Wednesday, January 30, 2013

8 Ways to Evict Negativity Before It Evicts You



Every year we have critters die behind our walls. Likely, it’s mice that are dearly departing, but a few years ago I swear a moose had gone to the great beyond behind our bookshelf. This is morbid and this is disgusting. I understand, but it helps me make a point.

We all have putrid thoughts we allow to fester and run rampant in our brains for far too long.
Sometimes they die off on their own. And sometimes they don’t.

Time to give you eight eviction methods that have worked best for me…

Don’t Ignore the Smell
Something is rotting in there. You know it, visitors to your home know it. How does the saying go, the definition of insanity is smelling dead mice over and over again expecting the smell to go away on its own? 

Yeah, I know, not how the saying goes. But it should be.

Be realistic when your thoughts are causing stinky behavior.

Neuter the Baby Mice Makers
Mice love to breed. So do certain thoughts (especially if they know you’ll entertain them). The second a scratch of discouragement carves against your conscience, something along the lines of ‘You don’t matter’ or ‘You’re a failure and no one cares about you’—scythe it where it hurts. Show no mercy. Don’t let more in its likeness scatter freely, thinking they own the place.

Go to the Source
Oftentimes, after we’ve been upfront with ourselves about the negativity we’ve given voice to, we do something strange. We walk around tapping and sniffing in other areas of the house, suspicious and distrustful that every room, every wall has been overrun. This is a waste of time. After some honest reflection, we assess the troubled area. Now time to get down and dirty and kick out the mouse crap.

Set it Free
Acknowledge the critters for the infinitesimal power they bestow. When they lose their power, it’s easier to send them packing.

Nothing but a Mind Trap
Set traps. Yep, a bit weird. But it works. Whether it’s scripture or positive affirmations that are sure to snap shut on the scavenging scoundrels, acquire resources to resort to when the horde, mischief, or nest (all words for groups of mice) comes scampering.

Notes of encouragement you’ve saved, uplifting verses, connecting with a trustworthy friend, journal writings where you’re reminded of God’s faithfulness = great resources

Don’t Turn a Mouse into a Moose
I’m your example for this. Go back and read the second sentence of this post for proof. I imagine and worry mice into moose all the time. When I do that it makes it harder to convince myself to evict them. Too cumbersome. Too many horns. Too heavy. If I crack open the wall though, I’m sure to find a teeny weenie Stuart Little peeping up at me. Fear can debilitate us. So can robust imaginations. Don’t imagine your negative thought from a mouse to a moose.

Study Architect Plans
Mice are desperate creatures. They move in so they won’t freeze to death and because you have what they need—food. But your head, your life was intended to be mouse-free. Refresh your memory from time to time why you’re here (to glorify God and answer His call for your life). See if mice make any sense in the structure He crafted. Be ruthless if a thought is causing the structure to be compromised.

Exterminate
Hardest one because cold critters come back. They’ve lived there before, they’ll find their way again.

But it can be done. You have to call on supernatural strength for this one. I know because I have. I used to be tortured by insecurities about my weight and numbers on the scale. Through prayer and God’s unending grace these insecurities were exterminated years ago. I’ve blocked all entrances for the mice to repopulate. So long suckers!

I jest. I play. But disparaging thoughts can be brutal. I speak from experience. The methods above have worked for me. I hope they’ll work for you.

Do you have any other suggestions how to evict menacing thoughts?

*Disclaimer: No live mouse was hurt during the making of this post
**photo by stock.XCHNG
***Now might be a funny time to mention I’m reading Stuart Little with one of my daughters. ;-)

Monday, January 28, 2013

Changing How We React to Obstacles



I want to cultivate the tenacity of a well-known delicate-winged creature. I’m talking butterflies and I’m talking migration.

