business · career · fitness · goals · health · international · life curation · luxury · reading list · travel · writing

July Goal Updates

It’s that time of the month again: time to review my annual goals and give you all some updates on what’s been happening on my end!

As a quick refresher, here is the 2021 goal list that I set out at the beginning of the year:

  • Publish 5 books
  • Lose 15 lbs
  • Manifest 3 international trips
  • Earn 6 figures in my businesses
  • Read 100+ books
  • Luxury purchases – Hermes, Christian Louboutin, Sophia Webster, Ralph & Russo
  • Cure my fibromyalgia

Next week, on Writer’s Wednesdays, I’ll be providing a publishing update, so I won’t be discussing that in depth today. However, I can say comfortably that I’ll have reached my publishing goal by August 1st, though, at this point, I plan to go far beyond my initial goal and aim for 10 books published by the end of the year.

As far as my weight loss goal, I’ve never progressed nor regressed. However, August 15th will be kicking off a dietary overall for me, which is connected to my last goal (curing my fibro). My next few Fibro Friday posts will cover this in more detail, as well as provide some background for context.

My international travel goal is not inspiring me nearly as much as it did when I first envisioned it. Make no mistake: I will be doing some travel this year. But with the Delta variant of COVID-19 on the rise, even my best plans may be thwarted by a new set of travel restrictions. For this reason, I’m focusing more on local travel this year. If an international trip is still possible in December, then yes, I will do that. But I’m not putting a ton of pressure on myself to “manifest” 3 international trips in 2021. Domestic travel can be just as satisfying, and it will allow me to reconnect with loved ones stateside.

My reading goals are coming along nicely. I’ll have my latest Books Read post coming out next week. At the rate that I’m going, I should be at 100 books by late October (fingers crossed). Audiobooks have really been saving me so much time! However, I’ll also be getting back to my ebooks and paperbacks soon: I miss looking at words in print.

My business goals are … meh. Monday’s post covered this topic already, but I’ll be doing some more strategizing in the upcoming weeks to see how close I can get to reaching the $100K+ mark in my businesses. It’s quite a stretch, but I can see where, with some adjustments, it’s doable.

And finally, about those luxury purchases . . . I’m adjusting this as well, and for good reason. I had a revelation that is far more aligned with the kind of consumer I intend to be (going forward). When you have those sorts of “aha!” moments, doing some course correction is the natural next step. The post all about this revelation will be coming out within a week or two, so look out for it soon.

That’s it for my goal updates! Progress in some areas, stagnation in others, and completely rewriting one or two. I’m pleased overall, and I’m looking forward to seeing how things come together over the next few months.

I hope you all are having a great day, and I’ll talk to you all tomorrow!

business · writing

Writers Wednesdays – 5 Exercises to Beat Writer’s Block

Happy Writers Wednesdays! I took off four days from my bookwriting practice because I’ve been entertaining visiting relatives (yay for finally returning to a semi-normal life!). On top of that, I had a few other things to work on in my ever-fleeting downtime (such as writing on this blog and putting more time into my tutoring business).

However, when I resume my writing practice, I want to ensure that I am able to hit the ground running. So I took a little time to think of some additional ways to beat writer’s block. I’ve discussed some strategies before that I find to be effective, but I’ve never done a consolidated post – until now. If nothing else, I hope these tips can help those authors-in-the-making who want to bust through those uninspired moments so that they can finish writing the book of their dreams. Here are my five favorite techniques for beating writer’s block.

