Be Open to Receive

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North Carolina–Blue Ridge Parkway toward Mount Mitchell

I am trying meditation again. I’ve lasted three days. I know that when I start my day with meditation, create an intention, and live my day with that intention, I am much happier. I am clearer on my purpose. I am able to choose how my day will go.

For example, this morning I woke up from a dream where I kept entering different classrooms trying to find my son, Nick. He was only 9 or so, but I could never catch up to him. I woke up sad and missing him.

Then I listened to Tom Evans’ Ten Minutes of Mindfulness on the Insight Timer app. He noted that our brains are always giving and receiving. If I’m talking, then I’m not listening. If my mind if filled with sadness, then I’m not receiving whatever it is that I want to receive. So I opened my mind and asked, What did I want to receive?

Joy, Love, Laughter, a wonderful day.

What would that look like and how did it involve my purpose?

Writing and sharing hope to anyone who is in need and open to receive. It’s as simple as that, but oh so hard.

Instead of sadness, I choose joy. Joy as I remember my beautiful son, Joy as I am in the moment with my other son, happiness that I get to sit at my desk and do what I love–write.

When I receive openly, then I have more to give. Love, compassion, my gift of writing.

That sadness has been lifted. If it settles back, I will remind myself of my intention and know they are thoughts that I can change. If I hadn’t sat down to meditate and write from that meditation, my day may be starting quite differently.

What are you open to receive today and what are you open to give? Write it down and make it so.

Have a wonderful day!

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.

 

May Month in Review

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Most of May was maniacal mayhem. Amazingly, I journaled almost every day, but the level of activity for work, classes, writing, and foundation was too high. Everything else suffered. It’s difficult to find balance when I love all that I do. But there can even be too much of a good thing.

I exercised quite a bit in the beginning of the month, but as life got busier, my self-care suffered. My yoga practice fell off the planet. What I ate went down hill as I reached for fast and easy food. Yes, I know, this is when I should be going to yoga more and fueling my body with what nourishes me and makes me stronger. It’s very easy to write it down, but much harder to follow through. It’s a familiar pattern.

My son came home from college, so the house dynamics shifted. I am adjusting while also loving and appreciating having him home. My house suffered in May. Having another person in the house, yes, but really I didn’t have any time for upkeep and cleaning. I have this bone deep urge to rip my house apart and get rid of junk, stuff I don’t need, in order to clear my life and start fresh.

Create Space:

That’s my goal for no other reason than to be able to breathe a little fuller and appreciate what I have done instead of jumping to the next project because of unrealistic timelines.

Create a space conducive to my writing and creativity.

I am two weeks into June and finally have space in my calendar to catch up. Consistent journaling can be life saving, life altering, and indicative of what is bubbling underneath the surface.

There’s so much that I struggle with and burying myself in work is a way I cope, even if it’s not healthy.

If I want everlasting change I have to dig deep before the eruption takes over everything. That is what journaling during the month of May showed me.

Immediate Goals for June:

Enjoy and appreciate my family.

Get Saving Atlantis to my proofreaders by June 18. Get book to the printer by July 6. It’s a couple weeks off schedule, but still where I want it to be.

Get back to my yoga practice, healthy eating, and exercise.

Journal, journal, journal

How was your month of May? What are your goals for June? It’s never too late to change or start again.

 

Super Cool Writer’s Group–Gratitude Day 18

Yes I know what you are saying, asking, pondering. Is she saying that this writer’s group is super cool or is the name really SCWG–Super Cool Writer’s Group? It would be both, hence the name. And no, I didn’t make it up. Our youngest member, MacKenzie, named it when she was 18!

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But these aren’t all of them! We are an eclectic group from varying lifestyles, interests, and ages. Our common interest is creating the best writing possible. This group came together a couple years ago when I started teaching fiction writing classes at The Clifton Park-Halfmoon Public Library.

Many of us connected and wanted to motivate one another to write and finish our stories and novels. We now meet twice a month and, in addition to supporting one another in our writing, we have become friends.

