Category: Creativity

Happiness Is Not Needing More

I don’t need anything more.

No nothing. Of that, I am shore.

I don’t need more stuff, it’s all just fluff.

More clothes? I’ll give mine to the poor.

 

I’m not taking a class or writing a post.

I won’t try putting extra butter on my toast.

I’ll refrain from checking my Facebook Page.

And won’t tweet a Tweet to vent my rage.

I will not compare. I will not look back.

I cannot look forward or fear an attack.

Today is today. And all I can say

To the people who’ve gone astray and lost their way…

EGBOK, my friends. Have faith. Make hay.

Believe me, Receive me. “Everything’s Going to Be OK.

Now… Am I happy?

 

 * * *

I think the entrepreneur and investor Naval Ravikant would agree with Andy Puddicome, founder of the meditation app, Headspace, that we only find happiness in the present. And we can only be in the present if we are willing to work hard to do  nothing.

Do you feel the TENSION in that statement? I do!

When we meditate, we are trying to do just that. We work (at meditation) to pay attention to only one thing in the present moment. Thoughts of the future and the past and the emotions surrounding those thoughts rip us from our present.

Worry is a particularly useless feeling. It’s a projection of a future over which we have no control. Worry can also be a feeling that shoves us back to some previous time when we wish we had done or said something different. Wayne Dyer used to say, “You can’t should have done anything!” I miss him.

I smile at my own ineptitude. I’m not Naval, nor Andy, nor Wayne. (All men, by the way, and what’s that about?). I am, however, beautifully inept. I am wondering about the depth of my imperfection at this second. When actually, in this very next second, I am happy. Grateful. Here at this moment, to be writing this post and nothing else.

It’s bitchin’, I tell you, bitchin’!

 

 

 

What Music Am I Playing Today?

My Piano Hands!

I play music as I pass through my day.

 Sometimes it’s harsh, and sometimes easy-breezy, hooray.

Each day it’s a choice to:

Curate the chords

Making majors from the minors.

Nurture each note and

Relaxing on the rests.

Dive into dissonance

Forcing fortes and frowns.

Invite

Pianissimos seeking peace,

Soft pedals pushed down.

Channel rock ‘n roll?

Relish Rachmaninoff!

  Meet Miranda or Mozart.

It’s a joy, it’s an art.

The best news is

The music I play.

Is totally mine,

To make my day my way.

 

 

Inspiration for the Novel “Deathlist”

I’m often asked, “What was the inspiration for this novel?”

Well, pretty often.  Um, so. Hmmm. Okay. I’m telling you now that you’ve asked. Thanks! 🙂

Here’s my ANSWER: Every time I saw someone on the news or heard of a person dying that seemed especially odd (like a child, for gosh sakes, or someone sitting on a bench eating a sandwich and a tree fell on them, maybe), I began to form a theory that everyone had a specified death date. Death was not by chance, happenstance, or being in the wrong place at the wrong time. God had it planned out. He kept track of it in a big database, which someone or other dubbed the Deathlist.

I still believe there might be one somewhere. How do you explain those little times when you were two seconds behind that huge traffic accident? Or, okay, on a morbid but equally mysterious level, why do some suicide attempts not work? Without bogging down my explanation with statistics, we can all report anecdotal evidence of failed suicides.

Then imagine that humans were somehow allowed to know what their death date was. That was the germ of the book.

Would you want to know when you’re going to die? 

I could know how much time I had to finish and publish the Deathlist. Write a how-to book about anything. (I’m not sure, but I buy a lot of those fix-me-please books, so I think I should write one!)

 

LOVE to have you take the survey and… oh yes, buy the book. 🙂

An Interview with Death

Hello and welcome. I’m Ana Cortez from ACME NEWS. Today, we’re sitting with Death in her penthouse living room in New York City where she often stays between gigs. If you’ve not met Death, you are in for a treat. Death has a history of being misunderstood for much of her life. In fact, she didn’t understand a lot about her own existence until the Deathlist was published and now, she’s much more relaxed and has time for interviews. Like today’s.

By the way, for you radio listeners, Death is wearing a très chic just-last-week’s Paris collection torn jean look with gold spike heels, a Vera Wang backless top, a John Hardy necklace and bracelet, and a Chanel scarf. Her hair is pinned up in an elegant chignon with not-so-tiny diamonds nestled throughout, sparkling against the camera lights.

Ana: How are you today, Death? You look amazing. As usual.

Death: Thank you so much, I’m fine. And I’m glad to have a few days off.

Ana: Days off? What happens to the souls you’re supposed to pick up today?

Death: I have assistants that help out. We’ve always had a team, of course, but I have to say some of the younger collectors are in too much of a hurry.

Ana: What do you mean?

Death: I try to help people at the end of their lives. I like to give them a chance to ponder their existence, revisit their purpose, and hopefully forgive themselves.

Ana: Who knew? You don’t take people’s lives then.

Death: No. I don’t. They’re already out of the earthly, mortal plane when I arrive. I’m the go-between.

Ana: So, who sends them to their eternity?

Death: That’s another department entirely. And people’s sins are tallied in the Sin Almagamator Department for that.