  1. Try haiku or a limerick. I have found it really helpful to switch up my writing whenever I’m feeling stuck. Since I usually write fiction or how-to manuals, I try a few short poetry styles (like haiku or limericks) to get the creative juices flowing. Something about breaking up my routine really works well for helping me to get over creative challenges. I chose haiku and limericks because they are are so drastically different from the type of writing I enjoy most and they engage a different part of my brain. Of course, you can use any type of writing that differs from what you usually do. The key to this is to keep the exercise brief so that you aren’t overwhelmed by the process.
  2. Do 7 days of stream of consciousness writing. Anyone can do this, but it is especially good for anyone that is working on an autobiography or some work that involves self-reflection. As soon as you wake up, you write for 10-15 minutes about whatever comes to mind. You don’t reread or judge what you’ve written until you’ve finished doing it for 7 consecutive days. After that time, you can look over what you’ve written and figure out if there are any patterns or latent messages that are being revealed. If nothing else, you may find that your mind is under- or over-stimulated, and you can adjust your routine accordingly.
  3. Go somewhere or do something you’ve never done before. Speaking of under- and over-stimulation . . . Sometimes, the blockage comes from boredom. We know that boredom is a problem that everyone experiences at some point in time. But, we are so conditioned to view time on the internet as “doing something” that we feel guilty about claiming to be bored. It’s very possible to scroll endlessly on social media, news websites, personal blogs, or video platforms, yet still feel bored. So break up the monotony and try something new: do something you’ve always wanted to do, and see how that improves your creative blocks. Alternatively, the block may be happening because you’re overwhelmed. In that case, disconnecting from your daily activities and severely reducing your “to-do” list may be just what you need to get inspired again. Try a no- or low-stimuli routine for a defined period of time, and see how that improves your creativity.
  4. Have someone to tell you a story. This works particularly well for me, because it passively engages my storytelling “brain”. As I listen to the story, I try to anticipate what will come next, and I’m always delighted when the story takes an unexpected turn. There are some times where an author needs to transition from the role of storyteller to the role of captive audience member. Listening to someone else tell you a story gives your brain a pleasant rest from trying to figure out what’s next with your own writing projects.
  5. Do a scent (or flavor, or sound) summary. This is a really good practice for writers that struggle with creating sufficiently descriptive passages. Instead of focusing on your latest work-in-progress, try flexing your adjective and adverb muscles, and attempt to accurately describe your favorite food dishes flavors, your favorite musical genre (focusing on the instruments used and how the sounds make you feel), or your favorite cologne or perfume. Go beyond that, and perhaps try your hand at describing the smells, flavors, or sounds that make you feel excited, sad, angry, or fearful. This exercise takes you outside of your normal writing practice, but it still engages the creative part of your mind.

Those are my five favorite hacks for busting through writer’s block. What are some things you’ve done to help with those creative blockages? I’d love to hear aobut them in the comments below!

beauty

Review: The Beem Subscription Box

Happy Tuesday! Today I’m sharing a fun new subscription box with you all, that I think you’ll really enjoy if you have brown skin.

The Beem Box is a bimonthly beauty subscription service that offers products that are customized for your skin type, skin routine, makeup preferences, and complexion. The color cosmetics offered in each box are selected especially for your skin tone, so you never have to worry about whether the shades will suit you. The box is priced at $45, and the items included in each box exceed the sticker price.

Photo courtesy of Beem Box

I received my first box at the beginning of the month, and I was pleased with the variety of products I received. In my box, I got Ahoy Love Nourishing Cream Cleanser by Earth Harbor, Prep the Pout Lip Kit by Project Lip, With You Botanical Eye Shadow by Kara Beauty, Zaron Highlighter Palette in Gold Rush by Felicheeta Beauty, and Chella Eyebrow Pencil in Delightful Deep Brown by Chella Beauty. I got a chance to do an unboxing on my YouTube channel. Here it is:

I’m looking forward to trying all of these products and giving more in-depth reviews in the weeks to come. Look out for updates soon!

life curation

The Latest . . .

Happy Monday, friends! I hope you all are doing well and making a smooth transition into the work week.

I have been spending some time reflecting on the things I need to prioritize. I’ve already classified my goals (per the six month preparation post). One of the things I put on my list was working more consistently on my business. Just like clockwork, I was advised by one of my business mentors that I need to promote my businesses more, since I’m always so busy promoting everyone else. She made some great points on how to continue showing up consistently in my business, in a way that isn’t spammy/scammy (which I HATE) and that is also comfortable for me.

