Dogs, Blogs and Logs…Ten Things of Thankful

Vinny.

I haven’t mentioned him in awhile. But he’s the most crotchety dog I’ve ever loved.

He doesn’t like strangers. He doesn’t like kids. He doesn’t like other dogs.

He likes his air-conditioned house. He likes his soft bed. And he has a toy platypus he only plays with when husby and I are both home. He’ll leave it for days and days, in fact, if one of us goes out of town. But as soon as we’re both home? He gets it out and squeaks it.

Funny story about Vinny. We can’t ever take him to the beach again. He was miserable and if he could have spoken to us this is what he would have said,

“You turds! You bring me here to camp at this hot beach? The water is terrible to drink, there are bugs everywhere, campfires stink, the tent is uncomfortable, I don’t like the other campers, the sun bakes my fur, the ocean water is too dirty and too loud. You call this fun!? And to say nothing of…what do you call them? Palmetto Bugs? I will run every time! Do not ever, EVER get me near those blasted cockroaches AGAIN! And if you ever take me to the beach again, we’d better be staying in an air conditioned beach house, and you’d better bring my soft doggie bed, you dolts, or I’ll blow chunks!”

 

Yes, that’s our boy. He made it loud and clear that he does not approve of beach camping. Or swimming at the beach, for that matter. Or the ocean. Just forget it. Stay in the mountains.

Hiking in Western NC
Just keep Vinny in the mountains. He’s always up for a hike.

The Wakefield Doctrine.

I’m thankful I found Clark and all his clarkety thoughts. Plus there’s Almira and the other novel. Glad I’ve known Clark and Denise for years. I always look forward to their posts. And just wanted to give a warm shoutout to them.

 

Morning breakfasts made by the husby.

The mornings are a time where, before work, I like to get all my creative work done. So there’s writing, exercise, journaling, meditating and tea making.

I generally just can’t fathom “cooking” breakfast. Dinner? Fine. I’ll cook up a storm. Breakfast? Eh…if I’m left to my own devices, I’ll just grab a piece of toast knowing that it wouldn’t be enough and then I’d have a low blood sugar crash mid-morning.

I know breakfast is my most important meal of the day. If I don’t have some kind of protein, it’s awful. Even if I have the best of intentions, without someone else to cook, I’ll grab whatever I can find and run out the door, though. I just run out of time or don’t think about it.

So, Husby has taken it upon himself to make sure we eat to start the day right. I don’t think I’ve told him enough how much it means to me.

 

My job.

It’s demanding. There are days where I wonder what the hell I’m doing, but I’m grateful to work in a beautiful place with an awesome office, surrounded by dedicated people.

I know that I’m fulfilling a need to help folks who all need help with resources and language learning. I’m interacting with many people, and I know I’m affecting lives. It’s a little intimidating, sometimes, in fact.

Here’s a little story. I was at a conference and I was at the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. You know, the office that interacts with the State Legislature and Governor.

I was looking for a bathroom and stumbled into the State Superintendent’s office. I decided not to ask her where the bathroom was. But still…I was marveling at how I ended up there. And I’d just heard her give a speech to a delegation of coordinators and directors of programs across the state.

Sometimes I really wonder how I got here and…it wasn’t really intentional. Between that and having the superintendent of the county schools where I work help me change my car tire a couple months ago, I think to myself, “well, I’ll be! We’re all just humans in this race and we all really do pull our pants up the same way, don’t we?”

work at university
A recent photo of the university campus where I work.

Writing. Novels. Articles. Blog posts. Journal entries.

After writing so much in the past few months, and sort of living in these worlds of ghosts and goblins, of harrowing hauntings and such, it’s time to come up for a breather and soak up the sunshine.

I’m just about finished with the last draft of the second novel before I send it off to my “free” editors. (Haha.) But, I think it’s time to take a hiatus and…perhaps get back into drawing.

It seems I cycle through these things with the seasons. Summer for writing. Fall for drawing. Winter for writing. Spring for drawing.

