Tag Archives: goals

Something new…

In addition to my New Year’s goals of getting back to writing and eating cleaner/more efficiently I’m also setting out to learn something new. Yes, even with my busy schedule and a newborn I’ve really had this urge to shake things up a little and branch out. So this month I’ve started to play tennis. Why tennis? Well I like the outfits. Yep I’m that girl!

Let me back things up a bit. I’ve never played a sport that involves a ball in my entire life. I’ve never hit a ball or held a tennis racket, baseball bat, lacrosse stick, etc. in my ENTIRE LIFE. I do dance close to 30 hours a week and run a dance studio so I do consider myself to be in good shape but for me, you can’t get much more “new” than this.

I must say though (and I hope my partner feels the same) that I’m not the big laugh that I thought I would be. Apparently I have an awesome back swing and great footwork. tennis picWhile yes this is taking time away from writing or revising I will say I’m feeling empowered and find that when I am before my computer my writing flows better than it did before tennis. Maybe it’s the added exercise or rather a different kind of exercise or maybe it’s that feeling of setting out to do something and feeling accomplished when you’ve done it.

A warning though, when you try a new physical activity you will discover muscles you never knew you had. That’s right. I take pride in how many dance stretches I do a day to be able to attempt to keep up with my younger and super flexible students but OMG the left side of my butt HURTS! If you’re looking to get your butt (literarily your derriere) in shape then take up tennis because I am feeling the burn. Maybe this is the kick in the butt I needed to get myself into my chair and at my keyboard.

I think it’s fun and empowering to try something new. I love my job as a dance instructor and a writer. Both professions keep me busy and then I add an active family to that, well…life is never boring. However, it’s a nice reminder that we are never too old to take up a new hobby and take a chance on something new. It’s exciting, nerve-wracking and takes us out of our comfort zone but I LIKE IT!

When have you tried something new and what was it? Did you stick with it?

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Relief and lessons from success

No matter what we do. We could be writers, dancers, artists, spouses, parents, children, etc. We all work for something. It could be personal or professional or a mix of both but I’m willing to bet that you’ve worked hard for something and are probably working hard for something right now. We do that as we move forward in life always striving for the next thing.

Last weekend I hosted a dance Showcase for my dance students. It was the first time I’ve held such an event with my new dance business here in Saudi. When I taught in the States I had this process down to a fine art. I knew what to do and when, and even though it was still hard work it was mostly a routine. Here I’ve been paving new roads and making connections. This past year has been a constant battle of administrative whit in addition to the usual responsibilities of being a dance teacher.

I’m thrilled to say that while the day was long and tiring everything went perfectly. I had happy dancers and parents and just seeing them dance their dances, showing off all that they’ve learned—I’m still smiling about it.

Running this Showcase though is like doing any other thing, it takes work. There is planning and implementation and dedication. Sounds a lot like writing? I thought so. This is why I love how I’m involved in multiple things. I learn from each and apply that knowledge to everything I do. From the Showcase I learned what it’s like to work hard within another culture. At times I was frustrated over how people could not understand that I need ample set up time. I couldn’t just go “poof” and the chairs, stage, décor, etc. would appear. Everything I did to prepare for this event had to be explained and justified again and again. I was building relationships and helping people understand and this goes for everyone here – every nationality. When you live in a place long enough it’s easy to fall into its ways and forget how things are managed elsewhere. So running a Showcase for one dance class was considerably harder than running an entire recital but I learned from it and so did everyone I worked with.

What I took from this was a reminder of the benefits of hard work. Yes, that sounds cheesy and yes we should all know that lesson but it’s nice to get a reminder every now and then. It’s easy to feel down on my writing some days when I’ve been writing fiction for four years now and I still feel far from my goals. But thanks to events like my Showcase I’m reminded of what success feels like and how much sweeter it is when I’ve worked so hard for it.

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On Lent and Writing

Hello Wednesday and hello Lent. This past Tuesday marked the start of Lent – “a solemn religious observance in the liturgical calendar of many Christian denominations that begins on Ash Wednesday and covers a period of approximately six weeks before Easter Day (as defined by Wikipedia.”) While most people associate Lent with the act of giving something up, my family has always done the opposite. We add something to our daily routine that will hopefully better us in someway. There is no reason why writers can’t capitalize on the meaning of Lent and use it to benefit their writing.

