The Glass Half Full

We’ve been getting so much rain here in Colorado this May that I’m beginning to wonder if we should bypass the umbrellas that are well stocked in the entryway of the stores or go straight for the sporting goods section to fetch some life jackets. I’m pretty sure we’ve passed up Seattle at this point. In fact, this evening we’re expected to get a significant amount of snow, so my husband and I are planning to set the alarm a couple of times throughout the night to go outside and save the newly planted flowers and newly leafed trees by brushing off the heaviness of the snow. Definitely not a typical spring here on the Colorado Plains. And to add a little more variety, we were a little too close to a tornado on Thursday evening.

Tornado funnel

Probably not too smart to be standing out there watching, but I was with a bunch of friends as we all stood in awe of Mother Nature’s power ooohing and aaahhing as if watching a fireworks display. (I try to justify it by thinking we could have all held hands and our collective weight might have kept us on the ground. Okay, I’m reaching there…)

So where am I going with the whole “A Glass Half Full” concept? I’ve heard the phrase so many times over the years, as well as used it. But every once in a while I have an “aha! moment” and it really means something.

One of the few things in life we truly have control over is how we think about something. Whether we view it as a positive or a negative. And what we allow into our mind is usually what comes out in our thoughts and actions. Surrounding ourselves with positive people, positive influences, and positive media leads to positive thoughts, and…well, it all leads to a more positive, successful life. Some examples:

As tiresome as all this rain has been, not to mention that it’s expected to last all weekend, it gives me the opportunity to stay tucked cozily inside and get some good writing time in. I often complain that I’m so busy (more on that in a moment) there’s just not enough time to write like I want to. Well, here’s my chance. I can use those moments to do something I love (aka write) and have something positive to show for it, or I can let that time fritter away while I wish for something that’s not, and look back with regret.

I can complain about how busy I am in life and that “there’s just not enough hours in a day,” or I can be grateful for all of the opportunities given to me and all the experiences I’m privy to. I can worry about what time I’ll actually be able fall into bed at night or grateful that I have a warm, soft bed to fall into. This particularly hit home this morning as I was coming home from the recreation center and I saw a woman living under the steps of a church that closed several years ago. She had nothing but a sheet of black plastic to keep the cold rain out. Wow! Am I blessed!

This morning as we headed to the city’s recreation center to work out in a warm and dry facility since swimming has never been my strong suit (don’t get me wrong, running in the rain is one of the most refreshing and exhilarating activities, but dodging puddles and river overflow is a danger I’m not fond of), I said something to the effect of, “It would sure be nice to be able to run outside again,” complete with a tad of self-pity. Okay, maybe more than just a tad. My husband, the consummate optimist, replied–carefully–“but isn’t it nice that we have someplace we can still go and work out?”

Ghandi

I’ve complained about my job in the past and about the negativity that breeds there. Since I’ve chosen to be more positive, to change the people I interact with, and to be the change I wish to see there, I enjoy my job so much more and am, therefore, more successful and effective. I have a job I love to do (helping victims of crime) and am suddenly finding more spiritual, kind co-workers. They were there before, I was just too stuck in the muck of what I didn’t like in the office to see them.

And tonight when the snow begins to fall? I can appreciate the beauty and purity of the white flakes and be ever so grateful that it will gone within a few hours. 🙂

So now, while the rain is beating on the roof of the house, the droplets creating artistic rivers down the window pane before me, and my cup of hot coffee by my side, I’ve got some time to enjoy working on my revisions so I can get my book off to the editor.

Today, you have a choice how you view your world around you. Whether you look at the glass as half full or…well, don’t even make the opposite an option.

“A pessimist is one who makes difficulties of his opportunities and an optimist is one who makes opportunities of his difficulties” – Harry Truman

57KH-Glass-half-full-wall-decal

Aha! Moment

It occurred to me the other day that the novel I’m working on wasn’t really…working. While I’m having a ball writing it, developing the characters, having fun with the dialogue and setting, it felt too shallow and like it was missing the mark. Like perhaps a riveting plot? Yes, that could be a problem.

While I was brainstorming and doing mental gymnastics about what to do and how to fix it, absolutely nothing came to mind. I decided to put the thinking to rest for a while and went for a run. And wouldn’t you know, in the middle of my run, it hit me. My brain connected the dots and the proverbial light bulb switched on in my head.

Aha Moment

 

 

 

 

As I continued running, the dots continued connecting, the bulb burned brighter, and by the time I got back home I had a whole new plot developed. The plot I had originally? It’s still there, but now a subplot. While it is an enormous amount of work, I know my novel will be the better for it. And in the end, that’s what I really, truly want, is to write the best novel I can write.

The books I’ve been reading on editing and revising are doing their job. (Here is where I want to put in a plug for three of my very favorites so far, Plot and Structure and Revision and Self-Editing for Publication, both by James Scott Bell, and Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne & Dave King.) I highly recommend all three.

