This blog introduces you to my special brand of BIKE. I show you how to find your Best self, access your Inner strength, tune in to your Killer instincts, and use your Expressive voice. It's inspiring, spiritual, quirky, and it's all in your head. It's about ATTITUDE, not exercise, though that might be a side benefit.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Motivated Mondays: The Artist's Way check-in for week 12

Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way book cover
Whoa! I can't believe we're here. Today, I report on results from Chapter 11 and have already read Chapter 12. I've just about made it. How about you?

Hey, I know you haven't been coming around or posting as often as the first eight weeks. Things have slowed down. But don't give up now. Keep reading. Take a few extra weeks if you need it. But don't stop now. You're almost there with me. We've almost gone through the entire book.

So no giving up now. If you somehow got lost in the hurried year-end schedule, remember to take some time for yourself. The Artist's Way offers good reason to do that. I know it's tough and that you're learning some rough lessons. I realize you may be connecting with stuff you might wish you hadn't. Those nasty inner demons. But you're also growing and learning to push yourself past those blocks. Most of them are mental, you know. You can take charge of that if you cultivate the necessary inner awareness.

"You don't know what you don't know" is not a bad motto to live by. Ignorance has saved me many times in my life. But that's not the only path to success. Knowledge is a good thing as well. Knowing what you're passionate about, knowing what you like or don't like, knowing what motivates you or what drives you -- and that it isn't necessarily money, though that's nice to have -- knowing that you'll move past the setbacks, knowing that you can believe in yourself, knowing that competition is good, knowing that you can handle critique or rejection, knowing how to surround yourself with love, knowing how to nurture your artist self, knowing that your artist self needs to be nurtured, etc.

This is about the B.I.K.E. It's about finding your Best self, your Inner strength, that Killer instinct, and being able to use your Expressive voice to get what you now know you need. The lessons in Cameron's book mirrors the lessons I learned from the seat of my bike. They're so closely matched, it's why I connect so well with Cameron's work.

I know what she teaches works. With all my heart, I know that if you gain that insight, that inner awareness about what makes you tick, you will grow your business. You will be naturally directed to the things you need to do, toward the work that gives you joy, to the life that helps you fill the well, and you will prosper in ways that have more to do with your spirit self than your financial self. And, yet, your financial wealth will grow as well. Just give it time. Give yourself time to trust yourself, to learn to trust your better judgment, to go where your heart takes you.

Last week's work was really difficult. I faced some demons that made me take action I'm still not sure will give me results I'd like. But I'm sure I needed to take the action. It was a start. I did think it was funny how the chapter about self-protection made me feel the least protected. But then, thankfully, Chapter 11 changed things back around and led me back toward a more peaceful feeling.

About recovering a sense of autonomy, it focused on something I'm pretty good at: understanding the importance of self-nurturing (Note, I didn't say doing, which is why I still need this book. Ha!) and accepting that I am an artist. I do accept that. I do know it's all I have, in terms of any talent. So I HAVE to be good at this. Pure and simple, I do believe that I am an artist, that writing is the skill I've been entrusted with by God, and that I can experiment with that skill in order to make the most of that skill. And I'm very open to that concept. Just like the book says, if I need to write a poem, I write the poem. I'm very open to whatever creative sparks occur. I go with them. I am happiest when I follow the natural currents. And I'm okay if I do it poorly. I love the rewriting process. Or I'm okay with trashing something that just doesn't work. I am not afraid of what's next. I know something will take it's place. I will write again, or I will write something else. This is also good reason to continue reading The Artist's Way and reminding myself to "fill the well." This chapter reminded me that I am where I need to be.

That reminder alone is worth reading the entire book. I am where I need to be. Can you say that about yourself? If not, what will lead you to that conclusion? Let me tell you, it's a very self-empowering conclusion to reach.

What thrilled me even more was the section on exercise. For me, THE BIKE LADY, the woman who waxes poetic about the benefits of moving meditation, just as Cameron does here in Chapter 11, I was thrilled to see that I naturally gravitated toward this when I needed it most. I still do. When I'm stressed, I walk or I ride. When I have difficulty coming up with a solution to a challege, I walk or I ride. I pray in my car -- it's moving. I do very much believe in the zen that occurs during time alone on the bike. It's why I prefer doing my exercise alone. I can be with my thoughts, and I can solve world peace -- all in the space of an hour. All kidding aside, this chapter gave my blog here some credibility. And that felt damn good!

I particularly struck by these words in the book...Exercise moves us from:

"stagnation to inspiration, from problem to solution, from self-pity to self-respect."

Yes! I am in total agreement with her line there. Total agreement. I experienced that myself during my three-year bike ride away from a life with a man who was spiritually killing me.

I like the idea of an artist's altar and have had one in various forms over the years. At the moment, I do not. But I'm going to reconnect with that in the days ahead, as I begin to reorganize the way I work in my personal space. In other words, I think it's time to clean out the office once again!

This week, I wrote in the Morning Pages every day. I took my Artist Date like a good little girl, writing limericks in response to a page I read in a magazine, and I spent time on Chapter 10's exercises. I have work yet to do for Chapter 11, and they look like fun. Don't forget! The beauty of this book is that you can continue to do the chapter exercises. Just pick a few to work on a weekly basis, and you will continue to see the inner growth that's going to continue unblocking or releasing your creativity.

I pretty consistently run into this. This week, it just happened to be the exercise portion of the chapter and realizing how that relates to my work here. It led me to buy Jeff Herman's book about finding agents and publishers, as recommended by an agent to me last year. It took me more than six months to follow this gentleman's advice. So it was funny to see that happen, to see myself drawn to that particular book this year, this weekend, in fact. I see that as a recommitment to make my B.I.K.E. book happen, perhaps in 2011. I believe in timing, and I trust in the project, but I see no reason to birth the book till it's time. This is a project that can't be forced.

Oh my, did I have significant insights this week! The biggest one had to do with self-sabotage and the positive results I am seeing simply from awareness alone. It's something I've had to deal with all my life. Usually a very sneaky demon, I haven't always caught it in time. But I see myself healing from it, and that makes me very happy with myself.

Experimenting with the BLASTING THROUGH THE BLOCKS exercise from Chapter 9, I was also able to move past a personal hurdle in my life, which was significant for me. I am going to use that exercise more often, as I found it quite useful and helpful. I also did THE DEADLIES exercise from Chapter 10. Surprisingly, "food" kept coming up as an issue for me, something I don't see as reality, but it is going to be something I watch for in the future. I suppose it is a problem that I can go for hours without eating when I'm in writing mode. I can go all day without eating anything, in fact. I think that's probably why I don't lose weight, even though I exercise regularly. My metabolism has slowed down. So I'm going to watch that and work on creating a better eating habit during the day. I'm not a big eater, and I don't snack much at all, so this will be a challenge for me. But I am now fully aware of it, and will take action to correct it.

Creativity, after all, requires action, as we learn in Chapter 11, and I'm good at that.

How about you? What have been some of the most significant lessons you've learned and tackled in your work with Cameron's book so far. We have one more week left. So be sure to read Chapater 12. I'm hoping you'll want to post some overall thoughts about the book in Week 14.

Motivation for Mondays is a part of a weekly Twitter party called #MotivatedMondays initiated by Lorrie Shaw, a professional pet sitter, a regular pets contributor at, and pet blogger in Dexter Township, MI. Together, we post a combination of inspirational notes, links to motivational blog posts, and tips to help kickstart your week ahead. Look for us online every Monday morning--and throughout the day--if you need to kick start your week or want to share your own motivational thoughts.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Motivated Mondays: The Artist's Way check-in for week 11

Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way book cover
This was a tough chapter for me. And just to prove it, after I typed in a very lengthy post here about said chapter, my log-in died or something, and I couldn't log back in. Blogger wouldn't accept my password. So I had to get a new password. But guess what? That wiped out my entire post. Since I am taking care of myself on this one, and refusing to be any more frustrated than the chapter itself made me, and thinking that maybe what I'd posted shouldn't have been posted, I'm going with this short version.

In other words, I'm not rewriting. So please forgive me. Let me rely on your wisdom this week, because as I said this chapter was difficult for me. I learned some insights I'd rather not have. And now I have to deal. Blech. I'm also disturbed by technology at the moment.

I will tell you I wrote the Artist Pages three times this week. I know I need to write more. I did my Artist Date this weekend. I'm counting my trip to Old Town Scottsdale and the view of Paolo Soleri's bridge, even though I didn't go alone. It was amazing, with or without company, and I enjoyed the visit and took several pictures.

