a girl and her boy

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Tag Archives: writing

The Power of Intentions – Make Your Life Happen!

“Every morning is a fresh beginning. Every day is the world made new. Today is a new day. Today is my world made new. I have lived all my life up to this moment, to come to this day. This moment… this day… is as good as any moment in all eternity. I shall make of this day… each moment of this day… a heaven on earth. This is my day of opportunity.” Dan Custer.

I seem to have something to learn about the power of intentions and positive thinking as the universe has put opportunity after opportunity to think about it, engage in it, and learn from it in my path lately. The quotation at the beginning of this post was in my email inbox one morning earlier this week. On Sunday at church, the message was about harnessing your power and the power of the Universe to set and achieve intentions, and the chapter in my manual on writing just happens to be talking about intentions and goals as well. Okay, Universe, here we go.

I have made much progress in life. I’m very happy with where I am and what’s in my life, in general. I have two postsecondary degrees in areas I am passionate about. I have a comfortable home and plenty of possessions to keep me entertained, progressing, and developing. I have health, youth, and energy to make big things happen. I’ve overcome some huge obstacles and learned many lessons about love, forgiveness, and faith.

Life isn’t over yet, and won’t be for many years if I have it my way, which means there is plenty left to learn and achieve. (I tell Gabe often that I want to live to be 120. He says that with technology and health advancements that it’s quite possible.)

After doing some financial planning with Gabe, I turned the page in the notebook to a fresh sheet and wrote down in concrete terms the things I am going to do in life. That’s right, no “maybe” or “someday” or “it would be nice if I could.” It’s all about “I will.”

Here is what I intend:

I will be financially independent and responsible.

This one is huge for me. I grew up in a family where money was always an issue. There was never enough of it and it was often misused. When I went off to college, having no real concept of how money worked, I got myself into credit card debt and constantly lived beyond my meager means. It took a long time and many hard lessons before I got myself out of debt, stabilized my finances, and learned how to manage money effectively. While teaching, I did very well to support myself and my former husband on my salary and somehow managed to save enough to live on for the first six months or so of living in Salem when I ventured out on my own after the separation. Now I’m in a financially stable committed relationship, but I wake up worrying at night about what would happen if something happened to Gabe, or if there were an even bigger economic upset. I am actively working on getting myself and our relationship set up so that we are individually, and as a couple, financially stable. I want to know that no matter what happens that we are going to be okay.

I will be professionally successful and secure in a teaching/editing/publishing position.

I want it and I’m working for it. It’ll happen.

I will obtain and maintain good health.

I reworded my usual goals because they were too narrow and I found myself constricted and limited. I have learned that if I focus my goals too much and organize things too well, then I “rebel” and don’t do it. I need flexibility and freedom to achieve goals, especially health related.

One big change I’ve made to work towards a lifetime of good health and physical strength is my “minimum” rule: it doesn’t matter what it is or how much, but I must do something physical every day. I can go on a long walk. I can do few sets of crunches and push-ups. I can go to the gym and lift weights. The goal is to move my body every day. This way of thinking has helped me get up and move every day for the last 19 days. I’m close to the 21-days to form a habit!

Beyond that, I have some very specific running goals for the next 24 months. I had to put off my races this past year because of the health situation, but now that I’m on the mend, it’s training time again. So, my general goals as I haven’t set up a training schedule or found races yet is to run a handful of 5k races this spring and summer, and by fall run a 10k race. Then over the next fall and winter, pump it up to half-marathon distance for the late spring or early summer next year and keep pushing for my first marathon in the fall/winter of 2012. That gives me, I hope, a decent amount of time to build up miles and strength for a marathon. Running-readers, what do you think? Prior to the illness, I ran 4-6 miles a day 3 to 4 times a week and long runs of 7-10 miles at my best. Since then, I’ve managed to get in 7-12 miles a week. Not much, I know, but it’s been something.

 

I miss running outside! I can't wait until it warms up.

