Pleasure Deficit Disorder

tell me a story
Pleasure Deficit Disorder

Orgasm: The Cure for Hunger
in the Western Woman

TED Talk Speaker: Nicole Daedone

Post By Jennifer Kiley

Post Thursday 7th August 2014

WARNING: Material Not Appropriate for Children

The Female Orgasm: Pleasure Deficit Disorder (Cultural). Returned to the capacity to perceive and receive pleasure.

Pharma working on developing female Viagra. DSM5: new disorder: Hypoactive Female Sexuality Desire Disorder.

Cure is Orgasm. Not a fleeting moment of climax. Orgasm works with woman’s body. Who you are and how your particular Orgasm works.

Dalai Lama says: Western Women will change the world.

Nicole says: Women around the world will change the world.
Turned on women will change the world by feeling the desire for affection that we all have.

These are some of the topics Nicole talks about during her talk on this video. For most people, it is a delicate subject  to talk about or to listen to. With Nicole you feel quite relaxed. She uses humor to relax people into the subject of Female Orgasm. It is an important subject. To be able to let your body respond to the touch of pressure that releases a wave of physical spasms of pure pleasure is for a great many women a difficult process. For many women it is an impossibility. But it doesn’t have to be. It doesn’t have to trigger flashbacks for those adults who had been sexually abused as a child. There is a way to heal and to be able to reach a place where self-satisfying can become something pleasurable, frequent and something you do not have to fear. You may never want to share this with another human being. But you may want to eventually be able to experience this new found pleasure with a partner. Female Orgasm Therapy is a scary and probably an embarrassing prospect for a great many women. Listen to Nicole speak. She may help you to change your mind. <3 jkm

TED Talk: Nicole Daedone Orgasm:The Cure for Hunger in the Western Woman
TED posted: June 11, 2011

Nicole Daedone is a sought-after speaker, author, and educator focusing on the intersection between orgasm, intimacy, and life. She is the founder of OneTaste, a cutting-edge company bringing a new definition of orgasm to women. The practice at the heart of her work is called OM or Orgasmic Meditation. OM uniquely combines the tradition of extended orgasm with Nicole’s own interest in Zen Buddhism, mystical Judaism and semantics. Helping to foster a new conversation about orgasm —one that’s real, relevant, and intelligent—she has inspired thousands of students to make OM a part of their everyday lives.

Nicole graduated from San Francisco State University with a degree in semantics and gender communication. She went on to found the popular avant garde art gallery 111 Minna Gallery in SoMa before moving on to OneTaste. Nicole is the author of Slow Sex: The Art and Craft of the Female Orgasm (Grand Central/Hachette, May 2011) and has appeared on ABC’s Nightline. Her work has been featured in the New York Times, the New York Post, the San Francisco Chronicle, and 7×7 Magazine, among others, and her writing has appeared in Tricycle magazine. In his #1 New York Times Bestseller The 4-Hour Body, Timothy Ferriss calls the OM practice “required education for every man on the planet.”

For more about OneTaste and OM, visit Nicole’s blog appears at

Raised in Los Gatos, CA, Nicole now lives in San Francisco.

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amazing visions

A Short Film

Post by Jennifer Kiley

Post Wednesday 16th July 2014





Here - I give you: “MACROSTRUCTURE”

“MACROSTRUCTURE” – Eric Schockmel

Inspired by science and video games, Macrostructure is the first episode in a micro-series and story world entitled “What If You Created Artificial Life And It Started Worshiping You”. We are taken on a 3D animated journey through a world inhabited by synthetic life forms and the self-aware machines who manufacture, control, and recycle them.

Like or share if you want to see more episodes.
Preview how it continues:
Further infos:

About my Very Tortured Friend, Peter

poetry out loud - day title saturday About my Very Tortured Friend, Peter
Written by Charles Bukowski
Post Created by Jk the secret keeper
Post Created on Friday 27th September 2013
Posted On Saturday 5th October 2013

Poetry Out Loud

About my Very Tortured Friend, Peter by Charles Bukowski [read by Tom O'Bedlam]

About My Very Tortured Friend, Peter
By Charles Bukowski

he lives in a house with a swimming pool
and says the job is
killing him.
he is 27. I am 44. I can’t seem to
get rid of
him. his novels keep coming
back. “what do you expect me to do?” he screams
“go to New York and pump the hands of the
“no,” I tell him, “but quit your job, go into a
small room and do the
“but I need ASSURANCE, I need something to
go by, some word, some sign!”
“some men did not think that way:
Van Gogh, Wagner—”
“oh hell, Van Gogh had a brother who gave him
paints whenever he
needed them!”

“look,” he said, “I’m over at this broad’s house today and
this guy walks in. a salesman. you know
how they talk. drove up in this new
car. talked about his vacation. said he went to
Frisco—saw Fidelio up there but forgot who
wrote it. now this guy is 54 years
old. so I told him: ‘Fidelio is Beethoven’s only
opera.’ and then I told
him: ‘you’re a jerk!’ ‘whatcha mean?’ he
asked. ‘I mean, you’re a jerk, you’re 54 years old and
you don’t know anything!’”

“what happened
“I walked out.”
“you mean you left him there with

“I can’t quit my job,” he said. “I always have trouble getting a
job. I walk in, they look at me, listen to me talk and
they think right away, ah ha! he’s too intelligent for
this job, he won’t stay
so there’s really no sense in hiring
now, YOU walk into a place and you don’t have any trouble:
you look like an old wino, you look like a guy who needs a
job and they look at you and they think:
ah ha!: now here’s a guy who really needs work! if we hire
him he’ll stay a long time and work

“do any of those people,” he asks “know you are a
writer, that you write poetry?”
“you never talk about
it. not even to
me! if I hadn’t seen you in that magazine I’d
have never known.”
“that’s right.”
“still, I’d like to tell these people that you are a
“I’d still like to
tell them.”
“well, they talk about you. they think you are just a
horseplayer and a drunk.”
“I am both of those.”
“well, they talk about you. you have odd ways. you travel alone.
I’m the only friend you
“they talk you down. I’d like to defend you. I’d like to tell
them you write
“leave it alone. I work here like they
do. we’re all the same.”
“well, I’d like to do it for myself then. I want them to know why
I travel with
you. I speak 7 languages, I know my music—”
“forget it.”
“all right, I’ll respect your
wishes. but there’s something else—”
“I’ve been thinking about getting a
piano. but then I’ve been thinking about getting a
violin too but I can’t make up my
“buy a piano.”
“you think

he walks away
thinking about

I was thinking about it
too: I figure he can always come over with his
violin and more
sad music.

Confessions of a depressed comic

tell me a story
Confessions of a depressed comic
TEDTalk: Kevin Breel
Notations by Jennifer Kiley
Created 28th September 2013
Posted Thursday 3rd October 2013

Kevin Breel: Confessions of a depressed comic — TEDTalk

Published on Sept 27, 2013
Kevin Breel didn’t look like a depressed kid: team captain, at every party, funny and confident. But he tells the story of the night he realized that — to save his own life — he needed to say four simple words.

Mental Health is a serious situation in this country as well as in the rest of the world. People need to come out of the closet with what they are feeling and what they are dealing with on a daily basis. The people around them need to show more understanding and compassion and not judge how any one person is going to behave. Television, the news, media, fictional films and stories, distort how people are who suffer from depression, bipolar, schizophrenia, agoraphobia, panic disorders, the list is so long the DSM-5 has over 300 diagnoses. Before anyone judges anyone, be sure you are not amongst those who have their own mental condition in which to deal.

I am bipolar and have co-morbidity with several other diagnoses. Nothing stops me from living my life. I do not hide who I am. It is important to be truthful to myself and the world I live in. Secrets only bury one deeper into the darkness. I write myself out of the darkness when I get depressed and when I am feeling manic I write poems, work on other creative projects, I create posts for my blog “the secret keeper.” It keeps me alive and gives me something to do that makes me feel I am contributing to changing the way things are seen and maybe making something new recognized as a possibility.

Depression is a serious issue and a difficult state of mind that overwhelms the persons who experience it. Suicide is often the solution chosen by those who cannot tolerate the pain any longer. It is a wretched state to be in. The darkness surrounds you and pulls you under so deep, you feel like you will be smothered by the need to destroy yourself, to rip yourself apart. It makes me angry there is so little understanding of how devastating the feelings are when you are overwhelmed by depression. How anyone can tell you to control it, you have not reason to feel depressed. It is as though they feel you have any control. To think where you are in life or how much you have or how rich you might be, should make it impossible for you to feel depressed. Like those things have anything to do with it.

All the treasures of the world cannot stop depressions from happening. If they are holding on to you, you have to let the depression works its way out of you. It doesn’t do it by command. Meds don’t always effect it. With myself, they do absolutely nothing. I’ve tried so many different pills and combinations, I got tired of my brain feeling like it was being held under sedation and water at the same time. The ability to think was null and void. At least with depression, if one struggles, it is a creative tool with great depth. If one is able to channel the energy of depression, the creative muse delivers gifts of such depth, one would not expect to find while feeling so destructive towards one’s self. It opens up a magic doorway to knowledge not available through any other source.

I am not advocating for depression. But using it while it is punishing you, have benefits you won’t find any other time. I would let go of the depression if it were possible, even with what is produced from within the depth of their darkness. There are things in the dark one needs sometimes to find for a better understanding of life.

So speak out to end the stigma. Help people to understand what depression feels like. Talk to everyone who will listen. End the oppression from the outside to help the depression inside of you.  by Jennifer Kiley

smoky light leads to center light of universewhite light luring the spirit away

Related Site: You Can NOT Be Replaced: LINK

Related Site: Alone In the Darkness: LINK

Spontaneous — A Need To Talk

Spontaneous — A Need To Talk
Tupac Shakur Wrote His Own Death

Written by Jennifer Kiley
Post Created Monday 2nd September 2013
Posted on Monday 2nd September 2013

While searching out something to help me understand what I am feeling at this moment, I came upon an article on Tupac Shakur, who wasn’t diagnosed but there are beliefs he was bipolar. It shows in his lyrics and street-rap. The up and down moods. I have been in my own up and down spiral. Manic and now depressed. There is not direct reason or evidence you notice. It comes on suddenly and smashes the world inside and around you.

