Look To the Western Sky

A blog about single life as a parent & the dreams of a writer by Margo L. Dill

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The Comparison Trap for Writers

Last week, I shared how much the book, video, and study group for The Comparison Trap positively influenced my life. I wanted to share with you a post I did for WOW! Women On Writing about how much comparison can hurt writers or any creative types! Here is the post I wrote on comparison and writing for The Muffin. (So…this is a re-post!)

I have been in a book study called The Comparison Trap by Sandra Stanley. In this study, we talk about how people, women especially, are terrible about comparing themselves to others, and this causes a lot of discontent and negative behavior. It causes broken relationships and broken spirits. Before taking this class and doing this study, I didn’t realize how often I compared myself to other women and felt like I wasn’t measuring up; or worse, I made myself feel better when someone wasn’t as successful as me.

I am so thankful this study came into my life, and of course, I started thinking about it in terms of being a writer. Writers also compare themselves to others, and it can cause writer’s block, a giving-up attitude, and hurt feelings between writer friends.

Have you ever found yourself reading a Facebook announcement from your writing friend about finally securing a big New York agent and thinking that’s it, I’m done, no one will ever want to represent me?

Or how about your critique group member who received her 20th rejection, and you are secretly celebrating because at least you had an acceptance last month?

I know both of these scenarios sound like you are horrible person, and you don’t have to admit that you have thought this way, but you probably have. And you are not alone. It’s human nature, but it’s not helpful to you, your creativity, or your career.

So what do you do?

What I’m learning with this book study I mentioned above is that “There is no win in comparison.” Stop looking to the left or right. You need to look at yourself and your talent. Think of how you can reach your writing goals and how you can improve your craft. Focus on you and your writing–not your Facebook friend’s new book, not your critique group member’s literary award, and certainly not your favorite writer you’ve been following on Twitter when she makes the bestseller’s list.

This does not mean you don’t celebrate success with every writer you know. This simply means that when you find yourself starting to compare another writer’s success or failure with your own, stop. Just stop. Because it is really true that there is no win in comparison. But you can win when you improve yourself!

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Top 5 Parenting Posts for All You Moms and Dads Out There

Since I have a few subjects I write about and accept guest posts about, I’m creating a few round-ups over the next week or so. I’m starting with a subject near and dear to my heart–parenting. WOW! It’s hard, right? Who knew? I guess our parents did, but then they wanted grandchildren, so they kept to themselves. Facebook and Pinterest make it look so easy–and makes us wonder why we are struggling so much. I’m a firm believer in practical parenting, too, as many of you know–let’s get down to what is important and how we can do that important stuff as easily and practical as we can. So…here are FIVE of my favorite posts. Hopefully, you will get some parenting tips from these!  (To find more, you can click the PARENT tag to the right in the TAG CLOUD.)

  1. Having Fun With Your Kids…Say what? Why is having fun important? Besides providing meals, clothing, shelter, and education plus taking our kids to the dentist, doctor, and school, we should also have fun? Yes!This post is inspired by our activities over the weekend and my subsequent thoughts. I’m being a little silly because of course, you know that having fun with your children is important. But let’s also be realistic–a lot of parenting is not fun. …(click the link to read more: (http://margoldill.com/having-fun-with-your-kids/) 
  2. Advice From Grandma: I am Listening… Grandmas love to spoil grandkids and love to give advice. If some of you follow me on WOW! Women On Writing or Facebook, you know that I’m currently watching Gilmore Girls from episode 1 to the reunion show (exclusively for Netflix, that takes place 10 years later in good ole Stars Hollow). This is the best show for an example of “Grandmas love to give advice” because Emily Gilmore constantly shares her wisdom and her unwanted opinion with Lorelai, her daughter and mother of a teenager/young adult. Click to read more… (http://margoldill.com/advice-from-grandma-i-am-listening/)
  3. A Lesson for the First Time at the Ocean: Get to the Root of the Problem This summer, Katie and I went on a fabulous little trip to visit one of my best friends, who has a condo in Ocean City, Maryland. And this was Katie’s first time to see the ocean. It was her first time on a beach. It was her first time to go into the ocean. And it was the least favorite part of her trip.

    How can this be? (Click the link to read morehttp://margoldill.com/a-lesson-for-the-first-time-at-the-ocean-get-to-the-root-problem/)

  4. Practical Moms Unite: Traveling With Your Child So the 6-year-old and I went on a trip during spring break, and I’m just now posting about it. No, it’s not because I need to recover–it actually went quite well. But I thought now would be a good time to talk about some practical tips for traveling with your child or children with summer break just around the corner.

