Knowing

Knowing

We’re halfway through the year and I have been reading a lot about reevaluating goals for the reminder of the year.

At the end of 2017, I laid out my writing goals for 2018. They included finishing the 1st draft of my novel, pitching or submitting work each week, be open to speaking opportunities, apply for fellowships and completing an E-book.

Reflecting on the first half of this year, I haven’t pitched every week but I have had my work published on 2 sites. I was on a panel for James River Writers’ January Writing Show and had the pleasure of speaking to Riverside Young Writers. I haven’t applied for any fellowships but I did apply to be part of a digital storytelling conference (still waiting to hear about it). I haven’t finished the first draft of my novel but I did complete my first E-book available on this site:

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I  am proud of the strides I have made. I am letting go of the weekly submission goal. The goal that is most important to me besides keeping up with this blog is finishing the first draft of my novel. It is the one thing that matters most to me.

I don’t want to go into 2019 wondering what it will be like to finish.

I just want to know.

Commit

Commit

This past weekend I went to a wedding. Outside of the beauty of watching them become husband and wife, it had me thinking about commitment. What happens when you go from flirting with it to have it living on the insides, this willingness to attach, gambling with your heart, betting you will gain more than you could ever lose?

Writing feels that way to me. When I left a career a few years back, I was betting that I would not only brush past my fears, but that I would take them by the lapel, throw them to the ground and proceed to kick them into submission. It needed to be that serious for me. I saw how easy it could be. I could have spent the next 23 years at a job that admittedly had more lows than highs but I could have scraped by. I could always look forward to being in my mid-50’s and starting over again from there.

But I didn’t want to wait until I was worn down by years of stress and lack of fulfillment. The need to commit to finding out if I had what it took to do this far outweighed staying in misery, even if there was a level of comfort in that misery. I realize I am blessed to put in the work, even if half the time I am scared I am doing this only half-right or not at all. Even when it feels like no one is reading.

I will (and have) made my fair share of mistakes but I don’t have to live with wondering what could’ve happened if I never took a chance on myself.

If I never decided to commit.

Your turn: What have you recently committed to? How has it changed you?

Grow

Grow

I have pretty much been in work mode all day and next level tired the whole time. Hubby is still sick but he has his moments when he is walking around so I remain grateful–a bit frustrated but grateful nonetheless. Part of me wishes I went to writing class tonight instead of giving into the weariness and the work.

So where does that leave me besides committed to the work? It leaves me proud that my weariness comes from work and challenges me to push through finalizing my project and keeping to my schedule posting here.

It also reminds me that if I could go back to even 2 years ago and ask if I would rather be living that life, the answer is an emphatic “No.” Being too scared or lazy or a combination of both to take classes, seek coaching, blog, attend conferences and write even when my lids and heart are heavy is nothing I want to run back to. Don’t misunderstand me. I harbor no ill will against who I used to be.

I just wanted her to grow.

 

 

January Book Selections

January Book Selections

On my last blog post of 2017, one of my goals for 2018  was to be intentional about reading two books a month. I know I could read more but I want to start there. At one point in time, I swallowed books, especially novels. Within the last year or so, I have been introduced to a lot more non-fiction. I would read the occasional autobiography but fiction always had my heart and attention. I found myself feeling like I had to read these non-fiction books to increase my knowledge about setting and achieving goals, financial fitness and self-awareness. While I think the subject matters are worthwhile and many of the personal development books I attempted to read have an engaging style, I find myself setting them down and moving on to another one without finishing.

I heard recently that I need to break down all of my goals. In that spirit, I will choose one non-fiction/personal development book to read each month along with one novel. This month my fiction selection is a book of short stories I began but never finished: The PEN literary award winner “Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self” by Danielle Evans. I had started reading it at the beach over the summer and for some reason I can’t remember now, I put it down.

My second selection is “Braving the Wilderness” by Brene Brown. I started reading this book over the fall and I remember my interest waning after about 50 pages. I love watching Brene Brown being interviewed and delivering speeches but for some reason once the research was being introduced, I started getting distracted. I will not be surprised if I love it after committing to finish it.

It’s been said that how you do one thing is how you do everything. I don’t know how true that is but if I start with something as small as committing to my reading goals, my other goals will not be far behind.

 

What’s in Store for 2018.

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?

 

All or Nothing

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.

Reflections on SOG 2017

Reflections on SOG 2017

It’s been one week since I completed the Water-Workout-Write 21-Day Challenge. I made new commitments, too: working out 5 days a week, drinking 100 oz. of water each day, writing two essays and sending one pitch to a publication weekly and blogging two days a week. For now, I picked Tuesdays and Thursdays. My intention was to start on Monday. I knew I would be back from attending The Summit of Greatness in Columbus, Ohio and well-rested. I did workout yesterday but my old habit of not drinking enough water reared its ugly head. I am back on it today and will most likely finish my intake in a couple of hours. I may work out later but if I don’t, I will complete my other four Wednesday-Saturday.

Today was unexpected. My brother called and asked me to lunch before he headed back out of town. Seeing as I didn’t know he arrived yesterday, it was a pleasant surprise. And not the first. I was so happy to see him. Not just because he’s my brother but because he is a friend and a good sounding board. After last week at Summit, there was much to reflect on and discuss.

