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What’s in Store for 2018.

After tonight, the next time I post here will be on January 1, 2018. So this is the perfect time to share my writing goals for 2018 (some of which are already in full swing).

Here we go:

-Submit work to publications at least once a week

-Complete my E-Book. I have an outline. It’s time to execute.

-Complete my novel. This was on my list last year. I know achieving this goal will be a result of my effort and consistency. No excuses.

-Go to more events as part of James River Writers, our local organization for writers. I went to a Writing Show, their annual conference, a book reading and a salon but I can make time for more.

-Connect with and be of service to other writers

-Strengthen my accountability resources (Be more active in my online groups and with my current writing partners)

-Embrace opportunities to speak about my journey (whether that be as part of a panel, as a speaker or as a podcast guest)

-Read more (2 books a month). Some months I read more, some less. I would like to be more consistent.

-Continue to go to book signings (especially for local authors!)

-Continue blogging 3 times a week.

-Do #bloglikecrazy challenge with See Jane Write again in November! (That challenge stretched me and gave me the idea to incorporate Meatless Monday posts).

-Seek more opportunities to guest post (at least once a month).

-Continue to take writing classes, even if it’s just a one-day workshop.

-Write down my goals daily in my journal!

-Remember to keep having fun! This level of commitment to writing is still technically in its infancy so there is no need to compare my walk with anyone else’s. I love that last year at this time I didn’t have a blog, had never taken a writing class, had only been published on one site, never thought to apply for a fellowship, and did not have a writing group. All of that has changed in the space of one year. I feel like my eyes have sprung open. I am already excited about what goals I will get to post in December 2018.

Happy New Year to all of my readers! I wish and pray for the absolute best for all of you!

Your turn: What are some of your goals for 2018?

 

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All or Nothing

You ever get to the end of the day and feel like you made a lot of good decisions? Decisions that were just right for you?

Today was that day for me. I talked more openly about my writing with people. I spent an hour outside, just walking and talking. Even though there was a chill in the air, I cherished every moment I had outside and not cooped up indoors.

Now I am here, writing this post and preparing to work more on the first draft of my book and another writing project. I am thanking God I asked one of my writing group members to check on me this Saturday to see where I am with my pages.

Which is leading me to another thought: Please don’t underestimate the power of accountability. I sorely need it! One of my goals during #bloglikecrazy in November was to finish my first draft. I know why I set two lofty goals but I also know they were not completely grounded in reality. When I set unrealistic goals, I set a trap for myself. And I fall for it every. single. time.

The “All or Nothing” mentality has never served me well and it only guarantees that something on the list will not get done. In November, it was my first draft. I looked at it but that was about as far as it got. I did not anticipate the everyday stressors, activities, work, and of course I couldn’t have known to factor in hubby’s short hospital stay. However, there is something about me that wants to keep reaching. I think there is a little devil on my shoulder that whispers “This time it will be different. This time you can push yourself to do it all.”

I can at least promise not listen to the lies and do what I know I can do and if sometimes I surprise myself with more, then I will welcome it. For right now, I am happy to dedicate the rest of 2017 to staying consistent with my blogging schedule, working out a few times a week and continuing to work on my first draft with the support of my accountability partners.

I can’t think of a better way to start to say good-bye to 2017 and hello to 2018.

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The Day After

After #bloglikecrazy (30 days of blogging in November) was over, I still felt like there was something else I had to do. I kept feeling like there was something missing. It’s probably because I had built a habit. I love knowing I wrote every day and when I stopped, there was a longing there. That left no room to doubt that no matter what the outcome, I will always write.

I cannot pretend I will always want to because laziness and frustration are real. But I can’t let laziness and frustration become more of a reality than persistence and consistency. The only thing I can control about this process is my effort. Even through the fatigue I feel right now, it keeps ringing in my head.

The part of me that wants to control everything is driven crazy by the fact I can’t control what happens after a submission, a pitch idea, a fellowship application or a challenge like #bloglikecrazy. But I have learned to treasure the freedom that comes with it, too. I put myself out there, fight my fight  and then let go.

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I DID IT!

It’s here! It’s here! It’s here! Day 30 of #bloglikecrazy is here! November flew by. I can admit there were a couple of times during the challenge that I thought about quitting. However, I knew I wouldn’t get the lessons I was bound to learn if I didn’t complete it. And therefore, wouldn’t be able to share it with all of you.

