“…if we want to direct our lives…”

In essence, if we want to direct our lives, we must take control of our consistent actions. It’s not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives, but what we do consistently.

~Tony Robbins

On this Wisdom Wednesday (my first in quite a while), this thing about consistency is brought to my awareness again. A few years ago, I was posting regularly. I peppered in photography and quotes weekly to break the monotony and ease my writing load. I gradually got out of the habit and quit writing altogether, with a few exceptions here and there.

As we begin a new year, I am recommitting myself to writing regularly. My goal isn’t perfection but consistency. (Until I get ahead on some content, I may be posting later than I’d like… like today.) Until then, enjoy the last few hours of your Wisdom Wednesday!

On Writing

Writing is therapeutic.

I poured my hormonal teenage heart out on the pages of my Creative Writing notebook in high school. I voiced my complaints in my Comp I journal in college. And in my forties, I expressed my fears and resentments, as well as my gratitude, by blogging. Although my blog has been essentially dark the past year or so, I have been getting my therapy. Last November, I completed the first draft of a book, which I am in the process of editing.

The transitions I have made in the past year astound me. I have taken back my maiden name (again, and for the last time). I am fully self-employed for the first time in my life (after being out of work on worker’s comp for two years). I now edit a newsletter for a professional organization, coordinate a group of volunteers at a spiritual center, and sing regularly (at a coffeehouse where I also MC). And throughout all of this, I wrote.

I wrote essays for classes I took. I wrote copy for a personal growth organization. I wrote affirmative prayers. I wrote 750 words (Morning Pages) of daily brain drain. I wrote poetry. I wrote handwritten notes and cards to friends and family. I wrote lyrics. I wrote personal inventories as part of a 12-step program. I wrote gratitude lists. I wrote letters to God. I wrote “to do” lists. I wrote a book.

All of it therapeutic.

Sorting out my thoughts and feelings on paper is healing… choosing the words with just the right tone… creating a certain mood… poring over the subtle nuances of each synonym… hearing the ring of a well-chosen phrase. These are the things that have helped me create order in chaotic times, make sense of (or peace with) the events that make up my life, and simply get things off my chest.

Regardless of the reams of paper I have filled, I have only recently accepted the title, Writer. Now that the dust has settled (for the time being anyway), the latest catharsis complete, I have come to the realization that I am a writer — not because I have a certain number of words under my belt, not because I have been paid to write, nor because I have something unique to say.

I am a writer because I write.

Blocks

As I stare at the blinking cursor,

Wondering what to say,

My writer’s block is thick,

And keeping thoughts at bay.

 

As void of thought in meditation,

I wish that I  could be,

But endless thoughts come crashing in,

Blocking my serenity.

Keep Getting Up

IMG_3718 (1)At a coaching luncheon I attended a couple of months ago, the speaker discussed storytelling as a coaching technique. I found a particular exercise he facilitated of great benefit to me, personally. We wrote about our lives, eventually condensing our life story down to six words. Upon completion, we meandered around the room, each of us silently holding up our story on an index card. The stories I read touched me, and the expressions on others’ faces told me that I conveyed my own story well.

Mine read, “Got knocked down. Kept getting up.”

Two years ago today, I got out of bed, meditated, and bounced on my rebounder for an hour. I taught 7th graders math all day, then attended a faculty meeting after school. A fellow teacher reminded me of something I said as we packed up our belongings to go home after that meeting.

“This job is killing me.”

As I left the building that afternoon, the trajectory of my life drastically changed. Without going into a lot of detail surrounding the accident and subsequent physical recovery, I am happy to say I survived.

The psychological fallout is another story. I admit, I didn’t understand why people with PTSD hung on to it. Living with it now, my experience is that PTSD shows up, often uninvited. I don’t think I am aware of the anniversary of the incident, yet my body reminds me. The nightmares start up again. Hypervigilance creeps back into my psyche. Then I am looking up something on the calendar, and BOOM! No wonder! It’s almost November 5th.

So back to my life story… Just as that chapter came to resolution, the surprise twist jerked me back into chaos.

Divorce.

Again.

Many dark days followed. Then I remembered…

Get up.

Get the hell up!

Now!

So I got up.

I moved into an apartment with my son. I found a tutoring student… and another… and another. I resolved not to run to the false sense of security provided by a job that would kill me, kill my spirit. I refuse to allow my business plan to die because the circumstances of my life changed. So I only take work that will support me as I grow my coaching practice.

MaryS- Logo Concept 1

I joined my local professional coaching organization. In twelve weeks,
I authored my first non-fiction book, which I am now editing. A digital artist took my concept and created a logo for my business, and because she wanted to use it in her portfolio, it cost me nothing. A budding photographer did headshots for me.

Slowly but surely, I move forward.

Not only am I taking care of business, I am also taking care of my soul. I am continuing my practitioner classes at my spiritual center. I am singing again and writing lyrics. I am participating in NaNoWriMo for the first time. And Tuesdays are blocked off for my grandbabies. Life is good.