I didn't do any of the exercises until I wrote my earlier post that disappeared. In that, I had written out a list of about 20 things I love. I enjoyed that moment of pleasant thoughts, and I'll repeat them in my journal later. I also intend to do "The Deadlies," as that sounds interesting and insight-provoking.

I apologize for the short post, but I am going to leave Blogger for now, get back to my assignment, and work on letting go of my frustration.

Please post your comments here about Week 11/Chapter 10, and we'll be back next week to talk more about Chapter 11, where we recover a "Sense of Autonomy." Just two more weeks to go, and then a final follow up to go over any extra thoughts or questions you may be having at the end. We'll also begin anew for any stragglers who want to participate or continue with further practice. See you next week!

Motivation for Mondays is a part of a weekly Twitter party called #MotivatedMondays initiated by Lorrie Shaw, a professional pet sitter, a regular pets contributor at, and pet blogger in Dexter Township, MI. Together, we post a combination of inspirational notes, links to motivational blog posts, and tips to help kickstart your week ahead. Look for us online every Monday morning--and throughout the day--if you need to kick start your week or want to share your own motivational thoughts.

Monday, December 6, 2010

The healing power of human touch

kangaroo time with baby

We are lying in her king-size bed, having just crawled into it after what must have been the tenth time up that first evening home from the hospital. Is it really 3 o’clock in the morning? Our eyes, though heavy and bloodshot, won’t close too easily. What if he cries out again, we wonder, will we be able to wake up this time?

She grabs my hand. Her young skin, as always, feels soft to the touch. But her once nimble and slender fingers are now stiff and heavy, filled with fluid after the birth of her first child. She reaches out and gently latches her warm fingers onto mine. I latch back.

It won’t just be the two of us in bed together. Her husband will join us on the other side. He’s in the bathroom, finally found time to brush his teeth. To some, this might seem like an unusual arrangement, but to my daughter and me, this is how we do life. We do the tough stuff together. It’s always been that way. It’s times like these when she reminds me it always will be that way. I sigh.

It started after I divorced their biological father. My son was two and my daughter was five. It was just the three of us after the papers were signed and their dad disappeared. He never wrote. He never sent a birthday card. He never even made a single phone call to find out if his children were being well fed and cared for. Not once. The letters I sent to him were left unanswered.

At the time, I felt it was my fault. I divorced him. But I didn’t understand how you could willfully disappear so easily out of your children’s lives. Since I couldn’t explain that, I didn’t talk about him much. Only when the kids asked. And they did. Occasionally. So we’d sit down, just the three of us, holding onto each other, and I’d show them our family photo albums. I was just 16 when I had my daughter. I was 19 when her brother came along. Our pictures reveal what looks like it would have been a happy family.

And I suppose it was until I decided I would attend college after high school. Because of that, and the fact that he didn't want me to finish college, I became a single parent at 21. The three of us moved to a university town.

Later, I married again, but this time, my husband died. He’d been my college sweetheart. We’d dated throughout our college years and a year after before he proposed. He was the man who voluntarily took on the role of father to my kids one day, and he was the man who was dead the next, killed in an auto accident less than two months after we married. Death was hard to explain to my kids, but losing a second dad was even worse. By then, they were old enough to feel heartbrake.

Even so, it was the third loss that really upset their world. When that one occurred, they were 19 and 21--old enough to understand betrayal.

I’d married a third time to the man who eventually adopted my kids. It made them feel whole again. He had two of his own children, and we became a blended family. It was challenging, challenging enough for him that he couldn’t handle it, had an affair or two or three, and left our home.

He tried to blame his behavior on me, but when he wouldn’t even try to make things work, I had no choice but to divorce him. I didn’t think he’d disappear, though. But he did. Emotionally.

Or maybe he was, as he said, never really there.

It was the loss that nearly tore our family apart. What it couldn’t break was our bond. Once again, life left just the three of us behind.

That first Thanksgiving alone I took my now college-aged kids on vacation to Mexico. I could afford a room with one bed. We slept in it together. Mom in the middle. Daughter on one side. Son on the other. And we held hands.

You do that when you want to comfort a loved one. You hug. You plant a kiss on the forehead. You hold hands. It’s about connecting. You can try it with words. You can send cards. You can offer money because you care. But none of that goes deep enough, I’ve learned. Parents disappear. They die. They may be emotionally absent. That’s the worst. If you can’t connect to your loved ones on an emotional level, you won’t know when they need you on the physical one. When they reach out, you won’t know to reach back. When they're gone, you won't trust they were ever there in the first place.

Without touch, there is no connection. Without connection there is no understanding. Without understanding, there is no compassion. Without compassion, there is no love. It all weaves together. Naturally, you'd hope.

So there we are in her bed. Because this is my child, the daughter I gave birth to more than 30 years ago last September, and because she knows all she ever has to do is ask, she asked me to stay. Her husband doesn’t object. He wants to be sure they know what they’re doing. They will, I think to myself, as I feel her skin against mine. They are listening. They are paying attention. They are learning the meaning of his cries.

Most importantly, they understand kangeroo time, the skin-to-skin contact the hospital nurses encouraged them to frequently do with their newborn. If they can connect on an emotional level with their little boy, they’re going to be stand-up parents, and it begins with that willingness to touch.

Aside from food, water, clothing and shelter, even Maslow knew what their little boy would want and deserve--to feel safe and secure in his surroundings. Touch will do that for you. Not just as an infant, but for the rest of life. If his parents can give this precious little boy that, 30 years from now it will be the three of them holding hands through the difficult moments.

To me, that's a comforting thought.

(Photo credit: Jackie Dishner)

Motivation for Mondays: The Artist's Way check-in for Week 10

Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way book cover
We've made it to Week 10. After this, there's just two more weeks to go before we finish the book and can see how well we've unblocked our creativity. If there's still more work to be done, we may have to start all over again.

I hope that doesn't scare you.

Whatever the case, I'm sure we will see positive results. Sometimes, the first time around doesn't net us quite what we may have expected, and a do-over is a good thing. Especially if we wait it out and see what happens when we're NOT doing the Morning Pages regularly, or NOT scheduling those Artist Dates, and NOT focusing on healing.

But first, let me ask you: What did you focus on with Chapter 9?

More synchronicity for me, I tell you! The chapter was about compassion. So appropriate for me this week as I waited for the birth of my first grandson. He arrived midweek, during that first hour of December 2. Everything went smoothly. My daughter did so well. Her husband was a great coach. And the baby was born healthy and near perfect. It was a great week to focus on compassion. Compassion for self and for others. Could there be a better way to spend a week? I don't think so.

The event that unfolded last week turned out to be a nice twist to what had been happening in my life the month before. It brought about relief.

And offered time to reflect on what it means to be healthy, live healthy, and think healthy thoughts. All of this matters if we are to succeed in growing our creative selves.

In Chapter 9, Julia Cameron writes about FEAR and how that can affect how blocked we may feel. It may actually give us an excuse for NOT doing something. I can admit that fear played a large part in my early career. It also creeped in early last week. I was fearful that my daughter would have a difficult labor. I wanted the baby to arrive a healthy human being. I didn't want my daughter to experience pain. So a writer friend suggested I focus on seeing the baby born healthy, seeing the delivery go smoothly. I did that. And I prayed. I prayed a lot that day. And all went well.

Cameron talks about calling things as they are, not using cop-outs or lying to ourselves. We are not lazy if we procrastinate doing our work. We are merely afraid of the outcome. So we need to practice looking at the reality of any situation and assessing the truth. What is getting in the way? Write those things down. What are we gaining by letting those things get in the way? Be honest. Let them go. And move on to complete the work.

Cameron also looks at enthusiasm versus discipline. Basically, she says we won't get far if we try to rely on discipline to do the job. Creatives can't work that way for long. We need to be enthusiastic about what we're doing. If we're not, maybe it's okay to move on and try something else. That's what drives writers to be able to complete book-length projects. Enthusiasm. Discipline will not last long enough. Enthusiasm is what will keep you going. I agree with this 100 percent. Do you?

I so related to this! Creative u-turns. The things that take all of your progress and squash it into a pile of doo-doo on the floor you never want to touch. That's a bit dramatic-sounding, but I confess I have done things to sabotage my very own career. I have missed deadlines, not without advance warning, but I have done that. I have failed to turn in invoices. I have ignored signing contracts till the very end. I have done those things and more. I have let fear get in the way. Both of success and of failure.

