art · beauty · style

Three Easy Ways to Clarify and Confirm Your Kibbe Style ID

Last year, I posted about my Kibbe style ID and some of the revelations that I had related to that. After I published that post, I realized that some of my readers may find the Kibbe system confusing and even a bit overwhelming. I had some subsequent posts about the Kibbe system (like this one and this one) but these may not be clear enough for someone that is hearing about the system for the first time. Admittedly, I had no problem interpreting my original results from doing the self-typing test, but I can imagine how someone with no experience with analyzing their bone structure and flesh may not be able to come up with a conclusive answer.

I checked out a few videos that attempted to clarify how to get a good set of Kibbe results, but I found that there are a few other things that you can try to give you more clarity on what your true style ID is. Here are three things that you can try, to get a better “guess” of your Kibbe type.

Reface yourself with a celebrity that shares your Kibbe style ID. I stumbled across this method when I was curious about trying a new hairstyle. While playing around on the app, I refaced myself as Marion Cotillard, Teyonah Parris (an unconfirmed Kibbe SC), Grace Kelly, Veronica Lake and Dita Von Teese (another unconfirmed Kibbe SC). At the end, I noticed that I looked more seamless when I refaced as a SC. But, when I refaced myself as Dorothy Dandridge (Kibbe Theatrical Romantic), Halle Berry (Kibbe Soft Gamine) and Diahann Carroll (Kibbe Soft Dramatic). While the final videos were cute, none of them looked as “true to me” as the SC Refaced clips.

Get a friend to do the test for you. Sometimes, we cannot see ourselves accurately. In fact, one blogger than I came across recently couldn’t see her own type, though quite a few of her readers advised her of what they suspected her Kibbe ID was. After many months of experimenting, she finally determined that yes, her readers were correct and had typed her accurately. What you may want to do is get a friend (or two) to complete the Kibbe ID test for you. Though David Kibbe no longer recommends the test as a way to get an accurate interpretation of your body’s lines, the test is not completely inaccurate, and having your friends complete the test based on what they observe about your body can be tremendously helpful in getting a more objective understanding of your personal lines.

Try the “squint” method. Instead of looking at your physique head on, try squinting to give a less defined but more wholistic view of your body. Sometimes, zooming out and blurring the fine details can help you take in the overall silhouette. It may not be the surest method for determining your style ID, but it can help with getting a better sense of your shape.

Those are my three tips for finding your Kibbe style ID when you’re struggling with identifying your body type. I hope these tips can help! Take care, and I’ll talk to you tomorrow.

life curation

The Art and Science of Being Focused and Flexible

Once upon a time, I had another blog that I wrote on frequently. Now, I’m looking over those essays and cringing (nothing humbles you like looking over your old writing!) But, I think it’s worthwhile to rewrite those posts, because the points – while not fabulously expressed in the original posts – are still salient. Here’s a HEAVILY edited essay that I wrote nearly 12 (!) years ago. Enjoy!

This particular post will speak directly to two personality characteristics that are crucial to finding your own version of success: flexibility and focus. I decided to group these two together since they are a good example of polarity and interdependence: these are relative opposites but you can’t talk about one without at least touching upon the other. Flexibility implies a willingness to look at all of the options available, while focus generally refers to devoting one’s attention to a singular goal. It seems like the two cannot peacefully co-exist, but they CAN-and they SHOULD! In fact, one without the other can very well leave you unfulfilled and always falling short of your goals.

