Blog

:: How Did You Become A Writer? ::

* This post is in response to a writing prompt from DIY MFA Book Club which I wrote about here.

I didn’t set out to become a writer. It sort of sought me out.

It is said that we often don’t see the correlation between our chosen career path and what we are called to do until we look back over our job history and work experiences. This is certainly true for me. I didn’t know I wanted to be a writer until about 2010 when I discovered that I had two non-fiction book ideas floating around in my head. One was about dreadlocks with a working title of A Head Full of Dreads and Nothing to Wear (no, I’m not kidding) and the other was a cookbook that focused on bean recipes and was titled something along the lines of Beans, Beans, the Magical Fruit. (Also, not kidding.)

In 2010, I was laid-off from a job in the fire service. I’d spend the previous five years in the role of Community Liaison Specialist and Public Information Officer where my duties included writing press releases, public service announcements, and an endless array of material for publications on fire prevention. Prior to that, I’d spent about eight years working for a radio station where I wrote news stories and advertising copy.

A throwback to my fire service days. (The house behind me was being burned down intentionally, FYI.)

Following the layoff, I started teaching yoga and created a monthly newsletter that included articles about the practice or specific poses that I sent out to my students. In early 2013, I started training for my first marathon and subsequently started a blog to chronicle the journey which I kept active until the end of 2016. I was also asked from time-to-time to help write things for family and friends; copy for a website my brother was building, an obituary for my husband’s grandmother upon her passing, a guest post for a friends blog, race previews for Run Oregon.

All the while, I couldn’t figure out what I wanted to do with my life.

At some point in 2015, it became clear. What I was meant to do, I had already been doing for years! Regardless of job titles, I had always found a way to weave writing into my duties whether it was asked for of the position or not. Writing gave me joy and it seemed to come naturally. In fact, one of the best compliments – albeit slightly backhanded – I ever received was from the Fire Chief I worked under. He once said to me that “despite not having a college education, you’re a pretty good writer.” That comment has stuck with me all of these years and I still try to live up to that praise.

Writing – with the ultimate goal of being a published author – is now how I dream of spending my days.

 

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:: 2018 Reintroduction ::

Happy New Year!

I hope 2018 is off to a great start with the promise of good things to come. To kick off the year, I thought I’d take this opportunity to reintroduce myself, my services, and what you’ll find here at www.hylaridenour.com.

Hyla Ridenour, Writer

First and foremost, this website houses all of the information pertinent to my business. I’m a freelance writer offering a variety of related services including copywriting, blogging, product descriptions, copy for web and print, and social media content. You can find a complete list of what I offer on the services page.

You’ll find my rates and contract for services housed on the pricing guide page. New this year, I’ve eliminated a package pricing structure. Working with a number of clients over the past two years, I’ve found that an flat or standard hourly rate better meets the needs of my clientele so, in an effort to simplify, I’m no longer offering packages.

To get an idea of my offerings and writing style, you can view my portfolio page to see a sample of my work.

Finally, there is my blog. Here, I cover a variety of topics; some related to writing and my professional services, others not. I occasionally write about other themes dear to my heart including sobriety, adventures, and other miscellaneous topics. I’ve wrestled with whether or not this space is appropriate for sharing more intimate details about myself – such as my choice to ditch booze in 2017 – but I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t want to compartmentalize my life, my work, my adventures, or my stories.

Beyond my website and identity as a writer, I’m a wife, mother, daughter, aunt, sister, and friend. I’m extremely physically active favoring Crossfit and running, and eating (mostly nutrient-dense foods) is one of my favorite hobbies. I’m happiest outdoors and love hiking, backpacking, camping, kayaking, and beachcombing. I derive a lot of pleasure from bookstores and libraries. Travel is a high priority and I long to visit Iceland and Costa Rica. Within the next five years, I want to live in an Airstream fulltime and travel around the western U.S. while writing novels.

New year, same me.

