Make Affirmations Rather than Resolutions!

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Affirmations rather than Resolutions!

This is the time of year I advocate for affirmations rather than resolutions.

I used to celebrate New Year’s Eve in the accepted and conventional manner. I’d stay up till midnight, fortify my resolve with champagne, and vow to live cleaner, work harder, and sustain a calm, orderly, life.

clock-334117_640I’d make these resolutions at midnight, and in the morning – just hours into the new year – I ‘d break them. Then I’d think I was a failure, and that the year was off to a bad start and could only get worse so really, why bother?

It didn’t matter if it was a modest resolution I’d failed to keep, like putting the clean laundry away, or a grandiose one, like writing a novel by the end of the week, or a perennial one, like losing a few pounds, or a hopeful one, like being kinder and more generous.

All resolutions did was set me up for failure.

I’m done with that!

Now I make lists of affirmations, including all the milestones and transitions celebrated and/or mourned, depending.

I write everything down: the visits, the adventures, the conversations and connections, the surprises, and the words.

If you’re a writer, it’s important to keep track of the words.

I write down all my publications and broadcasts for the year, including where and when they were published.

This isn’t just a measurable reality-check, it’s also good record keeping, which is part of the job.

Writers need to keep track of their work for several reasons:

  • So you can send a clip along with a query.
  • In order to keep track of your income; the tax man cometh in April.
  • To correlate your paying markets with your readership. What’s your payer to reader mix?
  • For a sense of accomplishment: Look how much you wrote!

This time of year I also try to update the list of the books I’ve read and movies I’ve watched during the year. I’m middle aged, and this is a helpful memory aid.

And I list all that I’m grateful for, which is especially helpful in these uncertain times.

Making resolutions is like “shoulding” all over yourself; listing affirmations leads to kindness and self-care.

I no longer make resolutions. I write affirmations, try to stay present, single task, and live one moment at a time.

Blessings to you. I’ll see you in the New Year.

One of the most life-affirming things I've done in 2016 is hike Vermont's 272-mile Long Trail.

One of the most life-affirming things I did in 2016 is hike The Long Trail, Vermont’s 272-mile “footpath in the wilderness.”

Deborah Lee Luskin blogs weekly about Living in Place, The Middle Ages (in humans, not history), Vermonters By Choice, and most recently: Lessons from the Long Trail, about her 272-mile end-to-end thru-hike of Vermont’s Long Trail.

Grammar-ease: Those Words That Are Spelled the Same, Sound the Same…

It’s been a while since I’ve done a grammar post. As I’ve been writing lately, my fingers have been coming up with their own spellings of words that pass spellcheck but aren’t correct. And, voila, today’s post was born!

What are the words called that are spelled the same but sound different?

How about the words that sound the same but are spelled different? What are they called?

And then, what about those words that are spelled the same and sound the same? What are those called?

Here’s the cheat / check list:

 

homophone_homograph_homonym

Homophones are words that sound the same when pronounced and are spelled differently. (think ‘phone’ = ‘sound’) Examples:

  • adds / ads
  • air / heir
  • ate / eight
  • bare /bear
  • bread / bred
  • days / daze
  • dear / deer
  • dew / do
  • doe / dough
  • feat / feet
  • fore / for / four
  • hire / higher
  • lead / led
  • loan / lone
  • meat / meet
  • pair / pare / pear
  • sail / sale
  • sew / so
  • there / their / they’re
  • wear / where

Homographs are words that are spelled the same and they can sound the same, but don’t have to. (think ‘graph’ = spelling) Examples:

  • bear (animal) / bear (carry something)
  • bow (bend forward) / bow (of a ship)
  • fair (reasonable) / fair (in appearance)
  • lead (bullet) / lead (be in front)
  • lean (thin) / lean (rest against)
  • plain (ordinary) / plain (flat country)
  • porter (beer) / porter (person)
  • punch (drink) / punch (in the face)
  • tear (apart) / (cry a ) tear
  • train (teach) / train (transportation)

Homonyms are words that are spelled the same and/or sound the same – they are a combination of homophones and homographs. (think ‘onym’ = name). Examples:

  • lead / led
  • mean (nasty) / mean (math term)
  • muscle / mussel
  • pen (to write with) / pen (to cage animals)
  • pour / pore

***Tip — all homonyms are homophones because they sound the same

Does this help clarify the terms and differences?

