Self-Expression = Mood Boost

I had a strange dream last night and it had nothing to do with me. Sometimes I think I have strange dreams because of a late night chocolate fix, but I didn’t have chocolate last night. It was a series of dreams, but what stood out the most was a tyrannosaurus rex bursting through an arcade game. Yeah tell me about it, I didn’t know how to spell that dinosaur’s name properly until today.

Well, the fun didn’t stop there. Next thing I know I’m following a fashion design team with one of the guys from Queer Eye. He’s wearing the furry coat number that Selena Gomez was sporting in the first episode of Only Murders in the Building. This fashion design team walk into a posh hair salon to get a blow out, but it’s not really a blow out because they were all at a wash station immersing their head and half their body into these strange sinks operated by machines. Their designer clothes were getting a good shampoo rinse as well. You would think their clothes were permanently damaged, but those that walked out afterwards looking just as fabulous as before.

Then I woke up.

Self-Expression

I came to with my heart pounding out of my chest and thought I should write a post about self-expression. I’ve been on this self trip lately. It’s been refreshing, empowering and inspirational. When I hear self-expression, images of people wearing clothes that are far from the norm pop into my head. How many people do you know walk around in furry coats like Selena Gomez?

Self-Expression by fictional character Mabel played by Selena Gomez wearing a furry orange coat

Maybe it’s a New York City thing, I don’t know. During Only Murders in the Building, the subtitles said the coat was yellow, but it’s clearly a shag carpet orange,right? But maybe I don’t know my colors as well as the people who provided the captioning. After all, I live in rural Florida, where wearing something other than a t-shirt is called dressing up. It’s a quirky place to live, but I’m not a huge fan of crowds, so it works for me. Mabel wears funky coats and my self-expression comes through my words. Now it’s your turn.

How Do You Express Yourself?

Is it through the way you dress, your hairstyle, what you drive or the way you promote yourself on social media? Self-expression displays who we are to the world. It is commonly expressed through writing, dance, music, or visual arts.

This is not meant to make you more likeable by others. Think of it as helping you reach your more authentic self. When you become your unique self, guess what? It boosts your mood and can help reduce anxiety. So how do we get back to our authentic self?

How to Promote Self-Expression

First, find an inspiring quote and imagine yourself as a child.

What’s the first thing that pops up in your head about the things that made you happy?

What do you enjoy doing now?

What are you awesome at?

What are your favorite colors?

What’s your favorite song?

What are your current interests?

Take a moment to answer these questions in your journal. Now create a vision board with these thoughts in mind. Keep it in a spot where you will see it often. The bathroom mirror is a good place to start or maybe on your desktop. It might even be a good idea to put it in a place where visitors sit. Wouldn’t that make for a great conversation piece?

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Make time to do the things that bring you joy.

Wordsmith, Wordsmithing, Wordsmithery

noun: wordsmith; plural noun: wordsmiths

1. a skilled user of words.

Definition from Oxford Languages

The term wordsmith didn’t enter my vocabulary until my mid-30s, but let’s rewind. I didn’t know about a lot of things until that time in my life, but I’ll save that story for another day. But first, here’s some back story to my circuitous route of what it means to me to be wordsmith.

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” It’s a popular question adults ask us from the time we can talk. The older we get we begin to discover what we want to become and it usually has nothing to do with what our parents want for us, even though they tell us to do what makes us happy. Come to think of it, I don’t recall my parents saying those words. EVER.

From first grade until the beginning of my junior year in high school, I had big plans. I wanted to make my parents proud, so they could brag to their friends and extended family about the career path I chose. Because one day, in my not so distant future, I was going to be a medical doctor…and jazz hands.

I sat with my parents watching every episode with Neil Patrick Harris as Doogie Howser, MD. And before Patrick Dempsey’s role as Dr. Shepherd in Grey’s Anatomy, there was George Clooney as Dr. Ross in ER. Who didn’t want to work in the ER, fall in love with another doctor, and live happily after?

But at the beginning of my junior year in high school, I saw a PBS documentary on the making of a doctor and it shook me to my core. This film crew followed a small group of students through medical school, residency, and practice. I watched them juggle family and work. There were successes and failures at home and on the job. My preconceived notions were created through TV shows, I didn’t imagine it to be any different until that point.

You could say I romanticized the idea of being a doctor until that moment. I didn’t know what becoming an MD entailed. You know, the years of sacrifice, the schooling in the things I had no interest for and of course there was the blood. I was 16 and it was the first time since the first grade that I didn’t want to be a doctor. Cue the Price is Right sound of disappointment.