Speaking of novels, I am writing one! I’ve actually been working on a historical fiction manuscript for a year a now and have more than 54,500 words written. I have a lot of work ahead of me – completing it for one thing – but I can’t wait to see my book out in the world and being enjoyed.

I also want to extend a thank you to my followers, visitors, and of course, my wonderful clients. Since focusing solely on writing, I’ve never felt more fulfilled or sure of what I have been called upon to do with my life. I look forward to doing more of what I love in 2018 and would be honored to help you with your copy or content needs in any way that I can.

One more quick thing: do you love coffee? My goal this year is to build my business via word-of-mouth and referrals and will be offering an incentive for each qualified referral I receive (i.e., the referral leads to paid business). If you refer a new client to me who enlists my services, I’ll send you a $20.00 Starbucks gift card as a thank you!

Coffee is on me!

Wishing you all the best in 2018!

Hyla

::Dry in January (and beyond) – Part Two::

Thank you for coming back to read Part Two! As I mentioned in Part One, I’ve been working to curate a comprehensive list of resources for anyone looking for some guidance or inspiration. Whether you’re considering going dry in January or giving booze the boot for good, I hope you’ll find some value in the following collection.

*Editors Note*

You’ll notice that I did not include a category for books. There are probably hundreds upon hundreds of great books on the topic. However, I’ve only read one so far (Unwasted: My Lush Sobriety by Sasha Z. Scoblic), barely scratching the surface. If I follow through with my 2018 goal to read more (my recurring New Year’s resolution since at least 2010), I’ll happily add some reading recommendations in the future.

Also, I will update each category as I discover new resources. (I also apologize to any of my Instagram friends whom I’ve omitted in error.)

Sober Sisters

Ivy League Insecurities – Aidan Donnelley Rowley – Author and Creator of Drybe

Momastery – Glennon Doyle – Author and Speaker

Tammi Salas – Tammi Salas – Artist, Writer, and Podcast Host

Laura McKowen – Laura McKowen – Writer, and Co-host of HOME Podcast

Mary Beth LaRue – Mary Beth LaRue – Yoga Teacher, Rock Your Bliss Co-founder, and Writer

Meadow DeVor – Meadow DeVor – Yoga Teacher, Money Coach, and Writer

Gabby Bernstein – Author, Speaker, and Spirit Junkie

Nicole Antoinette – Nicole Antoinette – Podcast Host and Writer

Websites

This category contains a variety of websites that include blogs, courses, rehabilitation options, support, etc. Some of these sites allow you to sign up for a newsletter or be added to an email list if you choose.

Hip Sobriety

Bloom Club

A Girl and a Tonic

The Sober School 

One Rep at a Time

One Year No Beer

She Recovers

Rehab Finder

AlcoholTreatment.net

Alcoholics Anonymous

Podcasts

HOME Podcast

Unruffled Podcast

EDIT Podcast

Instagram Accounts

@thesoberglow

@hipsobriety

@sillylaura

@soberevolution

@thesoberkates

@soberandalive

@hello_its_michelle_

@dianaunlu

@onerepatatime

@hipsobriety

@laura_mckown

@fabulous13

@gloria_blecha

@muttonattacks

@mysoberlife

Instagram Accounts for sober CrossFit chicks – if buff, booze-free babes are your jam (because they’re mine!).

@teamcarleen

@oliviapartington

@fitpinup37

@krissymaecagney

@kelfitz11

Products

Curious Elixirs – Booze-Free Craft Cocktails (I haven’t tried these yet but love what they’re doing and they have recipes you can make at home!)

G.T.’s Kombucha – My favorite brand, overall, and easy to find in most grocery stores.

La Croix – Flavored sparkling water with a cult following and available everywhere.

Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides – The single product that I believe has made the biggest impact on my wellbeing this year! (I drink it in my coffee and add it to smoothies and elixirs.)

Tips

I have compiled a list of the things that I’ve done over the past 350 days that helped me in the preparation of – and throughout – the journey thus far.

