Embracing Author and Publisher

Monday, December 31, 2018

The Sound of Bliss in CenturyLink Field

Cardinals vs Seahawks @ CenturyLink Field
Photo thanks to Amanda McCusker

We had the amazing opportunity to go to a Seattle Seahawks game in CenturyLink Field. It's the last week of the NFL regular season against the Arizona Cardinals. It was an incredible game, which the Seahawks won!

What struck me most about the experience was the sound. The stadium is built to amplify sound and the Seattle crowd knows how to harness the power and direct it into the game. During defensive plays, the stadium is deafening. During offensive plays, you can almost hear what Wilson is calling on the field it is so quiet.

Opposing teams average 2.36 false starts per game at CenturyLink Field. You can tell how the crowd affects the plays, it is a remarkable tactic. It makes sense why the Seahawks retired the number 12 to dedicate it to the fans who play the 12th man.

In the middle of all that focused energy, I closed my eyes. I could hear a pulse, a vibration, to the sound that made me feel elated, light as air and vibrating a little myself.

This euphoria is not an unknown feeling. Have you ever been to a concert or performance and the sounds and energy seem to go beyond that space and come from everywhere? I remember a few praise and worship moments, in church or with a group, where you could feel the divine reach out and caress your soul.

In yoga, we call that sound of bliss "OM." It is a sound and symbol rich in meaning and depth that is described as the sacred, universal sound of the universe. It is the moment when all tones, voices and energy align causing the sound to vibrate to a point of bliss.

The crowd in the stadium hit this sound and then projected it towards the plays happening on the field. It was an incredible feeling to be connected to so many people at one time. It was an experience I will cherish and lean on when I am feeling isolated in my own mind.

I even have it on video to remember it by:

Have you ever had this feeling of bliss, or euphoria? Where were you and how did it make you feel?

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Making Some Daily Habit Adjustments

Photo by Jonathan Klok on Unsplash

I looked at the calendar today and realized that there are only two more days until the new year. It is just another day, though a recognized bank holiday, that you can wake up and start fresh. You can do that any day. However, the new year is also a benchmark in time to consider how much has changed since the beginning of last year. I don't know about you, but my world has changed a lot.

Since the beginning of 2018 I have moved residents, began homeschooling my daughter, made a new commitment to publishing my novel and strived to find balance and confidence in my life. I have been more healthy in this past year than I have been in my entire life. I feel good and I am trying so hard to keep working towards my goals and consistently make improvements in my life.

The process is hard. Sitting down and doing the work is hard. Keeping the house and family running smoothly is hard. Trying to keep anxiety to a dull hum is hard. Taking time for self-care is hard. I'm not sure why it takes us by surprise, but life is hard.

At least as I realize how hard life really is, I am also discovering that I am strong enough to take it on. I have the support of people who believe in me and I am actively trying to change my habits to create a lifestyle of inspiration, peace and resilience.

In doing this, I am trying to change small daily habits.

One is to stop apologizing for things outside of my control. I hear myself apologizing because the red light didn't change fast enough or the store was out of our favorite flavor of potato chips. I can't control this, there is no reason for me to be sorry. In fact, it degrades my self-worth. I want to be sorry when I do something inconsiderate and it really matters. I want my apologies to be meaningful, not frivolous and I want to lift my self-esteem, not tank it.

Another small change is to answer in confidence instead of meekness. I've realized a lot of my indecision stems from my anxiety. I don't know which outcome or item will be better. The crux is that neither are better (in most mundane situations), but it a decision that must be made to be able to move forward. I am trying to trust that lean in one direction and just go with it without worrying what other people will think about it.

As a result of answering with confidence I am gaining a calm in my mind. To aid in this, I am getting rid of as many distractions as possible. I have very little contact with social media or things like that. I check my email once in the morning and then stop worrying about it for the day (unless I am waiting on a reply for something important I suppose, but that is rare.) I do my best, that's all I can do. That's all anyone can do.

I am also trying to focus on one thing at a time. It seems counter-intuitive in this society to not multitask, but I find I do a better, more concentrated, thorough and peaceful job at my tasks if I use my full attention on them. This goes for working, writing, reading, cooking, spending time with my family, even for walking or waiting in line. I take that time to observe my surroundings and the (mostly) amazing people I share this city with. There is a great joy in being entirely where you are.

As the new year quickly approaches, I am trying these adjustments. I've been working them in one at a time over the past couple weeks and I am finding great improvements to my mood, productivity and energy levels. I am ready for these changes and I am looking forward to the potential of what this new year has in store. 

Are you making any new year's changes in your life? What are you seeking during the next year?

Friday, December 28, 2018

Celebrate Something Today

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

I've recently had this calm come over me. As an anxious person, this is a pretty big deal. There was no great revelation or anything, just a good feeling that settled in. Thinking back through my day, it seems I had a great yoga class and have been able to keep the balance I gained with me.

