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Jennifer Gregson Posts

9 Ways to Keep your Inner Child Happy

Sometimes being an adult can really suck – dishes, laundry, bills, work, responsibilities – they all pile up and keep coming like a runaway train.  We can’t always take a vacation day (or week or, let’s be honest, a month) when we get stressed out so it’s always a good idea to have some fun activities around to bring out your inner child. 

This list might seem similar to my Self-Care list from a few weeks ago but that’s because my stress reduction techniques and my self-care techniques are one in the same, but these are more things you can do to be silly, remember that play is OK, and keep things light and easy when life gets dark and hard.

1. Playtime

Whatever this means to you – for me, it’s singing along with my favorite pop stars but for you, it might be painting, adult coloring books, a musical instrument (just for fun – not practice or drills), or sculpting with clay.  Whatever play or art or messy crafts mean to you, that’s what I’m talking about here.  Get dirty, have fun, try something new, do something for fun not because you need to do it – do it because you just want to.

2. Markers

I love using bright colored pens or markers in my planner – it helps make my boring old stodgy to-do list brighter, more fun, gives me some instant happy feels, and can even help me color-code my tasks to keep from feeling completely overwhelmed.

3. Stickers

This is also something I use in my planner or on my to-do lists to make me smile.  Yes, I have stickers that can be useful – like a laundry basket or half-boxes to keep track of a scheduled event, but what I’m talking about here are shiny sparkly stars, cute cupcakes or coffee cups – fun stickers that literally just make me happy. I was a child of the 80s so I had stickers books and traded fun ones with friends, and this reminds me of those carefree days of my childhood.

4. Laugh

You can watch funny YouTube videos (like this one), a comedy on Netflix or another binge site, or call up your best friend who always makes you laugh and ask them to tell you a funny story – you know they have one!  Just make sure you spend a few minutes each day laughing and enjoying life.

5. Nap time

Remember when you were a small child and you ran away from nap time – well, if you can, embrace that down time now.  Curl up with a good book if you can’t actually take a nap (this is me, I really have trouble falling asleep but laying down with a few chapters does the same thing). Basically, make sure you get your rest in – kids get cranky without nap time and adults get cranky when tired too.

6. Snack time

Another way kids get cranky is when they don’t have food – adults too (I mean, have you heard the phrase hangry – hungry and angry – there’s a reason) so make sure you keep good food on hand for easy snacking.  Now, this is another way to add in some fun – what did you like to snack on when you were little?  Ants on a log? Apple slices with PB? Teddy Grahams? Animal Crackers?  Pick up something fun to snack on and actually take the time to eat, relax, and breathe – even if just for 2 minutes.

7. Pick Your Battles

I’m a parent of a 6-year-old boy, so I know all too well when to pick my battles and when to let the little guy have his say.  It’s important for your inner child as well – pick your battles, if you’re trying to do something that you think is fun, but is more educational and your inner child is screaming for finger paints and a nap – then let the little one win and go do the fun, not so educational thing every once in awhile.  Trust me…it will be fine!

8. Time Out

Nap times are long times of rest, but timeouts are when you are close to meltdown mode – when one more thing is going to totally make you lose it – this is when you give yourself a timeout.  Even 5 minutes of deep breathing, meditation, a YouTube video, or making a really nice cup of tea can help fill your cup back up and calm the crazy.  The world will not fall apart if you take five minutes, I promise.

9. Reward charts

Are you trying to implement a new habit?  Drinking water or eating so many veggies a day?  Then use a reward chart – make it bright and colorful, use stickers – and give yourself a real reward.  You can make it any length of time you’d like – did you drink 8 glasses of water all week?  Give yourself a check and a treat.  Did you eat a green vegetable for one whole month?  Awesome, give yourself another treat!

How do you keep your inner child happy?  Do you have other ideas I haven’t listed here that work really well to keep you smiling, keep your joy shining, and pretend (even for just a few minutes) that you’re 12 again?  What YouTube channels make you smile? What movies or TV shows have you been binging on?  Need a list of my favorite sitcoms – go here!  If we can remember the innocence and joy of childhood even as an adult, I believe we can be happier, healthier, and have more fun!  Enjoy!

