Thursday, January 30, 2014

Breast Cancer - Do You Get Checked?



Today's guest post is a 'topic stretch' for this site, but since we are all concerned with living a healthy life and it's a topic that everyone can relate to, we have it here for you today. We hope it reaches as many people as possible, and we especially hope it reaches those who will benefit the most from it. It's a must read.




This special guest post is by Robby Howard (niece of Carolyn Howard-Johnson). We are honored to share it:


Well. Ahem. I’ve had an interesting couple of months, in addition to the holidays. (And don’t anyone be yellin’ at me for not telling them earlier, please, I’ve really been rawthah BUSY.)

So. Um. I’ve had a go around with this wee bit o’….breast cancer. Yeah. And when I say “wee bit,” I mean it, because it was caught so early and dealt with so easily in comparison to all of the breast cancers, and subsequent deaths thereby, that I have been through with my friends and family, that it doesn’t even seem appropriate to call it cancer, tho’ cancer it was.

I do my self exams (as all women should), though I admit, not every month. But I try to stay on top of it, hell, my Mom died of abreast cancer at 64 (BFFs Copper at 37, Tree at 48….). When October rolled around this year and I got my notice from my doc saying it was time for my annual mammogram, I was really surprised, a year already? Well ok. Scheduled it and ’twas done (did my first colonoscopy too, same day of fun & games, and welcome to your 50’s!). The following week, right before my 50th birthday, I got a notice saying they wanted me back in for a recheck. Not unusual for me, my left girl is a bit cystic, but this time it was for the right. Went in, did the squish, had it read and was somewhat surprised to have a biopsy recommended. Ok. I had my first one when I was 40 for the same thing, “micro calcifications,” which are usually benign (and were) and the needle biopsy is a piece of cake, compared to the old days. Scheduled the biopsy for my SLC trip at Thanksgiving. All went well, doc, radiologist, me….we all figured that my “micro calcifications” would once again prove benign, but I’ve lost so many near and dear to this disease, yes, please, give me a local, stick a needle in the boob and DO A BIOPSY ON ME, thank you!

Surprise. There was malignancy in the main/largest (there were three) calcification. This thing had been invisible a year previously and had grown to 1 centimeter in one year. However that’s still very small, and  it was deep, it wasn’t a lump that could be felt by me, my doc, the radiologist or the surgeon. Fortunately, DCIS is THE most benign of the breast malignancies, though it can become more invasive and dangerous if not caught (and there are stats on re-occurances being more challenging down the road). Mine was caught so early and was so low grade, that after my very smooth and easy lumpectomy, they aren’t even requiring me to have the fairly standard radiation protocol. If it had gone….? months more? Radiation: 5 days a week for 5 weeks standard, my nearest available provider a 120 mile round trip. But that was still a great deal, compared to other options, I would have figured out how to make it work, and I have a small but fantastic support group.

So. In short: Calcifications: gone. Biopsy: at this stage, was easy as pie (and certainly comparatively). Surgery: outpatient, slick as shit, with no residual malignancy in the removed tissue (that means that they actually got almost all of the cancer cells during the biopsy, but you can’t tell that until the area of tissue is removed). And a very small amount of tissue needed to be removed, due to the small size of the calcification. Pain: I took a total of 4 percacet (and frankly that was more about trying to ease some unrelated muscular pain so I could sleep). Otherwise, advil. My monthly cramps have been far more ghastly.

I’m doing absolutely fine, with the teensie exception of being two months behind with critical projects due to this little life-interruption.
 
But I’m now standing on a BIG-ass soapbox. WOMEN: GET YOUR FREAKIN’ MAMMOGRAMS! Do your self exams, yes, but do the preventative screenings regularly!  MEN: MAKE SURE THEY DO!! (And have some fun, be a Booby Buddy and help with those monthly exams!) I have five loved ones, all dead from cancer at far too young of ages. Four of them, possibly five, would very likely still be alive today if they’d just done their screenings on time. Seriously. They’d still be ALIVE. And even the fifth, with a very terribly aggressive cancer, what would she have gotten if she’d gone in for her yearly and the cancer  was found, instead of finding it herself a mere 18 months after a clean mammogram, a lump the size of a brazil nut. What would finding the monster six months earlier have gotten her?

