The Poetics of Impermenance: Jorge Luis Borges on the perception of time, learning and reading


Jorge Luis Borges was a famous writer, essayist, and poet from Argentina. His first poem, ‘Hymn to the Sea,’ was published in the magazine Grecia. Today, he is recognized as one of the most influential figures in Argentinian literature. With wild imagination and innovative literary skills, he left his mark in the world literature as well – especially after receiving the first International Publishers’ Prize, the Prix Formentor in 1961. As fluent in many different languages, he was greatly influenced by European culture. What’s noticeable in his work is how he was preoccupied with the theme of time: the fictional world he was creating was very much inspired by esoteric readings in literature, philosophy, and theology.  In the universe of energy, mass, and speed of light, for him, the central question is time, not space. (source)

He writes:

Time is the substance I am made of. Time is a river which sweeps me along, but I am the river; it is a tiger which destroys me, but I am the tiger; it is a fire which consumes me, but I am the fire.

The impermanence of time and things was always a food for thought for him and a greatest value he saw in it, is an opportunity for learning, maturing and really living life:

After a while you learn the subtle difference
Between holding a hand and chaining a soul,

And you learn that love doesn’t mean leaning
And company doesn’t mean security.

And you begin to learn that kisses aren’t contracts
And presents aren’t promises,

And you begin to accept your defeats
With your head up and your eyes open
With the grace of a woman, not the grief of a child,

And you learn to build all your roads on today
Because tomorrow’s ground is too uncertain for plans
And futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight.

After a while you learn…
That even sunshine burns if you get too much.

So you plant your garden and decorate your own soul,
Instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.

And you learn that you really can endure…

That you really are strong

And you really do have worth…

And you learn and learn…

With every good-bye you learn.

He openly showed his love for reading and books.

Personally, I am a hedonistic reader; I have never read a book merely because it was ancient. I read books for the aesthetic emotions they offer me, and I ignore the commentaries and criticism.

Let others pride themselves about how many pages they have written; I’d rather boast about the ones I’ve read.

For every aspiring writer, is a prerequisite to be an avid reader – as from there, every emotion “read” and lived is a fertile soil for every future work. With each reading, book gains new meaning and offers completely new reality:

A book is more than a verbal structure or series of verbal structures; it is the dialogue it establishes with its reader and the intonation it imposes upon his voice and the changing and durable images it leaves in his memory. A book is not an isolated being: it is a relationship, an axis of innumerable relationships.

I think that the reader should enrich what he is reading. He should misunderstand the text; he should change it into something else.

For further diving into the topic of reading and its importance in our lives I recommend:

Are you a ‘deep reader’? 3 reasons why you should nurture this habit

Lean leader is a poetry reader.

How often do you read and what’s your favorite book? Please, share in the comments below.

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Why is poetry (and writing) so important – as seen through the words of writers

Here are three inspirational videos that I believe, if you ever doubted why should you write – will for ever clear up things for you. I hope you will enjoy them as much as I have 🙂

Scott Griffin is a Canadian businessman and philanthropist best known for founding the Griffin Poetry Prize, one of the world’s most generous poetry awards in 2000, and Poetry In Voice, a recitation competition for Canadian high schools. He is also the Chancellor of Bishop’s University. Chancellor Griffin sits on several NGO boards, as a director of Canadian Executive Services Overseas (CESO), a volunteer advisor to CESO, and a director of African Medical and Research Foundation (AMREF) Canada. In 2006, Chancellor Griffin published a memoir entitled My Heart is Africa that recounted his two-year aviation adventure starting in 1996, working for the Flying Doctors Service in Africa. He was appointed an officer of the Order of Canada in December, 2012. His talk explores the importance of poetry in society.

Daniel Tysdal has been a Senior Lecturer in the Department of English at UTSC since 2009. He is the author of three books of poetry and the poetry textbook, The Writing Moment: A Practical Guide to Creating Poems (Oxford University Press 2014). He is the recipient of multiple awards for his work and his research interests include creative writing and poetry. In his talk,  he is going to show you that you are the poet and will walk you through his writing process to showcase the Power of Poetry: to help us remember, grieve and celebrate.

