5 Things I’m Tackling In My Creative Life Right Now

And sadly, no, tackling isn’t a football reference in this instance. And y’all, I miss football. I know there’s the draft and pro days and the combine and so on and so forth, but I miss GameDay on Saturdays and a full slate of football games from noon until midnight. At the same time, I’m getting a shit ton done in my creative life right now so I can’t complain too much … Football will be back soon enough! 148 days, 18 hours, and 58 minutes …

Okay, now that I’ve gathered myself together …

I’m working and creating and dreaming and putting into place and changing how I play the game. I’m doing a lot more embracing of change this year, facing my fears than I have in a very long time. (Then again, I got new computer glasses that I’m in love with I can’t wait to put them on). So, I thought I’d share with you 5 Things I’m Tackling In My Creative Life Right Now …

Creative means, according to Merriam-Webster, marked by the ability or power to create … As indie authors, blog writers, indie publishers, content creators, etc … We have an immense amount of power in our collective voices and at our fingertips. We’re limited only by our imagination. I was HUGE limited by my mindset for a long ass time. That’s no longer the case as I continue to learn just how much power creatives do have. Facing the fears, accepting them, and leaning into them to come out on the other side, that definitely takes creative courage and an open mindset. I’m still fighting against my limiting thoughts and I’m making progress every day, often, multiple times a day.

Approval from people who don’t matter … I fight this a lot. I tackle this issue day in and day out. Some voices are louder than others. I do a much better job now of surrounding myself and reaching out to people who have my back, who support me, who let me bounce ideas off them without judgment, who pull me out of my funks, who are constructive and creative in their criticism and not out to see me fall and fail. Seeking approval and advice from some people can and will kill creativity faster than you can say, well, anything. And this is not about competition and outside validation. This is simply about seeking creative guidance and sometimes, there are people, who you and I need to steer clear of or our creative desires and willpower will fly right out the window.

Comfort Zone … Boy. Howdy. I am tackling the creative comfort zone every second it seems. I am facing things that are pushing me out of where I am and where I’ve been. They’re affecting the bottom line and the momentum I had going when I started 2018 with a plan. But I also get stronger each time I take a leap. I believe more in myself when I put myself out there in ways I never thought I would. And sometimes it definitely takes having your hand forced before you’re even remotely ready in order to do the things. Don’t get me wrong here. The fear never goes away, but it when we lean into it, push through it, drown out the negativity of our own minds and that of other’s words, we gain power over it and we’re able to say ‘Bring It On’ even louder the next time.

Using multiple parts of my creative brain … At all times. All day. I’m changing how I approach Lissa Matthews, some from my own desires, and some from outside sources. A new pen name that I’m really excited to play with. She’s going to be a lot of fun when I get a point I can dedicate several hours a day to her. Some creative online business courses. Some of the information isn’t anything new to me, but the ways it’s presented is different and it’s allowing me to push against the frame of mind and limits I’d imposed on myself for years as a writer and creative. And a new venture about helping creatives see their to-do lists in a new light. (I’ll be telling you more about it later). The more I use these creative brain waves, the more creativity I’m dealt and that’s just fine with me.

Falling back into old habits of procrastination … So, yes, on the heels of a lot creativity flowing through me and facing fears, I still have to deal with old habits creeping in. I haven’t been watching television much. Sports, yes. March Madness. Golf next weekend, etc … But television shows? I’ve pretty much ditched them. I still catch a 30min one once or twice a week, but that’s it. I haven’t watched a Hallmark movie in months. Or binged on Netflix. (Though I do have it in my planner that I’m allowed to binge watch Bosch when it returns in April). But television doesn’t serve my business or me. Yes, one could get ideas from it every so often, but not enough to waste valuable time. And I’ll occasionally find myself playing Candy Crush and have to force myself to walk away. I don’t do Facebook much. I’m there only for specific things (a few groups and my Page). Instead, I read more. Business books, female entrepreneurial books, fiction, blog posts, articles that are relevant to what I’m doing, and the like. I’ve gotten to the point I can let my house go if necessary (but not for too long… I can’t work for too long in the equivalent of a college frat house). But putting my business and myself first has helped me add to my creative well and pull myself out of the time sucks. I’m a much happier person now that I’m not wasting so many precious moments on things that mean nothing. The caveat to this is, once again, sports. My son loves sports. Sports broadcasting is what he wants to go into when he goes to college. We watch sports together. It’s something we’ve always done. It’s one of the ways we connect and share time together. It helps that I like sports, too.

