached fourteen. Leaving school aged sixteen, Keats maintained a healthy interest in literature even while working in the medical profession alongside his guardian (a man so deceitful he kept Keats†large inheritance which heâ€d been entrusted to look after).

Keats penned his first poem during 1816, aged eighteen; his first book called Poems followed during 1817.

A year after abandoning the medical establishment to pursue poetry as a profession, Keats†life was once again haunted by death when his brother, Tom, contracted and died from Tuberculosis, the same illness which killed his mother.

In 1819, despite mounting financial problems and ill health, Keats was somehow able to write a significant amount of poetry; he also met and fell in love with a young girl called Fanny Brawne. Sadly his wish to marry the eighteen–year-old was never realised due to his lack of finances.  As if life hadnâ€t been tragic enough for John Keats, in 1820 he too become desperately ill with Tuberculosis. Despite his illness, he managed to publish a second volume of poems. During the same year Keats travelled to Italy hoping the warmer surroundings would help with his illness. Sadly it was not to be, one of the greatest poets to have ever lived, died in February 1821, lowly regarded and poor..

 

The Eve of St Agnes by John Keats is (in my opinion) one of his best works.

All Poets Die Hungry

Edgar Allan Poe

For someone born so long ago (1809) it blows my mind to think that Edgar Allan Poe still courts such influence, interest and popularity over literary and cultural circles today.

And if you thought Keats†life was tragic, I think Poeâ€s was equally tumultuous – as a baby he was abandoned by his father and when his mother died of tuberculosis during 1811, he was forced to live with foster parents.

Poe, a military man for a brief time before turning his hand to writing full time, is attributed to having invented the detective fiction genre. His name is also synonymous with chilling and macabre poetry and stories.

Like Emily Dickinson, death featured heavily in Poeâ€s work, including in his most famous poem, The Raven.

This poem, by all accounts, turned him into a literary sensation for some time. Unfortunately, maybe because he was a heavy drinker who could no longer hold down a job, he never equalled its success with any of his following work.

Itâ€s been documented that the death of his wife Virginia Clemm (who also just happened to be his cousin, aged thirteen when he married her) exacerbated Poeâ€s drinking. Many conspiracy theories about his death have been circulated, but Poe is reported to have died penniless, dishevelled and unconscious in a Baltimore gutter, aged just forty.

 

Phillis Wheatly

Phillis Wheatlyâ€s life story is equally interesting and heart breaking. Kidnapped from West Africa when she was around seven years old in 1753, she arrived in Boston, Massachusetts, on a slave ship where she was purchased by John Wheatley as a servant for his wife, Susanna, who quickly came to recognize and nurture Phillis†writing talent. The Wheatleys decided not to train Phillis as a slave.

By publishing Poems on various subjects, religion and moral Wheatley made history by becoming the first female African American to publish a book of poems. She even travelled to London, promoting her poetry. I can imagine that for a while her life mustâ€ve felt pretty amazing, especially when compared to the lives of other African Americans at that time. I canâ€t help thinking that things wouldâ€ve had a happier ending for Philllis Wheatley, had Susanna and John Wheatley still been alive after she married.

Wheatly married John Peters in 1778. They lived in poor conditions, but worse, had to endure the death of two infant children. After her husband was imprisoned during 1784, impoverished, Wheatley was left looking after her third child. Sadly, she died young at age thirty-one. Her sick infant son is said to have died a few hours later.

Read her famous poem On Being Brought from Africa to America here.

 

Poets persecuted for their writing and beliefs

I was thinking of moving on to something a bit more light-hearted, but if you donâ€t mind Iâ€ll get one more ‘sad†topic out of the way first.

Weâ€re moving on to poets who are persecuted for their writing, as in poets who express opinions in their work, which goes against the establishment of their countries.

 

Ovid

The first that I can think of is, Roman poet Ovid, back in 8AD he was banished to Tomis, a remote province on the Black Sea, by the Emperor Augustus, itâ€s difficult to pinpoint the motivation which led to his exile but speculation points to the simple reason that the emperor was unhappy with something the poet had written!

 

Enoh Meyomesse

Sadly a similar type of punishment remains commonplace in some societies even in this day and age. Cameroonian poet, political activist and blogger Enoh Meyomesse is currently serving a prison sentence which he maintains is due to personal views expressed in his writing and for his political activism.

Read more on Meyomesse and some of his poetry here.

 

Mahvash Sabet

Iranian teacher, turned poet, Sabetâ€s translated book Prison Poems was published on April 1, 2013. She wrote this collection while serving (along with other leaders of Iranâ€s *Bahaâ€i community) a twenty year prison sentence in Tehranâ€s Evin prison because of her religious beliefs.

*The Baha’i religion was founded in Iran in 1863, making it one of the world’s youngest religions. This religion accepts all other faiths as true and valid. It also teaches that there should be no inequality when it comes to gender or race.

I am left wondering, what’s not to like? Read her Lights Out poem on this blog.

 

Successful Poets: What’s their Secret?

I have covered a lot of the tragedies and hardships experienced by poets in this blog, so I want to finish by letting you know:

It’s not all Bad News!

 

Yes, we can breathe a sigh of relief now as I am happy say that there are many poets and writers do seem to live comfortable and successful lives, many are actually poets who never gave up their day jobs.

 

Lewis Carroll

It was a huge surprise for me to find out that the author of Alice in Wonderland was actually a Mathematician (who wrote several books on Mathematics under his real name (Charles Lutwidge Dodgson).

