Posted in Personal, Writing

Avoiding Burnout

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after a week of hard work and writing. The weather has turned colder and I’m putting off my outdoor run by writing this post. I’m hoping if I wait a little longer, it will warm up a little more. I think I’m hoping in vain, though.

But enough about that. Today, I’d like to talk about creative cycles. Sometimes, we get a little burned out with our writing and we need to switch gears to get our creative juices flowing again. What I’m talking about is ways to avoid full-blown burnout because none of us wants to lose that creative spark we have. So, below is a list I’ve put together to avoid burnout and have a long fruitful creative life.

Exercise

I put this one first because it’s one of the most important ways to keep creative juices flowing. Exercise is not only good for your body it’s good for your brain. Whenever, I get stuck in my writing, I go for a walk or a hike through the woods. It gets your blood flowing and gets your mind off your plot hole for a while, and many times I find that taking a step away from my work usually helps me figure out the plot hole.

I’m also talking about regular exercise as well. I think it’s important to have a regular exercise routine especially writers who tend to sit all day working on their manuscripts.

Other Creative Pursuits

It’s great to branch out into other areas of the arts. I’ve started painting with an artist friend. She’s giving me pointers and helping me develop a painting style. I’ve also started taking pictures. I used to love photography when I was younger. My passion is writing, but these other artistic endeavors help me take my creativity to a new level. That can only be good for my writing.

Balance

Balance is important because we all have more than one goal. Some of us have families and we want to be good parents, so we must balance our need to be there for our children with our creative endeavors. We have to parcel out our time. For myself I need to write, or I get cranky. So, it’s in my family’s best interest that I make time to write. No one likes a cranky Mom. But I also get cranky if the needs of my family are neglected. So, I’m always working to balance family needs with creative needs.

Creative Family

The last one on my list is creating a Creative Family. This is important because your biological family may be supportive, but they probably don’t understand the blood, sweat, and tears, that go into developing your craft like other creatives do. So, having a creative family is important when you need support or guidance in your endeavors. They keep you from hanging it up when the going gets tough.  

So, there you have the four key ingredients to help fight burn-out. How about you, how do you keep your creative juices flowing? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in friendship, Personal, Writing

Do You have a Creative Family ?

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after spending the weekend hanging out with fellow creatives. I was invited to sign books at an Arts and Eats Festival this weekend. It was great to meet with people and talk about my books and art. I spoke with painters and photographers and learned some new things about each medium.

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This is right after setting up. We’re chatting while we wait for the crowd.

I enjoyed spending time with such amazing and supportive people. I have found that not only fellow writers are supportive but so are artists, photographers, and sculptors, too. Anyone who’s a creative knows how difficult it is to get your work in front of people.

It was a great time to talk about different ways to reach the public. It seems that marketing is something all creatives struggle with and it was nice to bounce ideas off each other and find out what works for some and doesn’t work for others.

If you have an opportunity to participate in your local festivals, I strongly encourage it. It’s a great opportunity to get your name out there and to start building a local support system. It’s important to do that, so you can get a grass roots kind of thing going for you.

It’s also important to have a creative “family” because not all artists have family that supports them or understands why they spend so much time with their art. You will need the support of your creative community during that time.

Mentors are another great addition to your creative family. They can guide you through the mire of people who want to take advantage of your creativity, and they can also offer you creative advice regarding your craft. A good mentor is golden.

Another aspect that I need to bring up here is your creative community can also offer you constructive criticism. There will be people who criticize your work without offering anything constructive on how to improve it. Don’t listen to these people, they’re not your people. Your creative community will tell you where you need to improve and more importantly how to improve in a gentle constructive way. You need this to grow in your craft. We all do.

So, there you have it. The reasons why you need to develop a creative family. Do you have one? How did you meet yours? Leave a message, I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Personal, Writing

The Power of Stories

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after a busy week of work and writing. I’m happy to say I’m in the second stage of my second work in progress. The second stage is editing where I make the story better. That means I have two completed WIPs under my belt. My first one I had a eureka moment concerning the beginning pages, and it has made my story that much better. I’m more excited about it.

