Embracing Author and Publisher

Friday, December 29, 2017

A Voice Within Me

Photo by Calum MacAulay on Unsplash

"I write only because there is a voice within me that will not be still." ~Sylvia Plath

I am a lot of things, and writer is at the top of the list. I've been writing in some form my whole life, even as a kid. I've written poetry and stories because in some strange way, I don't have a choice.

I get this intensity inside me, this restlessness that I can't deny. Eventually, I came to realize that that feeling was anxiety. All my life, my relief from the hold of anxiety has been to write. I didn't understand until much later that this compulsion to put my words on paper was my way of understanding the world and my place in it.

I completely understand Sylvia's voice inside that will not be still. Even now that yoga and meditation have helped me curb my anxious tendencies, I still get restless when I don't spend time writing.

Most of the time, I write for myself. I have journals and morning pages all over the place. I bookmark ideas to post about and quotes that resonate with me. I sometimes just ramble on in a stream of consciousness, just to see what is rattling around in my head.

Often times, after sitting down to attend to that voice within me, I come away with some conclusion about what to do next and then I can set an intention. This is the best feeling to me, writing is very satisfying in this way.

I think it is very interesting how differently people handle situations and emotions. For me, writing is the answer to almost anything, at least in the questioning and observing stages. However, I know others who paint or draw, who knit, run or do woodworking. We all have a hobby or compulsion that satisfies us, to help us hear that voice inside of us that can't be still.

What do you do when you hear that voice within you?

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Change, A Word That Matters

Photo by Chris Lawton on Unsplash, Edits by Amanda McCusker on Positive Practice Living

I’ve contemplated and reflected on this past year quite a bit in the last couple of weeks. This process was mostly so I could figure out where I am going from here. Eventually, I came to a conclusion. However, it is also a chance to look back and consider where I’ve been.

I came across this “Words That Matter” movement on Medium with the hashtag #WordsThatMatter2017. The idea is to summarize 2017 in a single word. They promote forty different influential views from politics, culture, tech, and business to explore this concept. Most of the articles I read through commented on the turbulence of the previous year emphasizing political matters.

I don’t appreciate the unsettled climate we have been thrust into over the course of this past year, but my mind went a little more philosophical and personal on this topic of “Words That Matter.”

Change is the word that comes to my mind when I think of the last year.

A lot happens over the course of the year. By the time we finally get to sing the Fa La La’s of December, it is hard to remember where we started in January.

My life looks a lot different this year than last. My family and I moved to a new neighborhood early in the year of 2017. This meant a different school for my daughter, meeting new friends, a detoured  route to work for my husband and a fresh routine for every aspect of our daily lives.

More than just our location, I’ve also changed greatly personally too. I am overall more intentional. I believe that is a good way to sum it up. I work harder and I’m not as afraid to try new experiences. I enjoy cooking now, a skill I never really cared to harness before. I am taking my writing to a new level. Additionally, I am overwhelmingly more calm by managing my stress and the clutter that once surrounded me.

In fact, I've tossed out many things and ideas that weren't serving me over the course of this past year. It has been a powerfully cleansing sensation. I've gotten rid of clothes and accessories that didn't fit right or that I did not truly enjoy. I also worked through some mindsets that were holding me back.

So many things have changed. Lots of them for the better.

I understand that our political environment is arduous right now. It affects us all in great and subtle ways. However, this too will change. It would be great if it changed sooner rather than later, but it surely will change. In fact, the one thing that will always be constant is change.

That right there has helped me so much. I once got so caught up trying to hold on to everything. Somewhere along the way I realized, I can’t hold onto ideas and even possessions because then I can’t change or grow to become something greater.

Now I have a peace with change. This last year has been full of it. And though it was not always easy, I am thankful for where the changes have brought me. I can now live in a state of calm and productivity, and that is definitely a good thing.


Wednesday, December 27, 2017

From Holiday to Reality

Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

I’ve been on vacation the past few days with my family to celebrate Christmas. We don’t go anywhere, we just stay home and veg out on playing video games and other hobbies we enjoy, like reading and cooking. We eat way too much and drink way too much and have a great time doing it.

However, after three days, I am becoming disoriented and need to add, at least, some creativity back into my life. Writing has a way of calming me, and it helps me focus on those things in life that are most important. A few days without writing starts leaving a fuzziness in my mind and I forget what I’m supposed to be doing.

Waking up at 11 am two days in a row let me know that I was starting to get a little too far off track. Or more significantly, that it is just time to start adding some structure back into my life.

Having a couple days to completely relax and not worry about anything is good, healthy even for a balanced life. The trick is in coming back to reality. Sometimes it is hard to get started.

That is my trouble now, I’m just having a hard time getting back into the groove again.

I sat down two different times to write a “Merry Christmas” post. Both times, I ended up walking away from the computer with no more than a couple of sentences that didn’t even really make sense.

At that point, I decided to let it go. But the thing is, I really did have something to say about Christmas. I wanted to express the wonder in this time of year. It’s not because of any particular holiday recognized, but the celebration and rejuvenation that the spirit of tradition and good intention plant in us to improve ourselves and make an effort to love more easily.

It took me a few days to say, but it has been what is in my heart.

I am thankful to be writing again.

During my vacation, I experienced many lost moments where I just got caught up in what I was doing and not really thinking about anything. This, in my mind, is what it means to meditate. In this moment you just are, and that is a very peaceful experience.

