Mon. Oct. 14, 2019: When Stress Manifests Physically #Upbeat Authors

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image courtesy of johnhain via pixabay.com

Monday, October 14, 2019
Waning Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde

Have you ever noticed that when you’re under a great deal of stress, it manifests physically? Your resistance is lower, you’re more likely to catch whatever’s going around. Or you suddenly get a pain in a particular area of the body.

It’s important to listen to pain. Chronic pain is a different arena, and that needs specialized treatment, which it too often doesn’t get. I’m talking about unusual pain that crops up when something is wrong.

If you look at the word “disease” and break it down it is “dis” and “ease.”

The ease has been removed.

Take the time to do some self-assessment. Where is the pain located? How is it manifesting?

What is going on in your life? What worries you? What fears have cropped up lately?

Different astrological signs are connected to different parts of the body. I’m a Pisces. That sign is connected to feet. When I’m tired or stressed, it often affects my feet. I have to make sure I have comfortable shoes (outside the house; I don’t wear them inside), and warm, dry socks in winter. I do not do well in cold, wet socks.

I get migraines. I hold tension in my neck and shoulders. Lately, from all the sitting I’ve been doing, I’ve had problems in my lower back. To the point where the lower back and the hip sometimes “freeze.”

That tension in the lower back and hip joint, for me, indicate feeling stuck — and I’m going through a “stuck” period, where I know I need to make changes, but I’m not sure of the details. The days when I’m confident about what I’m doing and the direction I’m taking — no lower back pain.

Earlier in my life, when I was in a toxic situation, I suffered stomach problems constantly. Once I was out of the situation, no more stomach issues.

Listen to your body. Don’t be afraid to seek help. Too often, we don’t seek help for our health needs. Sometimes it’s an insurance issue. We can’t afford to get help, unless we give up something else, like food or paying the electric bill. The entire health industry in this country needs to be ripped apart and rebuilt from scratch, but that’s a different conversation. Sometimes, it’s because we’re not listened to when we ask for help.

“It’s all in your mind,” says the doctor.

“Yes,” you say, “and now it’s manifesting in my body. So please help me find the root cause so we can treat this holistically.”

For me, acupuncture is the best for pain management. Daily yoga and meditation practices help keep energy flowing, and help me discover causes and possible solutions.

It’s different for everyone. The human body is amazing, as is the human mind. We take both for granted. The more you learn to trust yourself, the better you are at self-advocating.

Because the industry itself is about how much money it can get out of YOU, and how little money insurance can get away with paying. It has nothing to do with actual health. Know that.

Know, also, that there are ways you can make the system better by making the time to argue for your rights. When you dispute an unfair decision by your insurance, copy your Senator, your Rep, your State Attorney General on the correspondence. Go to the top executives in the company. Don’t use the excuse that you “don’t have time” for that. It takes a few minutes to type a letter, run off copies, put a stamp on them and mail them to those who can do something. And yes, do it in writing. They want you to talk on the phone because their “notes” of the conversation have little to do with your rights or what you actually discussed. DO EVERYTHNG IN WRITING.

When your elected officials have town halls, make the time to go. Ask them what they’re doing to make things better. Make an appointment at the local office and discuss your situation with one of the aides. A good aide is dedicated to listening to constituents and weighing in on policy. MAKE the time.

And vote. Vote for candidates who want to rebuild the health care system so that it’s actually about health care and not about personal or corporate profits.

You do have power. If you choose not to use it, it’s on you.

It’s tough to do that when you’re not feeling well. Being sick takes a lot of energy. But you can’t expect “others” to do it. Your activism, based on your direct experience, will change things.

Remember that figuring out the cause of the stress doesn’t mean an instant fix. You might be facing a major life change. It won’t happen all at once. Try to find one small thing you can change that will help you mentally and release some of the physical pain. Integrate it into your life.

Then try the next small thing.

Small changes add up to big changes. Our individual rhythms are unique. We’re often pushed into situations at a rate that ‘s unhealthy for our individual rhythms. We need to be kind to ourselves, give ourselves time to adjust, and decide how to regain control and make the next change when WE want it.

It’s a lot of moving parts at any given time.

But the more you learn to listen to that inner voice, to trust YOUR instincts, the more your decisions will help make you a whole, healthy person.