Ana: Um… Oh. Gee.

Death: Don’t worry. I’m sure you’re fine.

Ana: Uh…  Well. Let’s talk about the Deathlist. What was that exactly?

Death: Everyone on the Earth has a designated time when they’re born. God makes sure they’re here when they’re supposed to be. [Death sweeps her arms around the apartment and out to the amazing view of New York.] Then, they have to have a time when they die, of course. The Deathlist is a big database where all that is recorded. We decided people shouldn’t know when they’ll die ahead of time. Although we’re still open to opinions.

Ana: Huh?

Death: Yes. If you’d like to take the survey, it’s here.

Ana: Oh. Great. I’ll do that. And our listeners can too! But I’m not sure if I want to know.

Death: Yes. Yes.  Everyone has a different thought on that. It’s very personal. We get that. But, I’m afraid I have to go.

Ana: So soon?

Death: Yes. I’m very sorry. But I have to collect some souls now. There’s a terrible war going on in Ukraine, and we just didn’t put enough collectors on for today. Thanks so much for putting me on the air.

Ana: We’ll do this again!  Thanks for coming on our show, Death. And listeners, would you like to know when you’re going to die? Take the survey and be sure to read Deathlist. Until then, signing off from ACME NEWS.

Ana: That’s a wrap.

Ana to self: I probably better scoot to confession. 

The Last Walk for A Man and His Best Friend

It was a sunny day. Beautiful. When George stepped out of the house with his dog that day, he didn’t know it was the last walk he’d ever take. The Amtrak train came out of nowhere.

He didn’t know, but I did.

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know I’m Death. And I pick up people’s souls. I don’t kill anyone. That’s another department. I just collect souls. This guy was a doozy because if the DEATHLIST were still active, he could have consulted it before he started out that day, and he may have decided not to “chance” the run across the tracks. Right? But it’s not. In Kathryn’s book, DEATHLIST, we know humans could see when they were going to die. But it’s gone now, so this person was taken quite by surprise. I know it because when I picked him up, he was, like, “Did that train hit me?” He looked at me very confused. “Are you the grim reaper? You’re beautiful!”

“Yes. I am she. And yes, thank you for the compliment. But I’m not that grim. At least I try not to be.”
“What about my dog?”

“I’m sorry. It was hit, too. I don’t know you, but you might see your dog again.”

He was going to ask me about it, but I knew I had to comfort him and tell him how lucky he was that I could be here with him. “Uh. Okay,” he said.

Just for the record for you animal lovers, the DEATHLIST was not for animals. Good question, though. The DEATHLIST was only for people. However, heaven lets good people have their animals with them. It’s one of the perks. I’m not sure this person walking their dog will have their pup with them. It’s not my job. See. As Death, I don’t make those calls. I just answer the call to pick up the person’s soul and then we turn them over to the Sin Amalgamators to tell them to check their credentials.

Our last-walk guy has gone on his way. And now, I have to take care of a few other people. The poor conductor who killed our dog walker was a basket case after the accident, but he didn’t die. His wife had a heart attack when she heard the news.  I had to collect her soul later that night because truth be told, the conductor had a teeny drinking problem, and was on his last chance to straighten out or lose his job. Of course, he did lose his job, and his wife was sure they’d lose their home and their beat-up car. She probably brought on her heart attack, at least she may have thought so. But God had her on his list for that day.

On a happier note. It turns out the dog got into heaven with his owner. They were both on God’s good list. I like happy endings. Don’t you?

HAVE A GREAT LIFE!

Signed,

Death

P.S. Would you want to know when you’re going to die?  Drop us a line here. We’ll be including the results in a post on social media near when Deathlist launches.

Ms. Death Wears Chanel

The woman on the Paris runway during Fashion Week does not wear a black hood nor does she carry a scythe. She is not bent over in the crone position and does not have a warted, hooked nose. If you saw that kind of woman,  she might be selling poisoned apples to a hapless Snow White character, soon to be part of a group of weird short men with names like Sleepy, Dopey, Grumpy, and the rest.  (Can you name them?)

No. This woman is Death. A female princess of darkness as it were. She’s in Paris to strut her beauty and clear her name. Of the former, she might succeed. As to the latter, the chances of clearing her name are remote. But she will try in the novel Deathlist, by Kathryn Atkins.

“Hey, Coco,” the woman behind her in the lineup says as they begin their exit off the stage. Death’s name to the mortals around her is Coco. The woman continues, “Do you smell that?”

“What?” Oh. No. Death thinks to herself. My odor is seeping out. I forgot to hold it at bay and it is not Chanel No. 5!

You see, Death has a terrible smell (think rotting flesh) that always surrounds her unless she expends enough energy to suppress it. Sometimes she fails at it, especially when she’s concentrating on something else. Sometimes she’s just too sad. The odor seeps out of sad tears. Other times she’s happy, and the stench (incredibly enough) squeezes out through the tears of laughter. Nah. Doesn’t make much sense, except to say Death loves clothes. Loves to be beautiful, and really does like humans.

You’ll see. Read Deathlist to find out. And besides, you might like to know when you’re going to die. That is if you believe that there is a Deathlist. I think there is or I wouldn’t have written the book.