Her advice was so timely. She didn’t know what exactly was happening with my business, but she quickly reminded me how important it is to continue putting myself out there, so that I can create the life and income that I want. So, I’ve been putting more time into the marketing and promotion aspects of my business, which is easy but occasionally time-consuming. I’m gonna get it done, just gotta focus and buckle down a bit.

Along with that, I’ve been putting the finishing touches on a few books that I’d like to publish before the beginning of August. I have some great ideas for additional books and I would like to get a lot of those done before the end of the year, so that requires me to get some of my current projects done first.

However, I have so many GREAT blog posts coming soon! Seriously: the inspiration has been flowing nonstop! So look out for some really good stuff in the near future. I’m bringing ALL of the strategies, wisdom and case studies I’ve used to improve my life, so that you all can benefit from what I’ve learned. I can’t wait to spill all those details!

Talk to you all tomorrow. Take care!

writing

Writers Wednesdays: Creating Realistic Schedules

It’s that magical time of week: yes, it’s another Writers Wednesday! I’ve been slacking a bit with my book writing, but that’s because I’ve been POURING so much into this blog. I love blogging, so I have no regrets. But, I still have book writing goals that I need to accomplish this year, so I had to buckle down over the past few days and get my book writing schedule back on track.

A few weeks ago, I mentioned that I was redoing my daily schedule. This post is a continuation on this thought. The original goal was to devote some of my weekend hours to my writing. I’ve actually done that a bit, but there’s a caveat. Like I’ve already mentioned, my writing time has been directed toward blogging, so I actually haven’t worked much on my books. Further, the time I can devote to book writing on the weekends is minimal: as it turns out, I really do need more rest, and the weekend is the perfect time to do that.

So I’ve had to revisit my ideas for creating a good writing schedule. For the past couple of days, I’ve tried something that I think will be sustainable for a long time. What I’ve found really helpful with creating a realistic schedule is, instead of doing my book writing on the weekend, schedule between 15 and 30 minutes to work on my books each day. I took some of the pressure off of myself by not requiring a huge block of time, but I appreciate that even someone as busy as I am can do 15 minutes of book work.

To clarify, “book work” isn’t just writing for me, but it encompasses all of the work that I put toward book creation. That could mean selecting images for a specific book that I’m writing, or compiling sources that I will reference in one of my books, or (as with the case of the children’s book series that I’m writing) perfecting templates that I can reuse for future books. And yes, it could mean writing as well. But so long as I do something book-related, I count it as a win.

To help me stick to my schedule, I’m using a daily timer. The timer rings at the same time daily, so I’m making this part of regular routine. I feel so accomplished each time that I spend a little time on my books: it feels great!

Do you all have any schedule hacks that you’ve used to stay on track with your writing? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

health · life curation

Amping Up The Self Love

I’m feeling so much more rested today: I’m thankful for good sleep, good friends, and good food LOL! Having a little bit of each of these seems to have really done the trick for me. I’m still a little tired, but such is life when you’re living with fibromyalgia. Some days are much better than others, and when you have good days, you learn to relish them!

I’ve been resting more because I’m feeling affected by a lot of things. Yes, fibromyalgia plays a starring role in my exhaustion, but there was another thing that was bothering me. I noticed that I was starting to feel less than stellar, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on what was causing it. After spending a little time exploring my feelings, I figured out that my tiredness was due to uneasiness.

Upon further reflection, I learned that my uneasiness was rooted in my lacking self love. It’s funny, because I didn’t think about it before, as I usually don’t feel uneasy or unsettled within myself. But I’ve been experiencing these feelings because I’ve occasionally felt frustrated with my progress on my goals, my health, and my changing family dynamics. I didn’t make the connection before, but it’s clear that my frustration with outside circumstances is starting to feel very personal and it started to affect me physically.