 

Yoga.

I’ve discovered that I like it so much that I am thinking – just thinking – about getting good enough to become a certified yoga instructor.

I’ve been watching these YouTube videos with Adriene.

I’ve taken to getting up in the mornings and meditating, then doing some yoga, and then spending time either journaling, working on the novel, or writing on something else.

My hardy jade plant.
My hardy jade plant.

My jade plant.

Back in 2012 when I left my teaching job for a self-imposed sabbatical, a parent brought me a jade plant.

I had no idea that she’d done that and it sat in my former office for THREE MONTHS, in the dark, and survived. I found it when I was giving my replacement a run-down of everything before the new school year started.

Yesterday, my cat accidentally knocked it off the wall of the porch and it dropped five feet to the ground.

It survived, intact, with only one or two of the little pods (I’m not sure what they’re called; they’re not leaves) breaking off. Husby added more dirt and nursed it a bit, but otherwise it’s none the worse for wear.

That plant is a survivor and really, is teaching me some lessons about life.

 

iCloud.

So…I have a work computer, a work laptop, a work iPad, a home laptop and an iPhone. I just LOVE that when I do something on my phone – like write something in my notes, it shows up on my work computer.

Or when I need to take my work laptop to a meeting, all my notes and calendar events also show up on my desktop.

Now, I realize this can also be a real drag having all this crossover between work and home, BUT it’s not actually too bad keeping everything separate.

I have separate folders for everything and have notifications set for specific times and events. I do really believe in work/life balance and make a conscious effort to be mindful of when I’m doing either.

 

Amazon Prime.

So…I’ve had Prime for a few years, but I had not taken full advantage of all it had to offer until recently. Mostly I loved the 2-day free shipping.

BUT, I’ve discovered a really interesting series called Man in the High Castle (it’s a thought-provoking show about what might have happened if the Nazis did win World War II) and I’ve discovered all these great curated playlists that you can download to listen to in the car or offline.

I especially love the Zen at Work and the Piano Guys playlists for soothing background music.

Podcasts...hmm...maybe I should make some of my own or something.
Podcasts…hmm…maybe I should make some of my own or something.

Podcasts.

So, anyone who follows my writing knows I’m a huge fan of personal development. I’d love to do seminars about personal development and spirituality sometime.

(And, oh, if you have an idea, I’d *love* to hear it. Would you ever want a webinar? You know…like do a Google Hangout and chat about life…?)

Anyways, I’ve discovered a feature on my new phone where you can download podcasts and listen to them anywhere.

I’m sure this feature has been available for quite some time, but I had a relic for a phone before with virtually no memory storage, so I missed out on these things…

But still. I have a commute that takes an hour and ten minutes out of my day. Podcasts are a way of furthering my own education and development.

 

The Process of Figuring Out What You Want Out of Life

be as you are

What Does Life Have In Store For You?

Do you ever wonder what life has in store for you? You think you have everything laid out: the direction you might go in, what you’re going to do and you even make plans.

This last week was one of those kinds of weeks. The kind where you wonder what life really has in store for you. And what, exactly, are we all striving for?

Some things started happening regarding my working life and I’ll admit: I’ve been a little bewildered and hurt by it. My heart was already looking out the door, but…when stuff started happening all in a row and things started tumbling together to make one big cloud about to burst with rain, you know you gotta make some decisions.

If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile, you’ll know that I’m a clark: I’m sensitive, creative and I often wonder what it is that I’m really supposed to do with my life. You’d think, ah yeah, that kid (which I’m not so much anymore), she knows her stuff. She teaches. She studies. She goes to school.

On the surface, I look the part of the girl who’s got it together…maybe. (You didn’t see how I was dressed like a militia girl, looking like she was ready to race dogs in the Yukon Territory the other day when it was so cold out. I just needed a pair of mukluks and they would have entered me in the Iditarod just for my looks. Laugh if you will: I live in the South.)

