Living Life Authentically Through Words
An Interview with our friendly neighbourhood writer, Art Bram
Hi Coffee Readers, hope your coffee’s ready for another interview with another writer on Medium. We have Art Bram with us today, who frequently shares his story through his Medium profile with us.
With the aim to live authentically, he’s always shared his wisdom, along with the lessons he has learned in the stories that he publishes.
Hi Art, welcome to Coffee Times. You are no stranger to Coffee Times, and you regularly publish with us. Would you like to say something to our readers on Substack?
Having published regularly with CT, is there a pattern in the kind of articles you publish with us? And why?
I just want to say how honored I am that you chose to interview me.
I love writing for Coffee Times. All the editors are so kind and supportive. The turnaround time from my clicking the Submit button to being published is super quick, which is most appreciated.
As of today, I’ve published a dozen articles in Coffee Times, all focused on self-growth. They’ve performed consistently well, which indicates that they are a good fit for CT.
I have no doubt that Coffee Times will continue to grow, and I’m looking forward to continuing to contribute.
Hi Art, you’re one wholesome human being and a very supportive writer I’ve found on Medium. What do you wish to get out of writing and connecting with other writers on Medium?
Thanks so much for your kind words, Ashley.
I have two primary goals in writing:
To positively impact the lives of my readers
I write from my heart as authentically and honestly as I can. I don’t hold anything back — I keep things real. I’m an emotional and sensitive person, and that’s consistently reflected in my words.
As my heart is laid out there on the table for all to see, it gives the reader a connection point for their hearts. When that connection is made, doors to self-growth and healing open up wide.
It’s very easy to feel alone and discouraged by our struggles. I sure as hell know that firsthand. With connection, we instantaneously feel understood, supported, and hopeful, especially when the writer shares their successes as I and so many other writers do.
That’s how I can best describe the impact I’m blessed to frequently make with my readers.
To get to learn more about myself
The more I do so, the more self-compassionate I become. Self-compassion is great medicine to heal my self-esteem issues. As in I’m a master at giving myself a hard time.
Through my writing, I’m learning to become far kinder and gentler to myself.
Writing is such an introspective process. It’s as if I’m interviewing my psyche, asking probing questions, albeit gently and respectfully.
When I write about my most challenging life experiences, I gain respect for my strength — not only in surviving obstacles but also in coming out on the other end as the person I am today. This can best be summed up as:
self-loving (on most days, anyhow)
wanting to pay forward all the lessons I’ve learned about what it takes to overcome an emotionally neglectful childhood
You’re really good at connecting with people, as you have proven with your community on Medium. How do you navigate around that? Do you have any other tips for us to connect with other Medium writers as well?
That’s an easy question to answer. It is as simple as writing from your heart. That is the one and only requirement.
Writing from my heart comes easily to me. I recognize there are many writers who that may not come easy to.
People write for different reasons. My belief is if you want to have a heartfelt connection with others, the only way to do that is to write from your heart.
In addition, if you want to connect with your fellow writers, then comment on articles you read. And not just by saying: nice job, I enjoyed reading your article.Let the writer know exactly what words or sentences impacted you and how you connected to them.
That is a gift to the writer, and it is how you’ll form connections that will lead to supportive friendships before you know it. That’s not to mention genuine followers who don’t read your articles out of a sense of obligation, but because they care about you as a person.
You share many heartfelt stories and inspire growth in others. How successfully do you think you have been doing with this?
From the feedback I’ve received, I humbly say I feel I’ve been extraordinarily successful — frankly, beyond my wildest dreams.
I didn’t set out with that goal in mind. Rather it was the natural product of my consistently writing authentically and with a positive, encouraging message.
A fellow writer once commented she really appreciated my ending the article she had just read with a section titled: My Wish For You.
I greatly appreciated that feedback. Now I end most of my articles as such. I do that because I want to make it as clear as possible that the primary goal of my pieces is to offer something of value to my readers.
Have you ever had any moments that have made you really proud of the writer that you are?
Wow, that’s a good question! I don’t very much relate to pride in being the writer I am, but more so to pride in being the person I am.
Here are two articles I’m very proud of writing:
I’m proud of this one because I was very vulnerable in sharing my weird, idiosyncratic behaviors. That wasn’t easy for me to do, as all my life I’ve been ultrasensitive to what others think of me.
Writing it was my way of telling myself I’m ok just as I am. I don’t have to hide any part of myself from others. What matters is what I think of myself.
Here is a second article.
At the time of writing this article, I was feeling very down on myself — pretty much as down as I get.
I had a choice to make — to throw myself a pity party, or to view my upset as an opportunity for healing, an opportunity to get in touch with my feelings rather than push them away.
I chose the latter, and I’m so glad I did.
In retrospect, it turned out to be an easy article to write as my distressed feelings were so fresh and readily accessible to me. I only needed to put them down on paper.
I really love your articles on personal growth, such as the one on black and white thinking and self-love. What are your writing inspirations? How often do you get inspired by your own experiences, and have you written pieces inspired by others as well?
My primary writing inspiration is I want to live a happy life.
I realize it’s only myself that is holding me back. I’m blessed to have a damn good life. I’m reasonably healthy, I have a wonderful loving wife and daughter, I’m blessed to have two beautiful grandchildren, lots of friends, and I’m devoid of financial stress.