In my yoga classes, the instructor often has some sort of message or intention to share. On this particular day, the message was about celebrating something everyday. It doesn't have to be anything big; it's the small things that really matter anyway.

She shared that this inspiration came after hearing a loved one was diagnosed with cancer. I also had a friend's mom recently diagnosed with cancer. It is scary how often you hear about this type of thing. It makes you feel like life is a waiting game, eventually something bad happens.

This is where my mind goes, that is why I am constantly reading inspiring quotes and seek out positive in everything - like yoga. My instructor said that it was a heavy holiday, but even more than that, she was inspired by the perspective.

Instead of falling into despair, live every day of your life like it is the most precious day in the world. Be in this moment and celebrate something everyday.

It could be something big like a holiday or accomplishment, but more often, it is those quiet moments  -- like when you finally get the library books back before they are due, when you made a really good batch of mashed potatoes from scratch, when you got a new game and really enjoy playing it, or when you had a good conversation with a friend. All of these things have happened in the last few days and I am celebrating.

There's something good happening, even if you can't see it yet. Sometimes you have to flip your perspective to see a positive spin, but that's okay. Take the day and really see it, the good moments and the ones you wish you did something differently. Learning and growing in your own journey is worth great celebration.

What can you celebrate today?

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Looking Forward to a New Year

Photo by Hombre on Unsplash

Hello dear readers,

I have to share with you today my joy of organizing. In fact, I am obsessed. I recently wrote about this in a post called OCD or Organized? That is the Question after realizing that I may be over doing my systematizing.

I am taking it a step further today, by sharing that yes, I indeed have a problem - and it's not OCD. I keep trying all of these ways to organize my productivity, meaning my thoughts and ideas for writing, my novel, my homeschool records, and my recipe book in particular. I've tried notebooks, note cards, online document, apps and nothing seems to be working.

My husband, with a chuckle, reminded me that any of those methods are fine, I just have to do the work and keep putting it together so I can build on it. I took most of the day to process this information.

I have decided binders are the way for me to store and expand data. I like several aspects of this system. For one, I enjoy the ability to have online and hand written entries mixed together, especially as I am actively developing ideas. I like being able to move them around as I wish and update them to recycle previous iterations. I like everything being in one place that I can get to and store easily. A binder does all of these things.

However, that discovery is only one aspect of this challenge. Now I have to do the work. Not only putting the information in the system, but then letting it rest. I need to be able to reliably go back to the material, knowing I have the most updated copies of my work and I will be able to find what I am looking for.

I don't feel like I am productive unless I'm running myself crazy. This is a perspective I must shift. There is lots going on, even while I am resting. For it is in these quiet moments that the next development often becomes apparent. I need to balance my time for work, rest and life by clearing away the clutter - both physical and mental.

So, that is what I am doing. The first step is to pack away all the Christmas decorations. This is always a slightly sad thing, especially the lights, but it is necessary. Then I have several piles of untouched materials that need going through so they are not in my way or a distraction. This time between Christmas and New Years is the perfect intermission to take care of these things.

My intention is to wait until the first of the year to start on my focused revisions for my novel, but I find myself seeking it out. I finished going through my files so everything is up to date and ready for the next step. This makes me so happy. It's a tangible step forward and I'm ready to go.

I need this time of organization to help me set myself up for success. I am proving to myself that I can stay calm, I can be still, I can be productive and still rest. I can be there for myself, my husband and my daughter. I can do it, I just have to stay organized. This is where it all starts, a whole new year. I am so looking forward to it.

What are you looking forward to for this upcoming year? How are you preparing yourself for it? I am sending you warm blessings of clarity, encouragement and confidence to help you on your way.


Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Post Christmas Intermission

Photo by Kira auf der Heide on Unsplash

Hello dear readers,

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas!

We greatly enjoyed ourselves. We slept late, opened a few gifts, then played games and ate delicious food all day. It was a perfect, cozy Christmas. We were able to talk to some family who live on the other coast and set up our new aquarium.

I'm really excited about getting fish. I believe having an aquarium in the house will be a huge benefit to us. Not only is it calming and a learning opportunity for all of us, but we are also making an aquaponics system. Basically, we are creating a closed system where the fish help fertilize plants as the plants feed the fish. We've been wanting to try this technique out for a while as an option to have an herb garden indoors.

Honestly, I love this time of year. If we are lucky, we are able to take a small pause between Christmas and New Years. I know this isn't the case for everyone, just like many people travel and are away from home on Christmas. But, it is an important time for my family to take a big breath and just enjoy this moment. We play games and build Lego sets. I usually clean up the kitchen to include the new gadgets and knickknacks I received to add to it this year.

This is a huge time of reflection for me. I really look at what I want to accomplish in the next year and figure out how to get there. It amazes me how much of my struggle comes from getting in my own way. I need to shovel the path by setting intentions and clearing out the clutter.

