Don’t let mental blocks control you. Set yourself free. Confront your fear and turn the mental blocks into building blocks.
Last June, when the sun was high and the breeze was warm and the windchimes twinkled in the trees, I wrote a blog called Today is the Day about making a day to finally do something you’ve put off, forgotten about, or waited to do.
Often Today comes and goes and we haven’t done one thing to better ourselves. Well, it is now 2021, and it’s time to start making Today the Day. Are you ready?
I have made some forward movement towards a few of my Todays. I decided that while I was stuck inside (Covid and winter) I’d start a craft project. And I did. I’ve made dozens of Angel Tears, and have contacted two craft fairs to see if I can get in. It’s a start. I also have come up with an idea for a second novel to follow my book about my “trip” to Paris. I love writing, and have missed the bug biting me every time I turn around, so I’ve started my research.
I also had vowed to clean out my refrigerator big time. And my medicine cabinet. And my dining room buffet. Last weekend and this weekend were the days. The cabinet is shiny clean, I can see the glass shelves in my breakfront, and we are getting a new frig tomorrow, but that is neither here nor there. I made these days THE days.
A lot of the time I’d rather be a vegetable than do anything productive, but fortunately my curiosity and A.D.D. won’t let me sit around for long.
Sometimes moving forward is awkward. Hard. Slow. It’s easier to put off until tomorrow what can be done today. But it feels so darn good once we start moving forward, doesn’t it?
I believe in encouraging others to move forward, too. I know how they will feel once they get the procrastination monkey off their back. Moving forward allows for new ideas, new chances for discovery and growth. That feels so darn good, too.
Take baby steps if need be. Do one thing today, a second step tomorrow. Keep track of your progress. Show yourself you really can move forward towards what you want. Make a list of what you’d like to accomplish. Don’t make any task too daunting. Just make it doable.
You will feel so good when you can check something off your list.
My medicine cabinet hasn’t shined like this since I put it in 15 years ago! Woot Woot!
How many times have you said, “Today is the day”?
Not like in “today is the day I catch a plane to Paris” or “today is the day I see the dentist.”
It’s more like “today is the day I’m going to change” or “today is the day I am going to exercise” or “today is the day I’m going to tackle my insomnia.”
I think more times than we care to admit.
Today I’m going to write. Today I’m going to eat healthier. Today I’m going to take a walk with the dog. Today … Today … Today.
And Today comes and goes and we haven’t done one thing to better ourselves.
I’m not sure why that is. Maybe we’re too busy. Maybe our attention is focused elsewhere. Maybe we are a little more depressed or tired or confused and don’t have the energy to pull off our Today.
I know I’ve said that phrase more times than I can remember. I can’t remember what I was changing, but Today was always going to be THE DAY.
I would sometimes get half-way through the promised land and get distracted. Or up and quit and say who cares. I would give up or plain forget about my life changing vow.
Maybe that’s just being human.
Maybe it’s more than that.
Once again I have started today with good intentions. I’m not conquering the world: I’m not climbing Mt. Everest or working at a hospital saving lives or driving to Chicago to stop the rioting.
I’m merely starting my journey today, one step at a time.
I need to regulate my sleeping. I need to stop drinking caffeine after noon or, better yet, not take it in at all. I need to make a point of walking more, even if it’s around the yard a couple of times. I need to stop shoveling in carbs every time I’m hungry.
You see — your journey isn’t really all that hard. Don’t try and change the world; don’t try and change you. Not all at once.
Hold the words “Today is the day” as if they were sacred whispers. Don’t make your goals bigger than you can handle in one day.
After all, today is only one day.
But it can always be THE day…..
Your novel is finished. You have cleaned it up, corrected your mistakes, and made sure it flows from beginning to end. You love this book. You love this story. It’s the best thing you’ve ever written.
What are you going to do with it?
Decide what you want to do with what you’ve written. Do you want to share it with the world? Keep it just for yourself? Share it with friends and family? Enter it in a contest?
If publication is your ultimate goal, have someone else read your story first for consistency and grammar. It can be anyone, but try and share with someone with grammatical knowledge or who has done a fair amount of reading. An outside reader will be a good gauge if others will read it. Listen to their feedback and adjust accordingly. Don’t let a bruised ego get in the way of putting out the best book possible.
I can’t really guide you on finding a publisher, but there are plenty of articles, books, and websites that will help you find one who will fit you perfectly. Do the research yourself. Don’t pay exorbitant fees for someone to represent you. Decent publishers and agents don’t make money off of you. They make it off your sales.
You can also use an online service like Amazon to put together an e-book. E-books are one of the fastest growing reading markets today. You can’t charge as much as you would a hard cover book, but you can get your book out there to the mass reading market quickly and easily.
Maybe you’ve already tried a bit of the publisher route, yet still have it sitting in your computer. Don’t let your baby lie alone and forgotten. Print it out and give it to your family and friends. Show them what you’ve been working on. What consumes you. What motivates you. Others show you the fish they’ve caught or the quilt they’ve made or the sweater they’ve knitted. Your book is just as important as their accomplishments.
Talk about your book. You will be surprised how many of your co-workers, exercise buddies, and football fantasy team members write. Share your frustrations, ask them questions. What worked, what doesn’t work. If you get stuck, ask someone for help. You’re not an expert on everything. Acknowledge that fact and ask someone who does know.
Reflect on your writing journey. Did you enjoy it? Was the editing a pain in the whatever? Did you learn something? Are you ready for more?