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Five Minutes to Greatness

Do you ever feel overwhelmed?  Stressed out and anxious – especially when looking at your to-do list, project lists, goals, or general environment?  I know I do.  I was telling my therapist a few weeks ago that exercise and decluttering my messy apartment felt insurmountable.  Like I just couldn’t get past this unseen hump of “too hard” to actually start again.  She told me to start simple.  Really, simple.  Almost stupid simple.

Only one thing and one thing only

It seemed too easy, at first, but then I got into the rhythm of it and found that this is really good advice for just about anything.  So…if you are feeling overwhelmed, anxious, or like you can’t get over whatever stands in your way of having what you want (a decluttered apartment/house, a toned body, better health) then start really small.  Tiny, tiny, tiny. Think of an action, then ask – how can I make it smaller.  I rolled my eyes at her when we did this exercise a few weeks ago in my session, but I’m telling you – it works.

So, for the apartment – I declutter one thing a day. I pick up one thing and ask myself a few questions.  Does this need to stay or go?  If it stays, does it need to live here or somewhere else?  If somewhere else, where? If here, how can I group it with other similar items?  If I can’t do that right now, then I put it back and have a plan.  If it goes, does it get thrown in the garbage or can it be donated?  Done! Now, it’s been a few weeks so I’ve slowly moved on to doing one bin or basket or shelf or section of books.  But still, one small tiny thing.

Turtle Slow…but who won that race?

I know, you are doing the same thing I did in that session – you are saying to yourself, come on, things will never get done if I do them that slowly.  My apartment or house will still be a mess 6 months from now at this rate. Maybe, but if you don’t do anything what will it look like it 6 months? Exactly.  At best it will look the same and at worse, it will look more cluttered and drive you even more nuts!  Trust me, I thought the same thing and I said the same thing, but in just a few short weeks, I have areas cleared off enough to add some pretty – a few statues, small paintings and pieces of art, and plants to areas that were once a giant pile of mess. It makes me feel better when I look at those areas because I know this one tiny small thing is working.

Okay, sounds great…but how do you scale this down for working out?  Well, we came up with 1 down dog (yoga pose) a day.  That’s it.  Again, I decided as I was doing this that I like to get into table pose and run through a few cat/cow stretches then go into down dog, but again – one thing.  One move but with full intention and questions. How does my back feel today?  How do my legs feel?  How about those shoulders?  Where can I release stress and tension? Then I come out of the move and usually go into child’s pose for just one or two breaths. Then I’m done.  I can check off that little box.   Will I always just do one yoga pose a day?  No, probably not. In fact, I’m already working on a plan to start doing a 7-10 minute bodyweight routine in the morning with an app I found on my phone.  Because exercise doesn’t seem insurmountable anymore.  Decluttering my place doesn’t seem so “hard” anymore.  I made it easy so I could check off the DONE box and make myself feel good about my progress.

Done is better than perfect!

I like to call it 5 minutes to greatness – because I usually do my down dog and my decluttering together in one 5 minute segment and when I’m finished I feel like I can take on my whole day.  Here’s my tip – do one thing.  Just one thing today.  Don’t try to do five small things for five different areas.  Start with the thing that’s really bugging you.  Your space, your health, a goal that just seems out of reach and think of one tiny daily action you could take that would help with that.  Declutter one thing, one exercise move, write one sentence, floss one tooth – think of the smallest daily action you can take then go do it.  And then congratulate yourself. Don’t tell yourself, this is stupid – it’s too easy – it’s too simple.  NO! That’s the whole wonderful point.  Say to yourself, holy crap I did it!  I did my thing! And go on with your day. Wake up and do your thing again tomorrow and again and again and feel good about yourself and your progress.

Your turn

What small action can you take today? How can I help you?  Do you need motivation? An accountability buddy?  Drop a note below and tell me what small tiny wonderful action you’re going to take today to work on your goal.  And remember – Done is Better than Perfect!

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How I Use Pinterest To Help Me Write My Novels

My debut novel isn’t 100% ready to be published yet, but I have already started working on my 2nd novel.  Right now I’m still in the very beginning – or outline mode – but before I blink, I will quickly be descending into research, drafting, and revision modes so I already started a Pinterest board to help me.   

