Kindergarten, Here He Comes!

These people make up my sweet family!

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My oldest kiddo started kindergarten today. He’s sweet and funny, careful and brave, a learner and a thinker… He’s going to be great! So cheers to my boy as he ventures this unknown! 🥛🥛

Mama LOVES you!

Giving It Away: Poetry and Art

I recently bought some watercolor pencils and have been having a grand time playing with them.

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My mom gave me a bit of money for Mother’s Day, which funded the purchase. So, I gave my first piece to my patron and, can I just say, I’m pleased as punch at how it came out. 😍

I wrote the poem a week or so before as an observation after seeing a ladybug flying away, but it really embodies my mom, too. She’s been through a ton, and I’m watching her hover now, her pointed toes inches above the earth.

Definitely expect to see more watercolors in the future. I’m kinda in love with them.

Sig

Motivation Part II: Types of It

Hello, Folks! In PART I of the Motivation series, we defined motivation and identified that fear is a natural response to change, and writing a book involves lots of change. Today, I’d like to talk to you about three types of motivation that I’ve discovered on this journey. Please note that I’ve named these myself after dissecting my own need-to-write v. production situation. Search yourself to see if what I’ve found out about me relates to you. If you want to chat through it, I’m always up for a discussion.

Alright! Let’s get to the good stuff!

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First, Temporary Motivation

Not only did I make up the name, but I’ve also crafted a definition. See!

Temporary Motivation is motivation with an external stimulus.

(Definition of “motivation” can be found HERE.)

This was the first type of motivation that got my fingers moving again at the beginning of 2017. Here’s a piece of my story. After a long stint of postpartum depression and 11 years of a rough work situation, I felt like a shell of a person. I’d started a new job and the difference in work environments started helping me heal. It was about six months after I moved positions that I realized I was only moving moment-to-moment. I cared for my family, went to work, cooked, cleaned and went to bed. That was basically it. But with healing came perspective. I started to see past the next minute into the next day and the next year, and I started to want something particular in the vision.

I wanted my boys to have a career they loved. I didn’t want them to ever settle in any part of life, particularly professionally. So, my first temporary motivation was the future of my two toddler boys. How could I tell them to do something they love if I wasn’t doing what I loved, even if it was in 10 minutes increments? I started waking up, making plans, and stringing words.

Temporary motivation is a jumping off point. It’s not where you want to stay because you can’t control it.

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One day, my boys will be grown and have their own dream careers and that will be it for me if I stopped here. No more motivation for Mea. They will have achieved.

For me to get started, I had to have something outside of my worn heart to move me into action, so my insides could heal even more. So, yeah, that’s a little about me.

Here’s some other examples of temporary motivation:

  • Creative Friends: I adore adore adore my creative friends and they definitely keep me on my toes, but it can’t be just this comradery that fuels you. While you’re sharing weekly updates, keep searching inside yourself for Something More.
  • Accomplishments: Funny thing about accomplishments is that you have to work through the fear to have one. Also, temporary as they are in nature, accomplishments must be replenished with more accomplishments, which means this motivation has an expiration date. While you’re feeling like you’re on top of the world, keep working!
  • Reputation: Reputations come and go. Just ask our friend TAYLOR. They’re fragile and temporary. Real Talk-Not everybody is going to like us. It will crush our souls for a while and then we’ll remember who we are and get back up. But you have to know the truth to use it like a pull bar.

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Next, Permanent Motivation-The Key to Longevity

Definition!

Permanent Motivation: motivation without external stimulus.

This, my Friends, is what we’re constantly in search of. When all the glitter (or shrapnel) settles and the fireworks (or bomb glares) fade, this motivation is what will calmly and earnestly push us forward. Permanent motivation is internal and depends solely on you knowing yourself. I connect the idea to “self-motivation”. It’s a pure, true, and long-lasting foundation to the driving force of our creative heart’s desire.

You can start with temporary motivated blaze, but along the way you have to grow to know yourself because when the blaze dies out, all you’ll have is you.

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It’s so easy to drown out the whisper of permanent motivation. Everything else—doubt, fear, criticism, jealousy—is so darn loud. Also, you can warp a permanent motivation to something anti-productive so easily, you have to keep yourself in check. How do I know? Well, sadly, I’ve been there. Over and over again. It’s embarrassing how many times, really. But I promised you truth in this BLOG, so here it is.