Jarred McGinnis will share his passion for stories and demonstrate the power of words from Speech Act Theory to the genius that is the children’s book ‘That’s Not My Pirate’. Jarred is an American living in London, and the co-founder of the literary variety night, The Special Relationship. His fiction has been commissioned for BBC Radio 4, and appeared in journals in the UK, USA and Ireland. He is In addition to writing fiction, he holds a PhD in Artificial Intelligence.

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Poetry: a savior that comes when you least expect it

Gao Xingjian

Many of us, engaged in reading and writing are aware of transformative power of poetry, healing power and artistic value it brings to our lives. But how far does that really goes? Can you be saved by a poem?

In this enlightening interview, poet an writer Kim Rosen loudly answers, yes:

In the aha! moment that occurs when the mind bursts open—at a breathtaking metaphor or an insight or a chiming among the words—all levels of being human come into alignment. You feel a sudden integration of body, mind, heart and soul. The fragmentation that many experience in the multitasking onrush of modern life cannot withstand a good poem.

For many years she even feared poetry, thinking it was some kind of elite club, secluded for some ‘special’ and very important people. But on the verge of suicidal depression, poetry came when she most needed and literary saved her life:

In the midst of a suicidal depression, poetry poured back into my life, touching me in a way no spiritual or psychological teaching had been able to—literally saving me. The healing did not come through writing poems or even through reading them. It came when I discovered that taking a poem I loved deeply into my life and speaking it aloud caused a profound integration of every aspect of me—physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. I felt a wholeness I had never before experienced.

Further, she proposes we find a poem that really speaks to us and learn it by heart: read it loud as often as we can until it engraves somewhere deep in our soul and help flourish some better and more supportive thoughts. It can help you establish better relationship with yourself and explore sides of your being you didn’t even knew existed before. That’s what poetry does.

But what about writing your own poetry?

Dr. James W. Pennebaker, one of the most widely published researchers on the benefits of writing, says in his book, “Opening Up: The Healing Power of Expressing Emotions”, that writing about emotional topics improves the immune system by reducing

stress, anxiety and depression, improves motivation and aids people in securing new jobs.

About my own personal experience,  I wrote in this post how poetry came back into my life. And it happened to be that sacred, little place I was looking for to be only mine, that I could decorate, erase, fill, create or destroy the way I wanted. I didn’t have to offer any excuses, explanations or justifications for me being me.That kind of comfort is priceless. You learn to accept yourself just the way you are and you see that world isn’t some ugly place that want to make you miserable. It’s the way you see it and live it. That’s why I say: “Writing poetry helps me fall in love with the world, all over again!”

What are your reasons for having poetry in your life?

I didn’t trust it for a moment
but I drank it anyway,
the wine of my own poetry.

It gave me the daring to take hold
of the darkness and tear it down
and cut it into little pieces.

Lalla Ded. (Lalleshwari) (1320–1392)

The poetic determination: Ella Wheeler Wilcox on positive thinking and how that impacts success in life


On a few occasions I have used poems of Ella Wheeler Wilcox in my posts and I have always found her verse to be very empowering and inspirational. For that reason, I’ve decided to explore further her philosophy on life and how that impacted her way of thinking and writing

Ella was born in Johnstown, Wisconsin in 1850 and her writing has made significant influence on the late 19th century american poetry. She began writing her poetry very early and managed to get published by the time she graduated from high school. Her writing is remarked by plain and simple rhyme style, which made her poetry accessible across diverse generations and very popular. She was also famous for writing about everyday human problems and struggles.

Lesser known facts are that at times she faced struggle herself when her work was rejected – once even 10 times. But her continues optimism and faith in persistence gave her courage to endure. She writes:

From reincarnated sources and through prenatal causes I was born with unquenchable hope and unfaltering faith in God and guardian spirits.  I often wept myself to sleep after a day of disappointments and worries but woke in the morning singing aloud with the joy of life.

I always expected wonderful things to happen to me.

In some of my hardest days when everything went wrong with everybody at home and all my manuscripts came back for six weeks at a time without one acceptance, I recall looking out of my little north window upon the lonely road bordered with lonelier Lombardy poplars, and thinking, ‘Before night something beautiful will happen to change everything.’  There was so much I wanted.