That same year, I discovered my interest in the arts. Who knew there was a world outside of becoming a medical doctor? It would take me a couple more decades to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up. I didn’t know it at the time, but what I wanted to become was a wordsmith.

Wordsmith Origin

The term wordsmith is believed to have been first used sometime in the 1800’s. Online Etymology Dictionary states that it comes from an 1855-56 Detroit directory 1855-56 with a listing for a “Mrs. F. Wordsmith.” Though it could be a typographical error. Other dictionaries trace it back by separating them into two words. I’ll only expound on the latter. Smith is generally associated with a person that works with metal, but a second definition says it is a person who has a specified skill.

I thought it would have a deeper meaning, but it is just as the name implies. In the same way a blacksmith forms metal, a wordsmith does the same when in the act of creative writing. We shape sentences in such a way to convey an image, a thought or an idea. If you’re a writer of words, add this to your list of I ams. Go ahead and say this out loud, “I am a wordsmith.”

The Sound-Better-Words

Now that you’ve said it, it’s time to be one. How many times have you looked for a better word .for something you wanted to say. I’ve only included two words in this post, but for good reason. Let’s take a look at the words very bad. In elementary we used the word very often, but somewhere along the line we were told to use other words to describe something that was very bad. So, we thumb through the dictionary and create lists of synonyms. Off the top of your head, what words come to mind when you’re thinking of a better word for bad? Create your own word list. This is a great exercise to see what you’ve got in your mental word bank.

Proofreading Services has a list of 128 words to use instead of “very” for your perusing pleasure.

Another common word used in our creative writings come when our characters are conversing. How did your character say it? Did he gasp, taunt, or whisper? I’ve included an infographic below compiled by The Puppet Show, so when you hit a said wall in your dialoging look to this.

280 Ways to say “said”

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Life took me on a detour, but I’m glad I found the thing that makes me get out of bed in the morning. I hope this post gets your mind thinking about other sound-better-words. There’s a big world out there with thousands of words to use within the English language.

Look up a word and find the synonym. I dare you to go down that rabbit hole. Sign up with an on-line dictionary for your word of the day. Use it in a sentence or let it catapult you in the form of a writing prompt. You’ll emerge with words that you never knew existed and dominate your friends and family in Scrabble or whatever word game tickles your fancy. Now doesn’t that sound like a dollop of whip cream on top?

Happy wordsmithing my friends! Write on.

Establishing a Writing Habit

How can you successfully establish a writing habit? You want to have one, but you don’t know where to start. If a journey of a thousand miles begins with a step, then every story told begins with a single word. We all have to start somewhere.

When I think about a writing habit, I think of Ernest Hemingway and his daily goal of 500 words per day. Okay, that’s not a bad word count, but then there’s Anne Rice coming in at 3000. Yikes! That’s a lot of words, but don’t let these numbers discourage you.

What I’m telling you is that you shouldn’t concern yourself with how many words famous people wrote per day. You are not them and they are not you. If your current habit is looking less than subpar, it’s okay. I’m here to help. If you allow these simple changes in your life, your writing habit could be as consistent as making that first cup of coffee in the morning.

Steps to Creating a Writing Habit

1. Set Your Intention

What is it that you want to achieve with a good writing habit? What is your primary objective? Do you have a specific project you’re working on? Is it an essay, short story, or novel?

Like any objective, specificity matters. I find it best to work on more than one project. If you get stuck in one, you can always work on a different one. Burn out on projects are real. I will not pretend otherwise.

If there’s no deadline, create one for yourself. If you have a short story or essay you’re working on, sign yourself up on Submittable and submit it to a literary journal. It’ll keep the fire under you.

2. Cut out Your Distractions

Understand your needs from your wants. Are you an avid checker of social platforms? Put the phone away or disable the apps. If you need to post a Happy Birthday to someone on their timeline, set a reminder on your phone to do it after you’re through with your writing session. Your socials can wait, but your writing can’t.

Scrivener is my writing platform and thankfully it can be used off-line. I disconnect from the internet and when temptation strikes, I make a note on the sidebar. Nine times out of ten, it wasn’t that important. I get antsy at the keyboard. Kind of like making an emotional purchase when you’re at the store. Give it some time and the feeling will pass. I didn’t need to check something out, I wanted to.