Examples of permanent motivation and how it can be warped:

  • Curiosity (Can be over-used and can turn into procrastinating with all the knowledge gathering of things not pertinent to your Right Now or your project.)
  • A soul cry (Can be drowned out by everyday responsibilities if we don’t set a precedent to heed it, holding it to our ear like a conch shell)
  • Goals linked to our passions (Dreams paired with action. Without the action, it’s just a dream.)

 

And finally, DIY Motivation.

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DIY (Do It Yourself) Motivation is motivation that you have to cultivate because you just. Ain’t. Feelin’ it.

So what if you don’t have either of the first two types of motivation. What if you are numb, but you remember the good ol’ days when you were young and spry and well-rested. When you had the gumption to finish Things and, by goodness, you DID finish things, but it’s been so long ago. Those days fade and shift, like looking at your reflection in a lake on a breezy day. What if you never were the kind of person to finish things at all?

What if you reading this and you’re saying, “Yeah, sure, Mea. That’s all well and good for you, but I heave doubt and fear on my shoulders like it’s my passed-on grandmother’s shawl. It’s so heavy and I cannot move.”

I have ideas for you (because I’ve been there. I still involuntarily go there because sometimes that’s just where my stinkin’ feet take me.)

Here’s some ways that can help you can create your own motivation until you start figuring some things out.

  • Finish Something: Pick a project—any project—and discover what it feels like to Finish Something.

I did this with my poetry chapbook, and it distracted my fear long enough to allow something else in. I chose it because it was the shortest and scariest project I had on my desk. But mostly because it was the shortest. The shock and joy that comes when a project is finished, it’s like cake, Folks. Super addictive. If you’re like me, you’ll race right passed fear/doubt toward your next culinary fix.

  • Stop Something: The project that gives you irreconcilable grief. Let. It. Go.

My first novel was…um…not great. I knew it and I kept trucking on because I had given so much time to it that my fingers stubbornly grasped it. Surely I would reap some reward, right? The reward didn’t come in the form I’d envisioned. I had to stop trying to force a story that wasn’t ready through the tips of my fingers. Then in retrospect, I saw the many writing lessons and self-learning I’d not noticed when I was buried in the broken story. That was its purpose, but I didn’t know it until I put it down and walked away. As a result, the heaviness and self-doubt lifted and I could suddenly move toward new things.

  • Make Something Else: If you’re feeling weighed down by one creative endeavor, try something out of the ordinary.

I’m a firm believer in the power of creative outlet sharing. Meaning, creating something else can spark ideas in other aspects of your life. I feel like there could be some science about it somewhere, but I haven’t searched for/found it yet. So, take my unscientific advice if you want an adventure and do something different! I love making jewelry, songs, memes (yes, this is creative, gah), poetry, and t-shirts designs I don’t know how to put on t-shirts—especially, when my novel is at a stand-still.

And that’s it!

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Three types of motivation as acknowledged by a writer, and the conclusion of our Motivation series. I’d love to hear if you’ve had similar experiences or have other ideas about motivation. Have you found ways to get your fingers tapping or to calm internal choppy waters? Let’s talk!

Sig

No Small Thing

 

No Small Thing

“Does it seem too small a thing to you that the God of Israel has separated you from the community of Israel to bring you near to himself, to perform the service of the tabernacle of the Lord, and to stand before the community to minister to them?”

Numbers 16:9 NET

IT’S NO SMALL THING AT ALL.

Let’s act like it.

Observe with Your Whole Self: A Writing Lesson for Life

Writing has taught me a lot, but the coolest thing I’ve learned since I’ve started writing (book, poetry, and the Proof blog) is the awe-inspiring power of observation. I’ve been writing even before I began actively observing others and the world around me, and I can attest that your work becomes worth reading if it portrays real life rather than if it what you think real life is.

I don’t mean that memoirs are the only awesome literature. Or that you should Hemingway your WIP.

There can still be contented endings, beautiful people, and even happy coincidences. Those things do happen in real life (though they are few and far between, and for the love of Rufus, don’t be annoying with them, please.)

This is what I mean:

There is no way I can create a character that isn’t like me if I don’t open my eyes and my heart and soak in other people. Invest in them. SEE them for all they are—a perfect swirl of chaos and beauty.  Experience them, empathize with them, take their humanity and roll it around in my head for a while until I UNDERSTAND something integral, and why it’s there.

