Motivation – Or Lack Thereof

(Before we get started, I’m also blogging over at www.LearnHowToWriteaNovel.com about the 3 D’s of Writing – somehow these two blogs are related).

Okay, for today,  let’s talk about motivation. We all need motivation to exercise, eat better, and for me, to also write every day.

And everyday, either in my devotional reading or on social media, I see all kinds of inspiring quotes that seem like they were written just for me. They get me fired up, and I say Yes, that’s me, and then I’m encouraged to do my best each day.

But then, inevitably, there comes a day where you wake up, and you know you’re not feeling it. You’re somewhat cranky, or you just want to shut out the world. The quotes and memes that so inspired you fly from your head like they never existed. Motivation has fled the scene.

So, then what? How do you move forward when all you want to do is watch mindless television and eat popcorn with peanut M&M’s?

You can go two ways with this:

  1. Sometimes you do need a break. You need to sit back and rest and rejuvenate. If you’re not at your best then you won’t deliver your best.
  2. But more often than not, we need to find a way to push through it. Move forward. That may mean breaking down tasks into even smaller pieces and slowly start to get things done. When you move forward, then your momentum and motivation might find you.

Today is one of those days for me, where motivation has fled the scene. I didn’t wake up in a bad mood, but I didn’t wake up with a smile either.

So, I’m going to put item #2 to the test today. Break things down and find a way to move forward when in reality, popcorn, M&M’s and movies I’ve seen a hundred times before are calling my name.

If I can get going, then I know I’ll feel better and feel like I accomplished something. Sitting with my popcorn won’t make me feel better, it will probably make me feel worse.

And by writing this blog, I’ve already accomplished one thing! I haven’t written in several days (due to being sick mostly), so this will help me get back on track. Hopefully, by getting some of these thoughts out of my head, I can look to the next step I need to take and what else needs to be done today.

I’m stronger than my lack of motivation. (Does that make sense?) On mornings when I wake up in a blah mood, I need to remember that. Perhaps that’s the best inspirational quote I can keep in mind — I’m stronger.

What about you? How do you find motivation when it has gone away? I’d love to hear from you.

Have a great productive day, everybody!

Blooming Where You’re Planted

I caught the end of the movie “Mr. Holland’s Opus” recently. The movie released in 1995 and remains one of my top favorites of all time. The ending of the movie never fails to move me.

Mr. Holland, played by Richard Dreyfuss, is a frustrated composer who finds fulfillment as a music teacher. Mr. Holland spends 30 years as a teacher, something he never wanted to be. But when the school system cuts the music program and he’s out of a job, he realizes that teaching is the thing he loves to do the most.

I could write several blogs about how life takes us in different directions than we dreamed, but that’s for another time. Today, my focus is the end of the movie.

(SPOILER ALERT) Mr. Holland is packing up his classroom, getting ready to leave the school for good. He believes that no one will miss him and that the last 30 years have been a waste. As he’s leaving his classroom, walking through the empty halls, he hears clapping and music coming from the school auditorium. As he enters the auditorium, it is filled to capacity with current and former students, and it turns out that they are all there for a farewell celebration for Mr. Holland.

The governor of the state was one of his former students, and she arrives to give a speech about how Mr. Holland may feel like most of his life as been misspent, but in reality, he has touched the lives of every person in that room.

Besides the wonderful tribute to teachers, this movie can teach a lesson for all of us. We never know what impact we’re making on other people. A lot of us yearn for something greater than our daily routine. However, we shouldn’t overlook the importance of what’s happening right where we are.

In the way we conduct ourselves everyday, working honestly and ethically, showing integrity and character can make a bigger impact than we realize. Just smiling and talking with the person ringing up your groceries in the checkout line can impact their day. Showing kindness wherever you go can make a difference.

Whenever we think we’re stuck in a dead end job or frustrated with the mundane of day-to-day life, we need to understand what influence we may be having on others. I hope it’s always a positive influence. Your attitude makes a big difference there.

With an attitude of gratitude and always showing kindness, you may influence and impact someone else’s life far beyond what you can ever imagine.

Be grateful for wherever you are. Remember to always “bloom where you’re planted.” You never know the impact you will make.

 

Finding the Positive in Rejection

I’m privileged to blog for Novel.Academy about writing. Although I’ve been published in various Chicken Soup for the Soul books, I’m still struggling with my novel writing. I’m also interested in screenplays. Both of those seem like a pipe dream at times. But as daunting as it can be, I think it’s good to dream big.

But with many dreams, there are days of discouragement and rejection. So, while my post for Novel.Academy this week is geared toward writers, I think the words are true for all of life. The post is called “Secret to Victory: Let Rejection Your Fuel.”  Hope you will click the link and take a moment to read.