I need more of that in my life. But, I also need the balance of productivity and creativity. It is important and fulfilling to spend time in meditation and contemplation, but now I need to also make use of my time and ideas. My aim is to become more productive this upcoming year while still experience calm and peace. It should be a fun journey.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Winter Solstice Reflections 2017

Photo by Andrea Reiman on Unsplash

I made a big change yesterday, at least it was big for me. I colored my hair from a dirty blonde to a dark brown. It was the first time I had ever had my hair professionally colored and it came out great! I love it and I can feel the change. My daughter came with me and had her hair styled as well, it ended up being a fun girl's day out.

The significance of this change and the timing of it comes from yesterday being the Winter Solstice. It was the shortest day of the year and the turning point between dark and light. Now the days will gradually begin to get longer. It is a true celebration of the light.

Winter Solstice can be described as "The Tide of Rest and Rebirth." I think this is a fitting depiction because it is a time for reflection and renewal. There is power in new beginnings during a celestial transition like the Winter Solstice. Getting my hair colored and styled was a big change for me and it signified a new beginning to roll into the new year.

At this point, I am getting a running start into the new year where I want to be more productive in my writing and build this blog into something I can be proud of. Before I start these new endeavors, it is important to reflect over the past year and appreciate how far I have already come.

This year has been one of great growth for me personally. I have tried lots of new things and challenged myself to do more and finish what I start. I have a confidence this year, that I have not ever seen in myself before.

I have also had a breakthrough in my attitude. I was once very anxious and hesitant in almost everything I did. Now I am learning how to be more calm and respond to a situation instead of react to it. That small change has made a huge difference allowing me to find peace even in the every day chaos.

I am physically a lot stronger than I have ever been. I have more core strength and flexibility than I did even as a kid. I am learning endurance with my running and inner strength through yoga. It has been a beautiful combination and I can't wait to see how far I can go.

I am learning how to stay balanced and the power of intention. It is very simple to tell myself to stay in the moment and find joy in the small things, but it is not always so easy in practice. Thus, this is where the tide turns from reflection to renewal.

Now that I have contemplated on how far I have come and truly celebrated those successes, it is time to look forward. I want to finish what I have begun. I want to work hard and make a difference with my words by publishing them on my blog and in my novel. 

I want to continue clearing the clutter, both physical and mental, from my life so I can focus on this moment and the things most important to me. I want to continue to cultivate an intentional flow through life where I have no expectation for the outcome and can find balance and joy in all things. I want to strengthen my body and train in a way that increases my ability, vitality and stamina.

This is where I am heading and I look forward to what happens next. I am proud of what I have accomplished and how far I have come. I am excited for the future and what happens next.

Winter Solstice provides a chance to reflect on where I have been and learn from struggles and triumphs along the way. Now it is time to renew, set new goals and move forward with intention.

Exhale the old and breathe in the new.

Do you have any Midwinter traditions that help you reflect and renew? I'd love to hear about them and how you are doing in your own journey.


Thursday, December 21, 2017

108 Sun Salutations: Winter Solstice 2017

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

I love the symbolism of the Winter Solstice turning darkness into light. I need that in my life and I revel in the celebration of lights.

Today will hold the longest night, but the darkness contains beauty as well. We can see the stars and witness the cosmos. T. Thorn Coyle once wrote that the Winter Solstice is “a chance to still ourselves inside, behold the glory of the cosmos, and to take a breath with the Sacred."

I really enjoy that call to be still. It is during that moment of balance when we can really begin to understand the significance of the Solstice. By exhaling all of the anxiety of the last year, we can then breathe in a fresh beginning. Then, anything is possible.

The season shifts are significant in the continuous flow of nature and are important to recognize in our own lives. We need the chance to reflect and renew within our own path of personal journey. This is a chance for us to release those things that are holding us down and begin something new. We can cleanse ourselves and our space of things that are no longer serving us and gather strength by setting an intention.

I like to do this while doing 108 Sun Salutations. A sun salutation, or Surya Namaskar, is a series of yoga poses that provide a great workout for the whole body. It presents a great opportunity to stretch, which flexes and tones the muscles. Also, it is great exercise for weight loss and finding your spiritual center. In addition, Sun Salutation is an excellent way to express gratitude to the sun and transition to its increasing light in the coming months.

This visual provides a good example of a Sun Salutation:

photo credit

108 is a sacred number in Yoga and Hindu traditions. It is the number of wholeness and completion. 108 also has significance as it connects to the sun, moon and Earth. The average distance of the Sun and the Moon to the Earth is 108 times their respective diameters. This discovery has influenced many ritual practices.

I have malas that contain 108 beads, which help me count my sequence of sun salutations. For my personal practice I do 9 sets of 12 Sun Salutations to reach a total of 108. Each set of 9 I vary slightly. This is mostly to keep myself engaged with the ritual, but it also helps to work different muscles throughout the practice.

During my practice I reflect on the last year and decide where I need to go from here. I have come to the conclusion that our lives are simply a series of checks and balances. When we know where we are heading, it is easier to stay on the path. Winter Solstice is a natural opportunity for me to observe and amend the progress of my own personal journey.

When I say Namaste, I bow to the divine in you. 

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Winter Solstice 2017

Photo by Denys Nevozhai on Unsplash

Tomorrow is the Winter Solstice, also known as Midwinter and Yule. No matter what you call the observance, it represents the day the sun’s maximum elevation in the sky is at its lowest. It will be the shortest day of the year with the longest night. More significantly, this is a celebrations of the transition in seasons. After Winter Solstice, the days will begin to gradually get longer.

This increase in daylight is cause for celebration! As we enter into winter and the coldest months of the year, it is important to honor the light as the new solar year dawns. This time of year offers a lot of new beginnings.

Once upon a time, these seasonal transitions would signify specific events to ensure our survival as human beings. Astrological events would let people know when the animals would mate, when to reap the final harvest and ensure the food reserves are appropriately full.

