Category Archives: Blog Post

Shine From Within

(Photo curtesy of Withdrawal)

 

“Nothing can dim the light which shines from within.”

Maya Angelou.

 

Well, as you can see, my light has not been shining much around here lately.

My light, it seems, has diminished. However, it has not gone out completely.

At least not yet.

I’ve still been writing. Just not blogging.

Truth be told, I teeter between the blogging and not blogging.

I mean, am I really a blogger?

Does what I think or say really matter?

Does my light shine from within?

When I say “shine from within,” I’m not speaking about an inner glow or an outer radiance that may illuminate my eyes and facial expressions.

What I’m referring to is confidence.

Confidence in my own abilities. Confidence in the talent of others. A confidence so strong, it will not only inspire myself, but others—invoking strength from within.

Because, quite frankly, I don’t know if I’m all that inspiring.

Yet, isn’t it inspiration that lights us up from within?

It is said “our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate…It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.” ~Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of “A Course in Miracles.”

Interesting. So does this mean we are frightened of our own success?

That would make sense, because if we’re frightened of success, that would only play havoc with our confidence.

Maybe we should ask ourselves, “Who am I to be brilliant? Who am I to be gorgeous, talented and fabulous?

Actually, who am I not to be?”

When “we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

That my friend is inspiration!!

You inspire me, I inspire you.

That’s the beauty of letting our light shine from within.

And nothing can dim that light…If we don’t let it.

But we must share it!

Because if we don’t, our light will fade, just like mine.

No blogging, no light. At least not here.

So remember…

“Nothing can dim the light which shines from within.”

Keep shining your light my friends and I’ll shine mine!!
 

So what do you think? What are some things that keep you inspired and motivated? How do you keep your light shining from within? How have y’all been? And please share your latest endeavors!

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Ordinary World

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(Graphics by jennetliaw.com)
 
You may recognize this title from a song by Duran, Duran. After all, it was one of their popular hits from, gasp!…the nineteen-nineties.

Ordinary, you say?

I think not.

What is ordinary anyway?

When we think of ordinary, we might cringe at the thought with a sense of commonness, of something unremarkable, average, dull, boring or even predictable.

Ordinary? Who me?

Never!

Who of us wants to be predictable?

I mean, don’t we all like to think of ourselves as extraordinary?

You know, strange, odd, unusual, bizarre, or weird.

Oh wait, that’s the wrong definition! Ha, ha, ha!

No. We want to be exceptional, amazing, astonishing—

Special!

But what makes us so special that we don’t want to be ordinary?

It’s when we start to think of ordinary as a bad thing.

Because it really isn’t.

We all start out being ordinary.

However, what makes us feel as though being ordinary means that we’re not good enough?

Is it the fear of not being special?

Perhaps. But more than likely it’s the world that we live in. It’s the influence from society to always do better, be better, to never ever settle.

But there are holes in that ideology. For one, the recognition we seek could lead to discontentment if we put too much emphasis on fame, which has lead many to feel unhappy with what they’ve accomplished.

This of course has had a negative affect. For some, belief in the ordinary has instilled a fear of limitation and weakness. And it’s simply not true. It only feels true because we’re taught not to settle, like it’s a disease, as if we’ve been caught standing in a quagmire of mediocrity.

Except, I don’t think so.

Sometimes we need to catch our breathe. Sometimes we just need to be.

To be ordinary.

And what’s wrong with that?

What’s wrong with being satisfied? What’s wrong with being content and grateful for everything we’ve achieved?

We could be happier. Our days could be calm, filled with an inner peace instead of a crippling, unquenchable desire to be extraordinarily special.

there-is-beauty-in-the-ordinary
(Photo by blissfulanddomestic.com)
 
Remember what Duran Duran said:

“But I won’t cry for yesterday
There’s an ordinary world
Somehow I have to find.

And as I try to make my way
To the ordinary world
I will learn to survive.”

Yes, we will survive.

We will survive whether we are ordinary or extraordinary.

It doesn’t really matter.

What matters is that we’re happy. Happy with ourselves. Happy with our family. Happy with our friends, our faith, our work.

