Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Summer Giveaway Blog Hop

I am participating in the Summer Giveaway Blog Hop, hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and BookhoundsThis hop is scheduled to run August 1st through 7th . To enter, all you have to do is follow my blog and leave a comment at the end of this post, letting me know you are a follower and sharing your favorite thing about summer. It might be having the kids home from school, the family trip to Disney World, flip flops, or the feeling of the sand between your toes at the beach. I am looking forward to a great list! For additional entries, you can follow me on Twitter (click HERE), "like" my Facebook fan page (click HERE) or friend me on Goodreads (click HERE). Leave an additional comment for each additional entry. At the end of the week, one lucky winner will be chosen by a random number generator to receive a $10 Amazon gift card. Be sure to leave your email address with your comment so that I will know how to contact you should your name be selected. Click HERE for the links to 300 or so other blogs that are also doing book-related giveaways. All contests begin at midnight Eastern time tonight (Tuesday); any entries received prior to that time will not be included in the drawing.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Hobby or Business?

To achieve great things, two things are needed: a plan, and not quite enough time.
~Leonard Bernstein

I met my friend Shawn to do some writing at an area Starbucks yesterday morning. She was one of the municipal liaisons for NaNoWriMo the first year I participated, way back in 2009, and we have kept in touch ever since. She is terrific; she proposed a thirty-minute writing challenge during our meeting, and when inspiration wouldn't come, she suggested writing prompts until something struck a chord with me. "Write a flower into your scene," she said. I eked out almost 300 words. "Thank you," I said.

Anyway, after our challenge, when I was back to catching up on emails and Facebook updates while I was supposed to be writing, she asked me if I had a mission statement for my writing. Ahem. No one had ever asked me that question before. I hung my head in shame. Turned out she didn't have one either. So we challenged each other to put our mission statements in writing before our next meeting Tuesday evening. I am working on mine.

Having a mission statement is one of those things that separates the hobbyist from the business person. Clearly defined goals, a road map for achieving them, and a training plan are also essential. I intend to incorporate all of these into my mission statement.

Because it's now or never. Yes, I have a busy life. But if I am going to achieve my dream of being a traditionally published novelist, I have to stop treating writing like an option and start treating it like a business. With regular hours of operation, hard deadlines, and accountability.

Starting with my mission statement, which I will present to Shawn on Tuesday night and publish here on Wednesday.

Friday, July 27, 2012

I finally did it

A little more than a year ago, I purged my closet of everything that didn't fit or flatter and put it into storage, promising myself that if in six months' time I hadn't lost the ten or fifteen pounds that stood between me and wearing these items, I would take them to Goodwill and forget they ever existed.

Well, I finally did it. There were many tears as I lovingly folded the pretty tops, skirts, pants and dresses and gently placed them into drawstring bags, but those size zeros (whoever decided zero is a size, anyway?) and petite extra smalls are finally gone, gone, gone.

And now there are more tears as I realize that I am at the same place in my novel writing efforts I was a year ago. Yes, I completed the manuscript in question, but in the process of revision have cut so much twaddle so that I still need approximately 35,000 words to finish. I have an agent and an editor waiting to read my book. So why don't I just do whatever it takes to get it done?

It is complicated. But I am not alone in this. My friend Denise, for example, struggles with some of the same issues, and she shared some insights on Facebook and on her personal blog this week that helped me tremendously. Maybe you will find them useful, too.

First, I think I might suffer from "Toxic Weight Syndrome." You can read about it HERE. The good news is that by summer's end, I will have touched just about every item inside my house (excepting those in my boys' rooms). Not only am I getting rid of the clothes that don't fit, I going through every drawer, every cabinet, every closet, and purging every single object that no longer serves or satisfies. It is very liberating. 

(Eventually, I will get to the garage.)

There is no doubt that there is a lot of stuff is weighing me down. I have already dealt with one very toxic relationship; unfortunately, today I felt I had no choice but to begin the process of responding to my ex over his request to modify child support. I trudged into the attorney's office with a heavy heart, dreading expending so much energy - and cold, hard cash - in such a negative way. But by the end of our first meeting, I felt empowered. After all, this isn't about me; this is about what is best for our kids. And then the most amazing thing happened. After I described my passion for teaching, the attorney decided to register to take piano lessons with me. 