I have never been with a more open minded and creative group of people, and it’s not because they love my classes or buy my books! We truly enjoy being around each other, and I think improve one another’s writing. I am incredibly grateful for this group of man and women who believe in that the written word can entertain, heal, inspire, make a difference in our lives.

Thank you all in the picture and those who couldn’t make it tonight for supporting over these last couple years in getting Shimmer’s Eggs ready for publication!

Local Bookstores–Gratitude Day 16

Next to libraries, bookstores are one of my favorite and most sacred places. There is a sense of mystery, intrigue, and suspense about what I’ll find in every bookstore I enter. I like to see what is on the best seller’s list, who are the debut authors, and what displays are the most eye catching.

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Shimmer’s Eggs at Market Block Books in Troy

But the best part are the gems that you find in a local bookstore that you may not necessarily find in the larger bookstores. The local color of artists who put their heart in their works are splashed throughout and displayed in special places.

Then there are the little gifts perfect for book lovers. Journals, bookmarks, statues, pencils and pens, notecards, cozy socks. The only thing that would make a local bookstore even better was a fireplace and some hot tea! I’d cozy right up and read all day. Maybe that’s why they don’t have them!

Independent bookstores are few and far in between. I miss Robin Ringler’s little bookstore right on Route 9. Even though Borders was a big chain, it had a small town feel to in and was directly in the middle of town. It was a place to connect and meet with friends.

Market Block Books in Troy and The Book House in Stuyvesant Plaza are owned by the same people, and they work hard to get an author’s work out to the public. Plus they provide an avenue to print authors’ books and into the public’s hands.

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Nothing like seeing my book on the bookshelves!

Used bookstores are fun to visit and I can find out of print books from my favorite authors.

I am grateful for every business person whose love of books inspires them to open a bookstore. Their personality and joy of the written words shine through. Please support your local bookstores. They are a rare breed that we need to protect.

Books—Gratitude Day 14


Books. I love them so much, I had to write my own. 

I am incredibly grateful to the women who inspired my love for books. A family friend, Marge Porter, always gave me books to read like How to Eat Fried Worms and Anne of Green Gables. I was hooked. 

Then my mom introduced me to gothic novels by Victoria Holt and Phyllis A. Whitney.  I loved the intrigue and suspense. Agatha Christie, Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys. I scoured the library reading whatever I could get my hands on. 


I am also grateful to my Medieval literature teacher, Debra Young, who encouraged me to write novels. She saw something in me that I might never have thought about. You never know the positive influence you can have on another person. That goes for books as well. They have been life-changing!

Loving Yourself

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I placed this sticker in my journal, because I agreed with the concept, but am not always sure that I follow it. I also thought of the quote, “Love yourself as much as you love others.”

It’s hard to give self-care, but as soon as a good friend or family member is in trouble or needs support I drop everything and am right there. If they are down, I’ll be their biggest cheerleader, and show them how special and unique they are.

When it comes to myself, I have gotten much better, but I will still see all that I haven’t done when I have really accomplished so much. When that happens, looking back to my journal can give me perspective on what I have actually done and the good I have created around me. It also is a clear cut guide on what I have done for myself in terms of self-care.

This is what happened in my life last week:

Pig Roast fundraiser prep and clean up

Lost a wonderful young man to cancer and attended the wake

Prepared for Nick’s Run and Nick’s Ride to be Healed

Set up for writing classes, finalized middle grade novel

Taught journal workshop

Took my mom to appointments and went to a calligraphy class with my niece

Celebrated end of treatment for Bella!

Held a motorcycle fundraiser

The entire week was non-stop action in terms of all I had to get done and support I gave to others. It was a rollercoaster of happy and sad.

Here are some types of self-care that I practice:

Yoga

Weight training/Karate

Meditation

Journaling

Massage

Reading

Walk my dogs

Time with friends and family

Protect my space

Since the weekend before this last, I practiced yoga 4 times, and did other exercise twice, so not bad. I didn’t meditate once! I journaled every day and sometimes twice a day, and that is a huge calming practice for me. No massage. I have listened to an audiobook, but haven’t sat and read in quite a while.

I missed walking the dogs a couple days, because of rain and a lot of fundraising events and prep.