Incredibly, he was also a teacher for twenty-six years!  But he also found time to work on a few inventions too, creating (amongst other things) a device called the nyctograph which allowed for night time writing (presumably with himself in mind because he was so busy during the day doing his other jobs!)

Read My Fairy, a poem written by Lewis Carroll when he was only 13 years old.

 

William Carlos Williams

This savvy writer, trained as a doctor and went on to publish his first book Poems in 1909, but continued practicing as a doctor in the New Jersey town of Rutherford for the next 40 years.

Read his A Sort of Song here.

 

T. S. ELIOT

The magnificent Missouri born writer and Harvard graduate settled in England after a spell reading philosophy at a renowned college in Oxford. He wrote his famous poem Prufrock while holding down a job as a bank clerk. After several years in banking he went on to become an editor at publishing house Faber and Faber, where he worked full time for forty years.

Hear Eliot reading The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrok in a Youtube video.

 

Wallace Stevens

Acclaimed poet and also Harvard graduate, Wallace Stevens, published his first book Harmonium in 1923 while working in insurance; an area he would continue in for nearly forty years eventually working his way up to Vice-President of his company by 1934, carrying on in this role even after receiving the prestigious Pulitzer Prize.

Read his wordsOf Modern Poetry” here.

 

Philip Larkin

The British born poet and novelist Philip Larkin actually managed to sneak in quite a lot of writing while working as a librarian. He graduated from Oxford University with first class honors in English during 1943, then worked for thirty years as a librarian at Hull University, where he is said to have produced a vast quantity of his published work.

Read his poem Faith Healing” here.

 

So perhaps we are onto something here. Could the secret to keeping yourself from the clutches of poverty lie in having another vocation in life? Should we all, if we haven’t already, add a few more strings to our bows?

Just in case tragedy decides to grab and drop some of us into its murky pool of torture without a second thought, leaving us destitute, penniless and forgotten until the pool is dredged some decades later. (OK, maybe I need to put the Poe books down for now!)

 

The truth is, there a plenty of writers out there that have second jobs, some connected to writing such as tutoring, lecturing and performance poetry; and as some of the last section shows, others have no connection at all. But I donâ€t think it hurts to have a plan B. Somehow, I can’t imagine Edgar Allan Poe as a doctor or librarian though.

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What do you think about writing as a career? If you have a family to support will you take the risk? Or will you fulfill your calling as a writer or poet? Please leave your thoughts and input in the Comments below.

Erotic Poetry And Literature: Do People Prefer It Over Other Art Forms?

There is something particularly delightful and passionately engaging about reading erotic poetry. We all can agree to that. But, do people prefer it to watching erotic films or admiring the eros in other arts such as sculptures or paintings?

Let’s look a little dipper into this question in this blog post.

Erotic Poetry and Literature

Erotic poetry and literature is an extremely special, but also delicate genre. You probably wonder why. The answer is fairly simple.

One the one hand, erotic literature is constituted along two distinct and related coordinates: it introduces the reader into a world of myriad feelings by means of which sexual relationships are woven into being and at the same time it seeks to arise in the readers sensations of pleasure and thus awake their own eroticism.

On the other hand, erotic literature is a borderline genre situated in-between high culture and more interested enjoyment, so to speak. Obviously reading erotic poetry is different from reading drama (tragedy, for instance).

Erotic literature goes beyond purely aesthetic pleasure. We don’t necessarily read erotic literature to immerse in a coherent fictional universe that can teach us things and change our perspective on life.

We don’t read erotic poetry in order to engage in a cool-headed analysis of the way a poet constructs setting, mood, rhyme, and rhythm, etc. — unless we actually specialize in literary theory or literature as such. However such cases are extremely rare.

The appeal of erotic poetry

What makes up the immense appeal of erotic poetry for the majority of readers?

First and foremost, erotic poetry acts almost as a release for our brains, since we are so used to repression and societal models which sometimes turn sexuality into taboo and may even claim it could be “dirty”.

Erotic poetry is an excellent proof that sexuality is actually something beautiful that can be transfigured into art. This transformation can be a form of sublimation, to use a concept that was promoted by Freud. [1]

By means of art, people experience a form of purging (or catharsis) instead of repressing their desires. Erotic poetry is simply a fantastic source of pleasure which acknowledges the beauty and the high priority of sexuality while allowing for a half-abstract experience. Why is it not concrete?

Well, reading erotic poetry requires a degree of abstraction implied by any form of art: the readers move through an array of feelings and experiences that are not their own. For this reason, erotic poetry is not only about sublimation in the purely psychoanalytical sense, since it doesn’t only equal a transformation of one’s own impulses except in a very general way.

Of course through reading erotic literature one gets to indulge in phenomena and sensations that one usually finds pleasurable without committing any transgression from the point of view of one’s own morality.

Instead of betraying one’s spouse with other people, erotic literature permits the readers to escape the boundaries of their own concrete couple in order to find pleasure somewhere else.

However erotic poetry does much more than, say, allowing for the sublimation of the need for erotic diversity: it raises the erotic at the level of the aesthetic and thus it opens the gates towards a different kind of sublimation, literally speaking.

Erotic poetry allows us to experience the sublime itself in the philosophical sense (as a highly impressive and moving quality of greatness) that was so well theorized by Kant. [2]

Why erotic poetry?

What makes us enjoy reading or writing it so much? Is it the same thing that we experience when watching an erotic film or examining a painting/sculpture which shows us a nude figure or builds on direct representation of sexuality?