Lisa_2015Lisa J. Jackson is an independent writer and editor who enjoys working with businesses of all sizes. She loves researching topics, interviewing experts, and helping companies tell their stories. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Writer’s Weekend Resources – Calm in the Chaos

I'm dreaming of a quiet day-after-Christmas ...

I’m dreaming of a quiet day-after-Christmas …

At this time of the year, I always feel as if the days are passing in a kaleidoscope-like frenzy that leaves me wondering which way is  up. No matter how prepared I intend to be, I am always running late. On everything. Shopping, writing deadlines, cleaning, visiting, card writing … you name it, and I’m behind on it.

I do my best to manufacture small havens of quiet amidst the chaos, but lately those moments of respite have been few and far between. It’s  okay. Over the years, I have grown used to this routine and I know that the wildness of these days will eventually spend itself and I will be left to happily curl up on the sofa with a soft blanket, a mug of tea, a satisfyingly thick book, and my journal.

That day can’t come fast enough. 😉

How goes your journey through the last few weeks of the year? Are your celebrations shaping up to your liking? Are you feeling ready for the holidays? What kind of goodbye will you wish 2016? What are your favorite guilty pleasures at this time of year?

_jamie sig


As promised, I will continue to highlight one or two “deep” posts in these Sunday missives – posts by writers who are exploring and addressing the role of art and specifically writing in the world today.

In the New York Times article, Now Is the Time to Talk About What We’re Really Talking Aboutnovelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie writes, among other things, about the importance of accuracy in the words we choose and the stories we tell:

Yet, a day after the election, I heard a journalist on the radio speak of the vitriolbetween Obama and Trump. No, the vitriol was Trump’s. Now is the time to burn false equivalencies forever. Pretending that both sides of an issue are equal when they are not is not “balanced” journalism; it is a fairy tale—and, unlike most fairy tales, a disingenuous one.

Now is the time to refuse the blurring of memory. Each mention of “gridlock” under Obama must be wrought in truth: that “gridlock” was a deliberate and systematic refusal of the Republican Congress to work with him. Now is the time to call things what they actually are, because language can illuminate truth as much as it can obfuscate it. Now is the time to forge new words. “Alt-right” is benign. “White-supremacist right” is more accurate.


And from Lisa Cron, author of many excellent books on the writing craft, comes the post, The Power of Story, Now More Than Ever via Writer Unboxed. In this piece, Cron

Stories aren’t merely for entertainment – no matter what the writer intends. Stories are entertaining so we’ll pay attention to them – it’s biological. Stories press the pause button, allowing us to slip out of our own lives the better to experience the protagonist’s inner struggle. Stories thus tacitly change our perception of what’s right and wrong. What is sacred and what is profane. What is fair and what is not.

Stories are simulations that put facts (real and imagined) into a human context that gives them meaning and makes them actionable.

And so your novel will change how your readers see the world. It will also – in ways large and small — change what they do in the world.


Last but not least, in his post Putting Your Purpose on the Page (also for Writer Unboxed), Don Maass writes about the power of fiction to change the world and offers inspiration and tactical tips for writers who want to do just that:

If your intention in writing is to “illuminate” or “explore”, or simply to entertain, why are you aiming so low?  Make a statement.  Declare yourself.  Teach us what we don’t know.  Show us how to accomplish that which we are afraid to do.  Don’t just challenge our thinking, change it.  Don’t just create conflict, shine a light on injustice, stir our timid hearts, make us want to leap up and act, show us the better world in which we could live.  Don’t just warn us, inspire us to change.

The novels that will change the remainder of the 21st Century have yet to be written.  You have a keyboard.  You have the craft.  You have the eyes, mind and heart of a great storyteller.  What are you waiting for?  As I commented the other day, we are all writers.  The worst thing we could do, especially now, is to keep quiet.

