balance, beauty, books, choices, creative process, writing

This just in: The beautiful and terrible balance of the writing process

And so it goes...
And so it goes…

“Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid.”

I’m now digging into the next phase of the editing process for my novel, Where the Light Enters. I thought it would be easier than the first draft and the first set of edits, but the refinement process carries its own gnarly tasks. I’m now getting into critical detail where research and intense imagination are critical, when self-doubt is around every corner making it easy to throw in the towel. Self-doubt is really starting to get ticked off that I’m not giving up, and so its voice grows louder and its criticism more biting.

Quotes like the one above remind me that every process, every experience contains a certain amount of beautiful and terrible, light and darkness, frustration and ease. It’s a difficult and dicey balance to negotiate, but if we want to build anything of value and substance, whether it’s a piece of art, a relationship, or a book, we have to be willing to take the good with the bad. There will be times that we never want to end and times that all we want to do is give up. That seesaw is part and parcel to the creation process.

When giving up on anything feels especially enticing, I remind myself that I’m not perfect, that no one’s perfect, and so if something truly comes from my heart and gut then it will carry imperfection, too. That helps me keep going. It calms the small voice of self-doubt that is always present and wants me to abandon ship. I understand its fear and concern, and I also know that this same fear and concern is what helps me do the very best I can at any moment.

Back to writing…

balance, beauty, care, choices, creativity

This just In: Magic is all around you, everywhere you go

Sombrero Galaxy in infrared light (Hubble Space Telescope and Spitzer Space Telescope)
Sombrero Galaxy in infrared light (Hubble Space Telescope and Spitzer Space Telescope)

“The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.” ~W.B. Yeats

Sometimes we pray for signs—an insight, hint, or direction of what to do next when we can’t see our way out of where we are. The very thing we want—the guidance, love, and concern from the Universe—is already here. It’s everywhere. Around every corner, in every step we take.

I noticed it last week in the morning doves in Rock Creek Park. I felt it in smiles from the people in my neighborhood whom I see every day as I come and go from home. I found it in the light and the sky and the breeze. It was a quiet but still strong whisper. “Keep going. This is the way for you.”

The trail of magic is always there for us to pick up and follow. We just need to open our eyes, and heart, and ears, and let go of the many fears and doubts that keep us down. Sharpen your senses. Attune and align yourself with magic. It’s waiting for you. It’s a choice.

balance, career, frustration, future

This just in: 2015 is already a year I didn’t see coming

Who knows what's around the bend in 2015?!
Who knows what’s around the bend in 2015?!

Whenever something surprises my 4-year-old niece, Aubree, she says, “I did not see that comin’!” in her trademark raspy little voice. I find myself saying that on a more than daily basis this year. At the end of 2014, I looked up my horoscope for 2015 and it emphasized that this year would be tumultuous to say the least. I dismissed that prediction as sensationalism, laughed, and moved on. Or at least I thought I did.

A word to the wise: when you doubt the stars, they get ticked off and feel the need to make their presence and power known. For entities that are over 4 light years away, these little buggers bring their force right to the doorstep the moment they feel disrespected.

We’re only one month in and the first word that comes to mind when I think of 2015 is “mayhem”. Nothing’s going the way I thought it would. My pup, Phin, had surgery, some of my clients are throwing curve balls at me right and left, I’m contemplating new career opportunities in new places, and some of my nearest and dearest people are having deep troubles and challenges. What’s going on?

What’s saving me now is what’s always saved me—the authors I read, the characters I write, and my friends. They give me hope, courage, inspiration, and the will to keep going. They’re lighting the path ahead of me one step, one word, at a time. And I’m learning that this slowly advancing light, however frustrating, is something to be treasured. It’s teaching me to trust in every day, in every experience. It’s not easy, and it’s about as fun as having my wisdom teeth removed. Still, I’m willing to go along for the ride. I’m willing to lift up my head and squint into the distance to see what there is to see.

Last week during a particularly low day, my friend Alex said that whenever she feels down she tries to envision her life 3 months from now. That quick technique helps her to keep going. The challenges of today are the victories of tomorrow, and the course of those victories largely depends on what we do right now with the resources we’ve got on-hand. We do what we can with what we’ve got.

I may not have seen the events of January coming, but I am equipped to handle them whatever they are. One at a time, day by day. In the words of John Lennon and Paul McCartney, I’m getting by with a little help from my friends, real and imaginary.

art, balance, writer, writing

Inspired: What the U.S. Constitution taught me about writing and perfectionism

U.S. ConstitutionThe original U.S. Constitution is filled with flaws: typos, changed words, carets with additions, notes in the margins. It’s all there for us to see, encased in thick glass in D.C.’s National Archives. It has an underground where it will retreat should the nation come under attack. The Founding Fathers had no idea how to create a democracy. They wrote a draft document, and a rough one at that, but they went for it full throttle. They didn’t get it perfect, but they got it right enough to keep going. We revere a draft.