What are you tackling in your creative life or in your life in general? Leave a comment below! And have a great Thursday!

~lissa

5 Things You Need to Know About Body Positivity, Self Love and Why They’re Important

Because Fuck You if you think your opinion should matter and if you think you get a say! You know what they say about opinions and assholes, right? (Yes this post will be littered with cursing and I will not bleep to spare anyone’s feelings).

Is that a little harsh? Good. But honestly, it’s probably not harsh enough.

I don’t know who gave anyone the right to judge others based on their weight or looks, but… Y’all, we’re ALL guilty of it. In one way or another, if you look close enough, we’re ALL guilty of it.

This topic is near and dear to my heart because I’m plus size, because I write books about plus size heroines and the heroes who desire them.

It’s also been on my mind a lot the last few days because of an article published about a woman business owner and podcast (Goaldigger) host named Jenna Kutcher that I follow on Instagram. I adore her realness and bravery. And her business advice is pretty awesome, too. She and her husband were featured in a Yahoo! piece that sparked some pretty nasty comments from people.

Now, I know we all say, don’t read the comments, don’t look at the reviews, don’t whatever … But we also know it’s bullshit because guess what? We’re gonna look, we’re gonna read, and the horrid things said are going to stick with us for a bit.

I don’t know what happened to “If you can’t say anything nice …”, but WOW! It’s gone the way of the Dodo bird. How people can be so cruel to someone they don’t know, but the Internet has allowed for a great deal of bullying to go on and people to say things they likely wouldn’t dare say to someone’s face.

So, here are 5 Things I want you to know about body positivity, self love, and why they’re important … AT ALL AGES!

It’s Hurting Our Children … They hear it. They see it. They go on diets before they’re eleven years old. They’re obsessed with size and weight. They’re stressing their bodies before they’re old enough to understand what stress is. Should they be out playing instead of playing video games the way they do, yes, probably. I can tell you I didn’t go outside and play. I stayed in my room with music and books. My sister did, though. She played outside from dawn until dusk. We didn’t worry about diets of the sizes of jeans. To be honest, I never felt bad about any weight I gained until someone told me they just didn’t find me sexy. Someone close to me. Someone who should never speak words like that. That I just wasn’t attractive anymore. That I was no longer pretty. But our kids see and hear stuff like that and they’re too young and impressionable to realize that attraction isn’t only skin deep, or that it shouldn’t be, and that love, ALL the love needs to come from inside us before we ever look to others for it. We’re not sending that message to them, though. We’re sending the message that a bikini body is the only body a man or woman is going to ever be interested in. We’re sending the message that whatever you want to do in live, you can do, but only if you’re a certain size because otherwise, you’re seen as lazy and unkempt. We’re sending the message that if we just do this, or this, or this, we’ll be the optimal size. We’re sending the message that a number on a scale or on a pant size is worth more than what it truly means to be healthy. That’s not what makes you happy in the end and we need to stop sending those messages to our kids. They’re already dealing with enough shit from us. We shouldn’t leave them hating themselves, too because they aren’t living up to some superficial ideal.

It’s Not About Glorifying Obesity … Do you need me to say that again for the ones in the back? This one is just … Do you know why? Because there are thin women who hate their bodies, too. Who hate their bodies just as much as those who are obese. Let that sink in, y’all. Not only are women who are overweight hating themselves, but there are women who are the optimal weight (according to the outdated charts in doctor’s offices) or thinner, who hate themselves. Saying we want body positivity and self love and self acceptance and self confidence in our own skin isn’t about glorifying anything other than self love and self acceptance and self confidence. No matter the number on a scale or the number on a tag on a piece of clothing, that should not dictate one’s level of love for themselves. But we let it. We let the scale, the clothing size, the diet industry, the words in commercials, the words on social media take every ounce of positivity away from us and it needs to stop. Like, yesterday. Because what it should be about is glorifying and loving ourselves, being happy and living life on our terms, not ones that are dictated to us by those who don’t even know us. We are wonderfully and beautifully made in our skin, just the way we are.

