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.

Trusting the process (Or, you wrote a book: now what?)

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In less than 10 weeks, I wrote 60,092 words to complete the first draft of my novel (see “My future self…”). So here I sit with #allthefeels. When I first began this journey, I imagined what it would feel like to hold my finished manuscript. And, although it’s still in electronic form, I can’t say it’s what I expected. Since the day I typed “the end” (or in my case ###), my emotions vacillate from elated to underwhelm, with several limiting beliefs tossed in to create mental drama. But now that I’ve completed the first draft, it seems logical to undertake the second draft, possibly a third, followed by critique groups and/or beta readers, revisions and editing; then soliciting agents and editors and creating a platform to further engage with readers. At first, it appears daunting. Yet I’ve done the hard part: I wrote a book. Now I get to continue trusting the process and focus on one step at a time.

Where can you trust the process?

Image source: seedgrowth.wordpress.com.

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?

How to refuel, recharge + refresh your ‘joy tank’

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Photo source: conniemcleod.files.wordpress.com/

An important lesson I’ve learned since hiring a writing coach and living my best life—while embarking on a journey toward my future self—is that I must affix my own oxygen mask before attempting to care for those around me. In fact, the more I fill my “joy tank”—aka bucket—the happier and healthier I feel. And, with increased energy and enthusiasm to do what I love, including serving others. Because when we consistently function on half empty at best, we risk becoming run down, and/or possibly resentful. If you’re interested in ways to refuel, recharge and refresh your joy tank, check out these ideas to start:

  1. Indulge in a yummy treat
  2. Schedule a DIY “spa” date
  3. Spend time in nature
  4. Take an online class
  5. Play a game or assemble a puzzle
  6. Create something artsy
  7. Embark on a new adventure; e.g., road trip or scavenger hunt
  8. Binge watch your favorite show

How does your joy tank get filled?

It’s your birthday! Sharing the gift of ourselves.

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To know even one life has breathed easier
because you have lived.
This is to have succeeded.
~ Bessie Anderson Stanley

As we mature, birthdays can be a funny thing. Some people dread them; others don’t afford them a second thought. Still others, like me, welcome them with a childlike excitement. Recently, I renewed my annual membership in Club 50, complete with “signature” tiara and full-day (OK, three-day) celebration. Nothing fancy—except my princess attire—I embraced every moment. Because here’s the thing: birthdays are non-negotiable until they run out. And, if nothing else, they offer an opportunity to reflect on the past 12 months of our journey, as well as provide a blank slate on which to write our stories for the next 365 (or 366) days—much like a brand-new calendar year. My plan? To be a better steward of my life going forward. After all, there’s no better way to give to others than to share the gift of ourselves.

What’s your take on birthdays?

Brave enough: finding strength to admit our brokenness

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From the start, my purpose for writing “A nasty word called addiction…” centered on a message of hope and redemption, as well as a way to mark a milestone in my own journey of healing. It’s no secret that many of us suffer in silence from a laundry list of afflictions. Yet, the older I get, the more I feel a kinship with those who hide behind the fake smiles, the false bravado. Because I, too, share the DNA of brokenness. Yet, as I navigate—aka stumble, skip or sidle (depending on the day)—this season of Club 50, I often entertain second thoughts about broaching various “taboo” topics in conversation or my writing. However, if we’re unwilling to allow ourselves the discomfort of vulnerability, then we miss an opportunity to engage in deeper connection with humanity, and ourselves. Transparency, I believe, serves as a catalyst to healing and a collective oneness. And affords us strength when we’re brave enough to admit our brokenness.

Are you brave enough?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

A nasty word called addiction: from bondage to freedom

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In today’s post, I share a snapshot of a decades-long journey from bondage to freedom. Until six months ago to the day, I lived as an addict most of my life. Ever since I can remember, food consumed me (pun intended). Not so much the taste and health benefits, but the ways it [temporarily] anesthetized my emotions and contributed to a false sense of control. For years I engaged in an active bulimic lifestyle (see Body shaming comes in all shapes and sizes), bound by rituals that revolved around binging and purging. More than three decades ago, I “beat” the physical cycle of abuse but, throughout the subsequent years, lived with the psychological torment of a distorted body image, yo-yo dieting (an unhealthy practice with hidden dangers) and self-inflicted shame. Social interactions where food played a major role—parties, work lunches, friendly get-togethers—served to debilitate and oftentimes paralyze my mind. Until I finally surrendered these thought patterns. Bottom line: there’s always hope.

For more information, contact me.

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

How to make a happy life: think differently

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You do not find the happy life. You make it.
~ Camilla Kimball

During a recent yoga class, the instructor weaved her special blend of wisdom throughout the 90-minute lesson. One particular “ism” continued to resonate with me long after I’d packed my bag and headed home. Although not verbatim, it reads something like this: Happiness is not the destination; it’s an attitude you choose to bring with you on the journey. What I love about this can also be understood from Kimball’s quote at the beginning of this post. Another popular saying speaks of happiness as the journey, itself. Yet what about journeys fraught with illness or death, poverty or disaster or [fill in the blank]? Oftentimes those people swimming in a bevy of unfortunate circumstances still seem to radiate happiness. Because happiness is not a treasure to be found but, rather, a gift we already possess as a choice. And it’s all about choosing to think differently. I choose happy.

What choice do you make today?

Image courtesy of VectorHuman at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

A new way to approach the New Year: what’s your word?

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I think it would be much more sensible
if resolutions began generally
on January the second.
~ Helen Fielding (Bridget Jones’s Diary)

Resolution—a word that can conjure up anxiety, ill will, self-defeat—even before we put wings to it. For decades I’ve attempted to ring in the new year with resolutions, plans, intentions. This year, however, prior to the advent of Jan. 1, a single word settled upon my soul: “Exercise.” And because I already strive to incorporate 8-10 hours of weekly physical fitness into my life, my first thought sounded a lot like: WTH? But then I began putting pen to paper: Exercise… kindness. Exercise… my spiritual muscles. Exercise… self-control, self-discipline and my faith. Exercise… gratitude, creativity and my mind. And, yes, exercise my physical body. Each insight also includes tangible ways I can live out my word—a reference to measure my journey throughout the days and weeks ahead. It’s going to be a good year—I can feel it.

What’s your word for 2019?

Image courtesy of 7crafts at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Letting go doesn’t mean loving less

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At times, it feels like our journey through this one life is fraught with trials and setbacks more so than smooth sailing. Times when we could use an encouraging word, a hug or a shoulder on which to cry. A friend of mine is going through such a time and, earlier this week—despite my attempt to practice mindfulness (see ‘A month of mindfulness…’)—I allowed frustration over a situation out of my control to instead control my tongue. Unfortunately, this resulted in words spouted off between us, words that stung, words that could not be retracted. And, ultimately, a falling out. Although I tried to right it, the damage had been done and I realized the only thing I could do was to let go. To give my friend space. It doesn’t mean I love any less; it means I love enough to allow someone else to take my place. To pick up where I left off.

How do you know when it’s time to let go?

Photo courtesy of usamedeniz at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

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