Posted in Creative Living, Lessons Learned, My Process, The Writer's Life, Uncategorized

What to do when things get out of control…

Just when you think you have it all figured out, life throws you curve balls. I consider that to be a universal fact of life. Sometimes those curves are big ones like finding yourself single again after many years of marriage or you have a life-altering accident. Other times, those curves are anticipated, normal, and even just a natural process of life. Consider options like sending the last kid to college, empty nests, retirement, or becoming a grandparent. Change is inevitable. Sometimes, it can overwhelm and cause us to feel completely out of control of our lives. What we do in those times is defining of our characters. And I want to explore some practical ways that I have dealt with feeling like I had no control and got back on track.

Strategy One

Taking to the Journal
Photo by Kaboompics .com on Pexels.com

The first thing I do is take to my journal. No, not the blog. I know this often reads like a journal. It is meant to. I do keep a personal hand-written journal that I put my thoughts down in with something that feels like a regular interval to me. It is a place to vent frustrations, talk to myself without feeling silly, and generally explore things that are deeply personal and troubling. Believe me when I tell you that, in the last year, my journal has been put through the wringer. There’s a lot of fodder in those pages. With the lockdowns, starting school, being laid of, the pandemic, and all the riots and political and social unrest there was a lot to unpack this year. Clearing out the mess in my head is beneficial in allowing me to see where there are obstacles and where I’m just overreacting. They are also useful in identifying opportunities that I can pursue.

Being a creative individual, I tend to find a wealth of interests to pursue. So, I’m prone to making lists of ways that I could change things up in my life. Sometimes that’s new hobbies to try or places I want to travel and see. Sometimes it’s about changing my environment or routine. The journaling process helps me to figure out options and to work on making decisions. Sometimes, I write a hypothetical scenario about each option and see where it could lead me and that helps. Just remember to be realistic when you write those scenarios. Consider doing two versions; one where it is perfect and everything goes right for you and the other where everything goes wrong. This is just an exercise. Chances are taking any of your options will land somewhere in the middle of these two. Doing this will help you decide what is likely to be next for you.

Strategy Two

Making Lists

We can’t always change our goals. Long-term goals are often lofty and worthwhile but it is easy to lose our motivation and direction with them. To that end, we often have to remind ourselves why we took on that goal and then decide what we can do to stay the course. I’m sure we’ve all been there at some point. I end up there frequently, if I am perfectly honest. Sometimes a book idea isn’t panning out as I planned it. Other times, I just lose interest in a project. Day jobs get boring or unfulfilling. Making lists is a way to help realign with your visions and your goals.

Yes, you can make a list of new things to try or new goals to consider, if that makes it easy for you. But, I think more of this step when I want to continue my work on goals I have previously set. This means it is time to revisit those goals and evaluate where I am in the pursuit, evaluate the next steps to those goals, and then, put down actionable steps I can take to move into the next level.

Photo by Miesha Maiden on Pexels.com

For example, I’m in the process of writing a new book to release (hopefully in the spring). I am also looking at new avenues for promotion of the books I already have on the market. (You can find them here.) So, those two goals, while entertwined, require separate courses of action to reach them. My checklists may look something like this:

For Writing
  • Finish research on setting/location for (book)
  • Complete character sketches for main recurring characters
  • Character sketch for main antagonist
  • Complete mapping/details for primary settings
  • Write Chapter 1-3, 4-6, 7-10 to complete part one.
For Marketing
  • Create New Graphics for Ads
  • Start gathering elements for book series trailer video
  • Research contacts for promo spots & interviews
  • Book Vending Space for Comicon, Paracon, and Local Festivals
  • Inventory Book Stock
  • Order new business cards & promo materials
  • Post to social media for sales
  • Create & pay for ad campaigns
  • Start a list of contacts for Series launch partnerships.