There’s been a lot of debate over the effectiveness of mammograms. The old stats (being revised, thank god) are a mishmash of badly collated information. The standard has been “80% of breast cancers are found by the woman, and merely verified by mammogram.” Think about that. How many women are “finding” their lumps through regular self exams? Not a lot. The women I know personally “accidentally” ran onto their, once discovered, very detectable lumps, they had NOT had regular mammograms. The lumps were big enough to FEEL. And my but they went through utter hell trying to stay alive. And they did not succeed.

Now Poster Child Rob: mine couldn’t be felt. It was found long before that was possible, tested and removed. Two months and done, could’a been faster, but I had scheduling conflicts. And you can believe I’ll be staying on top of my screenings, because this is seriously the way to go. Catch the bugger EARLY! We have the technology. But we are undereducated about the real statistics and risks. And we have too much fear if we feel that something’s not right to JUMP ON IT IMMEDIATELY.

One woman in eight will get breast cancer, regardless of whether it runs in the family or not. Yes. Others will ignore changes (breast tissue gets more cystic with age) due to that reason. Or to fear. Dig this:

Myth 8: A Lump Is Probably Harmless If There's No Breast Cancer in Your Family
Many women think they're not at risk for breast cancer if no one in their family has had it. But that's not true.

Less than 15% of women with breast cancer have a relative who's had the disease, according to the American Cancer Society.

Get all lumps checked by a doctor, whether or not breast cancer runs in your family.

And lecture and update now complete. 

Please? Seriously? Everybody? Screen for things we can actually screen for? It’s getting kinda lonesome around here….

May we all have a Healthy and Joyous New Year!
Love
Rob

~~~~~
P.S. To keep up with writing and marketing information, along with Free instructional webinars, join us in The Writing World (top right top sidebar).

~~~~~

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

My Purple Notebook: Resource for Story Analysis

A funky purple notebook goes everywhere with me. Collected in it are new ideas for future stories and ways to improve my WIP. But, that's not all. Over the years my solitary notebook has blossomed into a digital and paper library chock full of information and advice from experienced and successful authors.

Today is a look at a set of guidelines to help in analyzing popular literature, a tool first recommended to me in the "Special Publishing Course," a correspondence course I took at the Institute of Children's Literature, ICL, in West Redding, CT. My notebook has become a resource that I turn to over and over again.


How Story Analysis Can Help

When I first began writing mysteries for children I needed a blueprint, guidelines to cover the bases. The Step Outline, from an article in ICL's "Rx for Writers," has been an invaluable tool. The article is by Kristin Wolden Nitz, author of Suspect, Defending Irene, and Saving the Griffin; in addition to books about sports. Nitz shared this valuable tool that she learned from her editor, Lisa Mathews.

Act I: Set-Up
 Turning point/story takes new direction/challenge revealed
Act II:
 Problem intensifies
 Temporary Triumph
 Reversal
 Darkest Moment
 Decision Time
Act III:
 Final Obstacle
 Climax
 Resolution

Though in the article Nitz covered many aspects of writing a mystery, the outline was not explained fully. So, I interpreted it for my own use. Information from other sources filled in what I needed to know about the various parts of the outline. Then I split paper in half and under the outline steps, I analyzed several published mystery books that were similar to my story. On the left I jotted down a few words to describe the steps in the published book and on the right I took note of the steps from my WIP. When I studied the comparison, I could see the parts of my story that didn't move the story forward. I took them out. It was also a good way to make sure my story had structure, which is what the next section is all about.

Story Deconstruction

Larry Brooks, an author who offers advice to writers, has taken lit analysis to a whole new level for me. Larry's analysis of the book The Help by Kathryn Stockett, and the movie, offers a thorough approach to view one's own work. Two of many topics Larry covers on Stockett's work are touched on here: Four Parts of a Story and Subtext.

Four Parts: Shane Arthur, a guest author on Larry's blog, conducted a fascinating study of the four parts of The Help, in his July 5, 2011 article, "The Help - Seeing the Structure in Living Color. Literally." Briefly summarized, he highlighted each of the four parts of the novel with different colors; each part is about the same length. Arthur says, "Story unveiling in quartiles, each with a unique and separate contextual mission to fulfill. Coincidence?" Arthur thinks not.