However, most of what I struggle with is simple RESISTANCE, identified by Steven Pressfield in The War of Art and explained eloquently by Denise in her blog post HERE. I will never understand what self-defeating thing it is inside us that talks us out of doing our work, of keeping our promises to ourselves, of living the lives we are meant to live. But perhaps by giving it a name, we can slay the beast called RESISTANCE.

I pulled out my copy of The War of Art and found this quote.

We fear discovering that we are more than we think we are. More than our parents/children/teachers think we are. We fear that we actually possess the talent that our still, small voice tells us. That we actually have the guts, the perseverance, the capacity. We fear that we truly can steer our ship, plant our flag, reach our Promised Land. We fear this because, if it’s true, then we become estranged from all we know. We pass through a membrane. We become monsters and monstrous. 
~ Steven Pressfield, The War of Art

This gave me shivers because it reminded me so much of another quote I have posted on my writing bulletin board.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?' Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
~Marianne Williamson, Return to Love

My word for 2012 was RELEASE, and boy, howdy has that been profound. Letting go of unnecessary stuff. Letting go of damaging relationships. Letting go of fear and self-doubt and giving myself permission to be the teacher/writer/human being I was meant to be.

How do you battle the demon RESISTANCE? What do you need to let go of to become the person you were meant to be?

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

47 Things You Should Never Apologize For

Looking back with no regrets.
A year ago almost to the date, I published this list on the now-defunct Writers Li.P.P. website. I needed it today. Maybe you do, too.
* * *
Do you ever apologize for things that you shouldn’t? I have been known to apologize for: forgetting to put on my make-up; the condition of my thighs; wearing a dress my date didn't like; the weather; making mistakes in a piano performance; having fun when someone else wasn't.

Resolved: From this day forward, I apologize ONLY for the things I do wrong, NOT for being my imperfect, quirky, occasionally outrageous self. Here, in no particular order, is a list of 47 things YOU shouldn’t apologize for, either.
  1. Doing what makes you happy.
  2. Using big words.
  3. Using bad words (in the appropriate context).
  4. Going out with your friends.
  5. Staying home when everyone else wants to go out.
  6. Your lack of education.
  7. Your less-than-marketable graduate degree.
  8. Struggling financially.
  9. Being successful.
  10. Feeling how you feel.
  11. Stating your true feelings.
  12. Crying when you need to.
  13. Your penchant for the color purple.
  14. Your tiara.
  15. Your closet full of impractical shoes.
  16. The feather extension in your hair.
  17. Walking away from a job that makes you unhappy.
  18. Walking away from an abusive relationship.
  19. Doing your best in a relationship that didn’t make it anyway.
  20. Being single.
  21. Going to a restaurant and dining alone.
  22. Your tattoo.
  23. Your belly button ring.
  24. Taking risks.
  25. Telling the truth.
  26. Wearing your pajamas all day.
  27. Listening to 80’s rock.
  28. Watching a chick flick.
  29. Reading a romance novel.
  30. Avoiding people who have hurt you.
  31. Not being attracted to someone who is attracted to you.
  32. The extra ten pounds you are carrying around.
  33. Demanding respect.
  34. Not putting up with bad behavior from others.
  35. Having high standards when it comes to relationships.
  36. Being frugal.
  37. Treating yourself to something special.
  38. Not knowing how to do something.
  39. Being really good at something.
  40. Telling the truth.
  41. Refusing to compromise your integrity.
  42. Changing your mind.
  43. Resting when you are tired.
  44. Your crazy family.
  45. Being proud of your children.
  46. Helping others.
  47. Your faith.
Can you think of anything else?

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Hero's Journey

Pam Asberry & Debra Dixon
Today I'm blogging with the Petit Fours and Hot Tamales. Click HERE to read about my meeting with the fabulous Debra Dixon and my take on her workshop The Hero's Journey. As always, comments are appreciated!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Life is for living

Life is for living, not productivity.
~ Leo Babauta

Five short weeks ago, my summer vacation was just beginning. Concerned that the time would get away from me with nothing to show for it, I made myself a rather ambitious to-do list and posted it HERE.

