Goals

:: Mid Month Check In – Jan. 2018 ::

We’ve officially passed the midway point in the first month of the new year. Whew.

During the week between Christmas and New Year’s, I was vibrating with ideas, and goals, and plans, and… and then January actually arrived and I remember that this is when I deliberately go into hibernation. It’s winter after all. The days are still short, the weather frigid (well, that is if you live anywhere other than Southern California. We hit the mid-80’s this past weekend.), there are still 11 more months ahead in the year to tackle all of the things I’ve set out to accomplish, and I’m on a serious slow living kick right now. So why rush?

But despite taking it “easy”, I’ve accomplished a lot. I’m writing! Freelance projects are starting to trickle in. I’m in the process of drafting an article for an online magazine and working on a second to submit to another publication. I’ve written another chapter for my manuscript.

In other areas, I’m on track with my workout goals. I did four unbroken kipping pull-ups this morning among other milestones in the past couple of weeks. There has been a lot of reading and studying up on a variety of topics I want to explore on a deeper level.  I’ve also been invited back as an ambassador for Sportland Tea Co. which produces a fantastic line of tea blends aimed to help athletes (or anyone who loves good tea!) perform at their very best.

The Sportland Team.

All-in-all, 2018 is off to a great start!

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:: 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.

 

:: DIY MFA Book Club ::

As a writer who aspires to become better at my craft, I try to regularly participate in activities that are in alignment with that goal. Reading and studying various texts by seasoned authors and authorities on the subject is a prominent piece of the puzzle. One such book that I picked up last summer and have been slowly making my way through is DIY MFA by Gabriela Pereira.

For the sake of full disclosure and transparency, I do not have a college degree. In fact, I dropped out of community college when I was 17 years old before completing the first term. (Honestly, I don’t think I even made it a month!) While that is another story for another day, I will say that on many occasions over the years in professional settings especially, I’ve allowed the lack of a certificate to make me feel less than enough. Now, 23 years later, I still find myself occasionally wishing that I had followed that path because I would love to have a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing. However, at least at this point in my life, it’s not in the cards.

So back to DIY MFA. I was drawn to it because Ms. Pereira has created a do-it-yourself alternative to the college experience and teaches her readers how to apply the fundamentals of the MFA program – writing, reading and building a support network – without stepping foot on a campus or going into crippling debt.

In addition to the book, she offers a number of resources and coaching opportunities to help writers refine their skills. One such program I’m currently participating in is a book club that works through some of the concepts in DIY MFA and includes challenges such as writing prompts in which we are asked to write about a specific topic and share our work. Our first assignment is based on the question: how did you become a writer?

I’ll be sharing my response to that prompt in a forthcoming post as well as future ones throughout the event.

DIY MFA Book Club Participant

Participant badge.

 

 

::A brief recap of NaNoWriMo::

Even though November is a distant memory, I’m still getting regular email from the National Novel Writing Month organization (NaNoWriMo). The messages in my inbox consist of requests for support, opportunities for writers to get feedback on their manuscripts, or alerts about new blog posts on topics such as maintaining creative momentum and the next steps in the pursuit of publishing.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for supporting this awesome organization and welcome mail from them! However, each email has been a somewhat bitter reminder of my failed attempt to participate in the movement. (I wrote a little bit about what derailed my efforts here.) Having had a little time to reflect these past few weeks following NaNoWriMo, I’ve realized that I actually gained some solid insight from my attempt… even if I don’t have a complete manuscript to show for it.

Four things I learned attempting to participate in NaNoWriMo 2017.

Lesson #1

In the weeks leading up to November, I was at a complete loss for an idea – a story – to write about. Then, magically one day in the shower, I was struck by an idea. A good idea (at least I think it’s a good idea and that’s all that matters, right?)! For the past year, I’ve been so attached to the work of my first (still in progress) novel, The Colonel’s Keeper, that I couldn’t see past it or believe that I was capable of unlocking another creative treasure buried somewhere deep inside my subconscious. I was pleasantly surprised to discover otherwise!

Lesson #2

One of my concerns leading up to NaNoWriMo was whether or not I should finish my current manuscript first and either not participate or put it on hold to work on the new idea. I chose the latter. Even now, I’m not really sure I’ve found the right answer but instinctively, I feel like I should focus on one project at a time and finish what I’ve already started before moving onto the next thing. The preparation I did for NaNoWriMo has allowed me to create a pretty solid story and foundation for my next novel and I look forward to working on it at a later date. I even have a head start since I wrote almost 4,000 words! But that said, this experience taught me that I’m a one manuscript at a time kind of writer.

