Philosophy By Christy

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Some stories are hidden in the past…

Local Greek Festival - 2012Photo by Christy

A local Greek Festival – 2012
Photo by Christy

I’ve always been curious about the world around me, but also my family history. My mother was born in Mexico, and became an American. Her family roots come from Italy and France, from what we know. Even though my father was born here, his grandparents came from Mexico, Spain and Greece. By having a Greek last name, there was something that always made me curious about my Greek heritage. I’ve wanted to know about the history, the culture, and my great-grandfather as well as my ancestors. It wasn’t only Greek, but it was a stronger influence than my other family roots, possibly because of my Greek last name.

Last year I learned that March is Greek-American Heritage Month. If you walk around in the stores this month, you won’t see much about it. There is more focus of Irish-American Heritage Month. The main reason is the popular Irish national holiday that celebrates Ireland’s patron, St. Patrick (March 17th). Though both the Greeks and the Irish share this month, thanks to Former President George H.W. Bush and Congress in 1991. It gives honor to both cultures for their contributions and achievements to the US. They chose to have Greek-American Heritage Month in March as well because of Greek Independence Day is March 25th.

I knew a bit about my Greek heritage through local annual Greek festivals in Texas. It’s a wonderful experience to go with family and enjoy the great food and music offered. They even have a little store where you can buy products from or about Greece. Though I love going with my family every year, it only has given me a glimpse of the culture that I really wanted to learn more about. When I was younger, I read myths from different cultures, but my focus was on the Greek. In my studies, I’ve read the great Greek epics like the Iliad and the Odyssey. Later, I read on my own the Percy Jackson series, that are based on the Greek myths. I knew that there were stories out there that focused more on the country than the myths, and those who immigrated to the US, but… where were they?

The Greek Americans

That began my search to see what I could find in literature, music, and in history. The first thing I found was two book lists, one from 2009-2011 and another from 2012. It gave me a starting point. I continued my search online and found the Greek American Foundation. I also found books in the public library, such as Corelli’s Mandolin and a history book on Greek-Americans. My search even went to finding songs on Spotify. I learned that my great-grandfather arrived in the US at Ellis Island, and even found the name of my great-great grandmother in the records from Ellis Island. We didn’t know if he had arrived at the port on Ellis Island, or another one, and when I found a book on searching through the Ellis Island Records online. I realized that I didn’t have to travel far to find out. Learning that he came to that port, made a difference because by searching the history of Ellis Island I could learn more about what my great-grandfather experience as an immigrant to the US. It was wonderful to do my own research just to learn and experience my heritage. It’s even made me want to pursue studying Greek-American literature in grad school.

Now it’s another March, now I’m wondering what can I learn and read relating to my Greek-American heritage. Though I’ve found some interesting fictional books (The Island by Victoria Hislop, Lipsi’s Daughter by Patty Apotolides, Falling in Love with Sophia by Robert Krantz, and The Green Shore by Natalie Bakopoulos). I’m sure there is more that I don’t even know about, that includes relating to history. It’s just a bit harder to find, unless you’ve studied it. I’ll keep searching this month, and explore what I find. 

If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” – Toni Morrison

I’ve thought about traveling to Europe, especially Greece. To learn more, but also to give me another setting to write about in my stories. Though I can’t afford traveling right now, maybe doing a some research could help me start writing stories about Greek-Americans, and Greece. I’ve written a poem about my desire to learn and experience Greece. One of my former professors even suggested to me that I could write a story similar to my great-grandparents, and he was also the one that told me that if I truly wanted to go to Greece, what was stopping me from doing so. I kept telling him that it was the cost, and he insisted that wasn’t a good enough reason. He said I could save up enough money to travel to Greece. As much as I try to save up money, I don’t think I’ll be traveling to Greece any time soon. Though I realized last year that there were other ways to experience Greece, without spending a lot of money. I had it all near by… the festivals, books,music and food. It not a lot, but for now it’s enough. Plus who knows what stories I might write with Greece as a focus.

