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Not Built for the Crowd - Looking Forward to What's Next

The song I connect with most now is from a teenage girl named Alessia Cara called “Here.” I watched her on an interview and she said the content of the song stems from a real life situation of being at a party and just wondering why she was there. I kind of feel the same way. For better or worse, I’ve been fortunate in my life to have endured many experiences at a young age - smoked my first joint at 12, went to my first club at 13, lost my virginity at 14, travelled to France at 16, had a child by 19. At 19 I also earned a full athletic scholarship to a division one university (Go Bonnies), which lead me on the path to becoming the writer I am today.

Boredom is Real

But now I find myself stuck in my own mind thinking to no one but myself how utterly bored I am with everything. I avoid any invitations from my friends to go anywhere (I'm infamous for saying maybe) unless it’s a new experience or unless I’m 100% sure I’ll enjoy it. I’ve been to the club twice in the last two years, and most places I go now usually has me venturing on my own in fear that any companionship would ruin the experience.

Influence Excites Me

I realized while I was standing in the bleachers at the annual OVO basketball finals, an event put on by Drake leading up to his now classic summer music festival, that I’m really not built to be in the crowd. I’m not built to spectate, to watch and cheer as others put on a show

Que my ego...

What excites me now, and really always has, is being part of the show. Bringing people together, stirring anticipation, being responsible for whispers and wild rumors that only get more outrageous with each broken text.

Through my writing I’ve been able to achieve some of the influence I crave. I’ve impacted lives, caused people to reflect, moved people to action in ways that I could never have guessed when I set out on this journey. I’m grateful for it all, but always find myself asking “what’s next.”

What is next?

And I don’t say this to suggest I’ve accomplished all that I want. Not even close. I just mean in those moments of adulation, disappointment, achievements, honours and awards; what is the next step and what will that feel like? Some days I feel like I’m already living what I want, other days I feel like a castaway relegated to my own island forced to create a world only I can see.

Call it my Millennial spirit, but in either case, I want more. More, more, more.

Oprah and Deepak say gratitude is one of the keys to ultimate success. But how do you balance being appreciative for what you have with this burning desire for what you want?

#PassionAndPaper

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Why Is Simple So Appealing?

Sometimes I get these feelings telling me that all I truly want is a simple life. I was walking down the Lakeshore today in Toronto, barely anyone else was out there except for who I assumed was a grandmother and grandfather on either side side of their young granddaughter, holding her hands strolling to a bench near the water. The breeze coming from the lake forced my hands inside my pockets and my hood over my head, but really it was the peacefulness of the scene that made me shiver. What is it about simplicity that's so appealing? I sat on raised stones close enough to feel speckles of water hit my face and thought about how much I had simplified my own life just over the past few months. I was one of those take on ten projects at a time just because I can type of people, always trying to prove something to someone, or some group, or some girl, never thinking how much I put my own purpose to the side.

But then I stopped.

I stopped caring about other people's projects, stopped caring about other people's problems, and took the completely selfish but gratifying step of putting my own priorities first. I didn't focus on anything outside of my own personal goals, which I realized were really quite simple and based on what I was great at or what I felt some emotional connection to.

20150520_141131This wasn't exactly easy because it meant letting go of things in which I had invested a lot of time, stepping away from people I cared about, and changing paths a little bit which is always at least a little bit scary. But ask me now if it's worth it and I have to say YES without hesitation. The success I've had just over the last few months proves it. The calm I've felt during that same time period is more proof. And I'm still working harder than ever, but the Millennial in me keeps giving subtle reminders that this is my life, I only live it once, and I should live it the way I choose.

So I am, and I'm loving every moment of it, thankful for all of my accomplishments and the ones yet to come, and not apologizing for having left behind a world of complication for a life of simplicity.

Till next time...

Hostage

I was dishonest, I admit it. I lied about something that I shouldn't have and completely disrupted my relationship to the point where I have to accept that it will probably never be the same. It was straight chaos for weeks and what I think really exacerbated the dispute was that my girlfriend never thought I could ever do anything wrong. She thought I was perfect and would make a point to tell me that almost everyday.

But that's just it, I'm not perfect. I never was. I make mistakes, a lot of mistakes. I sometimes say the wrong things at the worst times. Sometimes I forget to do things or I'm late for a date. And guess what, sometimes I even lie.

flower-370101_640I'm not proud of what I've done and I don't want this post in any way to justify me lying. My only goal is to say that we all have many sides to us. Both males and females can be equally caring and unemotional, headstrong and docile, angry and forgiving. We just need the maturity to decide when to best act on those emotions. No one person should be held hostage to being that one person all the time. We are multidimensional, emotional beings and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that.

I still have a lot of growing to do myself. I'm slowly coming into the person I want to be but truthfully I'm not sure I'll ever get there. I may always be a work in progress, trying to balance each side of my personality while trying to consider those around me who matter most. Hopefully they're patient enough to stick with all of the "me's" long enough for me to figure things out. Guess I'll have to wait and see....