Lesson #3

Something I’ve been exploring this year is realistic vs. unrealistic expectations in relation to how much I can juggle at any given time. Beginning in January, I had four big projects vying for my attention. I was training for a spring marathon, studying to take an exam to earn my real estate license, trying to build my freelance writing business, and write a novel. I felt overwhelmed for the first few months of the year and not certain that any one of those things was really getting the attention they deserved. The first thing to go was marathon training. I got injured and then sick in February which turned out to be a blessing in disguise because I was forced to take that off the table. Later, I decided that my heart is not in real estate and decided to not pursue my license. That, of course, left the writing stuff, because honestly, that IS where my heart is.

The lesson here is that four is too much. Three is a little more manageable. Two is ideal. Two is my magic number.

As far as how this was applied to my NaNoWriMo experience, I guess that what I’m trying to say is that I simply had too much on my plate in November and I didn’t recognize that until after I’d already announced my participation. I’m hopeful that this will allow me to plan better for the 2018 event.

As a side note, this topic is something that I plan to explore deeper as we move into 2018 and I begin planning and goal setting. I have also discovered the paralysis that comes from having so many ideas, goals, and ambitions… basically, I recede into a prolonged state of disorientation and get NOTHING accomplished. I intend to streamline my workflow a bit better so I can truly focus on things that light me up.

Lesson #4

Time away from my first project has rekindled the desire to see it through to completion. Honestly, I was a little scared that if I took time away from writing The Colonel’s Keeper, I may not return to that work. Those few weeks – okay… months, if I’m being honest – that I put that project on hold and let my project have my attention turned out to be the refresh I needed. I’ve been slowly making my way back and feel recharged. NaNoWriMo gave me the opportunity to step back and take a much-needed break to process where I was and where I am heading.

I’ve got my work cut out for me over the next 10.5 months because now I need to finish the two manuscripts I’ve started so I can have a clean slate come NaNoWriMo 2018!

The write life.

How do we live the writer’s life? There’s only one simple answer: we write. ~Dani Shapiro

:: Mid Month Check-in ::

This morning, after a period of disbelief over the fact that it is officially the middle of November and one week until Thanksgiving (how can that be?!), I started to slip down the slope of self-criticism. For starters, my intention to write a 50,000-word novel as a participant of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) went down the shitter about three days in. I also promised myself that I’d practice my handstand skills every day. And seek new freelance writing gigs. And… I’ll stop there. The kicker is that I also volunteered myself to work behind the scenes on social media content for a film being shot on location in various parts of Idaho. So all of that while traveling and spending several hours each day on set too. Doh.

Almost two weeks ago, a newsletter landed in my email inbox from writer, artist, and fellow sober sister, Tammi Salas, that really hit home. In it, she talks about how, and I’m summarizing here, overachievement is a type of drunkenness. We set these lofty goals and create high expectations and it does feel a little like being drunk; because when we’ve altered our state of being and inhibition has left the building, anything is possible, right?

Here is an excerpt from the letter:

You see, just because I quit drinking alcohol over 1,000 days ago doesn’t mean I still don’t get drunk. I get drunk on ideas and to-do lists sometimes. I get drunk on overachieving and seeing if I can channel my inner-Martha Stewart on-demand. I get drunk on unattainable goals. And, I most definitely get drunk on unrealistic expectations. This, my friends, is when I am most definitely NOT (emotionally) sober.

She goes on to say that we can give ourselves permission to stop the insanity and that it is okay change our minds, our direction, our plan, our whatever. We have the power to quiet that nagging, insistent voice that says we have to do ALL THE THINGS. We don’t. We really don’t.

This has been a recurring theme for me quite some time and I’m so over it! I will definitely be doing some personal work in the coming weeks and months to free myself from this cycle. (In fact, I’ve been trying to read Present Over Perfect for a few months now and it seems fitting that I dive back into that asap!)

I should note that while the past few weeks have been a whirlwind, I’ve gotten to explore Idaho and see parts of the country I’d never seen before. I fell head-over-heels in love with the city of Coeur D’Alene which is now in a heated battle with my number one dream city to live in, Bend, Oregon (or central Oregon in general). I’ve met a number of great people and spent time with old friends. I’ve worked alongside my husband on a film set for the first time and in a few days, will witness my son act for the first time as one of the characters in the film. And, I’ve still got ideas and stories floating around in my head that I am determined to craft into manuscripts.

Oh, and today I practiced my handstand so not all is lost.

If your curious about my behind the scenes work on the film Mischief Upon Mischief, follow along on Instagram at @MUMMovie.

::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!!!

::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