3. Writing Space

Where do you write? Put up some motivational quotes or scented candles to energize your space. If your current space is cluttered, sort through it. Having a mountain of paperwork in front of you will deprive you from your creative energies. Make your space a place where you are excited to spend your time.

I’ve tried various places in my house, but the best space for me is sitting at my desk. Anywhere else I go, I feel like I’ve been shot with a sleeping tranquilizer.

4. Schedule it

If writing is important to you, you will make time for it, right? Are you a morning bird or a night owl? We make time for what matters to us. If there is a time of day that works better for you make sure you create a schedule around it. A morning person wouldn’t schedule their prime writing time at 11pm. Whenever you feel the most productive, be sure to schedule accordingly.

5. Consistency

Once you’ve scheduled it in, consistency will follow. Did you know It takes 30 days to form a habit? I learned about how to form good habits when I was a Mormon girl. Yes, being Mormon had its benefits. One of the many tasks to earn the Young Women’s included forming a good habit.

Writing in my journal for 30 days was one of them. I made it a point to write in my journal every night for 30 days, right before I went to bed. Long after the 30 days were over, it turned into one of my nightly routines.

6. Reward Yourself

When you are consistently working towards a habit that will satisfy your soul, you don’t want to dim the light on it. Celebrate it! We need to do these sorts of things to stay motivated. And if you’re wondering if you deserve it, of course you do!

You don’t have to go on an extravagant spa retreat, but it’s important to reward yourself. Give yourself a manicure or pedicure, visit the beach, visit with a friend or check out that new art gallery. The added bonus, you’ll probably bring home some good content for your writing.

My reward for writing consistently is as simple as completing a French lesson on Duolingo, reading a chapter of fiction, or browsing the latest issue of Poets & Writers. Maybe for you it’s watching an episode of Stranger Things. Whatever your cup of tea, give yourself permission to reward yourself.

Proofreading

Remember when we shuffled our desks in groups of three or four during elementary school? We used the red pencil to apply our newly acquired proofreading skills to our classmate’s paper. We marked their paper with symbols for missing capitalization, commas, paragraphs, and misspelled words. I hated seeing those red marks on my paper.

Through regular practice and relearning how to apply and develop the skills in college, I improved on them. Although we now have tools at our disposal, it’s still necessary as a writer to find these errors in our daily tasks before we send out blog posts, query letters, essays, or short stories.

I have included some suggestions to put in your proofreading toolbox. I know that many of us aren’t paid or paid well for the work we produce, yet we do it for the love of creating. There are companies you can work through, but why not take the initiative to do the work yourself free of charge.

Homonyms

Homonyms, also known as homophones, occasionally come across my radar. Print out your work and highlight the homonyms. These words sound the same but are spelled differently and have different meanings. There’s no need to worry about homographs (words that sound and look the same but have a different meaning (i.e., rose, fall, duck, saw, park). Those shouldn’t pose as much of a threat in your writing as homonyms.

Top 10 Homonyms Common Mistakes

Read Backwards

Try reading your text backward. Did you try reading my sentence backward? It makes your mind focus on each word individually rather than the entire sentence. You’re not looking at sentence structure. That comes later when you’re editing.

Ask Someone to Read Your Work

Peer reviews play an essential role in proofreading. Don’t think of it in a negative light. It’s a way to see your writing from a different perspective, making you a better writer.

How many times have we gone over a sentence with “should of,” but after peer review, discovered when corrected, needed to say, “should have”? It’s a mistake I made while attending BYU, and it is a reminder of the importance of having someone else read your work.

Online Tools

If you have done everything in your power to find your proofreading errors, you can try using some of these online tools to check your work. I have included a screenshot of the thoroughness of each program. I used the first paragraph of this post as an example. Disclaimer: I’m not paid for these reviews. They are based on my preferences.

1. Grammarly

Grammarly free online version

I’ve been using Grammarly for years. The free and paid version checks for basic proofreading mistakes (i.e., grammar, spelling, punctuation) and clarity, delivery, and engagement. Adding it as an extension in Chrome, allows you to see your errors across social platforms, e-mail, Word, and Google Docs. You’ll have to upgrade to Premium if you want to suggestions on clarity and plagiarism. They charge an annual fee of $144, which breaks down to $20 per month.

2. Hemingway Editor

Hemingway Editor free online version

It is available online for free and offers the downloaded version for $19.99. What’s the benefit? You can also download the program to use off-line for $19.99. I would consider using this program and paying for the online version since there is no reoccurring payment that it offers.

