business · writing

Writers Wednesdays – March Writing Accomplishments

It’s time for another writing accomplishment update! I have some good news and some not so good news (nothing life-changing or devastating, just a little disappointing) about my writing practice. Let’s dive in!

Photo by OVAN on Pexels.com

The good news is, I worked on my book in the month of March, and, as of the time of this post, I’ve edited more than 70% of it! If I’m diligent, I can be done with this first round of edits by mid-May. Then I can put the book down fora bit, then come back to it for Round 2 of my edits. I am so happy to see some progress on this work!

The not so good news comes down to two things: firstly, the amount of time I spent editing in March, and secondly, the gaps that need to be addressed in the story. I did my last edit on March 14, because my life suddenly got much busier (if you saw my Monday post, you’ll hear part of what was happening in my world). So, while I understand why I spent less time editing, I was still a little disappointed that I lost some of that precious editing time. The disappointment has passed (thankfully) but I learned a valuable lesson: even a few minutes of work on my book every day will feel better than thinking I’ve lost a block of time.

The second point refers to something that isn’t great for my editing timeline but a fantastic “find” when it comes to the story. I uncovered multiple “gaps” in the story that need to be addressed either directly or indirectly. I’m thankful for the editing process, which helps me to see where my story can be improved, but I know that this adds quite a bit of time to my timeline (hence the mid-May completed editing goal). I’m okay with that, since the discovery of these gaps will help make my story much smoother and cohesive.

That’s my writing updates for the month, and I’m looking forward to seeing how this all comes together in the next few weeks (mid-May will be here before you know it!) Take care friends, and I’ll talk to you all soon!

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

December Goal Updates

Hey friends! This is my last goal update for the year, and I wanted to take some time to look over the things that I mentioned as my “goals” in 2021. Of course, you can look up my old goal posts for more info (like this one here, here, here, and this one here, too). But in this post, I’m going to re-share my original list, and let you know how all of this turned out for 2021.

Here’s my 2021 goal list:

  • 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

So let’s take it point by point, shall we?

I published my 5 books, and actually published more than that. Yay me!

I gained weight, instead of losing it. I figured out that I am likely heavier because of my prescription medication, and that’s fine. I’ve transitioned off of those meds, and now I’m getting my body back into balance. It’s a process, and I’m giving myself time to figure all of this out without judging my body for being a bit heavier. In most cases, you gotta make peace before you can make progress, so that’s what I’m doing.

No international travel! But, I did manifest a local trip for free, which was nice. I also have several international trips lined up for 2022 (as in, flights purchased and deposits paid). I’m confident that I’ll have my wings again in no time.

My businesses didn’t earn 6 figures however, I did reach an all-time income high for my businesses, which was very exciting. It only goes up from here!

I read somewhere between 85-90 books. I had to slow down during these last couple of months of the year, which was the time I scheduled to catch up due to some slower periods during the first part of the year. However, I’m still SUPER proud of how many books I’ve read. I’m sure I’ll read more than 100 books next year with no issue!

I bought some luxury items, but I decided I’d rather support Black American luxury designers in the future. I’m saving some coins for my next big luxury purchase, which I’m pretty sure I’ll have before the end of the season (if all goes well).

My fibro isn’t cured, but I’m learning a LOT about how to heal my body, and I’m seeing that eliminating the symptoms is possible. I’m also seen some positive effects after removing my medications (not nearly as exhausted or achy as I thought I’d be). For all of this, I’m thankful, and I’m going to press on and share information as I get it in this upcoming year.

Well, that’s my super-fast summary of my 2021 goals. I don’t anticipate posting a 2022 goal list because it doesn’t quite resonate with the direction where I want to take this blog, but if I’m inspired to do something different, then you’ll see a goal list in 2022. But, if you want to know more about my upcoming 2022 plans, check out Tuesday’s post (two days ago), or click here.

That’s all, folks! Take care, and I’ll talk to you all tomorrow!

business · goals · health · life curation · luxury · travel · writing

October Goal Updates

It’s that time again: I’m going to do a quick round-up of my 2021 goals and tell you all how things are going.

