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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Something Beautiful Is Happening...

At the close of 2010, I created a beautiful "Vision Board." Well, before our move back home to Florida, I hastily disposed of it (Ughhhh!) and have regretted it ever since. That makes two that I've now lost.

So the other day, my dear friend and I spread out over my dining room table our craft supplies, magazines, baubles and shells, as well as whatever else we thought we may need, and created new ones for our lives. (I highly encourage this. As personal as a dream/vision board is, sometimes it's a wonderful thing to share the creation of it with someone close to you who "gets" you, and encourages you in your life's aspirations.)

So, over mimosas, cuban sandwiches, and great conversation, we meticulously pieced together the hopeful stories of our lives to come. There will be additional ones, as well.

My new one, was done in text only.

It's full of sayings and words that capture the essence of what I see. Daily affirmations and the bold print that speaks so well to me. The next will be pictorial in nature.

I had someone ask me what a "Dream Board" was. So, I figured I'd repost my original blog entry on the subject from back in November, to bring clarity to what I believe these boards to be about.

The following is my post from November 2010:

The other day, I made myself a new "Vision Board." Most of you would know what I mean by that... a "dream" board where you adhere pics of things you're working towards in your life, inspirational quotes that fuel your energy to get there, as well as other bits and pieces that symbolize your life journey and where you would like to end up at a certain time frame in your life. I like to call them "focus triggers" that help me stay on track with my life goals.

I had another "Vision Board" some years ago, and lost it during one of the many moves we've made. I had folded it and placed it in a treasured journal, that obviously, was lost as well. (I still grieve over that lost journal to this day.) For some strange reason, I never made a new one. But, upon looking back on what I can remember about that particular board (it was actually a piece of paper where I had pasted and taped these "focus triggers") I realized something, I had actually seen it all come to pass. Every single thing that I had placed on that board happened. They weren't only dreams for myself, but for those of my family.

Now, mind you, I'm not a "name and claim it" kind of gal, and I'm fully aware of the foolishness that can transpire when individuals look to this process to be nothing more than trying to hit the "jack-pot" of life, and miss the whole point. There's so much more to it than getting what you want materialistically. Certainly, there can be those benefits. But, the over-reaching blessing of it all is to have a sense of fulfillment in the act of becoming all that you were created to be. Also, being a person of Christian faith, I do believe in, "writing down the vision and making it clear so that those who see it, can run with it and will know how things will turn out...," Habakkuk 2:2-3. ( I've paraphrased a bit, but you get the understanding.)

There's something to be said for focus and predetermination... an advanced resolve for our lives, if you will. It's a very spiritual process. It can serve to keep us focused on the very best parts of who we are. Tapping in to the creative spirit that we have all been blessed with in one arena or another.

It's also and endeavor to find out who we really are. What really makes us "tick." When I sat down to make my new board, I dug deep within myself to find what it was that excites me, what inspires me, what drives me. I needed to determine what motivated me to take the steps needed to become who I want to be. Some things spoke to my future, while others speak to me in the now. I needed things that would encourage me when I'm being challenged by self and others to reach my goals, or when I feel like throwing in the towel and giving up. I needed to have something that would remind me of who I really am and why I do what I do. And, when I'm not being the best of myself, an encouragement to return to "me."

I guess I've said all this to serve as an inspiration to anyone who reads this to think about who they really are and what they'd like to see develop in their lives as we enter this new year. What we're willing to settle for and what is not going to be compromised. As Martha Stewart would say, "It's a good thing."

Let me know if you've decided to make a "Vision Board." I'd love to hear about your process and how it may have changed your idea about your future, or re-awakened you to your real self.

xoxo CJ

"Our aspirations are our possibilities." - Samuel Johnson 1709-1784

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Wet Jeans & Sandy Feet

"Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again." Daphne Du Maurier's "Rebecca."

Longing. Heart-breaking, gut-wrenching longing. I remember that feeling.

Mine was not of a homestead or family estate. It was of the ocean. Salty air, sand between my toes, and the high-pitched screeching of sea birds. It was of the thunderous roar of the waves crashing and spitting up upon the shore the remains of beautiful shelled creatures, whose armor was of no consequence to the awesome power of the deep.

It was of long walks filled with inspiring sights and peace-inducing breezes.

Today, I had those experiences, once again. In the midst of all of life's challenges and trying situations, I was able to decompress for a while and once again, appreciate the miracles of the moment.

I don't know if I coined the phrase, "returning to self," as I've used it on a number of occasions in my journey of a writer's life. But, today, I did. I truly feel as though I've reconnected to my self in a way that I've not felt possible in some time.