Now there are only fourteen days of freedom left, and I am facing the reality of how much remains undone, how much WILL remain undone. While I have created 23 new pieces of jewelry for my Etsy store and am making steady progress on my revision of The Wishing Box, I have barely touched the piano and I have yet to finish reading a book. I have been faithful about going to the gym and did the running events as scheduled, but the house is arguably in worse shape than when I started. De-cluttering is messy business, but I am hoping to at least get everything put back where it goes by the time this week is over, because next week I need to pull together back-to-school packets, assignment notebooks, teaching materials and lesson plans for my students. Lessons resume on August 6th.

Where have the days gone? I was beating myself up for all the time I must have wasted when I came across this blog post by Leo Babauta. And while it's true that I haven't been at the height of productivity this summer, I have done a lot of living. I have had fun with my family and hung out with my friends and gone dancing and sung karaoke. I have had my heart broken and gone on a few first dates and might actually be "seeing someone" now, although we agree we are going to take it slow. I attended a house concert and a writing workshop (click HERE on Tuesday) and started meeting with a new group of writers every Sunday morning. And since I made up my mind to really focus on improving my daily habits in the areas of health and writing, I have joined Costco, bought a juicer, lost two pounds, edited sixty pages of manuscript, and added a couple thousand words to my work-in-progress.

The bottom line? I have enjoyed every minute of every day. If I had it to do over again, I wouldn't change a thing.

The work will get done; it always does. When my first student walks through the front door two weeks from today, I will be smiling and ready. In the meantime, I'm going to keep asking myself the question, "How can I best enjoy this moment?"

And follow my heart.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Jumping on the Juicing Bandwagon

I took the plunge and joined Costco a couple of weeks ago, and somehow the Jack LaLanne juicer found its way into my cart. Normally I would spend some time researching before making such a large purchase, but this was my first trip to Costco, and I succumbed to a LOT of temptation that day.  If I had it to do over again, I would probably buy this Breville juicer, but so far I am pleased with my purchase. 

It took me several days to work up the courage to read the instructions, wash all the parts, and figure out how to put them back together and operate the machine. Four carrots, two apples, and a few minutes later, this is what I ended up with.

It was DELICIOUS! I had quite a mess to clean up afterwards, but it was totally worth it. Ever since I read Kris Carr's book Crazy Sexy Diet, I have been intrigued with the idea of juicing. Check out this blog post she wrote on July 16th and you just might become a follower of hers, too.

I posted about my experience on Facebook; a friend of mine who has been juicing for a while suggested that I add a die-sized piece of ginger and a lime the next time for a little extra "kick." Sounds great, doesn't it? And his wife shared this recipe with me (thanks, Jennifer!)


4 plum tomatoes
1 large cucumber
2 stalks celery
1 red bell pepper
1/4 small red onion
2 cups parsley, leaves and stems, roughly chopped and packed into the measuring cup
1 lime

I bought the ingredients earlier this evening and plan to try it for lunch tomorrow. 

Do you juice? Any recipes you would like to share?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Two Blog Posts for the Price of One


I did another custom jewelry order for a friend of mine, a pendant to commemorate the recipient's wedding date. The focal charm is made from a quality sterling silver disc that has been hand stamped, blackened and finished with a hand rubbed polish and a dome shape; a tiny white pearl and sparkling bicone crystal also dangle from the sterling silver box chain. I was very pleased with the results, and so was my friend. Click HERE to view the piece in my Etsy store.


I found this video on the Romance Magicians blog a few days ago. It is so good I just have to share. I am definitely in Stage 3. Sigh.

Fellow writers, what about you?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Liam's House Concert

Joseph Akins

Do you remember MySpace? Five summers ago, a friend of a friend referred me to hammered dulcimer player Bart Saylor's page there. I sent him a message explaining how much I love the sound of the hammered dulcimer and that I have been "aching" to learn to play for several years; as a matter of fact, it's even on my bucket list. I asked him if he had any advice regarding instrument selection or knew of any teachers in the Atlanta area. He wrote me a thoughtful reply which I have hung onto all this time.