3. Writer.com

Writer.com free on-line version

The free plan allows you to check for the basic proofreading mistakes (i.e., grammar, spelling, punctuation), but you will have to pay $11 each month for other features like clarity, plagiarism, and delivery.

Give each of them a try and see which one works for your specific needs. Remember, you don’t have to apply all suggestions. Not everything they say is necessary to make your work sound the best.

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I hope you enjoyed this post as much as I enjoyed sharing the knowledge. If you have your own suggestions on proofreading help, please leave me a comment.

Writer’s Block

Writer’s block is not the problem. The problem is not writing.

Wikipedia has listed the term writer’s block as a condition. It occurs when a writer has a creative slow down or can’t think of any new material.

When I first started writing, I believed it. But guess what? Writer’s block doesn’t exist. I think it’s an excellent armpit excuse, but in all honesty, writers have got to write.

Here are some ways you can conquer the imaginary block and write on.

Free Write

Free writing is what the name implies. You don’t have a plan. If having no plan interests you check out my earlier post Pantser 101. Write whatever comes to mind and keep writing. When I hear free writing, I see Jack Nicholson repeatedly writing Red Rum in The Shining. If you get stuck on a word, keep writing the same word until you come up with the next one. You know what? Something magical happens. You’ll come up with another word.

Do not be afraid of an incomplete thought. No one is judging you. It’s between you and your keyboard or pen. Whatever medium you decide, keep writing. Set a timer for 10 minutes. Next time you can set it for 20 minutes. It’s up to you. I want to tell you not to look back and change your words, but I know you will. I know I’ve done it. But remember, free writing is about allowing the words to flow out of you without bringing out the grammar police or wordsmith. You can bring them out later.

Writing Prompt

There are plenty of sites that you can sign up for to get your writing juices flowing. One of my favorites is reedsyprompts, where you can use their weekly writing prompts, and if you are interested, you can enter their weekly contests. As a judge on their site, I love to see the beautiful way an author can weave these prompts in their short stories.

The other site I enjoy receiving emails from is writers write. Once a week, they send out a newsletter that includes a helpful post, comic, words we like, a quote, and lastly, writing prompt. This week’s writing prompt is, “The cat’s bowl was empty.”

Word List

Who doesn’t like a good word list? I’m in the middle of revision and rewrites, and I realized my sentences were…well, lacking in the realm of better words. Sometimes it’s about how your words are arranged. For example, Fredrik Backman writes simple sentences, but I walk away thinking about his prose long after putting down any of his books. “It doesn’t take a lot to let go of your child. It takes everything.” –Beartown.

Here’s one example of a word list. Make a food list. Start with your grocery list, and if you are a foodie, even butter. Yes, I love a good food pun. You could list a menu from one of your favorite restaurants. Go beyond pizza and tacos. Of course, you can easily upgrade the basic tacos into something of the street variety like carne asada encased in those cute little corn tortillas or a brick oven pizza covered in truffle shavings.

Think of brioche, tiramisu, sashimi or goulash. There is a whole world of food out there. If you’re a visual person, tune in to The Food Network. You are the writer. Imagine your character taking their first bite from a savory piece of filet mignon or dipping a piece of lobster tail in that buttery sauce as it drips off their fingertips. Then again, it could be as simple as chomping down on a Spam sandwich during their 20-minute lunch break.

Other lists could include favorite words, body movements, or places.

News Headline

Newsbreak headlines usually get my attention. Try taking a headline or an article you found exciting and making something more out of the subject matter. A headline reads, A Mother Carjacked, Baby Survives High-Speed Car Chase.

What happens to the woman afterward? Does she become agoraphobic or a cop? What happens to the 16-year-old kid not thinking about the consequences that follow? Is he scared straight and turns into one of his generation’s most influential motivational speakers for at-risk children? I’d like to know. Not all stories need to have a sad ending.

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I see it as writer’s block is nothing more than a myth. There are a plethora of avenues you can travel when it comes to your creativity.

I hope you found this helpful in your writing journey. Let’s do some trade secrets, and you can comment on how you get through writer’s block. Send me a like and follow, and I’ll do my best to develop other ideas to help you unleash your creative self.

Write on!

What’s Your Frequency?

Unfortunately new stresses were added to the plate during the months of February and March and after wading through the storms of fear particularly with the unknown I had to just STOP!

