Getting Out of My Way

I had a fabulous insight in a dream this morning. I stood inside a shelter of some sort and the ground slopped down in front of me. I saw a huge boulder in my path. I felt that I couldn’t progress forward with such a huge obstacle in my way.Image

I knew walking around the boulder wouldn’t do any good because it might roll after me when I stepped around it. Also, I knew that I couldn’t make it explode because the smaller pieces might hit me, and it looked way too heavy to lift.

I asked a guide who was with me how to get rid of it and they said it depends on what it is made of. Instantly I knew it was fear –my fear of not being published, of not having money, of not losing weight, of not being able to accomplish my dreams. I told my guide that I knew it was fear and they said “This is how you get rid of fear.” I looked at the boulder and it simply dissolved before my eyes, clearing the path before me.

The thing is, there was never an obstacle in my way. It was my incorrect thinking that made me believe that the roadblock was real. I put up the boulder because it was a burden to work so hard trying to achieve my desires.

My perception changed and I understood that things aren’t difficult like I imagined, and that I am worth every ounce of effort I spend on the journey. I was able to move forward and create some positive things today.

Do you have a roadblock or seemingly immense obstacle that is preventing you from accomplishing something? What is your boulder made of? Is it based on truth or your own misperceptions?

Positive Thinking Goes a Long Way

In Eve’s Amulet, Book 1, my main character Mandy Ruhe only turns to positive action when she has no other choice. It is said “like attracts like.” If you put out negative thoughts and negative energy, that’s what comes back to you in one form or another. If you put out positive thoughts and energy, you will get positive things in return.

Here is a writing exercise that anyone can benefit from, even people who consider themselves “non-writers.”

List 5 (ideally 10) things that you have the most negative thoughts about –things that really bother you, make you angry, or sad. Reword them into a powerful, positive statement. Show your negative statement and your positive rewrite.

Use only positive, optimistic, uplifting, and powerful language in your revised statement. Here are mine:

  1. I hate to see big ugly spiders in the house.
    I embrace all life, even if it’s different from me.
  2. I am unhealthy and out of shape.
    I am healthy and beautiful, inside and out.
  3. I can’t stand being broke all the time.
    I attract abundance every day of my life. I gladly receive unexpected income.
  4. It’s taking so long to get published.
    God knows more than me. He has a better plan when it comes to getting published.
  5. I love foods that are unhealthy for me.
    I choose fitness and health.

Say a positive statement next time you come up against a particular thing that you don’t like. Try it for 30 days, even just a week, and you will see an amazing and powerful transformation! Allow your good thoughts to spur you onto positive right action.

What kinds of things set you on edge and get you upset, anxious, or scared? How can you turn your negative statement into a positive?

Successful Writers ~Written by John Brantingham

I asked John Brantingham, my writing mentor, former professor, and a valuable person in my inner circle of writing friends, to write a guest blog on any topic he’d like.

John offers a free gift to a lucky reader at the end of this article.

When Carole told me that I could guest on her blog, I didn’t tell her that I was going to write about her. You shouldn’t think that all the praise I am going to heap on her is self-serving then, but Carole is one of my many, many creative writing students who has left my class to become successful.

I can always tell when one of my creative writing students is going to be successful on the first day of class.

I have to be careful here to define the word “successful” as it relates to creative writing. By that, I don’t mean that the student will go on to become the wealthiest writer on the circuit today, but that he or she will write and keep writing and reach a group of readers in whatever way he or she wants.

For some people, that means wide publication, and for others it means sharing with friends.

If we focus on those who want to publish, however, they are always easy to spot even on the first day. They share a group of characteristics.

1.  They are willing to learn and grow. I had one student flat out tell me once that he knew all there was to know about writing, and he didn’t want help growing. “Why are you in a workshop that emphasizes craft then?” I asked.

He smirked and said, “I’m just here to do my thing.”

No clue what that means.

The successful students are always hungry for information from wherever they can get it. No surprise there. It’s no surprise that successful writers are too. They want to know what their profession is about because they love it.

2. They are exceptionally eager to work.

When I talk about the revision process, some students glaze over and turn off, and other students become excited. They want to revise because they want to get better. More importantly, writing is fun and revision is too. This is intellectual game play after all if you enjoy it. And the successful writers love it.

3.  They ask questions throughout the class. They have wondered about something for years, and they finally have someone to talk to. Often, the best ones will disagree with me about some concept or other. That’s all right (as long as they are respectful). They love what they’re doing and they’re exceptionally passionate about it.

Obviously, the key word here is “love.” The successful students love what they’re doing and would do anything they could to improve and reach people with their work. If they don’t love reading and writing, they will never be successful, but there’s no surprise there.

And Carole is one of those students who I knew right away had everything she needed for success. It’s fun watching a student like her turning into a great writer, both in terms of skill and acknowledgement.

So here’s a question and a giveaway. Carole will determine the winner by the best answer given, and I will give away a copy of my book East of Los Angeles. What do you think makes a great writer great?

