Slow it Down and Enjoy the Bloom

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Over the last few months and really the last three years, I have planted multiple seeds that I have wanted to grow for a very long time. Sometimes life throws us too much rain or tsunamis or earthquakes that force us to abandon our blooms for a bit. But once it happens, it’s very important to slow down and enjoy what you have worked so hard to grow.

In addition to being clear on what I want to grow, I have added daily intentions that I foster throughout the day to nourish my seeds. If you’d like some journaling techniques on growing your purpose, check out my previous blog titled: What is Blooming for You? On day 10, my intention was Slow Down and Enjoy the Bloom. The week had been hectic and a few times I wanted to skip the intention process, finish one project, and jump into the next. There’s so much I want to bloom that I tend to rush. This intention process is showing me that I take on too much and don’t stop to appreciate the results of my hard work and nurturing.

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I met with my beta readers and my third manuscript in three years is heading toward the publishing process. It won’t be until the end of 2019, but because I have nurtured this dream, it is growing faster and more vibrant every year. I’m excited and grateful. It’s not done yet, but I slowed down, enjoyed talking with the students who will read the book, and learned from them.

What I love about these intentional words or phrases is that they are like rays of sunshine that remind me throughout the day what I want to focus on. Over the weekend it was Unselfish Me Time, which influenced my decision to get up early, journal to my boys, read, and enjoy the quiet time. This allows me to rejuvenate so that I can give to others and be fully present with my family when they arrived. On Easter Sunday, it was Family Love. It was quiet, but precious in that I spent valuable and quality time with my son and husband.

Throughout the day, I’ll check in so that I stay on track or write through any rough spots. My journal is my ‘pause place.’ I can take a break and reconnect with my purpose. At the end of the day, I take a couple minutes and write about my intention, my growth, whether the intention worked or didn’t. Why and what I can do differently tomorrow.

Use your journal as your personal guidance system. You’ll be amazed at how self-aware you become and you’ll foster your own ability to recharge, reconnect, and nurture yourself.

Give it a try and let me know how it works.

What is blooming for you?

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As the world outside comes back to life, the birds sing once again, and the sunshine sheds its light on the goodness around us, we know that hope is blooming.

Growth

–What is blooming for you? It could literally be flowers and vegetables, but it could also be something inside you that you want to grow. Or a project that you want to build. A change that has been bubbling all winter that you are ready to manifest. Maybe it’s within something you have no control over, but have to accept it into your life. If you aren’t sure, writing about possibilities will help the ideas take root.

Seeds

–Once you know what you want to grow, get specific. Here are some suggestions:

Personal–health, reducing stress, self-care, relaxation, exercise

Job stability or a new one–going back to school, getting a promotion, changing careers, retirement or what to do now that you have retired.

Simplicity–downsizing, decluttering, slowing down, spending time with who and what matters.

Rain

–In spring we often view rain as a hindrance to our ability to enjoy ourselves or the outside world. Rain is needed to nourish the earth so that flowers can grow, trees can bloom, birds can find worms to eat. Without the rain nothing would grow. April showers do bring May flowers, but we have to find the goodness in the dark clouds or setbacks that may affect what we want to grow.

–What do you see as rain in your life? What is the negative that you feel is preventing the growth, that you might have seen as a hindrance, but actually can help you bloom and nourish what you planted?

Sunshine

–What positive sunlight can you cast on your seeds to help them grow?

–What can you do to nourish yourself and what you are blooming?

–Shifting your perspective to seeing the good in very situation will make the harder parts of growth and change a bit easier.

Flowers

–Once those seeds sprout and you are growing what you planted, how will you feel? –What will it change or affect in your life?

–What does it look like? Describe it like you would a flower or plant.

Create a visual. It could be flowers with what you want to grow in the petals or a garden with the seeds noting what you want to bloom. It can be a quick reminder and motivator in our daily path to grow, heal, and become more aware of who we are. Writing in your journal helps to translate what you want on the page into your life.

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Visual example by Arthur Forest

Write about the process of what you are growing. Every moment of our growth or transition into spring, into change, into something different whether we want it or not needs to be a gentle movement. The more we ease into the moment, the easier the transition, the more we are aware of our intention and our potential.

 

 

March Month in Review

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Goals/Purpose: This may be on the of the first months where I accomplished most of my goals between the foundation and my publishing company. I think it was partly because I was going away at the end of the month and wanted to relax so worked extra hard, but also because I put less due in the month and broke it down.

In journaling class, Arthur said he has so much he wants to do and that can often make us not do anything. I can relate as I have so many writing projects. The main focus has been my middle grade series, The Puzzle Quests. Book three had to get to the editor. It didn’t get to my beta readers as I had wanted, but I built in time and I needed to let the book sit.