··• )o( •··

My Favorite Blog Reads for the Week:

CRAFT

PUBLISHING & MARKETING

INSPIRATION

THE WRITING LIFE

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Sundry Links and Articles:

The Oatmeal is mostly known for it’s snarky style, but “Plane” is both poignant and inspiring. It’s a story I didn’t know about one of the most prolific and successful storytellers of our time, and a story that reminds us that even though we may feel helpless, we should still try to help people.

oatmeal-roddenberry

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Finally, a quote for the week:

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Here’s to pockets of calm in whatever storm you’re navigating, holiday cheer that lights up your days and nights, and the courage and passion to tell your stories.
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Jamie Lee Wallace Hi. I’m Jamie. I am a content writer and branding consultant, columnist, sometime feature writer, prolific blogger, and aspiring fiction writer. I’m a mom, a student of equestrian arts, and a nature lover. I believe in small kindnesses, daily chocolate, and happy endings. Introduce yourself on FacebookTwitter, Instagram, or Pinterest. I don’t bite … usually.

This post originally appeared on the Live to Write – Write to Live blog.
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Writer’s Weekend Edition – Illuminate the Beautiful

On the multiple roles of The Artist …

My Instagram feed @suddenlyjamieI have made no secret of the fact that my worldview has been irreparably changed by bearing witness to the recent U.S. election and the ensuing fallout. As someone who has spent most of her life avoiding political discussions because it “wasn’t my thing,” I am now engaged in a self-guided crash course in civics so that I may speak and act responsibly and proactively in the days ahead.

That said, I am and always will be a writer – an artist – at heart. While I feel an urgent responsibility to actively engage in standing up against tyranny in all its forms, I do not want that battle to consume my every thought, or indeed, my ability to appreciate all the beauty and magic the world has to offer.

Earlier today, a friend of mine posted on Facebook inviting friends to find and share the “beauty in the madness.” Peter Beach is a designer/illustrator/photographer who, among other things, has created a startling and piercing collection of black and white photographs documenting the lives of the homeless of Miami Beach. Here is what he said in his Facebook post:

… let this image begin a new series: “Beauty in the Madness” – random observations of beauty in everyday life.

The goal: to create an awareness… acknowledgment… a conscious effort to notice, embrace and celebrate the smallest and most insignificant things that life presents each day — ultimately and most importantly, to counterbalance the daily negative onslaught we’re experiencing.

>>> feel free to extend the series – your own observations and personal interpretations of beauty throughout your daily travels – can’t wait to see them – the creative soul awaits!

This is an invitation I have accepted and would now like to extend to you.

Whether you are capturing your observations of beauty with a camera, a paintbrush, a pen, or a keyboard, I invite you to share them far and wide. Link to them in the comments. Tweet them. Instagram them. Snapchat, Facebook, and YouTube them. (Sorry for the grammatically incorrect use of nouns as verbs. My inner editor is cringing, but I’ve asked her to count to ten and move past it.) Send them in letters. Leave them on café tables. Tuck them into library books.

Seek and cherish images, words, and stories of beauty, and let your definition of beauty encompass all the world in all its astonishing mystery and diversity.

··• )o( •··

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Jamie Lee Wallace Hi. I’m Jamie. I am a content writer and branding consultant, columnist, sometime feature writer, prolific blogger, and aspiring fiction writer. I’m a mom, a student of equestrian arts, and a nature lover. I believe in small kindnesses, daily chocolate, and happy endings. Introduce yourself on FacebookTwitter, Instagram, or Pinterest. I don’t bite … usually.

This post originally appeared on the Live to Write – Write to Live blog.
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Developing the Skill of Self-Compassion

This post went up on my life coaching blog today and it seemed to fit what I wanted to say here as well. I’ve never posted the same post to two different blogs, but in an act of self-compassion, and with hopes that my writing friends will get something out of this post as well, here it is!

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“If you long for the world to be a saner, more loving place, please be advised that you must start inside. Care for your sick, anxious, exhausted self as lovingly as you want to care for every suffering thing.”

