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Moving Day and Other Big News

17 Nov

Today is a big day in my little world. Today I am launching a new blog called Where Karen Goes. I am also launching a new book called Happiest Holidays. it isn’t live yet, but I’ll be posting on Where Karen Goes as soon as it is. It’s a lot to take in, and I’ve been overwhelmed more than once, but sometimes when the only thing that keeps you from drowning is swimming, you swim. It feels different this time, though, for both the blog and the book. When I launched my first blog I was terrified because I had no idea if anyone would care to read what I wrote or would like it. Fortunately some people did. The same holds true for the books. The first two felt like a piece of my soul was put on display, and I was petrified that people would hate it, but they didn’t. This time while based on my experience and learning over the past 25 years it is much less personal. I have loved writing all three books and sharing on the blog, but someone else bought the domain name for this blog, so if I am going to be the professional I aspire to be, it’s time to move on, and today’s the day. This will be my last post on this site. All new material will be on the new site that you can follow by clicking here. The site is still under construction, but it’s live and I can post there, so here we go.  It has been my pleasure to share with you, and I hope you’ll move with me. If not, I’ve enjoyed the ride, wish you well and hope we cross paths again sometime. As always, thanks for being you and have a great day.

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I Wish Someone Would Pay Me

27 Oct

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Recently one of my favorite bloggers, Shalagh Hogan, wrote a piece about what she wished people would pay her for and I found it fun and fascinating. I replied with the following:

I wish people would pay me to travel.
I wish people would pay me to write books that help people live happier lives.
I wish people would pay me to tell them they are special and wonderful and important in this world.
I wish people would pay me to make them soup or cookies or cupcakes or anything that soothes their soul.
I wish people would pay me to read blogs and books and poetry and look at the art my friends create.
This could go on for a very long while. Thanks for sharing.

Right after reading this post, I also read a passage in Living Well, Spending Less by Ruth Soukup that talked about the sweet spot in your life where your talents and abilities meet your passion. I talk about the sweet spot of your home being that place that, once you get it under control, the rest of the house seems to follow. For those who haven’t found it yet, let me assure you it’s there, and when you do find it, it’s like magic.

The thing is I love doing everything I put on that list and that is wonderful. Even more wonderful is that I’m finding ways to get paid to do the things I love and will be unveiling some new, fun things in the very near future. The thing about a fantastic life is getting paid to do the things you would do for free anyway. I’ve written for free for years, so getting paid to write books is a joyful bonus. I’ve finished and uploaded the Happiest Holidays book, so I’m just waiting for the editor to look it over who also happens to be the graphic artist that will be designing the cover. I’m excited and nervous as I’ve been with each of the other books, but I have let go of the negative voice in my head that worries that it’s crap and no one will read it because even if that happens, life will go on.

I was so excited about my first book that I bought dozens of copies to give away, and very few of the spines were even cracked. The second book I spent lots of money to have help getting it to market and the promotion that was supposed to happen on its release date got messed up. I was supposed to have a google hangout that never happened, and I felt like I had failed miserably because the person I worked with is well known for helping her clients become best-selling authors. She believes I was one of those people, but no one thought to get a screen shot of that. So, I could call myself a failure if I choose to, and others have, but none of them have done what I did. The ones who criticize are not the ones who have written books and put themselves out there. They do not understand the work that goes into even a 100 page e-book. They haven’t been through the editing and layout process, not to mention the marketing. That seems to be where it all happens. If you market well, you can sell anything, even a crap book. If you market poorly, you can’t sell a masterpiece. It’s daunting and scary, and the process can bring you to your knees emotionally.

People you think are your supporters laugh behind your back, sometimes loud enough for you to hear. People write things about you that hurt. As if a writer doesn’t ask themselves 1,000 times, “who am I to think I can write a book?” Others seem to delight in asking that very same question, but here’s my take on the whole thing. With the first book, I was sure they were right. I thought I was nuts to write a book about parenting. Who was I to do such a thing when my own children weren’t completely grown? With my second book someone wrote something nasty comparing me with another author who is a wonderful, bestselling author who has well researched topics and degrees behind their name. It hurt, but it made me think about why I write the books I do because you see, I’ve found my sweet spot. I am a storyteller, but not necessarily of the fictional world. I’ve loved biographies since I was a child and read every single one of the ones in my elementary library. When I realized that, I also remembered some family members who had told me that when I was much younger that I could tell a great story. At the time, I thought they might have been teasing me, but I know now that I do tell a good story. Not only do I love telling them, but I also love to share them through the books I write and the blogs that I post. Often they’re my own story because that’s what I know best, and I hope all the things I learn will lighten someone else’s load, but that’s who I am and what I am, and I am liking that person more and more.