Am I going to have more difficult times? Maybe.

Am I going to get knocked down again? Probably.

Am I going to keep getting up? No doubt about it!

Keyboard (Phoneography and Non-SLR Digital Devices Photo Challenge)

 I’ve been spending more time at my keyboard(s) lately, so it ended up being my subject for this week. (I took some other shots that I have decided to save for another post.)

I liked these two because of the texture and shadow. The first is the power button. The second shot is of the left and right-click for the power stick.

I just never know what I’m going to be snapping a photo of next!

Power Button

Dell Precision Touchpad

Taken with my iPhone 5S. Phoneography and Non-SLR Digital Devices Photo Challenge, Week 2: Macro.

Tool: 750 Words

toolanything used as a means of accomplishing a task or purpose:  Education is a tool for success.

One way we help others along the path is by sharing tools that have been useful to us on our own journeys.  One tool that was recently shared with me is a technology that has helped me better utilize a simpler tool I discovered previously.  Both have helped me become a better writer and more creative in general.

Several years ago, I was invited to participate in an Artist’s Way group, based on Julia Cameron’s book.  As part of the process, I began writing Morning Pages, a daily “brain drain” recommended by the author to clear the mind and allow the flow of creativity. Cameron calls for three handwritten pages to be done first thing in the morning.  I found the exercise stimulating and freeing.  Cameron refers to Morning Pages as one of her Basic Tools in the process of recovering creativity.

I have recently begun a new Artist’s Way group (my 4th now), and now draft my Morning Pages online on 750words.com.  The site notes that Cameron’s Morning Pages were meant to be done by hand, yet drafting them on a computer is valuable in many ways.

Once you have completed your 750 words (the approximate number of words in three longhand pages), you can immediately see statistics ranging from how much time it took to get 750 words on the page to what the weather was like when you were writing.  The site records your start and finish times, and notes any distractions (periods of more than 3 minutes when you are not writing). I especially like the fact that it stores my Morning Pages for me.

The site utilizes motivators such as badges for accomplishments (i.e, the number of days in a row that you complete your 750 words) and monthly challenges which result in a place on the Wall of Awesomeness (or the Wall of Shame, if you do not meet the challenge).  It is all in good fun and is helping me become consistent in completing my daily “stream of consciousness” mind dump.

Check out 750words.com and tell me what you think.

I’m Baa… aack!

It’s funny how quickly things can change.  August 21st I wrote my last blog post until tonight.  I had only missed a few days of posting in 8 months and then, one day, I stopped.

I don’t quite know why. I just did.

So here it is, more than 2 months later, and I begin… again.

A lot has happened since my last post, and I will get to all of it soon enough.  I have been doing a lot of writing, although it hasn’t been here.  I am writing a Newsletter, doing some copy writing, and am embarking on a creative writing endeavor as well.  In addition, I am journaling (partly for a book study I am leading, and partly as a component of my PTSD treatment).

I am not going back to my hard-core commitment to post every day, simply because I am doing so much writing.  Ironically, I may just become habituated to daily posting anyway.  I do miss the phoneography challenge in which I participated on Mondays, as well as my Wisdom Wednesday quotes.  So, who knows…?  I just know that I have missed my diary-gone-public.

And I’m baa… aack!

Happy Blogging!

Today I received this 1000 Likes badge.  It reminded me that not so long ago, I kept my blog private (my husband says that’s a diary).  I am really enjoying being “out there,” even though it can be a little scary.  I don’t pay much attention to my blogging stats, but I can’t help but enjoy hitting the milestones. I am looking forward to the next one, which will be 200 followers.  So if you are new to blogging, keep it up.  If you are thinking about blogging, get started.  And if you are blogging privately, well that’s a diary.  Happy Blogging!      

Not Too Shabby

Sometime today it dawned on me that I had broken my agreement to post every day this year. I did not post yesterday and didn’t even think about it. I thought this was strange since my blogging has become so habitual.

At first I was angry with myself for breaking my agreement. Then I remembered, I keep agreements to expand myself not to punish myself. Then I counted to see how many days in a row I had posted. I actually started a couple of days before the new year began, so I had a total of 213 posts in a row.

So the conversation has been going back and forth in my head periodically throughout the day.

“I can’t believe I didn’t even think about it!”

“It’s not the end of the world.”

“No matter what I do now, I can’t complete the agreement to post every day this year.”

“It’s not about perfection. It’s about pushing yourself.”

Then, as I observe the voices in my head, I laugh at how funny it all is. Me, arguing with myself… and all over something that is already done.

So now I am recommitting to my agreement to post every day for the rest of the year, accepting my imperfect record, and eager to see if I can complete the last 5 months of this year without missing a day. (If I was really interested in punishing myself, I would start all over again. Not happening!)

I am just going to keep reminding myself, 213 posts in a row… not too shabby.