Anything is Possible!

With Faith, Hope and Perseverance


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8 Ways to Keep Going When the Journey Gets Long

     Path to beach

 ( Today’s post comes from my June Newsletter. )

  Most of us have seen that ancient quote by Lao-Tzu,

  “A  journey of a thousand miles, begins with a single step.”

     It’s a good motivator to get us started. But what about when you’ve been taking those steps for a while, and the journey of a thousand miles feels like two-thousand? Lately, I’ve felt that way about my book.

     Don’t get me wrong! I love my book. I believe in my book. But it feels like high time for my baby to leave the nest and fly out into the world. Yet, I keep getting these opportunities to trust the timing. Thanks, God.

     I know my past six years of book writing is a drop in the bucket compared to some journeys, and I’m glad I got to learn so much about the intricacies of writing, editing, revising, book cover design, ….. (and the technical stuff – but let’s not even go there except for this picture.)

crossed eyes in confusion

Technical glitches. (Add 50 years and messy hair.)

      The good news is that publication is right around the corner. I can see it! I have real paperback proof copies being proof read as I write this. And I am thankful. This journey has been worth every step.

So, What does it take to keep going, to not give up, when we tire of the journey?  Here are some things that can help:

1. Rest. Take breaks. But don’t rest too long, because there’s that inertia thing.

2. Do something totally different. If you spend a lot of time on the computer, get outside and move!  Use different parts of your mind and body. Stretch your legs! Put on some music and dance! (I’m talking to myself here, too.)

3. Get a fresh perspective – ask for honest and encouraging feedback. Ask for positive feedbaMakeck along with constructive criticism. What do they like? What could be better?

4.  Consider changes. Research, then trust your gut. Maybe there’s a different path to take that just feels right. For me, it was the decision to publish under my maiden name – a big, inconvenient step but one that brought peace of mind and forward momentum.

5. Break big jobs into small parcels. Take one chapter at a time or one paragraph at a time, and congratulate yourself for getting through each step.  I have clutter issues. Hey, I’m an artist! It helps me to focus on one corner, counter, or table top and de-clutter that small space. Then I stand back and admire the “after” picture.

6. Think about the reason for the finished product, whether it’s a clean table top or a published book. What are the likely benefits? How will it improve your life or help others?

7. Pray. Ask for what you need, be it guidance, strength, balance, gratitude, or patience.

     Patience is not simply the ability to wait – it’s how we behave while we’re waiting.

                                                   (Dr. Joyce Meyer)

8. Remember that “Nothing is impossible.” That’s what my father told me when I was 12, and it stuck. Here’s the poem I posted for him last week: https://joannaoftheforest.wordpress.com/2017/06/15/for-my-father/

What’s the next step on your journey? I’d love to know.

Atlantic Beach steps

If you liked this post, I hope you’ll subscribe to my monthly newsletter via the sidebar to the right. (If you already subscribe, thank you!)  In addition to updates on my book, I include encouraging tips and ideas on life, relationships, and stuff I’ve learned in my 60 something years.


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All (or Nothing) Up in My Head

SOCS

Linda’s prompt for today’s Stream of Consciousness is “all or nothing.” We get bonus points if we start and end our post with one (or each) of them.

All or nothing thinking is one of my pet peeves. There are so many possibilities between all and nothing. Just like there are so many beautiful colors between black and white.

As a counselor (and a parent) I encouraged people to watch out for words like always and never because they usually mean someone is not thinking accurately. But it does seem like I always have something to do. I guess that’s better than having nothing to do. But it’s nice to have moments of nothing to do but take a nap or watch the sunset.

River sunset orange and blue

Here’s one of my gazillion sunset photos.

I’ve had a busy week getting ready for the Silver Arts competition (part of Senior Games) which includes literary, visual, and performing arts categories. I entered a poem and an essay, and I’m finishing one of two paintings I need to turn in on Monday. All this is happening as my book is getting finished up. There was one final glitch in the typsetting. I say final with some eye rolling because I’ve thought I had a my “final” book cover and “final” PDF to upload more than once.

Gah! When it rains is pours.

Today, working on the painting of angels, which I will share with you next week when it’s done, I got keyed up. I feel emotionally tired after painting for a couple of hours. I want to relax more. But I talk to myself while painting, making comments on whether something is working or not. I spent about an hour on two angel faces trying to get them right.

Do any other artists feel emotionally drained after working on a painting? I don’t feel this from writing, unless I’m writing about something emotional. Which sure did happen writing my memoir.