It may have to do with heading out early in the morning to watch the schools of dolphin swim by and frolic in the waves. Or observing the hawks dive into the surf and come up with a catch. Or, seeing the surfers wait patiently for the right moment to catch the wave. So many beautiful moments that serve to refresh and re-energize me in the midst of chaos and unnerving transition.

Things just don't seem to take their toll on me as much since I've returned home. I feel more resilient.

I have my moments. But, they are fewer and farther in between.

I suppose I needed this transition to get me to the place that I long to be in my writing. Baby steps, once again.

I meet my muse there at the ocean's edge. I hear her most clearly when I take the time to walk to the sand and let my vulnerability call to her. I say "vulnerability" because I'm never so alone and raw as when I go there. No make-up, no power-dressing, no masks. I'm just "me." It's so freeing. I let others walk passed and see me for who I really am. They are "raw" and real as well.

It's so refreshing. No one is there to out shine another. They're all just doing their thing, and thinking their thoughts, and processing their lives in a very simplistic way. No judgement, no competition, just living the "Salt Life."

I suppose that's why hikers hike, and bikers bike, and sailors sail, etc. It keeps us in awe of something and someone so much greater than ourselves. Nature in it's purest sense keeps us humble and very aware of our "humanness." It washes our soul.

And, it's from the soul with which we write. Pure and unaffected, if we allow it.

I also have a supportive family who believes in what I dream to do. And it is they, my husband, in particular, who has encouraged me to press in and begin to write again. Having others who believe in your talent is a priceless gift. And, I'm so thankful to have those, who when I've nearly thrown in the towel and admitted defeat, come to my rescue at the eleventh hour, and encourage me to push on.

So, here I am, again. And, that's OK. It doesn't matter how many times I try and fail. It's the time that I try and succeed that matters in the long run.



Sunday, October 23, 2011

I've Come Home

Yes, I know. I'm fully aware that I've basically fallen off the face of the earth for the past nine months. I don't even know where to begin other than to say that my family and I have taken drastic measures to change our life-flow this year.

The truth is that, after 21 years in a certain vocation, my dear hubby and I decided that it was time for him to retire from that profession and move from the frigid tundra of the north-east region, back to southern coastal-living in our beautiful hometown in Florida. We desired to begin a new chapter of our life where we considered to be "home."

It was hectic, scary, daunting, exhausting, and down-right insane, but, we did it.

We are still adapting to all of the changes. Working different jobs, re-acclimating after being away for nine years, but, reveling in the peace that we know we made the right decision, as hard as it was. We loved our life and friends up north. But, we knew we needed a life-change.

Needless to say, during all of this chaos, I've not written a thing... seriously. Not a thing.

That's been one of the hardest issues for me to deal with. Having identified with being a "writer" for so long, and now, not writing at all for almost one year, has wreaked havoc with my mind and creative process.

I've wondered, at times, if I might have forgotten my muse during the move. Maybe she had wandered away during a pit stop in Virginia, or strayed and gotten lost somewhere between point A and point B. I've even thought she may have accidently fallen into a box labeled "Good Will," and was donated to charity before the move.

No, none of that is true. I bumped into her the other day while going through some old books and journals. She has just been patiently waiting for her turn to speak. I've found that she has been graciously sitting behind me as I've struggled to make sense of my new "everything." She hasn't wished to pull on me when I didn't have the time, energy or attention to give her. She's been very understanding. I appreciate that.

So, today while I was at the water's edge, sorting through shells and watching the birds dive into the waves, she walked up beside me and gently whispered in my ear.

"It's time," she said.

Deeply, I breathed in the cool salty air, and whispered back, "I know."

It's not going to be the same as before. I'm not actually sure what it all will look like as far as this blog is concerned. I'm just starting over, again. I'm learning to be a writer, again. I'm on a journey, again. And, that's fine with me. I'm just blessed to be in the process, and to share with whomever is interested.

Simply stated, I'm home... in more ways than one.

Shoe Mood:
Home is where shoes aren't required! ;-)

Friday, January 7, 2011

Panning for Gold

It's freezing, flippin' cold out there! But, at least we had a snow-day today. Yay! Love an unexpected long weekend.

I've been spending a lot of time wrestling with myself. I have the part of me that likes to have everything planned, and the part that prefers to "go with the flow." Going with the flow is winning out at the moment.

You see, I prefer to be an organic writer, which simply means that I don’t plan too much before I begin. I know where I want to go, and how I’m going to get there, but the details of it all are left to happen by osmosis. I find that I work much better that way.

I do, however, make what I call, “vision files.”

I take a file folder and paste pictures of what I imagine my characters might look like or the homes in which they may live, etc. I also throw into that file any dialogue that I may have written, or snapshots of plots or scenes. Anything I write that I think may fit into my story line, I cram into that file. But, as far as outlining, I stink at that. I feel too confined, if that makes any sense. I wish I could do that… outline. I have tried it, but I never, ever stick to it. And, I find that I can’t flow free in my thought process if I have to “stick to the rules.” (As I've said before, my creative muse gets her butt kicked by my editorial diva. And, that restricts me a bit.) So, my vision files are my organizational tool, for the time being, anyway.

