The big debate: Yes, I’m talking about masks.

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To wear a mask, or not to wear a mask, that is the big debate. So, in an effort to understand both sides, I conducted extensive research and here’s what I learned: every YouTube video, claim, meme, etc., requires fact-checking. Why? Because it’s easy to find “evidence” to back any position. In fact, that’s how I became guilty, early on, of spiritualizing/judging the mask discussion. Personally, I wear a mask because—if the experts are correct—then I may be helping to better protect my immunocompromised husband. If the experts are wrong, then I simply lived with a temporary inconvenience. But I also understand/respect that not everyone can/will wear a mask; yet I’m oftentimes labeled a “sheep” for following the pro-mask side. Incidentally, what do I call the other side? And why must it be “us against them?” Aren’t we all in this thing together? For the record, I am a sheep. One in need of her Shepherd. Daily.

If you’d like to weigh in, please remain kind.

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Pace yourself: how to ‘win the race’

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For several weeks now, I’ve posted a blog every Tuesday. Although I can prepare posts in advance to be deployed on any given day, last week I forgot. One year, I actually challenged myself to post a blog per day—equaling 365 posts at 168 words each for a total of 61,824 words. The size of an average-length novel. Kind of sobering and the segue into today’s post about pacing ourselves, which applies to most areas in our lives. It proved especially true the morning I embarked on a hike in the middle of a Phoenix, Arizona summer: If I wanted to “win the race,” this meant a slow and steady pace (plus frequent hydration breaks). That’s when I also realized my sporadic writing sprints—followed by limited to no activity—did nothing to advance my literary goals. However, if instead, I maintain a minimum 168-word-a-day pace, one day (like today), I’ll look back and view all the ground I’ve covered.

Where do you need to pace yourself?

Photo credit: B.A.S.

A wise (wo)man keeps her mouth shut: a practice in humility

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As I began my power walk, I soon started replaying a text I received from a friend in response to a group message. My friend’s reply had come across to me as a bit snide and laced with derision and judgment. Because both of us are Christ followers, and we strive to represent Him in the best light, I felt she would appreciate a private message pointing out the tone of her text. As I contemplated how to broach the topic with kindness, a tiny pebble worked its way into my shoe—digging into my heel for the remainder of my 30-minute walk. This served as a tangible reminder of the Biblical parable found in Matthew 7:3: “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” Not only did it bring to mind my own “log,” but also that a wise (wo)man keeps her mouth shut.

When have you held your tongue lately?

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Igniting a spark of hope: a 10-day challenge

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I don’t know about you, but the discord within the world—our country, our cities, even between many families and friends—wreaks continued havoc on my mental health. And yes, I regularly practice “all the things” I can control. However, it proves harder each day to pull myself out of self-reflection (and, quite honestly, a bit of self-pity) to jump into self-lessness. To pivot my mind away from the senseless deaths, destruction and disrespect; to disengage from the deafening buzz of debates and disillusionment that clambers for attention. And instead, to seek a safe landing place to refocus, and to set the stage for igniting a spark of hope like a sky ablaze with fireworks. A friend of mine recently posted a dare, of sorts, on Facebook: Can you challenge yourself to make a difference in someone’s life once, for 10 days? My first reaction: How do I find time for that? Followed by: How can I not?

Share in the comments how you are making a difference.

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Mid-year check-and-balance: planning for the road ahead

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Mid-year: we meet again. Although vastly different than I would guess most of us envisioned at the start of 2020, I still think it’s important to review our aspirations and perform a check-and-balance; in other words, What goals need to stay, pivot (e.g., change) or go? For instance, I learned if I plan to remain in alignment with my vision, I must begin treating my passion for all-things fairytale like a second (albeit part-time) job by sacrificing the necessary time to hone my craft—from participating in writing courses, planning workshops and online readers’ and writers’ groups, to subscribing to craft-related blog pages and podcasts. But I also realized I’ve neglected other areas essential to my vocation. By taking stock, we can better see the big picture, break it down into bite-sized pieces and sprinkle our intentions over the remaining two quarters. And sometimes, we simply need to pencil in “white space” to dream about those happily-ever-afters.

How has the first half of 2020 informed your second half?

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Do you really need ‘all the things?’