Tupac Shakur

Tupac Shakur

Every thing becomes so heavy. The pain shuts you down. Nothing else matters. Pushing the world away. Wanting to run away, feels like the only thing to do. There’s been too much stimulation from the high I have been in. Playing games with Shawn. Making them up as we go along. Being inventive. It was exciting and fun. I let myself enjoy the moment. Rather then being so driven. But now the energy has been pulled away from me. The excitement has disappeared. Now I just want to poof! disappear into nothingness.

 It took five attempts till they killed him

It took five attempts till they killed him

Here is a small section of what I read from the first article, which inspired this post, I chose in PsychCentral’s Blog Post: Tupac Shakur & Bipolar Disorder

Wordsworth and Coleridge define poetry as, “The spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings,” and written by someone “possessed of more than usual organic sensibility, but also thought long and deep.” Tupac Shakur’s confessional poetry swims in powerful emotion mixed with straight truth found in his sensibility brought forth through deep thought and contemplation coupled with observation of the world around him. The need to seek and manifest truth sits at the heart of Shakur who was often loathed for his hard core vision of truth rooted in his ongoing “spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings,” which flow in his rhythmic lyrics, his beats, and his tone. Honest self-expression that overflows with emotion and carries “organic sensibility” and “thought long and deep are unveiled:”


Now as I stand here, a man here

Not a perfect one, but a searching one

Seek in another, blazing time

Sound crazy but I’m actually trying to escape my mind….

From out the darkness I struggle to see the light ….

But all of them will dream

That I did it my way

In the event of my demise

by Tupac Shakur

They claim that I’m violent, just cause I refuse to be silent

These hypocrites are having fits, cause I’m not buying it

Defying it, envious because I will rebel against

Any oppressor, and this is known as self defense

I show no mercy, they claim that I’m the lunatic.

by Tupac Shakur

Sometimes when I’m alone I Cry, Cause I am on my own.
The tears I cry are bitter and warm. They flow with life but take no form
I Cry because my heart is torn.I find it difficult to carry on.
If I had an ear to confiding, I would cry among my treasured friend,
but who do you know that stops that long,to help another carry on.
The world moves fast and it would rather pass by.
Then to stop and see what makes one cry,so painful and sad.
And sometimes…I Cry and no one cares about why.

My feelings are he knew he was going to die. Several attempts had been made before his life ended, being taken out in an ambush. He was beautiful and sensitive. Tupac Shakur’s words were honest, sensitive and direct.

What is the point of life if you don’t live it honestly, sensitively and direct. Don’t waste your time trying to make life pass by filling it with ways to “pass the time.” BE REAL IN THE MOMENT. Going mindless and numb from car crashes, to near drownings inside, what is the point of being alive if you aren’t alive.

At this moment, I am in a depressed state. A bipolar depressed state, which comes with a side of thoughts and strong urges to commit suicide. I feel like I have pulled back from who I am. Trying to be someone else. I have no real idea of what that means but I feel like I have lost myself. The sky is falling like a meteorite. It’s going to crash through the earth’s atmosphere and like the scene in the film ‘Donnie Darko,’ a jet engine falls from the sky and crashes in through the roof over his bedroom. It kills him. Don’t worry, it’s a weird film and you know this from moment one of the film. Highly recommend if you like quirky and Jake Gyllenhaal.

The place I am going is where life happens. We are never expecting some of what happens. It can be sudden and drastic, life altering change. I love who Tupac Shakur was. His life was real. He lived real. It can be dangerous but it is also exhilarating. It makes you want to live but it makes you want to die, too. At least for those bipolar and some other forms of brain malfunctions.

I have lived the life of a cat and used up many of my lives through car crashes so bad, no way should have survived. I did through the acts of miracles. One person didn’t and another friend and I broke our necks. He is a painter/artist with exhibitions behind him and before him but breaking his neck incapacitated him. He is now able to draw and do some artwork. Mine has effected me by giving me extreme pain. I finally had to endure neck surgery and had a disc removed and a plate put in to secure my neck from paralyzing me. I came split seconds away from almost drowning three times. Was rescued each time, just before I would have inhaled water.

One is never assured a perfect and safe life but we have been given this unusual opportunity to experience all of our senses, at least most of us have. Being depressed and feeling suicidal is an intense experience. In Bipolar In Order, you learn to accept these feelings of being down as part of the experience of being bipolar. Learning to go through the feelings are part of your being alive. Let the feelings be with you. Instead of a curse, I’d rather see them as an intense learning experience.

Ride the wave of depression, just watch out for the under toad, as the son in ‘The World According to Garp’ would say. He always thought the undertow in the ocean sounded like the under toad. That’s what it became to Walt, who ended up having a very short but loving life with a great imagination that was nurtured. The author of ‘Garp,’ John Irving, also, wrote the book ‘Hotel New Hampshire.’ One of the characters, Lily, had a particular saying. It was: “Keep passing the open windows.” Obviously, this line is a euphemism for don’t kill yourself.

It really isn’t a good idea even though it seems so at the time. It does bring on a powerful urge to want to check out from this life but it is only temporary as a bad idea for a solution. Most of the time it is because you can’t handle the strength and intensity of the overwhelming feelings of being lost, feeling hopeless, and feeling like there is no one out there, when deep down you know there is. If you feel you need a hotline, I will post some contacts at the bottom of this post. Don’t give up. You think if you don’t matter, why put yourself through horrible feelings of pain you know are always going to make return visits and always bring new more horrible surprises of deeper and darker downward spirals. “This to shall pass.”

It makes me wonder if Tupac wasn’t setting himself up with his words and songs. These are just my own observations coming from how intense he was in everything he did. He was right out there. He may have set himself up subconsciously to be killed rather than having to do it himself. I am just theorizing. My thoughts are not based on anything I know for a fact. I just know how it feels to be self-destructive.

I have written myself out of the dark place I was falling into. It can be worked through. Everyone needs to find the way that works for them. Some people run or walk their dog. Others paint or cook. What you need to do is find a constructive way to be with your depression and the strong urges to want to end your life. That is what suicide is, besides just a call for help or an escape from the pain or a hopeless situation. You want to feel you’re not alone.

If you are being bullied because you’re different, gay, lesbian, transgender or any other feeling different, you are not alone. We, who are different are here and we all want to help one another. Bullies enjoy feeling the power over others and try to steal yours by insulting you, putting you down, trying to make you feel less about yourself, or they may even get violent. They need to be stopped and you need to turn to someone to help you through this. There are many people you can contact who will help you. It may be a matter of needing someone to help you understand what is happening inside you and how you feel inside about what is happening to you.

Just do not choose the option to kill yourself. Take away killing yourself as an answer to making the pain and hurt go away. I promise I will post numbers and other choices of contacts. Use them if you need help.

If You Need Help. You Are Being Bullied. Or If You Are Feeling Depressed And Thinking About Harming Yourself Or Thinking About Suicide. Please Do Not Harm Or Kill Yourself. There Are Better Ways To End The Pain And Hurt. I Have Listed IMALIVE. A Site Online Where You Can Chat With Someone If You Are In A Bad Place.

Other Ways To Help Yourself Through The Depression Or Feeling Pain And Hurt Is Through Creating. Find What You Like To Do That Helps To Calm You Down And Find Relief From The Pressure You Are Feeling. Please Contact A Hotline Or Go To The Online Chat. I Hope You Find This Helps. Just Stay Safe. Don’t Let The Bullies Win. They Are Not Worth Letting In. You Are More Important Than They Are. A Great Film To Watch If You Are Being Bullied Is The Movie “Bully.” Please Let The Good People In Who Want To Help You. Be Careful. Remember You Are Not Alone. We Care. Reach Out. Let Someone Reach Back.

The Numbers to Contact are below:
TALK: 800-273-8255
SUICIDE HOTLINE: 800-784-2433

logo imalive  chat

chatnow  iamalive


IMALIVE — Live Chat

Please if you feel in crisis and need someone to talk to use anyone of the above contacts.

Sometimes You Just Feel Invisible

a divider for post no. 5 love fav new one thinner

Sometimes You Just Feel Invisible
Written by Jennifer Kiley
Illustrations of Family Companion Animals
Photographs by Shawn MacKenzie
Post Created Wednesday 17th July 2013
Posted On Saturday 20th July 2013
X-Treme Haiku Saturday

Schroeder-the Jekyll & Hyde of Cats-kisses & snuggles switching instantaneously to bites & growls. And then there's Saki-our Amazon Parrot-my protector-she bites me when she thinks I am in danger. OUCH!!! One of her satisfactions is when she imitates Snoopy on his Sopwith Camel dive-bombing The Red Baron-in this instance replace TRB with Shawn-cannot get near me when Saki is sitting on my shoulder or near me in anyway. A true love/hate relationship with Shawn who gives her peanut treats whenever Saki asks. Now look at the love between S & S. It is a labour of love. In this photograph, Saki has only just started to fly over to us. Her life before us was trauma filled & neglect. Loved Shawn first but switched over to me. Now we are symbiotic & copacetic & share everything-Food & Love & Snuggles & I get a Heroic Protector who sleeps/sits on me when I write or doing anything at all. A Love Note for My Two Favorite Cuddlers.  1280x960

Schroeder-the Jekyll & Hyde of Cats-kisses & snuggles switching instantaneously to bites & growls. And then there’s Saki-our Amazon Parrot-my protector-she bites me when she thinks I am in danger. OUCH!!! One of her satisfactions is when she imitates Snoopy on his Sopwith Camel dive-bombing The Red Baron-in this instance replace TRB with Shawn-cannot get near me when Saki is sitting on my shoulder or near me in anyway. A true love/hate relationship with Shawn-who gives her peanut treats whenever Saki asks. Now look at the love between S & S. It is a labour of love. In this photograph-Saki has only just started to fly over to us. Her life before us was trauma filled & neglect. Loved Shawn first but switched over to me. Now we are symbiotic & copacetic. We share everything-Food-Love & Snuggles. I get an Heroic Protector who sleeps/eats/sits/snuggles/dances on me when I write or do anything. A Love Note for My Two Favorite Cuddlers. Kisses-Jk [One of Their Two Mums] ps. I am not Invisible to them. They need me as I need them & want me in their lives.

