As we're all still adjusting to the changes in our everyday lives, I've been thinking more and more about the people who have helped get me through the most difficult parts of this lock down—my friends. I'm fortunate in that I have those friends who are there regardless of the time of day, regardless of what's going on in their lives. They're just there. I hope I am as good of a friend. I know I try to be.
I heard this song by The Script for the first time a couple of weeks ago, and the lyrics really hit home because it's as if they were speaking directly from me to my friends.
I've got friends that will run through walls
I've got friends that will fly once called
When I've nowhere left to go
And I need my heroes
I've got friends that will run through walls
Do you have friends like this? I hope so because everyone needs someone. I'm blessed to have more than one someone, friends that I consider my heroes.
I know we're all in the midst of this crisis, that we're trapped inside our houses for a large portion of the day, and we can't see our family and friends. So tempers can get short and tensions can run high. The walls are closing in, and you just want to be out and about among people again. I get it. That's definitely me, which is why I started forcing myself to have fun at home.
Sounds crazy, doesn't it? Having to force yourself to have fun? But I'm so work-focused that usually my time at home is spent working. Time outside my house is what I consider fun time. But now that I can't go out as much, I'm challenging myself to do other things, things I used to do a lot more and some I've never done before.
I've gone back to working on jigsaw puzzles, which I used to do a lot more. I just finished one two nights ago, and I'm already jumped into another one. Sometimes, I listen to music or a talk while I'm working on them. It's very relaxing.
I'm getting into plants. This is a new one on me. I've never cared for taking care of plants, gardening, or any of that, but a plant I had gotten in 1997 was dying, and I freaked out. It has a special meaning to me so I called a friend, and she talked me through how to help it. Next thing you know, I'm online looking for other plants (that are kitty-safe) and ready to buy gardening supplies and planters so I can fill up my patio with pretty flowers!
I'm video-chatting so much! Never really cared for this before, but since that's the only option, I've gotten used to it. I can show my friends what I'm doing and vice versa, and I'm actually starting to prefer it over just talking on the phone.
I'm reading autobiographies and behind-the-scenes books. Love them! I'm a big Star Trek fan so I'm reading books by the actors. I have a list of other books that I'm looking forward to reading as well. It's so relaxing to curl up with one before bedtime and dive into someone else's life!
I'm creating so many graphics for my social media out of photos I take while I'm out for my daily walk. That's another thing that I've started since lockdown. I started a walking program around my neighborhood, and I take pictures and videos while I'm out and about. I live in a gorgeous neighborhood with fountains, lush grass, geese, beautiful trees and foliage, and even an occasional alligator. It's fun to see what new things I can find on each walk!
And I'm also rewatching classic comedies like The Golden Girls and The Nanny and diving back into some 1980s shows I haven't seen in forever like Cagney & Lacey, T.J. Hooker, and Scarecrow and Mrs. King. I turned eighteen in 1986 so these shows are a part of my childhood, and I'm enjoying reliving them!
That's just a few of the things that I'm doing so I can shut off work mode for a while. What are you doing? Have you started a new hobby or project since the stay at home orders? I'd love to hear about them!
The world is in turmoil right now, and it's easy to get caught up in watching the news 24/7 and let everything else pass you by. But focusing on goals helps keep me productive, and i don't go stir-crazy! I'm also limiting my social media time, especially Facebook, as too much negativity can dull any progress.
Along with the above, I also wrote thirteen posts for Hidden Remote and began working on a pitch deck for a movie. If you aren't familiar with what those are (as I wasn't until my agent filled me in), you can find out more here. Yesterday, I finished the pitch deck and had another article accepted so I'm right on track for my goals for this year.
I've found that keeping track of my goals like this keeps me accountable. Years and years ago, I had a goal of writing every day. To date, I have kept up with that goal. It's easier now because I'm in the habit of writing every day.
So what you doing to work toward your goals?
My website has changed a lot, mainly because my writing focus is shifting. While writing novels will always be my first love, I have been writing more essays, articles, and guest posts, and recently, I became a contributor for Hidden Remote, which is an entertainment website devoted to television and movie news and insights.
So what does this mean for future books? I'm still writing, but, lately, I've felt drawn to more nonfiction than I have fiction, although I am writing flash fiction and short stories. So while I'll still be working on books, I'll do so more slowly. It's kind of nice not feeling like I'm in a hurry to finish a novel. The only deadlines I have are for the publications I'm doing freelance writing for. And those seem to come more easily to me.
Again, writing novels will always be my first love, but I don't feel the muse as strongly as I used to. Maybe after focusing more on nonfiction for a while, I'll be drawn back to fiction. In the meantime, I hope you'll find something you like in the articles and essays I write. Many of them coming up are human interest stories which are really close to my heart.
This doesn't change how I'll post to my blog. I'll still participate in blogging challenges, keep you updated on what's going on in my writing life and my regular life, and throw in an opinion here or there. But I'll also be sharing links to new creations as soon as they go live on the internet so you'll have more of me to read, in a manner of speaking. I hope you'll continue to follow along!