So, what do you wish someone would pay you to do? Are you doing it for free? Maybe you love cameras and wish you could get paid to take photos. Maybe you are creative and wish people would pay you for what you create. Maybe you can cook and wish people would pay you for your culinary skills. Guess what? They will if you figure out a way to make it happen. Have I been paid to write, cook and create? Yes, I have. Is it enough to make a living? Not yet, but as I’m learning about the creative industry, I’m finding more and more people who are. It’s exciting and fun and who knows where it will lead. Right now it’s leading me to create a new blog page that will bring several things I love to do under one umbrella. I’m excited about the possibilities, and I’m hoping to share it with you by this time next week. Until then, enjoy what’s left of October, and if you celebrate the day I wish you a Happy Halloween, and even though it’s already sneaking in, prepare yourself for the holiday onslaught to follow. As always, thanks for being you and have a great day!

Yes No and Maybe

20 Oct

10403387_10153084432873366_5861144938281823701_nEvery day we ask ourselves questions, and we give answers too. Some days you ask why in Heaven’s name did I do that? You answer, “Because you’re an idiot.” Some days you ask yourself if you’re stupid and you answer yes. Some days you ask if you can do anything right and you answer no. You can beat yourself up daily with the questions that you ask, and I was incredibly proficient at that when I was younger. Truth be told, I can still go down that road on occasion, especially when I’m stressed and under-slept and over-committed. Last week was definitely one of those weeks. I was feeling stressed because the book wasn’t finished. We were getting to bed late and because we were tired, we had a difficult time dragging ourselves off the couch. We had medical appointments, volunteer meetings and a little matter of making sure the family was eating every day. It seemed overwhelming and the creativity was sluggish at best. This week is different, all because of a few things we’re doing differently. This week we are more aware and making better conscious decisions.

Last week we were getting to bed late. We watched too much TV, and most of it was stuff we didn’t even like that much. We were on the screen too much avoiding the things that would make our life better because it didn’t seem like fun. I could go on, but you get the picture. This week we changed just a few things and the results have been amazing. We have turned the TV off by 9pm every night, which means we have been to bed earlier. Let me tell you something; this girl functions much better on 7 hours of sleep per night than six or six and a half.

This weekend I volunteered ten hours on Saturday and nine hours on Sunday at something called Wordcamp. It was exhausting and thrilling and scary because although I’ve been blogging for a long time, I have recently decided that blogging and writing are what I would like to do for my profession, and I have so much to learn. I can be certain that I won’t be a developer who helps people set up websites and blogs, but there is still so much technology out there to help people who write for a living and the ones who are the most successful have found programs that help them every step of the way. It was overwhelming at times, but if you are thinking about blogging or want to set up a website, I highly recommend that you attend a Wordcamp weekend. They are only $20 per day and range from one to three days. The networking alone is worth more than that.

The biggest revelation for me came on the Monday morning after Wordcamp ended. It was an exhausting weekend. The house was not in the greatest of shape. My youngest had no school and had someone coming over late morning. In days past, I would have slept poorly, probably after staying late fretting and fussing about the house and at my family, and I would have awakened stressed because of all I thought I needed to do to prepare for the day, the week and the guest. Happily, I went to bed before 10pm because I was tired and my husband was even more tired from having to work all weekend as well. I slept like a baby, slept much longer than I normally do and actually began writing this post because I thought it was important information to share.

I’m calm. I’m ready to face the day and the week. I have goals I want to accomplish, including finishing the current holiday book and beginning to transcribe an interview for another book. Years past would have brought me to my knees for days from exhaustion, which would have been amplified by complaining that I was the only one who did anything around my house and feeling like a complete martyr. This time, I’ve caught up on my sleep and made a plan to eat healthy this week to recover from eating foods this weekend that aren’t the best for me. I may or may not accomplish all I hope to accomplish, but whatever I do accomplish will be because I choose to and not only do I choose to, I want to, and that was a huge revelation to me too. In the past, I’ve done the laundry because I felt like it had to be done. I’ve cleaned the floors and picked up around the house for the same reason. It’s also probably why I’ve struggled so much with making time to write and create. It didn’t have to be done. It was extra-curricular and since I wasn’t finishing the curricular parts of my life, how could I justify doing the extra? It was an unhealthy cycle to say the least.