Sometimes, I still have these moments. When I am in the midst of too much stuff to deal with, I take my time. I purposely slow down. I don't know if that's good or bad, but it's what I've done in order to be able to muddle through. I have learned to access that self-compassion and focus on doing the best I can. Sometimes, the best may not be good enough for others, but it has to be good enough for me. Working alone sometimes means I get overwhelmed. And rather than letting that get the best of me, I work on accepting my weaknesses and doing the best I can. Thank goodness we're allowed failures before we can reach the successes. If we weren't allowed to fail at all, I'm not sure where I'd be. I'm grateful for my vulnerabilities. They allow me to embrace my strengths. And one of my strengths is that I am not afraid to ask for help when I need it. Sometimes, I've delayed asking, but I will always ask. How about you?


To me, this part of the chapter was even better than the exercises at the end of Chapter 9. To me, it's the single most helpful part of this chapter. Although I didn't do it this week, I have done this before. You list out your resentments or anger that you may feel toward a project. You list out any related fears toward the project. You ask yourself if that's all there is. You ask yourself what might happen if you didn't the do the project at all. And then you make a deal with yourself about completing the project. It makes so much sense to get all of the negative thoughts that might show up out of the way at the beginning, or when you start to feel blocked. Then, you can carry on. It's like any relationship. If there's stuff getting in the way, you need to move it. You need to hash it out, so you can move on. Have you ever tried this when you were feeling resistant to a project? Maybe you discovered the answer was to drop the project. I find this exercise to be a very wise one, and one I hope to utilize more readily in the future.

Since work was not on top of mind this past week, I did not write many Morning Pages. Six or seven at most. Pages. Not days. As for an Artist Date, would it count that I shopped for a special gift after the baby was born? I spent 20 minutes in the hospital gift shop and found the new baby's initials: W.O.W. His name is Wyatt Owen Waddington, which makes him a WOW baby. And he is exactly that. I also had my book signing at Costco, and though it felt like a hectic thing to do in the midst of the new baby's arrival, I did manage to pull some creative stuff together and haul it over to the stores with me. I did manage to interact with a lot of people. And I did manage to sell some books, despite it all.

I'm sure there are other things, but I can't think of them at the moment. So now it's your turn. Post your chapter thoughts below. And next week, we read about "Recovering a Sense of Self-Protection."

Motivation for Mondays is a part of a weekly Twitter party called #MotivatedMondays initiated by Lorrie Shaw, a professional pet sitter, a regular pets contributor at, and pet blogger in Dexter Township, MI. Together, we post a combination of inspirational notes, links to motivational blog posts, and tips to help kickstart your week ahead. Look for us online every Monday morning--and throughout the day--if you need to kick start your week or want to share your own motivational thoughts.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Motivation for Mondays: The Artist's Way check-in for Week 9

Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way book cover
We were working on "Recovering a Sense of Strength" last week. So, how did it go?

Feeling stronger?

Chapter 8 visited the concept of strength in various ways: survival, being able to affirm your talents, dealing with loss, understanding early childhood patterns that could undermine your progress. It was also about taking action to regain your sense of self -- the ability and willingness to stand up for your creative self, and to write despite yourself. Thank goodness after all that difficult introspection, chapter 9 will show you the way to self-compassion. You should look forward to this week's chapter.

But for now, we must revisit last week's work.

So, are you feeling stronger, or are you feeling like you'd just like to throw in the towel. TAW may seem like it puts you through the wringer, but it's good work, this deep digging we're doing.

I encourage you to go on. Even if you've set the book aside because of distractions, get it back out. Open the book up and read. Do some of the exercises. Remember, you don't have to do them all. That might be too much. Save some of them for later, or save them for the next time you read the book. You don't have to overdo it or try to impress anyone. There's only one person who matters in this exercise, and that's you.

I will tell you that I'm not feeling the need to go to the page as much as I have in the past. I'm drawn more to write on the computer. And I'm not liking that pull. So I'm going to focus on that more this week. I will tell you that my Morning Pages are starting to look like idea books. Every time I write and read another chapter, I come up with more ideas about the work I'm presently researching. I find that to be an empowering result and hope it continues.

I spent most of the week waiting for my daughter to have her baby, which she didn't, so I've been so preoccupied and have not scheduled a date at all with my artist self. I'm not really sure if I did anything particularly creative this past week; however, I did splurge on a bottle of wine for the holiday and spend some time picking it out, admiring the labels. Doubt that it counts, but I suppose if I were stretching, I could make it. But I'll let you be the judge of that.

I found this statement interesting:

"Intellectualism seems counter to the creative impulse."

I did a few of them:

My perfect world five years from now. I want to own an oceanfront cottage in Maine, and now I've decided to be okay with San Diego (closer to family?). That's where I see myself working. I'll still be writing, only then with the crashing waves near my doorstep, the music in the background. I have a studio, brightly lit with natural sunlight through huge windows. I have a comfy area where I read by firelight. My family can visit, so there must be rooms for them as well. The BF is probably off running down the shoreline. He would love that!

I probably still have my home in Arizona, but I don't know if it's this one. If it is, it better have new carpet and be painted. My HOA is requiring that four-five years from now. I probably earn a handsome half a million dollars a year or more. So I'll be living very comfortably. I've probably sold my BIKE book by then, that's why. I'm probably speaking internationally, though not too much. I like my home life too much. Who wouldn't, on the beach, in Arizona, whatever works???

All of this is probably why I've been so focused on writing more book proposals lately. ;-)

My color scheme It's blue, of course. My eyes are blue. I like the song, "Jackie Blue." I look good dressed in blue. My office is half painted blue. It fits my astrological sign, which is Pisces. And it's my favorite color. Here's the list of few quick sentences that describe my blue self:

I am blue.
I am the color of an Arizona clear summer sky.
I blend well with whites, pinks, purples.
I am happy and serene.
I make others laugh.
I give off high energy.
I am bright and cheerful.
I am the color blue.

I cannot recall any specific issues that occured last week, but I think that's only because I was a bit caught up with other things: my daughter, the holiday, work.

How about you? How did your week with Chapter 8 go? Please report your progress here. We're moving on to Chapter 9 now, where, as I mentioned before, we recover a sense of compassion. You're going to like this one, I hope.

Motivation for Mondays is a part of a weekly Twitter party called #MotivatedMondays initiated by Lorrie Shaw, a professional pet sitter, a regular pets contributor at, and pet blogger in Dexter Township, MI. Together, we post a combination of inspirational notes, links to motivational blog posts, and tips to help kickstart your week ahead. Look for us online every Monday morning--and throughout the day--if you need to kick start your week or want to share your own motivational thoughts.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

What's On Your Reverse Bucket List?

fountain at Place de la Gare, Quebec City Canada
I got the idea from Jennifer Lawler, who got the idea from Diane Silver who got the idea from a friend of hers. So this is definitely a borrowed idea.

But I like it. So here goes: the REVERSE bucket list compilation.

What is that, you ask? Simply put: It's the opposite of the checklist of things you swear you're going to do before you die. It's the checklist of things you've already done. To me, there's more to be thankful about when you focus on what you've already accomplished than what you have not or have yet to do.

So, like the ladies before me have already done, here's my list -- the shortened version, of course:

-Raised two children mostly as a single parent who happily live on their own.
_Am a grandmother who doesn't meddle.
_Have splurged on the penthouse suite with my own money.
_Have taken the week-long writer's workshop just because I wanted to.
_Spent more than $10,000 on a vacation abroad -- just for myself. It was a learning vacation in Kenya, with lessons still coming my way even three and four years later.
_Have already chosen to live a creative life.
_Say yes to the wine whenever I choose.
_Appreciate the outdoors.
_Hiked a slot canyon, even though I was petrified at the start.
_Am a travel writer by choice.
_Took the improvisation class I once only dreamed of taking.
_Buy books that interest me, no matter the topic, and take time to read them.
_Hired the landscaper so I could cut back on the work I have to do myself.
_Signed up for the conference I didn't think I could afford.
_Wrote my first book.
_Bought my own house.
_Have learned to trust my instincts.
_Have made a ton of writer friends I really care about.
_Have made a ton of speaker friends I really care about.
_Have built an irrigation system.
_Have made mortar and laid brick.
_Have trimmed a prickly bush almost as big as my house and survived.
_Have spoiled a dog.
_Made a failing freelance career flourish.
_Travel solo frequently.
_Go on trips that interest me.
_Sell stories so that I can go on trips that interest me.
_Been a published poet.
_Have written short stories and a novel.
_Have had my photos published in a book.
_Have been interviewed by other journalists.
_Have given presentations to large audiences.
_Have helped women in transition make the transition.
_Have mentored other women.
_Am learning how to juggle and ride a unicycle (not easy!)

