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Category: Stoicism

Learning to Fly – Doctor Ordered

Life is Messy

How do you view your past? Is it something you rejoice in or something you ignore? Did your past happen to you or is your past a part of you? Do you let it guide you or let it rule you? Do you accept that all the bits and pieces that make up your past coalesce to make up you? 

“What happens to each of us is ordered. It furthers our destiny. … There is a single harmony. Just as the world forms a single body comprising all bodies, so fate forms a single purpose, comprising all purposes.” 

There is causality. Nothing has no effect. Without the past, we would not be where we are now. To be human is to be a mess of thoughts and feelings with no guide book. Tossed off a cliff and told to fly – figure it out on the way down. 

Okay… So How Do We Fly?

We are made up of everything that has come before now. And will add tidbits as time passes. The good, the bad, the happy, the sad, the fun, the scary, the funny, the annoying, the easy, the hard. EVERY. THING. The people. The places. The events. 

All of it snowballs to become the person you are today. The pieces fit together to form the picture of you.

Two wooden animatronic figures each holding a puzzle piece, nearly connecting. In the background is a multicolored, vertically striped background.

Take all of these bits and pieces and use them to form your Self. If you can do then then you will be cohesive, smooth, and solid – and ready to fly. If you try to leave out pieces or pretend they aren’t there, then you’ll just be a spiky mess – and fall quickly to the ground. There aren’t many spiked aircraft… just sayin’.

All too often we want to hide, deny, ignore, or change our pasts. What we did. What was done to us. Who we did it with. Why. 

While we should not dwell on the past – that is as unproductive as pretending it doesn’t exist – we should embrace it as part of us.

You’re Joking Right? 

Not kidding. Totally serious. And believe me, I know how unpleasant that can be. If all the trauma and drama of my life went away, so would my personality as it is today. If everything had always been rosy and gentle, then I would not be the me I am. 

  • I would not be as strong.
  • I would not be as knowledgeable.
  • I would not be as solid.
  • I would not be as real.

Marcus uses the doctor analogy – take your medicine, do your exercises. “It may not always be pleasant, but we embrace it – because we want to get well.” Accept what is prescribed, “Accept it because of what it leads to: the good health of the work.”

How do you know pleasure if you’ve never experienced pain? The good, the bad, and the indifferent are all relevant and necessary parts of life. You can’t skip one just because you wanna. They will all be there no matter what you do or who you are. 

So, we can reject our pasts and be sharp, jagged souls, resentful and angry. Or we can accept our pasts and be smooth, settled sound, not perfect but content. Use your past to inform your future. 

Don’t dwell on it. Don’t deny it. Just be the you it has made you. “No nature would bring something about that wasn’t beneficial to what it governed.” 

Does this have ANYTHING to do with Narration?

Yep. Indubitably.

That messy life?

All those experiences? The good times and the craptastic days? They all led me here. To narration. And not only did they bring me here, they will help me in my performances. They give me the ability to instill authenticity to my reads in ways I wouldn’t be capable of had I enjoyed a life free of my experiences. 

The deaths of my parents taught me tragedy, visceral pain, unmitigated aloneness, and all sorts of stuff about living.

All those bad relationships taught me (eventually) to believe in myself and not take crap from anyone.

All those random research clients and jobs taught me that I can do anything I set my mind to and that there are more ways to do anything than you would expect. 

The kidney transplant (I was the donor side) taught me what it feels like to Fulfill a Purpose. 

When I am in the booth, I am able to pull up each and every experience to help me convey my author’s intent. There is a memory for everything. Some may need to be repurposed or embellished, of course. I haven’t experienced all the things everywhere. I mean, I’ve never killed anyone, so there will have to be some license there, but  have studied candlestick charting and was a day trader briefly so I can speak authoritatively as such. And on and on and on.

So embrace your past. Don’t dwell on it and relive it all the time, but use it to learn from and to inform your future self. You would not be the beautiful you you are without all that stuff you try to hide. Be messy. Be real. Be human.

Goodness knows I’m trying to do so!

"What happens to each of us is ordered. It furthers our destiny." Marcus Aurelius
We all have our own path to our own mountain.

(All quotes are from Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations.)


Reach out to chat or just say hi. If you need a voice, you can hear me on my websites. Feel free to email with requests for auditions/sample reads : lisasware.com.

