Emerge Unstoppable in 2011!

Emerge Unstoppable in 2011! That's my mission this year. Join me as I blog about life during divorce, raising a three year old, and the fight to live one's dream of being a writer, a graphic designer, a prayerfully a success at it all.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Am I Fulfilled? Are YOU?

Do you ever ask yourself that very question? No. If you don't, or haven't, you really should. I'm not telling you what to do here, but I believe in order to get to the root of any problem, you must first ask yourself, Am I fulfilled in my profession? Relationships? Spiritual and physical life?

Again, I must credit W.Gary Gore and Navigating Change for the knowledge of how and when to ask this question. Here's the rub, if you ask then answer honestly, you will see that you are the one who holds the keys to your happiness and therefore fulfillment.

Here's where I am today:

In my profession, I love what I am currently doing. I get to write (blogging about life and business), create (graphic design, real life entrepreneurship), and bring people together (real life entrepreneurship and parties, parties, parties), and I get to pick up Red when she gets out of school at 3:00. Would I like to add a regular pay check to this...absolutely. The Universe and I are working on just that!

In my relationships, I think I am in a constant state of learning how to be a friend to myself and my friends. I work at being a good daughter though I'm not always the best at it. I struggle to let go of the past, but at least I'm trying and not fixated. I work everyday on being my best self as an example to my daughter, my family and my friends. Overall, I am satisfied. Oh, and if you made a mental note that I didn't mention romance in this list, it's because when I am fulfilled at all of the above, I will then be ready to consider romance. Until then, forget it!

Finally, in my spiritual and physical life I tend to feel the least fulfilled, but again, I'm working on it. I have taken my workouts to the house and the neighborhood, so I walk. I find walking to be both physical and spiritual so I am happy. I'm not moving enough though and find myself disappointed in my physical self after only a couple of months without a gym membership. Do I ask the Universe to put a gym membership in front of me? Yes. And, I know it is on its way. Spiritually I struggle with a lot of white noise. When I want to focus on God the little voices in my head often take over. No I'm not psychotic, but thanks for going there. My tiny little bit of A.D.D. does push me to the outer reaches of focus sometimes and I have difficulty reigning myself in. To overcome that I read, a lot. I read at least a chapter in four motivational or informative books (you've seen my reading list, right) each morning. I listen to The Secret when I walk or I listen to my Feel Good playlist on my iPhone. It might make you laugh, but it works. I never end a walk without a smile.

When I was thinking about this particular post I really had no idea what I was going to say and now it appears I have diarrhea of the keyboard. So, it's your turn. Are YOU fulfilled? 

Until next time, I remain a humble servant of fulfillment.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

If I Died Today, What Would You Say?

Today's topic is difficult for most people. It is that of our mortality. In W. Gary Gore’s book Navigating Change he asks yet another tough question: What would my family, friends and associates say about me if I died today?

My life has been so upside down lately that I can only imagine my friends, family and associates being grateful I am…gone. I mean really, I’ve had nothing to talk about but sad, angry, lonely poop that has happened in my life over the last eight months or so. Who wants to listen to that? Even I don't want to listen to that anymore.

Honestly, that's why I’m on this journey to determine my core purpose, the meaning of my life. What I’ve found over the last eight months is that I haven’t been a good friend. I have been difficult to talk to, to listen to; I have been frustrated, angry, hurt and have nothing to intellectual to share. I don’t want to be that person anymore. So what would my friends, family and associates say about me if I died today?

  • Finally! She found some peace.
  • We didn't see her enough!
  • We'll miss her spirit!
That's not how I want to leave this life or this world. So I'm going to leave with you my favorite poem by Andrea Alban Gosline:

Sing my song
In children dancing
And lovebirds soaring
From the nest to the moon.

Tell my story
To jasmine twining
And willows swaying
In the long summer sun.

Look for me
In peaceful eyes of mothers
And faces of their babies
In contented sleep.

Remember me
In quiet nights of winter
And mornings of new flowers,
Dreaming of spring.

Living life isn’t about the bad. It isn’t about sharing what hurts. It’s about sharing what you are grateful for and let me tell you, I’m grateful for so many things (another post for another day). No really, I made a list.

What about you? What would your friends, family and associates say if you died today? How does that make you feel? Would you change anything?

Living a grateful life, I remain Unstoppable.

Monday, August 29, 2011

It Takes Dedication!

So far you've read what I want to do with my life, why that's important to know, whether I believe anyone would notice if I cease to exist (apparently a Lindy can fall in the woods and still make a sound whether someone is there to hear her or not), and the purpose I feel I serve in the lives of others. It was a BIG week in self-discovery last week. Ha!

Now, let's examine what I believe my life is dedicated to. Yes, that is W. Gary Gore's next question on the Core Purpose Questionnaire: What is my life dedicated to?

Here's the long and the short of it: Joy! Growth! My little girl! Supporting us financially! Our church and church family! Our friends and family! Exploration! Adventure! Experimentation (especially in life)! and sharing what we have with others! 

I imagine the Grammar Divas and others in my writing circle might be reading that paragraph chastising me for entirely too many exclamation points. I find it critical  to end each of those points with an exclamation point. Why? Because it reinforces the fact that I am excited about doing each one individually. I feel good about each one and want to live in a constant state of excitement about them because if I don't...they won't happen. Get it?

I am excited about the joy I currently have in my life and I invite more of it! I am excited about growth in my life and I manifest it! I am excited about my little girl and I love her whether she's happy, sad or spitting fire! I'm excited about supporting us financially and I do something about it! I'm excited about having a wonderful church home and family and I find ways to get more involved and give more! I'm excited about exploration therefore I get off the couch and explore! I'm excited about adventure! I'm excited about experimentation! I'm excited about sharing what I have with others! You see the theme, right? If I am excited I can create excitement and therefore no matter what I will be given what I am looking for.

I just launched a new business and a new blog called Real Life Entrepreneurship. I invite you to check it out. In my new adventure I am my own experiment, I found joy, I am growing, I am supporting us financially, and I'm finding countless ways to give back.

That's what my life is all about. Won't you support me? How can I support you? Will you join me?

Until tomorrow, I remain Unstoppable.

Friday, August 26, 2011

That's My Purpose. What's Yours?

Ha! The question for the Ages: Why am I here? (or, with my sticky keyboard...Why am I her?) Either way, it's a good question to know the answer to, right?

So continuing to credit where credit is due, this is Question # 4 on W. Gary Gore's What is My Core Purpose questionnaire: What purpose do I serve in the lives of other people? Can you tell I'm getting a lot of joy from this book? This is a review in progress as well as a work (me) in progress. One of my Tweet-peeps is LizInProgress and I just love her watching her progress. I'm one of those people who believe watching another's progress inspires my own. Are you like that too?

Feet. Back. On. Floor.

So, my answer to Mr. Gore's question is this:
  • I'm a mom to a little girl who doesn't miss a thing. I want to set a positive example for her and for my "mom" friends. I think kids hold onto what they learn from us now and it comes back to us when they reach their teens, so I do everything I can to let Red know I am here for her.  
  • I am a supporter of causes and of friends and even though I may not grab the phone at 3:00AM when you call in a panic, I promise I will call you back when I get up at 6:00AM. I also believe that when you look around you always see someone who needs help be it a kind word, a bottle of water, or a box of groceries. I hope to always stay grounded enough to see those people and help.
  • Though I may not always be perfect at it, I try to be a good and empathetic listener. Sometimes that's all someone needs to feel better about themselves or a situation, and who am I not to hear them out. My friendly neighborhood yardman/handyman just came by to share with me something that was bothering him and the twenty minutes I spent listening wasn't painful at all. In fact, I recommend it.
  • Finally, I think all these things make me a good friend. I may not catch every FB birthday or send cards or gifts, but you will always be in my thoughts and prayers, especially when it's needed most.
So I think overall I make for pretty solid stock when it comes to my purpose. I realize I haven't been perfect, heck, I haven't always been an example of a happy, positive person. Life has tried more than once to defeat me. But I'm not giving up or giving in. I will be that person. I'm in this!

What about you?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Would You Notice?

Still on the path of self discovery with W. Gary Gore, I find myself asking this next tough, yet inspiring question: Would others notice if I cease to exist?

Well, of course! I am the center of your universe, aren't I? You would miss these blog posts everyday and the pleasure of my voice on the other end of the line, right? We can only hope to touch someone's life to the point that they might miss us even a little. But the truth of the matter is most of the people we touch we will affect once and never see them again.

