About Me · Balance · Creativity · Thrift · Writing

Let Creativity Abound: Creative Cross Training

Alright, as discussed in this post, things have been kinda crazy at the Sherwin house. In order to keep my creativity alive for my writing, and to keep my sanity, I have been doing LOTS of craft projects. Crafting, artwork, and other bits of creative pursuits help me to keep my brain active with creating, while taking a break from what I do with most of my time: writing.

It’s good to take a break from your writing. Your brain needs to flourish in other creative pursuits to keep your writing flame fresh and strong. You WILL experience writer’s block. You WILL get tired of reading your manuscript a hundred times. You WILL be able to get over it and still produce good work. There are many ways to do this, of course, but one way I  keep my creative power flowing is to craft, produce art, and engage in creative thinking.

Now, I’m not one of those people who thinks you need to take a break from your writing for weeks or anything. I write at least five days a week for a considerable amount of time. At night and on the weekends, though, I do other creative things. Some of my favorite crafting projects are: knitting, crocheting, painting, drawing, digital art, and DIY house projects. These hobbies help me to keep using my creative muscles even when I’m not writing. They help me create new thinking patterns, develop new skills, and produce fun pieces to give as gifts or keep around the house.

Not sure what your creative hobbies are? Try some new things! If you’ve never done yarn crafts before, check out knitting! If you don’t like to draw, try painting! Watch  movies and imagine the story going a different way. Read a book and come up with a different ending. Find little ways to keep feeding your creative fire. It will draw your attention away from your first love of writing, sure, but it will make your writing stronger when you return to it the next day//week//what have you.

Contrary to popular belief, talent isn’t the only important thing in being a writer or a creative mind. A lot of it has to do with devotion, dedication, and habitual practice. Writing is a creative endeavor. There is no getting around that. In order to be a better writer, you’ve got to have a stinkin’ HUGE creative muscle to flex. You reinforce this creative muscle by building it with constant writing practice and other creative pursuits. Think of it as “creative cross-training”.

Suggestions for Creative Cross Training:

1) Find three or four hobbies you love and delve into them!— It can take a while to find out what makes you tic in the creative sense, but it is well worth it. Creating is a part of your being and most likely, you feel compelled to produce your own work. Get a Pinterest account and try out different projects! Visit a craft store and take a class! Find a relative who does cool crafting projects and ask them to teach you!

2) Make Creative Cross Training a priority— Just like writing is a priority, other creative endeavors should be one, too! Maybe take one night a week for a fun craft or art project. It can do wonders for your well-being and your creativity! If you can make time for two nights, do it! You won’t regret it!

3) Don’t spend a fortune— Crafting doesn’t have to be expensive. In fact, you may even be able to do some projects for free! Some DIY crafts require only things from around your home. Others will have a minimal start-up cost. Find ways to be economical about your crafting. You certainly don’t want to spend too much and then feel bad about your hobby. Find creative ways to be creative without having to spend a lot of money. Again, Pinterest and other sites are great for this sort of thing.

4) Showcase your work or give things as gifts— Some of us are just too practical for our own good. One way we can rationalize our excessive creativity building is to showcase your work as household art or give away things you’ve made as gifts! For instance, I love to knit. I especially love to knit and give away my pieces as gifts. I made a sequined scarf for a friend last year and it was very special to her! People LOVE getting handmade things. It just lights people up inside.

5) View Creative Cross Training as Self-Care— There is a reason children and the elderly take an interest in creative endeavors. It is good for your soul. Crafting can expand your mind, heart, and spirit. It feels good to work with your hands on beautiful things. It can brighten your mood and help your body to relax. In other words, it keeps you YOUNG! Try it out!

I hope you enjoyed this post and that you’ll go out and try a new creative hobby! Trust me, it’s good for you. 😉

What sorts of Creative Cross Training do you like to take part in? Share, share, share! I’d love to hear! I’m always looking for new and fun crafting skills to learn!

 

~L.M. ❤

Balance · Observations · Positivity

Life Happens

The last two weeks have been extremely stressful. As most of you know, a tree fell on//beside our house, putting three holes in our roof. Next, a serious family emergency rocked our world. Then, we had a bad car battery. Simultaneously, we had our normal life obligations like work, house care, and relationships to maintain. As well, I just took on a considerable amount of work for Maiedae. Also, I have a book publishing deadline coming up in 46 days. ARRRRRRGGGGG!!!!! LOL.