Now I see things differently. I want to do the laundry, clean up the house and clear the decks because I can think clearer without those tasks hanging over my head. It removes the excuses to creating and makes me feel great in the process. Does it help that I could sleep in for an hour because my son didn’t have school? Yes it did, but knowing that with a little effort and focus, I can have the house and laundry whipped into shape enough to have a guest in the clean but far from perfect house and be able to write for a few hours is priceless to me. Someone asked me what kind of blog I have this weekend, and I struggled to describe what I share. Many people assume I’m a mom blogger because I learn from being a mom, but this weekend I think I’ve figured out that my blog is very much like my life. It’s eclectic and different. It’s a mix of lifestyle and spirituality with a little adhd thrown in because that is my life. It’s about learning to become a better version of myself and forgiving myself when I fall short of my own expectations. It’s about a woman who is traveling through life and hopes to travel more through the world as she shares the journey and its wonderful and sometimes not so wonderful revelations. I attempt to be honest and fairly transparent because that is who I am as a person. I have some private struggles I choose to keep private for my sake and the sake of those involved, but in general, I’m pretty much of an open book because I don’t know any other way to be. That has gotten me into some big trouble in my life, but is it enough that I want to change that about myself? No, it isn’t. I love my life, most days, and I love the people in it, even when I occasionally don’t like them, and I hope they feel the same way about me. Is it perfect? No, it isn’t. Is it ok for it to be imperfect? Yes and because I can accept my own imperfection I can celebrate that in other too. I’m forgiving and learning that others are too. I’m doing my best and know that others are too, and I am honored to share the journey with all who read my blog, and maybe that is the best part of it all for me; that we get to do this crazy thing called life together. By the way, the book should be finished this weekend.  Stay tuned for the updated publication date and possible book signings.  As always, thanks for being you and have a great day!

Good Enough

6 Oct
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A more than good enough place to write a blog post

If you’ve ever taken a class or read anything about becoming more efficient or effective in your life, you’ve probably read about time management techniques, but the most profound thing I ever heard about time management is that you cannot manage time. Everyone has the same amount of hours, minutes and seconds in each day, and although we each spend a different number of those days on the planet, in each given day, we all have 24 hours. The key, then, is not to manage time, but to manage ourselves during that time, and there are so many factors that can affect our ability to do that well. As I always do, I want to make it clear that I understand that people who have mitigating factors such as illnesses, physical challenges or who have other legitimate challenges may be an exception to what I’m about to share, but I think the information is quite relevant for the rest of us.

Have you ever heard the expression that if you want to change some things in your life you have to change some things in your life? I love that expression for its simplicity and truth, but sometimes we don’t know the things we have to change to achieve the results we desire, and that can be quite a problem. For years I struggled with cleaning and being organized. Truth be told, organizing still doesn’t come naturally to me (more on that at a later date). I tried being like my mom, my mother in law and a few other people I know that were really good at keeping house, and I failed miserably. I was nearly ready to give up when I found a system that worked for me. Why did everything else fail while that worked? For me, this system seemed to understand how I thought and helped me be successful being me, not trying to be like someone else. You see, the people I had tried to emulate before were good at cleaning. They are very task oriented people and the task of keeping up with the house came easy to them. I learned how to keep house from someone like me who found that more challenging. I had to learn how to manage a part of me I’d never managed before, and it was very difficult at first, but not only have I mastered the basics of that, I’ve actually learned to be happy while I’m working because I know it will only take a little bit of time to accomplish what I’ve set out to accomplish, and that may be the biggest accomplishment of all. You see, I used to hate cleaning because I was convinced I wasn’t good enough at it. I’ve never seen the point of scrubbing a floor with a toothbrush or having a perfect dust ruffle. I know people that take great pride in having homes like that, and I applaud them for that but it’s just not that important to me. Yes, my bed is made every day. No, you cannot bounce a quarter off of it. Yes, my home is mostly company ready on most days. No, the counters aren’t clear and yes, there are a few small piles of paperwork. I’m happy with my home and I’ve learned the concept of good enough.