And the list goes on.

What's on your REVERSE bucket list? Post it here so you'll have something to be grateful for this holiday season, aside from your family and job.


(The above photo of the fountain was taken by me in Quebec City this past summer, when I attended one of those conferences I wasn't sure I could afford. It was a leap of faith.)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Motivation for Mondays: The Artist's Way check-in for Week 8

Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way book cover
"Oops, I did it again..." Clearly, I'm feeling a little Britney Spears-like today.

Imagine that. Me, a superstar...Nah, it's just me being late -- again! It's Tuesday. And, yet, here I am posting that "Motivation for Mondays" thing. Well, with all that's going on in my life right now, I gotta be consistent in some way. So, today, we'll work with the title. Next week, back on track, I hope, unless my daughter's baby arrives. Then, Monday might turn into Wednesday or Thursday, or...

The point is: please be patient. Remember, we're all about no judgment here. We're all about growth at our own pace. Which reminds me, although we're all that, I still want you to post. Keep us updated. You can get behind, but remember to get back on track, even if you're a little off-track or even off-off track. It's okay. Just stay with the program. So you don't read on Monday mornings. Tuesdays are good. Two chapters at a time are good. Shorter updates are good. The point is, we're all here for the full ride, to complete the full book. I'm hoping you'll love it enough to want to do it all over again.

So, please. Stick with it. I know you're going to see the change you need.

Now, on with my update...


Chapter 8 saw me slowing way down on the TAW exercises and activities. Seriously, I wrote the Morning Pages only once this week, and I can't recall that I actually scheduled or did an Artist Date. (So, see? You don't have to do it all, all the time.)

And I know that's okay because I always bounce back, sometimes at a slower pace than others. But I'm still hanging in there. I'm still strong. I am producing work, and I'm marketing like crazy. I am feeling successful, regardless. I'm feeling strong.


It's a good word. I wrote that in my Morning Pages without even thinking of the purpose of this chapter. It's on Recovering a Sense of Strength. It had been an entire week since I read the chapter, or even wrote in the journal, and, yet, I connected. I really liked that. It made me feel good to know I can and do acknowledge my own strength, seemingly without the need for a book to remind me. I can do this on my own. How are you feeling about this in your world?


Chapter 8 talked about losses. Again, another serendipitous moment for me. Remember, I lost Clooney two weeks ago. And I'm now preparing for a gain -- the birth of my grandson. It's a miracle how life continues to even things out for us, even when we least expect it. It's like Yin and Yang are discussing things behind our back, making plans we don't know about, and then, poof!

I believe there's definitely a spiritual connection to what we must give up in order to make room for something new. It seems like a natural balance occurs when you begin to realize how the universe works with you. If you don't think this way, if things don't seem to be going your way, try making a request out loud. Ask for what you need -- if for no other reason than to acknowledge the need for yourself.

And always expect the best. I don't know what that means. It means whatever you need it to mean at any given moment. But I write this now in nearly every e-mail I send out. So I'm not only giving the message to myself, I'm also giving it to others. Expect the best! There, now it's yours to use.

And if you're feeling any resistance, any resistance at all, pay attention to that. I find when I'm feeling resistance, it more than likely means I'm not ready for whatever change I thought I wanted. I take a step back and evaluate the pause. It's probably not yet time for me to make that call or do that thing, whatever it is. I have learned to respect the pause.


I highlighted several things in this chapter that I'll note here, to see if these had any special meaning for you as well:

_"Every end is a beginning." I highlighted this in yellow several years ago, and I still believe this today. It puts a positive spin on things, doesn't it?

_"The key to career resiliency is self-empowerment and choice." I also highlighted this several years ago. Yes, indeed! This is still true for me. What's next? the chapter asks you. Action, it says. Take action. Always take action. I think I'm very good at this.

_"Most of the time, the next right thing is something small." I love this. It's about baby steps. It reminds you that you don't have to take big, expansive leaps to make a difference. You can move at your own pace. And no one can tell you what that is. For writers who need to send out pitches, you can send out one a week and be okay with that, if that's all you have time for. Or you can send out hundreds. Whatever works. The key here is to be honest with yourself. If what you're doing isn't working, then maybe you do need to take more baby steps or push yourself to the leap level. But it's still your choice. Just listen to your gut. Wasn't that the message of chapters past? It's still a good one.


This part of the chapter I need to re-read. "Stop thinking about the odds and you'll stop procrastinating." Really? I didn't get that. I need to re-read this and consider the meaning, to see how I might be manifesting my own procrastination. Because I can do that very well. I can be the superstar after all, when it comes to procrastination.

What about you? How did this chapter hit you? Any lessons that were particularly jolting or eye-opening? Let's hear it. Post your comments below.

Motivation for Mondays is a part of a weekly Twitter party called #MotivatedMondays initiated by Lorrie Shaw, a professional pet sitter, a regular pets contributor at, and pet blogger in Dexter Township, MI. Together, we post a combination of inspirational notes, links to motivational blog posts, and tips to help kickstart your week ahead. Look for us online every Monday morning--and throughout the day--if you need to kick start your week or want to share your own motivational thoughts.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Motivation on Mondays: The Artist Way check-in for week 7

I know. I know. It's Tuesday. Why did I still title the post "Motivation on Mondays"?

I did that because I want to keep the column consistent, so you can find back posts should you care to review them in the future.

Of course, now you'll want to know why I failed to post yesterday, right? Easy answer. Yesterday, Monday, I spent six hours in the Emergency Room with my BF. He'd been sent there because he'd been having a back pain that had escalated and a very high blood pressure reading, and was thought to be having heart attack.

Yes, it was another stressful day, and I wasn't anywhere near a computer nor was I thinking about being anywhere near a computer once I took the call just before the lunch hour. Of course, he told me I didn't need to go. But what do you do? Sit around and wait? I'm not good at waiting. So I went over to meet him and stay with him--to make sure he was going to be okay. The words "heart" and "attack" are not words that roll lightly off the tongue, as you can imagine. So I wanted to be there with him, in case this was that serious.

After having every kind of test imaginable--EKG, Cat Scan, X-rays (but no MRI)--the ER doc determined it wasn't a heart attack, but he does have a heart issue he needs to see a cardiologist about later, which I don't see as unusual after 55 years of organ operation. But, was a scare until we knew. It seems he's somehow pulled a muscle in the top mid-section of his back, and he can't figure out where or when. They gave him some meds for that and follow up instructions. But it's good to know that if you ever have such a pain in the back that doesn't go away and, in fact, escalates, it could be a heart problem. You should see your doctor or visit the ER.

So that was my day yesterday. No work to speak of. All stress. And finally relief.

Now, to the actual check-in...

These chapters are really sending a lot of serendipity my way. With Chapter 7 being all about connection, and my losing my dog that same week, there was a lot of that going on. It began with the eulogy, and then moved on to the assignment I had that was due last week. It involved connecting with an historic event. Even after a really short trip there, I was able to feel very connected to this place and time--the Civil Rights Movement.

In fact, I was able to use an actual event that I discovered occurred on my 1-year-old birthday in the story itself. I was able to connect with the gospel music of the times. I was able to put myself in the place of the protesters because of the interactive elements involved in the tour I was on. It was all very experiential. And that really helped me write a story my editor had little to edit away.

Later in the week, I was able to find more connection to my dog, after I picked up her ashes. I went back to that pile of pictures I'd been sorting through on the day I had to take her to the vet hospital (and where she subsequently died), and I found several pictures of her. Pictures I hadn't seen since we'd first gotten her. So I gathered them all and shared them with friends. I miss her. Last week was all about finding some kind of connection with her. I didn't have to work too hard at it. I am still finding this in every room of my house. I very much feel her presence in my office, as this is where we both spent the bulk of our lives together. I haven't yet picked up her toys or removed her bed from the floor. It's all very comforting to me.

And this week, the connections are extending to the human beings in my life. My BF, for example, and the visit to the ER. There was nothing else I could have done but be with him during that scary moment in his life. It was good for him. It was good for me. It was good for us to feel a connected during such a scare. It's what helps bring two people together, when you know you can count on each other. That's the point of connection, I believe, and that's not always easy to do when trying to protect your own time and space and your Artist Self (which is mentioned in this week's chapter).