My goal recently has been to amp up my self love. This goes beyond manicures and massages: aside from self care, I thought long and hard about how I can affirm my worth and self love. I’ve been doing positive affirmations daily, sleeping with rhodochrosite under my pillow, and asking myself regularly, “How can I make this experience more suitable for me?”, and “What would make my happiest right now?” After asking myself those questions, I take an action that feels better in the moment. Those simple decisions went a long way in affirming that I am an embodiment of love, I radiate peace and love, and I’m deserving of love and all the good things that life has to offer.

I’m still working regularly on my self love, but I’m already seeing a change in my energy levels. Yes, I’m still tired a lot, but the uneasiness has shifted, and I’m feeling more grounded. Things are starting to look up, and I’m thankful for it.

beauty

Review: The Ordinary Mineral UV Filter Sunscreen

Hi friends! I hope you all had an amazing weekend and a great Monday so far. The weekend was a whirlwind for me, so I’m taking it easy for the next few days so that I can restore my energy.

Today’s post is a really quick review of The Ordinary’s Mineral UV Filter Sunscreen. I’d usually hyperlink the product so that you all can check it out for yourselves, but in this case, I have to refrain. I was not please with this product AT ALL. I know, I know: I’m usually such a huge fan of The Ordinary’s products. But this was a big FLOP. As it turns out, I wasn’t the only customer that was displeased with this product. More about that later: let me tell you about this sunscreen.

In my attempt to try every single product made by The Ordinary, I purchased the Mineral UV Filter Sunscreen. I wear sun protection pretty much every day (even when I’m spending the day indoors). So, out of curiosity and to meet the minimum amount for free shipping, I decided to try the sunscreen. I received the product and decided to try it in place of my usual sunscreen. Imagine my horror when my face turned BLUE in reaction! I realize I had on all of my serums and potions, and I applied sunscreen as my last step (per usual). I experimented with using the sunscreen on top of bare skin, and, while I got a better result, I STILL turned blue. Here’s my video reviewing the product – it has a lot more details about my experience:

In conclusion? This is big NO. I’ll use it as a sunscreen for my arms and legs until I use it up, but I can’t use it on my face UNLESS I plan on staying indoors, where no one will see my blue face!

That’s all for today’s post. See, I told you all it would be short! Take care, and talk to you all tomorrow!

health

Fibro Friday: Recent Research

Happy Fibro Friday! I’m taking a quick break from reviewing different health protocols to share some exciting news that crossed my newsfeed a few days ago.

Several weeks ago, Dr. Ken Berry, a respected internist that focuses on improving health through food, exercise and lifestyle choices, shared the details on a study that was published, then mysterious retracted.

Dr. Berry mentions how this article was published but was soon followed by a retraction. After reviewing the retraction points, I have to agree with Dr. Berry and lead researcher, Dr. Pappolla, who both assert that the reason for retraction is likely due to pressure from influential organizations (think Big Pharma or Big Ag [Big Agriculture]). The reason provided for the retraction doesn’t appear to be valid, but you can read the reason as published on NIH’s website and determine for yourself whether you want to accept the research findings.

The research done by Dr. Pappolla and the other researchers establishes a connection between fibromyalgia and insulin resistance markers. Dr. Berry has recommended something similar in previous videos. However, this research goes a step further, by experimenting with the use of metformin (brand name Glucophage) and observing whether this drug can reduce fibromyalgia pain and other symptoms.

Dr. Pappolla’s research makes a connection between being insulin resistant (also known as pre-diabetic) and fibromyalgia. Reduction of sugar and management of insulin in the body (via metformin) both resulted in lower levels of pain in fibromyalgia patients. If you want more information, watch the video below:

This research exposes a possible (likely) connection between fibro and insulin resistance, and Dr. Berry recommends a ketogenic or other low carbohydrate diet to help manage fibromyalgia symptoms. I won’t go too deep in Dr. Berry’s recommendations this week, since I’ll be featuring his fibromyalgia protocol in a future week. But if you want all of the info on this new research, the video above is a good place to start.