For a good part of my life I never felt good enough. I was a good student, but because I didn’t get straight A’s all the time, that wasn’t good enough. I wasn’t pretty enough. I wasn’t thin enough, despite the fact that I had a 22 inch waist and 35 inch hips. Even when I cleaned up my room or the bathroom, I usually had more to do because it wasn’t good enough. It became a never ending cycle that I bought into and piled onto, and it made for some very tense times in my life when I was trying to be good enough knowing at the same time I could and would not be. It’s amazing when we believe this about ourselves how we attract the very things that confirm our beliefs. I dated men who didn’t always treat me well. I had jobs that paid me less than I was worth. I struggled to keep my home in shape, and I put on weight, lots of it over time. It wasn’t until I heard the expression about changing some things in my life that I began to truly change some things in my life, and as I changed the outside, I began to feel changes on the inside. As I learned ways to clean, I began to realize that I could keep a house; it might not be the way anyone else did it, but I could do it and I could feel good about it. I actually began to feel I was good enough at doing something, even if that thing seemed like a small thing in the grand scheme of life, and the real success wasn’t from learning or accomplishing anything. The real success was from the shift in thinking of myself as a failure to thinking of myself as capable and good enough.

It took me several years to get to that point, but since then, we have shifted our energy in so many ways. We used those same principles to pay off $30,000+ of credit card debt in three years and to send our children to college without debt so far. I used that thought process to write and publish two books, and let me tell you, there were some real battles there. While writing the books I found out so many areas I still had thoughts of doubt. I wondered if they would be any good or if anyone would want to read them let alone buy them. I even doubted whether I could handle my life if the book actually became successful as well, but I did it, and I survived it, and with the current book, I’ve been able to take it a step further. With this book, I liken it to a flower blooming. It takes a lot of energy and effort for a flower to bloom, but the flower blooms anyway, without pain or anguish and no matter what it looks like, some will judge it to be beautiful and some will judge it to be less than that. It doesn’t change anything about the flower whether it is a dandelion or a rose. I am aware that this book and the two that have come before it will never win a Nobel Prize or even a National Book Award. I write because I believe I was born to do it, and I love doing it, and hopefully it helps a person or two along the way. I don’t need the awards or even to sell a million books to validate anything about my writing anymore. Would it be nice? Of course it would, but that isn’t the point anymore.

So what do I get from this energy shift to good enough? I get peace and fulfillment. I am living my dream of being a writer by writing every day. It may not support me financially today or ever, but it does support me mentally, emotionally and even physically because of the way I’ve grown as a writer. It is ultimately important to me and not important at all to the world. To realize that you are merely a blip in the world of writing is incredibly empowering because it allows you to write your truth knowing the vast majority of humanity may never read it, and because of that, all you have to do is write or paint or do whatever it is you dream of doing.

Last year, a friendship I treasured came to an end. At the time, I was broken hearted and wanted so badly to find a way to make things better. I felt that if I could mend that relationship, all would be well in my world again. I was talking on the phone to my husband about it, trying desperately to figure out what to do when I literally got hit in the rear end by another car. I hung up with my husband and jumped out of the car to check the damage. The young man who had hit me was a young man of color, and we were in a part of town where the police were not known to be gentle to anyone of any color. There was a dent in the back of my minivan, but the door still worked and the boy looked scared. Truth be told, I was scared for him. He was the same age as one of my sons, and I couldn’t call the cops. I told the young man that I felt like I was supposed to ask him to turn down his music and pay better attention to the road, but that I was supposed to forgive him, give him a hug and send him on his way, so I did, and when I got back in the car I burst into tears. I called my husband back and hoped he wouldn’t be mad at me for letting the young man off the hook. Instead, he laughed and told me the Divine had figuratively kicked me in the behind to show me who I really was as a person. How could he be angry about that? It was then that I started to realize it wasn’t only that young man who I needed to forgive. I needed to forgive my friend for whatever I perceived she had done, and I had to forgive myself for whatever she perceived I had done. It took a while and much reminding of that accident to get there, but I did, and when I did, everything changed. My second book came together in just a couple of months, and my life has been amazing since. I hope it has been the same for my friend because I believe she was part of that lesson for me. I hope we get the chance to be friends again someday, but even if we don’t, I will cherish the friendship we had and the lessons and gifts it gave to me. For now that will just have to be good enough. As always, thanks for being you and have a great day.