While it was with my editor, Karen Knowles, I worked on a draft of a picture book about my dog, Zoey, and my non-fiction table of contents for the book I’m writing on journaling. When my middle grade manuscript heads to the beta readers, I’ll shift focus to the pictures books, which is due in June. Learning to break down my goals within what I want to accomplish and grow based on my purpose has been key to getting so much done.

Mentally: I was edgy most of the month. I know it’s because I’m stirring things up and have been for a while. I have always listened to my gut (that innate intuition) that we tend to tamp down. I admit I have tamped it down for a long time, but now I’ve let it loose. It’s shifting my eye to writing, my goals within it, who I want to write for, and what I want to write.

Social/Me: March was wonderful socially. Family time. Stephen was home. A fabulous relaxing retreat in Sarasota with Karen filled with soul searching, writing, yoga, great food, and lounging. It was just what I needed.

It ended with a visit to Stephen and my first cousins who I hadn’t seen in a long time. I came full circle and April has me easing through the transitions March has begun.

 

Swerve

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I’ve been listening to Michelle Obama’s book, Becoming. She mentions how her best friend, Kevin, swerved from his path of becoming a doctor so he could be a team mascot. He enjoyed his time doing that and then became a doctor. This whole section has made me pause and ponder whether I ever swerved in my life. The other question that has been plaguing me is what it a Swerve and was it a necessary part of his path to make Kevin a doctor?

Michelle went straight to law school partly because of the applause she received from people when she told them of her career plans. She admitted that she has a need for approval and is a people pleaser. But she wasn’t happy. Maybe her Swerve was finding a fulfilling job that balanced her career and family life.

From the first time someone mentioned they wanted to be a lawyer when I was in high school, I chose that field. Instead of writing or being an English teacher, I majored in Political Science and History. The pride my family felt in me kept me on this path. I did change my major to English with a minor in Political Science during my undergrad years, but I went so far as to visit law schools and take the LSAT’s. But I wasn’t excited about it anymore. I was filled with worry when I told my mother I didn’t want to be a lawyer. She was fine with it, and so I continued on to get my master’s in English Literature.

I met my husband when I was 22 and was married at age 24. Had my first child at age 29. My second at age 31. Before children, I worked as a receptionist then at a bank in the facilities department. When I had my first son, Nick, I was determined to be at home to raise my children. I kept on a traditional path, but did I swerve?

I did and still write books. That’s my passion, my purpose. I don’t think it’s a Swerve.

What does it mean to Swerve? Is it doing something that you have always been afraid to do or is it trying something untraditional or outlandish or crazy? And who decides if it is crazy?

These questions have been plaguing me for myself and also for my son, Stephen. He is getting ready to graduate college. He will get a job, hopefully be able to support himself, and enjoy what he is doing. But what if he wants to Swerve? What would it be? I almost want to encourage him to Swerve. Take that year off and travel the world. Ride a motorcycle across the country. Move to another state and see what it’s like.

To me a Swerve is a calling that keeps beckoning you to do something that makes you feel alive, pushes you out of your comfort zone, and shocks even you. Who says your path has to be straight? Why not curve with a Swerve and venture into something or somewhere that you never thought you would?

So my big question is: What is my Swerve? What is calling me? Am I brave enough to take the chance? Is it that important? Well, yes it is, because I can’t get it out of my mind.

What about you? What is your Swerve? What have you wanted to do that you have stomped down because it’s not acceptable or timely or a financially sound decision?

Please share what Swerving means to you. I need some answers!

Months in Review

January2019

January was a blur of catch up, rush, get overwhelmed, then catch up again. I literally accomplished one item on my publishing company goal, but finished a great deal of goals and updates for the foundation. This included a new website. Check it out at www.fighttobehealed.org

February2019

February’s focus was on family and finishing the first draft of Sketchy Dinosaurs, the third book in The Puzzle Quests‘ series. I scheduled when I would write and made it my priority. I also stayed home. That is a theme for me–keeping myself still is very difficult. The nature of my work involves meetings, events, teaching, and visiting patients, so I schedule stay at home time.

One change that really worked for me in February was a daily intention. My life/purpose word is HOPE. Everything I do with the foundation and my writing is driven by my desire to share, create, and grow hope.

But just like having a long-term goal, I needed smaller daily words to keep me on track. Every day I thought of an Intention Word that would help me accomplish my goal. I also wrote why or how this word applied. Sometimes it ended up as a phrase. Some were:

Deep Breaths of Gratitude

No Self-Doubt

Eat Clean and Healthy

Love Myself

Be Present

Patience

Acceptance

Joy

Peace

Persistent

At the end of the day, I wrote about the word and whether or not it resonated or helped with my goals. Some days it reminded me of my plan of action. On my Persistent day, I wrote for four hours. Other days when I didn’t set my intention, I titled my journal entry. Some were: Fatigue, Conflict, Reminders. There was a clear connection on how well my day went when I wrote down my word.