One of which was the decision to go this year. I went last year and the experience was life-changing. There were hundreds of us, cheerleading each other, not knowing what was to come and having these instantaneous deep conversations with people who just happened to be standing next to you in line. The connections forged made me want to come back. I was excited but there were goals I knew I had set for myself that I did not reach, like finishing the book I was working on at the time. But of course, that is no reason not to recognize the strides I did make like taking Life in 10 Minutes with Valley Haggard, Pens Up Fears Down with Sadeqa Johnson, pitching my book at the James River Writer’s Conference, applying for my first fellowship, starting this site, expanding my social media presence, gaining a wonderful group of friends who also write (my tribe!) and finally getting around to printing up my business cards.

 

So, there was no real reason not to go. And I am so grateful that I did. This time my husband came with me. And that was one of the best gifts. Getting to see it through his eyes. Even though the magic of experiencing it for the first time was no longer there for me, watching him crane his neck around at the Southern Theater and hesitantly open up to a fellow attendee about his business goals made me realize how much time away from your “everyday” is needed. The Summit of Greatness is a jolt to the system, a soul-stirring reminder of what we could be if we are only willing to let go of what we thought we are or supposed to be.

We started off by registering last Wednesday the 13th and then attending a dinner which was mostly a casual reunion of last year’s attendees and enjoying the treat of meeting some new faces. And that is when I knew we were off to a good start. My heart was so warm and full at the sight of these people who I hadn’t even seen in nearly a year, except for online of course. It’s weird seeing people leap off of a screen and into your arms for a big old bear hug but it’s a good weird!

The next day was official Day 1. A highlight for me was poet Najwa Zebian and her loving embrace of her sensitivity and vulnerability. She exuded a quiet power. Tears were rolling down my cheeks during the Q&A portion of her time. Esther Perel was whip smart and funny! Her observations of the evolution of relationships like how we are looking to one person to fulfill all our needs compared to the past when it was a whole village was a major Aha moment for me.

Chris Lee’s emphasis on the power of giving moved me. When you’re depressed, give! When you’re happy, give! When you are lonely, give! His visualization exercise asking us what and where we want to be in 10 years was particularly memorable for me because he asked us to start it by saying that age out loud which was jarring for me. Then the tears came again.

Day 2 was quite a finale. My parents also came to Summit and the four of us sat on the first floor as compared to the balcony on Day 1 and the impact was powerful. The close proximity of the thumping drums and the cries of excitement made me want to jump to my feet immediately. As for speakers, Chris Guillebeau made another case about the power of the introvert. His energy was quieter but not boring in any way. He was promoting his new book “Side Hustle” and showed tangible evidence of people who started a side hustle, not a part-time job and grew it into a real business. He was practical and his approach made me want to listen deeply. I cannot wait to read his book! Mel Robbins came and brought the house down with her quick wit and insights and presented her 5-Second Rule. She delved into the science behind counting down…5, 4, 3, 2, 1..Go! When you wait too long to take action, we tend to stay still. She showed us how 5 seconds can change everything. Another read on my mile-high list from this weekend.

Tim Storey simply took us to church. There was a lot of call and response which made him entertaining but there was a message in his rhyme and swagger. He spoke about impartation, incubation and maturation phases in your life and shared about his work with people in addiction recovery. Brendon Burchard, the number one online marketer, was the closing keynote speaker. His emphasis was on the habits of high performers. I loved how he talked about bringing the joy every day. He took a moment to ask us all to think of three words that exemplify who we want to be, set and name an alarm with those three words for 10:00 am. We even had a dance break moment and I found myself admiring the interactive nature of his speech.

To cap off the conference, there was a dance party at Express Live with DJ Irie. The crowd was live and the music had us dancing for hours on end. Lewis, his Mom, Tim Storey, and even DJ Irie himself crowd surfed. The dancers that were teaching as a part of morning workouts last year came back and danced their collective faces off on stage.

As if this hasn’t been long enough, there is so much I am missing including the performers that danced and sang so beautifully for us, Lewis giving away his book as a surprise, Nick Onken’s art piece connecting all of us from all over this country and 20 others and hugs at every turn.

I am thankful. I am grateful.

The Dust

The Dust

I wrote about knowing what I need to do and committing to myself last week. I had to take a hard look at myself at week’s end and ask if I lived up to the commitment with everything I have in me. The answer was No. And then I asked myself what do I do with that? I can be as self-aware as I’d like but without execution it just fades in and out, coming to the surface until I tuck it back underneath again.

With my look back, I took action. The last couple of days, I embraced nourishing myself the right way consistently, with whole foods and imbibing green smoothies and taking myself outside and letting the sun brush my skin. I have no crystal ball nor do I want one but I am hoping I am leading myself towards a total healing with bountiful energy. The exhaustion of worrying about psoriasis and all the many scars it leaves, visible to the eye or not, redness and raised bumps that ravage the brown on my face and arms and feeling ill at ease will be long forgotten memories in time. I am counting on it because I am not just closing my eyes and wishing.

I do not live in a fairy tale.

The dust I sprinkle on this beautiful mess is sweat and stillness and emerald-colored concoctions and prayer and oh so much love and forgiveness for this body.