Why do some of us need to improve in the areas of flexibility and focus? Well, when it comes to flexibility, some of us have been given an overly simplified life formula-behave yourself, go to college, get a degree, get a career, get married to a man, buy a house, make a few kids, give freely to the church/mosque/synagogue/temple, and live happily ever after. The problems with the formula are its rigidity, and the lack of emphasis on QUALITY experiences and EMPOWERED choices. It also doesn’t allow for circumstances beyond a woman’s control or her personal choice. Not everyone is interested in attending college or working in a traditional career. Some women have zero interest in getting married at all, and those that desire marriage aren’t encouraged to accurately gauge the quality of their partners. Not all of us are interested in white picket fences and having babies, and, believe it or not, religion =/= spirituality, and some women have no interested in being part of a religious organization in order to connect to the Divine. Those that ascribe to the life formula commonly taught to women are often hyper-focused on accomplishing each thing on the “to do” list, to the detriment of a life that allows for magic and joy to unfold unexpectedly and organically.

In opposition to being hyper-focused, many women who reject the prescribed life formula mentioned above end up living life as a tangent of randomness, going here and there without a goal in mind and getting a whole lot of nothing accomplished in the meantime. This is often the case because life on the “fringes” is discouraged by society, meaning that those who reject any part of the aforementioned formula don’t get support for creating meaningful lives outside of the template they’ve been given. There are many women who are living purely in flexibility and not putting an adequate amount of time and energy into focusing their energy into a handful of things that will give them lasting satisfaction. Many will pour their energy directly into career or material possessions (nothing inherently wrong with this), without any forethought regarding what meaningful things they should be cultivating simultaneously.

It can seem like living in either extreme is the only option, but being focused and flexible at the same time should be a goal for all of us. Focus gives us direction and stability, while flexibility gives us depth, color and moments of ease in our journeys.

Here’s the best way to merge the concepts of flexibility and focus: find out what you want for yourself (get your focus together) then think of the many ways you can get there (exercise flexibility.) I’ll present an exercise that may be of use (I’ve done this for myself more times than I can count, and it’s not from a singular book I’ve read but, rather, a hodgepodge of ideas that I’ve picked up here and there.) First, name the things that you want for yourself. For this example, I’m going to use some really common desires: getting a degree, getting into your dream career, traveling, and getting married. Name whatever it is you want, no matter how crazy it sounds. It’s good to be very specific when naming what you want: getting a degree from Harvard, becoming a world renowned artist, traveling to Thailand, etc.,. This list can be as long or short as you like, but it helps to keep it brief (less than 5 things) – it helps you have more time to dedicate on the things that matter most.

After you name what you want, brainstorm various ways to get what you want. This seems a little daunting, especially if you’ve been taught to see things only in one way. People are always amazed when I tell them how I got into my prior career before I was awarded my college degree and without the advantage of an internship or nepotism. Unfortunately, many of us limit ourselves by having such a narrow view on how to get what we want. That’s the downside of associating regularly with damaged minds, pessimists, and perpetual escapists, who spend too much time keeping up with trivial things and not enough time doing things to increase their personal value and the quality of their lives.

Here are a couple examples of flexible thinking – both of these I personally have used:

  • If getting a degree is your goal, then take advantage of all sorts of learning opportunities. Going to college for 4 years, as soon as you exit high school, is not the formula for everyone. If it suits you, take credit courses here and there, looking into credit-for-experience programs (my book, Degree Hacking, gives you an actionable, inexpensive and easy-to-execute plan to accomplish this). Some schools even offer tests to demonstrate proficiency in certain areas; if you’re a student, you can take those tests at a fraction of the cost of a college course (my book discusses this, too). Also, remember all of the resources you have that can give you an educational edge up: local libraries usually offer free courses in a variety of subject areas; you can take free classes online in any area you can imagine; on the internet, you can preview course syllabi for any class you’re taking, and preread material that will be cover in the course (again, check out my book for more information about this).
  • If you want to travel, the first step is really easy: get a passport! It’s good for 10 years and you don’t have to be outside of the country to use it. Start setting aside a small amount per month to fund your dream trip (even $10 a month will get you there eventually.) This gives your focus (travel) some energetic momentum without having to commit a large amount of money up front. Consider buying a token that symbolizes your travel goals (like a travel journal). Join interest groups that will feed your desire to travel (meetup.com and local colleges can help with this, as well as the myriad Reddit, Facebook and Discord groups out there) or feel free to create a group of your own that indulges your travel desire. Check out travel websites regularly to find deals on flights, hotels, and rental cars – keeping up with the costs can help you to figure out how much you need to save. This research also crystallizes what things you actually want and need for your trip. Also, remember that, depending on how much travel you desire, there are many organizations that will pay for your airfare and lodging in different locales if you are willing to either teach English or help with humanitarian efforts.