My new Lent workout

My new Lent workout

This year I’m adding a 10-minute workout routine (on top of my normal fitness schedule) AND I’m vowing to write 500 words towards my new project before my daughter wakes up. See? Lent cannot only be a spiritual exercise but also a time to focus on what you’ve wanted to do and make it become reality.

When I wake up the first work I do is check my social media sites, follow up on any emails, and currently edit a few pages in what I’m revising. In addition to that I need to get the household ready for the day- feed pets, make sure any meat that needs to be thawed is out, take trash out, make my daughter’s breakfast, etc. All of this gets done (or at least I try) before Baby Markey gets up. I love being productive during this time but I always wish I could have written something new. I yearn to flex my creativity muscles. Now by pledging to write 500 new words in the morning I’m hoping to feel a great sense of creative accomplishment and all before the sun comes up! Of course this might mean that some of my normal tasks could fall to the back burner. I’m willing to work it out and stick to this goal.

What are doing for Lent? I believe that Lent is a great way to look at your goals and wants and make them happen. To me, it is religious and I find it spiritual when I meet a goal set.

Important Markey House Announcement: Baby Markey no longer wishes to be referred to as a baby. She says that she is a big girl. I’m actually proud of our big-girl-minded 3-year-old voicing her opinion to us. Therefore, she will now be referred to as “Little Miss Markey.”

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When you spend New Year’s in an International airport lounge

Hello and happy New Year! Yes, I’m perfectly aware that I’m late on this; I should have long ago posted anything related to New Year’s. However, one of the biggest things I’ve learned being an expatriate overseas is that our lives often run on a different timetable. This was especially apparent to me when we celebrated the New Year in a lounge at the Dubai International Airport, something I would never have done before we became such globetrotters. I had to sit back and marvel at how exciting my life has become.IntlAirport

This year November we took our first repatriate trip. Due to our visas we have to be out of the country (Saudi Arabia) so many days a year. However, we saved vacation and took one long trip! We were away from our home for 37 days. And yes, I call our house in Saudi “home.” That is where we live now and where our things and pets are. It was wonderful visiting family and friends in the States but living out of a suitcase and taking care of a homesick preschooler gets very old and tiresome.

For us returning from the U.S.A to Saudi always comes with a week of adjustment. If you’ve ever traveled internationally towards the East then you know exactly what I mean. For some reason I find the jetlag much harsher when traveling this way. Then we also dealt with a jetlagged preschooler so that adds to our “getting settled” equation. Bottom line, it took a while to return to “real life” after our trip.

With that being said I now feel like this is my New Year. I have the giddy excitement like the first day of school. Why, you might ask? Well this week is when I returned to work. Yep, it’s been a week of cleaning my office, reevaluating my schedule and setting goals.

Life overseas can be alienating especially for writers and then add a child in that mix and WOW, it’s amazing I’m sane! But this is how I become stronger, better at what I do and what I want to do. I take time to plan, evaluate my current situation. I take the time to see how lucky I am to have spent New Year’s at an airport.

If you didn’t start your New Year on January 1, if you feel like you’re off to a slow start to the year STOP STRESSING! It’s not about how much you do more so than how you do it. Because of this I’m glad I didn’t even attempt to reach a word count on January 2nd. I’m glad I took the time to get everything in order and feel organized before really diving into work. Take time to see where you are and plan for the year even if this means not really starting your New Year until later in the month like I have.

Most of all I’m a believer in looking back at your year. Are you happy with your life? If not, how can you be? Ask questions. Use that to plan your year.

I’m happy at where I am in my life physically and thrilled at the prospect of my future both personally and professionally. It feels good to be back in a routine and back at writing. Repat was fun and tiring. I’m feeling refreshed and ready to tackle 2014.

Happy New Year!

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Do you actually use your fine china?

When we were in Dubai recently I bought an Arabic coffee china set to add to my china cabinet. I love it and rearranging my china cabinet only reminded me how much I love my fine china, which I never use. It’s really sad to let such pretty things sit dormant. So, I’ve now instituted a weekly fine china night.

I’ve stated before that I’m a firm believer in little rewards. No matter what you do I’m sure you work hard at it. I’m juggling writing, chasing a very active toddler and keeping up with our furry babies (who think they are real children.) Making use of anything you love is a great reward. For me, I feel special when I use my Old Country Roses pattern. It’s great to sit down after a long days work and enjoy a nice meal off of my china.

