Monthly Archives: May 2012

Making summer work for you

It’s here. The weather is hot, the pools are open and the kids are out of school. So with your routine in shambles, how will you get any writing done? The trick is to incorporate summertime fun into your work time.

Summer means outdoor time. This is a great opportunity to break free of your usual writing setting and take advantage of the great outdoors. Writing moms can combine writing with getting children away from the TV and video games and outside. Take your laptop or notes to the park. All playgrounds have benches or picnic tables. This is the perfect setting for writers to soak in some sun.

It is unavoidable. Summertime will disrupt our routines. It is important to discuss your goals with your family at the beginning of the summer. It is fine to enjoy family time but they should also respect your goals and dreams. Develop a family summer schedule. With more people around the house, take advantage of the help with household chores. By helping you, your family will be working towards more valuable family time.

Summer is great time to take advantage of family time and make time to relax and clear your mind. When we get stuck on a scene it’s often just the act of walking a way for a little while to clear things up.

How will you maintain a writing routine this summer? Share your secrets to having summer fun while still meeting your writing goals?

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Slow cooking your way to success

I love to cook. I find it relaxing and very rewarding. However, as a writer it can sometimes be challenging to find the time to cook. The same dilemma can be said of any busy professional; especially any professional that is striving for success while being a parent.

As a writing mom I understand it’s important to also maintain my health. That means fitting in my daily 20 minutes yoga sessions and eating meals that are not take out or frozen dinners. But where to find the time?

I was given a slow cooker last year for a Christmas present (thank you Mom and Dad!) A slow cooker may seem like an odd writing tool, but I define anything that contributes to my writing process as being a writing tool and it defiantly fits the criteria.

Thanks to my slow cooker I can make healthy, homemade meals that don’t cut into my time with my daughter or my writing. Sometimes I even take preparing my meals to a new level by pre-cutting up the vegetables and putting them in zip-lock bags the night before. Then all I have to do is throw in the ingredients and depending on the recipe, brown the meat.

It’s easy to understand the benefits of staying healthy when you maintain a difficult schedule. I always call it the Airplane Theory. Remember- you must first put on your mask before helping others. It is important to stay healthy when juggling being a parent and a professional. You are no good to your child or your career if you are sick or sluggish thanks to a poor diet.

My slow cooker has given my schedule more freedom and myself the satisfaction knowing that I’m eating right and taking care of my family while still accomplishing my goals as a parent and a writer.

Today I’m sharing with you one of my family’s favorite slow cooker recipes. This is one where sometimes I will cut the onion up and bag it the night before. Then in the morning I brown the turkey and throw everything in together. And do serve it with the sour cream. To us, that makes completes the whole recipe and makes the presentation so nice that I look like I’ve worked much harder than I have!

            Happy Friday and happy cooking y’all!

 Don’t miss this great post by WANA leader author Kristen Lamb. The comfort zone is for pets, not professionals.

Also, in news I have an exciting class opportunity coming up. Stay tuned for details!

 Turkey Vegetable Chili Mac

Ingredients:

¾ pound extra-lean ground turkey

1 can (about 15 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained

1 can (about 14 ounces) Mexican-drained dices tomatoes

1 can (about 14 ounces) no-salt diced tomatoes

1 cup frozen corn

½ cup chopped onion

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon Mexican seasoning

½ cup uncooked elbow macaroni

Sour cream to top and serve with some cilantro, if desired.

Directions:

  1. Brown the turkey, drain and put in slow cooker.
  2. Add all ingredients EXCEPT the macaroni.
  3. Cover and cook on low for 4-5 hours
  4. Stir in the macaroni and cover and cook on low for 30 minutes or until the pasta is tender. Image

 

 

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Following your own advice

Thanks to the Internet advice is all around us. Whatever you seek, it is there for the taking (of course always consider your source.) The writing community is especially great at giving advice. Since I’ve been a writer I’ve found everyone to be genuinely helpful and full of advice. But are you actually following your own advice?