    First, don’t go to Disneyworld. HA! Just kidding. .. To read more, click the link…(http://margoldill.com/practical-moms-unite-traveling-on-spring-break/)

  5. Put the Parenting Magazines Down and Step Away Carefully One day, my friend Julie said, “Have you seen the latest issue of (Insert some wonderful parenting magazine here) and their suggestions for back-to-school lunches?”

    The funny thing is I had seen that article–I think it must have been a free issue sent to many houses, and I remember thinking: Do people really make these types of entrees for their child’s school lunch? Coconut and raisin pita roll up?  To read more, click the link…(http://margoldill.com/put-the-parenting-magazines-down-and-step-away-carefully/)

There are my top 5. Remember, I’m always looking for good parenting tips and guest posts about humorous parenting issues, as well as any serious topics you want to discuss. You can email me at margolynndill (at) gmail.com! Happy practical parenting!

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3 Communication Tips For Online Dating

I hear complaints about communication failures from friends, see them on Facebook and online dating profiles, read about them in articles, and have made the same kind of complaints myself. What is going on with communication? In a world where communication is currently so easy and can happen quickly and efficiently, why do we have such a hard time connecting with each other and using basic conversation skills? Has it always been this way or is it getting worse?

Well, I’m not Brene Brown, so I’m not here to tell you that I did a lot of research on communication, but I am focusing today on communication as it relates to online dating apps, and “the research” is from my own experiences, my friends’ experiences, and other online dating participants’ (both male and female) comments.  Here are three observations that could possibly help when you are looking for that love connection.

1. For the love of God, please don’t only talk about yourself: This is such a common complaint. I hear it from a lot of females that men don’t ask them any questions. But I’ve also heard men say the same thing: “She must not be interested in getting to know me because she doesn’t ask me anything.” And this doesn’t mean asking: How are you? Or How was your day? (That’s not bad! But reach a little deeper.) People, both men and women, want to be asked basic questions, like: what is your job? What do you like to do in your free time? Do you like to read? If so, what do you read? I mean, we are not talking rocket science here. But if you find that your online dating conversations are falling flat, and you find yourself ALWAYS chatting about yourself, try asking a question now and again. You can also add: And you? to the end of many of your answers, and those two words at least show that you want to know something about the other person.

2. Take 15 minutes and write something in your profile: So many profiles have hardly anything written in them, and so many have WAY too much. Yes, photos are a huge deal because whether you think it’s fair or not, attraction plays a part in online dating. But information in your profile can persuade someone to take a chance or at least start a conversation with you! And if you have some information written there, if you are communicating about your likes and dislikes, you are giving the interested person some material to ask you questions about (see number 1).

3. Don’t make all kinds of assumptions or be rude:  It is easy to be rude online because you don’t really know the person you are talking to. But I’ve seen this advice several places, and again it’s not rocket science: If you wouldn’t say the comment in person to someone, then don’t say it online. (This is true for Facebook and Twitter, too.) So, if someone isn’t interested in you or doesn’t answer you immediately, it’s not necessary to say something nasty–it doesn’t make this guy a jerk or this woman a cold-hearted bitch. It makes him or her–Not For You. That’s it. Don’t assume just because it looks like someone is online, he or she is actually online and ignoring you.  Don’t assume you know someone after exchanging a few messages with them online. Assumptions may be one of the worst things about dating, especially online dating. Recently, I had someone say to me: you are not trusting and you are broken. Ummmm, no. But I didn’t answer rudely. I said: Actually I’m not. I’m not sure what I said to give you that impression. Best of luck to you!

It is true, whoever said it, “Communication is a two-way street.” It’s also true that communication is not easy, and we are not all experts at it. And that’s okay. But I think the Golden Rule can REALLY apply here (and I need to remember this, too): Treat others how you would like to be treated. Anyone got some online communication tips–dating or otherwise? I’m sure we would all love to hear them!

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Raising Toddlers: 3 Tricks for Home-Based Parents

Guest Post by Cady Calhousie

The toddler years are a time of rapid development as the little ones reach so many milestones in a short span of time. It’s no wonder there’s a growing trend of parents opting to work from home more or permanently to make sure they witness and participate in these milestones.

