A personal brand is determined by what you have created, whom you have connected, and how you have made those people feel.
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A personal brand is determined by what you have created, whom you have connected, and how you have made those people feel.

-Ryan Lilly

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I do not write every day. I write to the questions and issues before me. I write to deadlines. I write out of my passions. And I write to make peace with my own contradictory nature. For me, writing is a spiritual practice. A small bowl of water sits on my desk, a reminder that even if nothing is happening on the page, something is happening in the room--evaporation. And I always light a candle when I begin to write, a reminder that I have now entered another realm, call it the realm of the Spirit. I am mindful that when one writes, one leaves this world and enters another. My books are collages made from journals, research, and personal experience. I love the images rendered in journal entries, the immediacy that is captured on the page, the handwritten notes. I love the depth of ideas and perspective that research brings to a story, be it biological or anthropological studies or the insights brought to the page by the scholarly work of art historians.When I go into a library, I feel like I am a sleuth looking to solve a mystery. I am completely inspired by the pursuit of knowledge through various references. I read newpapers voraciously. I love what newspapers say about contemporary culture. And then you go back to your own perceptions, your own words, and weigh them against all you have brought together. I am interested in the kaleidoscope of ideas, how you bring many strands of thought into a book and weave them together as one piece of coherent fabric, while at the same time trying to create beautiful language in the service of the story. This is the blood work of the writer.Writing is also about a life engaged. And so, for me, community work, working in the schools or with grassroots conservation organizations is another critical component of my life as a writer. I cannot separate the writing life from a spiritual life, from a life as a teacher or activist or my life intertwined with family and the responsibilities we carry within our own homes. Writing is daring to feel what nurtures and breaks our hearts. Bearing witness is its own form of advocacy. It is a dance with pain and beauty.

-Terry Tempest

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I have no idea how long Quisser was gone from the table. My attention became fully absorbed by the other faces in the club and the deep anxiety they betrayed to me, an anxiety that was not of the natural, existential sort but one that was caused by peculiar concerns of an uncanny nature. What a season is upon us, these faces seemed to say. And no doubt their voices would have spoken directly of certain peculiar concerns had they not been intimidated into weird equivocations and double entendres by the fear of falling victim to the same kind of unnatural affliction that had made so much trouble in the mind of the art critic Stuart Quisser. Who would be next? What could a person say these days, or even think, without feeling the dread of repercussion from powerfully connected groups and individuals? I could almost hear their voices asking, "Why here, why now?" But of course they could have just as easily been asking, "Why not here, why not now?" It would not occur to this crowd that there were no special rules involved; it would not occur to them, even though they were a crowd of imaginative artists, that the whole thing was simply a matter of random, purposeless terror that converged upon a particular place at a particular time for no particular reason. On the other hand, it would also not have occurred to them that they might have wished it all upon themselves, that they might have had a hand in bringing certain powerful forces and connections into our district simply by wishing them to come. They might have wished and wished for an unnatural evil to fall upon them but, for a while at least, nothing happened. Then the wishing stopped, the old wishes were forgotten yet at the same time gathered in strength, distilling themselves into a potent formula (who can say!), until one day the terrible season began. Because had they really told the truth, this artistic crowd might also have expressed what a sense of meaning (although of a negative sort), not to mention the vigorous thrill (although of an excruciating type), this season of unnatural evil had brought to their lives.("Gas Station Carnivals")