(This also applies to setting, in my opinion.)

I’ve had to do this first with me…and I didn’t always like the images I saw. (I still look inside for understanding because I just haven’t gotten to the bottom of my crazy.)

I don’t know if it’s this stage in my life or if I have writing to thank for this deep soul-diving. Probably a combination of both? But I’m so thankful because more than writing better, observing and internalizing has become imperative to living better.

It embeds in me the worth of who or what has my attention. And that breeds respect.

I imagine the soul is like a spider producing web; I press my hand into the other person’s, and they share with me a silver thread. I tie the end to my own strand…and, there. We are connected.

(Places are kinda like that, too.)

When Crabs and Spiders Collide

[This tiny, crab-like spider is way less scary than the other picture I took, so…You’re welcome.]

This path—writing, observing, connecting—has made me grow up…and out. I digress sometimes, but ultimately I remember the joy and find my way again.

Truth Bomb: It can hurt sometimes, what you see. Don’t let it stop you.

Are you writing real life from a point of understanding? If you’re not, shouldn’t you be? (This is rhetorical, unless you don’t want it to be.)

Have you discovered your observational superpower? Has it changed your life, too?

Sig

 

A Word to You Graduates

Hello, Graduates! Congratulations on this crazy awesome milestone and having the guts to jump blindly off this cliff of adolescence into the abyss of adulthood.

Y’all are so brave, and I mean that.

I remember not feeling brave at all when I was a high school graduate, ducking into abandoned hallways or taking the long way to my car, so I could avoid people asking me the question all graduates hear:

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

It was always followed by a sardonic laugh, like the person who asked it created the question for the pure joy of seeing me squirm and fish for words.

Ha, haa, huhhh…

Back then, I didn’t know what I wanted my career to be. I didn’t have a lot of talents, or so I thought. I never internalized what my “dream job” would be. Truthfully, the only career options I considered was what I could do that wouldn’t kill me and provide, you know, food.

It never occurred to me to “dream big”, to “search deep”, to “care” about what I should be. The question was so monstrous, so intimidating, I decided that I just wouldn’t “be” anything. That what I would “be” inevitably would pale to whatever dream I could conjure, so I might as well not conjure one at all. Ignorance is bliss and all that.

I was not a confident teen. I was driven by fear-fear lead to procrastination-procrastination to denial. Denial that I even wanted more than what I had allowed myself.

I’ve heard a lot of people blame the world for failures, but I was the worst kind of hypocrite. The world wasn’t my problem. I was my problem. And I had convinced myself that I didn’t need to know myself, that I didn’t need to believe I could be more.

I had been telling myself “NO” long before I donned a cap and gown.

For example, I was waiting tables my senior year of high school, and met a news anchor for the local television station. When the check was delivered, she put her card in the small, black folder and asked me to contact her if I wanted an internship with her.

I was elated. My heart burst forth lighting my path with rainbow dust. The opportunity of interning with her hung before me, a colorful piñata ripe with sweet possibilities. I held the stick. All I had to do was whack the thing open.

I didn’t.

I lived off the good feeling the offer gave me for a year before I realized I’d wasted it.

The phrase “my life will do” took the place of “I love my life” and, my young friends,  “doing” might make you feel good for a moment, but long-term, you want the “loving”.

I settled on a path in college, and didn’t dare question it until my senior year, and by then, I was so close to a degree, I just sucked it up and finished it.

Why did I do this? Why was I so self-destructive?

I’m not a thousand percent sure, but I have an idea that this is part of the reason:

I was asking the wrong question.

It shouldn’t be “WHAT do you want to be when you grow up?”.

It should be “WHO do you want to be?”

To get to that answer, maybe answer a few of these questions could help.

What kind of person do you want to be, inside and out?

What characteristics do you want to embody?

How do you want to affect others?

What about you do you want others to admire?

How do you want to feel at the end of the day?

I don’t want to give you the impression that answering this question is easy. In fact, my answer two years ago is different from the answer I hold in my mind today. It’s an evolving answer as we grow, observe, learn, and change.

BUT the hard work will be worth it.

In my heart of hearts I know if I would have ventured onto this path of self-discovery, my career choice would have been chosen to complement me, rather than an obstacle to overcome. And if I would have stumbled into a career choice that didn’t match my expectations, it would have been okay because at the end of the day, I would have known who I was. I could have recognized when I was in a situation that didn’t honor WHO I wanted to be and I could have made the necessary career changes earlier.