But making that leap from cubicle to home office comes with unique challenges; and while you have a vague idea that the transition won’t be perfect, nothing can quite prepare you for what lies ahead. Here are three basic and practical ways to help you in this journey:

Have a discipline strategy

Children begin to develop their own personality at this stage; they start to have a sense of autonomy, and they become incredibly attached to the word no – with matching tantrums like ripping off their favorite baby bows and throwing them away. They start to push back and challenge boundaries. In finding your own approach to discipline, the best standard is to be firm but fair. What worked for you may not work for your child because you have different personalities and belong to different generations. Prepare to go through a lot of trial and error until you find the right balance.

Establish a shared reading habit

75% of brain development occurs in ages one to three. At this stage, the child begins to develop thoughts and feelings, and as parents we want to maximize our children’s potential. Studies show that a child’s physical brain progress is enhanced when the child is given the appropriate external stimulation – and the best stimulation comes from reading.  Studies also show that shared reading is better than passive reading because you engage the child. Another benefit of shared reading is the additional cuddle time strengthens your parent and child bond. So set aside time each day to share a book and make sure there are no distractions like television, tablets, and other similar gadgets.

Don’t be overprotective

As parents, we are naturally protective of our children. The younger the child, the more protective we are.  But countless studies show that being overprotective can be as harmful as being negligent. Some parents these days are reluctant to let their children outside and play because they are worried about accidents, children getting dirty, or being bullied by other children. Here are some of the more common consequences of being overprotective: obesity, addiction to gadgets and computer games, asthma and allergies, and lack of social skills. Our toddlers need to interact with their environment and other children as part of their healthy development. We can lessen our worries by being vigilant and prepared, learning first aid, supervising scheduled play times, and picking child-safe environments.

The toddler years are exciting and full of surprises, making them worth transitioning to work from home for the parents. The fact that there’s no single correct way to raise our children makes the journey a time of rapid growth for both toddlers and their parents.  

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Working Through The Comparison Trap

Recently, I was in a video/book study called The Comparison Trap. This little four-week course is life-changing. Well, I should say: it can be life changing if you put into practice what the book discusses. (Side note: There’s a spiritual element to this book. It quotes Bible verses, and the woman who wrote it is married to a preacher. EVEN IF this usually does not do it for you, I recommend fighting through this and reading the book anyway. Every place she talks about God, can you think of Higher Power or Universe instead? I’m stealing this idea from the book You are a Badass! But I think it is an excellent point to not get hung up the “G-word.” And who knows what can happen in your life if you keep an open mind? ) Onward…

Before week one, I never realized how often I compare myself to other people and how shitty it makes me feel. Sometimes, I compare myself and I don’t measure up. I don’t have a loving husband or boyfriend. I don’t live in “the best school district” (although I love mine and the location of my house). I don’t have as much money as friend A, B or C.  I’m not 25 anymore. I could go on and drive myself crazy. I also do the flip side: Well, at least, I work full time. Well, at least, I have a book published, and so on. All of that thinking and comparing is exhausting and not helpful to anyone, most of all me.

The class had anywhere from 6 to 8 women in it each week, ranging in age from mid-40s to retirement age. And it was powerful. It was so powerful that we actually met for 5 weeks, instead of the 4 that the author recommends. Let me tell you the two moments that sealed it for me:

  1. The last week, we were asked to think of a time in our lives when we couldn’t celebrate other people’s good news. When we heard good news, did we react with jealousy or did we celebrate with the person? At first, I thought: this is a no-brainer–I celebrate. When I read the daily devotionals about overcoming this “jealousy”, it didn’t fit me, until I started thinking about when I was trying to get pregnant. It was very difficult for me to get pregnant, and I thought it would never happen. During this time, whenever I found out someone was pregnant, I was not celebrating. I was saying: Why me? In class, I even shared that I skipped a few celebrations because it was so heartbreaking to attend baby showers. It was a dark time. I am not proud of myself; and even though you may be thinking, well, I can understand why–that doesn’t excuse it. I was comparing my life to theirs, and my life is nothing like theirs. It’s not healthy, and it takes an extreme amount of faith in the Universe or God or your Higher Power or whatever you believe in to get out of the darkness and move on. I am happy that I did it. I am happy that once I let go, I got pregnant (just like everyone says).  And I think I still do that “jealousy thing” a little bit today now that I am divorced. But I am stopping it! Right now! I realized as I was writing this post: Sometimes, when I’m thinking about my relationship status, I will count up the number of people I know who are also divorced and without a partner. But really, this is terrible. If my friends and family want to be in a relationship, then they should be, and it should be happy and healthy and enriching. And I should celebrate it with them and let go of this notion that makes me compare myself to find my worth. Because frankly, it is exhausting.
  2. The two big messages that are driven home in this book are everyone is unique and special with their own talents. AND if you have a heart of gratitude, you will find contentment. We discussed these philosophies at length and honestly. Because let’s be real, isn’t it hard to take sometimes when you look at your neighbor and she is beautiful, owns a fancy car, and has a successful career,and a loving husband? Why did she get all of this and you didn’t? It can be hard to take when you are looking OUT. So what I learned in this book and this class and even writing this post is–you have to look IN. What are your talents and blessings? What are you grateful for? We also discussed how being content does not mean you can’t have goals or improve your life. But you should create these goals and improvements because you looked IN and it’s what you really want–not because you are looking OUT and trying to be as good as Mrs. Jones.