-Thomas Ligotti

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We are dealing, then, with an absurdity that is not a quirk or an accident, but is fundamental to our character as people. The split between what we think and what we do is profound. It is not just possible, it is altogether to be expected, that our society would produce conservationists who invest in strip-mining companies, just as it must inevitably produce asthmatic executives whose industries pollute the air and vice-presidents of pesticide corporations whose children are dying of cancer. And these people will tell you that this is the way the "real world" works. The will pride themselves on their sacrifices for "our standard of living." They will call themselves "practical men" and "hardheaded realists." And they will have their justifications in abundance from intellectuals, college professors, clergymen, politicians. The viciousness of a mentality that can look complacently upon disease as "part of the cost" would be obvious to any child. But this is the "realism" of millions of modern adults.There is no use pretending that the contradiction between what we think or say and what we do is a limited phenomenon. There is no group of the extra-intelligent or extra-concerned or extra-virtuous that is exempt. I cannot think of any American whom I know or have heard of, who is not contributing in some way to destruction. The reason is simple: to live undestructively in an economy that is overwhelmingly destructive would require of any one of us, or of any small group of us, a great deal more work than we have yet been able to do. How could we divorce ourselves completely and yet responsibly from the technologies and powers that are destroying our planet? The answer is not yet thinkable, and it will not be thinkable for some time -- even though there are now groups and families and persons everywhere in the country who have begun the labor of thinking it.And so we are by no means divided, or readily divisible, into environmental saints and sinners. But there are legitimate distinctions that need to be made. These are distinctions of degree and of consciousness. Some people are less destructive than others, and some are more conscious of their destructiveness than others. For some, their involvement in pollution, soil depletion, strip-mining, deforestation, industrial and commercial waste is simply a "practical" compromise, a necessary "reality," the price of modern comfort and convenience. For others, this list of involvements is an agenda for thought and work that will produce remedies.People who thus set their lives against destruction have necessarily confronted in themselves the absurdity that they have recognized in their society. They have first observed the tendency of modern organizations to perform in opposition to their stated purposes. They have seen governments that exploit and oppress the people they are sworn to serve and protect, medical procedures that produce ill health, schools that preserve ignorance, methods of transportation that, as Ivan Illich says, have 'created more distances than they... bridge.' And they have seen that these public absurdities are, and can be, no more than the aggregate result of private absurdities; the corruption of community has its source in the corruption of character. This realization has become the typical moral crisis of our time. Once our personal connection to what is wrong becomes clear, then we have to choose: we can go on as before, recognizing our dishonesty and living with it the best we can, or we can begin the effort to change the way we think and live.

-Wendell Berry

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Forgiveness Grows From UnderstandingIf you find forgiving difficult, bear in mind that it does not mean giving in, but letting go. Whether or not you think someone deserves your forgiveness, you most certainly are worthy of forgiving them, because that is the only way of dissolving the karmic chains and shackles we created for ourselves and each other, in the course of many lifetimes, and of setting each other free. Holding on to anger is a way of trying to compensate for the powerlessness we feel when someone hurts us. It is important to find a way of letting go of anger, by talking with the person who hurt us, without attacking or blaming them, but by describing the effect their behaviour had on us and the world of our feelings. Listening to another’s point of view helps us to see things from a different perspective. It makes us more tolerant and shows us the way to true and lasting forgiveness that comes from our heart, instead of our head. If, for any reason, it is impossible to communicate with the people who have hurt us, writing down what happened the way we experienced it can be a good release. Talking the matter over with a friend or a counsellor is another way of letting go. In my view, forgiving does not necessarily mean forgetting. It is not easy to forget hurts, but even partial forgiveness is beneficial because re-living past painful incidents in our minds time and again is bad for our health, as this increases our susceptibility to illness. Forgiving is good for all parts of our being, mind, body, spirit and soul. If it is more than we can manage on our own, God and the Angels are waiting to be called upon for their assistance. After all, to err is human and to forgive is Divine. And forgiveness brings inner peace. Meditation, quiet reflections and prayers are the best ways of finding both. It’s never too late to send forgiveness to anyone, especially not those who returned to the world of light ahead of us. They are neither dead nor asleep but probably more alive than we are, because they are once more fully aware of their true nature and have been shown by the ministering Angels the karmic debts they left behind. Our loving and forgiving thoughts reach them through the ethers without hindrance. If you have unresolved issues with someone or maybe several people on the other side of the veil of consciousness and long to make peace with them, go right ahead. God and the Angels are delighted whenever one of us requests their help. Ask them to show you how to resolve the issues and through this dissolve the karmic chains that still exist between you. Forgiveness is the most important ingredient in our quest for more harmonious relationships. It grows from and is a natural consequence of a growing understanding of the true purpose of our present existence and human relationships in particular. Though this can be an extremely arduous task, being merciful is essential for becoming whole – meaning healed – through the integration of all the qualities that are our Divine inheritance. This is our opportunity for learning how to take possession of each one of them and the most important one of them is learning how to love God’s way and acquiring the ability of a love that understands all, forgives all and heals all. This kind of love isn’t blind, but because it understands it forgives. Loving this way opens our heart’s and soul’s willingness for doing so. Understanding opens our inner vision to the necessity for forgiving and we perceive with great clarity that without it, we shall remain stuck in the past and cannot move on. The trouble with life is, as the Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard put it: ‘Life must be understood backwards, but has to be lived forwards.’ How very true! The best thing about this life is that we are all allowed to make mistakes – nay, maybe we are even. Rays of Wisdom - Astrology As A Lifehelp In Relationships