Going through another bout of depression and being completely aware how I silently suffer through it makes me feel like a big pain in the butt to others. I don’t like sharing that side of me. Who really does? I picture myself as a Tormentor from Harry Potter. Terrible visual, right?

So, what does frequency have to with depression and all things negative? EVERYTHING. The universal law of the power found in giving and taking. The more you give whether that be negative or positive energy lands on a frequency, a certain vibration and that is exactly what you’ll bring in to your own life.

There is so much information on the topic out there, so I won’t delve too deep into it. You can scroll through YouTube and listen to all sorts of frequencies, but today I’ll only share with you the one that has helped me the most. It gets to be a little overwhelming if you ask me, but first let’s talk about thought cataloging.

Thought Catalog

Today has been a day to recalibrate and do some cataloging. Being productive while not being on the go all the time is completely okay. Yes, I’m giving myself permission to do so. I’m continually filing away the bad or deleting those negative thoughts and replacing them with all things good and uplifting. It can be exhausting, but with enough practice, it becomes easier. Of course, the negativity comes throughout the day, but it’s about not dwelling on it for an extended period.

I recently came across the words thought catalog. There’s actually a website with the same name, but it had me thinking… in a good way. It is easy to get caught up in the FB culture of “look what I’m doing.” It doesn’t take long for the Universe to say, “Slow the F down. Desiree, you are getting ahead of yourself again. I do have a personality that wants to all the things, so I have to weed out the unnecessary often. It is amazing how the power of my two little ones makes sure to remind me what’s important.

It’s time to bounce back. December and January brought on energy I didn’t know existed, but I felt it slowly slip away entering into February. It scared me how quickly the high had left me. Not enough time and too many things I wanted to do. I had a six month plan, but it evaporated just as quickly as it began. Yes, I put too much on my plate and the Universe made me slow things waaay down.

It’s a snails pace, but I’m moving forward and not backwards. Navigating my energy level and balancing out the lows was and is another one of my ongoing challenges. It definitely helps to write out those feelings that take you away from being an unproductive blob. I write about it and share what I have learned with whomever may come across this blog.

528 Hz Frequency

This frequency has the ability to reduce anxiety, energize, and center you. If you don’t believe me, just give a try for yourself. I began listening to 528 Hz frequencies to help me through my anxieties. When I finally drifted off to sleep, I ended up dreaming about a white Persian kitten.

I found that dreaming about white kittens denotes positivity. The frequency you vibrate on matters. It may not cure life’s challenges, but it can keep you in a better headspace. My overly exhausted self was able to let go and sleep.

My husband has watched my struggles waiting for the right time for me to be receptive to something uplifting. He turned on a few YouTube videos talking about the power in words and how your fears can get into your subconscious and end up manifesting themselves into reality. I have heard about this, but it didn’t hit me until now on how true that is. God is not far in this. He couldn’t be closer. Wholeheartedly believing your words that are spoken and unspoken have the power to become your reality is a real thing.

A Seinfeld episode illustrates how things just even out for him in the Universe. In one scene, Elaine throws out a $20 out of his apartment window to help test his theory. Minutes later, he puts on a jacket and finds a $20 in his pocket.

What Have I learned?

Eventually things in life do even out, it’s all about continuing on in believing. Be true to yourself and when times get rough, keep the faith my friends and stay on a high frequency.

Reassurances Amidst Uncertainty

Uncertainty, it’s all around us, you don’t have to look far. It comes in the sound of an ambulance or firetruck along with the howling of the coyotes when they hear it. Our temporary existence is a reminder that the frivolous stuff doesn’t matter…yet we are attracted to it like a moth to a flame.

I have just subscribed to The New York Times…I want to be aware of what faces the world, but at the same time, there is a difference between being aware and allowing it to consume you.

For instance, I received a text alert from the NYT about Putin’s growing threat in the Ukraine. How does this affect me and my family. Of course, its affects will trickle down and make itself known in the economy, but for right now, it does not affect how my day will continue.

Make the coffee, change the diapers, feed my little ones, take the dogs out, do the laundry, feed the rest of the family, make time to edit my book so I can eventually send it with a query letter to a prospective literary agent and of course I still have statistics homework to take care of. On and on my list goes, but for an instant I can get caught up in someone else’s life. Turn to the entertainment section. I just read an article about a stripper who marries a preacher 7 years younger than her. Say whaaat?!

When life throws us a curve ball, for lack of a better word, we take the hit and then assess the damage. We search for things in our life looking for the meaning of it. Anger, sadness and fear rage in our thoughts. Fearful for a tomorrow that sometimes manifests itself in our dreams.