Photo credit: BookMama on Visualhunt

But enough about that, today I would like to talk about the power of story. I haven’t done a writing post in a long time, so I thought today, it would be appropriate. A story can transport you to another world and another time. It’s a great way to forget about your problems for a while and relieve some stress by concentrating on something else. Reading is a great stress reliever. Did you know reading for just fifteen minutes can reduce your anxiety by sixty percent? But, we need stories that will engage our readers, so they have to be compelling enough to keep our attention.

Photo credit: Kevin M. Gill on Visualhunt.com

The power of story can make us feel. Feel emotions we’ve buried deep. It’s important to release those emotions in a safe way. A story does this for us. It’s a safe place and we learn empathy for the victims and the heroes in the story.  This is important in our technology heavy world. Where emotion and feelings aren’t always dealt with constructively.

Photo credit: TelmaSDS on VisualHunt.com

There are times when we identify with the characters in the story. A story can alleviate feelings of anxiety and alienation. This is critical. Especially now with the way covid has affected our worlds and obliterated our social lives. It worked great for us introverts, but our extroverted friends have had a harder time.

A story can motivate us, give us power to achieve things we never thought possible. If we see the main character overcoming obstacles like the obstacles we have, it gives us hope. The hope that all we need to do is persevere and we too will overcome the mountains in our way.

Photo credit: PlusLexia.com on VisualHunt

Right now, stories are more important than ever. With the pandemic lasting almost two years people need something to occupy their time and relieve their boredom. So, writers write your stories. Improve your craft and get those stories out there. The world needs them now more than ever.

Photo credit: Damian Gadal on VisualHunt

How about you, how do stories affect you? Leave a comment, I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Health, mental-health, Personal

The Importance of Self-Care

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after a week of writing and work. It was a tough week, there were little fires everywhere that I had to put out. I had a breakthrough with my story, though, so I’m excited about that. Small wins are still victories, and they must be celebrated, right?    

So, enough about that. Today, I’d like to talk about self-care. It’s the buzzword lately and everyone seems to be talking about it, but even so, it’s important.

Sometimes we forget to take care of ourselves. We become so busy doing and putting others or our projects first we forget to take care of ourselves. And really, our health should be our first priority.

I’m not just talking about our physical health either, I’m talking about our mental health as well. The two are inter-related. When we take care of ourselves physically it boosts us mentally, too.  Have you ever noticed that after you exercise, you feel better mentally? I know my problems aren’t so big after I exercise. They are manageable and not overwhelming.

Sometimes our mental health requires us to take a break from the hustle and bustle of life. Sometimes we need to hibernate and spend time with ourselves to become balanced again. Sometimes our mental health requires us to get out and connect with like-minded people. It’s important to have a support system too.

It’s important to have people in your life other than your spouse who support you in your goals and dreams. I’m fortunate to have those people. What I appreciate about them is they help me see things from a different perspective. This helps your mental health, too. Hearing a different perspective pulls you out of the mental loop you get into when you’re trying to solve a problem but can’t see a solution. These people help me switch gears.

Our diet is just as important to our physical and mental health too. Not only does a good diet help our bodies stay strong and healthy, but our minds, too. Anxiety and depression are exacerbated by a poor diet. So, if you’re dealing with one of these conditions, start eating healthier and go for walks. The combination will help you manage your condition.

Writers especially need to make sure they get enough exercise. It’s very easy to get lost in our work and forget about our health. So, go hiking with a friend and get that socializing need taken care of at the same time.

Everyone’s different, so we all need different amounts of food, exercise, solitude, and social interaction. Take time with yourself and figure out what your needs are. Take a few minutes every day and focus on what you might need. Then take care of it.