This time of year was an occasion of abundance. The last of the harvest had to be preserved or eaten as well as the livestock. There was often wine and ales that finally finished their fermentations and ready to be consumed. The winter months provide struggles for survival, but also a celebration of life and light.

There are many traditions surrounding this celebration and general time of year. Although everyone goes about their customs slightly differently, there is also a lot of overlap. In general, we recognize the celebration of light with festivals, gathering, feasting and our own unique rituals to honor the changing of the seasons.

Symbolic acts and ritual give meaning to life and enrich our lives. Nature is in a continuing cycle from dark to light. I am very fond of symbolism, so I love the tradition of lighting candles. This is the time of year to recognize the rebirth of the light as the days begin to lengthen and bring light back into your home and your life.

The next couple months are still going to be dark and cold, but this tradition gives us a unique opportunity to focus on our own lives and find the light in ourselves. I enjoy taking time to reflect on the past year and realize how far I have come in my own personal journey. This is a chance to accept the transitions I have undergone in the past year and figure out where to go next. I try to release all of the fear holding me back and move with the flow of constant transformation.

Then it is time to set an intention. By renewing my perspective and my goals, I can continue to achieve and grow in my personal journey. This is a great time to start something new and a chance to simply enjoy the wonder of being alive.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

This Is My Story

Photo by Jonatan Pie on Unsplash

I believe that everyone has a story. This is mine. It is not great, it is not big or fancy, but it is tale of how I overcome the little things that get me down over the years and days. It is not about the highs or lows per say but about the quest to find balance and stay there.

I spent most of my life overweight. This is important because it affected a lot of the perspective I had about myself, who I was and what I could do. I never really enjoyed physical activity, but I did greatly enjoy sugar cookies and potato chips. This is not entirely a fitness story, do not fret. However, again, this mentality plays a big part in my turning point.

It is also important to note that I grew up in rural South Carolina and was perfectly happy staying right where I was. I have always had great anxiety about change, little or big, it didn’t matter. In fact, I didn’t like to try anything new. If you haven’t guessed yet, that is not so much the case anymore.

What happened you ask? Well, this simple girl from Boiling Springs, SC grew up and moved to Seattle, WA and everything changed.

It didn’t change all at once, of course. However, three years after our move, I barely know who that shy, anxious girl was. And I have no idea why I let her stay so scared for so long.

I spent my entire life trying to blend into the background. Finally, I am not so afraid to stand out and be heard. I finally feel like I have something to say. No one may want to hear it, but I can still shout it out. In fact, I need to.

Because I have realized that the difference between fear and confidence is not one thing or one choice. Instead it is a million little decisions, it is a mindset to learn and grow and a lifestyle to expect change and keep going. By changing small habits in your daily routine and intentionally making those small adjustments between too much and not enough, you can change your whole world. It changed mine.

Since this is my story, I suppose I should tell you a few more details. I met the love of my life when I was nineteen. We got married when I was twenty-two and had our daughter when I was twenty-four. Let me just say right now, that I was living the perfect life. I still am, but it wasn’t without a few bumps along the way.

After our daughter, Zoey, was born, we tried for more kids. However, three miscarriages later, I was depressed, heartbroken and bitter. My husband, Stephen, was amazing through all of this, both understanding and a solid rock to continue building our lives on. In the end, it was writing that saved me. I started a blog called Tales from a Mother. It was about Zoey, being a mom and daily devotionals based on my Christian living.

I feel it is important now to pause and say that I related to Christianity for many years. In a lot of ways the church saved me by allowing a social outlet again and giving me something to believe in. Ironically, in the end it was also the same thing social group that sent me over the edge and caused me seriously question everything. I needed that identity to get past my losses and to build myself up again. It helped. It got me going again, more importantly, writing again.

I participated in a mom group that was great, until it wasn’t. The support I once felt unexpectedly turned to despondency. During this moment of confusion, my husband got a job three thousand miles away in Seattle, Washington. And I could not wait to go.

Zoey was about to turn five and we moved our entire world. We were an entire country way from our family and friends and yet I had never felt so alive before in my life. Whatever had happened to that point, I was ready for this complete change. I think we all were.

We quickly made friends in Seattle and Zoey started school giving us instant connections and routine. It could not have been a more perfect transition for us. It was at this point I began asking myself, who do I want to be?

Who knew such a simple question could impact me so much. It turns out that I wanted to be very different from who I was before. I wanted confidence. I wanted to try new things and go new places. I wanted to open myself to people in a way I could not have before. I wanted more. And I found it.

It took me about a year before I found yoga. I went to a free event at the Seattle Center that showcased yoga from Corepower, a local studio. I was hooked and I still am. Yoga satisfied me spiritually, but also physically. I had begun looking for simple ways to move more, and in time I would crave that exercise. It began a very important shift in my identity, to enjoy physical activity.

I learned how yoga helps me to align my body and my spirit. By learning how to breath with my body, I discovered how to stay calm in chaos and how to have confidence to continue trying new positions and ideas. I have found balance and confidence on my mat that has transformed my entire life.

I don’t question who I am or what I want anymore, now I know. I’m still not a strong decision maker, but now I know I can. I still get frustrated and depressed, but now I can identify the feeling and find ways to balance it by slowing down or becoming more active depending on the situation. Now, I realize the wisdom of living in the moment as well as the understanding that I am constantly learning and growing as a person.

Since we moved to Seattle a little over three years ago, I have lost over fifty pounds and I am more healthy, body and mind, than I have been in my entire life. I dedicate this change to a mindset I call “Positive Practice,” which is how I came up with this name, “Positive Practice Living.”

