Category Archives: Success

Wake up Write (Right)

“Write everyday at the same time,” is the advice you hear given to writers over and over again.  I have always felt guilty that I have not established an effective daily writing routine.

I have tried writing at all different times: morning, evening and even my lunch hour but nothing stuck for long. My lifelong dance with insomnia made it difficult to write at the same time every morning. My lunch hour was inconsistent as well.  I could probably write at the same time every night but I am too drained at the end of the day most of the time.

To some people, I know this sounds like I am just making excuses but I am sure there are other writers that struggle with the same dilemma. The goal is not to construct the perfect prose every time you write  but you do want to give the best you have to it each day.

I was watching Joanna Penn’s interview with Sarah Painter yesterday. Penn posed the proverbial question about when and how often to write.  A few things stood out for me in Painter’s response. Painter said that she established writing as a daily habit by making it automatic.  She decided to do it first thing when she woke up.  She keeps the computer on the bedside table and grabs it right after opening her eyes.  Her lovely husband brings her a cup tea every morning. (I’ll have one of those, please!) So, she is all set to go. She doesn’t even get out of bed. There is no choice about whether to write.  In fact, the only choice would be- to not write.

The idea of making writing automatic was fascinating but then I thought,  “what about when insomnia keeps me up for half the night?” Painter’s very next words, as if on cue, were, “the reason I like writing first thing in the morning so much is because I am less awake, I’ve got less resistance.” She also pointed out that since the day hasn’t really started yet, there are no distractions.

I read Charles Duhigg’s book, The Power of Habit, so I was familiar with this process of using a cue (in this case: waking up) to change a habit but hadn’t considered it as a way to establish a writing routine per se. Often people use it to stop doing something like smoking or to remember doing something like flossing after you brush your teeth. I was curious to see if Painter’s routine might work for me.

All day long yesterday, I kept thinking to myself, “wake up, write. Wake up, write.” (I was delighted when the play on words hit me: “wake up, write. Wake up right!” How perfect a mantra is that for establishing a new habit?) I was excited to test it this morning.  As is often the case, I did not sleep well. I was awoken by the phone ringing. So this morning the routine was more like “wake up-talk to Mom-write” but I did it. In fact, you are reading the results right now. I feel comfortable calling day one-albeit not perfect-a success.

My plan is to stick with Painter’s writing routine and “Wake up-write. Wake up right” every day!

How to Find the Flow

I mentioned last week that even though I need to write that I tend to resist doing it. Often, my biggest excuse is that I am too tired.  Sometimes, the little battles of life wear me down.  More often than I care to admit, I am too pooped to do anything but watch TV at the end of a long, hard day.

Watching TV might be a comforting distraction but it doesn’t do anything to improve my life and it’s not going to provide me with the satisfaction that I get from being creative.  Also, I know that if I do write that chances are, I will feel better.

Today, I asked myself, “how can I get into the flow?” This is what I came up with:

1. Remind myself that my intention is to write.

2. Pray for help to get into the flow of writing.

3. Sit down and write.

I tried this new ritual out today.  Then I finished a chapter and started the next in a novel that I began writing many months ago.  Today is Saturday.  The real test will be mid-week but  I would call that a good start!

What do you do to get in the flow?

Naturally Cranky: Almost there… Why Don’t I Feel Like It?

I am coming into the home stretch of my August Adventure Blogging Challenge.  Challenged is how I feel at the moment…part of me would like to stop now.  I’m at the point where if Burgess Meredith were my coach, he would be giving me a pep talk about having heart.

The odd part is that I don’t have writer’s block exactly.  I still have a bunch of ideas jotted down.  I just find myself staring at them and not knowing exactly how I want to frame them in a post.  Every time an idea starts to take shape, a big cranky baby inside me slaps it down with a big, “NO!”  Then I start to think about other things I want to do like make jewelry, practice yoga or go walk on the beach.  Then I start to question,”Why did I publicly committ myself to this challenge again?”

“Why is this happening when I am so close,” I ask myself.  I think it is the other side of resistance, the dark side.  I mentioned last week in Naturally Balanced: Half-way Check-in and Knowing When to Take Five that feeling resistant can be fatigue or a sign that something is wrong but I don’t think that is what is going on here.  I wrote in Naturally Determined: So Long Procrastination! that while I work hard at not letting other people down, I have often fallen short on meeting personal goals and keeping promises to myself.  What I have going on here is one bad habit!