This isn’t some post about wanderlust or an insatiable desire to pack my things and hightail it to the Florida Keys because my nose runs every time I step outside. No, I’m referring to what it takes to push through when the winds kick up and food becomes sparse. Gusty gales and times of hunger come for all of us, though they’re disguised differently. A rush of wind knocks us flat on our faces when we lose a job or a loved one. Hunger pangs are triggered in times of loneliness or whenever our vision grows cloudy. 

This is why I admire the Monarch’s innate ability to survive—their propensity to endure.

Monarchs are known for powering through a myriad of obstacles, including seasonal snow cover, adverse weather conditions like strong winds and extreme heat, sandstorms, unsuitable habitat, hostile landscapes, and lack of food sources to name just a few.

In case you’re nodding and saying to yourself, “Sure, Wendy, we all want to grow stronger in this area,” let me give you a few more things to think about.

Migrating butterflies adjust. They adjust to their circumstances—to their surroundings.

And yet remarkably, they stay on course. They refuse to allow obstacles to become deterrents. Despite the fact that no single individual makes the round trip, (meaning each flight is entirely new for them) Monarchs handle change with incredible finesse. It’s as though they anticipate complications, quickly acknowledging them, then regardless of what tries to alter their flight, Monarchs fly on.

As I did a little research I read that the Monarch’s flight pattern is not affected by the wind.
Which brings me to these two verses…

“Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching…” Ephesians 4:14

“But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.” James 1:6

I’d love for my faith and my commitment to trust to mimic these resilient, beautiful creatures. Certain. Not dismissive of or ignorant to obstacles on my path, but sure and steady despite them.

Has something in nature ever reminded you of who you want to be?

*I also read Monarchs have milkweed in their bodies which is poisonous to most predators looking for a lovely-winged meal. But their wings say back off. Predators spot their wings and receive a ‘don’t mess with me attitude’ in any altitude. Wonder if having the Word in us and “flying” in its strength is like being swollen full of milkweed in the eyes of our enemy? May our wings show it.

**received butterfly info. here & photo by stock.XCHNG

Friday, January 25, 2013

Moving Thoughts Friday



Every Friday I’m going to ask a question. The questions I choose might be ambiguous on purpose. The goal is to have you answer the question according to your beliefs, where you’re at in life or a circumstance that might have recently impacted you. The only thing I ask is that you provide an explanation for why you answered the way you did.

It’s my hope to understand you better through this and also to gain a greater understanding of humanity and how people make decisions.

What are your thoughts about…


Lance Armstrong?

*photos by stock.XCHNG

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

8 Genres. 8 Experiences.



Last summer, Editorial Director of Baker Books, Chad R. Allen wrote a memorable post entitled, How to Write Stuff Everyone Wants to Read. He emphasized how, as writers, we are crafting experience. In his post, Allen challenges writers to engage the imagination.

I thought I’d play with your imagination a little today.

Allen’s point about inventing experiences that rival reality made me think of how various genres stir unique feelings in us. While every book should roll out an intricately woven one-of-a-kind carpet to captivate its intended readers, I had fun envisioning the experiences the following eight genres tend to evoke.

8 Genres. 8 Experiences.

Suspense
Jolting sensation of riding Big Thunder Mountain Railroad roller coaster in The Magic Kingdom. Plot twists catch in your lungs like unexpected gear shifts.

Romance
Gondola. Fingers entwined in yours. Sigh in your chest. Brushstrokes of sunlight painting whorls of shimmer across the water and in your loved one’s eyes.

Historical Fiction
Meandering through museum halls. Absorbing the well-placed recordings of times gone by. Swept up in the past.

Fantasy or Dystopian
Hobbit meets the White Witch. A play. Disguised and in costume. Dragons breathing fire. Crowd cheering as the halo encircling Katniss alights in a wreath of flames.

Children’s
Playground. High-pitched joy-born giggles. Erupting in non-stop smiles, warmed by endless possibilities resplendent in youth.

Crime
Yellow police tape snapping in the wind. Blood spatter. Quivering angst-filled anxiety rotisserie turning in your gut, pushing you to solve it.