…Once I read a sentence which became a life motto to me.  ‘If you haven’t what you like, try to like what you have.’  I bless the author for that phrase it was such a help to me.

The trust she had in her work gave her strength to go through all negative events that followed her writer’s life. Seeing the positive side in every misfortune and the way she cheered herself is timeless wisdom we all as writers can adhere. What kind of power our thoughts have she also wrote in one of her poems:

I hold it true that thoughts are things
Endowed with bodies, breath, and wings,
And that we send them forth to fill
The world with good results – or ill

The desire of wanting something so badly is the drive that goes beyond any negative opinion someone else can hold against us. And in spite all stay gentle and kind:

It is easy to be pleasant when life flows by like a song, but the man worth while is the one who will smile when everything goes dead wrong. For the test of the heart is trouble, and it always comes with years, and the smile that is worth the praises of earth is the smile that shines through the tears.”

Always continue the climb. It is possible for you to do whatever you choose, if you first get to know who you are and are willing to work with a power that is greater than ourselves to do it.

Ella Wheeler Wilcox died in 1919, with poetry collections left behind her: Poems of Passion (1883), A Woman of the World (1904), Poems of Peace(1906), Poems of Experience (1910), and Poems (1919).

For this is wisdom- to love and live
To take what fate or the Gods may give,
To ask no question, to make no prayer,
To kiss the lips and caress the hair,
Speed passion’s ebb as we greet its flow,
To have and to hold, and, in time–let go.

Ella Wheeler Wilcox

To further explore the topic on power of belief, I recommend:

  1. 3 reasons why we should “revisit” our core beliefs, from time to time
  2.  Removing your biggest obstacle towards success: fear of failure

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Where is the inexhaustible source of inspiration for your writing?


I’m going to be quite bold in my next statement and say that it lies in you. You are your most valuable and inexhaustible well of inspiration for any story, poem, article or blog post you want to write. Sounds strange? Now, before you dismiss the rest of the article, let me elaborate a bit:

Often times, we look for external stimulants, information for guidance and ideas for our writing. But I believe that our own actual, raw and vivid experiences are our truest guides in which direction our writing should go. Every event, relationship, travel, struggle, joy, pain, suffering, reasons to be happy…are our best source of inspiration. When you share sincere bits of your personalities, these are the parts that people can relate to most.

You can write a beautiful poem about your ordinary everyday trip to a grocery store (like an ode to strawberries 🙂 ), you can write how technology impacts your life or how you love or dislike your current job…you can write about your need to can find inspiration in children which can trigger some childhood memory and evoke new poem to be written.

But everything is in you. We can just look for some external motivators like current circumstances, sounds or place we are at the moment (I wrote a few poems while being on the plane 🙂 ) that will inspire our writing .

Jorges Luis Borges once said:

A writer – and, I believe, generally all persons – must think that whatever happens to him or her is a resource. All things have been given to us for a purpose, and an artist must feel this more intensely. All that happens to us, including our humiliations, our misfortunes, our embarrassments, all is given to us as raw material, as clay, so that we may shape our art.”

Lessons we learned in our life journey are our greatest teachers and I believe also a huge inspiration for anything further we do in life. And so with writing. I have found that when I share what I learned in my life so far – it’s like opening the door to even greater source of inspiration and it helps me avoid in future some of the mistakes I made in the past.

Or you can write about what you would like to experience – let your wishes and desires simply go wild with your imagination.

As long as you write what you know to be true in life, how you perceive life, beauty, love, pain, simply can’t go wrong with that. You are unique and extraordinary human being with universal skills and experiences. Share and write about that, and your writing will be nothing less but exquisite.

I love all beauteous things,
I seek and adore them;
God hath no better praise,
And man in his hasty days
Is honoured for them.

I too will something make
And joy in the making!
Altho’ tomorrow it seem’
Like the empty words of a dream
Remembered, on waking.

Robert Seymour Bridges 

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9 literary journals that want your poems – now!

One of the things I like to do in my leisure time is to brows some very interesting online literary magazines as it helps in my inspiration but I also like to be informed about the newest trends in literature and writing styles.

As a result of my research I managed to compile a list of 9 magazines that pretty much on regular basis accept submissions for new poems and prose, and of course you might find some of them interesting in your publication process.