If I remember nothing else in a month from this study, this phrase, which is now hanging on the bulletin board in my room, will be something I remember: There is NO win in comparison. 

 

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Ready to Be More Organic? It’s More than Just Eating Organic Food

(contributed post)

We all know that eating organic food is much better for our health and the state of the environment. But is that where organic living has to end? You’ll be pleased to hear that there is actually a lot more that can be done in your life, so that you can live a wholesome, naturall,y organic life. It’s not just about food!

Ready to be more organic? Here are some really great tips that can help you get started.

Create An Organic Garden

One of the easiest ways to ensure that all the fruit and vegetables you eat are organic is to start growing it yourself. Growing your own food can be quite difficult, especially if you are completely new to it. But don’t panic; you can start off developing your skills by beginning with the easier produce to grow, such as lettuce, cucumbers, and gherkins. You’ll be able to buy seeds from your local supermarket; but there are also some online stores that sell more exotic fruit and vegetable seeds, if you fancy challenging yourself!

Reduce Your Energy Consumption

Leading a more eco-friendly life is part of living more organically, too. So, it’s important that you try and reduce your household’s energy consumption as much as possible. There are various ways you can do this. First of all, make sure that every electronic device and appliance is turned completely off when it isn’t in use. Next, you should consider switching to a renewable energy source. There are now quite a few energy companies that will install solar panels onto your home’s roof, so that you can use greener energy from a nature-friendly source!

Go Natural With Skincare

You can also improve your skin care so that it’s a lot more organic. First of all, it’s worth finding some natural skin care products. Lots of beauty companies now have a very good range of natural products, as there is such a high demand for them. These are all made from organic ingredients and are completely cruelty-free, meaning they haven’t been tested on animals. If you want, you might also like the idea of trying to make your own skin care products. There are lots of recipes online that use plenty of ingredients you will already have in the house.

Eat Seasonally

There are some people who complain about the price of organic food. Sure, it can sometimes be expensive, but that is usually the case for ingredients and produce that are on sale when they are out of season. So, as you can probably tell, it’s much better to try and eat seasonally whenever you can. There are a few guides that can help you work out your diet, so that it is more in keeping with the season. But one of the best ways to figure out what is in season is to buy from farmers markets, as they will only be able to sell what they are able to grow at the time.

Enjoy your new organic life!

Do you have anything to add?

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Spending Quality Time With Your Little Ones

(contributed article)

Whether you’re a single parent or not, life with kids is busy and hectic, but also full of fun and adventure, too. It’s crucial that you’re in a great routine with your little ones, so that they feel happy and secure, and they know what to expect. However, sometimes the routine can overtake the fun stuff; and spontaneity can get pushed aside, replaced with homework, dinner time, and bedtime. Therefore, when it comes to the weekends or school holidays, it’s time to step away from the rut and make an effort to enjoy more quality time with your children as they grow up, which will happen way too fast. There is definitely no harm in mixing things up a little and making some great memories together.

During the free time with your little one, it’s your chance to teach and educate them about all the stuff they don’t learn at school. Perhaps it’s about getting outside and appreciating the environment more or a trip to where you grew up, so they can learn more about their family history. Whatever you choose to do, it will be time well spent. Therefore, it’s worth thinking about how best to spend your free time, writing a list of places you’d like to visit and things you want to do and going over in your mind the values you want to instill in your kids. Sometimes, getting it all down on paper and writing a to-do list can help you implement activities and make them happen. The following are some tips for busy parents who want to focus more on spending quality free time with their kids.