We all know about famous works of art that know no restraint in presenting the body as it is for both the aesthetic and the erotic. Of course, we have heard of Michelangelo’s David and we have probably seen it not only once.

How about Goya’s Maja Desnuda? Apart from such widely known examples, there are myriad erotic artworks that may even have been created by contemporary artists you might not have heard of yet. As you can picture, our century is extremely prolific and permissive regarding the erotic and this trend is not limited to literature.

If you are interested in more powerful and even more exotic works of art that could even challenge your own frame concerning what art can do about sexuality, you can take a look at all 15 examples that have made history in this respect.

For many people, the erotic is reduced to pornography and they unwillingly choose to experience it by means of cinema, photography, or magazines that specialize in eroticized displays of the body meant to arouse the readers. Why “unwillingly”?

Because these channels are actually the easiest to access and people often receive information through these media without questioning its purpose or its broader identity.

Why look for something just as delightful when you can watch erotic films anytime on numerous TV channels or you can buy as many DVDs you want?

Some people may have less commercial preferences and are quite familiar with a different kind of erotic movies that relies much less on cliche and objectification, namely erotic art film such as Ai no corrida.

People who are versed in both art and eros surely know this film already. They must also have an excellent understanding about the extent to which drawing on the erotic in art has amazing and high-quality results. Surely other people still have prejudice regarding erotic art or literature in particular.

An Aphrodisiac

Some may still consider this genre to verge on superficiality or to function only as an aphrodisiac. This couldn’t be farther from the truth.

The charm and the mystery of erotic literature lie precisely in its ability to be both arousing and aesthetically valuable. Hardly anyone reads erotic poetry only to get turned on. Most readers want an artistic experience together with the more simple delight of the senses that could easily be achieved by other means.

However what makes erotic literature worth so much for such a large public? One of the deeper reasons is related to the fact that literature has been for a good while a great channel for erotic expression when society encouraged repression.

Not only did literature allow for what social norms tried to forbid, but also it created a very propitious space for the expression of sexual deviations. By this term, we don’t mean anomaly since sexuality shouldn’t be treated normatively.

The bottom line is that literature was the perfect terrain for seeding ideas that would have usually been considered to be less mainstream even by sexually open-minded people.

Why is Venus in Furs by Sacher-Masoch so appreciated? Why is an author like Marquise de Sade not only renowned, but also valuable in his own way? Why has a poet and critic like Swinburne also made history through his treatment of the erotic?

Not only thanks to his abundant talent. It was also partly because of his homoerotic tendencies, partly due to his having approached more “exotic” topics (and fetishes) such as flagellation.

50 Shades of Grey

Why is a book like 50 Shades of Grey so successful nowadays? Strangely enough, we live in an era that treasures openness and liberalism, so how come BDSM is still impressive?

The explanation comes down to novelty rather than deviation. Not many erotic works have ventured that far and this is still unexplored territory.

BDSM may be rather commonplacefor some people nowadays “we can no longer regard such practices as deviant,” since many people express interest in experimenting at least and some do it quite openly, adopting it as a real lifestyle.

Moreover, there’s plenty of information about BDSM in the media and anybody who desires to discover why it is worth trying only has to look up things on the web.

Erotic Films

Erotic films are also extremely open to such practices since they are part of what plays. However, in literature as well as in other arts such phenomena are still fresh and in very high demand.

What makes erotic poetry so special against all this background? Why does the public appreciate it so much when there are plenty of other ways of enhancing the erotic experience or of experiencing the erotic through art?

Why erotic poetry? What distinguishes it from other genres?

First of all, no genre makes use of imagination the way poetry does. Lyricism and subjectivity are exploited to the maximum, metaphor is the tissue of poetry, and the artist has immeasurable freedom of transfiguring actual sensation and turning it into an almost otherworldly experience.

When reading erotic fiction everything looks almost as in a porn film and the readers are quite familiar with many aspects of sexuality and of the acts described.

There’s scarcely anything surprising except for things like the sex positions that are going to be employed, the moment when people climax, the denouement, etc.

Poetry offers much more: the erotic is often represented figuratively while still phenomenally impactful. Yes, most readers are aroused when reading erotic poetry.

However, at the same time, they are in awe at the fine expression, at the sophistication of feeling, at the synesthetic combination of impressions stirred by the senses and so on.

Poetry doesn’t only describe a sexual act more often than not. Erotic poetry is both about sensitivity and sexuality. The readers are kept in suspense that is not necessarily one that has to do with erotic climax or the development of the relationship between two people.

Poetry cultivates another kind of unexpected: it is the emotion that takes the readers by surprise and also makes them vicariously live through the figure (or the voice) in the poem.

This highly enjoyable feeling of living vicariously through characters is particularly exciting in erotic literature, as you may picture and you may well know.

It’s not necessarily a matter of empathizing with characters or getting inside their brain to understand their point of view and perceptions.

When reading erotic literature we live vicariously through others in an equally erotic way: we are aroused almost as the characters are, we experience similar sensations.

However erotic poetry is even more valuable than that, because it allows us to live vicariously not only through our bodily reflexes. Erotic poetry offers us rich and complex emotional content, intellectual pleasure, and erotically stimulating experience.

Naturally not any erotic poem is going to have the same impact on us on a physical level it highly depends on how overt and striking it is.