Part 1 in yellow: Set-up
Part 2 in pink: Response--protagonist is reactive but unsure
Part 3 in red: Attack
Part 4 in green: Outcome

Subtext: Another article by guest poster Donna Lodge, "The Help" - A Guest Post About Subtext," on July 18, 2011, Lodge uses what she learned from Linda Seger's book, Writing Subtext: What Lies Beneath," to dig into the subtle messages in The Help's dialogue. Subtext is defined in Seger's book as: " . . the true meaning simmering underneath the words and actions. It's the real, unadulterated truth. The text is the tip of the iceberg, but the subtext is everything underneath that bubbles up and informs the text . . . and conflict exists at this intersection of text and subtext . . ." Lodge offers Seger's  "simple but powerful idea: write the subtext under the text or in the margins (a second draft undertaking):

AIBILEEN

"When I get around to Miss Walter, she don’t take but one little old half a sandwich for herself.”

Subtext: Miss Hilly isn’t taking care of her mama. Miss Walter knows her daughter wants to move her to that nursing home, out of her own home. Miss Walter is afraid, and that makes her loose her appetite.
MISS HILLY
“Mama, take another sandwich. You are skinny as a telephone pole. I keep telling her, if that Minny can’t cook she needs to just go on and fire her.”

Subtext: Mama won’t cooperate. It’s Minny’s fault, not mine. Minny’s a bad cook and that’s why Mama won’t eat.
To read Arthur's and Lodge's articles and the others in Larry's series on deconstructing The Help, please visit Larry's Deconstruction Series. To find more information on The Help, browse through Larry's archives from May 2011 to August 2011.  Here is Arthur's article and Lodge's.

Please visit The Institute of Children's Literature for information on ICL and the institute's terrific program.

Next month: Tips on Writing Humor

Linda Wilson, a former elementary teacher and ICL graduate, has published over 40 articles for children and adults, six short stories for children, and is in the final editing stages of her first book, a mystery story for 7-9 year olds. Publishing credits include seven biosketches for the library journal, Biography Today, which include Troy Aikman, Stephen King, and William Shatner; Highlights for Children; Pockets; Hopscotch; and true stories told to her by police officers about children in distress receiving teddy bears, which she fictionalized for her column, "Teddy Bear Corner," for the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office Crime Prevention Newsletter, Dayton, Ohio. Follow Linda on Facebook.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Handling Rejection Letters

The best way to grow stronger is during a struggle. 

Who likes this process? But if we work through it, we will come through it, and discover things about us we didn't know were there.



Chicago Man / Foter.com / CC BY-NC

Since seriously beginning a freelance writing career almost 2 years ago, I have had 4 magazine submission rejections and 1 acceptance. With each rejection, I've learned this about myself: 
  • Discourages easily
  • Takes criticism too personally
  • Sees rejection of my work as a rejection of me
  • Impatient with methods
The fact that I can list those 4 things means I have worked through some weaknesses in me! I've embraced the process of discovering myself at a deeper level, which will only help me be a better writer.

In the months I've networked with other writers, I have learned that rejection is part of the package. Not everyone is going to like what I write. Knowing that and how I feel about it are two different things. I had to set aside my feelings and accept the cold hard fact: move on to the next submission. 

So, after receiving a rejection email this morning, I did what any good writer would do. I typed in my search engine: "handling rejection letters from publishers".

I landed on a wonderful site, full of rejection but devoted to inspiration! The first thing I read: "Rejection is an imperative test of one's character".

True. Good character is important to me. My feelings are real, but they would be set aside in order to keep writing and not give up. 

But there was more:
  • After 5 years of continual rejection, the writer finally lands a publishing deal: Agatha Christie. Her book sales are now in excess of $2 billion. Only William Shakespeare has sold more
  • Louis L'Amour received 200 rejections before Bantam took a chance on him. He is now their best ever selling author with 330 million sales.
  • The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter was rejected so many times she decided to self-publish 250 copies. It has now sold 45 million.
http://www.literaryrejections.com/best-sellers-initially-rejected/
Wow.

As I've been allowing my rejection letters to teach me, I've discovered their worth. The writing process has not only helped me be a stronger, mature individual, but they have helped develop my writing voice.

