How to Have a Delicious Day.

“I had a little bird who rested here in a bowl until she could fly again. A meadowlark.” ~ Dawn Wink, Meadowlark

In this moment, I’m living the writer’s dream.

I don’t have a book contract and my blog hasn’t taken flight–yet.

But, every day, I write.

Today is Saturday. I’m alone.

A book given to me in 2013, barely touched before, finds its way into my bed.

Starting at dawn, I savor words and underline descriptions.

A fan whirls at the foot of my bed, as the fan did at the foot of my beloved’s bed before he died, or maybe, as he died.

I deal with my demons on paper with black ink.

My Black Lab splays at the fan’s face, running in her dreams, underneath the window sill, as the curtain flaps with the morning air.

I traverse downstairs for coffee twice.

I snuggle back into propped pillows and pages.

Blank ones invite me to jam with them.

I surrender.

Next to me sits one woman’s words, sifted through ten long years as she trekked towards tenure.

Proof. Bound trees tackled and tied into story, taken up, sold at auction, compressed, pruned, and presented to the public.

The author’s words reweave my mental tapestry.

The lyrical cadence transfuses music into me.

My heart steadies, settles, and tunes my voice.

I sip coffee and remember: my mother once wished to be a writer.

She died leaving me wonder, did she ever give in to a day this delicious?

 

 

 

How to Surrender.

“Surrender is an active endeavor.” ~ Sarah Entrup

I’ve surrendered twice in my life.

According to Yogapedia, “Surrender may be the key to curing mental suffering because it directs the focus away from selfish desires and wants. It is in this way that the goal of experiencing unity with all can be achieved.”

In 2011, I said, “Whatever it takes, God. I want to write.” Thus began my journey.

In 2014, I surrendered to love in a way I never had. In the past, I’d given myself to love and fought for love.

Surrendering freed me, like the physical stance of arms wide open.

The other night, in a container of radiant awakening women, I surrendered to my great love again: my writing life.

I surrendered my book and its revision, landing an agent, and getting published. I surrendered my blog and my financial striving toward making money from my writing.

Surrender doesn’t mean giving up. It means setting my deepest desires into the hands of God/Goddess, angels and guides, and welcoming divine magic to take the burden of struggle from me.

No matter my ego’s insistence, surrendering isn’t quitting.

When I surrender, I trust all that’s beyond to lead me to places I haven’t found on my own. To the alter, I bring my map, plans, dogged persistence, and predetermined pictures of outcome.

I imagine my writing life like hummingbirds I’ve been seeking. Surrender means a new, clean, bright red feeder I fill with fresh sugar water and hang outside my kitchen window.

Surrender is a new invitation, rather than piles of expectation.

I’ve lived in this home five years. Here, nature serves my eyes the delight of bright red cardinals and yellow finches. With my dog as their starting whistle, I’m entertained by squirrels racing and leaping from our deck railing, flying to tiny tree branches like a high wire. The woods welcome me like my own living room. And oh, the deer!

On a walk the other evening, my sister and I gazed at a mama and her spotted twins lounging behind our yard. Such ordinary bliss.

But, hummingbirds? No, not one in five years. We hung out a feeder before. Nothing.

A few weeks ago, I purchased a new feeder at a farmer’s market. How could I go wrong for $7? I reread instructions for the ideal sugar to water ratio.

Now hummingbirds, with their magnificent wings and luminescent green, hover at the feeder. They’re slower than New Mexico hummingbirds, as if they’re lingering.

Hummingbirds remind me my deceased mother, as she was enthralled by them. As their wings flutter, so does my heart.

They answered the invitation. I ‘d almost forgotten my reverence toward them.

Dictionary.com says reverence is: a feeling or attitude of deep respect tinged with awe; veneration, and the outward manifestation of this feeling.

With reverence, I surrender my writing life and career. I set it on the altar of the divine.

I ask for it to be blessed, cared for, and delivered into this world like a newborn baby.

May she grow healthy and be of benefit. As she does, may I delight in the joy of her creation.

I continue to fill this new bright feeder with words. I surrender my gift, but not my desire to give it.

 

Dear Small Writer Desiring to be Huge (A Love Letter).

“You can measure your worth by your dedication to your path, not by your successes or failures.” ~ Liz Gilbert, Big Magic

Dear Small Writer,

I see you. I see you journaling and churning words into publishable pieces.

I see you slogging through the blogging, learning the techniques to land the large audience.

I witness you apprenticing for publications that pay in bylines below their big names.

You’ve gone to school, gathered degrees, filled your toolbox, and taken too many classes from the masses you call masters.

You’ve written your book, hired an editor, held focus groups, invested your soul, and revised yourself into numbness.

Now, you find yourself on the floor praying your small voice can mean something more.

I see you. Standing on the precipice, wondering if you’ll ever fly.