–Martha Beck, Like Ten Thousand Knives When All You Need is a Spoon

Back when the year was new, I arranged to speak on the topic “Developing the Skill of Self-Compassion.” The talk is tonight (details here.) As a result of agreeing to do this presentation, I’ve been immersed in reading, thinking, and writing about self-compassion lately.

Good thing.

It turns out, I needed some remediation on how to have compassion for myself.

Our culture (here in the US) does not easily allow for self-compassion. We are taught to “pull ourselves up by our bootstraps,” “just do it,” and “no pain, no gain.” That culture of doing it all by ourselves leads to an inability to ask for help and an inability to cut ourselves some slack.

My specific background, from my family of origin to my immersion in the world of medicine—a place where we are taught to ignore everything from our basic needs for sleep and food, to our (just as basic) needs for rest and play—does not easily allow for self-compassion.

And as I write this, I am thinking: Quit whining! This blog post is not about you—you are trying to help people with it!

True. I would like to help people with everything I write. But refusing to recognize my own blind spots and, in this instance, my difficulty with self-compassion will only make me less compassionate with others.

It is only in recognizing our own flaws and accepting them—not in a “Who cares if I’m a slob?” way, but in a “This is who I am. I am not perfect but I am enough,” way.

When I recognize my need for sleep is more important than my need to complete my daily word count, for example, this self-compassion allows me to acknowledge a friend’s inability to complete her writing goal on a particular day and to help her be kind to herself.

If I stay up late and write, no matter the cost to my sleep and my sanity, then I am more likely to judge a fellow writer harshly for choosing to care for herself rather than be a slave to her writing schedule.

My lack of self-compassion, when I fall into it, affects every area of my life. Maybe you occasionally lack compassion for yourself, too.

If you sacrifice your health and wellbeing in order to have the perfect holiday, you will resent the relative who shows up with boxes of chocolates for everyone because they “don’t know what to get.”

If you serve a healthy, nutritious meal every night no matter how long it takes to get it on the table, you will look down your nose (even if just in your head) at the friend who invites you over and then orders pizza because she wants to spend her time talking to you rather than prepping a meal in the kitchen.

That unconscious attitude will interfere with your ability to enjoy your friend and your precious time together.

In her book, The Gifts of Imperfection, Brene Brown states that in order to live a Wholehearted life—and who doesn’t want to live a wholehearted life?—we must love ourselves. It’s a prerequisite.

We cannot give away what we don’t have.

The way I took this message is I need to love myself and have compassion for myself if I want to make a positive difference in the world. Self-compassion needs to be the foundation of everything I do or I will just inflict my lack of compassion on everyone around me.

This is not always easy, because we are like the fish: we don’t notice the water we swim in.

We need to notice how we talk to ourselves all day long. We are not consciously aware of our thoughts (words) most of the time.

We need to become aware.

What are you thinking right now? Does it serve you? If not, try thinking a different thought or just questioning your thought.

If you are thinking, as I often do: I’ll never get it all done, you will feel frantic and behind-the-8-ball all day long.

If you notice the thought, and consciously decide to think: I’ll get everything done that needs to get done, you will start to feel better.

If you do that over and over, you will have a great day and you will spread acceptance, love, and compassion wherever you go.

Here’s the formula:

  1. Think negative thought.
  2. Notice what you are thinking.
  3. Respond with a positive thought (question, response, mantra.)
  4. Notice your next negative thought.
  5. Respond with a positive thought (question, response, mantra.)
  6. Repeat, repeat, repeat.

I’ve been doing that since I got up and, so far, it’s been a good day. How about you?

Diane MacKinnon, MD, Master Certified Life CoachDiane MacKinnon: Hi! I’m so glad to be a part of this community of writers. I don’t always feel like a writer, but I draw inspiration and encouragement from this group of readers and writers every day. Thank you all for being here.

 

The Planner Conundrum

Dwight D. Eisenhower once said that “plans are nothing. Planning is everything.” So what, I have to wonder, would he make of planners?

