business · life curation · writing

Create Your Vision – A Sneak Peek Into My Latest Guided Journal

I decided to take a break from Writers Wednesdays, since I’m still editing and doing last minute changes. Instead, I want to take a little time to do a deep-dive into my latest journal, Create Your Vision. This was a special request, and I was delighted to do it for one of my wonderful customers.

Two of the Create Your Visions covers available (25 designs in all)

In this journal, I provide my step-by-step formula for lifestyle redesign, using the power of writing. In the video below, I even give an example of how to change a key area of your life (I use the example of changing careers) by journaling. I’ve successfully used these techniques to change my life and get the results that I’ve desired. Every time I feel the need to change something in my life, I refer back to this formula, since it worked so well.

That’s it for today. I hope you can use the information in this video. If you have any questions, please let me know in the comments below!

This post contains affiliate links.

culture · international · life curation

Embracing The Year of the Ox

We recently saw the beginning of a brand new Lunar Year on February 12th. Somehow, I was a bit late this year, and I didn’t realize that the Lunar New Year occurred until two days after.

What can I say? It’s been a challenging year for all of us, and if I miss a couple of holidays, it’s only because this year has done a number on most of us.

Anyway, back to the Lunar New Year. I thought of the significance of this year’s animal, the ox. I reflected back on the last lunar year, the year of the rat. I think of mice and rats, and how these animals, while indicative of abundance (they are always in places with adequate food supply), can overconsume and leave desolation where abundance used to reside. I think the year of the rat, marked by the COVID-19 pandemic, was a collective wake-up call. We are abundant, but, as a society, we have taken too much from nature, and balance must be restored.

Enter the year of the ox. This hardworking beast of burden only consumes what it needs to sustain itself, and it’s purpose for existing is to produce through manual efforts. Unlike rats, whose body waste is toxic and often spreads disease, oxen are useful all the way down to their fecal matter, which can fertilize and restore balance to the soil. The ox is sturdy, reliable, and work-oriented. It is the animal that’s most representative of the attitude we need in these times.

I think this year will be a year of restoration and balance. Life will get back to normal, more or less, but what is considered baseline normal has changed. We’ve had roughly one year to stay close to home, spend more time doing domestic activities, and to closely examine what matters to us. Now, we have our work to do.

It’s time for us to produce. We’ve been incubating our skills and talents during lockdowns and quarantines: now is the time to put out into the world what we’ve been creating during our downtime. And yes, I understand that many of us were too stressed and otherwise limited to “create” in the traditional sense. But, our creations need not be tangible: they can be our musings, creative nudges or even inklings of necessary change in our personal lives or in society. We have all created “something” in the past year: now it’s time to unleash it.

May the year of the ox give you great favor and lead you closer to a wonderful existence.

That’s all for today. I’ll talk to you all tomorrow. Take care!

culture · international · life curation

What Stepping Away From Royal Duties REALLY Means

Happy Monday, friends! I don’t know about you all, but the past few days have been wonderful. The weather is becoming milder here on the East Coast, and COVID-19 seems to be FINALLY decreasing. Let’s hope that these good things continue!

Recently, I read Buckingham Palace’s statement on Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan and their decision to step away from royal duties. As a result of this decision, they will be stripped of their royal patronages. This could not have been easy for the Sussexes, as they have made service a crucial theme in their personal and professional lives. In particular, I think of Prince Harry, who, as a result of this decision to step away, will have his honorary military titles removed. This must have been a very painful outcome for this proud veteran, who dutifully served the Crown for ten years.

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry (Photo as shown on People Magazine [Karwai Tang/WireImage])

As painful as it must be, I am so happy for and proud of this couple. There is far more at stake with this decision that simply losing titles and patronages. The decision to step away from royal duties is the decision to forge a brand new path. No one so close to the Crown has opted to become a private citizen since Edward VIII, and we all know how much of a crisis that caused. This is truly untrodden ground, as the world that we know today is quite different from the one occupied by Edward VIII and his beloved, Wallis Simpson.