Flash forward to Saturday evening. I had the privilege of attending a concert in the home of one of my students featuring pianist and friend Joseph Akins and hammered dulcimer player Dan Landrum. These two world-class musicians took turns playing their own original works and collaborating on other pieces. This is a sample of the magic that happened during one of their improvisations.

If you watch closely at the end, the camera pans the crowd and you can see where I am sitting, just to the left of Dan. I was so close I could have reached out and touched the strings, although I somehow managed to resist. I left the concert feeling more motivated than ever to find a way to buy a hammered dulcimer of my own and master playing it. These instruments don't come cheap and I don't have much free time. But I'm not going to spend another five years doing nothing but think about making this dream of mine come true. And while I am saving my pennies, I'm got the piano, the clarinet, the tin whistle, and the mandolin to have fun with and improve upon. Thanks to both Joseph and Dan for a great night of music and inspiration.

Pam and Dan Landrum

Friday, July 13, 2012

Singing the night away

Last night, I checked another item off my bucket list. I sang karaoke in public.

Deejay J.T, my pal Jennifer and me.
It all started at meetup.com. Are you familiar with this website? Click the link, select "find a group," and search to your heart's content. Whether you're interested in speaking a foreign language, learning some dance moves, knitting, reading, or bicycling or hiking, chances are there is a group in your area where you can meet like-minded people. And if you don't see what you're looking for, you can create your own group. It's that simple.

Anyway, I discovered Moondance Lounge while I was searching for East Coast swing lessons; I am looking forward to my first dance class there in a couple of weeks. In the meantime, I saw that there was a karaoke session scheduled last night; I couldn't resist. I asked my pal Jennifer if she wanted to join me and she was game. We arrived promptly at 8.

With its positive vibe, friendly staff, delicious food, music of all kinds, and gleaming dance floor, Moondance is my new favorite local place. I ordered a glass of red wine and a crab cake and settled in for some fun. But I know myself; I was afraid if I procrastinated I might talk myself out of singing altogether, so I quickly made my selection and ended up second on the list. I was pretty shaky during that first song, Falling Slowly from the movie Once, but my confidence grew as the night wore on. By the time it was all over, I had also sung Tik Tok and Your Love Is My Drug by Kesha, Hand in Pocket by Alanis Morisette, This Kiss by Faith Hill, and Soak Up the Sun by Sheryl Crow (with Jennifer, above). The crowd was small but supportive. The applause and cheers were enthusiastic. I felt like a rock star.

Looking back, I don't know why I put this off for so long. And I wonder how many good times I have missed out on because of petty fear. Moving forward, I am going to fight that with everything I have. To quote Mark Twain, I'm going to dance like nobody's watching; love like I've never been hurt; sing like nobody's listening; live like it's heaven on earth.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Beyond Survival

Self-actualizing people have the wonderful capacity to appreciate again and again, freshly and naively, the basic goods of life, with awe, pleasure, wonder and even ecstasy, however stale these experiences may have become to others.
~ Abraham Maslow

Tonight I was driving south on Interstate 85, heading to my ex's house to pick up my 16yo, whom I will heretofore refer to as "Rock Star," at the twilight of a long day. I wrote in my journal; I went to the gym; I beaded two bracelets and four pairs of earrings; I edited two chapters of The Wishing Box and added 1382 words to the manuscript. But it was all a leap of faith. During the summer months, I teach very little piano, sales are slow on Etsy, and even though I devote hours and hours to writing, love doing it and get lots of positive reinforcement from blog posts and published articles, I have yet to earn a dime from a word I have written.

In other words, it's always tough paying the bills in July.

To add insult to injury, a Gwinnett County, Georgia sheriff's deputy paid me a visit this afternoon. My ex got himself fired from his job in January; apparently unable to find a job, he is petitioning the courts to reduce his child support payments. We have three children together but at this point he pays support only for Rock Star--even though I am making student loan payments for our firstborn, and our middle child, a college student, still lives with me. So now, on top of keeping the household running--never an easy task--I have to figure out how I am going to retain an attorney, knowing full well that the ex is going to get at least a little bit of financial relief.