I am aware that it doesn’t need to be that way, but I’m being honest. The instinct to pray comes after I feel the feelings.

What we look for in times of uncertainty?

We need a friendly gesture, a helpful quote, an answered prayer. I have been doing a lot of talking to God. As I write this I am tentative about other people’s thoughts about Him.

I am learning and growing in my beliefs through life’s experience. It’s been a bumpy road. I imagine running through river rocks, wearing Vibrams, those five toed shoes that ever so briefly became a trend. It can be painful when you don’t have the right tools. Get yourself a pair of Altras for the terrain you’re on and it will make for a less a painful journey. I did not mean to make that into a shoe commercial, but it’s so fitting. I couldn’t help myself! I’m laugh crying right now, internally.

Non believers think of it as a weakness on the part of the believers. I used to say the same thing when I lived on the side of the unbelievers, but I’ll take it. I am no greater than the person sitting next to me. We could all use God’s soul support.

I woke up this morning worried. One thing popped into my head. Give it to God. I instantly turned my worry over to Him and the tension in my chest released. I thought to myself, “It’s that easy?” Yeah it is.

This is not cause to do nothing. There’s only so much you can do when given a problem. Do what you can and then turn it over to Him. He’ll take it from there. Watch it unfold. I dare you.

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That was my pep talk for today and through the weekend. My hope is that this post speaks to you in some way. If it did, please do not hesitate to leave me a comment. It’s always good to know that I’m not the only one going through sheet.

Stressed? It’s Forking Desserts

Did you know that desserts spelled backwards is stressed? It was news to me. It’s no wonder that desserts are often given to us when we are stressed the fork out.

A quote concerning stress: “You can’t control the winds, but you can adjust the sails.” – a number of people are attributed with this saying.

So, Are You Feeling Stressed?

Stress forking affects EVERYTHING in my life. Be it mentally, physically, and emotionally. I wished I wouldn’t let it get to me, but I know time and time again that’s where my faith steps in. Easier said than done. It takes some serious concentration to get unstuck from the loop. I’ve talked about negativity before. Don’t worry, nothing has changed.

Loops of Negativity = Negativity about everything. Talk about a dark cloud consistently looming overhead.

The Loop

You know, that mental treadmill of sorts that keeps you stressed, anxiety ridden, and filled with worry. It sucks the joy out living. I believe that’s the reason I enjoy basking in the happy, peaceful, joyful moments. Now that’s a treadmill filled with abundance.

Here I am, still learning this concept. Always learning. I’m learning to forgive humanity and myself. I’m trying to be a better wife, a better mother, a better daughter and dare I say it…a better Christian.

Personally, I’m turned off by people that introduce themselves and then add, “I’m a Christian.” Show me what you mean by that. You don’t need to tell me something you are, especially if you already show it by your actions. This goes for people who say they are kind, generous and loving. Show me kindness, generosity, and love.

It’s rough out here in this world.

If you’re not careful you can turn into a negative human only attracting the worst of what life has to offer. Doesn’t reading that sentence make you feel icky?

When I start seeing the negativity enter, there’s only one thing I can do. I must freaking change my gosh darn attitude. I’m trying to reverse my sailor’s mouth. It’s flippin’ tough, but not impossible. I’m not going to say I have a good track record, which I did for a big chunk of my life because of a religion, but now I’m just doing it because no one likes a potty mouth and there are so many more better words out there.

Have you looked at a dictionary lately? I just wish there was one that would carry as much emotion as that one four letter word that rhymes with duck. Do you have a better one? Let me know in the comments down below, because fork doesn’t do it for me.

What to do when forking desserts get the best of me?

I write, run, lift weights, knit, and pray A LOT.

If that doesn’t work, then what?

Lean on hope and faith when you’re stressed.

I could quote a bunch of bible verses here, but I’ll spare you. In this process of becoming better, I’ve come across a new friend. Her name is Jackie. We text each other a lot. It’s mostly about remaining in prayer for one another. We talk about our faith and discuss how it’s made us stronger women, thus making us better wives, mothers, and friends.

As fate would have it, she was initially friend’s with my husband’s mother. I’m still trying to wrap my head around that one. She’s also my age and hit it off the moment we met. Our two older children are similar in age. We can relate on so many levels. We know and are acquainted with the same people. I’ve lived here for over a decade. All this time, in this small but big county, we met at the Family Dollar in the frozen food aisle on Christmas Eve.