Time Management

As previously mentioned, it’s tough to juggle life and all the things that kids bring with them; but with a little planning, your time can be divided up successfully. If you co-parent with an ex-partner and had the best law firm for divorce, you’ll already have figured out the exact times and dates you’ll have with your kids, well in advance. This is great for your plan; you can utilize a large monthly calendar and start popping down the things you’re going to do, how much it may (or may not) cost, and any details needed to make each fun activity work out. Whatever your parenting situation may be, you can still utilize a plan like this,  which while having fun, will also help you think about those needs kids have, such as napping and healthy choices for meals. 

Appreciate The Little Things

Kids might not remember the exact zoo, park, or fun fair you took them to, but they’ll remember how they felt at the time and specific things you’ve done or said to them. Therefore, make sure that you’re praising them for great behavior, noticing the little things they do and say, and take loads of photos! Even on an average morning, when everyone’s trying to eat breakfast and get ready for school, make it a moment to remember and take a picture. Your kids know how much you love them, so give them plenty more memories to take into their future and show their kids.

How do you like to spend time with your kids or grandkids? Do you have a list of stuff you want to do this spring and summer?

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What’s a Digital Nomad? 11 Tips for this Working Lifestyle

I work from home, although I do have a full-time job with an agricultural company. I can’t say I’m exactly a digital nomad, but I can work from my house or my favorite coffee shop or my parents’ house–you get it. Anywhere there’s Wi-Fi or I can use my phone as a hotspot. If you’re a writer, you also might be a digital nomad! Read this contributed article below for some helpful tips on this working lifestyle. 

Everything about the world is changing, and it’s due to one massive invention: the internet. It’s still too early to say exactly how big of an impact this complex system will have on humanity; but until now, the changes have been momentous. Nowhere is this felt more than the working world. Today, it’s possible to roll out of bed, open up your laptop, and earn your living, without having to ever set foot in an office or traditional workplace. This has spawned a generation of “digital nomads,” who can work anywhere in the world, providing they have access to the Internet. If you’re in a creative industry or involved in tech, then it’s possible that you might have this lifestyle. But how do you ensure that it’s all that it’s cracked up to be? Below, we take a look at 11 ways you can nail the digital nomad lifestyle.

Focus on your Profession

Yes, you might be driven by the idea of spending your working days on the beach, but that’s not the target; it’s the reward. If you want to be a successful digital nomad, then forget about all the perks – at least initially – and instead focus on doing your job well. It’s easy to get sidetracked when you’re travelling the world, and you might find that your work begins to suffer. As a rule of thumb, always ensure that your work receives your most attention. You’ll enjoy those beach afternoons and fun excursions more if you know you’ve already performed your job well.

Get Your Finances In Order

If you haven’t already begun your digital nomad journey, but are considering it, then you’ll have a lot to look forward to. However, before you begin thinking about the freedom and other benefits of this lifestyle, you’ll need to get your finances in order. It’s likely that you’ll have to take a reduction in income – at least temporarily – if you’re leaving a salaried position. Before taking the plunge, make sure that you have a few month’s worth of income saved up, to give yourself a cushion. It’s possible to severely reduce your expenditures when you can live anywhere in the world, but don’t forget that the flights to get there aren’t cheap and will need to be factored into the cost, too.

Choose Your Destination Wisely

As we’ve just said, when you can live anywhere in the world (visa permitting), you have the option to have greater control of how much you spend when compared to someone who has to live in a certain place due to their work. While you might dream of living in, say, New York City or London, you’ll need to consider just how expensive these cities are. On the other hand, you might look at Bali, or a Thai island, where it’s possible to live very inexpensively. However, in certain places, the low cost of living may mean that you don’t have the same amenities (think, slow or unpredictable internet) as you would in places that are slightly more expensive.

Make Yourself Comfortable

While it might seem glamorous to always be on the move, to have the freedom to up and move whenever you feel like it, it’s worth considering the reality of a neverending tour. You’ll always feel like a traveller! To be at our best, and even just to enjoy travelling, we need to have periods where we’re sedentary. As such, in each destination, it’s best to have a rental house for a minimum of one month, though three or more months is ideal. In doing so, you’ll be able to settle into a rhythm, discover the local culture, and have the space to think about where you want to visit next.    