As the world grows angrier and angrier, and people fight over the smallest of things, this is a reminder that we all need. We don't know what anyone is going through, and it doesn't take an effort to simply be kind.
Ever had that moment in life when you knew something was about to change, something that would literally change your life forever? I'm staring down that road right now. In six weeks, maybe less, I'll know if life as I know it will be irrevocably altered. And I'm hoping, praying, that this change will occur.
I had to make the decision to attempt this change, and along with it, I had to confront the possibility that it might not work out. That's not the part I have control over. Taking the first step forward was. And it's been painful, but a lot of changes can be. Yet, they turn out to be the best things that have ever happened to us.
It's easy to fear change. I do sometimes, but when this opportunity came up, I knew almost immediately that I was going to take a chance. If it doesn't work out, I've lost nothing by trying. And even though the disappointment will be strong, I will at least know that I've tried to change my life for the better.
I am so looking forward to the possibilities this change could afford me. I wanted to write this post today to encourage you to embrace change even if it looks like it will be painful or too difficult. It might not work out, but you will have tried, and that is so much better than wondering if!
Every year, I look back on the goals I accomplished, the joys I've had in life, and the trials. It's empowering to see the successes as well as the obstacles I've overcome, and seeing the joys reminds me that this life is precious! So here we go!
Christmas is my favorite time of the year. I'm sure I've said that here countless times, but it never gets old. I'm one of "those" people that whip out the decorations long before Thanksgiving, and I start Christmas shopping in October. The one thing I do wait for is the music. For some reason, it has to be closer to the actual day before I start listening to it. With Christmas now a little over two weeks away, I'm in the mood! My playlist is ready, although this is just a sample!
I have so many others on my playlist; however, the ones you won't find there are the ones that are more tailored for children like Rudolph the Rednosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, and Here Comes Santa Claus, etc. I don't focus so much on the Santa aspect of Christmas as I do what it means )except for Baby, It's Cold Outside.) I do admit I listen to that song during the winter months as well. I blame that on the musical comedy Neptune's Daughter with Ricardo Montalban. (Watch that movie if you haven't seen it already!)
So what's on your playlist?
It's that time of the year. Thanksgiving. The day when we're called upon to share what we're thankful for this year. The question gets asked on social media throughout the month, and usually, we can all offer three or more things that we're particularly grateful for. We say we're thankful for the sunshine, but we assume it's going to be there. We're thankful for our jobs, figuring we'll have them until we decide to retire. Usually, we offer our thanks for our family and friends, for love, for our pets, and so much more, but you rarely see one of us post that we're grateful for the money troubles, the flat tires, the days that go from bad to worse.
I think we already know the answer to this question. Isn't it difficult to be thankful for the hardships? Even if we've overcome obstacles, we don't appreciate the obstacles themselves. And if we're still in the middle of a battle, we're certainly not thankful for that. But we should be. Because overcoming obstacles makes us stronger and better people.
Annabella Hagen, a licensed mental health therapist, in an article for Psych Central wrote: Studies regarding oxytocin tell us that this hormone helps us crave for physical contact with our family and friends. It enhances our empathy and helps us support those we care about. Kelly McGonigal, a health psychologist, says that oxytocin also is released when we experience difficulties and stress. She reminds us that oxytocin prompts us to connect with others.
All of us struggle at some point in our lives, but would we really want easy lives where everything went according to plan? Where would the challenge be in that? And if we're not challenged, wouldn't life become boring? Stale? Ken Wert, who runs the website Meant to Be Happy, wrote a wonderful article about being grateful for life's challenges, and in it he said that challenges inspire compassion. Makes sense. If we go through trouble, we'll be better able to understand and sympathize with those who go through something similar.
As a Trekkie, one of my favorite episodes of the original series is when an alien entity wants to provide everything for those on her planet, leaving them nothing to do. Captain Kirk's response, provided by the incredibly talented writer Gene Coon, is perfect.
As the obstacles shape us, give us something to overcome, and provide a sense of accomplishment when we do, why shouldn't we be thankful for them? It's certainly not easy to appreciate hardship, but once we see its necessity, it becomes a little more palatable.
I devour books like they're my favorite ice cream cones. And I don't just read the type of books I write. I explore when I read, whether it's an autobiography, a book of wit and wisdom, a middle grade novel, or science fiction. If a book looks good to me, I'll give it a shot. I think it's important to read, not just the new books that are being released, but the ones from years past that I've managed to overlook. That's where I usually find the gems.
This month, I'm reading a young adult fantasy series, a non-fiction book about a favorite television show, and a non-fiction book about marketing. And you read that correctly. I'm usually reading two or three books at one time, although, I have been known to get so wrapped up in one book that I have to finish it before I move on to the next. Usually, though, I will read on one book one night and another the next.
When I read I'm being entertained, and I'm learning, and science has proven that an active brain is a healthier brain. So what are you reading today?
My thoughts, experiences, challenges, and goals. Right here. At least once a week or so. Oh, and opinions, too. Those will definitely come in. Join me!