Why Try? (Nothing’s Happening Anyway)

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You have big dreams that came from your big heart and your big visions. Your heart was on fire when you first began, and everything was wonderful and you’re looking forward to finally taking those steps that would lead you closer to your destiny. To your purpose. To your dream.

You felt like you were on the summit of a mountain, enjoying the view of the promised land of your dreams, and everything is so, so awesome and you can’t wait for the rest of your life to begin.

Your heart was full when you first signed up for this. But now it’s just barely beating from all the battering it’s been going through.

It’s tiring sometimes. Exhausting, really, when you’ve been working so hard for the longest time, putting out every ounce of your heart and soul into something you believe in, and yet… nothing’s happening.

Have you ever worked so hard for something, for so long, and get nothing in return? No result. No affirmation. No progress. No victory.

You work so hard, you try so hard, you hustle so hard, but you have nothing to show for it.

It’s easy to just give up then, to just drop the fight. Maybe you’re fighting a wrong battle, you’d begin to think. Maybe you should count this as a loss. Maybe you should throw in the towel. Maybe you should just drop the sword.

Maybe you should just quit.

I mean… why try when nothing’s happening anyway? Why try, when day by the best you can do is to sit by as you watch your dreams die? Where is the light at the end of the tunnel? You wonder. Because it’s been dark and dead and dreary for the longest time and you just want to finally let go. Give up. Give in.

But you can’t. We can’t. We have to go on. We can’t give up, because if we do, then what kind of life will we live?

I don’t ever want to have to look back on my life and be filled with so many regrets. I don’t ever want to feel like I’ve wasted my life just getting by, just because I was too afraid

Here are a few words I’d like to keep in mind when I feel like giving up.

1. Soldier on

So you find yourself in a long, dark tunnel, and you don’t know where it’ll end. Every step loses its purpose, and every breath loses its meaning. You don’t know where you’re going, and you can’t see what you’re doing, and you can’t, for the life of you, see the light.

But hold on, my friend. Keep walking. Keep at it. Because I’ve heard it said that true winners are made and molded in that dark place, where they are forced to take every step towards the light they have yet to see. This dark place is where courage is forged. This is where the heart develops the muscle to endure, and where the soul manufactures the strength to survive.

Victory, they said, belongs to those who refuse to quit, those stubborn men and women who refuse to believe that darkness is all there is.

When nothing’s happening and when you’re going nowhere, keep at it anyway. One step at a time. One after another.

Believe me, every step you take, no matter how small, brings you one step closer to the finish line.

Even if it doesn’t seem like it.

Even if you don’t see it.

That is why we need to have faith.

2. Have faith

Faith is believing in things you’ve yet to see. Faith is knowing that things will work out for your good. Faith, for me, is believing and knowing and trusting that God’s promises will come to pass.

Faith is knowing that there is a God who will not, who does not disappoint.

Faith is knowing that there is still something good that will come out of this darkness.

Faith is knowing and trusting that you will reach the end, that you will find the light, and you will claim that victory.

Hold on. Have faith. And just do what you do.

And when at times it gets so hard, so difficult, so downright trying… remember why you began in the first place.

3. Just love

Wasn’t it because of love that you began that thing?

Wasn’t it because you loved doing it, you loved yourself, and you loved the people who will benefit from it?

Wasn’t that project a surplus of the love that overflowed from your heart and soul?

Wasn’t it because, once, not long ago, your heart beat furiously at the very thought of bringing that dream to life?

It was love that started it. It was love that fueled it. And it is love that will keep those flames burning.

Quietly. Steadily. Constantly.

You work because you love.
You fight because you love.
You hustle because you love.
You try because you love.
You do because you love.

Because you? You are loved.

You are love.

So why try?

You keep trying, you keep working, you keep going, because of love.

One Last Story

It was late. I’ve been working for hours, but I’ve yet to finish the story I was writing. I’ve poured over my notes, and I’ve spent so many hours researching about the material, but for the life of me, I couldn’t even finish one single story.

I was getting frustrated. And angry. And hopeless.

More than 10 years of training and study. A handful of workshops. Generous mentors.

I had everything I needed, everything I could ever want.

But I couldn’t finish my story.

Ayoko na, I said as I threw my pen down, and slammed my laptop shut. Marami namang mas magaling sa akin, bakit ko pa itutuloy ‘to?

I was losing hope. I couldn’t write one single story.

Ayoko na.

I wanted to cry. And the thoughts I’ve imprisoned in the darkest chambers of my mind suddenly broke free.

