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::Writing Life Update::

Little by little, I’m writing a book. Currently, I’m about halfway through chapter five. I’ve written 80 pages totaling 21,275 words. The target is approximately 21 chapter so roughly *only* 73,225 more words to go.

I’m embracing the process for the lessons and not for what I hope the final outcome will be. While I’ve tried, on many occasions, to set a consistent writing schedule driven by my goals, the main one being a finished draft by my 40th birthday in early October, I easily get derailed by paid writing work, the part-time job that provides a steady paycheck, and, well, life.

Up to this point, I’ve avoided editing my previous chapters, only looking back through the pages when I need a reminder about a specific detail. I find that when I do, I begin to criticize and censor myself which is highly unproductive. However, on the few rare occasions I do scan through the unrefined pages, sometimes a gem pops out. Maybe a sentence or paragraph that grabs my attention; a diamond in the rough with promise. Here is one such excerpt:

For any occasion deemed special enough, and sometimes just because it was Tuesday, Catherine’s father would scrounge up enough coins so that he could stop at the Patisserie de la Fleur to buy a slice of Mille-feuille on his way home. He would carefully tuck the fragile sliver of dessert wrapped in opaque paper inside his knapsack. Extracting it out of his bag after he arrived home was executed with steady hands and devout concentration although the excitement of Catherine and her siblings would try to steal his attention as they giggled with anticipation. Once displayed on the table in front of them, her father would carefully carve off small pieces of the layered treat and give each child a forkful before taking a bite for himself. He’d lean back in his chair and let it dissolve on his tongue, savoring the explosion of creamy sweetness; contentment evident on his aging face. Finally, he’d begin to repeat the process, offering each of his four children another sample before scraping every last remnant from the paper and licking the fork clean.

::A CURATION OF OBSESSIONS 5/12::

The only thing I’ve been obsessing over this week is my business. That’s not entirely honest but I’ve had very little free time to indulge in my favorite pastime of perusing the internet for the purpose of mindless entertainment. I’ve hardly been on Instagram this week either. Gasp!

I’ve had a few things stirring in my mind though so I’ll share those for my curated obsessions this week.

The Deschutes River

Um, yeah. I live in Southern California. The Deschutes River is located in Central Oregon. Specifically, the portion of the river that I love the most is about 800 miles away. But I’m craving the smell of the juniper and ponderosa pine trees and mountain air, feeling the desert heat soak into my core, the sound of the rushing water through the canyons created by centuries old lava flows… be still my heart. Those places that make you feel alive and free and soothe your soul in ways that words cannot do justice… where you long to be… go there.

Abstinence or Moderation

This one is a tough one. I recently learned that there are two types of people when it comes to behaviors: abstainers and moderators. People who can moderate their behavior set limits while abstainers cannot. It’s all or nothing for the abstinence type folks.
For this example, I’ll use coffee consumption because that is where I’m heading with this anyway. For a full month, I completely abstained from coffee. I didn’t love the idea of giving up coffee but I had tried to cut back to a single cup each morning and the occasional latte. No go. Without batting an eye, I’d be onto cup number two before I’d realized what I’d done and grabbing a latte a few hours later. The ticket for me is to not have any at all. It sucks, yes. But I love tea and my matcha lattes too so the month without coffee wasn’t the worst thing ever. At the end of the trial period, I tried the moderation route again. Guess what? I’m still not a moderator. (Hangs head in shame.) So, for now, coffee is back in a big way. At least until my adrenal glands freak out again. (This means I’ll probably quit again next week. UGG!)
Anyway, the link above is a good blog post from Peanut Butter Fingers on the subject that covers a variety of things that one might find themselves trying to abstain from or do/consume in moderation.

Manifestation

I’ve been a fan of Free and Native for a few years. It’s been my go-to website for studying manifestation, among other things like holistic living. Yes, you read that right. I’m a big believer in the idea that we are responsible for manifesting the things that we want and that we have the ability to bring our desires into our lives with the power of mindset. Just this past week I found myself in a frustrating situation that almost caused me to surrender to someone else’s needs which were unrealistic for me to do. However, I stood in my power. Had I caved, it would have been a declaration that I’m not worthy of my own needs. Worse, it would have sent an invitation out into the universe to allow others to take advantage of me in the same way. In the end, I stood my ground out of respect for myself. And you know what? Everything worked out fine. It was a good lesson and reminder that I (we) have the power to generate what we want.

Before I jet off for another full day, I just sent out my May Newsletter with a special offer to new subscribers. If you’re interested, you can read it here: MAY NEWLETTER

::A CURATION OF OBSESSIONS 5/5::

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

It’s been another wild week behind-the-scenes around here! I’m extremely grateful for each and every opportunity I’ve received to follow my passion and grow my business. My vision is starting to become my reality and there is something so satisfying about seeing your hard work pay off!

But enough about business. I’m not an “all work and no play kinda gal!” I’ve curated a list of my current obsessions for your amusement so read on and have a fantastic and safe weekend!

