Let’s play: Can you describe your life in a six-word sentence?

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I love these types of questions. As someone whose day job and part-time gig (aka the writer’s life) revolves around all things words—such as word counts, both minimum and maximum—I often play little games with myself; e.g., have you ever counted the number of words in any of the blog posts I’ve written over the past several years? Spoiler alert: 168. Even creating a story with 750-800 words stretches me in different ways than writing a 60,000-word manuscript. And that’s because it requires concise word choices sans the “fluff.” In the Bucket List Journey, which I embarked on at the beginning of 2021, one of the 365 questions includes a challenge to identify six words that condense the finite essence of our lives. Non-writers might also enjoy playing along. For me—within the framework of this moment—the six-word sentence that best illustrates a snapshot of my journey can be summed up as Living the life of my dreams.

What six words describe your life today?

Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash.

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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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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And just like that: it’s a new year

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Two days before Christmas, and all through the house (and workplace): I threw down a full-fledged menopausal meltdown. It was as if I’d been issued the challenge to: Go big, or go home. Eventually, I proceeded with both and dubbed myself the Grinch. But once I realized it was hormone related, I approached my muddled emotions with a clearer sense of direction. And that’s when I knew: my 20/20 vision and plans for “growth” aren’t about knocking out a bestseller (although at the top of my list) or greater financial stability (still up there), it’s about growing into the purpose for which I was created, and growing in the areas I mention in “…bidding farewell…”—my convictions, fortitude and peace. It’s about knowing who I am and growing in that knowledge, discovering and honing the tools I need to succeed. It’s about putting this season of all things menopause to work for me vs. against me. 2020, here I come!

How do you plan to grow this year?

New year new decade: 7 steps to success

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In my post, “It’s not too early…” I share a link on strategies to attract everything you want in 2020. With two months remaining in 2019, I challenge readers (and myself) to begin now. To recap: 1) Identify what you really want and be sure you really want it; 2) visualize your future self doing what it takes to get there; 3) believe that you can do it; 4) clarify your intention and give it your attention; 5) prepare for when the slope gets slippery; 6) hold yourself accountable, but be gentle with yourself and 7) practice gratitude every step of the way. It all sounds simple, right? I think where I struggle the most is at the beginning: What do I really want? Going forward into this new decade, the key for me is to keep it simple and straightforward. And one (major) “want” only. Otherwise, it looks a lot like self-sabotage and my best intentions go up in smoke. Every time.

What do you really want?

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Taming the monkeys with practical tips: how to ‘unstick’ yourself

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Thirty-seven days ago I felt stuck. Questions like: What am I doing with my life? Where do I even begin? wrestled each other in a mind full of monkeys. And then a new friend I met during a recent writers’ retreat—I’ll call her KM—“checked in” with me online. I dumped. She listened. And then she “counseled” me with sage guidance and a personal challenge—with contract—if I chose to accept. Although only eight days remain in my challenge, I’ll continue practicing the advice KM shared. I’m not only more grounded and less anxious overall, but the gains have spilled over into my daily habits and interactions. I knew the retreat was life-changing. But with my limited experience and expectations, I never could have guessed to what extent. Stay tuned as I share, over the next several posts, how to get unstuck by incorporating two practical tips into your daily routine… and change your life. If you accept the challenge.

Do you need to get unstuck?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

A new perspective on the ‘dream job’

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Lately, I’ve been reading whatever I can get my hands on, mostly self-help-type materials: inspirational blogs touting the value of assessing our relationships, healthful tips like plant-based eating to feel lighter and happier, ways to overcome body stiffness and tests to match people with their dream jobs, etc. One such article stands out among the rest this week: that not everyone will be able to #dowhatyoulovewhatyoudo because the reality of it is this: not everybody will be able to “fully express their purpose, their identity, their life’s work through the thing that pays their rent.” However, there’s hope. According to The Good Life Project, “Your work isn’t just your day job. It’s the full spectrum of how you offer yourself to the world and do the work you’re here to do.” This requires a blending of our gifts and passions that comprise the work we do to live a [working] life true to ourselves. A good life; a fulfilled life. That’s the challenge.

What is your dream job?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Finding your support system can make all the difference

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You’ve hit the reset button and started the arduous, oftentimes painful and slow, process of reinventing yourself: your thought patterns, habits, goals. You’ve purged the old to make room for the new, and now you want to share your plans with someone you trust. Someone who will understand (at least) the basics. Beware: those who don’t “get it” may look at you like you’ve sprouted a third eye, and/or say things that challenge your convictions. But, those who generally understand will rally around you to champion your quest. Unfortunately, though, even the most well-meaning friends can inadvertently choke the life from the tender seedlings of progress we’ve begun to nurture. That’s why we must learn to discern our closest allies—the tribal few who know when to provide an ear, or a (virtual) hug or a word of encouragement, when needed. And, of course, to celebrate our successes. Growth isn’t easy, but a support system offers vital nourishment to help us flourish.

Who are your closest go-to allies?

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Take a cup of kindness yet: a resolve that’s timely

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A part of kindness consists in
loving people more than they deserve.
~ Joseph Joubert

You cannot do kindness too soon, for you never
know how soon it will be too late.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

It’s that time when many of us take stock of the past 365 days, and we may even begin to sketch out New Year’s resolutions, goals or bucket lists. For me, the past year has encompassed myriad life events: change, challenges and loss. It’s also involved answered prayers, growth and new opportunities. And once again I await with expectation a blank slate in which to draft a new chapter. A word of advice, however, and a note to self: In order to set ourselves up for success from the start, we must allow for plot twists. You know: because life. Yet perhaps the first thing we must resolve is to extend kindness without delay. It’s a practice that’s always right on time.

How will your new year be different than the last?

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Interrupting the flow: Now what?

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You’ve gotten your mojo back on track. You’ve adopted a daily (maybe hourly) mantra that helps you stay focused. You challenge yourself every day (to be better than you were yesterday). You’re on a mission to be grateful for the little—and big—things in life. But now you find your flow interrupted. In other words, you’ve gotten off track. That happened to me last week. “I need a break,” I said to no one in particular. “From what?” my friend asked me. “From everything!” I said. “You’re in a funk,” someone else said. Ironically, that was the whole purpose of employing my reboot challenge. But now I can put my finger on the “why” of it all. Okay, so now what? Just like changing up the rules can bring new insight, so can taking a break. A few nights ago I did just that: I put my to-do list on the back burner. And I slept better than I have in weeks.

What typically interrupts your flow?

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