Do you have any rejection stories to share?


~~~


After raising and homeschooling her 8 children, Kathy has found time to pursue freelance writing. You can find her passion to bring encouragement and hope to people of all ages at When It Hurts -http://kathleenmoulton.com



Friday, January 24, 2014

The Writer's Challenge

As writers, we know the importance of having a platform. We court  followers on Twitter, fans on Facebook and blog weekly or monthly as if our lives depended on it. And up to a point they do--our artistic lives that is.

Without an audience for our works, we create alone, our talents born to die unseen.

Thousands of great blogs appear on the Net every day. Every day new bloggers join the throng vying for attention. How can writers ensure their blog will stand out from the crowd?

The marketers tell you content is king. But hundreds of thousands of blogs have great content. You need something more.

Writing Challenges


When Nanowrimo.  the world famous National Novel Writing Month, started, it had six or seven participants, all friends. Now  thousands of writers clear their desks ready for a writing sprint in November. The website and forums buzz with global activity and everyone has heard of Chris Baty and his book No Plot No Problem.

Last year I discovered Nina Amir's Nanofimo--and Tara Lazar's PiBoIdMo. Again both sites started quietly with one of two participants and now are famous through word of mouth for their outstanding content and helpful challenges.

Our own Writers on the Move all have helpful blogs. Joan Y Edwards has created PubSubWeek encouraging writers to submit a new proposal on the third week of each month. Again her support and helpful advice encourages loyal supporters who follow her blog regularly.

Writing Challenges can be free--and most are until they build up a strong following--or supported by donations or run on a paid-for platform when their value is proven.

Challenge Yourself

What would most appeal to you? Why not organise it? 


  • Choose the challenge.
  • Decide on the time frame--will it be week-long? month-long? Annual or one-off?
  • Find followers to help the start-up, to write encouraging and/or advisory Web posts.
  • Find sponsors to donate gifts and/or edits or reviews/ or whatever would be the ideal gift for your challenge.
  • Add a forum to your website to provide a home for participants' tasks and comments.
  • Decide whether this will be open or visible only to those who register.
  • Advertise your challenge, time and place on FB and Twitter.
  • Update your content daily throughout the challenge.


So what if only one person signs up? If your idea is good, it will grow year on year bringing you more fans and followers than you ever anticipated. Start by leaving just one challenging idea in the comments and see who might be interested.


 Anne Duguid is a freelance content editor with MuseItUp Publishing and she passes on helpful writing,editing and publishing tips at Slow and Steady Writers 


Thursday, January 23, 2014

Happy New Year!

I am back with my regularly scheduled posts. Last month, I had a cold and forgot about my post for December. I tend to write my post the month that it’s due, as I try to talk about something that recently happened to me or that I recently discovered.

I am always on the lookout for websites about writing, publishing, social media, books, etc. Here are several sites I found in the last year.

The Rate Your Story contest for picture books, novels, novellas and other kinds of stories runs through February 3. Good luck if you decide to enter!

Do you suffer from writer’s block? We probably all do at some point. Can you get out of writer’s block by using this map?

If you write for children, this is a new website, full of lots of resources.

This is a how-to article for authors on shopping at a bookstore.  A fun read!

This one is also for fun! How well did you do?

I hope you enjoy checking out these interesting and helpful websites. If you have any links you would like to share, please post them in the Comments section. Have a great 2014!

Debbie A. Byrne has a B.S. in Mass Communication with a minor in History. She is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and is working on her first children’s book.





Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Easy Tips to Achieve Your Goals



Last January, my husband and I received pedometers as a New Years gift from our son.  He was nudging us towards more exercise.  It worked.  Why?  I think there were two reasons--we had daily visual cues and a goal buddy.  Our fitbit pedometers provided us with a daily visual of the amount of exercise we were getting.  We set a target of 15,000 steps a day.  My husband was my goal buddy and we held each other accountable for reaching the 15,000 steps.  Six months into this experiment, I lost my pedometer.  Within a month, my steps took a significant drop.  I had lost my visual cue and when my husband couldn’t see my steps, he stopped holding me accountable. I just bought a new pedometer, I’m sure I’ll once again reach my exercise goal.  

I’m someone who needs to build support and structure around my resolutions.  This applies to most areas of my life.  I’ve used similar strategies to achieve my writing goals.  Creating visual cues and having a goal buddy has kept my writing on track.