Having a particular focus doesn’t mean that you can only achieve your desire in a singular way. I dreamed of attending an Ivy-league university, but I had no interest in pursuing a full degree. I ended up taking a grant funded program in a topic that really benefited me. I could have never anticipated that would be how I’d get my Ivy-league experience, but because I’m flexible, my desire was met with ease. It’s important to remember that it’s not the lack of options that causes problems, it’s when you lose sight of all the ways to get to your goals that discouragement sets in. People get discouraged when they see no way out: if you creative, though, you won’t feel discouraged for long.

I recommend, no matter what you do, that you get in contact with someone that can help you. You won’t always have every resources you need to get what you want. You have to make connections with people who will assist you on your path. You should not automatically feel entitled to their assistance. It is usually easier to ask for assistance from those who required to assist (school counselors or customer service representatives, for example.) However, the most powerful individuals are normally people who don’t owe you anything – convincing them to assist may be more challenging. If you can get one of these heavy hitters on your side, it will make your path infinitely easier. It should go without saying that showing your appreciation to everyone who helps you is a must. Being appreciative will 1) give you great karma and 2) make it easier for someone else who, later on, may ask for assistance from these same individuals. Showing appreciation can be a thank you note or a gift (be careful with gift-giving: you don’t want anything that can be misconstrued as bribery.)

That’s it for today, friends! I hope you’re having a fantastic day. I’ll talk to you all tomorrow!

*This post contains affiliate links.

health

Fibro Fridays – Things I Wish I Knew (After Diagnosis)

I’m taking a little break from protocols (again) to talk about some other things I discovered on my fibromyalgia journey.

Did you all know that getting a diagnosis is just the beginning of the journey? Fibromyalgia is unique in the fact that diagnosis doesn’t automatically result in a clear-cut recovery path. Most of us that have been diagnosed find that there are many things that we still don’t understand about the condition, and most medical professionals are woefully under-exposed/unknowledgeable about fibro. So even after getting a diagnosis, there are a ton of things that we don’t know, and we have to search just to get close to having some answers.

I made a video of the top five things I wish I knew after my fibromyalgia diagnosis. To sum it up briefly, I wish I knew that:

  • Most medicines are largely ineffective.
  • Lifestyle is the key to managing symptoms.
  • This is a problem within the nervous system, not the musculoskeletal system.
  • It may be more beneficial to work with a neurologist than a rheumatologist.
  • Working with a psychologist as soon as you’re diagnosed can be tremendously helpful.

Here’s the video, where I explain these points more in depth:

Is there anything you all wish you knew when you were first diagnosed with fibro? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

Have a great weekend, and I’ll talk to you all next week!

life curation

Becoming Thomas Hobson, Or How to Accept ONLY That Which You Want

This post feels like it should be a reblog, but, oddly enough, I never wrote about this topic on my now defunct blog. However, this topic was too important to ignore, so I had to share it over here, and I invite conversation about how you all have either seen this or applied it in your own lives.

Back in a previous life, I worked as a paralegal (fabulous work, by the way). I remember sitting through a hearing and a few of the opposing attorneys mentioned the term “Hobson’s choice”. As soon as we had a recess, I looked it up, because I didn’t want to be confused over what it meant. I felt some relief when I realized that the attorneys I worked with had also not heard of “Hobson’s choice”.