I am not perfect, I will not pretend to be. I am sporadic and can name as many faults as I can successes. I don’t make sense most of time, even to myself. And yet, here I am with a story and a purpose before you today.

I love to surround myself with positive ideas and inspirational art and motivating quotes. I find joy in learning new information about things that interest me. I am discovering a fulfillment in trying new practices, even if I fall on my face. I want to share these things. I figure, if they help me, they may help you too. We all need a little more Positive Practice in our lives.

Friday, December 15, 2017

The First Post!

I wanted the first post to be about my story. However, I'm not quite done with it yet. I'm still working on some of the content pieces. While those are coming together, I figured I would start with the design. I have a lot of fun with this part of the process too. I love learning new ways to create and share a message. I'm still learning, but the best way to grow is do. That's what this blog is about, perpetually learning, questioning and exploring. I want to share ideas and connections.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Lammas 2017

I don't know what it is about this time of year, but I am all kinds of restless and distracted. Summer always is that way, at least since I had a kid that started school. The lack of routine and social interaction can lead to those feelings all on their own. However, I realize that life comes with seasons that naturally produce their own sorts of vibrations.

Today is a minor festival in the Wheel of the Year, known as Lammas (or Lughnasadh). It is traditionally celebrated on August 1st and is known as the Festival of the First Harvest. The more I research this ancient celebration, the more I realize I'm not the only one who feels restless this time of year.

I love summer, the only thing I love more than summer is fall, probably because it follows summer. There is something magical that happens in the sunlight and the long days of the hottest months (if you are in the northern hemisphere at least.) But at this point, the mark between the summer solstice and the Autumn equinox, I am finally saturated with Vitamin D and beginning to miss the productivity that school and autumn represent for me.

I read about the history of the Gaelic festival known as Lughnasadh named after the god Lugh. He held a feast and athletic event to honor his mother who died of exhaustion to make way for the agriculture of the Ireland plains. The mythology is fascinating, but still the legend hits home in a subtle way.

We planted a garden this year and are already reaping some of the fruits, specifically tomatoes. The peppers are coming and the herbs have already been supplying us throughout the summer. There is something fulfilling about harvesting food sowed by your own hands. In a world where the supermarket is the closest a field as we come, even this small harvest is significant to me.

It also so happens, that this is known as the time to make bread as the first grains are harvested. We have been making our own bread starter to do just that. I am excited to bake that first loaf. Though, due to other obligations, that will probably have to wait until next week, but still the celebration is still strong in my heart.

There is a restlessness that is natural with the steady quickness of the harvest and the preparation for winter. We are only in the early stages yet, but the sun is setting earlier and earlier in the night sky and I am already anticipating the cooler days and nights to come.

In another place I researched this celebration, it was called the "Tide of Ebb and Flow." I can see that too. I feel like I'm in a sort of limbo. I was excited as summer began. Living in the Pacific Northwest gives me a new appreciation for warmth and sunshine. I grew up in South Carolina and knew heat and summer thunderstorms during the summer months. Now, it is dark and damp most of the year, it is during these precious summer months that I can relax and just be.

Yet, somehow, I feel restless and lost in a way. It is during this day, the Lammas celebration, that I begin to meditate on why I've been feeling this way. I am both sad and excited to see the sun dip lower in the sky earlier in the evening as we head once again toward autumn and the fun of school, football and routine. But I don't want to dismiss this precious time either. I am grateful to the sun and the ability to slow down and live in the moment.

This summer I have lacked focus and decisiveness, but I have gained inspiration in droves that I can't wait to bring into the cool autumn air with hour blocks of time to focus and write once again.

Life is full of seasons and I for one am grateful for their passing and their encouragements to seek contentment in the moment.

This has been a season of both joy and frustration. It is a season of transition, so I expect nothing less. I am thankful for the time, the sun and the harvest. I yearn to grown in this season, in this moment, and bloom in the next. My restlessness is undeniable, yet from it have learned that growth happens when we least expect it and by finding a balance and graciousness for this season I am prepared for the next.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Child & Doll's Nightgown

My daughter, now seven, has grown up with her Granny, my mom, sewing her dresses and pajamas her entire life. I'm sure at this point she just thinks it's normal to wear handmade clothes and accessories. I love that for her. I grew up with the same mentality; however, until recently I had no interested in doing the creating myself.

This year, my creative energy has reached a new high and I have branched out from my go-to form of creation (writing and scrapbooking) into many different styles including sewing, knitting and cross stitch.

My introduction into sewing came in the form of Zoey's encouragement to make her a nightgown with a matching doll gown.

Challenge accepted!

Except I had no idea what I was doing. I fought with my sewing machine, I called my mom and I got really handy with a seam ripper.

Zoey chose a simplicity pattern, number 1129. I'm not sure if it is a beginner level pattern or more intermediate, but I managed to sort through it. She also picked out this cute Tusm Tusm fabric with a light pink trim.

I started by cutting out the pattern and sorting through the pieces. Then I cut the fabric for the entire project: Child's nightgown, baby doll night gown and the eye mask. I continued to cut out the rest of the pattern and sort it by project and store each set in plastic sandwich bags within the pattern envelope so I can keep everything tidy and organized.

I then sat down to start working on the baby doll gown first. I figured since it was smaller, I could figure out the pieces and correct mistakes a little easier. I believe this was a good idea because it took me about two weeks to complete the doll gown. I finally did though, just following the directions, asking questions and looking up a few tutorials online.

I was so excited when I finished the doll's dress. It made me feel like I could actually do this.

In the end, I did it and I think it came out pretty nice.