I’m constantly trying to see the little blessings in my life when I’m consumed by the bigger problems.

When life feels devoid of hope and lacking in love, I turn to God in faith and He answers me through friends.

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If you’re forking desserts, my hope is that these words find their way to you.

Goals: Failures and Successes

What better time to talk about goals than on the Chinese New Year.

Goals

Does the word goal make you cringe inwardly a little? Sometimes I feel like it attaches meaning to something that I don’t really want to do, but must get done, like my statistics homework that I’m pushing out to do tomorrow instead of right now.

Why? Because I attach a higher priority to my writing. Although learning and understanding how it applies to psychology is an important skill and a required course to complete my long-haul hopes and dreams, I L-O-V-E to write. Writing hits that feel-good receptor.

I bet you know what this segue is leaning towards.

If you guessed running, you get a virtual fist bump. 

Let’s just say that goals aren’t for dreamers. Don’t get me wrong, this is a great stepping stone towards the “G” word, and do I ever like to dream with the best of them.

Unfortunately, for the dreamer, like myself, I have to jump off the cloud and take my Care Bear tushy down to my reality like (quick side note: I imagine the Care Bears every time I think about what it would be like to live in the clouds if  they weren’t really made out of water droplets like the scientists say), “Why do I smell ____?” or the Majority question in the Haros house, “What are we having for dinner?” As if I know the answer, SMH. I wouldn’t use that shortened form unless I actually did that, which I often do. I think it’s equivalent to the eye roll for teenagers. We parents have our own language. We shake our heads for a myriad of reasons, but I won’t discuss that today.

Goals require action…

Whatever your stance is on goals, there is no side stepping option available here. Goals are for those who are all about action. I don’t know about you, but I don’t like talking about something unless I’m actually going to do something about it.

As of late running has once again grabbed at my soul.

Running is the adrenaline rush, the breathing in and out, the one step after the other, the feeling of the sun on my skin…the untapped potential just beneath the surface of my very being.

This is the place where I feel like anything and everything can happen…when I truly believe that ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE.

Let me rephrase that. ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE THROUGH GOD. I know that without Him in my corner, I wouldn’t be able to do the things I have been fortunate enough to do.

In regards to that rush, this is how I feel when I run. If that rush could be bottled up and stored, no one would ever have to experience those lows, but then again how could we ever enjoy those highs? One is not possible without the other.

With all that said, it’s time to prove to myself that I can run a 100-mile race.

I know it can be done and I also know from prior experience that it can’t always be done.

Did you see what I said there? Let me say it one more time. Just because you want something bad enough, even if God has you, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get it.

It took many failures to get me there. My ego was knocked to the curb and my vulnerabilities exposed. Humbled much? Too many times to count.

Greenlights weren’t happening when I attempted the 100 mile race at Zion 100, Keys 100, Wild Sebastian, Daytona 100, and Atacama Extreme 100.

I don’t have a great track record of 100- mile distance finishes, but it shows that I tried. In my life time, I have completed the distance twice. Those finishes meant a whole lot more.

The same goes for my writing. There were several rejections, before my essays were accepted. Once again, those failures made my successes that much sweeter.

How did I get from point A to point B?

I didn’t give up. I kept pushing because I knew I could get it done.

At this point, I feel like I’m giving myself a pep talk. Hope this speaks to you in some way.

I will continue to chip away at my running milestones just as I did before I completed my first 100. How? One step at a time.

If you are a writer, how do you get there? One word at a time.

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Just like any goal, you have to visualize the outcome.

Close your eyes.

Now bask in the feeling of your accomplishment.

Can you see yourself there? Holding that buckle? Or that diploma or that finished book in print?

Whatever goal you have. It’s in you. This is what I have to remind myself on the daily. I am my own roadblock at times. Those negative thoughts are like land mines.

In my own experience, I notice that every time I take my eyes off a goal, I step on a mental land mine and that outcome is never pretty. The moment I do, everything seems to go wrong. One catastrophe to the next.

I’m now ever slowly learning that I need to say a prayer to God asking Him for help and guidance. I also ask my friends to lift me up with their positive vibes. Both of these options are provided to all of us. You just have to ask.

Interested in goal achieving?

Here are some easy steps to follow. If you’re already in the middle of these steps. Let me know how it’s going.

1. Create a goal. Write down your why. Make sure it’s big enough to get you out of bed every day.

2. Write down the steps it will take to get you there. Work backwards from the finish to the beginning. This will put in a different head space.