Is there something about your family past that makes you curious to learn more about? If this applies to you, I recommend doing your own research and learning everything you can. You may never know what you might find, and what stories or poems might appear.

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While writing should I listen to music, or should I not?

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Photo by Christy

No matter what I write, I have to figure out if I want to listen to music or not. Sometimes silence works, especially when I write blog posts or essays. Other times music enhances my writing experience. I’ve mentioned about how music can help bring inspiration. Why does music seem to be the best for my creativity? I believe it’s because music has been so much a part of my life. As I’ve grown as a writer, I’ve noticed that other writers try to figure out if music works for them.

There are some who pick out the music they want to listen to before they decide to start writing. Such as a playlist of songs that work with the story. Maybe a set of music from soundtracks or film scores. It gives a background tone while they are writing. It’s like a film. You can watch the whole thing without music, and it still makes sense, but it’s the music that really enhances. Without words, instrumental music can create a mood for a scene, or create subtext of what is going on. Other times songs with lyrics can add a bit of understanding to the characters in the story. Music also triggers previous experiences, such as the first time you heard the song to the lyrics connecting some how to your life. You can connect music to your story by finding what songs work best, or sometimes you just hear a song and it seems to work. Either way, having music can not only inspire you but keep you focused in your writing. Then later that music can become the soundtrack for your story, which could make the experience just as great for your readers.

For example, for my novel I have a playlist (that I can continually add) through Spotify where I can just listen to the music while I’m writing, or just give me inspiration. I just recently learned about Songza where you can make decisions on what kind of music to listen to. A bit like Pandora, but better. I’ve even listened to the score of the TV show Sherlock while writing a fanfic to emerge myself more into the story. Frequently music can soak into the story that it becomes something important to the characters. It can be a song that they dance to, or a song that they are listening to in the background. I enjoy adding a connection to music into my stories, even my fanfiction. The story may be fiction, but characters have to have something realistic about them. Some thing that makes them relatable to the reader, and I believe music can be an important factor.

Other times silence is the only way that we can really focus on what we’re writing. It makes our brain focus on the most important thing at hand, which is figuring out what words to put down on the page. It also gives us an empty slate to use our imagination to its full potential. Each writer has their own way of judging what works best while they are writing. It doesn’t have to be one or the other. You can use both interchangeably, like I do, but it determines what we’re writing and/or how we’re feeling at the moment. Sometimes I feel like listening to music while I’m writing, and every once and awhile, silence works for me.

Which ever you choose isn’t important, as long as it helps you. If it does for a while, and then it doesn’t, all you have to do is change something. It can be the type of music. It can be as simple as switching between music to silence or silence to music. If that doesn’t work, then taking a break for a bit and just listen to music, or focus on something else, can help. That’s what I’ve learned from experience.

Good things in life just take time

“What’s the use in watching, I already know what will happen,” said my dad. We were watching the movie We Bought a Zoo. “It’s not the ending, but the journey that really makes it worth while,” I replied back. After that he came back, and continued to watch the movie with my mom and I. Something about this story made us want to keep watching till the end.

A story grabs you from the beginning, even if you know what might happen, sometimes you just know that it’s worth continuing the journey. If we knew the last page of our own lives, would we continue doing the same things or change. That’s something that we may never know. It’s best to try to take a chance and see what happens. Even if the result doesn’t come right away, or unlike you expected. Maybe the world is grander than you imagined.

“Every disappointment in life can be a stepping-stone to greater things.”