I’ve been wondering what to do with myself since I developed the ability to wonder.

It’s one of my life’s great struggles.

Below the surface, I yearn to be free. The kind of free that doesn’t have someone watching the clock to make sure I keep a schedule. The kind of free where I’m not accountable to anyone but myself (and maybe my loved ones). The kind of free where you make the shots and you live life on your own terms.

Humans Are Supposed to Be Free

So often I think, yes. Life wants this for all of us.

I’ve always thought that life is supposed to carry with it the whole spectrum of emotion: happiness, sadness, frustration, elation, joy, peace, even anger. When these emotions hold each other in balance, life can be an adventure that pushes us to where we never thought we’d go.

Without anger, how would we know to act when we see an injustice?

Without happiness, how will we appreciate it when we feel sadness?

Without love, how will our lonely hearts be filled?

But when one emotion dominates – frustration – you know that life’s lemons are urging you to make the proverbial lemonade, as I alluded to in my last post.

If you’re reading this, maybe you want to be a writer. I’ve dedicated a chunk of my life to this endeavor since 2011…and even before that if you count all the short stories, journal entries, grants and papers I wrote before that.

Before that it was art. Hundreds of images created in a quirky southwest style? Check.

Before that it was teaching. Because I wanted to make a difference.

Ring, Ring. Autonomy is Calling.

That urge to be autonomous just keeps pulling my hair, making my head turn at every corner. And the journey to autonomy is happening so slowly, that my friend Molasses is winning the race.

I know this all seems abstract, but bear with me, I’m getting to the point. Before I do that, let me tell you a story.

It’s the story of a 17 year old girl, the middle child of thirteen siblings. She met a military guy; they married. By the time she was 18, she had her first child. She went on to have four more, adopt another and help care for countless other children. You’d think she would have opened a day care center. Never having worked, she decided to go out to a nice resort hotel, and apply to be a waitress. She was 40 years old. She wanted her kids to go to good schools. She worked her way up, eventually even being entrusted with the responsibilities to cater to two different presidents of the United States. The owners of this hotel resort took notice and invited her into their home to help care for them as they aged. 

Five years later, when she was 55, she started a business for the very first time, using her contacts from the owners of the hotel. She opened a nursing home in her home. I was only 9 at the time, because I was that child that my mother adopted. She wanted to send me to good schools. She worked extremely hard to send me to private schools. To this day she says she never regrets it. 

And wouldn’t you know, she’s had a learning disability this whole time? My mother, who understands people better than they understand themselves, figured out a way to educate herself – not through college – and with only a high school education, still managed to create a business that helped support her family. Eventually, it grew enough that she has 10 employees and have two of her children work there with her. When her husband – my dad – retired, he went to work as the office manager for the business. 

They still, even in their mid 70s, are working and maintaining this business. They are also approaching 57 years of marriage. They’re a little like oil and water, those two, but there still is a lot of love. 

Do you think that when my mom was 40 years old that she knew she’d eventually open a business? She always liked the elderly but she was much more likely to work with children?

That wasn’t in the cards for her. I don’t know if she was passionate about caring for elderly folks until she really got started with helping to care for them. It’s definitely not glamorous work.

She was also able to care for her father before he passed away. Over the years, she’s been able to take in friends and other family members and nurse them until they either got better or until they returned to the earth.

I relate this story because I sort of wonder if something like this might happen to me. I have been bound and determined to be a creative. But what if the creative part is supposed to be a by-product of what I’m really here for?

If I knew that, I would probably be doing something very different with this post.

Is It Really Passion?

So many people talk about passion. Loving what they do. Never working again a day in their lives as long as they’re doing what they love.

Maybe it’s not about that. Maybe it’s more about answering the call for what you’re good at. Then, little by little, you build something that you can be proud of. Like a business that helps people learn to better themselves somehow. This is noble, yes?

However, over the past few weeks, I’ve really been working on this question. I created a vision board, and I’ve been doing a guided meditation to help a person understand their destiny. It’s the kind of thing where you really just work to clear the mind so that messages can get through.