3.  Ask others who may have accomplished your goal. Just ask and I guarantee they will help you out.

4. Get to it and accomplish your goal. I’ll be cheering you on.

A Come to Jesus Moment or What Have You

Choice #1

Two nights ago, after a minor “discussion” with my husband. We decided it would be in our best interest, if we went to get some food…meaning fast food.

Choice #2

We saw Lexi and Lauryn (our two oldest) on the way out. Lexi had picked Lauryn up from work. Lauryn works at Wendy’s. She said they were out of fries. We were going to get fries for Brooklyn. I said, “Let’s go to Taco Bell!” Anthony says, “Yes, that sounds most excellent.” He didn’t say that, but he agreed that it was a good idea.

Choices #3

Insignificant choice, but let’s talk consider the time it took to go through the drive thru. I ordered 2 spicy tacos and he got the Grilled something box. Thankful we spent under $15. We headed home.

Choice #4

There are two routes home. One that takes less time than the other. It was foggy…like unusually foggy, so we took the short way home. We were nearly 5 minutes away from home when….

We heard honking, but couldn’t figure out why.

Choice #5

Headlights appeared out of nowhere, because the driver from the oncoming lane turned on his headlights at the last second, but he was in our lane.

Choice #6

Swerved left and the only thing that ran through my head was a clear male voice that said, “Hold on tight and brace for impact.”

Choice #7

Anthony hopped out of the car and ran to the other driver and asked him what the eff he was doing driving on the wrong side of the road. He scared the man so bad, he kneeled in front of his vehicle and put his hands behind his head and promised he wouldn’t move and asked if we were okay. He thought my husband was a cop.

Choice #8

I had to reign in my husband’s wrath, because he was about to beat the living crap out of that man. Not only that, my husband was going to get ran over by oncoming traffic because he was wearing all black. Meanwhile, the clearly inebriated man repeatedly called out, “Penny!!!” A little black and white puppy came running out towards him.

Choice #9

We made our way back to the curb once the police started showing up.

Choice #10

We called Lexi to come and pick us up.

Choice #11

The man pleaded with the cops to not take away his dog. Thankfully, he had someone pick up his animal. It was either that or they were going to take her to the pound. (disclaimer: the shelter is currently filled to capacity and there is a two week waiting list, one day I’ll explain how I know that.) My husband and Lexi said we couldn’t take the dog home. I made a momentary sad face.

Choice #12

After 1.5 hours we were able to go home. We sustained no life-threatening injuries and Lexi asked if we had any Taco Bell left because she was hungry.

Choice #13

We arrived home, tired, exhausted and incredibly grateful that our family was still intact.

Choice #14

Meanwhile, my mother confused her 81mg Aspirin for allergy pills. She took 4 Benadryl and slept until I woke her up the next morning to tell her about the accident. She is usually awake just as much as I am, but more on that later.

The Lesson Learned

We should have gone to Wendy’s.

I’m kidding. The lesson we learned was that life is too short to have “discussions” that last more than 10 minutes. We promised not to get petty as long as we both shall live, but because we said that we happened to get into another “discussion” yesterday. Not even 24 hours later we were “discussing” petty things once again. I thought he was being petty and he thought I was being petty. It turns out we were both being petty. Do you see how choices lead us to where we are today. We can play the blame game all day long, but where does that get us? Stuck on a hamster wheel.

We apologized for our behavior and I begged my daughter to not one day put me in a nursing home. I also apologized to the Universe for being petty.

The Blessing

Anthony went outside and finished fixing our van which has been out of commission for about a month-ish.

He put in the last part that needed to be replaced and we now have a working vehicle again. Our 2016 Nissan Altima is totalled, but we have a working vehicle and we are still alive.

The Conclusion

See the blessings in disguise and recognize when you are not being a very nice human. The sooner you straighten out, the quicker the Universe will work in your favor.

What ever you want to call the higher power, it is there and listening. I believe those who have passed on before us, meaning our ancestors are our guardian angels. That voice I heard in my head was perfectly calm. I listened. The question I have for you is, “Will you?”

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Thank you for taking the time to read this. I appreciate your support and hope you will take the opportunity to like and send me a comment or drop me an email. You can even buy this mama a cup of coffee so that I can continue to make you laugh, cry and jump for joy all at the same time with my clever wordsmithing. Remember to tell your loved ones how much they matter to you, because you don’t know when or if you’ll see them again.