-Rays Of

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Now, my dear little girl, you have come to an age when the inward life develops and when some people (and on the whole those who have most of a destiny) find that all is not a bed of roses. Among other things there will be waves of terrible sadness, which last sometimes for days; irritation, insensibility, etc., etc., which taken together form a melancholy. Now, painful as it is, this is sent to us for an enlightenment. It always passes off, and we learn about life from it, and we ought to learn a great many good things if we react on it right. (For instance, you learn how good a thing your home is, and your country, and your brothers, and you may learn to be more considerate of other people, who, you now learn, may have their inner weaknesses and sufferings, too.) Many persons take a kind of sickly delight in hugging it; and some sentimental ones may even be proud of it, as showing a fine sorrowful kind of sensibility. Such persons make a regular habit of the luxury of woe. That is the worst possible reaction on it. It is usually a sort of disease, when we get it strong, arising from the organism having generated some poison in the blood; and we mustn't submit to it an hour longer than we can help, but jump at every chance to attend to anything cheerful or comic or take part in anything active that will divert us from our mean, pining inward state of feeling. When it passes off, as I said, we know more than we did before. And we must try to make it last as short as time as possible. The worst of it often is that, while we are in it, we don't want to get out of it. We hate it, and yet we prefer staying in it—that is a part of the disease. If we find ourselves like that, we must make something ourselves to some hard work, make ourselves sweat, etc.; and that is the good way of reacting that makes of us a valuable character. The disease makes you think of yourself all the time; and the way out of it is to keep as busy as we can thinking of things and of other people—no matter what's the matter with our self.

-William James

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From 'Creating True Peace' by Thich Nhat HanhTo better understand the practise of protection, please study the Five Mindfulness Trainings in Chapter 3, particularly the third, sexual responsibility. By practising the Third Mindfulness Training, we protect ourselves, our family, and society. In addition, by observing all the trainings we learn to eat in moderation, to work mindfully, and to organise our daily life so we are there for others. This can bring us great happiness and restore our peace and balance.Expressing Sexual Feelings with Love and CompassionAnimals automatically follow their instincts, but humans are different. We do not need to satisfy our cravings the way animals do. We can decide that we will have sex only with love. In this way we can cultivate the deepest love, harmony, and nonviolence. For humans, to engage only in nonviolent sexuality means to have respect for each other. The sexual act can be a sacred expression of love and responsibility.The Third Mindfulness Training teaches us that the physical expression of love can be beautiful and transcendent. If you have a sexual relationship without love and caring, you create suffering for both yourself and your partner, as well as for your family and our entire society. In a culture of peace and nonviolence, civilised sexual behaviour is an important protection. Such love is not sheer craving for sex, it is true love and understanding.Respecting Our CommitmentsTo engage in a sexual act without understanding or compassion is to act with violence. It is an act against civilization. Many people do not know how to handle their bodies or their feelings. They do not realise that an act of only a few minutes can destroy the life of another person. Sexual exploitation and abuse committed against adults and children is a heavy burden on society. Many families have been broken by sexual misconduct. Children who grow up in such families may suffer their entire lives, but if they get an opportunity to practise, they can transform their suffering. Otherwise, when they grow up, they may follow in the footsteps of their parents and cause more suffering, especially to those they love.We know that the more one engages in sexual misconduct, the more one suffers. We must come together as families to find ways to protect our young people and help them live a civilised life. We need to show our young people that happiness is possible without harmful sexual conduct. Teenage pregnancy is a tragic problem. Teens are not yet mature enough to understand that with love comes responsibility. When a thirteen-or fourteen-year-old boy and girl come together for sexual intercourse, they are just following their natural instincts. When a girl gets pregnant and gives birth at such a young age, her parents also suffer greatly. Public schools throughout the United States have nurseries where babies are cared for while their mothers are in the classroom. The young father and mother do not even know yet how to take care of themselves - how can they take care of another human being? It takes years of maturing to become ready to be a parent.