What are some of the things you do for self-care? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Personal, reviews

Book Review: When We Believed in Mermaids

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’ve had a busy week with writing, work, and kids. But enough about that. Today, I want to share with you a great book, I finished a few weeks ago. It’s titled “When We Believed in Mermaids.”  The title and blurb are below.

When We Believed in Mermaids: A Novel by [Barbara O'Neal]

An Amazon Charts, Washington PostWall Street Journal, and USA Today bestseller.

From the author of The Art of Inheriting Secrets comes an emotional new tale of two sisters, an ocean of lies, and a search for the truth.

Her sister has been dead for fifteen years when she sees her on the TV news…

Josie Bianci was killed years ago on a train during a terrorist attack. Gone forever. It’s what her sister, Kit, an ER doctor in Santa Cruz, has always believed. Yet all it takes is a few heart-wrenching seconds to upend Kit’s world. Live coverage of a club fire in Auckland has captured the image of a woman stumbling through the smoke and debris. Her resemblance to Josie is unbelievable. And unmistakable. With it comes a flood of emotions—grief, loss, and anger—that Kit finally has a chance to put to rest: by finding the sister who’s been living a lie.

After arriving in New Zealand, Kit begins her journey with the memories of the past: of days spent on the beach with Josie. Of a lost teenage boy who’d become part of their family. And of a trauma that has haunted Kit and Josie their entire lives.

Now, if two sisters are to reunite, it can only be by unearthing long-buried secrets and facing a devastating truth that has kept them apart far too long. To regain their relationship, they may have to lose everything.

My Thoughts:

This book was amazing. I enjoyed it thoroughly. In fact, I enjoyed it so much I purchased another book by the same author. It’s the story of two sisters. I’ll try and write this without spoilers because I don’t want to ruin it for you. The story takes us below the surface and shows the complexity of the relationship between the two sisters. It’s an excellent example of how the past affects our present lives even when we try to bury it.

It’s also a great story of the resiliency of the sisterly bond. It’s a great story that has all the feels. I highly recommend it.

How about you? What have you been reading lately? Leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Guest Author

Please Welcome Grace Rockwell and her new release!

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you! Today, I have a guest, Grace Rockwell. She’s here to tell us a little bit about herself and her book. So without further ado, take it away, Grace!

My name is Grace Rockwell. Since I was a young girl, I’ve wanted to write a book. As an adult I’ve thought about sharing my life story of domestic abuse, chronic pain and mental illness. But I struggled to know exactly how to write it and when.

But in the summer of 2018 that all became crystal clear to me. One day I sat down in my dining room, with my laptop, and started writing. I wrote and I wrote and I wrote. Eight weeks later I had a first draft – about 120 pages and 18 chapters.

After those eight weeks I was stricken with a debilitating depression. For month after month I was stuck and sat despondent in my recliner. Then in March 2020 I started feeling better.

In June I decided that I needed to add “the rest of the story,” as Paul Harvey used to say. I finished my story and started looking for a publisher.

My manuscript was published and released in October 2020 by Westbow Press. The book is now available for purchase from the publisher and on Amazon.com.

This is what my book (Our Only Hope: Living a Life of Freedom) is about:

​“For those trying to weather through the storms of life, Grace Rockwell offers encouragement by sharing her own experiences and what she has learned from them. Growing up with chronic pain and in a negative abusive environment, where she was often rejected and alone, Grace learned to put her trust in the Lord. No matter what storms she faced, or how much pain she endured, Grace always came back to the Lord for help.

​Grace’s experiences will encourage you as you face your own storms in life. She reassures the reader that we can trust that God is always with us; He has a plan and a purpose for our lives. Our Only Hope will take you along Grace’s journey to find that the redemptive power of God is our only hope and it can become an anchor for our souls.

​Grace’s passions include not only spreading the good news of Jesus Christ, but also advocating for those suffering from chronic pain, domestic abuse and/or mental illness.”