Chit Chat Turned Powerful

morning-393623_640How often can you say you've truly been moved by the words of another person. I mean truly moved to action, to change, to commit, to be a better person. I recently had one of those moments with a friend of mine through a relatively brief conversation. After some small talk in which I joked about being jealous of her living in warm weather Vancouver while we Torontonians wait in fear for another brutal Winter fighting through ice storms, we got into a deeper discussion about something that I struggle with mightily, and that's acceptance.

Acceptance really is a big deal for me because I really don't know how to get there. Something about the concept seems conciliatory, like I'm settling for something when I know there's so much more for me to do.

"But Kern, I'm not telling you to give up on any of your aspirations, all I'm saying is accept who you are now and appreciate all that you have accomplished thus far. And not just in your writing career, but look at the person you've become, look at the daughter you've helped raise, look at the life you've carved for yourself despite being a teenage parent and a high school dropout. Once you accept all of those victories, you'll elevate your mind to a different level of understanding that will guide you to the future success that you crave so badly."

Finding My Way

Acceptance...the word suddenly didn't parallel mediocrity or failure, or settling for less than what I hope to achieve. Suddenly acceptance became liberating and freed me from the uncompromising burden of not being happy until I reach some intended point of "success" that would supposedly allow my happiness to kick in. That is no longer the case. Instead, I would accept and celebrate all of my victories and be happy throughout the entire journey.boy-185195_640

I am fortunate in that I am able to wake up every day and do what I love to do. I am able to use my voice through my way with words to share thoughts, stories, points of views and life lessons with people who are connected through similar perspectives. I am not an angry person nor am I ungrateful. But it took that conversation for me to accept that it's OK to be happy without feeling guilty; OK to feel proud of my achievements so far even though I'm nowhere near where I aim to be. That conversation brought a feeling of calm over me I haven't felt since writing the first page of my novel so many years ago.

But I am thankful for those few moments. Sometimes that's all it takes to change your life. And I'm not saying that I am a completely different person today since having that conversation, but I am better than I was yesterday and I will be better tomorrow. And when tomorrow comes I will welcome it not with the fear that days are passing too fast for me to grab hold, instead I will accept that it is another chance for me to do fulfill my calling and inspire others with my words. What more can I really ask for....

Ultraviolence

Sometimes I wonder how this even makes sense. If you know me personally, you know that I am half obsessed half addicted to Lana Del Rey's music. The connection was instant and grows deeper as her catalogue of music expands. It's difficult to explain, but listening to her music engages me in the same way as reading John Milton's Paradise Lost. I relate to her perspectives just as strongly as I do with Kendrick Lamar's Good Kid Mad City. And although I listen to Lana Del Rey mostly when I'm alone (I played one of her songs to my cousin once who asked if this was opera), the emotional connection I feel to her music is powerful.

But why should this be surprising? If there is one thing social media has taught us is that we share commonalities that extend beyond borders or oceans, race or culture, gender or sexual orientation. It shows that as unique as we all are, we are more similar in ways that cause someone like me to relate completely to songs like "Sad Girl," or "Money, Power, Glory."

This is the power of art, the power of expression. The fact that the writing of a 17th Century poet moves me in the same way as a 21st century singer speaks to that power.

And we all want it. Any artist, writer, rapper, rocker, dancer who puts their expression on display does so in hopes of transcending any obstacles, including time, and touch their audience in ways that impacts them deeply on some level.

For me, I hope to accomplish this through the written word. To use my gift of writing to touch people who I otherwise would never be able to reach. It's a tall task but one that motivates me every time my fingers touch the keyboard.

My goal in a nutshell is to inspire and to impress.

So I ask, how do express yourself? What are your goals when putting your expression on display? Is it completely self-serving or do you hope to be understood?

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"Thoughts of a Fractured Soul" available in print and e-book format at www.kerncarter.com

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Let's Not Capture This Moment

It was the perfect moment. Twelve writers sitting around a make shift round table, caps off the bottles of rum and white wine that half filled most of our glasses as the evening got underway. The sun had already disappeared with dim bulbs and a few sparsely placed candles providing more than enough light for us to read. And then it started. One by one each writer read pieces they had created; some that day, others the week prior, others still years before. Collectively we listened, applauded, criticized, and praised each work and how they were delivered. We launched in to discussions about meaning, symbolism, alliteration, all things only a group committed to the art could understand and appreciate. Everyone spoke and everyone listened. And when the moment ended three hours later it left a connection silently acknowledged by all. A connections shared through our common passion for the art of expression.

The entire night was inspiring, and through it all not one single picture.

I couldn't believe it myself. No one tried to gather everyone in a corner to create the perfect Instagram post. No one took pictures of the bottles of alcohol spread out around the tables. We were all deeply infused in the moment, engaged by our own words, our own thoughts, without even the slightest preoccupation of capturing the moment.

But the moment is still vivid in my memory. I can still feel the emotions of that evening without having to visit my twitter stream. We lived it. Every second of it. And it still means just as much

There is something liberating about the ephemeral. Knowing no matter how amazing or how crippling a moment, that "this too shall end." You are free to be free. To embrace that moment and then let it go. No picture can ever capture that. *******************************************************************

Read "Thoughts of a Fractured Soul," a tragedy of family, failed potential, and the Millennial struggle with ambition, expectation and the fight for independence.

Available in print and e-book format at www.kerncarter.com.

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