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Being a Generous Narrator: Live Open-handed

Questioning Generosity

Are you generous? (Whether you’re a narrator or not.)

How do you respond when someone needs your help? A favor, big or small? Maybe they are asking for a ride to the airport at 5am or they need someone to watch their adorable, but psychotic, pet for a week. Perhaps they are looking for a place to stay or money. Or an opinion on their new shoes or their relationship. Your expertise in a certain subject. Even something as simple as for you to do a good job. Be it time, physical or mental energy, money, or material goods – we all are called upon to do things for other people. Regularly. And we call upon others. 

When I first began exploring the world of audiobooks and corporate narration, I discovered the most wonderful thing! Besides the fact it is the first job I have ever considered a career, this industry is chock full of amazing, wonderful, kind, and generous people. I mean, not everyone is a peach, but that’s life. There are surely people who dislike me. Again, that’s life. But The Generous Narrator seemed real.

I wondered, was it truly possible that there are that many truly kind-hearted souls doing narration? Spoiler alert: Yes. Yes, it is. After a couple of years, I’ve stopped waiting for the other shoe to drop, for the facade to fall and started accepting the genuine nature of most of my fellow narrators.

So what does Marcus Aurelieus say about generosity and living open handed in his Meditations that sent me down this rabbit hole? 

Thinking about Helping

“Some people, when they do someone a favor, are always looking for a chance to call it in. And some aren’t, but they’re still aware of it – still regard it as a debt. But others don’t even do that. They’re like a vine that produces grapes without looking for anything in return. A horse at the end of the race… A dog when the hunt is over… A bee with its honey stored… And a human being after helping others…”

Four images overlaid with the words “Role Models”. Clockwise starting from the top left: a brindle dog with a toy, bunches of grapes on the vine, a muscled horse races to the left, and a wasp on a yellow flower.

So many are one of the first two types of people: always waiting for favors to come back to them or keeping tally of who owes what to whom. Sadly, it is a small percentage of humanity as a whole who lives as the third type of person: giving of themselves where and when they can.

My narration family, my audiobook peeps especially, are the grapevine. They share and spread the love however and wherever they can. They live open handed. (I don’t think they do it just for the grapes, though most of them do enjoy a good glass of wine.)

Bonus days? Most even avoid the pitfall Stoicism warns about when being a Good Human: what is often called virtue signaling these days. (VIRTUE SIGNALLING | definition in the Cambridge English Dictionary) All too often, people fall into this and exert energy making sure everyone knows how amazing they are since they did X, Y, or Q.

Basically, when you see someone who needs assistance you can provide, do not think of the effect on you or to you – for better or worse. Think of the effect on THEM if you hold back. Give of yourself, however that manifests, without expectation. Live more than fairly. 

If we all just live fairly, then the world will indeed be a miserable place. While it sounds good in theory, in practice, we must live MORE than fairly if we want to be the race horse, the hunting dog, the honey bee. Otherwise, no one would ever strive, go the extra mile, turn the other cheek, help when they know it cannot/will not be returned.

The Kindest Industry

Finding a career where being generous isn’t met with ridicule and being taken advantage of is a dream come true. Is everything sausage and rainbows? Of course not, don’t be silly. But there is a higher percentage of genuinely generous narrators than, say, generous lawyers. 

Does narrating create the open-handedness or does the tendency to live open-handed make one more likely to be a narrator? Is it just that creatives like actors and artists are more likely to share and help without regard to themselves than the more business-minded soul?

Hard to say. We don’t have enough time here to debate the level of emotional intelligence in different types of people and whether or not this has any bearing here. (Though it is a rather interesting rabbit hole in itself.)

All I know is I have spent much of my life with more people who live with a closed fist than an open hand. They hold every iota of data, every ounce of emotion close to the vest, sharing only when they see what’s in it for them. When interacting with someone who does have the openness, these people grab and grab with zero consideration for recompense or the impact of their actions.

Now I am surrounded in audiobook and corporate narration land by people who care. People who will pick you up if they can or send someone if they can’t. I am honored and privileged to call these people my family. Yes, family. My blood will always be my blood, but some of these people are kindred spirits in every sense. The universe has been kind. I’ll take it!