In short, a Hobson’s choice (named after stable owner Thomas Hobson) is a “take it or leave it” scenario. It often presents itself as two options, but in reality, only one option is feasible, and this option is always in favor of the person presenting the offer. Most of us present Hobson’s choices to our families regularly: in the case of dinner, instead of saying “take it or leave it”, we’ll say, “You can either eat the dinner I prepared, or you can cook your own meal, and clean up afterward.” See how the option creates a win-win scenario for the offeror?

One of the challenges of stepping into my personal power is interacting with people that intentionally or inadvertently attempt to undermine my boundaries. It’s natural for humans to advocate for their own preferences or to try to sway others to their points of view. However, it is never okay for someone to overstep the boundaries of others, or to treat other’s preferences dismissively.

The question is, then, how can we become Thomas Hobson? It starts with listening to our gut, and learning to trust our visceral reactions. Instead of ignoring how we feel, we have to learn to be honest with ourselves and acknowledge when we hear something (or are offered something) that we don’t like. Becoming Thomas Hobson requires that we realize when our heart and gut say, “No” to an offer, and opt to NOT judge ourselves for saying “No”. It’s hard to not judge ourselves, especially since we live in a culture that thrives on people’s inclination to second-guess themselves. But learning to silence our inner critics is key to embracing our inner Thomas Hobson.

After we recognize that we feel an authentic “No”, we can start experimenting with how to offer solutions that give us a subtle win-win situation. The key to this is subtlety: no one wants to accept a “hard bargain”. We have to become skillful at offering solutions that have the appearance of being somewhat fair, while still offering us what we prefer, regardless of the solution being chosen. The best solutions make the offeree feel empowered, respected, and acknowledged: the moment we can offer ourselves win-win scenarios that generate these sort of feelings in the offeree, we have mastered the Hobson’s choice.

I’m still learning how to do this, but on the few occasions when I’ve gotten it right, it felt AMAZING! I encourage everyone to start experimenting with this concept and see how it works in your lives.

That’s it for today. I hope you all are doing well! I’ll talk to you all tomorrow.

life curation · words of wisdom · writing

Reblog: A Guide to Severing Ties and Moving On

Today, I’m doing a reblog of a post that I released 9 (!) years ago, almost to the day (originally posted August 11, 2012). I remember writing it, but I honestly couldn’t remember what I wrote! So it was fun to read through my old musings. I didn’t bother to edit it, since the typos and grammar errors I noted were minimal. So here you go: my guide to severing ties and moving on. Enjoy!

“Last July, I wrote a post about inconsiderate people, and different tactics for dealing with them. After giving people some time to correct course, you may find it necessary to cut the person loose. I don’t particularly enjoy severing ties with people, but SELF-PRESERVATION comes above all else. In my case, “self” extends to those that I love and want to protect from inconsiderate individuals. There is NO ONE that I will allow to mistreat me. Please do not misunderstand me: there are people that are supposed to love you, that can, and will, mistreat you, ignore your concerns, and regard you with little respect.

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What does it take to cut someone loose? You must first decide to do it. You can’t simply talk about it: in fact, I recommend you stop talking about it. At the point where severing ties becomes necessary, you’re probably tired of talking. I don’t recommend that you talk until you are weary, but if the relationship means enough to you, you’ve probably tried to talk and mend/correct things until you are blue in the face. Save your energy, and decide to just let the person go.

Eliminate contact with the individual. No more texting, phone calls, emails, letters, or homing pigeons LOL! Don’t announce to the person that you are ceasing contact with them: simply do it. If you feel compelled to tell someone “I’m cutting you off” then you probably haven’t made a firm decision to get rid of the individual. Giving an inconsiderate person a goodbye speech only opens the door for more dialogue, delay in correcting action, and more time to HURT YOU. So close the door, do it quietly, and deadbolt it.