I’m still not sure. Sometimes any message I get really does feel like I’m reading Gaelic and all I’m thinking, oooh, look at all the pretty shapes!

But there is a seed that is coming through. I know it’s teaching, and I know it involves writing. But what if it’s different than even I think? What if it involves going out on my own to do what I need and want to do?

So, going with that, I was over at a site called MicroMentor that, if you need business advice, it will pair you up with a volunteer mentor. I just met someone who lives across the country who has a successful business who is willing to mentor me.

I have a feeling that this is just what I needed. I will say LOUDLY AND CLEARLY that I’m a little dense when it comes to business. When I need to sell myself – that is, my Spanish knowledge in tutoring – my voice starts to get really small and my eyes look at the floor and you can barely hear me whisper….

But, I’m amping up my tutoring website, I’m going to do a lot of soul-searching and the whole business of this day job just might translate into a dream job.

I’m Grateful…

So, I’m grateful for garbled cosmic messages, micro-mentors, my Spanish knowledge and the power of technology…to bring friends and community together. I’m grateful for knowing how to speak Spanish and my willingness to teach others.

I know this: whatever my life entails, I know writing and speaking Spanish are going to be a part of it. I should go write a Spanish article over at that other site, huh?

 

The Great Writing Experiment

Everything you have ever wanted, is

I’ve been threatening for months that as soon as I finished school that I would return to writing.

And writing I am!

You see, I’ve been chomping at the bit here. Sure, I did the master’s to help my day job prospects.

[Tweet “But a girl’s still gotta dream big. No matter how old…no matter the odds.”]

Dreams keep you going and can be powerful motivators.

Months ago, I came across some powerful articles.

Some Prolific Writers

Have you heard of Amanda Hocking? No? Click that link right there. Go ahead. I’ll wait.

Are you inspired, yet?

I’ve wanted to publish for a long time now. And I haven’t. Call it life, busyness, not prioritizing.

And don’t get me wrong. Teaching is fun and all, but I I would like to try my hand at publishing something. A book. Not a blog post or an article. Yeah, done that…hundreds of times, actually.

There are other authors who are successful and their stories are fun to read. And, most people who publish on Amazon don’t see much success.

The reasons are probably many: gobs of authors, standing out from the crowd, sub-par story, no platform, you name it.

But I’m Going to Experiment

That word, experiment. It’s been a part of my vocabulary for the better part of two years.

Anyways, I am going to try something out. I’m going to see what it is to post ebooks to Amazon’s KDP program.

I’m crazily working on a novel. I actually started it months ago when it was getting cold and I didn’t feel like studying one Saturday afternoon.

I wrote 4,200 words this morning. Because it’s fun!

You see, that’s the thing about writing. Now that I have some time off from school, I am just enjoying writing for writing’s sake.

Not Going the Traditional Route

I have a lot of good friends who are published authors. I am proud of every one of them. It’s no easy feat to publish that first book, and then to keep going.

They write query letters and build their platforms.

But, um…

I kind of want to do something different.

Why?

I just want to do ebooks. For now, anyways.

For a few reason: save paper, a general disillusionment with traditional publishing, I’m not a high-profile author, the Machiavellian approach to manuscripts…

Of course, I hope it won’t all be a colossal failure.

You know, launch the rocket only to have it fall to the center of the earth.

But that’s part of the fun in life, you know? See what happens. I like to see what could happen.

There was an article on CNN that came out a little while ago. Here’s a quote:

“Fact is that authors no longer need a publisher,” Bernard Starr wrote at The Huffington Post. “And more and more writers are awakening to the realization that if you are not a high-profile author who can command large sales, a traditional publisher will do little for you beyond editing and printing your book.

So. There’s that.

Still, I make a habit of reading inspiring things.