Gay Hendricks wrote in The Big Leap (Highly recommend it, by the way)  about how we all have an upper limit that we have unconsciously set for ourselves. We are like a dog who is used to being chained.  Even when we’re no longer tethered, we will not go beyond the area that the chain once imposed on us.  When we butt up again this self-imposed limitation, many of us will fall back instead of jumping up to the next level.  It’s a mentality that keeps us stuck in our comfort zone.  Oddly, many of us do not even find our comfort zones all that comfortable but the comfort is in the known versus the unknown.  The devil you know…

I don’t know what’s going to happen after I complete this challenge.  Maybe nothing.  Maybe something great.  Maybe something in-between.  However, I do know, if nothing else, I will complete it!

Many blessings to all,

Cynthia

 

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Naturally Motivated: Keeping the Faith

Did you see Julie and Julia? The movie about a blogger who records her experiences while cooking her way through Julia Child’s Mastering The Art of French Cooking in one year? There is a scene where Julie has been writing for quite a while and is, momentarily, elated to see she has finally gotten her first comment; only to open it and read something like:

“Julie, this is your mother. It appears I am the only one who is reading your thing. Why are you doing this?”

Luckily, she didn’t get discouraged. She kept true to her vision, kept cooking and kept writing about it. Eventually, Julie’s audience found her. She completed her project on time and wrote a book about it. That book was adapted into the movie. Voila! The rest is history.

Sometimes, it seems like we are doing everything we can to make a difference in the world but no one is freakin’ listening. Worse yet, maybe the people who are listening are critical of us and tell us that we are wasting our time. If you have an idea for something that you believe can help make people’s lives better, brighter or happier in any way, I’d like to encourage YOU to keep going, regardless of what seems to be happening at this moment. Stay true to your vision and just keep doing the work!

It is very easy to constantly look to other people to see if we are on the right track. I suspect it’s because approval from other people helped us out early in life; when we were learning to do things we had never done before like walk and talk. We would have learned those things anyway from modeling other people but it’s certainly a lot more fun when someone is cheering you on at every step! Most of us find that our cheering committee seems to dwindle a bit, as we get older. ‘Attaboys and ‘attagirls are often replaced with comments about fears, worries or warnings to do things a certain way in order to be safe or respectable. While these comments are probably well meant, they certainly aren’t exactly motivating to the creative individual.

After letting this blog molder for several months, I really didn’t know what to expect in terms of readership. I’ve noticed something interesting. A lot more people read it than comment on it. When I first launched, I didn’t get stat reports on click-throughs from social media. The only way I knew if people were reading was when they were kind enough to leave me a comment or send me an email. Even though I know now that more people are reading than I had evidence for before; I don’t know what they think about it because they don’t directly engage with me.

Then the other day, I was blessed with an eye-opening email from Jodi:

Hi, loved your last post on veggie scraps. I commented away on that already! lol.

Did I mention I am well on my way to vegetarianism – even dare I say veganism??? Probably since February. And Garry is right there with me, sometimes ahead of me! He feels so good, his glucose numbers are normal (he tests every morning). He’s lost 30 pounds. It’s kind of been a process – but I figure every meal without meat, fish, or dairy saves or helps an animal, the planet & our health. The reason I wanted to mention it to you is because one of your blogs about being a Vegan & the whole thought process of being a snobby Vegan or a militant Vegan really made an impression on me. Also, that it was a process & took you a while to give up cheese. I never forgot that post – so remember that when you write, even if you don’t know it, you are making an impact on some people. I didn’t switch right away but it was stored away in my brain – not word for word but the gist of it! We are probably 98% there.

Wow! I wrote those posts on being a vegetarian, which Jodi so kindly refers to, well over two years ago! Last week, my best friend, who is not a commenter, sent me this text: “You are a really good writer Cindy. Did you ever consider writing a book?” I can’t tell you how moved I was by these wonderful and completely unexpected remarks!

Keep moving toward your dream. Keep doing the work. Keep going even when you feel like nothing you do matters because you may be making an impact on someone right now, who just hasn’t told you… yet!

Many blessings to all,

 

Cynthia

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Naturally Challenging: One Week Down! Stomping Past Self-sabotage!

Phew, I made it through the first week! I posted a new blog post every day for seven days in a row. That is a new record for me. In fact, I’ve always been pretty pleased with myself if I posted weekly. However, this is not the time to rest on my new laurels (…perhaps a bit of an over-statement but you get the gist.) I still have 23 more posts to go after today.

