June 24th – “Have you been curious about what an ex has been up to? Get back in touch today.”

NO, I have not been curious about what an ex is up to. No, I do not want to get back in touch. NO THANK YOU!

Some days, my horoscope is a complete miss. I can think of a million other things I could do than get back in touch with an ex.

Instead, I worked on my novel,

gardened,

IMG_9130[1]

waited in line at the dollar store behind a 7 week old husky German shepherd mix who looked just as cute as this puppy,

korean-jindo-835299__340

and read a book.

IMG_9132[1]

It’s amazing what one can achieve when one doesn’t contact an ex. 

June 23rd – “Slow down today — you are right on track and you have nothing to worry about.”

It’s been a busy month. I have a two projects I am working on, so I’ve put the blog aside for the month. I can do two things at once, but not three!

As predicted by my horoscope, June has been a beautiful month for devoting more time and energy to passion projects, learning, and extra-curricular activities.” I’ve been doing all three and I am already experiencing some of the rewards!  

The end of month deadline is closing in on me and there’s still so much work left to do. I started worrying about it yesterday, but today is a different day. So what if I wasted time and worried yesterday? I don’t have to do that today. With each new day comes new challenges, new ideas, and new attitudes. For example, yesterday there was no cake in the office. Today, there was cake in the office.

IMG_9123[1]

Is 10:00 a.m. too early to eat cake? I don’t think so!

IMG_9127[1]

If cake isn’t a sign to slow down and stop worrying, I don’t know what is!

IMG_9128[1]

Tomorrow is the beginning of pride weekend and my boss brought this understated cake to the office. The outside is simple, but the message it conveys is crystal clear. I think there is something for me to learn here.

I have been trying to add more adventure and excitement to my story and I don’t think it needs that. The story is a simple one. It’s not supposed to be a drama filled with twists and turns, betrayals, reversal of fortunes, or evil twins. No, that was never the intent. My tale is about the everyday life of people who are not often seen.  If my story were a cake, I think it would have ten or twenty different colors underneath the vanilla frosting. Thank you for the sweet lesson today, horoscope!

IMG_9129[1]

May 10th – “The year’s only full moon in your sign happens today…Come out of hiding, stop procrastinating on that big reveal, chase your dreams without a net!”

Today was supposed to be the BEST DAY OF THE YEAR for me. Lucky Jupiter was in my sign!

The night before, I got to sleep for 12 full hours. I was well rested and ready for the day.

I did my chores early and still had some of the morning left before the afternoon sun.

I have been feeling uninspired trying to write on my computer, so I picked up a notebook and did things the old fashioned way. 10 pages later, I was relieved. I can still write after all!

IMG_9047[1]

Maybe the pages came from the makeshift altar I put next to me while I wrote in bed. Who would’ve known that the secret was to light a candle next to my writing rock, fresh flowers, and a stuffed meerkat. I don’t know much about candles, writing rocks, or flowers. If anything is magical, it must be meerkat. Maybe I was able to write because it was my best day of the year. Who knows.

I decided that it would be beneficial write longhand every day, even if it’s only for a few pages.  I’m only on the first draft and all ideas need to be written no matter how juvenile, stupid, uninteresting, offensive, angry, or crazy I might find it later. I need all the inspiration I can get and computers really do suck when it comes to that.

Typing and writing are completely different things. I thought I could save time by putting everything on my computer, but the reality is the opposite. Typing takes longer because I constantly second guess myself. Whenever I type, I can quickly delete and change things as I go. That’s a problem for those like me who have an indecisive and perfectionist mindset!  Writing long hand keeps things going without hesitation. It was just the exercise that I needed.

At the end of my best day of the year, I was rewarded with homemade crepes filled with Greek yogurt and freshly picked strawberries from my garden. The best part was that I didn’t have to make it!

IMG_9058[1]

IMG_9062[1]

April 6th – “You know intuitively that things are going to go your way, even if all visible signs point in the opposite direction.”

Do I know that things are going my way? I don’t feel very sure about my writing project.

The new thing I’m trying to do is to clock in a certain number of hours each week for writing. Ideally it would be 20 hours. It sounds like a lot, but it’s not a crazy number for me. For years, I wrote 20 – 30 hours a week in addition to working a day job. It’s going to take a while to build that habit back up, so I’m not expecting it to happen overnight. It will likely take a few years.

Two weeks ago, I decided to set up a reward system for myself. For every 5 hours I write, I get to do 1 hour of another creative activity (i.e. painting/reading). So far, I’ve only accumulated 1 hour of fun time. I made cat yoga cards from an old calendar I wanted to upcycle:

IMG_8985[1]

IMG_8986[1]

IMG_8987[1]

I know from experience that there will be many hours “wasted” and I will not have added too many words to the page. My tarot reader also confirmed this and said that I should just sit there. Does that happen to you?