Published in: on October 14, 2019 at 6:56 am  Comments (1)  
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Mon. Oct. 7, 2019: Know Your Unique Health Needs — #UpbeatAuthors

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image courtesy of pixabay.com

Monday, October 7, 2019
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde

Health is an important topic for writers. For everyone. How do we do what we do and stay healthy, on both mental and physical levels? How do we stay in balance? How do we remove stressors from our lives, or learn how to deal with them better?

The fact that in the US, healthcare is considered a privilege, and the attitude is that you only deserve good health if you’re rich makes it even harder to stay healthy.

Any system is bound to fail at some level, because “systems” don’t treat people as what they are — individuals. So much needs to change regarding healthcare, but one of the most important things is that people are individuals and must be so treated.

Part of what we need to do for ourselves is to learn our own bodies and health. What is “good health” for each of us? It’s going to be different. It’s also going to change at different stages of our lives.

What does it feel like, physically, when you feel healthy? Do you feel well-rested? Energetic? Pain free? Able to breathe and move and think clearly? Have a sense of optimism, or at least peace?

For me, all of those factors contribute to what I consider “good health.”

I’ve had to learn to listen to my body. Too often, I just push through. Too often, it’s because I can’t afford to be sick, on any level. Which, of course, just makes me sicker. If I listen to the signs earlier and deal with them, the severity is lessened, AND I heal more quickly.

But what feels right and good in my body is different than what feels right and good in someone else’s. We have to learn how to calibrate our own health, and learn the warning signs.

I’ll never forget the first time I went to acupuncture. I left the session, pain-free, for the first time in YEARS. I had forgotten what it felt like to be pain-free.

It didn’t last more than a few days, but it was a reminder that there is a place where both my mind and my body feel good and right.

Spend some time with yourself. Learn how different movements feel. We are writers, so we communicate the world through sensory detail. If we use that same type of sensory detail on ourselves, we can figure out where we are in relation to where we want to be. How we feel versus how we’d like to feel.

We can ask for the help we need, because we have a place to start.

The level of toxicity has risen so high in the past couple of years, between vile people feeling they have the right to destroy those around them on emotional and financial levels, between environmental and health inspections rolled back, new poisons allowed in the world, and strong new diseases flourishing that it can be overwhelming.

So start with yourself. See what small changes you can do every day to help you feel better.

When asked, share it. But do it with kindness, not force. Say, “this worked for me. Would you like to try it?” rather than “You should . . .”

Everyone’s needs, abilities, and resources are different. We need to understand ourselves, and OFFER understanding TO, rather than FORCE our opinions ON each other. We need to use language that supports rather than judges. We need to recognize and celebrate individuality. That includes individual needs in our health.

Published in: on October 7, 2019 at 6:01 am  Comments (2)  
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Mon. Sept. 30, 2019: Challenge Yourself–Get Physical #UpbeatAuthors

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image courtesy of FreePhotos via pixabay.com

Monday, September 30, 2019
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde

As we close out this month’s topic, and slide into next month’s topic of health, I challenge you to do something physical every day.

Not just hauling groceries or raking leaves or running the vacuum cleaner. Do something FOR YOU that’s physical.

I have a daily yoga and meditation practice, and I lift weights twice a week. But this week, I challenge myself to take a walk every day. No matter what the weather.

Sometimes, it will be on the beach. Sometimes, it will be at one of the local Audubon sanctuaries. Sometimes it will be in the neighborhood. But that’s my challenge.

One walk (even a short one ) every day this week.

What’s your challenge? Leave it in the comments.

Published in: on September 30, 2019 at 5:34 am  Leave a Comment  

Monday, Sept. 23, 2019: Challenge Yourself–Balance #UpbeatAuthors

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image courtesy of Freephotos via pixabay.com

Monday, September 23, 2019
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Autumn Equinox

Today is the Autumn Equinox, when daylight and night are even. Starting tomorrow, the night will lengthen and the days will shorten, all the way until the Winter Solstice.

Take a few minutes to think about balance.

What is balanced in your life? What is out of balance?

What can you do to focus on balance today?

I am going to spend some time today in Tree Pose (which is difficult for me) and also Dancer’s Pose (which I love, but I’m not necessarily good at it).

Working on these two poses today will physicalize the emotional need for balance.

What are your plans for the day, when it comes to achieving balance?

Published in: on September 23, 2019 at 5:31 am  Leave a Comment  

Monday, September 16, 2019: Challenge Yourself–Try Something New #UpbeatAuthors

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image via GLady courtesy of pixabay.com

Monday, September 16, 2019
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde

 

Continuing with the month’s theme of challenging yourself, I encourage you, this week, to try something new.

