Inspiration, poetry

What are Your Yes’s and No’s for 2020?

Photo by Denise Karis

 

Re-reading my 2018 journal entry, I see that I wrote: “I am content.”

In 2019, I did a lot of stuff, traveled a few places, wrote a whole lot, read 37 books, spent too much time on Netflix, and laughed a lot.

I hope to do more of the same in 2020.

Another entry that I read in my reflection is this, a part of a poem by Esther Cohen, Writer, and Poet in New York City. I loved the intent then, and now. I say ‘YES’ to this:

 

I’ll try instead to hear more music,

to open my arms wider,

to read more

of other people’s beautiful sentences

and write a few myself.

 

For 2020, Ms. Cohen wrote a few verses of what she won’t do, which made me laugh because I’m like-minded. Here’s an excerpt:

I will not sign up for a Tai Chi class

even though more or less everyone

says it’s a Good Idea.  Tried a few times.

No dice.

5

I will not stop eating

gluten, sugar, and everything else white.

 

So, ‘NO’, I will not go on Keto, or take Pilates, or keep up with Facebook or Instagram, or be unkind, or burn myself out, or burn someone else out.

‘YES,’ I will read, I will write most days, I will take a chance, visit abroad, hike a little more, binge Outlander Season 4 and whatever else I love on Netflix/Hulu, and I will partake of dark chocolate and red wine.

I like the simplicity of saying ‘YES’ to ideas/actions and ‘NO’ to others, especially without guilt or anger.

Now go fill a few lines in a notepad with “I’m saying YES to:” and “I’m saying NO to:”

Here’s to the YES’s and to the NO’s. May you be filled with light, love, and laughter!

photo by Jamie Street for unsplash.com

 

 

 

Writing

How to Declutter Your Frightening Writing Space

Albert Einstein

Please excuse my wording, but I have too much crap in my writing area.

My bulletin board is cluttered with post-its, cards, and pins all askew. To make things worse, someone figured my room needed a few empty Amazon boxes, along with the cat’s scratching treehouse, and I haven’t filed bills in six months.

Given that the new year is approaching, and today’s the last Saturday of the year, my thoughts turned to clear out the old to make room for the new. A form of self-care, if your will.

I’m not a clean freak, but even I know when too much stuff is too much. I’d snap a photo of the clutter, but I’m embarrassed.

My daughter gave me a cool “Computer Memo Board.” These are two pieces of acrylic that stick to the left and right side of your laptop or desktop. They are meant as organizational tools. I think this was a hint.

Okay, I’m bypassing the shame so I can show you the memo boards:

My Messy Space. You Get the Picture.

 

This is the second photo because I had to hang a yellow piece of paper up in the right top corner, so the boards are visible.

According to a study, having “multiple visual stimuli present within the range of one’s view will result in those stimuli competing for neural representation.”

In layman’s terms, the more clutter you can see, the more quickly you’ll find yourself distracted. If I’m distracted with the sticky-notes, bills, and pins, that’s what I’ll see instead of a blank screen ready for new opportunities.

Now, I’m itching to clean and declutter but need to finish this first.

I Googled how to begin decluttering, and I promise I will follow my own advice (after I finish this post).

1. Clear out the top of your desk

Get rid of anything broken or unnecessary. Start with the pens/markers that no longer have ink. Move on to computer accessories: cords that used to go to who-knows-what equipment, flash drives, unused or outdated external hard drives. Eliminate duplicate office products—you only need one stapler and one tape dispenser.

2. Sort the books on your desk by their importance

Keep books on your desk, which you refer to more than once a week: a thesaurus, inspirational, or book on craft.

3. Declutter the Bulletin Board. 

What defines your writing space. (Any guesses about mine?) Choose what you want to display and get rid of anything more distracting than helpful.

4. Improve your storage system

Place your most used items within reach for easy access. Less important tools can be placed in a drawer. If you did #1 above, the task is much easier.

5. Create a wide-open desktop.

This will be difficult for me. I need to be bold and get rid of stuff I can do without. Do I need so many pens out? Can I file half of the bills? Do I need to have two vitamin bottles behind my laptop?

6. Focus on clearing the space and set a timer to do it quickly.

When you’re satisfied that what’s on your desktop is only what you really need at hand when you’re working, remove all of the necessary items and dust your desk and laptop. Use a compressed air can to de-crumb your keyboard, unless you have a silicone cover like mine (which is way old). In that case, shake it out and wash the thing.

Right now, I think I can handle twenty minutes of clearing and cleaning. The desk won’t look like this one, but progress, right?

Photo by Arnel Hasanovic on Unsplash

 

By clearing and minimizing your writing space, you free up your mind to think more clearly and be more creative.

That alone is worth sorting through some files and tossing out some clutter, don’t you think?

If you have any tips or tricks, share them in the comments!

 

Self Care

December Self-Care for your Sanity

 

Of all the months, December is the least likely for us to relax. There are a hundred things to buy, make, bake, send, or attend but remember, we don’t have to make room for everything.