Bestseller Success Stories That Started Out as Published Books

How to (Really) Make $1,000,000 Selling Ebooks – Real-world Case Studies

Become an Ebook Superstar

Alas, Non-Fiction is Not Yet

So…I’ve spent most of my writing career writing non-fiction. I’ve just recently tried my hand at fiction. We’re going to see how this pans out. Right now, I’m 82 pages in to a ghost story. On any platform, fiction can be extraordinarily fleeting.

Why? People need information that helps them. It’s harder to sell fiction, particularly if you’re not a known writer. I’m under no illusions here. This is why I stepped up my game for my day job.

Since I like to write, though, I don’t plan on waiting until it’s practical or until I retire to eke out that novel.

Like I said, it’s going to be fun to see what happens. See where my writing takes me. And I’ll keep y’all in the loop with the good, the bad and the ugly.

Anyone else out there want to try?

Does Thinking About the Future Make You Happier?

Thinking About the Future

I was over at Ruchira’s blog Abracabadra recently and commented on one of her posts. As I was thinking about what to write, I had a sudden string of words pop into my head:

The path upon which we walk can can always be admired as we look behind, anticipated as we look forward, but only truly enjoyed in the present.

And oh my goodness, I have the perfect photo to go with that thought. (Maybe that’s why I thought it in the first place.) It’s from when I was at Mt. Mitchell and I was hiking the trail from the top to where we were parked. A cluster of clouds cleared and let sunlight shine on the forest floor, just as I was walking through. It was a present:

living in the present
The present path. Photo by C. Calhoun 2014

Of course, this thought isn’t that original. It hearkens back to a Dalai Lama quote I’ve run across a few times:

When asked about what surprises him (the Dalai Lama) most about humanity, he said:

Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.

(Interestingly, as a side note, the Dalai Lama is reported to have not said this phrase, and that it’s an internet hoax. Instead, this supposedly comes from An Interview With God. I found this out as I was trying to locate the real source of these words. Regardless, they are a powerful reminder to live in the present as much as possible.)

However, I am completely guilty of thinking about the future too much.

I think about all the things I’m going to do next week, next year, in five years, in ten years, in twenty years.

do think about what I’m going to do today, making my lists and checking them off as I complete my tasks.

But I love how Ruchira’s quote made me stop.

And think.

(Okay, well, I do too much of that, too, but it’s not necessarily a bad thing…)

Why exactly is it so hard to focus on the present?

The Marshmallow Experiment

While researching a bit for this post, I read about an experiment conducted on children (don’t worry, it was a social experiment, based on anthropological research – stuff I love!).

It was about how four year old children will eat a marshmallow immediately, 70% of the time, when told that if they wait fifteen minutes, they could have two marshmallows. The ratio of kids who can’t wait is about 2/3 vs. 1/3 for children who do.

They found out this ratio transcends cultures – Japan, the U.S., the European Union….

Interestingly, they followed up with these children and after 15 years, the ones who could delay gratification tended to be more successful in life. They had higher test scores, achieved more, and had a higher overall life satisfaction.

But, this makes people who delay gratification for a better future, actually focused on the future, and not the present.

We all want a little success in our lives, don’t we?

So, What is it? Focus on the Future or Focus on the Present?

This is where common sense kicks in.

There needs to be a sense of balance.

I’m a graduate student right now, investing my present time for something that may or may not pay off financially in the future. (For the record, I personally think education is never a bad thing; improving ourselves should always be a priority, actually – in a classroom or otherwise.)

But there are those out there who work all the time to buy things and have things. I myself work – a lot: saving for retirement, creating a reputable career online and off, spending my weekends and weeknights blogging.

I’ll be the first to admit that I require more balance: I need more exercise, I need to get back to making bread.

It all comes down to priorities.

The key to finding balance is realizing where your priorities are – and not living in the future too much.

If your priorities are family and friends, and spending time outdoors, then you’ll find ways to make that happen.

I haven’t prioritized exercise in my life enough lately, and I aim to take steps to change that.