Here is a sneak peek into the introduction:

          Do you ever get a song stuck in your head?…As I am writing this now, I’ve had the song You Never Let Go by Matt Redman stuck in my head for weeks. I’ve listened to other songs in the meantime, but it just won’t go away. Ugh! At this point I’m like, “OK. Must be I’m supposed to really think about the lyrics and the overall meaning of the song.” I’ve come to the conclusion that this song is really a reflection of my life, and all I have been through over the years.

          Speaking of my life, I’ve been looking back over the past 50 years and am feeling like now is the right time to share my story. I’ve also been praying a lot about where I’ve been, where I am, and where I want to be. Prayers about what the next 50 years will bring. Prayers about how to share my story.

          Last night as I was going to sleep, I felt the power and gravity of who God is. It was storming with a lot of lightening and loud thunder. The rain was pouring down on the house and I thought, “Wow, God! There really is NO stopping You!” Then I went to sleep praying, “Lord, I don’t know when you want me to share my story, or even if I’m supposed to write my story. But if it is Your will, please give me the words. I can’t do this on my own. I need some direction here. Thank You, Father. Amen.”

          The next thing I know my alarm is going off. It was time to get up and get ready for my morning appointment. The problem was that I didn’t want to wake up. I was too involved in my dream and I needed to know how it ended. Instead of going back into the dream, I felt the need to start writing down everything I could remember from  the dream. You see, a few weeks ago I read a book by Jane Hamon called Dreams & Visions. Jane is a Christian teacher who really changed my opinion about dreams through her book. I will never again think of my dreams as silly, passing whims of the subconscious mind. Instead, I now pay more attention and try to really think through my dreams and what they might mean. Jane states that, “individuals should examine their own dreams and learn to listen to God’s Holy Spirit through this God-ordained method of communication.” (19) She goes on to explain that it is important to write down what we can remember upon waking. This is because it is only in those fleeting moments that we can remember. Jane recommends keeping paper and pen beside your bed so you can write before you even get out of bed in the morning. Or if you wake in the middle of the night.

          So that’s exactly what I did. I wrote, and I wrote, and I wrote. Nine sticky notes later, I had jotted down all of the elements I could remember. And as I wrote, I realized that God was answering my prayer from the previous night. He was giving me some of the ideas for this book. Part of my life story is within each element and character throughout my dream:

          Protagonist – Little Girl

          Antagonists – The Enemy, Young Mama, Old Mama

          Supporting Character – The Caregiver

          My dream started inside a church. The young mama had brought her little girl to the church looking for answers. The little girl had been telling her things that did not make sense. She was telling her mama about things she could do, but the mama knew those things were not possible. Mama had realized that her daughter would only make these claims while she was taking her pain medication. At the church was the little girl’s caregiver. The caregiver tried to tell the mama that her daughter’s allegations were true. But it wasn’t the medication causing the phenomena…The next scene opens into a small apartment. There are two beds with a TV between them. The young mama is sleeping in one bed, and the old mama is sleeping in the other bed. The unborn baby is in the corner sleeping in a beautiful, white lace bassinet. The apartment and its furnishings are old, dusty, and falling apart. The little girl enters the apartment and starts using her powers to regenerate everything in sight. She starts in the bathroom and with her simple words, she speaks into existence a new sink, a new bathtub, new towels, new paint on the walls, and new flooring. She then proceeds to the large room with the two beds, TV and bassinet. She starts to regenerate the walls, the decor….But then the enemy comes on the TV and starts telling the little girl lies. Lies that she can’t do this. She is not good enough. She should give up. As the enemy speaks, she starts to feel horrible and her powers begin to fade. Then her body morphs into a black cat. As the enemy continues to fill the room with lies, her cat body starts to fall apart. Limbs fall off and fur falls to the floor.