So, the answer to the question for me is: Yes, I believe a select few would miss me for a minute, then they would go about their lives as normal. Others wouldn't notice at all.

My question to myself in taking this a few steps further is this: If I have the rare opportunity to make a difference in someone's life but once, then why not seize that opportunity and make that one instance all it can be? My answer: Why not?

Alright, you all are being conspicuously quiet. It's time to join the conversation. What are your thoughts?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Why?

Yesterday I clued you in on what I want to do with my life, a challenge set forth by W. Gary Gore in his book, Navigating Change. Here is what I said: 


I want to be a positive example of a mother, a friend, a leader (in that order). I want to empower and inspire the people in my life and those who I reach, to be their best selves. I want to experience ultimate joy, selflessness, wealth, success and security for both myself and my daughter through my actions (after all that is all I can control). I want to enjoy the benefit of spiritual peace and abundance.

I think what I want to do with my life sounds fair, certainly reasonable, and very doable. But then he asks why this is important to know. Well...

I may be jumping of the same cliff all of his students have before me, but I think it's important to know this so I can point myself in the direction of what I want and start my journey.

Here I go...

 
My Current Daily Reading List:
  • Simple Abundance – A Daybook of Comfort and Joy by Sarah Ban Breathnach (AM)
  • Navigating Change by W. Gary Gore (AM)
  • The 9 Steps to Financial Freedom by Suze Orman (AM)
  • Praying Our Goodbyes by Joyce Rupp (PM)
  • Think: Straight Talk for Women to Stay Smart in a Dumbed-Down World by Lisa Bloom (PM)
  • Audio: Lord of the Flies written and read by William Golding (PM)

I encourage you to pick up a life-changing book today

Monday, August 22, 2011

Determining My Core Purpose in Life

What do I want to do with my life? Hmmmm.

I want to be a positive example of a mother, a friend, a leader (in that order). I want to empower and inspire the people in my life and those who I reach, to be their best selves. I want to experience ultimate joy, selflessness, wealth, success and security for both myself and my daughter through my actions (after all that is all I can control). I want to enjoy the benefit of spiritual peace and abundance.

 
The question seems obvious for some, but it took reading W. Gary Gore’s book on determining your life’s purpose and orienting your map and compass in such a way that you may achieve it, Navigating Change, for me to ask this question. My entire current (as of August 22, 2011) daily reading list may be found below.

 
What do you want to do with your life?

 
My Current Daily Reading List:
  • Simple Abundance – A Daybook of Comfort and Joy by Sarah Ban Breathnach (AM)
  • Navigating Change by W. Gary Gore (AM)
  • The 9 Steps to Financial Freedom by Suze Orman (AM)
  • Praying Our Goodbyes by Joyce Rupp (PM)
  • Think: Straight Talk for Women to Stay Smart in a Dumbed-Down World by Lisa Bloom (PM)
  • Audio: Lord of the Flies written and read by William Golding (PM)
I encourage you to pick up a life-changing book today.

 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Liberation...Kind Of

Ah, FREEDOM!
I was reminded this morning by a follower that I need to stop the BS. Stop BS'ing my way through each day like everything is okay and start letting this divorce mess go. God, it's hard!

Reminders come in droves daily. Even my soon-to-be wasband said to me last week, "It's been eight months. Why can't you move on?" Taken out of context you might think that I had gone crawling back to him asking to try again. Let me assure you, that was NOT the case. I was actually expressing to him that it wasn't a good time to talk because I was in "hater" mode and I didn't want to cause any friction between us. Better? Thought so.

The thing is, it was easy for him to move on. He took a weekend, packed what he wanted and moved into an empty apartment with newly steam-cleaned carpets and freshly painted walls. He walked away from the daily responsibility of hugging, communicating, listening, bathing, feeding, clothing his family and found himself alone with time to himself to process this vast amount of change. Wow! Now, if I wanted a fresh start that is certainly the way I'd do it given the option. But that wasn't my option. I, instead, was left with no job, a mortgage, and the daily grind of hugging, communicating, listening, bathing, feeding and clothing my family in a home still filled with memories of a marriage.

His comment really tossed me a curve ball. So I sat. And, I thought about it. This was my conclusion...I haven't moved on because I've had all of 68 days to myself inside of eight months to process the fact that we are no longer a family. I am a single mom trying to accomplish great things in my life like becoming a published author, and at this moment, hell, just re-entering the workforce. Sixty-eight days is not a long time to tackle very much on either of those fronts, forget the emotional mayhem.

So, as little Red went off to her father's this past weekend I took it upon myself to do some liberating. Liberating of space. I hired the man down the street (Tony, who is terrific BTW for anyone living here in Medlock Park) to help me go through the loads of crap down in the basement, clean out the crawl space, purge the soon-to-be's stuff from my life. What was a basement full of junk that needed to go is now a craft room, playroom, and extra living area with a couch and tv for watching movies in the darkest of dark rooms. Okay, so there is still a wall filled with things that need to be put in our next yard sale, but my power tools are separate from my hand tools, my screws no longer reside with my nails, and I know where all of those gifts I pre-purchased for birthdays and holidays are now. I even installed shelving at the laundry area to keep things neat and tidy. And, I got to use my screw gun, AGAIN! I love being a girl.

So, for all of you out there suffering the mourning that accompanies divorce, I say, "Liberate yourself!" Stop holding on to the stuff. Let it go. It's time for a fresh, clean start.

Thanks DannJ for kicking me in the ass. I sure needed it.

Until next time, I remain Unstoppable.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Achieve More. Make Mistakes.

“Show me a person who has never made a mistake and I'll show you somebody who has never achieved much.” - Joan Collins

If you choose to view divorce as a mistake, that is your right. Divorce is often that fearful one thing none of us wants to face. Maybe it’s the one thing we swear will never happen to us. The security of that crystal ball never fails me. How about you?

I’ve made plenty of mistakes in my life. I’ve walked away when I should’ve stayed. I’ve held on when I should’ve let go. Hell, I’ve even let go when I probably should’ve held on. But have I learned anything? Sure.

Tonight I found myself on the phone with my soon-to-be-ex. We talked a bit after I said goodnight to Red over the phone (she’s with her dad this weekend). I shared with him how much I missed her when she wasn’t around. He was empathetic. I shared with him how some days I want to call him up and scream and yell at him in anger. Again, he understood. I declared how some days I missed him so much I wanted to tell him to come to his senses and come home. His response, “I guess I’m not the only one that feels that way.”

When we hung up the phone I pretty much sat paralyzed on the couch in my office wondering, “How should I feel?” Sadness over my loss was the first thing that struck me. Losing my husband, my family, is a devastating, embarrassing, humiliating loss. I might even call it a mistake. But, there’s no turning back now. All I can do from this point forward is be myself and learn from my mistakes.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Big Chill…Jones County style

The Big Chill 2011
L to R: Shane, me, Hunter, Todd, Christy, & Bryan
Nostalgia was at its peak last Saturday as friends who I’ve known for 20+ years enjoyed an afternoon of good food and excellent company. We grew up together, us kids. In my mind, no matter how old we get we’ll always be “us kids.” It's funny to see how everyone has changed after 20 some odd years. We've put on a few pounds, some have lost, or are losing their hair, but I guess most importantly we've grown up. Everyone's working on careers and family. In fact, I must admit I was shocked at how tame our get together turned out to be. I could’ve stirred up more trouble in a room full of proctologists than I did at our BBQ Saturday. It was Twilight Zone-ish.

Lovebirds Hunter and Meg
Hunter I've known since I was five. He was probably the first boy I ever had a crush on. I don’t remember how old we were but I will never forget the feeling of butterflies in my stomach as I shakily signed the cast on his broken arm. He has three sweet kids now who are as polite as he always was. I only pray he doesn’t get paid back tenfold with the hot mess he was as a teen. Hunter’s engaged to a wonderful woman, a teacher named Meg. What a joy it was meeting her and her kids too. Someday I’ll have some history with Meg that warrants a blog post, until then *sigh* she’s off the hook.

Always with an attitude!

Bryan was there. I met Bryan when he moved into our neighborhood at, oh I don’t know, twelve or thirteen. He was the next boy I had a crush on. Why? He was exotic. A southern girl like me didn’t know what to do with a boy tied to Italian roots with hair, eyes and a complexion to match. Alas, Bryan broke my heart on my fifteenth birthday. I’ve waited 24 years to call him on it too. Now that I have revealed your offense to the blogosphere Bryan, you are forgiven.
 
Happily ever after.