On the day my word was Simplify, I didn’t even write an entry. Using my journal as a reminder for my purpose, calendar, and entries kept me on track and gave me guidance on what was or wasn’t working.

I did incorporate Sunday Simplicity to plan for my week, which helped me rejuvenate and not feel as stressed. I relax, read, enjoy family, prepare my weekly calendar, order my food through Hannaford to Go, and do that never-ending laundry. Doing this lowers my stress levels and gives me time to take care of myself.

For March!

My big goal was getting the 2nd draft to the editor. Done! Check that off my list!

Keep Sunday Simplicity

Title my entries and continue Intention Words

I also wrote a list of my goals/to-do’s for the month, so each week when I plan my calendar, I have the list handy and can break them down into manageable projects. There’s nothing better than crossing off those finished items!

Reviewing your previous week/month guides you on whatever path you take, but you need to write it down in order to know what you have done. Schedule in that journal time. You’ll see and feel the difference it can make!

 

Sunshine Memories

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Draw or print out a smiling sun. Along the sun’s rays, write down who and what brings you joy. Maybe it’s certain people in your life, activities you like to do, self-care like yoga, massage, reading, exercise, sleep. Whatever makes you happy and brings a smile on your face. Fill out all the lines–maybe not all today, but you can keep adding.
 
Then journal about that person or activity and why it brings you joy. You could write one a day. It becomes your positive memory bank. A place that you can return to when life feels too hard or you simply have a bad day. It reminds you that the sun will always shine.
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Decorate your positive memory bank page. Make it yours. There’s only a right way for you to journal, so do what makes you feel happy. Let your inner creativity shine through.

Be With What’s Present

Every moment is magical. Be present with it.

This morning I received an email to update my accounting software information. I clicked on my browser and FaceBook photos jumped out at me. I had to respond by clicking hearts, adding emojis, and typing comments. 30 minutes later, I couldn’t remember why I had gone to my browser. I bounced back to email only to see the reminder again to update my account.

Being present is so much more than being mindful of what you are doing in this exact moment. If I’m being perfectly present, I am aware of my fingers tapping over my keys, the blog post I’m writing, Zoey licking her chops behind me. But then I wonder why Zoey is licking her chops and crying. I’m completely distracted.

Long Pause…………………….

OK, I’m back. Zoey wanted a drink of water. Sarah just texted me. I responded. Now I’m back to being completely present with my post. I didn’t have to respond immediately to the text, but I heard the dinging, and it’s like I’m Pavlov’s dog and can’t think of anything else until I have answered. I multitask all day long thinking I’m being more productive and attentive.

But I bounce around so much, I’m not aware of what I’m doing, and my heart rate is rising because I have multiple balls in the air. I’m afraid I’m going to drop one and it will fall through the cracks.

Being present, which means mindfully being present right where you are and with what you are doing, turns off the sympathetic nerve or that fight or flight reaction you get when you have too many activities/stressors/fears happening at once. It doesn’t have to be a life or death situation for our body to think we are in danger. It can be bouncing back and forth between answering a text, responding to FaceBook, and hitting a deadline.

Every moment of our lives is magical, precious, and deserves our undivided attention. If I concentrate on what’s in front of me as if it’s in the palm of my hand and nothing else matters, I feel a sense of calmness and attention that I don’t have when I’m scattered in 2, 3, or 4 different places.

It’s a practice, and there are more times in my day that I’m jumping through the air saving falling babies, throwing in one more load of laundry, having a tea/coffee break with the hubby, and imagining the world of Dragonia all at the same time! When I’m in the moment right here, right now, I’m safe, clear in my purpose, and present.

Challenge yourself to be completely attentive to what you are doing or who you are talking to. Note the difference in your memory, your mind’s clarity, physical body, and productivity. Create your intention and be in that moment. Sometimes that’s all we can do, and it makes the biggest difference.

October Month in Review

October always has been a month of joy, love, and connections. With losing Nick, it’s also mired with sadness and exhaustion. Over the last 10 years, I have struggled to find some type of balance and way to get through the month.

This year I wanted more and even though I had my usual exhaustion, I think I found it.

There was a definite sense of letting go to hold space for opportunities where I could share hope and healing, not only for myself, but for others. I taught writing and shared hope through my books. I spent a lot of time with my tribe, celebrating our October birthdays, our children’s fantastic feats in volleyball, karate, school, jobs, and wedding plans.

Grace’s senior night at volleyball. They won of course!