Ultimately, I had to get to know my sewing machine. Once I understood how to thread the bobbin (I have a very touchy vertical bobbin that I had to look up how to wind at least five times in the process of making this outfit), I was well on my way.

I read the directions on the pattern several times over and had to call my mom for verification on a couple of things. I altered a couple things as well, like not putting a bow on the front, it seemed more trouble than it was worth.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

I Think I Need To Fail More

There is an old saying, "The master has failed more times than you have tried."

I imagine this saying with a meme of Yoda, old and sage, guiding young Skywalker to fulfill his destiny.

photo credit
I laugh along with it, just like everyone else, but then I start to see some truth in his words.

Writing has been a passion of mine for most of my life. I've written about it recently in a post called, Why I Write. But even though I've been writing for years, even being published in newspapers, magazines and literary books, I want more. I want to write a novel. I want to make a career out of writing. The thing I realize it this... I need to fail more.

Which means I need to produce more. Because the result of doing a lot of work is not always grand success. Sometimes it is as simple as finding a process that works, an inspiration that calls, or a motivation that entices me to finish.

I need to write and publish more, without a fear of failure. So what if two out of ten posts are a complete flop. At least I continued my practice of developing ideas and putting them out into the world for review. I can learn from what doesn't work more easily than I can learn from what does. People are always more specific in things they dislike as opposed to things they like.

When someone reads a post or a book they either hate it, nod at it an then move on, or it inspires them to create something of their own. I always aim for the latter, am happy with the nod, but it's from the haters that you can learn to be better at your craft.

Now don't get me wrong, haters are gonna hate. There are going to be people that just don't get you, think completely differently, or are just having a bad day. Nonetheless, there is always constructive criticism worth listening to and developing from. There is no use getting worked up over this, it is all part of the process. It is just another failure on your way to becoming a master of your craft.

I want more of this. Not that I like failing, but to become better, you have to challenge yourself and step out of your comfort zone. This can be hard and you may not be good at it, but keep trying, it will be worth it in the end.

I want to fail more so that I can be better. And because it means I am giving all of myself to my craft. I want to keep working and trying to improve. Most of all, I want keep doing the thing that I love in the hopes of inspiring others to do what they love. If I can do that, for even one person, then all of my strife, rejection and success will be worth it. The simple act of writing is enough for me.

Don't be afraid to fail, be afraid to stop trying to do new things and explore what you love to do.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Exploring Yoga

Photo by Marion Michele on Unsplash, Edits by Amanda McCusker
Though yoga has interested me for many years now, I began practicing in earnest almost three years ago. Yoga has a lot of preconceptions notions surrounding it for different reasons, but I will say this...

Yoga has helped me find a confidence in myself that I have never had before. It has reduced my anxiety and shown me that self-care is essential to being better to the people around me. I have gained strength and flexibility that I didn't know I could achieve. I have lost weight, but the greatest victory for me is the pleasure I find in the everyday.

Life is hard. There is no way around it. There are all kinds of crazy things happening around us on a world, national and personal scale. However, there are also wonderful, kind things happening simultaneously in all of those places. We have to focus on the compassion and light up the dark with the brilliance of our energy.

By linking my breath with my body, I am able to slow down my mind and process my surroundings more freely. I am able to be present in this moment and let go of all the things that distract or frustrate me as well as all the clutter and superfluous things that just get in my way.

By being consistently aware of my surroundings, I can face an encounter head on. Once I define a problem, I can solve it, or a need, I can fill it. Whether it is from a person or a process that I need to supply. Everything around me has a purpose, it serves a function or it just makes me happy when I see it.

Yoga has changed my whole world. I can now touch my toes and beyond, but I can also feel the calm contentment in my heart. I know I can handle anything that comes along, which allows me to stop worrying so much.

There's a lot of depth to the study of yoga. Beyond all those poses on the poster. There's the 8 Limbs of Yoga, which serve as the foundation to gain peace of mind. There are the Chakras, which help you identify how you are spending your energy. The poses themselves also have history and benefits when doing one versus the other.

I intend to dive deeper into these philosophies so I can share the many ways yoga has helped me become more secure and active. More on that to come soon.




Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The Balance of Inspiration and Motivation

Any project, big or small, needs both inspiration and motivation to complete. I apply this directly to my writing, but honestly it pertains to my hobbies as well.

Inspiration is an animating action or influence for creation, providing a reason to start a project. I find insight in my writing, but also in my yoga practice, my cross stitch, my painting, my cooking, and my reading. Honestly, the list could go on. I find an idea to explore and give myself room to do just that. Inspiration helps me convey a concept, at the very least it gives me a reason to try something new or do something that I already love.

Motivation is having a strong reason to accomplish a task. This is what you need to finish a project. I've seen numerous motivation posters calling to make it to end of the race or the day. It is what makes you persist through the doubts and setbacks. It is what we need to be able to share a complete idea or product with others.

You need both. It must be a balance. The inspiration begins the journey and the motivation sees it through. It can work in any medium; however, I apply it most to my writing. I get a thought, or spark an idea and want to move forward and find the right combination of words to aptly share that idea with others.

However, life gets in the way, constantly. I get distracted and nothing makes sense. Someone needs me or I have another project that needs to be priority. Some days I'm just too tired to even bother. Those days without motivation irk me as much as the days without inspiration.

Sometimes I am ready to work, I have the motivation, but I can't decide what to work on or where to go next within a project. I lack the inspirational influence to create something new. I steadily write notes that surround me, but it seems if I wait too long to expand on an idea it floats away never to return.