A reward doesn’t have to be a costly thing. Think of something that makes you happy and make it happen. Such rewards recharge your mind and soul preparing you to continue tackling your goals and dreams.

How have you rewarded yourself lately?

Roses

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A week closer to potty training and a finished manuscript- Celebrating the little things

Today I didn’t do any work even though I had things on my to do list. Why? It’s important to celebrate the little things. Our daughter went this week with no accidents (as far as number 1 is concerned.) In our ongoing battle with potty training our stubborn toddler, this wApril 5as something worth celebrating. As if we didn’t need more reason for a family fun day, we were also celebrating the middle grade novel that I finished this week. Yes, I have many goals to reach; yet none of that could happen if I didn’t finish this draft.

We all have big goals and dreams but it’s important to take time and enjoy the smallest accomplishments. As our reward, we spent the day at the mall. We had a sand storm that day in Saudi, which means that any outdoor activities are out of the question. Lucky for us a certain little girl needed a new summer wardrobe and a brand new, totally epic toy store opened in the mall. Needless to say we had wonderful family time and even though I neglected some things for it, I know I feel more refreshed tonight.

Days like this are important to have. Without the small victories in life our dreams would be forgotten. When was the last time you celebrated something no matter how little the accomplishment may seem to you? Did you include your family in this time of celebration?

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To making it count

“To making it count,” are the words that Jack Dawson (Leonardo DiCaprio) said in “Titanic” as he offered a toast to the first class table he played guest to. Though just a fictional character, Jack had the right idea in life. We never know what the next day, week, month or even second may bring. All the more reason to look at your dream and make it happen.

This week marked the debut release of author Bridget Zinn. She didn’t live to see the release of her book, “PoisonPoison.” Zinn passed away of cancer but even in death I’m sure she’s smiling in heaven at the realization of her dream. Bridget’s story is a sad one and I can’t help but look at where I am in realizing my own dream, to see my fiction published and get to share my stories with the world. I’m not where I want to be.

This past year has been a challenge; first our move to Saudi Arabia and then my emergency surgery for a ruptured gall bladder. I’ve fallen behind and some days it seems like I can never catch up. I read Bridget’s story and I’m both thankful and terrified.

I’m thankful to be happy and have a wonderful family. I’m thankful to have published a book on a topic that I’m passionate about, “Caring For Your Special Needs Dog.” Yet, I’m terrified at what I haven’t done. I have unfinished manuscripts, which I want to pitch this summer of conferences. I am still editing my second dog book when I planned for it to be out months ago. The truth is I’m not where I want to be and no matter what the excuse or situation is, that’s the truth.

So I’m powering through goal-lists, making it count and working hard towards my dreams while loving the life I have. I know I’ll get there because as my husband says, “I’m way too stubborn not too!” Until then, I’m thankful to be well and writing and will never stop fighting to get my own characters on bookshelves.

I haven’t read “Poison” by Bridget Zinn but it is loaded on my iPad and will be read soon. I look forward to reading the story she wanted us to know and push hard to get my own stories before readers eyes.

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Forget that box of chocolate, life is like a hard to open Barbie package

Being a parent is hard work. Being a mom who works from home is even harder but opening a Barbie box; you apparently need to actually be a rocket scientist or the toughest Navy Seal there ever was. Seriously, who designs the packaging for Barbie and other troublesomBarbiee toys? Do they hate humanity or just find amusement in making parents suffer to their child’s screams of, “open it now!” Yes, can’t you tell, Baby Markey is now into Barbie and I recently suffered the horrors of that packaging. However, as I struggled to open that “I Can Be Dance Champion Doll” it hit me (and yes, at one point the packaging actually did hit me,) So many things in life are like those difficult, infuriating toy packages.

Life is hard. There are days where I question my writing but then I go back and read something that I wrote a while ago and remind myself that I can do this. I’m not the best mom everyday. Sometimes dinner is late or I let naptime run longer because I’m enjoying the quiet and the thought of hosting a playgroup is nauseating. But then there are those moments that make it all worth it. For me, it’s always the small things like when my daughter believed she was taking hopping lessons from our pet bunny or our nightly reading routines where each book read concludes with, “one more book please.” I’m blessed to work from home because there is no better writing break than having my daughter come to show me her latest art masterpieces.

Life is full of layers, just like the plastic, tape, and those odd twisty-ties from hard to open packages. You have to work hard to get to the good stuff! But oh, it’s so worth it.

