Promises Kept

Today, I thought a lot about promises kept. On my last post of 2017, I made several goals for 2018. Two of the goals were to complete an E-Book and to take writing classes. Although I have many more goals to reach and even more to make as the year unfolds, I realized I achieved both of those goals. I just came back from the last session of Life in 10 Minutes and I released my first E-Book last week. I am happy I didn’t wait to schedule an appointment with a coach to help me organize and provide a calendar for writing or try to put off taking class for later. I believe I would have done both at a later time but I didn’t want to kick it down the road or just assume everything “would work out.” I have been down that road many, many times before.

Tonight after class, I knew I would be back for another session soon. My teacher passed out Valentine’s candies and Dream Big was printed on one of the hearts, faded but definitely still visible.

I don’t think I should be looking for signs in candy but it made me smile nonetheless.

Freedom

We have been back from San Diego for four days now.  While I was talking to a friend about the trip yesterday, I found myself romanticizing San Diego. Not that there isn’t anything to romanticize-gorgeous beaches, delectable food, picturesque views and a vibrant arts scene. Plenty of material, right?

However, I believe I was crushing on the freedom of living there if I wanted to. When we were walking hand in hand in Little Italy, hubby peered up at an apartment and said “I could live right there.” As we walked through the harbor afterwards, I started to feel the same way.

As a writer, I know my imagination has a life of its own. It will pack up a suitcase, book a flight and go on its merry way. Even as I am writing this, I know it’s the freedom I crave–freedom to travel as we please, live where we want when we want with the stability we need. Since I am well aware we are not there yet, those romantic notions are put on hold-not forever or even indefinitely but until all of our goals are met.

I know this will take being more with steadfast with my efforts with my writing and wellness goals. When I see the rest of my life, I not only envision this level of freedom but a healthy person exercising it.

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I think San Diego gave me the gift of this vision and an extra incentive to see it fully realized.

A Helping Hand

Last night, I had my first in-person coaching session with entrepreneur/coach, Sharvette Mitchell. I attended her female entrepreneurship conference last month and knew I had to schedule one-on-one time with her. Since the only kind of personal coaching I have ever received was from a personal trainer, I didn’t know what to expect but I was completely open to the experience. Let’s just say, I got the direction I needed, especially with my writing goals.

And that got me to thinking. Why did I wait so long to seek the kind of help I needed? I don’t ask it to beat myself up but for the sake of examination. During the session, it occurred to me there are two reasons people don’t ask for help: People believe they don’t need it or they are afraid to ask. I think the fear shows up in many ways. They are afraid they will look (or feel) stupid or weak for needing assistance or they constantly convince themselves they are not “ready” to get the help that they need. I believe most people fall into the fear category.

After I left the session, I was not only happy that I was armed with new goals to achieve on a realistic timetable but proud–proud that I not only acknowledged my need but I acted on the acknowledgement. It has been so easy to recognize the problem, recognize my confusion and lack of direction and stew over what I should do.

I am grateful it wasn’t that hard to reach out and see what could be on the other side.

 

Back at it Again

One of my writing goals for 2018 was to take writing classes again, whether it be a one-day workshop or a 6-week course. I almost didn’t start the year with a class but decided at the last minute that it should be a priority right at the beginning of the year. What makes it even more special is that it is Life in 10 Minutes again. I took a couple of sessions last year. It was my first writing class outside of school. I remember feeling so shy and unsure of myself. At the time, I was also in the throes of deciding whether or not I wanted to continue with graduate school (currently thanking God I made the right choice not to do so).  This class did two things for me: It made me take a hard look at what I really wanted for my future AND it confused me.

Why the confusion one may ask?

After cracking my shell open and reading words aloud I wouldn’t have dared just a few months before, I thought it was time to decide what kind of writer I wanted to be. It seems silly now. But I thought I was this woman trying to finish a novel and anything else was superfluous. I had to confront all of the many colors, shades and textures of who I am as a writer.

I have just come back from the first session tonight. Even with all of the new faces and voices, the feeling is the same. We read our confessions, our musings, our wishes, our regrets, our stories, our characters out loud in communion with one another. We share our art. We share our lives.

It was like I never left.

 

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.

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

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.

Blank Pages

At writing group tonight, we discussed the doubts that we all face as writers, how sometimes cuddly kittens can masquerade as roaring lions.

This reminded me of one of the books I am reading right now, “You are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life” by Jen Sincero. She writes about waking up from “The Big Snooze” when you are ready to take control of your life and relentlessly pursue your goals. She says when we start to attack our goals, there will often be unexpected trials that start to crop up. She even used the example of a woman she was coaching who finally fulfilled her dream of opening up a music studio. Soon after, the studio burned down. This woman was obviously at a crossroads. She could have chosen to wallow in her misfortune or focus on fundraising and rebuilding. She chose the latter and has been an incredible success ever since.

This was one of many examples used to inspire her readers to persist even when roadblocks seem to magically appear. Our roadblocks may never be as dramatic as a burned down building. However, the doubts can set our mindset up to destroy anything in its path and leave us with nothing but blank pages.

 

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.

 

 

Birthday Resolutions?

Yesterday, my post was a quick note about my birthday. I know some of us treat our birthdays like New Years Day and make resolutions. I think I have been silently doing that most of my life. Sometimes, not so silently.

Even though there are things I declare I want to be free from or actively pursue in my 37th year, I am going to pray for, declare it out loud, write it down, type, quietly ponder about, daydream, meditate, send a message in a bottle Police style the request for patience.

All of the things I want to be free from: extra weight, psoriasis, old psoriasis scars, self-doubt, uncertainty, fibroids, laziness.

All of the things I want to pursue more actively: writing and speaking opportunities, consistent workouts, getting settled in with a church home  I can learn to trust, volunteerism and time with my friends.

All of these things can be accomplished but none of them will happen with any semblance of peace of mind without patience. My spirit, body and mind need to work in one accord to agree that all can be done but nothing will feel right or organic without recognizing it will take time. Not just saying something trite like “Rome wasn’t built in a day or I know I can’t just blink my eyes and it will be all done or God is not a genie.”

I have long needed to divorce myself from the lies, the side deals I strike with myself that sever me from the reality of the hard work, the rejection, the tears, the shrugging off of the “I don’t feel like it right nows.” I have always been able to daydream the results, almost making me feel like I am there without fully embracing the process. I skip over it in my mind except to conjure up a hackneyed 80’s montage of my sweat, hours planted in front of the computer screen and praying in a sea of fictitious people who I will one day call my church family.

I want 37 to be about falling in love with the process even in the moments when I am suspicious it hates me or just taking too long “to get ready.”

I am toasting to all of the hard work that went into 36 and what I will bring to 37 even if patience requires I don’t see the fruit until 38.