The working title of my second novel is Leo’s Decision which is set in my hometown of St. Louis, it has ties to Cardinals Baseball as my lead’s father was a pro baseball player, and I want to feature some of my favorite things about St. Louis including the food on The Hill, an old Italian neighborhood I grew up near.  Now, I haven’t lived in MO since 2001, and although I have visited and did live there for 25 years, I don’t remember everything – especially street names or where certain counties are located within the city limit – so I use Pinterest to help me find maps, restaurant menus (so I can spell food correctly!), and other goodies.

Also, I’m not a huge baseball fan.  Okay, full disclosure – I understand baseball, even played one summer as a kid, but I’m not a sports fan – so I have also pinned a few things about baseball including lingo, the uniforms from the 1990s, and other research links to help me when I need to write about the sport.

My other favorite thing to do when starting a mood board for a new novel is cast my characters.  If you head over to Leo’s Decision on Pinterest you will see I’ve picked a few people to play the characters in my head….and yes, I choose Steve Carrell for my lead’s step-father and John Stamos as my lead’s father – they have the right looks and I can imagine those actors walking around playing out the scenes as I write them.

During the outlining phase, I like to use Pinterest for inspiration as I work out scenes, come up with my complex characters, and help me finalize a research plan.  Once I start writing, I use the images to help me with descriptions, help give my scenes a sense of place, and can sometimes help me with tricky dialogue.  And after the book is all edited and ready to go to a book cover designer, I can look through other YA book covers and add to my mood board so all of my vision is in one place to send on to the artist to create my cover.  Exciting!   If you’d like to see an example of that, check out The Art of Lying’s Pinterest mood board as I added a bunch of covers so I’ll be ready for that part with my debut novel.

Do you use Pinterest to help you with writing or your artistic endeavor?  I’d love to connect with you over there, send me a friend request, show me your favorite board, or share an image you think might help me with my novels!

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My Writer’s Toolbox

Did you read that title and go, what is she talking about…writer’s don’t have toolboxes.  Okay, true – I don’t have a giant red Craftsman toolbox where I keep my writerly things, but I do use tools to write and that’s what I want to talk about today.

First, my laptop – I use a MacBook Air that I bought 2 years ago.  It’s lightweight, fast, has all the programs I need on it (more about that in a minute) and I can carry it around the house, or around town, if I need to.  I’ve been an Apple girl pretty much my whole life – my sister started me young, she bought either the 2nd or 3rd Apple computer that came out back in the late 1980’s.  I adore Apple products and although I’ve used PCs at my corporate day jobs, I wouldn’t want to write on one for long.

Next up, the programs I use to write.  Evernote for research and Scrivener for the actual writing.  I love Scrivener!!! (Oh man, do I sound like Oprah in those annoying Weight Watcher commercials where she tells us she loves bread?!?!) I even wrote a whole blog post about how I use Scrivener to organize and write my blog posts – you can find that gem HERE.  I do love this program though and I do use it to write pretty much everything from my blog to my short stories, to my longer novels – it keeps me organized, gives me freedom to write the way I want to write, and has a fantastic snapshot feature so I can keep track of edits and different versions to make the whole revision process a snap!

I use Evernote to keep links, documents, websites, articles, and everything else I use for research all neat and organized and in one place.  I usually create a notebook with the working title of my books and keep everything inside.  With The Art of Lying, I kept articles about art galleries, famous artists, information about New York parks and subways, maps, and other handy tidbits I needed during the actual writing sessions.  For novel #2, which is about St. Louis Cardinal’s Baseball, The Hill (a great Italian neighborhood), and the joys of being a teenager I’ve already started saving articles and research links for everything above.  I grew up in St. Louis, but I don’t currently live there so I will need maps and pictures to accurately describe things.

Third in my lovely toolbox is all the non-tech stuff. I use plain old spiral bound notebooks, gel pens, and index cards to help me plan, plot, outline, and revise.  Right now I have two notebooks being used – one for my short stories and one for Novel #2 – they have notes, ideas, character interviews, plot points, research to-do’s, and more!  Once I have notes and ideas out of the way, I grab a giant stack of white index cards and start writing down plot points, scene ideas, and anything else I want in my books or stories then those go into Scrivener and off I go.  But I still keep my notebooks around.  I use them while writing to make notes of character names, character descriptions that I don’t want to forget, and any other notes to myself.  I also use the notebook (or grab a new one if it gets full during pre-writing and first draft) for revisions.  I create reverse outlines, timelines, revision notes, and anything else that needs to happen during that process.