So here it goes:

1. I’ve learned my 21-Day Water-Workout-Write Challenge was not a fluke.

2. If challenged (by myself or in this case, by See Jane Write founder Javacia Harris Bowser), I will rise to the occasion.

3. I love trying new recipes regularly. I have never been a woman who loves to whip out the cookbook and dive in. I was more of a go with what you know type of cook and try a new recipe once in a blue moon. Meatless Monday posts stretched me and now I want to incorporate recipes more regularly. What I eat is a significant part of my wellness journey and deserves a place here.

4. I am capable of surprising myself. This is something I suspected while taking Life in 10 Minutes with Valley Haggard and Pens Up, Fears Down with Sadeqa Johnson. Even when I thought the well dried up, the words would find a way to appear. However, this challenge asked me to do it every day and more days than not, I opened my computer and stared at a blinking cursor and typed nonsense until I found my way or my way found me.

5. Inspiration is everywhere. It is in the photos you take, nature, the TV or movies you watch, past travels, a conversation at work, books or even as I discovered this month, in a hospital room. Life is going on around you, inside you, and has a past, present and God willing, a future. It is always ready to be found.

If you’ve ever wondered if a challenge like this would be beneficial to you, wonder no more! Give it a try! I am already excited for #bloglikecrazy 2018!

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Ask and Then Let Go

In the last week I’ve thought more about letting go than I have in years. By letting go, I mean letting go of control. A few days ago, I had the courage to tell someone what I needed. I may have done it through tears, but I did it. I bring this up because although I asked for what I needed, I am keenly aware that I may never get it.

And I have no control over whether or not I will ever get it.

I believe you can never be at peace if there are needs in your life you have the awareness to ask for but let fear keep you silent. From there, even if you do work up the courage to ask, the peace you seek may not be attained if you don’t accept you cannot control the outcome.

I am learning through shaky voice and tears to walk through the fear of speaking up and letting go once the words are out. Once they are out there, I can’t take them back, reverse time and watch the words slip back down my throat.

If the words need to be said, why would I?

 

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Telling a Better Story

I  was listening to a podcast earlier today and they were discussing why people don’t try to change or at least don’t stay consistent in their efforts to change. The interviewee pointed out how easy it is to stay the same and do nothing. The interviewer agreed, acknowledging the comfort of being static. Forgive me for not remembering names, I listened to many today while working so I don’t want to attribute the interview to the wrong people.

It got me thinking that of course it’s easy (and convenient) to continue down a path you’ve always gone or to tell yourself the exact same story about your life. “I always do this…I never remember that or I never follow-through on….

It reminded me of a a quote I first heard from Jim Kwik: “Your mind is always eavesdropping on your self-talk.”  What if I’ve been telling myself a story about myself, convinced that I already know the ending? And is my mind being programmed by my negative self-talk?

When I engage in negative self-talk, I believe I am giving myself permission to give up. I’ve done it with some of my writing and wellness goals in the past. It makes the bad medicine go down, nice and smooth.

Except that it’s not so smooth, is it? While you’re swallowing, the taste gets a little sour–even rancid, doesn’t it?

When our self-awareness grows, the harder it is to feel the comfort, to convince ourselves we are at ease when we quit. Now that I am writing on a regular basis, I am not choking down anything.

I am too busy telling myself a better story.

 

 

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Meatless Mondays: Black Bean Taco Salad

I decided to make a salad tonight. Since the misconception from many people is that vegans only eat salad, I have shied away from posting one. However, I found a recipe for one that is hearty, colorful and sure to fill anyone up. I even made the dressing–Creamy Cumin Ranch Dressing! Both recipes come from Jenn S. at veggieinspired.com.

Ingredients
Black Beans
Crunchy Roasted Chickpeas
  • 1 15 oz can chickpeas (rinsed, drained and dried really well) (or 1.5 cups cooked chickpeas)
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 20171127_184417
    Chickpeas tossed with spices–ready to be roasted!
Salad
  • 1 head green leaf lettuce (chopped) (romaine would be great too)
  • 1-2 chopped tomatoes
  • 1 red bell pepper (diced)
  • 1 avocado (diced)
  • 1 cup fresh corn kernels
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Toss chickpeas with the chili powder, cumin, salt and cinnamon.
  3. Place chickpeas on a baking sheet in one even layer and bake for 20-30 minutes, shaking them around 1/2 way through. Chickpeas should be slightly crunchy…they will continue to crisp up as they cool. Set aside.
  4. Toss the black beans with all the spices and warm in a pan over medium heat with 1/4 cup water. Stir occasionally until warmed through, about 5-6 minutes.
  5. To assemble the salad, toss the lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, avocado and corn in a large bowl. Plate the lettuce mixture on each individual plate or bowl. Add the black beans to the individual servings and top with the crunchy roasted chickpeas. Drizzle with the Creamy Cumin Ranch Dressing.
Creamy Cumin Ranch Dressing:
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Blend all ingredients in a high speed blender until smooth. Add additional water by the tablespoon if needed to thin.
  2. Enjoy!

