Lower the Damn Bar.

(Inspired by the  27 Wildest Days writing challenge by Laurie Wagner.)

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Photo by Athena on Pexels.com

Let’s lower the bar.

Do you feel that? That rush of relief, like you stuck a pin in a ballooning and all that striving for perfection just leaked out.

Let’s lower the bar.

Don’t wear make-up every damn day.

Don’t use filters on your photos or on Zoom.

Don’t worry about the softness around your belly. Don’t hate it, love it. It is part of you. An essential part.

Let’s lower the bar on productivity especially during this time. Sure, you are at home. Sure, you have more time because you and your husband are currently not working. But do you know what else you have? A pandemic to live through. Trauma to process. Anxiety to manage. I don’t think you quite understand how much energy it is taking just to keep you going through all of this.

Let go of the word counts and submission quotas and the moving your body to fix or lose something rather than for the sheer joy of moving.

Let go of keeping the house pristine just because you are there.

Let go of all the challenges you see on-line encouraging you to really “make use” of this time.

Let go of the memes reminding you that when Shakespeare was quarantined during the plague he wrote “King Lear,” the implication being: “What are YOU accomplishing during this plague? What great gift to humanity can you offer?”

Let’s lower the fucking bar.

Let your gift be that you stayed present.

That you managed to scribble in your notebook daily  and even shared some writing on your blog in an effort to connect, to let others know that it isn’t just them, that they aren’t alone in what they may be feeling or experiencing.

Let your gift be that you used this time to try to heal and grow and that you failed as often as you succeeded and that’s okay because you tried. You entered the arena. The arena of your wild mind and shadow and projections and fears and you faced them.

Let your gift be that you didn’t succumb to complete inertia and depression and despair. Oh, some days you did and that’s okay. Your gift is that it wasn’t every day.

Let your gift be that you began to peel away layers of perfection, of masks that you wore out there. That you began to allow yourself to be seen. Truly seen. By others. By yourself.

Just lower that bar that you’ve been holding high above you for so long, always reaching for more, for better, for doing, having and being more. For fixing what isn’t even broken. What was never broken to begin with.

Jus lower the damn bar already. Your arms must be so tired. So heavy. Like cement blocks. What a relief to set it down.

Instead of looking up at the unreachable height, you can lower it, lower it all the way down and set it gently on the ground and step over it, looking ahead without a glance  back. You’ve finally released something you never really needed in the first place.

How does it feel?

Am I Really Meant to Publish my Novels?

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I am constantly in awe at the synchronicity of the Universe.

I had this fleeting thought earlier today that maybe I wasn’t meant to publish my novels because of all the rejections I am piling up and because I find it so much easier to write here or on Instagram than to hunker down and work on my novel.

Then I opened up The Journal Compendium and saw this quote from Julia Cameron:

What you really want to do, is what you are really meant to do.

Whoa!!

I felt immediate relief reading those words. This sense of spaciousness. Of potential. Of permission to pursue what I really want even though I haven’t followed the common path, even though I am 54…so many more “even thoughs” are silenced, or at least soothed by these words.

Then I began to Mother myself:

Of course it’s easier to write for your blog or on Instagram. It’s just a moment moving through you. It’s who you are right now. You write it. You release it. You move on.

Writing a novel lives in whole other galaxy. It’s its own entity that requires constant care, attention and nourishment for a very long time. And chances are you will change during that timeframe, so who you were when you began writing it is not who you are at the end.

So, yes, it’s more difficult. It doesn’t mean you aren’t meant to publish your novels. There are readers out there who will deeply resonate with your stories.. You have already heard from them over the years. Your words touch people’s heart. 

There is an agent out there who is the perfect fit for you, who is your ideal reader and will champion you and your books as you both make your way out into the wider world.

Just keep sending your work out. Don’t take the rejections personally.

Just keep writing.

Just keep doing what you are doing.

Believe in yourself like I do, like your friends do, like anyone who has read and resonated with your stories does.

The answer to the title of this blog?

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Image found via Pinterest.

Now, I’m off to work on my novel.

A Work-in-Progress.

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This blog is having an identity crisis.

I had changed it to focus on writing at the beginning of the year then promptly lost interest. Not in writing, but in only writing about writing.

While writing is a huge part of my life, it’s not all of my life. And all of my life actually feeds into my writing. I began considering starting another blog for yoga then it reminded me of “The Golden Notebook” by Doris Lessing and I didn’t want to fragment my life like that.

So, here I am. Another incarnation of this space. I want to gather all the pieces of myself here and offer them as a way to connect with my readers. I’m not totally sure what that will look like yet but I am trying to figure it out.

In the meantime, I am totally okay with being a work -in-progress, here, on my mat, on the page and in my life.

Writing into the Deep.

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Image found via Pinterest.

After a session with a psychic (something I’ve always wanted to do), I’ve changed the focus of my blog to, well, focus more on writing. I realized I was trying to cover everything that interests me: writing, reading, yoga, marriage, family, being vegan, politics. And by trying to cover everything, it all became a bit too diffuse. Nothing was getting the attention it deserved.

By streamlining my focus here, I am finding my focus more streamlined in real life as well. I am currently reading “Rapt” by Winifred Gallagher and she writes about how the quality of our lives depends on where we put our attention. And, just as importantly, where we don’t. (Yeah, social media I’m looking at you.)