I've been looking at some old writings and systems that I've pushed aside and evolved, yet I am still hanging onto those ideas. I don't know why. I don't need that stuff anymore, it is no longer useful. Some is worth keeping to remember a particular thought or moment, but most of it is just collecting dust -- agitating my mind and work space. It's time to let all of that go so I can get out of my own way and really accomplish what I set out to do.

What do you need to get rid of this season to make way for the next?

I encourage you to think about it. That change is not necessarily anything big either, just the little things. In many ways, it's the habits you change that matter as much or more than the physical items. Get up a little earlier to start the day awake and ready. Journal or meditate before checking emails. Make your coffee at home to reduce you spending and sugar intake. Throw away the cheap pens and get some nice ones. Change that boring item sitting somewhere in your life to one that will make you smile. Print out some pictures and spruce up your work space.

Pay attention to the flow of your area, especially in the kitchen and where you work. Make sure you have what you need where you need it. Make your tools easy to get to and easy to put away. Recycle all the discarded ideas, broken tools and go through that pile you have been meaning to for forever. My goal in life is to keep a flat surface clean. I'll tell you, I haven't done it yet, but it is an aspiration that keeps me actively going through my backlogs.

It's the day after Christmas, you made it! First, it is time for a deep breath -- in through the nose, out through the mouth.

Now readers, it's time for the rest of your life. Make it a good one.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Merry Christmas 2018

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

I wish you and all of yours a very merry Christmas!

Christmas has come like a flash this year, even though it seemed like it would never get here. There is something fun about staring at a Christmas tree with a few surprises under it to share with the people you love. Often times the gifts are something we need, or want but wouldn't get ourselves. Sometimes they are just fun, but the important thing is, it is a day to come together to share, laugh and play.

I am so grateful this year for my family. The three of us are pretty close-knit and have celebrated Christmas together as a family since our daughter was born nine years ago. Nonetheless, we have family all over the United States it seems. I now send Christmas cards to nine different states. We love you all and wish you the best day filled with love and blessings.

I am thankful to be able to send out good tidings to the world. This is a time, at least in this country, that we really need it. No matter your belief, this is a time of year that brings out the best and worst in people. I am choosing to find the best in myself. What about you?

Happy Holidays to you where ever you are. May this day bring you cheer and joy.

Monday, December 24, 2018

OCD or Organized? That is the Question.

Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash

I often wonder if there is ever a time where you can be too organized. I'm not sure the answer, but I do know I can't seem to stay organized because I keep changing my organizing pattern. I think I have a problem with just letting my systems be.

I'm beginning to wonder if the reason I can't seem to finish anything is because I spend too much time taking it from table "A" and moving it to table "B" and sometimes even back again. This is the case for so many things: recipe books, my writing ideas, my story details, my homeschool record keeping and even my own daily writing routine notes. I keep changing my methods so I never feel stable in my system.

I'm sure there is some sort of psychoanalytical conclusion you could draw from that. Some underlying factor that will inevitably have to do with anxiety or OCD or perhaps simply not being able to let myself be.

The real pickle is, I don't know what to do about this one. Before I can even get settled, I think of a better way to keep something. The only thing is, then I don't get much done because instead of working the problem forward I am just spending my time spinning around in circles. I wonder why a hamster does it? Is it just for exercise? Is it peaceful somehow? Is it some quest for natural survival?

Okay, I may be looking a little too much into this. Still, I like to look at my habits and try to figure out why I do the things I do. Organizing continuously seems to be a way that I assure myself that everything is going well. If it's not, at least I can change it.

Do you have anything like that? Something that you do consistently and don't really understand why. Do you ever wonder if that is the thing holding you back from doing something more? Maybe not, maybe that's just me. But it's something to think about.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Anxiety Doesn't Stop For Christmas

Photo by Tyler Delgado on Unsplash

The strangest thing happened to me yesterday, I felt my anxiety spike in a way I could not control. It was a crazy feeling to feel so disoriented. I explained it to my husband by describing how my head was yelling at me from the inside. I felt a weird sort of panic lying just under the surface of my conscious thought - my mind refused to think rationally.

I don't even know what set it off. We were discussing what we wanted to cook for Christmas dinner and weren't really coming to any cohesive conclusion. We were all getting frustrated and sort of let it be for the moment. But for some reason, I couldn't get the grievance out of my head. I want so badly for Christmas to go well, that I'm making myself crazy about it.

Something I've recently realized about Christmas is that it is the most anticipated day of the year. We start counting it down twenty-five days before it happens. It's still a few days off and I'm just ready for it to come so I can relax and not worry about it anymore. The anticipation creates a sort of underlying tension for me, which exasperates my anxiety.

It is a good kind of anticipation though. I'm excited for this year. Everything is already wrapped and ready to go. We are all ready to share the surprises we have chosen for each other. Eventually, we did figure out a Christmas menu with the added benefit of using the crock pot so we don't have to cook all day.