However, we almost always enjoy reading erotic poetry from a mental standpoint at least. Often we can really identify with an emotional shade described in the poem. Maybe our own understanding of the erotic was awakened through the right words; maybe a feeling we have for someone was struck through a well-placed and evocative image. It is much more than a representation of the sexual act we search for when reading erotic poetry.

How about the metric part? How does form contribute to the beauty of the erotic? Doesn’t rhyme imply a certain rigor? How can poetic rhythm grasp the actual flow of the erotic?

Although some could expect these demands that may go hand in hand with the lyrical genre (though white verse is quite fashionable) to be a hindrance rather than an advantage, the truth is much more nuanced.

Meter has its own charm because it contains an element of the game: it is a challenge to put sexuality into verse! Have you ever thought of comparing rhyme and rhythm in erotic poetry to actual the actual form and pace of the erotic? This is also a metaphor, of course, but all in all, there’s truth to it since meter can play the role a sex position plays.

How come? It’s simple: it gives shape and structure to the erotic, an experience that in itself is the epitome of wilderness. For this reason, poetry as a genre can actually enhance the value of the erotic. It’s not a mere description of a succession of steps that lead to climax.

Erotic poetry has a flow of its own because of metric elements. Each feeling and fascicle of sensations can be put into different verses depicted in so many ways! It’s almost the equivalent of experimenting with sexuality directly, don’t you think so?

Of course, free verse is also an option and a rather successful one. But let’s not forget more conventional forms of poetry. There’s a special charm to them because they organize experience and hold it in restraint. Everybody knows too much freedom may actually undermine pleasure in a way.

It’s already a truism that forbidden fruit tastes better. Aren’t we attracted more to what is not easily accessible — at least not at once? Poetry offers us a sense of structure and refraining.

We don’t have the same kind of delightful experience when reading erotic fiction. We can only imagine the characters involved and build a picture of what everything must look and feel like. But there’s hardly any form of teasing, is there? Metric demands can act as a challenge for people who love erotic poetry — both writers and readers.

For the writer, it’s both a game and a way of sublimating erotic experience through yet another filter and form. Maybe it’s not as appealing and complex to simply describe things as they are.

Imagination and musicality are extremely potent. For readers meter and rhythm enhance the experience. They create music apart from describing the erotic. Sonority adds layers to the feelings or sensation described, just as a color can sometimes express a mood or a specific atmosphere better than a whole stanza.

If you are not yet familiar with all the joys of erotic poetry, now it is time to expand your horizons. Don’t miss out on such an interesting and promising genre only because you are accustomed with other arts or media. Obviously, poetry will not give you the unambiguous concreteness you can find in a film, but it lets your imagination do some work as well.

This is a terrific gift that enhances the potential of the erotic. Your mind is stimulated to reproduce the eroticism it discovers in verse. One could say poetry is a double act of creation: it is not only the poet who creates a world by means of imagery and meter; it is also the reader who transfigures the text into a picture of their own that only builds on what the eyes read.

Every reading is thus also an act of creation, as interpretations enriches the text. Unlike other genres, erotic poetry allows for much more space for what Umberto Eco called opera aperta (the open text).

The poet and the reader work in unison in order to grasp the uniqueness of erotic feeling. Just think about how much reading a novel or short stories offers you out of this multilayered experience. Only then will you understand why erotic poetry has unequaled force and is still widely appreciated and enjoyed.

People love it when their experiences rise above the mundane and this is something erotic poetry promises and delivers without fail. You will simply not find as much pleasure when you read an utterly realistic novel that does nothing more than describing sexual acts in order to turn the readers on. Erotic poetry reflects a specific purity of intent even when it is rather explicit. In erotic poetry aesthetic delight never comes second to anything else.

 

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What do you think about the expression of Eros in the form of erotic poetry and literature? Please leave your thoughts and input in the Comments below.

What is Friendship? Who is a True Friend?

friends

A faithful friend is the medicine of life. ~ Ecclesiastics 6:16

To understand the very fabric of friendship, one of my favorite places to look is the Bible. Undoubtedly, the Bible presents the theme of friendship in a very unique way.

In the book of Ecclesiastics, the author Solomon uttered these words “a faithful friend is the medicine of life when he linked friendship with medicine and life. For a greater and complete understanding, let us seek and explore the true essence and meaning of these two words: friend and friendship.

“A friend is, as it were, a second self.” ~ Marcus T. Cicero

So, what is friendship? Who is a friend? A friend is a lover. Love is the essence of friendship. Mother Teresa said, Spread love everywhere you go: first of all in your own heart and house. Give love to your children, to your wife or husband, to a next-door neighbor.

Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living experience of God’s kindness; kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile, kindness in your warm greetings. Expressing love in such a manner is the way of a true friend.

Est mihi nescio quid quod me tibi temperat astrum
“There is something, I know not what, which yokes our fortunes, yours and mine.”

Literally speaking, a friend is a lover and the one who speaks the truth. The relationship between Latin amcus “friend” and am “I love” is clear, as is the relationship between Greek philos “friend” and phile “I love.”

In the Old English language, about a millennium back, frÄ“ond, the word for “friend,” was simply the present participle of the verb frÄ“on, “to love.” The root of this verb is Germanic which is frÄ« -, which meant “to like and love”. That was what meant by “to be friendly with”.

This same root word also shows up in the name of the Germanic deity “Frigg”, the goddess of love, who lives on today in the word Friday, the day of Frigg. Also, it is worth taking note that in the Old English, freo also means “free.” Therefore, to love, to favor, is also related to being free. Interesting!