I’d like to believe that all hours I’ve spent writing have been productive. That’s not true at all! There have many days and nights…even weeks when I worked on writing just 1 page. There have also been many times where I’ve written 25 pages in the course of a night. It’s very unpredictable.

It’s funny that how easily how nostalgia can distort reality. In my mind, I only like to remember all the 25 page nights, not the hours that I spent sitting in a coffee shop trying to string up 25 words to make up a sentence.

Are things going my way, even if I only have a few pages to show for it? I’d like to think so!

March 21st – “A new beginning has turned down a familiar path, but surprises are still in store.”

The beauty of life is that it is ever changing. No matter how we may want things to stay the same, people grow old, sunny days turn into cold nights, and what was once new and exciting becomes ordinary and dull.

Last week, I said to a friend that, “Sometimes it feels like I’m going in circles. I came back, not once, but twice to the same job I had 16 years ago!”  I know that I’m not stuck in the same situation.  I’m not the same person I was 16 years ago living paycheck to paycheck trying to make rent. I’m not that miserable soul 6 years ago stubbornly trying to finish my dissertation. So much has happened throughout those years that it would be impossible for me to in the same place.

The new beginning I have chosen for myself involves creative writing. I’m not naturally a good writer. I never properly learned grammar in school and can’t proofread well if my life depended on it.

What I do have is something to say and I’m employing writing as my medium. It surprised me that I would want to do creative writing at this point in life because I had written if off for so many years in favor of more analytical work.

While I working on my story today, it led me down a familiar path of what it felt like to write creatively. It’s been over a decade since I last worked on a significant creative writing project. I’ve been improving my painting and cooking skills this past year, but that kind of creative process doesn’t offer me the same kind of joy that writing does.  Perhaps it’s because I can’t hide my politics behind chocolate cake and sweet kitten faces. No, creative writing seems to bring all of my opinions to the surface. 

I had already outlined ideas for plots for each chapter, but found my mind taking me somewhere else. I didn’t know what would happen next until the words came together. It’s kind of weird, but in a good way. I had no idea that I could surprise myself!

I can’t wait to see where my imagination takes me tomorrow!

February 23rd – “You will tend to scatter your efforts in all directions, and this could only bring you trouble.”

I didn’t want any trouble, so I followed my horoscope. There were several moments in the day when I was close to getting distracted by the possibilities of new fun projects. At one point, I wanted to make board games! I still have 2 projects which require a some of my attention and 1 project that requires more focus.

The big project is practicing creative writing. I know I just called it a project, but it’s really a routine. What makes it a routine is that I hope to make it a habit and eventually be able to get myself accustomed to writing a few hours each week, no matter what’s going on in life.

Routines are much harder than they appear. Some “studies” say that it only takes as little as doing something 17 times to make it a habit. What’s not explained is how much time can elapse in between times that you are taking action. It took me a few years to maintain a fitness routine (which I’ve been doing for 20 years now!). It required a lifestyle change and training myself to act in a different way until it became intuitive.

The way to test if you’ve created habit or not is to see how long it takes you to get back to the habit after an interruption. Interruptions include any extenuating circumstances like personal issues, vacations, starting/stopping a job, beginning/ending a relationship, etc. Things happen in life and it’s necessary to put those fires out. If a handsome/beautiful stranger asked you out on a date, are you really going to say “no” so you can spend your time at the gym or stay at home writing alone? Of course not! Well, you might, if you’re REALLY into your routine. That’s okay too! The point is, we don’t know what comes our way and have to be ready to be flexible when opportunities/situations arise.

If you can get back to your routine after a vacation, congratulations, you have a habit! If you aren’t able to get back to your habit right away, it’s likely that you didn’t create a habit. When you’re committed to a habit, you bounce back well and can easily adjust your routines to make room for anything.

That’s enough lecturing from me for now! Back to my habit.

I’m somewhere in between with building my habit. I had a few weeks off from adjusting from a 2 cat household to 1, getting ready for an interview, and planning an unexpected trip to Italy. I’ve mostly put out these fires, so it was time to write again.

I opened my chapters last night and was surprised to see how much work I had already done. I added 2 more paragraphs to one chapter before calling it a night. It’s not much, so the real test will be this weekend. I don’t have any big plans for the weekend and have lots of time to write. Wish me luck!

February 23rd – “Establish communications with someone who has the time to help you with a goal.”

Hmm…this one is tricky. There are a lot of people that I think can help me with my goals, but not very many who have the time.

Getting the right help is super important. It can be dangerous to get advice from random sources. People seem to have opinions about everything, even things they don’t know anything about! People might have good intentions, but if they’re not an expert in what you need help in or don’t know you well, there can be terrible consequences.

I am working on expanding my network and possibly finding a new mentor. In the meantime, I do have a handful of people whom I trust.

I decided to contact one of my retired friends today. I’ve been communicating with him on and off now for a few months and he’s been sending me his poetry. It’s been a real pleasure to read his poetry, especially because they were written in verse (an extra cool factor to me!). I haven’t been sending him much of my fiction writing because they are in bits and pieces right now.