I took a walk down the street to this lookout point where you can see both the Space Needle and behind it the Olympic Mountains. It was a beautiful view. Though chilly, there was no rain this afternoon allowing a clear look at the snow covered mountains. The breath of fresh air really helped calm my anxiety down. I had to pay attention for the rest of the afternoon and remember to let go of my expectation of the outcome; to simply be in this moment and let those future moments take care of themselves once they get here.

It amazes me how much our expectation is the cause of our struggles. I want some to happen in a particular way and if it doesn't, which let's be honest nothing ever really occurs the way we think it will or should, then I feel guilty, disappointed or lost. I am trying to learn to let go of what I want the time to be and just appreciate what it has to offer in this moment.

I am grateful for my growth. Not very long ago, that kind of panic attack would have put me down for the whole day, or longer. This time, it was only a couple hours before I climbed out of my fears. This is something I am learning about myself - how to break out of this downward spiral of dread.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Winter Solstice Reflections

Photo by Denys Nevozhai on Unsplash

Winter offers the ideal setting for reflections, which lines up perfectly with the new year. I have been meditating leading up to this season, asking myself what intention I want to set for myself next year and how am I going to get there.

My goal, ultimately, is to publish my novel. I am at the point now where it would hurt worse for me not to finish it than it would to publish it and see it flop, or no one read it at all. I am defining my success in this endeavor as finishing the process. It has been an uphill climb to figure out how to accomplish this big of a project. It is taking a while, but I am learning so much along the way.

I don't know if it is precisely related, but I've had a realization about myself during these winter reflections. Most of my anxiety comes from freezing, undecided between fight and flight. I am the definition of a deer in the headlights.

Though I didn't define it until much later in life, anxiety has always been with me. Often causing me to hesitate and back down. Trust me, I was never the first one to go off a diving board, if I ever went at all.

I think this mentality is giving me a hard time with the completion of my novel. It is, after all, a long list of endless decisions about simple and complex things. I debate too long over little things and often want to change details after I've already gotten well through the manuscript.

I'm trying to change this anxiety, at least calm it down a little bit. I want to do this risky thing. Putting my story, my creation, out into the world is a scary thing. There is always this fear of not being accepted. It took me a long time to be able to want this bad enough to begin to overlook people's judgments. I am ready for a break through, that is what my new year is all about.

I am looking to overcome my anxiety with a strong daily routine of purpose, productivity and self-care. I have a lot of things I want to do and being organized and healthy is how I am going to get there. This isn't going to be easy, but I know I am strong. I am ready to find my voice.

Do you take some time from the holiday craziness to reflect on your year and set intentions for the next? I would love to hear about some of your aspirations. No matter what, always remember that you are strong and powerful. I wish peace for you and yours this holiday.

Friday, December 21, 2018

Almost Winter Day

Photo by Atle Mo on Unsplash

It is very much a winter day. We still have one more day until the Winter Solstice, and yet, I am already longing for spring. The days in the Pacific Northwest tend to run together in an eternal gray. Even during the day if the sun does peek out of the blanket of clouds, it is only for a short, blinding moment.

Yesterday, our power went out for a little over three hours due to an intense wind storm that knocked out power all over the city. In the end, it didn't really affect me all that much, but it sealed in winter as it slowly got colder in the house as the day wore on. I also can't believe how dark it is in the middle of the afternoon without lights on in the house.

Earlier that day in my morning routine, I was challenged to find something I love about the winter season. I have to be honest, that one is hard for me. This time of year, I struggle to keep moving when all I want to do is hibernate like a bear. I think I am solar powered because as the darkness increases, my motivation and focus decrease. I am intentionally working on improving that this year, but that's not the point.

The point is...I had to think really hard about what I could like about winter. The thing I like most about this time of year is when I get to curl up in a blanket with a cup of hot tea and read. I do that all year long, but it is especially satisfying in the winter. In fact, it was a wonderful way to spend the afternoon during our power outage yesterday - I am thankful for my Kindle with its back light and long life batteries.

It was funny the other night, I watched Ellen DeGeneres's stand up "Relatable" on Netflix (it was great by the way, I highly recommend it) and she uses this set up as an intro to her idioms bit. She asks who really takes a book and goes to curl up and read? I wanted to raise my hand high. I suppose every phrase has some sort of kernel of truth, at least this literary stereotype is one I don't mind.

All of this is going on in my head as I am adding layers and wishing I could heat up some water to make tea and toast Mother Nature on powering down half of Seattle for the better part of the afternoon.

After sorting through my cynicism, thank you meditation, I realized there is another thing I like about winter...and hot tea. It is a time for introspection. The darkness does not get me moving, but it does get me thinking--always a scary thing.

This is the time of year that I begin to make plans for the next year. I look at what has worked and what has not over the past year so I can make better choices moving forward. I'm finding the places I'm stuck and I'm trying to break through. I suppose that is at least something to be grateful for.

