Jan 102018
 

pastels and waves

After delivering my husband and son to the airport for a “guy trip,” I stopped to pick up a fancy coffee drink and settled in for a few days of time alone with my brain. While I thoroughly enjoyed the family time that guided us through the holidays, I’ve been feeling some pressure to check in with myself and get my thoughts in order. I’ve got some great projects in the works, and I want to clear out some of the cobwebs: to make sure I’ve got the t’s dotted and the i’s crossed. (Yes, I know… been saying that way since by brief, unfortunate stint working in a real estate attorney’s office.)

Have I got the t's dotted and the i's crossed? Click To Tweet

That process can involve a variety of parts: retreat, research, recreational reading, meditation, review,  and reflection.

Sometimes there are questions:

  • What do I have and what do I want?
  • What’s going well and where can I improve?
  • How do my priorities, values, and time line up?
  • Is there an idea, an urge, or a longing I’ve been ignoring?

 

 

I’m not wedded to any particular format or set of questions but instead, have found a hybrid process that seems to work well for me. It allows the logical left side of my brain to take a seat while the wilder, crazier, more creative right side takes front and center. And, since I can’t always do that well with the written word, I use visual art. Sometimes it’s photography, but most of the time it has been collage, something I started many years ago. I have a book full of what most people call vision boards, each devoted to a different concept or part of life.

It allows that logical left side of my brain to take a seat. Click To Tweet

Tearing paper, making a mess, letting intuition come out to play creates space for taking a look at my life. It’s a way to notice when my head and my heart are out of alignment. It’s also a way for me to set goals or intentions or resolutions or whatever you want to call them — without the mean girl who lives in my head (aka the inner critic) popping up to tell me I’m not doing it right.

And, while there’s no clear plan yet, I’m happy to see the way certain areas are rising to the top: health, my writing, travel with my husband, and my relationship with my partners in our new author services program: all wonderful stuff.

And, speaking of brains and inner critics… here are a few of my favorite posts on the topic:

If you've been trying to ignore self-doubt, stop by and download 3 Reasons to Stop Fighting Your Inner Critic Click To Tweet

How do you encourage your creativity to come out to play? Or enhance communication between the left brain and the right? Please let me know in the comments. (I’m going to go tear up some more paper and find out what else is on my mind!)

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 January 10, 2018  Posted by  Happiness, Self care, Thinking 13 Responses »
Sep 062017
 

I am married to a Buddhist, so the concept of the “bardo” is not completely foreign to me. The Tibetan tradition uses the term “bardo” to describe the time between two earthly lives: the time between dying from one body and being born into the next. It sounds a lot like what some Christians refer to as purgatory. And, while my family and I are all still very much alive and well, we are experiencing a significant moment “between lives.” So are several million neighbors in Florida. We are getting ready for Hurricane Irma. And, we are not getting ready for Hurrican Irma.

It's an interesting way to be 'between lives' as they say. Click To Tweet

As long-time New Englanders, we are familiar with extremes in weather. As relatively new Floridians, we’re still learning about tropical storms and hurricanes but a person sure does not need to be living in Florida to know that the approaching storm is a big one. But it’s not here yet.

Floridians have gradually shifted focus from helping Houston to making our own preparations. I’m extremely grateful for the detailed and informative weather coverage. What they’ve told us so far is that Irma is very dangerous — and that it might not hit here at all. Or that every conceivable path is going to create significant problems. So where does that leave us?

We are between. We are between being afraid and being calm. Between preparation and denial. Between despair for Houston (and the islands) and hope for our community. Between staying and going. Between keeping to our normal schedules and bugging out. It’s an odd feeling to know we’re going to pack up and leave but not being able to pack because we’re only taking essentials. It’s even stranger to attend to today’s mundane appointments while wondering what will happen to those on the calendar for next week.

Between preparation and denial. Between staying and going. Click To Tweet

So we have fitted the dog crates into the gassed-up car and have clean laundry to take along. The lawn furniture is on its way into the pool and the stray gardening “stuff” will make its way into the garage. It’s an exercise in preparing for the future while staying firmly rooted in the present — of embracing ambiguity. It reminds us that we never really know what the next day will bring but that a veil of routine keeps us in comfortable denial.

...but we never really know what the next day will bring. Click To Tweet

And we will keep hangin’ out in the bardo until it’s time to start the next chapter.

 

 

 

 

 

 September 6, 2017  Posted by  Self care, Special Topics, Thinking 10 Responses »
Aug 092017
 

When I think about awards, I picture movie stars and media personalities who  “thank the academy” as they run down the mental list of all the people who support them. There are jokes about forgetting important people and occasionally a musical “hook” designed to drag them off of center stage. My recent, personal award experience, however, makes me think of Groundhog Day — not the movie with Andie MacDowell and Bill Murray, but the actual day.

It's summer in north Florida, but I was deep in my best imitation of a hibernating groundhog. Click To Tweet

Not long ago, the incoming president of FAPA (the Florida Authors and Publishers Association) came to speak to our local writers’ group. After an informative presentation about a new venue for sales, she talked about a training collaboration with the Amelia Island Book Festival. She also told us about FAPA’s national book awards and the coming deadline. After the meeting, she engaged me in conversation and encouraged me to submit. “We need more non-fiction,” she said. “Who doesn’t?” I thought.

And then I went back into my burrow.

I worked on a big website and a multi-author project. I pulled up the award application and ignored it some more. I purged a ton of paper. I nested deeper into my office space and did some planning. It was summer in Florida, but I was deep in my best imitation of a hibernating groundhog.

Then I applied.


I think it is important to support my peers and felt good about donating my entry fee to an organization that supports authors and literacy. As far as I knew, that was the end of that.

Hotel ballrooms, playing dress-up, small talk and schmoozing are all outside of my comfort zone. Click To Tweet

You see, while some will dress in costume to promote their work, there are legions of us who would rather be home — writing or researching. It’s not because we are unfriendly. Many of us are introverts. That doesn’t mean we are shy: it means that being in a large group of people drains every bit of our social energy. We need to re-charge in private, in our personal burrows. Like Punxsutawney Phil.

When I was notified that TICA (that’s what we call The Inner Critic Advantage around here) would receive a medal, I was grateful that my friend Nancy Blanton, author of  Irish historical fiction, was also at the top of her category. I knew once I committed to her, I would have to go. And it would be fun.

Traveling to somewhere I’ve been before… hotel ballrooms…. playing dress-up…. schmoozing… all outside my comfort zone.

Authors and publishers in person are a lot like the online version: warm, encouraging, funny, and supportive. Click To Tweet

But guess what? An in-person group of authors and publishers is a lot like an online version: warm, encouraging, funny, and supportive. We swapped tips and wished one another well. We applauded the success of each of our peers, across numerous categories. And, thanks to the loving attention of the FAPA board? Even in heels, not a single one of us fell flat on our faces while crossing the stage.

Friends keep asking how I feel and I can’t help thinking about all those who make writing possible. I’m thinking about those who help me grow and improve. And those who give the swift kick in the butt beta read and proof read and answer Facebook questions that don’t really look like research. I’ve got a long list.

More than anything, I feel grateful. Humble and inspired to do more. So I’d like to thank the Academy… and get back into my burrow, be quiet, and to get to work.

 

Who’s in your personal Academy?

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 August 9, 2017  Posted by  Inner Critic, Self care, Thinking 10 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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