I hope this information helps my fellow fibro warriors! Please let me know how you all are doing in the comments. Have a great rest of your day, and I’ll talk to you all on Monday!

health · life curation · luxury · relaxation

Luxury Is Your Birthright

After spending some time listening to those amazing audiobooks last month (you can see my June book list here), I felt like I was buzzing. It’s been quite some time since I felt limitless and excited about the possibilities that lay before me. Perhaps it’s the thrill of the pandemic easing up and life getting back to some semblance of normal. Or, maybe it’s because my fibromyalgia hasn’t been giving me any major issues recently (yay for being flare-free!). On the other hand, it could be the fact that it’s starting to consistently feel like summertime here in Virginia, and the sunny days and warm temps do wonders for my mood.

Whatever the reason, I was already feeling pretty good. But these books absolutely upleveled my mood from good to great. In addition to general mood-lifting, the audiobooks I enjoyed reminded me of the power of my conscious and subconscious mind, as well as the fact that I am entitled to live a beautiful life, and that can include luxuries that enhance my experience here on earth.

However, listening to these books also made me think about an incident that occurred earlier this year, which I will regale you with in a moment. To preface, a few months ago, I was thinking about living luxuriously and how to create a more opulent home environment, but I was plagued with a lot of guilt. I love nice things, but in the middle of a global health crisis, it felt silly to desire my normal luxury purchases. And, when I did shop, my purchased amounted to nothing more than retail therapy, because I was under a lot of stress and needed pretty, shiny distractions.

The source of my stress was directly connected to my home environment. Two of my elderly relatives started living in my home during the pandemic, and, despite having adequate space, an abundance of food, and all of the electronics needed to keep us occupied, the environment still felt tense and unhappy. The spirit of discontent was heavy in my home, and it was weighing on me.

My relatives were ready to go back to their home. And they were being unpleasant in my home, in order to communicate their desire to leave. However, their home needed several repairs, as well as fumigation and deep cleaning, before they could moved. I was unsure how long it would take until all of those tasks could be accomplished, so I couldn’t provide them with a definite return date. That uncertainty stressed me out even more than the unpleasant behavior that I was witnessing daily.

Now, on to the incident that the books brought to mind: in the midst of this extremely stressful home situation, my good friend Kalifia mentioned to me that I should get away for a couple of days. But, on short notice, I figured that I couldn’t go very far. This part was true – going far wasn’t really an option – but it was only one side of what she proposed. She emphasized to me that, even if I couldn’t go very far away from home, I could still take a few days to get away.

I couldn’t argue with her logic. I needed a break, and it was within my budget. But I felt bad about taking a mini-break: I could have used the money for something else, I could have stayed at home in order to help take care of my elderly family members, I could have used the time to clean up a bit more and catch up on chores, etc.,. The reasons to say “no” were numerous. But there was only one reason to say “yes”, and, fortunately for me, it was louder than all of the “no”s combined. The “yes” simply said,

You need this.

Despite my guilt and hesitance, I decided to book a room at a lovely hotel about 20 minutes from my home. I checked in a few days later, and I laid around in the room and enjoyed the silence. The following day, I shopped at an upscale mall near the hotel, then I returned back to my room. I ordered food delivery each day, and I ate whatever I wanted. It felt ridiculous, self-indulgent, and positively unnecessary. Except, I needed every moment of it. Those days away from home restored me. It was a luxury, but it was crucial to helping me feel like myself again.

Do you ever feel that you don’t deserve the best that life has to offer? Does it ever feel like you need to EARN the luxurious parts of life? Do you feel foolish whenever you reach out for luxury? If you have, then let me assure you: luxury is your right. Actually, it’s your birthright: when you were born, you came entitled to the best that life has to offer. You are entitled to live a life that feels good to you, leaving you with beautiful, satisfying memories to comfort you as you age and eventually expire.