Here are a few strategies to boost your writing life.
1.       Create visual cues that remind you of your writing goals. 
a.       Design a vision board.  Put pictures, words and phrases that represent your story and your publishing goals.  Are you hoping for a book contract?  Draw a contract on this board. You can create a vision board for one manuscript or your whole writing life.   Enjoy the process.  Arts and crafts are good for the soul of a writer.
b.      Stick post-it notes all around your house...on your nightstand…bathroom mirror…computer.   Write the title of the book or project and your goal. (Finish first draft by Feb 1st; identify two ideas for marketing plan by Friday)
c.       Use mind mapping to outline all your projects.  See the post by Shirley Corder on mind mapping and writing.  She hand drew her mind map.  I prefer using software like freeplane or freemind.  Below is a mind map of my children's writing projects.



2.       Find a goal buddy to connect with once a week or every other week. 
a.       Find an online partner.  Instead of exchanging manuscripts, share a weekly goal and then check in once a week to discuss your progress.  A goal buddy should help you establish achievable goals for the week.
b.      Phone a friend.  Select a friend that you’ll call the same time each week to discuss your weeks accomplishments and set your goals for the coming week.

These techniques provide me with the structure I need to stay disciplined in my writing.  What strategies have you used to boost your writing? 



Mary Jo Guglielmo is a writer, teacher and intuitive life coach. She helps clients push through their blocks, envision their path and take the necessary action to live their True North. 

For more information check out 
http://facebook.com/DoNorth.biz


Monday, January 20, 2014

Eight Ways to Handle Rejection.



Life is all about aiming to achieve. And when you do this, you face the likelihood that you won't get what you wantin other words, you'll be rejected.

If you look at this realistically, it means that rejection isn't all bad. In fact, if you are not being rejected, you're not moving on with lifewhether we're talking about writers and their books, young people looking for a job, adults looking for relationships, or even children starting out at school.

Rejection means you're trying to move on. And that in itself is a good thing. The real issue is, how do you deal with it? The better you get at dealing with rejection, the less it will affect you negatively. So here are eight ways to help you deal with rejection, whether it's in the writing field or not.

  1. Acknowledge it to yourself. Don't pretend it doesn't hurt. Don't tell yourself your thinking is wrong. You've been rejected. It hurts. Say it!

  2. Be specific. Stop for a moment and analyse what you're saying to yourself. Is it you that's been rejected? (And it could be.) Or is it something you have done? Is it the book you've slaved over for the past two years? Has your job application been turned down? Did the person you wanted to befriend spurn your approaches? Analysing the exact cause of the rejection will help to get it into perspective.

  3. Examine your emotions. How upset are you? Just a little? Or do you want to sit down and sob? That's okay. Do it if you want to. That's a God-given way of releasing emotion. Get it out your system, so you can move on.

  4. Write down your feelings: Write them in a journal or even on the back of an old envelope. Just get them down. e.g. "I've worked so hard at this book. This was the one publisher I was sure would love it. Now they've turned me down, I feel as if I've wasted two years of my life."
    Or"I feel sad because she doesn't want to be my friend. I am lonely, and really long to have someone to talk to." 

  5. Correct the statement. Go over it analytically. Is it exactly accurate in every way? Does it stop too soon? e.g. in the first statement, the publisher hasn't turned you down. He's turned your book down. And you probably don't know why. Maybe the reader had a flat tyre on the way to work, and your book starts with the heroine staring at a flat tyre! It can be as silly as that! The second example may be exactly true, but it's not logical. It suggests now that the one person has turned you down, there is no one else who can solve your loneliness. Not true!

  6. Decide to tell someone else. Notice I said "decide". Whether you actually do or not depends on the circumstances, and on whether it is really necessary. But think of someone you think will listen and understand what you're going through. Then imagine yourself sharing with them. Tell them just how you feel, the reactions stirring within you. Share the actions you feel like taking. Do you want to burn the book? Or more likely, hit DELETE--and find another interest? Even as you put it into words, you know you don't want to do this. Your rejection is a bump in the road. There is a lot more to your journey. Do you want to never talk to anyone again? Well then you certainly will be lonely! 

  7. Speak to someone, if you still need to, and you can think of the right person. Chances are by the time you get to this stage you will have realised you can deal with it yourself.