Happy.

Because we’re all ordinary people.

Doing extraordinary things.

In a not so ordinary world.
 

So what do you think? How do you feel about being ordinary? Do you feel pressured to be more than you are? Do you feel it’s possible to reach a level of satisfaction from what you’ve achieved? If not, what do you think it will take in order to feel content and happy? And what is your favorite Duran Duran song?
 
Cheers everyone! I hope that life is treating you well. And as always, thank you so much for all your support and wonderful comments!
Karen

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Swimming in an Olympic Size Pool

For many of us, school has started. And even though we may not have school aged children, we hear the bus pull up reminding us that summer is over.

But didn’t it just start?

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This is what I go through every year and yet I still seem to ask the question.

For those of you who have faithfully supported my writing venture and wondered what became of me over the last couple of months, I decided to take them off. Yes, I know I had made a new goal to be consistent, but it was summer. And besides, most everyone’s been busy with kids, summer vacations, travel and the like.

So why not take a break?

While away from the blog I took the time to catch up on things. I made great strides with my current WIP and am now two-thirds through the first draft.

I did some reading too. I love how it helps to fill up the creative well as I write.

You know, writing a novel and presenting it to the world is like playing in an Olympic size pool. There’s an awful lot of marketable competition out there.

Yes, it’s a big pool with lots of room to swim. Some may study the water first and then take the plunge, while others dive right in practically drowning from lack of experience.

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(Credit: microgen E+ Getty Images)

That would be me. *waves hand* I dove right smack into the water, head first, now forced to do the backstroke. Still, I am determined to succeed and learn from others.

Thus the reading. Although, I find that just as in life, I need to be aware of those who may have the wrong influence on my stroke. The pool is filled with plenty of bad swimmers who could have a negative impact on my technique. Just because they’re published doesn’t mean they’re the best of swimmers.

Swimmers who can bring home the gold at the Olympics.

However, there are many who through much practice and skill are capable of this feat.

And one of them is Kristin Hannah.

I cannot claim to have read all of Ms. Hannah’s books. Perhaps a few to say the least. But I just finished reading her latest endeavor and oh my goodness what a story.

It’s called “The Nightingale.”
The-Nightingale
 
Wow, I mean wow. This book without a doubt will make history, setting a new world record in Olympic swimming, I mean writing. And it already has with worldwide distribution and a movie option.

First, I must say, that for a summer read, the story was a little heavy. And that’s okay. This was a story that obviously had to be told. But it was a fresh stroke of genius, a monumental undertaking told from a different point-of-view, proving that Kristin Hannah without question belongs in that Olympic size pool.

And may I just say how much I learned from this well-seasoned professional swimmer!
 

Here’s the first two sentences:

“In love we find out who we want to be. In war we find out who we are.”

Not too shabby, eh?

Here’s the abbreviated premise:

France 1939.

“With courage, grace and powerful insight, bestselling author Kristin Hannah captures the epic panorama of WWII and illuminates an intimate part of history seldom seen: the women’s war. The Nightingale tells the stories of two sisters, separated by years and experience, by ideals, passion and circumstance, each embarking on her own dangerous path toward survival, love, and freedom in German-occupied, war-torn France–a heartbreakingly beautiful novel that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and the durability of women. It is a novel for everyone, a novel for a lifetime.”

That it is.

If you haven’t had the chance to read it, go now to your favorite book provider and buy it. I happen to follow Ms. Hannah on Facebook, when to my surprise, she shared a link to purchase The Nightingale for a wampum $2.99.

I know! What a deal! Score!

But I would purchase it for the full price, it is that good.

So what’s the moral of this story?

If I want to swim with the professionals, I need to remain diligent, disciplined, confident, with my eyes focused on the end goal at the other side of the Olympic size pool. Because apparently, there are no slackers swimming in the water.

Which means it’s time for me to go practice my swimming writing. ☺

So what do you think? How was your summer vacation? Did you take a break? Read an interesting book you’d like to share? Go somewhere with your family or spouse? Regroup, recover, or revive from the heat? Make any progress on your current endeavor?