In Dutch and Afrikaans, the word for friend is Vriend which come from Old English Freond meaning “to love. In Italian, it is Amico which comes from the root Amare meaning to love.

In French, it is Ami which comes form the root aimer meaning “to love. In Spanish, a friend is Amigo which comes from the root word Amor meaning “to love.

In Albanian, it is Mik which comes from the root Amicus in Latin meaning “to love. In Urdu, the original implication of Dost meaning friend is “lover” which comes from the Persian Dost which also means “a lover”. Therefore, a friend is a lover.

In Tagalog Kaibigan is the word for friend. The root word “ibig“, means “to love.” Putting “ka” before a root word signifies a state of being, such as “ka-ibig“, literally “being someone to love”. Putting “an” after a word makes the focus of the sentence the direction of the action, such as “ibig” “to love with “-an” becomes “-ibigan“, literally meaning “a state of soul to be in love. Thus, “Kaibigan” could literally mean, “the state of being someone to share love with”.

Love can never wound. Nothing can hurt if there is the element of love inside it. Love is the essence of the creation of this world. On the other hand, an insincere and evil one is thus a person who is void of this love. Without love friendship cannot be understood. While many people may be our casual associates in our earthly life, few are those who walk in truth and posses the element of love inside them.

Nos duo turba sumus.
We two are a multitude.

The powerful words of friendship can heal wounds, mend broken hearts, restore peace and strengthen a soul more than ever. Jesus himself called His followers as friends and defined a true meaning of friendship by dying for all of humanity and on behalf of all the fallen creation.

A group of friends can make life so much fun

In the Bible, in the graceful journey of God with man, there are multitudes of words and speaking that have a word “friend” in it. “The Book of Proverbs might almost be called a treatise on Friendship, so full is it of advice about the sort of person a young man should consort with, and the sort of person he should avoid, said Huge Black in his book Friendship.

“It is better to be in chains with friends, than to be in a garden with strangers.” ~ Persian Proverb

In Proverbs 27:9 we read, Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart: so doth the sweetness of a man’s friend by hearty counsel. The Gospels state that Jesus Christ declared, No one has greater love than this that one lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends if you do what I command you.

It is not by chance that there is a great emphasis put on friendship in the New Testament, as is the case in any other scriptures. The classical literature is filled with the stories of great friendships. Ancient mythology and legends are deeply woven into the illustrations of great friendship, which in some instances almost assumed the place of a religion itself. The classical example of Krishna and Sudama and Krishna and Arjuna are excellent examples.

Friendship is considered one of the main human experiences, and has been sanctified by most major religions and myths. The Abrahamic faiths have the story of David and Jonathan. Friendship played an important role in German Romanticism.

“An honest answer is the sign of true friendship.” ~ Proverbs 24:26

In philosophy, Aristotle is known for his discussion in the Nicomachean Ethics of Philia, which is usually translated as “to love in friendship,” and includes friendship in a much broader concept. Aristotle’s conception of friendship conceived of three distinct categories or ‘tiers’ thereof. First, there are the ‘business partners,’ those who benefit financially from their friends; second, there are our ‘drinking-buddies’ – people we have fun with; and, thirdly, people with whom we pursue virtue or arete.

Hold a true friend with both your hands. ~ Nigerian Proverb

In Arabic, there three common words for a friend are Sadeeq which comes form Sadaqa to say the truth or to be truthful; Sahib which comes from Sahiba to accompany; and Rafeeq which comes from Rifq which is Kindness. Among the three the oldest and the truest word for friend is Sadeeq which is the one who always tells the truth. He is called so because a friend does two things: he tells you the truth and he believes what you say and vice-versa.

“A friend is one to whom one may pour out all the contents of one’s heart, chaff and grain together, knowing that the gentlest of hands will take and sift it, keep what is worth keeping and with a breath of kindness blow the rest away.” ~ Arabian Proverb

Thus we can conclude that in Arabic, the word for “friend” comes from the root “truth”. Because “Who is a friend?” The one who tells the truth.

For many people, friendship is just that trust that someone will not harm them. Thus a friend is a person whom one knows well, likes, and trusts. It is nothing more than that. This feeling and confidence in another human being are truly praiseworthy and essential for the healthy functioning of human civilization.

How to do Mindfulness Meditation in 9 Steps? Learn step-by-step in just 15 minutes

Have you ever wondered why mediation is so popular in our culture? It is no wonder that in today’s society, which is full of stress and anxiety, meditation helps people in calming one’s mind and bringing clarity of thoughts.

You may ask, What is meditation? To that, I would say, Meditation is the mindful observance of our own mind. ‘Watching the self’ is the key in meditation. This impersonal act of witnessing our own self from within brings quietness and peace to our being.

The primary purpose in mindfulness-meditation is to observe or watch our inner self — without any judgment, evaluation or expectation. Just by watching, you immediately get out of the never-ending-thought-train. When you stop or slow down the thinking mind, you feel serene and calm.

However, I must add that feeling good and peaceful is not the primary goal of meditation.

The ultimate goal of meditation is to seek to know your own true self. The chief aim of mediation is to experience the no-mind and to seek and know the truth. The realization of the oneness of all life with a compassionate and loving heart is the final fruit of mediation.

But, to embark upon such a quest, one must be relaxed first: physically and emotionally. Therefore, any mediation practice begins with the calming of the mind.

How to do Mindfulness Meditation

Once you are relaxed you are ready to begin your journey. The most common question that people often ask is “How do I meditate?” I have never done meditation before, how can I start?