The decision to step away, closing the door leading to life as a royal, has opened a myriad other doors for the couple. Walking away made it possible for them to create Archewell, a revolutionary media company that will distribute the content that the Sussexes want to bring into the world. The Archewell umbrella will also allow them to support causes that are near and dear, and will allow them to influence people in ways that they feel are most impactful, without the limitations imposed upon royals. Stepping away from royal duties will allow the Sussexes to step into serving on their terms.

Ultimately, this is what the couple truly wants to be known for: service that matters to them, and done in the way that they feel will do the most good. The Sussexes demonstrated this almost immediately after the Buckingham Palace statement was released, by supporting a Dallas woman’s shelter that was badly damaged by the devastating winter storms that slammed Texas last week. The unexpected act of kindness is the first public contribution made by the Archewell Foundation, and is likely a small preview of the many charitable acts that we can expect from Harry and Meghan in the future.

This entire discussion brings to mind the famous poem by Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken. The poem references how the speaker, considering two paths, “kept the first for another day”, but he also knew well, “how way leads on to way, I doubted if I should ever come back”. I doubt that the Sussexes will ever decide to rejoin the royal family in the capacity that was expected of them, but their decision to step away is undoubtedly a choice full of promise and potential. They can make a bigger impact in the way that they see fit, and they can author a spectacular story that starkly contrasts anything that royal life could offer, yet remains true to them. That, I believe, is why they chose to step away, and that, to paraphrase Frost, will make all the difference.

health

Fibro Friday – A Tentative Wellness Plan

Happy Fibro Friday! I’m feeling pretty good today, and I’m looking forward to a warmer weekend ahead. I think that most states in the US are anticipating some sunnier, warmer days, and I’m grateful for that. This is a happy Friday for sure!

I recently shared my experience with the Everlywell Food Sensitivity Test, as well as my thoughts about at-home tests and their effectiveness. I used the food sensitivity test as a way to gather intel on how my body works. I’m combining the information that I gathered from that test with the results from the myriad other tests I’ve had over the years. I’m thankful for historical data from LabCorp as well as my insurance company: there’s no way I could have kept physical copies of every single test or doctor’s appointment I’ve had over the past three years.

Regardless of where you are on your fibro journey, becoming an expert on your body is a fantastic place to start. I can’t recommend it enough: get to know your own body! It’s crucial for your journey.

Anyhoo, I have formulated a tentative approach to resolving my fibromyalgia pain for good. As evidenced by the food sensitivity test, I’m starting with a diet-based approach, since I believe that this will provide the most immediate relief (as well as other numerous health benefits). I’m starting small, so I don’t get overwhelmed by the process.

I consulted two other sources for information on how to design a “get well” plan. I watched a video from the American Herbalist Guild last year, and I’ve revisited it. This video features a lecture by herbalist K P Khalsa, who has a fantastic herbal/natural approach to treating fibromyalgia. The video also refers to Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum’s approach (one of his most popular books, explaining his program for eliminating fibro symptoms is here). This video is a ton of information to absorb, which is why I’m rewatching in small, 20-30 minute chunks of time.

Additionally, I’ll be implementing dietary changes in line with The Beauty Detox Solution by Kimberly Snyder, CN. Addressing nutritional deficiencies is key to any wellness program, so I’ll integrate some principles from this book and see how it goes. I’ll probably do a review on this book soon, so watch out for that.

I suspect I’ll feel major changes just by implementing the recommendations from the AHG video and the Beauty Detox book. I’m excited to embark on this journey! If you’re interested in seeing my YouTube video on this topic, you can view it here (I’ve also embedded it below).

That’s it for my Fibro Friday post! I hope you all have a wonderful and safe weekend, and I’ll talk to you all soon. Take care!

*This post contains affiliate links.

reading list · Uncategorized

Book Review – Elixir For Life

Happy Thursday, friends! Currently, there are a few regions of the United States experiencing severe winter weather, resulting in power failures and interruptions with water supply. I hope you all are staying safe and warm!