Literary
Coffee shop. Shot of espresso springing your brain to an intoxicating awakened awareness. Craving to touch everything you see in order to take it all in anew.

My books (women’s fiction)
Remember this experience? I want to bring it back for you…

Breaking in a sprint to reach your beloved tree. Heart bursting in your chest as you climb and swing. Devotion coursing through you as you carve your initials into the bark, proud to say you’ve been there. Hope swelling as you gather wood and begin to construe a plan for building a tree house. Come one, come all. A club house—a book club house inspired to include all those who love to read.

Can't wait to see that day—to watch as you run to the tree I’ve planted!

Can you think of other experiences specific genres churn inside of us? What experience are you hoping to create for readers of your books? What experience do you love having as a reader?

photos by stock.XCHNG

Monday, January 21, 2013

Dream


The world is waiting for your dreams…

What’s your dream?

Friday, January 18, 2013

Moving Thoughts Friday



Every Friday I’m going to ask a question. The questions I choose might be ambiguous on purpose. The goal is to have you answer the question according to your beliefs, where you’re at in life or a circumstance that might have recently impacted you. The only thing I ask is that you provide an explanation for why you answered the way you did.

It’s my hope to understand you better through this and also to gain a greater understanding of humanity and how people make decisions.

Jump in before you second-guess yourself or wait until you’re sure?

*photos by stock.XCHNG

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

8 Ways to Organize Your Brain



In this social media age, when we’re bombarded with one distraction after another, it’s imperative to step back every so often to clean out the clutter we’ve accumulated like ravaging, time-sucking dust bunnies inside our brains.

Does your brain need an organization overhaul?

Stop Being So Polite to Distractions
Welcome, Facebook, here’s all my time. Do with it what you will.

Oh, it’s you, come on in TV show that will extinguish that spark trying desperately to ignite.

Hello, rambling neighbor, yes I’ll engage in forty meaningless minutes of non-conversation as I listen to your gossip about your mother’s uncle. Sure, why not.

Downsize the Worry Quadrant
“But what if,” you’ve been moved to the cerebral office with no windows, no computer, and minimal interaction with coworkers. Oh, and lights out all day. Saving energy.

Don’t Starve Creativity
Example of starving creativity: Glimmering inspirational idea that scurries to the corner whenever I open the door and light streams in full of hope and promise, no soup for you.

Take out the Trash
Negative self-talk, haunting lies from the past, discouraging phrases stuck between lobe one and lobe two—be gone!

Place Priority Items on the Highest Cranial Shelf
Assess what you value most and evaluate whether you’re dolling out enough time and resources to these top priorities. Make it so you can see them at all times—visual reminder.

Goal-Set a Cerebral Table
Establish attainable, focused tasks you’d like to accomplish. Write them in chalk on the canvas of your noggin’. Check in from time to time to evaluate if your centerpiece is the focal point of all you’ve set on the table.

Hang an Encouraging Sign (a mantra if you will) on the Strongest Sensory Point
We all need regular reminders of what’s important. If your reminder is imprinted on an impressionable sensory receptor—imagine the possibilities!

Trade Multi-tasked Mindjumper Mentality for Fully Focused Engaged Experiencer
One of my favorite lines from Dead Poets Society is when Robin Williams quotes Thoreau with wanting to “suck the marrow out of life.” We can do this, we can suck the marrow out of life or we can sip, sip, sip never ingesting the deep goodness that only comes from full engagement. Make your brain freeze, people!

Can you think of any other methods of brain organization at its best?

*photo by stock.XCHNG


Monday, January 14, 2013

When I Set My Mind to Something



At first glance, you might imagine this post will be about the tenacity required to complete a novel. Or perhaps you’re thinking I’m going to tell you about planning my wedding or ripping up the carpeting in our enormous great room to surprise my husband with stunning hardwoods after he returned from a business trip.

Nope, I’m going to tell you about the incomparable quest for a dropped sock.

