Category Archives: Contemplations

My favorite story collections

I read many story collections in my life. Many of them were very good and enjoyable to read. But there are only two I could name by their titles and which are the first to pop into my mind when speaking of inspiring stories. These are Being Here: Modern Day Tales of Enlightenment and Being Here…Too: Short Stories of Modern Day Enlightenment by Ariel & Shya Kane.

In fact, reading of the first book ignited a turn in my life I have never thought would be possible. I might not have dared to write books or anything else as daring, have I not read that book and all other books by Ariel and Shya Kane, listened to their radio shows and participated in their live seminars.

I first saw Being Here: Modern Day Tales of Enlightenment when an online retailer generated a recommendation based on my previous orders of self-help and motivational books. I read many self-help books before and still felt lost. So after buying and receiving Being Here: Modern Day Tales of Enlightenment, I resisted reading it for almost two years. But my sight kept being captured by the beautiful butterfly on its cover, and even by its spine when I tucked it between the other books on one of my bookshelves.

At some point, I surrendered and read it. I learned about a unique approach called Instantaneous Transformation developed by Ariel and Shya Kane. And with time, I learned and experienced the three revealing principles of this approach.

First, I realized that if I resisted something or tried to get rid of something – a thought, a habit, a person, a task, a book (see above 🙂 ) or anything else – I didn’t get rid of it at all. This person or thing just kept on sticking around, dominated my life and often became overwhelming.

Then, I learned that I couldn’t be anywhere else or anyone else at any given moment – I could only be who and how I was (or wasn’t), whether I liked it or not. And whether I judged my situation or not.

Finally, there was the Kanes’ third principle – anything that I allowed to be exactly as it was without judging or trying to change it, completed itself in an instant.

As I read Ariel and Shya’s books and articles, listened to their Being Here internet radio show, and participated in their live seminars, I experienced what it meant to let myself and others be just as we were. I discovered how to breathe and savor my life moment by moment, completely and freely. I came to understand what I truly wanted, what was my heart’s desire.

Yes, reading Being Here: Modern Day Tales of Enlightenment was the moment when this beautiful journey I am now on began. It was a journey of curiosity about what was happening at any given moment of now and what could happen if I surrendered to my wishes and did what my heart called me to do, instead of what I thought others wanted me to do.

As I practiced transformation, being in the moment, I discovered again and again that kindness and honesty were mutually inclusive, not exclusive. That allowed me to start observing myself non-judgmentally, in my life and also in the process of writing, teaching, and consulting.

I was delighted when I heard of the successor of one of my all time favorite books and of its concept. Being Here…Too: Short Stories of Modern Day Enlightenment is unique because the stories in it relate the magic of being here. These true stories were written by fantastic people of various walks of life, background and beliefs.

If I try to summarize the new book in three words, then these will be: Inspiring, empowering, brilliant. (You can read my full review of this book here.)

I strongly recommend reading and re-reading both books. You will laugh, smile, feel inspired, uplifted, utterly well in yourself and discover each time some new aspect of every story, which you didn’t notice during the previous read. They are that multidimensional!

#transformationmadeeasy #arielandshyakane #shortstory #truestories #inspiration #motivation #compassion #beinghere

Every New Book is the First One

I used to think that if not writing itself then at least the rest of the process of bringing a book into the world will become more and more routine with each new book.

But it doesn’t look like that at all. I am working on my books nine, ten and eleven these days and I must say the work on them differs very much from those before and between each other.

One of the books I work on this year, and which is being edited by a professional editor right now, took me four months to write and one whole year to revise it.

It is not my first non-fiction book and not my first work where I made research, contemplations, and developed concepts. However, every step in creating this book, both writing, and editing felt like it was the very first one. Every bit of the process requested me to think out of the box, made me feel creatively uncomfortable, and made me exclaim, “It was never that way before!”

The paradox of wishing some calm of known, of a routine and at the same time longing for new and exciting accompanies me every time I work on my books.

I do feel challenged and feel an urge to complain. But when I slow down and look honestly at what is happening, I don’t want the whole process to occur in any other way.

I want each book to be new and exciting. In truth, I want it to be unknown, however scary this process might be.

And as long as I want it this way, I guesstimate that it will be like that.

What about you and your writing projects? Does each of them surprise you in any way? If yes, then how? If no, did you look close enough? Or non-judgmentally enough?

Picture: My children never stop surprising me. Here is my sweet little girl at the past New Year’s Eve party, claiming that the hat she was wearing was a bike helmet.

Copyright © 2017 by Victoria Ichizli-Bartels

Brief September/October’16 News from Opitmist Writer

I miss sharing my thoughts or news about my writing.

You have probably seen my writing progress here on this site, either as “Cheerleading for Writers” or new categories in the Business Blog, as well as restructured, simplified and improved website.

But I haven’t written about my writing quite in a while. Neither in separate newsletters.

