Friday, April 7, 2017

Celebrate Small Victories

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

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

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

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

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

Now, celebrate that victory!

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

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Make A Mark, and Start Your Story

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, March 6, 2017

Slow Down and Enjoy This Moment

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, March 3, 2017

Overcoming Cabin Fever

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Eat What Makes You Happy

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Happiness Comes From WIthin

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, February 27, 2017

More and More You

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, February 24, 2017

Go Confidently and Live

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

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

Short answer: hard work and planning.

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

“Go confidently”

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

“In the direction of your dreams.”

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

“Life the life you have imagined.”

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

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

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Calm Breath, Calm Mind

Life is busy, all the time. It is important to take time away from it all to find peace. However, I need calm in the middle of a Wednesday afternoon just as much, if not more, than a weekend or vacation day. Once I realized this is possible, my entire world changed and my anxiety kept its distance, even on my most busy days.

The secret is breathing.

I know what you’re thinking, “It can’t be that simple.” Oh, but yes, it can.

Calm breath equals calm mind. This has been my mantra for the last few months and it has made all the difference.

Everyone has flaws, mine involve a quick temper and anxiety. The only way I have found to alleviate these feelings is to focus on my breathing and taking a few moments in meditation.

Yoga has helped a lot with this process. At the beginning of each practice, I am reminded to breath in, breath out, let it go and focus on this one moment. That process works on and off my mat. It is easy when I am focused and being led through the motions. However, the method works just as well in my daily life as it does in a studio.

Now when technology frustrates me, people irritate me or writer's block drives me crazy, I just have to remember to stop, breathe in, breathe out, and let the moment flow.

Give it a try...breath in counting slowly to three, now with the same count let it go. Be in this moment. Whatever is in your mind distracting you and causing you anxiety, breath it in and now let it go.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Choose Your Happy

We spend so much of our life waiting to be happy. I'll be happy we I get that promotion, publish that book, or go on that vacation. Maybe when warm weather comes or when the cool weather comes I'll be happy. Isn't it Friday yet? On Friday I'll be happy.

Society tends to treat happiness as a destination, some place we arrive. However, happiness is no more than a state of mind. Just like we feel hungry, tired or angry, we also feel happy. It comes and goes, a fleeting emotion, that can only be appreciated in the moment.

We anticipate being happy, just as we try to force happiness on others. And this is the undoing of our own happiness. 

You can't make everyone happy! Or anyone for that matter. Except for yourself. Just focus on what brings you to life and everything else will follow.

Happiness is a choice. 

Just as you would eat if you are hungry, find small ways to fill your soul when you seek happiness. For me it is taking time out to write, reading a good book with a cup of coffee, or taking a walk with my camera in hand. Those are moments I choose to be happy.

And I don't worry about anyone else.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Positive Practice: Day One

Welcome to my Positive Practice!

I've had this tradition for a while now, but it has recently occurred to me to move my practice into a public forum.

My "Positive Practice" is to intentionally try to find something to inspire me in a positive way each day. I look for encouraging quotes, uplifting ideas, joyful impressions, or sometimes, just something interesting to think about. Positivity comes in many forms. The purpose of my practice is to illuminate a path to navigate the darkness.

There is so much hate, stress and negativity in our world that you can easily become overwhelmed by it. I don't want to get caught in the landslide of perpetual destructive thoughts and miss out on the opportunity for everyday joy. Peace, contentment, creativity and love can burn brighter and rise above the anger of the world. Those reassuring characteristics are what I want to seek out and cultivate in my life.

This is a daily practice for me. It is something I have to really work at. Sometimes finding the good in a day or a situation can be hard. Like really hard. But it is also where I find joy. Everyday.

Practice is the repetition in exercise or the application of belief. I consider my "Positive Practice" both a repetition (finding joyful thoughts in the everyday grind) and an application (believing that by surrounding myself with inspirational ideas and uplifting interpretations, I can achieve a sense of peace in a vicious world).

Thus, I encourage you to join me on a journey to discover and spread joy in a world determined to find nothing but discontentment. Let's cultivate a daily Positive Practice.