If I have a dream of traveling the world, wishing for it to happen someday is not going to improve the present.

It’s okay to have ambitions and future goals.

But, in the meantime, it’s critical to enjoy things along the way. In the present.

Because you don’t know if there really will be a tomorrow.

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  • Are you more future-focused or present-focused?
  • What are your priorities?
  • Would you eat the marshmallow now or later?

Let me know in the comments!

 

 

Are You a Millionaire Thinker?

That depends on what you mean. Millionaire in what sense?

Before I answer that, let me tell you a story.

I have been reading “inspirational” material.

I think it’s incredibly important to always be reading something that fills your soul.

Though reading books that talk about making millions might not be the place to do it.

 

givingI was reading the “One-Minute Millionaire.” A respected blogger recommended it and she mentioned how it changed her life and her thinking.

Change Your Life; Change Your Thinking

Sometimes I can use stuff like that – change my life; change my thinking…I’m always up for a fun challenge to grow and be open to new things.
Except, sometimes I just don’t know when to shut the damned door.
I get to the part about mantras, or manifestations, as he calls them. If you know me at all, you know I looooove mantras.
The first one was pretty good: I am enough. It goes on to say, “I’m smart enough, wise enough, able enough, confident enough, etc.”

Mantras are Good!

I think this actually is good to say to yourself over and over. Too often, we get caught up in feelings of guilt for “being inadequate.” 
Do I see hands going up in the air?
He even talks about how “giving to others is the key.”
But then, I get to the second manifestation: “I am a money magnet. I like money and money likes me. I attract money 24 hours a day. I am forever enjoying more and more money, etc.”
That. Right there. Nuh uh. Can’t do it.
I mean don’t get me wrong: everyone needs money. And if I had more of it, I’d be giving more of it away to help people. I can’t seem to do that enough.
But to sit there and essentially utter: SHOW ME THE MONEY!
I think of children in third-world countries who could really use some of that green just now. Or even children in the US. There are some crazy statistics of kids living in poverty in this country.
But I feel really weird asking the universe for more, more, more when I know others are suffering – terribly. 
In fact, I started to feel really down for a couple days after reading this. Because of this book’s words, I felt like because I haven’t made my millions, it’s all my fault. 
Really inspirational, that one.
I get that having millions means you can move mountains. I get that the choices we make do play a very large role in determining what happens in our future.
And if I had millions, I’d have no plans to move into a big “dream house.” In fact, I’d stay right where I am and “green” my house by adding solar panels, and all those cool gadgets that make a house go from carbon-positive to carbon-negative.
Okay, maybe I would get a house in the same county with like, 100 acres, and turn it all into a preserved forest or something. And get a couple of horses. I don’t even know the first thing about them. But I have this romantic notion of riding one all cowgirl-like and letting the wind brush my hair. I’ll probably fall off, but that’ll be material for a future blog post, I’m sure.
I’d donate to this cool little church I really like; maybe pay off my family members’ mortgages. 
I’d seriously address the poverty problem in the region where I live – something like 66% of all African Americans live in poverty in my region. It’s even higher for Latino kinfolk.
I’d do a few other things – I mean, hey, I am a Spanish teacher and an anthropologist. I also have a camera. Macchu Picchu, Chichen Itza and the Camino de Santiago have been beckoning me for years. I would like to answer that call…before I have the first signs of dementia.
And so, after reading several of these so-called inspirational books, I have come to a couple conclusions:

Making Money Is Okay. Even Making Good Money.

  1. Money isn’t evil. But the relentless pursuit of it? Yes, I think that is.
  2. We must always think about giving. To help others. And to help ourselves.
  3. Lastly, I feel like – at least personally – if I can live my life thinking about how I can contribute and leave the planet in a better state than when I arrived here, than that is the ultimate goal. I’m always asking myself: how can what I do be of service to others?
  4. Being a millionaire thinker is more about embracing a way of life that helps you to become the best person that you can be. And when you get there, things line up and you become better than you thought you could be.

