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Canadian authors

Change and Betrayal

A final word from my short trip to New York. I mentioned that I had the honour of seeing Jhumpa Lahiri speak at the NYPL on west 42nd street near time square. The host and speaker was a man named Paul Holdengraber and he said something that has stuck with me since that evening.

“Every change necessitates a betrayal.”

He was quoting someone else and referring it to the conversation with Jhumpa, but to me those words were everything.

Thinking about the word betrayal; how deep it is, how significant it is within that phrase. Not sacrifice, but betrayal, meaning you mustn’t just remove something from your life as sacrifice suggests, but you must directly oppose that something if you hope to achieve change, or drastic change as I see it. 

In the context of the conversation with Jhumpa, the speaker was referring to her leaving New York for Italy and learning the language so intimately that she has recently written her latest book in full Italian.

In her initial move from the city, Jhumpa left her entire library of of English books behind. All of them. She didn’t take any. For me that showed that she not only had to sacrifice “something” to learn the language, but she had to completely abandon and betray the English language in order to attain the level of fluidity with Italian she set out to achieve.

How many of us can honestly say we are willing to be that bold?

How many of us are willing to go against our common way of thinking, of behaving, of seeing things, so we can transform our lives? And believe me when I say transform is the precise word. The sharper the betrayal, the greater the transformation.

Let that sink in for a while. Let that concept really take its course. So many of us want to do great things, want to be seen as great influencers, but are we willing to betray…

I had to take a hard look at myself, as well. I post so much about my passion for writing, for being a novelist. And though I feel like I can certainly answer affirmatively to the former question, in my own mind I’m left to wonder what exactly that betrayal will look like.

#HistoryOrNothing

Read my debut novella "THOUGHTS OF A FRACTURED SOUL," here.

Take a Break

  I had one of my readers unsubscribe from my mailing list the other day. This was someone who found me over social media and became a heavy supporter of all of my writing. So I reached out to ask them why they decided to leave.

“I just need a break,” was the answer.

It was that simple. Just needed a break. They went on to say that they still very much supported me, and would catch back up with me in due time. But they really just needed a break from social media, emails, and other things happening in the digital world so many of us call home.

And I had no hard feelings. As much as I love most of the engagement on social media and online overall, I get it. It’s a lot. And it’s non-stop. Literally non-stop. Between the emails, notifications, and endless stream of content from whatever platforms you prefer, it seems like an infinite wave of information.

So just take a break. Regardless of if you do it during the holidays or not, take a break. Stop looking at life through a screen for a little while and see what happens.

And I’m not saying go away on vacation or anything that extreme. Limit the smartphone to phone calls and text messages. Limit the laptop to only what has to get done. With the way we consume pretty much everything right now, it could make a real difference in how you function day to day.

Being a writer, I know I need to take breaks. I write about real life stuff, and so if I’m not aware, not observing, not being present, my writing suffers. And while the irony of this post isn't lost on me, I really do hope everyone reading this finds some time to step away for a little bit. 

#HistoryOrNothing

Read my novella "Thoughts of a Fractured Soul," 

Pain Doesn't Change Anything

15 is when I first lost someone close to me, stabbed 7 times in his own apartment building. I got a phone call from my cousin at 5:00 in the morning, and when he broke the news it was like I couldn’t breath. I remember thinking that the pain from having our friend taken from us would change everything. That everyone close to him would change their ways, that they would realize that nothing positive comes from their lifestyle, only death. But after a few blunts and even more rounds of dark rum, everything went back to how it was before; everyone went back to how they were before. Nothing changed.

That lesson always stuck with me, though I’m not sure how well I’ve practiced what I learned so many years back. Fast forward to a few weeks ago and I’m laying in a hospital bed, two bags of morphine being pumped through my veins. Another bout with migraines, a condition I’ve suffered with since I was 16. It happens only once a year, but lasts for about a month each time, and every time I go see my doctor he tells me that something needs to change.

This go round was the worst, like the absolute worst, and when I could finally open my eyes, the doctor looked at me and said, “Kern, you need to rest your brain, you need to feed your brain, you need to hydrate your brain. Something needs to change.”

16 years of going through this year after year, and it took being hospitalized for a day for me to finally accept that sleeping four hours a night and working and partying the rest of the time isn’t going to work. I needed to change.

What I’m getting at is that pain doesn’t actually change anything. Only extreme pain does. 15 years of yearly migraine pain didn’t force me to change my lifestyle, one time laying on that bed not able to move is what’s finally getting me to sleep 6 hours a night (getting closer to Thriving, Arianna). Having a friend murdered not change anyone around him, is the same mindset that keeps people in marriages for years and years even though their partner treats them like shit. Being treated like shit just isn’t enough pain to make the change from marriage to starting a new life on their own.

It’s like being an addict. Change only happens when you reach bottom, when you’re at your absolute lowest and literally can’t deal with the pain anymore. Similarly, I think success is achieved in the same way. You don’t truly begin the sustained road to success till you feel that burning pain, that hospital bed, hate my life, hate my wife/husband, need something to be different or I’m going to die kind of pain. Once you experience that level of pain in your current life, then and only then does the urgency to change become real.