Find a Coworking Space

Now, one of the biggest draws of this lifestyle may have been the ability to work in your pjs, but the appeal of that could quickly wear off. Sometimes, it’s too difficult to get into “work mode” if you’re super comfortable and working from a place that you normally associate with relaxing. As such, look at getting a membership to a coworking space at each new city you visit. The prevalence of nomad workers means most hotspots have multiple options. Aside from giving you a place to work with reliable internet, they’ll also form the core of your social hub as you look to make new friends; this is especially important if you’re travelling by yourself.

Making Friends

We’ve just touched on the idea of making friends, which is one of the main worries that people have when they set out on this lifestyle. It’s natural to think: “I won’t find anyone to be friends with,” but this is a misguided thought! Places that draw nomad workers are usually very open and friendly, so you’ll quickly find yourself in the thick of an active social group. If you’re wondering how to find people, take a look at meetup.com and any expat Facebook groups for your destination.

Work/Life Balance

If you’re currently part of “the daily grind,” the process of commuting to work, putting in a long shift, and then driving home, we’ll just say that you’re going to love the nomad lifestyle. You’re your own boss! However, this does bring on some extra responsibilities – it means you’re in charge of creating your work/life balance. Knowing how to switch off is just as important as finding the motivation to switch on!

When to Move On

All good things must come to an end. You could spend six months in a place that most people would call “paradise,” but eventually, you might find that it’s not quite doing it for you anymore; and that to progress personally and professionally, you need to move on. This is the freedom you signed up for when you adopted the digital nomad lifestyle, but that doesn’t make moving on any more straightforward. We say: take the plunge and head somewhere new. If you’ve done it before, you’ll do it again, and it might lead to something much better. In any case, your current destination will always be there!

Keeping Up With Life

You’ll be a creation of your own world, but it’s worth keeping in mind that you still exist in “the real world.” It hasn’t forgotten about you! That means, you’ll have to make sure that you’re paying any taxes that you’re liable for, that you’re still paying off any debts you have back home, and so on. It’s a pretty rock and roll lifestyle…but there are still duties to be taken care of.

Remember: It’s Not All Fun and Games

There’s much to love about the nomad lifestyle, but it’s not perfect. There will be struggles in this life, just as there are struggles in every other type of life. It’s important that you take care of yourself, and that you don’t fall into a lifestyle that you weren’t planning. It’s easy, for example, to stay up all night when you have no obligation to get up in the morning! It’s also worth keeping in mind that you’ll find it beneficial to go home every now and again, just to remind yourself of where you came from.

Go Global

It’s never been easier to manage the logistics of international travel. Look at getting an international bank account, so that you don’t lose money due to exchange rates, and get a photo that’s set up for an international lifestyle.

Finally, remember to be bold: it takes a bit of bravery to make this lifestyle a success, but it’s oh so worth it!

 

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It’s a Writer’s World: How To Keep Yourself Motivated and Writing Well

(contributed article)

Being a writer is a creative, liberating and exciting career, which unleashes you into a whole different world within your mind. Sometimes writers discuss the downfalls of this job and the frustrations that can happen in a writer’s life. You can have a whole day of feeling completely blank and uncreative; you can wake up in the middle of the night with the most bizarre ideas, and you start working at crazy hours of the day, which can prevent you from attending a handful of social events with your friends. You can balance and overcome the obstacles in your writing life. Expand your knowledge, learn to take a break, and inhale new experiences; now is your chance to become the best writer you can be.

Handy Help

Do you have a burst of creativity in your mind but the words don’t quite come out in the right way? You might need to refine some of your language skills to allow your words to catch up to your creative thoughts. Websites, such as EffortlessEnglishClub.com , will provide you with all the handy hints you need to get your writing and English skills up to scratch. Perhaps you need a boost after a long break or your mind is super frazzled from a particularly busy time at work. It is never too late to learn and ask for help if you need it, so make the most of the resources that are available to you.

Clear Cognition

Do you have a method for clearing your mind and forgetting your troubles? You can’t expect yourself to write brilliant content if your brain is muddled up with colliding and puzzling thoughts. Take some time to relax each morning and clear your mind of the previous day’s tasks. Start each day fresh and go into your work with a calm and clear outlook. You will soon be able to produce magical words with a refreshed mindset.

Beautiful Breaks

Everybody needs a break now and then, whether it is half an hour to eat your lunch or a week on holiday after a tough month of work. Make sure you keep planning trips away or regular rests during your working day. Writers are often guilty of working around the clock, with very little time for a break. You need to recharge and reset in order to be productive, and we all need something to look forward to; it is often what keeps us motivated.

