I write because I'm a writer.
It has taken me so long to say that. I always felt like I couldn't call myself a writer, because I didn't have a book gracing the shelves of Barnes & Noble (or some other bookstore). I didn't have articles published in magazines. I wasn't a columnist for some large newspaper.
That's what I envisioned a writer being. Untouchable. Like there's no way I could ever call myself one.
The switch started to flip when I started putting myself out there, started taking risks. I submitted some drafts to Elephant Journal and was rejected. I approached our local newspaper and pitched an idea for a column twice a month and was accepted. I wrote for that paper for two years and took another risk. I asked to be paid but was rejected. So, I stopped writing for it.
And then I discovered Medium. It was as if the door had been thrown wide open and I was being welcomed into the world of writing with open arms. I've been writing on this platform for two years. Sometimes I publish my own pieces and other times I submit them to publications. I've pitched a couple of articles and have been paid for them. I've been rejected by other publications. I've submitted articles to be paid on the Medium Partner Program. One month I made almost $8.00. Not much, but it was cool and I might do it again in the future.
I write, because it's what I have to offer to the world. It's the way I best communicate. It allows me the chance to get my thoughts and feelings out into the open. Sometimes just for me and sometimes to share with others.
I'm a firm believer that if what I write reaches one person, then who knows how many more it can potentially reach? All it takes it that one person who shares my message with someone else and then it continues to multiply.
I write, because my message is about positivity and simplicity. I write about everyday experiences. I write about what inspires me and who inspires me. I write about what motivates me, makes me laugh, and moves me to tears. I write because I feel. I write because it's who I am. It's a part of me that I no longer ignore.
There are days when I'm not sure I have anything to share, and then there are days when the ideas won't stop flowing. I write, because I like to learn. I pick up ideas from others, because I can then translate them into my perspective, my unique voice.
My writing isn't for everyone and that's the intent. If my audience was everyone, then it wouldn't really be for anyone. I write for the person who thrives on positive energy, who enjoys the simple things life has to offer. Experiences over stuff. Simplicity over excess.
This is why I write.
***Note: On August 28, 2017, I wrote a piece that was published in The Ascent called Why I write: it's all about the connections. All writers evolve and this most recent piece shows my continued growth as a writer.
Do you ever have those days where you get really zoned in for the day, and you get a ton done?
Yep, I had one of those days today and it was fabulous!
I didn't make a to-do list, and yet I knew what I wanted to accomplish. I went from one item to the next and it was as if I built on the momentum of the previous thing that propelled me on to the next one.
I get to the evening hours and wonder how I can harness that kind of energy on a daily basis, and I came to the conclusion that I have to stop overthinking it.
For example, I've been putting off the editing, revising, and rewriting parts of my book. My editor got the draft to me, and I've had it for almost a month. I told her today I kind of felt paralyzed. By what I'm not sure. Maybe it's the fear of failure or the potential fear of success that scared me. I also felt like I needed to have a big chunk of time set aside to work on it.
Today I didn't worry about it. I simply sat down and got to work. Before I knew it, I had 10 pages revised. I didn't worry about putting in a certain amount of time or making sure I rewrote a certain number of pages. Instead, I put my butt in the chair. I did, however, give myself a deadline to getting the second draft to her by the end of September, and I think it helped me buckle down and focus.
Sometimes we are paralyzed with inaction, because we think we need everything to be absolutely perfect. The thing is, 99.9 percent of the time it isn't. If we keep waiting, we'll never do it.
What's stopping you from accomplishing something or making it become a reality? Are you paralyzed by inaction? Do you think the circumstances need to be perfect? If you don't have a set amount of time, do you tell yourself you can't start working on it now?
I discovered today I've been getting in my own way from getting my book to completion. And you know what I did?
I removed the obstacle, and that obstacle was me.
There have been some events the last few days that have tested my thoughts and feelings. While the specifics aren't especially relevant and could quite possibly result in a rant, one word comes to mind:
We live in a negative and angry world.
I went to the Green Day concert in Omaha (NE) recently, and frontman Billie Joe Armstrong said it best: "Look on your phone and what you're going to see is a mad, mad world. But not tonight. We're leaving it at the door. Tonight we're gonna have a good time together. We're gonna sing together. We're gonna dance together. We're gonna cry together. Because we're in this together."
And I choose not to engage in the mad and angry world. While some people might look at me and say I'm burying my head in the sand, these are the choices I make instead:
I choose to be kind, and I work to spread kindness. One of my passions is elementary school counseling, and we have a lot of angry little ones coming through our doors. Kids who have seen way too much tragedy in their young lives. And yet we expect them to walk into classrooms ready to learn.
My desire is to teach them to be kind to themselves first and then to spread that kindness to others. I often show this video to the third and fourth graders to get them to see how random acts of kindness often come back to them when they least expect it.
The best part of this video is it wasn't something I found. One of my former 4th grade students (who is about to start 7th grade this year) happened to come across it on YouTube and thought it would be good to show other kids. I now show it every year.
I choose to be positive, because it's so much easier and healthier than the alternative of being negative. Being negative is exhausting. On the rare occasions I get in a funk and am rather snarky, I end up being alone. I basically put myself in a self-imposed timeout. Who wants to be around someone who is being such a downer?