I’m not a doctor, so I can’t tell anyone they should lose weight or gain weight. I don’t live in your life and you don’t live in mine. I do yoga daily and the yoga instructor I follow has a saying ‘Find What Feels Good”. I love it and it’s a good thing to live by. Find what feels good and don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something. But I do know that STRESS can kill you. And this kind of negativity adds to already overloaded stress levels. Loving ourselves, finding joy and happiness in our skin, isn’t about glorifying obesity. It’s about finding what feels good in our lives, whatever that is. And if someone feels good about themselves at a size 24, who has the right to tell them they should instead hate themselves because they aren’t living up to someone else’s standards?

It’s None Of Your Fucking Business … Self explanatory. Unless you’re the doctor, your opinion is just that and it shouldn’t matter. You’re entitled to have one, yes. I’m entitled, ANYONE, is then entitled to tell you to Fuck Off. Before you throw stones, check your own foundation. Before you tell me how to live, step into my shoes for the last 47 years and walk my exact path. Before you point out anyone else’s supposed flaws, better make sure you’re damn perfect in every fucking area of your life. Period. Because otherwise, It Is None Of Your Fucking Business! And if I want to dance and shake while eating chocolate cake, I will.

These last two are so very, very, VERY vital and important …

Deserving of Love and Happiness … That’s right, y’all. Those of us who are bigger and those of you who are smaller. WE ARE ALL DESERVING OF LOVE AND HAPPINESS RIGHT WHERE WE ARE! We don’t have to lose weight or gain weight to be deserving of love and happiness, and that includes love from ourselves as well as others. It also includes happiness in our jobs, out with friends, binge watching Netflix and eating a pizza with a side of brownie, going to the gym, going to yoga, asking a guy or gal out, going to a club or the hot new restaurant. We deserve to LIVE and not hide out because of the condemnation seen in the eyes of others, or heard in the whispered words when no one thinks we can hear them. We deserve freedom from the negativity and hatefulness of the public at large just because they don’t like the skin of the person they see on the outside. YOU, ME, EVERYONE is deserving of happiness and love wherever they are in their body right now. Flip off the negative, awful thoughts. Flip off the person sneering at you. Flip off the person who says ‘Maybe you need to … whatever’. Shake your ass, smile, and walk away. You don’t need that level of shit in your life. You don’t need that level of STRESS in your life. You need the happy, loving level of I’VE GOT THIS.

You deserve love. Especially from yourself. You’re worth it. That L’Oreal phrase is so so so so SO DAMN TRUE! You, me, all of us are worthy of love. We should love ourselves. Ultimately, we’re the ones who know us best and we should be kind and compassionate toward ourselves. I know it’s hard to combat the asshats out there. I know it’s hard to silence their words and jabs and sucker punches and cruelty, but we’re better than that. And if that is all you ever hear from anyone, it’s time for some new friends. If it’s your family, it’s time to stand your ground and say “No More.” Is it hard? Oh yes. But YOU ARE WORTH IT! Your life, your heart, your soul, your very essence is worth it. And the more we love ourselves, the less the opinionated assholes matter and the less we notice them and the less we feed their need for attention. Instead, we’ll give attention where it really does matter … To ourselves and the things that makes us happy and the things we’re passionate about.

We Are Beautiful … Oh yes the fuck we are. We are so damn beautiful. And if you don’t think so, Fuck You.

There are many things in this world that are deserving of our attention and focus. Hating each other for the size or color of someone’s skin is not one of them.

Many of us take better care of ourselves than the majority of the public at large realize. We walk, yoga, jog, dance, eat pretty damn good, too. We cook, we have amazing orgasms with ourselves, enjoy books, movies, coffee, naps, sports, travel … You know, all the things. We’re looked at differently though. And when someone hot and sexy looks at us and finds us hot and sexy, too? Well, now … That’s why I write the romance that I do. Curvy women who are loved and desired by the rough around the edges bad boys. We deserve the Happily Ever After even with our curves, or lack of.

Don’t let anyone tell you you’re not worthy or that you’re less because your body isn’t what they think is ideal. Don’t let anyone hurt you like that. They’re wrong. And you’re beautiful. And together, with love and support, we can do ANYTHING!

We’re BADASSES… Curvy and Gorgeous BADASSES!

~lissa

5 Things You Will Always Find On My Desk

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve likely seen my desk shots. From neat and tidy to cluttered. But everything I need to do my job is within reach and I thought I’d share with you what 5 of those things are:

Coffee (or some type of secondary drink) … If you know anything about me, you know I love my coffee. I can’t live without my coffee. It’s an addiction and I’m okay with that. I’ve accepted it. I’ve admitted it. I’ve made peace with it. If it’s give up coffee today or die tomorrow? Well, get to work planning the funeral. I have a coaster a friend (thank you Susan) taught me how to make that my drinks sit on. And the drink is always within reach.