Explore and Experience

Never stop enriching your mind with new life experiences. Read books, travel to new places, and talk to interesting people. Our creativity is made up of the things around us that we have experienced, so always strive to keep your knowledge growing and your mind expanding.

It is your knowledge and daily experiences, which have shaped you into the writer you are today, so never stop expanding on them. You can free your mind of creative blocks and set yourself up for a successful career in writing

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So You Are Single On Valentine’s Day? Show Yourself Some Love!

Don’t miss this amazing article by Julie Morris who has guest blogged on here before! If you are alone this Valentine’s Day, then here are some awesome ways to celebrate you! This is one of the best posts I’ve ever seen on being single on Valentine’s Day! Enjoy! 

Show Yourself Some Love

by Julie Morris

Nearly half of the country’s population doesn’t plan on celebrating Valentine’s Day, according to the National Retail Federation. And, while some of those reticent romantics have significant others, many Valentine’s Day holdouts will be spending the holiday solo. For those folks, February 14 might mark an opportunity to offer themselves some tender loving care to boost their mood and bolster their mental and emotional health year-round.

Be Your Own Date

Here are some suggested solo activities that don’t involve romantic dinners or red roses:

  • Spend the evening browsing the racks at off-price stores like Marshalls or T.J. Maxx, which will be less crowded since they aren’t exactly prime spots for the average Valentine’s Day outing. Plus, at least one retailer’s research found snagging a bargain can actually raise shoppers’ heart rates. So you don’t even need a hot date to get your pulse pounding.
  • Settle in for an extended reading session. Rather than reading magazines or blogs, bury yourself in a book for a while. Reading books, in particular, boosts brain power and can protect people from cognitive decay later in life. Reading also has mental and emotional benefits. According to research cited by Reader’s Digest, reading books, especially fiction, increases empathy and emotional intelligence. And honing these social skills can lead to more frequent and more positive interactions with others, which can lower stress levels.
  • Sign up for an exercise class that’s usually packed. If that barre or kickboxing class always fills up faster than you can save a spot, Valentine’s Day might mean a few regulars will skip the sweat session in favor of an indulgent dinner date. Working out will elevate your heart rate and lift your spirits by increasing your output of endorphins and other natural mood-boosting brain chemicals.
  • Volunteer your time. Studies show donating your time can decrease your stress levels and risk of depression while boosting your sense of purpose, fulfillment, and self-confidence. It will also help put your own problems into perspective and connect with your community.

 

Treat Yourself

U.S. consumers are expected to shell out an average $143.56 this Valentine’s Day on jewelry, an evening out, flowers, candy, and clothes. So, if you won’t be spending any cash on a significant other, maybe you can splurge on something for yourself. Here are a few ideas:

  • As a single person, you might not be giving or receiving roses this Valentine’s Day. So why not use the sweet savings to give yourself some indoor plants that will help add some greenery to your environment until winter winds down completely? Plants can help purify the air in your home and also add to oxygen levels. Studies have also shown plants propagate productivity and boost concentration and mood while lowering our stress levels. Check out these tips from Redfin on how to optimize your home for stress-free living.
  • Invest in a yoga mat or other tools to encourage mindfulness practices. For example, you could download a meditation app or enroll in a set of online classes to help you develop a daily meditation habit. Or order a set of pocket guides with titles including “How to Sit,” “How to Eat,” and “How to Love” by Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh.
  • Purchase a gratitude journal. Try recording three things you are grateful for and three things you were able to accomplish each day. If you have a hard time sticking to the happiness-boosting habit, consider downloading a free app that offers inspiration and advice for maintaining a journal.

So celebrate yourself on Valentine’s Day with some activities and small splurges that will warm your heart.

Julie Morris is a life and career coach. She thrives on helping others live their best lives. It’s easy for her to relate to clients who feel run over by life because she’s been there. After years in a successful (but unfulfilling) career in finance, Julie busted out of the corner office that had become her prison.

Today, she is fulfilled by helping busy professionals like her past self get the clarity they need in order to live inspired lives that fill more than just their bank accounts. When Julie isn’t working with clients, she enjoys writing and is currently working on her first book. She also loves spending time outdoors and getting lost in a good book. To contact Julie and find out more, please visit her website at http://juliemorris.org/.

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