So, WHO do you want to be? WHO do you want your future spouse to fall in love with? WHO do you want your parents or guardians to be proud of? WHO do you want to face in the mirror every morning? WHO do you want your future kids to look up to?

Find that person, BE that person, and the WHAT, WHY, WHERE, and HOW will fall into place.

Cheers, class of 2017! Don’t be afraid to show my generation up!

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Sig

Update on Life-April Edition

I have so much to tell you since the last time I’ve written. I think I’ll put it in sections, so I don’t forget anything.

A. The Poetry

With the poetry book done, I got a notice my alma mater was having a poetry reading that weekend. Standing in front of people I may or may not know and reading something that comes from such a private, personal place sounded terrifying. So I did it. And it was terrying.  I choked the last line because I was trying not to cry.

But something good did come from it. A past professor, one I really looked up to, was there and after the event, she sat with me and went through every word of the chapbook and made sound suggestions that really made the quality of the whole project leaps and bounds better.

Though I’d settled on the title, it bugged me a bit. She helped me change it. I’ve already reworked the suggestions, and even submitted it to the first competition. There are two more that I’ll send to soon.

I’m going to write more on this, but I see merit now in choosing a smaller project to see through, beginning to end, before launching into a novel. I have tangible evidence on what “done” is like, and it is addictive. I believe the memory of it will carry me to completion on the next novel project.

B. Camp Nanowrimo

I have a goal of 25,000 words to get me to the end of a first draft of SongNovel. There is a new layout method that I’m in love with and am itching to put to action. (Dan Harmon’s story circle. Check it out!) I was doing really well, even exceeding word counts during the weekdays, so my weekends would be more family focused. Approximately 7,500 words in, my husband found a house that he loved. I love it, too, and through a series of emotional events, we’re…

C. Buying and Selling a House

After Hurricane Katrina (2005), the apartment the newly wedded Smiths (that’s us) lived in became too expensive. Not only my apartment complex, but also a host of others who sustained damage from the hurricane raised monthly cost $100 or more. We also had a pet, which meant most affordable complexes would not rent to us, even before Katrina. So we bought a little baby house, in hopes that we would be able to move to a toddler house about two years or so after.

For the past, 11 years, we have shared 1 bathroom about the size of an office desk. And we have grown from a 2 person family to a 4 person family as well. There are no secrets where there should be secrets. My friends, it’s time for a second bathroom. Please, Lord Jesus, let it be time for a second bathroom.

So we put a contract on the house that we love, contingent upon the selling of our current home.

Relatedly, on January 21, 2017, a tornado hit our small town, and I am still in conversations with contractors to complete/start work on our house. AND NOW WE HAVE TO SELL IT.  Per our contract, we had to list the house asap.

I cleaned the house to take pictures of the inside of it before the sheetrock gentleman came to fix spots in two ceilings and a section of carport. Then I cleaned more when people wanted to see the house before the work was done. I will also have to deep clean the house again when the workers finish. (I don’t know when that will be because they are on contractor time, which I found out recently is different than Mea time.) There is a daily tidying situation that has to happen before work everyday because you never know when you will have to tell your realtor, “Sure, these potential buyers can see the house without the 24 hours of notice we asked for.” (Daily tidying wouldn’t be difficult if my two toddlers weren’t sleeping on a pallet in the living room because their ceiling is getting worked on, and–I have two toddlers.)

And then there are…

D. Kittens Residing on my Front Porch

My sweet kitty is the best mom and wants her babies to see the world, but not from the cozy confines of our outside laundry room, as I had hoped. Instead she’s set up shop on our front porch, so anyone who would like to look at the house must first pass five tiny, blue-eyed, toe-biting guards and their mother. (They are adorable and we’re keeping two of the five because we love them so.) (I just wish I could love them so from the house we want to buy instead of the house we want to sell.)

E. Conclusion

I know this is just a season of life that will be fine in some months. It’s just messing with my creative life so I’m a little resentful. I can adjust with this unexpected change because at the end of the day, it will benefit my family. The house is a fixer upper, too, so I hope to be posting some before-and-afters of rooms and projects. I’ll tag them something clever in case you don’t care to see.

So…this is my life currently. Anyone else going through a big change?