Todd and Christy, after all these years of being married, pretty much right out of school, are obviously still in love. They hold hands and touch each other like teenagers. It’s sweet. Todd was another in the hot mess category who will hopefully avoid the “fair play” of karma. I hope so for Christy’s sake.

 

Never ending laughs!

Comic relief was provided by Shane. When we were teenagers, Shane always made me laugh. He still does. Shane and his wife Jen are pregnant with their first and I couldn’t be more excited for them. I would love to make a SA comment here, but I really think Shane waited until he was in later life because he wanted to be with the right woman. I haven’t ever met Jen, but I’m certain it’s her.


I guess I should be happy that none of the events from our tumultuous pasts came up in conversation Saturday. We've all had our share of relationships, ups, downs, accidents, joys and losses. We could have probably spent hours dishing all the dirt. Instead, we talked about where we are in life. We shared a few old stories and lots of laughs but I guess once you get to be our age what everyone says is true – you chill.

Robert Browning said, “Grow old along with me, the best is yet to be.” If the best is sharing the company of good, old friends, count me in.

*****

Have you reunited with long time friends? Was it strange to see how much everyone had changed? Was there anything you wish you could’ve changed? Leave me a comment and I’ll send you the most resilient t-shirt around so you too can Emerge Unstoppable in 2011.

*****

Until tomorrow at WritersLi.P.P. I remain Unstoppable.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

ABCs for New Writers – “M” is for Move to Improve

Good morning and happy Monday to all of you new and veteran writers out there. I’m hoping this post finds you wide awake after an invigorating walk, enjoying a cup of coffee, ready for a little BICHOK. If not, then read on.

We’ve already discussed the benefits of focus – BICHOK – But in Chair Hands on Keyboard, we have even talked about liberating your creativity, but we haven’t discussed the honest benefits of fitness when it comes to improving creativity. Today, let’s go against Guerilla Training for Writers.

Recent studies show that an hour of aerobic exercise improves creativity both immediately following exercise and two hours after? In fact, the difference in creativity immediately following exercise and two hours after exercise is slim to none. Okay, so there’s one kicker: In those who are physically fit the levels of creativity are significantly higher than in those who are not. What does that tell us as writers? Maybe sitting in front of a computer all day isn’t the healthiest idea.

First, let’s define Aerobic Exercise. The word aerobic is made up of two Greek words: Aeros meaning air and Bios meaning life. Aerobic exercise is vigorous enough to increase the body's need for oxygen and hence air intake and breathing rate increase. Aerobic exercise is done at a pace that allows an adequate supply of oxygen to reach your muscles as you work out. If you can hum to yourself or carry on a conversation as you work out then you are probably exercising aerobically. (http://stresscourse.tripod.com/id56.html)

Now, let’s figure out some ways to get in an hour’s worth of aerobic exercise. What are some things we can do?

Take a brisk walk around your neighborhood, maybe even break out into a trot. Be certain to wear good shoes, take nice deep breaths, and don’t forget to stretch both before and after.

It’s summertime after all, so why not go for a swim? Swimming is great exercise. You don’t have to invest in good shoes either. Again, stretching is important and if you aren’t a consistent lapper, be sure to take breaks every few. Start with two laps, up and back, take a break, then do it again. Tomorrow, go for three. Build up slowly. The benefit is still the same.

Ride a bike. You can do this outdoors or in. If you live in Georgia like me, the idea of riding a bike in 98% humidity is not appealing. If that’s the case, head to your local YMCA or gym and jump on a stationary bike.

Rowing is also wonderful exercise, and again, it can be done indoors or out. I’m going to recommend outdoors only because boosting your creativity via exercise and taking in nature’s beauty can render you darn near brilliant. In the Atlanta area, Shoot the ‘Hooch offers canoes, kayaks and rafts for rent by the hour.

Finally, there’s nothing wrong with a little Jane Fonda. Take out that dusty old VHS (some of you still remember those, right?) or head to a step class at the gym.

Once you get your hour out of the way, then you can get your BICHOK. Think about all of the benefits. You’re more creative, sure, but what about your improved health? You can get rid of a few unwanted pounds. Knowing that you are taking care of yourself physically has a huge emotional impact as well.

*****

Do you use fitness to boost your creativity? Is there a particular aerobic exercise you do that you could share with our readers? Comment and you’ll be entered to win the Emerge Unstoppable t-shirt. It makes for a great shirt to wear while you’re exercising.

*****

Stop by WritersLi.P.P. this week and meet Megan Stanish and see what all the hoopla’s about.

Until then, I remain Unstoppable.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Love in Five Parts – Part V – All You Need Is…

In a lot of ways it seems like something as broad-reaching and all encompassing as love should take more than five quick blog posts to explore. I suppose in reality it does. But, for all intents and purposes, over the last few weeks, we have covered what we need to.

My parting thought (process) for you is this…I am who I am because of the influence of everyone in my life including you. I know this. I want you to know this too. And the person you’ve guided me to become is a person who will hug a complete stranger and tell him or her, “I love you.” Know why? Because, I do. I’ll tell the boy who broke my heart when I was fifteen (you know who you are), my wasbands, former lovers, my daughter, my parents, family, those I see only rarely, neighbors, friends, anyone who’s willing to accept the gift, the blessing, of “I love you.”

Because all that I know of love is right here. Press play!


 
An aside: This is my all-time-favorite wedding scene from any movie, EVER! If you haven't seen Love Actually stop what you are doing, drive to your nearest video store, get online, whatever you must do, and BUY THIS MOVIE. I promise you won't regret it. Now, back to our blog...
 
You and the love you have shared with me, whoever you are, have given me what I need to find, feel, and express love at its core. I don’t need or ask for anything in return. The joy comes in the experience. So, thanks.
Until next week I remain an Unstoppable love.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

ABCs for New Writers - "L" is for Love Your Process

For some of us our relationship with our creativity is of the love/hate persuasion. I for one often have bursts of creative flow and other times my river runs dry. It’s not writer’s block per se; that’s a whole different animal. This is that sinking feeling like you can’t lift your hefty rear off the couch to create anything, not even a quiche, that would appeal to an audience; least of all your very best friend. The feeling is horrible and leaves your wheels spinning. Idea after idea comes into your brain and just as quickly as they pop in, they poop out.


My Love Letter to My Process,
"Sweetheart, thinking of you keeps me up at night!"
Yes friends, creativity can be a fickle lover. But I have found that if you have a process, a method to your creative madness, you can accomplish more by loving it.

Just like a sprouting tomato plant in early spring, if you nurture it, tomatoes will come. Same with your process, if you care for it, play it music, weed the weaker ideas out of your fertile creative field, nourish it with encouragement, entertainment, and education (sounds like another post); your little creativity seedling will grow into a creative process that by enjoyment, not habit, will yield fists full of well written pages.

My process changes from project to project. I wear many hats in my life and my career, so defining a beginning and end point, like the trained project manager I am, is how I get started. Defining a start and finish, as I said, differs by project. Since we are talking in this context about writing, let’s take a work of romantic women’s fiction. This is on the outset a work of eighty to one-hundred thousand words. Aside from drawing character sketches, and plotting, and research I know that I can work and hour to an hour and a half a day and will typically average 1,500 words in that timeframe. My starting point is doing the math – using today as my start date I figure how many days it will take to write the minimum, in this case 53.3 days, and I draw a darling caricature on my calendar on the block for August 8th that depicts me doing the happy dance. Then, I get to work.

After defining a project frame, which gives me a goal, a deadline I am driven to meet, I write the first scene. I write longhand at first just to get the initial idea on paper and the juices flowing. Once I get a feel for where I’m heading with the story, and who the characters may be, I do the leg work – definition, research, plotting. I schedule interviews with SMEs (Subject Matter Experts) who can help me with the things I know nothing about like the differences in being a circuit court judge in 1950 versus present day. All the while I write.

As a new writer, have you developed your process yet? Have you tried two or three different ideas but nothing seems to fit? Let me know and maybe I can turn you onto trying something new.

Until next time, I remain Unstoppable.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Love in Five Parts - Part IV - Loving, Healthy Kids

All we need is a little...
Love is an emotion that is difficult to share if for no other reason than because it lays bare the sacredness of one’s own heart. But I’ve found the more I talk about love, give love, and invite love the more love I receive. I’m not afraid to face the reflection in the mirror because I have been open with my heart. Have I always made the right decisions? Oh h-e-double hockey sticks no! But, I can go to my grave knowing I stayed true to my heart.