I am planner obsessed. It is more than a schedule for me–it is a roadmap. Happily, I have other friends who share the “what will be perfect for this coming year” focus, and we exchange flurries of emails this time of year. I used to love the Franklin Covey system, and still use the ideas behind it, but it is too bulky.

I have a large Planner Pad, which I’ve decorated. The smaller size is too small for me to see, but the larger size is to big to haul around in my purse, so that isn’t working as well for the day to day. I take the T and walk everywhere, so transportability matters. I’ve also used the Passion Planner, with same too big/too small issues. I use my google calendar all the time, so time scheduling isn’t the issue. It is more prioritizing my time that I have been wrestling with of late.

I use and like the Bullet Journal system, and use it for taking notes. But I need a bit more order in my life.  The lists are long–how to get them done? Maybe there wasn’t the perfect planner for me? That’s what I was thinking when my friend Jessie wrote to me about her latest planner discovery.

The Volt planner is new on the market. The focus of the planner is on goals and achievements. Every month you set up a goal. There are even boxes on the bottom of the month for you to check off whether you met the goal.

There are also weekly goals, and a place for you do to check-ins with yourself.

The “schedule” portion of the planner breaks days into three blocks–morning, afternoon, evening–without specific times. I love this. When I am trying to block times to write, or do yoga, or deck the halls, I need a big picture “Tuesday Night” vibe.

I did order the Volt, and received it yesterday. It looks to be sturdy, nice layout, dark print, heavy pages. Simple yet (hopefully) sufficient for my needs. I decided to hit “order” after I’d downloaded their 2016 planner from their Facebook page, and taken it for a test drive. I also got a new notebook to bullet journal in. Both fit in my purse.

In 2017 I have two books to write. Plus everything else. Let’s hope that the Volt is up to the challenge of my life.

Dear readers, are you planner obsessed? What are you going to use for 2017?

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J.A. Hennrikus and Julianne Holmes are the same person. She writes mysteries.

Writing when it’s hectic

 

 

I mentioned in my response to the Friday question that writing has helped me to keep my balance in 2016. It has helped me to handle the rocky ride that this year has been.

And of course, now we are entering the holiday season. It’s the time of year when kids come home from college, party invitations arrive, and there’s always shopping or baking to get done.

But if you are a writer who gets her stress out by writing then it’s imperative that you continue writing during this hectic season.

Ways that I make myself write:

  • I create a to-do list every morning. Along with holiday tasks I have writing tasks. I recently sent out a pitch to a magazine that was accepted and now I’m working on the article. If “send a pitch” hadn’t been on my to-do list, I would have waited until after the commotion was over in January and who knows where the idea may have flown off to?
  • Brute force. When I can, I take myself to the library the next town over and set up shop in the quiet room. I try to stay for until I’m finished with a piece or until 3 hours is up, depends on which comes first.
  • Sometimes I set mini-goals. Maybe I can’t write a full article today, but I can certainly write a blog post, or add to an outline, or take notes for a book review.
  • When I’m stressed or insanely busy, I’ll pull out a fun project -that great idea for a story that I long ago shelved.
  • I ask my family to respect my writing. Mom’s busy right now, go ask Dad.
  • I don’t see my writing as something selfish (and therefore last on the list) I see it as an important way to contribute.
  • I keep a notebook with me at all times. Sometime when I read a book, see a movie, or even when I’m driving, an idea gets triggered. If I don’t write it down as soon as I can it gets lost.
  • I realize that sometimes the desire not to write is the desire not to write.

And in the end, if I can’t get any writing in today, I tell myself it’s okay, there’s always tomorrow.

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Wendy Thomas is an award winning journalist, columnist, and blogger who believes that taking challenges in life will always lead to goodness. She is the mother of 6 funny and creative kids and it is her goal to teach them through stories and lessons.

Wendy’s current project involves writing about her family’s experiences with chickens (yes, chickens). (www.simplethrift.wordpress.com) She writes about her chickens for GRIT, Backyard Poultry, Chicken Community, and Mother Earth News.