These steps are all things that will help me to reach bigger goals for sales and for producing more content for my readers. You can apply this to your own goals though. Want to start a business? What do you need to do? Are you a student? What are your next steps to finish a paper or study for a class? Want to do more volunteer work? Where, with who, and how can you do that? Taking up a new creative hobby? Make lists of supplies to purchase over time, classes to take, tutorials and videos that will help you learn, or plan a project list you want to do. Trying to be more social? Make lists of events to attend where you can meet people or friends to reconnect with over zoom, phone, or emails. Plan a get-together or meet up if you can.

Strategy Three

Focus On Self-Care

Look, the last year has been rough on everyone. It’s okay if you don’t feel okay right now. In the midst of all this pandemic isolation and mask craziness, we’ve all changed how we’re living our lives. So many found these changes jarring and difficult to deal with. Many of us lost jobs. Many were forced to be without things that made them happy or able to escape the mundane for a while. For introverts, this was a bit less jarring. We like our houses and limited interaction with the outside world. Even introverts, like me, have been left feeling out of sorts and at a loss for how to deal with all the changes to our lives that don’t seem to be lifting at all. So, focus on what you can control.

Photo by Madison Inouye on Pexels.com

Take a moment to consider what you can do to take care of yourself. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What do I need to feel better about my appearance?
  • What would make me feel better about my health?
  • What do I need to feel better spiritually?
  • What do I need to feel better socially?
  • What do I need to do to feel better financially?
  • What do I need to do to feel better about my relationships?

The answers to these may surprise you, if you answer them honestly. Starting to implement changes to feel better about all of these aspects of life will be a step in a direction you’d rather be going.

Final Thoughts

You may have noticed that all three of these strategies work in tandem. I’m a writer. Journaling comes naturally to me. This isn’t the case for everyone. So let me give you some variations to try.

If writing isn’t your style, consider video journaling. Most laptops have a webcam and most smartphones have a camera you can use for this. Open it up, ramble on, and then take time to review it later. I don’t like to watch myself on camera, personally, so I would be more likely to use voice memo or a microphone with a free program like Audacity to do the rambling. Whatever method you choose, think of this as communication with yourself. It’s crucial to being able to live your best life in any circumstance. The ability to reason, communicate, think, evaluate our position, and change (when needed) is part of the human experience.

It isn’t always easy to make a change in a positive direction. But there is never a better time than what you find yourself in to do it. And it is never too early, or too late, to make a change and live your best life.

Posted in Lessons Learned, My Process

How to find your passion in life…

It is no secret that I’ve gone through a big process of reinventing myself over the past few years. The reality is that we’re always evolving into someone new. There is no stopping it. We’re shaped by our interactions with others, experiences that we have, and even what information we choose to feed our minds. Every decision we make is a catalyst for some sort of change in our lives. So, it is perpetual with time.

Living in the modern world is simultaneously easy and difficult. There are all sorts of expectations for how we are supposed to live, be, and even act. For most of us, we do our best to  simply fit in and go with the flow. We get a job after schooling. We work the set schedule with some overtime. We then draw a paycheck, pay our bills, have a little bit of fun with friends and/or family, and then we repeat the process. But for some of us that isn’t enough. Instead, we need to be doing something that truly allows us to be ourselves and to be involved in life.

So, how do you find what really sets your soul on fire? How do you discover that thing that you truly love to do?

This is where a journal becomes a necessity. You start in the past with what you loved to do as a child or a teen. No, I’m not talking about what all your friends were doing. That’s how you ended up where you are. I mean what did you truly love to do when no one was looking? I find that those are the best places to start.

You excavate what you once loved. Dig deep and then you try those things again. Did you spend a lot of time coloring as a kid? Pick up a coloring book and some crayons or colored pencils (if you choose the adult versions). See if it still gives you the same joy it once did.

Did you like to sing or put on puppet shows? Why not go try a karaoke or deliver a monologue at an open mic night somewhere? Pick out a new monologue to learn and practice in the mirror. Why not opt to take a drama or acting class?