Sig

The Unintended Effect of Embracing My Tribe

At some point, I don’t recall when, society began glamorizing what it’s like to be “awkward” and I had finally found my People.

I was elated!

I wasn’t alone!

There were others who had the tendency to trip on her own shoes, or say embarrassing random things in front of important people, or go to hug her husband and accidently poke him in the eye.

I don’t know if it started with Bella Swan, I feel like we can (almost) all agree that she wouldn’t have been so cute if she didn’t fly her Clumsy Flag high.

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There are amazingly hilarious shows like NEW GIRL and 30 ROCK that have main characters I relate wholeheartedly to. It’s like sitting with old friends and accidentally choking on biscotti sticks between stroppy life stories.

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I had never felt so welcome.

And suddenly, I was even collecting embarrassing”events” like Pokemon cards. As soon as I would do something weird, I would catalog it so I could tell my other “awkward” friends. It was like a strange Girl Scout group, and for those of us who are somewhat socially moribund, it felt good to be a part of something, even if it’s an Embassy of Embarrassment where you must have at least three level 10 incidences on file before you could be a full member. And that’s only to join. To stay in, you have to meet quotas.

About the same time, I unconsciously decided that those descriptors were the best attributes I had. That I was only these awkward instances stitched together into a timeline.

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the words I use to describe myself.

Awkward. Weirdo. Clumsy. Dummy.

All super uplifting, right?

And then I realized, those words weren’t just in my head.

“I am so awkward.”

“You don’t know me yet, but I’m a weirdo.”

“Listen to this dummy thing I did.”

“Mea, you idiot…”

It wasn’t someone else saying these things to me. It was me…demeaning me.

I  noticed something. Something I didn’t really like. I was starting to be ONLY awkward–ONLY a clumsy-dummy-weirdo. Before, I would have these moments of brilliance. I would at least feel confident with a pen in my hand. I used to hold on to these moments like you would a string tied to a helium balloon because, before awkward was cool, I wanted to be luminescent when I “grew up”. Well, at least mostly shiny.

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Slowly, though, those shiny moments separated farther and farther in time until I couldn’t remember the last time I’d seen one. But I could totally remember the last 10 times I told myself I was an idiot.

To my tribe, I told funny anecdotes.

But I was not happy.

I wonder how many of them aren’t happy either?

I heard myself one day, “Gah, me equals awkward,” and it made me stop in my tracks. (Literally, I almost caused a traffic jam in the hallway.)

I. Heard. Myself.

How long had I been shoving myself in this soggy box? So long that I forgot what it felt like to be competent and confident in my talents. “I am not one for false modesty…” (Elizabeth Bennet said) but, in the past, I had not been one for false condemnation, either. Was I really a dummy-wierdo? God, I hope not.

For an experiment, I practiced not saying aloud the things I didn’t want to resemble.

It was hard.

It is hard.

I’d unintentionally ingrained this line of thinking to flow freely from my head to my mouth to my heart that stopping it took constant attention.

Until it didn’t. (I did it again today, but I’m writing this post, so I wonder if old habits truly do die hard, or if it’s just in the forefront of my forehead.)

I’ve noticed an improvement. I feel more “together” in the world rather than cliquishly “awkward”. I feel more capable with publicly verbalizing ten words in a row without accidently creating a dirty joke. I feel more Real Smiles than not these days.  I feel more like Sometimes Shiny Me instead of Always Awkward Me.

Now, I’m working on my thoughts. Even the disappointed tone I hear my inner voice use when I do something dumb. I can’t change the fact that I am naturally clumsy and that I think differently than most people I know (which makes me the life of the party, let me tell you.) But I can forgive myself, and I can release those moments, rather than hoarding them for future hilarious floggings.

I’m finding that I WANT to be forgiving. That I want to see what more I can be by just…believing I’m more than a failed trek up the stairs (true story). This is what I want to tell all the members of my trippy tribe. We don’t have to just be an after-dinner story. We are more than our awkward experiences.

I’m not saying you have to change anything after reading this. I just want to be real with you.  We are Writers and/or Readers. We KNOW words are powerful. Why did I NOT think that applied to Real Life, instead of to just the lives I create? For me, right now, it’s the lack of words that have made all the difference. But don’t we Writers already know that, too?

Until next time, *pregnant pause* (See what happened there???)

Sig