Hubby says we should have it every night! The roasted chickpeas, avocado and black beans along with the dressing made this meal as filling as promised. This is the last Meatless Monday I will be doing as part of #bloglikecrazy. Challenging myself to try a new vegan recipe each week has made me push myself. It’s so easy to get stuck in a rut with 4 or 5 of your favorites and take-out but this has opened my world up. I will definitely be posting new recipes in the future.

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It’s Everywhere.

Everyday during this challenge, I find myself looking for inspiration. Sometimes it comes from a picture, a message heard, a memory, a book, a meal, a quote or is birthed from just typing words until I see the words forming into a message. Today, I was watching an episode of the new Spike Lee Joint, the updated “She’s Gotta Have It” on Netflix. Nola Darling and her date walked into The River Cafe in Brooklyn. The entrance was lit beautifully and the greenery was incredibly lush.

My mind wandered to a restaurant in Aruba we went to on our honeymoon. I don’t remember the food but I remember the trees and the lights. The air. A lonely dog strolling back and forth in front of the entrance.

A connection was made. Watching Ms. Darling saunter confidently in her black dress into a cafe extracted memories of lovely trees lighting up our dinner in Aruba. There is beauty in finding inspiration everywhere, from leafing through an old notebook to standing on a balcony to sitting in a church pew to the cinematography on a TV show.  I hope I never lose sight of that–even after the daily challenge of looking for it is over.

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Treasures

I was thinking recently about the first time I thought I about being a writer. I was around 10 years old. I still have one of my first old notebooks with abandoned attempts of short stories in a box somewhere. One of the stories was about an 11-year old girl named Stephanie who was spending her first Christmas after her parents’ divorce with her father and younger brother. The notebook had multi-colored tabs and I divided my work into ideas, first drafts and final drafts. I was also gifted multi-colored retractable pens. I still remember the glee I felt pushing one color down and watching a new hue pop up each time. The first draft of my Stephanie story was written in a teal cursive.

What I remember most fondly is how I thought this was the beginning and I couldn’t wait to publish my own series of books like Ann M. Martin’s Baby-Sitters Club books and be an acclaimed teen author. I love that I had dreams as a child. One of the most precious things about a child is their innocence. I was allowed to have mine. I had parents who bought me books and notebooks and colorful pens and never once made me feel silly about writing my stories.

They were my treasures. Mine to have. Mine to hold. Mine to keep.

 

 

 

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Revisiting The Hollywood Commandments

I have been rereading passages from “The Hollywood Commandments: A Spiritual Guide to Secular Success.” Even though the book is largely directed towards those seeking advice for success in their careers, there are definitely gems that can apply to other areas of your life.

Following DeVon online, I’ve heard him read The Frustration Prayer several times. I know I read it while preparing to help promote his book as part of his online launch team. Since I’ve been at the hospital watching my husband recover (such a blessing!), I’ve had time to revisit passages and appreciate how circumstances change the meaning or the depth of impact of his words.

Here is the part of the prayer that brought tears to my eyes:

“Please, my God, help me. I’m crying out to You from the depths of my soul! I need peace to sustain me during the times when my frustration is so intense I start to lose my faith. I come against the frustration that seeks to derail my very existence! No weapon formed against me will prosper! I claim every good and perfect gift You’ve already planned for my life and I submit my career to You!”

As I was reading, my mind was swapping out “career” for “his/our health” and those words belonged to me. During any trial, it comes as no surprise how quickly frustration can gain a foothold in your spirit. I have often begged for peace of mind. Seeking support from my family, even though they are hours away and knowing there are a couple of friends close by that would be here if I asked them to be, have been vital. However, in the quiet moments, lying on this cot, watching my husband rest and gaining strength back, I have found solace in The Frustration Prayer.