Planners (and pens/pencils) … I have 3. My Happy Planner with my day to day Hustles (I’ll go into this another day, but you can always email me if you NEED to know what the hell I’m talking about with this Hustle stuff). My Editorial Calendar with blog goals. I just found this one again from when I moved office spaces and have started going through it. It’s really awesome and indepth. Holy. Moly. And my 3rd planner is my Always Fully Booked one. It’s all about books. What I’ve read, what I want to read, reviews (though I don’t leave reviews) and where I plan to keep what books I plan to read and actually DO read during readathons. But planners are always within reach to keep me on track and keep me current with what I have going on in my writing, reading, planning, creating, social media, etc…

Phone (plus my bluetooth ear piece and earbuds) … Yep. No explanation needed with this one, huh? Didn’t think so. Plus, podcasts. I listen to podcasts on my phone and so, yeah …

Sticky notes and Notepads/Notebooks … I always have something I’m jotting down. Lately it’s been inspirational thoughts for where I want to take my business and other ideas I have for perhaps other businesses and growth, etc… But I also write down websites I want to visit, color codes that are on my covers, my website, books I want, calculations, doodles. I think better and with more clarity when I write things down by hand. And I am forever taking notes from the podcasts I listen to. There’s so much valuable information in them. (And… yesterday I grabbed my pink sticky notes, a pen, and practically plastered my office walls with thoughts, quotes, questions, and inspiration)

Personal care items … This could be a whole post in itself. There’s a mini bottle of coconut oil lotion, pocket sized waterless soaps, Lime Crime lipstick (Bomber is the shade), a bottle of perfume, glasses (one pair for computer work, one for distance wear), a cupcake nail kit, my ankle braces, and almost always a pair of socks.

So, what’s on your desk? What would surprise us? Anything? Please share in the comments below!

~lissa

5 Things I Feel About Turning 47

Thursday, February 22nd was my 47th birthday. And this year, I felt…different.

On previous birthdays… I’d say at least the last 4 or 5, I’ve been increasingly sad, depressed, wanting to soak every moment out of my birthday while at the same time, wanting to crawl under the blankets and hide from it. But as I said, this year felt different. And here are my 5 reasons/things why I think that is…

Embracing Letting Go … This year I’ve spent a great deal of time working on myself, on figuring out who I am, who I want to be, who I don’t want to be. I’ve been in the doldrums for a long time, in some ways, all my life. And since I started keeping a journal, I’ve been able to work through some of the questions of why I am the way I am and have been able to understand, accept, and let go of a lot of horrible feelings. I used to be somewhat afraid of what letting go of things I’d held onto for so many years (since I was 6 years old, to be honest). If I let go, what would happen to me? Who would I be if I were no longer this negative, dreary, holding onto the hurt and anger and pain and guilt? I’m a happier person, that’s who.

Yoga/Meditation/Talking to the Universe … Last year I challenged myself to walk for 30 minutes for 30 days straight. I wanted to see how I’d feel at the end of it. I wanted to see what changes I encountered about myself, what changes I encountered to my body, if any. In the end, though, the only thing I that I had to show for it was the fact that I’d done it and I was proud that I had. Other than that? Nothing. My joints hurt. My body felt bloated. I had no energy. I tried to start it up again, but I didn’t. I didn’t want to. Yes, exercise is important, but what’s more important than exercise in general, is the specific exercise that speaks to you. And a walk every once in a while is awesome. But that’s not my exercise happy place. That my exercise bliss. Yoga is. Whether it’s 5 minutes or 50 minutes, I feel incredible afterward. I am not focused on losing weight, but feeling good within my body, mind, and soul. I follow an at home practice. Yoga with Adriene. She’s awesome. Bright, open, knowledgeable, energetic and her motto is Find What Feels Good. I have embraced this. Yoga feels good. I’ve been doing it no less than 5 days a week most weeks of 2018 so far. I have noticed changes in my body, in my stress levels. I am kinder to myself. I am full of gratitude toward myself when the practice is over. Yoga helps focus me and calm my mind. I have more positive energy.