Today’s post is a book review that I’m excited to share with you all. The book is Elixir for Life by H. Benjamin Poke. Poke is native to my home state, so I consider him a local author. Also, I’m proud to share that this gifted poet is also my paternal uncle.

I will try my best to post an impartial review, but I’ll be the first to admit that it’s difficult for me to be unbiased. I know the labor of love that went into creating this collection of poems. I am also influenced by the author’s (my uncle’s) consistently loving and generous nature. Further, I’m partial because I know for myself how kindly he treats others, complete strangers as well as his family. He is one of the most genuinely warm people I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. He’s a loving husband, devoted father, and a beloved grandfather and loyal friend.

That being said, let’s get into the review. The book is written from a Christian perspective, so if you are not a Christian, you may not be able to relate to some of the content. But, as with my review of Synergy, I’d like to point out the fact that a difference in religious perspective may not detract from your enjoyment of the book.

I enjoyed each of these poems, written from the perspective of strong, steady supporter cheering for the readers to overcome daily struggles and align with a higher purpose for their lives. There are hundreds of poems in the book, which is why I cannot recommend just one for you. Each poem offers encouragement and inspiration, and it’s easy to find a poem that suits your particular struggles and circumstances. This is the kind of book that you pick up when you’re feeling low and need a kind word, or that you read when you just want to feel more connected with your higher power/spiritual source.

This book is a wonderful addition to any collection, and I’d put it up there against the words of famed poets Maya Angelou and Lucille Clifton. Make sure to check it out on Amazon (the link is here). I hope that you order it and enjoy!

That’s it for today’s post. I’ll talk to you all tomorrow. Take care!

*This post contains affiliate links.

writing

Writers Wednesdays – Phoning a Friend

Happy Writer’s Wednesday! Last week, I shared two posts about writing and editing. The last Writer’s Wednesday post discussed how I was ‘in the thick’ of editing. The next day, I wrote about summoning muses, or, in other words, how to find inspiration. This week, I want to go in a slightly different direction.

Do you all recall how I wrote about being distracted and putting off my writing a bit? Well, the same (but different) thing is happening with editing. I find myself needing a distraction because being in my head so much isn’t good for me. I tend to pick apart my words to the point where I’m ready to throw away an entire manuscript. And THAT would be foolish.

So, I did what I always do: I called a friend. It goes contrary to what I’ve advised previously, but one of the key things about the writing, editing and publishing processes is to follow inspiration, or intuition, as needed. Sometimes, your soul nudges you to take a break from your writing tasks and simply enjoy being in the moment. For me, being in the moment means enjoying a conversation with a friend.

But it didn’t have to be a phone call involved. I could have worked on my garden plans a bit further, took a walk (the weather was a bit warmer yesterday), painstakingly cook a meal from scratch, etc.,. The activity doesn’t matter nearly as much as the fact that doing something different from editing offers me a bit of a mental reprieve.

Flexibility has been key. After talking to one of my friends, I was able to jump back into my editing, more charged than ever. Yes, I think I’ll be able to finish my book edits by the end of this month. This is so exciting: I can’t believe that the final manuscript will be ready soon!

life curation · relaxation

Garden Planning – The First Steps

As if I’m not already busy enough . . . I have started working on my garden plan for this year. You see, last year, spring caught me quite by surprise (probably because I was starting to tutor more and COVID became an issue when I should have been doing my garden planning). So while I did grow a few things, I didn’t have nearly as many flowers and herbs as I would have wanted. I believe that a failure to plan properly is why my garden was so unimpressive.

Last year, I also completed a course in herbalism and became a certified herbalist. As part of my continuing study, I knew that I wanted to grow herbs, veggies, fruits and flowers that I can use in my practice. Also, part of herbalism involves studying plants throughout the four seasons, so that you can become intimately familiar with them. The best way to do that is to grow them from seeds/seedlings and observe them for a full year or two. I can best do that by growing them myself as opposed to trying to find certain plants “in the wild” and trying to keep up with them that way.