By choosing a positive attitude, I'm happier, I'm more content, and I have so much more energy. Plus, others feed off a positive person.
Rather than engaging in what's wrong in the world, I focus on what's right in it and am grateful for it. Each morning I write down three gratitudes using my Five Minute Journal App. It helps keep me centered and I'm in a great frame of mind to begin the day.
Sometimes I think people are reluctant to write down what they are grateful for, because they feel as if their gratitudes need to be earth-shattering. Some days I'm grateful for a bowl of ice cream. Other days I'm grateful for a friend being in remission from cancer.
It doesn't matter what you write down as long as it has meaning to you. It's so incredibly powerful.
So, there you have it. My alternatives to engaging in a mad world: be kind, be positive, and be grateful. Going to a Green Day concert doesn't hurt either.
No one likes being sick.
You feel awful. You might be throwing up, having diarrhea, or both. It could be accompanied by a headache, fever, or both.
However, there are some benefits when you’re down for the count.
You’re forced to slow down.
When you’re on the go constantly, being sick forces you to slow down. You don’t have a choice. And that’s a good thing. We all need to do a better job of slowing down, so when we’re sick we’re reminded of that.
Instead of feeling rushed and overwhelmed, we need to stop and take a break. That break can have different looks, but it needs to center around not going in a bunch of directions at once.
"You can move one step in 20 directions or 20 steps in one direction."
I like the above saying, because it’s a great reminder that when we have too much going on at once we don’t get anywhere. We’re lucky if we’re able to tread water.
When we’re sick, we are forced to go in one direction and that’s staying in bed.
Your body does a natural cleanse.
When you’re sick, your body does a cleanse all on its own. Think about it. You usually get rid of everything that was in your body one way or another, you don’t feel like eating, and you only drink water so you don’t dehydrate.
It’s great, because you don’t spend money on the newest cleanse fad out there. Being sick does it for you.
Then you get a fresh start on changing your eating habits. You start to slowly add back what you can handle and it’s a good time to add in only what is beneficial for you.
You get much needed sleep.
Many times when you’re sick you sleep. A lot. And that’s exactly what your body needs. Often being sick is our body’s way of telling you that you’ve run out of steam. You’re done. Finished.
Again, this is a positive, because when you’re run down you can’t function effectively. Getting more sleep gives you a chance to get caught back up and you can then work on being more consistent. Your body needs 7–8 hours of sleep each night. Start adhering to it.
You appreciate being healthy.
You have a deeper appreciation for being healthy. It makes you want to make changes for the better, because you feel pretty much handcuffed when you’re sick. You can’t do anything, because you don’t feel like it.
It’s time to stop taking health for granted. Sure, there are times when you’re going to get sick. It’s inevitable. But, there are steps everyone can take to lessen the duration, intensity, and length of illness.
It’s basic common sense: eat whole foods, drink water, get the proper amount of sleep, exercise, and engage in healthy relationships.
Being sick sucks.
Yes, being sick sucks big time. We all hate it, but we can choose to take a different approach to it. We can choose to see the benefits.
(And yes, I wrote this on the heels of being sick.)
**This article first appeared on Medium.
Yesterday my husband was driving home from playing golf on a two-lane highway. There was one car ahead of him and then a semi in front of it. The car in front of him kept swinging out to see when there was a good time to pass.
On this particular stretch of road, there is no good time but this car was having none of that. The driver kept swinging out and back and then finally saw the opportunity and went.
What that driver didn't see and what my husband could see being a little further back were two cars coming from the opposite direction. As he said to me as he relayed the story, it was like watching a horrendous accident about to unfold and there was not one thing he could do about it. He was preparing himself for the aftermath.
At the last second, the semi swerved to the shoulder on one side, the two oncoming cars swerved to the shoulder on their side, and the driver who was in such a hurry managed to continue on his/her way. Because those other drivers made quick decisions and maneuvers, an accident was avoided.
Why are people in such a hurry?
The driver who narrowly avoided causing lives to be changed forever due to the quick actions of others probably saved a mere few minutes to get to the desired destination. Are a few minutes really that important versus the potential lives that could have been lost?
So, I repeat, why are people in such a hurry?
I don't get it. I picture that driver rushing to the next destination and then rushing on to the next, and then...well, you get it. When there's no slowing down, there's no enjoyment.
When we're in a hurry, we miss out on more. We lose out on opportunities to connect and relate to others. We lose the chance to enjoy experiences.
So, slow down for pete's sake!
*When you're behind a slow driver, use it as a chance to send positive thoughts to loved ones in our mind by saying each of their names and why we're grateful for them.
*When you're waiting in a long line at the grocery store, strike up a conversation with the person behind you.
*When you're sitting in the pouring rain waiting for it to subside, make a list of things you plan to do when it stops.
*Instead of always feeling like you have to be doing something, do nothing. Sit in silence. Take deep breaths.
*Have a conversation with someone without thinking about what you're going to say next, without your phone by your side, and without looking around you. Focus on that person in that moment.
And these ideas are just the beginning. I think about all the senseless tragedies and time lost when we get in such a hurry. It just doesn't seem worth it to me. Do you?
I'm a lover of life, an eternal optimist, and I have an intense desire to add value through simple living and positive vibes.