Thursday, July 23, 2015

So you think you're a writer...

So you think you are a writer, a blogger, a narrator. You think you can whip something up so amazing that thousands of people will read it and their lives will be changed.

Then reality strikes - you don't get into grad school, you don't get that book published, you don't get the feedback you thought you would get, nobody reads your blog, nobody listens when you narrate.

Are you still a writer/author if nobody reads what you read? Is having an audience a requirement of being an author? Cannot you write/author a work that nobody sees and yet you are still a writer by trade because you have created something no matter how great or awful it may be?

It takes hard work, grit, dedication, a great editor, and a good group of people who are willing to give you feedback even when you don't want to hear it. You need to brainstorm, walk away, come back, let things soak and marinate. Sometimes things can get better with age like Whiskey and Wine. Sometimes you have a revelation and realize it gets worse with age or was never really good at all.

I always hated when my teachers would make me outline - I already had the entire story/paper written and would have to go back and divide it into an outline. I thought it to be such a pointless task. Now, I know what the outline is for - It's meant to put your ideas down on paper.

Rehash - Rethink - Grow - Nourish - Expand - Rewrite

Outlines are meant to be the bones and you have to keep breaking the bones and resetting them until you have something solid enough to work with that you can create that amazing piece you always wanted. But it's more than that. Writing is not about what you want - it's also about what your reader wants. Because even though you can be a writer without an audience - do you want to be? Most people who write have something to say and they need someone to hear it - the trick is - you have to figure out what the reader wants and then give them what they want while saying what you want.

Tricky, I know. So you think you're a writer - tell me what you have? Is it fiction, nonfiction, poetry, does it fit in a category, can it be a mashup? Though we want to live outside the walls and boxes of the literary community and labels on the ends of shelves at bookstores - if we want to be heard we have to find out niche. What category do you fit in? Are you more than one? You can write more than one you know! Even though schools, professors, editors will tell you to focus on one - you can craft your abilities in more than one category.

Share what you have now - even if it's not done - even if it's rough and bad - share it. It's easier to get feedback and re-create something small than it is to re-work something big. Be okay with getting negative criticism - not everyone will like what they read. Just this week I put down a book after one chapter - not because it wasn't good - it just wasn't for me. What you write won't be for everyone, but it should fit with someone!

I have been challenged to write more - by others and by myself. I am taking on this challenge and I'm excited to see where it leads, how I grow and what my outlook on writing is after I am done. I am in the midst of seeking out a writers group - a group of folks who also is willing to share so that I may develop and strengthen my craft.

I am a writer.
I don't think - I know.
What I have to say may not be for you
But it's for me and someone else

So before you tell me I can't
You better realize that I can
Because I am a writer
Deep down in my soul

I am broken and healed
Calloused and Grown
I am a writer
Down to the Bone.

Don't try to stop me
It's pointless you know
I am a writer
I don't think - I know.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

I can't make you love me...

I can't make you love me if you don't
I can't make you love me if I don't

I read this really good book once that always stuck with me - I have suggested many people read it also because I think the message is solid - He's Just Not That Into You!

I summed it up for you already - But lets really talk about what the implications of this idea are and how it can really change the way you look at yourself and anyone you are with. Again - this is not gender specific - If someone is not into you then they won't put forth the same effort that someone will if they are into you. You deserve the effort, you deserve to be courted and wooed. Before you can do all that though - you have to love you!

Before you can share a part of yourself - you have to have something to give ... that means you have to be whole first. I know this is a strange concept because we are so accustomed to filling up from everyone else and not taking any of that responsibility on ourselves, but we must! When was the last time you looked in the mirror and smiled because you liked what you saw - instead of picking and poking and taking mental notes at every little "flaw" you have.

What happened to being comfortable in your skin? Have you ever been comfortable in your own skin? Ever felt pretty enough? Skinny enough? Loved enough? Accepted enough? Good enough? Because you should! And you surely should feel all of this before you start trying to make someone else make you feel all of this and then blame them when it doesn't work.

Nobody can love you more than you can love yourself. I know that sounds vain and crazy, but lets step away from the selfishness of the world and think about how we actually have to be selfish for us sometimes. We have to love who we are - otherwise we are a needy, codependent, sad group of people roaming the earth together.