Instead, make enough space for yourself, your loved ones, and those who could use a little lift.

There are 24 days ahead of us until Christmas–time enough to set a few priorities and boundaries, so we’re not cranky or stressed out.

Pay attention to your body. If you’re too tired, too anxious, too hungry, take care of yourself before you do anything else.

This year I’ve chosen to focus on six areas:

1-Christmas decorations

Decorating the house and tree are NOT my forté. I’ll carry the boxes, put together the tree, and help unpack the items, but the interior design award in our house belongs to my daughter. And I don’t feel guilty.

ornament memories

We have fun reminiscing about the ornaments (Baby’s 1st Christmas ’89), the ones from our travels, the homemade ones, and the decorations that need to retire. Our cat, Heidi, is always in the mix, chasing glitter boxes or sneaking under the tree.

Cedar balsam, cinnamon apple, and cranberry candles are my favorite scents to have around the house. Live decor like Trader Joe’s pine wreaths and Poinsettias bring a little bit of nature into the home.

2. Create a relaxing music playlist or watch a couple of classic holiday movies:

We listen to the oldie Christmas songs: Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole, and Judy Garland when we’re home. Make yourself a list of whatever mellows you out or watch a movie that makes you laugh. My favorite: A Christmas Story (I never tire of Ralphie).

3. Give Christmas to someone else. Participate in a service project in your community or church:

Toys for Tots Campaign

Our church organizes a toy/clothing drive for infants to 16 yrs. old. The Fire Department has the Spark Of Love drive, the Marines Toys for Tots, and many places have the Angel Tree which gives gifts to kids through Prison Ministry. Here’s a list of a few more charities.

A service project doesn’t have to cost money, but time. Volunteer a couple of hours at a hospital, rescue mission, convalescent home, or homeless shelter.

4. Find joy in a peaceful morning at least once per workweek. Okay, you might need to wake up ten minutes earlier, but it’ll be worth it. Make a cup of coffee or tea, sit in your favorite place, warm your hands, and enjoy your drink in quiet solitude (no social media). A ten-minute break can occur at lunchtime or in the evening.

5. Mail a real Christmas card, or two, to an old friend, your parent(s), or someone special. Write a greeting and send the card off before Christmas Eve.

6. Keep a tradition or make a new memory.

Masa harina and chile colorado for Tamales

For our family, Christmas wouldn’t be merry without making tamales. I’ve written a few posts about making tamales of meat, sweet ones, and vegan ones. This is a group effort and gives us time together. You could do the same by baking cookies or buying refrigerated sugar cookies and decorating them with sprinkles.

These are a few tips that I hope will give you something to think about. Put your focus where you want to and start off the month in stride. Only do what you can reasonably do, and don’t guilt yourself or should all over yourself.

Take good care of yourself this month and remember to breathe.

 

 

 

Revision

Peaches and Preparing the Grid to be Ready

Babcock peaches

It started with a peach tree.

My tree is a dwarf second-year tree that I thought wouldn’t give many peaches especially since my mother said I didn’t ‘cull’ the tree months before.

What do I know of culling? I grew up in housing projects of concrete and asphalt for a backyard. We did have one spindly tree in the front shared patch of lawn.

But, Mom knew about culling (thinning the fruit from the tree) because she spent her first sixteen years as a migrant farm worker. Mom taught me more than that though from her hard work.

Culling my pretty peach tree sounded cruel but I found out it was necessary so I wouldn’t have dropped fruit or small peaches like this photo of my tree.

Dwarf peach tree-unculled

This process of culling is a lot like writing and revision.

The tree surprised me with the abundance of white Babcock peaches. So many, I made my first ever peach ‘nice’ cream (vegan ice cream) and two peach cobblers. I still need to work on those recipes though. I got a tasty product but the ‘nice’ cream could have been smoother and the cobbler topping flakier. Hey, again, this is much like writing: revising and rewriting until the piece is right.

Besides my love affair with my peach tree, I also received good news. The anthology which accepted one of my short stories was published. The book is now on tour in Chile, Spain, Argentina, and Mexico. The publisher is the University of Nevada and is not out for general sale, yet.

¡Basta!

I’ve spent most of July revising another manuscript and sending it off to be line edited. After that headache, I haven’t done much writing.

Instead, I’ve spent hours in the garden, visiting museums, working out at the gym, reading, practicing meditation with Deepak Chopra and Oprah (Desire and Destiny, online), and planning my September vacation (London!).

July turned out to be a period of self-care and “preparing the grid.” This means to create a vibrational focus.

My friend, Florencia, quotes Abraham-Hicks on preparing the grid or getting ready. This is similar to manifesting done through meditation. If you don’t know who or what is Abraham-Hicks, click here.

This quote seems to sum up July pretty well.

Your work is to be ready for what’s ready. Abraham Hicks

When I think of the quote I realize that July has been a month of culling, picking, chilling, fun and letting go.

Are you ready?