As far as food goes, I’ve had so many different ideas on how to achieve health through food and it’s brought me to extreme decisions in the past. My new and best idea yet: moderation! Oldies are the goodies. I do fairly well getting in a fair number of fruits in a day, and I’m getting better with veggies. I’ve been a whole grain person for years now and had a period where I thought I wanted to dump them from the diet completely. Then I had to go off them on doctor’s orders for a few weeks. Now that I’m healthier and feeling good without the dairy and gluten, and thinking long and hard about my needs, what I want, and about world health trends, I’ve decided to keep them. That’s for me. Everyone makes their own decisions based on their needs and how their body responds. Do the best by your own body, folks! Treat it well!

I’m also going to start yoga! Woo-hoo! I got a great deal on 7 classes in Cambridge through Yelp. I can’t wait to have a yoga booty.

I will live a long and happy life.

This whole post is about intentions. I intend to be happy every day to the best of my ability. I’m choosing it. The long part, well, I’m hoping that by a positive attitude, a fulfilling and invigorating career, and a healthy lifestyle, that comes with some luck.

I will write and publish at least one novel.

I’ve been tapping away at the keyboard for at least 30 minutes each day on a new novel idea this year. I don’t know how good it is, but it’s progressing. You gotta write a novel to publish a novel. The best writing is rewriting and revision. It’ll come.

* * * * *

So what about you? What are your intentions? What are you going to make happen with your life?

Happy Thursday, folks!

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On Writing: Finding Inspiration.

When I was in kindergarten, whenever asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I always answered that I wanted to be a writer, a painter, a dancer, and a veterinarian. I danced. I wrote short stories and kept a journal, all of which was lost in subsequent moves. I drew. And I read about animals. My grandfather even sent me a birthday card that year with four panels:  a bunny doctor, a bunny dancer, a bunny painter, and a bunny writer. It’s stunning that he found it among the hundreds of cards available. I still draw on occasion; I dance when the spirit moves me; I love animals dearly. The passion to write, however, is still strong and drives me to do more.

I have notes in various forms for a few different stories I hope to do something with sometime soon. While working on this, I look to successful writers to draw wisdom and inspiration from them on the craft and process. Here two videos from TED with some of my favorite inspirational talks.


I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

Daily Writing: Grampa's House

I’ve always wanted to write a novel. As a young child, I’d fill notebooks full of stories and journal entries. I have a whole box full of notebooks and journals. Unfortunately, due to moving around a lot, I’ve lost everything earlier than sixth grade. It would be so interesting to go back and read that stuff.

But, in an attempt to get back in the groove of creative writing, I’ve made a goal to write 1 page/10 minutes every day in a notebook. I figure, once I establish the habit of daily writing and generate some material to later mine and edit, the novel won’t be too far away.

A lot of what I’ve been writing has been based in memory and I’m realizing a lot of the details are lost. I hope that they resurface through daily exercise and perhaps by family and friends filling in what they remember in the comments to the individual posts. To that end, I’m going to post my daily writings, unedited.

Read more of this post

I can smell autumn. Can you?

The salty air is weighty; heavy enough to keep this wandering spirit in once place and not feel trapped. The old promise of travel and adventure offered by the waves keeps this fiery spirit satiated. I fell in love with the saline-imbued air when I first moved to Salem a year ago and I’m in even deeper now that I can see the waves from my new vantage on the roof deck while knitting one stitch at a time. I’ve had ample time to knit up here lately as I’ve been home from work for a little over a week now. I once thought I’d love to be a home maker and have no responsibilities other than running the dishwasher, making tasty treats and ironing the laundry, but now that I’ve been at it for a week, I am chomping at the bit to get back. But it’ll be some time before I get there.

Remember the few posts I had back around March about health problems? Well, they never went away, and in fact, have gotten worse. I am now at home, “stepped away from the classroom” as I put it in an email to my curriculum coordinator, with a calendar full of appointments and reminders of things I have to do to get ready for them. But this isn’t what I want to write about.