I can't make you love me if you don't
I can't make you love me if I don't

It is hard to walk away when you realize that they don't love you. It's hard to see things for what they really are because we are used to making excuses and telling ourselves we do not deserve anything else. It is hard to see us and love ourselves when we don't see that kind of love in action.

God loves us. He can fill us up. He can help us see ourselves in a new light - seeing the beauty instead of the pain, seeing the perfection without being vain. It takes some effort, but it's possible.

If someone doesn't love you, it's not your loss - it's theirs. Don't try to change who you are to become someone they will love - if they don't love you now, they won't love you then! If you don't love you then it is your loss, no one else's. You are the only one who will miss out if you don't love yourself. So why punish yourself? Why tear yourself apart? Why not piece yourself together bit by bit until you are whole again - and then you will see. Your scars are reminders of how strong you are.

It took me a long time to love myself, all of me. It wasn't until I made peace with me that I found someone who loved me for me and who I could love as well. I tried for many years to make people love me when they didn't. I tried to become something I wasn't. It was painful, damaging, and only took me down the wrong path. Why waste your time? Why bring on the pain?

I can't make you love me if you don't
I can't make you love me if I don't

So don't.
Work on you.
Love you.
then and only then will you be able to love and be loved in return.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Nobody's Perfect

Wait! Stop! Yes you are!

What's that song that comes to mind when I say Nobody's Perfect... that Hannah Montana catchy tune from 2007.... or Pink's Perfect from 2010...

Anyway, here's the problem - We think that Nobody is Perfect. We sit and rest in this lie and think that we are all acceptable to be the way we are because we are not perfect. But, that's not true. We are all perfect. We are perfectly and wonderfully made! Yes, you may make mistakes. Yes, you may have to call a mulligan every now and again, but it's not because you are not perfect.

For a long time I thought something was wrong with me because I could not find a guy who could treat me right. I thought I was damaged and far from perfect so I accepted the way others treated me poorly because I thought I deserved it. For many people out there they have this idea that because they aren't perfect they deserve less.

Let me tell you that is not the case. You are perfect and wonderfully made. You deserve more. You deserve better. You will be given more and better if you believe that you are worth it!

It takes a long time for people to discover who they are, to compare it up next to others, to be okay with being different, to embrace the differences, and really to love who they are. The struggle is real and it is something that so many people don't break free from. Nobody tells them that they are perfect just the way they are!

I have loved the recent empowerment movement. The messages that are going out that contradict everything that has been seething the media waves for years.

In 2010, Dove launched a Campaign for Real Beauty. They shared post, images, commercials, conversations about what real beauty was - it comes in all sizes, ages, colors, genders. A real self-esteem movement. Dove #loveyourcurls.

Making the headlines of Times in 2014, Always launched the #likeagirl campaign which confronted the stereotypes of what it means to be and do thinks "like a girl" - how society damages our perspective on what it means to be a girl. This video will make you cry - it will challenge what you have done and how you have influenced this damage - it will make you want to change and stop treating people differently because of their gender/sexuality.

Pantene's Sorry, Not Sorry Campaign in 2014, that asked the question - why are women always saying sorry? Be bold - stop being sorry for being a woman and just BE! And another commercial from Pantene that challenges labels against women versus men - Don't let the labels hold you back!

Gillette Venus challenges you to take a stand against labels and #useyourand!
Covergirl challenges that girls can't do .... because #GirlsCan!
Verizon #InspireHerMind!

Move past campaigns and commercials... listen to the music...
Colbie Caillat - Try
Christina Aguilera - Beautiful
Lady Gaga - Born this way
Taylor Swift - Shake it off
Meghan Trainor - All about that Bass

While I may not agree with all the lyrics in the above songs - they generally provide a positive message about loving the way you are, not trying for anyone else, you are beautiful the way you are, when people are cruel shake it off, be okay with being curvy, and most importantly - you were born this way (fearfully and wonderfully made).

It amazes me that there are still people out there who cannot see or believe that they are perfect - just the way they are! But, if for any reason they don't believe - start flooding their brains with all the positive messages here and any others you can find. Because it takes a long time to pull a negative idea from the brain and replace it with a positive one.