Yes, a sock.

But this wasn’t just any missing sock (I’m not that uptight) and it didn’t simply go AWOL in the abyss of the dryer.

No, I witnessed the fall.

As I carried laundry up from our basement, one lone sock tumbled from the top of the towering load. I cringed as it landed in no man’s land.

Whether it was the glass of wine I’d already downed egging me on or the nerve of the sock to cliff dive like that, I can’t say, but no matter…I had to retrieve it.

Said sock waited for me at the base of the back of the basement steps in a skinny and nearly impossible to reach crevice.

I became Strider (aka Aragorn) daring to enter the cramped haunted caverns of the White Mountains. Might as well have been a sign below the basement steps that read “Thou shall not pass.” (Okay, officially done with Lord of the Rings references.)

I lifted my mock sword (familiar to most as a rod I popped off the laundry rack) and climbed suitcases like I’ve never climbed suitcases before. I extended my arm to the point my shoulder threatened to dislocate. My knees throbbed from the awkward frog pose I was forced to take. The sword (laundry rack rod) made contact. I pulled with all my might.

The sock favored dust bunnies.

The sock didn’t want to come home to its partner.

Blimey.

Stubborn sock. I wiggled. Refusing to admit defeat, I maneuvered into a new precarious position. I slapped some double-sized tape on my sword. I jabbed at the thing like Jack killing the beast in a scene from The Lord of the Flies. (First Rings now Flies. I’ll try not to throw in of the Dance.)

If it had one to stick out, the sock would have jutted out its tongue in an obnoxious mockery.

I was losing hope. Cricks in my neck made me aware of muscles I didn’t even know existed. The white sock had officially rolled in enough dust bunnies to turn it gray (nothing about Gandalph).

I threw things at it. I threw my fists up. I threw up. (No, not the last thing or the second to last.) But I grew irrevocably determined.

I shimmied until I sprawled out over the suitcases and bricks and other miscellaneous objects that left mysterious black etchings on my wrists and clothing. Once more I jousted the sock with the sticky end of my sword. I cinched my eyes shut and dragged the lint-coated thing toward me. Reluctantly, it came.

Just in time for me to topple.

I have wounds to show for my sock adventure.

I also have two matching socks.

Have you ever cracked yourself up when your personality wouldn’t let up (even as things grew funny and a little perilous—hey, I have a Band-Aid to show for it)?

Friday, January 11, 2013

Moving Thoughts Friday



Every Friday I’m going to ask a question. The questions I choose might be ambiguous on purpose. The goal is to have you answer the question according to your beliefs, where you’re at in life or a circumstance that might have recently impacted you. The only thing I ask is that you provide an explanation for why you answered the way you did.

It’s my hope to understand you better through this and also to gain a greater understanding of humanity and how people make decisions.

Pinterest or Goodreads—pick one!

*photos by stock.XCHNG

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

A Day in the Life of a Writer—Dr. Seuss Style



Every writer has a unique process. However, there are some experiences that are intrinsic for all writers, whether you’re a plotter or pantser—whether you write about butterflies and rainbows or plagues and cancer.

This I 8 Wednesday is inspired by titles of Dr. Seuss books.

Shall we begin?

I Am Not Going to Get Up Today!
Uninspired. Winter doldrums have set in. Sunshine not expected for weeks. Ideas, where are you? Characters, come forth!

Great Day for Up
Ah ha, there you are! What, what’s that you say? Throws back covers. Oh, now you’re talking. Must make a mad dash to the computer to get all this down.

What Was I Scared Of?
Fingers fly over the keyboard faster than insect wings. The plot is alive. The characters are alive. I’m ALIVE!

Hunches in Bunches
Gut feeling strikes. I’ll add this scene here. Perhaps I should tone down the loudmouth bass character. Time to crank up this scene with some Red Bull excitement.

The Shape of Me and Other Stuff 
It’s all coming together. I’m infusing. I’m injecting. Words are raining on the page. Somehow, some way this all came from me. This mystery….this genius…and well, the other stuff.