In 2019, I am pouring my attention and devotion into writing. Into writing daily. Into submitting my work to magazines. Into finally finding an agent. Into publishing the novel-in-stories that is already done. Into finishing a draft of my current novel. Into finishing a draft of book one in my YA fantasy trilogy. 

Writing into the Deep means writing with deep focus, deep passion. It means writing and stepping into the unknown. It means staying afloat when I don’t know what happens next in a scene or in the submission process. It means writing far past first thoughts into what Natalie Goldberg calls “wild mind” where all the juiciness lives and thrives. 

So, here’s to 2019 and all that it may bring and all that I will bring to it!

What are your 2019 writing intentions/focus/plans/goals? I’d love to hear. 

An Experiment in Blogging Everyday.

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If you’ve followed this blog at all the last few years, you’ve probably noticed that I’ve been trying something different lately:

Blogging. Every. Day.

I got the idea from Austin Kleon who got the idea from Seth Godin.

I enjoy the structure of needing to write and post something every day.

I found that I was hoarding my blog ideas, saving them for a “better” time. But, as Annie Dillard says:

“One of the few things I know about writing is this: Spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, every time. Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book, or for another book, give it, give it all, give it now.”

This isn’t an attempt to build my platform or increase my blog presence/readership. This is an experiment for me, to explore new ideas, to write daily and send those words out into the world.

I’m not worried about timing my posts to get the most traffic or writing headlines that lure readers in. It’s truly just about writing something every day.

As Seth Godin says,

“Are you able, every day, to say one thing that’s new that you can stand behind?”

As I write something each day, I’ve become a tuning fork to the world around me, always seeking something new to explore here. Something I can articulate and stand behind.

The more I create, the more ideas I have.

The more ideas I have, the more I write.

The more I write, the more I learn to spend it all, every time.

The more I learn to spend it all, the more I learn to trust my creative process.

The more I trust the process, the more I create.

 

Writing for my Ideal reader.

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Image found via Pinterest.

I didn’t set out to write for anybody in particular. I just wrote what I wanted, how I wanted. I wrote things that I’d want to read myself.

These days I find myself writing with two particular people in mind. They probably don’t even realize it.

For my fiction, I write for a woman who has laughed and cried when she’s read my stories. She discovers layers that I am even aware of writing. I try to write up to the level of how she reads my work.

For my blog, there is another woman that the words really seem to resonate with and so she has become my ideal reader for this space.

It’s not that I try to guess what and how they want me to write. It’s just nice to visualize somebody on the other end of my words, receiving them, being moved by them, nourished by them.

I don’t need to have thousands of views, shares or likes. If just one person is moved by what I was going to write anyway because I needed to write it, then that feels like success to me.

Why is my Writing a Gift to the World?

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Knowing that I was not “the only one having human experiences” is what made me fall in love with reading. Later, it’s what made me fall in love with writing.

Why I write, tends to evolve. But at the core, the reason why I write is because I find forgiveness, courage, realizations and remembering. I hope that my writing offers that to those who read it as well.

Each time I put my pen to paper or fingers to the keyboard, whether I am working on fiction or a post for this blog, I never quite know what will come out. I don’t know what I will discover, realize, remember. And that is what makes it so exciting.

Not knowing used to scare me. It used to keep me from showing up to the page. I’d think,”Shit, I just wrote my character into a corner and I have zero idea of what happens next.”

Now, I find myself curious. And that curiosity gets me to the page.

While I hope my words my words resonate with others, that they help them find a way into forgiveness or courage, realizations or remembering, the real gift of my writing is that it allows me to show up in the world authentic and beautifully flawed. My writing keeps me tethered to all aspects of myself—the parts I love and the parts that shame me. Writing gives me no place to hide and as I learn to have compassion for all those parts, that compassion spills out into the world.

May that be my gift to the world.

#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. 

 

 

#MonthofFaves2016 ~ #WeekendReading {Picking Favorites} 

Let’s support each other by sharing your favorite post, book, or something else, mentioned on other #AMonthofFaves participant blogs.

~ Tamara of Traveling with T really piqued my interest with her reflection of “All is Not Forgotten” by Wendy Walker.

~ Love the inspiring changes Sarah at Sarah’s Book Shelves made this year! And I love the graphic in her header:)

~ I really like how Akilah of The Englishist gave herself specific categories of diverse books to read this winter. It’s making me want to get out of my reading comfort zone!

~ Kailana of The Written World motioned using a bullet journal as one of her favorite things. I have pinned some things on bullet journals but have yet to implement them. Maybe that will change in 2017…

~ I absolutely relate to Kristen’s (of We Be Reading) desire to seek solace and joy in books when we are in a difficult and challenging emotional space.

Check out the challenge here. 

#AMonthofFaves2016 ~ Picking Favorites

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Let’s support each other by sharing our faves from other #AMonthofFaves participant blogs, eg. your favorite posts, a book added to your reading list, or a blogger you just discovered.

~ Sharlene at Real Life Reading showed me that is possible to set a high reading goal and actually surpass it! She’s read 221 books so far this year, and the year isn’t over yet!

~ Nice tip from Kristen at We Be Reading about using Coca Butter Heel Repair of the tootsies.

~ Stacy at The Novel Life has some great blogging tool suggestions. And I just love the artwork for her header!

~ I love the graphs and charts Catherine used at The Gilmore Guide to Books. And her reading space looks cozy and beautiful. I’ve always wanted a chaise!

~ Tamara at Traveling with T had some great blogging suggestions. And took the time to explain Mr. Linky to me…thank you!! Still working on it:)

Check out the challenge here.