I asked my gynecologist last week if it’s normal to feel mood swings after menopause that feel hormonal. She said it’s normal, but it’s not necessarily hormonal. She said it’s maturation. I think that’s the word she used. She said as we age, our nervous system doesn’t work quite as well as it used to, so some people get more easily frustrated and some, like me, get weepy. But then the next day, or the next hour, I’m fine. Or better than fine! Plus I realize that I have more time to think now that I’m not working that intense job I did for 30 plus years. Sometimes I have too much time to think, too many conversations in my head. It’s better when I talk to the dog.

So today, I used some mindfulness techniques and rode the old Schwinn I bought for $10 at a yard sale. I rode around my neighborhood with the wind in my hair and finding all the hills I didn’t know existed with my 61 year old knees getting a reminder of the old days. It was a good balance after all that painting and being all up in my head. Balance is something I will continue to seek to stay away from the all or nothing.

 

Doodle and bike

I just had to share my “new” bike (and my old dog)

 

 

Here are the rules for the Saturday Stream of Consciousness Post:

1. Your post must be stream of consciousness writing, meaning no editing, (typos can be fixed) and minimal planning on what you’re going to write.

2. Your post can be as long or as short as you want it to be. One sentence – one thousand words. Fact, fiction, poetry – it doesn’t matter. Just let the words carry you along until you’re ready to stop.

3. There will be a prompt every week. I will post the prompt here on my blog on Friday, along with a reminder for you to join in. The prompt will be one random thing, but it will not be a subject. For instance, I will not say “Write about dogs”; the prompt will be more like, “Make your first sentence a question,” “Begin with the word ‘The’,” or simply a single word to get your started.

4. Ping back! It’s important, so that I and other people can come and read your post! For example, in your post you can write “This post is part of SoCS:” and then copy and paste the URL found in your address bar at the top of this post into yours.  Your link will show up in my comments for everyone to see. The most recent pingbacks will be found at the top. NOTE: Pingbacks only work from WordPress sites. If you’re self-hosted or are participating from another host, such as Blogger, please leave a link to your post in the comments below.

5. Read at least one other person’s blog who has linked back their post. Even better, read everyone’s! If you’re the first person to link back, you can check back later, or go to the previous week, by following my category, “Stream of Consciousness Saturday,” which you’ll find right below the “Like” button on my post.

6. Copy and paste the rules (if you’d like to) in your post. The more people who join in, the more new bloggers you’ll meet and the bigger your community will get!

7. As a suggestion, tag your post “SoCS” and/or “#SoCS” for more exposure and more views.

8. Have fun!


6 Comments

A Quick Update: JoAnna of the Forest is Back!

 

Lantern hill trail (2)

I’ve been wanting some anonymity on my blog, so I’m returning to my blogging roots as joannaoftheforest. One reason for the change is that I’ve decided to publish my memoir under my maiden name to protect the privacy of several individuals. It might make marketing a little more complicated in other places, but it will give me more peace of mind. For updates on the book, you  can sign up for my monthly newsletter and/or like my Facebook author page via the side bar to the right.

I appreciate the loving support of my blogging family, and as joannaoftheforest, I’ll be able to let you know when my book comes out.


15 Comments

“Wait Is a Four Letter Word.”

When God says, “Wait,” we can control only two things: how we wait and who we become along the way.  __Elizabeth Laing Thompson

When God Says Wait

Enter for a chance to win a free copy by signing up for my monthly newsletter to the right >>>

It’s always something. If it’s not waiting for your soulmate, it’s waiting for your kids to become independent, or waiting to retire, or waiting for your manuscript to be ready for publication.

I’ve just started reading the book, When God Says Wait, by Elizabeth Thompson. It’s easy to read with well-fictionalized biblical stories, personal stories from the author, and simple exercises at the end of each chapter. I sure could’ve used this book 15 years ago when I was wondering if I’d ever fall in love again, if I’d ever find a partner who’d be a good fit. Still, the messages about “navigating life’s detours and delays” clearly relate to my life now.

Finishing the manuscript for Trust the Timing (see my Work in Progress page) has taken a lot longer than I ever imagined, though I’m getting closer every day. Fortunately, waiting to publish and not rushing have allowed me to work through questions about my own history and about how much of other people’s history to include.

This has been a struggle. Early in the writing process, I was encouraged to dig deeper and to show more scenes, which is fine if you’re writing fiction, and okay when it comes to my own baggage, but not so comfortable when it comes to other people’s baggage, or what I call OPB. Even with name changes and changes in identifying characteristics, there has been an uneasiness about exposing some OPB. Earlier drafts have more OPB, and I’ve deleted and softened quite a bit of that. Yet, there are some pieces of OPB that are important to the story. This is one of the big challenges of writing a memoir.