He asks for this with a clear conscience because he knows I will do whatever it takes so that our children do not go without. And he is correct. But I do not know quite know how I am going to manage. My home loan is underwater; I have credit card debt that I couldn't pay off with a year's earnings. The house is in need of repairs; the carpets need cleaning; the piano needs tuning.

The worry exhausts me. It distracts me from my work. It erodes my self-esteem. It robs me of my joy.

It keeps me small.

Anyway, there I was, driving down the road, and all I could see was the gray pavement, the lines on the road, the cars ahead of me, the Atlanta skyline on the horizon. This picture was not without its own urban beauty. But then I looked UP and, oh my goodness, I saw an azure blue sky dotted with puffy white clouds and the sunlight filtering through and it was so freaking beautiful that it literally took my breath away.

And I thought, how many times have I MISSED THIS? Every morning, the sun rises; every night, the sun sets. But I rarely take the time to notice any of it.

In my quest for survival, what else am I missing?

I am more determined than ever to doing whatever it takes to make my dreams come true, to keeping my eyes open to the beauty that surrounds me, to keeping my heart from becoming cynical despite the wolves that circle me, to having an attitude of gratitude for the family and friends who love me.

I am bigger than my circumstances.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Beads, beads, beads

This week I've been playing with semi-precious stones.

Agates, black onyx, and Swarovski pearls in various combinations.
More black onyx.
Tomorrow I will add clasps to all these pieces and put together some matching earrings and start adding them to my Etsy store

I also made myself a new copper chain maille bracelet

Byzantine Rose.
and bought supplies to make inverted roundmaille bracelets in a rainbow of colors.

Jet Black is in my shop now. Capri Blue, Peridot, Rose and Fire Opal are coming soon.
Playing with beads is therapeutic for me. Experimenting with colors, patterns and designs grounds me in the moment; lost love, past regrets, and concerns about the future disappear completely. 

This is a  very good thing. 

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Anatomy of a Breakup

Players only love you when they're playin'.
~ Stevie Nicks

I met Jack* Mother's Day weekend. He had discovered my profile on Plenty of Fish; we exchanged emails and talked on the phone a few times before he asked to meet me. We enjoyed a three-hour lunch on Saturday, spent four hours together on Sunday, and he called me every day the following week. He cooked dinner for me the very next weekend: appetizers and a beautiful salad and spicy Moroccan chicken and rice and tiramisu. The wine flowed freely, the conversation was animated; I felt beautiful, sexy, wanted. There was glitter in the air.

Indeed, it was a magical time. Raised in South Africa, Jack has a swoon-worthy accent; he is handsome and fit, has traveled the world, is kind, worldly, well-traveled and sophisticated. He has a successful career and an exquisitely decorated home, gets along well with his ex-wife and adores his two grown daughters and three young grandsons, loves books and music, even dabbles with fiction writing. In short, he is everything I have ever dreamed of in a romantic partner.

He was so perfect, in fact, that I was afraid to share him with others; there seemed to be such chemistry between us that I didn't want to "jinx" anything. I began to relax, though, when he said he wanted to get to know my friends and suggested that we meet for drinks or dinner. It was the night a couple of them came to his place for burgers on the grill that the trouble began.

Waiting for Diana and Jamie to arrive, as we sat on the deck overlooking his cheerful garden sipping red wine, he shared some of the details his California business trip that week. He mentioned having a conversation with friend of his there, in which he said, "I met a little piano teacher. Things are going well but I sure hope she doesn't fall in love with me."