As the days get darker, I think about how it will all turn around before I know it. The rains will stop, the sun will come out and my power will come on. I will be back to my old self, running around and doing a million things all at once. But for right now, I am going to enjoy this time of rest to organize myself so I can make that break through next year.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

It's Time for a Breakthrough

Photo by Will Bolding on Unsplash

It's been over a month since I've posted and yet again, I have had a change in perspective. Honestly, Nanowrimo doesn't play well with blogging. Maybe that should be my blackout month every year because I go all in to write 50k words during the month of November. This year I wrote over 54k. It was a great and inspiring project this year.

But now, we are halfway through December and I am still not coming to the page to write and share my thoughts. In some way, I really want to turn this blog into my daily refection. The problem with this is that in order to get followers, you generally have to have some sort of niche, something that you talk about regularly that catches the interest in a particular group of people. My problem is that I am not like that. All of my thoughts jumble together in this cauldron of ideas, inspiration and emotion. I don't ever really know where they will lead.

Today I read this quote in a lovely book by Sara Wiseman called Living a Life of Gratitude, which stated:
"I realize that this is the lesson I am learning now: how to live without fear, regardless of outcome."
I have a hard time with this. I have these little panic sessions in my head sometimes where I imagine someone very close to me dies and I have to figure out what to do next. This is a fear that has paralyzed me off and on for years, though it has yet to manifest, I fear that it someday will.

I realized I had a problem when I was folding laundry while sitting on the bed almost in tears because I was so afraid something was going to happen to my husband on his walk home. He wasn't home yet, but I also wasn't expecting him for another hour at least. In fact, come to find out, he hadn't even left the office yet. I don't know why I worry like that, but I can't imagine I am the only one who does.

The thing is, that is no way to live. Now I have to step beyond that fear so I can get the laundry up and still have time to get some work done before I need to start dinner.

I think it is time for a breakthrough. When I dig my feet in the sand so to speak, I know something is about to happen. I am ready for it. I am learning how to manage my time better, I am doing a better job keeping energy and organizing my work space so I can get lots done. This is hard for me in the darkness of the winter, but I am determined to dig in, not to my fears, but to my dreams and work to finish the final revisions on my novel.

In the end, it all goes back to writing. That's why I have to write because the stories are ready to spill out, I just need to sharpen my pencil and come to the page.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

"A Star is Born" Inspiration

We went to see "A Star is Born" a couple weeks ago with Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper. The movie was amazing. The acting was fantastic and the entire movie was so well done. I would highly recommend it to anyone, especially a creative spirit. My only warning is you will need a box of tissues.

One quote that Bradley Cooper's character Jack brings up in this movie really stuck with me:
"Look, talent comes everywhere, but having something to say and a way to say it so that people listen to it, that's a whole other bag. And unless you get out and you try to do it, you'll never know. That's just the truth. And there's one reason we're supposed to be here is to say something so people want to hear. So you got to grab it, and you don't apologize, and you don't worry about why they're listening, or how long they're going to be listening for, you just tell them what you want to say."
This theme carries subtly through the entire movie. It is one aspect of music and creativity that Jack truly believes in. I really like this idea.

Being an artist is about having something to say and expressing it through your art. Whether you are a singer, dancer, writer, poet, sculptor, painter, musician, or even a tightrope walker - the most important thing is being able to express human emotion through your efforts.

Living is hard. This is not a secret. Anyone who has lived can tell of days where everything is feeling right as rainbows and other days where you can't even see past your nose from the rain.

Life is full of ups and downs. There are good times and struggles. As soon as something goes well, there is someone there to grab it, change it, challenge it, sell it, or somehow taint that good mood. We have to fight for what we believe in and be a voice. Artists are the ones who can express that eternal conflict that all of us feel.

Being creative is really a form of expression. "A Star is Born" really got me thinking about what I want to say through my writing. What is my message?

I want to share the unity that we, as humans, have simply by being alive. There are so many different personalities, origin stories, paths, colors, shapes and sizes. Yet, we are all trying to find some sort of security, some sort of peace, some sort of purpose. When you strip everything else away, we can all relate to the struggles and triumphs, big and small, that life offers.

In a way, this thought pattern led me to my Nanowrimo topic this year of doing a collection of flash fiction that connects us. The idea is that we affect more people than we realize on any given day. The background characters in our stories are the main characters in their own. We are all struggling with unsettling dilemmas, tired eyes, worn hands and often finding ourselves one step away from the edge of whatever struggle we face. I want to share these idiosyncrasies and attempt to make us all feel a little more connected to that stranger on the bus or in front of us in line at the grocery store.

Here's another little secret. Being alive means we are creative individuals. It is another part of being human, however slight or great in your personal journey. With that said, what message are you offering?

I challenge you to make it one of hope and love. If we can all love each other a little more freely, the world will be a better place.

Whatever your art, whatever your message - Say it - Do it - Let it be heard.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Energy Doesn't Lie

I have a habit of saving quotes I find around the Internet. I keep them as my background on my computer. Since I am often sitting at my computer, these quotes offer me inspiration throughout my day.