So many people have their “specialties” that they speak on. Mine is how to be a writing mom and how to best manage your time when you are a busy writer. I was a writer first so when I had my daughter I had to quickly adjust to the challenge of being both. Thanks to some techniques I devised I believe I manage it well and I’m always happy to help others.

Being a writing mom is always a growing process. Our needs change and schedules must be adapted. It’s knowing how to meet the latest challenge that makes you a success. Currently I needing to rework my usual routine. Since my daughter was officially diagnosed with autism her needs have changed. We have therapies to attend and activities to work on in the home. Being a mom is my number one position but I also don’t want to lose me in the process of caring for my daughter. Writing is who I am. I’m constantly thinking up new ideas and seeing scenes in my mind and wanting to write dog books that inspire others.

This week I woke up at my usual 4:30am (yes, I’m probably crazy) for my daily yoga and to begin my writing/mommy day. The first thing I did when I sat down at my Mac Book Pro was revise and article for publication. At that moment I sat back and realized that I was completely ignoring my own advice.

I advise writing moms to begin each morning working towards their goal in some way even if it is small. For example, my long-term writing goal is to be published in fiction. Because of this goal I typically start my day by writing 500 words towards my current fiction project. Now that doesn’t mean that is it for the day. My daily fiction-writing goal is 2,000 words but being a writing mom I know that things do come up and I also have freelance deadlines. By starting my day with some writing towards my long-term goal, I feel so productive and good about myself. This really sets the tone for my day and keeps my eye on my dream.

But life happens and I failed to follow my own advice. I help so many writers yet I wasn’t helping myself. The next day I put of revising another article and wrote over 600 words. That same day ended up being a rough day with my daughter but I felt better knowing that I made progress on my goal. And I still was able to revise my articles during her naptime.

Life happens but it is important to follow your own advice. I’m using the same journaling technique that I used when my daughter was born to adjust to my new routine of writing with an autistic child. Through perseverance, dedication and  by following my own advice I will find my new routine.

Do you follow your own advice?

 

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What is “normal?”

What is normal? According to Webster, “normal” is: according with, constituting, or not deviating from a norm, rule, or principle. But any parent knows that there is no such phenomenon and any working from home parent would really laugh at the notion.

I’ve recently been thinking a lot about normalcy. Lately my life has been dictated by traveling back and forth from Arkansas and Texas taking my daughter to specialists. We thought we were just dealing with a blood glucose problem but once we got answers on how to manage that condition another diagnosis came. We now know that our almost two-year-old has high functioning, mild to moderate autism.

After researching (because writers are great at research) we’ve learned how manageable this can be and that it actually, in a way proves to us how bright we know she is. She is in good company with brilliant minds such as Bill Gates, Albert Einstein and Beethoven. This does put more work on us so that we can ensure that she will properly channel herself so that she can share her brilliance with the world.

Fortunately, I do have the privilege to work from home. Unfortunately, I have to adjust to a new “normal” that includes therapies and different tactics to help her in addition to my writing. I always knew she was a difficult assistant but now this brings on a whole different difficult.

But as an artist I’m tough. Like Anne Hathaway (Cat Woman) says in the Dark Knight Rises trailer, “I’m adaptable.” Artists, writers and especially parents must be adaptable and like cats we must land on our feet through rejection, deadlines and any difficult time.

Through careful planning and dedication I’ll discover my new “normal.” I get to be my own student and re-utilize the very techniques that I teach in my writing moms workshops. I learned how to adapt to being a writing mom through a journaling technique and I’m ready to use that again to find my routine and best way to manage my time.

Whether you are dealing with a sick child, a looming deadline, a new venture or anything that strays you from your normal routine, you too can adapt and discover a new normal. Life gives us curve balls that constantly defy our precious norm. This is why I don’t believe in “normal.” I believe in “typical:” combining or exhibiting the essential characteristics of a group or situation.

I believe in typical days and we can work on managing the rest as constant students in our quest to find more time and have it all.

What does “normal” mean to you?