When you lay out all the “bad” stuff that has happened recently, with all the “normal stuff” and even the “good stuff”, life can look extremely full and stressful. But, when you sit back and truly think about all the wonderful blessings that have happened because of some of those “bad” things, or even the  “normal things”, life doesn’t seem so stressful anymore.

For example, the tree is still lying on top of my patio. I could wig out about that, or (like I chose to do yesterday), I can sit at my breakfast table and watch the sunlight filter through the pine needles that are now much closer to my vantage point. I could look at family drama like a disaster, or I could view it as an opportunity for loved ones to grow and learn. I could sit and moan that my car wouldn’t start yesterday and it was oh, such a horrible experience, or I could be thankful that the battery had a warranty and I was able to get a new one for free. As well, it provided me with some really special time to spend with my dad (who is an out-of-this-world mechanic.)

Honestly, life just happens. Sometimes, it is not so fun. Other times, it’s great. But you know what? Usually, life happens and it is a mixture of all the good, the bad, and the normal. Perhaps things are easier to digest, move through, and move beyond in that way. Scriptures say that we’ll never be tempted beyond what we can bear. My husband and I like to apply that to the “not-so-fun” stuff that sometimes happens in life, too. We will never face something that we can’t get through. It may feel like we can’t at times, but those are just feelings. Feelings are great, but sometimes they overwhelm us and get us all psyched out.

If you’ve been having a stressful week or month in your life, just remember to look for the little blessings that crop up here and there. Life is hard enough without dwelling on the bad things all the time. Chin up. Watch the sunlight paint the leaves outside. Have a hang-out date with a friend. Spend time snuggling with your hubby or wifey. Sit and soak up the good things when they come. They can help you make it through the next “bad” situation that might crop up. When life happens and it isn’t necessarily the way you’d like it to, just remember that you’ll never face anything you can’t make it through.

You can do it. Whatever you are facing, you can pull through it stronger than you were before you were faced with it. Be brave. Be strong. Be gentle. Be happy. All of those things are a choice.

Thanks for stopping by today! I hope that these words were encouraging for you if you’re facing a tricky work or life situation right now. Just remember, we all have hard times. Even if you’re having a bad day, try to lend a listening ear or give a kind word to someone around you today.

Happy writing and working to you all!

~L.M.

About Me · Balance

Developing a Morning Routine

I mentioned in here how I wanted to start developing a more structured morning routine. Well, I am actively pursuing that dream. In organizing this dream, I had several goals for myself:

>>go to bed before 11:30

>>wake up at 6:30

>>do yoga first thing (just a twenty to thirty minute vinyasa, nothing crazy, so it is sustainable)

>>do the morning portion of the Daily Office (I use Celtic Daily Prayer)

>>spend time with my husband

>>drink plenty of water

>>eat a nutritious breakfast

>>do a small bit of housework (just one small task)

>>sit at my desk by 8:00

Have I done it every morning? No, but I am easing myself in. With all of the tree drama and traveling that my husband and I did this weekend, I slept until 7:55 yesterday. Today, though, I immediately got up at 6:30, splashed my face with lots of cold water, brushed my teeth, and changed into yoga clothes. I did the 20 minute morning flow created by Reiko. It is really a great, challenging flow that helps wake me up a LOT. I don’t even feel tempted to fall back asleep once we make it to shabasana (corpse pose//restorative rest)!  After that, I did my Daily Office and then got ready for work with my husband. I made oatmeal and ate it after I put in a load of laundry. I was at my desk well before 8:00. I was awake, refreshed, and ready to go.

THAT is what I want every morning to look like. It was super relaxing, quiet, and I gradually eased myself into my work-brain. But, is it easy to roll out of bed when your body is screaming, “More sleep! more sleep!”? No. It’s not easy. In fact, it is super hard….for the first ten minutes. Then, you’re awake and ready to keep staying awake.

How can you develop a standard morning routine?

1) Be flexible— It will not always be possible to stick to your morning routine. You might be ill, have an ill spouse or child and will then need to alter your routine. You may be traveling or have some appointment come up. Be flexible and don’t beat yourself up if you have to alter your morning routine for one day.