When I look at my young daughter I often think how sad it would be if she never felt love, but it’s not fair of me to force it upon her, so I sit back and wait for the invitation to love her on her terms. Sounds sort of counterintuitive, but even a three year old deserves respect, space and individuality. Who am I to take that from her? But she also deserves love – healthy, hopeful, joyful love.

My sure fire sign that loving, supportive roles are at play is when she sits in my office chair and says, “I am the mommy and you are the little girl.” I laugh and say, “Okay Mommy, what are we up to today?” “Honey, I’m working on my book right now,” she says pointing at the screen. It goes on like this for a while and then I say, “Okay, it’s my turn. Let’s take a break and snuggle for a while.” Agreeing, she bounds into the living room and hops onto the couch and starts ticking off her favorite movies and asks with a very sweet “please” (usually) for me to put one in. Then we curl up on our pillows and watch for a while as her favorite heroes and heroines save the day and fall in love. I always rib her about the heroine kissing the hero and she laughs. It’s not the same laugh as comes with a Scooby Doo fart scene, but hey, not everything warrants uproarious laughter.

When I question my decision about staying home with her even when we face losing everything I don’t regret my choice. Through the ups and downs of radical marital change she has emerged a well-adjusted little girl with healthy emotions and views on love. I believe that is because I refuse to hide my emotions from her and because I respect her needs like that of space, or snuggling. In the end that’s what all this is about anyway – taking what we know and passing it on in a good way, right?

I’m turning it over to you. Do you see how your love lessons have affected your children or your reflection? Do you struggle to overcome the past to build a healthier, happier future?

Today’s shameless marketing - Join me and Pam Asberry tomorrow at WritersLi.P.P. You might be in for a surprise. Until then, I remain the Unstoppable Ms. Start.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

ABCs for New Writers – K is for Knowledge is Key

Today’s blog topic/title probably sounds a bit cliché, but it’s true. I’ve found in life, business, love and writing the more you know the more prepared you are for contingencies. The term “contingencies” makes life, love and writing sound sterile, doesn’t it? I’m just practical gal that way.

Here’s an extreme example: You buckle yourself into a narrow seat on a McDonnell Douglas MD-88. You have very little leg room just like everyone else, and the same pocket in front of you with Sky Mall Magazine and flight safety placard. Do you choose to ignore the flight attendants as they explain where to find the necessary equipment to save your life and someone else’s and use the safety leaflet as a bookmark instead of memorizing it as you taxi down the tarmac – or – do you take a few minutes to verse yourself on floatation devices, exits, and overall air traveler’s rights so you are prepared in case of an emergency? I don’t know about you, but I am annoyed at the number of people these days that take that small effort for granted. And it peeves me to no end to know that I am taking the all important extra step to save them by increasing my knowledge about safety precautions when I would just as soon let them suffer their chosen fate due to laziness.

The same goes for writing. If you don’t take the time, spend the money, make the effort to improve your knowledge of the craft, publishing, even 21st century language then you are going to choose your fate as well. It’s not easy. Life is a time suck. We’ve all been there. But it behooves you to set aside 20 minutes each day to catch up with Publisher’s weekly and read an excerpt the host of books available to writers in this business. It is also worth the investment to join your local  - Georgia Romance Writers - and national - Romance Writers of America - writer’s associations and spend two or three hours a month with others in your field.

If you don’t go that extra mile to educate yourself you can die an unfortunate death in this business due to lack of knowledge if nothing else. What’s it worth to you?

Until tomorrow, I remain the Unstoppable and ever learning Ms. Start.

A teensy-weensy little bit of shameless marketing - Pam Asberry and I launched http://www.writerslipp.com/ on Monday. It's a blog for writers, non-writers, women, men, lovers, and fighters about life and love in penned perspective. Stop by this week and meet us. Leave a comment and follow us for a chance to win some cool prizes!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Love in Five Parts – Part III – For All the Men I’ve Loved Before

Are you ready for this? This is like the most intimate 20 minutes I have ever spent in my life. No joke. Sit and relax and read about the men I have loved, how they have influenced me, and where I’m headed. Ready? Here we go…

True love has found me three times in my life. No, I haven’t only enjoyed three relationships. I’m talking the real thing. That thing folks hope for – true love. My first true love I met when I was fifteen. He was so incredible that I dumped my boyfriend just because he was brazen enough to bow up at him in public. Through ups, downs, breakups and reconciliations we married, divorced, married and divorced. Walking through fire wasn’t enough to keep me away from him, but the threat of becoming a Molotov cocktail was enough to make me realize there was more to life than fear.

The second great love of my life taught me about romance and how real men treat real women. He held me when I broke down, made love to my mind, body and soul, challenged me to always be the better person, and to love with my whole heart. He taught me how to see myself the way he saw me and understand that a loving touch in just the right place lights me up like a fire cracker (minds out of the gutter people – my “g” spot is in the small of my back).

I’m still reeling from the pain of losing the love that lowered my guard and produced the most amazing little girl EVER. I can still remember the first day he knocked on my door and how he looked in his butter yellow cotton shirt and faded blue jeans. Or how we used to kiss for what seemed like hours finally forcing ourselves apart so we could go to work. The look on his face when I walked down the aisle, when he held his little girl for the first time, when I surprised him for his 40th - there’s nothing like those unforgettable loving moments.

All of these men have taught me so much about myself. In fact, I think first and foremost, they’ve taught me who I am but they have also shown me what I want. I can’t imagine ever opening my heart to another, other than my daughter and family, for a long time. When and if I do that’s it; no more doormat. And boy is this guy going to have to be something special. He’s going to have to be a real man, someone who can hold his own in life and with me. A man who knows where to touch me, how to kiss me, how to appreciate making a wrong turn or wrong decision and learning from it, a reader to my writer, a cook, a partner, who loves to laugh and doesn’t pick or criticize, who feels secure in himself and safe with me. He will have his own interests and will want to include me, and will in turn accept and be interested in mine. God, let there be a man with one green eye and one blue who smells of chocolate chip cookies and whose favorite shape is a silver, five-pointed star. God, let there be that family man.

Join the conversation. What loves have influenced your life? Are there particular qualities in your man, woman, or the partner of your dreams that you cannot live without?

Trying desperately to get back into the groove, I am still Unstoppable and still end in Start!

Monday, May 23, 2011

ABCs for New Writers – J is for Just Write; Edit Later

Okay folks, this should be totally self-explanatory, but let me tell you something, for even experienced writers, writing without our internal editor switched “on” can be hard. You’ve heard of the internal editor, right? That’s that little voice, the angel, or devil on your shoulder that makes you go back to the beginning of each paragraph to read, re-read, and edit it to death before you can move on. That little bugger can make a writer cra-zee!

So here’s the deal, imagine a switch for your internal editor and flip it to the “off” position. Write. Write. Write. If you have to, write longhand. But don’t, let me repeat; don’t edit anything until you write “the end.."

What? You feel like you might lose your train of thought. Your subconscious brain doesn’t forget my friends so you have lost nothing. How do you trick your conscious brain into picking up where you left off? That’s easy. Go back to the work you did the day before (yes, I am making the assumption you write on a daily basis) and re-write, or re-type the last couple of sentences or paragraph where you left off. Then all you have to do is keep going. Cool huh? Try it!

The most important thing is to get your ideas on paper in their freshest, most tender state. That is where all of your emotion lies in the newness of a thought or idea. If you edit before you even get the complete thought on paper then you lose the feelings that drove you to have the thought or idea to begin with. Don’t do that. I want to read about whom you are and what you are feeling whether it’s fictionalized or not. If you don’t feel like you can trust yourself to put your emotions on paper, well, that’s another letter for another day.

So get to it! Close your eyes. Envision the switch. Turn it off. Nice. Now write.

Until Wednesday, I am back and feeling a little more organized and Unstoppable.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Blogcation - Vacation from Blog Duty

Blogcation. Yes, it's a word. One I actually thought I came up with on my own today. However, after further investigation, turns out, I was wrong. Seems many of us writers turned bloggers need time away from their blogs as well.

Laughably, I thought that I could get ahead of posts, keep some on standby for the days that I just couldn't bring myself to write. Ha! Fool I am. After being exhausted by a person who has no regard whatsoever for my feelings, a daughter who wants her way all the time which equals a constant power struggle, and now non-existent work which is leading me to panic over finances, turns out I need a blogcation to pull myself up by the bootstraps and see exactly where I'm headed in all this. In other words...I'm taking a week off.

Faithful readers and friends, I will be back (hopefully) next week with posts to make your heart soar, advice to keep you going, and a hopeful spirit not to be overshadowed by this "life" stuff.