There has not been a day that the breeze did not blow down here in the seaport. It took some time before I realized that this is just how it is. Despite living in Maine with a long history of marine trade, I was inland and isolated from the personal knowledge. The closest I got to ocean life was reading Elizabeth Oglivie and her novels about lobstermen and their strong wives, though she and I have done quite the opposite:  she was born in Boston and went to Maine. I was born in Maine and came to Boston. The breezes not only brings the smell of the ocean, but also of the autumn weather that is creeping up on us as the light ebbs at the outer edges of day; perfect weather for my woolens.

Oh, what shall you become, Mohair?

I pulled out my wool basket that had been sitting ignored since I moved here and spread everything out. I frogged old projects that lost the original charm and piled up stuff that I’d been carrying around that I never really liked to begin with. I grouped it all up according to weight and project type and saw the spectrum of possibility that has been dormant, waiting. Many knitters have done this with varying levels of success before me, but I’m going to give knitting only from my stash this fall and winter a go. The only exception I will make is picking up fiber for specific gifts in preparation for Yule if I don’t see something fitting in the stash.

Noro striped scarf for Gabe

While knitting on Gabe’s Noro striped scarf the last few days, I’ve been watching movies from my Netflix queue. I’d been carrying around “Cries and Whispers”, a 1972 film by Ingmar Bergman about three sisters who are brought together for the first time in ages because of the terminal illness of one of the sisters. I watched it three times back to back. I still don’t think I’ve processed it enough to give it an adequate review. It’s quietly disturbing in it’s portrayal of the relationship of these sisters. This is one of the many reasons I love Bergman. His work is like steeping a cup of tea: it takes time for the flavor to develop and is subtle.

Noro striped scarf

I’ve also been working my way through “I Know This Much is True” by Wally Lamb. People have recommended his work to me in the past but I didn’t actually crack one of his books open until I moved here. Now I can’t wait to finish this one so I can move on to the next. I love the people he populates the story with and how honest and real they are. He inspires me to write.

That’s all I’ve got for now. I hope all is well with you.

Phoebe in Wonderland

One of my favorite things to do is knit and watch films or anime. This past week I saw a film that had a profound effect on me:  Phoebe in Wonderland.

Phoebe in Wonderland tells the story of a girl who, later in the film, is diagnosed with Tourette syndrome. She uses her imagination to cope with her differences. The film is rich in visual color and script. This film hit me on several levels. One, as an educator, I have worked with students with Tourette syndrome, and although I knew the signs, I didn’t really understand how it changed a person’s world view. This film taught me that. Second, the mother struggles to balance her hectic home responsibilities with writing her PhD dissertation which she hopes to publish when complete while watching her husband get book deals.

At one point in the film, after some family strife where the father says something hurtful, but true, to Phoebe, the mother says to the father (and I’m cutting out some of the earlier bits in this dialogue):  I’m mad that I blame myself for the way she acts. I’m mad that I think of mothers as just mothers. And I’m mad that I care if I’m a good one. I’m mad that when you said that I knew you were right. I couldn’t take another one like her. I’m mad that I’m not writing. And I’m mad that some day I will be seventy and going on about my kids because I won’t have anything else because I didn’t do anything important. And I’m mad that sometimes I’m not scared of that at all. Because my children make me live. They make me live.

I paused the film at this point. The mother hit a nerve. Her words echoed my own struggle. This is exactly how I have been feeling about my relationship with writing lately. I’m so upset that I’m not writing (anything that I feel is worthy of being called “writing”) and at the same time, I’m not.

T. S. Eliot, one of the poets that has inspired me over and over, said, “Any poet, if he is to survive beyond his 25th year, must alter; he must seek new literary influences; he will have different emotions to express.” And that’s really where I’m stuck. My internal landscape has altered, my influences have altered, but I haven’t allowed the expression and the tone of my writing to alter. I still expect that my work will look and sound like it did in the “peak years” and I shouldn’t! My voice and my influences have matured, my writing should, too.