I know that *someone* will want to do the “cutting you off” speech. If it gives you a feeling of closure, then go for it. I personally feel that true closure comes from making a decision and sticking to it, and having the satisfaction of knowing that the other person didn’t see it coming, nor do they know all the details behind your decision. But if finale speeches are your thing, then go ahead and do you. The best way to do it is to lower the boom, while ensuring that the other person CANNOT RESPOND TO YOU. If that means blocking a few phone numbers, sending emails to the junk folder automatically, and blocking them on all forms of social media, so be it. The last thing that you want is an open door; open doors only lead to more suffering.

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Now that the door is closed and a particular person is cut off, what do you do? MOVE AHEAD. Don’t dwell on your decision: when you find yourself regretting your actions, take time to remember all of the things that preceded your decision. Hopefully, you did not cut someone off hastily. More than likely, however, you have given the person adequate time and warning to correct course, yet they insist on staying the same. When you start regretting the decision to move on, you must not doubt yourself! If your life and routine feel weird after removing certain people, it’s probably because you’ve become accustomed to the dysfunctional relationship. You probably aren’t missing that person, you are just feeling awkward because you are readjusting to normal living.

Removing inconsiderate people from your life is a lot like having sea legs. After spending some time on a boat, you may feel weird when you start walking on dry land again. But the problem isn’t the ground that you stand on: it’s the abnormal condition (walking on a sea vessel) to which your body got adjusted. You’ve had to learn to keep your balance in a naturally unbalanced environment; likewise, dealing with inconsiderate people can cause you to adapt to their off-kilter ways. But, just like sea legs, you will adjust to normal living again- in time. The key is to keep moving on dry land, or, in the case of someone post-cutoff, immerse yourself in normal living.

Immersion into a normal lifestyle is the key to moving on after severing ties. But how is this done? For a time, avoid the places, people, and activities that remind you of that individual. Did you two enjoy a particular restaurant, entertainment venue or activity? Now is the time to stop going, at least until you can go without reminiscing over the relationship. Did you two have mutual friends? You may even want to avoid them for a spell. Of course, you may want to stay in touch with any of your mutual friends that are mature enough to neither take sides nor do anything that will distract you from your goal of eliminating the toxic person.

Get involved in any activity that will keep you from thinking too much about the person that you cut off. This *could* mean throwing yourself into your work, if you find that you are just as or more productive than before. But don’t get absorbed in work if you find it draining or depressing. Now is the time to meet new people, do new things, and get caught up in a whirlwind of enjoyable activity. Make plans to do all the things that you couldn’t enjoy with the inconsiderate person, or that you didn’t have time to do, because Mr. or Ms. Inconsiderate tied up your time, zapped your energy, criticized your dream, etc.,. Have you always wanted to travel out of the country? Start setting aside money for your trip (preferably in a bank account that you find it difficult to access.) Want to finish school? Sign up for a class and move heaven and earth to attend it regularly. Always been interested in painting? Buy some watercolors and a canvas and have at it.

One of my favorite recommendations for satisfying distraction is retail therapy (also known as shop ’til you drop LOL!) Retail therapy can be great and very satisfying (as well as distracting!) But if you indulge, keep all of your receipts and make sure that you know the store’s return policies. Last thing that you want to do is buy something far too expensive, something that you’ll NEVER enjoy, or a ‘spite” gift (i.e., buying red lipstick because the inconsiderate person hated it and thought that red lipstick looks cheap) just because you needed a pretty distraction. Buyer’s remorse is bad enough, but being able to undo the madness is golden. Done responsibly, retail therapy can be effective at helping you move ahead.

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That’s just a few of my tips for severing ties and moving on.  I hope you all enjoyed it. Please look out for more posts soon: my maternity leave will be over in a few weeks, so I got to get as much writing done as possible, before I’m thrown back into the working world LOL! Until next time …”

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!

goals · life curation · words of wisdom

The Three Hardest Lessons I Had to Learn

There’s nothing quite like reflecting and seeing how much you’ve grown over time. The older I get, the more I recognize the changes that have occurred in me, and how those changes have impacted my overall quality of life. I feel inspired to share some of those lessons that have come to me when I sit in silence and allow the highs – and lows – to show me what I need to master. Here are three of the hardest lessons that I’ve had to learn, and how I’ve approached and incorporated each of these lessons in my life.

