Writing My First Novel, Characters Come To Life


I am writing my first novel. Everything I read says your first novel is your throw away. That it will be no good but must be written to clear the way for future quality books.

If nine out of ten published authors say this is true, it likely is true. I am sure every new author thinks he or she will be the exception to that rule. But gosh, I hope I’m the exception to that rule!

I really like my story. I’ve had this story in my head for some time. I hope others will have the opportunity to read it and enjoy it, but most importantly, I need to write it. It simply won’t leave me alone until I do.

I’m early in the process of getting the first draft on paper, just recently hitting the milestone of the first 10,000 words, but have noticed a phenomenon that is just so much fun! When I sit down to write each day I usually have a particular scene in mind, some part of scenario or dialog already in my head. I begin writing with the purpose of bringing the story from the current point A to the next point B.

But as I am beginning to know my characters very well, they seem to be taking control, directing the story on their own. At times I feel as though I am simply following them around, transcribing their every action and word onto the paper. This is creating more work for me since I sometimes have to go back and adjust previous scenes and back stories to make the current events work, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

My characters seem to have come to life, and have grown into folks I really like, or really like to dislike! This is making this process so enjoyable, many days I just can’t wait to sit down to the keyboard to find out what happens next. Hopefully one day readers will feel the same way!

The Four Agreements


This post is originally from the blog ‘365 Days of Thank You’. I love this book and think it’s something everyone should read, at least once. Thanks for writing this and allowing me to repost and share. Thanks Kelly!

365 Days of Thank You

When I was going through training to become a certified empowerment coach we had a whole host of required reading to do.  One of the books that I found most memorable and practical was The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz.

Each of the four agreements on its own seems like good, common sense advice for anyone.  I’m sure that the trainers working with us chose this book for something far more than common sense.  For me it’s something that I go back to regularly, especially when I struggle to make sense of things in my workplace.

Today I want to thank my coach trainers for the choices they made to prepare us to be effective life coaches.  If you haven’t read the book, give it try!

four agreements

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Healing Power of Meditation


 

Visual Aid for Meditation

The Healing Power of Meditation With Visualization

 

This picture jumped off the page and spoke to me as I was scanning through a page of ‘inspirational pictures’ (thanks Pinterest!) The first things I noticed, or felt, as I looked at this picture was the calm and peace of the natural setting. As that feeling settled in, a sense of awe began to grow at the ability of nature to create such a beautiful place. As I continued to look at this picture, I began to feel the power behind it. The raw force simmering just under the surface, just beyond reach.

All of these thoughts and feelings rolled through me quickly, all within seconds of seeing the photo for the first time. I immediately knew this would be the visual aid I would use for healing meditation, until the next inspiring picture took its place.

How To Use A Visual Aid in Meditation for Healing

As with all forms of meditation, remove your shoes. Make sure you are wearing comfortable clothes, preferably something loose, non-binding. Lie down on the bed or floor, or sit in a comfortable but secure chair. Your goal is to be comfortable, to sit or lay straight and tall, allowing you to gently expand your core (trunk, torso, chest and abdomen, whatever you want to call that part of your body.)

Place the photo on a table, tray, stack of books, whatever is needed to bring it into your field of vision when resting comfortably in your normal meditation posture. If you lay down to meditate, you may consider having the picture blown up and taping it to the ceiling so you can easily view it while lying on your back.

Begin your breathing exercise. Once in a gentle, regulated rhythm, shift your focus to the photo. Allow the feelings the picture first evoked to begin to wash over you. Feel the calm. Feel the strength and power. If stray thoughts begin to creep into your mind, close your eyes for a moment and concentrate on your breathing again. Once your mind is again still and quiet, open your eyes and allow yourself to feel the emotion of the photo. Allow the feeling to wash over you. Imagine it as a tingling warm sensation, glowing gently in your center. Envision it slowly growing, spreading to your arms and legs, rolling gently until it reaches your finger tips and toes.

Next, focus on the area of your body in need of healing. Someone suffering from rheumatoid arthritis might envision the warmth entering the effected joints, imagine the power of it healing the joint, reducing the swelling, restoring range of motion, straightening the bones. If you are seeking relief from depression you might visualize the energy rising to your head, gently rolling around in your brain like a thick fog then slowly turning to a white vapor, then disappearing all together – taking the feelings of depression with it. When I do this exercise, I imagine the energy attacking cancerous tumors. I picture it working like a laser, blasting each bad cell. I can almost feel the pop and sizzle as each diseased cell is destroyed.

Focus the energy on whatever needs healing. Don’t think about it too much, don’t pre-plan the scenario. Just let it play out once the process has begun.

You will know when the session is over. Slowly pull yourself back to the present. Gently stretch each limb and take your time rising from your meditation position. Last thing you want to do is rise too quickly and take a tumble.