I realized recently, that I've saved quotes containing the message, "energy doesn't lie" in at least three different places. It must have really stood out to me.

This autumn season has brought many changes to our lives. We've started homeschooling, which has changed our routine greatly. This has all been for the better, but it still takes some getting used it. It also means finding a new support group. It is harder to connect with people when we don't come together on the playground every day to check in. This flexibility is one of the reasons we began homeschooling, but it isn't always easy to make new friends.

Not completely unrelated, is my realization that I tend to get caught up by words. I don't always have a clear response, at least not in the moment. I don't often have the strongest opinion in the room. I am a peacekeeper - I tend to go with whatever the strongest desire is. This form of people pleasing also gets me in trouble sometimes because I have a hard time saying "no" or making time for what I need to fill my bucket.

I don't think being a pacifist is nessecarily a bad trait, I just think I tend to be swayed easily by whatever is happening around me. I don't want to contradict anyone. I like to see the best in people and that usually happens when their desires are fulfilled. The problem comes, when I can't fulfill my own desires, or those who depend on me because I'm trying to do too much.

I am slowly learning that I need to be in more control of the situations I put myself in. I am done being in the middle of an obligation and realizing how much I don't want to be there. I'm not talking about going to the doctor or dentist, those I don't want to be there, but are necessary for my overall health. I'm talking about those times when everyone else is doing it and I feel the need to be included. We are all unique and the so are the things we need to satisfy our own desires. At the end of the day, the only person you can really appease is yourself. I am learning to focus on what I need first and let everything else happen as it can.

With homeschooling, the schedule is up to us. This is a great thing, but it also means we have to be very intentional with our time. We are finding that we must protect our downtime and make sure that we have enough hours in the week at home for "formal" education. Even when this means we spend the afternoon creating candy launchers, it is still important for us to have the time and space to accomplish what we are trying to learn. That means, I have to be able to say no when something doesn't serve us. I'm getting better, slowly.

Though most are extremely supportive of our homeschooling choices, there are always some who won't really understand. That's okay. This is a path that is truly working for us and we are stronger as individuals and a family because of this choice. There are so many resources to pull from that we are never without direction and creative projects. We are doing what we need to for us, that is all I can do.

We use a lot of hands of learning activities and a lot of music in our homeschooling days. There is so much to worry about in the world, but thinking of it all is overwhelming. I am slowly learning to reduce my anxiety by letting all that I can't control go and focusing on what I can do today, right now that will shift my energy into a positive direction. Instead of worrying about how everything is going to work out, I focus on the actions I can take to make today the best it can be.

I've spent much of my life as a passive observer. I am finally learning how to bravely, yet peaceably, let my own desires and opinions be known. I need to trust this strength flowing through me and not worry so much about what other people think about my choices. I make the right decision for me and my family, that is all I can do.

Some days are productive and some days we simply need rest. There are patterns of life that move up and down according to our activities, weather and natural rhythms. I am learning not to fight these undulations of life and instead flow through them enjoying this moment for all it has to offer.

Energy doesn't lie. I'm learning to pay attention to the moments that make up my life. If something isn't working, I'm more willing to adjust it. In many situations, this means letting go of bad energy and walking away from people or situations that I feel like I "should" do, but don't have the mental or emotional capacity for.

Of course, there are some situations where this is not an option (i.e. that doctor's appointment, a co-worker, a family member), but in those cases it is about making the best choices possible to surround yourself with good energy. It is a mentality, a lifestyle choice, that makes the different.

These are the days that make up our life. Be intentional about making it a good one!

Here's to making the most out of this moment...

For more about our Homeschooling Journey

Saturday, November 3, 2018

The Thing About Writing A Novel Is...

...that you have to create a world where you can live until it is done, and maybe even beyond that. 

Though I am not a published author, I am a writer. I have written on five different novels now. I can tell you about them in detail because they have lived in my head for a while now. 

My writing space at a local coffee shop a couple weeks ago.
I was brainstorming and developing ideas for this year's Nanowrimo project.
My first novel, True Love*, is about Lily, a journalist who moves into a small North Carolina mountain town for her first career job. While there she meets Xavier, a native mountain man who teaches math at the local high school. Neither can deny their connection and they are quickly drawn together. 

Next came Story of Decades*, a sweet story about Amelia and Malcolm, a couple who meet as kids and stay together for a lifetime. They overcome troubles and struggles together, and even manage a few sweet moments in there too. 

Leap of Faith* slapped me in the face. While on vacation in Las Vegas I had an encounter - it had no lasting affect on my real life, but a character was born on that trip that I have not yet been able to let go. Aria has spent her life running away, but when she meets Roman in a chance encounter in Downtown Las Vegas, her entire life changes in a way she never imagined. 