If the Founding Fathers can let go of perfectionism, then so can you and I. With National Novel Writing Month, I’m doing just that. I’m cooking up some plans to give everyone everywhere access to my first draft in a variety of formats in real-time. I want feedback to bring Emerson Page to life and make her story an inspiring beacon to encourage all people to courageously and compassionately create. I’m working on the details of my sharing plans and will have them solidified next week. Let’s do this together!

action, balance, choices

Inspired: Be where you are

From PinterestWe spend so much time wishing we were someplace else that often we miss the little miraculous moments and all of the goodness that is in our presence every day. The older I get, the more I try to stand my ground, literally and figuratively. I try to see all the good, and even all the bad, everywhere I am. I try as hard as I can to channel the good to others and help the bad carry itself to higher ground. I’m not always successful though I find that more often than not the result of any situation has much more to do with me, my attitude, and my actions than it does with any external factors. This game of life is ours to lose, and honestly, I’d much prefer to win. And winning, at anything, anywhere, is almost always a choice.

balance, determination

Inspired: Be Happy and Keep Reaching

From Pinterest
From Pinterest

I don’t ever feel like I’m lacking anything, though that doesn’t prevent me from working hard to achieve something more. This duality is possible, just as it’s possible to be at peace internally when there is much disruption in our external world. We stand on the edge of effort and ease, fully immersed in both. It’s one of the most amazing aspects of being human – to embrace all that we are, all at once.

balance, time, work

Inspired: Balance is a Cycle, a Ritual, Not a State of Being

From Pinterest
From Pinterest

I recently met someone who assumed that I must be permanently giving up all my other professional hats to work on Sing After Storms. I imagine that this will be true to some extent during the month of June. Balance won’t be possible in that month. I have to completely give myself and my time over to that process, and I’m more than happy to do that. I’ll take a break when the curtain comes down.  

Somewhere along the way many people felt they had to have balance every minute of every day. That idea feels like a great way to set myself up for failure. I have balance over a much longer time horizon. I work intensely and then I take a break. That cycle happens many times over the course of a year, and I find it makes me grateful for my work and grateful for my breaks. It’s energizing but never exhausting because I understand that balance is a cycle. It’s dynamic. It moves, flexes, and transforms. It’s not something we have to chase. It’s something we can ritualize and build into our lives.

balance, creativity, innovation, inspiration

Inspired: To do, we must listen

From Pinterest

“Within and without, the voice holds the key.” ~ Kara Johnstad

All projects need doing and listening. We observe the outside world and our own inner world. We hear and see what happens around us and then tune in to what is happening in our own hearts, bodies, minds, and spirits. To do our best work, we must have this balance. The place where the inner world and outer world meet is our greatest source of inspiration, where we realize that what we have to give is exactly what the world needs.

art, balance, creativity

Inspired: Creative Detox for the Soul

Yin and yang
Yin and yang

This weekend, I took myself on a creative retreat inside my apartment. I didn’t make any plans and spent the entire time working on creative projects – writing, cooking, reading, and building. This is a new experiment for me and another New Year’s resolution. It was inspired by my time in California this summer where I took a creative sabbatical and wrote my play, Sing After Storms. It was such a life-affirming experience to devote all of my time to being creative and I wanted to find a way to keep that fire burning on a regular basis. I decided to try this experiment of taking one weekend / month to follow my creativity wherever it leads me. Here are the results:

– I wrote my blog posts for the week
– I worked on a series of images that pair inspiring photos with quotes from my blog.
– I contacted a number of different potential partners for Sing After Storms as I think about casting and staffing the show. I also started to build a comprehensive project plan for the show and it was a blast to put my producer hat back on after all these years. We also have a new updated website. Check it out by clicking here.
– I wrote and pitched a few different classes I’d like to teach at various outlets this year.
– I worked on a very short video project that’s been kicking around in my head for over a year.
– Did some cooking including my Golden Globes vegan cookies
– Which brings me to my favorite activity of the weekend…watching the Golden Globes, one of my favorite broadcasts of the year. Check out who I picked to win by clicking here.

Now it’s Monday and I’m off to a client site for the day followed by a drink with a wonderful friend of mine from my Amex days whom I haven’t seen in a very long time. It’s wonderful to be out there in the world getting things done. It’s also wonderful to spend some time in retreat and reflection so that we’re prepared to face and engage with the world. Yin and yang. We need both to inform and inspire our best work in both spheres. I think I’m going to make my creative retreats a regular part of my life.

balance, Christmas

Beautiful: On the Seventh Day of Christmas, Let There Be More Balance

From Pinterest
From Pinterest

“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.” ~ Albert Einstein.

Balance doesn’t mean to constantly keep our lives in neutral. It is a beautiful dance. We constantly move between the act of speeding up and slowing down. We get happy and sad and happy again. We stand on the highest peak and descend into the lowest valley. We climb and fall. Balance is the act of moving between the extremes with the knowledge that this journey is part of the ebb and flow of life. We will have our emotions and our mistakes. We will falter and question the purpose and value of it all. Balance is our attempt to understand what happens, and why, and how to use the lessons we learn along the way. Balance is not perfection nor is it an ideal; it is the purposeful act of searching for alignment. It means standing as tall as we can in our current circumstances. Balance is not a destination, it is the journey itself.

This post is part of the “Let there be…” consecutive series of Christmas wishes