If you’re interested, my previous posts are linked below:

http://learnhowtowriteanovel.com/blog/2018/04/18/the-one-thing-all-writers-must-do/

http://learnhowtowriteanovel.com/blog/2018/03/07/one-secret-to-push-through-doubt/

Please share what you do to fight discouragement, doubt or rejection. I’d love to hear from you.

When There Are No Words

As a writer, I don’t want to ever believe there are no words to write. Sometimes I stumble over what to say, but all-in-all words are very important to me.

However, as I watch my granddaughter grow, I find that I’m reveling in the moments of touch.  My absolute favorite times with her have been when she lays her head on my shoulder and falls asleep on me.  I could hold her like that for days!

I also love that when she wants to show me something or we need to walk together, she reaches up and grabs my hand. There’s just something so magical walking with her while feeling her hand grasping my fingers.

Here she is with her daddy.

I remember sitting in the movie theatre during my first date with my husband at age 17. (Yes, we were high school sweethearts).  He reached over and took my hand during the movie. My heart beat faster and my breath hitched….all the feelings of young love. I didn’t want him to let go. To this day, I still love holding hands with him.  It brings back those giddy feelings of falling in love.

There are not enough words for these feelings with my granddaughter or husband. I believe touch is powerful — as powerful as words.

When I was 20-years-old, and very foolish, I was in a motorcycle accident. I had a compound fracture of my femur, and they had to take me to surgery right away to stabilize my leg. They couldn’t put me under anesthesia, so they gave me a spinal block that numbed me from the waist down. I was awake for the surgery, as the doctors set my leg into traction until further surgeries (four total) could be performed.

During surgery, the shock of the accident wore off, and I realized what was happening. I started shaking, my shoulders convulsing. I was scared!

The anesthesiologist then did the most simple yet perfect thing. He laid his hands on my head to calm me down.  Just hands on my head. And guess what? That touch was the most comforting and calming touch I’ve ever felt. It settled me down and obviously, made a lasting impact on me.

There are many times when words fail us. It’s so hard to say the right things when someone is dealing with grief, or a tough medical diagnosis, or even when having a bad day. Sometimes the best thing you can do is sit beside them, hold their hand, or give them a hug. That gesture, that touch, can mean more than words can say.

 

 

The Look in Her Eyes

I recognized the look in my friend’s eyes. I could see beyond her smile and her hugs. Deep inside, I saw fear. Fear of the unknown she is facing, and the new path she’s now walking. You see, my friend was recently diagnosed with breast cancer.
I could see beyond her brave face, because I’ve been down that road myself…twice.

Our small group gathered around her and her family the night before her first chemo treatment, to pray for her. She was strong, and her faith was evident, but I think only someone who’s walked in similar shoes could see that particular look in her eyes – overwhelmed, fearful, but trusting, because it’s times like these where you need to trust God more than ever.

When you’re told you have cancer, before you can even comprehend those words, you’re suddenly whisked off for a battery of consultations, tests and scheduling.

Cancer barely penetrates your mind, yet it’s looming over everything you do from that moment forward. Your world has shifted upside down, and you’ve stepped on the roller coaster. And it can be quite the ride.
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Here is a picture of my husband and me where I can see “that look” in my own eyes. This was taken on a Sunday, on my birthday. We were having a great day, enjoy the celebration with friends. But the Friday before, I had been diagnosed with my second bout of cancer, and the next day, a new round of tests, doctors, and mapping out treatment plans was beginning. So, as I turned another year older, I knew that year was going to be challenging, and scary, yet I had my husband right by my side and my faith to guide me. But I still had that fearful look of not knowing quite what to expect, trying to hang on to faith, while facing an unknown, frightening path.

It’s the look I saw in my friend’s eyes the night we prayed for her.

While I’ve walked in similar shoes as my friend, her journey will be different. Everyone’s is. But I will walk beside her, and pray for her and her husband and family.

That’s all I can do, and trust that God will hold her like He’s held me.

Smacked!

A couple of weeks ago, I was smacked in the face. Not literally. Despite my recent stings and falls, this was figurative smack in the face.

Have you ever been droning along with life and something just wakes you up and causes you to rethink nearly everything? Or at least inspires you to move forward? That’s what happened with me.

I heard two words that are so simple yet have impacted me deeply. They are: Take Action.

Pretty basic words, but when you think about them, they can inspire your entire life. These two words are my new mantra. Take Action.

Regardless of your dreams, goals, calling, diet plans, whatever, the only way to achieve any of them is to Take Action. Otherwise, you’re dreaming and planning, but not DOING. If you don’t take action, you’re not doing anything to accomplish your goals.