Until then, I hope you have a wonderful week.

Finding my way back to Unstoppable.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Love in Five Parts - Part II

So, if I were to tell you my father was a narcissist to the nth degree could you understand how I love him? What about if I told you my mother passed her codependency on to me, could you see how I love her? How about this…what if I told you I love myself even though I inherited some of both my parent’s character defects? Could you love me too?

It’s a fascinating study in human behavior, this need to love and feel love. What exactly does love do for us? Does it provide wealth, freedom, stability, anything tangible? No. Does it feed us, clothe us, and keep a roof over our head? I guess that depends on your perspective, but not really.

I think love as it is defined (refer to last week’s post – Part I) gives us wings. Oh heck, now that’s a Hallmark card in the making. Sorry. Love gives us the opportunity to put ourselves out there to another human being. We lay bear our hearts, souls, brains to someone else. It’s terrifying and freeing all at the same time.

And what if our way of love is tempered by narcissistic or codependent parents, or both? Then how do we put forth, or even know, what it is we want to give and receive in love?

I learned a lot from my parents, which is what I will share today. This is Part II after all and a fitting place, the first layer of ingredients in our L-O-V-E pie. Sounds kind of dirty, doesn’t it? Well, it’s not!

I have always loved my parents and I think, despite all the hell I put them through, my parents have always loved me. I know they both came from very difficult circumstances in their own childhoods and as an adult I try to grasp every part of that, and how they raised me, in order to more fully understand and love them. Whew!

My father travelled a lot when I was young which I guess left me always wanting for his attention. When he was home he was typically in need of space. Needless to say, I was a busy-body and probably always in his way. But, my dad did a great job at giving me all of the opportunities and benefits he didn’t have as a child. I traveled, attended nice dinners, private schools, and for the most part got what I wanted when I wanted it. Those things did not make up for Dad not being around. I still missed him and that put me in a position to want a man’s love and attention very early on.

My mom, on the other hand, was a doting, caring, loving mom who stood by me through thick and thin. Anyone would want that, right? But, what neither of us got at the time, and I think this is the case of most parents and children, is that I needed to stand on my own two feet, learn lessons the hard way, crack my freaking skull so I’d know not to traverse the rocks of the river in flood waters. You know? So yes, mom was always there but because I had never felt the pain of making my own mistakes, I thought at a very early age that I knew what was best for me.

They influenced me in both extremely positive and terribly negative ways. As an adult I have studied their individual impacts on me and hope that I have learned enough junior psychology not to pass along certain tendencies to my daughter. However, the best ones I pray she will get tenfold, like patience, kindness, a bright smile, a willingness to own up to her mistakes, to give freely of herself. These are the things I want for her.

I will leave you to digest Part II and eagerly await Part III. A cliffhanger of sorts. Until next week, jump in with both feet and tell me about your upbringing and the people who influenced you. Do you recognize what you do today that you adopted from your childhood? Are there things you wish you could change?

Until tomorrow, I remain Unstoppable.

Monday, May 2, 2011

ABCs for New Writers - "I" is for Inspire

For all intents and purposes I mean inspire others, but as with everything, this is somewhat karmic (what goes out comes back tenfold). Why? As you uplift others and propel them forward to follow their own dreams, so too are you moved forward toward your own. Deep, huh? Some day you’ll find that quote in Bartlett’s.

I witness it each day in my own life as well as the lives of my fellow writers. When you are able to share your stories, struggles and triumphs included, the individuals who follow your progress also become ready to try their hand at what they want most out of life. In other words, before you even publish your very first work you can affect lives. Ultimately isn’t that why we become writers, because we want to touch people, to pass on a message, to help them in some small way?

I interpret a writers “voice” in this way. It is the message that one intends to convey not the means by which one conveys it. (Boy, Bartlett’s here I come!) And though voice is a topic for another day, one that you will understand better by the time we get there, it bears weight in today’s conversation. As you share your story, your progress, you develop your voice.

I get e-mails from friends and readers regularly that say simply, “great job!” or “keep going!” Those small messages give me the courage I need to keep walking the path toward my ultimate goal of becoming a published author. The best ones though are the ones that read, “This was just what I needed to hear today. Thank you.” Those words can keep me going strong for days.

Reading the blogs of my fellow writers I see the same messages shared in the comments. In turn, I hear them speak about how friends and followers have inspired them and the circle continues because then I am inspired to share my story with you hoping that you will tell your story…see where I’m going with this. It creates a visual Microsoft might envy for a screen-saver – colorful, dramatic circles of sharing that keep going and going until someone touches the keyboard.

There are so many ways to share your story in today’s digital world. If you are afraid, or don’t understand something, ask for help. You can write a blog, tweet on Twitter, post your story on Facebook or all of the above, all in short bursts of words, that if done strategically, not only inspire others but help develop your platform and grow your audience. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. After all, we’re only at the letter “I”.

Join the conversation. Have you reached others by sharing your story? Would you like to? What would hold you back? What is your favorite comment, so far?

Until Wisdom Wednesday and Part II of Love in Five Parts, I remain Unstoppable.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Truth is You Can HELP

There’s not been an Easter as far back as I can recall (and that’s pretty far back) that hasn’t offered frightening, horrible weather like we experienced in Alabama and Georgia last night. My heart goes out to all the people who lost members or their family, their friends, and their homes. It will be a long time before life returns to normal for many of our neighbors.

Instead of writing fiction today, I’m going to tell you a whole lot of truth in very few words – these people need your help.

After spending part of my career working for nonprofit organizations that assist people in need, I know firsthand how important it is to step up to the plate in times like these.

So, here’s one little thing you can do: Donate

Visit the American Red Cross website or text "REDCROSS" to 90999 to give $10.

The governor of Alabama has also set up a relief fund:
Governor's Tornado Relief Fund
Neighbor Helping Neighbor Inc.
The Tuscaloosa News
P.O. Box 20187
Tuscaloosa, Ala., 35402-0187

To assist victims residing in Northwest Georgia: American Red Cross of Northwest Georgia

Click and donate - Five, ten, twenty dollars - whatever you can manage.

If you find other ways to donate or ways to volunteer, please post them here, on Facebook, Twitter. Get the word out so we can help our neighbors in need.

Until Monday, I remain saddened by all of this devastation and willing to help.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Wisdom Wednesday – Love…in Five Parts

It struck me this morning, as I was driving into an office I frequent and entire day-and-a-half a week, how blessed my life has been by love. Are you wondering what brought about this epiphany? Why, Lady Antebellum did. One song in particular entitled, If I Knew Then. The chorus - Cause love only comes once in awhile, Knocks on your door and throws you a smile, And takes every breath, leaves every scar, Speaks to your soul and sings to your heart, And if I knew then what I know now, I’d fall in love - touches me on the many levels of this mysterious condition that allows my heart to soar and ache all at the same time.

It’s a charming little four-letter word, isn’t it? L-O-V-E. Its definition remains so enigmatic that not one of us has yet to truly figure it out.

At its foundation, love is defined (in this case by Dictionary.com) as: a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person. Sounds lovely, right? But love has many different levels, layers that fill a person’s pie shell with sweet, sour and savory flavors that affect how we give generous, or calorie reduced slices of love in return.

In my lifetime I have been touched by the love of my parents and family, I have fallen in love with three men who shaped me as a woman and will always hold a place in my heart, and I have experienced the enormous love between mother and daughter. Blessed I tell you, blessed!

So what is it about love, on a Wednesday, which inspires me to delve into this recipe? Pain. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to drag you into my current brand of crazy, but, that insanity is what is keeping me up at night forcing me to think about whether my recipe is good enough, or not.

Also, love is taboo. It’s something we choose not to jinx; talk about before its time. Unless we are closely connected to friends and family, we rarely release it from the vest. So, this is my attempt to get you to share your recipe for love. Educate me. Listen intently, I may just teach you a little something in return. Ah, the give and take of…love. See, intimacy abounds.

Here we find ourselves at the end of Love – Part I. Mise en place is complete. Now, let’s start putting the ingredients in this pie and talk about how they help us express the love we feel. Yes, feeling is scary, but you can do it. I believe in you.

Until next Wednesday and Part II, I remain Unstoppable.

Monday, April 25, 2011

ABCs for New Writers – “H” is for Harness Creativity

It’s funny, when someone uses the term “harness” in my brain it conjures up the image of a cowboy lassoing a mighty stallion. I must have been a cow poke in a former life. I also envision “harness” as something you do to energy or atoms; capturing it in little glass jars like fireflies.