  8. Prepare to move on. It's easy to get stuck on the hurts of the rejection. But once you've taken a good hard look at your emotions, reactions, and have a clearer picture, it's time to move on. Dwelling on the negative is going to keep you living through the whole experience and the emotions. Don't sit around waiting for something to happen. You need to prepare for the next step. 

Have you faced rejection recently? How did you deal with it? Do you have anything to add to this list? Leave a comment below.

Related reading that will encourage you:
  1. Valley of the Dolls
  2. Know Who Theodore Geosel Is?
SHIRLEY CORDER  lives in South Africa, with her husband Rob. She is author of Strength Renewed: Meditations for your Journey through Breast Cancer, contributing author to eleven other books, and her name is on hundreds of devotions and articles internationally. 

Visit Shirley on her website to inspire and encourage writers, or on Rise and Soar, her website for encouraging those on the cancer journey. Do pop onto 
her Author's page on Facebook and introduce yourself so she can be your friend. 

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Layering Your Writing Piece

I am a writer but I am also a quilter. It occurred to me recently as I began outlining a quilting and applique book project for the proposal I need to send, that quilting and writing have much in common. Layers.





Quilters gather fabric to sew into a quilt top from the scraps and perfect cut pieces of beautiful fabric they have collected. They work and work until the fabrics are arranged in just the right way to reflect the story or picture the quilter wants the piece to represent. When the top of the quilt is just right, it is layered with the batting for warmth and stability in the middle and another colorful piece of fabric is placed on the back. Three layers for the purpose of making a quilt and telling a story.






 So a quilter now has a fabulous backing, cozy comfy middle, and a spectacular top that is stitched together in another meaningful pattern to bring it all together. Many times the quilting adds another layer to the emotional story the quilter is trying to tell.






 Finally the perfect binding is attached and secured to hold the whole quilt together forever telling a story whether that story is about family, nature, colors, or design. The quilt sparks an emotional reaction for those looking who see it.






Writers do much of the same thing when constructing a piece of writing. It really doesn't matter if it is a children's book, a novel, an article, a fiction piece or a nonfiction project. The process is similar. A writer gathers the facts, creates the character, or lists quotes and references to be used to "tell the story". Next they write a beginning, middle, and end to pull all those scraps of knowledge or characters and actions into an informative or entertaining work for readers.






Next writers go back and revise making certain the layers of plot, subplots, actions, reactions, and climax are placed in just the right way to satisfy the reader and tell a story.






Finally, if the work is a book it is bound with the perfect cover to add another layer to the story. Articles and shorter pieces are bound with titles, headings, subheadings and final "bindings" that make the piece tell the perfect story for the reader. Whether informative, entertaining, educational, or just a blurb about a product the finished written piece is layered with information to reach the reader on an emotional level.






How is your current piece of work layered?


The more layers the more complex the story or article so think about the concept of layering. Layering both the story or plot line and each character's personality will add depth to your story. Layering interesting facts that lead or are related to other little known facts about a topic can also add depth and meaning to your nonfiction pieces.






And when you get tired of layering words, you can always give a go at quilting.


Terri Forehand is a writer, nurse, and owner of a small quilt shop. Author of The Cancer Prayer Book and The ABC's of Cancer According to Lilly Isabella Lane. She writes from the hills of Brown County Indiana. She is currently working on PB stories for children and a project book for quilters. www.terriforehand.webnode.com , http://terri-forehand.blogspot.com






Thursday, January 16, 2014

Writing Goals for 2014


Each year in January I sit down and formulate my goals for the coming year. These are not resolutions, this is an actual to do list. In setting your goals yearly, it is important to have a vision of where you wish to be in the future - perhaps 5 or 10 years from now, then goals become the steps you will take to get you there.

Your goals as a writer may include the number of hours a week you will devote to your latest project. It might also include dates when you hope to have larger pieces completed. It should also contain some marketing - how often you will post to certain social media sites, up-date your website, etc.