Well, I was in your spot once and I figured it out. It is actually simple. Below you will find out how one can start practicing meditation and stick to one’s schedule at one’s own pace.

A step-by-step guide

1. Find a place that is quiet and not too warm or cold. Find a seating cushion or something comfortable that you can use to sit on. If you do not have a seating pillow or cushion, you can also use a chair. If you are going to use a chair, make sure that the height of the chair is not too tall or short according to your height.

 

2. You do not have to fold your arms or feet in a certain fashion or order but you certainly can if you want to. The first step is to make your physical body comfortable. You want to minimize the physical discomfort so that you can take on the greater challenges of the mind and spirit.

 

3. As you sit and are still preparing, keep this thought in mind that you are at ease and you are safe and at ease. This silent affirmation will help relax your body.

Gently close your eyes and breathe slowly and deep. Do not rush into breathing deeply. Let the natural flow and rhythm take control. Keep breathing deeply yet gently.

 

Just be

4. Now you are ready to “just be”. The first step is to not do anything. Yes, do not do anything. This is the first step. Do not repeat a mantra, or a word or anything. Do not imagine or focus on any image or symbol. Just be. Be relaxed. Just watch whatever the mind is doing.

 

Breathe

5. Focus on your breathing and watch how each breath is taking place. Keep witnessing this until the mind has calmed down (relatively speaking). Some random thoughts will keep coming to you. Let them come. You just bring your attention to your deep breathing.

 

Having thoughts is okay

6. Do not disturb your mind by trying to prevent a thought to occur or by trying to chase a thought. Let thought arise if it comes; let it pass, when they dissolve. Similarly, one thought may be dissolving while the next one is arising. Recognize this fact as the nature of the mind. It is okay. Do not artificially disturb this flow. Let it happen if this happens but make sure you keep watching every thought as they occur.

This is the first lesson of mindfulness meditation. Do not repress a thought; do not do anything at all on your part. You just be a watcher; this very act of watching is meditation.

 

Awaken

7. As you become more and more aware of your inner world (being) and your environment with all the sensation that you may be experiencing or feeling in your body, your focus sublimely shifts from your breath to witnessing.

Remember, witnessing means witnessing everything, all that there is witnessing do not filter out anything nor does it expects anything. Keep sitting and keep watching.

 

Feel the emptiness

8. As you watch, slowly and slowly, the mind will become empty of thoughts. But, if you are falling asleep, come back to the attention. Battling sleep at this deep state of relaxation is difficulty but by regularly practicing, you will overcome.

By practicing every day, you will become more alert and aware.

9. As you become regular in your practice and develop inner strength, in due time, you will also overcome most of the discomforts associated with your physical body. The only key here is to keep sitting and keep watching.

No special instruction is required. You will find your teacher within yourself. Just be consistent and persistent.

Be A King: Act Like One and You Will Be Treated Like A King

These are my 25 thoughts on being a King.

Some of them are inspired thoughts that came to me as a result of reading:

a. The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene

b. Wild at Heart by John Eldredge

Both of these books are great reading and I highly recommend both (if you have not already read them).

If the following pointers spark your intellect, then do not hesitate in starting a conversation below. I would love to hear your thoughts. Enjoy, hope it helps.

will you be the king?

Be A King

Act as if you already possess what you want. It will surprise others and they’ll think that you have come a long way and “It’s in your destiny.”

 

Never be angry. Anger is a sign of insecurity. Practice calmness and self-assurance.

 

Never be arrogant. Arrogance and being confident are two opposite poles.

 

While you are a self-confident king, remember that you still RESPECT others with dignity.

 

Share people’s goals and values, but never their generality or appearance.

 

Be tolerant and accepting all, no matter what the circumstances may be. You’ll win many hearts.

 

How you carry yourself reflects what you think of yourself. And, this is how people will read you too.

 

It is within your own power to set your own price. Set the highest price.

 

Be overcome by your own self-belief. If you act like a king you are likely to be treated as one.

 

Always act differently from the mass, with a sense of nobility and dignity, no matter what the circumstances may be.

 

Our limitations are actually self-imposed. If you believe you are destined for great things, your charm will radiate outward. Others around will then only notice it and in turn, will amplify and magnify your charm.

 

Your high-expectation and super-confidence is your charm.

 

People feel comfortable in the company of bold and confident people. Be bold. 

 

If you devalue your own self-worth, it might appear amusing at first but then becomes irritating soon to the public. People want to become powerful. If you appear weak you break their hope instead of helping them build their own.

 

If you are big (larger than life), then people expect you to be a bit of showman, to have some unique, creative and confident presence.

 

Come to hold yourself in awe, never losing your self-respect and you’ll have a great destiny. Never show doubt.

 

Always keep a dignified pose (even when attacked publicly or in private), as if completely unaffected. This will elevate your image. Behave as if you have all the time in the world to respond. Being unafraid of time (being extremely patient) makes you extremely powerful.

 

Always make a bold demand. By choosing a great goal in life you create an appearance of greatness.

 

Ask for more and you send a signal that you are worth a king’s ransom. Even those who turn you down respect you for your confidence and that respect will eventually pay off in ways you cannot imagine.

 

Speak less than necessary. Never advice others unless asked. Stop when asked or given hint in simple talking or amusing discussion. Never argue or debate. A king knows who he is and never argues to win others to his side.

