Today.

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Today, I changed my profile picture on social media to a black square, symbolizing my grief.

Today, I went to yoga, allowing myself to be both grounded and lifted up by my practice and yoga community.

Today, I chose to not watch the inauguration.

Today, I wrote over 700 more words on my novel. Each day, I show up and add more words and they begin to add up to something substantial. They add up to scenes, to pages, to characters, to stories, eventually to a full novel.

In the days and years ahead of us, showing up each day to what is happening in our communities, states and country will be critical. Each action, no matter how small, adds up to something substantial.

Make that call to your representative voicing your concern about healthcare or education or the environment or whatever cause is dear to your heart.

Join a local political action group.

Write an Op-Ed.

Reach out to somebody in your community who feels afraid, disenfranchised.

Take radical care of yourself.

Remember, this is a marathon, not a sprint.

Today, as I grieve at what we’ve lost and are afraid of losing I am also looking at what we have gained.

We have gained an awakening.

People are waking up from complacency.

Waking up to the sobering responsibilities of being a citizen of the great country.

I see people waking up to support each other.

To lift each other up.

To standing up to bullies, misogyny, racism, xenophobia.

Standing up for progress.

Tomorrow I will join many of you as I attend a local progressive rally in my very conservative town before heading to our state capitol for the Sister March.

There will be excitement.

There will be passion.

There will be pussyhats and signs and lots and lots of energy.

But that is only the very first step in a very long journey.

So, yes, today a black square is representing my mourning.

Tomorrow, it will be replaced by my original picture with the words, “When sleeping women wake, mountains move.”

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Today, I mourn. Tomorrow I take the first of many, many steps to move mountains.

I hope you’ll join me.

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#MonthofFaves2016 ~ Challenges {The Year End Updates on Reading Challenges, Personal Goals, Resolutions}

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How did you do? Are you going to do more challenges next year?

I started the year with my own personal reading challenge—read five of my own books before I could buy or borrow a new one. It lasted maybe two months. Good intention to read my own damn books, poor follow through.

I ended the year with two other challenges. #MonthofFaves2016 has definitely revived my blog. I feel more connected to it again and I found strategies that will help in the new year which include writing and saving drafts of posts on the weekend to then post during the week. And using the weekend to visit other blogs and connect there.

Two Instagram challenges revived that platform as well. I did a personal Gratitude Challenge for the month of November and I am finishing the year with the “winterwondergram Book Challenge. It’s been been fun creating photos and meeting people this way.

All year I have doing my own version of “Don’t break the Chain.” I filled my dry erase board with 365 boxes and marked an “X” in one for each day that I wrote. I have yet to break the chain. Yay, me! I plan on continuing it into the new year, perhaps making myself a little more accountable by needing to produce 500 words on my current WIP to earn the “X” during the week.

For meditation, I use Insight Timer and it keeps track of the amount of days in a row that I meditate. It is incredibly motivating plus I get to see the thousands of others meditating with me around the world.

Challenges work for me. I like to see the days add up. I like to see the progress. I like to feel the changes manifest as I remain consistent and motivated.

Check out the challenge here. 

 

 

#AMonthofFaves2016 ~ This Is How We Blog

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Image found via Pinterest.

A blogging routine! Ha! I wish I had (or was consistent with) a blogging routine or some kind of structure. I am hoping this challenge will lead me to a routine. I find it annoying when I go to a blog I like and see that it hasn’t been updated for months or even years. I don’t want to be that person.

Ideally, my routine is a post on Mondays that usually sets the tone for what I am going to use as a theme in my yoga classes for the week. Tuesdays are “Quotable Tuesday” where I share a writing, yoga or other inspirational quote. I created a master template of the artwork in Adobe Illustrator then just change the quote each week. I find that I need to import it into Photoshop to resize it so I can then share it on Instagram.

For a while, I was doing a writing prompt each Wednesday from a photo or written prompt (which I keep pinned to a board on Pinterest) . The rules I gave myself were to just freewrite. No polishing but I could edit for spelling or grammar.

Fridays are for links that I want to share, called “Five on Friday.”

I tried to do something on the weekend but decided I just need to have the weekend off from posting. I use the weekend to write content and get it ready to post for the coming week and to read and comment on other blogs.

I don’t have a lot of knowledge about plug-ins but I did figure out how to add a giph yesterday to my post, so there’s that! Mostly, I feel like I blog by the seat of my pants, just figuring it out as I go. I am actually looking forward to reading other’s posts on this and maybe get some new ideas.

Check out the challenge here. 

Mid-year Check-in

Photo: Karin Dalziel via Flickr

Photo: Karin Dalziel via Flickr

January found me wanting me to make yet another resolution to get more serious about my writing.

Usually this involves a detailed list of projects I want to start, finish, revise and submit by certain dates throughout the upcoming year. It ends up being a fairly grueling schedule that sucks the fun out of writing before I even begin.

