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Zayra Yves | Mixed Media Artist & Writer
Zayra’s creative writing is published in numerous print journals, anthologies, on-line e-zines and magazines: The Zimbabwe Situation, Panhandler Quarterly, Voices for Africa, Eyes of the Poet, Kreativ, Reflections IIT Madras (India), Edge Life Magazine, Poetry Life & Times, Astropoetica, Alehouse Press, 34th Parallel, Feeling is First, Memoir (and), Aquillrelle, The Enchanting Verses International Journal and The Cherry Muse. She has appeared as a featured artist and/or guest speaker at: New Sun Celebration; CIIS California Institute of Integral Studies; on Ken Wilber’s Integral Naked (2006 & 2007);OneMindVillage; West Marin Community Radio; SW Radio Africa; North Western University Chicago; Zimvibes; Coolfire (UK); Women’s Radio Network; Perfectly Said; Mazungue Studio One; TWiN (UK); Genpo Roshi and Bill Harris’ Big Heart/Big Mind seminiar in LA; UltraFeel TV; UniVerse of Poetry; BlogTalk Radio, The Awareness Network and Today’s Revolutionary Women of Color.
My Definition Of Success | The blatant fact is “success” is a mass culture-socially loaded word packed with dollar signs and celebrity prestige. It is also a very big word for accomplishment, victory and triumph, which can be applied to overcoming fears, depressions and anxieties as we strive to move through roadblocks, as we aim for our personal best. Success doesn’t have to be defined by others. In truth, it shouldn’t be. When we look to define success in our lives, it should be measured by our self-awareness, authencity and personal impact on the lives of others, not by how much money we have or how big our homes have become.
In my life I have had a lot of different ideas about my ability to be successful and questions as to whether I measured up to any of the definitions given to me by mass culture and my family. When I was very young I did not imagine I would be known for anything except I hoped to inspire whomever I could by being the best person I was able be. I wasn’t entirely sure what that meant other than I wanted to be honest and real in a world filled with shadows and lies.
I didn’t imagine I would do the things I have done like travel, write books or become the General Manager of luxury high rise in San Francisco. I just wanted to give people hope, especially other kids who were orphaned or from broken homes like mine. Sometimes I am not sure I have done that or certainly not to the extent I had hoped, so success is a moving piece of emotional landscape that is not based on our perfections or qualifications, so much as it is based on our willingness to grow, learn and embrace our imperfections. Success is not a material object, it is a feeling we have inside of us based on what we think and do with our lives.
I Am Driven By | The minute someone tells me I cannot do something I want to do is the minutes I set about proving to myself that I can to do it. I suppose that could be construed as a form of rebellion, not necessarily self-destructive or anarchy, but I am certainly not going to “no” and “can’t do” or even “you have to” as the final answers. I have also been driven to break through my own perceived boundaries and limitations. I have had to fight my own mind and the critics that live there in order to achieve my goals. It is true what they say “we are our own worst enemy” and I strive to conquer that part of myself through meditation as it arises. I am motivated by self-awareness, psychology and liberating the mind, as much as I am by spiritual virtues, being compassionate and genuine. I do my best to stand on my own two feet – to be self-reliant – and not burden others. The best thing we can do for ourselves and others is follow our passion and share the light – even if that means a little rebellion is necessary to get there.
The Difference Between Good And Great | The difference between being good at something or great at it has to do with one’s level of passionate investment and willingness to look like a fool while gaining ground toward their personal powers, toward self-actualizing, which is highly individualized and creative. People achieve greatness through a willingness to confront themselves, by risk taking and striving for personal excellence, not by perfection, the status quo or being sanctimonious. Trying too hard to be right is what keeps most people in stuck in a box where they are good but ultimately not very interesting. When we are wrong, lost in the dark and feeling along the walls of setbacks to find our way out is when we are most likely to stumble upon the idea that will guide us to the light. Good is neat, satisfying and acceptable. Excellence is charged, full of force and has dignity, potency, range and scope. Let your passion drive you, push your limits, and never give up…that will lead you to excellence.
A Key Talent | The path of success for me has not been straight and narrow or about following the status quo. It has been more about creating my own journey, much more of a zig zag through various psychological terrains in all kinds of emotional weather. Discovery, adventure, taking risks, caring deeply about others, investing in relationships, being curious, compassionate and humble – those are the traits that lead me toward my edge, toward my success. I taught myself whatever I wanted to learn by seeking out study materials, books, people who had done it, and by spiritual practices. The library was a great resource and I used it to educate myself. The bookstore is still my first go-to and I am an avid reader. If I want to learn a new skill or build on a trait, then I head for the bookstore to gather my research materials.
