Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Fearless?

Close up of milk glass candlesticks from last post.
“There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.”
- Edith Wharton

I learn so much about myself by looking at candlelight. I know the image is the second I have shared of candles on my fireplace mantle, but the inspirational thoughts those flickers of light give me always lead me down the path of self-realization.

In the workshop I teach on learning to write without fear (which I will be releasing an online version through Udemy by the end of the month!), I work with writers on figuring out what the fears are that keep them from writing. Saturday afternoon I came to the realization that I’ve never put much thought into how much the rest of my life is lead by being fearful of one thing or another. It’s those personal fears that are the ones that hold me back-  moving out of my childhood neighborhood, asking the guy out (or even just flirting), expanding my business, writing my own books, strained familial relationships, and even my relationship with God and religion- that I desperately need to address. Along with my goals for 2018, I plan to face these fears head on. As I teach my writing students, I will never actually get away from the fears, but I need to learn how to make them work for me. I hope to develop the wisdom that will lead me to take my own advice.

Some of these fears I have will only be settled by writing them out. Some of them will require me to step outside of my comfort zone. It may also be that one or two may not ever be resolved. All I can do is decide that I will try. I am ready.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Apparently There Was a New Year Last Week?

My New Year Clearing Practice- Bringing Out the Milk Glass
I had so many plans for my winter break. Two whole weeks of uninterrupted planning and writing. It was going to be glorious. So, of course I did not actually have any uninterrupted time! There is no one to blame for this. I think my body just decided that it was time for me to rest, so it forced me to by getting sick. As I begin this second week of the New Year, I can say with certainty that I have more clarity now than I did during all of my winter break!

My newfound focus has come about due to one very important factor:  last Friday I had a small series of steroid shots to the nerves in my neck, hopeful that it will help them relax enough to let my neck heal. While I still have a tiny bit of pain from my March car accident, this has helped alleviate that pain quite a bit. The bonus side effect is that the tinnitus I was also suffering from due to the accident is almost non-existent. If you’ve ever had tinnitus, you know how debilitating that can be! I’ve had the most difficult time concentrating on anything since the accident, mostly because of that constant ringing in my ears!

This leads me to my New Year’s resolutions- I actually don’t have any!  I do always see a new year as a great time to start over, have a new beginning, but what I really need is a reset- of intentions, of practice, of strategy. It’s really a mental cleanse to prepare me to meet the goals I have set for myself, not just for the year, but for life.

If you haven’t set your new intention for the year, or feel like you’re already off any resolutions you put into place over a week ago, no need to worry about it. Give yourself permission to start over at any time. Every morning you wake up is the opportunity to begin fresh anew!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Baby, Is It Cold Outside?

Orange, ripe for the picking in early December.
This time of year I obsess about the weather. It’s not so much that I want it to snow, which I do because, as a Texan, we long for those white holidays, where the entire state practically shuts down at the hint of snow, which inevitably turns into an ice mess. It’s for a wholly different reason: should I turn on the heater in the greenhouse? Four years ago, according to various Facebook friends sharing their memories for December 6, 2013, we had snow.

This year it’s been abnormally warm. I’m not gonna say “climate change,” but I’m seriously thinking climate change. We’ve hit record highs for November and December. Due to this odd weather, I’ve put off hauling my citrus trees, avocado tree, and other delicate plants I usually overwinter into the greenhouse. It’s not like we haven’t had chilly morning temperatures, but our mid-day to afternoon temps have been so high, having plants in the greenhouse would cook them. On a nice, balmy 57 degree day, the greenhouse temperature, even with a window cracked, can get up to 100 degrees if I don’t prop open the door and fully open the top and side windows.

So, due to our little late fall heatwaves, I have kept all those beautiful plants right out on the patio. I keep stalking the Weather Channel, though, just to see if I might possibly have to do an emergency clearing. So far, the scariest day coming up is this Thursday night/Friday morning, where for 14 hours straight the temperatures (at the airport, I’m sure) will be below 40. The high on Friday? 57 degrees.

I see this as a challenge- how long can I go before the plants need permanent winter shelter? Will it happen Thursday…I’m still debating that- if it happens, it’s going to happen tonight. The extended forecast has highs in the 60s and 70s through December 20th so far. I’m predicting we won't see a White Christmas in 2017.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Traveling Abroad Makes You Appreciate Home

Sacré-Cœur Basilica
I know I’ve written about it before, but I seriously practice introversion. I recently returned from a lovely vacation to Paris (part of the reason why I’ve been so absent from blogging!). It was beautiful and everything I thought it would be. The only problem I had was that I had to be around too many people to do it. I even planned the perfect, least touristy time to go- November. The crowds were in the usual places- museums, churches, airports- especially the airports.

While I completely fell in love with the city, I was never so happy as be back home. I am, at heart, a homebody. I truly enjoy being at my home…by myself. As we enter the holiday season (because I skipped my American Thanksgiving!), I am feeling more drawn to making my home the most cozy, inviting place to be, if only just for my family. I may go out to a holiday shindig once a week, but really, I just want to be home. It is time to nest in for the winter, read a good book, spend more time writing, plotting and planning online writing courses, and enjoy a random fire in my fireplace… even if winter in Texas means highs in the 70s!

Friday, October 27, 2017

Whiplash

This is not me. I feels like me, but it's not.
I’m still writing! It sounds strange for someone who calls herself a writer, teaches writing, and publishes writers to announce that writing is indeed happening, but it is and it makes me happy to say it. As I’ve said previously, I was worried that all of my creativity was being spent in other places, but it turns out, nope, I just needed a few moments where I wasn’t worrying about someone else’s writing to focus on mine. So, writing is happening. Completing writing... that’s another story.

