July Changes and Challenges

First of all, look at this picture! Isn’t it pretty?

I took this yesterday morning just before sunrise.

We also saw a deer for the first time coming out of the trees. To the other side of the yard, there’s a large field with a pond and there’s usually seven to nine cows multiple times a day. This is all very different than being in Charlotte where there was a really busy road on the other side of our backyard. Here, there’s a pond and trees and cows and well, now deer.

It’s August. In my mind, that means we’re on the downhill slide from Summer and headed into Fall. I realize we still have a while yet until we see temperatures below a hundred with equal humidity, but a girl can dream and dream I shall until it becomes a reality that I’m able to open the windows or sit outside by the fire pit and roast marshmallows while watching football.

But back to July for a few minutes…

It started out with me deleting Instagram from my phone. I missed it for a few days in the beginning, but as the month went on, I stopped missing it. I stopped looking for it. I haven’t been on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter. I have had no voices in my head save my own. I haven’t compared myself or my progress to anyone else. I haven’t spent countless hours scrolling and living vicariously through other authors, publishers, editors, readers, food bloggers, coffee companies, etc… The only social media I’ve had anything to do with has been Pinterest and YouTube.

Pinterest has been something I hadn’t paid attention to in a long while, until the past few weeks when I needed some new recipes.

YouTube is where I go for videos on writing, food, and exercise. And all three of those things changed for me in July.

I wrote a lot. Not by anyone’s standards but mine, but still, I wrote a lot. I didn’t meet my Camp NaNoWriMo goal by any stretch, but I did write. I also added a lot of new story ideas. I mean… Y’all  just have no idea. My brain is constantly coming up with new ideas on the daily. Sometimes more than one a day. There are some started, and there are others percolating in the back of my head. I typically have to write at least one page so I remember what the idea was. I haven’t had this happen in YEARS!

My diet changed. Not because I wanted it to, but because my body decided it wanted it. The change it picked? Dairy. I didn’t want to believe it. I didn’t want to do it. But I did… And I started with coffee because of course I did. I figured that if I could find a way to drink coffee without dairy, then I could pretty much handle anything else without dairy. So, I went to Sprouts Farmer’s Market. They are amazing and I love them. I am beyond grateful Greenville has one. They have a large assortment of non-dairy creamer and half and half. I bought several and have been experimenting with them. I can do this. I also began switching out other products that contained to dairy to ones that don’t. Slowly, I’m adjusting and adapting. And there have been a few benefits beyond my stomach not being upset every time I ate… My joints haven’t been hurting as much. A lot of sluggishness and bloating has disappeared. I’m enjoying cooking again. I’ve found a lot of dairy-free information on YouTube that has helped me and recipes on Pinterest. I have a friend who is dairy-free and one who has a daughter who is. They have helped me a lot, as well. I am learning in the kitchen and finding things that work for me. My goal is health and to feel better and to have a little fun with it.

And finally, I am exercising again. I had been walking a lot when we first moved here, but as it became increasingly hotter, that stopped. I don’t want to walk at nine o’clock at night or six in the morning. I don’t want to gasp for breath because the humidity is such that I can’t fight it. I used to do yoga through YouTube videos and walking from home through YouTube videos, so why not try other workouts. I found one that is for women 50 and over who are going through menopause and while the woman is beyond perky and grates on my nerves every so often, her workouts are moderate and short and fairly enjoyable. I like them and they’re helping me get my heart rate up, get my resting heart rate down, move easier, and in general feel better. I haven’t lost any weight, but that isn’t the point for me. The point is health and yes, I do believe you can be healthy at any size if you’re moving, eating balanced, and enjoying the majority of things in your life, laughing and smiling more.

And now that we’re in August, I’m still exercising, still learning all the ins and outs of dairy-free which is a lot plant based, too, and still writing.

I hope you had a good July and while I know some of you love Summer, I know some of you are like me and you’re looking forward to Fall.

I’ll chat with you later.

My Favorite Channels

I watch a little bit of everything on YouTube. Movie reviews, technology reviews, interviews with actors or authors or musicians, day in the life, coffee making or coffee products, music videos, creative life, writing advice/motivation/inspiration, how-to’s, productivity, meditation, exercise, and some what-i-eat-in-a-day…

One of my favorite channels is called The Cottage Fairy. She lives in a rural area in the Pacific Northwest. She’s young and talented and lives a life I wish I had been brave enough to embark on myself. Her videos are beautiful and full of gorgeous music and images, full of nature and slow, intentional living, and creativity.