Sometimes You Just Feel Invisible
By Jennifer Kiley
17th July 2013

Sometimes you just feel
Invisible no sight no
Depth of shape no dimensions

Vision forward moves
Past forgotten locked in lost
Memories committed done

Frozen locked in time
Tripping tricking psyche deep
Confusion delusions thoughts

Trapping murderers
Vanquish shadows’ reflection
Innocence stolen destroyed

Perversion alive
Evil plans continue then
New images prevailing

Subconscious nightmares
Dreams retold when awakened
Bulldozers crashing breaking

Home protects safe place
Breathe panic out with symptoms
Expand light growing healing

© Jk 2013

Lakme-Delibes: Flower Duet — Joan Sutherland
Combining Art With Love
— Music Video — All Digital Art Created by Jennifer Kiley

a divider for post no. 5 love fav new one thinner

Make Good Art

colours multi psychedelic divider for posts new

Make Good Art
Fantastic Mistakes
Neil Gaiman Speaks
Post Created by Jk the secret keeper
Illustrated by j. kiley
Created Post June 9th 2013
Posted June 30th 2013

make glorious mistakes by j.kiley © jennifer kiley 2013

Philadelphia University of the Arts — 134th Commencement Speech — May 17th 2012 — Neil Gaiman — Make Good Art — Fantastic Mistakes

Neil Gaiman — Make Good Art

I never really expected to find myself giving advice to people graduating from an establishment of higher education. I never graduated from any such establishment. I never even started at one. I escaped from school as soon as I could, when the prospect of four more years of enforced learning before I’d become the writer I wanted to be was stifling.

I got out into the world, I wrote, and I became a better writer the more I wrote, and I wrote some more, and nobody ever seemed to mind that I was making it up as I went along, they just read what I wrote and they paid for it, or they didn’t, and often they commissioned me to write something else for them.

Which has left me with a healthy respect and fondness for higher education that those of my friends and family, who attended Universities, were cured of long ago.

Looking back, I’ve had a remarkable ride. I’m not sure I can call it a career, because a career implies that I had some kind of career plan, and I never did. The nearest thing I had was a list I made when I was 15 of everything I wanted to do: to write an adult novel, a children’s book, a comic, a movie, record an audiobook, write an episode of Doctor Who… and so on. I didn’t have a career. I just did the next thing on the list.

So I thought I’d tell you everything I wish I’d known starting out, and a few things that, looking back on it, I suppose that I did know. And that I would also give you the best piece of advice I’d ever got, which I completely failed to follow.

neil gaiman tree hugging  633x446

neil gaiman tree hugging

First of all: When you start out on a career in the arts you have no idea what you are doing.

This is great. People who know what they are doing know the rules, and know what is possible and impossible. You do not. And you should not. The rules on what is possible and impossible in the arts were made by people who had not tested the bounds of the possible by going beyond them. And you can.

If you don’t know it’s impossible it’s easier to do. And because nobody’s done it before, they haven’t made up rules to stop anyone doing that again, yet.

neil gaiman quote on projects

Secondly, If you have an idea of what you want to make, what you were put here to do, then just go and do that.

And that’s much harder than it sounds and, sometimes in the end, so much easier than you might imagine. Because normally, there are things you have to do before you can get to the place you want to be. I wanted to write comics and novels and stories and films, so I became a journalist, because journalists are allowed to ask questions, and to simply go and find out how the world works, and besides, to do those things I needed to write and to write well, and I was being paid to learn how to write economically, crisply, sometimes under adverse conditions, and on time.

Sometimes the way to do what you hope to do will be clear cut, and sometimes it will be almost impossible to decide whether or not you are doing the correct thing, because you’ll have to balance your goals and hopes with feeding yourself, paying debts, finding work, settling for what you can get.

Something that worked for me was imagining that where I wanted to be – an author, primarily of fiction, making good books, making good comics and supporting myself through my words – was a mountain. A distant mountain. My goal.

And I knew that as long as I kept walking towards the mountain I would be all right. And when I truly was not sure what to do, I could stop, and think about whether it was taking me towards or away from the mountain. I said no to editorial jobs on magazines, proper jobs that would have paid proper money because I knew that, attractive though they were, for me they would have been walking away from the mountain. And if those job offers had come along earlier I might have taken them, because they still would have been closer to the mountain than I was at the time.

I learned to write by writing. I tended to do anything as long as it felt like an adventure, and to stop when it felt like work, which meant that life did not feel like work.

neil-gaiman-quotes-even nothing cannot last forever

Thirdly, When you start off, you have to deal with the problems of failure. You need to be thick-skinned, to learn that not every project will survive. A freelance life, a life in the arts, is sometimes like putting messages in bottles, on a desert island, and hoping that someone will find one of your bottles and open it and read it, and put something in a bottle that will wash its way back to you: appreciation, or a commission, or money, or love. And you have to accept that you may put out a hundred things for every bottle that winds up coming back.

The problems of failure are problems of discouragement, of hopelessness, of hunger. You want everything to happen and you want it now, and things go wrong. My first book – a piece of journalism I had done for the money, and which had already bought me an electric typewriter from the advance – should have been a bestseller. It should have paid me a lot of money. If the publisher hadn’t gone into involuntary liquidation between the first print run selling out and the second printing, and before any royalties could be paid, it would have done.

And I shrugged, and I still had my electric typewriter and enough money to pay the rent for a couple of months, and I decided that I would do my best in future not to write books just for the money. If you didn’t get the money, then you didn’t have anything. If I did work I was proud of, and I didn’t get the money, at least I’d have the work.

neil gaiman quote important people read edit

Every now and again, I forget that rule, and whenever I do, the universe kicks me hard and reminds me. I don’t know that it’s an issue for anybody but me, but it’s true that nothing I did where the only reason for doing it was the money was ever worth it, except as bitter experience. Usually I didn’t wind up getting the money, either. The things I did because I was excited, and wanted to see them exist in reality have never let me down, and I’ve never regretted the time I spent on any of them.

The problems of failure are hard.

The problems of success can be harder, because nobody warns you about them.

The first problem of any kind of even limited success is the unshakable conviction that you are getting away with something, and that any moment now they will discover you. It’s Imposter Syndrome, something my wife Amanda christened the Fraud Police.

Neil Gaiman quote wrong right

In my case, I was convinced that there would be a knock on the door, and a man with a clipboard (I don’t know why he carried a clipboard, in my head, but he did) would be there, to tell me it was all over, and they had caught up with me, and now I would have to go and get a real job, one that didn’t consist of making things up and writing them down, and reading books I wanted to read. And then I would go away quietly and get the kind of job where you don’t have to make things up any more.

The problems of success. They’re real, and with luck you’ll experience them. The point where you stop saying yes to everything, because now the bottles you threw in the ocean are all coming back, and have to learn to say no.

I watched my peers, and my friends, and the ones who were older than me and watch how miserable some of them were: I’d listen to them telling me that they couldn’t envisage a world where they did what they had always wanted to do any more, because now they had to earn a certain amount every month just to keep where they were. They couldn’t go and do the things that mattered, and that they had really wanted to do; and that seemed as a big a tragedy as any problem of failure.

And after that, the biggest problem of success is that the world conspires to stop you doing the thing that you do, because you are successful. There was a day when I looked up and realised that I had become someone who professionally replied to email, and who wrote as a hobby. I started answering fewer emails, and was relieved to find I was writing much more.

Neil Gaiman grave stones in arraigh enlarge

Fourthly, I hope you’ll make mistakes. If you’re making mistakes, it means you’re out there doing something. And the mistakes in themselves can be useful. I once misspelled Caroline, in a letter, transposing the A and the O, and I thought, “Coraline looks like a real name…”

And remember that whatever discipline you are in, whether you are a musician or a photographer, a fine artist or a cartoonist, a writer, a dancer, a designer, whatever you do you have one thing that’s unique. You have the ability to make art.

And for me, and for so many of the people I have known, that’s been a lifesaver. The ultimate lifesaver. It gets you through good times and it gets you through the other ones.

Life is sometimes hard. Things go wrong, in life and in love and in business and in friendship and in health and in all the other ways that life can go wrong. And when things get tough, this is what you should do.

Make good art.

I’m serious. Husband runs off with a politician? Make good art. Leg crushed and then eaten by mutated boa constrictor? Make good art. IRS on your trail? Make good art. Cat exploded? Make good art. Somebody on the Internet thinks what you do is stupid or evil or it’s all been done before? Make good art. Probably things will work out somehow, and eventually time will take the sting away, but that doesn’t matter. Do what only you do best. Make good art.

Make it on the good days too.

neil gaiman from stardust 972x633

neil gaiman from stardust

And Fifthly, while you are at it, make your art. Do the stuff that only you can do.

The urge, starting out, is to copy. And that’s not a bad thing. Most of us only find our own voices after we’ve sounded like a lot of other people. But the one thing that you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So write and draw and build and play and dance and live as only you can.

The moment that you feel that, just possibly, you’re walking down the street naked, exposing too much of your heart and your mind and what exists on the inside, showing too much of yourself. That’s the moment you may be starting to get it right.

The things I’ve done that worked the best were the things I was the least certain about, the stories where I was sure they would either work, or more likely be the kinds of embarrassing failures people would gather together and talk about until the end of time. They always had that in common: looking back at them, people explain why they were inevitable successes. While I was doing them, I had no idea.

I still don’t. And where would be the fun in making something you knew was going to work?

And sometimes the things I did really didn’t work. There are stories of mine that have never been reprinted. Some of them never even left the house. But I learned as much from them as I did from the things that worked.


Sixthly. I will pass on some secret freelancer knowledge. Secret knowledge is always good. And it is useful for anyone who ever plans to create art for other people, to enter a freelance world of any kind. I learned it in comics, but it applies to other fields too. And it’s this:

People get hired because, somehow, they get hired. In my case I did something which these days would be easy to check, and would get me into trouble, and when I started out, in those pre-internet days, seemed like a sensible career strategy: when I was asked by editors who I’d worked for, I lied. I listed a handful of magazines that sounded likely, and I sounded confident, and I got jobs. I then made it a point of honour to have written something for each of the magazines I’d listed to get that first job, so that I hadn’t actually lied, I’d just been chronologically challenged… You get work however you get work.