But, believe me when I say - you are perfect just the way you are! I am so grateful for all the positivity that is being spread out there and hopefully some day we won't know the difference because instead of ad campaigns making us feel lesser, they will make us feel better.

I guess the marketing departments just have to realize that people are more likely to purchase something if they can believe it and support it! If a person feels better about themselves they are more likely to spread the good news.

I know a lot of these campaigns focus on women/girls, but I do not want any boy/man out there to think he is less either. Just as many boys/men struggle with self-esteem, body image, and acceptance as girls/women do. So - just know that all of these ads, commercials, campaigns, and songs are genderless.

Don't let anything or anyone make you feel less than perfect - no matter who you are! If you ever need reminding - Know that I think you are Perfect just the way you are!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Technology Strangling Us

Technology is strangling us. We are chocking ourselves with our own hands in our own homes.

What happened to actual face to face conversations, kids playing outside, calling up a friend to catch up, ringing someone's doorbell and seeing if they are busy?

Don't get me wrong - I know that technology has advanced medicine, science, space exploration, etc. I do love the benefits technological advances can have on our society, but I feel this is one topic that definitely has a double edge sword. We are loosing the ability to socialize, communicate, interact, and be humane. The more we spend time in front of a screen (phone, tv, computer, gaming system) the less we spend time in front of human beings. The more we separate ourselves, isolate ourselves, the more out of touch with reality we really become.

Think back to the days when you would run around outside and play. When you would stay out until the street lights came on or your mom called out the front door or on the phone to tell you that dinner was ready. Think back to the days when you would run down the street to your neighbor friends house and ring the doorbell, not to ding dong ditch them, but to ask if they were home and wanted to come out to play. Think back to the days when you wanted to spend every waking moment outside of your house instead of confined inside of it.

Now think about how today most kids are inside than out. Most kids live in a dual income earning family which means their parents aren't home to make dinner or check in on homework. Now, most people don't have friends in their neighborhoods because they have never met their neighbors. Its more likely you will text/message someone than you will call them or even have a face to face conversation with them. It is more likely that kids will stay in because they are afraid to go out.

Technology has done this to us. It has isolated us and has caused a decline in socialization. Teachers will complain about students using text lingo in their term papers, having an inability to spell properly, and not having the communication skills necessary to debate or argue a common topic. Mangers/Boss in the workplace environment will tell you that resumes that come through are horrendous, the amount of misspellings and errors are numerous and the lack of skills is overwhelming. Not just the lack of communication skills, but the inability to function appropriately in a professional environment. What is appropriate and inappropriate? The lines are skewed.

What happened to independence? People are growing more and more dependent on technology and less dependent on their own self. What happened to being able to do simple mathematical equations in your head without a calculator? What happened to knowing how to spell without spell check? What happened to learning?

I know many people will say that we should take advantage of technology - why should we do anything if a computer can do it for us? But then I think about that cute Wall-E move released in 2008. Everyone is living in space, fat as can be, vegging out, while being carted around in floating chair devices because they cannot walk or do anything for themselves anymore. I know that some may say that is extreme, but that movie is definitely a precursor to where we are headed.

Can you go without technology?

Live a day without your cell phone? Or at least a day with the data turned off?
Devote a few night a week to be technology free? Have a board game night, go to the park, have a family outdoor outing?
Try to cut your tv time in half - do the same for your device time.
Have a conversation with your dad, mom, kids, brother, sister, someone you love.

What would you do with all that extra time on your hands?

Devote it to your friends, family, community?!

Instead of texting each other throughout the house, get in their face and have that conversation.
Instead of gaming on your phone on the couch, pull out a board game and have fun together.
Instead of sitting inside watching tv, go outside and take a walk.

There is so much you can do and you have such limited time - why would you waste it and not invest it in yourself, your family, your friends, the people you love?!

Let me tell you - If you do not know those days, the think back when days ... then you have truly missed out. You need to start thinking now how you can make some of those memories so that in the future you can have some think back when days.

What will you do when you are 60 or 80? Your memories will be of everyone sitting around sucked into something else, instead of your memories being full of life, joy, happiness, and adventure. Stop letting technology strangle your life, your joy, your memories. Take charge and free yourself from that! Be the change you want to see in the world. It only takes one. Put down your device and pick up a new adventure, a new memory, a new future.

What will you do?