This year, I’m going to do better. I’ve already read a book about lunar and biodynamic gardening (book review posted here) as well as a book about how to group your plants in your garden. I’ve purchased some seeds, some seedling trays, and I have some soil left over from last year. I have my supplies, but now I have to actually work out a schedule for what to do and when to do it.

My seed stash

For assistance with scheduling my garden activities, I’ve been relying heavily on the Farmer’s Almanac website. There is a great, easy-to-read guide on when and how to start seeds indoors, as well as a guide for vegetable gardening for absolute beginners. Now, I’m growing herbs as well as flowers, fruit and a few vegetables, so I will have to check some other websites to get a good schedule for my non-veggie plants. But the Farmer’s Almanac website has a handy calendar to help you plan your vegetables based on your zip code, so I’m glad that they have made it so easy!

In the weeks to come, I’ll share my list of veggies, herbs and flowers that I’m growing, as well as any tools or resources that I’m using to help me with the gardening process.

Do any of you have a garden? If so, when do you start planning your garden? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

life curation · Uncategorized

Stepping Into My Power

Happy Monday, friends! I composed this post a few weeks ago, as I reflected on 2020 and the events that occurred that have changed all of us. I hope you enjoy!

During the past year, I’ve come face-to-face with many challenges. As a result, I’ve been called to speak up more, be less afraid, and honor the space that I occupy. Some of these challenges have been interpersonal, while others have been systemic.

In any case, these challenges have required me to step into my power in a way that I have never done before. I’m embracing this new stance and I’m open to wherever this empowered path will take me. Oddly enough, I suspect other people are having similar experiences. Something about being at home has really pushed me toward deeper introspection, and has caused me to grow highly uncomfortable with anything that has minimized my joy. I figure that I can’t be the only person having these sorts of revelations.

Stepping into my power looks like:

  • Taking naps without feeling guilty
  • Voicing my opinion more
  • Refraining from “explaining” myself
  • Refusing to spend my energy in any way that doesn’t help me or my family
  • Stand firm with my decisions, instead of wavering and being doubtful

I realize that I was beginning to experience feelings of insecurity and anxiety because I hadn’t been stepping fully into my power. Not speaking up and owning my truth unapologetically was making my physically ill.

But I changed all of that. I’m taking small but definite steps to ensure that my needs and concerns are considered. I’m changing what I can, and opting out of anything that causes extreme discomfort. These changes have made a huge different in my life.

Have you felt compelled to assert yourself in new ways recently? I’d love to hear about your experience in the comments below!

health

Fibro Fridays – The Latest Fibromyalgia Research

Happy Fibro Friday! I hope you’ve had a pleasant week with minimal pain and lots of joy!

There are two things I want to share with this post. First, I decided to spend a little time reviewing the most recent fibromyalgia research. I usually get my fibro updates from mainstream news outlets or medical websites. But this time, I wanted to look at what has been published in medical journals during the past year.

Here’s the problem (*steps onto soap box*): most of the journals will charge you anywhere from $20 to $80 to access a SINGLE article. I understand that the publishers need to be compensated, but none of that money goes to the researchers (if I’m mistaken, please let me know in the comments below). Which is why I believe in contacting the researchers directly to ask for a copy of their research, and offering them some sort of gratuity out of appreciation. Many of them complete their research due to grant funding, and they often live off of stipends. And most researchers are happy to share their work for free, which is why I feel strongly that offering some sort of “love offering” is a good gesture. *steps off of soap box*

Now that I’ve gotten that off of my chest, let’s get to the articles. There are two that I want to share in this post, and both of them can be accessed for free. The first article is all about T cells, the white blood cells that relate to the body’s immune response and how the body reacts to certain pathogens. This article explores the role of T-cells in the “neurological and inflammatory symptoms of fibromyalgia”. This is a long read, but enlightening if you have the time and interest to learn more.