What is something that’s always interested you, intrigued you, fascinated you, but you never tried?

This week — try it!

Remember, if you discover you didn’t enjoy it, you don’t ever have to do it again. But you might decide it’s wonderful.

I have no idea yet what I’m going to try. I’m mulling it over. There are so many things I’ve never tried. What will it be?

Feel free to share your discoveries in the comments, either this week or next week.

Published in: on September 16, 2019 at 5:28 am  Comments Off on Monday, September 16, 2019: Challenge Yourself–Try Something New #UpbeatAuthors  

Monday, September 9: Challenge Yourself — Make Your Art a Priority #UpbeatAuthors

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image by freephotocc via pixabay.com

Monday, September 9, 2019
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde

This month’s theme is to challenge yourself.

How many of you make your art (whatever that art is) a priority? How often do you scramble to fit in around everything else in your life?

This month, I challenge you to make your art a priority.

Every day, no matter what else is going on, do one thing, just one little thing, for your art.

No excuses. No compromises.

Just do it.

It will make an enormous difference in your work AND your life. When you respect your art and make it a priority, you demonstrate that you respect YOURSELF and then others will respect YOU and your art, too. If you don’t respect your art, no one else has any reason to, either.

Do it.

Published in: on September 9, 2019 at 5:24 am  Comments Off on Monday, September 9: Challenge Yourself — Make Your Art a Priority #UpbeatAuthors  

Monday, Sept. 2, 2019: Challenge Yourself to Rest #upbeatauthors

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Image by pexels via pixabay

Monday, Sept. 2, 2019
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde

Today is the Labor Day holiday in the US.

I challenge you to REST.

From not just physical, but emotional labor.

Have a great day!

Published in: on September 2, 2019 at 6:57 am  Comments Off on Monday, Sept. 2, 2019: Challenge Yourself to Rest #upbeatauthors  

Mon. August 26, 2019: Shake Up Your Process — #upbeatauthors

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image by Felix Mittemeier via pixabay

Monday, August 26, 2019
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde

We’ve been talking about different things that inspire us here on the blog for the Upbeat Authors Month of Inspiration. Today, our final day on this topic, let’s talk about shaking up our process as a way to inspire.

We all get stuck. We all have days where there’s resistance.

As a full time writer, I can’t afford the luxury of writer’s block. Yes, I said “luxury” and I will not apologize for it. If I want to keep a roof over my head and food on the table, I can’t indulge in writer’s block. When things get tough, I have to show up and do the work anyway. Just like in any other PROFESSION.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t days when I look at my chapter and have no idea what to do next, even with a detailed outline. Or I know what to do, but the words feel like lead instead of taking fire and racing across the page.

Then I know it’s time to shake things up.

How do I do that?

Lots of different ways:

Shower. Yup. For me, that’s one of the best ways to work through plot problems. I take a shower. I get more inspiration in the shower than just about anywhere else. When a book gives me trouble, I am so clean I squeak and practically glow in the dark.

Cook. I love to cook. While I often like to cook focusing on the cooking itself, my mind often begins to wander and work out plot problems. Food and feeding each other is an important part of many of my books. When I set a book somewhere, I often cook meals from that area that are then incorporated into the book.

When I initially write cooking or food scenes, I overwrite them, overload them with detail and sensory description. I then cut back in the editing, leaving what is necessary to further plot & character.

Housework. Vacuuming, scrubbing things, folding laundry. Again, there are days when I want to do it mindfully, when I need to do it mindfully. Other times, I can let my imagination figure out how to solve writing problems. Then I’m eager to get back to my desk AND the house is clean!

Take a Walk. I’m lucky. I live in a neighborhood that is quiet enough to take a walk. I live a few miles from the beach. I live a few miles from several Audubon sanctuaries. Walking helps me clear my head and figure things out. I tried running, but I hated it so much that I stick to walking.

Additional yoga/meditation. Sometimes getting up and doing a few asanas or sitting on my zafu makes all the difference. It’s a refresher for my tired brain.

Read a book. Reading often fuels the writing. The danger is that you get so into the book, you lose the whole writing day. Sometimes I use a particular book as a reward AFTER I get in my quota for the day.

Switch projects. Sometimes this works, sometimes this doesn’t. If you have too many unfinished projects around, it drains creative energy. It’s important to finish what you start. I teach an entire class about this and have a Topic Workbook on it: THE GRAVEYARD OF ABANDONED PROJECTS.