Further understanding of "connection" occurred this past week when I wrote a short story that involved lost connections. Though it wasn't an animal-based story, I'm sure it was a cathartic release, and also a sign that I am definitely giving my Artist Self the time it needs to explore and grow. I like that. Are you seeing any similar events/experiences unfold in your own TAW work?

Of course, the chapter is further realized in the way I'm reading my daughter's phone calls. Every time I hear her ring on my cell phone, my first question before "hello" is: "Is it time yet?" She's about to give birth any day now, and I'm so in tune with that and preparing for the big moment that I can't help myself but jump at her every call. It could be the one. Ah, yes, connections. I'm glad so many exist in my life, and truly, I've been touched by this chapter.

As you can imagine, however, I only wrote Morning Pages two times last week and am counting my picture sorting as my Artist Date. If I took another one, I can no longer recall it, as I spent the bulk of the week too busy stressing about finishing my story for an editor when all I really wanted to do was grieve my dog. I managed to do both. I suppose writing a short story could count...

I did highlight a few things in the chapter and was surprised to see so much that still matters to me, as it did in previous readings, things such as this (paraphrased):

_Listen to your intuitive voice (This came out in my short story, and I needed it in order to manage the health of my dog).

_Letting go is a normal part of creativity.

_I have been that person who wouldn't do something unless I was sure I could do it perfectly. I have learned over the years to take the risk and do it anyway. Some of the things I've taken the risk to try: improvisation classes, reading my poetry in public, a spontaneous vacation. Things I'd like to try that were on her list: whitewater river rafting, figure drawing or watercolor painting and trapeze classes.

_I come up with book ideas and write them in the margins of my TAW book. It's fun to see what I've written in the past. I added two more to the margins in this chapter this year. One I'm working on already, but I like the title I came up with this past week better than the one I already had.

_I liked what the chapter says about jealousy, that it's a mask behind the fear of doing something you're not yet brave enough to try. That's a good point and something to be reminded of when that green monster rears his ugly head.

As far as exercises, I didn't take much time to do them this week and only did one or two.

I'm really glad to be in "Chapter 8 -- Recovering a Sense of Strength." Perfect timing, if I do say so myself.

Be sure to post your progress here, and tell us how you're relating to the last few chapters. Are you seeing the growth you might expect? Are you surprised at what you're experiencing all because of this one little book and the time you are choosing to give your Artist Self? Share your thoughts here.

Motivation for Mondays is a part of a weekly Twitter party called #MotivatedMondays initiated by Lorrie Shaw, a professional pet sitter, a regular pets contributor at, and pet blogger in Dexter Township, MI. Together, we post a combination of inspirational notes, links to motivational blog posts, and tips to help kickstart your week ahead. Look for us online every Monday morning--and throughout the day--if you need to kick start your week or want to share your own motivational thoughts.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Motivation for Mondays: The Artist's Way check-in for week 6

My dog Clooney, not George
So if last week wasn't stressful enough, this one topped it. My own progress here has been stifled by my dog's poor health. Last night, I made the painful decision "put my dog down," as they say.

Euthanasia. That's the word that had been pummeling around in my mind for the past two weeks, since my dog experienced her latest bout of cluster seizures. Yesterday, when she experienced yet another, and even before that -- because she warned me what was coming with her labored breathing -- I knew I'd be taking her in to see the vet again, the vet specialist. And I suspected I'd be making this heavy decision very soon.

What I didn't expect was the latest diagnosis?

"Were you aware that Clooney has heart problems?"

I said I was. "She has a heart murmur. Yes, I know."

"Yes, because of that, it seems her seizures may have brought about heart failure. We believe Clooney is experiencing heart failure. That's why she's been having trouble breathing. The fluid in her lungs is the result of that."

The vet went on to explain how blood travels through the body, which way it's supposed to go, what happens when a heart murmur interferes with that, how Clooney's heart had been working way past overtime to try to keep up, and on and on. I tuned most of that out. I just heard: Seizures. Fluid in her lungs. And now heart failure!

You can imagine why I'd have to finally realize I need to come to terms with something: My dog IS going to die. Either I let her go peacefully, or she continues to suffer. When you look at a precious life that way, the decision is already made.

So, I rounded up support -- my boyfriend, my daughter, my pet sitter who has become the surrogate mom for Clooney. We all went to the vet clinic together, and we all said goodbye to my pet. And we all watched her peacefully slip away. It was very fast, seemingly pain-free, and I think she was ready. Before her final minutes, when we were still hanging out with her in the patient's room, she had yet another seizure, albeit a small one, leaving a puddle of pee on the floor because she'd lost control of her bladder. It was as if she was telling me something I already knew. She was ready.

I took her for one last walk in the parking lot. She didn't really seem to be there, or know why she was there. She was moving back and forth, not going anywhere. But it was something she loved to do, and the vet suggested it might be a good idea for me. This was Clooney's life: Walk. Eat. Sleep. Walk. Eat. Snack. Sleep. Some playtime in between. Her favorite things. Oh, and eat some more.

That dog could put away the food, up until her very last day. The morning of the final seizure that had me placing her on the beach towel, the one I used to dry her off after her bath, on our final road trip to the vet, she had had no problem eating. She took her medicine easily, especially since it came with a big slice of banana, and she ate her breakfast -- in seconds, as always. You'd never know she was as ill as she was. You just wouldn't suspect it...

Until a few hours later when she came hunting me down, trying to get my attention. I was upstairs looking for a photograph I needed for an essay I was writing. And there she was, out of breath -- or having a hard time breathing. I told her I'd be right there. She left to go lay in the sun but couldn't get comfortable and came to me, scratching at my leg, trying to get my attention again.

She was experiencing the beginning of what would have been very painful heart failure -- a slow death. I didn't know that then, but I knew she was not feeling well. I picked her up and took her downstairs with me and laid her in the hallway, cupping her furry face in my hands, telling her, "I think you need to go to the vet. But Mommy has to get dressed first." I left her there while I dressed in the other room, and must have gotten up, because then I heard her collapse seconds later. She was near the front door. When I reached her, she was in the middle of a seizure that left her screaming for help. She'd had so many of them by now, and there was nothing I cold do. I was used to those. But her breathing. I could tell it was so difficult for her. I watched her rib cage move in and out, pushing her body so far away from itself that I thought she might explode. I waited for her to recover enough that I could give her another dose of Phenylbarbitol -- the drug I was told to give her more of should she seize again.

I then called the vet and let them know I was bringing Clooney in. They were ready when we arrived. It would be hours later, after they'd had time to examine her, do more x-rays, and get her comfortable, when I'd be told that she was in heart failure mode. At that point, I knew what I would have to do. But I wanted someone to tell me. I wanted to be sure.

You can never be sure. You just have to do what Cameron discusses this week in Chapter 7: Trust your intuition. You just have to take some risks in life. Last night, I did that. And now I believe my dog is at peace.

What does this have to do with The Artist's Way? Not much, other than this is what I've been coping with this week. And that is why I've barely written a single sentence of Morning Pages. And I only had my Artist Date because I was out of town on a shortened visit for an assignment to write about Civil Rights. So I guess you could say I lucked into that.

So this will not be the week that I motivate you. It was not the week that Cameron motivated me. It will be known as the week I survived the death of my dog. And that's pretty much it. Chapter 6 discusses Recovering a Sense of Abundance. And I did experience that on an assignment level this past week. One of my editors sent me 4 assignments in one day. But that's hardly anything I care about right now.

In Chapter 7, which maybe you've read by now, the focus is on Connection. What an appropriate topic for me this week -- a little serendipity there -- as I am reminded of how our connections with our pets can sometimes supersede our relationships with our human companions.

In the weeks ahead, it will be a challenge for me to focus on those assignments I was given. I will be missing my dog. These will be the days that I notice she is no longer sitting at my feet, underneath my desk as I type. She will no longer jump up and paw on my lap to get me to let her outside for a potty break. She will no longer escape the front door and run down the street to our friend who watches her when I am out of town. She knows exactly how to get there and will go there, if given the chance, as it's there that she gets to socialize with her other doggy friends. But she will no longer do that. And she will no longer be waiting at the door for me when I return home from a hike or a meeting or a bike ride. She will no longer jump in the shower after me so she can lick the shower floor. When she was younger, she'd lick my legs dry first. Funny dog. And she won't be there wagging her tail when I open the pantry door because she thinks she's getting a treat. She always got the treat. But I won't be buying doggie treats anymore. These are things I will be thinking about in the weeks ahead. Probably not too much about what Cameron has to say, though I will continue the reading and do the work as best I can. And I will post here. I will go through the motions, because I'll probably need it. Please continue to post your own thoughts so we can keep the dialogue going. I'll probably surprise myself with how much happens, because, life will still go on for me.