“Some people, when they do someone a favor are like a vine that produces grapes without looking for anything in return.” Marcus Aurelius

Reach out to chat or just say hi. If you need a voice, you can hear me on my websites. Feel free to email with requests for auditions/sample reads : lisasware.com.

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Stoicism: Not Just for Ancients Anymore

(Not So) Deep Thoughts

A picture of Lisa's favorite translantion of Marcus Aurelius's Meditations. The creased black cover has a red crow silhouette with a white feather in the foreground containing the title and author.

Today, we are re-embarking on a journey through Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations! (Well, I am. You can if you want to.) This book, in all of its translations, has been my go-to since the first time I read a snippet eons before narration, storytelling, and creation in general became my thing. In college, I acquired a pocket sized copy that I quite literally loved to pieces. Now, my shelves are graced with at least four different versions in varied stages of dog-earedness. Each translation has a slightly different slant on the interpretation of the original text and I’ve rotated through them over the years. 

The snippets, or stanzas, have taught me everything from patience to acceptance to motivation to self-love. The battlefield writings of an Ancient Roman general have given me more tools to work with everyday life than I can ever convey. Having lost my parents at 16, I was anchor-less for some time. Stoicism, and especially the Meditations, became my anchor and has guided me through some dark & stormy times. It has also been around to put a spotlight on the good times and help keep me from becoming complacent during a calm. 

So What?

Everyone has a philosophy they live by, even if it is to have no philosophy. (Rush’s ‘Free Will’, anyone?) Knowing how and where to apply your philosophy, much less how to internalize it enough to live by, it is often the challenge. Stoicism applies everywhere, you just have to look. Or pay attention. 🙂 

As with most of Marcus’ writings, the opening stanza of Book Five applies no matter who you are. Another commonality is that it is something many people don’t want to listen to.

When you have trouble getting out of bed, tell yourself, “I have to go to work – as a human being.”

This is enough of a beast to unpack that most will shut down here and not keep reading to get to the meaty part where he explains that we don’t trust ourselves, we don’t follow our own guts. We discount and dismiss things we see as not worth our time and energy. And end up self-centered black holes of lameness. What you should do is –

  • Trust yourself.
  • Be yourself.
  • Know yourself.
  • Then do.

Too much time is spent doing what we are ‘supposed’ to do that we miss out on what we truly should be doing.

We forget to be happy.

We forget to be kind. (To ourselves and to others!)

We forget to be ourselves.

We live as automatons, humanoid but not fully human. An image of a robot skeleton  from the waist up with humanoid skin forming face, ears, neck and shoulders.

It is so easy to do. Society tends to reward it, recommend it, even seem to require it sometimes. Goodness knows, I existed like this for most of my life. Despite best efforts otherwise, even. 

Ok… So What’s That MEAN?

“You don’t love yourself enough. Or you’d love your nature, too, and what it demands of you. People who love what they do wear themselves down doing it. … Do you have less respect for your own nature than the engraver does for engraving, the dancer for the dance, the miser for the money, or the social climber for status?”

It has taken me years to internalize even a portion of this second bit, and is an ongoing, never-ending battle with myself. One I never plan on winning because I never plan to stop learning and growing. 

Yet we all should do what we love so that we love what we do. I never got that. It never made a lick of sense to me. Until I started narrating. Now, every single day, I wake up with a smile, knowing that I go to work as what I am intended to be – a human. A human whose purpose it is to bring enjoyment to others, to assist, and to teach. 

Narration allows me to do all of this and more. Corporate narration and eLearning give me opportunities to inform, to share knowledge, and to train people to help them succeed. Audiobooks are just magic and allow me to express any iteration of Self I could ever conceive. I can be the narrator in a 30 character Superhero Fantasy one day and an inspirational self-help storyteller the next. 

Bottom Line

Philosophy in general, and Stoicism in particular, can really help a soul find itself. When you find yourself, even a little bit, everything starts to come together. If you pay attention and don’t let yourself get too caught up in the pieces you cannot impact or control, those other pieces – the ones you CAN impact and control – will soon show you the picture of your Nature. Then – You do you. 

You do you, boo.

Reach out to chat or just say hi. If you need a voice, you can hear me on my websites. Feel free to email with requests for auditions/sample reads : lisasware.com.

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