Switch locations. When I get restless at either of the two desks in my writing room, I might write in the living room. Or out on the deck. I often go to the library to work. We’re lucky on Cape; every town has a wonderful library with a unique character. Library-hopping is an activity many locals enjoy. There’s also Cape Space, a wonderful co-working space. I don’t write much fiction there, but sometimes I’ll go if I need to video conference or work on projects for my marketing clients.

Go to a museum. As I’ve talked about, over and over again here, I use visual art to fuel my verbal art. Live music often does the same. Or dance. Or theatre.

Experiment in a new genre. Try writing something in a genre in which you don’t normally work. It can be flash fiction, if you like. Or it can grow into something different.

Write a scene several times, in several different perspectives. If you’re struggling with a multi-person scene, do one draft of it in the perspective of each character. Yes, you’ll cut a lot. One of the most ridiculous things I hear from writers in classes is they don’t want to write something that will get cut. It’s not a waste of time. You need what you learn from it to get to your ultimate goal.

Use prompts. There are prompts all over the place. In July, I posted one every day. They are still up here on the 31 Prompts page.

Write differently. If you always outline, try blank paging. If you NEVER outline, outline something and then follow through and write it. (Note: I don’t call it “pantsing.” To me that sounds like an STD. I call it “blank paging”). Whichever way you try, FINISH THE PROJECT. If you didn’t like this foray, you don’t have to do it that way again. BUT FINISH THE PROJECT.

Join online groups where you can hang out with other artists. I find Women Write Change to be especially valuable, in both good times and rough ones. The #remotechat group on Twitter, with its Wednesday afternoon chats, is terrific. We have so much fun there, and exchange so much useful information. #TheMerryWriter, also on Twitter, is a fun monthly game, and I’ve met some great people through it. I’ve had some excellent conversations with other artists of all types via Ello. Lori Widmer’s Words on the Page blog has grown into a tight, supportive community.

Get together with other artists in person. I like mixing with all kinds of artists. Too often, hanging just with writers lately has become a venting session or all the talk goes to marketing. It’s not enough about craft and content and ideas. (Again, this is why I love Women Write Change — we talk a lot about craft and ideas).

The HobNob Group ended when its founder died last year. I miss it terribly. It was a combination of visual, verbal, and performance artists. We got to learn from each other and support each other. I participate in some of the writer activities around here and go to conferences. I try to attend as many readings and author events as I can. I also go to opening receptions at local museums and art galleries. I’ve cut back on a lot of the other networking I was doing around here (chamber events, business networking events, etc), because I’m setting the foundation for moving in a different direction with my marketing writing.

Online is great, but meeting and spending time with other artists in person is even better.

Make sure you give yourself an Artist Date. We talked about that earlier. If you stick to that, and integrate a weekly Artist Date into your life, a commitment to yourself, you will find that you’re refilling your creative well, and that will flow into all areas of your life.

What are your favorite ways of changing up the process?

Mon. Aug. 19, 2019: Feng Shui for Inspiration — #UpbeatAuthors

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image by silviarita via pixabay.com

Monday, August 19, 2019
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde

We’ve talked about using paintings to inspire us when we’re stuck. So many other art forms can also be used: any of the fine arts (sculpture, textiles, mixed media) or music or dance or anything else.

But sometimes nothing works.

That’s when applying the principles of Feng Shui to our creativity is useful.

There are two parts to this: applying it to the space in which you work, and applying it to the project itself. It might sound weird to Feng Shui a project, but I’ll explain how I do it.

There are multiple schools of Feng Shui. I like the Black Hat School, which Karen Rauch Carter details in her book MOVE YOUR STUFF, CHANGE YOUR LIFE. In my opinion, this is the best Feng Shui book out there, and makes the most sense to my life.

Feng Shui for Space
Draw a bagua, writing in the nine life areas: career, skills & knowledge, family, prosperity, fame & reputation, relationships & love, creativity & children, helpful people & travel, and health in the appropriate points, per the typical bagua. In this piece, the techniques I talk about are from the Black Hat School. If you use Compass School, or a different technique, you might have to adjust where you stand with your bagua to survey the space.

Holding the bagua in your hand, stand in the doorway of your workspace and look around the room. Look at the placement of furniture, decorations, windows, mirrors, etc., and see what falls into each area of the bagua.

Using advice from the Feng Shui School of choice, start moving around objects so that they fit into the correct area of the bagua. If there’s something that can’t be moved, or something missing, look up the “cures” to balance it out. Even more important, clean your workspace. Tidy things up. Dust. Vacuum. Wash the windows. Water the plants. Rearrange furniture if you can or want to. Change the curtains or tablecloths or throw pillows or pictures. Remove anything that is dead or broken. Remove anything that doesn’t serve you any more.