Meditation … This is new for me. Or, re-new for me. I’m trying to take at least 5 minutes a day to close my eyes and just breathe. Just exist in the breath, in the moment. It, too, has helped calm and center me. My goal is to work myself up to longer periods of meditation to help reduce stress even more, to silence the noise in my head and connect with the part of me where ideas and creativity and peace reside.

Talking to the Universe … You can say it’s God, or your version of God … I call it the Universe. It’s a free form conversation I have daily. A lot. There’s a lot of gratitude in it, a lot of asking for help in different areas of my life, asking to be of use, to be of service, to be kinder to myself and to others, to be more open to letting go, to receiving, to ideas, to change.  This has become a… I don’t even have a word for it.  It’s an experience. It’s not inside my head. It’s spoken with my mouth when I’m alone, when I’m in the shower, when I’m doing chores, when I find that my thoughts are not good, are negative, are judgmental of myself or others, when I’m disgruntled with family or friends … This conversation has been altering for me because it never ends. The lines of communication are always open.

Having a Plan … This part goes back to my recent blog posts about my writing and publishing career. Writing is a HUGE part of my life. And I needed a mindset change. We can’t change how we think or feel unless we have the conversations with ourselves and are ready for change. And as y’all know, those conversations with myself and then with you, were not easy, were not pretty, were not fun. They were, however, necessary. And I’m all the more glad for them. My plan for the moment is simple: write and release books. Yes, I need to market. But I’ve spent years dwelling on nothing, on fears, on jealousies, on inferiority, on inconsistency, on not knowing where to start so not starting at all. But now, I have a publishing plan. And starting to look at the marketing side of things, on the branding side of things. Writing, though… Writing gives me joy, fills me with creative energy and this propels me forward, this keeps me moving forward. I’ve defined Lissa Matthews and I’m working on continuing to refine the definition and pick up the momentum. And for the first time in years, I feel hope and happiness as Lissa Matthews.

I am also going to be launching a new name and I’m hopeful that I can launch Ella Claire the right way from the word GO!

Having a plan has been awesome for my mood and dedication to my writing career. I didn’t realize how essential it was to have a plan. Now I do.

Reading … I read a lot now. Over the last year, I’ve begun to read a lot more than I had in the previous few years. I read big books, small books, print books, ebooks. I read YA fiction, crime thrillers, sweet romance, chick lit, some romance, writing craft books, personal development books, entrepreneur mindset books, marketing books. I read. It lets me get out of my head. It lets me escape. It lets me experience other things, other worlds, other imaginations. It opens my mind. It empowers me. It energizes me. It moves me through the whole range of emotions. It prefer reading over television. It keeps my mind, whether business or fantasy, sharp and curious. And curiousness was something missing in my life for a long, long, LONG time. Being curious helps us embrace the child within and this for me was something I’d been missing on a regular basis. Curiosity is one of the things that can help keep us feeling younger, feeling better, feeling more open.

Mindset … I know I talked about this last week, but it bears repeating, at least for me, that a shift, a change in mindset has allowed me to become and embrace more of me, more of the me I want to be, more of the me that’s been wandering lost for years.It’s one of those things that when it comes, if you paddle and stand up to ride that wave, it’ll take you somewhere you have been trying to find, but that’s been right there all along. It’s not easy to change a lifetime of negative thought, of hate speech toward yourself, of ugly words about your appearance, of judgmental thoughts and words for things that happened to you that you had no control over. If you’re down and negative, you attract down and negative. I never bought into that until this year. But it’s true. So is the opposite. If you’re up and positive, you begin to attract up and positive. If you let go, you begin to receive because you’ve opened up. If you smile, smiles will come back to you. What you allow in is what you end up showing the world. I didn’t believe any of it. Until this year. Until I was ready. Until I stood up to ride the wave.

A year or two or five ago, I dreaded every birthday. I wanted it and at the same time, I didn’t. I didn’t want to get older. I saw older as the end coming that much closer. I saw it as wrinkles and my mind beginning to shut down, my body breaking down. I greeted each birthday with fear and a desire to go back. To be 20 again, to be 16, 14, 10 again… To go back and make different choices, different decisions. To go back and live again. But that’s not possible. We can’t go back. We can only go forward. We can do so in stagnant waters, or we can do so in an inner tube floating along in crystal clear spring waters, riding the ebbs and flows and engaging with ourselves at each interval. This is what I’ve begun to do. I am open to the Universe, to finding what feels good, to smiling at myself, to being kind and generous with myself, to being open and receptive, to being grateful and accepting of challenges, to putting myself out there and learning new things, to having goals and higher standards for myself. I have gray hairs and I’m finding I like them. I’ve lived 47 years in a bit of darkness. The gray hairs I have are more white than gray and they’re part of the brightness in my life now. I’m embracing color and sparkles and things that bring me happiness.