The balance between inspiration and motivation is difficult, I'm not going to lie. It remains a consistent struggle. To create a habit of writing that is continuously seeking new input and refining designs for output, is the key to be able to do it forever.

This habit is still in progress for me, but I'm becoming more confident in my abilities. I'm starting to see where I need to reach for to make my passion into a force to be reckoned with. There will always be good days and bad days. Projects that shine and others that fall flat. But that is okay and it is part of the process. Some things work and some don't, but you have to keep trying. Don't fear incorporating new things into your practice and yearn to grow as an artist and as a person. You never know how far you will go when you seek both inspiration and motivation.

Try, fail, and then keep moving forward. Be inspired and be motivated to share it with the world. Now go!

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

{A Poem} There Is A Place

There is a place that is just for you.
I believe it to be true.
One that comes alive,
where you enjoy the view.

Sometimes it is far away.
Sometimes, it's right where you left it.
The first place you seek
Or the last space you look.

If you pursue your heart
it will lead you there,
to the perfect place
where you'll finally care.

Or care a little less
and be able to share
your true self
the one you are still trying to find

Then once you find it
enjoy it
and hold on
because one day you may have to find it again.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Novel: Leap of Faith

The inspiration for this novel slapped me in the face during a rare getaway experience in Las Vegas, Nevada. This excursion was the first trip I have taken on the West Coast that wasn't immediately surrounding Seattle, WA where we moved almost three years ago. I went with my best friend, we've known each other since we were four, and had the time of our lives.

I had never been to Las Vegas before and found it fascinating. The expansiveness of lights and sounds overwhelms the senses. People from all over the world come to this city, for many reasons. There's the gambling of course, but I wasn't very interested in that.

Fine dinning also brings a lot of tourism to the city. I heard about the food scene, of course, but still, I didn't expect it to be so sensational. We ate at Carlos' bakery, most well know as Cake Boss and Buddy V's Ristorante. They were both indescribable, a real treat. Of course we also ate at Chili's, but there is something amazing about chili cheese fries as a pick me up after walking miles in the heat on a Wednesday afternoon.

Another favorite for Vegas tourists are plentiful and diverse shows. Everything from music to theater, dance to illusionists, aquariums and so many Cirque Du Soleil shows you could see a different one everyday of the week. We enjoyed Mystere tremendously. The entire show fantastically stimulated all the senses and I eagerly absorbed every moment.

In the afterglow of all of these wondrous encounters, I realized the other allure to the city. Las Vegas is a location that doesn't follow the rules; a rebel with a reputation for extravagance. You can drink on the streets and dress in any way and you would not stand out, simply by the extreme range of diversity.

In a city where anything goes, I could imagine it easily becoming a sanctuary for people trying to find something absolutely unique. But then, what happens when you don't find it? Do you move on to keep looking or do you get stuck?

In Leap of Faith, Aria is down on her luck. After a series of bad choices and irrational circumstances she seeks out a place so different from where she began that she doesn't even recognize herself anymore. The move from South Carolina to Las Vegas, Nevada was supposed to be an adventure to find herself. It started out amazing, but after almost three years of mediocre accomplishment, she begins to wonder what she's even looking for anymore.

Roman is an easy going software engineer who just hit his big break with a promotion and his first out-of-state convention to represent the company. All of his work finally paid off. It's all he's focused on since his father passed away his senior year of high school. Now that he has everything he's wanted, is there anything else to look for too?

On an irregular night with longtime friends, Aria experiences an encounter that she can't quite explain, but somehow knows it's exactly what she's been looking for all these years. Roman hasn't looked up from his books or his despair for so long that the trip to Las Vegas opens his eyes and his heart in ways that he couldn't even imagine.

A chance meeting between two very paradoxical people changes both of their lives forever. But what happens when the night ends? They are two different people living on opposite sides of the country. Is that the end for them, or will they consider taking a leap of faith?

Leap of Faith will be my first publish-ready book. I'm currently in the editing stages of this project learning as I go what it takes to finish writing a book. This is an incredible journey and a dream in the making. I hope to begin deciding on my publishing process by Autumn of 2017.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Why I Write

I have been writing ever since I was young. I don't know when I started, it has always been a constant in my life. When life gets rough, I reach for a pen and scribble my grievances. When joy overwhelms me, the ink flows freely still.

I know I have always tried to figure out how people work. I was not exactly a loner, but I enjoyed observing others. I always looked for a connection. And most of the time, I found one.

I don't write to make money. I don't write to gain fame. I write because I enjoy a good story.

Life is hard. It doesn't matter who you are or what you do, living brings daily challenges. Life is a series of bad days and good experiences. But this is the one thing that we all have in common. The trouble is that we forget that we are not the only ones with troubles.

I believe storytelling is a way to bridge that gap. Through the power of words we can connect. '

"The names and faces change, but the story stays the same." This is a mantra I have heard my entire life. The longer I live, the more I believe it. I am in my thirties now and I still remember thinking that was the ancient years. To my daughter I am. And yet, I still feel young, and more inspired now than ever before. Experience, both good and bad, has allowed me to make connections with the world, the people within it and the systems that govern it.

I write because it is a part of me. I write because a good story transcends segregation. I write because I am thrilled by the idea of always connecting, evolving and learning just a little more than I knew before, especially about myself.

People always say to follow your passions. However, how do you know what that is? I suppose writing is a passion, but to me it feels like more of a lifeline. Without putting words on paper, I am lost. It is how I make sense of my surroundings. It is how I understand emotions. And it is how I relate to others.

What do you do? Writing is only one form of creative expression. Any way that you connect with the world and with yourself. Creativity is a very powerful skill, no matter what style you use. It can save you from a wild spiral into self-destruction.