Now it’s your turn…what do you use for your creative endeavors?  Are you an artist?  If so, what kinds of materials do you work in?  If you’re a musician, what apps or computer software do you find most helpful?  Let me know in the comments and if you’re a writer too, what things do you just have to have in order to write?

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Binge Worthy – Drama Edition

 

You know I love my Television – I’m a TV girl from way back (in fact, next time I think I’ll talk about my favorite childhood shows)!  I’ve covered my favorites overall and sitcoms…next is the dramas!  I really didn’t think I watched too many of these as sitcoms are my jam, but as I listed them out earlier this week (I outline my posts a few days in advance) I realize there are quite a few, due mostly to Netflix.   Here’s the list….and again, like always, gifs included – but since these are dramas, they are way more serious than usual – HA!

Stranger Things

Of course, I’m going to start with that wonderfully nostalgic show that all of my friends are talking about – Stranger Things.  The upside down, the music (both good and bad), the characters – I mean those kids are genius actors, and the scary factor all makes for some fine good TV watching.  We loved both seasons and really enjoyed Behind Stranger Things as well – if you watched the show, check it out on Netflix for some fun cast interviews and behind the scenes stuff.

Jessica Jones

I know I mentioned Marvel shows in my first Binge Worthy post a few months back…but it’s because most of them are sooooo good (minus Iron Fist – whoohoo baby did that show blow) so I’m going to list them in my personal preference starting with Jessica Jones.  I adore this show, she’s my favorite of The Defenders and I can’t wait for Season 2.  It’s got humor (although very dry), ass-kicking, day drinking, and an amazing cast of crazy characters – what more could you ask for?

Daredevil

My second favorite of the team.  Season 2 wasn’t as good as Season 1 was for me  – only because I felt The Punisher character was a bit shoe-horned in to get ready for his own series – but I like the ninja/fighting stuff, the blind superhero with enhanced other features – the actor playing Daredevil is very good, and I kinda dig his bromance with Froggy in the first season.

Luke Cage

This is where I shall end my Marvel talking because Iron Fist sucked so bad and although we watched The Defenders, I kinda like the original series of each character better than the mishmash – but I will most likely watch Season 2 of Defenders all the same.  Sweet Christmas….this was a complicated set of people. I liked that this series was set in a different part of New York City – a part we don’t always see on TV – Harlem…and the music was wonderful. I like Luke Cage as a character because he truly wants to help people, but he also just wants to live his quiet life.  It’s very real…if I developed superhero powers overnight I could imagine feeling similarly.

The Crown

I simply adore the British Royal Family – always have.  My Mom even let me stay up (or stay home from school?) to watch the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana many moons ago and I was in college when she died and I remembering feeling so sad – like I knew these people personally or something.  I also used to know who was next in the line up to the 10th person or something crazy but I don’t anymore, so when The Crown came out on Netflix I was all over that like crumpets and scones at High Tea.   If you like the Queen and want to know more about her and the royal family, check it out!

Supernatural

I know I talked about these boys before but it is one of our favorites…although some seasons have been better than others – and there are a LOT of seasons (I think they’re on 14 or something now?).  These two brothers have literally been to heaven and hell and back and everywhere in between.  There are ghosts, vampires, werewolves, demons, angels – it’s pretty amazing how many things they discuss.  There was even a musical version!  LOVE

Black Mirror

This show both scares the crap out of me and excites me overtime I watch an episode.  It’s all about technology and how it’s taken over various aspects of our lives – usually to the detriment of society as a whole.  It’s very well done, disturbing on so many levels, and one you can NOT binge watch.  Seriously – don’t even try it.  Watch one here or there and then sit back and let it wash over you, think about it, obsess over it, then when you finally have your brain back – watch another episode and be freaked out all over again.

And this where I think I will end…we watched a few others, but these were my favorites of the current TV season, as it were.  What dramas are you watching?  What do you think I should check out based on the list above?  Anything I’m missing?  Anything I should watch right away?  Let me know below!

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10 Sneaky Ways to Fit in Self-Care

Well, it’s 2018 and that means New Year’s goals and resolutions have been set and laid out.  One of the things I wanted to be more mindful of was taking better care of myself – or Self-Care – but who has the time? Am I right?  So here are some sneaky ways that I’ve found to fit in some very basic, very needed self-care during the day.  NOTE:  I am not a therapist, and I don’t know what your stress level is like, but these are some tips I came up with for MY life.  If you need help, please seek it out – don’t just think a candle and some veggies are going to solve your problems.  Word!