Have you ever had really good ideas for a story, but couldn’t figure out how to start writing the story? I’ve been thinking about a new story lately. There is a list of notes I’ve been compiling. Yesterday throughout the day, I was shadowing my friend Jennifer who was teaching her classes, she had a bit of office time. At that moment, I had a chance to write. Her office was the perfect spot to write. Nice acoustic guitar playing in the background (thanks to the app Songza). She was working on some things she needed to do. Through the window of the office, showed a wonderful day on campus with students walking to their classes. I opened my notebook that I was using not only to take notes for observing, but also included a bit of notes on my story. I looked over my notes on there and on my iPhone. Then I went to a blank page, and I tried to write. All the words just didn’t seem to work. It just frustrated me, and that’s when I started to think of the reasons why I was having trouble. Maybe it’s my unfinished rough draft of novel that needs ending; not enough sleep; or the normal difficulty of starting something new. It could have been all three. All I knew at that moment I wasn’t ready to write the new story. Maybe it wasn’t time yet for the story to be written. (more…)

We Must Continue To Dream

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE

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Martin Luther King, Jr.’s March on Wasthington (August 28, 1963)

President Obama

President Obama’s Second Inaugural Address (January 21, 2013)

No matter how you feel about President Obama, and what he has done or hasn’t done, he is a shining example how Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream has become almost a reality. I say almost because we still need to continue to strive for his dream for equality always, and also remember because we must not forget what has happened in the darkest parts of our history so it may never be repeated again.

I may not be of African descent, but I am a woman who is a descendant from immigrants. So I connect very much to immigrant issues, and women’s rights. In a declaration two centuries ago, we “were guaranteed the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Through out our American history, we have faught to receive the rights deserved by every citzen but as well to keep them.

I’m reminded to day, just like every time I vote, that I’ve got an amazing opportunities that I should never take forgranted. This should be the same for everyone. Don’t let today be just another holiday, but a chance to remind ourselves of our wonderful opportunities. Look through our Bill of Rights, and remember those who faught to give each one those rights to us. Read through Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Speech, and remember why he faught for the collective dream of equality. (more…)

Why are endings really difficult?

315_00020This question came to mind yesterday.

If you didn’t know already, yesterday night was when the last episode of one of my favorite TV shows, Fringe, aired.

There are different kinds of endings, but they all result in the same thing the close of a story. When a story is really good, we don’t want it to end.

Though is there a true ending? The story can live on through the author’s mind even though the story ended for the reader on the last page. We as people live on through those who love us.

It has been said that, “Life is like a novel with the end ripped out.” We don’t know how the ending will be like, and we don’t get any sneak peeks. It also means that we don’t truly end when we pass away. No matter who we are, what we’ve done in our lives, we pass on something of ourselves every day of our lives.

When an ending in any kind of story (such as a movie, tv show or book), turns out to be really happy. Some say it’s not realistic. If the ending turns out, unlike you expected, it could be a good thing or not, but it determines on the person. If the ending, doesn’t wrap up lose ends of the story, we’re left wondering and uncomplete. Then the really good ending, things are wrapped up nicely, it’s not all perfect, but there is still a bit of hope. That’s when you wish the story didn’t end, especially when the story becomes a part of you. (more…)

Divine Creative Inspiration

Some ideas come through time and work. Other times they just come you quickly while you’re experiencing life. There are some who will wait for ideas to come to them, and others who try to work to reach new ideas. Though I believe that you should strive to grow and work towards ideas. I also strongly believe you have to be open to inspiration when and where ever it may come. If you’re closed off from receiving inspiration, then you might work so hard and never even notice something that is right in front of you. Some times it’s some thing so simple, but because we’re distracted by our ever day lives that we don’t fully make that realization.

Recently I got an idea for a story. I’m not sure if it’s going to be a short story, or a novel. Though the idea has really stayed with me. Usually that’s a sign that I’m meant to write it. Certain ideas come to me after I experience something creative, like a conference or music event. Other times I’m thinking about certain ideas I want to write, and I think about it a little while before I realize what exactly I want to write. My experience with prompts has shown me how certain ideas emerge from the springboard, especially the 12 Days of Prompts that Gloria shared. As I’ve grown in my own Catholic faith journey, it’s made me realize that I’ve been given many gifts, but mostly a voice. A voice that loves to sing, but also a voice that loves to write. (more…)