I’m 47 years old now and I feel as though I’ve just started my life …

~lissa

 

5 Things I’m Doing To Battle My Resistance to Change

I have to start off by thanking everyone who read and commented through email or on social media about last week’s post: 5 Things I Learned About Resistance to Change. That it touched some of you enough that you reached out was more than I expected when I posted it. But that it did resonate with you, tells me that we could all use a little more vulnerability in our lives and maybe a little more facing the things that hold us back.

I told you I would post some of the things I am doing to combat my resistance to change, to combat my fears, so, if you’re still interested, keep reading… All of what you’ll read below is personal. It’s personal changes I’m making in order to fix and define Lissa Matthews and the Lissa Matthews brand.

One of the big questions in this arena of fear that I’ve successfully cultivated has been ‘Yes, and…?’

I’m losing readers. Yes, and…?

I’m losing respect and credibility. Yes, and…?

I’m scared I’ll fail. Yes, and…?

See a pattern here? There are many other statements I’ve made over the years to foster the fears and fill my own personal arena. But the big different between then and now, is my addition to the statement. “Yes, and…?”

Yes, and… is asking So, what are you going to do about it? What are you going to do to change things? What actions can you take, will you take to get your ass out of that broken down arena and into a brand spankin’ new stadium? For a long time my response was ‘Fuck if I know.’ That, I’m happy to report is no longer my mindset.

And that is the first thing I’m doing…

Change in Mindset… This had to come from me. From inside. When I was ready. I know my faults. I know my weaknesses. I’m learning about the things that hold me back. I’m learning about my limiting thoughts and how they’ve helped me remain stagnant. All of the things on this list are difficult, but changing mindset encompasses all of them and more, and therefore I think, is the most challenging.

Living in a state of fear, of resistance, of scarcity, of lack kept me hunched and curled up inside, shriveled and small, full of blame, envy, poor pitiful me, and stressed. And the saddest and scariest part of it was that I was content there. I was comfortable there. How fucked up is that? Seriously? That was my comfort zone. And being there, nothing ever changed. I was this… person that I didn’t like. I was bitter and scared. And I counted myself out. I. COUNTED. MYSELF. OUT. And that shit sucks. When you grow up fearing letting people in, fearing hurt, fearing abandonment, fearing trying, fearing failure, fearing what others thought, fearing being different, fearing finding out who you really are… Your comfort zone is fear, is lack, is dread, is the belief that you’re never going to get beyond and have the life you have only dared to dream about in small increments.

Well, I sure as hell wasn’t getting anywhere that way… But I had to be ready. No one could tell me to change. No one could tell me to let it go. I had to make the decision. I had to make the choice. I had to decide that Okay, I’m done with this. I’m done being mediocre and broke on the inside and in my bank account and in my heart and soul. I’m done. Yes, a push is good and a push is what I got, but I still had to be open to it. I still had to be ready to receive what changing my mindset from lack and fear and limiting thoughts and resistance would do for me.This year, 2018, I made the choice! I took the push and let it shove me over the edge and into change, into embracing whole-heartedly what was on the other side. I’m still doing it, still moving in, still setting up shop in this new mindset of Abundance. It’s a wide open space full of light and color. Sometimes it’s scary and I want to retreat back to where I came from. I had several days in a row like that this week and I was able to realize and SEE that I was miserable that way. Oh. My. God. I was able to look in the mirror at myself and say “I don’t like this. I don’t want to be this way again. It’s awful.” And I put on what I call my Badass 2018 playlist in Spotify and shake myself out of it, dance myself out of it. Because while there are hard days and bad days and less than productive days and days where I am not sure I’m making any progress at all, I am still in this light and open and colorful space where there’s support and learning and growth and creative thoughts and ideas and passion happening, where changes propel me forward and I see and feel the good and I can employ a phrase I read recently in Jen Sincero’s You Are A Badass… “This is good because…”

The abundance mindset isn’t necessarily about money, though, yes, that, too. But it’s more an abundance of creativity, empowerment, strength, love, friendship, connection, laughter, focus, desire, beauty, kindness, openness, giving, receiving… And when I embrace these things, this mindset, I feel it, I experience it. I become the person I could have been all along had I not lived 40something years in fear.