 

If you create a mess, don’t try to fix it. If you try to fix it, you’ll only create a bigger mess. There is no mess in this Universe, only purpose and learning. Learn from the Universe. Let the Universe and time take care of your fault. All you carry from an error is a piece of learning and self-improvement. But don’t repeat or create the same mistake again.

 

Respond to all situations (related to people): by love, acceptance, gratitude, friendliness, and non-judgment. Know that, everyone wants to be loved. They all have been intolerated somewhere, judged and not-understood mostly.  If you love them they will open up. Accept them, relate to them and do not judge them.

 

Give people the hope of justice but what actually they desire most is the love. Give them the hope of love and whatever they want if they show patience. Guide them to create something valuable for the reasons they wish must appear. It will not only give them time but it will heal them. Distract them from their problems and you will eventually increase their self-worth and self-confidence.

 

To be a King, you need to rescue a Queen. Just as a queen has some choice and power over her destiny, you too have an innate power to demonstrate. Pursue the queen. Don’t fall for others on the way.

 

A king has a noble battle to fight and an adventure to live. Start loving the journey. A journey full of struggle is far more beautiful than a safe and boring home. Make the journey your school; the encounters your teachers. After you have hit your goals and have rescued the queen, you should settle for a home but only for a little while. Get the queen with you on your next adventure.

 

What belongs to you will eventually come to you, in its own time. There is no hurry. What you want to truly achieve is where you got to put the focus, time, and energy. Once clear about your goals and directions, begin the work! Expect results. But if unrewarded, don’t feel betrayed. The Universe has plans to pay you back.

The End

What do you think? Do you want to add your own thoughts to this list? Until then, stay safe. See you next time.

Alas! Not Blessed Are Those (The 12 Truths Revisited)

Not Blessed Are Those

Alas! Not blessed are the cowards, for they shall miss everything honorable in life.

 

Alas! Not blessed are the gossipers, for they shall never hear anything more than rumors.

 

Alas! Not blessed are the slumbering ones, for they shall miss the purpose of life.

 

Alas! Not blessed are the lovers of money, for they shall have too much stress and anxiety.

 

Alas! Not blessed are the fundamentalists, for they shall never experience true freedom.

 

Alas! Not blessed are the war-makers, for they shall only wound themselves, and deeply.

 

Alas! Not blessed are sexually loose, for they shall never receive the joy of true love.

 

Alas! Not blessed are the liars, for they shall be the biggest fools.

 

Alas! Not blessed are the snobs, for they shall be laughed upon, hated, and scorned.

 

Alas! Not blessed are the greedy ones, for they shall not have any true friend.

 

Alas! Not blessed are those who show-off, for they do not know their own true self.

 

Alas! Not blessed are those who have never suffered, for they don’t possess the will to life.

The 8 Beatitudes

I consider the above 12 truths as the silver rules when contrasted with the eight beatitudes (as preached by Jesus in his Sermon on the Mount.)

Matthew 5:3–10
³Blessed are the poor in spirit,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
⁴Blessed are those who mourn,
    for they will be comforted.
⁵Blessed are the meek,
    for they will inherit the earth.
⁶Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
    for they will be filled.
⁷Blessed are the merciful,
    for they will be shown mercy.
⁸Blessed are pure in heart,
    for they will see God.
⁹Blessed are the peacemakers,
    for they will be called children of God.
¹⁰Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

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8 Lessons From Surviving My 20s

Lesson from surviving my 20s

I just turned 30. Yes, I know. But, inside, I do not feel anything different. This is my first blog post on the “Grand 30” theme.

I’ll be making a few interesting posts on this topic. But first, here are the quick 8 lessons that I would like to share with you (especially those of you who are still in your teens and twenties.)

Stay Alive and Stay on the Course

I have surpassed these peeps and therefore I am doing something “right!” Extreme of anything is not good. A well-balanced, happy life is a good thing. Tupac & B.I.G (died 25), Kurt Cobain (died 27), Jimi Hendrix (died 27), Jim Morrison (died 27), Brandon Lee (died 28), Heath Ledger (died 28), Caesar Caligula (died 28).

Guess what! I am still alive. I am happy! I have survived a lot of things which could have gone wrong. Enough on this sermon. You folks are smart and know what I mean.

Fail Early and Often

The difference between an unemployed 22-year-old with debt, no girlfriend & no work experience and an unemployed 25-year-old, with no girlfriend, in debt and no work experience is basically negligible in the long run (by the time you are 30).

I wasted my year 20-22 in Delhi and Noida, which eventually led me to where I am today. Guess, my failing for two years straight opened the door to a better future.

I sold Amway for 2 years, ran Precog IT consulting company for 2 years, and taught Martial Arts for 2 years. All of this behind me is only a bag of experiences. This led to my journey into Fitness and better business know-how.

I studied and practiced Church Life, lived a Zen life and learned about all the great religions in my 20s and now I have only peace (plus zero opinion) on matters of religion, faith, the afterlife, et al.

This is like cleaning a huge clutter from my soul. Because spirituality is very deep in us, you can’t skip it. One day you have to face it. The earlier you do this, the better you’ll become in understanding other human beings.

Money Or Job is Not Happiness

Money is good, but wanting money kills happiness. Fame is good, but wanting fame kills your joy. Success is good, but wanting to be great can ruin your simplicity.
Anything good is actually good, but you wanting it, trying to “force” it in your life will basically kill your happiness!