I will not be getting another dog, so don't ask. Clooney was an unexpected guest, the pet someone else had tossed away. She'd been a street dog when she was put into our backyard more than 11 years ago. We had a good life together. She was fun. She was obnoxious. She was sometimes aggressive. Okay. A lot of times. She was feisty. And when my divorce happened, I got custody of her. She was a very true companion during some very difficult days of my life. She experienced anxiety when I did. She was happy when I was--and even when I wasn't. She slept with me. She ate some things she wasn't supposed to eat. She dragged in mud when I'd rather she didn't. She once brought a few dead birds into the house. Ewwww. She signed the wet concrete slab I mixed and poured to hold an outdoor water fountain with her paw prints. She was always there, waiting for hugs and kisses and loved to be held. She was a pretty faithful companion, and I'm certain she won't be replaced. I've no need. Because of my traveling schedule, it wasn't always easy to leave her, especially in these last months. And it was often quite expensive. So, no new dog for me. I'll spend my extra time with my grandbabies now, because that's what I've been told I'll do. :-)

And, today, despite my intense desire to go curl up in my bed and hug a doggie toy, I have a deadline to meet.

I hope your day and week gets off to a much better start. Keep progressing. There's no good reason not to.

(Photo of Clooney above was taken two days ago at my neighbor's house; we both knew it might be the last)

Motivation for Mondays is a part of a weekly Twitter party called #MotivatedMondays initiated by Lorrie Shaw, a professional pet sitter, a regular pets contributor at, and pet blogger in Dexter Township, MI. Together, we post a combination of inspirational notes, links to motivational blog posts, and tips to help kickstart your week ahead. Look for us online every Monday morning--and throughout the day--if you need to kick start your week or want to share your own motivational thoughts.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Motivated Mondays: The Artist's Way check-in for week 5

Whew! Was it ever a busy week during week 5. We're now on Chapter 6, at the halfway point. Pat yourselves on the back that you've made it thus far. If you have catching up to do. No worries. Catch up. There is no judgment working on the Artist's Way. We all move to the beat of a different drummer, but we do want to stay on some kind of beat. So keep pounding the animal skin. Don't set it down because you're worried that you just can't get the rhythm. Of course you can, and you will. Just keep reading.

Last week, in chapter 5, we read about possibilities. This week's it's all about abundance. These are good things, folks. We're talking opportunity to excel, at whatever level you happen to be on. If you keep moving, you're going to go forward. So just trust in that spiritual force that's driving you and you have no idea how. Just trust in it, and keep your eyes open for what's next.

Despite the set back in my schedule that I experienced because of an illness my dog experienced. (She had a cluster of seizures but is doing well now), I still managed to get through the week with a few successes bagged -- and several possibilities for the future. Not a whole lot that was definitive, but I've learned long ago to see the beauty in a possibility. I encourage you to do the same.

The Morning Pages and the Artist's Date, and even the exercises, took a back seat in my house. But I did manage to read chapter 6 on Sunday morning. I'll be off on an assignment for most of this next week and have a deadline at the start of next week, so I'm not sure what will happen with TAW on my end. I choose to believe I'll get done what I get done and be perfectly okay with that.

I am seeing progress. And from the notes in my book, I've seeing growth. I wrote at the top of chapter 6 in 2004 that I hoped to be able to get out 3 queries by the end of that week. That was all I could even consider managing then. Now, three queries is a daily goal. I've since embraced the idea of abundance. And even money issues I once had no longer exist. I see the world as ready to give, and I am ready to accept.

Now, to be sure, I don't feel this way every day. I have my days where I'm not that optimistic. But my overall expectation is pretty high, and I choose to focus on the overall, rather than the once in a while.

I also realize that I am actually quite good and indulging myself. I am more apt to do that than not. I rarely argue with myself about cost. I always believe I'll make it up or replace it. I have gotten pretty good about not worrying too much about money. That is not to say I don't want to earn more of it, that I don't get frustrated from time to time that I seem to have to work extra hard for it. I'm okay with that as well, as I've chosen a career path I enjoy. So work is just not anything I dread. I love the work I do. What I would love more is to put out more of it.

And that follows what Julia Cameron says we should do: I will take care of the quantity and let God take care of the quality. So I know there is always more I can do. God gave me the talent; it is my job to use it to the best of my ability.

Anyway, those are the thoughts that I'm having at this point in our work with The Artist's Way.

Please post your own comments, and trust that I'll return the dialogue when my schedule permits. It's going to be another busy week for me.

Have a great one yourself!

Motivation for Mondays is a part of a weekly Twitter party called #MotivatedMondays initiated by Lorrie Shaw, a professional pet sitter, a regular pets contributor at, and pet blogger in Dexter Township, MI. Together, we post a combination of inspirational notes, links to motivational blog posts, and tips to help kickstart your week ahead. Look for us online every Monday morning--and throughout the day--if you need to kick start your week or want to share your own motivational thoughts.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Motivated Mondays: The Artist's Way check-in for week 4

A very busy week led to less participation in The Artist's Way this past week. I didn't do as many of the exercises or write as many mornings as I thought I would. I managed to do four or five of the exercises and write the Morning Pages 4 times. I wasn't feeling anxious about that at all. It's just the way my schedule worked out.

The chapter, "Recovering a Sense of Integrity," hit home, though. Sometimes, I find myself agreeing to do something that I don't have time for, or I'll not fully commit (because I'm already over-committed) and leave people hanging, until I can supply a definitive response. I let my schedule manipulate me. This is a pattern of behavior I've moved in and out of, and I need to take better charge of that. I'll try to rationalize with myself, when what I really need to do is pay attention to what people are asking of me, take time to consider it, and then respond appropriately as soon as possible. Don Miguel Ruiz talks about this in his book, The Four Agreements. One of the agreements we need to make with ourselves is to speak with integrity. It's not possible for me to do all things and be all things. I need to be okay with that. So this chapter convicted me. Ouch. Any convictions on your end?

I was also struck by the idea behind clarity and what might happen during the process of writing the Morning Pages. You might arrive at a challenge that you don't want to deal with but realize you probably must. That's happened to me so many times.

And I liked coming across the word kriya again. I've experienced those cries many times. Not lately, thankfully. But many times in my past. "Enough!" We should listen to those inner cries, those kriyas. They mean something valuable. If we don't listen, we'll stay stuck in negative patterns of behavior. Most of the time, it takes little more than awareness to fix that.

I did experience an epiphany: I enjoy writing about arts-related topics but haven't pitched anything like that till last week. I also discovered that I like to include notes from the chapter readings in my Morning Pages. While I'm reading, I jot down notes, things I want to remember, quotes I like, passages in the book that stand out to me, for instance, this one:

Until we experience the freedom of solitude, we cannot connect authentically.

This is so key to my B.I.K.E. work here. This is why I rode my mountain bike to move past the difficult days of my divorce. While I'm hiking a lot these days, and walking with a girlfriend in the mornings, I'm not taking those solo rides as much. It's time to get back on the bike. So many good things happen from the seat of my bike. I do miss it. That was another realization that occurred to me this past week.

I'm not that heavily into the sorting out mode yet. But I know that's coming. It always does when I read this book. But I have definitely been experiencing bursts of energy, and I'm using them to market myself, with more focused direction.

I did the exercise where you're to pick five things you'd like to try, and I chose the following:

1) Enter a mountain bike race.
2) Try water skiing again.
3) Learn how to ski moguls.
4) Learn how to fly a plane.
5) Ride my unicycle.

Funny, but these are not things I think about, other than the last one -- and that's because I have a unicycle sitting in a corner of my office I need to learn how to ride. At least that is do-able. In fact, I circled it on my notes. Telling me something???

I did not do the reading deprivation. In fact, I wrote in my notes that I wouldn't. The point of that exercise is to open space for other things. But I do other things, have been highly focused on it, in fact, and felt this was not an exercise I could do right now. What this exercise should ask of me is to eliminate social media from my life for a week. I can see how that would open up space in my life.

Of all the exercises, I enjoyed writing the Artist's Prayer the most. Mine was a few lines longer than the one in the book. But I really enjoyed taking a few moments and considering what I need and asking for it. I liked being reminded that I am an instrument, that my talents and skills are not mine alone, that I have a purpose, and that through this process I will move closer and closer to it, with God's help and guidance. Please do not be offended by my use of His name. That is my belief. I will not shun yours, nor judge your thoughts about religion or spirituality. But I do believe, and that's just that.