The Happiness Rebellion

8 Sep

You would have to be living under a rock to be unaware of the craziness going on in the world. In the US, the election alone could send you screaming into the night. There are refugee crises around the globe. Human trafficking is everywhere. Drug use is rampant, especially heroin, the news says. The economy is in danger, as is our health and the list goes on and on. All of this could be and probably is true, but most of it has also been going on for centuries and yet, here we are, struggling with the same issues. What’s a girl to do in such circumstances? In my world, you stay relatively informed, which means getting most of my news online and checking sources outside of my country as well as within because sometimes you get a very different view. It means knowing that the issues exist, and it means doing what I can to help and letting go of the rest.

There are so many issues that one could give attention to. There are injustices and inequalities and poverty and need everywhere, which makes it very easy to be offended, angered and/or afraid, and many people are offended, angry and/or afraid. What if we choose differently? What if we choose to look for the opportunity to do and be good and to live in joy instead of surrendering to the ugly emotions? Don’t get me wrong. There are unpleasant images that will never leave my head from Columbine high school, from the September 11, 2001, from refugees that didn’t make it to Greece alive, but rather than let those images stop me from living, I use them as inspiration. I used Columbine high school to inspire me to become a better parent, to be more loving and patient as a parent, especially in the morning knowing that every time I said goodbye to my children, it could be the last time I see their faces. Am I perfect at it? Hardly, but I try. From 9/11 I’ve learned how important it is to understand those who are different from us. I don’t know as much as I would like to, but I’m working on it and will probably work on that one for the rest of my life. Finally, there is the refugee crisis, and while there are probably many ways I could be helping there, I am helping with issues in my own country with displaced people. Within a few hundred miles of where I live, tornados destroyed property and homes less than a month ago and a few hundred more miles away, the state of Louisiana has seen its worst flooding since Katrina. As I said, there is need everywhere. I help where I can and pray someone else steps up where I can’t. I don’t know if it’s enough, but the fact that my children wonder if we would ever be wealthy even if we won the lottery because I give so much away tells me I might be on the right track.

There was a time in my life I was consumed with anger over the injustices of the world. I was infuriated at those who perpetrated the ugliness and for those who suffered, but at some point I realized that those feelings weren’t doing anyone any good, especially me. I understand that some people use those feelings to spur them on to great action in this world, and I applaud them for that. For myself, I’ve found that getting peaceful and even happy allows me to find better ways to contribute to this world in a positive way and create change. That may sound trite to some, and I admit I hesitated writing this blog because I know so many people think that happy people are uninformed, stupid and/or so privileged they just don’t understand. I’m sure there are situations I’ll never understand because they are unfathomable to me, but there are many more that I do understand, and just because I don’t discuss them doesn’t mean I don’t understand. Some things are meant to be private, at least for now, and they will stay that way. Instead, I’ll share why I decided to finally write this post. It’s because of two books I’m reading.

For the past few months, I’ve picked up the reading habit again, and I am so happy. Every weekday, I set a timer and read for at least fifteen minutes. I just finished a book about healing ADD. I read books about the supernatural, and I’m currently reading the books, Dying to Be Me by Anita Moorjani and Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. I usually read one or the other each day, but this morning, for some reason I felt compelled to read both. Now, if you read my blog regularly, you know I have a great love of the Divine. I believe there are messages from the Divine, if we are open to recognizing them, and I feel like I got a big one this morning. I was mulling over whether to share these ideas or not because philosophy of life can be a pretty sticky subject. I decided to read before putting hands to the keyboard, and I began reading Dying to Be Me. One line in particular stuck with me when Ms. Moorjani was talking about how much more powerful she is when she works with life rather than against it, and I feel like that line explains my life so well. I feel like so many people give their power away to others, not willingly or even consciously in some cases and then complain that that they have no control. I used to do that. I blamed my kids for my messy house, my inability to write like I would have liked and my inability to do anything about my weight, and I blamed my husband for his contributions to all of that too. You know what that did for me? It kept me stuck and kept me from taking responsibility for my life. Yes, when you have children in the house, there is more mess, but there are ways to get what you crave. Currently, my friend Shalagh Hogan from Shalavee.com is conducting a 30 day creativity challenge while raising an 11 and 3 year old. I’m not sure I could have managed that when any of mine were three, but it has become a priority for her, and she’s doing it. Because of people like this and someone long ago who issued a challenge to stop complaining for 30 days straight, I learned to begin to take responsibility for my own life and choose to live differently. It’s a very different vibe when you choose to do laundry, clean and cook than when you do it filled with martyrdom. It gets done faster and more efficiently, almost as if by magic.