I’ve been praying hard for guidance every time open the manuscript document. It’s helped to ask this  question:

What does God want me to write?

Things often become clear when I ask that question, or some version of it, and then listen to my gut. God often talks to me through my gut. Sometimes God whispers in my ear. But I have to be quiet and open to get the message.

Waiting gives God time to work things out in us and others. Waiting gives us time to become who we are meant to be, to become ready for our heart’s desire. After all, that’s what my book is about. It seems to be my life-long lesson. And I’m learning, slowly but surely.

For a chance to win a free, signed copy of When God Says Wait, sign up for my monthly newsletter before March 21st by clicking the box on the side bar to the right, or just click here: http://eepurl.com/ch52KT

What are you waiting for?  What helps you wait?


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How To Learn a New Skill

practice-breathe-from-pixabay

How long does it take to write a book? Apparently, it takes a long time, for me anyway. I’ve always been a slow reader, so I guess it makes sense I’d be a slow writer. But good things take time, right? I thought I knew how to write, and I did well on  college papers and in journalism. Creative writing is a whole different animal – with wings, and squawks, and smells, and feathers, so it must be a bird of a different color.

But how does one become a writer, or anything else?

PRACTICE.

Writing is a skill like any other. Some people may be naturally better at it than others, but with practice, we can improve at anything. I’m terrible and learning to tie knots and things mechanical, but that just means I need more practice at those things than the average person – if that’s how I want to spend my time.

I spent a lot of time as a substance abuse/mental health counselor, at least 30 years as you may know. Asking how something happened, like a relapse for example, was important. What was the chain of events, or thoughts, that led to the relapse? Many of my clients desperately wanted to stay clean, but didn’t know how. You can tell someone to stop doing drugs, or stop eating potato chips, or stop smoking, in all kinds of ways. But some people really need skills. Skills like self-soothing (without illegal drugs) and assertiveness, self-care, meditation and relaxation, going into a new support group, applying for a job, helping family members or friends understand why they don’t want to be part of the drama anymore, and accepting when they still don’t understand – just to name a few.

How long does it take to learn new skills?

It depends on how often we practice.

Changing thoughts is a skill. I can still get caught up in ruminating about things I should have done better, or worrying about how someone is going to react to my boundaries. It takes a conscious effort sometimes to pull my mind back to the present moment. Asking myself, “Why do I keep doing that?” doesn’t help as much as, “How can I stop doing that?”  Or better yet, How can I catch myself sooner and re-direct my thoughts?

Sometimes I use sticky notes to remind myself to be in the present, or think positive. Sometimes I ask God to help me stop thinking about something that isn’t doing me any good to think about. One of my favorite things to ask God is, “How do you want me to handle this?” Sometimes I get an answer, like, “love her,” like when my daughter was 13 and melting down. Or sometimes the answer is, “wait.” Sometimes there doesn’t seem to be an answer, but I know God is going to help me work it out somehow.

SOCS

Today’s Stream of Consciousness prompt is the word, “how,” brought to us by Linda G. Hill at https://lindaghill.com/2017/02/24/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-feb-2517/ who instructed us to “Start your post with the word “How.” Bonus points if you end with it too. Enjoy!

Here are the rules:

1. Your post must be stream of consciousness writing, meaning no editing, (typos can be fixed) and minimal planning on what you’re going to write.

2. Your post can be as long or as short as you want it to be. One sentence – one thousand words. Fact, fiction, poetry – it doesn’t matter. Just let the words carry you along until you’re ready to stop.

3. There will be a prompt every week. I will post the prompt here on my blog on Friday, along with a reminder for you to join in. The prompt will be one random thing, but it will not be a subject. For instance, I will not say “Write about dogs”; the prompt will be more like, “Make your first sentence a question,” “Begin with the word ‘The’,” or simply a single word to get your started.

4. Ping back! It’s important, so that I and other people can come and read your post! For example, in your post you can write “This post is part of SoCS:” and then copy and paste the URL found in your address bar at the top of this post into yours.  Your link will show up in my comments for everyone to see. The most recent pingbacks will be found at the top. NOTE: Pingbacks only work from WordPress sites. If you’re self-hosted or are participating from another host, such as Blogger, please leave a link to your post in the comments below.

5. Read at least one other person’s blog who has linked back their post. Even better, read everyone’s! If you’re the first person to link back, you can check back later, or go to the previous week, by following my category, “Stream of Consciousness Saturday,” which you’ll find right below the “Like” button on my post.