Keep a notebook, journal, or pad of paper by your side at all times. You never know when you will get an idea for a story. Ideas for twists and turns can hit you at any time. I wanted one of my characters to spend time with someone famous for just a couple of hours. But it couldn’t just be anybody. But I kept coming up blank. Until one evening the name came to me. While I was driving. I wound up pulling over to the side of the road and sending myself an email with the name so I wouldn’t forget.
Inspiration is fun. It’s wild, adventurous, and unpredictable. You can write anything about anybody (no real names and tweak your character; liability issues, you know), any place, any time period.
Remember why you write. Don’t give up just because your first book didn’t get picked up by a publisher or your first article didn’t get published in a magazine. As the song says, “We’ve only just begun.”
Writing is a job just like sales or marketing or accounting. You have to put time into it, and have to be willing to change and improve with every story. Make it a part of your everyday life. Join a writer’s group. Go to writing conferences. Read. Research. Keep honing those writing skills. They are so much a part of who you are.
Writing is a wonderful combination of everything you have always been and everything you are yet to be. Enjoy the addiction. Enjoy the ride.
Or should I say Enjoy the Write ….
Karma refers to the spiritual principle of cause and effect where intent and actions of an individual (cause) influence the future of that individual (effect). Sometimes we hope karma comes back and kicks butt to the meanies of the world. Other times we hope that because we’ve been good or loving that we can win the lottery.
Sometimes something I’ve blogged circles around and shines sunshine back in my face. Last December my Sunday Evening Art Gallery Blog showcased Collin van der Sluijs , a muralist painter from the Netherlands. A few months later there was a comment from the website Life in Maastricht who asked if they could use info from my blog to showcase Collin, as he was from Maastricht too. Their website has been part of the Netherlands social media communities since June 2015, covering news and stories about one of the most beautiful cities in the Netherlands. Of course I said yes.
They later stated, “…contacted Collin and he’s happy to participate, thank you for your post, otherwise I wouldn’t have found him.”
So imagine. I got to learn about a town named Maastricht in a country half way around the world, and helped their website find and highlight a homeboy. To me, that’s karma.
Check out their great website — https://lifeinmaastricht.com/ — and share the magic!
THAT’s what blogging’s all about.
I love watching people “livin’ the dream.” Watching the Food Network’s last Food Network Star, that was a popular phrase shared by the contestants and mentors as well. And really — doing what you love doing, walking the hallowed halls of Food Network, past the gods and goddesses of cuisine, travelling to places like Caesar’s Palace and restaurants that offer $1,000 ice cream sundaes — how can you not be living someone’s dream?
Television is truly a dream all its own. I watched season 6 of Face Off, and one of the episodes sent the contestants to Japan. To Japan! Just to give the prosthetic makeup artists a little bit of inspiration? They can inspire me like that any time they want.
Or Gordon Ramsey’s Hell’s Kitchen. Most of those contestants are animals from the start, but when they win challenges they do things like go sailing or have champagne lunch on the beach or, for the final competitors, a night in a suite at the Four Seasons Hotel in Los Angeles. With a view!
I know I sound like I’m jealous — and I am. I know there are only a few that can rise to the top, creamy white and perfect. Some of it is luck, some of it talent, but a lot of it is throwing hangups and insecurities to the wind and just going for it. It’s using that innate talent that we all have and doing something with it, not being afraid to put it out there; not being afraid to fail.
I think I’ve always been afraid to put it out there because I’ve always been afraid to fail.
Our parents raise us as well as they can. Their hangups, their ignorance, seep into our growth whether we want it to or not. But their confidence, their dreams, their positive reinforcement seep into our growth as well. Cheering us on at soccer games, sitting and listening to us in choir concerts, marveling at our crayon drawings, all help us feel better about ourselves.
This is where our power as an adult comes from. Where it can be used for good or for evil.
I have always been what I consider a “nice girl.” I was picked on through middle school, but I got passed it and moved along through boyfriends and job. Married and had kids. During my lonely days I kept a journal. I wrote stories. I aged. I role played, which was impromptu writing. I kept more journals. More stories. Poetry. More writing. My parents were good to me, but they never really encouraged me to follow my dream. Maybe I should have gone to college and been an English or Writing major. But they didn’t have the money and I didn’t have the focus. To be honest, I don’t think a lot of us did that back then.
There are always a lot of winners and losers in the world. Only one person can become a Master Chef. Only one person can be the owner of the fanciest restaurant in San Francisco or Accountant of the Year.
But there are a lot of wonderful, brilliant, fun people at number two. Or three. Or seventeen. After we get over our jealousy of what others “get” (which…come on…we all feel…at least initially), we can can celebrate our love of our craft no matter where we are. We can encourage our kids and grandkids to go for what they want. What’s the worst that can happen? They don’t become number one? So what?
Parents have the power to make that okay, too.
That doesn’t mean we don’t teach our kids and grandkids to compete. The working world is still a working world, and you rarely get ahead by being cute or dressing like Beverly Hills. Most successful people know what they can and cannot do, and go after what they can do. They work hard, play hard, and love hard, so when failure comes their way they have other outlets waiting for them.
I still would love to be one of the portraits hanging down the Food Network Studio Hallway, but my cooking skills would never stand up against those with more experience. No matter — I know a couple of kids who love to cook. Why not encourage them along the way? Encourage them to have fun while they hone their skills? For that matter, why not say something positive about someone’s poem or drawing or how well they hit a baseball? What have you got to lose?
I’m still working on putting myself out there creative-wise. What have I got to lose? Besides — I still have time to push J.K. Rowling off her throne and take her publishing crown.
Even if it is too small for this swollen head…