So, that’s one thing I am doing. I am changing my mindset. I am changing how I see myself and my world and my work. It’s unlike anything I’ve imagined it could be. But that’s not all, folks…

Attitude of Gratitude… This isn’t as easy as maybe it should be. It’s not as natural as it definitely should be. I have to be mindful. I sometimes have to force it…at first. But once I get started, things roll off my tongue. My kids. Food in the pantry. The $7 royalty check that came in the mail when I have $30 to my name and I won’t see another royalty check until the 29th. Coffee in the fridge. Books to read. Good friends. Family who loves me. Racing season. My health. Myself. My life. My ability to tell a story. That you guys read last weeks blog and allowed it to touch you. Music. People reaching out to me, offering to help me, to help teach me, to help guide me. For the life I want and deserve. For everything. I. AM. GRATEFUL! Gratitude for and in everything. At various times of the day. This makes me feel incredible. And as I said, it should be easy to say thank you, but… it’s not. It’s life changing when living in gratitude, when being grateful rather than down trodden and harsh and oh woe is me brightens up the mental and emotional spaces. Being grateful has opened my eyes, has started softening me, making me a gentler and kinder and more genuine person.

Routine… I work for myself. I am self-employed. At least, I played at it (ch-ch-ch-changes). I didn’t have to have a routine. I could do my job whenever, wherever. I was home all day. Please, feel free to call bullshit with me. Because that’s what it all is, what it all was… Bullshit. So, I have a routine now and there are changes to this daily and working toward getting comfortable with those changes is a work in progress and one I’ll share with you if you want. But for the purpose of this post, I now have a routine. I need the routine. I need the structure and focus of the routine. Built into it is time to myself, time for work, time for household things, time for rest, time for reading, time for sleep.

I’ve never, ever been a morning person. However, that is a lie. I’ve never been a 5am-5:30am-6:30am-7am and beyond morning person. I used to think I was a night person, and while I did some great work between 1am and 3am, that was a lie, as well. For the last… 9 months to a year, I’ve had a lot of mornings that I’d wake up, and I mean be wide awake, at 4:30am. I’d look at the clock and think to myself, Nope. No way in hell am I getting my ass out of bed at 4:30am. It would usually take about 30min for me to force myself back to sleep and when the alarm roused me at 6am, I was groggy, grumpy, irritated, and just not very nice. A few weeks ago, I woke up at 4:30am again, and this time I was like, what the hell, I’ll get up. I’ll try this. They say the most successful people get up early and get their day started, I’ll give it a shot. I’m awake. And I know I’ll be bitchy if I stay in bed until the alarm goes off. I was surprised. Completely and totally surprised. I felt incredible. I felt amazing. I felt…dare I say it, Productive. I got started on some work. I had coffee. I had a quiet house. I turned on YouTube and did some yoga. I did some more work. And when I heard people moving around upstairs, I went up to take a shower and came back down to deal with chores and cats. Then, I got back to work.

For the first time in a long, long, LONG time, I was productive. I was moving in the right direction. It has been life-changing. There’s that word again. Change. Do you see it? I’m embracing changes. I’m making changes. I fought the changes and that fight got me NOWHERE.

My day starts at 4:30am. Even on weekends. Naps are incorporated into my day, sometimes. But I will tell you this… On the days at 4:30am is NOT realized, I feel like shit. I’m grumpy, groggy, stressed, frustrated, bitchy, irritated, short with everyone, scattered and unfocused, sleepy, and unproductive.

Learning what works for me is truly mind-blowing. A routine… I needed a routine and I now have one.

Forgiveness… Forgiving others is easier. Forgiving myself is… Well, the truth of the matter is, it’s fucking hard. Forgiving myself for not living up to my own expectations and carrying around the ‘well, I didn’t do it today and yesterday was a bust, too. Might as well not even try tomorrow or the next day. I’ll try against next week.’ I’ve done this on diets and with writing and with housework and with…well, pretty much everything at one time or other. Forgiving myself for how I have treated someone. Forgiving myself for how I have treated myself, for how harsh I’ve been to myself. Forgiving myself for not meeting my goals for the day, for not getting up on time, for curling up in the chair and watching movies all day. Forgiving myself for my attitudes of jealousy and envy and blame. Forgiving myself and letting it all go… Pulling it all up from the soles of my feet to the top of my head and pushing it all out. Easing the burden on my heart, my soul, my mind. The harder I hold it in. The harder it is to let go. The darker and harder I become. But when I do forgive myself and let go? I can pick up and move on lighter, easier. I can see clearer. I can be kinder to myself and in how I talk about and see myself. And that, my friends, also goes back to that whole change in mindset thing.