It’s amazing how easy it is to lose touch when all it takes is a simple “hello.” Since you’ve sent me so many poems, here’s a haiku for you, River:

 

Hello to River

Your poems are so fun to read

Look forward to more

 

 

February 22nd – “Don’t be afraid to overcommit yourself to something you believe in.”

 

Commitment isn’t scary. It’s only scary when I overcommit myself to things that I don’t believe in. Haven’t you done that once, twice, or a hundred times before? Are you doing it now?

It’s interesting how often we commit ourselves to jobs, relationships, lifestyles, and ideas that we don’t believe in, all without fear. It’s too easy to do, and there are many reasons why we do it.

One of my theories is that when we fail at something we don’t believe in, we don’t really fail. I have often told myself, “I didn’t care about that anyway. It means nothing.” When we do this, we don’t take responsibility for our own misery or happiness. We also don’t give what we believe in a chance to succeed because the thought of failing is scary.

It’s so much harder to fail at something that we do believe in. When that happens the self-talk becomes, “This really REALLY sucks! I wanted to XYZ and I didn’t get it.” And if you want to get super negative, “There must be something wrong with me! I AM a total failure.”

We all know that’s not true because we are still here, so we must be doing something right. Failing does suck, but if we can learn from these experiences, we can bounce back.

Aren’t you tired of not doing what you believe in? I am!

Now that I’ve given myself this quasi-pep talk, I’m ready to overcommit to something I believe in. I’m still working on becoming a different type of writer, so I decided to add book reviews to my website. Click here for the first one! Stay tuned for more reviews!

February 20th – “You need to keep moving forward.”

No kidding! I’ve been preoccupied with allergies, trip planning, and wrapping up loose ends so much so that I’ve let my reading and writing fall to the wayside. Noooo!

I need to keep moving forward, so I picked up a book to read. I had to return all my history books and more serious stuff because I renewed them too many times! That’s what I get for not reading them for the three months I had them.  A friend gifted me this book months ago and I’ve been saving it for a day like today. It’s short, takes very little effort to read, and doesn’t have too much plot for me to pay attention to.

img_8687

The Guest Cat comes from Japan and is about a writer in his mid-thirties who begins a relationship with a neighborhood cat. I think it’s part fiction part autobiography. I’m only a few chapters in and it’s an easy read.

What catches my attention is the author’s heavy use of descriptions in a nonlinear way. It’s something that I do and have been trying to change. I’m not sure that many readers will be able to follow my writing if I go back and forth to add layers of context and tell stories within stories. Every chapter I’ve written has been like that! When I tell a story, I leave out many details along the way and get back to them later. That’s what makes me a terrible storyteller in person. In writing, I can edit, rearrange, and add more details, but it doesn’t work so well if I have to do it live. I’ve confused a lot of people in my time!

But maybe I shouldn’t try to accommodate all types of readers. It would be a miracle if I could even get one person to read my work! It’s silly that I imagine that there will be a group of people.  The Guest Cat is a New York Times best seller so there were a lot of people who could follow nonlinear storytelling. Perhaps my storytelling style just needs a little tweaking, good editing, and some cats.

February 5th – “Anything methodical or analytical is favored now.”

Adult coloring books are a trend that popped up a few years ago and is still going strong. Those in the coloring book business are making big bucks by marketing the activity as a way to create mindfulness. I’m sure it’s helpful for some people, but it’s not for everyone.

img_86181

I was gifted this coloring book by my friend this week and she apologized for the lousy gift. She bought one for herself. When she used it, she discovered that the activity was stressful and not relaxing at all. I learned this years ago when I took an anatomy and physiology class in 1999. I had to color veins and muscles for hours, and it was no fun at all. It was tedious, I learned nothing about physiology, and my shoulders hurt from coloring all night. It pissed me off and I haven’t colored since.

When I first heard about coloring books 3 years ago, I thought it was a pretty neat idea. Coloring for adults! I’m in! But after thinking about it for another minute, I knew that it wasn’t an activity suited for me. I like to use my own creativity to draw my shapes and ideas. I don’t want to follow someone else’s rules. That’s boring!

Not everyone has a knack for making balanced compositions with complementary colors on their own. Those are the people who will enjoy the coloring books. If a blank page scares you (and you like to do crafts that follow patterns for long periods of time like knitting), you might enjoy coloring.

The lesson of the day for me is that while I may like to be creative in some aspects of my life, I don’t have to start from a blank page on everything. It can be helpful to follow someone else’s rules or methods (and be told what to do), especially if it is to complete a task I am not excited about.

I had to do some writing in a style that I’m not a fan of working in. Instead of coming up with my own take on it, I found some samples and guidelines online to help me get started. The instructions I gathered even had a list of questions to consider. My page filled up quickly and the task feels much more manageable now. All I have to do is turn the answers into paragraphs and I’ll be done! I may not like it, but sometimes it’s just easier to color in the lines!