1. A favorite mug or glass

I have two coffee mugs that I adore – one says Writer and has a typewriter on it and one is an artsy mug with a Matisse print on it.  They make me smile and give me a sense of feeling special when I drink my coffee.  I also use either one of our tall glass glasses for water or my plastic Mickey Mouse cup with bright colored stripes. This makes water way more fun to drink!

2. Music!

As I write this, I’m listening to a playlist I created for myself on Amazon Music (you can listen to it here.) It’s all pop music, really new stuff (like JT from the Trolls soundtrack and Ed Sheeran) because that’s what I was into the day I created the playlist.  But if you’re like me and music feeds your soul, then listen to something, sing along, get out of your head and into your heart.  It’s the best way for me to instantly feel better.

3. Candles, Incense, and Essential Oils

Basically, light something or use something that smells nice. I got an Essential Oil diffuser a while back and it makes the whole apartment smell nice.  I also have a lovely Peach scented candle and some fun sage cone-shaped incense and a tiny holder that makes me feel cool, high energy, and grounded.

4. Lotion

To go along with the nice smelling stuff, grab a lotion and keep it by you all winter long.  Put that stuff everywhere!  It helps keep your skin looking amazing and keeps you smelling nice….and let’s face it, giving yourself a mini massage when you rub the stuff in is an added side benefit (and keeps you warmer!)

5. Top 3 List

I know for me, I can get overwhelmed looking at my massive to-do list, so I started creating a Daily Top 3 of the highest priority items in both my personal life and day-job life categories.  Anything else that gets done is gravy.  I know, this might not seem like self-care, but keeping from being stressed out all day every day definitely helps me feel better.

6. Stretching

I have found a really sneaky way to fit this in – every time I switch tasks I stretch.  Holy moly does it feel awesome!  I either do a whole body type stretch or I deal just with my shoulders or lower back.  Try it, right now…stop reading and stretch just one area – do you feel better?

7. Deep breathing

And when I stretch I take really deep breaths, at least five of them.  In slowly, hold, out slowly – rinse and repeat.  I try to sync the stretching with the breath but sometimes I do one then the other.  Depends, but I do this every time I switch tasks.  I take just a few minutes and give myself that pause that my brain and body needs.

8. Healthy Snacks

My biggest vice is snacking and chocolate so I started writing down a list of easy, quick grab snacks and keeping things on hand like cut up veggies, hummus, cheese cubes, fruit, peanut butter, nuts, and hard boiled eggs.  This makes it so easy to snack on something yummy, tasty, and healthy.  I also want to find a brand of dark chocolate that I like (it’s not my favorite) so I can eat a tiny bit each day with a cup of tea for an indulgent treat. Suggestions?

9. Flowers or something visual and fun

We live in New York and for some odd reason, cut flowers here are fairly cheap.  My husband and I both like vases full of flowers, but when my son was little we stopped buying them because he wanted to pull the petals off and we were afraid he would knock the whole thing either on the floor or on his head, but since little man is getting older I think we can definitely go back to buying weekly bouquets.  Also, I love having bright colors, images, and inspirational quotes around me – see my vision board for this quarter, it has my main goals at the top and some images to help motivate me throughout my day (and yes, that’s a picture of Nathan Fillion as Richard Castle telling me to write).

10.  Accept a complement

I find this so hard to do, but it actually helps your self-esteem.  When someone pays you a complement don’t shy away from it – say thank you and let it really sink in.  Don’t wave it away or say, No or Don’t….allow them to say something nice and really believe it.  The more we accept compliments in this life, the more we receive them.

So, what have you been doing to get a little sneaky self-care in your daily life?  Let me know in the comments which tip was your favorite or which one might be tricky for you and why?  I’d love to help you!

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Goodbye 2017, Hello 2018

Ah, another year is coming to a close.  It’s out with the old and in with the new, that weird old man is retiring and baby new year is bouncing onto the scene.  Side note: how does that baby age so much in one year?   Okay, back on track.  This is my last post for 2017 and I thought I’d talk about what most people are talking about at this time of year – goal setting.

