culture · international · life curation

Embracing The Year of the Ox

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

writing

Writers Wednesdays – Phoning a Friend

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

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

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

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

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

life curation · Uncategorized

Stepping Into My Power

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

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

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

Stepping into my power looks like:

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

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

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

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

words of wisdom · writing

Summoning Muses – How to Find Inspiration

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This post contains affiliate links.

life curation

The Beginning: My Introduction to Conscious Creation (Law of Attraction)

Happy Monday, friends! I hope you all had an enjoyable and restful weekend. Let’s step into this week with confidence and joy!

A few weeks ago, after starting my YouTube channel, I took some time to think about my Law of Attraction (LOA) journey. I often look to one of my favorite books, Write It Down, Make It Happen (I did a review on this book on my old blog, so I’ll repost that in the near future), as the “beginning” of my journey.

However, after further consideration, I realized that this is inaccurate. I actually started on the conscious creation path long before I became familiar with the work of Dr. Henriette Anne Klauser (author of Write It Down, Make It Happen). My journey actually started in 2007, in a small IRS office in Richmond, VA. That’s where I had the great fortune of meeting Mr. Arthur Childs, who first told me about Dr. Wayne Dyer. When Mr. Childs retired, he gave me his composition notebooks, full of quotes and tidbits of wisdom.

I was excited to find one of the notebooks recently (I have the other one in storage). Finding that notebook made so many good memories flood back into my mind, and it’s the inspiration behind the video that I’m sharing below. I hope you enjoy the video!

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

life curation

Goodbye 2018 …

Happy Monday, friends! It’s New Year’s Eve, and we are closing the books on 2018. Did you get everything you wanted? Did you see some dreams come true? Did you get answers to some of your burning questions? Are you reflecting back on the year with appreciation?

Here’s a truth you may not hear too often: it doesn’t matter whether things worked out exactly as you hoped. All that matters is that you lived to see another day, and every day offers an opportunity to “reset”. Life is the gift, and everything else is icing.

Goodbye 2018

I took off from posting for the past couple of days: my first blogging “break” ever. Inspiration led me to stop pushing myself so hard and to take a break to regroup and think carefully about how I want to enter 2019. I needed that space to clear my mind.

This past weekend led me to the difficult decision to cease doing weekend blog posts. While I love writing and have no problem doing it daily, I feel that having the weekend will give me more time to enjoy my journey and perfect my writing craft. Not to mention, the time off really gave me an energy boost: I look forward to feeling that way more frequently.

I’m going to get back to working on my vision board and I’ll be back tomorrow. Have a great evening, and I’ll talk with you all soon!

life curation

Welcome December: Looking Forward, Looking Back

Can you all believe that we are here at the end of another year? This time of year always leaves me in awe: the dates are long but the years are short, as I’ve heard it described. I have written a post for every day this year, so you already know what my year was like. I haven’t been feeling my best over the past few weeks but overall, I’m feeling good about my year.

Screenshot 2018-12-01 at 10.46.10 AM.png

The beauty of today, the first of December, is that there are still time to accomplish one (or more!) big goal(s) before the year’s end. Even if you haven’t taken action since before my Finish 2018 on a Strong Note post, there is still time to do something that you’ll be especially proud of. I will be reviewing my last Goal Update post and seeing what I can take care of before the end of the year. Feeling under the weather has slowed me down a bit but it hasn’t stopped me, and I’m determined to make this December count.

Going forward, there are a few things I’m mulling over for 2019. For one thing, I want to bring back my book reviews. I’m reviewing a book this month, and I’ll continue doing one per month until inspiration leads me to something else. I’m also going to be more diligent about creating content for my YouTube channel, since I like the thought of being able to communicate across different platforms.

This is going to be a fantastic month. I’m claiming it right now!

life curation

NaNoWriMo Updates: Tomorrow is the Last Day

Happy Thursday, y’all! This has been quite a November to remember. . . I’ve been working on a lot of projects, and as a result, my writing suffered this month.

Of all months for my writing to suffer, it happens during NaNoWriMo.

screen

I didn’t meet the 50k goal for NaNoWriMo 2018. I got to 20k, which is still impressive, but nowhere near what I intended for the month. So I’m frustrated with myself right now. I wish I could have rearranged my affairs so that I could pour more time into my writing, but the truth is, this just wasn’t a good month for it.

One of the things I’ve been actively working on is being gentle with myself. No one is more disappointed in my failings than I am, so if I am going to own my shortcomings, I also have to give myself room for grace. I’m at a point where I’m doing the best that I can with everything that I do but it doesn’t always turn out how I want it to.

And that’s okay.

On the upside, I haven’t given up on this story. I’m still going to reach my 50k words and when I do, I’m going to rejoice! Until then, I’ll keep plugging along.

Enjoy your day, loves! I’ll talk to you all tomorrow.

travel

2019 Travel Plans: Looking Back, Looking Forward

Well, as 2018 winds down, I can comfortably say that I’m done traveling for the year. I don’t anticipate going anywhere new until next calendar year, but boy, what a fun year this has been!

map

From my trip to Kenya, to road trips to Philadelphia and North and South Carolinas, to my cruise last month, I’ve been a busy girl. And 2019 shows no signs of me slowing down!

I’m finalizing a few details on a late winter trip to San Juan, as well as a late spring/early summer trip to Paris. I was toying around with the notion of attending a very pricey and exclusive class next spring, but I’d rather spend my money on transformative or “bucket list” travel. The class can wait!

Next falls looks like it may include another family cruise and, if not, I’ll be in London for a few days to attend an event I’ve been eyeing. I’m also looking into some additional travel to the Pacific Rim: I haven’t decided on a country yet, but I feel like this region is calling me, so we’ll see where my hankering takes me.

I have to finish reviewing my cruise travel for you all, but once that’s done, I’ll be laser-focused on my 2019 plans. I’m so excited!!!

I hope you all are having a relaxing Monday and an easy transition into this post-Thanksgiving work week. Take care, and I’ll talk to you all tomorrow!