Forrest was right with that box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get. However, when you set goals and dreams you have something attainable and real in your mind. It’s up to you to break through the packaging and get your prize.

ANNOUNCEMENTS:

My popular Writing Moms (and Dads!) Workshop and Personal Consultations start March 4. If you’re a parent and a writer struggling to have it all then this workshop is for you!

Writing Moms (and Dads!) Online Workshop
Date: March 4th, 2013 – April 4, 2013
Description: Plot, character arc, transitions, climax, revise, rewrite, make that deadline, blog, check social media sites, continued education, volunteer for local writing group, read critique partners manuscript, research agents/publishers, read books within your genre, read a craft book and network. These are ALL things that go through writers’ minds on any given day. But what if you had to add: Make bottles, keep up with diaper/Gerber/ formula supplies, feed baby, play dates, bathe baby, wipe up thrown sweet potatoes, shower to get sweet potatoes out of your hair, more playtime, hope for a naptime (for baby, you must write,) read to baby, and hope baby actually goes to bed at the designated time.
For many writers, this is reality. In fact, many full-time writers are made because of a child being born. Some amazing mothers write late at night, around their day job. However you do it, being a writing parent is a challenge but very doable and rewarding. Learn easy self study tactics, time management tips and suggestions from a ten-year freelance journalist, published author and speaker who also has a two-year-old daughter and a high maintenance dog. You can have it all without losing your mind.
Register HERE

Writing Moms (and Dads!) Personal Consultation
Dates: March 4, 2013 – April 4, 2013
Length: Two 45 min. phone consultations. The first consultation will be within the first week of the four-week Writing Moms (and Dads!) workshop. The second will be scheduled prior to completing the workshop.
Description: Take what you learn from the Writing Moms (and Dads!) workshop and get one-on-one guidance on developing the best plan for making you a smarter writer. The first consultation will be a detailed interview followed by a discussion of time constraints. The second will be about developing the best plan for you based off your first consultation discussions. You will also get personalized methods for implementing, testing and carrying out your plan.
Register HERE

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Finding inspiration from the Oscars

I love the Oscars! I love seeing all the fashion and seeing people live their dreams. I was thrilled for Anne Hathaway and loved her quote, “I had a dream…and it came true.” We all have dreams. For me, seeing others accomplish their dreams further inspires me to push for my own “dream come true.”

I may not write screenplays but writers are writers. With every movie I see I think, “Someone wrote that.” Every story began with a not so pretty rough draft. Sometimes I look at my disorganized drafts and wonder if anything pretty will come of it. Everything must get a little dirty before fluffing up to become “dream” material. I’m sure all of this year’s Oscar winners went through periods of doubt. Would they ever win an Oscar? Many of the nominees are still thinking just that. This industry is full of long waits and doubts but we see the payoff, if not in our work yet then through the work of others.

Hearing the acceptance speeches and seeing the tears makes the reality that dreams do come true easier to believe. Anything really is possible through hard work. So with that being said, do the Academy Awards inspire you? Do you think, “that can be me” when others achieve success? I do. So enjoy this brief interview by the now, Academy Award Winner Anne Hathaway. We all have dreams, no go make yours come true!

ANNOUNCEMENTS:
Don’t forget to check out my popular “Writing Moms (and Dads)” WANA International workshop happening in March. See details below:

Writing Moms (and Dads!) Online Workshop
Date: March 4th, 2013 – April 4, 2013
Description: Plot, character arc, transitions, climax, revise, rewrite, make that deadline, blog, check social media sites, continued education, volunteer for local writing group, read critique partners manuscript, research agents/publishers, read books within your genre, read a craft book and network. These are ALL things that go through writers’ minds on any given day. But what if you had to add: Make bottles, keep up with diaper/Gerber/ formula supplies, feed baby, play dates, bathe baby, wipe up thrown sweet potatoes, shower to get sweet potatoes out of your hair, more playtime, hope for a naptime (for baby, you must write,) read to baby, and hope baby actually goes to bed at the designated time.
For many writers, this is reality. In fact, many full-time writers are made because of a child being born. Some amazing mothers write late at night, around their day job. However you do it, being a writing parent is a challenge but very doable and rewarding. Learn easy self study tactics, time management tips and suggestions from a ten-year freelance journalist, published author and speaker who also has a two-year-old daughter and a high maintenance dog. You can have it all without losing your mind.
Register HERE

Writing Moms (and Dads!) Personal Consultation
Dates: March 4, 2013 – April 4, 2013
Length: Two 45 min. phone consultations. The first consultation will be within the first week of the four-week Writing Moms (and Dads!) workshop. The second will be scheduled prior to completing the workshop.
Description: Take what you learn from the Writing Moms (and Dads!) workshop and get one-on-one guidance on developing the best plan for making you a smarter writer. The first consultation will be a detailed interview followed by a discussion of time constraints. The second will be about developing the best plan for you based off your first consultation discussions. You will also get personalized methods for implementing, testing and carrying out your plan.
Register HERE

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Embrace the crazy!