But, when I speak in terms of harnessing creativity, I am telling you to liberate it. I know it’s an antonym. Are you wondering how to do it? Well, in my case and that of a number of other writers I know, you get the opposite of BICHOK (butt in chair hands on keys) and do a little hard labor. There’s nothing like some back-breaking hard work to clear your head and get the creative juices flowing again.

Oh, so that’s too much to ask? Okay, hit a road block or writer’s block and see if you don’t change your mind. Dolly Parton has been known to fast - yes, I mean stop eating - in order to get her creativity revved up and has written entire albums full of heartfelt songs while consuming nothing but fruit juice. Who wouldn't with the promise of a cheeseburger once finished?


My friend and critique partner came for our weekly check-in on Friday and we talked about how good it was to step away from our respective WIPs and do a little physical work. Pam tore her house apart and painted both her son’s room and her piano studio while on spring break, and emerged with new direction and ready to get back to work on a project that had been threatening to go into the recycle bin. I have taken on a very intense gardening project that involves five raised beds, two sections of patio and surrounding flower beds. It is an undertaking but one I needed to pull me away from my recent lack of enthusiasm over my WIP.


An unstoppable garden under construction.
If I stop now I have a mosh pit.

Talk about getting derailed (March 16, 2011). It happens sometimes – life – and it takes away from everything a writer holds sacred – time, passion, fervor – all gone replaced by the burdensome weight of sadness, anger and frustration. It takes time to get creativity back on track, so liberate it in other ways and keep feeding your soul. Go fishing if you have to. Take on a new workout routine. Get physical. I promise it will make slipping off track much easier to deal with emotionally.

Tell us something about you. What kind of heavy lifting gets your mind off your troubles? Do you ever find yourself lacking enthusiasm over your WIP (whatever it may be)? How do you liberate creativity?

Until Wednesday I remain back-broken and dirty but Unstoppable.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Truth or Fiction Thursday - Can Carpet Shampoo Do That?

Got ya wondering, didn’t I?

So, I’ve said before that I can’t be all Tony Robbins all the time and today is one of those days. So, being the domestic goddess that I am, I wanted to share with you the best product on the planet to clear away stains. Not only does it clean normal, everyday stains like coffee, wine, mud, grass (yes, I have a pretty messy family, but who doesn’t) it has even cleaned – drum roll – red fingernail polish out of beige carpet.

No. I. Am. Not. Kidding.

And, you don’t have to buy the fancy and terribly expensive vacuum cleaner for it to work (just please don’t tell the Rainbow people I said that. Yes, it is Aquamate Floor Shampoo offered by Rainbow.

You can buy it online for anywhere from $17 to $23 and it’s worth every penny.

Being a young, penny-pincher back in the day, I used to sit in the middle of my living room floor watching Chicago Hope and painting my toes. I know, I’m telling my age here, but I did say I was young then. Well, one night while getting into one of Mandy Patinkin’s many musical performances, I knocked over a bottle of red nail polish. OMG! I thought I was in for it. My husband would kill me. Okay, so I wasn’t that young.

I dashed around the house looking for anything that would take out the glaring red smudge and not bleach the carpet. And lo and behold there it was, the Aquamate Floor Shampoo in the laundry room just waiting to be challenged. I say challenged because it came with the unreasonably expensive vacuum that I got suckered into by a door-to-door salesman who managed to convince me that selling vacuums was how he was going to pay for his blind wife’s eye replacement surgery and that his products would miraculously save the dying with a tiny daub. After that night, I ran right out and had “sucker” tattooed across my forehead so others could convince me to spend an ungodly amount of money on something else I didn’t need.

Back to the story – So, I sat down in the floor with a white dish rag and this cleaning solution and went to scrubbing. At first, the spill got worse. It spread like wildfire the more I tried to scour it away, but then I think the friction I was causing changed the chemical compound from cleaner to miracle worker. The dramatic red polish spill was gone.

No. I. Am. Not. Kidding. I love making dramatic statements with periods (but only in my blog Grammar Divas).

So, am I telling you to run right out and buy this stuff? Well, I am not trying to afford my blind wife’s eye replacement surgery, however, I do highly recommend if you have kids, pets, carpet, a house with any fabric in it whatsoever, spend the dime and get the good stuff. It will last you forever and come in handy in any number of fabric emergencies.

Join the conversation. Is there a product that worked miracles you never expected?

Until Monday and the ABCs for New Writers, I remain an Unstoppable domestic goddess.

Today’s disclaimer: I do not own stock in or represent Rainbow Vacuum Cleaners or their products. I am an independent consumer with one opinion.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Wisdom Wednesday - Where Are We Hurrying To?

The thing about the rat race is that even if you win you’re still a rat. – Lily Tomlin


There’s this wonderful little book sitting on the table next to my recliner that, when I’m a good girl, I read with zeal and put right to practice. It’s called The Power of Patience by M.J. Ryan.

The title of today’s post and what I want to share with you was inspired by the passage, Where Are We Hurrying To? By example, it begs the question, “What is so important that we would sacrifice our sanity and serenity to get to “it” or get “it” done without bothering to enjoy the journey?”

My little girl has been dealing with, next to death or serious illness, the most painful thing a kid could experience – divorcing parents – and it’s starting to wear on her. So tonight, when she got home from dinner with her father and had a meltdown because she didn’t want to take a bath without her bathing suit on (yes, Sally, I think she’s met Her Majesty), I quickly soaped her up, rinsed her off, got her dressed for bed and then laid down in the floor with her for as long as my back could stand and colored.

For a lengthy time before bed (and I even put it off a bit) I took direction from her about what color marker to use on what corner of the page. It was the most important moment of my day. Not only did I learn that Tinkerbell actually looks good as a “pink candy fairy”, I gave up my far-from-first-place position in the old rat race and patiently accepted my daughter’s need for love and attention. And, thanks to The Power of Patience I was able to give it to her.

I can’t lie to you; I personally enjoy the rat race. I find challenge exciting. But folks, I don’t want to be that rat that missed out on her baby girl growing up. So, for today, I’m happy to have left the race a little early.

Until tomorrow, I am still here, better late than never, and remain Unstoppable.

Monday, April 18, 2011

ABCs for New Writers - "G" is for Go Get 'em Tiger!

Sometimes the best thing to do is just start, right? My mom once gave me this frilly, lace-fringed magnet that read, “I’d be unstoppable if I could only get started.” There’s no doubt that even at my age getting started isn’t always that easy to do.


But more importantly, once you get started, what are you going to do with that? Let me share with you a snippet form my own life – YOU KEEP GOING!

Why, Lindy, what ever do you mean (in my best Scarlett O’Hara voice)? I mean keep putting one foot in front of the other. But, I can’t take care of all these people (in my weakest Melanie rebut). Let me tell you a little something, if you can just keep taking one more step, you can go places, feed people, live your dream.

Forgive my Scarlett and Melanie references, but Nancy Knight rubbed off on me in her Well Begun is Half Done workshop this past Saturday at our monthly Georgia Romance Writers meeting.

Don’t believe me? Well, during the very last week of February and the very first week of March, I took an InDesign (Adobe graphic design program) course with my girlfriend who needed some help with her BIG advertising client. Three days over the course of two weeks I spent learning something new and you know what, here it is mid-April and not only do I work 10-15 hours a week for that client, I work another 10 hours a week for a recently acquired client of my own. Know why? Because I let go of my fear and self-doubt and took a flying leap of a cliff.

When I went soaring off the precipice into the open air and great unknown I had no idea that I could survive. I had no clue I could be successful. But I dove knowing that if I didn’t do it I would regret it for the rest of my life.

I strive to put that philosophy into practice in everything I do, including my writing.

So, if you ever find yourself thinking that it’s just not possible, you’re not good enough, or you’re just too darn lazy, guess what, those are all pretty lame excuses! Go out there and get ‘em tiger! I know you can.

Until Wednesday, I remain aloft and Unstoppable.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Wisdom Wednesday - A One Minute Lesson on Taking Care of Yourself

A long, long time ago I read this book called The One Minute Manager. You might have heard of it. It was written by Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson. I didn’t take it seriously at first but when I got into it I discovered there was a lot of wisdom in that little book for a then aspiring manager. And many, many years later, as a manager of very different things, I still hold onto a couple of the lessons that stuck.


One being take one minute (probably less) to do something that will make you happy or in this instance, bring relief. I recall the lesson in the book being about one person’s dirty windshield and how it took less than a minute to wipe it clean with a paper towel. I often find myself sitting at a red light staring at bug guts on my windshield, so I put this into practice. Know what I found out? It truly does take less than a minute to bring great relief.