I Am Bliss* came to me slowly over the course of several months leading up to Nanawrimo last year. During the summer I had a conversation with a Shaman that got me thinking about how we connect with nature, especially to heal. Rowan Bliss didn't want anything to do with the small town mountain life, so she went off to the big city as soon as she could. Except what she was looking for wasn't there either. She stubbornly sticks it out until she gets news of her mother's diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. For the first time, Rowan tries to hold onto those precious memories instead of forget them. She is finally able to find comfort in the woods that have been the background of her life.

A Collection of Consciousness*, my current Nanowrimo project, will be my fifth novel. It has been developing in my mind throughout the past couple weeks and even still is developing right on the page. That is one of the things I love about this project, you can just begin and let the story transport you to another world.

That is the thing about writing, you have to be able to live in that world because it becomes a part of you. I still think about True Love and the characters in it. One of the places Lily goes in that town is a happy place that's been in my head since I did a college internship in a North Carolina mountain town in 2006. I didn't start writing True Love until 2009. Over the last decade, I've added to it on numerous occasions as I've put different pieces of their puzzle together. 

I just figured out a main theme to follow in Story of Decades a couple weeks ago. I wrote it down so I can go back to it, though it will still live and develop in my head in the meantime. That sudden inspiration of character development had me impatiently waiting to get back to it. 

Maybe not everyone has this problem, but this is just how the creative process works for me. Getting it all written down and flushed out is hard, but I keep trying because I have this impossible pull to share the thoughts and stories that are inside me. 

Then again, I don't see this as a problem, I enjoy what these character have to tell me. In a lot of ways they make me stronger. These characters help me learn more about the world and my perspective of it. I think that is fascinating and I am thankful to live in these different worlds once in a while. 

*Working Titles - basically, this is what I call them in my head.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Happy Halloween 2018

Today is Halloween. This isn't a holiday that I get too excited about. I don't like horror movies and navigating the logistics of trick-or-treating spikes my anxiety every year.

What I do love about this time of year focuses more on the change of energy and seasons. Halloween was traditionally known as Samhain by Celtic traditions and Pagans. I identify much more with this name, which means "summer's end."

October 31 leading into November 1 marks the halfway point in the autumn season. This is known as a cross-quarter day, the midway mark between the autumn equinox and winter solstice. This is a day of balance, also of transition from the warm days of summer and the end of the harvest season to the cooler, shorter days of the winter season.

According to the Pagan "Wheel of the Year," Samhain marks the beginning of the spiritual year. Though it is a day that celebrates death, it also gives us a fresh opportunity to start over. This is an important time to contemplate what you need to let go of to make yourself better.

For me, that is to get rid of my insecurities. I don't know what has led to this continued bout of self-doubt, but I'm about tired of feeling so tentative and lethargic. I'm ready to cultivate some energy and courage.

Nature has an essential cycle of growth and death. We must not be afraid to grow, but also not afraid to let go of those things, especially habits, that no longer serve us so that we may enter into a new beginning. It is within our power to manifest our desires. It takes dedication, daily intention, and perseverance. It is not easy, but it is worth it to find your Highest Self.

Blessed be to you on this day full of magic and chance for new beginnings.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

No More Braces !!!

After two years of expanders and braces, I'm finally free! Well, mostly free. I still have a retainer that I have to wear everyday, but that is a small price to be gone of the wires that irritated my mouth and restricted my eating.

Here's my brand new smile!

I have had a fear of my teeth falling out most of my life. Chipping my front tooth on the side of a pool in high school didn't help this phobia at all. Neither did the brusk manner of the dentist who fixed my tooth then.

Life went on, as it tends to do, until we moved to Seattle four years ago. While I was unpacking spices, one of the glass bottles fell out and tapped my tooth causing the final straw for the adhesive barely still holding my chipped tooth together. With an old incident becoming a new problem, I took my neighbor's recommendation and went to an progressive, enthusiastic dentist downtown. It was a great decision. Not only did she fix my chipped tooth better and stronger than the previous dentist, over the next year or so, she would go through my entire mouth cleaning and filling anywhere that needed it.

Before Braces...

In a way, braces were an inevitability for me. I needed them, anyone could see that. I began the journey in December of 2016. I had no idea what journey laid before me, but I was strapped in and ready to go.

There were many difficult stages of this progress, expanding my upper jaw was the first. It was uncomfortable and I got terrible headaches, but in the end I began to see a lot of improvement too. I could breath a little easier. I could take deeper breaths and had noticeably less trouble with my sinuses.

We tried to put braces on my bottom teeth to start the straightening process, but they were wedged in tight. This is also when we realized I had a nickel allergy. That means that I would not be able to wear traditional metal braces because they were more or less burning a hold into my lips and gums. It was not a pleasant experience and thankfully they took them off fairly quickly. Instead, we began with a removable expander on my bottom jaw as well.

This part of the process took the entire first year and a little more. The real challenge with this was food getting caught around my upper expander. Thankfully, I could take the bottom one out to eat, but the top one was on all the time. I remember once getting a hot pepper seed stuck in there, I thought my mouth was on fire. In hindsight, I should have gotten a water flosser much sooner, it would have really helped me keep my teeth clean. I have one now, but it is a great tool in general, but perfect for working around appliances.