6. Copy and paste the rules (if you’d like to) in your post. The more people who join in, the more new bloggers you’ll meet and the bigger your community will get!

7. As a suggestion, tag your post “SoCS” and/or “#SoCS” for more exposure and more views.

8. Have fun!


5 Comments

Be careful about…

I’m getting so many messages like this one, telling me to slow down the process of publishing my book. Another spoke loud and clear in a horoscope, in a magazine that I never read, except for one night last week when i just happened to pick it up. I’m being guided to look more closely at and revise some of the content in my memoir that I thought was finished, but it’s not, and having to learn patience on a whole new level. Trust the Timing is not just the title of my book. It’s my life lesson. Oh, boy. Another lesson. Thanks, God. I might roll my eyes. I might even stomp my foot. But I’m listening, cause I know who’s running this show.

Sacred Touches

Screen Shot 2017-02-15 at 10.33.28 PM.png
****Photo by Mandy Disher; text box added by Natalie; collage by Natalie

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Thank You!

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First, I want to say thank you to my followers, my supporters, my encouragers. This has been possibly the best year of my life. It’s certainly been a year of transition, and I’m grateful to have the support of so many people on WordPress and beyond. I’m grateful to be approaching 1000 WordPress followers! Officially: 927 WP followers and just over 1000 total blog followers.

When I first started blogging, I couldn’t imagine having 1000 followers, but one day at at time, one post at a a time adds up. It has been so fulfilling to grow here and get to know inspiring people – ordinary folks – I mean that in a good way – working through life’s challenges with grace and learning from each other. I appreciate each one of you, even if I don’t get over to visit as often as I’d like. You are part of my blogging support network, and I am grateful and honored to be part of this community.

2016 has been a year to remember. I took my first steps into retiring from my career as a counselor, and as the year ends, I’m ending the job of 30 years to pursue my creative dreams. And it is because of my first love who is also my last love and, as you probably know, I”m writing a book about that. Almost finished with the writing/revising part and getting ready to send it off to the line editor – one of the last steps in writing this particular book which I started about four years ago. Hard to believe I’ve been working on it so long, but I’ve heard of people taking longer, which is more than okay. It has become a labor of love.

I wish you all abundant blessings in 2017. May the stars shine upon you and may you dance with joy, rest in serenity, and sing your song. I look forward to a lasting, laughing, loving life of creating with you.

And now, my Stream of Consciousness brings us to this song which I dedicate to all those who are lonely. You never know what wonderful surprises are waiting around the corner.  In the mean time, love yourself well and know that you are deeply and profoundly loved by your creator, forever.

 

Today’s Stream of Consciousness prompt was: “first/last,” with instructions to use one or both words, or find words that mean the same. Bonus points if you start your post with “first/beginning/start” etc. and end with “last/end” etc. Enjoy!

The Saturday Stream of Consciousness is brought to you by Linda Hill at:

https://lindaghill.com/2016/12/30/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-dec-3116

Here are the rules:

1. Your post must be stream of consciousness writing, meaning no editing, (typos can be fixed) and minimal planning on what you’re going to write.

2. Your post can be as long or as short as you want it to be. One sentence – one thousand words. Fact, fiction, poetry – it doesn’t matter. Just let the words carry you along until you’re ready to stop.

3. There will be a prompt every week. I will post the prompt here on my blog on Friday, along with a reminder for you to join in. The prompt will be one random thing, but it will not be a subject. For instance, I will not say “Write about dogs”; the prompt will be more like, “Make your first sentence a question,” “Begin with the word ‘The’,” or simply a single word to get your started.

4. Ping back! It’s important, so that I and other people can come and read your post! For example, in your post you can write “This post is part of SoCS:” and then copy and paste the URL found in your address bar at the top of this post into yours.  Your link will show up in my comments for everyone to see. The most recent pingbacks will be found at the top. NOTE: Pingbacks only work from WordPress sites. If you’re self-hosted or are participating from another host, such as Blogger, please leave a link to your post in the comments below.

5. Read at least one other person’s blog who has linked back their post. Even better, read everyone’s! If you’re the first person to link back, you can check back later, or go to the previous week, by following my category, “Stream of Consciousness Saturday,” which you’ll find right below the “Like” button on my post.

6. Copy and paste the rules (if you’d like to) in your post. The more people who join in, the more new bloggers you’ll meet and the bigger your community will get!

7. As a suggestion, tag your post “SoCS” and/or “#SoCS” for more exposure and more views.

8. Have fun!