  • Make a list of your “why’s” and keep it handy so you can reread it frequently. Why is this important to you? What do you hope to gain by going dry?
  • Set a date. If you’re going to go dry in January but starting after the first, that’s okay. Just designate the 31 days following whatever date you select.
  • Clean out any remaining alcohol stock you have on hand. If it’s something special that you want to save, consider having someone store it for you. Drink what you must but give away the rest or pour it down the sink.
  • Have non-alcoholic beverages on hand. Lots of ’em. If you are partial to your evening drink rituals, you’ll need something to replace the sensation of holding a drink. But make it special. I always have La Croix and kombucha on hand. Sometimes I’ll swap in a good ginger beer or make a crafty mocktail. I’m not afraid to use a wine or cocktail glass either. However, that is going to be different for everyone.
  • Find distractions. Take up a new hobby or revisit one that you’ve put on the backburner. Set a new goal. Sign up for a 5k. Renew your gym membership. Take a painting class. Join a book club. Whatever floats your boat.
  • Plan to reward yourself. If you’re doing a shorter period, say a month, plan a nice reward after you complete your goal. A massage, tickets to a sporting event, a new pair of pants from Lulu, etc. Something big and as extravagant as your budget will allow. For those going longer, consider a small reward every 25 days or at the completion of each month. This was the strategy I used. Every 25 days, I would treat myself to a small reward with an average of $20-$25 (a book, a houseplant, crystals – yes, I’m that girl – to name a few ideas).
  • Connect with the sober community. I’ve given you plenty of rad people to be inspired by.
  • Ask for support from your closest friends or loved ones. As I mentioned in part one, I went at this alone in the beginning and I wouldn’t recommend it unless you have a very strong sense of resolve. Invite your spouse, partner or best friend to join you and encourage each other.
  • Create a toolbox. I have two. One is actually a small pouch that I carry with me most of the time. In it, I have Liquid Bliss, Rescue Remedy (oops, need to restock) and some other Bach flower essence, a couple sachets of tea, mala beads, a piece of amethyst and other gemstones, a stone with the word freedom carved into it, essential oil, a stick of palo santo, and arnica. The other is a list of things I can do instead of drink. It includes:
    • Make tea, a mocktail, matcha, or an elixir
    • Go get a latte
    • Drink some kombucha
    • Make a smoothie
    • Do some yoga poses or stretch
    • Meditate or practice pranayama (breathing exercises)
    • Light some candles, incense, palo santo, or sage (smudge)
    • Read
    • Write
    • Journal
    • Paint
    • Listen to a podcast
    • Bake or cook something nutritious
    • Nap
    • Buy some flowers
    • Take a bath
    • Put on a face mask
    • Watch a movie
    • Go for a walk or workout
Dry in January

The contents of my “toolbox”.

A Couple of Additional Suggestions

I also carry a reminder to myself to own my decision. It is not a sad consequence but rather a proud choice. It is a very powerful and totally badass act of profound self-love. Additionally, I printed out a small calendar to track my days. There are a number of apps out there that you can download onto your phone to keep track of how many days you’ve refrained from drinking but I prefer to write it down each day. It allows me to recommit to my choice daily and express gratitude for another day feeling clear and completely awake.

Regardless of whether you’re going dry in January or have elected to go for the long haul, take it one day at a time. When you wake up each morning, remind yourself why you don’t want to drink and tell yourself that you are going to choose to not drink that day.

Final Thoughts

There are so many tools out there that are readily available. Don’t be afraid to do some exploration. Go as deep as you’re comfortable; you will likely find that there is a vast spiritual component to sobriety. While I’ve been doing some digging on and off, because it is something that I crave in my life, I will be doing more of that work in the future. But like I said, do what is comfortable for you.

Remember, these are the things that worked for me. From what I’ve offered here and whatever else you find as you begin your journey, you can piece together your own protocols.

If you have any tips or helpful suggestions, I’d love to hear from you. The same is true if you need some support or have questions. You are not alone in any of this – by a longshot – so if you feel compelled, feel free to reach out! Email me at hyla@hylaridenour.com.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

:: A Look Back at September ::

I realize that we are already a third of the way through October as I write this but in keeping with my self-inflicted assignment to recap each month, I’m forging ahead.