Now, I use quite a few systems that I’ve learned over the past few years to plan out my goals.  I’ve gotten them from various webinars, books, courses, old planners, and online blog searching.   I have no idea who to attribute most of what I’m going to talk about to specifically because at this point it’s a hodgepodge of styles with my own added flair!

I like to start with a general brain dump of things I would like to get done, accomplish, get better at, finish, etc.  That list usually looks like a hot mess, but from there I’ll separate the do-able from the wishes, the first things first to maybe if I have time, and then I make a quarterly plan.  This year was easy, actually, because I know I want to launch my newsletter (with that freebie I keep hinting about) in February and my debut novel will be self-published on Amazon (more about that in 2018) in either March or April so my Quarter One goals were set.  I have a few things bulleted out for Q2, including writing the 1st draft of book #2 and researching blog guest posting, and then I just have a list called: ????  This is a maybe/future list that includes starting a YouTube channel, planning our August family vacation (we know we’d like to go somewhere this summer, but we’re not sure where we’re going this year yet so, for now, it’s on the ???? List), and when to publish/launch Book #2 – only because I have no clue how fast I’ll be able to write and edit since this current novel has taken me years!

I also added some health & wellness goals to my list, music and hobby goals (I want to start singing again and I think I’m getting a hand-me-down acoustic guitar and would like to learn that as well), and some overall family goals (like taking my little one to more museums, doing more things around Queens, and getting the rest of the apartment organized and finished).  My year is shaping up!  It’s all very exciting, shiny, and new.

I am definitely getting excited, especially after I did one final step of my yearly planning…the tarot cards!  I bought Biddy Tarot’s 2018 Planner this year but not to use as a plan-your-day type calendar (I’m still using my Erin Condren bullet journal hybrid), but to help with tarot study – it has monthly spreads, weekly cards, new moon and full moon intentions, quarterly reviews, and some fun journaling prompts along the way.  I did the big New Year’s Eve spread and that was nice, but then I went ahead and also did the Q1 Manifestation Spread (where you talk about your biggest goal for the quarter – mine was launching The Art of Lying) and baby, hold on to your socks – because this was a doozy of a spread.

You basically go through questions about where you are right now with your goal, what weaknesses and strengths you have surrounding the goal, what you need to let go of, what action steps you need to take, and what…overall…the next three months might look like.  These cards were totally speaking to me, they were extremely positive and point to the fact that I am on the right track to finishing Q1 strong!

I won’t bore you with the nitty-gritty details, but I will share with you what I wrote in the summation box of the planner:  This spread has shown me that I need to continue the New Year with hard work and expert planning.  I need to let the creative side celebrate her wins and much earned success, while my business side makes decisions based on knowledge, research, and gut intuition.  I need to stay true to myself, be authentic and human in my marketing and promotions, stay down to earth, but don’t neglect my health in striving for perfection!  If I do these things, keep up my confidence and courage, I should achieve my goal!!!

Now, I’ve done quite a bit of 2018 planning – last week’s Word of the Year and this week’s goal planning, but I’m not done yet.  The writing mastermind I am a part of is having a big Planning Party soon and my mentor will be sharing a workbook PDF that will have questions, prompts, and other goodies for us – now I doubt any of that will have me changing my plans much, but it might help solidify things for me – things I’m worried about, things I’m trying not to freak myself out about (like all the decisions that business side of me actually needs to make soon), and it might just help me narrow down my daily tasks and to-do’s better.  And, I love a good planning party.

So…what have you been planning for the new year?  Any goals you’re just itching to get started with?  Do you do the whole goal setting thing or resolutions?  I personally think both can work as long as you have a plan in place and not just a wish…like I wish I was 25 pounds lighter, but actually, say – I will work out three times a week, cut down to carbs at one meal per day, and meditate daily to help alleviate stress – now that would be a plan!  Also, that sounds very similar to my plan for health and wellness.  HA  So, share!  I’d love to hear what you’re working on next year and where we can maybe each other stay on track.

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year,  and a Lovely 2018 to you and yours!!!