Speaking of magic, here’s something else. I have loved being creative my entire life, and it was about ten years ago when I began to see creativity in places I never had before. I remember being at a Halloween party for one of my kids and during the craft one of the moms remarked that she didn’t have a creative bone in her body. I laughed because I knew this woman was an accountant, and I asked her if I brought my taxes to her if she could find ways for me to save money and get more back from the government in my refund. Of course she said yes, and I told her I thought that was wildly creative because I couldn’t even begin to imagine how to do that. The one thing I couldn’t reconcile in my own life though was how selfish I felt being creative instead of being employed. I felt like I should be contributing financially to our home, especially when money was tight, and I’m sure my husband would have been happy to have more money coming into the house, but he also gave me the freedom to be exactly who I needed to be. What that meant was that he was happy for me to use my creativity to learn to keep a house the way that worked for me rather than how everyone else did it. It allowed me to make healthy meals on a budget, and it allowed me to be creative with our finances. When I finally let go of the struggle of that, everything improved. I was finally able to get our house and our finances in order and even find time to write. That’s a big part of the message in Big Magic, giving yourself permission to live a creative life. For a while I got caught up in what I should be writing about and being careful not to offend people, and I truly never intend to offend anyone, but authenticity sometimes means you offend people because your truth may not be the same as theirs. It sucks when it happens, but it does happen, and even an apology doesn’t fix it sometimes.

So the question becomes. Do you live your life in full on creative mode or do you censor yourself? While I would love to write things that soothe everyone’s soul, I know that being authentic is my first order of business, and I find I like me much better when I live that way. The days seems to flow better, even the challenging ones, because I have the grace to give myself and others space to be who they need to be. I am much more loving and giving and productive on every level. I feel like I am truly living and truly happy and who doesn’t want to feel that? So, this month I’ve challenged everyone to choose their life rather than let themselves be bullied and pushed by life. We can’t control everything. Some days it feels as if we control nothing, but we can learn to control how we choose to respond and today, that makes me feel incredibly happy. I hope you’ll join in The September Choosing Challenge and find your own happiness revolution. If not, I hope you find authenticity whatever your path may be, and as always, thanks for being you and have a great day.

The September Choosing Challenge

1 Sep

Some days I know exactly what I want to write about. Some days I struggle a bit. Today I seem to have bits of several posts knocking around my head and on days like that I sit down at the keyboard and let the muse take me wherever it chooses. This week, we are starting with a meeting I attended on using a Pinterest account in connection with a blog. I have been blogging for several years without monetizing my blog, and I’ve wondered if I should take that step to “up my game”. Because I want to write for a living, it seems to make sense. Because I am more focused on the journey and knowledge than the income, I hesitate hugely.

Recently, I began reading Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. It is kicking my butt and making me laugh out loud. One of the big subjects lately in nearly every creative community I’m part of is fear and doubt, and everyone experiences it. Creatives wonder if anything we create is worthy, and we can become addicted to likes and shares and sales to validate our existence, but when we do, we lose the essence of what we create and sometimes shut down our creativity entirely. I’ve been praised for how I write and the fact that I’ve published two books, and I’ve been insulted and ridiculed for those same things. As a human being, the praise feels really good and the ridicule has been painful, but both have taught me a great life lesson; neither the praise nor the ridicule have anything to do with me. It is merely the result of how someone experiences my creation, and sometimes, it doesn’t even feel like my creation.

Have you ever experienced being “in the zone” or that an idea comes through you rather than from you? That’s what the creative process is like for me. Some idea pops into my brain, and I know I’m supposed to make it come to life with my particular set of talents and gifts. Sometimes I go back and read things I’ve written and thought, “Wow! That’s really good. I wish I’d thought of that.” Some people think I did, but I know that I was just the messenger, and I was blessed with the ability to put those thoughts into words. It can be quite the spiritual experience because sometimes I don’t want to write what I feel I am inspired to write. I don’t want to reveal things about myself that sound weird and strange, but I do want to better the craft, so I write most of it anyway. I feel like I am failing to explain it adequately because there are times I know exactly where the inspiration for a piece comes from, often it’s a current event in my life or the world, but sometimes, it just shows up and it feels like I can’t type fast enough to get the words on the page and I’m as much of an observer as a participant. Maybe it’s like when an actor gets so involved in a character or scene that they forget the camera crew is there. Maybe it’s like when someone is working on a hobby and they are so entranced by what they’re doing that they don’t even hear someone walk into the room. Maybe it’s like driving along in your car and your favorite song comes on and you’re singing your heart out only to look out your window and see the driver in the next car staring at you in a most amused way. *cough, cough* *dozens of times* It is empowering and makes you incredibly vulnerable at the same time, and it takes courage to do it.