Early in the month, I found myself in a bit of a funk. I had made little progress on the novel manuscript I’m writing, a contract with a client that I was really grateful to be working with came to an end, I wasn’t seeing any significant progress from the time I was putting in at CrossFit, and my 40th birthday was rapidly approaching. Also, my family and I decided to take a new approach to schooling for our son this year and I stepped into the role as “learning coach”. As it turns out, this is a WAYYYY bigger commitment than I originally realized. Wildfires ravaging my home state and the failing health of both of my grandmothers did not contribute favorably to my state either.

For someone who is very “productivity” driven (How much can I get done? What did I accomplish today? How many items on my to-do list did I check off?), I found that I was picking myself apart for what I didn’t achieve and feeling awfully guilty about it rather than patting myself on the back for what I did get done.

On that note, I recently heard a great remedy for this. Instead of focusing on the daily accomplishments or lack thereof, lump everything together weekly. Afterall, there is only so much we can do on any given day with the hours we are alotted and some days it is just going to be easier to fly through the to-dos. However, when you look back over the course of seven days, you typically get more done than you realize. Right? It’s a work in progress but I’m trying to accept what is and do the best that I can.

Anyway, in the end, September finished on a high note.

➼ Attended 24 CrossFit classes and one Olympic lifting class.

➼ I PR’d almost all of my lifts, successfully completed three unbroken toes-to-bar, and made the leaderboard for a WOD that consisted of 7 rounds of rowing 350 meters with a two-minute rest between sets.

➼ Ran 20.25 miles and walked or hiked 21 miles.

➼ Completed ten writing assignments for clients.

➼ Wrote four chapters for my novel.

➼ Survived the first month of coaching my son as we transitioned to a virtual learning environment.

➼ Drove the longest distance (to-date) by myself.

➼ Spent the last few days of the month with my mister in Arizona and got to visit Sedona for the first time where we hunted for vortexes and I fell in love (hard!) with the painted landscape and vibrant community. (This was the highlight of the entire month, for sure!)

:: August was outstanding!::

With the arrival of a new month, I’ve spent much of the morning reflecting on August and all that I was able to experience and accomplish. Over the course of those 31 days, I didn’t realize how much fun and magic I was packing into it!

On a blog I previously published (www.wasntjustthewinetalking.com, which is still active but irrelevant since I’ve shifted my focus from running and no longer drink, FYI), one of my favorite features was my month in review. The practice of acknowledging these little details is such a great way for me to express gratitude and marvel at how awesome this life of mine is.

I’ve struggled hard to keep any sort of regularity with my postings here but I’d love to return to the habit of sharing my monthly reflection and review for the sake of the practice.

August was an outstanding month!

➼ Started the month of August in Oregon and spent a total of 13 days there.

➼ Closed on the sale of our home in Oregon of 18 years.

➼ Celebrated our daughter’s 20th birthday.

➼ Spent some quality 1:1 time with my mister in Cali.

➼ Awesome road trip with my mister stopping in Guerneville, CA, and Ashland, OR, on the way to our destination and Dunsmuir, CA, on our return trip home.

➼ Visiting Autocamp Russian River – an Airstream and luxury tent hotel – and roasting dinner over the fire pit, stargazing, and soaking up time among trees with my mister was a huge highlight!

➼ Spent a lot of time with my daughter, parents/in-laws, family, and good friends.

➼ Witnessed the totality of the August 21, 2017, solar eclipse and saw a handful of shooting stars.

➼ Attended 21 CrossFit classes. (I’m completely obsessed and hooked!)

➼ Ran 16.25 miles and walked or hiked another (approximately) 24 miles.

➼ Attended one yoga class.

➼ Completed 14 writing projects for clients.

➼ Finished reading two books.

➼ Completed writing a chapter for my novel.

➼ Reached 239 days of sobriety.

Happy September!

::a few of my current obsessions::