In the meantime, along with this plot change came much research of several different poisons. Should anything ever happen to my husband and my computer is searched, I may be living a real-life mystery. I mentioned this to my husband and he laughed, telling me that kind of thinking is a hazard of our jobs. (We both work in the law enforcement arena.) Thank goodness he has a sense of humor.

Off to work–and re-work–my manuscript.   🙂

“There’s nothing better when something comes and hits you and you think ‘YES’!”  –J.K. Rowling

Carpe Diem

“W” is for…

Writing on the Wall

kid_drawing_on_wall

After reading a blog post some time back asking how far back our love of writing went, I began thinking about when my love of words began, and discovered it was the writing on the wall.  Literally.

Much to my mother and father’s dismay, I began experimenting with writing on our living room walls when I was about four years old.  In crayon.  And despite getting into trouble, that was the beginning of freedom as I knew it. 🙂  (The second time words got me into serious trouble was in elementary school when a boy kept getting me out in four-square and an obscenity I didn’t realize I knew flew out of my mouth before I even knew what happened. Right in front of the playground aid.  I’m not sure who was more shocked, me or the aid. 🙂

I never wrote on the walls again, but I practiced my writing and my penmanship endlessly–on paper and chalkboards, taking great pride when my teachers would compliment my near-perfect handwriting.

As I grew into my teens, I spent endless hours and evenings in my room, walls decorated with all things writing, and immersed myself in writing in my journal and writing heartfelt poetry about the life of an adolescent.  When I wasn’t writing, I was reading.

As I grew into my late teens I still enjoyed writing but it fell to a lower rung on my list of priorities, until I got married.  It was then I decided to try my hand at a novel.  Although, truth be told, I hadn’t even thought about it that deeply to realize that’s what I wanted to write, I just knew I had a story I wanted to tell and sat down to write every evening until I realized I had finished the first draft of a novel.  A whopping 90,000 words before I even realized what I had done.  That manuscript, along with another completed first draft, still sit in a box in the bottom of a filing drawer.  Someday maybe they will see the light of day, but for now they’re tucked cozily in place.

For several years I took a break from writing to raise my boys, and have found my way back to it about two years ago. And what joy! It was like finding a long lost love after being separated for far too long.  And now that its been rediscovered, I can say I will never separate from that love again.  I found my way home.

When did you have that “Aha!” moment that you knew you wanted to be a writer?

photo (61)

 

My Aha! Moment -K.I.S.S.

 photo (28)

I always love reading the My Aha! Moment section in Oprah‘s magazine.  In fact, I usually feel like I have mini Aha! moments with each one.

Being of the perfectionist type A personality, I’m quick to find the error of my ways, looking how to improve the way I’m doing things, kicking it into overdrive as I do.  There is no half way here.  It’s speeding all the way, pedal to the metal, as I tackle not just one or two things to improve, but the whole shebang.

And before I can pinpoint what’s working and what isn’t, I’m burnt out, tired, and completely unable to focus or remember what I was trying to “fix” in the first place.  My mind is hurried and harried, my body tired and trembling.

Recently I found myself up to my neck in the middle of too many irons in the fire, being “good” at any one of them not an option. Only excelling at all of them was allowed.  By me.photo (26)

I burned rubber, skidding sideways into a burnout moment which resulted in the need to take a mental health day from work.

The first half of that day was spent feeling guilty because I wasn’t being more productive.

But somewhere in there God placed His gentle, firm hand on my shoulder, breathing new energy into me.  Energy that didn’t make me feel like I needed to DO something.  But mental energy that created focus and clarity.

I realized that in trying to do everything, I was doing nothing.  At least nothing worth doing.  I spent so much time trying to micromanage (aka Control) everything I took on from the process all the way to the outcome.  And the weight of that need to control was suffocating me.

A modified definition of the acronym K.I.S.S. hit home.  Keep it super simple.

Instead of trying to do everything perfectly, I now work at doing some things that are the most important to me–like being mom, wife, grandma, writer, employee–the best that I can. God can, and does, control the outcome.

photo (24)When I stress about the outcome of something I’ve taken on, I envision the worst possible scenario. Yup.  The worst thing I can think of.  Because it’s usually so far out there and absurd that I end up laughing until my stomach hurts and the anxiety simply dissolves.

Rather than try to tackle an entire book in the Bible during my quiet time with God, I have learned that reading and meditating upon one or two verses–or even a short passage–brings much more peace.  It’s then I truly absorb God’s message because my focus becomes God, rather than my time.photo (27)

I have found that when I slow down and take off my control superman cape, I’m  less restricted and  more productive.  And  life is so much better.

Slow down and smell the roses is more than just a cliche.  It’s keeping things simple. And that simplicity has saved my sanity.

All is Grace.