This past Saturday, my husband and I had an impromptu get together with two sets of our good friends. I could have kept doing work, since I’m so behind, but I needed the break. I think it made a huge difference the next day when we had a motorcycle fundraiser. The day was wonderful, and my frame of mind was positive. I also have made sure to spent moments with my son as he will be leaving for school soon.

Protecting my space is huge for me with self-care. I work hard to surround myself with positive people. When working with kids battling cancer, there are very sad situations, and I feel strongly about reaching out. When I do, I’m drained, I miss my son, and the sadness can overtake me. That is when I take the time to recharge by doing whatever self-care works for me in that moment. I have to take care of myself and love myself enough to show empathy and love to those who are suffering.

When I take care of myself and feel good about myself, then I attract positive people who will show me the same kind of love. What you think you deserve is usually what you get. We all deserve to be loved, but we have to believe it and act like it.

Self-care and surrounding myself with positive people and energy has made a huge difference, but it is a constant practice.

How do you show self love? What do you do for self-care, how often? If you don’t, what small step could you take? Track it in your journal and take note of what changes in your life.

 

Sometimes Beginning Again Sucks

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It’s a nasty Monday morning. I went to bed with the intention of getting up early, meditating, and getting back to my yoga mat and harmony in my life. I didn’t get to bed as early as I wanted, texts from my son kept me awake, and my belly is angry at me because of the food I ate this weekend. I haven’t been dedicated to my yoga recently and basically I’m cranky!

A big part of my yoga and journaling practice is the mantra ‘begin again.’ Yes if I eat Girl Scout cookies and my belly hurts, I know if I wait long enough that horrid feeling will go away and the next time I see cookies, I can say to myself, “Don’t Eat Them!” But sometimes I just want a cookie. But I know I shouldn’t eat them, because they upset my stomach. And when my stomach is upset, the possibility of having a soulful yoga class is completely out of the question, because my body feels like someone dropped me in a deep murky lake with a cement block tied to my feet, and I’m sinking fast.

For me, the idea of beginning again whether it’s the next day or the next minute of my day is about figuring out how to let those bad choices go. Yes I missed yoga for a week, because I’m concentrating on another goal and I have too much on my plate and I’m putting myself second. It happened, but today I’m going to yoga, and although I’ll suffer through the class because of my bad choices, I have made a great choice to be there. Hopefully that wonderful feeling will seep into every area of my life.

Beginning again is also about being able to find that space between the emotions that cause the need for the bad choice and the action that is caused by the emotion, the stress or whatever it is. For me it’s usually emotions and that sense of being overwhelmed.

So today I may not be very yogi-like. I may be pissed off and playing catch up, but I will forgive myself, go to yoga, and begin again. Sometimes that all I can do.

What are you going to begin again today?

 

It’s Never too Late

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Photo by Alysia Thomas

Both yesterday and today I have been reminded that it’s never too late to try something new, change what you have been doing, or begin again.

Last night I went to an in-home skin care class where we learned about products and what made this product more suitable to how I want to live. I have been using a skin care line for  the last 29 years. Although I think this product is safe and has served me well, I said that I felt it was too late to start something new that was completely clear of any chemicals. Everyone in the room said that it was never too late to change what I put on my skin, especially since everything is absorbed directly into my system.

So I have decided to make this small change for myself and my family so that I know that the products we are placing on our skin aren’t harming us. It’s something small to keep us and the environment healthy and reduce our carbon footprint. That is truly something that is never to late to start.

Then today in yoga, the topic came up again as we flowed through our poses and tried news ones that some of us may have never done. Even though we may have fallen over or out of a pose, the instructor encouraged us to let it go and begin again. Each time I step on my mat, I know that it’s never too late to change how I come to my practice or what I try. This goes with any form of exercise or challenge.

The questions that came up in my mind was why do we think that we can no longer do something when we reach a certain age? Or why do we think that it’s too late to change or try again. And what do I still want to do in my life that I feel like I can’t because so much of life has gone by or because I have changed?