I’m not as happy as I can and deserve to be because I’ve yet to shed decades-old habitual negative ways of viewing myself and of viewing life. Fortunately, I’m making progress, but I definitely have a ways to go.
My negative thinking essentially boils down to:
I’m not good enough
I need everybody to like me
I don’t have the strength to handle things when they don’t go the way I hope
When I write, it leads me to examine my faulty ways of thinking and how I suffer as a direct consequence of them. And then to explore new, radically different ways of thinking that will lead me to the happiness and peace of mind I deserve.
I don’t often write articles inspired by others. It’s a great idea, and I shall consider doing so more often.
There are a handful of articles I have written that meet that criteria.
Here is one of them:
The new writer I’m referring to in the title is Arlene Arnold. I wrote my article because her words so powerfully resonated with the essence of who I am and my approach to life.
Besides wanting to give her the well-deserved shout-out for a superbly written article, I wanted to convey to my readers how terrific it feels to find a new writer who speaks the same language as I do.
Here is another article that was inspired by others. In this case, it was not inspired by an individual writer, but rather by a collection of fellow writers who write in a similar style as I, which is honestly and authentically.
Here it is:
You wrote about never being too late to discover our life purposes and revealed yours. How did you come to that conclusion? Any tips for our readers to help discover theirs as well? How did you choose writing to be your medium to express that purpose?
I’ll answer your first question with a return question. As in:
Why would it ever be too late to discover our life purpose?
As long as you’re breathing and have a functioning brain, then all things are possible — even if your body is functioning poorly.
My life purpose is to be as self-loving and loving a person as I can possibly be. I’m soon to be 70 years old. I’d say it’s only over the last decade or so that I discovered what’s most important in my life. I was too wrapped up merely in surviving to give any thought to life having a purpose beyond that.
Age is no barrier to discovering one’s life purpose. The only requirement is to be open to examining oneself and not allowing yourself to be the victim of self-limiting thoughts — as in keeping an open mind.
That neatly sums up my journey. It gives me a reason to wake up every day with a sense of purpose and optimism.
How did you choose writing to be your medium to express that purpose?
Haha, Ashley. That’s pretty funny — Medium is my “medium’ to express that purpose.
My answer — there is something about the process of writing that gets me in touch with where I’ve been, where I’m currently at, and where I want to get to.
Journaling can accomplish that much.
The Medium app goes far beyond that — it gives me the opportunity to share my journal entity with a community of fellow writers who not only relate to my words but support me on my journey via their empathic and wise comments.
I’m so blessed to have discovered Medium.
That thought makes me think of the lyrics of a song written back in the 1930s entitled Dancing Cheek to Cheek. The specific line in that song that flew into my head was:
Heaven, I’m in heaven
You share a lot of your personal stories on Medium. What are the biggest challenges for you as you publish them online, and how do you overcome them?
The biggest challenge is how much personal information to share. After all, I never know who will be reading my articles.
As I just wrote about in a recent interview with Robert Ralph of New Writers Welcome:
A talented writer can find a way to include their authentic self in their words within their articles without sharing too much info.
With practice, I’m getting better and better at accomplishing that goal.
Here is an example from my article:
My inner critical voice became so powerful and tyrannical that even when others told me I did great, I still found something to criticize myself for. I allowed my inner critical voice to write my autobiography with the central theme of each chapter being:
I’m not good enough. There is something wrong with me.
Those words are super personal, powerful, and relatable. Yet there is no mention of other people.
I especially love your piece on being your own inner loving parent. How do you suggest we start being our own loving parents?
It’s all about finding that voice in your head that is wise and unconditionally loves and supports you.
And then when you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed, making the decision to reach out to that voice, attentively listen to its words and soak in its love for you.
It is a most comforting and healing experience. It’s hard for me to suggest how to find it, as at this point, it comes effortlessly to me.
I suspect that’s mainly due to the decades I’ve been in therapy and also the last two years that I’ve attended meetings of Adult Children of Alcoholics and Dysfunctional Families (ACoA). The entire focus of ACoA is on becoming one's own loving parent.
There is no need to think of that voice as coming from a loving parent. It works just as well to think of it as the voice of a good friend or the voice of God or a higher power as you define it.
How do you personally define success as a writer, and do you think you have yet to succeed? Do you have any other writing projects you eventually wish to tackle?
I define success by the number of comments received, as my primary goal in writing is to engage the readers. That is the best reflection of how successful I was at doing so.
This will no doubt sound a bit weird, but I was thinking about printing out my most inspiring and well-received articles and binding them together, so that someday (hopefully in the far, far distant future), they can be passed out at my funeral.
In addition, I would choose one article to be read at the service. Of all the articles I’ve written to date, the one that comes to my mind is:
The article closes with the message I’d love to pay forward each and every day, which is:
You are an amazing person precisely as you are, regardless of your shortcomings. Even the Buddha was not perfect (I googled that, lol)
You don’t need to attain any level of achievement to earn the designation of amazing.
All you need to do is put forth your best effort in whatever you are pursuing. Whether you are expending the effort to be a great writer, a great partner, a great mommy or daddy, or a great friend — it’s all the same.
Thank you for being you.
Beautiful responses. Just beautiful. I’d like to thank Art once again, for always sharing his profound wisdom with us. Through his stories and pieces of advice, I hope it has encouraged you to live authentically as you are and be that amazing person. Thank you, Art.