~ Kathryn Atkins,  Deathlist Author

 

 

Riding the Day Away

Riding the Day Away

“What would you do if you took a day off?”

Off-off. Off the computer. Off the phone. Off responsibilities. Off the hook to play hooky. Here’s what I’d do. I’d go to the train station. Take the next train out. Doesn’t matter where.

*

I buy a ticket, not checking the destination closely. In fact, I tell the cashier, “Don’t tell me where it’s going.” He nods knowingly as if this is quite common. He smiles into my eyes to keep me from looking at the ticket. He puts it in an envelope even, so I won’t see it!

“Have a good trip.”

I’m standing on the platform and feel the vibration as the train nears. I close my eyes and listen. The hugeness of the train pushes the air as it nears. I am forced to open my eyes so I do not fall, my stability threatened by the rush as the train rumbles into the station. Plus I don’t want to miss its lovely massiveness.

The train looks like the Hogwarts train! Steam pulses from the stack. An impressive grate probes the tracks in the front. And the gigantic wheels squeal and hiss as they roll to a stop in front of me.

“ALL ABOARD”

I pull my eyes from the time-stricken train to look for my ticket, and as I straighten, I realize the smells have changed, and that other travelers are wearing clothes from two centuries ago. Me too!

“ALL ABOARD”

I pick up my skirt and my carpetbag and walk toward the train. As I lift a dainty shoe up to the lowest step, my fluffy white petticoats peek out from under the rich blue satin skirt of my dress, tightly cinched at the waist. I catch a glimpse of myself in the train’s large window as I make my way back to my seat. My hair is bundled on my head, curls frame my face, and a matching blue satin hat accented with feathers perches atop my coiffure.

“TICKET?”

The conductor smiles down at me. He looks like Tom Hanks in “The Polar Express,” which doesn’t surprise me in the least. “Ticket?” he repeats kindly.

“Yes.” I pull the ticket from its little envelope, look down and see that we’re headed to someplace I’ve never heard of. Luckily, that’s exactly where I want to go. I sit back. Close my eyes. And I smile.

Joy seeps into my consciousness. “Hello there,” I say.

“Hello,” she replies. “It’s been too long.”

 

 

 

What Would You Do if You Knew?

I sometimes wish I knew when I was going to die. I’d make different plans. Maybe I’d travel more, worry less. Why worry? What’s to worry about if something can’t kill you? Well, I have thought about that. Living in a mangled body would suck.

Severing one’s fear of death would take one thing off the list. Ha! I don’t worry about dying. I know that I will. Now I can know when. Ah, but the biggie is knowing how. Don’t know that yet. Maybe that’s for later science… hacking the “HOW” code, now that we’ve cracked the “WHEN” code. But does taking that ‘when’ question out of the equation help?

I wonder what a doctor would do for me if he or she knew I was going to die in two days? They certainly wouldn’t need to go to extremes to save my life. If saving my life wasn’t the goal, think of how much money I could save! The doctors would be much better off concentrating on making my last two days fun and restful rather than splitting me open and taking stuff out, to no avail. I’d prefer to be comfortable, thanks.

Meanwhile, what would I do if I knew I were going to die FOR SURE next Thursday? Hop a plane to Paris for three days. Then Venice. Yes. Venice. Florence? Why not? If I could squeeze it in.

That’s it for now. If my date to check out is not next Thursday, then I’ll stick around here for a while.

What about you? Where would YOU go?

What would you do if you knew?

Writer, Author, Published Author

As mere writers, the word “author”  puts fear in our hearts. As mere people, the word “writer” can put fear in our hearts, too.

“We have met the enemy and he is us.” ~ Walt Kelly

While the quote was taken from the comic strip “Pogo” and was designed to help promote environmental awareness on the first “Earth Day” in 1970, the quote is applicable to writers and, dare I say, any creative person. We are afraid of publishing our work. Publishing as in making it public. It’s scary! But why? Because. We. Can. Be. Rejected. We can fail! So of course, we are our own worst enemies. However, it is quintessentially for that reason that we must publish.

Learning is failing better. ~ Kathryn Atkins 🙂

I didn’t know how to author a book, so I wrote and published (10 Reasons to Hire a Professional Writer). Yes, I made a few tactical errors, but I learned so much! We are luImage_008cky to live in an age when we can publish our work without censor from a publishing industry that, while wonderful in its own way (thank you, publishing industry), has made the “author” word fearful. They also made publishing itself nearly impossible. Not so much now. We can author all sorts of stuff. But the coolest part is that we get to practice our art form (our writing) and eventually we can be a golly gosh darn gee published author! We learn every time we try and fail. If we don’t try, we don’t fail, and if we don’t fail, we don’t learn.

I like learning, failing, failing better, and learning more. It makes me better. Not perfect, but better. So, as Martha Stewart says, “And that’s a good thing.”

I love being a writer and love more being an author of two books now. (My second, big-girl book is Giving My Self to the Wind.) I hope you give your self [two words!] to the wind and publish something. Put on your big person panties, and author up. It’s worth it. Oh. . .  and let me know when you publish! Please.