I also wrote out Exercise #9 -- one situation that I need to change but haven't. It's my house. It's a mess. I need it organized. I need things repaired. She asked us to consider the payoff for not taking care of this. There isn't one, I wrote. So I am determined to hire help, because I am having a hard time accepting I cannot do it alone. Argghhh! But, because this is what I've been thinking about, a little serendipity occurred this week also, when a friend of mine called with the name of a woman who can use extra money and could help me get organized. Very convenient, don't you think?

Other breakthroughs this week: book ideas. I had a few and pitched queries, which were approved. So now I'll work on the proposals. I declared I need to sell another 500 books to meet my advance, and I got a call from Costco to set up two book signings. And I just feel an overall sense of clarity beginning to mature.

I hope you are all experiencing something equally as powerful in your Artist's Way work. Please be sure to comment about it here.

Motivation for Mondays is a part of a weekly Twitter party called #MotivatedMondays initiated by Lorrie Shaw, a professional pet sitter, a regular pets contributor at, and pet blogger in Dexter Township, MI. Together, we post a combination of inspirational notes, links to motivational blog posts, and tips to help kickstart your week ahead. Look for us online every Monday morning--and throughout the day--if you need to kick start your week or want to share your own motivational thoughts.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

SUNDAY MUSINGS: Facts about rainbows

According to the National Center for Atmospheric Research, the spectacular light show that is called a rainbow is really sunlight spread out into its full spectrum of colors, diverted to the eye by water droplets.

Although Sir Isaac Newton is said to have discovered seven distinctive colors found in a rainbow, there are an infinite number of colors in the full spectrum. Most of the colors are not visible to the human eye.

Since you must have both rain and sunlight in order to see a rainbow, and the sun must always be behind you when you witness one, it's not likely you'll ever see a rainbow at noon.

If it weren't for the earth getting in the way, you'd see the full circle of a rainbow.

No two people standing next to each other will see the exact same rainbow. For one thing, the person standing next to you, for example, will see light refracted off of different raindrops at a different angle. And second, different people simply see color differently.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

NO MORE SUICIDES: Practical solutions to stop bullies in their tracks

Over at Parent Talk Today, Stacy Lipson tells her story in a guest post of being bullied as a young girl, and how long the bullying lasted -- till she was 16.

As yet another news story breaks about yet another child who kills himself because he's been bullied to death already, more and more stories like Stacy's are coming out of the woodwork. I would guess most everyone has known someone or seen someone get bullied, either in youth or even in adulthood. Bullies, it seems, can continue the pattern as long as they can get away with it.

Ironically, it's the bully who has the self-esteem issue in the first place. To make himself feel better, he has to make someone else feel bad. Some people are easy targets. And if you've ever been that easy target, then you know how hurtful and painful being bullied can be.

I have a few solutions that should go to market right away:

How about a BULLIES BE GONE spray? Anyone who is bullied would be issued a FREE can of this special spray to be used immediately upon the first sign of teasing. The person about to be teased would simply take out the can, point, spray -- and the bully gets it. Ingredients in the bottle or can could smell like a skunk, for instance, or freshly deposited dog crap, vomit, or any other awful scent (your choice) that would send the bully on his way. The nurse's office at school would have a supply of them on hand at all times, as needed. Bullies wouldn't be able to access the spray, however, because it would come with Bully Detecting Radar. At the mere touch, an alarm would sound, scaring the bully off and alerting school officials of his thwarted attempt to access the spray.

Or how about selling NO BULLIES ALLOWED t-shirts? Proceeds would benefit non-profits that promote REQUIRED parenting classes that teach parents how to detect if they have a bully child at home or if their child is being bullied outside of the home.

And how about those REQUIRED PARENTING CLASSES? Your child would not be able to advance to the next grade level, beginning in kindergarten, unless you've taken and passed the course. Classwork could be developed that would focus on each grade level, the type of bullying that might be seen in that grade level, and what parents need to do to protect their children from either situation. Because as we know, this kind of behavior begins at home. Therefore, the classes would also address any parenting issues that might affect a child's behavior and lead to bullying. Not only would the classes educate, but they may also act as a deterrent and help create a new culture that does not accept bullying behavior.

Finally, as the sign above says, we need to create NO BULLY ZONES. Wherever bullying occurs, we need to post the NO BULLY ZONE sign. Post them on sides of school buildings, in the playground, on playground equipment, in hallways, in the lunchroom or cafeteria, at daycare centers, in the grocery store, on the doors of kids' bedrooms, or wherever else bullying occurs, up goes a sign.

If you have a solution you'd like to share, post a comment below. It's time to take a stand against the schoolyard bully to keep the bullies out of the workplace later.

And maybe save a life.

Because we don't want to have to create more suicide prevention programs. Enough is enough, don't you think?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Motivation for Mondays: The Artist's Way check-in for Week 3

We're one quarter of the way through, folks!

Today, we check in for Week 3 and are onto reading Chapter 4 -- my project as soon as I complete this post.

Were you able to complete the Morning Pages on a daily basis this week? I managed to write them 6 of the 7 days. I took a day off on Saturday, without intention. It just worked out that way. I think I might actually have slept in. For me that's getting up at 6 a.m., instead of 5 a.m., but that's a loss of one hour in the day. So I skipped the writing that morning and went straight into my day.

Nevertheless, I had a plethora of Artist Dates drop in my lap, it seems. And I even managed to do artsy things with friends as well. My week was extremely productive in a creative way. And I witnessed first-hand how very energizing that is to me. I feel like I'm playing catch-up or making up for lost creative time and am amazed by how much our minds/bodies/souls really do know what we need.

My first date this week took me inside a store in Phoenix called Write-Ons; it's a stationery story where they do custom-made invitations, sell greeting cards and gift items, and sell other miscellaneous items you really don't need but like to buy just for fun. I bought some of those, including three journals with bike imagery on them. I'm always looking for that kind of thing. The owner, who is a member of my Wednesday morning breakfast group, said she'll let me know when more come in. Yes!

I also spent an unusual amount of time this week looking at funny YouTube videos and listening to music. I get so caught up in work that I don't do that. How sad? I'm glad I'm being pulled back in that direction. I need to feed my inner senses as well as my creative mind. Clearly, I've been feeling starved and didn't even know it!

I returned to the Speakers' Lab with the Arizona Chapter of the National Speakers Association. The chapter holds regular monthly meetings which members and candidates can attend to practice a presentation. Up to four people each month can sign up to speak. Other members attend to act as the audience and learn from the presentations themselves. Then, they offer feedback. The chapter invites long-standing members to offer the final, professional critique. It's a valuable playground for speakers, and it's really fun to attend. It's also a way to develop personal relationships with other members, which is an excellent form of networking. I enjoy going, am highly energized and encouraged by this group, and am glad to be committed to returning. We pay $75/year to participate, and it's very much worth the extra fee.

My last Artist Date of the week took me to an artsy town north of where I live. It was completely unexpected, as I went there to meet friends for coffee. And when they left, I decided to poke around the town on foot, letting the road signs lead me where I went: to an antique store, an art gallery, an artist's studio, a bike shop. I met a sculptor, a woman who was feeding her pet desert tortoise, and a guitarist. I relished in the sights and sounds of this unexpected self-guided tour.

In addition to these four trips on my own, I also visited a new friend at a new wine bar in downtown Phoenix, and I went to a weekly Art Walk with my boyfriend one night this week.

I think I can safely say a creative awakening has begun over here. Because of it, I'm feeling a renewed sense of joy. I've missed that. And all it takes to reconnect with that is adding a little playtime to my day, or to the week, if that's all the time I have. So the work here with The Artist's Way is making me realize that it's far too easy to get caught up in stuff that doesn't matter, to focus on things that hold you back, when what will propel you forward is a matter of simply deciding to spend more time with yourself. This is a good lesson that I've already learned, of course, but a lesson that needs demands reminder -- and action. The B.I.K.E. isn't enough if you don't take action.

The response from my work with The Artist's Way is also showing up here. I've added a few new plug-ins on the blog: a stats counter and a list of most popular blog posts -- both on the right-hand side of the page. I've updated my speaker page on the NSA-Arizona Web site, and I'm getting ready to use these updates on my blog profile/bio and also on my LinkedIn page. The work has also inspired other posts and led me to exlore how I'm going to market myself as a speaker of my B.I.K.E. I sent out four or five letters of introduction last week for that, which I don't usually do. I'm usually just marketing myself as a writer and letting the speaking work come to me. But now I'm getting active on that level as well.