People keep working, in a freelance world, and more and more of today’s world is freelance, because their work is good, and because they are easy to get along with, and because they deliver the work on time. And you don’t even need all three. Two out of three is fine. People will tolerate how unpleasant you are if your work is good and you deliver it on time. They’ll forgive the lateness of the work if it’s good, and if they like you. And you don’t have to be as good as the others if you’re on time and it’s always a pleasure to hear from you.

When I agreed to give this address, I started trying to think what the best advice I’d been given over the years was.

And it came from Stephen King twenty years ago, at the height of the success of Sandman. I was writing a comic that people loved and were taking seriously. King had liked Sandman and my novel with Terry Pratchett, Good Omens, and he saw the madness, the long signing lines, all that, and his advice was this:

“This is really great. You should enjoy it.”

neil gaiman poster circle chart secret_worlds

And I didn’t. Best advice I got that I ignored.Instead I worried about it. I worried about the next deadline, the next idea, the next story. There wasn’t a moment for the next fourteen or fifteen years that I wasn’t writing something in my head, or wondering about it. And I didn’t stop and look around and go, this is really fun. I wish I’d enjoyed it more. It’s been an amazing ride. But there were parts of the ride I missed, because I was too worried about things going wrong, about what came next, to enjoy the bit I was on.

That was the hardest lesson for me, I think: to let go and enjoy the ride, because the ride takes you to some remarkable and unexpected places.

And here, on this platform, today, is one of those places. (I am enjoying myself immensely.)

To all today’s graduates: I wish you luck. Luck is useful. Often you will discover that the harder you work, and the more wisely you work, the luckier you get. But there is luck, and it helps.

We’re in a transitional world right now, if you’re in any kind of artistic field, because the nature of distribution is changing, the models by which creators got their work out into the world, and got to keep a roof over their heads and buy sandwiches while they did that, are all changing. I’ve talked to people at the top of the food chain in publishing, in bookselling, in all those areas, and nobody knows what the landscape will look like two years from now, let alone a decade away. The distribution channels that people had built over the last century or so are in flux for print, for visual artists, for musicians, for creative people of all kinds.

neil giaman at writing desk  718x300

neil giaman at writing desk

Which is, on the one hand, intimidating, and on the other, immensely liberating. The rules, the assumptions, the now-we’re supposed to’s of how you get your work seen, and what you do then, are breaking down. The gatekeepers are leaving their gates. You can be as creative as you need to be to get your work seen. YouTube and the web (and whatever comes after YouTube and the web) can give you more people watching than television ever did. The old rules are crumbling and nobody knows what the new rules are.

So make up your own rules.

Someone asked me recently how to do something she thought was going to be difficult, in this case recording an audio book, and I suggested she pretend that she was someone who could do it. Not pretend to do it, but pretend she was someone who could. She put up a notice to this effect on the studio wall, and she said it helped.

So be wise, because the world needs more wisdom, and if you cannot be wise, pretend to be someone who is wise, and then just behave like they would.

And now go, and make interesting mistakes, make amazing mistakes, make glorious and fantastic mistakes. Break rules. Leave the world more interesting for your being here. Make good art.

colours multi psychedelic divider for posts new

Eight Essential Steps To Freedom From Bipolar Disorder

colours multi psychedelic divider for posts new

Eight Essential Steps To Freedom From Bipolar Disorder
Post Created by Jk the secret keeper
Video Available Through Bipolar Advantage
Post Created June 9th 2013
Posted June 27th 2013

WARNING: This post is long. I have written an honest understanding what someone with Bipolar is living through. Definitely, listen to the video at the end of the page. What Tom Wooten has to say with the limited amount of time he has to speak is very enlightening. Tom Wooten speech on the Eight Essential Steps To Freedom From Bipolar Disorder on the video. This video was made in early in June of 2013. Posted by Jk 6.27.13 on the secret keeper

Newest video from Bipolar Advantage. The Speaker is the author of the book “Bipolar In Order” Tom Wooton and creator of Bipolar Advantage. To go to their web site click on highlighted text. Bipolar Advantagecreated the video Eight Essential Steps To Freedom From Bipolar Disorder. Please share your family if you are Bipolar. Friends. Therapist. Doctor. Significant Other. Yourself if you are bipolar. Or if you are just interested in understanding something about bipolar. This shows an alternative to the traditional methods of working with Bipolar. For some it may be just the right method that will work for you. I am not presenting this as an alternative to your present treatment. If you are on meds and working with a therapist and doctor and want to continue on that path, that is your choice.

I do not take Psych Meds which I had taken an assortment of since 1990 and began being given psych meds from the time was a young kid. I wonder why. I told my psychiatrist that I wanted to stop. I had it with them. They weren’t working. Some made me have seizures, others made me Faint dead to the Floor with little of no warning. Others made me feel like I had lost my ability to think. Still others put me into a coma for two days. The best part (actually one of the worse parts) was to make me gain an exorbitant amount of weight since 1990 and keep in mind I am not a binge eater or someone who eats often enough and I don’t really like sweets that often. The medication was suppose to help with my depression. I felt more depressed on them and suicidal. It all had to stop. I wanted my life back. After stopping, a few years ago, I have been able to think clearly, most of the time, except when I felt delusional. But that has since gotten under control from working with an exceptional therapist. Mostly, the delusional behavior was triggered by the traumatic experiences from my childhood and even into my adult past.

I have become more and more creative and I am driven to create and not in just one area. I get excited again. I find these make me feel what it really feels like to feel. I cried for the first time while working on writing and editing a post to the book I am publishing once a week on my blog “the secret keeper.” I told my therapist that I cried and she looked at me in joy. “Did you hear what you said? You cried. You cried.” She was so excited for me. Crying was destroyed for me by the abuse I suffered through the person I now call The Shadow Mother. Talking about her will come at some future time.

I lost any feelings I had left with those drugs that I now call poison. I felt like I had been set free. The best part about stopping is that I have lost a tremendous amount of weight without doing anything except not take my psych meds. I am getting closer to my ideal weight, the one my doctor has set for me. I may, eventually, even go under that weight. My cloths drop off of me. Need a whole new wardrobe. Slowly, I am adding a few things at a time. I look in the mirror and the face looking back is thin. I don’t always recognize her. She looks pretty fucking good to me. I was always pretty thin my whole life. I was a stick figure when I was a kid. In my twenties, I didn’t eat and I actually weighed 113 pounds. I am 5′ 10 1/2″ tall with large bones. I was way under weight and I didn’t think I was thin enough. But that is another issue, also, that I will write about when I can get my head around it.

Now, I will need to get into better shape. Losing weight tends not to take care of the tightening of the skin or building up the muscles. But I am having a complete health and physical make-over that will help with all the damage the pills and the weight caused. It gave me diabetes. I am sure it is partially responsible for my short term memory lose problems and the bipolar probably contributes to that, too. This is what getting off that poison has done for me. I started reading every book on Bipolar when those who cared for my psychological well-being finally announced to me that I did have Bipolar. That actually came from my new therapist. I asked if I could see my psych records. We were both amazed that Bipolar had been in my records almost forever but no one felt that I should know. A psychiatrist who was prescribing my meds in the early 90s gave me a prescription for Risperidone. I was having racing thoughts when I tried to sleep. It was suppose to help. It is, also, used to treat Bipolar. Why I never asked to see my records before two years ago, who knows. I certainly do not lack curiosity. I am part cat.

I had insomnia most of my life from the time I was a child. I was put on Valium then. Red flags that I didn’t understand. When my new therapist gave me the diagnosis, I was stunned. She was, too. She had felt I was bipolar but until she saw it in writing she wasn’t able professionally to say anything. I had other diagnoses that clouded my judgement so I never really studied anything about Bipolar. Also, curiously enough, I believe it was intentionally being kept from me, and still is being denied by certain psych care givers. They even have gone so far as to ask my present therapist to remove certain additions she made to my therapy records that mentioned Bipolar. I think they are afraid of a law suit. They were improperly treating me with the meds they prescribed. It was the combination. They forgot about administering mood stabilizers. That was a major cause in my suicidal ideations that were almost constant for a very long time. In clearer words for some, I felt suicidal almost all the time.

From the day I learned about my diagnosis, I have kept up on anything related to bipolar. I started out by reading and collecting Dr. Kay Redfield Jamison’s books. The first one I started with is: “Touched With Fire.” The best, I felt for me. It was all about the creative artist who suffered from Manic Depression, now called Bipolar. It clarified so many aspects of my mind and my life. I may have the symptoms of bipolar since I was rather young, somewhere in my teens and maybe even younger but it manifested itself in states of continual depressions and insomnia from a very young age.

Here are some of my symptoms that have been around for a long time: Racing Thoughts. Fast Talking. High Creative Energy and in many areas of creativity from writing, playing music, composing songs and lyrics, a profession performing musician and singer which unfortunately gave me intense stage fright and I needed to be stoned to perform, theatre, orchestra as a student and adult, art, painting, choirs. In High School I excelled at painting. I started painting as an adult but stopped all of my creativity abruptly after I started seeing a particular therapist. He buried my soul. Gullibility. Staying Awake Far Beyond a Recommended Level for Anyone’s Body. In my early twenties, I worked but I, also, would party all night, doing bar hopping, dancing all night, drinking, doing drugs, anything that was around that would get me high. The drugs and alcohol actually started when I was a teenager. Alcohol, I would go to the bars when I was 16 with my fucked up oldest brother and his friends and I would keep up with them. My favorite game was to see who could down a whole pitcher of beer without coming up for air. I won every time. Illegal drugs, pot especially, I started using when I was 19. It was the enlightenment for me. Therapy came shortly after that.

The symptoms continue: Forgetting to Eat. I ate one meal a day in my 20s and was bulimic and anorexic. I didn’t and couldn’t keep the food in my body. It made me feel sick and uncomfortable so I got rid of it. Irritability. Delusions. Minimal Amount of Sleep and I Think I Can Do It All. Working on More Than “Prescribed” Number of Projects at a Time. (This is my therapist idea that I should work on only three projects at a time.)