I’m happy to say that I’ve reached that pain point. That hunger for ultimate success was always there, but I had to figure out how to balance it out so it doesn’t kill me before I’m able to fully realize and enjoy it. It took a few years and some drugs through the bloodstream, but hopefully you all can learn from me when I say it shouldn’t take nearly that much.    

#PassionAndPaper

Purchase your copy of Thoughts of a Fractured Soul here.

Acceptance vs Ambition - Where Do We Draw The Line

Talk about thrilling. I was sitting in my seat waiting for the hit play “Secrets of a Black Boy” to start and I could literally feel the energy and the buzz of anticipation all around me. People were genuinely excited about this show, and after seeing it myself for the first time, I shared their excitement. secretsI was invited out by the writer of the play, Darren Anthony, whom I had just met a couple weeks earlier. We had a chance to chat when we first met, and he was excited about his show’s upcoming road-trip to DC and Baltimore after first debuting just over five years ago here in Toronto. We also spoke about commitment and perseverance, an d the courage to take that final leap of faith and do whatever it takes to follow what you know is your calling.

He was admittedly a bit nervous about making that jump, and we got into a discussion about where to draw the line between accepting where you are in life, accepting what you’ve accomplished and where you’ve come, and balancing that with the ambition you feel to do more? How do you stop when you know in your heart there’s so much more to for you to do, so many more lives to touch and people to inspire?

We spoke about how our loved ones play a role in those decisions, how maybe having a child or long term relationship changes the outlook of what we thought would be our future. And that may be true, and many people can substitute “child” or “relationship” with any other external influence - family, work, time - and have that be their scapegoat of choice.

But anyone who’s been reading my blog for the past year, anyone who knows me personally and understands what I stand for knows scapegoats don’t exist in my world. Teenage parent, so what. I still graduated from university. High school dropout, no problem. Now I’m a successful writer and first time author with readers and fans all over the world.

I create my own reality, I dictate what’s possible, I dictate my present and my future. A few years ago I pictured my life as it is right now, and right now I’m busy creating more mental molds of what my life will be during the next five years. I don’t know how wrong or how right this is, but there is no line for me. My balance is weighted completely on the side of ambition, squarely one sided on the scale of not accepting anything less than what I know I am meant to do, on what I am doing right now. chess-316658_640

I’m not a dreamer because I live this reality everyday. I am not delusional because I set goals and continue to shatter them. I play without a lifeline, without any boundaries to how far I can go. My life is my life.

I was invited as a special guest speaker at my old high school’s graduation. Seeing the excitement of all those young people ready to take on the world, still believing anything is possible, those few hours were inspirational for me and reminded me of how naivete can sometimes be a powerful perspective. All of those students still operate from the belief that nothing is impossible, that they can be or do anything. And really, who’s to tell them any different?

The fact that the influences of the world have not fractured their ambitions is what makes them special, what sparks evolution and leads to revolutions. And we should encourage this behaviour, so long as it is backed by a comparable work ethic and determination to follow through on these passions.

Secrets of a Black Boy received a standing ovation. I saw tears in Darren Anthony’s eyes as he hugged his sister Trey Anthony, an accomplished writer and producer, herself, with The Kink in My Hair as her launching pad. Our chance meeting suddenly ran through my mind, and somehow I feel his decision was already made.

#PassionAndPaper

Get your copy "Thoughts of a Fractured Soul" here.

 

Visualize, Execute, and Learn to Let Go - Lessons for Life

When I took a seasonal position at Chapters-Indigo a couple years ago, I did so with a purpose. Yeah it was nice to have some extra cash in my pocket, but my goal was to get one step closer to realizing my vision of one day having "Thoughts of a Fractured Soul" on the shelves of Canada's biggest bookstore. My book wasn't even published yet, but I knew I had to take steps to assure its success and make good on what I had been visualizing for years before that, and if that meant taking the opportunity to literally immerse myself in the very venue I hoped my book would one day occupy, then it's an opportunity I couldn't pass up, despite my aversion to 9-5 work.  Over a year now after releasing my first novella, I was not surprised when just last week Chapters sent me an email saying they will purchase 10 copies of my book for one of its stores. In other words, I will be on the shelves, a fulfillment of my visualization.

I say I wasn't surprised not to be arrogant, I only mean that I had a goal I believed in whole heartily, took all the steps I felt necessary to achieve that goal, then let it go. I think the final step is worth some detail. Being able to visualize is crucial, if you can't see where you want to be you'll never get there. Executing is just as important because without action there can be no results. But what has helped me not only to be more productive, but to also see through some of my goals is actually moving on from them; letting them go.

Before getting into this practice, I would obsess over things, check back in over and over again, make revisions that were ultimately unnecessary, think of new strategies even after I had executed the original strategy top to bottom. It lead to me being overly stressed out, affected my progress on other projects I should have been working on, and when I reflect back on these instances, I don't ever remember it working out to my benefit, not moreso than if I had just let everything work itself out on its own.

Now don't mistake what I'm saying, it's perfectly OK and actually necessary that you be thorough. What I'm saying is you have to reach a point where you know within yourself that you've done everything you can to make that particular goal work, and once that point is recognized you need to move on to other matters.

Learning to let go has been the final step to my success, the one small change in my psychology that has had a significant impact on my well being and on the my results. Give it a try and see what happens.

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