I have several things I want to accomplish including writing and finishing my novel, writing devotional pieces, and managing my health better. You know the old stand-bys of eat better, exercise, lose weight. I also want to grow deeper in my faith and have a stronger prayer life.

None of these can be accomplished unless I take action. Otherwise, I’m only complaining that I need to lose weight or bemoaning that I don’t have time to write or pray or whatever.

The solution is simple: Take Action.

Those two words resonate in my life all the way to my core.

What about you? Do you have something you in which you need to take action? Do you have a mantra that smacked you in the face and encouraged you? Please share.

In other words: Take Action.

What I’ve Learned from “The Voice”

For the past couple of seasons, I’ve been a fan of “The Voice” on TV. And this season, it struck me what I’ve learned from watching the show.
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First, I believe we all like to watch these type of talent shows because it’s always a thrill to watch people go for their dreams. I appreciate “The Voice” in particular because it’s a positive show. The coaches can teach someone, share their knowledge and help that person improve without tearing them down and being so negative. You can learn from being positive and from being encouraging. There’s enough negativity and tearing down of people in this world that I really appreciate watching singers grow in their craft from working hard and receiving positive encouragement.

But something struck me recently that applies in my own life. One of the singers was afraid to call themselves an artist, to call themselves a professional. Immediately, Pharrell Williams said “You are an artist and you need to own that. Don’t think of yourself as anything less.” (I’m paraphrasing). You know what? Pharrell is absolutely right. These singers obviously have talent and they need to own that talent.

In hanging around with other writers, I see that we’re guilty of the same thing. I see so many, especially early-on in their writing journey, afraid to call themselves “writers”. I was guilty of that as well. But yes, I am a writer. Whether I’ve been published or not, whether I’m struggling, and whether or not I feel like I’ll ever be able to complete my novel – I’m still a writer.

Owning up to be an artist of any sort doesn’t mean you walk around strutting your stuff like you’re better than anyone else. It means you acknowledge your talent, and like the singers on “The Voice,” you work hard to improve, to learn and to grow in your craft.

God will take you where He wants you to go on this journey, but you have to work hard and never stop learning.

By owning up and saying “I’m a writer” (maybe again and again), it’s a way to encourage myself to keep going and keep striving to sit down in front of that computer to write the words.

Everyone is an artist of some sort. Whether you’re in the creative arts or not, you need to own what you’re talent is.

Next time you’re struggling tell yourself “I’m an artist.” Maybe it will inspire you to keep going during those tough days.

What tips do you have? Would a mantra like this work for you?

When your day goes SPLAT!

Splat 1Have you ever had a day like this? Where everything has gone wrong?

Or is there a time when you’ve just crumbled, like this bread?
Splat 2
Just the other day, I felt just like these loaves of Snickerdoodle bread, literally falling in a grocery store and going SPLAT! Yep, I tripped with a bowl of fruit in one hand and a birthday card in another, and did the most magnificent belly flop ever! Not tripping and landing on my backside… No, that would’ve graceful in comparison. Instead I was completely laid out on my stomach, the fruit bowl and card flew ahead of me, while I flopped on the concrete floor of that grocery store.

Talk about going splat! And in front of all the people in this very crowded store.

Before you even say something against the store, or lawsuit, or even get angry because I fell in a public place, I must say the two employees of the store were immediately by my side. And a young man in his 20s who was at the nearest check-out line immediately reached for me, extending his hand and helping me to my feet. I think he knew instinctively that I wanted to get up as soon as possible.

Of course, once on my feet, I realized how hard I had banged my knee. But nothing was broken, I was standing. I’m sure I was a bright shade of red, so I chose not to have them write up an incident report. Amazingly, the fruit bowl stayed in tact so it was thrust into my hands, again by the caring young man, and I was on my way.

It was only after I got into my car that the tears came. OUCH! And of course, I was a little in shock. One second you’re walking out of the store, on your way to your church life group meeting, and the next you’re splayed at on the floor, having done what I’m sure was a spectacular belly flop. I’m surprised my breast implants didn’t break!

Once in the car, I wasn’t sure what do next. My hubby was home sick, and I was scheduled to facilitate our life group meeting that night. But I was happy to be in my car, away from all of the prying eyes of everyone in the store.

What about you? Have you had a day when everything goes wrong? When you’re whole day takes a wildly different turn?

How many of us lash out in anger? How many lash out with tears? How many of us want to crawl in a hole and hide?

Part of me wanted to stay on the ground (I immediately sat up from my belly-flopped, splayed out position), just to have a moment to collect myself. But there were too many people around. I can still hear the gasps of those who witnessed my great tumble.

But the other part of me wanted to run…rather limp…away as fast as I could. Being angry never really crossed my mind. Suing the grocery store seemed ridiculous – nothing was broken, no permanent damage. So, I drove on to my life group meeting and my friends.