When I follow the three projects at a time treatment plan, I do okay. But the projects can get away from me sometimes and I find I am out of control and trying to do more than I want my therapist to know. In college, I was committed to doing way beyond someones limits. I was a student assistant for three academic departments. I tutored students where English was their second language. I tutored students who were in High School on how to improve on taking their SATs. I worked my way up the College Newspaper’s totem pole until I became the Editor-in-chief. I took on an insurmountable number of projects. I became the student liaison to the Academic committee. I was doing honours seminars plus taking my other classes. I lived with my psychology professor (whom I was in love with), her husband and 11 year old son, whom I loved, also, and took care of him like he was my own. I spent more time with him than his parents were able.

I was an active member of the Philosophy Club. I worked for my Philosophy Professor so I was the liaison for co-coordinating activities. It was an extremely active club. We had regular (famous) speakers every week, where we would all have dinner before the meeting and speech. College was exciting. I was stoned half of the time. I, also, discovered through my first love affair with a woman that I was a lesbian. At first, that was very exciting but two weeks later after the first time we made love, she moved out of the state and transferred to another college, abandoning me. I pretty much lost it. I tried to date other male friends from the college paper but I couldn’t let them touch me.

That’s when I decided for the unknown number of times I tried, that I wanted and planned on committing suicide. Oh, yes, I forgot to mention that, another symptom of Bipolar/Manic Depression. My first suicide attempt was when I was a teenager, just out of High School. I wanted to kill myself because the only person I loved had left me for a man and got married. I took the whole bottle of pills. I wrote my suicide notes. One to my friend and one to my mother. I lay myself down at the wrong end of the bed. Just as the pills starting to take effect and I was starting to drift off, I realized I would never have consciousness again. Did I really want this to be the last moment of my life? My answer, through the fog in my head, was NO. I forced myself get up and head to the bathroom. On the way, I passed my parents’ open bedroom door. I tried to call out for help but I was stopped. Maybe by fear or I didn’t want them to know. I just couldn’t call out for her.

I entered that bathroom alone and made myself get the pills out of my stomach. When I felt there wasn’t anything left, I returned to my room and tore up the suicide notes. To this day, I have no knowledge of what I may have written. I lay down under the covers and put some music on softly and tried to go to sleep. The next morning, I had the worse buzzing in my head. I couldn’t hear anything. I asked my mother to call the library where I worked on Saturday and tell them I was sick. My boss didn’t believe her. She knew my friend was in town and that I was faking being ill. I did not know my friend was in town until she called me later. She wanted to see me. I did go to her parents house. The buzzing full blast inside my head. And I spent the afternoon with her without saying a word about what I had done the night before. But that wasn’t unusual for me. I never told anyone how I felt. She never knew her marriage and leaving the area made me suicidal and abandoned.

Back to the present and my reality of today. I, sometimes, will find I am working on an excess of five to ten things at a time. And I do get into trouble if I do this. Today that happened. It wasn’t intentional. I thought I could work all night and not worry about getting to sleep at my usual time of 5 to 6 am, sometimes later. I had the day to sleep in. But I suddenly had a call from one of my doctor’s offices that I could see this Doctor, I needed to see for pain, that same day. In approximately four hours I would need to get ready for that appt. I accepted the appt. time. Got off the phone and proceeded to continue finishing the editing job I was working on. I figured I could finish it in 15 minutes and I would get at least 4 hours of sleep. I do power naps well. That 15 minutes turned into over an hour. I just couldn’t stop. It’s a Bipolar thing. When you start something, it is impossible to put it down until you have accomplished what you set out to complete. I managed to get about 3 hours of sleep. I felt okay. Went to my appt. Came home, let my bird out and we made a power shake together and shared it.

From that point on I lost what happened next. I was on overtime, feeling exhausted, had the chills and it was in the high 70s. I still opened my laptop to try and work. Instead I watched Roger Federer lose in the second round at Wimbledon. He is my favorite tennis player ever. Lost everything after that. Do remember my partner bringing me dinner. Couldn’t even sit up to eat it and she brought me some chocolate. I did share my zucchini dinner with my parrot. My partner and I decided to put in “The Hobbit” but I became obsessed with finding this non-existent post I thought I lost. I couldn’t believe I lost a day and mixing up the dates of my posts. This was a mistake on my part going to that doctor’s appt. But I felt it was important and making a bad decision happened for awhile now. Going to the Doctor’s was important. I am preparing for another surgery in a short time. But I should have known I didn’t have enough sleep already from the night before and this just added to its lack.

Advise is to follow your therapist’s treatment plan and to get enough sleep. I thought I would be able to catch up but there is no such thing as catch-up with Bipolar. You get behind and you stay there. A practical lesson to learn which I thought I had under control. There was no post I hadn’t published with the date I was looking for. Because I was so out of it by then I did not realize the date I was looking for was that day. I had already published that post. It took me hours and wasted energy and time to figure that out. I felt so stupid but also why didn’t my partner tell me. Of course, she had no idea what it was I was looking for but because I was losing it and was becoming so irritated, I had to release the pressure. But for some reason, I tried not to vent on her. At least I stopped that and I solved the problem of the non-existent post.

Missed the whole movie of “The Hobbit” by crashing. When I woke I felt like someone crushed my body. I felt ill and over-heated. I had two blankets over me and a hoodie sweatshirt with hood up while I slept. I stripped everything off me, which seemed like it couldn’t happen fast enough. I got up to go use the bathroom to splash cold water on my face. This is the fucked up moments of a Bipolar, which I actually do not have that often, at least not recently, thank the Goddess and many more people.

bipolar sleeping bordered

Getting back to other symptoms I do experience: Finding Creative Ideas That Seem To Come from Nowhere. This I believe comes from the help of my Muse. Losing My Temper for What Appears to Be No Reason. Pressure builds up suddenly and quickly. Needing to Be Heard Right Away or I will forget my thoughts. Grandiosity is one that I don’t get too carried away with, at least I don’t think I do. And More That Are Not Coming To Me at the Moment. Getting Confused. I would put on the list Losing Track of Time. But Being Bipolar I Already Came Up With A New Idea to Replace It. I think being Bipolar makes one Extremely Sensitive to One’s Environment and We Notice Everything. We register Good Ideas All the Time. If You are an Artist, You Just Somehow Know What Would Make A Creative Project to Put Together. You work piece by piece as it Develops. Most Times Bipolars Are Usually Right, so we think. But We Are Not Infallible. Our irritability can cause us to get into heated discussions but just as quickly we lose track of why we got into the out of proportion discussion and let it disappear as if it didn’t happen. I do have a tendency to Pout. I am working on a post called “The Bipolar Pout.” It’s like having a tantrum then totally shutting down and won’t talk or move.

Being Creative is the Greatest Rush of Bipolar. I feel in the Flow and my mind is sharp as anything. Pieces fall into place like I psychically knew what came next and let my mind be led to that step by step until all was finished, checked and rechecked for accuracy and the littlest of details. Editing is a huge part of the creative writing process.

It is good to read about Bipolar, as many great books as you can find. Have a great therapist and people close to you who understand and you can talk to. It is important not to isolate. I discovered Bipolar Advantage and Bipolar IN Order not long into finding out my diagnosis. I, also, became friends with someone on Facebook and WordPress who gave me great reading material about what the psych meds were doing to me. They can kill some people by poisoning the organs in your body. Shutting down the kidneys. Damaging your heart so that it will fail. They are harsh to the liver, the pancreas, the brain most of all and other parts of your body.

I may have pain for other reasons in my body but I am, also, taking care of the pain. But giving up psych meds has made me feel alive again. I still am working on getting our government to legalize the use of medicinal cannabis to treat the illnesses of the body and to also treat Bipolar. I would have some lesser issues that are hard to deal with on occasion. If I had the proper cannabis, that does not get you high, to treat my depression when it happens or the other symptoms that I mentioned above. It would be very helpful.

Also, those who do need regular medication would be able to use medicinal cannabis and get off of the pharma poisons. I have a friend who is going through withdrawal right now from the psych meds. She is feeling amazed at how good it feels. She is getting her joy for life back. The withdrawal isn’t easy but once you are through to the other side, you just need to find better ways to cope with your symptoms.

Practicing the program of Bipolar IN Order also helps. It makes the symptoms more manageable. It teaches you to bring down the levels of control of your symptoms so they do not get out of control. You learn to better judge when you are going beyond the safe limits, so you know when to bring those symptoms under better control by simply identifying when you need to refocus what you are doing. Being depressed may be the most difficult part of bipolar to work with and the hypo-manic or manic states that take you out of control.

But for the moment I want to concentrate on depression. I have learned to live with my depression. Lately, I haven’t had many episodes and the ones I’ve had were related to when I woke up. I’d feel the urge to pull the covers back over my head but eventually I would push myself out of bed and once I was functioning the depression slipped away. In the past, and maybe in the future, I may feel the depth of depressions and the dark hole one goes to. But now I allow myself to experience what goes on in my mind and body. When I feel suicidal (and I haven’t for awhile now-a miracle for me,) but I let the feelings exist. It is like flowing with creativity. One of my methods of working with the depression is to create. More specifically for me, I write. It can be a poem or thoughts or I work on a post for my blog or I write to the brother that I trust.

He is the only brother that I trust and he listens to everything I write to him and I am really open up with him about everything. He is very encouraging when he writes back. He wishes me to feel better and he accepts that I have had a traumatizing life which started in my childhood. When I told him some of the things that happened, you know abusers are very good at keeping their secrets and they don’t let anyone else know or witness what they are doing, my brother was so shocked that I experienced what I did. He had no idea. This was something just recently. I didn’t tell anyone. There is so much hidden inside my psyche and after all the therapy I have had since I was a teenager, no one really knows most of what happened. I do write some of it on my blog but it is like the iceberg that sunk the Titanic, the majority of it is under the surface and still secretly and quietly fucking with my mind without even my awareness.