There are millions of books published every year. What makes you think yours can make it?
There are thousand of writers who are better than you. What makes you think you’ll get a break?
Who would read your story?
You can’t even write a story.
You can’t finish this because you’re not good enough.
You lack training. You lack technique. You lack tools.
You have to work a thousand times harder because competition is so much tougher.

Have you ever been trapped inside the darkest part of your mind? It’s like drowning. It’s like being submerged in dark waters, surrounding you, covering you, stifling you, choking you, and you can’t breathe, and no matter how hard you try to kick and swim, you can’t get up.

jacob-walti-447-karren-renz-senaYou can’t even scream for help, because the terror has paralyzed you.

Help, I remember screaming in my mind. Help. Lord, help.

You know how in the movies, when someone is drowning and you feel as if it’s the end of the line for that character, you suddenly see  a hand breaking through the dark waters to pull that person up?

It was like that for me. I don’t know know how it happened, exactly, but out of the dark that covered me, I suddenly saw a hand reach out to me. I was out of the dark waters and into the light of the sun.

Karren, I didn’t bring you this far just to let you go. The promise will come to pass. You don’t have to try so hard to get there. I will bring you there. I am bringing you there. Trust.

Oh.

All this time, I’ve been working so, so hard to be a good writer, but I forgot that I wasn’t alone in my journey.

God was with me all along. He was the one that brought me here in the first place.

I also realized this: I’ve been so bent on writing the best stories, the best articles, the best posts, using this technique and that theory, that I forgot what writing truly meant to me.

I’ve been focusing so hard to write for various purposes:
for a contest,
for a workshop,
for a magazine,
for a submission,
for a book that would propel me to international stardom…

But I forgot that sometimes, there doesn’t have to be a purpose for writing. Sometimes, the purpose is to write.

Writing is joy.
Writing is life.
Writing is love.

I forgot what it truly meant to write just because I enjoyed doing so.

I forgot how I started.

I wrote because it brought me joy. Words bring me joy. Stories bring me joy.

I wrote because my stories could bring joy to other people.

I wrote because I love to write.

And I wrote because I love to share what I wrote.

And I forgot all of that, because I tried so hard. I fought so hard. And I worked so hard.

Today, I still have those goals and purposes behind everything I write.

But I try to never lose sight of the most important thing:

I write, because I love.

And it is because I love, that I realize, that somewhere, somehow, something is happening.

Maybe I’m moving hearts.

Maybe I’m inspiring someone.

Maybe I’m changing lives.

Or maybe, for every word I write, it gets me closer to the heart of another story, of another character.

Something’s happening… for as long as I keep writing, something’s happening. I have to believe that.

I hope, dear friend, that you too will find your heart again. Believe that something is happening to you too.

Keep doing it.
Keep trying.

One day, it will happen.

Write beautiful words,
Karren

Why Try? (Nothing’s Happening Anyway) was originally published on PROJECT: BEAUTIFUL WORDS

But What If Tomorrow Doesn’t Come?

karren-renz-sena-project-beautiful-words-blog“Bukas na lang,” I’d always say.
“Pwede pa bukas.”
“Unlimited naman ang chances.”
“Try again tomorrow.”
“Tomorrow is another day.”

These are the things I’d always tell myself whenever I failed at something — whenever I’d fail to begin,
fail to commit,
fail to continue,
fail to love,
fail to give,
fail to serve,
fail to try.

I’d beat myself up for each failure, yes, but after a thorough beating I’d always remind myself that we have an unlimited supply of tomorrows, and that the next tomorrow is a chance for me to try again.

It helps, sometimes. It helps pick up my spirit, and it helps me to look forward to another day. It also helps me to be more kind to myself, because the thought of having another chance, another “tomorrow” takes my mind away from negative thoughts — like discouragement and failure — and it takes my heart away from negative emotions. Like regret. Like shame.

The thought of “tomorrow” gives me hope, too. That things will be better. That I will be better.

And so I keep looking forward to a series of tomorrows.

But I failed to notice that looking forward to my tomorrows made me neglect my todays.

I became too lax, I guess, and I kept postponing things.

I’d rest today. I can work on this tomorrow.
I’ll just watch videos on Facebook now. I can write tomorrow.
I’d eat lechon kawali today. I’d eat healthy tomorrow.
Just one more chapter. I’ll sleep earlier tomorrow.
I’ll just hide in my room today. I’ll check up on my friends tomorrow.
Tomorrow, I’ll write my book.
Tomorrow, I’ll wake up earlier.
Tomorrow, I’ll visit the Blessed Sacrament.
Tomorrow, I’ll go to Confession.
Tomorrow, I’ll chase my dreams.