I thought I had to send the newsletters only as letters to my subscribers and not post inside my blog. It’s interesting how most of us try to fit in some standards even if we fool ourselves by thinking that we are rebelling. Does rebelling itself have standards? Is the standard for rebelling the breaking of all other standards? But what are those other standards to break?

Do I have to break standards at all?

Now that I think of it, Yes, there are standards to break. But maybe they are not quite standards, but rather limits that I set up for myself, which I mistakenly consider to be standards.

I really liked sharing my Newsletters as blog posts, and sharing in them what I have been up to lately. Thus, in respect to Newsletters I am coming back to what I like doing. Writing them as short blog posts, once in a while — the while often being about one month.

So in respect to writing, this is what I have done up to this point and since the last Newsletter. I finished the very, very first draft of my future book “Cheerleading for Writers”. If you follow the blog series on “Cheerleading for Writers” you might wonder how this could be, since I have published so far only until including the letter S. This is because I allowed myself to continue writing without editing, which is necessary before publishing the posts on my website.

So now I am editing the remaining articles and will post them as I make progress with incorporating the changes on the paper onto the computer screen. I do this work in frames of the 5 Minute Perseverance Game I love playing for many of my projects and about which I have written a small book structured as a board game description. Thus the posts might appear in unequal intervals since the articles are of difference length. A spoiler alert for the article starting with T. It is quite long. 😉

I’m looking forward to discover how my project games change and develop, and what limits/standards I set for myself, as well as how I break them to create new rules.

And I am curious to hear about your breaking of standards and changes of something you have thought was so well established you forgot to question it, until your heart pushed or pulled you “by your ears” through those brick walls of the limits you’ve set up for yourself. What are those? If you don’t want to comment on them here, but still would like to share them with me, then feel free to write to my e-mail address:

Picture: Who said that you need to destroy a thing completely in order to create something completely new and fresh? Look what the Australian street art artist Guido van Helten, has created out of a silo of an old asbestos cement factory in Aalborg. He decorated it with wonderful and powerful portraits of workers from this factory.IMG_1367

Am I my own enemy or just a weird combination of a worrying parent and a curious child?

A note: With this blog post I am taking part in the Writing Contest “Writers Crushing Doubt” hosted by Positive Writer – See details at:

Something amazing happened on a bus trip to a fertility clinic back in the Fall 2009. The magic started at home. Pushed by an impulse, I grabbed the nicest notebook I had and three pens (just in case two of them would stop writing) and went on a one hour bus ride from Aalborg to Dronninglund through the beautiful and wavy landscape of North Denmark.

Thank goodness the mood dropping hormones were not starting their dark magic until later, so on the ride back home I finished my first short story.

Wow! This story took me by surprise. It was dramatic and captivating, being about wishing for children but not being able to have them and on the other hand having a son and then losing him.

The emotion roller coaster mixed with hormone cocktail and failure of the embryo implantation procedure crashed into the giving birth to something new — creations made out of words.

This was uplifting and at the same time absolutely scary.

“Can I create more of this?” something curious asked inside me.

Completely unrequested, another story started taking shape. But it grew bigger and bigger, so that it became clear: that story would not fit into two bus rides. Not even into ten. This looked rather as a book. But I couldn’t possibly write a book, could I? No, no, this was too hard and too dangerous! Because it was unknown. And I was a non-native speaker after all. Who would read an English book written by a non-native speaker coming from the former Soviet Union not even native to Russian anymore, or not that fluent in her mother tongue Romanian? Who in the world would read it?

“Right,” my brain answered, “nobody”.

In the quiet evenings, when no one was looking, I opened my notebook, peeked into it and re-read the story. Again and again. The story had its rough edges, which needed to be polished, but I still liked it. I gave it to my niece to read, and she loved it too. “I’m so excited for you and can’t wait to read more,” she said.

“Really?” I asked blushing.

“Yes, yes,” said a quiet voice in me in unison with my niece. “You should.”

“OK,” I said to myself. “Let’s try, but I will first read and learn how to do it properly.”

Magic of unexpected natural conception mixed with purchasing and reading tons of books on the writing craft.

Some of them confirmed that it was not that easy to be a writer. “You see!” a loud voice prompted. “You better concentrate on the good and real sides of life instead of pursuing something you were not made for.”

So I did concentrate on another dream of mine. Which became a reality. Being a mother to a small child.

This new reality, however, produced more hormones, more ups and downs, and more emotions. Why wasn’t I happy, when a long, longed for dream came true? This was all I wanted, wasn’t it? I had a loving husband, a sweet baby son, wonderful family and friends, and I had an interesting and positively challenging job. Besides I lived in one of the happiest countries in the world. So why wasn’t I happy? At least not most of the time?

Then on a book stand in an international airport, a butterfly captured my attention. I passed by and then came back. I took the book into my hands and read, “Being Here: Modern Day Tales of Enlightenment” by Ariel and Shya Kane.

I stole a glance into the book and put it back on the shelf. “No, life isn’t that easy!” Again that loud voice.