Here are the goals I had for the year:

  • Publish 5 books – done!
  • Lose 15 lbs – working on it …
  • Manifest 3 international trips – finalized the details for my next 3 trips!
  • Earn 6 figures in my businesses
  • Read 100+ books
  • Luxury purchases from Black-owned companies
  • Cure my fibromyalgia

As you all probably recall, my publishing goal was reached (and exceeded, as of yesterday’s post). I’m going to still try to get a few more books published before the end of the year, and then I will try to embark upon a nice little campaign to promote my books and hopefully connect with my ideal customers.

As far as weight loss goes, I put that on hold temporarily. I am transitioning off of my fibromyalgia medication (more about that in a future Fibro Friday post, I promise!) because I concluded that those medicines were contributing significantly to my current weight. However, it still takes some time for the body to adjust to this change, and I still have to figure out how to manage my symptoms outside of using medication. So I have my work cut out for me, but this process will likely help me to meet my goal of “curing” my fibromyalgia. My hope is that transitioning off of medicine will result in major weight loss (hopefully exceeding 15 lbs) before the end of the year.

I didn’t yet manifest 3 international trips this year (I remain hopeful!), however, I did manifest a free dinner cruise (all expenses paid) and I also have started making my 2022 travel plans. I already have selected a few trips, and now I’m putting my money aside to pay for them. I’m still open to more trips manifested in this year, but for now, I’m satisfied with what I’ve already received as well as what’s on its way to me.

My business hasn’t yet reached 6 figures, but I can state confidently that, between my regular job, passive income streams, and my tutoring business, I did hit my highest earning year! Everything from this point on is simply setting the momentum for next year. Also, because I can see where I dropped the ball in 2021, I’m better prepared to exceed my performance in 2022! I’ll still keep an eye on how my businesses perform in these next two months, because I’m amping up my marketing and I anticipate that this will improve my bottom line tremendously.

I’m still reading my books, and I expect to hit 100 books read before the end of the year. However, I need to stay focused: it’s easy for me to get sidetracked with work, writing, and life in general. I’m increasing my reading during the next few weeks, just to ensure that I hit my goal (I wrote all about it in this post).

I put my luxury purchasing on hold because I had some major repairs to complete in my house. I may not be able to purchase a lot of luxury goods during the next couple of months, but I’m still relishing my luxury purchase from earlier this year (my Sophia Webster shoes that I won’t be able to wear until the weather heats up again!)

I’m still working on “curing” my fibro, and I’m feeling confident about the fact that I’m getting closer to a solution. I’ve been experimenting with dietary changes and herbal supplements to see how these support my health. It’s a bit of a long-term project, but the more I experiment, the more I learn, and the closer I get to finding the perfect combination of routine, supplements, and personal practices to help eliminate my symptoms.

That’s it for my October goal updates. I’m looking forward to seeing how things shape up over the next couple of months and finishing the year strong!

business · career · writing

Writers Wednesday – Is a Writing Coach Necessary?

Happy Writers Wednesday! Today’s topic came to me after I spoke to several people that are part of writer support groups, or they have gotten writing coaches to assist with creating their books. Further, I’ve seen numerous advertisements for writing coaches that are appearing on the scene, all claiming that they will help the aspiring authors to finally release their works into the world.

The question on my mind (and possibly your mind) is this: is a writing coach necessary?

Personally, I’ve never used a writing coach, but given how many delays I’ve encountered on my writing journey, perhaps a coach would be a good investment! That being said, I will admit that I don’t think a writing coach is necessary for *most* people. I think that there is only a tiny subset of people that actually need a writing coach. However, I believe there are enough people in the subset to provide an abundance of potential clients for writing coaches.

My recommendation for anyone considering hiring a writing coach is to go through this list of questions and see where you fall on the writer spectrum.

  • Are you having difficulties with determining which direction your writing needs to take?
  • Do you need regular external motivation in order to work on your writing project?
  • Do you struggle with structuring your writing?
  • Do you have questions about writing that can’t be answered through other means?
  • Do you generally respond better to verbal instruction, as opposed to written directions?