One day during my quiet time, a question suddenly came to mind: What if tomorrow doesn’t come anymore?

What if I only have until today?

Like, really, really, really have until today.

If today’s my last day, and for some inexplicable reason I’d have to die tonight, what do I have to show for myself?

I could honestly say that I’ve accomplished many things already.

Played a lot.
Learned a lot.
Graduated cum laude in college.
Maintained a 1.5 GWA in grad school (before I went AWOL ha ha).
Wrote a book and got published.
Helped other people write their book and get published.
Contributed to magazines.
Joined National Workshops for Creative Writing and Arts Criticism.
Discipled people.
Served in community.
Used my talent in writing to spread the love of God.
Loved my family and friends.
And a whole lot more.
(This is me being kind to myself. You have to be kind to yourself, too. Never ever ever take your value and your accomplishments for granted.)

But have I honestly done enough?

Have I written enough?
Have I served enough?
Have I loved enough?

If today’s my last day and you ask me what my biggest regret or failure in life is, I would have to say that it would be the things I could have done, but didn’t.

Stories I could have written.
Friends I could have made.
Places I could have visited.
Strangers I could have helped.
Relationships I could have built.
People I could have loved.

I don’t ever want to have to face death carrying all these regrets with me. I don’t ever want to have to face God and tell Him, “I could have, but I wasn’t able to.”

I want to be able to face Him and tell Him, “I did it. I’m okay to come home now.”

And I want to be able to face Him and hear Him say, “You did good, kid. Welcome home.”

To Be More, We have to Do More

karren-renz-sena-project-beautiful-words-tomorrowI have many other dreams and goals and plans. Big ones. Small ones. I still want to become an international bestselling author. I still want to coach people and help them write beautiful stories and impactful books. I still want to spend more time with my family. I still want to travel the world. I want to help more people, serve more people, love more people.

I want to be more.

So this means only one thing: I have to do more.

We have unlimited chances, yes, and unlimited graces from God. But we have to make use of all these within a limited number of days. Because honestly, our days our numbered and our lives have an untagged expiration date. Truth is, we don’t know when we’ll die.

So we have to do things to fulfill our unfulfilled dreams.

We have to give our 100% to every task we commit to.

We have to love the people we must love.

Today.

Here’s a list of a few things we can do to make today matter more:

1. Be more mindful.

What did you have for lunch today? How blue was the sky yesterday afternoon? How does the air smell after it rains? Does your mom’s eyes crinkle when she laughs?

Do you take notice of these things?

How do you breathe? Do you take long, deep breaths, or short, shallow pants?

How do you chew your food? Do you chew three times then swallow, or do you chew until the all the flavors burst out of the food and into your mouth?

Do you take notice of these things?

Where are you now? Like literally, and then in life? How far are you now from where you started when you decided to reach for that particular goal? What do you do every day to get closer to that goal?

Do you take notice of these things?

Do you take notice of YOU?

1. Take a moment.

We go through life too fast, but we experience too little. So many people are rushing so many things all at once. The moment we wake up, we go through a series of routinary motions that, over time, start to mean so little.

Have you ever taken a moment for what it’s worth?

One moment could be worth a thousand reasons to be joyful.

That moment you got your promotion.
That moment you wrote, “The End.”
That moment he first smiled at you.
That moment she said “Yes.”
That moment your mom said, “I’m proud of you.”

Have you ever taken a moment?

3. Do it now. Do it well. Do it again.

Whatever you want to do, if there’s nothing at all keeping you from doing it, do it now.

Not tomorrow. Not later. Now.

Write that book now.

Tell that person you love them now.

Tell your parents “thank you” now.

Apply for that job now.

Start that blog now.

Shoot that vlog now.

What’s keeping you from doing things that would make you happy?

What’s keeping you from doing things that would get you one step closer to your goal?

What’s keeping you from telling that person how much you love them?

Think about these things. Reflect on them. Maybe there’s a reason that keeps you from moving, from acting, from doing. And you can’t just ignore those reasons. You have to acknowledge them, you have to validate them.

So you can overcome.

And once you do overcome, whatever you’re doing, do it well.

Do it excellently.

And do it again.

One step at a time. One after another. Until you get there.

Until you become.

So that when the day comes that tomorrow wouldn’t come anymore, you get to say, “That’s alright. I did it all.”