Another favorite is Chris Fox‘s channel. He’s a science fiction and fantasy author who puts many things about being an author, having a business as an author into perspective and into terms that are easy to understand. He’s got a couple of courses, a non-fiction book series on writing and marketing, and his videos are short and educational. He’s got an approachable way about him and his content that isn’t a my way or the highway style. I appreciate him and have learned a lot from him over the years. Of course, I should put some of that into practice and I might be able to turn this writer ship around.

Mel Robbins is a motivational speaker and author. She puts short videos out there that are often very pointed in the message they’re trying to convey. They are actionable. They give you, me, whoever is watching an action to take to get out of our own way. She doesn’t sugar coat and I like that she’s my age and when I listen to her, I don’t feel like I’m too late to the party. Her thing is do the things you don’t want to do… Just get up and do it. Her book is called The Five-Second Rule. Count backwards… 5-4-3-2-1. And when you get to one, get moving. This hack has helped me a lot.

Morgan Drinks Coffee… She’s lively and fun and makes coffee drinks. She’s a barista in real life and loves what she does, loves coffee. She’s not a snob about it, she’s not pretentious. She’s fun and her videos are both educational and just plain fun. Another coffee channel I follow is James Hoffman and he is pretentious, he is a snob, and he is delightful and fun and I learn a lot from him, too.

And my favorite movie/television review channel is The Critical Drinker… He’s not family friendly. He’s not woke and he’s not politically correct. But he picks apart movies and shows from the perspective of a writer because he is one. He’s not kind or generous with his thoughts unless it’s deserved. Some of his opinions are hard to hear if he’s taking apart one of your favorite movies, but I’ve found a lot of times, that that’s not a bad thing. He’s funny and direct and he seriously doesn’t give a fuck. I like that about him. He’s not pandering to anyone. Plus, his accent is just…delightful. And that is the only thing delightful about his channels.

I love YouTube. It’s currently the only social-type media that I visit and spend any time on. I don’t feel any sort of comparison or stress when I’m there. I do feel a bit of ‘Wow. I wish I could do that. I wish I wasn’t scared to try. I wish…’ I try to watch a variety of channels because there’s so much good information, so much relevant information, so much incredible creativity and inspiration and motivation to be found on YouTube.

I used to only use the site for music videos, or movie trailers, or Ted Talks. But then I began exploring other things that were of interest to me and found a viewing home for myself. I often have videos playing in the background while I’m doing something else, like writing this blog or cleaning or the dreaded eating while watching.

Here are the links to a few other channels I really like and subscribe to… Trust me, there are many, many, many more than this.

Amy Landino…productivity and motivation

Gabe Bult…minimalism

KDP Univeristy @ Home…publishing

Kate Cavanaugh…writing

Becca Syme…writing, motivation

Exploring With Josh…exploring and documenting abandoned places

I Am Athlete…podcast with four NFL players who interview other athletes and talk life.

Taylor Swift…do I really need to say anything here?

Therapy in a Nutshell…mental health

Abbey Sharp…food, what i eat in a day reviews, general nutrition knowledge

vlogbrothers…authors John and Hank Green who also run the fantastic Crash Course series of educational videos.

And with that, I don’t have anything else for today. Well, nothing else here. I do have revisions, writing, and a few other things to do. I’ll catch you on the flip side.

 

Do I Still Love What I Do?

In light of the last few days and the horrible loss of nine lives in the California mountains, the most well known being Kobe Bryant, many of us have been plunged into thinking, into wondering, into questioning whether we’re living our lives to the fullest and doing the things that matter and make a difference and make us happy.

I’m not an NBA fan, but one can’t deny the impact off the court that Kobe Bryant has had and the light he was for so many, and the countless messages of inspiration he left in his wake through soundbites from interviews, through his books, his documentary about the game he loved.

He did what he loved. More than once. His career as an elite basketball player. Then, as a father who was fully immersed with his family.

Sometimes I wonder if I still do what I love, the thing that makes me happy, the thing that I would miss if I didn’t do it anymore.