Were you a poet or writer? Why not dust off old ideas and see what you can do with them now? There is a thriving writing community out there who would love to have you join whatever your level is.

From there you can explore new ideas that come up. Maybe that love of the dramatic has turned into a love of directing the stage or a film. Maybe a love of coloring turned into a love of feeling the paint slide over a canvas instead. Maybe you are interested in picking up a camera now. There could be any number of things that can help you find that passion in life. The key is exploration.

So pull out your pen, open a google doc, create a video log to talk to yourself so you can hash it out and figure it out. Try new things and explore the world around you through different eyes for a while. You may find that you learn more about yourself than you realize.

Posted in The Writer's Life, Uncategorized

The Writer Confessions: Part One

I’ve known that I would write for the rest of my life since I was about eight years old. I grew up with a Great-Grandmother who taught First Grade for 35 years. Between her and my mother (who read to me and challenged me to read more) I had a pretty good handle on the reading and writing thing before I even officially started school. My first stories involved magical unicorns and fairytale princesses and that seems slightly hilarious to me now; seeing as I write things that are a tad darker in nature these days. But, whatever I write, this is a life-long obsession for me. It is the one thing that I do on a daily basis that I cannot fathom my day being complete without.paper-623167_960_720

The years have passed too quickly in many ways. I’m not the bright-eyed girl that everyone in my mother’s side of the family assumed would go on to greatness. Back in the day I was full of big dreams that involved books, deep conversations, beautiful productions, and all sorts of creative things. I imagined adult life to be very different from what it is now. In fact, I envisioned the college experience to be something wholly different than what it was for me. But that is something I blame myself for. I certainly didn’t take full advantage of that opportunity when I was given it. My writing career isn’t the only thing in life to suffer for it.

In my twenties I was a gypsy in many ways. I lived in many different places spanning one coast of the United States to the other. I made friends, some of them were poor choices, all of them taught me valuable lessons about myself. And few of them remain in my circle today. The bohemian spirit is still strong with me and I often fight the temptation to uproot and start over in a new place. I suppose I’ve become a bit more practical as I’ve aged. There are other things to consider now that weren’t a part of my life before.

I met a man in 2006 who I would marry the following year. It was a whirlwind romance that seemed to quell my own feelings of inadequacy in being single. I’ve never been a woman with many prospects for suitors. And I admit, I settled. I thought I wanted a more traditional life. For a while it was a novelty and served its purpose but, six years later, I found myself standing alone in a courtroom as a judge issued the order to disolve the marriage that had long been over. I regained my name and set about rebuilding my life as best I could. How did I do that? Well, I wrote, of course.

woman-510480_960_720In the course of two years following that day I made greater strides toward writing as a profession than I had in all six of the years I’d spent as a homemaker and sometimes babysitter to his daughter. I often joke that he was the best however many pounds I ever lost. It isn’t far from the truth though. There were so many things that held me back when I was with him. Now, with more freedom to focus on myself and what I want in life, I see that more clearly.

The process of reinventing myself has been a long one. It is evolving and everlasting in many ways. I consider life to be a perpetual series of changes that are like an ocean of existence. Sometimes you have to surf the waves being high up on some curl of achievement. Other times you have to just simply tread water and hope that a safety net comes along to scoop you up. More often than not, it’s a matter of you and the boat weathering a storm into calmer waters where things are peaceful and flow freely for a while. Eventually the rest will cycle round again though. You do what you can and you roll with the tides.

The creative life is an oddity. It is complicated in how we somehow find a way to sustain ourselves with our art. Even when one works a day job, as I do for now, it seems that it is always to supply the need to create somehow. But, it is also a simple life if we allow it to be. To embrace each day with the initial question of “what will I create today?” To answer that and make its answer a reality is truly all we must do to be happy.  And isn’t that the goal for everyone? Simply to be happy.

So tell me readers; What will you create today? How will you find your bliss?