Friday, December 30, 2016

A Queen Among Princesses

Princess Leia might not have been the only thing that Carrie Fisher did in her career, but to many of us, it was one of the most important. Still, now that she’s passed, many of us are finding out just how amazing she was in regards to being a writer and various other talents, while still being very human.

This loss hurts because Fisher portrayed one of the most badass female characters ever… and although that sounds trivial, that is as far from the truth as it goes. As a character in the Star Wars universe, no one faced harder choices than Leia, from facing certain death to doing her best to save a planet that was destroyed in front of her eyes. Even so, she never stopped fighting for what was right. She never quit. She never gave excuses. She never broke down. And she was never intimidated.

If there was a problem, she would demand a solution or make her own with a blaster in hand. A lot of people remember Leia in her slave outfit, but for me, I think I shall always remember her best in the white outfit with the donuts, dressed for combat on Endor, and most definitely when she went undercover to save Han. That’s the thing though, she was always fighting the good fight and never laying down. Sure, she may have been made to wear a slave outfit, but lest you forget, she was the one who killed Jabba, with her bare hands and quite ruthlessly might I add. In short, you did not cross Leia without paying the price.

Leia is and shall always be one of the best female heroines because she was strong, determined, smart, and perseverant. The interesting thing to note is that this wasn’t just a character, this was apparently how Fisher lived. She dealt with many demons from bipolar disorder to addiction and she never shied away from speaking the truth.

Was it easy? No. But she did it anyways.

I think that one of the most important lessons to take from this character was that more than being a princess, it was that she led by example, never by just giving orders. It’s been a long year, and we’ve lost another person that was special to a lot of us for what she represented on and off screen. But if we learned anything from Fisher AND Leia, it’s that there’s always hope, there is always something to be done, and the force is strong with all of us.

Peace, love, and may the force be with all of you.

The Human Tag by JD Estrada

We are living peculiar times. Some would say bad times, horrible times, or even frightening times. That may be true, but at the end of the day, for all the bad, there is a lot of good in the world and within each and every one of us. We just need to remind ourselves of that.

People ask how we can go forwards after loss, how we can do what needs to be done when there is such darkness… and the answer is simple enough to say, but difficult to put into practice: to be human in the best possible definition of that word and to let our actions and our character speak much louder than words… especially those shared on social media.

None of us are perfect, and that’s a good thing, because not only is perfection overrated, but it would rob us of the spirit of sharing and community that will see us through the darkest times. Social media is meant to bring us together, to share ideas, dreams, goals, and to collaborate. It is not meant to invite people to get offended by any and everything. It is not meant to spread fake news or to bully or belittle others. That’s what it’s used for, but we can and should be better than that. 

On that note, I wrote down some questions to invite anyone who reads this to answer and share, because I believe that the more we share the positive, the easier it is to go beyond coping and to succeed in being the best of us. At the end I’ll also invite some bloggers I hold in high esteem but won’t tag everyone I know because I want to leave some for others to tag.

So here goes

The Human Tag

1. What does it mean to be human?

To be human is to feel, to experience, to live, and learn, and love, and discover. It also means to accept your flaws but to always work towards being a better version of you. Being human means being kind, being tolerant, being understanding, practicing empathy, and moving past fears to define ourselves as best as we can.

2. How do you go about being a better human?

I do my best to not judge. My faith has taught me to be individual in certain things and social or part of a community in other things. We are dual in nature because although we are immersed in a world, virtual or analog, we live within a context and experience life subjectively. I also try and help people that truly want to be helped while not losing faith on those that resist or think there’s no hope. I know a couple of people who struggle on a daily basis, and as such, I have the option to write them off or keep wishing them well. I’m not one to judge, but I am someone to wish well on as many people as possible and to listen when someone has something to say. That’s a big part of what I do to be a better human though, to listen and not judge. To try and understand and maybe even help that person to understand themselves better or maybe to just accept themselves a bit more.

3. What would you hope for the world in 2017?

Tolerance, kindness, people thinking before they share something on social media, people focusing on sharing positive things, recognizing the negative but focusing on the good. People being in contact with the people that matter. People pursuing dreams. People fighting for what they believe in while always respecting our basic human rights. I hope for our expectations to be proved wrong and for all of us to be pleasantly surprised. If that’s not the case, I would hope for people to be inspired to still be kind and generous. To work towards a healthier world. To see people finding a solution to the real world problems we face. For the world to unite to fix Fukushima, swear off oil, and work in favor of a cleaner world. Some people might say that with things that are happening, that’s impossible, but if we take that attitude, then where do we leave hope? I also hope for a year for people to see the power of positive creativity and to do more of that. I also wish for more dialogue and less arguing.