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News:

Happy one year anniversary to my debut book, “Caring for Your Special Needs Dog.” Oscar (my dog and inspiration for the book) are still honored to assist fellow families of special needs dogs. Thanks to everyone who shares my passion.

Congrats to Cool Gus Publishing (formally Who Dares Wins Publishing) on their name change. I’m fortunate to be part of this talented family!

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Defeating the negativity

Negativity is our evil twin. This evilness can rear up its annoying presence to anyone. Any writer, artist, dancer, musician, etc. Really anyone, no matter what they do will experience negativity. For writers and many artists the negativity takes form in, “will I ever make it?” or “I’m really not good at this.” Whattever your negative go to phrase is…STOP IT!!

As I’ve said in my popular writing moms class, I always ask if you want whine with that cheese. Now wine may help you. I’m currently hooked on pinot grigio but whine will get you no where. It’s self-defeating, negative and will stifle your creative talent.

My current negative problem is time. “How will I get all of this done?” constantly floods my thoughts. Well, I know that by thinking this it is only taking time away from the productive time I’m avoiding. I’ve been flooded with family medical drama and that comes first. However I’m seeing that by maaking myself stick to a schedule, even if it’s not ideal and what I’m used to, I’m able to stay true to myself and avoid losing myself in these dramatic situations.

All artists feed off emotions. Don’t let negativity be your drawing board. Keep writing, drawing, singing, dancing, etc. Diagnose your negativitty and DEFEAT IT!!!

Lately I haven’t had as much time to read some of my favorite blogs. This makes me sad L But there was one post on Ingrid Schaffenburg’s blog that really spoke to me, Slow is the New Fast.

All this month I’m celebrating my debut book, ‘Caring for Your Special Needs Dog.’ I still fill fulfilled with each email saying that it has helped a special needs dog. Help me in celebrating the anniversary month of this book!

 

 

 

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The tricks of a therapeutic writer

Let’s be honest- writing is therapeutic. Have you ever found that you are more effective during difficult times? Well I am. Notice how I say effective rather than productive. Since my daughter is still ill and we are dealing with going back and forth from the medical centers my work has suffered. I love to write but mommy is my first title. However, the ideas keep flowing!!

Now you don’t have to be going through a crisis to get some great ideas. The important thing to do is to remember these ideas when you first have them. WRITE IT DOWN!

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Seriously I keep pen and paper with me at all times. I do have an iPad and iPhone but for me there is just something organic and more meaningful about writng the idea down. I’m also more likely to remember it if I write it. Now if I can’t write it down. Sometimes the best ideas come in my sleep. I do sleep with a pen and paper on my nightstand but disappearing pens are a frequent problem in our house. Sometimes it’s hard to tell if the act of theaft is due to my inquisitive daughter or naughty dog. Whoever is to blame, sometimes I don’t have a pen when I need it. This si a great opportnity to email myself and I do so often.

Life happens. Sometimes our work suffers but that doesn’t mean our creative flow should suffer. Keep your ideas growing. Make them count and do not let them go to waste. When life gets in the way it’s our ideas that keep us feeling creative and excited about every second we get to write! It is tempting for me to feel nothing but dread and a huge sense of overwhelmingness when I sit to write and try to catch up. I’ve made the choice to be an artist. Ithink it is easy for writers to get caught up in the stress of the industry and lose that creative spark. Even when youare behind keep those creative juiices flowing and WRITE THOSE IDEAS DOWN.

These are the tricks that are currently helping my career keep moving when it could easy take a backseat burner. As my husband says, I’m way to stubborn to give up my dreams. He is right and when he reads this post he might frame those words! Even when life isn’t throwing your lemons it is crucial to keep tabs on those creative sparks in your brain. Making idea writing/filing a new habit and it just might bring out the better artist in you!

Life is hard but you can control your approach to your craft no matter what other uncontrollable factor are thrown in your corner. Finding that great community to help you stay focused and driven is also vital.  Please share your secrets of keeping the creativity when life gets tough?

 

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