Back to the film. This film evoked the essence of childhood, the necessity of creativity, and the delicate and changing nature of family relationships. I highly recommend it to all. To go back to Eliot, “A play should give you something to think about. When I see a play and understand it the first time, then I know it can’t be much good.” I’m still digesting this one.

Back to Blogging

That 2 month hiatus did me good, and saved this space from becoming LiveJournal-esque, y’know, uber-emo and whiny. Stepping away from the keyboard allowed me to put my head down and push hard to get through the blocks. In the last two months, I saw the last of my savings go with not nearly enough income to keep me in the black, and finalized my divorce. Just when I thought I was going to tumble into the abyss, everything snapped into place.

You gotta have faith.

At some point I may write about the emotional changes I underwent, but for now, I’m just glad that it’s OVER and I’m feeling better than I have in a long, long time.

So, presently, I am employed full-time (woot!), dating Gabe again (<3), and generally have my life the way I’ve wanted it for years. It’s been a long time coming and it feels good. And I turn 28 in a week. Wow.

I have much that I want to write about, interesting stuff, but for now, I’ll leave you with this:  It’s good to be back. =)

Something to Think About

The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion, from chapter 1:

As a writer, even as a child, long before what I wrote began to be published, I developed a sense that meaning itself was resident in the rhythms of words and sentences and paragraphs, a technique for withholding whatever it was I thought or believed behind an increasingly impenetrable polish. They way I write is who I am, or have become, yet this is a case in which I wish I had instead of words and their rhythms a cutting room, equipped with an Avid, a digital editing system on which I could touch a key and collapse the sequence of time, show you simultaneously all the frames of memory that come to me now, let you pick the takes, the marginally different expressions, the variant readings of the same lines. This is a case in which I need more than words to find the meaning. This is a case in which I need whatever it is I think or believe to be penetrable, if only for myself.

These words ring so true.

Feeling Calmer

This week was incredibly busy and stressful. The quarter ended yesterday and students were cranky with me for enforcing my grading policy. It’s 10% of the assignment off per day late and if it’s not in my hands by 2:15 on day 5, it’s a zero. There are some kids who missed stuff a month ago trying to pressure me to give them some credit on the assignments. No dice.

And on top of getting a mound of assignments in, I had SAT training 3 nights in a row from 4-7. It was insane. I hate the pressure to teach to the test. I won’t do it but I will help give kids the confidence they need to feel like they’re playing on home turf. But I will NOT do an entire unit on SAT skills. Little mini-lessons here and there, and after school workshops are fine. But I will not, I repeat, will not teach SAT skills as a unit in my classroom.

I have done absolutely no knitting. I have done no housework. I have done nothing for myself in the last 10 days and it shows.

However, I did take last night for myself (and Allan). We dressed up and went to a Halloween party and it was great. I haven’t danced since high school and it felt nice to let loose a little and groove to the music.

I wish I had more time to knit. I have so many things I want to make and so much wool I would love to have, but I have no time at all. Even my 40-minute lunches have been usurped by dealing with school business in the office lately. I’ve gotta stop that. I need those lunch periods for myself. And I need to knit for at least 20 minutes every day when I get home.

And I need to start running again, too. I think I’ll try morning running, even if it’s just 2 miles; 2 miles is better than no miles a day. Allan’s worried because I get up early as it is. He doesn’t want me to wear myself thin. And it’s cold in the morning. But I haven’t run in the afternoon when it’s warm in 3 weeks because I’m so mentally exhausted that I can’t get myself out the door. I figure a short run each morning will jumpstart my metabolism and boost my energy and mood. And it’ll build miles so I can do long runs on the weekend. Come spring when it warms up and grows lighter, I’ll probably run in the afternoon and tack on miles again. For now, I’m simply looking for maitenance of my conditioning and waistline.

That’s it for now. I’ll write about seeing Michael Pollan later today or tomorrow. That was such a life-changing experience that I simply have to blog about it. But later. For now, I’m going to work through a huge pile of grading and planning.