The Big Brag
Tackled five thousand words in an hour. I’m a word wrangler, a novel hero. Move over Gillian Flynn (ha, I’m laughing at myself on this one). Step back Baldacci. Elizabeth Berg, you’ve got nothing on me (except say the Dutch definition of your name meaning mountain).

I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!
It’s all so clear. The characters are lighting up the page with firework intensity. I close my eyes and the plot marches on. I can write with my eyes shut. I can brainstorm with my eyes shut. I can even read…with my eyes shut!

Oh, the Thinks You Can Think
Who was that freakshow pounding away at my keyboard and what is this drivel they’ve left behind? I’m sunk. Done in. I’ve somehow just ridden a roller coaster of epic proportions and this is all I have to show for it? Oh, me. Oh, my. But then there’s always tomorrow. I can get up and do it all again.

Your turn. Yep, there were just too many fun titles to play with so now you get to inject your addition to a day in the life of a writer—Dr. Seuss style. Pick one of these five titles and tell me how they exemplify the writer experience…Oh, the Places You’ll Go, If I Ran the Zoo, And to Think that I Saw it on Mulberry Street, I Wish That I Had Duck Feet, or Would You Rather Be a Bullfrog?

*photo by stock.XCHNG







Monday, January 7, 2013

Publishing, Love It or List It, and Gratitude



Okay, so my family has watched enough episodes now for me to properly formulate an opinion. The couples on Love It or List It come across generally ungrateful. During the transformation of their home. When the renovations are complete, they can’t help but fawn over what Hilary has done or the stunning house David has found for them.

If you’re wondering what the heck I’m referring to I’ll give you the two second spiel. Couple debates whether to fix up home or sell it. In moves Hilary with her magical visionary thinking and hearty team to do wonders. In moves David, real estate agent extraordinaire to convince them to list by showing the couple spotless properties that curiously are often priced above their budget. They ultimately must choose whether they love the changes or they’ll list their house and move on to “greener” pastures.

Hint: Hilary is always slammed with some unexpected (and of course expensive) structural or plumbing problem.

Therein is the telling word—unexpected.

When Hilary broaches the couple midway through the process with the hiccups, they’re often rude and disgruntled, fast to lose trust in her vision. They become nicer to David, more open-minded on the next house hunt. The psychology is enchanting.

And every single time it comes down to expectations.

No one likes to be thrown a curveball. But our expectations say a lot about us.

I can get sidetracked by materialism with the best of them, but it might be fun to shed light on my first rental. I lived in the downstairs of a colonial. Beautiful hardwood floors. High ceilings. Now for my furniture: mattress on the floor, light on the floor, papasan, toaster oven-sized TV, stacks of books cropping up like anthills, and I’m having trouble remembering anything else. I lived this way until my boyfriend (now husband) took pity on me and began hauling in furniture his parents had given him. Here’s the thing…I was perfectly content that way.

My expectations and neediness (or lack thereof) shaped my outlook. I was full.

I try to remember this whenever I zap into “mine all mine” mode, whenever I start drooling over the next ___________. Sure, nice things are nice. They’re fun. But they won’t better us. A new house or even an improved house for that matter won’t add to who we are.

I made the connection the other day between Love It or List It and the publishing process. We’re constantly poised to feel like we need more. More validation, more readers, more reviews, more stars, more fans on Facebook, more than one book published, etc. We struggle to feel full. We fight to keep trusting when we’re thrown a curveball. Enchanting psychology.

Here’s where it’s at…We are wise to cling to a spirit of gratitude. Whether it’s our homes being gutted or our souls, we’re constantly given opportunities to rise to resiliency when we’re sideswiped with the unexpected. It’s all on loan. Temporary.

What reminds you to be grateful?