The crux is, it can sent you there too. Look at all the writers and artists who have suffered over the centuries. The creative process is powerful, and yet necessary, for ourselves and the world beyond us. What then are we suppose to do with this double-edged sword?

Wield it. What else are we suppose to do?

The creative process can be summed up in one word., adventure. I don't know what that means for you, but for me it means hiking up to the peaks of innovation only to slide down the avalanche of self-doubt to discover a trail once again that you didn't even know existed.

Creativity is a wondrous world. One which I hope every soul can experience. Whatever your creative endeavors, believe in yourself and they will see you through.

Why do I write? It's simple. Because to not to would be absolute absurdity.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Celebrate Small Victories

It is amazing how easy it is to get overwhelmed while working on a big project. Have you ever noticed that? I'm in the middle of editing a novel, trying to prepare it for publication, and the amount of work that needs to be done is staggering. One day I feel like I have it all figured out needing only time and the next I feel crushed under the weight of expectation.

I relate to this phenomenon in response to more than just writing my novel. Building the foundations of this Website has spurred despaired feelings as well as several other crafting and life projects. The point is, it doesn't take much to rouse self-doubt.

Don't fear! There is a way through this paralyzing reaction.

My approach is to take a very large project and break it down into many very small steps. Then, if possible, split those steps into even smaller steps. The goal is to make each item on the list so minuscule that it would seem silly not to get it finished today.

A substantial project will take a great amount of time no matter what way you look at it. Take the time to section off what needs to happen within the time frame you intend to finish and make each item an accomplishment you can achieve within the amount of time you can work on it in one day. By breaking down a daunting task into easily manageable pieces, doing any action on it feels like a very productive endeavor.

Now, celebrate that victory!

This concept is helping me really keep moving on editing my novel. It is the motivation to drive you from one day to the next. As long as you keep those tiny goals you set, you will be well on your way to accomplishing your larger venture.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Monday, March 13, 2017

Introducing Chakras

Sharing my Positive Practice has been a stimulating venture and I look forward to what this idea will evolve into as I continue on this journey.

I seek inspiration in all kinds of places. One that has been very near and dear to my heart over the course of the past year is yoga. I began practicing in earnest last summer and I have passionately sought out wisdom to deepen my practice. 

Over the next couple weeks I want to share the Seven Chakras with you and what I have learned from them. The Chakras are energy points along the spine that are believed to hold spiritual power. They are in essence a link between the body and mind where our energy flows.

The Seven Chakras are:
  1. Root Chakra - our foundation and stability
  2. Sacral Chakra - our ability accept new experiences
  3. Solar Plexus Chakra - our confidence
  4. Heart Chakra - our ability to love
  5. Throat Chakra - our ability to communicate
  6. Third Eye Chakra - our ability to focus and see "the big picture"
  7. Crown Chakra - our ability to connect spiritually
When our Chakras flow freely, we feel confident and can express ourselves easily. However, when an energy point gets blocked, it can change our entire mood and attitude.

Chakras are a way to see the world and my place in it visually. I enjoy learning more about these different components and how being confident or able to see "the big picture" affects my day to day experiences. 

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Make A Mark, and Start Your Story

“Make a mark, and start your story.” ~Author Unknown

I read this quote somewhere about a month ago and it made a significant impression on me.

It is interesting to me where and how we receive inspiration. I am awed by artists who create brilliant works of art and cast them out in the void for all to see and judge. I am still often times paralyzed by the idea of sharing my art and writing.

My most challenging obstacle is the beginning. Usually, if I can just begin, the process builds on itself and I can simply enjoy the flow. However, that first mark sets the tone and guides your way. That first mark is intimidating.

All it takes is a mark and your story will begin to tumble out of you. Whatever your art form, whether it is your profession or a passing hobby, don’t be afraid to make that first mark. The journey you begin is worth any risk because in the end, life and art, are simply practice. Focus that practice into something positive and enjoy the ride.

This segment of my blog, “Positive Practice,” is my mark to begin my journey in publishing. I am excited to see where it will lead.

Where are you heading? Have you made your mark to start your story? What are you waiting for?

Monday, March 6, 2017

Slow Down and Enjoy This Moment

Life moves fast, and I don't know about you, but I often find myself lost in the hurried pace. I think it is about time to take the reigns of our lives and slow down a little.

I get it, there are appointments and deadlines that fill my calendar too. Nonetheless, in the race of the everyday toil that is life, let's not get set adrift by the tedium that makes this day feel like the next. Instead, take a minute and look up, at least once each day, and intentionally enjoy where you are at. Remember why you are there to begin with.

When our daily pace leans into a gallop, we will begin to miss stuff. Instead of racing by, take a look at the scenery around you. Wherever you are, find beauty in it, or even, create beauty to leave there for others to find.

I don't like the sense of feeling disoriented that comes when I'm trying to keep up with an endless to-do list. I end up just feeling...not enough. I forget why I'm going through the motions in the first place and lack that sense of accomplishment. I begin to feel untethered and breeds the way for stress to come waltzing into my mind.

I don't want stress. I want to find rest and inspiration in those pauses in between junctures instead of anxiety. I want confidence and peace as I flow through my days. I want to slow down and keep my priorities in order. I want to enjoy each moment and live it fully.

I challenge you and myself, as we begin this week, to slow down and truly enjoy the moment you are in.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Overcoming Cabin Fever

It has been a cold, wet winter here in Seattle and I find when I get cold I tend to hibernate. Like a bear, I eat to gain warmth, I hide away in a cave (or in my case, our new house where the heat is consistently on) and I don't tend to see many people.