Look through the rest of the house or things you have packed away to see if you already own something that serves as a “cure.”

You don’t have to throw out items with sentimental value just because they don’t fit the space anymore. Pack them away, with gentleness and compassion. A time will come when you want to freshen your space again, and then it might fit. In lean times and sad times, items I packed away ages ago have come in handy on multiple physical and emotional levels.

I genuinely believe that all these organizers who try to get you to throw out perfectly good “stuff” are just trying to get you to buy more stuff. If it’s still useful and purposeful, even if it isn’t needed right this second, pack it gently away and save it for the future.

Take another look at the space. If something still doesn’t feel quite right, keep tweaking it. But I bet you feel happier just being in the space.

Often cleaning up my writing room helps get me out of the “stuck” place, or the uninspired place.

Additionally, looking at the areas in both my writing room and the overall house, and making adjustments in the relevant areas will help get my creativity moving again.

Stand at your front door, looking at your entire space. Where does your writing space fall within the bagua? Mine is in the Helpful People & Travel sector in this house. So I have power tools in the writing room that serve Helpful People & Travel in respect to the overall house, while also looking at the room itself and seeing where the room itself falls into the bagua. It can get a little confusing sometimes, and I find myself adjusting and readjusting after most big projects. I’m a nester, which means wherever I work — the desk, the reading/writing chair, etc. — I tend to pile up what I’m using.

Feng Shui for Projects
How the heck do you Feng Shui a project?

I bet there’s advice on that out there somewhere. At the time of this writing, I haven’t read any, but writing this piece makes me want to hunt it down, if it exists.

However, I’ve come up with a couple of techniques on my own.

Have Your Character Do Some Feng Shui
See what happens if you write a scene or sequence where your character does some Feng Shui on their own space. Sometimes rearranging the character’s space helps the writer push through. That doesn’t mean you have to leave the sequence in the piece, unless it works. You can always cut it.

Remember that nothing written is ever wasted, even if it’s cut from the final draft. You needed to write it to GET to the final draft.

Use the Bagua on Your Plot
Take a look at the nine areas of the bagua. How do they relate to your protagonist’s journey? What pieces are missing, and how do they serve as a catalyst to the protagonist’s journey? Are any of them healed during the course of the book?

Conversely, when you look at the bagua, is there any area you can think of making more difficult for your character, and upping the stakes on the story? Is anything going a little too well in the character’s life, and needs more complications for a more engaging plot?

The act of cleaning and rearranging gets you out of torpor and into motion. As your body moves, your brain starts to re-engage, and that helps get your creativity flowing. Plus, a beautiful space is a much more welcoming space for your work!

Change Where You Work on the Project
Where does your workspace fall into the bagua of your home? Is there another place that would work better? Perhaps the Creativity & Children sector, or the Career Sector? The Prosperity or the Fame and Reputation Sector? Trying working in a different spot, and see if that rattles the creativity loose again.

This Week’s Task
Read a book on Feng Shui (libraries usually have several). Compare different styles. Pick one area of your home to Feng Shui and work on it.

Have you used Feng Shui in your home or your work? What style do you use? What were the results? Let me know in the comments.

Also, in the comments, talk about your Artist Date, and what kind of paintings or other art you experienced, and how it helped.

Published in: on August 19, 2019 at 6:04 am  Comments Off on Mon. Aug. 19, 2019: Feng Shui for Inspiration — #UpbeatAuthors  
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Mon. Aug. 12, 2019: Paintings as Inspiration – #UpbeatAuthors

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image courtesy of Pexels via pixabay.com

Monday, August 12, 2019
Waxing Moon
Jupiter DIRECT (as of yesterday)
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde

Last Week:
Last week , we talked about Still Lifes and taking an object in your home to use as inspiration.

What did you use? What kind of piece came out of it? A story? A play? A song? A painting? A dance? Something else? Leave your answer in the comments (mine will be there as well). I’ll also post the title of the book I looked at with Still Lifes in it. I tend to gravitate to the Dutch painters for that.

Paintings as Inspiration
I love to use paintings as a jumping off point for a new piece. If I’m feeling stuck or un-creative or like any of the various fragments and outlines and Ideas I’ve jotted down are worthless, I go to a museum and look at paintings (I always prefer to do it in person) or I get a book out of the library and look, or a DVD on a great museum.