So here it is:

1.Hootreview. This is maybe one of my favorite. They focus on a micropoetry and microfiction, giving a real chance to aspiring writers.

2.32poems. They accept unsolicited poetry year round and also simultaneous submissions. As a rule, preference is given to shorter poems that fit on a single page (about 32 lines). For more visit their guidelines page.

3.Aleola journal of poetry and art.

This journal of poetry and prose was created to preserve the vanishing species known as “enjoyable poetry”. Ours is not the poetry or fiction enjoyed by connoisseurs of modernism today, filled with inexplicable juxtapositions of meaningless words that leave the reader feeling confused, fatigued, and overcome by a vague ennui. No; the sole requirement for our poetry and prose is that it expands the mind, captures the interest, and can be enjoyed by the average reader. We welcome nature poems, imagistic poetry, humor, and literature that tells a story.

4. Allegro poetry magazine aims to publish the best contemporary poetry. March and September issues are for general poems and June and December for poems on a set theme. It is a UK based online magazine, published four times a year.

5.Knot magazine is currently accepting submissions for fall issue. They have a large spectra of poetry genres included. Worth checking it out.

6.Juked. In publication since 1999, this is an independent journal that appears online as well as in annual print issues. They don’t adhere to any particular themes or tastes and are fond of aspiring writers 🙂

7.Rattle. This magazine accepts submissions all year around and if your are into translating poems – this is a place for you.

8. Thrush. If you like to experiment with your writing and flirt with unusual, thrush journal is one of the best publication references you can get:

Our taste is eclectic. We want poems that move us, a strong sense of imagery, emotion, with interesting and surprising use of language, words that resonate.  We want fresh. We want voice.

Established and new poets are encouraged to submit. Experimental poetry is fine, randomness is fine also. However, we do not want experimental and random just for the sake of calling it such. No long poems. We prefer a poem that will fit on one page. We are not interested in inspirational poetry or philosophical musings.

9. Contrary. As the name of the journal says it deals with contrary issues, thoughts, attitudes, questions…Publishes 4 times a year and new, summer cycle is open until June 1st. Don’t miss this opportunity, on the contrary! 🙂

I hope you find this list interesting and it helps you in your publishing journey.

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Kahlil Gibran’s timeless wisdom on the purpose of poetry and meaning of work


Kahlil Gibran, born in Lebanon, was a poet, artist, philosophical essayist and a novelist,who emigrated to New York in 1885. His work, written both in Arabic and English was very much influenced by the European modernists of the nineteenth century, with deep mystical, philosophical and spiritual understanding of the world.

Gibran had simple, yet direct style and he used writing to liberate himself; to portrait immigrant life of his family and topics relating to alienation, disruption, industry that eats natural beauty – were often present in his work. For him, poetry was an ideal vehicle to transcend the feelings of emptiness, longing and a way to communicate most intimate desires:

Poetry is a deal of joy and pain and wonder, with a dash of the dictionary. Trees are poems the earth writes upon the sky, We fell them down and turn them into paper, That we may record our emptiness.

How we experience the world around us and allow our mind to make it’s on meaning and relations, that’s how our language is going to be:

All our words are but crumbs that fall down from the feast of the mind.

He also recognized that without innate feeling and sense of love, all our efforts in any life direction are simply futile. In his, maybe the most popular piece “The Prophet” (1923) in 26 prose poems he discusses and shares his view  on most intriguing topics of human kind, ranging from marriage, laws and friendship to the meaning of work, punishment, pain and joy. Even though it wasn’t seen as a piece of distinct value among American critics, it achieved cult status among American youth for several generations.

For Gibran work equals love:

And all urge is blind save when there is knowledge,
And all knowledge is vain save when there is work,
And all work is empty save when there is love;
And when you work with love you bind yourself to yourself, and to one another, and to God.
And what is it to work with love?

Work is love made visible.
And if you cannot work with love but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work and sit at the gate of the temple and take alms of those who work with joy.
For if you bake bread with indifference, you bake a bitter bread that feeds but half man’s hunger.

Once we fuel our work with passion and love, it’s much probable that we will achieve our goals. And there is nothing more joyful, than the alignment of our values, passions and purpose. Than work is not just work. It becomes eager part of life, intentional and deliberate living, bringing meaning to all aspects of our lives.