I meant it when I said I have finally found the right combination of people, activities, and conditions in my life that make it work. I, also, have finally found a therapist who actually gets me. I would say she is the best therapist I have ever had and I make sure she knows that on a regular basis. This past week, she bought my partner and I a pizza. It was for letting her come to our house after I had some major surgery recently and I couldn’t go out to therapy. Who is that thoughtful, kind and generous. I should add, she is the first person that has been in my home that I know for almost twenty years. (Now that is quite a long story but partially has something to do with my agoraphobia.) Cable people come all the time but that is different. Comcast and I have a strange relationship.

I, also, have some of the best people in my life that help me to find my confidence and make me feel good about myself. My partner has even in her own special way given me so much support through our time together, and now I think she even sees me in a different and better light. My bipolar does drive her a bit crazy. If I looked from her perspective I can see what she endures and I do understand. I am working really hard on it and all my other psych issues. This list you will find in the latest DSM-V, which has grown. (That was a joke. Not about the DSM-V – that really is a real joke and fucking dangerous. It is about to make every one appear to be mentally ill. I prefer Mentally Creative.)

There is, also, a very special friend that found me and I found her. She gives me something so special that I never had in my life before. It is so special that it can not be described in simple language. She knows who she is and I love her, with the good kind of love, that she has been teaching and giving to me. It fills you up, that kind of love. My life has turned around just knowing her. What she gives, you just don’t find anywhere. I am so honoured that we are friends.

There is something important that I learned, it is very important to let those you care about and love, know how you feel about them. I try to do that everyday. That really helps with the healing and the love you feel is more times amazing than anything else you can experience.

I realize this is long. Part of being Bipolar, but, also, relevant to write about for my recovery and it might just help if read in small sections, those who deal with Bipolar on a regular basis and for those who have no idea what Bipolar really is and what it really does to those who live with Bipolar. Those who are bipolar and those who live with us in their lives. I refrain from using the word suffer. I know it can cause suffering but I would rather focus on the incredible gift it can give to someone. The Creative Element alone to me is worth having this genetically imposed state of being. The rest just sucks and hopefully listening to the following video and hearing some of what I wrote will help with that aspect. But I think and feel Creative and that gets me through. Written by Jennifer Kiley

bipolar is awesome

Now for what is on this Video on the Eight Essential Steps to Freedom from Bipolar.

Bipolar Disorder: Crisis, Managed. Recovery.

Bipolar In Order: Freedom. Stability. Self-Mastery

The Eight Essential Steps Explained in the Video are:

(1) Functionality:

(2) Freedom Stage Loop:

(3) Recognizing Our State:

(4) Behaviour Inventory:

(5) Disordered Reactions:

(6) Accounting For Time:

(7) Introspection:

(8) IN Ordered Responses:

When these steps are working then you will be able to Expand Zones and achieve Self Mastery.

Expand Zones:


These all may fluctuate but living with Bipolar IN Order is a better way of managing your life than feeling like you are never going to know when you will go into Crisis or Lose Control. Self-Mastery and Expanding the Zones of what you can handle is a Life giving force rather than going along with the doom and gloom of the way the Psychiatric Community would rather have you living with Bipolar Disorder and loaded up on the poison of psych drugs. (ONLY MY OPINION)

All of the Eight Essential Steps are explained in the video as much as is possible with the restraint of time that is allowed but they are clearly explained enough to understand them. Going further into the program of Bipolar IN Order with Bipolar Advantage will give you a more in depth understanding.

I am in no way suggesting that anyone taking psych medications should stop their drugs and turn to Bipolar IN Order. This is just something to listen to and think about and to discuss with those who are helping you manage to keep you Bipolar under control.

Now it is time to listen to the video: Eight Essential Steps To Freedom From Bipolar Disorder.

Eight Essential Steps To Freedom From Bipolar Disorder

A comment I want to make is something my new therapist has said to me and reminds me often when I tell her I don’t understand what is wrong with me. Her response is, “You have lived one of the most fucked up lives. You were traumatized and abused in every way possible when you were a kid by people who were supposed to care for you and love you. You lived in hell then and the abuse followed you when you became an adult. You kept getting re-abused your whole life. Even by therapists you thought you could trust and you should have been able to trust. You have experienced traumatizing lose beyond anything anyone can imagine. And you wonder why you have been and can be so fucked up. Give your self a break. You are actually getting better. I can see the changes in you since we started working together. You needed understanding and unconditional acceptance. You found that once a long time ago from someone special. She dies and leaves you alone and abandoned to those who torture you. The good thing, now you are finding that again. You have people who believe in you and give you confidence and acceptance.” She always laughed before she would tell me all of this. I don’t always get it or remember it when I ask the question, “What the hell is wrong with me?” In such an incredulous way, I ask that question.

So the Bipolar isn’t so bad compared to the nightmare I lived in as a child. I escaped through dissociating. A wonderfully, brilliant invention of the mind to help one escape. Thank you. Jennifer Kiley Jk the secret keeper

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“Stories We Tell”

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“Stories We Tell”
New Documentary by Sarah Polley
Post Created by Jk the secret keeper
Created June 9th 2013
Posted June 12th 2013
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sarah polley actor writer director shooting new documentary : stories we tell"  680x478

sarah polley actor writer director shooting new documentary: stories we tell”

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Stories We Tell: A post by Sarah Polley
August 29th, 2012
Filmmaker Sarah Polley about her new film, Stories We Tell.

Today in Venice my latest film, Stories We Tell, will be screening for the first time. Until now, thanks to the extraordinary decency of many people – including some journalists who have known the story for years and kept it secret – I have been able to keep its contents under wraps.

Knowing that people will now write about the film itself as well as the story it is based on, I’d like to explain a bit of the process that lead to the making of the film and why I’d like the film to speak for itself. I realize that I’m not nearly accomplished enough to write this kind of blog without apology. The world is not waiting for my next film! But because I am hoping to not do any press or interviews about the film for its festival life, I do feel I owe an explanation to the journalists who have helped me keep this secret and been respectful of my process for some time.

Here is the story of how this film came to be, and why I hope people will write about the film itself and not only the story it is based on.

In 2007 I was on set in Montreal, shooting a scene for the film Mr. Nobody. I received a phone call from a friend warning me that a journalist had found out a piece of information about my life that I had kept a secret for a year. I got in touch with the journalist and begged him not to print the story. It was a story that I had kept secret from many people in my life including my father. It took some time and many tears to convince the journalist not to print the story within the week, but I left that conversation convinced that it was not a secret I could keep for long, and that if I wanted the people in my life and outside my life to know the story in my own words, I would have to take action.

I flew to Toronto that night to tell my father the news. He was not my biological father. This had been confirmed by a DNA test with a man I had met a year earlier. I had met my biological father almost by accident, though I had long suspected based on family jokes and rumours that my mother may have had an affair that led to my conception.

My father’s response to this staggering piece of news was extraordinary. He has always been a man who responds to things in unusual ways, for better or for worse. He was shocked, but not angry. His chief concern, almost immediately, was that my siblings and I not put any blame on my mother for her straying outside of their marriage. He was candid about his own lack of responsiveness towards her and how that may have led her to the point where she sought out the affection of another person. And then he began to write. And write and write and write.

He wrote the story of their marriage, her affair (which he put together from other people’s memories), and his relationship with me. He wrote about our need to tell stories.

My biological father, at my behest, had also begun writing the story of his relationship with my mother. He is a fine storyteller too and one of the most interesting people I’ve ever met. Each of us had a deep and growing need to tell the story, different parts of it, in different ways, with emphasis on different details, in a way that reflected our own experience and what was most important to us as we are now.

My siblings began telling the story to their friends. Journalists who heard the story from various sources began calling me and asking me to be interviewed about this discovery. Everyone who heard the story seemed to want to own it. Up until then many people had mused aloud to me that the story would make a great film. I disagreed. While it had huge relevance and emotional impact for the people close to it, I felt that this story was in fact quite common. I felt I had seen this film before. However, the process of watching a story take on a life of its own, mutate, and change in so many other people’s words fascinated me. And as the story was told, or perhaps because the story was told – it changed. So I decided to make a film about our need to tell stories, to own our stories, to understand them, and to have them heard.

Personal documentaries have always made me a bit squeamish. I’ve seen some brilliant ones, but they often push the boundaries of narcissism and can feel more like a form of therapy than actual filmmaking. (Though I could listen to anyone’s therapy session and be entertained, I think.)

I’m not claiming that my film lacks self involvement but what I wanted most was to examine the many versions of this story, how people held onto them, how they agreed and disagreed with each other, and how powerful and necessary creating narrative is for us to make sense of our bewildering lives. I wanted the story told in the words of everyone I could find who could speak about it. Whatever my own feelings are about the events that are outlined, about the many dynamic and complicated players or the stunning, vibrant woman my mother was, they are ephemeral, constantly out of my grasp, they change as the years pass. (I declined to use a “voice of God” first person voice over narration because it felt false, self involved, and besides the point.) But I found I could lose myself in the words of the people closest to me. I can feel and hear and see their histories, and I wanted to get lost, immerse myself in those words, and be a detective in my own life and family.

Anything I want to say myself about this part of my life is said in the film. It’s a search still, a search for meaning, truth, for whether there can ever be a truth. I have a lot of trepidation about doing interviews and being asked how I feel about it all. I worry about seeing my deepest feelings about my life taken out of context or shortened or made to fit into someone’s already written story. And I have spent five years deciding, frame by frame and word by word, how to tell this story in this film. I’d hate to see my inability to think before I speak wipe out years of work with one stupid comment that I haven’t thought through.

I have decided not to do any interviews about this film until the film is released theatrically and I hope that doesn’t offend, or that journalists who are assigned to cover the film understand this choice after seeing it. I’m sure it’s annoying to not have a new angle or a different quote than other journalists and I’m really sorry to create that problem for the people who decide to write about it. But I desperately want, at least while the film is on the festival circuit, to have people experience and write about the film before the story – or to experience the many stories that this story has become as opposed to just my version of it. It is, after all, why I made the film in the first place. It’s oblique I know. The film is much less oblique than this fearfully written blog. I’m trying to preserve as much of the experience of viewing it for the first time as I can for those who wish to see it, for better or for worse.