Often it seems that we forget an important area - reading. When writers inform me they are too busy to read, I know there will be a challenge for them. As writers some of our learning is done through the process of reading and analyzing the work of other writers. This is an important step that often times is forgotten.

This year I challenge you to not only commit to reading a certain number of books, articles, etc, but to also review or comment on what you've read. Let's make this a year of continued growth for all writers.

______________________________

D. Jean Quarles is a writer of Women's Fiction and a co-author of a Young Adult Science Fiction Series. Her latest book, House of Glass, Book 2 of The Exodus Series was written with coauthor, Austine Etcheverry.

D. Jean loves to tell stories of personal growth – where success has nothing to do with money or fame, but of living life to the fullest. She is also the author of the novels: Rocky's Mountains, Fire in the Hole and, Perception. The Mermaid, an award winning short story was published in the anthology, Tales from a Sweltering City.  

She is a wife, mother, grandmother and business coach. In her free time . . . ha! ha! ha! Anyway, you can find more about D. Jean Quarles, her writing and her books at her website at www.djeanquarles.com

You can also follower her at www.djeanquarles.blogspot.com or on Facebook


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Daily Bucket List

by Gilda Evans

Lately, there have been several people I know who have lost loved ones - a friend or family member whom they cared about deeply. When this happens, it often causes one to reflect upon one's own mortality. It gives your perspective a reality check, underscoring the things that are truly important in life. And it makes you think about your own "bucket list"...all those things we want to accomplish before we leave this earthly plane.

I then realized that there are things we all could be doing each day to help us cope with the challenges we constantly face that will help us generally in life, and particularly with the ability to concentrate on the things we want to do - like our writing!

So, with that in mind, I'd like to offer a list of things that I feel everyone can utilize to achieve a happier, calmer state of mind in spite of the stress of everyday living that so many of us are going through nowadays for one reason or another. It is comprised of those things that we can all do every day, to help keep things on an even keel. And the beauty of it is, none of them requires any money or a large amount of time.

Ready? Here we go -

1. Hug someone you love at least once a day. If there's isn't anyone around who fits the bill, then give yourself a hug or a solid pat on the back - just because.

2. Take a moment to smell the flowers. I'm being literal here. Go outside, find the nearest rosebush or something similar, and take a good, long whiff. If there isn't a sweet smelling plant around, then just enjoy the fresh air and sunshine for a few moments. In other words, stop what you're doing and just be. No radio, tv, phone calls - just you and nature. Let your mind be the noisiest thing around for once.

3. Stop procrastinating about that diet you want to start or the exercise you've been meaning to do. Start taking care of your body so it can take care of you, It's never too late. Never. You don't have to belong to a gym. Even a morning walk can do wonders.

4. Enjoy the peace of surrender. By that I mean, once you've done everything you need to do, or can do regarding whatever it is that you're trying to accomplish, then let it go. Whatever happens is going to happen, and you'll deal with it. One of my new favorite sayings is, "People have trouble being happy because they see the past as better than it was, the present as worse than it is, and the future as less resolved than it will be."

5. Don't overload your brain. You know what you have to do. You've got it all written down in your calendar or task list or whatever. Concentrate on one or two things at a time. Then go on to the next thing. You will function and feel much better as a result.

6. Ask for help if you need it. Whatever kind of help it is that you require, chances are you know someone who is willing to lend a hand if you ask. Put your ego aside and ask for that loan or lift in the car or advice or whatever it is you are lacking. Learn to delegate. Learn to accept assistance. You'd be surprised how many people, even the ones you least expect, are willing to help if you give them the chance.

All of these things combined are great stress relievers and very powerful ingredients for getting your life back on track and your energy going in the right direction.

Think I'm being silly?

Then I offer you this challenge - try what I suggest for one week. Just one. And see what happens. If I'm wrong, let me know - and if I'm right, you will most definitely know! You will also find that if you keep all of these things in mind, then the other items on that bucket list of yours - the trip around the world, the skydiving, climbing Half Dome at Yosemite National Park or whatever it is that trips your trigger, will come much more easily as well.

I wish you luck and have fun checking off those items on your list!

Gilda Evans, Author/Speaker/Blogger
http://www.gildaevans.com

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