This time of year as I impatiently anticipate spring, I begin to notice a crankiness that wasn't there before. I realize, I am not meant to be holed up like this for so long and promptly diagnosed myself with cabin fever.

This ache is sadly perpetual for me as the cold days of February turn into the cold days of March. I think it is generally common for many during this time of year, especially who live in cold weather climates. From experience, I know if not treated with interaction and exercise, it will manifest into depression.

I am trying to overcome this before it takes root. For me the answer is to not miss my yoga class, no matter how much I just want to stay in where it is warm. I also go out of my way to invite friends out for coffee or lunch so I spend time with people who inspire me. And I write, a lot.

So I appreciate you reading my ramblings because I know I’m not alone in the dealing with the melancholy of winter. Instead of turning inward this year, I want to reach out and connect with others. This is a start. What do you do to overcome the cold and isolation that winter brings?

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Eat What Makes You Happy

"Eat what makes you happy" seems like an encouraging, yet dangerous phrase. I have suffered from the habit of "comfort eating" my entire life. As a result, I was also overweight most of my life. It took a move across the country and an extensive lifestyle change to break that habit.

On the other hand, food is a delight and there is no need to deny yourself bites that you enjoy. The trick is self-control, which is hard no matter what you are talking about. Food is on the long list of objects demanding self-discipline.

Our ability to set limits on ourselves opens up all kinds of opportunities. If I can go to the store to look without blowing my budget, it makes shopping a pleasure I can afford to do more often. If I can watch one episode of Once Upon A Time without marathoning the entire season, I will have more chances to look forward to a good show without it cutting into my writing time. Similarly, if I can open a bag of chips and eat just one serving instead of the entire bag, it's not something I really benefit from denying myself once in a while.

So my point is, yes, eat what makes you happy. Have a small handful of chips or that piece of dark, savory chocolate. (My weakness currently is Girl Scout Cookies.) Just remember, a little goes a long way. And at the end of the day, making healthy choices for yourself will make your happy everlasting.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Happiness Comes From WIthin

If you are like me, you often look to external things to make you feel happy and loved. I seek out people, food, or even a serene place to have a moment of contentment.

The crux is, people are busy with their own lives, food (even healthy food) is no longer nourishing in large amounts, and those places are sometimes more peaceful in my head than in reality.

We naturally spend a lot of energy seeking love and acceptance from others. However, I want to point out, you have that love and joy with you all the time. You can receive it from yourself.

True happiness is in each of us, we only have to know how to find it. Stop wishing for things to be different and begin accepting and appreciating the reality of what is. If you seek improvement, make a plan and then give yourself time to reach that goal.

Be present in this moment and find contentment in whatever you are doing, wherever you are at and whomever you are with. Don't wait until later because "later" is a wish that never truly comes to pass.

Choose to be happy, here and now. Then, as you move forward, your happiness comes with you.

Monday, February 27, 2017

More and More You

“The thing about meditation is: you become more and more you.” ~David Lynch

Meditation is a big word that sounds intimidating. It reminds me of monks sitting cross legged with their hands in prayer saying “OM.” And though, you can meditate in that way, the act of meditation is so much more than that.

Meditation is simply a continued or extended thought, reflection or contemplation. For me, meditation brings a stillness to my mind that allows me to focus on what my priorities are and let go of all the other clutter bouncing around in my mind.

The act of meditation is simple, but the practice is much harder. By this I mean that it takes a conscious dedication to turn a simple act into a habit that can have a lasting affect on your life and attitude.

Moments of anxiety, frustration, and rush are almost expected within our busy days. What if peace, calm and intentional living are expected instead. This does not mean there will not be hard and busy days, but it is a way to make those days manageable and even enjoyable.

Meditation does not turn you into someone else, it simply allows you to accept who you truly are and be able to move more smoothly through the obstacles life throws at you.

Start with just a moment to tune out all the numerous distractions and focus on your top priority in that moment or maybe for the day. By being able to remove the clutter from your mind you will be able to think clearer, move freer and be the best you possibly imaginable.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Go Confidently and Live

“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.” ~Henry David Thoreau

This is a quote filled with inspiration. Be confident! Live your dream! Be all that you imagined! These are words that make me feel wonder and delight, but only abstractly. How do you make all your dreams come true?

Short answer: hard work and planning.

I want to break this quote down to turn the abstract vision into a tangible intention:

“Go confidently”

I think this is the most important part of the entire idea. You must believe you can. If you don’t think you can achieve your dreams then you never will. It’s as simple as that. I’ve had a tough time with self-doubt, especially in my career as a writer. That simple block can keep you from doing so many great things or, if I’m honest, anything.

“In the direction of your dreams.”

Did you read that? As long as you are going in the right direction and always moving forward, you are doing all you can in this moment. There is so much to learn from the journey and sometimes you even find new directions, but it all leads to your dream. There is little reward in reaching your destination if you don’t have a story about how you got there, or learned anything along the way. Those are the important moments, the ones that make you who you are and your dreams so fulfilling.

“Life the life you have imagined.”

First off, what do you imagine? Create a clear picture in your head. One of the easiest ways to get lost on a journey is to not have a good idea of where you are going. If you know where you are headed you can begin with a map. This doesn’t necessarily mean you need step by step directions with calculated turns, but it does mean that you need a plan. You have to give yourself the right tools to work with and a direction to head.

Give yourself time and don’t forget about the hard work. Your dreams are not going to fall into your lap. Even a good opportunity takes time and effort to be fulfilled. Don’t get discouraged or distracted. Just keep heading in the direction of your dreams, be confident in your intention and you will live the life you imagine, not only when you reach your dreams, but every moment along the way.

Popular Posts