I didn’t have the social or material advantages that many others did. I wasn’t born with the talents I wanted to have. I think this probably is true for many people – it’s human nature to want what we don’t have or to compare ourselves to those who have more and feel diminished. I remember as a child thinking I didn’t have any talents at all then I heard a Bible story about a man who had only one talent but he multiplied it by sharing and investing it. I don’t remember all the details now of that Bible story just that it had an impact on me because I understood that intention was more important that quantity or glamour. It is not about how much you have; it is what you do with what you have that matters.
The Characteristics Of Success | The characteristics, actions, habits and behaviors that I have, use and live by are myriad. It is more like a collage I am continuiously working on with images, experiences, influences and feelings I have collected over the course of my life. I am still building and striving toward my goals. I never feel as if I have “arrived” anywhere, rather I am in perpetual motion, redefining my ambitions as I go. There isn’t one goal on the horizon rather there are many places of achievement on the journey. Anyone who states that success is a one-stop shop or that can be achieved without hard work is not being truthful or else they were born in a life of rare privilege. It is my experience that determination mixed with disciplined work mixed with the drive to learn more and give back to society are the major components toward success.
Principles I Live By | The ultimate principal to live by is to care for the well being of others and to know that all of your success should be shared not only with your bloodline, the ones you love – it is meant for the greater good of all humanity. You can achieve this without ever leaving your village or hometown – it happens in the heart and mind. The intention we set when we get out of bed in the morning affects everyone we see, speak to, and touch in that same day. It may even affect people we never see or know – the power of love, compassion and positive intentions have an impact that we cannot measure, cannot see. One day it may stop the wars and hatred. May our intentions always be for what is best for all; for what is better than our small thoughts, more than the limitations or longings we create from our desires. If we live our lives thinking of how we can be our highest self, then we will not need a list of principals or virtues, it will naturally follow.
Critical Skills I Develop | The critical things I have had to work on were not skills in a concrete sense, they were emotions I had to listen to and find an outlet for. Skills are much easier to gain. For example, I can take a typing class or a computer course to lean a new skill. It takes more than a skill or a class to understand to live with deeply ingrained emotions from a lifetime of hardship and betrayal, especially paralyzing emotions like anxiety, depression and sadness; or how to live with sorrow from unspeakable loss and disappointment – how to forgive the unforgivable and move forward with an authentic experience of joy, not a fake or blocked emotions.If there was a magic potion, then I would have swallowed it and skipped away on a pink cloud. Instead I developed skills in the creative arts and allowed my emotions to go into prose, poetry, music and visual arts. I found that the healthiest way to deal with heavy emotion was to give it an outlet that can talk back to you through creative arts or by learning something new like dance or yoga as a means of release. If there is a skill to learn at all, it is to know when to let go and when to hold on. The element of play and release is as important to your well being as studying business and market share analysis, for without joy or forgiveness the path has no light.
If there was a magic potion, then I would have swallowed it and skipped away on a pink cloud. Instead I developed skills in the creative arts and allowed my emotions to go into prose, poetry, music and visual arts. I found that the healthiest way to deal with heavy emotion was to give it an outlet that can talk back to you through creative arts or by learning something new like dance or yoga as a means of release. If there is a skill to learn at all, it is to know when to let go and when to hold on. The element of play and release is as important to your well being as studying business and market share analysis, for without joy or forgiveness the path has no light.
I believe that the abusive circumstance of my childhood forced me to use mind control very early as a form of survival. Later in my life when I was no longer “surviving” I then had to unlearn some of the negative patterns I had too since they prevented me from having close relationships with others. I had to learn who I could trust and how. At the same time, I am grateful that I was given a strong mind and I was able to endure difficult situations without becoming damaged by them. The mind is powerful and it can protect us when we use it wisely. When we use our minds in constructive ways then it helps us learn to see others and ourselves in a genuine and loving manner. On the other hand, if the mind is unexamined and undisciplined it can be a great enemy. If we lose control of our minds, then we lose control of ourselves.
If we let our emotions influence too much of what we think, then we set ourselves up for failure. It is important to be careful with our own thought process, for better or for worse it can hold us back, not other people. Society has given us a number of the thoughts we think and it takes time to remove the toxic thought patterns, but it can be done. I have gravitated toward contemplation, self-reflections and psychological self-help books over the years as a touchstone, as much as I have toward meditation, prayer and holistic healers. I ask myself questions all the times about whether or not what I think and believe is true or did I pick it up like gum on my shoe as I was walking through a shadowy area of my life. Always questions your thoughts and dump the ones not useful. Remember, it is just a thought and you can think a new one.
The Best Advice I’ve Received | The best advice I have ever received was from another writer when I was struggling to let go of the need to be perfect and I was afraid to publish any of my creative writing. He said, “Don’t think about yourself so much, or why you wrote what you wrote or even what it means to you. Just write. Then just let it all go into the world. Think of it like little gifts to the world. Then let the world decide what they think of it, let them decide what they feel, what they want to keep. Let them take it and make it theirs. Write it for them, not for you. You’ll see. It’s the difference.”
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