2) That being said, make your morning routine a priority— Depending on how close you live to your work, you might need to get up earlier than others. However, never sacrifice sleep to fit in a huge amount of stuff in your morning routine. You need a good 7 to 8 hours of sleep to function properly. Once you’ve identified what time you want to wake up, DO IT! Make it a priority in your life and you will make an effort to make it happen.

3) Set a time and stick with it, even on weekends— This is not one I’ve quite gotten down yet, but I plan to. Sleeping in one or two days a week can upset your natural body rhythm for sleep and can make it more difficult to keep a set schedule during the week. This post from WholeLiving.com talks about the fact that you don’t get “two biological clocks, one for weekends and one for weekdays”. It is so true. If you must sleep later on the weekends, the article recommends only staying up and getting up one hour later than your normal schedule. That way, you’re body won’ t be thrown off so much. I plan on putting this into practice this weekend. I want to start getting my body on a natural sleep rhythm.

4) Establish the few things you’d like to get done in the mornings and figure out how much time each takes— For me, I set several priorities for myself. I definitely wanted to move the first thing in the morning and yoga is one of my absolute favorite lifetime practices. I decided it was worth it to me to factor in an extra thirty minutes for a yoga vinyasa. I also knew I wanted to have devotional time in the morning, time with my husband, and a good breakfast. Waking up at 6:30 gives me plenty of time to do those things and still get to work on time. The fact that I work from home means I can go to sleep and get up a little later than someone who might work far from their home. Be kind to yourself. Don’t wake up at 4 am just to get a bunch of stuff done. Find a few important things and maybe wake up thirty minutes earlier so you can do them.

5) Keep the mornings quiet and calm— This may not be your style, but for me, I adore quiet in the mornings. No music. I like to listen to the birds outside and the sounds of the fans spinning in the house. The only sound I’ll allow is the instruction of the yoga teacher on the video and the sound of prayer. After I’ve had time to chill and wake up, I’ll talk with my husband (who is usually getting up about that time) and I’ll engage in other sounds. For lighting, I keep the house lit up only by natural light during the day. It saves on electricity and there is something magical about sunlight peeking through the blinds and curtains.

6) Be willing to re-evaluate your routine to see what is or isn’t working, and add or subtract accordingly— Sometimes, your routine just isn’t working for you. I happened to find my exact sweet-spot for waking up and the routine I established, but that may not happen for you the first time. Don’t be afraid to wake up a little later or earlier. Don’t be afraid to try a different morning exercise or habit. This is YOUR routine. Let it flow organically and change it as you need to. If you are only feeling sleepy and lazy one morning, that does not mean you need to change it. You only need to change it if your routine is not working with your sleeping patterns, body needs, or work needs.

>>>>>>>>>

I hope you enjoyed this post and that it is helpful to you! Dare to get up a little earlier and get a nice morning routine going! I’d love to hear about your plans. Already have a morning routine? I’d love to hear it! Share in the comments section.

Thanks for stopping by,

 

L.M. ❤

About Me · Balance · Editing · Writing

A New Week

Well, three full days have passed since the tree has come down. It still sits in our backyard, cluttering up the place. We still don’t have power in our bedroom and master bath. But you know what? It’s alright. The Philosopher and I had a surprisingly awesome weekend despite all the tree drama. We got to spend time with family, friends, and each other. We also got some healthy perspective that we can come through anything with joy and peace. Our biggest prayer for the week ahead is that we don’t get overwhelmed with normal life, social obligations, insurance meetings,  and construction with the tree removal and roof work.

I was able to get my normal writing done this morning. I actually have a meeting I have to go to at 11:00, so my workday will be interrupted just a bit, but when I get back, I’ll jump right back in and get my editing and Maiedae work finished. Tonight, I’m looking forward to cooking some ricotta and spinach pasta shells and doing some chores around the house. Then? REST.

It is so interesting to write when you have a bazillion things on your mind. I find it much harder to get in my zone when my mind is full of thoughts and to-do lists. But that’s okay. My mind can’t always be clear every single day.