The second article covers current pharmacotherapy options for fibromyalgia, as well as potential future research opportunities. This article does a great job of explaining how certain commonly prescribed medicines (personally, I take two of the drugs listed in the article) work on fibromyalgia symptoms such as pain, insomnia and even depression and anxiety. If you want a thorough primer on how certain fibro medicines work, this article is a fantastic place to start.

Now, onto the second item. Last week, I posted about my Everlywell Food Sensitivity Test experience. I also posted a video about Everlywell on my YT channel. I received a comment that asserted that the food sensitivity test was a bunch of bunk, to put it succinctly. The commenter also provided a link to a doctor’s video, explaining why food sensitivity tests are unreliable. I must thank the commenter for sharing this with me. However, I had a host of other reasons why this test wasn’t a waste of my money. If you want to hear my explanation, you can check out the embedded video below.

That’s all for today’s Fibro Friday! I hope you all have a great weekend and take good care of yourselves. “See” you all on Monday!

words of wisdom · writing

Summoning Muses – How to Find Inspiration

After discussing the problems that I’ve had during the editing process, I decided to reflect on some of the other “problems” that authors usually experience. Lucky us: two writing posts in one week!

One that I’ve heard other authors encounter frequently is lack of inspiration. I’ve written about this before, but I want to revisit the topic. I’ve written about how I like to let inspiration lead, and I stand by that. I don’t normally have this issue, mainly because I have multiple works-in-progress at my disposal at any time. If I feel “stuck” on one manuscript, I just pick up another one. It may not be as linear as I’d prefer, but it certainly keeps me from getting bored.

That, of course, is not the optimal plan for most authors. So I took some time to consider what I used to do when I needed inspiration. I went back to when I wrote my first book (which still hasn’t been fully edited!) and what I did to bust through those blocks that came up while writing. At that time, that was the only manuscript I was working on, so all of my energy and focus was directed onto it.

I recall going outside, taking a walk near my office, visiting museums, or sitting in parks, to help summon a muse or two. During a pandemic, some of these are not consistently available (museums may not be the most accessible places currently). Also, in the Northern Hemisphere, winter makes outdoor walks or times in public parks quite uncomfortable. So none of my usual options are optimal.


That being considered, what should a writer do when trying to summon the muses during the winter season during a pandemic?

Actually, I recommend everything that I have used to distract myself when I should be editing. Clean up your house, watch YouTube videos that have nothing to do with what you’re writing (I have a YouTube channel if you want to check it out), phone your friends, scroll through social media: basically, do anything you can to give your brain a break. Give yourself a firm time frame for indulging in non-writing activities, then relax a bit.

If self control is difficult for you, then go ahead outside and take a quick walk, even if that means trudging through the snow. It’s better to be temporarily chilled than perpetually distracted.

In all seriousness, the muses/inspiration you need is probably just waiting for you to take a break from feeling the pressure to be “inspired”. You ever notice how inspiration always strikes at the most random times? Yeah, it’s a thing. And it only happens when you aren’t “searching” for it.

If nothing else works, take a shower. Something about the water always makes me feel a little more brilliant (Dr. Henriette Anne Klauser discusses this in her book [and one of my favorites!] Write It Down, Make It Happen). The Archimedes Principle, a physical law that has proven consistent over time, legendarily happened when Archimedes was taking a public bath. Now, if he can get strokes of genius while being naked in front of his countrymen, imagine what you could do in the privacy of your own shower!

And if you need a serious kick in the pants, read The War of Art by Steven Pressfield (I wrote about the book here). This book always makes me realize how much of Octavia Butler’s thoughts were true, as regards inspiration. She famously said, “First forget inspiration. Habit is more dependable. Habit will sustain you whether you’re inspired or not. Habit will help you finish and polish your stories. Inspiration won’t. Habit is persistence in practice.” Pressfield concurs with Butler, and while I always feel a little ashamed after thinking what I could have done differently as regards my writing, I always feel a little comforted when reading Pressfield’s work, as it reveals that, as far as authors go, I’m not the only slacker.

Do you all have any recommendations for getting inspired? I’d love to hear all about it!

This post contains affiliate links.