If you would like further to explore similar topics, I recommend:

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Are you losing readership? Probably you are making one of these 3 mistakes


When I was younger, I didn’t like very much to read. I liked books and I liked to collect them, but because of the nature of my studies and later my work, I was already so much time “wrapped” in books (researching specialized information) that I didn’t find any interest in spending my free time reading, again. 🙂 So, poetry and prose were not much on my reading menu. But while reading, what I liked the most is that I can search for targeted information whenever I need it and access it any time.

Now, with time my needs and wants changed. I do enjoy reading more poetry and prose. I find it relaxing and comforting. It enhances my writing, my creativity, my way of thinking and self-confidence, my knowledge of languages…the benefits are numerous. I still do search for certain information, relating to skills and knowledge I’m interest in, but the existence of Internet in last 20 years has changed that for us in many ways.

So, one of the reasons to see a decline in your reading stats might be:

1.You don’t know who are you writing for.

You need to know your audience; what are their needs and wants, because it changes with time and evolves. As a writer you need to be able to sense their reading pulse and offer types of information that will attract and intrigue them. Writing also means fostering a community, sharing mutual insights and experiences. This is the first thing that needs to be cleared up, and it will undoubtedly improve your writing too.

2. You don’t recognize the purpose of your writing.

Here, I mean you do need to have clearly defined  what kind of information you are offering; As I said, people do like targeted information, especially if you are a non-fiction writer. As a fiction writer do you have recognizable style, writing voice that your readers can relate to.

3. Your writing is more like ‘a stale pond’ instead of a ‘running river’.

What I mean is that do you offer fresh content on regular basis? Is your content related to contemporary topics and events that people are genuinely interested in?

Do you blindly follow one literary style or do you like to experiment? The point is even in the actual action of writing we do need to be somehow innovative and creative. You like haikus? Great! Next time try to write a longer story. Maybe you could share how actually you like writing short forms. Why? What is there that excites you? Believe it or not, your readers want to read that stuff as well. How do you create, what invigorates you. Share small pieces of you in new, affirmative ways and watch your audience grow.

Do you have any tips and tricks on attracting more readers? Please share in the comments below 🙂

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How to use poetry as a self-development tool


We all know how change can be scary, wanting from you to let go of your previous beliefs and habits and pushing you out of your comfort zone. It’s a work you have to do on your own and there is no right way on how to embrace change on your growth journey. I often like to say that we will meet success in life, once we are able to master ourselves.

What I mean by that?

Let me explain:

Becoming too much immersed and attached to our ego can transform into a real hinder and obstacle on our path of self-improvement. Once we are able to conquer our mind, the self-awareness of who we truly are begins to expand. The motivation and inspiration behind the process is unique, personal and for that purpose we can use variety of tools. Hence plain reading text-books and taking workshops will do little unless you become really motivated and inspired to take a leap towards positive change.Poetry can be noninvasive tool that in  one non-judgmental manner helps you improve your life. It can improve your creativity, decision-making and you can become even more empathetic. When you are inspired by the poetry you read, when you write your own thoughts, change occurs silently, unnoticeably removing fear, bringing maturity to personality at all levels. That’s why I think that it can be a better approach to self-development than reading self-help books and learning lessons like at school class.

Here are just few examples how you can use poetry for self-development purposes:

Find inspirational poems and read them as often as you can.

Select about 5-10 poems that you like and that really ‘speak’to your heart. They should be aligned with your personal goals and what you want to achieve in life.

Write them down in your notebook.

By writing down the words, it’s easier for words to enter your subconsciousness, you are giving them life.You are already creating new experience while connecting with the words in a meaningful way. You can also write down any new idea or comment that comes to your mind while reading the poems.

Find your own inspirational meaning.

Read your poems slowly, absorbing in every stanza. You can use those poems even for a meditation practice. Find most suitable interpretation behind the poet’s words that is motivational for you. You will be more open to what writer is trying to tell you and you will pave your own road towards achieving self-development goals.

Inspired by poems, develop your own affirmative sayings.