4. What is the best part of being human?

How creative we can be in finding solutions and ways to be kind. There is no limit to the good we can do if we maintain that as our goal.

5. How does your work reflect who you are as a human?

I am always exploring different aspects of humanity in my work, be it in short stories, essays, blog posts, poetry, or novels. I believe in preserving the environment, in being tolerant, in respecting and promoting equality, in exploring our individual faiths, and in finding who we are and being OK with whatever answer we get to that question.
6. What 5 things do you think would help us become better humans?

People reading more, paying attention to celebrities less, being more tolerant to race/ ethnicity/religion/gender, being less offended, and being kinder to the world and seeing what small changes we can make for a cleaner tomorrow.

7. What creative works make up part of your DNA?

Dune, Harry Potter, The Sandman, Albums by Pearl Jam/Tool/Soundgarden/Blind Melon/Elbow/Nine Inch Nails, Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit, Star Wars, Xenogears, Final Fantasy, Secret of Mana, HP Lovecraft and Edgar Allan Poe, and my books.

8. What life lessons would you like to share with people?

I’ve learned that if you don’t try there’s no chance you can succeed. You have to put yourself out there and give it a go. Fear keeps us from some of the best experiences in life. So does being unwilling to try new things. Try new things. Explore the world through your senses and life will reward you. Also, be positive. Being negative and complaining about everything and only seeing problems will not only rob you of the best experiences in life, but will wear down the people who surround you. Focus on light and apart from what you have to say, focus on how to say it. And finally, the less you judge the happier you are.

9. List 10 good things that happened this year.

  • I published 3 books. I finished another book and two other poetry collections and began work on two collaborations with great people who are not only talented, but great life friends.
  • I went to the Puerto Rico Comic Con and had a stellar show where I even got to interview a successful author in a panel in front of about 100 people.
  • I was able to record 3 songs in a studio for free.
  • I quit a job that although it was a good job didn’t make me happy. I did it without a job in hand and luckily, life provided.
  • I had the support of my wife and family every step of the way.
  • I was able to surf a lot in the first half of the year.
  • I had two additional book events.
  • Two students asked if I could help with school projects and they both did well in their classes.
  • I traveled with my wife twice, once for leisure and the other to visit home for the first time. It was so wonderful to be home and see mom and the family.
  • I got a new job in a new city and took a big chance because in life you have to go for it and so far, I'm very happy with how it's gone and the prospects for the new year.

10. What mantra will you use as your mindset for the New Year?

Enjoy life, pour your soul onto paper, live more, laugh often, and seize the day and the opportunities life gives you.

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I'd like to tag the following writers to go for whenever they are in the mood to get all human. 

Sarah Brentyn: probably my favorite blogger, although I'm also very much looking forwards to reading her first book. 

Cate Evans: a magnificent friend that's offered me so much support for so long. Her blog is something else and definitely noteworthy. She's also one of the coolest humans I know. 

Stephen Cleath: great guy and a fellow geek, Stephen has a heart of gold and enough ideas for stories to write for several lifetimes. 

Larysia Woropay: an amazing writer friend whom has my respect as a fellow writer and for being a top notch human. Plus she tagged me in a recent blog hop so tag you're it.

Azeez Ahmed: great guy and a blogger just cutting his teeth! one of several Canadian peeps whom I'm fond of. 

Amie Irene Winters: Author of the Strange Luck series and owner of the Golden Cricket blog

Eric Syrdal: master wordsmith poet and a stellar guy. 

Christie Stratos:Author of the Dark Victoriana series and a great friend. 

Hope Denney: Wonderful writer and someone whom I'd love to read more of so go for it!

SM Martin: Lovely blogger and the last person to interview me :D

Kimberly Vanderhorst: Dreamer of dreams and a lovely human :D

Friday, December 9, 2016

"El Tango de la Vocación" por JD Estrada

Cuando pasas los 35, eso de ‘joven’ suena familiar hasta que empiezas a sacar cuenta que están haciendo versiones nuevas de muñequitos, películas y canciones con las que te criaste. Aun así, puedo mirar hacia atrás y darme cuenta de varias de mis decisiones y cómo me llevaron a dónde estoy ahora. Desde las notas que saqué, hasta donde empecé a estudiar y los cambios que hice en el camino. Cada trabajo que he tenido y cómo ha contribuido a cada tramo a mi vida y las experiencias que tengo.

Dicho esto, por suerte cuento con una madre que nunca me impuso lo que tenía que estudiar ni en lo que tenía trabajar. Lo único que se ha pedido de mí es que sea feliz y que sea lo que sea que haga, que dé lo máximo. Si me colgué y es lo más que pude dar, pues así es la vida. No se ganan todas. Uno se levanta y trata más fuerte para la próxima. Ahora si podía dar más, pues la única pregunta es: ¿por qué no di más?