Now off to watch Property Brothers. ;-)

*I will say I have no idea how I’d react if a budgeted plan got majorly altered. What comes across as the couples acting ungrateful could be a natural response.
**photo by stock.XCHNG

Friday, January 4, 2013

Moving Thoughts Friday



Every Friday I’m going to ask a question. The questions I choose might be ambiguous on purpose. The goal is to have you answer the question according to your beliefs, where you’re at in life or a circumstance that might have recently impacted you. The only thing I ask is that you provide an explanation for why you answered the way you did.

It’s my hope to understand you better through this and also to gain a greater understanding of humanity and how people make decisions.

Your loved one’s idiosyncrasies—love ‘em or list ‘em?

*photos by stock.XCHNG
**My entire family is addicted to the HGTV show, Love It or List It

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

8 Reasons Book Clubs Are Here to Stay



Oxygen bars, pole dancing exercise classes, gold parties, trading Cabbage Patch or Garbage Pail Kid cards (okay, so that was me in 2nd grade and not women) no matter the motivation, women love to gather.

Women will continue to find creative ways to come together. In light of this, I have no doubt women will congregate, exuding a thirst and appreciation for reading long into the future.

Books are eternal. Yep, I said it. Always been around and always will be. And this means people will want to talk about them.

Hence (yes, I’m beginning the New Year with a hence...look out 2013) book clubs.

Book clubs won’t fizzle out anytime soon. Here’s why:

Stimulate my Synapses
I left a book club meeting last month feeling like my brain had just won a chess game against Bobby Fischer. The conversation stirred dozens of thoughts I’d never before entertained. One woman mentioned an observation regarding our novel of the month that immediately played off another woman’s point. Invisible ping pong of the best kind. Eternal Synapse-Shine for my Spotty Mind.

Hostess with the Mostess
I don’t enjoy cleaning. But I do enjoy making people feel welcome in my home. Book clubs give me an excuse to not only clean, but spiffify my house. I buy that candle. I plan that recipe. Then I rub my hands in anticipation of a conversation getting ready to brew.

Talk Me a River
Women love to process by talking through things. When we read a book it doesn’t seem enough sometimes to close the book and sigh. If the book has climbed inside us, we crave an enriching exchange about what we’ve experienced. Book clubs are ideal settings for this kind of book love. Nothing like reading one of your favorite lines aloud to witness another member lifting her book up to show you she’s underlined the exact same lines.

The Ultimate Connector
We are living stories. Every day. Every moment. This is why book clubs are so impactful. Our stories meld with the characters’. Our lives intertwine with the rising arcs, the zinging climactic scenes. We connect this way. And by meeting together to discuss how we’ve leapt inside the book (or how we wanted to run from it) we are uniquely bonding with others.

Not a Passing Craze
Age defying new makeup, baskets, stamps, cupcake parties, embossed stickers to label everything from lunch boxes to our children’s foreheads…there are countless opportunities to jump on a new bandwagon. But there’s one wagon that remains. Any thriving bookstore knows this. That’s why they have a table marked with a sign “Book Club Picks” and the like.

Diversity Factor
Where else would you get a woman who hasn’t applied a lick of makeup in twenty years sitting next to shellacked Shelly? When else would you get the atheist, the pastor, and the ‘not so sure about the whole organized religion thing’ woman yakking it up about a book that directly deals with faith? Book clubs invite unity even as diverse as they come.

Authors Keep Clubs in Mind
More and more authors are writing with gathered clubs in mind. They want to feed you. Feed you with questions, with solid characters, and with rich interactions. Because authors are acknowledging the value of these groups, they’re (we’re) learning to cater to your hopes.

Social Hour
Okay, I’ll admit it sometimes it’s nice just to admire a beautiful cheese spread while sipping a well-selected wine. A break. Time away from our demanding jobs as a parent or entrepreneur, book clubs give us this. For that we’ll be forever thankful.

Do you think book clubs are here to stay? Why or why not?

*If you want information on how to start up a book club in your area please shoot me an email (see right sidebar).
**photo by stock.XCHNG