-Thích Nhất

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I resolved to come right to the point. "Hello," I said as coldly as possible, "we've got to talk.""Yes, Bob," he said quietly, "what's on your mind?" I shut my eyes for a moment, letting the raging frustration well up inside, then stared angrily at the psychiatrist."Look, I've been religious about this recovery business. I go to AA meetings daily and to your sessions twice a week. I know it's good that I've stopped drinking. But every other aspect of my life feels the same as it did before. No, it's worse. I hate my life. I hate myself."Suddenly I felt a slight warmth in my face, blinked my eyes a bit, and then stared at him."Bob, I'm afraid our time's up," Smith said in a matter-of-fact style."Time's up?" I exclaimed. "I just got here.""No." He shook his head, glancing at his clock. "It's been fifty minutes. You don't remember anything?""I remember everything. I was just telling you that these sessions don't seem to be working for me."Smith paused to choose his words very carefully. "Do you know a very angry boy named 'Tommy'?""No," I said in bewilderment, "except for my cousin Tommy whom I haven't seen in twenty years...""No." He stopped me short. "This Tommy's not your cousin. I spent this last fifty minutes talking with another Tommy. He's full of anger. And he's inside of you.""You're kidding?""No, I'm not. Look. I want to take a little time to think over what happened today. And don't worry about this. I'll set up an emergency session with you tomorrow. We'll deal with it then."RobertThis is Robert speaking. Today I'm the only personality who is strongly visible inside and outside. My own term for such an MPD role is dominant personality. Fifteen years ago, I rarely appeared on the outside, though I had considerable influence on the inside; back then, I was what one might call a "recessive personality." My passage from "recessive" to "dominant" is a key part of our story; be patient, you'll learn lots more about me later on. Indeed, since you will meet all eleven personalities who once roamed about, it gets a bit complex in the first half of this book; but don't worry, you don't have to remember them all, and it gets sorted out in the last half of the book. You may be wondering -- if not "Robert," who, then, was the dominant MPD personality back in the 1980s and earlier? His name was "Bob," and his dominance amounted to a long reign, from the early 1960s to the early 1990s. Since "Robert B. Oxnam" was born in 1942, you can see that "Bob" was in command from early to middle adulthood.Although he was the dominant MPD personality for thirty years, Bob did not have a clue that he was afflicted by multiple personality disorder until 1990, the very last year of his dominance. That was the fateful moment when Bob first heard that he had an "angry boy named Tommy" inside of him. How, you might ask, can someone have MPD for half a lifetime without knowing it? And even if he didn't know it, didn't others around him spot it?To outsiders, this is one of the most perplexing aspects of MPD. Multiple personality is an extreme disorder, and yet it can go undetected for decades, by the patient, by family and close friends, even by trained therapists. Part of the explanation is the very nature of the disorder itself: MPD thrives on secrecy because the dissociative individual is repressing a terrible inner secret. The MPD individual becomes so skilled in hiding from himself that he becomes a specialist, often unknowingly, in hiding from others. Part of the explanation is rooted in outside observers: MPD often manifests itself in other behaviors, frequently addiction and emotional outbursts, which are wrongly seen as the "real problem."The fact of the matter is that Bob did not see himself as the dominant personality inside Robert B. Oxnam. Instead, he saw himself as a whole person. In his mind, Bob was merely a nickname for Bob Oxnam, Robert Oxnam, Dr. Robert B. Oxnam, PhD.

-Robert B.

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