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One Word to Rule Them All

I’ve spoken about this before, but you know that this past year has been all about inner change for me.  I’ve worked on my mindset by fixing beliefs I had about myself and my body.  I’ve worked on things with my therapist and nutritionist through journaling, talking, and other exercises to help me deal with issues I had surrounding food, exercise, and self-hatred.  I’ve declared myself a WRITER to the world and to myself by joining groups, continuing work on my book, sending it to an actual editor, and making real plans to self-publish in the new year.  And through this whole journey, I have used one overall word and two supporting words to guide me.  I used Susannah Conway’s method for finding my Word of the Year in December of 2016 and decided upon the trifecta of Nourish, Patience, and Compassion.

Nourish came into play with everything from making time to write, to eating nourishing foods, to giving myself time to rest and practice self-care.  Patience reminded me to be patient not only with others (especially my six-year-old son) but also myself as the process to change was going to be very long.  Compassion reminded me to love myself as a best friend and to give love and acceptance to those around me.  I journaled and planned and thought about what those words would mean, I talked about them during sessions with both my nutritionist and my therapist, I thought about them as I worked on my book and my blog, and I thought about them as I went through my daily life.  They became a part of my year-long journey and as the year comes to a close, I’m kinda sad to see them go.

The thing is, I redid the whole process again this week and came up with my words for 2018.  While the words I chose for 2017 were very inward and introspective, the words that came up for 2018 are all outward words – big and loud and scary words.  Exciting and daring and a little Holy Crap…but I know they are the perfect three words to support me as I step more into the role of Professional Self-Published Writer, as I become a real Authorpreneur, and as I make decisions about my business and my career.   Are you ready?  The two supporting words this year are Open and Magic and my big overall word is Courage.

I’m hoping to carry these words into all aspects of my life from my relationships, my food and health issues, my therapy sessions, my writing, my self-publishing career, and the way I interact with others and myself in general.   I am hoping for big, scary, amazing things to happen next year and with the support of these words I know I can handle anything and everything life has to throw at me.

So, do you choose a word (or words) to help you through your year?  Do you choose a mantra or motto?  Do you make a vision board (I’m planning on doing this again soon) and create a visual reminder of your yearly goals, hopes, dreams, and plans?  If you do, I would really love to know what word or motto you chose and why, what helped you make the decision, and what you’re planning to do to remind yourself of the word throughout the year.  I plan on having the courage pictures and quotes from this post on my cork board over my desk, and I plan on asking myself the following three questions every day. What can I do today that would be courageous?  What can I do today to be more open?  What can I do today that would help bring some magic to my life?

As the year comes to a close, give yourself time and space to reflect and think back on how much you’ve changed over the last year – then give yourself time to dream and plan and bring some hope as we usher in 2018 and a chance for even more growth and learning.  Isn’t that an amazing thing?  We always have more to learn, more to be, and more to give.

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The Care and Feeding of a Writer

As you might remember from this post I am working on my health in various forms – mental health with my therapist and journaling and self-care techniques; physical health with exercise and eating more nutritious foods; and my spiritual health with tarot, meditation, and quiet contemplative time during the day.  Now I am not one to love the kitchen, in fact, I have been quoted numerous times as saying, “I hate to cook!” I get very anxious around non-cooked food – I’ve had panic attacks in grocery stores and in the kitchen, but when one is trying to become healthier and lose some weight while maintaining a positive attitude about their body and self, well cooking becomes necessary.

My nutritionist and I started with a few basics – more protein and more veggies in my diet.  To accomplish this I’ve been adding soups to my lunches and making egg and veggie scrambles for breakfast for the past few weeks.  For the first two or three days of cooking veggies in with my eggs, I was near panic, although they tasted good, they didn’t really look good or they stuck to the pan or I just felt so tight by the time I sat down to eat that I was near tears.  But I talked things over with my husband (who does love to cook) and kept trying things.  For starters, I changed skillets.  We have a few and I was using an older one who’s coating isn’t the best so I grabbed the one my parents bought us a few years ago and that solved the sticking problem.  Next, I added butter and sautéed the veggies first, then I added a tiny bit more butter and finally the eggs.  I’ve been doing this for a few days now and I’m getting pretty good at it.  They’re still not always attractive, but they taste damn good and are totally filling.

I usually add spinach and bell pepper, but I also like tomatoes, ham, and lots of cheese!  Next, I’m planning on making my own bone broth soup with chicken bones and my crock pot.  Fingers crossed, please.  For now, I’ve been eating canned soups with lunch or as a pre-lunch snack, then having my normal cut up veggies with my protein of chose at lunch.  So…extra protein and veggies CHECK.  If you have any good recipes for eggs or soups, link below because I’m going to need them.