One of the things that I’ve been told by mentors and read in articles is that networking will boost every aspect of your writing career. As someone who has been out of the workforce for over two decades, that is some scary stuff, but I decided to bite the bullet and do it anyway. While I’ve maintained my safe and grounded connection to my online creativity salon, I also joined a writer’s accountability group. I’ve attended Meetups for bloggers in my area. I am volunteering with our local Wordcamp. I’m meeting so many new people and learning so many things, and at first it was intimidating and overwhelming because these people seem to know so much, but I am slowly learning that I do too. One of the most important things I know is what feels right and what feels contrived for me. I am learning that I would rather write with integrity than act without it. I learn something helpful from nearly every meeting about how I want to proceed and how I don’t. I have so many ideas for collaborations with people and ways to help one another be successful, and I can hardly wait to get moving on them, but first, I have a book to finish, and as much as it scares me, I’ve committed to having the manuscript finished by next week, and I’m spending time each day making progress and doing my best to have fun with it, because here’s the best thing I’ve learned or better said, remembered on this third trip to publishing; having fun matters.

When I stress over deadlines or what to write, I don’t write. I will find anything else to do to distract me from the task at hand. When I’m stepping out of my comfort zone and having fun, magic happens and things begin to line up and come together in ways I can hardly believe, so I’ve begun making that part of the focus of my day. Here is one of those places I hesitate to share because I know how people feel about affirmations and those who use them, but I’ve been asked how I stay so positive, and affirmations are truly one of the ways I do that. I have three that I’m using right now and I write them down every day. Here they are:
We have great fun living our very best lives and get better at it every day.
Our kind, loving and fun filled family supports everyone, especially each other, in positive, uplifting and empowering ways.
We recognize and rejoice in our constant miracles and blessings and eagerly welcome more.
Yep, I write and read those every morning before I dive into my day. Are they corny? Perhaps they are. Do they help? Yes, they do because they give me a direction and focus for my day. Am I feeling uncomfortable with sharing this very personal part of my life? Yes, I am, so why am I sharing it? I am sharing because this is one of the most powerful things I learned about changing my life. Words matter, especially the ones we repeatedly say to ourselves and say out loud. Changing your words will change your life. Recently, someone posted about getting the words “should”, “need”, “have to” and a few others out of their vocabulary and replacing them with the word “choose”. I was so excited for her because I have done that exercise in my own life, and it will change everything if you do it, so I am challenging you to do just that. Remove those words as well as “ought to” from your vocabulary and replace them with “choose” and if you really want to up the ante, add the word happily or joyfully in front of choose and you’ll really begin to look at your life differently.
Just thought I would share, that with that last paragraph, I finally understand what I am supposed to be writing about today. It’s a thrill and makes me laugh because writing so often takes me places I never imagined going, but this month I’ll join you and make sure that I’m choosing my best possible life every day. I hope you’ll join in and let me know how it goes. As always, thanks for being you and have a great day.

Routines, Jealousy and Minding My Own Business

4 Aug

full tableMonday brought a return to routine, sort of. Band camp started for my youngest, so we’re going to bed earlier, getting up earlier and things are beginning to fall into place. While I’m not a fan of 12 hour days for band camp, I am a fan of the good things that are happening in my home. The house looks better than it has in weeks. My weight seems to be heading in the right direction again, for the most part, and the heart of my home is getting clearer and clearer. If you have been reading my blog for very long, you know that the heart of my home is my kitchen table. It is covered with stuff. Some of it is easy to address and some will take more time. There are forms to fill out for school, which I’m finding are causing me more aggravation than I would like to admit. Maybe it’s justified. Maybe I’m a weirdo. Maybe there are people who actually enjoy this activity, but not me. I only have to do this two more times and I will be celebrating when I am finished for life next year.