I find Edward Hopper’s work particularly inspiring. New York Movie is one of my favorite pieces, and it inspired what may wind up as a long short story or a novella (I’ve been working on it, on and off, around other projects, for several years).

I love wandering into a museum and letting the pictures and sculptures “speak” to me. I may not get the story the painter intended to tell; but I always come away with something. I always come away feeling brighter and fuller and excited.

Details
One of the things I like to do in paintings is to look closely at what is not central to the action. For instance, in Canaletto’s “Rio dei Mendicanti: looking South” (1723?), I’m less interested in the men on the sunny side of the canal in conversation than in the darker, right side of the painting, with the laundry lines hanging out of the window, the woman shaking her broom, and the man perched on the edge of the building, nearly in the canal, cleaning the side of the building. To me, there’s something furtive about the man. Is he observing the place in order to rob it? Although it’s a not a rich area, filled with working people. Are the acoustics in that position good, allowing him to eavesdrop on the conversation of the burghers across the water from him? That’s a possibility. Or does he not want them to recognize him? Does he have a dispute with one of them? Or is he simply going about his day, doing his work, and has to adjust his position so as not to get hit with the debris from the broom shaken out above him? (Aside: I’m writing a play about Canaletto’s sisters, so I’m looking at a lot of his paintings these past months).

This painting could inspire an historical piece (probably a mystery) tying those three elements together. Or a short radio play. Or I could take the ideas and sensations it provokes and set them somewhere completely different: A New York tenement or a created world in a fantasy novel.

In Poussin’s “Summer”, the woman with the bowls beside the tree and the man in the background handling the horses are more interesting to me than the central figure of a man kneeling before the other man. Is the woman going about her business, ignoring what is going on? I don’t think so. She may be related to the kneeling man, or perhaps he is her lover. Or perhaps her lover is the man on the other side of the tree, drinking, out of the sight line of the man in charge. What’s going on in the woman’s mind? There are so many wonderful possibilities.

Even a portrait can inspire. Several years ago, I wrote a play about Lavinia Fontana, the first woman painter in the Renaissance who took in commissions like the men. One of my favorites of her paintings is the portrait “Portrait of a Lady of the Court.” This woman looks like she has a secret. She and Lavinia share it. But we must guess. My research into the extensive network of powerful Bolognese women at the time reinforces that idea, and the research helps me look at the painting with more knowledge.

This Week’s Challenge:
This week, give yourself an Artist’s Date (thanks to Julia Cameron for encouraging us to do that) to go to a museum or a gallery and look at paintings. Pick one that inspires you and write something about it.

You can leave information about it in the comments below, or wait until next week.

Published in: on August 12, 2019 at 6:14 am  Comments Off on Mon. Aug. 12, 2019: Paintings as Inspiration – #UpbeatAuthors  
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Wed. Aug. 7, 2019: Ups and Irritations

Wednesday, August 7, 2019
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Who Know What the Weather Will Be Like?

I scheduled yesterday’s post on Monday afternoon, when we were promised a nice but humid day on Tuesday, and thunderstorms today. Of course, Tuesday morning by 8 AM, it was bucketing down. Hence, the weather line this morning (I’m scheduling this to post Tuesday afternoon).

Yes, I am once of those people who uses “hence” in everyday speech.

I was so excited by my Goddess Provisions box that arrived on Monday afternoon! It contained a singing bowl. I’ve wanted one for years. It’s small, but with a lovely tone. Now, of course, I have to learn how to work with it, but my friend is adept with them, and she will guide me. Spending time with it, practicing, like one would with any instrument, is part of it, I’m sure. Eventually, I want a whole set (and a set of crystal bowls), but I’m taking it slowly.

Meditation was great on Monday afternoon. We have such a great group. Got lots of compliments on the hair cut, too, at meditation, from my clients, at the library.

Had a typical local encounter at the library on Monday afternoon. I was telling the librarians how great UNMARRIAGEABLE is, and how much I loved the book. They hadn’t yet read it, but were interested.

An Old White Woman butted into the conversation. She looked at the cover and said, “Why would I want to read about dirty Pakistanis?”

“This book is beautiful and brilliant and clever and universal,” I said. “If you like Jane Austen, you’ll love it.”

She sniffed and said, “Jane Austen is overrated.”

“I can’t help that you’re both a racist and a barbarian,” I replied.