Girlboss

I’ve been mildly obsessed with Sophia Amorusa for a while. When I first jumped into the realm of freelancing and owning and operating my small freelance business, I was looking for inspiration. One such form came from the book #Girlboss. I bought it as an audiobook and listened to it each morning while commuting to my “real” job. While I’ve never been fond of the clothing brand, Nasty Gal, that Sophia started as an eBay shop when she was 22 years old and grew into a multi-million dollar company (which also just recently filed for bankruptcy), I admire her ambition and drive. Despite the company’s financial woes, she has rebranded herself and her #Girlboss trademark. In fact, there is a new Netflix series “loosely” based on her life and the start of Nasty Gal.

Lauren Fleshman and the 5k

Another mild obsession I have is with Lauren Fleshman. She’s an all-around cool chick and role model for female athletes. I recently listened to an interview in which she talked about an article that she wrote for Runner’s World regarding why she thinks the 5k is so “freaking” awesome. The opening of the article sets the stage with a funny story about a conversation with a guy on a plane about running, who wasn’t impressed with her status as “just” a 5k runner. Anyway, her argument is that 5k’s aren’t just a stepping stone to longer distances. As I analyze my relationship with running, and particularly with long distances, it was refreshing to find reassurance that shorter distances matter. Not only that, you can train and race for a 5k without burning yourself out or induce an injury, especially if you’re already prone.

Instagram

It’s my guilty pleasure. Mostly, I follow people, organizations, and companies that inspire me so I like a pretty eclectic assortment of accounts. Currently, though, I’m dreaming of adventures… so these are a few feeds that I’m drooling over.

And for fun, a couple of photos from my most recent outing; an overnight backpacking trip with my brother.

::A curation of obsessions – 4/28::

Where do I begin? This week has been nuts! But in a super good way, because as some like to say, myself included, I’m living the dream! Ha! (And also the reason why I’m posting this on Saturday instead of Friday, as intended.)

At any given moment I’ve had at least 800 tabs open in my head if you know what I mean. I haven’t had a lot of space between tasks to curate my obsession list this week (In fact, nearly every little gap of time I’ve had has been filled in with another task, such as this blog post. I’m never not writing!) but even with little free time, there’s always something to be obsessing over. And I found my title!

This is what got my attention this week:

Passerbuys

I’ve become slightly obsessed with the life of an author who recently published her first book. She was featured on the site and since then, I’ve sought out the profiles of some of the other women they’ve showcased; an assortment of creative types. (I romanticize the writer’s life but let the record reflect that it is hard-ass work. In fact, my ass literally hurts from sitting in a hard wooden chair for hours on end in hopes that something magical will manifest from my brain, travel through my fingers onto my keyboard, and launch me into author stardom. A girl can dream, right?)

Brooks Peacock Line

Peacocks are such beautiful, regal birds. I’ve admired them for a long time (before they were “trendy” even) and was stoked to see that Brooks has launched a new design for the Pure line that has a peacock feather print. They offer two colors for the PureFlow 6, which is what I wear, and they’re awesome! (I will have to add a savings goal to my budget to snag a pair – see below.) A fresh pair of running shoes would, I’m certain, help me set some new running goals!

Mint

Budgeting… er, trying to budget, is something I’ve been pretty much working on my entire adult life. Admittedly, I have a long history of hang-ups about money… earning money, spending money, saving money… fear that there is never enough to do everything that I need and want to do… stuff like that. Honestly, it’s something I really detest about myself and I’m constantly trying to figure out ways to improve my relationship with my finances. What I like specifically about Mint is the ability to create saving plans for a number of goals such as an emergency fund, travel fund, car down payment fund, laptop fund, etc., that you can customize. It also tracks how and where you are spending money which is a huge eye opener! (I should probably cut down on my kombucha consumption.)

What obsessions have you been curating lately? I’d love to know what you’re into! If you feel compelled to share, please comment below.

Have a great weekend!

P.S. One more day to take advantage of discounted services!!!

::This week’s obsessions – April 15-21::

::Three Reasons Why You Should Hire a Professional Writer::

When it comes to your vocation, chosen career or craft, you are probably fantastic at what you do. Take a guy I know for example; he is an amazing contractor and builds beautiful houses. He thoughtfully and meticulously works to create custom, dream homes for his clients.

Unfortunately, you’d never know how talented he is because his website lacks compelling content that highlights his qualifications and achievements. To add insult to injury, the home page is blemished with a number of simple grammatical errors and poor writing in general.

Writing a well-articulated description about your business, products and/or services is not everyone’s cup of tea. And I’m here to tell you that it’s okay. Most small businesses do not have someone on staff dedicated to writing copy (or manage marketing, social media, etc.). But I’m here to help!

Your website is one of the most powerful marketing tools you have when it comes to attracting business and staying connected with your customers. Here are my top three reasons why you should consider hiring a professional writer to assist you in maximizing your website content to grow your business.