So, today I am going to challenge myself to take a minute, maybe even two, to do a little something that will make me happy. I might go and wash the yucky yellow pollen off of my car, or stop and have a cup of coffee at my favorite coffee shop, or maybe, just maybe I’ll vacuum (I can’t stand having a messy house and right now mine is making me crazy!) Okay, so these things take more than a minute, but you get my point. It doesn’t take much to make you happy, so why not get off your rear and just do it?

What if we applied this one minute principle to our writing? What if we took one minute each day to write one sentence in a minute? Could you do that? Would that sentence make sense? Could it lead you to writing another sentence tomorrow? What if we wrote one sentence today and perfected it? No, I mean really made it perfect. How long would it take us to finish a project? Good question, huh? Well, say that one perfect sentence each day inspired you to write an entire scene when you finally fell into the recliner after the dishes were clean, the kids bathed and in bed? What if that inspiration led you to stay up an hour longer to write? See, one minute can make all of the difference in the world.

How will you use your minute? What will you take a minute (more or less) to do today that will make you happy, bring you relief?

Until tomorrow, I remain Unstoppable.

Monday, April 11, 2011

ABCs for New Writers – “F” is for Flexibility, Forgiveness and Fundamentals or Just Plain Fun

The F-words can be pretty offensive, but if you swallow hard, I’m sure you too can manage hearing them with grace.


Flexibility is a huge key to any new writer’s growth (note I didn’t say success). In order to grow you must be able to ebb and flow with life’s tides. Your first goal as a writer is to put humongous burdens on yourself. Make sure you set out to write for two hours (at least) or 2,ooo words a day. Don’t take into account sick days, vacation days, your kid’s days for each of those, the fact that your spouse, family, best friend needs you. NO! Set unreasonable goals so you have a good excuse to quit and not live your dream. What? Don’t want to give up on your dream? Alright then, breathe in these dream-sustaining words – remain flexible. Change as you need to and be proud that if you even daydream about your story for a minute today you have moved closer to living your dream of being a writer.

Forgiveness goes hand in hand with flexibility. If you make the mistake of taking on too much too soon (I’m speaking from experience here people) forgive yourself. Don’t quit. I would miss you. We would all miss you. The thing of it is you are part of a community now so if you leave we will notice. Your spirit – aka energy – will be missing from this fantastical world us writers call home. So, if you face unanticipated challenges, deal with them, forgive yourself a needed break, and then return to your community.

Finally (ah, another “F” word) we have fundamentals. Never stop learning the fundamentals of your craft. Our language is constantly growing and changing. You can read any urban dictionary to learn that (I’m waiting for the Grammar Divas to chime in here). But the fundamentals of good writing remain the same. Take an English refresher at your local university. Emory University offers one I’ll be taking in the fall. Take a workshop online. Read a book or watch a video on craft. Michael Hague’s The Hero’s Two Journeys is wonderful. Stephen King’s On Writing is insightful. You won’t regret knowing your craft.

Above and beyond all else, and this is most important, NEVER STOP HAVING FUN! Your dream isn’t meant to be work. I know. I know. When you get into the business of writing it will be more like work, but as a new writer it’s meant to be life giving. So, have fun with it. Be adventurous and creative and have FUN!

Until Wednesday, I remain Unstoppable.

Friday, April 8, 2011

I'm Joining the Follow Friday Blog Hop!




This week’s question:
Inspired by the spectacular melt down of Jacqueline Howett on Big Al’s Book Blog, how do you deal with a bad review?

I, like Nicole Chase (today's featured author), have not yet been published. There is a part of me that feels like my first bad review will tear me to shreds, break my heart and lead me to never write again. I say that, but I got some good advice from friend and author C.L. Wilson back in March. She pointed out reviews that had been posted for Jane Eyre, Romeo and Juliet, classics we all must adore just on principle, and they were horrible, painful, lacking in respect. She also shared the one fabulous review where a reader admitted that Cheryl changed her life. So, as a person who always (and I'm sayin' - ALWAYS) sees the glass as half full, I will hang on to the one great review and ignore the rest. I will handle it with grace as best I can. I want to keep going and hopefully someday change another person's life too.

Now it's your turn to join The Hop!

The rules
1) Follow this blog.
2) Click the quill photo and follow Elizabeth Sharp, the originator of this hop.
3) Follow the featured author of the week, Nichole Chase
4) Copy the image code found there and paste it in your blog. Add your name to the link at the bottom of the post while you are there.
5) Copy and paste the rules in your blog, as well as this week’s question.
6) Answer the question
7) Follow, follow, follow. This is about networking, people, making connections with people in your community. So talk to us. We don't bite!
8) If someone stops by, says hi and follows you, the polite thing to do is follow back.
9) Comment here and introduce yourself and you just might find a new follower or two.

Join the fun. Until next week I remain Unstoppable.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Truth or Fiction - A Question

You cannot give your life more days, but you can give your days more life.
- Unknown


It's time to wax philosophic. True or false - how do you feel about the quote? Can you or can't you give your life more days? Can you or can't you give your days more life?

I believe you can do both. Only me. Not speaking for anyone else here.

Some might take the stance that our Maker knows how many days we have from the get go. I believe that, but I also believe we, as non-makers, have the ability to mess it all up by eating unhealthy food, playing video games instead of taking walks, in general not taking care of ourselves. So, yes, I think you can give your life more days.

And, well, you already know how I feel about giving your days more life. It's a given. Unless you cannot pull yourself out of the doldrums of hell, life is riddled with disease, addiction, pain - nope, not even that line works for me. I've seen people who could be hopeless be huge contributors to their own wonderful, empowered lives. You can add more life to your days no matter what. Period. And, if you're having trouble, ask for help. Friends, family, professionals are all here to help so you can live free and happy.

The short but sweet beginning to an argument of sorts. What do you think?

Hoping you'll join the conversation, I remain Unstoppable.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Around of Words in 80 Days - My first Wednesday Update

Yes, it's sad but true, I signed on for a challenge at a time in my life that there is no time. Pamela Mason, your comments about a challenge for those of us with a life, to you I say, "Ha!" Waking up = No TIME! Not even for a challenge for which you set your own goals.

So, here I am to tell you that for the first two days of ROW80 I have done nothing but brainstorm. Ideas and research have been running rampant through my head. Now, if someone could take dictation, they might actually make it to the page.

Happy challenge to all of you ROW80ers. Maybe I'll find the minimal 45 minutes I require of myself tomorrow.

Lindy
aka The Unstoppable (currently reconsidering her name) Ms. Start

Wisdom Wednesday – An Impassioned Plea for Hope

It feels like a good day to share a little bit of myself with you. I've been struggling lately to find my ground, somewhere for my feet and my soul to reside during a time of life that is "upside down." In searching for this ground I am forced to remember my whole life, a life that hasn't always been peaches and cream, a life that sometimes has been very black and disillusioned. Why? Because I failed to have hope.

That reigned true for me watching Becky Blanton's video on TED. If you have a little over seven minutes, I hope you will take a minute to watch it to. Our stories are very similar though mine didn't begin with a camping trip.

Becky is a journalist and after losing her father decided to embark on a "camping" trip to find out who she was. But, at the onset, she lost her freelance job and fell into a deep depression. She felt homeless. It took another's wisdom to point out that she was wrong.




I lived much the same way for a period of six months or so back in my early 20s. Struggling to grow out of my first divorce I finally found a job in advertising and hoped to launch into marketing stardom. Instead, I my roommate found a boyfriend and kicked me out, I didn't make enough money to live anywhere but a crack hotel on Jimmy Carter, and I was back to eating mac & cheese and potatoes like a college kid. So, I lived at truck stops, bathed in public restrooms, and for the most part was a vagabond, but darn it, I had my career.

I finally realized after months of this torture that I wanted more. I wanted a home, a family, a job that at least paid the bills, security - so I chucked my idea of being an advertising whiz kid and moved back home to Macon where I lived with my parents.

Now, when I started this post I was telling you that I am in need of finding my ground, so here's the hook - I'm here again! History has repeated it's fickle self. Though this time I have a card up my sleeve that will certainly trick the deck. I. Have. Hope. Those are some powerful words.

So, as I fight to hold onto who I am as a person and a writer, struggle to start a new business, face my failing marriage, raise a happy, well-adjusted three year old, I open my heart and soul to you in the hopes that I can maintain that hope. I want to rise like a phoenix above this mess and emerge a rainbow-hued beauty floating gracefully overhead, at peace. Hold me accountable, will ya?

