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.

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!