Maybe you should just jump. End it all—because if you can’t do this—the thing you determined and believe to be your divine destiny, what’s it all worth?

You thought you had a purpose: to be of benefit and make a difference by giving your words to the world.

Maybe it will never be enough.

Maybe this noisy world will never hear you.

Maybe the world wide web is weaving itself around you, burying you.

It’s possible you’re not as capable as you imagined.

So, you consider returning to the world, working for the man, going under your self-doubt, and living a life of loud desperation.

Joining the masses, for you dear writer, is death.

Let’s not forget your contribution conspires for the good of the collective.

How dare you measure your worth by if you land on Oprah’s booklist?

All the writers who stand beside her do the reality pinch because it’s so far beyond where they started.

They started where you are, but that’s not to say you’ll be there one day.

Probably, like most, you will not sit in sunny Maui with inside chairs outside under lush trees, a camera crew, and the queen herself.

Let it f*cking go!

Instead, tell me about your joys on your journey so far.

Reading in your writers’ group—and they cried.

Your previous pastor’s brother (who you’ve never met) confessed you helped him heal after losing his soulmate of 30 years. Gulp.

A check for $300 from Chicken Soup for the Soul (even though your professor told you it was the worst contract in the world and you should’ve never signed it).

Writing about being raped and keeping it quiet for a decade. One reader said she finally understood the denial and the desire not to tell.

How about the night your family gathered on your parents’ back porch to listen to your words and you heard laughter and saw tears, evoked by you?

What did you feel in those “small” triumphs? Did you want to quit?

You crave the world stamp you legit, but baby, don’t forget, you were born for this.

You are on your path.

You arrived on this earth to spread your soul on the page like one big messy map.

Remember when you were a kid and your dad taught you how to read a map?

It blew your mind that one inch equaled 500 miles. You started in New Mexico meant to go all the way to California.

Since then, my dear, you’ve travelled back and forth in a car across the country multiple times, so often solo.

Yet, you never once confused a rest stop for your destination.

You’re always surprised about the long drives, until you arrive and realize the pure pleasure of the trip.

Stay on the road. Keep driving yourself.

Oh, how wonderful it’ll be for your ego when you land that life-changing book contract!

Isn’t that silly since your soul’s been dancing since the day you said yes?

The day you vowed, God, whatever it takes. I want to be a writer, you became one.

Money and fame may follow. Or not.

I see you. Confusing worldly success with your purpose.

Stop pretending that’s your why.

You’ve come so far. Now, you must go back.

Go back to being small and willing.

Go back to the whispers of your soul and the dancing of your heart.

Writing is a craft and a profession, but for you, it’s the calling you’ve heard since 3rd grade.

To pretend you’d ever put down your purple pen is deceit.

When the world is full of fools aching for accolades, let the angels kiss your tears away. Let your guides whisper, Let’s go.

Today, Valentine’s Day, love your small writer self so you can grow, not loud and large, but full, fulfilled, and true. Be true.

 

 

 

 

How Dedicating Yourself to Writing is Like Owning a Dog.

“A creative life is an amplified life. It’s a bigger life, a happier life, an expanded life, and a hell of a lot more interesting life.”  Liz Gilbert, Big Magic

Writing is like deciding to get a dog.

You spend your time thinking about what kind of dog you should get and imagine your joyous life frolicking with your wonderful companion.

You envision people asking, “Is that your dog?” and saying how beautiful she is, as you’ll say, “Yeah, that’s my dog.”

There’s no question getting a dog will benefit you and open a glorious new chapter in your life.

So, you start telling people, “I’m getting a dog,” like one might say, “I’m going to be a writer.”

People will encourage you; it’s so exciting. “Oh, my gosh! A puppy!”

You take on the identity of a dog owner (writer) before you even have a dog or pick up one tootsie roll poop (receive one rejection letter).

First, you commit to a breed (genre). Then, you invest in the proper kennel and leash and find the perfect place for this dog to sleep (ha!).

You read about how to care for this animal you imagine you’ll master.

Of course, you search the internet, find out which dogs are the most popular and how they’re best trained (what sells).

You might read expert advice, like The Dog Whisperer (The Artist’s Way).

Determining to become a writer is like deciding to own a dog in that it starts in your head, like all fantasies.

However, real writing is more like owning an actual animal who wakes you up at 5 a.m. with a lick you find embarrassingly delicious and coaxes you out of bed ready for play.

Becoming a writer is also similar to owning the dog who refuses to fetch a ball, jumps on company, and eats your $250 Maui Jim sunglasses.

That dog is work. That dog tries your patience. You’ll wonder if that dog might be better off belonging to someone else.

Plus, there’s so much poop to be picked up (revisions to be made)!

Writing is the dog that demands attention and time devoted in the present moment when you might prefer to be eating potato chips and reading about the preposterous President.