Write beautiful words,
Karren

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But What If Tomorrow Doesn’t Come? was originally published on PROJECT: BEAUTIFUL WORDS

What to Blog About When You Know Twit About Blogging

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I… kind of don’t know how to blog.

No, really. I’m not kidding. I don’t know what to write in blogs and I don’t know what to blog about. What about Project: Beautiful Words, you might ask?

Well. #ProjectBeautifulWords is a movement — and a noble one, at that — but when it comes down to the nitty gritty stuff, it’s really just about me writing about stuff: what I feel, what I’ve learned, where I’ve gone, what I’m going through… things like that.

And it just so happens that they read and sound beautiful, because well. Beautiful words, and all that.

But blogging? Okay, I don’t know much about that. I seriously seriously don’t know what to blog about when I think about my blog, so the ending is just me staring at a blank document for four hours, before finally calling it quits.

This is coming from the same person who once wrote, “There is always something beautiful to write about.”

My foot.

Anyway, I’m summoning all my whatnots and whodunits to make sure that this specific blog post means something. I kind of want to put my “digital marketing consultant hat” on, to make me sound as if I knew what I’m talking talking about, but whatever.

What can we blog about when we talk about blogging?

Well. Sit down with me for a session on digital strategic marketing and author platform creation, and I wouldn’t stop talking. You’d seriously pay me to shut up, because them brilliant ideas won’t stop coming out. It’s double the fun with my  partner-in-crime, Tin Mutuc (who’s the manager of the marketing department of the publishing house we’re working for, and also a great marketing consultant), because when it’s us two together, then expect that meeting to be fired-up and super productive. You won’t go home without a sound marketing platform for your book.

Sit down with me for a mentoring session on creative writing or book writing, and you’d come home with pages upon pages of advice, instruction, direction, and motivation.

So with all this experience, why don’t I know what to blog about?

Simple. It’s always easier to teach people how to do stuff than to do them yourself. I’d own up to that, at least.

But that’s actually what got me into thinking about this. Why can’t I take my own advice? I’ve always, always, always wondered what to write about whenever I thought about blogging. I’ve always had a hard time sitting down to write about a particular thing even when I set my mind to it.

So it came to me just now to actually write down the stuff we tell other writers, bloggers, and authors — aspiring or otherwise — to do.

This blog post is actually kind of for me, but I do hope it would help you as well. I mean, you didn’t click this for the heck of it, right? You’re probably reading this because somehow, you also have this dream of writing or starting your own blog, and you just don’t know what to write about.

Karren, my dear, dear self, this is for you:

1. What are you passionate about? 

What the actual heck. We see this question thrown around in almost 100% of the motivational and inspirational seminars and workshops you’re going to attend. And when you sit there amongst the audience, you’d get fired up and you’d jot down notes so furiously, you’d think your paper would catch fire. You’d nod here and there, and something in you is awakened — it might be that desire for something you care strongly for. It might be a dream that used to seem so impossible, but suddenly because of that talk on passion and purpose and doing what it is that makes you happy, then you’re all set to doing it. Listening to people talk about passion kind of ignites our own drive to discover and chase our own.

But in the dark of the night, or in the quiet of the morning, when all is said and done and you tried your best, but somehow you’d always find yourself on square one, you get to ask yourself again, “What am I doing this for again?”

What’s passion?

There’s a lot of books out there that talks about passion. Great books. They’d help you identify your passion and they’d tell you how you can go about using your passion to fulfill your purpose, so I wouldn’t parrot what they say anymore. But I have to run this by me again because though I’m all about pursuing my passion with the fire of a thousand burning stars and a fury of a raging storm, sometimes I lose it. Sometimes I misplace it. Sometimes I get burned out, until I find myself fading quietly into the night, and then what do I have to show for anything? Nothing.

I want to simply passion, so that whenever I forget, I can always come back to its most basic definition. It’s the definition that my heart can always remember:

Passion = fire.

Passion = joy.

Passion = love.

And to make it even more simple, I won’t even generalize. Here’s a check list of the things that I love; things that give me immense joy and peace; things that set my soul on fire.