Affirmations are powerful way for us to take action. By repeating them we become more inclined to make a change – we will experience desired results only by taking timely inspired actions, where fear is replaced by curiosity about our own potentials and ego by desire to become a better person.

Life is like a sandwich!

Birth as one slice,
and death as the other.
What you put in-between
the slices is up to you.

Is your sandwich tasty or sour?

Allan Rufus

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Elizabeth Bishop on the importance of travel and richness of our inner world


Elizabeth Bishop was an American poet, born in 1911. Very early, both of her parents left, so most of her life was marked with moving from city to city, country to country and living with different relatives. For her life time she published only around 100 poems, but she was quite a perfectionist, constantly rewriting and editing her work. In the later years of her career she was globally recognized for her work, winning in the 1956 Pulitzer Prize for her collection, Poems: North & South/A Cold Spring (Houghton Mifflin, 1955).

Her writing is best known for the usage of rich descriptions, giving sensual experience of her physical world to the reader, like in this poem:

Arrival At Santos

Here is a coast; here is a harbor;
here, after a meager diet of horizon, is some scenery:
impractically shaped and–who knows?–self-pitying mountains,
sad and harsh beneath their frivolous greenery,

with a little church on top of one. And warehouses,
some of them painted a feeble pink, or blue,
and some tall, uncertain palms.

For a subsequent amount of time she lived in South America, where especially the stay in Brazil has made a profound influence on her work, which can be seen in her Questions of Travel (1965) poetry collection. In many of the poems, in this collection she raises question, why do we have the need for new experiences? How do we interact with something that is foreign to us? And what and where exactly is home?

In this poem, Question of travel she writes:

Think of the long trip home.
Should we have stayed at home and thought of here?
Where should we be today?
Is it right to be watching strangers in a play
in this strangest of theaters?
What childishness is it that while there’s a breath of life
in our bodies, we are determined to rush
to see the sun the other way around?
The tiniest green hummingbird in the world?
To stare at some inexplicable old stonework,
inexplicable and impenetrable,
at any view,
instangly seen and always, always delightful?
Oh, must we dream our dreams
and have them, too?
And have we room
for one more folded sunset, still quite warm?

But surely it would have been a pity
not to have seen the trees along this road,
really exaggerated in their beauty,
not to have seen them gesturing
like noble pantomimists, robed in pink.
—Not to have had to stop for gas and heard
the sad, two-noted, wooden tune
of disparate wooden clogs
carelessly clacking over
a grease-stained filling-station floor.
(In another country the clogs would all be tested.
Each pair there would have identical pitch.)
—A pity not to have heard
the other, less primitive music of the fat brown bird
who sings above the broken gasoline pump
in a bamboo church of Jesuit baroque:
three towers, five silver crosses.
—Yes, a pity not to have pondered,
blurr-dly and inconclusively,
on what connection can exist for centuries
between the crudest wooden footwear
and, careful and finicky,
the whittled fantasies of wooden cages.
—Never to have studied history in
the weak calligraphy of songbirds’ cages.
—And never to have had to listen to rain
so much like politicians’ speeches:
two hour of unrelenting oratory
and then a sudden golden silence
in which the traveller takes a notebook, writes:

“Is it lack of imagination that makes us come
to imagined places, not just stay at home?
Or could Pascal have been entirely right
about just sitting quietly in one’s room?

Continent, city, country, society:
the choice is never wide and never free.
And here, or there…No. Should we have stayed at home,
wherever that may be?”

Among other themes, Bishop plays around with the notions of identity and its relation to the understanding of “being at home”, and “belonging somewhere”. We observe and absorb new experience, but how that impacts our inner world stays individualistic and personal. She further stirs thoughts and emotions on questions like: does travel makes us more aware of who we truly are, where do we come from and where we are heading?

How deeply rooted are beliefs? How the change of environment can enhance our attitudes and the way we see/perceive things?

Bishop implies that once we are self-confident enough, home is where we are. We don’t have to go to search for something out there, it’s our inner world that requires the most attention and nurturing.

She writes:

All my life I have lived and behaved very much like the sandpiper – just running down the edges of different countries and continents, ‘looking for something’.

New experiences are important. They shape our personalities, but once you begin to live your purpose, becoming who you truly are, you are at home. And your home will be with you wherever you go.

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