But something quiet and strong pushed me back to the stall with the books and nudged me to buy the book.

After resisting several months to read this book by Ariel and Shya Kane, I read it and got caught by an amazing statement. There was nothing wrong with me! And I could experience happiness by simply being here, by being fully aware of the present moment.

“Hm,” I thought, “it won’t hurt to try, if I don’t have to do anything in particular and not work on something hard.”

Unbeknownst to me, my curiosity — this amazing and primary instinct we all have in us, but which is often silenced with years of indoctrination, prejudices and rules, as well as constant resistance to them — suddenly this curiosity of mine was made free.

Along with reading all the books by Ariel and Shy available then, and taking part in their workshops, something else started happening. A question started accompanying almost all loud “No’s” in my head. And the question was, “What if?”

The dialogue in my head went on then something like this, “No, no, I’m not a writer!”

“What if we don’t write a book, but just write some blog posts and see how they are received? We can stop any time, can’t we?”

After blogging for some time an unasked question was answered with a loud “No, no, I am not writing a book, and especially not about my father! His story of having lost his family during World War II, grown up in orphanages, and lead an unlucky search for his family is far too sad. Natalie Goldberg can say ‘to split open’ and others can do this if they want, but I won’t do that. It’s too much!”

“What if we only start and see what happens? We can stop and hide the book any time, right? Nobody will ever hear of it.”

As you can guess I wasn’t able to keep quiet. Instead I shared my first book even before finishing the first draft. The result: I was motivated and supported to write further.

So I published that book. And I wrote another one, and published again. Then another…

And through practicing true listening, as recommended by Ariel and Shya, listening as if from the other person’s point of view, I was able to find out who were these two chatting in my head.

“When you leave home,” I remember Ariel and Shya saying at one of their seminars, “You become your own parent. You tell yourself what you should and should not do. And then you rebel against those instructions.”

That was one of the brightest light bulbs of recognition. Yes, I did become my own worrying parent, afraid her child to fall and hurt herself. And I was still that curious child wanting to get what she was after, whatever the cost might be, and with time learning to talk the parent into allowing her do it.

So am I my own enemy putting barriers into the way of my own success? Today, after experiencing and often practising awareness and instantaneous transformation approach developed by Ariel and Shya, I don’t think so. Now I realize that nothing could have happened differently in my life up till now, but many exciting things can happen in at least somewhat safe way if I just help the parent and the child in my head being kind to themselves and each other and make the most appropriate to their best ability and any given circumstances choice. They brought me this far, and they can bring me much, much further.

Picture: When I wake up from those debates in my head I am the most productive and also the most capable to discover beauty on the paths I walk.



An interview: My first appearance on YouTube

At least I think it was my first one. I don’t know if I appeared on the background of somebody else’s video or if someone found funny and filmed as I frantically tried on a bus trip to finish a sentence of a story I am currently writing, while at the same time preparing to get out of the bus. The latter happened just yesterday. But I don’t think I was filmed. Phew!

But the interview I want to tell you about was intended. It was made in connection with the author talk I gave at the SGS School of Creative Writing, at Trekanten Bibliotek og Kulturhus here in Aalborg, on the 2nd of March.

Samuel Mork Bednarz, or Sam, is a student at the SGS and he is also a part of the SGS Social Media Team, where I also participate.

Sam is responsible for the SGS podcast, and currently he is taking interviews with the authors giving author talks at and for the SGS.

I have given several interviews up to this point (this interview took place about a week before the author talk), two of which were recorded on audio.

It was fun to observe myself, the feelings and thoughts generated by these experiences. During the first interview I felt so unusually that I smiled shyly at the recording smart-hone and said “Thank you!” at and to it before answering the first question by the interviewer.

The interview with Sam was filmed and I watched it last night for the first time. Again managing to observe myself non-judgmentally while watching.

Some automatic thoughts judging my appearance did appear but they were short and fleeting. Instead I had fun watching this person on the computer screen, so differently looking and sounding from what I know when I look in the mirror or hear myself talk. I watched her with curiosity finding the things she said so new, and also laughing along with her and the interviewing Sam.

This experience was so strikingly different from that many years ago in Germany as I watched myself on TV after being filmed in our cleanroom at the Institute of High Frequency Electronics of the Technical University Darmstadt. At that time I had assimilated the cliché that nobody liked watching him- or herself on TV. I followed this tradition and said to anyone who would listen how terribly I looked on the screen, while I secretly enjoyed when people objected. At some point they stopped objecting and listening to my ever returning moans about how bad I was. So at the end I was left with a feeling of having failed and not have done enough.

Now I realize that I was thrilled to see myself on the screen. I looked so different. And yes, surprising.

I am glad that I had this epiphany at this point of my life when my children are small, so that I convey to them these moments of being OK with myself and just enjoying all the surprises my life and my true self bring with them.

I wish you all happy self-discoveries and fun watching my first interview on YouTube.