Writing, real writing is like owning the dog who runs away, but makes you gasp with glee, relief and the giddiness of a young girl when she returns.

The neighbors will ask, “Is that your dog” (running wild in the street)? “Yeah,” you’ll say, “She’s mine.”

How I Stopped Chasing Success Before I Caught It. #bloglikecrazy

“On a soul level, we want to work, we want to create, we want to be productive and serve others and share our gifts with the world.” ~ Marianne Williamson, The Law of Divine Compensation

A friend of mine complimented my gratitude skills. Well, I work at it.

Lately, I’ve had to work harder. In fact, I’ve been feeling the need to work harder at everything.

I have to work hard to build my blog, my brand and my platform so I can land an agent, so I can get a life-changing book contract, so I can do what I love—write and ideally get paid, in order to continue doing what I love.

I’ve been taking classes on blogging and taking on blogging challenges (#bloglikecrazy).

Today, when I went to check my blog and read others to see if they’re worthy of following, I landed on this TedX video: Life is easy. Why do we make it so hard?

In it, Jon Jandai talks about going to Bangkok to get an education to build a house and chase fashion and… We all know the story. We’re living the chase.

I love his idea of going to a tiny town and living a happy life without the chase, but my American mind doesn’t want to buy it.

Isn’t it weird that simplicity seems impossible, but following the dogma of those who are following the formula of those who’ve found the holy grail of sweet success seems the only logical path?

So, I watched another TedX video (of course): A rich life with less stuff.

It reminded me in 2011 (when my marriage fell apart and our house was repossessed), I moved to a 500-square-foot apartment and taught writing as a community faculty member at a college. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, community faculty means paid at poverty level. Unless you teach at five different colleges, drive all over town and also teach online, which many instructors do.

I didn’t. I taught at two schools, three or four classes. I barely got by financially.

Still, it was one of my happiest chapters—an imposed minimalist life where the only thing I chased was poetry in sidewalks.

Could I go back to that? Is having less the key to more joy? I’m not sure.

As I watched the video, the concept consumed me.

Immediately after, I realized I don’t have time to go minimal because I’ve got to get the maximum number of blog followers. I’ve got to write more blog posts than I’ve ever written. They must be better quality. And, I need to figure out what gift I can give for free (part of the formula) to those who follow me so I don’t sound like I’m begging.

Yes, in the center of my bottomless writer’s heart is the craving to grab the masses’ attention so I have a platform to stand on when I ask agents to represent my book and they can say to publishers: “See, Alice in Authorland has thousands of readers.”

This is the system. I’m a writer. I’m all-in. So, I’ll continue taking on the challenges, learning the industry, and marketing my writing.

However, at the end of the video, one of the minimalists says, “When you add value to people’s lives, they’re pretty eager to share.”

I intend to adopt this minimalist mentality: less materialism is more and value spreads by those it serves.

Recently, a widower told me what I write is what he’s feeling, but is unable to express. He says my words give him comfort. That’s everything to me.

I only know him because I wrote about my grief. I wasn’t trying to gain followers or meet a challenge. I was writing my truth.

The connections are what matter. We’d love for thousands to subscribe to our tribes.

But first, may we be of benefit.

We have a destination: success. We get lost along the way. We fall into the chase and start summoning gratitude rather than letting it arise organically.

We don’t have to be, have and do everything—just our thing, authentically.

Regardless, with little or much, with thousands of readers or the handful who reach out to say they’re touched, I feel fortunate to do this work.

In the midst of the chase, let’s not forget our love of the game.

We’re here! There’s space for all of us and a way of balancing our desires for more while simultaneously acknowledging our current abundance and blessings.

I love things evolving naturally, but being heard within the internet cacophony isn’t as easy as smiling at strangers. So, I began chasing success.

Now, I invite it by being fully present with what I’m doing and loving it once again.

If my words touch you, please share. Thank you. I’m grateful.

 

Why I Can’t Not Write. #bloglikecrazy

“I can shake off everything as I write; my sorrows disappear. My courage is reborn.” ~ Anne Frank

I longed to be a writer the way some women long to be a wife or mother.

I married my writing without even realizing it. There was no ceremony or announcement, just deep commitment and the cherishing.

Writing is my friend, confidante, and if I dare say, a sensual lover. She aligns me with my purpose.

Writing awakens my higher self to reveal my scary, funny, sad, shameful, passionate truth.

Writing connects me with my tribe and family of weirdoes and misfits.

This gift and joy paved my path since 3rd grade Friday afternoon workshops left me alone and happy under a sign that read Creative Writing.

Writing serves as my bridge across difficult and wonderful relationships and life decisions, encouraging me in a way that my verbal voice only aspires to.

Writing coaxed me through two divorces and too many loved ones’ deaths.

Writing’s my nonnegotiable necessity.