Por más de una década llevo trabajando en publicidad, mercadeo, relaciones públicas y comunicaciones. No puedo decir que ha sido una o la otra porque la realidad es que ha sido una combinación de todas estas carreras lo que me ha llevado a quien soy como profesional. Ahora, vale aclarar un detalle: además de esto, soy escritor. Antes de mis carreras soy escritor. Y después de las carreras, también soy escritor.

Lo que quiero decir con este sobre-énfasis es que lo que me define y mi vocación es el utilizar la palabra como modo de ganarme un salario y satisfacer mi alma. No todo el mundo tiene la suerte que su trabajo de a diario ayude a que mejore en lo que le apasiona, pero esa ha sido mi fortuna.

Ser autor independiente puertorriqueño no deja mucho dinero pero es lo que me apasiona. Le pongo todo mi esmero, toda mi pasión y utilizo del dinero que me gano de mi trabajo para suplir a lo que tenga que pagar.

Hay quien dice que estoy gastando tiempo no yéndome de lleno a ser escritor o incluso que el escribir no deja dinero. A esa gente le digo, gracias por el voto de confianza pero yo veo los números de venta. Veo lo difícil que se me hace vender un libro y que TODO logro que tengo es gracias al sudor de mi frente, al esfuerzo que le pongo y a la gente que con su bondad me dan una oportunidad. Estoy activo en la mayoría de las redes sociales, tengo miles de seguidores entre todas mis páginas y ya he publicado 8 libros, pero más nunca puedo sobrevivir a base de lo que me gano de lo que escribo. Por eso trabajo pero por eso invierto mi energía y mi tiempo en sacar el trabajo bien hecho, para darme la seguridad para seguir invirtiendo en mi otro negocio, que es la escritura. ¿Sabes por qué? Porque vale la pena. 

Le podemos llamar a mi técnica como una diversificación de negocios para no poner todos los huevos en una canasta. Además, vale aclarar que disfruto mi trabajo de a diario aunque en fin, sigue siendo trabajo (por eso me pagan). Me han preguntado si no estoy perdiendo tiempo de mi escritura al estar en un trabajo que conlleve tantas horas a la semana. Estas personas a menudo lo ven todo como factores cuantificables como si 20 minutos hoy son lo mismo que 20 minutos mañana. Para mí, todo se trata de energía y ganas y he sabido progresar en mis proyectos a pasos adelantados en dos días más que en una semana y hasta más. Se trata de enfoque y deseo. Al ser plenamente mi pasión y tener que demostrar el compromiso con lo que tanto amo, cuando escribo hago que ese tiempo cuente y utilizo el tiempo que empleo en mi trabajo como inspiración para empujar aún más duro para mis metas.

Esto lleva a un estado de Flow según Mihaly Csikszentmihaly, psicólogo de Hungría que se enfoca en la psicología del optimismo, creatividad y optimización de experiencia. Al tener un trabajo fijo, no tengo las preocupaciones de tener que hacer que mi pasión me consiga el dinero que necesito y a la misma vez puedo tomar más riesgos en lo que escribo. Nadie me edita y puedo ser más honesto con mi visión sin tener que escribir a las expectativas de una publicadora o editores. Estando expuesto a un manjar de información también ayuda, al igual que estar en contacto con personas creativas. Más que nada, también está el factor de rebeldía. Al estar en un trabajo, mi vocación me llama a gritos y exige mi atención y ahí puede ser dónde mejor escribo.

De esa manera en el lleva y trae, creo, escribo, me estimulo, me motivo y cambio de canal para siempre estar sintonizado a lo que más me esté llamando la atención. ¿Pensé que esto es lo que haría con mi vida? La realidad es que no, ni es algo que le doy mucho pensamiento. Cómo me gano el pan podrá cambiar de aquí a mañana, pero lo que me apasiona es constante.

La pasión busca expresión y tan pronto es definida, hará todo lo posible por venir a la realidad. Yo me gano un salario pero vivo mi vida y así será hasta que mi pasión supla las necesidades de mi diario vivir. Mientras tanto, sigo trabajando con orgullo en mi labor y en mi vocación por que en la vida aunque haya muchos pasos, es un solo baile.

* * * *

Este escrito es mi respuesta a El struggle de los jóvenes hoy en día, por Mónica Palacios. En mi nueva serie, De visita con JD, extiendo la invitación a escritores de toda edad que quiera contribuir a esta comunidad. Para seguir la corriente de inspiración, tomaré cada escrito sometido como punta para desarrollar un escrito de parte mía. Si te interesa contribuir a este blog, deje un comentario en esta entrada para ponernos en contacto. 

Un abrazo,