It took me reaching the end of my rope before I reconnected to my entitlement to happiness, peace, joy, and, yes, luxury. The beautiful thing about luxury is that we get to define it for ourselves. My definition doesn’t have to fit anyone else’s, and that’s fine. What isn’t fine is forgetting that I’m always entitled to feeling luxurious based on my definition.

I’m thankful for remembering who I am and what I deserve. I’m even more thankful that I can use my birthright to inform the decisions that I make, and I am determined to consistently make choices that honor this.

How do you define luxury? I’d love to hear it in the comments below!

life curation · writing

Writers Wednesdays – When The Last Chapter Is Elusive . . .

I don’t know if this has happened to any of my fellow authors out there, but I seem to have a dilemma every time I write. It doesn’t matter whether I’m writing fiction or nonfiction, short story or novel, lengthy instructions or a brief booklet.

The problem is this: I usually don’t know how to end things.

Yes, I’ll write, and write, and write, and write, happily breezing through the middle portion of a work-in-progress. I may have a little challenge with the opening chapters, but at some point, a brilliant (or so I think) way of introducing my book comes to me. Sometimes, I’ll even write something “out of order”, just so that I can capture the ideas that are already in my mind, bypassing all of the stuff that needs more time. It all sounds great when I’m in the “flow”. But then, I get to the end of the book, and I have a hard time wrapping things up.

You can probably even see my difficulty with “ending things” here on the blog. I enjoy sharing my world and telling you all about what I’m loving at the moment. So when I get to the end of the post, I often don’t know what to say. How do you bring proper “closure” to anything when you aren’t really ready to say goodbye? (On a side note, this is a recurring theme in my life, so the deep dive into this is necessary on multiple levels. Back to the conversation at hand . . . )

I think my reluctance to write the last chapter of any of my works in progress comes down to the inability to say goodbye easily. I never want the fun to end, or to part ways with something that I enjoy. So, ending a book – especially books where I absolutely adore the main and supporting characters – is like losing a good friend. Yes, I can always allow the characters to have more adventures by writing secondary books, but something about that first work with a set of characters is just . . . special. It’s as beautiful as a first kiss, or seeing the sunrise for the first time. Nothing compares to it.

I long to freeze those beautiful moments and never let them go. But alas, the only constant in life is change, and even the best works-in-progress do me no good if I don’t eventually write a suitable end for them, so that those books can eventually be read and loved by others. So, my challenge is to learn to let go and to give my books the beautiful endings that they deserve.

I have my work cut out for me in the next few weeks. For the works-in-progress that I have now, I’m concentrating on just writing the endings, even if I hate what I’ve written. The goal isn’t to make the ending perfect, but to just GET IT DONE, so that I can edit it later and make it better. The children’s books are easy: they’re formulaic, so the same ending is used repeatedly but just tweaked a bit here and there. But the novels and self-help/personal development books I’m working on definitely need an ending that is befitting. However, I won’t get to those perfect endings until I write imperfect endings first.

For future works, maybe I should try writing the endings first. I recall that there was a story (told second- or third-hand) about a person visiting actor Will Smith, who had the plot for a movie written out onto a bunch of index cards that he arranged on a storyboard. According to the person telling the story, Smith said that the easiest part of the story was the end, because he always started there, and basically reverse-engineered the story until he had the middle and beginning parts.

I think that writing the ending of a book before writing anything else would be a good exercise for me, even though I’ve traditionally disliked writing this part. Perhaps my comfort with endings will grow if I focus on making those as special and beautiful as the rest of the story will be . . . Hmm, it’s a thought.

Have you ever had a difficult time coming up with the ending of a book you’ve written, or in any other written work? I’d love to hear how you grew past that challenge in the comments below!