That is one of the things that I feel like makes me a weirdo. I tend to celebrate endings like this. I know people who cry when their youngest goes to school for the first time. The first time I took my youngest to preschool, they literally had to peel him away from me, and I walked away without a tear. I love that kid more than I can express, but that morning, I was ready to walk away from nine years with a full time child for two and a half hours alone and kid free. I felt the same way when my youngest went to kindergarten but cried when I dropped my oldest off at college. That oldest son will graduate in December, and I have no idea how I will react. I am proud of how hard he has worked in school to get good grades and in jobs, co-ops and internships to help pay his expenses. I know this young man will do well in life, but the fact that he is getting married next year could complicate that emotionally. Life will change for him, for me and for our entire family. I remember this time of life when the world is full of possibilities, and you feel like your time is unlimited. I still believe the world is full of possibilities, but I am much more aware that my time on this earth will have an end, and it changes how I live.

Last month sucked. My youngest had surgery. I put on five pounds, and our dog passed. In the grand scheme of life, these are not huge things. My son’s surgery went fine. I know what to do to reverse the weight gain. Our dog passed peacefully, and it was her time to go, but I let those things throw me off a bit. I seem to have that problem every July, and I finally figured out why. I’ve been too long without routines. Understand, I have a love-hate relationship with routines. If I feel like they are controlling and keep me from living my best life, it will be a struggle. If I feel they are life enhancing, I’ve learned to embrace them. It took me years to come to peace with my routines, but once I did, life got better. When I learned how to infuse some fun into them, the progress got even better still. It’s not just the routines, though. The bigger part of the success is because of minding my own business. Isn’t it interesting how that phrase has developed such a negative tone? Telling someone to mind their own business is nearly akin to telling them to go to hell. Ironically, it’s precisely when we stop minding our own business that we often end up in a hell of our own making.

This week I read a post on social media that made me very jealous. This person was about to accomplish something I desperately want to accomplish. To protect their privacy, I won’t even reveal what the accomplishment was, but let’s just say it brought out the green eyed monster in me. Understand that I didn’t want to take away their accomplishment, I just wanted to have it too, but I’ve made different choices in my life which has led me in a different direction, at least temporarily. Fortunately for me, someone also posted a video by Chelsea Handler about jealousy this week, and it was beautiful. Chelsea isn’t known for her sage eloquence. She is known for her quick and sometimes cutting wit, but this video was fantastic in a different way. She tells a story about another female comedian getting something she wanted and how she felt jealous. She called her sister and confessed her jealousy, and rather than condemning her, Chelsea’s sister said that her jealousy was understandable. She also said, however, that acting upon that jealousy would be wrong, and that, to me, is the power of the video. We all have negative feelings. We get angry and jealous and offended. Unfortunately, we have become a society that thinks when we feel these feelings, it’s ok to lash out at who we think caused them rather than ask why we feel that way in the first place.

Everyone has a go to negative emotion. Some people get sad, which can lead to depression. Some people get angry, which can lead to aggression. Some people get jealous, which can lead to retaliation. Some people get offended, which can lead to isolation. We all do it. Confession? My go to negative emotion is anger. When I’m out of balance, I am quick to anger. My fuse has gotten longer as I’ve gotten older because perspective is a beautiful thing, but it still happens. What my family has come to learn is that my anger is usually short lived. I forgive when someone has made me angry, and I apologize for things I say that might be hurtful. I’ve also worked on not saying things that hurt others. I still do it on occasion, now without intention, but I do what I can to make amends. I’m far from perfect, but we all need things to keep us growing, right? If you have the chance, please take a moment to google Chelsea Handler and jealousy. I hope it helps you as much as it did me.

So, now that I expressed my jealousy, and I did, to my husband, poor man, I am ready to mind my own business again. I spent hours going through and following through on paperwork yesterday, and I made progress. Today I will again spend hours doing the same. I don’t know if I’ll finish today or not, and from the picture, I’m sure some of you wonder what the heck is taking me so long, but it is. Instead of moving the piles, I’m addressing them, and as I do, I feel better and better. I feel like I’m in control of my home again, and I feel like I can move forward with more ease. I begin to see my blessings as I pay bills, make donations and finish the school forms ahead of schedule. I can concentrate on my creative endeavors and let go of the guilt that the piles have caused. I can let go of the jealousy of someone else’s success because I am focused on my own, and I feel freer and am having more fun than I have in a long time, just because I’ve returned to routines. For a girl who used to hate routines, I find great humor in that, but I am also incredibly grateful because I can pay it forward and share it with you. As always, thanks for being you and have a great day.

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