Healing meditation should not take the place of your normal meditation routine, nor should it replace any medical treatment from your doctor. This should be added to enhance the wellness practices you already have in place.

As with all meditation, the goal is to reach a state of relaxation to allow a significant mind/body connection. There is no absolute right or wrong way to do any of this, so feel free to adapt the process to whatever best meets your needs.

Happy meditating!

Ten Items to Include in Your Hurricane Preparedness Kit


The Atlantic Hurricane season officially starts June 1st of each year and runs through November 30th. But that does not mean that one cannot surprise us and form prior to June 1st. Do not wait until the last minute to prepare. Living the majority of my life on the coast of either the Chesapeake Bay or Atlantic Ocean, I have finally perfected my Hurricane Preparedness Kit, mostly by trial and error, but also with input from the Red Cross. Please use the guidelines below to create your own kit.

Before we begin, please know…

The MOST important item in your Hurricane Preparedness Kit is a good evacuation plan!!!

Having made that clear, your Preparedness Kit will be necessary to take with you if you do need to evacuate, or to keep you and your family comfortably at home if conditions cause you to be without power or water for a period of time.

To construct your preparedness kit, start by selecting a proper container. It should be water tight, large enough to hold all items, but lightweight enough that you can move or carry it if necessary. Next, create an inventory card. This should be laminated or kept in a zip lock plastic baggy. Your Inventory Card should be kept visible at all times and should list all items in the kit.

Your Hurricane Preparedness Kit must contain:

1. Evacuation Plan. This includes a map with multiple routes highlighted, a full tank of gas, and cash. (the gasoline will obviously be in your vehicle gas tank, not in your preparedness kit!) If power is out, ATMs, gas pumps, or any other ‘check out’ device that would normally scan your card will also be down. In an emergency, cash is king.

2. First Aid Kit. This should include absorbent compress dressings/4×4 gauze squares, assorted band aids, cloth tape, antibiotic ointment, antiseptic wipes/alcohol pads, Tylenol, breathing barrier, instant cold pack, non-latex rubber gloves, hydrocortisone ointment, scissors, three elastic bandages of assorted sizes, oral thermometer, two triangular bandages/slings, tweezers, and a First Aid instruction book.

3. Water. A good rule of thumb is one gallon per person per day, and to keep at least a seven day supply on hand. Don’t forget to include pets in the count.

4. Food. Include items that have a long shelf life and are easily prepared/can be eaten without cooking. Remember to look for pop-tops on canned food or to include a hand turned can opener. Also include pet food.

5. Medications. This should be a seven day supply of any prescription and/or over the counter drugs taken regularly.

6. Battery operated radio and flashlights, and extra batteries.

7. Sanitation and personal hygiene items (toilet paper, female products, diapers and wipes for babies, etc.)

8. Copies of personal documents sealed in a zip lock bag, inside two to be safe. This should include birth certificates, social security cards, driver’s licenses, and/or other ID cards, health insurance cards, life insurance papers, lease or mortgage papers, medication list, pertinent medical information and doctor contact list, proof of address, etc.).

9. Cell phones and chargers.

10. Bedding and clothing. A pillow, blanket, and two changes of clothes for each family member. Space Bags are great for storing these. Place all items inside bag, zip closed and remove excess air with your household vacuum. The bag will now lay nearly flat and can be placed in the bottom of your preparedness kit.

Now that you have gathered your supplies and created your preparedness kit, it is important to get in the habit of reviewing the contents a couple times a year (going down your inventory card will be helpful) and rotating the supplies as needed. Remember to change out water, make sure food items are still good and in good condition, clothes still fit, and so on.

Notes:

1) This list contains the absolute basic necessities. Please add anything additional needed by you or your family members.

2) Although we are labeling this a ‘Hurricane’ preparedness kit for the purpose of this article, this is a basic survival kit and should be kept on hand by every household, regardless of location. Rename it your Blizzard Survival Kit, or your Blackout Preparedness kit, or whatever may best fit the unforeseen situations that are possible where you live. The important thing is to be prepared.

3) I have recently added two blue plastic tarps and several rolls of duct tape, and a hammer and several assorted screwdrivers and pliers to my personal kit.

The Laws of Attraction… aka You Get What You Ask For


I believe in karma. I believe what goes around comes around. I believe you get exactly what you ask for in life – so you need to be aware of what you are asking for.

You may be raising your hands to the sky, begging for better luck, for friends who love and support you, for a rewarding job with bosses and co-workers who value and respect you, for financial security… and so on. But your vocal request only lasts for a second. What is the lasting message you are putting out to the world?

Do you slouch or sit and stand up straight? Do you shuffle and drag your feet as you move through your day, or do you step lively and with purpose? Do you show up to the job on time each day, and show pride in your work?