Value True Friendship

There are many types of friends in life: one of them is like when you go away for a long time and come back, it feels like nothing changed.
This is the only kind of friends whom you can call friends. They are there, and they will be there. They like you as a whole. Rest all other kinds — do not stress too much about them.
Mostly, you build friendships over shared interests and these are most fun ones. But these are also the flakiest ones.
Whenever I left a particular church or sports or a city, I also lost all the friends whom I thought were my “true-best-friends”. These people will be quick in judgment, often immature, and shallow.
Understand, like everything else, some people come in your life and share your journey for a while and then part. It is just life.
You cannot force a friendship. This is the time, you gotta make some true friends, invest time and energy.
Make mistakes, have fun, break a few rules, watch movies all night, share music, get into fights, do all sort of things, trust me, you won’t be able to do in your 30s.

Learn a skill (Sharpen a Talent)


Your 20s is the time, when you should really, seriously, try to pick up a skill that interests you. It could be mastering jokes, playing a guitar, dance, a foreign language, anything.
Trust me, you will never regret it and you’ll never get another golden second chance.
Education is important, grades are important too, but they are not fun. You want to have a sidekick, a specific unique identifier that differentiates you.
You anyways, have no freaking clue on what you are going to do with your life, so when the time will come to date a girl, or impress a new hiring manager or being fun on a group college trips or just sitting on the airport, train, bus — this uniqueness will fuel your voice and you won’t act like some shy weirdo.
Most of us are insecure. It is human nature. Having a particular talent will pretty much guarantee that you will feel (and others around you will make you feel) that your life has worth and you mean something.
It is important to have a boosted self-esteem. Later, in life, if you survive the 20s, still alive, you won’t give much damn about these. But it is important when you are single, lonely, poor and still finding your “Self”.

Learn how to say “F***” It

Disclaimer: Okay, this might seem offensive or ridiculous to some. My apologies in advance. But, f*** you! Back to the point: Understand, that the world in general does not cares about you.
The world is a very big place with too many people in it. Everyone is trying to make something out of their time here. You cannot take their rudeness (or indifference) towards you seriously. Nor you should be afraid of unsettling a few apple carts.
Remember that you have a middle finger. The more you will use it (not in a real sense showing it to real people, but mentally), the calmer you’ll feel, the less stress or hurt you’ll bag.
Show it to things and people you do not want in your life. There are literally, asshats out there and many of them will look good and talk good. But they do not possess your best interest. Nor do they give a rat-ass about your existence.
So, f*** all, that causes you harm and insults your soul. Dismiss it altogether. You’ll be doing it billions of time and by late 20s, you’ll really know how important “fcuk” is.

You’ll Face Disappointments

You’re supposed to FAIL and NOT accomplish all of your goals. Okay, this was personally hard for me. But, over the time I realized that 20s is meant to fail (for the vast majority of us, humans. Yes, Mark Zuckerberg is actually an alien, jk).
The more you fail during this decade, the more you increase your chances of getting successful in the 30s and 40s. You are bound to fail in finance, sports, relationships and entrepreneurship, leadership, direction, etc.
During my college years, I started a student organization The Way of Qi (TWOQ) and had a big ambition for it. I left it. I tried my hands in a few business opportunities and unfortunately, I had to leave them all in the middle. Why?
Because I was making mistakes in determining what I really want? Who to take as a business partner? Where to finance my enterprise? There were just too many uncertainties and a very little experience behind me.
I had a fire in me. Having the fire in your chest in what keeps your 20s young. Let that fire burn as many things as it can. Don’t stop due to pre-judging an opportunity.
Guess what, maybe, you are one of the aliens (Zuckerberg Brotherhood) and you can become a millionaire by age 30. But, in short: fail, fail, fail. Take pride in “failing forward.”
And of course, we all know, when you fail 10 times, you also have a few decent WINs in your lap!

Set Ambitious Goals (but Accept What You Achieve)

I had set a lot of goals for myself before I reach 30. The most outrageous of them was having 1 million USD in investment & liquidity and finishing my MBA from Harvard University.
Well, I am far from both and to be honest there are at least half a dozen more which were very personal and I could not achieve them (as of today). The lesson here is by setting these outrageous goals, I got a LOT done in the process.
Instead of crossing them off at 30, now I might do them later at 31, 35, 40, 90… it doesn’t matter anymore.
When we are young, often times, we want to do things because we want to show it to others. Look, I have “it” in me. I can do it. I am somebody. But as we mature in life, we learn that the true goals of life are very personal and intimately tied to our soul’s purpose on this earth.

Turning 30

Anyways, so what am I doing next?
1. I wanted to visit all 50 US states by age 30. I have done 30 already (as of today). My new target is by the end of 2019, visit all 50 US states. (well, finishing at age 35 is not bad)
 
2. I wanted to visit all 29 states of India by 30. I did 15. Now, the new target is by end of 2020, visit all 29 Indian states. (Finishing it while I am still my 30s is not bad)
 
3. And, I added a new one. One even more outrageous and BIGGER. Visit and tour 101 countries of the world in the next 5 years. Then make a book on it featuring one story from each country and a few of the most epic photos from each country.
 
My budget for this one: < $40,000 USD. Expensive?
Not really. A lot of decent commuting cars are more expensive than it. Will I be able to do it in 10 years? I don’t know. But I am going to try! And hard!
Update from May 2019: We have made some progress. Check out my travel goals and journey so far on www.artoftravel.tips and if you are into travel and adventure, check out www.artoftravel.store.
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Your turn. How would you celebrate someone’s 30th birthday? If you have suggestions, feedback, and thoughts, please feel free to leave a comment and I will try to honor your requests.