Some things I’m looking forward to for the day:

~Seeing my hubby at lunch and after work

~running through a night yoga vinyasa before bed

~reading

~cooking something new

~editing on my novel

~Maiedae work

~quality devotional time with God

~quiet and peace

 

Some things I’m looking forward to this week:

~getting back to martial arts training (last week the dojang was closed)

~continuing to make time for yoga every day

~getting the fourth edit of my manuscript done or mostly done

~catching up on Maiedae work and discussing new responsibilities!

~intentionally practicing wellness–physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual

~getting a lot of writing done on my current novel

~spending time with my husband and friends

~resting

What are you looking forward to today? This week? I’d love to hear! Share, share, share!

~L.M.

Balance · Writing

Writing and Wellness

Are the two related?

Answer: absolutely! How can we expect our brains to consistently produce creative and interesting writing ideas if our bodies aren’t prepared to supply us with energy and focus? We can’t, to put it simply. In order to be the absolute best writers (and people) that we can possible be, we must practice the art of wellness and self-care.

What exactly does “wellness” consist of?

Merriam Webster defines wellness as “the quality or state of being in good health especially as an actively sought goal”. Hear that? Wellness is not just a state of being, but a goal! It is a goal we should all be striving for. But what does wellness entail? What sorts of pursuits contribute to your overall wellness? It isn’t just physical wellness and health we’re talking about here. Being physically healthy will certainly affect our writing for the positive, but there’s more to it. To practice wellness, you must take care of yourself physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually! If you are constantly working towards balance in your life and wellness in these areas, it is my fervent belief that your writing will be better for it. As well, your daily life will significantly improve.

How can we tackle each aspect of wellness?

1) Physical Wellness

When I was 18, I started paying extra attention to my diet and exercise habits. At the time, I was on a very strict diet given by a doctor that included eliminating several food groups. After a year on this diet, I got underweight and had to start the long road of trying to gain weight the healthy way. Ever tried that? It’s harder than you think. Fast forward to the next three years or so. I somehow found a balance in my strange diet that my doctor approved. I maintained a healthy weight during this time, walked a lot, and started my martial arts training and yoga practices. Then, I got married. As most people know, when you get married, you get happy, and you EAT. So, I made it to the highest weight of my life–which , thankfully, is not obese or even overweight, but it is more than I would like it to be. At the same time, I began to have trouble with that balance of physical health in my life. How have I started changing my habits for the better? Through several practices:

>>Lose It!: This is a very helpful food journaling app that can keep track of your calorie consumption, exercises, and weight loss over time. It was recommended to me by the lovely Savannah of Maiedae. I have chosen to opt out of the account-based set-up where you can interact with friends and the community. I do much better when I am single-focused and not distracted by those elements. However, if that works for you, go for it! As well, there are lots of other really great food logging applications and websites out there! Check ’em out!

>>Reserving Sweets and Junky Treats for “S” days: I came across the No S Diet some years ago. While I don’t always stick to this perfectly, I really like reserving my sweets and junky treats for S days (which are Saturday, Sunday, or “special” days). It helps me to practice moderation and limit my sugar consumption by a huge margin. Also, I am trying to limit myself to two S treats per week. For some of us, sugary and salty treats are a major stumbling block. Limiting your access to them is a VERY smart idea. It allows you to enjoy them occasionally, but it takes them out of your normal life.

>>Finding exercises I can commit to and practice for life: I hate going to the gym. H.A.T.E. it. So I don’t go. BUT! I still try to exercise 4-5 times a week. How can you exercise without a gym? Plenty of ways. I discovered an intense passion for yoga and martial arts in college. Currently, I train two nights a week in Taekwondo and Hapkido (I do them both each night). As well, I am *really* trying to make an effort to wake up and do yoga in the mornings. I adore both of these types of exercise and would do them anyway, even if they weren’t good for me. They are fun, relaxing, and help me to learn valuable skills. I also love to walk and hike, and I try to do one of those once a week. Find exercises that you ADORE and would do even if they weren’t considered exercise. If you love to rock climb, go rock climbing! If you love to dance, go dance! Find what makes you happy in exercise and stick with it!