The other thing my nutritionist wanted me to do was to drink more water so I re-downloaded an old app I used a while ago called Plant Nanny where you plant these cute cartoon-y plants and every time you drink water, you water the plant.  They go through a few changes per plant and then you can add them to your garden and you get to plant a new one.  Cute idea, but after awhile I get tired of the concept, but it is helping me drink more water and be more mindful of how much I drink during the day so that’s a bonus.  I’ve also seen a few non-cutesy water-minder type apps that I might like to try as well.  So, more water CHECK.

For self-care lately, I’ve been making sure to use lotion.  I have pretty dry skin, but in the winter it’s horrible.  I use lotion after showers, but I’ve also been carrying around hand lotion and trying to give my feet some extra attention lately too.  I also bought a Burt’s Bees cuticle cream that I’ve been using since I tend to bite my nails (I know, it’s totally disgusting) and this kind of helps me curtail that somewhat.  I’ve also been getting back into yoga and I’m finding more time for my tarot cards.  Self-care CHECK.

The last thing I’ve been doing lately, and want to do a whole lot more of in 2018 is my singing.  I was a theatre major with a voice minor and moved to New York to do the whole Broadway thing many moons ago.  I also took Cabaret classes and performed many showcase shows and my own solo show back in 2007.  Since having my son, and switching my focus to motherhood and writing I haven’t been singing as much. I sing along to the radio, sure, but nothing consistent and my voice shows it.  I had built up this beautifully rich sounding instrument and that’s well, pretty much gone.  I think it will come back quickly with daily practice and work, at least I’m hoping that’s the case.  I have all of my old voice lessons recorded on my computer so I’m going to start with those and then see where I’m at come summer time – I might try to get back into performing next year.  So, music CHECK.

So, what are you guys doing to take care of yourselves this month?  Do you use apps to help you drink water? Or remember any other habits?  Do you make time for self-care and hobbies?  It’s hard this time of the year, but I encourage you to try at least 15 minutes a day where you can say, “World, I’m stopping to show myself some love!” it will do wonders for your mental, physical, and spiritual health I promise.

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Coffee Break, part 2

It’s almost December…how did that happen?  This time of year is full of holidays, family time, and looking forward to the new year.  2018 will be here in a blink and I have quite a few things to finish up before December 31st rolls around. So, grab a cup of warm coffee or hot chocolate and let’s dive right in. 

For starters I’m still working on the editorial revisions of The Art of Lying and should have those back to my editor by Christmas week.   It took me awhile to get back into my novel’s groove but I’m feeling very much in the flow now and should be finished early (with enough time to read through it at least twice and make sure I’m still totally in love with the thing).  Sarah, my editor, said I should have it back by end of January which will be amazing and give me enough time to hire a cover designer, work on and finalize the front and back matter of the novel (the copyright page, dedication page, etc.) and figure out the formatting software I downloaded.

A while ago I mentioned a story about a young man named Leo and I implied that I would be writing a short story to give away if you signed up for my newsletter.  That was the plan until I started working on it and really loved the characters and the plot and all of a sudden my outline was long – like novel-length long – and I decided I wanted it to be Book #2.  Great!  Except I still needed something to give away for my newsletter.  Well, I came up with a cool idea to write 3 mini stories that are based on the novels I’m either writing or have planned so I really need to finish the first draft of all of those by the end of the year too so I can start editing those over Christmas/New Year’s break.  Whew!  Anyone else tired yet?

The goal (as of right now) is to have my newsletter all ready to go with opt-in freebie short stories and welcome messages by early February and the novel ready to launch by mid-March.  I have the outline for book #2 almost done so once I get my book formatted and uploaded to Amazon I can start writing the first draft of that.  As of right now, that’s all I have planned.  I would like to get book #2 to my editor by the middle of 2018 and launched sometime later in 2018 but we will see how all of that works out.  Considering The Art of Lying has been YEARS in the making I might be thinking too big for 2 books in one year.

What’s on your December To-Do list?  What things are you hoping to finish up before 2018 rolls around?  What are your big dreams and goals for next year?  Are you working on plans or still concentrating on December? Let me know in the comments!

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