Does that make sense?

I think I’ll go to do something that fills my soul…like hike in the woods and take some photos…get more ideas come back and write…

 

 

What I’ve Become

I’m not sure what this post is about. Only that I felt like writing a blog post writing is good.

You’ll have to forgive me if this post is completely random, goes off on some tangential plane so steep that a geometry whiz could make a formula out of it, or if it reads like some mishmash of a poem better suited for the deep insides of a paper journal, never to be seen by human eyes other than my own.

Too late.

I mean, I still want to write about things on this blog other than “writing,” of course, but I gotta tell ya, ever since starting this whole YeRoWriteO thing, I feel like I have some focus.

As much focus as I can possibly have…for a clark. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, for the love of god, please go see the Wakefield Doctrine and study up. For the record, you’re probably a clark if you stick around over there and dig through the archives, desperately waiting for the text to reveal  your personality type. Just sayin’.

Anyways, back to focus.

You see, I still wonder what I want to be when I grow up.

But what if “when I grow up” is really a convergence of a million tiny little things that add up to what I do right now?

Let’s see. I teach Spanish. I learned the language in full when I was in my late teens/early 20s. I still feel like I speak it like an idiot compared to a native speaker and that bugs me. And I’m almost finished with a master’s degree in it. That’s all good and well, but I can’t ever see myself going back to teaching full time. I just…can’t. So, in the end, I’m not sure how this degree is going to tie in with my other fetishes.

I am an artist. I like to paint, draw, do crafts. The result is often this explosion of color, as if I emerged from only a black and white version of my world in a past life.

azaleas
I’m especially addicted to photographing nature.

I dabble in photography, too. Snapping a photo, for me, is similar to painting on canvas, only it’s done digitally, without a brush. It’s still an artistic endeavor, though. I just paint with a lens. Does that make sense?

But I was thinking the other day about a specific date: November 29, 2011.

It was the day I signed up for HubPages.

Because I thought that maybe writing an article or two sounded nice.

I had no idea it would change everything: that I’d inadvertently charted a course for myself that changed the space-time continuum that is my life.

After writing over 100 articles there, I branched out to blogging (and a whole host of unsuccessful blogs. Pfft. What the hell defines success anyways?). This after years of journaling.

And then…NaNoWriMo came up and I thought I might write a book.

And I shelved it, like some dogged piece of meat that is better left to rot. Maybe not, but I liked my use of “simile” there in the preceding sentence.

But it leads to me YeRoWriteO. A novel in a year.

I have no idea what I’m getting into. But for now, I want to write more than anything. 

I look forward to my early morning date with my computer and these crazy characters that are burgeoning forth, hacking their way not only into my novel, but into the deep, dark recesses of my mind.

Perhaps the fact that I’m using a lot of the research I naturally know from my anthropology and Spanish backgrounds as a huge segway into this new novel. That is perhaps where I’ll finally say, “this is it. Now it has all come together.”

I was telling some friends that I’m researching the Aztec pantheon as part of this novel. I already know a lot – heck, I sold a painting of Quetzalcoatl a few years ago – and I’ve always been a little obsessed with the Aztecs, Incas and Mayas. Even as early as 7th grade when my teacher had us do research projects and of course I spent over 24 hours reproducing my artistic interpretation of a geometrically designed pancho in the style of the Incas, in addition to writing the paper. Or the fact that I had to pick a Central American country to research – El Salvador – in 5th grade because I already knew I loved the idea of studying a Spanish-speaking culture in the Americas.

But, what have I become? I’m not sure on that one.

I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to answer that question. I only know I came to this writing game kind of late and it feels like a spiritual awakening. 

What are you? Have you found your calling?

July 2014 update: I haven’t done much with the novel – but it’s because I’ve found that novel-writing might not be my thing. It stands to reason that I can write blog post after blog post because I can write ad nauseum about the art of writing or photography…but actually sitting down to write my story?

After four starts and stops to various novels, none of them seems to stick.