This is the real message you are sending to the world. This is the message the world responds to. The fact is, you get what you ask for. If you are the sloucher, the foot shuffler, you will likely have a slow paced, non-eventful life, lacking in purpose and excitement for the present and future. Where as the person who stands tall and walks through their day, and life, with excitement and purpose – attracts the same. Their life is almost certainly full of exciting events, constantly progressing forward toward the goals they desire -while enjoying each day of the journey.

In the same way, the person who shows up late to work, turns in careless assignments because this is not their dream job so they just do not care, will receive the same. They may not get fired because they do, after all, show up and turn in work. But guaranteed, they will not get respect and recognition, let alone promotion.

Consider the people in your life. A positive, upbeat, going somewhere person is only going to be able to tolerate a complainer and grumbler, someone who talks poorly of others and themselves, for very long. Who is going to be attracted to the grumbler? Another grumbler. Misery loves company? It’s true.

If you want good things to happen in your life, good friends, good job, happy home, and a fun and enjoyable life – try being that person. Stop the whining and complaining. Truth is even the upbeat, positive person has crap storms from time to time. They just do not let it take over their life. So try it. Push back the negative thoughts. Fill your head with thoughts that make you happy. Smile. Show up to life like you mean it by getting up on time each day, wash and dress for the event of the day. Stand tall and walk like you have a purpose. Be a good friend, keep you word. Go one step father than required on your work assignments. Smile!

You don’t have to feel positive and upbeat to act like it. Another great saying? Fake it ’til you make it!

Give it a try and watch your life improve. (Another little tip: it works for attracting a mate also.  Start being the kind of person you want to attract, and he or she will come running.)

Folks Are Wrong, And That’s Ok


One of the first rules of writing is to find a quiet, comfortable location free of distractions. One of the last rules is to throw out all the rules and do whatever works best for you.  That’s the wonderful freedom of writing.

I do my best writing when I’m nowhere near the computer. Or pen and paper. Or stick in the dirt…. Whatever. Driving, watching a sunset, staring at the ceiling, doing dishes all frequently produce some of my best words. I do my best thinking when I don’t focus too hard, when there is distraction. When I am in front of the computer, I always have the TV on for background noise.

Last night I was happily typing away, adding another scene to the novel I’m attempting to write, when something on the TV caught my ear. I do not know the program, who was speaking, or even the context of the conversation, but I heard these words, “It’s OK to let other people be wrong.”

This was one of those rare life changing moments. Revelation. It’s ok to let other people be wrong. Translation: you do not need to correct people!

This statement might evoke a simple ‘doh!’ from most of you, but it was earthshattering news to me. I have been guilty of chronic correcting! I am deeply embarrassed. The number of people I must have annoyed and irritated!

I’d like to say that my heart was always in the right place, my intentions were always good, but truth is I never gave it a second thought.

In my attempt to be a person of integrity, it has always been important to me that folks could count on my word. If I said I would do something, I got it done. If I spoke, my words were accurate and true. If asked something I was unsure of, I would prefer to not answer than to guess and be wrong. Because of this, I’ve always welcomed correction. I’ve never viewed it as criticism, rather simply giving me correct information so going forward, I could be accurate too.

Because I felt this way, I’ve always assumed everyone else has too. Well you know what they say about the word ‘assume’. Break it down… ass/u/me. I realize now that this is a case where ‘do unto others…’ definitely does not apply.

Hearing this simple anonymous statement on late-night TV, I now understand.  I apologize to everyone I have offended with my unsolicited ‘information’ and ‘help’. I now understand it is not my responsibility, is in fact is very inappropriate, to correct… anyone.

It’s OK to let other people be wrong.

Get A Life!


An old acquaintance got in touch with me a few days ago, we hadn’t talked in several years. Parts of the conversation are still rolling around in my head. That typically means I have something to share.  I believe this is it:

I did not hate my job. I was one of the lucky ones, I thought, that enjoyed working. I was in a position that allowed me to constantly learn additional skills. As the years passed I grew, I thrived. I was proud of sleeping only 5 hrs per night. I welcomed running back to the office to approve projects or make last minute decisions for several departments – all hours of the night and weekend. My motto’s became ‘I thrive on impossible deadlines,’ and ‘My great joy is making order out of chaos.’ To be referred to as anal was a compliment. I loved the career I had built in a mid-sized national corporation. Every life decision I made revolved around the job. Then cancer pulled out the rug, and nailed me to the floor. The dust has settled and I find myself permanently retired on disability. There are 24 hours in each day, and 7 of them each and every week! What the heck am I supposed to do to fill the time? When they told me to get a life, I should have listened.

My message? Enjoy your job, earn money, learn and grow your career. But above all, make sure you GET A LIFE. When the job is gone, what will you be left with?