I learned so much along the way. I got to know my mother who died when I was 11 in a way that isn’t usually possible for people who lose parents young. I got to know so much about my family, about filmmaking, about trusting collaborators to keep making the movie when you need to just walk away for a time (for this I have to especially thank my editor Mike Munn, my DOP Iris Ng, Producer Anita Lee and Production Coordinator Kate Vollum, as well as others, who all kept on making the film while I hid in a corner for periods of time). I also learned that people can be more decent and ethical than you imagine. Several journalists, including Brian Johnson and Matthew Hays (and more recently Gabe Gonda, the arts editor at The Globe and Mail), have known this story for years. And while they very much wanted to print it, they all respected my wish to keep this story private until I was ready to tell it in my own words. I think arts journalists in Canada are made of good material generally. I’m so thankful to them for letting me have the space to explore this on my own, ask the questions I wanted to ask, and let this film come out into the world. I never could have made it if I hadn’t had that space and time.

Making this film was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It took five years and tormented me. I didn’t want to make it, and I wanted to give up many times along the way, but I also didn’t want this story to be out there in the words of someone other than the many people who lived it. Now it will be written about in many other people’s words, and I’m finally at peace with that. With the inaccuracies, with the new insights that I may not have arrived at on my own, with the broken telephone that happens when “concentric circles of people,” as my biological father says, begin telling their own stories without experiencing the original versions. That is what the film is about anyway and after five long years I’m actually looking forward to its arrival in the world, and the inevitable mess that comes from a story being told and retold.
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“Stories We Tell”

There’s family, there’s history and then there’s the truth, but as Sarah Polley explores in her beautiful and uniquely moving documentary “Stories We Tell,” all of those terms carry different weight depending on the eye of the beholder. Begun as a project to investigate her own family background, “Stories We Tell” blossoms into a riveting portrait of a family still carrying secrets, heartache and accepted truths that sometimes fly in the face of reality. But Polley’s entire point is that one person’s “reality” is someone else’s “fiction” and her brilliant film almost deconstructs itself as it goes along, calling into question its own presentation of the “facts” yet never feeling academic, and always wholly emotional. It’s the rare documentary that we’d argue contains “spoilers” which aren’t just part of the narrative (though it’s more enjoyable if you’re in the dark a bit,) but the presentation itself. One of the most intelligent documentaries we’ve seen in quite some time, at times enlightening and profound, the film proves the simple truth that the “Stories We Tell” about our own lives can’t always be trusted.
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Sarah Polley Examines Her Own Family In Lovely, Fascinating ‘Stories We Tell’
Venice Review
by Oliver Lyttelton
August 29, 2012

Sarah Polley has a secret. It’s a secret that, remarkably, she kept under wraps to all but friends and family until the film screened at the Venice Film Festival this morning. It’s a secret that’s seemingly informed her two directorial efforts to date, “Away From Her” and “Take This Waltz,” and is the subject matter of her third film, and first documentary, “Stories We Tell.” And it’s a secret that’s led to her finest work as a director so far.

It’s also a secret that is so important to the film that it would be virtually impossible to discuss it without giving it away. So, while Polley has written about it online today, knowing it going in might theoretically hamper your enjoyment of the film, the spoiler-phobic should be warned that from here on out, we will be giving certain things away. Be assured that fans of Polley’s work to date will be delighted by a documentary that serves simultaneously as a gripping mystery, a moving record of a family and a fascinating investigation into the nature of truth, memory, and the documentary form itself.
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Made up of interviews and what initially appears to be archive home movie footage (in the manner of Jonathan Caouette’s “Tarnation”), the film begins as a portrait of the director’s actress mother Diana Polley, and of her marriage to Polley’s father Michael, which ended when Diana passed away from cancer when Sarah was eleven. To build up this picture, Polley has interviewed her father (who was also an actor for a time), her siblings, and her parents’ friends, who paint a picture of a vibrant, complicated woman in a relationship that was loving, but not entirely happy.
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stories we tell photo
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And then comes the secret. Her brothers and sisters had long joked that Sarah didn’t look much like her father, and when she turned 18, began to make enquiries, discovering that her mother may have had an affair with a co-star when she was in a play in Montreal around the time that Sarah was conceived. Polley is eventually intrigued enough to seek out Canadian producer Harry Gulkin (the Oscar-nominated “Lies My Father Told Me”), an old friend of her mother’s, to ask. In fact, Harry reveals that he was the one who had an affair with Diana, and suspects that he’s her father. In fact, having now met her, he’s sure of it.

On one hand, Polley tells this story as truthfully as is possible – through the words of those who it involves, or who were there for the aftermath, like her four siblings. Indeed, the bulk of the film’s narration comes from a lengthy essay her father wrote after the fact, read in his own dulcet tones (Polley shoots within the recording studio as he does so, charmingly showing her directing her father, and her own nervous energy, in the process). At the same time, by the very nature of the film, she’s editorializing, manipulating the narrative for maximum shock value, and shooting reconstructions of what initially looked like archive Super 8 footage, with actors playing her parents in their younger days, and the real-life participants playing themselves in more recent times.

But to her credit, Polley doesn’t just acknowledge these liberties, she makes them an intrinsic part of the film, to the extent that she openly questions her own motivations for making the documentary. She’s essentially encouraging the audience to ask questions about how possible it is to closely recreate and document the past, and whether a documentary can achieve those goals.

It’s fascinating stuff, doubly so because of the clear parallels with her previous directorial efforts. Her real story is reflected both in the late-in-life adultery in “Away From Her,” and the fallibility of monogamy, and the risks of not making the leap into the unknown of “Take This Waltz.” (Interestingly, her sister comments at one point that after discovering Sarah’s news, all three Polley daughters were soon divorced). She keeps herself mostly off screen, and yet the director is exposing just as much of herself as anyone.

Which makes it all sound quite high-minded, but the film’s plot, if you can call it that, grips like a thriller, and Polley takes care to introduce the participants as characters rather than as her relatives. And all of her “characters,” from wisecracking older brother Mark to the Albert Einstein-ish Harry to the quiet, repressed, impossibly generous Michael (the source of much of the film’s emotion) are hugely entertaining, and are simply a pleasure to spend time with.

There are some issues. Shying away from introducing her interviewees clearly at the beginning means that even by the end, you’re sometimes struggling to work out how they relate to one another. And the film drags in its conclusion, stacking multiple endings on top of one another. They all contain good material, but one does start to shift a little in the seat. But for the most part, it’s a film that tickles both the brain and the heart, and by some distance Polley’s most consistent, and best, work as a director to date. [A-]
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A Clip from Sarah Polley’s documentary on “Stories We Tell”

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Importance of Imagination

Importance of Imagination
J.K. Rowling Speaks @ Harvard
Commencement June 2008
Post Created by Jk the secret keeper
Created June 7th 2013
Posted June 9th 2013colours multi psychedelic divider for posts newexercise imaginations by j. kiley © jennifer kiley 2013colours multi psychedelic divider for posts newJ.K. Rowling, author of the best-selling Harry Potter book series, delivers her Commencement Address, “The Fringe Benefits of Failure, and the Importance of Imagination…”

“I have wracked my mind and heart for what I ought to say to you today.”

It is Rowling’s gift to draw universal life lessons from her own discoveries—of personal failure “on an epic scale,” and, from a day job at Amnesty International, “evidence about the evils humankind will inflict on their fellow humans, to gain or maintain power.” And yet, “I also learned more about human goodness…than I had ever known before.” Of those who “prefer not to exercise their imaginations at all,” who “choose to remain comfortably within the bounds of their own experience,” Rowling said, “I do not think they have any fewer nightmares than I do.…I think the willfully unimaginative see more monsters.”

Quoting Plutarch, she said, “What we achieve inwardly will change outer reality.” In a final challenge, the 42-year-old Rowling—seeming too young and too slight for the weight of her words—told the graduates, “If you choose to use your status and influence to raise your voice on behalf of those who have no voice; if you choose to identify not only with the powerful, but with the powerless; if you retain the ability to imagine yourself into the lives of those who do not have your advantages, then it will not only be your proud families who celebrate your existence, but thousands and millions of people whose reality you have helped transform for the better. We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better.”

In honoring Rowling for igniting in millions the passion to read, Harvard discovered that it had also welcomed a teacher beyond compare.

So follows the video of the J.K. Rowlings Harvard Commencement Speech from June 2008 followed by the text of the speech.colours multi psychedelic divider for posts new

J.K. Rowling Speaks at Harvard Commencement 2008

Text of Commencement Speech June 2008

President Faust, members of the Harvard Corporation and the Board of Overseers, members of the faculty, proud parents, and, above all, graduates.

The first thing I would like to say is ‘thank you.’ Not only has Harvard given me an extraordinary honour, but the weeks of fear and nausea I have endured at the thought of giving this commencement address have made me lose weight. A win-win situation! Now all I have to do is take deep breaths, squint at the red banners and convince myself that I am at the world’s largest Gryffindor reunion.

Delivering a commencement address is a great responsibility; or so I thought until I cast my mind back to my own graduation. The commencement speaker that day was the distinguished British philosopher Baroness Mary Warnock. Reflecting on her speech has helped me enormously in writing this one, because it turns out that I can’t remember a single word she said. This liberating discovery enables me to proceed without any fear that I might inadvertently influence you to abandon promising careers in business, the law or politics for the giddy delights of becoming a gay wizard.

You see? If all you remember in years to come is the ‘gay wizard’ joke, I’ve come out ahead of Baroness Mary Warnock. Achievable goals: the first step to self improvement.

Actually, I have wracked my mind and heart for what I ought to say to you today. I have asked myself what I wish I had known at my own graduation, and what important lessons I have learned in the 21 years that have expired between that day and this.

I have come up with two answers. On this wonderful day when we are gathered together to celebrate your academic success, I have decided to talk to you about the benefits of failure. And as you stand on the threshold of what is sometimes called ‘real life’, I want to extol the crucial importance of imagination.

These may seem quixotic or paradoxical choices, but please bear with me.

Looking back at the 21-year-old that I was at graduation, is a slightly uncomfortable experience for the 42-year-old that she has become. Half my lifetime ago, I was striking an uneasy balance between the ambition I had for myself, and what those closest to me expected of me.

I was convinced that the only thing I wanted to do, ever, was to write novels. However, my parents, both of whom came from impoverished backgrounds and neither of whom had been to college, took the view that my overactive imagination was an amusing personal quirk that would never pay a mortgage, or secure a pension. I know that the irony strikes with the force of a cartoon anvil, now.

