Shaking things up: writing prompt #2

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In my post “ …writing prompt #1” I introduced my first writing prompt challenge as a way to stretch my creative muscles. For those who journal or begin your days with quiet times of reflection, meditation or prayer, this “challenge” might lend insight into a problem gnawing on your psyche. Or it may simply prove an enjoyable way to tap into your right brain. For me, it’s that time when I need an extra dose of inspired muse as I embark on another new writing venture. (More about that in an upcoming post.) Here are a few tips to help get you started: 1) remove distractions; 2) decide on and/or adhere to a word count, 3) set a timer for 10-15 minutes; 4) write without judgment and 5) have fun. I encourage readers to play along and share responses in the comments section; I will too.

In 25 words or less, break up your life—up to this point—into 3-6 chapters, and give each chapter a title.

I’ll do anything but ‘that’: the avoidance trap

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Is it just me, or does anyone else struggle with this problem: You need to do something, but you find every excuse to do anything but “that”? Case in point: Right now, I should be fleshing out a story concept based on an idea I’ve toyed with for months. But, instead, I’m writing a blog post scheduled a week away. Is it because avoidance oftentimes rears its ugly head when the going gets a little sticky? Years ago, a colleague-turned friend advised me to prioritize by first tackling items that can be dealt with quickly. Maybe that’s one reason I circle around the thing that proves most challenging or intimidating. Like Finding Nemo’s Dora, who tries in vain to focus on the difficult task in front of her, I allow anything shiny to become a distraction of epic proportions. For example: I will not take another workshop until I finalize my story concept… oh look, that weeklong workshop is free!  

What thing do you avoid at all costs?

Image courtesy of Surachai at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

How to discern the answer you’re looking for

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During the past several weeks, I’ve mapped out a (tentative) new plan that I write about in “Making a fresh start…” And every day looks different: One day might require setting aside my personal agenda to work with significant others on common goals. Another day it may take all I’ve got to clock in my eight hours and squeeze out 90 minutes of yoga. I’ve also spent time contemplating an ongoing dilemma. During a recent hike, I looked for answers—and for “love”—in the desert. Myriad rocks bordered the trail, yet the heart-shaped stones I sought eluded me. Until I changed my focus. I realized, then, that the sign or solution we seek can be right in front of us—or doesn’t always appear as we expect—and we must “zoom in” and/or alter our perspective to distinguish it. However, if we become distracted by the clutter of our surroundings, our selfish ambitions or vain conceits, we risk overlooking the obvious.

What answer do you seek today?

When all the butterflies die: look forward to new growth

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While scrolling through Facebook recently, I stumbled upon this quote: “That feeling you get in your stomach when your heart’s broken. It’s like all the butterflies died.” I know a few things about broken hearts and dead butterflies. Hope deferred. Unmet expectations. Loss and emptiness. But during this new season, I am compelled, now more than ever, to make sense of my path. To reclaim that feeling of contentment I talk about in “Try it on for size…” To don happiness as a daily accessory. To welcome new growth. For far too long my attention has been fixated inward on my needs and wants and disappointments. And it’s time for me to look outward and focus on those around me.  To take a break from the distractions and agendas and whatever else thwarts, rather than advances, my purpose. Hopefully, in time, as I breathe and pray, I will discover what makes me tick and who I’m supposed to be.

How do you know you’re on the right path?

Keep your eyes on the prize: how to quiet the chatter and remain present

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During a recent visit with my acupuncturist, I informed her that the chatter in my mind overwhelmed me. She treated me accordingly and I walked out of her office feeling calm, centered. As I drove home that evening, I contemplated how easy it is to become preoccupied by distractions that don’t serve or advance our purpose. How we get wrapped up in the news, TV, politics, social media or anything else that adds to the “chatter.” I’m not advocating ignorance: it’s important to remain educated on what’s taking place around us—near and far. And to get involved in whatever capacity we’re able. But here’s where we must be mindful: If we spend more time immersed in diversions, we begin to worry, play the comparison game, make excuses and turn inward. Live in our own little worlds. If we keep our eyes on the prize, however, it’s easier to quiet the chatter and remain present. To make a difference.

How do you keep your eyes on the prize?

Photo source: http://www.ideapod.com.

One way to stay on course

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Focus focus focus

While hiking in the mountains this past weekend (and especially since my graceless fall—see ‘What *not* to do…’), I’m more attuned to the trail in front of me. With each step I take, my eyes scan the terrain a couple feet ahead for tripping hazards and/or wildlife. Focus, focus, focus! How often must you deliberately pull your attention back to a task at hand because your mind wanders to myriad items to be checked off your list? In my post, ‘Road rage…’, I talk about missing the forest for the trees; however, there is a right time and place, even beyond the trails, to keep our eyes and thoughts trained in front of us; e.g., relationships, creative projects, work tasks, fitness goals. It is wise to keep the big picture in mind, of course, yet lift our eyes at periodic intervals to scan our progress. But, in order to (safely) reach our destination, we should ultimately eliminate distractions that take us off course.

What’s your main focus?

Social networking: checking in and out

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Social networking

Social media can be a time waster, yet it has its place. I use various forms to maintain contact with family and friends, as well as promote my writing and sprinkle encouragement. And, social media is how I keep up-to-date as far as world events. But I can’t count the number of times I get sucked into the drama, the recipes and book reviews, music and cat videos, the goofy memes and even the political harangues. Yet I like feeling as if I’m part of something bigger than myself. Plus, I’m thankful for the people I’ve reconnected with, and for instantaneous communications—although not always a good thing when you feel compelled to respond immediately to a text or a private message. I think, like with most things, setting aside allotted time—particularly to check in and catch up on Facebook, email, texting, Twitter, etc.—might be one answer to rein in the day-to-day distractions and simplify life.

Where does social networking fall on your list of distractions?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

A self-help junkie finds simplicity

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Self-help junkie

 

I suppose you could call me a self-help junkie. My latest venture is a 33-day path to purpose, passion & joy through Panache Desai’s book: Discovering Your Soul Signature. In my post, “Dialing down the distractions,” I talk about the benefits of tuning out interruptions. Prior to picking up Desai’s guide, I disconnected from the internet for a short hiatus. Although unplugged for a short time, this exercise in self-control removed a bit of the external chatter to allow me to take a step back and focus inward with fewer diversions. To become more connected with myself. I know I can do all that and still keep up with social media but, as an all-or-nothing type of girl, a fast from Facebook helped me move one step closer to the balance I seek in my life. And it reminded me of an important factor I almost forgot: what simple feels like. I’m excited to see where my new venture guides me.

What does simple feel like to you?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.