>>Have personal goals: Exercise and eating healthy requires motivation. It is difficult. It would be nice if being physically fit were easy and required little attention, but it doesn’t. Our bodies were designed to run on good, clean fuel, and to move around a lot! Don’t want to commit to a designated diet or program? No problem, but make goals for yourself. For instance, my exercise goals include: develop a daily yoga practice, and become a black belt in both Hapkido and Taekwondo. These goals won’t be over once I achieve them. I have to stick with them for life in order for them to be worthwhile. With food, instead of sticking to one diet or program, I make it a goal to include more fruits, veggies, whole grains, and lean protein into my diet. I make it a goal to avoid sugar. Goals are not dreams. You have to work at them. Dreams are often not turned into goals and then are not achieved. If you turn your dreams into goals, they become realizable!

2) Emotional Wellness

Many of us can be very negative about ourselves–whether it be towards our abilities or self-image. That simply won’t work–especially if you intend to be a successful writer. In order to be successful in the writing world, you MUST believe in yourself enough to push yourself to greater things! You are worth the chance. You are worthy of love and respect. You are beautiful. Even if you think it is utter nonsense, start speaking these living phrases to yourself. You’d be surprised how much it can lift your mood. As a religious person, I find my strength in key Scripture passages or remembering to “speak life” about myself. If I am constantly negative about myself and my skills, I am setting myself up for failure. If I start believing good things will happen to me and start believing I can work towards them, my outlook will change–and so will my circumstances! Try writing down inspirational or positive affirmations and putting them around your desk where you work. I keep certain phrases on my desk that help me to think positively about life. Writing is hard. Trying to become an author is difficult. You have enough challenges. Don’t  be your own stumbling block. Be your own best friend and support! You know yourself better than anyone and it is up to you to feed yourself good, positive messages.

3) Mental Wellness

As we grow older, our brains don’t make connections or learn new things as easily as they did when we were children. In order to stay creative and healthy, we have to engage our minds in meaningful activities. This can be accomplished by developing hobbies like knitting, crocheting, or other crafts that require intricate patterns and small motor movements. As well, for the video gamers out there, games with lots of puzzles, defense strategies, or mysteries to solve can be extremely helpful in developing your decision-making skills and hand-eye coordination. Don’t care for games or crafts? Pick up Sudoku or word searches. Do SOMETHING that keeps your mind active. Also, probably the best benefits can come from READING. Reading is excellent for your brain. Pick up a book and get going!

4) Spiritual Wellness

As a Christian, spiritual wellness is top priority for me. Since I was twelve, I have participated in a daily devotional quiet time with God. This practice has honestly shaped much of my life and continues to bring me peace, comfort, and joy. Your spirit must be fed just like any other aspect of your wellness. Find time to be alone during part of the day. Pray. Meditate. Find comfort in finding time alone, spent in reading meaningful Scriptures, or books that edify your own personal journey. I, myself, love to recite the liturgies from Celtic Daily Prayer, read verses, and books that discuss spiritual growth or theology. If you don’t have a personal walk with the Lord or are of another religion, spiritual health is STILL extremely important. Start trying to think about your own spirituality to help you balance yourself. Spiritual health centers the rest of our life. It MUST be given priority.

What can it do for our writing?

If you bring those 4 areas of wellness into balance and consistently work on each of them every day, I think you’d be surprised by a surge of creative juices in your work. If our inner selves are healthy and well, our work, as an extension of ourselves, will greatly benefit. For writers, this might mean you are able to write more words each day or are better able to plan ahead for later scenes. You might even come up with your next few novel ideas! Whatever the benefits happen to be, I assure you they will come if you can bring the rest of your life into focus. Your are important. Self-care can sometimes feel like selfishness, but it isn’t. If you can take time to care for yourself properly in the four areas listed above, you will become a better person. You will be more fun to be around and you will be more productive and potentially successful. Give this whole wellness thing a shot! You may be surprised how much self-care can change your life and your perspective!

Action Plans

Don’t have a good, clear idea about what to do next? Take each item of wellness under introspective consideration. Sit and think about what you do in each of those areas already, what you would like to be doing, and jot down some ideas about how you could go about getting started. Look for local resources in your town. Maybe find a personal trainer, nutritionist, counselor, or wellness buddy! You don’t have to be alone in your journey unless that helps you to be more successful (and for some people, it might!) Find the time to care for yourself. If you are going to be a best-selling author, you must have the confidence, security, and self-love to believe you can do it!