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No One Gets It, Until They Get It

13406757_10154276464332990_8115580060279571721_n(Courtesy of HealingWell.com)
 

“No one gets it, until they get it.”

There’s a lot of truth in that statement.

With more people sick than ever before, it can affect each and every one of us.

If you recall, in my last post, I talked about consistency and how important it is in order to make progress. That it’s not to be confused with perfection. That we’re all going to experience failures and setbacks at one time or another.

But what about those of us that are sick?

None of us are immune to the common cold or occasional flu. Yet, there are those of us that suffer from chronic illness such as Rheumatoid Arthritis, Diabetes, Fibromyalgia, Lupus, Multiple Sclerosis, Migraines, Hypothyroidism, Chronic Fatigue and more. It is illnesses such as these that can put a real damper on our life as we weather the course of consistency.

This, of course, can have an affect on our writing. Just how can we remain positive and productive without becoming discouraged?

One thing we can do is to try to stay focused.

For those of you that have a good measure of health, even though you may suffer from an occasional illness, you may be capable of writing full steam ahead without interruption. And that’s totally awesome you are able to do that.

Me?

Well, that’s a whole other story.

I, like mentioned above, suffer from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. I’ve had it for years. And when it strikes, which for the last several years has been often, it’s a struggle just to stay vertical, let alone consistent. (See Unbroken and Undefeated)

So what can we do to keep writing even when we’re sick?

Today I’d like to share highlights from a post written by author Lucy Flint entitled,“Six Ways to Keep Working When You’re Sick” I think you’ll find it inspiring.

Here’s a few ideas to keep our focus and remain productive!

#1: Put your daydreams to work.

“This is like a perfect recipe for daydreaming. I think of intentional daydreaming like making a smoothie: put a few good ingredients together in a blender, and flip it on.
So when you’re sick and you’re crawling back to bed, mentally grab about three things from your work-in-progress. Maybe: a setting you want to explore, or a relationship between characters, a scene or a plot point that you’re stuck on, a beginning or ending that you want to rework.”

I like to stick a notepad beside my bed and let my mind roam. I might take a nap and when I wake up, let my mind meander around my story and characters. Although, this can happen at any point of the day regardless of illness.

Progress.

“Honestly, you might surprise yourself with what you dream up. Keep feeding your subconscious during the day, and jot down notes as ideas float by. You can deepen so many parts of your work this way… and it’s practically effortless!”

#2: Mind Map your way to better ideas.

“Being sick can be a great time to explore your ideas in a more concentrated way. I’ve heard again and again that if you want to do better brainstorming work, you need to put yourself physically in a different space. And if you’re leaving your desk for your bed, swapping a screen for paper and pen–well, you’re halfway there!”

Grab those ideas, mull them around and you may come up with something exciting and new!

Progress.

Lucy suggests that if you’re feeling up to it, grab a big pad of paper, and create a mind map of a project or two. “Thanks to the dreaminess of being sick, you have a chance to have a looser process, to let more air into your work, and to just think differently as you brainstorm.”

#3: Create a mini writing retreat.

“What’s something you want to learn about in your writing, but you don’t ever seem to have a chance? Grab that writing book you’ve been meaning to get to, or explore the writing website you found but haven’t yet read. Fill your feverish little noggin with writing articles and podcasts.”

Right now I’m reading one of Marcy Kennedy’s wonderful series of craft books for busy writers. I find that when I’m unable to write, it’s a great time to immerse myself in the craft of writing. What better way to use the time than to sharpen my skills?

Progress.

#4: Fall into an excellent novel.

“This is a great time to dive into a book. Declare a reading holiday!”

“Pick up a novel that’s like the one you’re trying to write, and as you soak in the words, push yourself to think like a writer. Pay attention to where the plot tightens up, to how the character relationships unfold, to whether you want to keep reading (in spite of being sick!), or where the tension slacks off and you’d rather nap.”

This is something that I persoanlly love to do. So again, keep that writing pad close, so that you can take note of the author’s craft strengths and techniques.

Progress.

#5: Have a movie festival.