She stomped off. After all, how could she deny she was a racist after her initial remark? I’m sick and tired of the racism, and I’m sick and tired that the racists think it’s okay to behave this way — of course, they’re getting it from the Occupant.

Who, by the way, delivered a bland, meaningless, teleprompted speech on Monday, and then didn’t even have the basic decency to name the right town where the mass shooting happened in Ohio.

Mitch McConnell won’t call the Senate back from recess to pass legislation. He claims it’s because he fell and broke his shoulder. He was home in the same day. Wearing a sling for the shoulder doesn’t mean his brain can’t work and he can’t lead a vote. It’s all an excuse. Meanwhile, in the aftermath of the shootings, his campaign staff built a graveyard for programs like Social Security and for his opponent. Disgusting. Young white boys, of course. Boys, not men. Doesn’t matter how old they are chronologically, they will never grow beyond ill-behaved boys, especially with this type of encouragement.

Client work was challenging. Appointments after were fine.

Slowing down on ELLA — only two pages a day instead of four. But that’s okay, because the pace is picked up on GRAVE REACH, and that’s the one under serious deadline.

Client work today, then errands. Hoping for a productive upcoming four days.

Hop on over to Ink-Dipped Advice to see the latest chapter, where Fred interviews the potential writer candidates.

I’ve been doing an extra yoga session every night before bed, and that’s helping my back.

 

Published in: on August 7, 2019 at 5:25 am  Comments Off on Wed. Aug. 7, 2019: Ups and Irritations  
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Monday, Aug. 5, 2019: Inspiration Starts at Home — #UpbeatAuthors

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image courtesy of Jill Wellington via Pixabay.com

Monday, August 5, 2019
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde

 

We’re down from five retrogrades to only four, so some of the pressure’s easing off.

The month of August is about inspiration, which is one of my favorite topics. I’ll share some of the ways I find inspiration. I always find that I have far more stories to tell than I have time in which to tell them. I have to pick and choose.

Let’s get something straight right from the start: I don’t understand boredom or people who claim they’re bored. I have zero patience with them.

The world is a fascinating place. There’s always something interesting around, and there’s always something that needs doing.

My dad used to say, “Only boring people are bored. People who don’t have the capacity for critical thought or motivation or interest.”

The older I get, the more I realize he’s right.

When someone whines about boredom, it sends up a red flag, and I use one of the tools of gentle disengagement we discussed last month.

People who are bored suck the energy out of a room and the life out of inspired people. They feed off the energy, without reciprocating anything.

Inspiration is all around us. We have to look at things with fresh eyes. This is where the mindfulness techniques of yoga and meditation pay off. If you are in the moment, that means you are paying attention. Your powers of observation are fine-tuned.

As writers, we MUST be observant to the small, unusual detail in order to bring characters and stories to life.

As I discussed in our topics on kindness and tolerance, start finding inspiration at home.

Look at things in your space, the things you take for granted, differently. You probably have photos or small objects that give you pleasure. You put them out on a shelf on a desk because they have meaning. You’re so used to looking at them every day that you don’t SEE them anymore.

Change that.

There’s a visualization technique where you pick three objects and stare at them. You pretend you’re an ant crawling over them and look at every tiny detail. You pretend you’re a bird flying over it and look at details from that perspective. Then you close your eyes and recreate the objects in your mind’s eye.

Think of it as “Still Life for the Mind.”

Go online or get a book out of the library on still lifes, and see how those powers of observation inspired painters.

We are going to talk more about paintings next week, but still lifes in art tie in both to this week and next week’s discussion.

Being able to recreate the object in your mind’s eye might not happen the first time you try this, but if you do this every day for ten minutes or so, it gets easier and easier.

Look, really look at the objects in your home with fresh eyes. There might be things that are tired, and need to rest for awhile. Put them away. They will be new when you decide to take them out again. There might be things that you need to release — give away, throw away, remove from your life. We will talk more about this a couple of weeks down the road, how to use Feng Shui techniques to bump up your inspiration. But again, this entire month’s discussions are all of a piece. They build on each other.

Walk around your house. Pick one thing that you haven’t really, really looked at for awhile.

This week, spend time with it. Let it tell you a story. It might be “its” story. It might inspire a story about something or someone else.

In the comments, tell us which object you’ve picked. Next week, we will talk about this experience, while also trying something new.

 

Published in: on August 5, 2019 at 6:02 am  Comments (4)  
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Mon. July 22, 2019: Commitment – The Myth of “No Time” – #UpbeatAuthors

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image courtesy of Nile via http://www.pixabay.com

Monday, July 22
Waning Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde

 

In this month of commitment, let’s explore the myth of “no time.”