Perhaps I’ll finish one, one day.

In the meantime, I have been working on so many other projects, writing and otherwise. 🙂

 

Inspirational Blogs and Websites

A Little Inspiration…

I’ve been wanting to compile a list of the most frequent places I visit on the web.  All these blogs and websites are ones I visit at least once a week, if not every day.

Why?

For creative inspiration, to feel good, to get direction, to understand writing, art or photography a little better, and to learn.

I will never stop learning.  I thrive on learning new things every single day.  Each of these websites teaches me something every time I visit.

If you’re a creative person – a writer, artist, photographer, or otherwise right-brained – I recommend you take a look at these sites.

They might change your life!

Some of them are well-known.  Others are getting started.  Either way, you’ll walk away feeling better about yourself.

Take charge of your life

 

Brain Pickings  – this website has lots of inspirational posts on a variety of subjects.  One of my favorite recent posts is about Bruce Lee and his rise from obscurity to being an American cultural icon.

 

Leonie Dawson – I just love this woman!  She’s Australian and created a business for herself based on doing her art and signing people up for her Life + Biz Academy.  I’m thinking about signing up, actually.  I’m still thinking about it – it’s a commitment – but I keep thinking something like this could change my own life.  (And no, I was not compensated to link to her site.)

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Motivation to Move – I started listening to Scott’s podcasts a little over a month ago and I’ve been hooked.  He can change your life in 9 minutes a day.  He has lots of great podcasts on changing your outlook and motivating yourself to follow your dreams. (I wan’t compensated for this one, either – I just happen to like the message.)

 

Maria Brophy – I love her blog because she demonstrates, together with her husband Drew, that if you’re willing to put your mind to it, you can live the life you dream of.  It takes perseverance and patience, but it can be done.

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The Skool of Life – I recently found this website.  The post that resonated with me?  Well, all of them, actually.  He’s a surfer, was unemployed, experienced immense personal growth, learned to live on a tight budget and then got an incredibly stellar dream job.  Check him out.  All of his posts.  Pretty incredible.

 

Lifehack – I discovered this website through a job board, actually.  I might become a staff writer for these guys (keep your fingers crossed for me).  As soon as I saw this site, though, I was hooked.  Who doesn’t want to read about the 20 Best Inspirational Speeches From the Movies?  Or find out about more inspirational stories?

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Dreamwalker’s Sanctuary – I discovered Sue’s blog a little while ago and I keep thinking that her site is one I’d really like to emulate.  She’s got photography, art, symbolism and a deep appreciation for Mother Earth.  She understands the cycles of life in the same way that a jeweler makes a perfect ring.  Be prepared for bliss with a touch of soul-grounding advice.

 

Scribbles and Smiles – I have to include Melanie’s blog here.  Every time I visit, I feel like I’m reading about myself.  I don’t know what it is, but I love a kindred spirit when I see one.  We live thousands of miles apart, but I can tell you that every time she posts something, I can’t wait to read.  I get everything from inspiration to how she deals with life’s issues and I feel like my cup fills up when I visit.

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Another Jennifer – I love this blog.  Ever since I found it, I’ve had this nagging feeling (but in a good way!) that I need to give more of myself.  In fact, I came up with a ginormous idea about philanthropy after reading her blog.  I am working out the details and I don’t want to reveal anything, yet – I have to make sure it’s viable – but let’s just say that I think I need to start a non-profit.  After reading about Jennifer’s efforts, I keep thinking that I need to make a difference more than just with my teaching, blogging or creativity.  I need to make a dent in the human time continuum.

 

The Wakefield Doctrine – When I found this blog months ago, I can’t tell you how much I’ve come to just adore the theory of clarks, scotts and rogers.  In case you couldn’t tell from this post I’m composing right now, I’m a clark.  SUCH a clark.  I understand people so much better and it helps me relate to the world on a whole new level.

Do You Have Inspirational Websites You Visit?  Let me know in the comments.