“Find a few movies about authors, or writing, or really–anything to do with books.
You could also dive into a handful of that kind of movie that reviewers call “visual feasts.” Rewatch some quirky films that delight or inspire you. Have yourself an inspiration picnic…Nourish the places that might have gone a little dry, while you were being so productive before. “

Sometimes when we’re really sick, it is virtually impossible to concentrate on the reading. Thus watching a movie becomes the perfect antidote to keep our focus on writing!

Progress.

#6 Let yourself off the hook.

“Look. If you’re really really sick, just put the work to one side. Let yourself sleep like crazy. Heal. Because ultimately–and you know this if you’ve been around here a while–I’m all about taking good care of yourself as a person first, and as a writer second. And honestly, illness is a good time for me to re-orient on this principle.”

Yes, it can be frustrating at times. You’re plugging along, everything is going well, and then Kaplunk! Life happens and we’re faced with illness again.

So give yourself a break. Go back to bed, curl up with a hot cup of tea and rest!
And guess what? Our work will be there when we feel better.

One of the things I’ve learned is no one is going to get upset because we’re sick. There is no shame in not writing. If you’re not feeling well, for whatever reason, this is the perfect time to reach out to a friend for help and encouragement.

“No one gets it, until they get it.”

Maybe. Maybe not.

And we wouldn’t wish our illness upon anyone for anything in this world.

But we’re writers. And writers write.

We’ll figure out a way to make it work. And we’ll figure out a way not to quit.
 

So what do you think? Do you suffer from one of the illnesses above? How does it affect your writing? Are you able to write during a bout with a cold or flu? And now that summer’s approached, what ways help you to stay focused and productive?
 

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The Battle of Consistency vs. Perfection

consistency
 
Okay, so I’m not the most consistent blogger in the world.

In my dreams, I aspire to do meaningful things with my life. One of them is to write a post each week. What am I saying. I would be happy if I posted once a month.

And I was doing amazingly well until I became…inconsistent. Which to me is totally irresponsible. I mean, how hard can it really be? Unless you’re a perfectionist like me and then we’ve got a whole other problem to overcome.

Consistency is not the same as Perfection.

Yet, it is necessary in order to make progress, whether at work, within the family circle, in dealing with others, or achieving some level of success in our life.

It is the act of repetition that is more important than our perfection.

But try telling this to someone who is a perfectionist!

There is power in the knowing that consistency will help us to succeed, but once we realize this, it can become easy to obsess over becoming perfectly consistent.

Habit Formation and Continued Improvement.

It’s all about balance and setting priorities.

And that’s hard to do when we’re dealing with life. Too much happens during each day, each week that can play havoc with being consistent. Which only serves to escalate within the realm of our perfection.

Or should I say imperfection.

And that’s the point.

James Clear, a Human Behaviorist, recommends that in order to be consistent, we need to plan for failure.

Yes, consistency is essential if we are to succeed in any area of our life. But if we want to keep our sanity and increase the odds of our success, we need to “plan for failure as well as focus on the consistency.”

Rebound from Failures and Setbacks.

This doesn’t mean we won’t deal with moments of frustration. Every one of us has our own personal journey with many detours and distractions that happen along the way. However, if we choose not to allow our failures to have undue impact on our personal success, then we’re able to continue forward on our journey to achieving consistency.

Remember, any negative feelings and thoughts are temporary and subjective. We are always going to fight the should’ve, could’ve, and would’ve, since we’re constantly in our own heads, alone with our thoughts, which can be dangerous in itself.

Constancy is not the same as Perfection.

Let’s not let temporary illusions of stress, anxiety, worry and insecurity derail us from our journey to success. Let’s make a plan geared towards staying consistent and motivated.

And embrace our imperfection.

For me, this means not giving up. It means making a goal to achieve Consistency and letting go of Perfection, accepting failure as a normal part of being successful.

It’s a constant battle, but by taking this one step at a time, I think its one that you and I can achieve!

So what do you think? Has life gotten in your way of attaining your goals? Are you a perfectionist? Do you find it difficult to be consistent? Is it hard for you to accept your own failures? What do you do in order to achieve your goals?

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