Answering “yes” to any of these questions may make you a prime candidate for a writing coach. I’m still of the mindset that the best way to write is to problem solve for yourself, then, after you’ve hit a wall, consider reaching out for help. However, everyone is different, and what works for me may not work for you. I do think there’s some value in the practice of solving your own problems through your own efforts, but I’ll be the first to admit that time is precious and if a coach can save you time and energy, then it may be a worthwhile investment.

I’m curious: have any of you ever hired a writing coach? What was that experience like? Also, if you’re a writing coach, please comment on what that experience is like for you, and how you can help aspiring authors. You can leave your comments below.

That’s it for today! I look forward to talking to you all tomorrow. Take care!

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!

business · career · life curation

Women and Money: Problems and Solutions

Some of you may not realize this, but April is National Financial Literacy Month. As a woman, I’m fascinated by how finances factor into the lives of women. I feel that most women “know” about money, but there’s a disconnect between knowledge and application. As a financial professional (enrolled agent), I understand many of the pitfalls that women experience as regards wealth-building and debt reduction. What I intend to do with this post is offer solutions and workarounds for the most common issues that exist when it comes to women and money.

  • In most fields, women tend to earn less that their male counterparts doing the same work.

Yes, the gender pay gap is real. It doesn’t apply 100% of the time (for example, women that work in food preparation services and fast food tend to earn more than males in the same job). For most women, changing their gender just to earn more money isn’t a reasonable solution. Most women aren’t clear about how they can minimize or eliminate the pay gap that they are experiencing.

Women would do well to try to eliminate the pay gap that they experience personally. This can be done by learning what the current wage expectations are in a particular field, then comparing this to the woman’s experience, education, and location. After that, it’s a good idea to research the ways to negotiate for a pay raise, and practice the negotiation conversation with a trusted friend, mentor or advisor. If the gap is too large to be successfully negotiated, then it’s worthwhile to research and apply to different employers. Additionally, gaining additional skills can give women an advantage, making it easier to command higher wages (this can be done easily through free online education providers like ALISON, Coursera, Saylor and CPA Academy)

  • Women save money more but invest less than men.

Saving money is great, but the interest rates for savings accounts (of all sorts) is too low to keep up with the rate of inflation. As long as the money sits in savings, it’s missing an opportunity to work harder and generate a higher return. To that point, women are also less inclined to invest than men. Many women have been conditioned to see investing as “too risky”, and thus they prefer safer ways to store money (such as savings accounts).

The solution for this is to focus on investments that feel safer, and building your confidence until you are comfortable enough to take bigger risks. A good way to start investing is to purchase just one inexpensive stock, and start regularly reading about that stock’s performance. Then, invest in more stocks, adding a little more money to invest at each time. Websites like Acorns, Earnin and even Cash App are making it easier than ever to invest small amounts and to observe how the investments are performing.

  • Women have more student loan debt overall.

Education is necessary to earn a solid living, but it’s hard to move forward in life post-college when you have significant student loan debt. Due to the pandemic, many loan companies have opted to provide forbearance to loan recipients, so these recipients don’t have to pay on the student loans while trying to adjust to possible income and lifestyle changes.

There are two approaches that I recommend for studnet debt. If possible, avoid student debt by taking equivalency tests so that certain credits can be awarded without having to pay costly tuition (I wrote a book all about this, titled Degree Hacking: How to Save Money and Get College Credits in Record Time). However, if the loan debt has already been incurred, then I recommend that women research whether their employers offer student loan repayment. If not, seek an employer that does offer this benefit. Also, if the student loan rates are higher than, say, the cost of a line of credit or a home equity loan, then opt for one of these, and use that money to pay off the student loan. Yes, that does mean trading in one debt for another, but at least utilize these other funding sources can save money in the long run.

  • Women are more likely to live in poverty during their old age.

This is heartbreaking but true. Living to advanced age should automatically mean comfortable golden years, but this is not always how it works out. The best defense against lives of poverty is cultivating authentic friendships and support groups before reaching advanced age. It’s invariably more difficult to create relations when these are “needed”, so it’s best to start creating these connections before health declined occur.