The hardest lesson I’ve had to learn is the art of being gentle with myself. I often behave as if I have inexhaustible energy (despite having fibromyalgia for the past several years), so when I fall short of the goals that I’ve set for myself, I tend to beat myself up over it. My fibromyalgia diagnosis was a turning point for me, since I found myself physically unable to complete activities that I once enjoyed. I felt a tremendous amount of guilt over the fact that I had to rest more and stop feeling bad for it. For me, resting and being gentle with myself felt like laziness.

,This is something that I still struggle with, though mindfully practicing gentleness every day (slowing down and grounding myself daily, yoga, and gratitude practices help) has made it a little easier to accept that this is the path I have to walk, and there is no shame in it. I continue to indulge these practices, as well as listen to YouTube videos of people advocating for gentleness with ourselves, like Alina Alive, Sarah Armide and Ella Ringrose.

Another difficult lesson I am still working on is setting boundaries based on love, not anger. I think it’s normal to react to a hurtful or angering incident with the immediate establishment of a boundary. But I’ve been playing around with proactively setting boundaries based on loving myself and having love for others. This sounds a little contradictory, because in American culture, we’re taught that love is supposed to be without boundaries, all-absorbing and unconditional. However, I’ve found that the most loving that that we can do is have boundaries that maintain our dignity and sense of self.

Again, I struggle with this because I was previously more reactionary as a default. But, with time, I realized I feel more relieved by setting boundaries before offenses happen, as well as standing resolutely with my boundaries when others – even well-intended loved ones – attempt to encroach them. I have to practice this daily as part of my self care, since I have a few of my family members living with me. Some powerful tools that I’ve utilized on my journey have been the book Boundaries by Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend, as well as YouTube videos published by Dr. Ramani Durvasula, Dr. Tracey Marks, and Irene Lyon.

The third hardest lesson for me to learn was learning to play, particularly, how to do so without guilt. Going back to the art of being gentle with myself, I had to learn ways to care for myself that would help me to heal my body and mind. For me, that involved recreating periods of joy in my life, and that meant I had to reflect back on the times when I was unabashedly, overwhelmingly happy. I found most of those times occurred during my childhood, so I had to start indulging myself and doing the things that made me happy again, which, for me, was playing games and creative expression.

The same guilt behind being gentle with myself crops up when I’m indulging in play. I have to continually remind myself that playing *is* productive, and more play = more creativity, which I can channel into other, more “adult” tasks. It has become easier for me to participate in play, because I have several younger children in my circle of family and friends, but I also have to indulge in play by myself, usually in the form of painting, making jewelry, working on a puzzle, or playing in makeup. I also find it helpful to connect with personalities that are light and playful, which is why I often go to YouTube for inspiration. I really enjoy play and fun from various perspectives, so I love videos by Mintfaery, Darling Desi and The Unexpected Gypsy.

Are there any difficult lessons that you’ve had to learn? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below. Also, if there’s any way that I can support you all, please feel free to leave a comment or send me a message. This journey through life isn’t an easy one: the most important thing we can do is share resources with each other, so that we can make our journeys a little smoother.

Take care, 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!

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Why The Level Up Movement Is Full of Failures

Happy Monday, friends! I hope you had a great weekend. My weekend was busy, and my typical tiredness was compounded by a small bout with allergy symptoms (headache and sinus stuff). Aside from that, it was a good weekend overall.

Today’s topic is probably a bit surprising to you all, since this is not a subject that I speak on frequently. After all, my blog has been about my own journey, and I’ve only casually observed others who may be on the same path. I believe in keeping my figurative eyes on my own paper, so being invested in the activities of others always seems futile and distracting.