So they hoped that I would take a vocational degree; I wanted to study English Literature. A compromise was reached that in retrospect satisfied nobody, and I went up to study Modern Languages. Hardly had my parents’ car rounded the corner at the end of the road than I ditched German and scuttled off down the Classics corridor.

I cannot remember telling my parents that I was studying Classics; they might well have found out for the first time on graduation day. Of all the subjects on this planet, I think they would have been hard put to name one less useful than Greek mythology when it came to securing the keys to an executive bathroom.

I would like to make it clear, in parenthesis, that I do not blame my parents for their point of view. There is an expiry date on blaming your parents for steering you in the wrong direction; the moment you are old enough to take the wheel, responsibility lies with you. What is more, I cannot criticise my parents for hoping that I would never experience poverty. They had been poor themselves, and I have since been poor, and I quite agree with them that it is not an ennobling experience. Poverty entails fear, and stress, and sometimes depression; it means a thousand petty humiliations and hardships. Climbing out of poverty by your own efforts, that is indeed something on which to pride yourself, but poverty itself is romanticised only by fools.

What I feared most for myself at your age was not poverty, but failure.

At your age, in spite of a distinct lack of motivation at university, where I had spent far too long in the coffee bar writing stories, and far too little time at lectures, I had a knack for passing examinations, and that, for years, had been the measure of success in my life and that of my peers.

I am not dull enough to suppose that because you are young, gifted and well-educated, you have never known hardship or heartbreak. Talent and intelligence never yet inoculated anyone against the caprice of the Fates, and I do not for a moment suppose that everyone here has enjoyed an existence of unruffled privilege and contentment.

However, the fact that you are graduating from Harvard suggests that you are not very well-acquainted with failure. You might be driven by a fear of failure quite as much as a desire for success. Indeed, your conception of failure might not be too far from the average person’s idea of success, so high have you already flown.

Ultimately, we all have to decide for ourselves what constitutes failure, but the world is quite eager to give you a set of criteria if you let it. So I think it fair to say that by any conventional measure, a mere seven years after my graduation day, I had failed on an epic scale. An exceptionally short-lived marriage had imploded, and I was jobless, a lone parent, and as poor as it is possible to be in modern Britain, without being homeless. The fears that my parents had had for me, and that I had had for myself, had both come to pass, and by every usual standard, I was the biggest failure I knew.

Now, I am not going to stand here and tell you that failure is fun. That period of my life was a dark one, and I had no idea that there was going to be what the press has since represented as a kind of fairy tale resolution. I had no idea then how far the tunnel extended, and for a long time, any light at the end of it was a hope rather than a reality.

So why do I talk about the benefits of failure? Simply because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged. I was set free, because my greatest fear had been realised, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea. And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.

You might never fail on the scale I did, but some failure in life is inevitable. It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.

Failure gave me an inner security that I had never attained by passing examinations. Failure taught me things about myself that I could have learned no other way. I discovered that I had a strong will, and more discipline than I had suspected; I also found out that I had friends whose value was truly above the price of rubies.

The knowledge that you have emerged wiser and stronger from setbacks means that you are, ever after, secure in your ability to survive. You will never truly know yourself, or the strength of your relationships, until both have been tested by adversity. Such knowledge is a true gift, for all that it is painfully won, and it has been worth more than any qualification I ever earned.

So given a Time Turner, I would tell my 21-year-old self that personal happiness lies in knowing that life is not a check-list of acquisition or achievement. Your qualifications, your CV, are not your life, though you will meet many people of my age and older who confuse the two. Life is difficult, and complicated, and beyond anyone’s total control, and the humility to know that will enable you to survive its vicissitudes.

Now you might think that I chose my second theme, the importance of imagination, because of the part it played in rebuilding my life, but that is not wholly so. Though I personally will defend the value of bedtime stories to my last gasp, I have learned to value imagination in a much broader sense. Imagination is not only the uniquely human capacity to envision that which is not, and therefore the fount of all invention and innovation. In its arguably most transformative and revelatory capacity, it is the power that enables us to empathise with humans whose experiences we have never shared.

One of the greatest formative experiences of my life preceded Harry Potter, though it informed much of what I subsequently wrote in those books. This revelation came in the form of one of my earliest day jobs. Though I was sloping off to write stories during my lunch hours, I paid the rent in my early 20s by working at the African research department at Amnesty International’s headquarters in London.

There in my little office I read hastily scribbled letters smuggled out of totalitarian regimes by men and women who were risking imprisonment to inform the outside world of what was happening to them. I saw photographs of those who had disappeared without trace, sent to Amnesty by their desperate families and friends. I read the testimony of torture victims and saw pictures of their injuries. I opened handwritten, eye-witness accounts of summary trials and executions, of kidnappings and rapes.

Many of my co-workers were ex-political prisoners, people who had been displaced from their homes, or fled into exile, because they had the temerity to speak against their governments. Visitors to our offices included those who had come to give information, or to try and find out what had happened to those they had left behind.

I shall never forget the African torture victim, a young man no older than I was at the time, who had become mentally ill after all he had endured in his homeland. He trembled uncontrollably as he spoke into a video camera about the brutality inflicted upon him. He was a foot taller than I was, and seemed as fragile as a child. I was given the job of escorting him back to the Underground Station afterwards, and this man whose life had been shattered by cruelty took my hand with exquisite courtesy, and wished me future happiness.

And as long as I live I shall remember walking along an empty corridor and suddenly hearing, from behind a closed door, a scream of pain and horror such as I have never heard since. The door opened, and the researcher poked out her head and told me to run and make a hot drink for the young man sitting with her. She had just had to give him the news that in retaliation for his own outspokenness against his country’s regime, his mother had been seized and executed.

Every day of my working week in my early 20s I was reminded how incredibly fortunate I was, to live in a country with a democratically elected government, where legal representation and a public trial were the rights of everyone.

Every day, I saw more evidence about the evils humankind will inflict on their fellow humans, to gain or maintain power. I began to have nightmares, literal nightmares, about some of the things I saw, heard, and read.

And yet I also learned more about human goodness at Amnesty International than I had ever known before.

Amnesty mobilises thousands of people who have never been tortured or imprisoned for their beliefs to act on behalf of those who have. The power of human empathy, leading to collective action, saves lives, and frees prisoners. Ordinary people, whose personal well-being and security are assured, join together in huge numbers to save people they do not know, and will never meet. My small participation in that process was one of the most humbling and inspiring experiences of my life.

Unlike any other creature on this planet, humans can learn and understand, without having experienced. They can think themselves into other people’s places.

Of course, this is a power, like my brand of fictional magic, that is morally neutral. One might use such an ability to manipulate, or control, just as much as to understand or sympathise.

And many prefer not to exercise their imaginations at all. They choose to remain comfortably within the bounds of their own experience, never troubling to wonder how it would feel to have been born other than they are. They can refuse to hear screams or to peer inside cages; they can close their minds and hearts to any suffering that does not touch them personally; they can refuse to know.

I might be tempted to envy people who can live that way, except that I do not think they have any fewer nightmares than I do. Choosing to live in narrow spaces leads to a form of mental agoraphobia, and that brings its own terrors. I think the wilfully unimaginative see more monsters. They are often more afraid.

What is more, those who choose not to empathise enable real monsters. For without ever committing an act of outright evil ourselves, we collude with it, through our own apathy.

One of the many things I learned at the end of that Classics corridor down which I ventured at the age of 18, in search of something I could not then define, was this, written by the Greek author Plutarch: What we achieve inwardly will change outer reality.

That is an astonishing statement and yet proven a thousand times every day of our lives. It expresses, in part, our inescapable connection with the outside world, the fact that we touch other people’s lives simply by existing.

But how much more are you, Harvard graduates of 2008, likely to touch other people’s lives? Your intelligence, your capacity for hard work, the education you have earned and received, give you unique status, and unique responsibilities. Even your nationality sets you apart. The great majority of you belong to the world’s only remaining superpower. The way you vote, the way you live, the way you protest, the pressure you bring to bear on your government, has an impact way beyond your borders. That is your privilege, and your burden.

If you choose to use your status and influence to raise your voice on behalf of those who have no voice; if you choose to identify not only with the powerful, but with the powerless; if you retain the ability to imagine yourself into the lives of those who do not have your advantages, then it will not only be your proud families who celebrate your existence, but thousands and millions of people whose reality you have helped change. We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better.

I am nearly finished. I have one last hope for you, which is something that I already had at 21. The friends with whom I sat on graduation day have been my friends for life. They are my children’s godparents, the people to whom I’ve been able to turn in times of trouble, people who have been kind enough not to sue me when I took their names for Death Eaters. At our graduation we were bound by enormous affection, by our shared experience of a time that could never come again, and, of course, by the knowledge that we held certain photographic evidence that would be exceptionally valuable if any of us ran for Prime Minister.

So today, I wish you nothing better than similar friendships. And tomorrow, I hope that even if you remember not a single word of mine, you remember those of Seneca, another of those old Romans I met when I fled down the Classics corridor, in retreat from career ladders, in search of ancient wisdom:

As is a tale, so is life: not how long it is, but how good it is, is what matters.

I wish you all very good lives. Thank you very much.colours multi psychedelic divider for posts new

A Conversation with J.K. Rowling and Daniel Radcliffecolours multi psychedelic divider for posts new

The Women of Harry Potter (Talking to J.K. Rowling)colours multi psychedelic divider for posts newQUOTATIONS on FAILURE/IMAGINATION:

“What we achieve inwardly will change outer reality.”— Plutarch

“If you choose to use your status and influence to raise your voice on behalf of those who have no voice; if you choose to identify not only with the powerful, but with the powerless; if you retain the ability to imagine yourself into the lives of those who do not have your advantages, then it will not only be your proud families who celebrate your existence, but thousands and millions of people whose reality you have helped transform for the better. We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better.” — J.K. Rowling

“Without leaps of imagination or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all is a form of planning.” ― Gloria Steinem

“And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” ― Sylvia Plath

“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.” ― Maya Angeloucolours multi psychedelic divider for posts new