Once a person is retirement age, it can be very challenging to make new friends. But websites that encourage meeting up (like Meetup), neighborhood town hall meetings, special interest groups and charities are a great way to connect with like minds and meet new friends. After creating these connections, it offers a little bit of a buffer against hard time. People are more likely to support their friends during hard time, but the key is to create mutual benefit. No one wants to feel “used”, so it’s crucial to create a relationship where both parties feel appreciated and enjoy one another’s company.

  • On the whole, women are less financially literate than men.

I recommend that all women take time to read books on finance, as well as take advantage of free webinars and workshops offered by financial institutions (such as banks, credit unions, and government and other oversight agencies, such as FINRA). Below, I provide a few links to books and articles that I find to be wonderful for learning about money.

Important Facts About Women and Money

Women & Money: 10 Facts We Should All Know

Money and Women: Myths and Facts

60+ Stats About Women and Money

Commercial Bank Regulation

MyCreditUnion Financial Literacy Resources

National Credit Union Association Financial Literacy Resources

My finance and tax-related blog (new posts starting in May 2021)

Smart Women Finish Rich by David Bach

I hope you all find these tips helpful, and if you need clarity on anything else, let me know in the comments!

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.

business · career · health · life curation · luxury · reading list · travel · writing

The First Three Steps: 2021 Goals

A few days ago, I mentioned on a blog post that I would list out my first three steps for each of my big goals for 2021. This will help me to stay focused on completing the little things, which eventually will result in me accomplishing the big things that I have planned for myself.

So, here’s my follow-up, because we all know how important accountability is. My first three steps for each of the goals that I have for 2021:

  • Publish 5 books
    • Step 1 – Set a daily timer to remind myself to work on my writing
    • Step 2 – Make a weekly word goal
    • Step 3 – Select the titles for the books I’m working on this year
  • Lose 15 lbs
    • Step 1 – Figure out my starting weight
    • Step 2 – Confirm what kind of weight loss services are available through my doctor’s office
    • Step 3 – Make an updated yoga playlist on my YouTube
  • Manifest 3 international trips
    • Step 1 – Make a list of ideal trip locations
    • Step 2 – Create a “dream trip” piggy jar
    • Step 3 – Start learning a few key phrases in the languages spoken in the countries I’d like to visit
  • Earn 6 figures from my businesses
    • Step 1 – Review the coaching session that I participated in, that had ideas for increasing my revenue
    • Step 2 – Make a playlist of podcast episodes featuring people in the same industry as me
    • Step 3 – Create a list of potential promotional opportunities
  • Read 100+ books
    • Step 1 – Make a list of the first 33 books I want to read
    • Step 2 – Schedule book review posts for the first 6 months of the year
    • Step 3 – Place my first ten books by my bedside, so I can reach them easily
  • Luxury purchases – an item from Hermes, a pair of Christian Louboutin shoes, a pair of Sophia Webster shoes, and a pair of Ralph & Russo shoes
    • Step 1 – Select the actual items from each company that I want
    • Step 2 – Confirm whether the items can be purchased from local retailers
    • Step 3 – Designate a “Luxe Items” piggy bank/savings account
  • Cure my fibromyalgia (as I mentioned in my last Fibro Friday post)
    • Step 1 – Research the stories of people that were able to reverse their fibromyalgia diagnosis
    • Step 2 – Relisten to herbalism/naturopath podcasts that have recommendations for treating fibro
    • Step 3 – Make a list of local naturopaths that may be able to help me on my journey

I’m keeping my target simple: I’ll only take one or two steps a day. That sets me up to finish my three steps for each goal within 21 days at most. So, in 21 days, I’ll share whether I did all of the steps above (I’m pretty sure I can do it all LOL), as well as my next three steps for each goal. Of course, at some point, outlining the next three steps of a goal may not be applicable, but I’ll do it as long as it is logical and helpful to accomplishing my goals.

Have you tried writing out the next three steps for any of your goals? If so, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!