Feel free to join the conversation. Why do you think history repeats itself? Have you ever lived out of your car? Are you another phoenix rising from the ashes?

Until tomorrow, I hope to remain Unstoppable.

Monday, April 4, 2011

ABCs for New Writers – “E” is for Expectations

Boy howdy, do we know how to have expectations! We expect to be able to stay on top of everything all the time, our kids to do well at school and in activities, our raises or bonuses to come through, and when we say our prayers, now think about it, we ask for what we expect. I’m going to ask you an honest question, and I want an honest answer…how many of you pray (or meditate) only for your Higher Power’s will and acceptance of that will? I certainly haven’t always prayed for what my Higher Power believed was best, I selfishly asked for what I wanted on my schedule. I had…expectations.

Now, I don’t want to get up on my soapbox today, instead I want to talk about our expectations as writers. You probably already know where this is going, but I could throw you for a loop. I often fool myself when I am writing so please keep reading and let’s see where this goes.

As a writer, I (personally) expect to:
Accomplish my goals, no matter how crazy and time-crunched they may be;
Publish this year;
Not get frustrated, overwhelmed, side-tracked (fill in the blank);
Learn something new about craft every day;
Never get my feelings hurt over a critique or a bad review.

You name it folks and every single time I (I can only speak for myself) expect perfection. The thing of it is we’re not perfect. We’re human; flawed in every sense of the word. But, as writers, especially newbie writers, that can be a welcome and wonderful part of our journey.

Take that list of bullet points up there, insert yourself, then see failing at every single one - you can’t meet your word count on a daily basis; can’t get published; got frustrated, overwhelmed or side-tracked for no real good reason; didn’t learn a single new thing; and you took your last critique so personally you folded into a blubbering lump on the floor. Can you see it? Feel it?

I know it hurts, but don’t give up on me yet…

“In dealing with those who are undergoing great suffering, if you feel "burnout" setting in, if you feel demoralized and exhausted, it is best, for the sake of everyone, to withdraw and restore yourself. The point is to have a long-term perspective.” – Dalai Lama

The Dalai Lama is a wise man. Don’t have impossible expectations. In fact, try not to have any at all. Instead, remain flexible. Give yourself permission to withdraw and restore when necessary.

Now, imagine loosening your belt a bit (aka lowering your expectations). Your writing goals aren’t as stringent so you’ve been able to accomplish them for the most part; a publisher has requested a full on spec; you had no real reason to feel frustrated, overwhelmed or side-tracked because you accepted each of these emotions as they arose; you learned a tiny little snippet of something new (without voraciously consuming the latest book on craft) almost every day; and your last critique offered up some really good advice from an author you admire. Now how do you feel? Things could still work out for you, right? Do you feel defeated or driven to work a little smarter, maybe change your perceptions?

If you want to find success as a writer or as a human you can’t put so much pressure on yourself. If you do the certainty is that you will fail. But if you relax, stop asking for what you want on your schedule, do the work and let things happen, then no matter how you look at it, you will have succeeded.

Do you have high expectations of yourself? I’ve just added to mine by joining the Round of Words in 80 Days Challenge (ROW80). My tiny goal for the next 80 days is to work on my current WIP for 30 minutes a day and to work on plotting the next WIP for 15 minutes each day. Will you join the challenge?

Until Wisdom Wednesday I remain flexible, open to my Higher Power’s will and Unstoppable.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Truth or Fiction Thursday - The Cleaner Revealed

Sharon fell hard into her large, black office chair and trembled at the thought of some male presence being "attached" to her. She wanted to know more, to go and find Marisol and get to the bottom of this mystery. She felt dirty too and wanted nothing more than to get "cleaned."

Staring at the worn brown stain on the floor in front of her she timidly asked Candice, "Does it hurt? Cleaning, I mean."

Candice tried to contain her laughter, "Not unless he won't let go."

"Would Marisol tell me more about him? Could you make him go away?"

"I will go and get what I need to clean you, and I will ask Marisol to come in, but I can't guarantee she will," Candice looked down at the ground as fast as she could to hide her expression.

"You keep that stuff here?"

"I do," Candice mocked a straight face. "This has happened before, you know?"

"Really?" Sharon was astounded by these women with supernatural powers and how they seemed to be introduced regularly to people who needed cleaning.

"Let me go talk to Marisol."

Sharon became very frightened at the imaginings running through her brain. She couldn't fathom what spirit presence might be stalking her. She lowered her head and in her good Christian way began to pray, "God, please take this evil..."

"April Fool's!" came a resounding scream from just outside her office door.

Sharon looked up to find Marisol, Candice, and the rest of the administrative staff looking at her and laughing heartily.

Her tear-stained face red with embarrassment, Sharon couldn't help but join in the prank.

It's your turn. Could the story keep going? I guess you'll just have to wait and see.

Until next we meet, I remain Unstoppable.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Truth or Fiction Thursday – The Cleaner

The first day on her new job, Sharon was joined by her officemate, Marisol. A Spanish beauty, Marisol swept into the office bringing with her the scent of warm, ripe cherries. She wore bright colors and hummed a tune, at least, until Sharon caught her eye.

“You’re new,” her voice a questionable lilt with a hint of accent.

“Sharon McMurtry,” she extended her hand shyly. “And yes, I am new.”

Marisol was gracious and took her hand. She seemed cautious, guarded. After a second rise and fall of their dainty hands, Marisol jerked her hand away from Sharon, “You’re not alone?”

Sharon shrugged her shoulders, looked around the room, and then looked back at Marisol, “Huh?”

Marisol retreated quickly, like if she remained close to Sharon much longer she might fade into the fluorescent light of their office never to be seen again.

“I’m sorry,” Sharon said, “did I say something wrong?”

Marisol didn’t say anything. She glanced over her shoulder at Sharon as she left what would be their office.

What the hell did I do? Sharon was upset by Marisol’s reaction. She had hoped more than anything to make fast friends and find some distraction from her current circumstances. Disappointed, she sat at her desk and started reading through the stack of orientation paperwork that had to be completed before she could officially begin work.

Sharon was lost in the red tape and didn’t bother to look up from her paperwork until she sensed someone walked into the office. Thinking it was Marisol, Sharon said in a flipant tone without looking up to verify, “So, I’m so bad I chased you right out of here?”

When there was no reply, she looked up and met eyes with a tall, thin, redhead. She would be beautiful if it weren’t for the stark contrast between her bright auburn hair and her pale, almost translucent skin. “Oh, I’m sorry,” Sharon smiled. “I thought you were Marisol. I’m Sharon.”

The young woman returned Sharon’s smile, “Candice. You’re new.”

“People keep pointing that out.”

Candice looked at her shoes, “It’s obvious, you know.”

“No. I guess I don’t,” she said trying to avert her attention back to the papers in front of her.

“Marisol is scared to come back in here.”

Disturbed by the notion that someone was afraid to be around her, Sharon couldn’t help but question, “Why? What the hell did I do to her?”

“Oh, please don’t misunderstand, Sharon. You’re new.”

“I know!” she barked. “And what exactly does that have to do with the price of tea in China?”

“You’re not clean,” Candice responded, the corner of her mouth turning up in a grin. “Yet.”

“Candice, I don’t mean to be rude, but what the exactly does that mean?”

“Marisol is a medium. The reason she won’t come back in here is because someone is attached to you. You’re not alone.”

“What?” Sharon couldn’t believe what she was hearing. “Attached to me? Not alone? What is wrong with you people?”

Candice twitched at Sharon's latest insult, “Look Sharon, it’s not us with the problem. It’s not us who Marisol is afraid to be around. It’s you!”

“But why?” she said a little softer, frustrated tears welling up in her eyes.

“All she told me was that there is someone very dark attached to you and until he was gone she couldn’t be in the same space.”

“He?”

“Yes, the presence is male.”

“Are you clairvoyant too?” Sharon couldn’t help but ask.

“I am.”

“And,” she hesitated, “why aren’t you afraid?”

“Because I’m the cleaner.”

Sharon took one step back and tripped on the caster foot of her tall, black office chair, forcing her to fall into the seat.

It’s your turn. Dare to finish the story. What are Sharon’s “circumstances”? What happened next? She’s having a bad enough first day, what could happen, right? Do she and Marisol end up sharing an office? Does she emerge clean? Who is the “he” attached to her?

Until tomorrow, I look forward to hearing your creative ideas and remain a medium, or not a medium (it’s truth or fiction day after all) and Unstoppable.