Our conversation was interrupted by the arrival of my friends. It was an otherwise perfect evening, filled with delicious food and stimulating conversation. I met his next-door neighbor and her adorable children; Jack got along well with my friends, and they found him as charming as I did. But I was troubled, wondering what he meant by his comment to his comrade in California. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get an answer for a week and a half as he was traveling over the next several days. Finally, over lunch the day before I left for French Polynesia, he said that he simply wasn't in a position to make any kind of emotional commitment to anyone. He described himself as an introvert, an observer, generally preferring his own company to the company of others, often finding intimate conversation exhausting. He explained that he had recently ended a long-term relationship with a woman his oldest daughter introduced him to. They had actually lived together for three years and parted ways because she wanted to get married and he adamantly refused; after thirty years of marriage, he is over it. Still, his take on the situation was that this woman had "broken his heart "and, although he was certain he was no longer in love with her, he wasn't about to put himself in a situation like that again. I wasn't ready to let go; I suggested that we didn't have to make any decisions about the outcome of our relationship at that point in time, that we just take it day by day, moment by moment, and he cheerfully agreed. Back at his house, we said sweet goodbyes.

The next morning, I boarded a plane and was gone for nearly two weeks.

By that time, though, the daily phone calls had stopped, and he didn't so much as send me an email while I was out of the country. Still, he seemed happy to see me when I returned. I went to his house again; we shared cold chicken and cheese and crackers and dark chocolate with chili and red wine. I gave him a bottle of vanilla I bought in Taha'a; he wanted to know all the details of my trip. That night, he said he wanted to hear me play the piano sometime, although he expressed no interest in coming to my piano recital where he knew I would be playing that very Saturday. And when I mentioned some special order jewelry I was creating for Jamie, he said he would like to have a link to my online store, but he never followed up on that. As far as I know, he never looked at my blog.

I saw him just one more time. He called me two weeks ago Friday; I was on my way for a pedicure and he asked if I would like to join him for drinks later that evening. Of course I said yes. We had another magical, intimate night and talked about things we might do and places we might go in the future. And he wanted to see Diana and Jamie again; he asked me to invite them to come for dinner again the following Thursday.

Unfortunately, they were not available that night and when I told him so on the phone the next morning he did not ask if I would come alone. As a matter of fact, he told me that he was going to "disappear" for a while. He said there was a lot going on in his life and he felt "a little lost and not sure about many things." I begged him to talk to me about those things but he refused, saying that it was all much too complicated, that it would be exhausting to discuss it, especially with someone he hardly knows. I argued with him; I had opened myself up to him like a book, sharing little-known stories of past heartbreaks and my innermost thoughts, hopes and fears. Still, he insisted that we were little more than strangers to each other. He called again the following Friday but he had plans all that weekend and did not have time to see me and explained he would be traveling to South Carolina to sort out some issues with his daughter and his ex-girlfriend the weekend after that.

You can probably guess the rest of the story. I spoke to him yesterday; he asked polite questions, then pulled the rug out from under me. He had spoken with his ex-girlfriend, Giselle, a beautiful yoga instructor from Vienna; he doesn't know whether or not he is still in love with her, but they have known each other a long time, have many things in common, and are looking forward to spending next weekend together. It was all I could do to hold it together long enough to wish him well. I choked on the word "goodbye" as I hung up the phone. 

During our conversation, he expressed genuine surprise that I could have such deep feelings for him after such a short while. "After all, we saw each other only three times," he pointed out. That was the real stab in the heart. "We were together more than three times," I hoarsely contradicted him. I remember every detail of every encounter we shared. They are like favorite movies I have played over and over in my head. I even mentioned that to him once. But obviously he meant much more to me than I did to him.

* * *

I am left feeling confused. When we were together, he was animated and present; when we were not, he was unavailable, physically and otherwise. I did my best to respect his need for time and space; honestly, I thought I could be satisfied with the level of intimacy we shared, at least for now. But the heart wants what the heart wants. He was a breath of fresh air in my world; the first time I met him, I told him I was looking for magic and when we were together it certainly felt that way to me. How can he fault me for falling for him the way I did? The cynical part of me believes that, for him, the relationship was about conquest; the reasonable part of me thinks he has intimacy issues and was afraid of getting too close to me. Or maybe he simply never got over Giselle. Regardless, I am grateful that he warned me when he did, the night Diana and Jamie came over. Otherwise, yesterday would have been even harder to bear than it was.