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Always a planner, even as a young girl, this year started no differently. Although, that soon changed as the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the world. It’s required a shifting—or pivoting—in plans and priorities, goals and mindsets. Some changes have been tough to swallow, while others serve to illustrate that our self-imposed schedules could benefit from extra “white space” for self-care and self-reflection. Personally, I’ve learned I don’t “need” everything I once thought necessary. For example, it turns out I don’t need to practice yoga in a heated room. Although I miss my tribe of Bikram practitioners, I’m content doing my own thing on my own time. And, as much as I coveted my monthly #selfcare of acupuncture and facials, I’ve discovered a coconut mask that, when used weekly, hydrates and brightens. Admittedly, it does require greater discipline for me to continue an at-home #selfcare and exercise regimen, but the time (and money) savings have been worth the effort.

What “luxuries” have you learned to do without?

Picking up the pieces. Together.

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Have you, like me, thought this year could benefit from a collective do-over? Perhaps you’ve read the poem, penned by Leslie Dwight, circulating social media. I’ve always held to the mindset “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Yet it’s obvious that not just our nation—but our world—is broken. Christians call it fallen. And I can’t help wonder if this decade is, indeed, a wake-up call to pick up the pieces. While our choices of action might be limited, our choices of thought are not. We choose to think the best—or the worst. We choose to trust or to fear. To believe lies or to seek out the truth. To love or to hate. Admittedly, it would be less painful to press a restart button on 2020. Because to inform change requires the messy work. Is it so far-fetched to imagine a world where we worked together to pick up the pieces? I choose to think it’s a possibility.

How will you accept Dwight’s challenge?

Image source: today.com.

Milestone moments: celebrating victory

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As I stand with my fellow countrymen and women, observing the unrest in America that hangs over our heads in the midst of the global pandemic, my words today might seem shallow. A mere drop in an ocean teeming with discord, corruption, grief and unbelief. Yet, like many, I choose to search for good, which means diving beyond the surface into the murky depths. But oh, the treasures to be found. This led me to share my post “… discovering plenty amidst the lack,” and why tomorrow marks a monumental milestone moment in my life (shared by those who’ve walked alongside me). One year ago, on June 10, 2019, I surrendered thought patterns shackling me to an addiction, otherwise known as bulimia. Some professionals categorize an eating disorder as a mental health or psychosomatic disorder; however, I know what I struggled with—daily—for decades. And I’m here to celebrate this victory, and to encourage you: hope lives on.

Let’s flood social media with milestone moments: What’s yours?

Image source: quotefancy.com.

Shaking things up: writing prompt #1

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I belong to several different online groups on Facebook, the majority of which qualify as reading and writing groups. Mostly, I sit back and observe the comings and goings—from tips to improve the craft to advice regarding traditional vs. indie publishing, etc. However, one activity I regularly participate in includes submitting the first line of a story or poem based on a weekly writing prompt. Oftentimes, I begin my writing sessions by setting a timer for 10-15 minutes and spending that narrow window drafting my contribution to the “challenge.” And, to ratchet up the excitement, I limit myself to 25 words—no more and no less. This keeps me in the mindset to write tight, concise. I thought it’d be fun to try a prompt on my blog for anyone who would like to play along. Share your response(s) in the comments below (and I will, too).

Imagine your life is now a best-selling book. In 100 words or less, write the summary for the back cover.

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Inspiration for the long haul: drawing from our inner ‘chutzpah’

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Grain by grain, a loaf;
stone by stone, a castle.
~ Yugoslavian proverb

My emotional barometer oftentimes resembles the ups and downs of a roller coaster. Maybe that’s why I associate life—and its proverbial thrill ride—to the popular amusement attraction. For example, between the peaks and valleys, I’m traveling high on the adrenaline that fuels my passion for the written word—whether I’m composing an interview for a commercial trade publication or crafting a two-sentence writing workshop assignment. Yet, on the opposite spectrum, my stomach drops as I’m awash with tremendous feelings of guilt and derision—berating myself for the time I’m wasting on the pursuit of “pipe dreams.” Thankfully, however, each of us possesses a middle ground—a place in which we can draw from our inner “chutzpah,” to keep on keeping on, rather than plunge into the depths of limiting beliefs and doubts. But it begins, first, by reminding ourselves why we chose our path.

How do you stay inspired for the long haul?

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