“No time” or “I don’t have time” is often the excuse we give for not doing something.

Writers who aren’t serious about writing often give this as their excuse for not writing. So do non-writers, who say they’d write a book “if they had time.” No, they wouldn’t. If they wanted to write a book, they’d sit down and write a book. They don’t want it enough.

We all have 24 hours in a day. How we choose to use them defines us.

It’s not that we “don’t have time” to do something. It’s that it’s not a priority to make time for it. So let’s just be honest, because we are writers, and words matter. Use the correct ones when you don’t do something.

Each of us has different things we need to prioritize to keep a roof over our heads, food on the table, our families safe. Then, we slot in the rest of the things.

Too often, it’s not time itself we lack, but time management skills. Time management skills are learned.

We also have to weigh the realities of what we want to make time for with what else is going on in life.

For me, the “necessity” of eight hours’ sleep per night is a myth. If I had bought into that myth, I could not have had a career and earned my living working in theatre and film and television production for decades. That is simply not a reality in that line of work. The profession will not change because I want eight hours’ sleep a night. Either I have to adapt, or I don’t get to be a part of that profession.

Fortunately, eight hours’ sleep a night is more detrimental than useful to me. Granted, I spent too many years not getting enough sleep — from one to four hours’ worth. I spent too much time in a state of perpetual exhaustion.

But six hours’ sleep a night is, for me, optimal. It’s natural for me to wake up after that period, feeling refreshed and eager to meet the day. Eight hours or more? I’m groggy and have trouble focusing all day. I’m more irritable on eight hours than I am on four. My muscles hurt, I get more headaches, I’m not focused. I’m not rested. Less than six hours? I can cope for several weeks, but then need to take an entire day in bed.

Yes, all those studies say you can’t catch up. But I adapted in order to have a career about which I was passionate. A career that was more important to me than demanding to lose ONE THIRD of my life in sleep. I am an individual, and it took a lot of years and a lot of mistakes, but I found something that works for me.

It’s the same with writing. When I have deadlines, I get up earlier or go to bed later. The writing is my priority. That is why I am a writer and not in a different profession. I am the breadwinner in the family. I am, technically, head of the household. “Not having time” is not an option.

Who gets that time changes. I get my time very early in the morning, because that is my peak creative time. That is spent on my novels, short stories, plays, etc. Clients get excellent work, too, but they get it within traditional business hours. Unless I’m on a tight deadline and I’m behind, in which case I do what’s necessary to get it done ON TIME.

Which brings us to punctuality, which is another part of commitment. Being ON TIME is important. Whether it’s sending something in by deadline or meeting a friend somewhere, being ON TIME is important.

Do we run into obstacles sometimes? Of course we do. And then we let the other party know.

But being constantly late? Laughing it off that “I’m always late, I can’t be on time, that’s just who I am”?

Then you are not someone I want in my life.

Way back, before the age of mobile phones, when I met someone at a location, I waited 15 minutes. If they didn’t turn up, and they didn’t phone the location and have me tracked down to say they were on their way — I left.

Being late is a sign of disrespect. It sends the message, “My time is more important than yours, I am more important than you are, and you need to waste your time in order to fit my schedule.”

That’s not true. It’s part of being an energy vampire, draining energy from all those around you instead of generating your own.

You’re late all the time? We will have a conversation about it.

It keeps happening? You’re out of my life. You’re not willing to respect me or my time. I refuse to remain in that situation. Unless you’re a first responder of some sort, work on your time management and be there, or let me know far enough in advance so I can make other plans. I get to choose who is in my life and who isn’t.

It’s part of our social commitment to each other. I don’t care how funny or brilliant or whatever someone thinks they are — if you don’t respect me, and live that respect, if it’s not a reciprocal relationship, I don’t want any part of it.

Because my writing is such a high priority in my life, I am ferociously protective of my time.

Do I always manage it well?

Of course not. I’m human. I faff around. Often, when I catch myself wasting time (which is different from taking breaks, daydreaming, and doing all those other things non-writers consider “wasting” time, but are actually an important part of the creative process), it indicates there’s something wrong with the project on which I’m working. Once I can dissect what it is, I can either solve it, or complete the project and not take on another one from that client again.

How do you mange your time? What tools do you use to keep on track? What is the biggest thing that derails you?

Published in: on July 22, 2019 at 5:48 am  Comments (2)  
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