He promised me early on that, no matter what happened, we would be friends forever. I reminded him of that and he said he hoped I would keep in touch. I told him I wouldn't - I simply cannot - but instead will wait to hear from him. But I doubt he will give me another thought.

Once again, my heart has been shattered into a thousand pieces, and while I know it will heal, I don't know how much more scarring it can suffer. How many more times can I put myself out there, invest energy and effort into getting to know someone, make myself vulnerable, and deal with the rejection that ultimately follows?

"As many times as it takes," my friends answer. Perhaps. And if I had it to do over again, I wouldn't do anything differently. But like Laura Linney, I now understand that "charisma is not character." And like Jane Fonda, I don't believe that I need to be with a man to feel whole; being in a relationship is a preference, but not a necessity. So for the time being, I have deleted my profiles on the dating sites. I am going to enjoy spending time with my family and my girlfriends and really focus on my fiction writing. And I'm not going to tell myself stories about how I'm not good enough. Because this wasn't a competition between me and a younger, tall, ostensibly more flexible European woman. As my friends say, "Right guy, body won't matter. Right guy, house won't matter. Right guy, money won't matter. Right guy, you can wear your heart on your sleeve and he will respond in kind."

So, Mr. Right, I've officially stopped looking for you. Universe, it's up to you to figure out how he and I are going to meet.

*All names have been changed to protect the privacy of the individuals involved.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

From chaos to focus

You must have chaos in your heart to give birth to stars.
~ Nietsche

Danielle LaPorte shared this quote in a recent blog post, and it really resonated with me. Just a little more than a week into my summer vacation, I'm already experiencing a crisis of confidence. Behind on the list of goals I set, frustrated with my lack of progress as a fiction writer, disappointed about my improvement in the weight loss and fitness arena, I've been feeling really confused about what's really most important and uncertain about how to proceed.

When the pupil is ready, the teacher will come.
~ Chinese proverb

Tired and sore after running the Peachtree Road Race yesterday, I decided to lay low for a few hours today and catch up on some reading online. This was just what I needed, arguably the most productive day of my summer so far.

First, I read a great article by Kristine Kathryn Rusch (click HERE) about the myth of perfectionism in writing. Just yesterday I was discussing my novel with my sister-in-law, sharing how I desperately need to buckle down and finish revising the first five chapters so I can send them to the editor who requested them, and then complete the rest of the manuscript so I can send it to the agent waiting to read it. I was able to admit that what is stopping me is fear; as long as the book remains unfinished, I am safe, because it cannot be rejected. On the other hand, as long as the books remains unfinished, it will never be published. And there is nothing I want more in this world than to be a published novelist; it is imperative that I deal with this fear. Kathryn's advice? Write the best book you are capable of. Set time limits for revisions and drafts. Then let the thing go, flaws and all, and move on to your next project. More about how I plan to heed this advice in a minute.

Second, I watched a terrific video on YouTube in which Jonathan Fields interviews Charles Duhigg, the author of The Power of Habit. Here is the introduction from Jonathan's website.

In this episode of Good Life Project, Duhigg reveals how one of the biggest retailers in the world, Target, tapped habit analysis to figure out which customers are pregnant and leverages that information to cultivate new buying habits. But that's just the tip of the iceberg.

He shares how to leverage the neuroscience of habit to create your own positive behaviors (hint: chocolate after exercise may not be such a bad thing). He reveals why old habits never really die and what to do about it.

Duhigg takes us behind the scenes of major corporations and shows how to use the science of habit to transform a failing businesses into a success story in ways you'd never suspect. And he shares how these ideas can be tapped to create larger shifts in cultures and societies for good or, if misused, not-so-good.

Do you have any bad habits that you would like to break or any good habits that you would like to form? If so, this video is well worth the thirty-seven minutes it takes to watch it.