  1. Let someone else toot your horn.

Many people struggle with speaking highly of themselves or their accomplishments (in both spoken and written forms). They may be very humble or just not the type of person to toot their own horn. However, when trying to attract business and potential clients, your skills, talents, and achievements should be shouted from the rooftops. At the very least, on your about or home pages. A skilled writer can toot your horn for you!

  1. Your site is outdated.

When was the last time you read your website? If your answer is, say early 2015, I’d guess you’re due for some updating. I see it all the time. If you’ve made changes to your business but your website doesn’t reflect them, then your customers don’t know.

Have you recently expanded your offerings? Added new products or services? Opened a second or third location? Changed your hours or contact information? Won a prestigious award or were recognized for excellent customer service? Why not make sure both your would-be and existing customers know?

  1. Professional, quality work is guaranteed.

Speling and, grammaticall, erors happen too the the best of use. (See what I did there?) It’s true. But that said, professional writers work diligently to make sure that the copy written for your website will be of the highest quality, free of mistakes. We tend to be perfectionists and want every piece we produce to be the best of our ability.

If your website could use a tune-up, consider making the investment in hiring a professional writer to create content that reflects the voice and branding of your business. I’d love the opportunity to help! I can be reached via email at hyla@hylaridenour.com.

P.S. You can get 10% any package or service through the end of the month!

 

::a few of my current obsessions::

::Neither Did I::

The highs of writing a manuscript are high. I relish the breakthroughs, the development of the characters and plot, the moments when the words flow freely… The lows of writing a manuscript are low. I am stricken with self-doubt, uncertain that I, with words alone, can paint a clear picture of these characters and the world they live in. And then there are the moments when the words don’t flow and I am stuck and searching.

It is an overwhelming process and I have to fight the urge to shift, reshape, and edit the work I’ve completed so far. I know better. The first draft is the worst draft. It becomes the guide for future drafts and that’s when the story truly unfolds. The only job I have right now is to get the story out of my head and onto paper, or a Word document, as it were.

I spoke with a dear friend a few days ago and told her I was working on a manuscript, covering the basic synopsis; “it’s a historical fiction piece, based in Los Angeles at the turn of the 19th century and inspired by true events.” In the most endearing way possible, she said to me that she didn’t know I had it in me to write a novel. I replied, “neither did I.”

However, every so often, after I’ve managed to string together a series of words that come from some unknown well inside of me, I sit back and read what I wrote. There are some nuggets good enough to make me believe that I do have it in me to write this book. To tell the story I want to tell. To show up day after day. To face the fear. To dream that it will get published. To share the work that I feel I have been given the privilege to do.

::measuring success::

Podcasts have recently become my “thing”. I love listening to stories about how others have foregone the norm to seek a fulfilling, creative life. Or found success with the development of some awesome new idea, product or service. Or have altered behaviors to overcome challenges holding them back. You get the idea.

A recent podcast I listened to on The Good Life Project talked about how we measure success. For those of us, like me, who have an entrepreneurial spirit, we want it all now, now, NOW! The visions I’ve created for the life I want are so close that I can practically taste them. However, I’m not there just quite yet and that sometimes feels like the opposite of success. When you want something so badly and feel you are on the verge of it becoming your reality but, alas, you’re still hustling and trying to figure it all out and sometimes it feels like failure…

The whole point of this was that I wanted to share the message that I received from that podcast and that is this: sometimes we have to redefine what success is. Sometimes it’s not a single point that we reach after a period of hard work. (Admittedly, sometimes it is. But not always.) I’ve started to reframe my definition of success and by doing that I, I’ve realized that success can be measured by what we learn along the way.

For years and years, through job transitions and financial hardships and relocating and… the list goes on, all I’ve know is that I wanted to write and that dream is still very much alive and well inside of me. I want to offer freelance writing services to help others build their businesses. I want to open up one of my favorite magazines and see an article I wrote. I fantasize daily about seeing my book on display at a bookstore. I dream about having lunch with my literary agent to discuss my next book deal and planning the promotional tour. I look forward to receiving an invitation to be a guest on a podcast.

Am I there yet? Frankly, the answer is no. Not even close. But I’m working on it. And that, my friends, is how I’m measuring my success. After all these years, I still want it and I’m still working to make these dreams and goals a reality.

Looking back, I’ve learned so much. Looking ahead, I’m excited about what I have yet to learn. From here on out, that is how I’m going to measure success.

HR

:: a poem ::

A few weeks ago I wrote a poem. The past handful of months have been a bit of a ride for me and I think these words spilled out because I am in a place of radical shift and self-acceptance. I honestly hadn’t written a poem since I was probably in my late teens or maybe early 20’s. While it is personal in nature, I think many women will find some of their own truth in the verses.  A dear friend commented that it’s beautifully raw and accurate so I know I’m not alone in the pursuit of finding balance among the contradictions.

Always seeking ways to perfect my craft, I have a feeling there will be more poetry in my future.