We have so many family and friend birthdays in October that I basically celebrated my birthday all month!

Birthday fun with some of my tribe!

And the celebrating continues with more of my tribe.

To get all of these women together in one place is short of miraculous in our crazy lives. But if there is one thing that I know–when we need each other, we are always there. That is what grounds me in October.

The October trio–me and my boys.

We recognize Nick’s birthday differently now, but he is always a part of our October month of celebration. And Stephen turned 21 this year. Even with him, we made plans that worked for him, and it was a huge joy  to cook for all his friends and be a part of his world.

Girl time was huge for me this month, and I carved a huge chunk out between gatherings, lunch dates, and traveling to Sarasota with Karen and our husbands. I needed to be someplace where I could be with my sadness and then enjoy a new place.

Lido Beach

I could be with Nick without all the distractions of the month, between teaching, writing, celebrating, weddings, traveling over two other weekends. I didn’t have time to be with him. This trip to Sarasota gave me that space, and Nick gave me signs that he was there.

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October opened up with letting go to bring in the good, and it ended with a vow to keep that space open, even when the darkness threatens to settle in.

November will bring jewels of gratitude and continued writing.

 

Halloween

10 years ago on Halloween, I said my final goodbyes to my oldest son. I remember having my family over on Halloween, and my niece, Samantha, applying white makeup to my other niece, Marisa’s, face. My other nieces and nephews all dressed up. I was numb. Disbelief and denial shook my body.

As I walked down the road, I was surrounded by family who understood my need to trick or treat with my youngest son in memory of his brother. A couple walking next to us saw our lights on and children walking up to our door. The man said that he it was the house where the boy had just died. He couldn’t believe they were celebrating Halloween. Luckily for him, he slightly redeemed himself by adding that everyone deals in their own way.

Yes, we do, and we have for 10 years. We’ll always grieve, but we also celebrate Nick’s life and his brilliant spirit.

When I woke up today on Halloween, something had shifted. Maybe it was the fact that my adorable nephew, Liam, was coming over. Maybe it was the matching Minion goggles Luke and I planned to wear. Maybe I channeled Nick and decided to spend my day spreading humor and making people laugh. I wanted to be myself on our favorite holiday that also ends the tumultuous month of October.

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Nick sent me so many messages this month. Not just to me, but to those who are open to them and pay close attention. He lets us know that he’s around and guides us daily.

Today, I reclaimed my spirit and Nick’s soared with mine. I enjoyed the time with my mom, my nephew and family, and visits from the fantastic community and children in our neighborhood. They brought laughter into my home, and that is the greatest joy.

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I will always long for my son, and every October will threaten to make me fall into despair. But through it all, I hope to rise above it and bring laughter along with hope.

Thank you to everyone who brought our family joy on Halloween.

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Be Magnificent!

I am taking a course on Insight Timer app called The Art of Timefulness: Transform the Way you Manage Time by Tom Evans. Day one focused on breath, day two on relaxation, and today was about procrastination. During this meditation, he asked us to focus on fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of failure, fear of ridicule, fear of success, and fear of being magnificent.

By identifying these fears, we can remove them and replace with unconditional love. Through this we learn what our purpose is and speak our truth.

I connected most with being magnificent and letting my light shine as I call it. I don’t necessarily fear the unknown. I most certainly fear failure and this has stopped me from trying activities or business ventures. I fear failure with building my publishing company, I fear ridicule when I publish a book and worry whether people will enjoy it. Will it impact their lives? Will they want to read the next one?

I fear success, because then the bar has risen, and I fear that I can’t live up to what is expected.

But what I fear the most is sharing my light, my magnificence in the truest form I know. Imagine being completely yourself, sharing who you are without pretense, opening yourself to vulnerability–and being rejected.

That could stop anyone from being magnificent.

But if I do what I am meant to do from the purest part of who I am, which is to share hope through writing and empower others to create hope, how can I fail? And if someone thinks I write crap or isn’t affected by my words or doesn’t enjoy my stories, it’s not personal to me, it is just who and where they are in their life.

When I think of being magnificent in this way, it’s freeing, uplifting, and empowering.

BeMagnificent

So today I’m going to be magnificent in whatever I do. I’m going to be myself, share my truth, and hope that others can do the same.

Knowing ourselves is the first step to being magnificent. Journal your way to magnificence:

Answer these questions for each (unknown, failure, ridiculed, success, magnificence)

What do you fear about . . .

Write about a time when you faced . . .

What did you learn?

What is standing in the way of your magnificence?

What would being magnificent look like to you?

Once you answer these questions, create a mantra for your day, week or month or use the one I created. I highly recommend Tom Evans’ class and the free meditations on Insight Timer.