Having a Plan… This list is in no particular order. All things on it are important and necessary for me to turn my life and my writing career around so I can start going in the right direction, which is UP!

This having a plan thing has become crucial to what I want to do. I want to write. I want to publish. I want old readers back and I want a slew of new readers. I want to touch and move and inspire people with my words. I have always loved to write. Since I was a kid. I loved to make up stories and tell them and live in them. They were my escape from the parts of my real life that were shit. And stories are an escape for a lot of others, too. But I didn’t know how to achieve what I wanted. Oh sure, I had a general idea. But, not a complete and whole idea. And I definitely didn’t have a plan for how to put said idea into practice.

Talk to most authors, bloggers, creatives of all sorts, business people of all sorts and they’ll tell you they have a plan. It might just be loosely written on a cocktail napkin. Or it may be very detailed and span many pages and be bound in leather. But there’s a plan. I didn’t have a plan. Ever. I wanted to write the book and submit the book and move on to the next one. That was the extent of my planning. I didn’t plan series and I didn’t plan long term WTF are you going to do if something goes wrong in publishing… I didn’t pay attention close enough and I didn’t plan. And I lost.

Back in December, I decided I was going to have a plan going into the new year. I was going to figure this shit out. I was going to dig myself out of the fucked up mess I was in and I was going to make it. I had already broken it. As I said before, there was and is nowhere else to go but UP. I have to make it. Will the Lissa Matthews brand shift and sway a bit more before I get it all figured out? Yes. There is no doubt in my mind about that. How it will shift and sway, I don’t know. You’ll have to stay tuned for that in the coming months.

The plan for me is loose. It’s been written and re-written and then, re-written, yet again. It has publishing dates for re-releases and new releases. It has exactly how many books I want to write new this year. It has pre-order dates.

I have a loose blog plan. Blog twice a week.

Something I heard a couple of years back is the word FOCUS. I shared this with y’all back then, but I’ll share it again now.

Follow

One

Course

Until

Success

Writing is one course.

Blogging is one course.

Newsletter building is one course.

Social media is one course.

Marketing is one course.

All these can be broken down even more, broken down into much smaller, much more focused detail. But for this post, that’s a general idea.

It’s like when you’re trying to lose weight or incorporate exercise or switch from sugary coffee to coffee no sugar, etc… Focusing on one shift at a time until you succeed, allows that shift to stick when you move on to the other next shift in behavior you need to make. Some people can tackle it all at once and it work. Most of us, can’t. We get discouraged when we bite off more than we can chew, when we make all the shifts at once and the results aren’t immediate. We give up.

Building what I want from Lissa Matthews will take singular focus. Building what I want from my personal life will take the same singular focus. Working with them in concert will help align them.

So, I have a publishing plan.

I have a blogging plan. This 5 Things post is a weekly thing. I’m focusing on it. Making sure it’s on the blog every week.

My focus is consistency. Being consistent with releases and publishing 5 Things on the blog once a week.

And I have to say, y’all… I have never, since I started pursuing writing, felt more alive and more positive and more determined than I have in the last 6 weeks. I’m shifting, I’m changing, I’m moving forward. Having a plan is going to get me where I want to go. Having a road map, however loose it is, is going to help me get to my ultimate destination.

Which leads me back to the beginning of this post. “Yes, and…?”

All these fears I’ve struggled with on an hourly basis for YEARS: Fear of the unknown, of failure, of success, of discomfort, of loss… Beating myself up while remaining stagnant and scared… My answers to “Yes, and…?” A change in mindset, giving into a routine, forgiveness, creating a plan, and learning to be grateful… There are more, of course. And if you want to know what else I’m doing to shift from downtrodden and lacking hope to I’m a total BADASS and I’ve got this, let me know.

Thank you again for listening… Being vulnerable is not easy. Sharing yourself at your lowest points is not easy. Admitting you screwed up and are the one to blame is not easy. Changing is not easy… But change and growth is necessary if we are to break out whatever corner our fears have forced us into.

~lissa