          Enter the caregiver. The caregiver walks over to the TV and switches it off. She then starts praying over the little girl. She pleads with God to put the girl back together. As she prays, the girl regains her body parts and starts turning back into a child. The caregiver continues to fervently pray over her until the girl is back to normal. But when the caregiver stopped praying, the little girl would start falling apart again. After several times of this happening, the caregiver realizes that she must fervently pray without ceasing over this precious little girl… After some deep soul searching, I was able to interpret my dream as huge parts of my life so far. The little girl is me. The enemy is Satan, and the mama (young and old) is my biological mom. The caregiver is a representation of six godly women who have loved on and prayed for me throughout my life. And finally, the baby represents the unborn babies who my mom had miscarried before my brother and I were born.”

The book is for sale on Amazon (click on the buy button below) You can get free shipping with USPS, just click this link – https://www.westbowpress.com/…/boo…/815694-our-only-hope

For those trying to weather through the storms of life, Grace Rockwell offers encouragement by sharing her own experiences and what she has learned from them. Growing up with chronic pain and in a negative environment, where she was often rejected and alone, Grace learned to put her trust in the Lord. No matter what storms she faced, or how much pain she endured, Grace always came back to the Lord for help.

Grace’s experiences will encourage you as you face your own storms in life. She reassures the reader that we can trust that God is always with us; He has a plan and a purpose for our lives. Our Only Hope will take you along Grace’s journey to find that the redemptive power of God is our only hope, and it can become an anchor for our souls.

Grace’s passions include not only spreading the good news of Jesus Christ, but also advocating for those suffering from chronic pain, domestic abuse, and/or mental illness.

Today Grace lives with her husband in a small farming community in West Michigan, not far from where she grew up. She and her husband have four grown children and nine grandchildren.

Posted in Personal, September 11th

Never Forget

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’ve had a busy week of writing and working, but enough about that. Yesterday, was September 11th. As I thought back to where I was when I heard the Twin Towers had been hit, it feels like it happened just yesterday. I was driving to work when I heard about it on the radio. It was hard to work that day, but somehow, I managed to get through it.  

I’m humbled by all the heroic people who stepped up to help that day and the days that followed. From the ferryboat drivers who picked up people who were stranded on the island to the firefighters who climbed those stairs to get people out. Then there was Daisy a service dog who led responders again and again to where people were trapped.

We really do come together as a nation during a crisis. Let’s strive to honor everyone who gave their lives on that day, by striving to come together now and fix our broken system. This meme says it all.

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Posted in Documentaries, Entertainment, Family, friendship, social media

Technology’s Effect on our World

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’ve been busy working and writing this week and I’m making progress on my WIP. I’m seeing a light at the end of the tunnel.

But enough about that. Today, I’d like to talk about technology and it’s impact on our society. I had a class reunion this weekend and I got to see friends I haven’t seen in a long time. It was nice to catch up and walk down memory lane with them. Some of them, I’ve been able to connect with on social media and chat via messenger with them. It’s a great way to reestablish old connections.

With social media it’s easy to stay connected and catch up via chats, but there’s nothing like face-to-face interaction. I worry about our future generations where most communication will take place via the computer. I’m worried because I feel they won’t have the ability to read facial cues when talking with their peers because they won’t have enough practice with real life communication.

I’m also worried because I feel our young people don’t get enough physical activity. I see my kids and their friends spending so much time in front of a computer that they’re not getting enough exercise. Childhood obesity is on the rise and I feel the main reasons are the added sugars in our processed foods and the fact they’re not physically active.

So, even though technology has given us the ability to make connections over many thousands of miles, it has had a negative effect on our health, and it has also made our in real life connections more fragile because social media’s main goal is to keep us engaged.

They don’t want us to leave their site. So, they place items in our feeds to keep us there. Different articles on things we’ve liked. For example, if I like a random picture of an elephant, I’ll find more elephant pictures and articles showing up in my feed. There’s a documentary on this phenomenon called “The Social Dilemma.” If you haven’t seen it, you need to watch it. It’s on Netflix and it explains this whole process.

How about you? Do you feel technology has had a negative impact on our physical and mental health? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!