Focus. That has been a loaded word for me lately. Yes, I've been writing, but…I haven’t been able to concentrate on any one particular story or essay for long periods of time. My mind wanders more than it used to. I was blaming my concentration problems previously on being overworked, overextending myself, or generally not taking time to rest. While to a certain extent this may play a role in my problem, I’ve recently discovered that it is possible that my lack of focus and concentration could be from the car accident a few months back. See, I’m still suffering from whiplash. I do have a follow-up appointment with my doctor next week to check the extent of the damage. I am hoping that there are therapeutic options to fixing it, but I am afraid that I may have spinal cord damage. Of course, I’ve been playing internet doctor and, based on my symptoms of constant mild headaches, tinnitus, and never-ending pain in my neck and shoulders, I have self-diagnosed to the point I am scared it may be worse than I originally thought. It’s called chronic whiplash. An inability to concentrate for long periods is also one of the symptoms. It makes me tired. I don’t want to do much once I’ve worked a full day. It’s hard for me to even think about socializing.

Am I going to let this keep me from writing? No, of course not. Will it slow me down? Probably. At least I’m still writing, as long as I remember where I was when I started staring off into space!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Last Book Launch of the Year= FINALLY WRITING!

My view from the publishers table, October 7, 2017


This last weekend Sleeping Panther Press held its last launch of the year, Heath Dollar’s Waylon County: Texas Stories. It was quite the party. I’m glad I don’t have to do any more launches for a few months. Prepping for them, then pulling them off wear me out. Now the process of marketing the books published over the last year so that money is actually made back! That starts this coming weekend with the Fort Worth BookFest, which is a new book festival right in Downtown Fort Worth.

I’ve been worried lately that my ability to write has gone away since I hadn’t made time for it in the past… year. This fear has made me anxious about sitting down to start. This anxiety has gotten stronger as I’ve racked my brain to decide exactly what I should start writing about. When I get my butt in the seat, I still draw a blank. This isn’t unusual, though, considering how focused I’ve been getting Sleeping Panther Press started and keeping the momentum going on my librarian job.

Luckily, yesterday during my lunch duty at the circulation desk, I started writing. It was just about what was going on in the library at the moment. This would absolutely appall most people, but is the everyday life of a modern high school library: kids eating lunch at the tables, browsing the shelves, working on homework off their laptops, printing off massive pages of work (yep, despite the fact they have laptops, they still have to print). When I saved the document at the end of the day, I found the folder with all of my writings- mostly frustrations- from my other library school experience, and it came to me-- I should write a book based on my time spent in a modern high school library! I’m not sure if I should just base it on what has happened, or if I should make it a memoir, but it would be the easiest

This was quite the revelation to me. I had always toyed with the idea of writing a book about my experiences, but I thought it would probably be after I retired so I wouldn’t have to face other educators who may possibly see themselves in the book. Of course, I reminded myself of my favorite quote from Anne Lamott, “You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should’ve behaved better.” Yes. They should have.

Once I got home from work and went on a walk with mom, I had a solid idea about what I wanted to do with it. She had a few ideas as well, which include my teaching experiences, making it about my entire career as a reluctant educator. That may actually end up being the title, “The Reluctant Educator.”

So, that is what I’m going to start working on. The outline will begin today, as soon as I finish editing and posting this update. It is exciting to get the writing tingles in my fingertips. I can’t wait to get to it!

Monday, September 25, 2017

Forty-Two

Last Tuesday was my birthday. 42. I’m just getting over a cold that struck me over a week ago. I’m happy that I was actually able to taste the sparkling Rosé I bought to celebrate my big day. It wasn’t the ideal way to celebrate my rotation around the sun, but it could have been worse. It seems that there are so many more horrible incidences- hurricanes, earthquakes, Trump tweets or speeches to the UN, North Korea. My little cold on my birthday is no big thing.

My little plan from my last post to uncomplicate my life ended up completely complicating my life. It seems that some people felt let down that I wouldn’t be helping them and their dreams of writing the great American novel. How I’m being selfish by not spending my time teaching them how to write better. I had to blow those people off. I choose to listen to those who called, texted and emailed their concerns for me. Their support of my decision. Their understanding that I would still be there for them, I just wasn’t taking anything new on. They understood this was not a selfish decision, but a smarter decision to help build my own craft by not adding the burden of more to my life. I am grateful for those people.

It also seems that this was just the right time to say no more. Everything that I thought would be winding down for me has ended up getting extended, or needing more attention than I had originally anticipated. That’s okay, though. I think I secretly expected that I wouldn’t be able to just move along in my little world immediately.

One great accomplishment this week has been the launch of Panther City Review 2017. There was a pretty major hiccup pointed out to me at the launch, where I couldn’t do anything about it but wait until I got home to see what went wrong, but otherwise, it went off without a hitch. Once it was all over and I got home, that major hiccup was found to not actually be my fault, but that of the printer, so while it was bad, it wasn’t because I screwed it up. And now it’s fixed! If you’d like to buy a copy of Panther City Review 2017, check out the link on the Sleeping Panther Press page right here (I even had time to put one of my own stories in it!).

Speaking of my own writing, well… Rome wasn’t built in a day and my ability to just jump into the fray and get to writing isn’t going to be immediate, either. I actually have two months of almost every weekend obligations to my business before I can really bare down and focus on what I need to do for myself. The great thing is, my mind is now open to the possibilities, which is always, always a great start.