  • Books. Good heavens, I read quite a lot of them. And I buy even more.
  • Anime and manga. Spent practically more than half of my life being obsessed with these babies that came from Japan, and my heart shows no signs of stopping.
  • Stories. Anything and everything that tells stories — movies, games, TV commercials, Thai insurance ads, Facebook videos, and even answers to the age-old question, “How are you?”
  • I love love love LOVE the water. The ocean. The sea. Lakes. Rivers. Waterfalls. Rain. Puddles. Dude, water is life.
  • Buying books. Did I mention that already? I did? Oh.
  • Spending time with people. I like it so much that I don’t write about it because writing about it takes away the memory of it, I suppose?
  • Teaching! I like to teach stuff. Like how to write, how to write books, how to tell stories, why stories are wonderful, WHAT’S THE MOST WONDERFUL STORY I’VE READ LATELY, why Naruto is like the best ninja ever… yeah, I teach that stuff.
  • Mornings. Mornings are beautiful.
  • Traveling alone. It’s something I’ve begun to do lately and I love it.
  • Meeting people. Seeing places.
  • Remembering. I love remembering.
  • Food. I love eating. But I’d rather eat the food than write about them so I’m scratching this one off the list.
  • Preaching. Leading worship. Celebrating the love of Jesus either alone or with the entire assembly. Fantastic.
  • I’m really passionate about working in the ministry. Like, I’m literally in a position where I get to read life-changing stories and books, and I’m being paid to just bring those books out there and oh my goodness I am ever so thankful that my family, especially my Mama, supports my decision to work in God’s vineyard. I think I want to cry now.
  • Words. I’m really, really really passionate about words. This blog is supposed to be really short because that’s what’s popular… but hey. My blog, my word count. What? Fight me.
  • And a whole lot of other things.

What about you? Can you write your own list of things that you love? Can you list down the things that make you happy? Things that bring you joy?

2. What’s that one thing people keep telling you you’re good at? 

In marketing, we simply call this your “expertise.” It’s something that you can help people with. Something that adds value to other people’s lives.

Because let’s be honest. Whenever we pick up a book, or choose a movie to watch, or even when we spend precious time waiting for a Facebook video to load, what’s that one question that would always pop in our minds?

It’s this: “What’s in it for me?”

Would this video make me laugh? Would this book inspire me? Would this story entertain me? Would this novel transport me into another world and spark my imagination? Would this blog post at least give me a new insight about something?

It’s all about adding value.

So here’s the question: what are you good at? I mean, if you’re good at it, then it must mean that you know quite a bit about it, right? So write about it. Share information about it. Share new insights about it.

Like… in my case. Again. (My blog, my case. Fight me.) It’s this:

Words. I weave words. I spin stories. I create worlds. I move hearts. I spark imagination. And my only weapon? Words. So maybe based on this, I can write a ton of articles and whatnot just revolving about words. Maybe.

How I tell stories, maybe. How I can stand in front of a thousand people and speak as if I’m only speaking to one. How I can defeat the writers block (dude, what?). Anything about words.

Maybe you’re good at cooking. Maybe you’ve got a handful of insights about parenting. Or maybe you’re good at being single. You’re good at being happy.

Tell us how we can be good at those things too.

3. Reflections. Revelations. Epiphanies. 

Uhm… I kind of do this all the time?

Yeah, I do.

#ProjectBeautifulWords is a collection of my musings and reflections. These are basically snippets of thoughts and wisdom that I get from whatever I’m going through at the time.

I’m an introvert (I REALLY AM AND IF YOU DISAGREE I WILL FIGHT YOU ON THIS). I’m also observant, analytic, and strategic. I like mulling over things — patterns, strategies, meanings, possibilities, probabilities. I like reflecting about things, too. So whenever I’m feeling particularly introspective, I’d write.

Based on experience, it’s always a good thing to be generous with our own revelations. You’d never know how many people you could bless, or how many lives you could change, based on one post, one article, one story. I’ve had people sending me messages, telling me how blessed they were because of this post or that. It makes me think that what we have — our hearts, our wisdom, our thoughts, our reflections — they’re not meant to be kept to ourselves. Sometimes they’re meant to be shared.

It makes me think about being a part of a bigger whole, a part of a bigger purpose. I mean, I never knew how important my posts and my musings are to some people until I practically stopped posting and people were messaging me about them. Imagine how many days you can make better, how many hearts you can mend, how many new ideas you can share, if you would just share what little you have.

And crappity crap I’m actually talking to myself. Because srsly, I haven’t been posting for a long time now, because I don’t know what to do with the words.

But look at me now. Blogging again for the first time in a long while.

The words have always been there. I just had to let them out.

Maybe that would be the same case for you. What can you blog about?  Here’s a recap ‘fore I go:

  1. What are you passionate about?
  2. What are you good at (that can add value to other people)?
  3. What are your thoughts / reflections / insights / revelations?

Hope this helps!

This would certainly help ME.

Write beautiful words,

Karren

What to Blog About When You Know Twit About Blogging was originally published on PROJECT: BEAUTIFUL WORDS