The progress was slow, but you can already 
notice the expander at work...
July 2017 - I would get my first brackets on during the next month
Finally, I began to get brackets put on my upper teeth, just in the front. I appreciate how my dentist did this in stages so my mouth was not overwhelmed at once. Once I had all of my upper brackets on, the upper expander came out. That was a wonderful day. It was so nice to be able to touch the top of my mouth again. It did it's job though and my teeth were already looking better now that they had more room to live.

Next, the brackets began to go on the bottom. This didn't seem like such a big of deal, but just the next part of the journey. I had to wear ceramic brackets for the entire time because of the nickel allergy. The dentist warned that these were a little more fragile. I took that to heart and made sure I didn't bite directly into almost anything. So much so that I realized my bottom teeth were not getting the work out they needed and were feeling really sensitive.

A good shot of how far my bottom teeth had to move...

It was also at this point that we realized my bottom jaw does not have enough gums to cover the roots of all my teeth. We were concerned for a moment that we would have to pull at least one tooth even with the expander because it was precariously placed. However, with some patience, gentleness and extra cleaning on my part, we were able to keep the tooth. For now it is strong and steady.

This part all took forever, it felt like. For the next year, I dreaded my dentist appointment because of the pain I felt from them tightening my brackets. Thanks to some patient dental assistants and generous use of laughing gas, I made it through. The brackets stretched along my lips and my gums constantly had this dull ache where my teeth were constantly moving. I got used to this, as much as one can, but it was tough and even I got sick of my own complaints. In a way, I just learned to grin and bear it.

One of my last weekends with braces...
It was interesting, many people wouldn't even notice my braces until they looked closely. I never forgot they were there, but with the clear ceramics, they do sort of blend in with my teeth.

The day I got my braces off felt overwhelming. My friend was in town from South Carolina visiting and I got home after a four hour dentist visit wiped out. It felt good, but also hurt because of the pressure of taking everything off and then making molds for a retainer. I recovered fairly quickly (the wine helped) and the next day we were off to Vancouver, B.C.

From our trip to Vancouvor, no braces and feeling good!

Over the next week, I praised my ability to bite into a sandwich. The first time I felt a full mouth of a juicy burger I had a mini orgasm right there. It felt so good to be able to confidently take a full bite of something and chew it without pain. I could eat harder chips and chew jerky with no problem. I also didn't have to worry about teeth stains as much because the ceramic brackets previously would show color easily until I cleaned them.

Even now, a couple weeks later, I am so thankful I can eat again. Several people asked me what I ate first. To be honest, it took me a full day before I felt better, but then I purchased some sour gummy worms. That is my favorite candy snack and I hadn't really eaten any for almost two years. That was a delicious snack. Actually anything sweet is nice, with my braces it was more problematic to clean than it was enjoyable to taste. I hardly ate any sweets while I went through my braces process. Now I have to be careful to keep it curbed since I can eat it again. I think the lack of sugar really helped my body feel more balanced.

A good picture of how far I've come...

I am wearing a retainer once a day. It is a tight fit and makes me feel sore, not in the way the appliances and braces did before, but it does make it hard to think. I have to wear it when I'm not trying to focus on anything. Nonetheless, I can tell the retainer is helping because I can almost feel the teeth shift when the retainer lines them back up again. Still, it is so nice to let my jaws rest and my gums firm back up. I'm excited to see how they stand up over time. I may still have to get some graphing done at some point to add fullness to my bottom jaw, but that is a problem for another time. Right now, I'm just enjoying the look and feel of my new teeth alignment.

This has not been an easy journey, but I have learned so much along the way. I have gained a healthy habit to constantly clean my teeth. I have built up self-confidence as I've had to overcome so many obstacles on this journey. I am more willing to stand up for myself and listen to my body for what I need. I am stronger than I was because I faced my fear of my teeth falling out head on and came out victorious. Before, if anything touched my teeth I would freak out a little. Now, it's not such a big deal. My front tooth in particular was really sensitive and it was mostly in my head. I know it is strong now and my dentist did a great job putting it together and working with my insecurities through the braces process.

A confident smile...

I am confident in my smile and part of that is the work it took for me to get there. Since getting braces, I also have fewer headaches and jaw soreness, better breathing ability, my teeth are easier to clean and feel overall less sensitive. I can actually close my lips now. It seems strange that I couldn't before but because of how my jaw was trapped and my overbite, I couldn't seal my lips making winters a misery for my chapped lips. Now I have a relaxed rest state where my jaws can rest and my lips close to offer protection for my gums. Even my face shape has subtly changed with the expansions, a great improvement overall.

It was not an easy journey, but very much worth it. Getting braces as an adult was one of my best decisions to improve myself and my health. I am glad I persevered.


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