Sep 202017
 

Good morning. Although our family weathered #Irma unscathed, many of us are using it as sort of a reset: looking for ways to help others, making sure we’re prepared for the next one, and sorting through our personal reactions and lessons. We are heartbroken about the tragedies taking place in Puerto Rico and Mexico right now and would send “thoughts and prayers” if we weren’t so sick of politicians saying those words while doing nothing meaningful to help. Photo ops detract from rescue efforts.

The other thing many of us are trying to sort out: why is everyone feeling so fuzzy-headed? 100% of local friends and neighbors report feeling off-balance and a bit mentally slow — so I put together a few quotations that may or may not be relevant. I hope you enjoy them.

There are some things you learn best in calm, some in storm. – Willa Cather

We adore chaos because we love to produce order. – M. C. Escher

We adore chaos because we love to produce order. Port in a Storm Click To Tweet

The fishermen know that the sea is dangerous and the storm terrible, but they have never found these dangers sufficient reason for remaining ashore.   Vincent van Gogh

It is only in sorrow bad weather masters us; in joy we face the storm & defy it.   Amelia Barr

In all chaos there is a cosmos, in all disorder a secret order. –  Carl Jung

In all chaos there is a cosmos, in all disorder a secret order. Click To Tweet

Tones sound, and roar and storm about me until I have set them down in notes. – Ludwig van Beethoven

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.   Melody Beattie

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. Click To Tweet

Are you weathering some kind of storm? What brings you hope and comfort? I look forward to your comments.

 

 

 

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 September 20, 2017  Posted by  Happiness, Special Topics, Thinking 8 Responses »
Jul 262017
 
KISS

Use social media to share the love.

Has social media ever had you fretting about the difference between a ‘friend’ or a ‘fan’?  A group or a page?  Wished your ‘dashboard’ would get back in the car where it belongs?

When I had Amazon free days a small group of friends dug in and helped spread the word. During that three-day period, they convinced so many people to take advantage of the free download that The Inner Critic Advantage reached #15 on Kindle’s self-help list. Not bad for an unknown author, eh? Hooray for good friends!

And that’s the real point: not to brag but to let you know that, with nothing more than your blog comments, a social media account, some time and enthusiasm you can make a huge difference for any author, artist, business or cause that matters to you. There are a few simple things that anyone with a Facebook account can do to help an author or artist whose work they like.

Once we kick all the scary, techie voodoo stuff out of the way? Social media is simply word of mouth. Think about it… when you see a movie you like or discover a great new restaurant, what do you do? You tell your friends about it. The cool thing about social media is that now you can tell a variety of friends… who can tell their friends… who share with their friends….

I  just finished editing an article for a friend. He wrote about setting boundaries and zealously protecting our writing time. The drive to connect with you wakes us up at dark o’clock.If you think about it, writers walk a funky line: we need to withdraw from our real-life loved ones in order to do the thing that connects us to… you. And, with luck, a lot of people like you… people we haven’t connected with yet.

Your social media accounts can help you focus and express your gratitude.

So, if you’ve read us, know us or love us? Tell your friends. And to help you remember? And you’re cool… so do it with FLAIR:

* Friend, fan, or follow. Whether you use Facebook to connect with your grandparents or Instagram to give us moment-to-moment updates, you might be surprised to find your favorite author or musician on your favorite social media platform. (And most people share different content on each available outlet.) Each platform has a “search” function. Look around. Follow accounts that interest you.

* Like and leave a comment! We love hearing from you — even if it’s only an Instagram heart or a Facebook thumbs up. Remember, any kind of art requires a lot of solitude. A lot. When I find myself editing for hours after everyone else has gone to bed,  a little encouragement goes a long, long way.

* Answer and amplify. Did “your” musician ask a question on Twitter? Did your author use Facebook to ask for feedback on a title? Most of the time, if they (we) do that, it’s not a marketing ploy. We want your input. Could you please take 45 seconds to answer the question? (Also, guess what? Posts with lots of attention generate more attention. It’s how things “go viral.”)

* Introduce and inspire. I don’t know about you but, frequently my online reading brings me to stories of everyday heroes. The guy who organizes kids to mow lawns for single moms and the elderly. The person who distributes dog food to those in need. The cop who went on a child abuse call and ended up adopting the child he rescued. Instead of complaining about how the media doesn’t cover enough good news? BECOME the media. Raise the vibration. Share those good news stories as far and wide as you can. We’ve got the tools to make it easier than it has ever been. And we need them.

* Review or recommend. Read a good book lately? Take a few minutes, hop on over to Amazon or GoodReads and leave a review. (This is one place that it’s a really BAD idea to say you know the author. We’ll talk about that later.) Ask your local librarian to look into ordering it. Suggest it to a teacher or book club.

It may sound like a lot but it’s simple. Social media is about relationships and one way to be a good friend is to do good things for your friends. To share the good stuff.

I’ll see you on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram, right?