When this goes through my mind, I think of regret. Sure there are some things in my life that I regret. And for some of those things, I can’t go back and change, but it’s not to late to change how I perceive them. I also need to accept some of them, but that doesn’t limit me in other areas of my life.

There is so much in my life that I still want and can do. It’s not too late for me to:

–learn another language

–take singing lessons

–train in another martial arts or yoga style

–ride across the country on my motorcycle, hopefully with my husband!

–go to Greece, Italy, Ireland, and Scotland

–visit every state

–have grandchildren and spoil them

–get a PhD

I think this will be a bullet page in my journal that I will keep adding to. Kind of like a bucket list, but not really. It’s more like an empowering tool to confirm that I have so much I still want to do. It’s a list that allows me to grow and gives me even more to look forward to!

What have you crossed off your list because you think it’s too late in your life to do it? Why do you think that? Without worrying about how it will happen, make a list in your journal of what you believe is not too late for you to do. Pick one item on it and make a decision to try it out. You never know where it will take you and what opportunities will open for you!

Words Matter

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Words Matter. It’s like a new slogan pounded into my heart this morning when I first heard it. Words, especially saying the right or wrong ones can make a huge difference for everyone who hears them.

It is extremely difficult to communicate sometimes. I know I have been afraid, worried, deterred from sharing what I have truly wanted to say. My journals hold my truths, because they aren’t judged and no one sees them. My journal is the holding space where I can let those words simmer, settle or dissipate the sparked emotions I’m feeling at that time.

Words can save relationships or they can destroy them. When words are spoken rashly, no matter how hard we try to take them back, they are already out there spreading like a plague often with no idea of how it started. Rashly spoken words are often ones dying to be released. They are words that feel defeated, not acknowledged, debased, and forgotten. Then once the words build up, they literally choke the holder and spew out like flash floods or spin out of control like a tornado, or burn everything in its path as a volcano does.

Using a journal to get a feel for how those words will land is vital to speaking your truth in a way that honors how you feel, but also honors the relationship you have with another person. I tell writers all the time to let your piece sit for a day, week or month then go back to it. When you read it again, you have created a distance that allows you to truly see what you have written. The same goes with journal writing. Let it simmer then cool and view it from a calmer frame of mind. You may or may not feel the same. Either way at least you have that chance to clearly state how you feel and why without the emotional  charge.

Do you notice how hard it can be to tell someone how you feel about them? It shouldn’t be so difficult to tell someone you love them. I tell my son most every time I say goodbye that I love him, because even though he knows it, I am grateful that I can speak those words to him, and he can say them back.

I’ve been quite nostalgic lately, and I think that’s causing me to express my feelings even more than I usually do. I want people to know that I care about them, and it not only feels wonderful to me that I have expressed myself, but it also sends positive energy their way. It doesn’t always have to be verbal. Texting, writing notes and placing them where someone will find them, or sending cards to those who live far away all create joy and love that is so needed in our world today.

Words Matter. At the end of my life, I want to know that I have told those I love how much they mean to me. I want to have stood up for the wrongs that I have seen in this world. I may not be able to take back harsh words spoken in the heat of anger or frustration, but I will make sure that I am complete with that person in that we have had a chance to express how we both feel and respect our differences.

It’s not easy to do all of this. It’s also not easy to find the words that can express the depths of our feelings, but we should at least try. Words can destroy, create wars, break up families, and kill. Yet, words have the power to heal, to offer hope, love, acceptance, and joy. Those are the words I choose. The words that let people know they matter.

If you are angry at someone or a situation or feel betrayed and hurt, write down what happened, how it made you feel, and what you would like to do about it. Then let it sit for at least a day. When you go back to it, does the situation still have the same level of emotion? Do you still feel the need to have a conversation with this person or group? If so, from this space of calm, write down what you would like to say. Does it convey the message and tone that you want to convey? If unsure, it may be helpful to ask a trusted friend.

Tell someone today how much they mean to you, whether in a note or face to face. Watch how it makes them feel. Do they light up, smile, and return the emotion? It can be anyone, spouse, parent, friend, family member. How did it make you feel? The more you express yourself, the easier it gets.