I turned to them, tears in my eyes, trembling, and feeling somewhat ridiculous. And they showered me with hugs, ice packs and Tylenol. And onward we went with our meeting. I have no idea what I said, or how well the meeting was facilitated, but I think I just wanted to keep pushing forward. To move on as quickly as I could from the spectacle of falling down.

Could I have done that had I chosen to stay on the floor? Or crawled inside a proverbial hole? As tempting as that was, I think it’s always best to move forward from the days where we go splat.

I want to be the type of person who can put the past behind me. If I had crawled into my shell or driven straight home, I would’ve missed that time with friends – embarrassed as I was to have them see my tears – just from a silly fall.

There’s always something to learn from those tougher days – in the times when we stumble and even fall on our faces. The beauty is, we don’t have to stay in that place. We can find a way to limp out of there, and find healing with friends and loved ones, even during your most embarrassing day.

Music

Yotreble-clef-535777_640u’ve heard of the saying – I can’t remember where I put my keys, but I remember every word from a song from the 80s. Music resonates for most of us.

A lot of my writer friends write to movie soundtracks or specific period music to get them in the right frame of mind for their story.

Can you imagine movies without music? When the shark attacks in “Jaws” or when Norman Bates stabs Marion Crane in the infamous shower scene in “Psycho” – how different those scenes would be without music!

Where would a good love story be without the soaring violins and sweeping sounds to make us all feel like we’re on cloud 9?

When I’m having a bad day, I turn on worship and praise music. It’s amazing how quickly my mood lifts and how my day can turn around.

Music can take us to another place, or it can ground us in joy right where we are. It can express the anger of a hurtful break-up, make us laugh, or even fall in love.

Music can take us back to a certain place and time. When a song becomes special or memorable. The first time I slow danced with my future husband in high school was to “Sailing” by Christopher Cross. My hubby and I got married on a boat, so naturally, our first dance on our wedding day was to “Sailing.”

Songs can be the soundtrack of our lives. Fill us with emotions, memories and more. It can soothe us like a lullaby. It can even bring us to tears – hopefully cleansing tears. It can make us get up and dance, or praise the savior.

What’s the sound track of your life? Do you have favorite songs you put on when you need a lift? If you’re a writer, do you write to music?

woman-977020_640Music can be comforting. As a two-time cancer survivor, I have to have an annual MRI. Thankfully, they let me bring in my own CD and every time it’s been Top of my Lungs by Phillips, Craig and Dean. Now every time I hear a song from that album, I have comfort and peace.

When I think of my father, I think of Nat King Cole and “Unforgettable.” That’s his song. My Mom’s song is probably “Wind Beneath my Wings.”

What about you? Do you have songs that remind you of certain people in your life?

A Better Word for the New Year

I’m sure many of you have seen this or do it yourself: picking a “word” to live by or motivate you for the new year. It’s big deal to find “your word” for the year.

When thinking about my word for the new year, I landed on one immediately. The word was “Renewal.” I think I wanted that word because I want to feel renewed. As mentioned in my last blog (https://talkingamongfriends.com/2016/01/07/2015-the-year-of-the-unchosen-path/), I talked about 2015 being a hard year. And it was. So, I’m longing for a sense of renewal. Longing for a sense of peace.
But is it really my word? Renewal is definitely what I want, however, in thinking about it more and more, I realize what my true word is for 2016: HOPE.

I can’t find renewal or peace without HOPE, the hope that comes from my faith, and from family and friends.

How did I get through two bouts with cancer? HOPE. I had to completely let go and trust that God had this. God put the right physicians and surgeons in my path. I had to let go. You can’t let go without hope and trust in the One who is our life, who gives us the breath in our lungs. (Okay, I had to find a way to reference my favorite song these days: “Great Are You, Lord” by All Sons and Daughters. Take a listen: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uHz0w-HG4iU).

One of my brothers asked me how I could have such a positive attitude after my second, more serious, battle with cancer. I realized it was because I had HOPE. God had this, I knew God was with me and watching. It was good to feel that.

With 2015, I knew God was there, too, but there were days when it was much more difficult to feel His presence. It was just hard. But the only way to get through it is with hope.

With 2016, I have goals, things I’m looking forward to and things I want to accomplish. I still long for a sense of renewal, of being refreshed and regenerated, but the deeper word, my life word, is HOPE. Hope is not just my word for the year, but probably my word for life.

In our Christian walk, that is the one thing we cherish and hold dear through life, is knowledge that God is with us, and we have the hope and assurance of seeing Him and being with Him again. That HOPE is a powerful force in our lives. So, here’s to 2016 – no matter what comes, let it be our year of hope.