I revise as I go along. I finish a portion of work, then I go back and reexamine, reassess, and modify whatever I feel may need it. Then, I go onto the next segment of work, write fresh, then I start the procedure all over again. It’s a long, arduous process, but one that works for me.

Might I change? Maybe. But, currently, I like the feeling of discovery that I get as I journey along with my characters. As long as I have the bones of the story, the flesh can be applied along the way.

I'm thinking, however, about expanding my writing endeavors to non-fiction. Then, my organizational process will have to change. I'm not yet sure what I would like to pursue as far as topic matter for articles or what have you. As a typical writer, I have many ideas. Just need to pan for gold, and get the dirt out of the way so that I can see what shines.

On a different note, I've been spending these first days of the new year grappling with what I want for myself, in all areas. I'm ready to push through what has held me back in the past, whether it be fear of rejection or failure, or lack of prioritization of my goals, or whatever. I feel as though I've embarked on a new journey.

Maybe it has to do with my age and taking more serious thought about my future. Maybe I'm maturing in certain areas and not "caring" so much about what people think, and being able to see criticisms as constructive and not taking them so personally.

Maybe, with age, brings confidence, and liking who we are. Maybe age facilitates us becoming our authentic selves. Maybe, with age, there's a new hunger that propels us to conquer and then eat what we've hunted and gathered with our own hands, instead of just allowing our stomach to growl, wishing there was food handed to us on a plate.

Whatever it is, I like it.

I will be, if I continue to will to be. You will be, if you continue to will to be.

See? This is what happens when I don't outline and just write "organically," I ramble. But, hopefully through the dirt of the ramble, they'll be nuggets of gold.


Shoe Mood:

Practicality coupled with free-spiritedness.


I think it works quite well.

Monday, January 3, 2011

How Will You Judge Your Success As A Writer?

I think as writers, we all come to the realization that it may take some time to become a success. I know that everyone has differing views on what writing success is or isn’t. For some it may be getting published, and that’s it. For others, it may be having healthy, consistent royalties. Still others, the hope of continued contracts for further work and nice fat advances. (Do they still even have those if you're not a movie star or someone relatively famous?) Still for others, it may be just being able to say that they’ve completed a full manuscript. Then, there are the “purists” who say they write to write only; that it doesn’t matter whether they ever become published or not. The love of the craft alone does it for them.

I can’t say that that’s where I’m at with my writing. I’m certainly not in it for the money, although it would be nice to have a reciprocal relationship with my writing and to have a little more tangible substance to go along with the joy of creating. (You know, I love to hear my husband tell me he loves me, but every now and then, a little bling-bling and sparkle does a girl some good!)

I guess, for me, I’ve not yet decided. I know that it’s more than just becoming a published author. Especially now, in this era of e-books and self-publishing, what was once frowned upon, discouraged, and disregarded as nonviable talent and caught the "roll" of many a prospective agent and or publisher's eye, now has some teeth to it. If you haven’t noticed, the publishing industry is changing, in a very big way… But, I digress.

I suppose what I am trying to say is that I want to write for the rest of my life. And, I don’t think that money alone will do it for me. In other words, I don’t think I could crank out just anything because it’s pop culture or what’s hot in the current trend. Every now and then, that would be great. But, I would like to think that my writing has touched someone’s life in a special way; that, my work didn't only serve as entertainment, but that in some way, I was able to challenge someone to dig deep within themselves and to ponder and consider the possibilities. I would like to think that when they closed the back cover of my book (or virtually turned the last page on their Kindle), they inhaled deeply and released with a sigh, saying, “Wow… now that was a story.”

This is why, no matter how many times I “walk away,” I will inevitably return to the desk and plant myself for the long hall. I just have too much to say.

So, in the meantime, I’ll keep pressing on. I’ll keep on writing, and no matter how many rejections come my way, I’ll keep charging ahead, and standing tall! I hope you will, as well.

How about you? What will be your measuring rod for determining your success? (Just a thought as we have entered a new year with new goals and vision.) Stay true, friends. You'll make it.


Shoe Mood:

Standing tall!

Must Reads

  • "A Long Fatal Love Chase" by Louisa May Alcott
  • "Gone With the Wind" by Margaret Mitchell
  • "I Capture the Castle" by Dodie Smith
  • "Les Miserables" by Victor Hugo
  • "Rebecca" by Daphne Du Maurier
  • "The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing" by M.T. Anderson
  • "The Grace Awakening" by Charles Swindoll