This year I decided to try something different. At the end of the year, I participated in an online “Renew & Review Writing Challenge” with Jill Jepson. It helped me to look over the past year to see what worked and what didn’t in my writing life. It also helped me to clarify what I wanted my writing life to look like for the next 12 months. What I loved was how we focused more on intentions rather than goals. Goals are product, intentions are process. Goals are future, intentions are present. It just really resonated with me.

When January rolled around, I took a four-week hypnosis workshop at my yoga studio designed to align us with our resolutions for the new year. I showed up each week with the intention to show up to writing practice and life, to all aspects of it:

My writing life will continue to flourish in 2014 by showing up daily to my creativity and writing; being comfortable with not always knowing what comes next; allowing myself to play; giving myself permission to succeed or fail; being present to and grateful for the process.

These intentions held a much more fluid space than the rigid goals I’d normally set for myself. I showed up to my writing and yoga practices, letting one nurture the other. I listened to the meditations from the hypnosis workshop each night, letting the words flow into my subconscious, letting them work their magic.

It all worked. We are halfway through the year and I have a new relationship with my writing life. In six months I have:

–       Finished revising my novel-in-stories

–       Wrote an agent query letter

–       Began rewriting a second novel

–       Jotted notes for a YA novel

–       Participated in a 4-month apprenticeship for elephant journal in which I wrote 19 personal pieces, edited close to 60 and gained an in depth knowledge of social media

–       Became an elephant journal columnist once the four months was up

–       Started my own writer Facebook page

–       Rededicated myself to building a Twitter audience

All of these accomplishments are great. Seriously, I am super proud of myself. But it’s not even the main point. The main shift I’ve experienced is a more fluid relationship to my writing, to showing up to my work. Much less angst and reprisals. More joy and compassion.

And I think that is filtering into all the nooks and crannies of my life.

I can’t wait to see what the next six months hold.

How about you? Any intentions or goals for the summer? For the rest of the year? I’d love to hear about them.

 

 

The Numbers Game

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Ever since I started writing for elephant journal almost 4 months ago, I’ve been waiting for one of my pieces to reach the magic number that would catapult it into the Popular Lately category. I’d compulsively refresh the page throughout the day to see how many views each article had, eventually seeing the numbers stagnate shy of that magic number.

Then it happened. Yesterday this piece seemed to really connect with people and I saw the numbers steadily climb and I was so excited and then, there it was, on the front page under “Popular Lately.”

I’d done it.

Yay!

Then what happened?

Well, first this: I saw other articles which higher numbers. Much higher numbers. And that bummed me out. And made me question myself. Even though I had just accomplished the goal I had set for myself. I didn’t even give myself time ( a mere minute) to enjoy that accomplishment before longing for higher numbers. More, more, more.

So, there was that.

Then what happened?

Well, nothing.

It was cool, for sure. I was honored and grateful that my piece had resonated with so many people. I mean, that’s why I write, right? To connect. To have my words move even one person.

But, as I’d found myself checking the numbers over and over I wondered if that was true. Did I really only care if only one person was affected. My actions seemed to go against that premise. My actions seemed to suggest something slightly less altruistic: the more the better.

That got me thinking. What did more views really mean to me? The more views, the more poplar I was? The more views, the more liked I was? The more views, the better of a writer I was?

Then I started thinking about all the ways we measure our success on-line: Facebook likes and shares and comments. Blog subscribers and comments. Twitter favorites and retweets. Pinterest likes and repins.

It’s like we are reducing our society to the social dynamics of  junior high all over again.

I don’t know about you, but I hated junior high.

So….what does this all mean?

I’m trying to build a writer’s platform so I need to be part of the social media scene—a scene I actually enjoy. I enjoy connecting with people beyond my own small circle, connecting with other creative people all trying to share their words and stories. I enjoy being part of this on-line tribe of creatives.

I guess what this all means is that I need to stay mindful as I continue to put my work out there. Do my work, put it out there, help it make its way into the world then put my head down and work some more.

My hope is to have a book published and there are so many ways to measure a book’s success that I can’t let myself get caught up in the numbers game.

Sure, numbers mean something but they can’t mean everything.

Like Me…Please

I feel a little like Sally Field in her Oscar acceptance speech as I ask you all to like my new Facebook page.

But I’m gonna go ahead and ask anyway.

Will you like me, please?

As part of my intention to dedicate myself to my writing this year, I made a Facebook page dedicated to me, the writer. I’ll share all things writerly and bookish and anything else I stumble across that lights me up in hopes that it may spark something in you as well.

I’d love to have you join me on this journey and be part of my awesome, crazy tribe of writers, artists and creative cohorts of all kinds.

Let’s build a community that supports us and allows us to share our work, whatever that work may be.