Finally, I read this compelling blog post (click HERE) by author Joel Runyan explaining the connection between physical and mental limits. And that's when everything clicked.

have a thousand and one perfectly reasonable excuses why I can't lose the ten pounds I gained a couple of years ago (my age, my metabolism, my thyroid condition), why I can't run a 10K in ninety minutes (my age, my extra ten pounds, my aching knee), why I haven't sold a manuscript (I don't have time to write, it is harder for unknown authors to get representation, my work simply isn't good enough), why I have trouble making ends meet financially (my status as a single woman, my responsibilities to my kids, the economy). But I have pushed myself in some small ways and, as a result, I have made some measurable progress. Whereas at the beginning of the year I couldn't run a 5K if you offered me a million dollars, I finished the Water for the World 5K in under 40 minutes and ran every step. Two agents and a literary editor have asked to read part or all of my manuscript. I have paid my bills every month and made a bit of progress towards my credit card debt. And come to think of it, I have lost ten pounds this year, more than once. Yep, I lose three pounds, then gain five, then lose seven, and gain four, and...well, you get the picture.

Regardless, I have proven that what Joel Runyan says is true.

If you keep going, eventually you'll succeed and when you do - you'll change. Because once you do something you used to think was impossible - it no longer is. You just did the impossible. Literally.

And now, to the heart of the matter.

If this one little story you believed about who you are isn't true, what else isn't true?

In light of all this new insight, I am revising my list of goals for what's left of my summer vacation. Most important, I'm going to stop being my own worst enemy and be a kind, authoritative parent to myself. For the next thirty days, I am going to adhere to a rigid routine when it comes to three areas: eating healthy, exercising daily, and finishing my novel. I am planing my meals ahead of time, eating no more and no less; I am running three miles daily on the elliptical machine or outdoors; and I am working on my novel for a minimum of two hours every morning before I check email or log in to Facebook. As Charles Duhigg said to Jonathan Runyan, "The more you have habitualized in your life, the more you have willpower leftover for other things." Like practicing the piano and making jewelry. But even if I only have enough willpower left to watch movies from Redbox or surf the internet, I will be able to sleep easy knowing that I have made made strides where it matters most to me.

I'm going to stop telling myself what I can't do - and do the impossible. Thanks, Danielle and Kristine and Jonathan and Charles and Joel.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Peachtree Road Race Runner Jewelry

I am working on a new line of jewelry for my Etsy store: pendants, bracelets and earrings for runners. Such pieces provide extra incentive during training and make a sweet reward for completing a hard-earned goals.

Tomorrow I am running in the Peachtree Road Race in downtown Atlanta. This 10K event takes place every fourth of July and is an Atlanta institution. In celebration, I created two special new pieces for my shop.

Sterling Silver Peachtree Road Race 10K Runner Pendant.
"10K" hand stamped on a sterling silver disc.
The red, white and blue Swarovski crystal charm and silver plated pewter star add patriotic touches.
Sterling Silver Peachtree Road Race 10K Runner Bracelet.
Sterling silver alphabet beads, round beads and clasp, silver plated pewter spacers and stars, and red, white and blue Swarovski crystals make a festive combination. Sized to order.
I am very excited about these new items and plan to offer 5K, 10K, 13.1 and 26.2 options in various color combinations. I hope you will visit my site often and check out the latest additions. And if you don't see what you want, just ask! I enjoy doing custom orders, too.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Lauryn's Run 5K

Saturday I participated in Lauryn's Run, a 5K race planned to assist the family of a local girl battling sickle cell anemia. 

Totally spontaneous.
The run started at 9AM, by which time the temperature had already climbed into the mid-80's. My sister-in-law and I decided not to be martyrs. We started out running but after about half a mile we switched to walking until we reached the finish line. 

Finishing strong.
We rewarded ourselves with breakfast/lunch at Waffle House.

Eric and I waiting for our food to arrive.
I am not ashamed to admit I ordered a bacon cheeseburger and hash browns. 

I ate every last bite.
Now we are looking forward to running in the Peachtree Road Race in downtown Atlanta on Wednesday, July fourth. Thankfully, the temperature is supposed to be about ten degrees cooler on Wednesday than it was on Saturday, and I am hoping to run more and average a fifteen-minute mile in this 10K event. But the truth is I will consider myself a winner as long as I complete the race. Which I intend to do even if I have to crawl across the finish line.

What are your plans for the fourth of July? Should I look for you at the Peachtree Road Race?