I hope this post on writing and its connection with wellness was helpful to you! If you have any other great ideas on how to practice self-care, please share them below! We are all in this life thing together! Let’s support and encourage one another!

Thanks for stopping by!

~L.M.

About Me · Balance · Haiku · Writing

Date-Night Haiku

Every week, my husband and I have “date-night”. Every Wednesday, my husband and I say “no” to any other plans and just spend time with each other. We started this tradition back in college, though it wasn’t always on Wednesdays. The day changes as needed, but since we’ve been married, Wednesday just works well for us. Since we do this in the middle of the week, it is a chance to rest, rejuvenate, and relax with each other. Sometimes we go out to dinner, sometimes we stay in. Typically, we watch a fun movie together or play a game. Either way, it is a magnificent night for snuggles and quality time  together.

In honor of tonight’s date-night, I thought I’d share a haiku. I’m a sucker for haiku, as you know.

Dreaming about you

I conjured your handsome face

Waiting for tonight

Awww, yay! A sappy, lovey-dovey haiku for you all! We writers have to make sure we’re taking adequate time to be intentional about our relationships. Most of us enjoy solitude and hiding away in our cave of wonders to get our writing done, but too much alone time can make you heartsick. Make sure you’re spending enough time with your spouse, significant others, friends, and families!

Do you have any special date-night traditions with your significant other? I’d love to hear! Share your comments!

~L.M.

Uncategorized

Staying Organized and Balanced

It’s not easy to stay balanced and organized when you have thirty million things to accomplish each day. I don’t even have children yet and still my days seem to pile up with more things than I can realistically give attention to. How do I stay organized and calm with what I have going on? Task, Schedules, and To-Do Lists. Before I tell you how I do this, I’ll give you a little look into my busy life. Now, I am aware that some of you out there may be grinding your teeth and grunting at my idea of “busy”. You’d be justified, probably. I don’t have children, I no longer have a day-job in the corporate world to bog me down. However, I do have quite a lot that I make time for in my day and I want to make sure I get everything done to the best of my abilities and still maintain my joy and serenity.

My Priorities Each Week

+ Spend time with God (daily Quiet Time)

+ Spend time with my husband

+ Taekwondo and Hapkido classes (at least twice a week for each martial art)

+ Exercise (Cross-training)

+ Grocery Shopping/Meal Planning

+ Household Chores

+ Writing Work

+ Editing Work

+ Maiedae Work (I am their Chief Editor, Ad Manager, and Support Person)

+ Language Work (I am currently learning Japanese and Korean)

+ Blogging Work (I regularly post to two blogs)

+ Contact my family members (either calling them, spending time with them, or other)

+ Church

+ Journal (I keep a journal during the work week)

I use three primary means of organizing my time: Tasks, Schedules, and To-Do Lists. I’ll break each one down for you below. I realize that not everyone will work well with these methods, but they work very well for me. I am an extremely creative person, but I am also very linear, orderly, and structured. If you feel you are similar to me, these suggestions might really help you. 🙂

TASKS

What do I mean by tasks? At the beginning of each week, I sit and spend some time identifying the things that need to be done during the work week. I establish what I need to do at work (both writing//editing work and Maiedae.) I establish what I need to do at home. I write all of these things down on a white board I keep in my office. This list can be added to, of course, but it usually stays the same all week. This helps me keep track of any important appointments, everyday chores, and any work-related deadlines.

SCHEDULES

I find that it makes life a whole lot easier when you devote certain days to certain tasks. For instance: Wednesday is always “Date-Day”. The Philosopher and I use this day as a time just for “us.” Also, Sundays are for church and usually any family activities we might have planned during the week. Sometimes family stuff pops up on other days, but in general, Sundays. I also denote two days each week to my martial arts training. That usually happens to be Tuesday and Thursday, but sometimes it is Monday and Thursday.

TO-DO-LISTS

After I have identified my tasks and used scheduling to put certain tasks on certain days, I create to-do lists for each day. This helps me divide up my week into a manageable attack plan for each day. This means getting more done over a longer period of time instead of trying to cram everything into one or two days. It keeps me organized and accountable for my time.

I hope that some of these practices helped you or gave you an idea of how YOU might organize your work best! Thanks for stopping by! If you have any other tips for organizing and balancing your time, I’d love to hear them! Please share in a comment!

The Writer