Pressing through: why we need stressors

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Photo by Khamkéo Vilaysing on Unsplash.

One morning recently, a sense of joy filled my spirit. Had something new or exciting happened? I wracked my brain, but nothing came to mind. In fact, my circumstances hadn’t changed—my husband and I are still navigating #allthefeels accompanying a big move and transitioning to self-employment, working on a 20-year-old fixer-upper and commuting an hour to the closest major services. The only difference…[read more]

One foot in front of the other: building connection

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In my latest writing workshop, participants chose one goal and noted it on the left-hand side of the page, with desired/expected results on the right—and a bridge connecting one side to the other. This is where we filled in actionable “steps”…[read more]

Imposter syndrome: 3 tips to flip the script

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In the Bucket List Journey, the author asks: “If you had to teach something, what would you teach?” I’ve considered this question often, first upon graduating from ASU as a non-traditional (aka middle-aged) student, followed by earning extra cash as a substitute teacher, while interning and job hunting. And, lately, as I’ve considered ways to expand my reach as a writer. One topic that I struggle with on a regular basis—imposter syndrome, or self-doubt and insecurity—informs my answer to the question. I would teach others how to break through a mindset of limiting beliefs. My limiting beliefs revolve around #allthings writing. Maybe you wonder if you’re cut out to homeschool your children, manage a team of employees or return to school in your 50s. If so, I encourage you to 1) acknowledge your thoughts, 2) put them into perspective and 3) reframe them by focusing on your accomplishments, reflecting on your growth and realizing that your. Dreams. Matter.

How does imposter syndrome show up for you?

Advent of a new year: choosing your ‘word’

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Throughout a year loaded with more change than ever, my word for 2020—growth—continues to stretch and mold me. Yet, when I reflect on the past 12 months, I’m encouraged by the countless ways in which I’ve given my word a good workout. Perhaps it’s my age—reaching the halfway point in Club 50 membership can do that to a girl—or maybe it’s the date on the calendar that sparks possibility and expectation as we await the advent of shiny new beginnings. In either case, excitement stirs in my belly as I meditate on my word for 2021: a theme, of sorts, or call to action that captures the spirit of what I’m drawn to most, in this moment—a life of surrender. For me, this looks like creating a plan, but releasing attachment to future outcomes. And, instead, approaching each day with playful curiosity, while practicing resilience in the face of whatever comes.

What word or theme will you focus on in the new year?

Crisis of identity: discovering your ‘story’

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I’m smack dab in the middle of an identity crisis. Oh, I know who I am: a middle-aged Christian woman and married mother of an adult child. I work as an editorial and advertising coordinator for a commercial magazine publisher (see About Me). My Facebook profile describes me as a lover of words, kitties, laughter, yoga and animal print. And sparkles. I’m also a published author (see Links) of nonfiction and fiction. However, I’ve been questioning my “identity” over the past few weeks in relation to my “story.” I’ve never understood what that means. Until now. For me, my story translates into what I’m called to write. In “Trusting the process…,” I talk about completing the first draft of a sweet romance. But herein lies the crux of my “crisis.” While preparing to write the second draft, I realized I possess a different story to tell. I shared this revelation with my husband, who said, “Why can’t you write both?” Indeed.

What’s your story—or crisis of identity?

Image courtesy of jscreationzs at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

You’re not going that way anyway

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Is there a go-to place you seek for inspiration or insight? The mountains fill that role for me. Before each hike, I ask: What do I need to know? followed by prayer for an open mind and heart to receive. Sometimes, I experience “ah-ha” moments; other times a surprise spotting of deer prompts me to look up and view the world in front of me. One fresh insight aligns with the latest writing adventure on which I embarked (see “My future self…”). Concerned that a few other trekkers chose a similar route as me during a recent outing, I feared disruption of much-needed solitude. Yet these hikers opted for a different trail, leaving me with unfounded worry—a reminder not to waste energy agonizing over choices that others make. This coincides with years of envying fellow writers, while seeking their “maps” to success. And realizing that each of us get to forge a path unique to our own journey.

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

Surrendering: the painful process of pruning

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How often do you pray for patience, and then without warning a situation occurs that demands an inner fortitude that a) you never knew you possessed and b) you wouldn’t need to tap into had you not asked for patience? I wrestle with this lately. But not patience so much as seeking to live out my word for the year: growth—which shows up as frequent “pruning” and a daily practice in humility. Merriam-Webster defines pruning as “to cut off or cut back parts of for better shape or more fruitful growth.” As a Christian, this can be a painful process of surrendering in any number of ways, such as letting go of a position, possession, relationship or some other desire to better align oneself to the image of Jesus. In my case: be careful what you pray for. Yet without a season of pruning, we carry around “dead branches” that hinder our ability to grow. And to eventually flourish.

What area of your life could use pruning?

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Validation 101: how to bring out the best in yourself and others

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Wherever you are,
at any moment,
try and find something beautiful.

~ Matt Haig

Last month, I viewed a 17-minute YouTube video about “validation.” If you can’t afford the time, I recommend watching at least the first four minutes of the professionally rendered film. Because though our conscious minds comprehend that the positive words we speak volumes—and that negative-speak belittles and strips away our humanity person by person—the opportunity to observe these truths play out in black and white serves as both eye-opening and inspiring. In fact, for the entirety of August, thus far, I’ve made it my mission to “flood” social media each morning with optimism and encouragement. The process has also served to boost my own serotonin levels (our bodies’ feel-good chemicals)—a well-known byproduct of positive thinking. Even within the midst of global and political strife, it takes very little to make a big impact in the lives of others. Take a moment. Look around. Find something beautiful.

Who can you validate today?

Image courtesy of Sira Anamwong at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

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?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

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?

Image courtesy of everydayplus at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

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