John is the author of Mann of War, Oak Tree Press 2012-2013, Let Us All Pray Now to Our Own Strange Gods, World Parade Books 2012-2013, and Study Abroad, Wormwood Chapbooks, October 2012.

I am grateful to all of John’s help and support in my writing endeavors. Here’s to both of our successes! Pre-order John’s latest chapbook, Study Abroad:

Confessions – And Not Because I Grew Up Catholic

In my story, Eve’s Amulet, Book 1, I include prayer time as a routine but significant event for each of the characters. Meal time at Holiday Ranch is used as an opportunity to voice through prayer what might not otherwise be acceptable to say. Although the characters speak the truth, they allow honest moments to bypass common courtesy.

For me, prayer is deeply personal, one-on-one communication with my Creator. In my late teen years, prayers were usually a plea for help –for a new job or boyfriend. As I grew older, my prayers became a time for thanks or a healing request for another person. This week, my prayer time was severely neglected.

I joined forces with “Pops,” my ex-husband, this week to babysit my near 2-year old Imagegrandson, Merrik, while my daughter, Jasmin, was in the hospital. Merrik happens to be the most rambunctious and kinetic boy on the planet with unending energy resources. I think he has an invisible plug connected to me and that’s how he so easily depleted my life force. He didn’t put my daughter in the hospital, but I think on some level she enjoyed the reprieve.

My prayers reverted to my old ways this week, asking for myself –for more energy to take care of my grandson, for more patience to take care of my grandson, and for more time to get a shower in as I took care of my grandson.

I did give thanks one afternoon when Pops took Merrik off my hands for a belated birthday brunch with a dear friend. I gave thanks for mimosas.

I was too tired to pray for anyone at night after a couple of hours at Chucky Cheese, walks around the neighborhood pushing a stroller (my grandson is above average in weight and size for his age), and mopping up urine off the bathroom floor before his bath because I forgot Merrik wasn’t potty trained.

Each night I’d collapse near the edge of the mattress (because little ones take up so much room on the bed) and the moment I heard my grandson’s even breathing against the pillow, I gave myself permission to lapse into sleep. I’d enjoy deep slumber until Merrik moved, which was about every 10 minutes throughout the night. I’d find myself closer to the edge, would fall back asleep, and continue to repeat the cycle.

Last night, I realized that not once did I pray for Jasmin during the entire week. My mother and Auntie Barbara said rosaries for her, so maybe subconsciously I knew she was well taken care of. At least I returned to giving thanks last night. My daughter was released from the hospital late last night, and I took Merrik home this afternoon.

I think it is okay to pray for ourselves, but our compassion and focus have to be turned toward others if we want to receive in return. The more we give, the more we get back in one way or another, and that includes with energy as well. My grandson zapped all of mine but maybe when he’s older, he’ll learn to be a giver, too. I hope he will remember to add his mommy to his prayers and pray for his Nana, especially when she needs the energy.

But What Will My Family Think?

I became an instant fan of Jane Friedman,, who 9 out of 10 times writes an article relative to my writing experience. Her last blog discussed the book, A Year of Writing Dangerously by Barbara Abercrombie, which in one excerpt raises the question, “What Does Your Mother Think of Your Writing?”

At the bottom of Jane’s e-mail she inserted a quote by Anne Lamont that gave me permission years ago to share about the realities of my life: “You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should’ve behaved better.”

The first thirteen years of my dysfunctional life I suffered through the worst kind of sexual abuse by an older brother, and my mother knew, but to acknowledge my abuse she would have had to acknowledge hers. My mother won’t read what I’ve written because it’s too painful for her to revisit, yet she has no idea how the past makes me feel.

My award winning memoirs and poetry are based on my dysfunctional childhood, yet if you ask any one of my three older sisters and two older brothers, each of us would have a different version to tell, as if we grew up in different homes.

Like many abuse survivors, I’ve made lemonade from an immense lemon orchard. I’ve served as a life coach for over 30 years to sexually abused people and I’m working with a publisher on my first non-fiction book, The Long Term Effects of Sexual Abuse.

I have no problem sharing my past even though several family members have asked me not to publish anything about the abuse. How else do we end the cycle? Speaking up lessens the power of the effects of abuse and it helps to bring an end to the generational pattern. There are those who say it’s no one else’s business but what I hear is, “We’re ashamed and embarrassed about the truth of our family” and “What will people think of us?”

I know that my children who are writers at heart will post my mistakes and shortcomings out in the universe one day and that’s okay. I am willing to be accountable for my actions, for my mistakes as well as my triumphs. Perhaps someone will be able to learn from or be inspired by them.

Today is my 54th birthday and I’m celebrating it by honoring my Self and that includes my integrity. God bless Anne Lamont who gave me permission to write “shitty first drafts” and to tell my truth, even if it doesn’t match the truth of other family members.

Do you have your own truths that you want to share but are concerned about how others will react? If you could write about anything, without restriction, what would it be?