That being said, this topic has come up several times when chatting with some of my ambitious friends, especially since they and I are often part of online/virtual groups aimed at providing education, resources and advice to women that want to improve their lives. One thing that my friends and I have observed is how many ladies that claim to aspire to “leveled up” lifestyles are failing miserably at achieving their goal.

This is a topic that has been on my mind for a while, mainly because it always takes me a while to clarify, within myself, what patterns I’m seeing and what those patterns mean. When I see certain behaviors repeating themselves, I like to take a look at WHY this is happening, and how can I avoid falling victim to the same thing.

Here’s the pattern I’ve noticed: a woman decides that she wants to improve her life in multiple areas. So, she joins groups that claim to support these lifestyle changes. She makes a lot of surface changes quickly (new hair, new makeup, new clothes, and learns the “lingo” used within these groups). She posts her “before and after” pictures, and is quickly praised for the changes she’s made, then she goes out into the world, ready to get whatever she wants.

Except . . . The world does not hand her what she wants. In fact, most of what she experiences is only a fraction better than what her life was before. She is perplexed because she’s done all of the things that she was told would lead to her ideal life. But all of her efforts lead to miniscule rewards, and she sometimes gets a lot of criticism and coldness from people that were once her good friends and beloved family members. She doesn’t understand why her new life is still elusive, even after all of the changes she’s made. She ends up feeling discouraged, and before you know it, she’s stop maintaining her “new look” and settled back into the mediocre lifestyle that she was living before.

There’s a simple explanation for why so many women in the level up community end up failing. They are doing the steps backward! Changing the exterior and trying to pass yourself off as “leveled up” is only good if you’re trying to impress in a one-dimensional world (like virtual/online groups). But when it comes to the 3-D world, your facade will crumble if you think that you can skip doing the inner work. If the change doesn’t start with the inside, then you can be certain that whatever progress you’ve made will be difficult (pretty much impossible) to maintain.

One of my mentors from years ago said, “Life is a mental game”. I knew this to be true, but the older I get, the more I see it play out in real life. A lot of people really want to bypass the “hard” work of changing their mindset because, let’s face it, doing the superficial stuff is a lot more fun and easier. But the lives we want are right on the other side of our limiting beliefs, bad habits, unsatisfying lifestyles, and shoddy networks. Our wildest dreams can’t come true until our inner worlds are up to snuff.

I have more thoughts, but I think I’ll save those for another day. I hope you all are doing well! I’ll talk to you all tomorrow.

life curation

Simple Steps for Actualizing Your Goals

Happy Monday friends! Another week full of potential lays before us. I’m so excited to embrace every day of this new year. I hope you all feel the same energy that I’ve been feeling; it’s a feeling of excitement and possibility. I love this time of year!

Recently, I’ve been really enjoying podcasts and Clubhouse. I love listening to different topics as I cook, clean, write, and do other things around the house. One of my favorite podcasts is Law of Attraction Changed My Life, hosted by Francesca Amber. I used to faithfully watch Francesca’s videos when she was on YouTube, but she stopped making new content a while ago. By chance, I visited her YT channel and saw that she’d made a video, announcing her change from vlogging to podcasting.

I promptly found her podcast, and spent the next two days binge listening to her content. (Disclaimer: her podcast does contain profanity. It isn’t an issue for me, but I want to at least put that out there so that there aren’t any surprises) Her January 1st episode had some great tips for actualizing your goals for 2021. I recommend that you listen to that episode for details, but in the next few days, I’ll share how I applied her advice as respects my own goals for the year.

One of the greatest takeaways from her podcast was to outline the first three steps required for each of my goals. I love practical, easy-to-implement advice like this. So, as I stated before, later this week I will share my first three steps for each of the goals that I mentioned last week.

Do you have any tips for reaching your 2021 goals? Let me know in the comments below!