Procrastination and I may have parted ways last week but that little devil, Self-sabotage, is still lurking around, waiting for a chance to strike. It’s funny because you need almost super human awareness to realize that it is even happening. It can look like procrastination but the difference is that procrastination usually stops you from starting something in the first place. Self-sabotage creeps in when you are going strong on a project. It happens like this:

7am

“I need to sit down and write…. but first let me take a shower,” (even though I took one a mere 10 hours ago.)

8am

“I feel clean! Now I can write… I am just going to check my email first… real quick.”

(Who even knows what happened between 9am and 11am…)

11am

“I know I need to write but let me just reorganize this cabinet right now because it is bothering me.”

All of the sudden the day is over, the post didn’t get written. Then the feelings of humiliation and failure come in and Self-sabotage reigns victorious. If I let that happen, I would have only myself to blame. Where does this self-sabotaging tendency even come from? Why would anyone do it to herself?

I am not a therapist but I suspect it is a way of dealing with insecurity. Putting things off after proving yourself capable of accomplishing them; seems to me, to be a form of self-denial. It is way of not dealing with the new potentially painful thoughts that might come up like:

“Yeah, I am making headway on my goal but does it really matter?”

“Will people care about what I write?”

“I am not making money from this. Should I be doing something else with my time?”

“What if I don’t make my goal? What if I do then what next?”

Usually once I start asking myself questions like these, my accommodating brain will bring up evidence or rather memories that will support these doubts and fears. I use the word “memories” because they are not actual proof of anything. Just because I failed to complete some writing projects in the past, does not mean I will fail this time. Also, remembering doubts and fears other people have projected onto me are not facts, regarding what I am truly capable of accomplishing. They are just opinions. (… And you know that old phrase about opinions!)

I feel pretty confident I am going to make it all the way through this challenge despite the shadow of self-sabotage, attempting to keep step with me today. I made myself a promise that I would do it for myself, no one else. It doesn’t mean that I am not watching the click reports like a hawk at times. In fact, I beam with happiness and gratitude whenever someone takes the time to leave me a comment. (…no pressure!) I just have finally figured out that it is my opinion that matters the most! I don’t need permission or approval from anyone else to do something. Knowing that now makes all the difference!

Does Self-sabotage ever stop you when you are making progress? Please leave me a reply in the comments section. I love hearing from you!

Many blessings to all,

 

Cynthia

Blessings to all,

Cynthia

justdragonfly

Naturally Beautiful: What does it mean?

This one is not so easy for me…

A week or so ago a video of Dustin Hoffmann went viral in which he described his experience of being perceived as a woman while prepping for his role in Tootsie.  It was very moving because he broke down when he realized that he couldn’t look as beautiful as he wanted to.  He realized that, as a woman, he would be passed over based on his appearance, despite being an interesting and worthwhile person in so many ways.  He realized that he, himself, had done that to many women who did not meet his physical requirements of beauty.

I found this particularly moving because I‘ve been struggling somewhat with my appearance since my top eight front teeth were damaged in March.  A friend of mine inquired about my “love life” recently, I sort of snorted and replied, “Hahahhaha, it would take a very special or very un-special man to look past my banged up grill.”

The funny part about all this is I am not a fussy gal.  Before this happened, you were just as likely to see me in sweats and no make-up, as you were to see me done up.  I’ve never been a perfect specimen but I was pretty and had learned over the years that I cleaned up well when I wanted to.  I just didn’t worry about it.  Now I do.  I am much more careful about putting myself together because I don’t feel like myself without my smile.  I wear a decent appliance that covers my missing front tooth but when I start to smile, I can feel my top lip getting close to the top edge of the device and I quickly yank it back down.  It really sucks being this self-conscious all the time.  And before I had the appliance, I did notice a difference in the way people reacted toward me.

I do know one special guy who never makes me feel self-conscious about the way I look, my dad.  A few weeks ago, he had to have a tooth pulled.  My dad is a handsome guy but he had a completely different attitude about it.  He made pirate noises and seemed to get a kick out of flashing his space at my mother.  He started referring to himself as Big Gap and me as Little Gap.  “You call that a gap, Cindy.  That’s not a gap.  This is a real gap!” He even convinced me to take this photo.  No small feat.  It is the first one since I fell.

Big Gap and Little Gap

I am not sure I can be as laid-back about my damaged teeth as Dad is, but this dental reconstruction is going to be a long haul and the final result is not guaranteed.  Soon I will have to wear braces for the first time in my life.  So, I realize it would be a good idea to figure how to handle the situation with grace and humor.  Maybe that is the most natural beauty you can acquire.  I haven’t got it all figured out yet but I am so grateful that I have Dad to light the way for me.

Love and blessings to all,

Cynthia

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justdragonfly