Let’s face it, life can get crazy and you never know when that craziness will strike. Crazy can come in the form of an illness to either you or worse, your child. Crazy can be moving. Wherever you move, it’s going to be CRAZY! And crazy always hits us around the holidays but such crazy can be good. Learn to embrace the crazy and make it work to your advantage.

This past week I continued to catch up after my surgery and then it happened. Crazy struck my house again! Baby Markey woke up with a fever. Of course all morning plans were tossed out the window while I got her ready to be at the clinic when they opened. Luckily, we were in and out of the doctor’s office in an hour. Once we got home it was medication time and the day of taking it easy on the couch began.

But something amazing happened. In between phone interviews and forcing fluids into my daughter I managed to hit my daily word count and more. Yes, busy me is apparently superhuman productive me. Oh and I managed to cook an amazing homemade stew (who cares if it was in the slow cooker!)

The fact is, when we have less idle time the more productive we are. I experience this all the time. Whenever I have a day with little planned that’s when I get distracted. Suddenly Facebook calls my name or I want to catch up with a great book. The tighter my schedule gets, the more I get done. Yes, it sounds crazy but that’s what embracing the crazy is all about.

This all comes down to setting yourself a schedule. Make yourself accountable for deadlines even if they are set by you. Stick to goals no matter what craziness happens. Use the crazy to motivate you past distraction. Embrace and make the crazy work for you.

Exciting stuff is on the horizon so please read the announcements and find a treat below ☺

WANACon is coming. Catch great speakers and agents during this two-day event. You can sigh up for the 1st, 2nd, or both days and sign up for agent pitch sessions. It’s all online so no matter where you live (like me waving at you from Saudi Arabia) you can attend. For more information, click here.

ANNOUNCEMENTS:
Due to my surgery, my popular “Writing Moms (and Dads)” WANA International workshop has moved to March. See details below:

Writing Moms (and Dads!) Online Workshop

Date: March 4th, 2013 – April 4, 2013
Description: Plot, character arc, transitions, climax, revise, rewrite, make that deadline, blog, check social media sites, continued education, volunteer for local writing group, read critique partners manuscript, research agents/publishers, read books within your genre, read a craft book and network. These are ALL things that go through writers’ minds on any given day. But what if you had to add: Make bottles, keep up with diaper/Gerber/ formula supplies, feed baby, play dates, bathe baby, wipe up thrown sweet potatoes, shower to get sweet potatoes out of your hair, more playtime, hope for a naptime (for baby, you must write,) read to baby, and hope baby actually goes to bed at the designated time.
For many writers, this is reality. In fact, many full-time writers are made because of a child being born. Some amazing mothers write late at night, around their day job. However you do it, being a writing parent is a challenge but very doable and rewarding. Learn easy self study tactics, time management tips and suggestions from a ten-year freelance journalist, published author and speaker who also has a two-year-old daughter and a high maintenance dog. You can have it all without losing your mind.
Register HERE

Writing Moms (and Dads!) Personal Consultation
Dates: March 4, 2013 – April 4, 2013
Length: Two 45 min. phone consultations. The first consultation will be within the first week of the four-week Writing Moms (and Dads!) workshop. The second will be scheduled prior to completing the workshop.
Description: Take what you learn from the Writing Moms (and Dads!) workshop and get one-on-one guidance on developing the best plan for making you a smarter writer. The first consultation will be a detailed interview followed by a discussion of time constraints. The second will be about developing the best plan for you based off your first consultation discussions. You will also get personalized methods for implementing, testing and carrying out your plan.
Register HERE

Ok…….you’ve read this far so here’s your treat. If you sign up for at least one day of WANACon then you will get my March Writing Moms (and Dads!) workshop for a discounted rate. Please email me at NatalieCMarkey@gmail.com if you qualify.

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