***

Andrea Patten is the author of  The Inner Critic Advantage: Making Peace With the Noise in Your Head a little book full of big ideas about how — and why — you can learn to love “that voice.”   The Inner Critic Advantage is now available on Amazon.

 

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Jun 142017
 


It took me a long time to become willing to be part of a writers’ group. Frankly, I’d heard some fairly awful things about them. I had heard such groups could be competitive and repetitive. That some groups were more in love with the idea of writing than getting anything done and that those meetings sounded more like a roomful of angsty teens than a bunch of grown-up word nerds trying to help one another improve.

A bunch of grown-up word nerds trying to help one another improve... Click To Tweet

Whenever I’m trying to get better at something, I seek out people who are striving to improve a similar skill set or someone who is far more accomplished and willing to share expertise. And, while I always hope to find people with a passion for improvement and excellence, I loathe the expression “like-minded.” When I’m trying to learn new skills, or I’ve backed myself into a corner, I can be impatient or hard on myself. I don’t want or need a mind like mine. I need fresh eyes, different experiences, humor, and compassion. I need my very own word nerds. The ones who love me and have got my back.

I made some false starts before finding my group. I attended some critiques that bordered on mean and others that appear to have been fueled by lollipops and rainbows. I’ve been asked questions by (usually male) newbies who proceeded to argue and mansplain my answers away or treated like a kindergartener by a facilitator. And there were groups that didn’t recognize my genre and people who believe that “real” writers limit themselves to longhand, legal pads and lead.

Do real writers limit themselves to longhand, legal pads and lead? Click To Tweet

A year or so ago, a mentor of mine questioned me about my efforts to find a writers’ group. His experience had been wonderful and, not only did he want to understand my tenderness around the topic, he also wanted me to experience the growth that can come from participating in a good group.

I decided to pursue a new genre and joined a group as the member with the least experience with that sort of work. After attending a few meetings, they asked me to read. To my amazement, they listened attentively, respected my boundaries about the kind of feedback I wanted and encouraged me to keep going.

Today’s meeting was inconvenient. I hadn’t read the facilitator’s materials or found a segment of my work to bring for critique. Early this morning, I did a public presentation on an unrelated topic.  My husband is hours away from some big, disruptive travel, and my son’s home decided to develop “issues” while he is somewhere at the other end of the country. I was hungry, over-tired, unprepared, it was raining again… and I was shocked. I couldn’t wait to get there.

As it turns out, everyone who showed up was in the same boat for different reasons: grant deadlines without cooperation from grantees, house construction delays, family member illnesses, returned-to-the nest adult children. Stuff.

So we tossed the agenda and talked about our stuff. Then we talked about some new and exciting projects. And awards we had applied for and conferences we were attending. And, eventually, after having each experienced one? We talked about character arc. And we laughed.

 June 14, 2017  Posted by  E, Happiness, Writing and Reading 13 Responses »
May 312017
 

Dog sleeping on meditation cushion in front of buddha

What does it mean to live an inspired life? It’s a phrase that can bring to mind images of artists, monastics, and martyrs. It also makes me think of sweeping the floor and tending my weeds.

I think the phrase got stuck in my head the other day when one of my friends referred to another as an inspiration. Word nerd that I am, I was intrigued; my friend the inspiration has a breathing disorder and one of the definitions of “inspire” is “to breathe in.”

What does it mean to live an inspired life? Click To Tweet

purple coffee cup in woman's hands

Spending time with other writers and artists, I hear a lot of talk about “inspiration.” Sometimes it sounds magical and mystical; it can seem impossible to achieve. We can sound like we’re sitting around waiting to be hit by the inspiration stick. I don’t think I’m alone when I say my ability to produce quality work ebbs and flows. I’m not always happy enough with what I’m writing to share it with you — even here. I think that has more to do with my personal standards than a lack of inspiration.

I don't want to sit around waiting to be hit by the inspiration stick! Click To Tweet

“Breathe in. Soften. Go a little deeper.” I’m new to yoga and fascinated by the various instructors’ descriptions of breath… the ways they coach us to be aware of it. Maybe that’s what has me thinking about inspired life.

the words namaste yall against a starry sky

My husband goes on silent meditation retreats. Some of my friends paint. I write. And occasionally try my hand at other forms of art: redacted poetry, multi-media painting, landscape design. It all feels connected.

I also just finished reading Painting Life by my friend Carol Walsh. It’s a memoir about balancing her life as an artist and her life as a therapist. And about the endless process of reinventing the self. Sometimes I wish I had known more about self-care and reinvention when I was a young advocate but, eventually, I learned to embrace both. Maybe there is no “wrong.” Maybe there’s only “next.”

What if the fact we have breath means we are inspired? Click To Tweet

What if inspiration only meant “breath?” What if the fact that we have breath means we are inspired? What if it’s all really that simple? How do we best use that precious gift?

 

 

 

 May 31, 2017  Posted by  E, Fun & Inspiration, Self care, Thinking 5 Responses »
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