Men come and go, but with writing, I find faith and forgiveness, especially of my own errors, which, were I not to go to the page, I might never recognize.

Writing is essential to my growth and maturity.

For years, I treated her like a luxury for special people and occasions.

Yet, I treasure the writing process: morning pages that may never produce anything publishable, poems just because, and letters that need to be written, like the one I wrote my father forgiving him for not being he’d like to have been.

Writing heals. It’s divinely cathartic.

Once written, I read and relish my writer’s voice, recognizing its uniqueness.

Writing inserts purpose and agenda into my daily life, serving as my clear and commanding calling.

After treating it like a trinket through my 20s, 30s, and too far into my 40s, now any inkling of turning away is replaced by an indomitable spirit within me screaming NO! I will not sell out. I will not get sidetracked.

It’s not, “I will never go hungry again!” It’s even if I must go hungry.

Nothing feeds my soul the way writing does.

It’s easy to be distracted in this world. In the past, I set writing aside to chase money, career, security, and even men who claimed to support, but compared my writing to hunting, like a hobby.

My writing is not a choice. Teaching or selling? That’s a choice. Staying married or not? A choice. Living in Santa Fe or St. Paul? Another choice.

For me, in this chapter of my life, writing is a decision made.

I either own my writing and offer it to the world or to wear regret like a tattoo. I hate tattoos.

 

 

Why Contemplation Belongs in the Writers’ Toolbox #bloglikecrazy

“Five hundred a year stands for the power to contemplate… a lock on the door means the power to think for oneself.” ~ Virginia Woolf

Some people are trying to raise children. I’m trying to raise a writer.

I’m trying to raise my writer self, and in doing so, I’ve had to discover what works for her.

Like a neglected child, she often has to be sweet talked after so many times of being set aside.

After dreaming so many dreams of becoming a writer and waking up to find myself a server, salesperson or teacher, my writer self sometimes sneers and says, Oh, please with that, like you’re ever…

My writer self is a wild, unruly child, but when in solitude, she dances, sings, gives speeches, and writes books.

However, when she hears a key in the door, a television, or God forbid, someone asks, “What are you up to?” she freezes.

It’s not fear so much as shifting gears from action demanding my whole being into interactions with another, even if it’s just being alert to their presence or saying hello.

Politeness demands turning from introspection into simple conversation.

Sometimes it’s the subtleties of life that let me settle for not writing, while a small shift can send me into an afternoon dancing with words.

Our writer selves require solitude, a space of our own, and time unleashed.

This is where pondering presents epiphanies, and profound ways of seeing or expressing ourselves.

It sounds simple. Go to your room, a coffee shop, or a park. Ta-da! Here’s your time! Sure, but it’s not just physical space we seek. We must find the mental space away from the chaos of daily life and to-do lists.

Amid the noise, without an agent, deadline, or outside demand, the small voices shout—to return my father’s phone call, check my email, do the laundry, or more often, put away the pile of laundry I did last week.

We need a lock on the door of our writers’ minds—the passageway into the world of words that refuse to dance in the company of commotion.

Sometimes, we wait for words. What if words await us on the other side of that door, pages preparing themselves to be written, if we can just lock out life’s little inconveniences?

Five hundred a year, some relative sum from Virginia Woolf’s time, purchases physical security—money pays the rent, feeds the dog, and keeps the lights on—and mental opportunity—the permission slip that says: Writing, you may now step to the front of the line.

When writing is relegated to farther back than our souls intend, it gets impatient, even petulant, watching us rush about.

Writing grabs furiously for our attention, the way an ignored child would, staring us down as we dart away to teach yoga, be present for margaritas with the girls, or make the meet-up group for writers.

What about me? writing cries.

She whines in the background while we resists with lists: I’ve got to order tires for my car. What are we doing for Thanksgiving dinner? Do I need to shop? Oh God, is Christmas really coming again this year? Sh*t! I forgot to call my dad. Oh, and those clothes!

Investing in contemplation ignites and expands our writing into ideas and words that flow, rather than feeling forced.

Time to mentally wrestle is the gift many of us deny ourselves in the same way we deny other luxuries.

How is it we feed ourselves junk media and divorce ourselves from nourishing contemplation?

We don’t have time. Yeah, like we don’t have time to work out.

Contemplation feeds a writer’s soul like mama’s cooking feeds the body.

The writing self, at least mine, needs nurturing.

She craves my attention and direction. She wants to be told it’s ok to play.

Contemplation is play, but that doesn’t get much credit in our society.

Contemplation isn’t something you pursue, win, or earn recognition for. It’s not like a degree, a man or a promotion. Thought is its own reward.

Contemplation catapults our writer selves into their own private rooms filled with writer toys: pens, paper, keyboards, words, and quiet.

Shhh, lock the door. Don’t tell anyone we’re in here. Let’s create something beautiful.