To me, this has always been the main thrust of Chapter 3. The lesson about how synchronicity can work in our lives and lead us to the work we feel most passionate about has always spoken to me the most. I believe it in. I look for it, and I experienced this several times this week. Each time, I was drawn to either make a call, send an e-mail or do something I had been wanting to do for quite some time. Once I had the sign in front of me and opened my eyes to see it, I followed. In some cases, literally.

Overall, I am so happy to see an attitude shift taking place. It's what I needed to get me back on track, and especially dump some stuff that had been clogging my thoughts of late. It's why I took this book off the shelf again.

I hope positive shifts are occurring in your lives as well. So please post your results and let us know what's going on. All you have to do is answer the questions at the end of the chapter, revealing only as much as you feel comfortable sharing.

Motivation for Mondays is a part of a weekly Twitter party called #MotivatedMondays initiated by Lorrie Shaw, a professional pet sitter, a regular pets contributor at, and pet blogger in Dexter Township, MI. Together, we post a combination of inspirational notes, links to motivational blog posts, and tips to help kickstart your week ahead. Look for us online every Monday morning--and throughout the day--if you need to kick start your week or want to share your own motivational thoughts.

Friday, October 15, 2010

10 simple things you can do to increase your blog traffic

Motorcycles on Main Street in Jerome Arizona
Are you happy with the traffic you're getting at your blog?

When I first designed this blog in 2007, I had no clear idea what I was going to do with it, let alone how I was going to gain readers. And I'm not a super techy person, if I'm techy at all. So I started off slowly.

It took me another year before I started posting regularly.

A whole year before I started posting regularly! Sounds crazy, right? It's not. It's how most of us get started with "this blogging thing." Such a foreign concept. Why do we need to do it? What's the point? Who's going to want to read all these posts? So many questions go through your head as you try to convince yourself why you don't need to do this. It does seem like a waste of time, and somewhat complicated, at first.

But then, if you're like me, you figure it out. In your own way. You start to see traffic showing up. People stop in to read a blog post or two. They poke around to see what else you have on the site, and eventually, they post a comment. Surprise!

Then, they come back. Wow! You have a returning audience. You start to perk up. You wonder if maybe you have something here. Maybe there's good reason to do this after all.

That's when you get excited. That's when you know you should take this more seriously. That's what happened to me. I had an idea. I designed the first page. And then I started writing. As time moved on, and the readers kept returning, I was able to more clearly define my purpose. It helped to pay attention to what you were reading, to try to focus on what you seemed to need from a blog like mine.

Now, three years later, I've learned a few things that could help you increase the traffic to your site. To be sure, I've learned the lessons slowly. I've adopted some of them and am working on others. But if they can help you, I'm willing to share. They're not even complicated. So here are my 10 simple tips for attracting more traffic to your blog. If you follow even one of them, it will help. If you do them all, and have the patience to wait for results, they should be positive:

1) POST REGULAR UPDATES. That was the first thing I picked up after participating in my first Blogathon a few years ago. If you can post daily, that's great, but any changes to the blog, really, can make a difference in how easy it will be for others to find you. Google likes updated content. So even if you don't have something to blog about every single day, consider changing something on the blog. Maybe add a new photo on the site or a new plug-in. Update your blogroll (links to other blogs you like, read, or would like to read). Add a new Page or some new feature. Any update helps. My goal is to blog or make some kind of update to the site at least three times per week to maintain the blog and keep it active and interesting.

You don't have to do this non-stop, but the more you put the word out about your content, the more people are going to have a chance to remember you even exist. With nearly 9 million self-development blogs out there, I know I have quite the competition. And I'm no Steve Pavlina, but that doesn't mean I shouldn't strive to gain his kind of notoriety. He's listed on many sites as one of the top self-development blogs in the world. Well, he didn't get there by staying quiet. He used his live networks to promote himself first. He told his friends, his family, and his clients until his message was clear. "I'm out here. I'm good. Read my stuff." Not in those exact words, of course.

3) USE SOCIAL MEDIA. Look, in this day and age, you shouldn't have a blog without also being on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Well, you can, of course, do whatever the heck you want. But why not take advantage of a free opportunity to spread the word and build your visibility--not just with friends but strangers, too? Bring 'em all in! Yeah, sure. If you build it, they will come. But not if you don't let people know you built it in the first place and then remind them about all the cool improvements (i.e.: new posts and other updates). Use social media to do that.

4) LINK UP! When you first get started, share links with your friends. Have them post your link on their blogrolls, and you do the same for them on yours. The next step is to use the search engines to find other blogs to link with, blogs that have more traffic than you do. Ideally, a lot more. And refer to other blogs in your posts, in general. Quote them, use them as sources, highlight blogs you have learned from or think your readers might like to read for a specific purpose. You'll see I've done this here. Eventually, these kind of steps will help people find you and want to share links with you. Their readers will find you as well, and you'll all post comments on each other's blogs. This kind of activity lessons the amount of time you have to go out and hunt yourself. That's the ideal place to be. It's what you want to work toward. The more sites you can connect with in this way, the better. That means you're going to be easier and easier to find. Traffic will roll right in, and you'll feed them good content. This is the ultimate back and forth that makes blogging so effective.

5) PROVIDE QUALITY CONTENT. If you're posting the same old thing all the time, not only will you get bored but so will your readers. Change things up. Post a mix of long and short blogs. Focus on weekly, monthly or quarterly themes. Have a picture-only day, or a video day. Do a "Question of the Day" post on a regular basis; these invite readers to participate by answering the question--and they will. They'll post comments. Readers want to interact with you. So take advantage of that and find ways to include them. If you're providing quality content, you'll know from the number of subscribers you have, the number of readers you see returning, and the number of comments you're attracting. If you're not seeing some kind of growth, you're not doing something right, and it might just have to do with your content.

6) FOCUS ON WHAT YOUR READERS WANT. Seriously. You're not just writing for the sake of writing or for something to do with your spare time. You're trying to build an audience, a platform for your book, or connect with potential clients. Whatever your exact purpose, you'll do yourself and them a favor if you focus on what they want from you. So ask them periodically. Use a post to ask them what they would like to see more of on your site. Take a poll and then dissect it for them in another post. Pay attention to which posts get the most comments. If they want you to comment on related news, do that. If they want you to tell more stories or add book reviews, do that. If they'd like to read Q/A interviews from people in your industry, offer that. If they'd like you to profile readers, incorporate that. Find out from them what works or what doesn't, and then make the necessary changes so you don't lose readers and will continue to gain new ones.

If they like what they're reading, ask them to blog about you, share links with their friends, or post an update on their social media sites. A blogging community has to work together in order for the community to stay alive and intact. If we don't work together, we fade away.

Blogger just added the ability to include a site counter, so I added that today. It also added a feature that allows you to see the most popular blog posts. I added that today as well. It's a fun feature, and you can see it on the right-hand side of the page, if you scroll down far enough. Keeping up with any new blogging features allows me to play around with what I offer my readers. It keeps the blog from staying static, and it offers me the chance to create something that may be more useful to you.

9) FOCUS ON SIMPLE CHANGES. Meagan Francis, a writer friend of mine over at The Happiest Mom (She could also use your vote to help her gain the gig as the Good Mood Blogger, if you wouldn't mind clicking and voting for her.) suggested you periodically re-evaluate your goals and then make simple changes to direct your attention to those goals. For example, she now responds to those who comment on her blog via e-mail. She likes the one-on-one contact and thinks that this encourages them to come back and continue the conversation. But even if you don't do that, something as simple as adding a "most-popular post" list, can help bring in new readers and give them a reason to dig around more on the site.

10) FIND A NICHE YOU CAN FILL. If you're not seeing growth in traffic after you've made some of these changes and given them time to take effect, then you might also consider the niche. Are you writing about something that people care about? Is it something you're passionate about? Is it a topic that is over-saturated? If so, how is your content different from the content on other popular blogs in your niche. Find a way to differentiate yourself, whether it's your point of view, your design, your attitude, and then work to capitalize on that.

If nothing else, I hope these tips comfort you in some way, because now you know there is no one thing that will boost traffic to your blog. It's a mix of action steps. It's practice. It's trial and error. If you need to consult an expert, that might be worth doing as well. Because I'll tell you what. I'm happy with my current traffic. It's grown considerably since I started blogging three years ago. I've taken all these steps and followed my own tips. But I want the blog to continue growing. So my next step is consultation.

Stay tuned for more changes, more updates, and hopefully more content you can use.