I’ve always written. Since I was in Jr High and going through some personal things at home. I’ve written stories, books, flash fiction, poetry. I’ve written to escape reality and to put reality in a form that I could dissect and understand it. I’m almost 49 years old and I’m still writing. It wasn’t the thing I aspired to do when I was growing up or when I graduated high school. I wanted to be part of the music industry. A roadie, to be honest. And a concert flautist. And a composer. And… And… And…

Being married and having children was not on my radar and the things I’d wanted to do and the things I actually did do were so completely different.

I miss music. I miss playing. I can still finger a scale in the air the way a guitar player can finger chords on an air guitar. I can still see the music in my head of pieces I played my junior year of high school which won me medals in competitions. I still have my flute, my music, and so many I wish I had… thoughts.

I wasn’t the best at all times. I was sometimes, but not at all times. But I never gave up. I used to spend hours a day practicing. 6 hours. 8 hours. 10 hours. I loved it. And I never stopped. Not until life changed and I didn’t know how to be one thing and still chase this other thing that meant so much to me.

I miss it so much some days.

I used to write like that, too. I used to write for hours and not stop. I used to write books that meant something to me, to readers. I used to write and write and write. Even while I was raising my kids and homeschooling. And then… I did stop. I did get discouraged. I did lose my nerve.

I keep coming back to it.

But I don’t chase it the way I once did. And I wonder why that is. I have no idea.

Do I miss it when I don’t do it? Sometimes, yes. Sometimes, no.

There are always ideas in my head. There are always stories that run in circles through my brain, like the bunnies that hop through my backyard. But could I leave it behind and in 25 years still miss it? Or would it just something I did once upon a time? These are the things I wonder when I’m being honest with myself and to be honest with you, I don’t know what the answer is.

Music still flows through my bones. It’s still embedded in my blood. It’s still part of me. It’s something I need in my life that a day without it sets my teeth on edge and I start getting really grumpy.

There’s a song for every emotion. There’s a melody for every mood. There’s a harmony for every memory.

The one thing I will say about writing, about music, is that they go together for me. I have to have the music right before I start writing. And maybe for me that’s where the two meet and mix and mingle and bleed together. Maybe that’s how music is part of my life now. Not in the same way it once was, but in the way that fuels this job that I have chosen to do.

The other thing that goes with writing for me is reading. I do a lot of it. More recently than I did the last few years. And the more I read, the more I start wanting to write. Wanting. Needing isn’t part of that vocabulary. But wanting, is. So, maybe as long as I’m a reader, I’m going to want to be a writer.

There are always stories to tell. There are always my stories to tell. There are always words to express what I’m feeling, what I’m going through, what I’m trying to understand about reality, what I’m trying to heal from the past. And as long as there’s music, I’ll be able to put those words down, I’ll be able to write and in that way… I do love it. I do still love what I do. I do still have passion for it.

And maybe, in this, I will have made my own mark and inspired someone else to find a way to marry their passions enough love what they do, even if it’s not a straight line. I think that would have made Kobe Bryant, a man, an icon, and one who sought to inspire others to follow their dreams, proud.

 

Lissa

 

 

I’ll Get The Words In… One Day

…Or maybe in four days. Or three days. Or… Who knows. Actually, I NEED to know. I don’t, really. I just need to do it. Buckle down and do it. Write. All. The. Words.

I keep hoping someone will join me on this insane journey of 10,000 words in a weekend. It’s not insane for everyone. Some do 10,000 words in a day, most days of the week. It is insane for me, though. Unless I leave the house. Alone. Or… Well, yeah. Unless I leave the house alone.

I am beginning to come to the conclusion that I need an office outside my house. Affording one is a different matter, but something that seems to become more and more clear the longer there are other people (spouse, kids, animals, etc…) living here or working here.

But, 10,000 words in a weekend is a goal. It’s a challenge, to be sure, but a goal of mine, too. To reach it and eventually surpass it. This year has been a year like that for me. Making goals, taking small steps, learning. However, that’s a post for another day.

The way this works… 10,000 words between today (Thursday) and Sunday. Leave a comment below if you’re going to join in or catch me on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc… to say Yes, I’m in!

Keep track of your word count and let me and anyone else who’s participating know how you did!

Hashtag #10KWeekendsforWriters

Any questions? Ask. Otherwise, get writing!

~lissa

Music Monday – Uncharted

I chose this song and well, it’s a bit on the ironic side because I’m doing something new starting this month which is planning…charting… measuring… But this is one of my very favorite songs and the message in it, is exactly what I feel…

~lissa