Measure the Magic

Lately I’ve been trying to fit my life into a list, and the measure of my success is directly related to how many items I’ve checked off at the end of the day. The list, by the way, never grows smaller because for every item I cross off, several more are waiting to be added. Don’t get me wrong, being productive is satisfying in a “job-well-done-good-going” sort of way. But something’s been missing.

You need a little magic

Last July I posted a blog, Motivation and Magic, about my morning ritual of reading through my inspiration notebook. Unfortunately, it’s been months since I opened that notebook. Publishing my first book caused me to morph from laid back to list lady. Now I juggle multiple to do lists—writing, promotion, social media, marketing, force-feeding myself new information, and keeping up with my email and FB friends.

Today I’m measuring the magic instead of the productivity, and so far it’s been, well, magical.

In my gym workout this morning, we’d completed fifty sweaty minutes of exercises when the coach sent us to the parking lot to do front lunges and mummy kicks. We were dragging, but two of the women faced each other and clapped hands after each lunge, making it a partner workout. We all laughed and picked up the pace. I looked at the blue sky, and back at the women of all ages and sizes enjoying the moment. As we headed out to jobs, kids, or other plans for the day, no one grumbled about getting another workout under our belts; we commented on the fresh air, the great day. We were all feeling the magic.

Wait, there’s more magic to come

My routine after the gym is to sit at my laptop and work on my book until noon, but today I set up my ironing board near the back sliding door, lit a pineapple and sage candle and ironed as a cool breeze moved across my arms. By the time I finished, I’d mentally written a chapter that had eluded me for days.

For the rest of the week I’m going to lose the lists, “measure the magic” and see how that plays out. Do you measure your days? What’s your process?

I recommend reading Brain Pickings The Art of Looking: How to Live with Presence, Break the Tyranny of Productivity, and Learn to See Our Everyday Wonderland by Maria Popova

linda iphone pics1 088

It’s Okay to Run Away

Two days after publishing my debut mystery, I did the unthinkable. Instead of following all the advice in workshops, blogs, newsletters and books about how crucial the first few weeks are to get your book noticed by undertaking a huge promotion blitz, I flew 2,458 miles to visit my daughter.

I didn’t take my laptop and hardly looked at emails.

Every time I started to panic about what I should be doing to get the word out about my book, I looked at my daughter and knew this was exactly where I needed to be. I’d just finished with a lot of activities that were out of my comfort zone and a big learning curve for me, and I needed to allow time to feel good about the big step I’d just taken—especially since it was a long time coming. Being with my daughter reminded me of what is as important in my life as achieving goals—spending time with family and friends and allowing myself to enjoy each step of my own journey.

How do you maintain your equanimity when taking big steps in your life?


Expanding the Hug

Food trucks, a DJ and a few venders were circled around my local market’s parking lot. The music and enticing aromas attracted me to investigate, so I strolled over and chatted with a couple of women promoting their fitness group. One woman wore a bright yellow button.

That button spoke directly to my heart. It said: I am enough

I asked, “Where did you get your button? I want one!”

She unpinned it and gave it to me. I tried to decline, but she insisted and said that if someone admired it, I was to give it to them. I said, “But what if someone wants it right away? I’m not ready to give it up.” I felt like hiding it. I couldn’t give it up, it was mine and I needed it, I loved it!

She smiled, “You have to give it.”

I nodded, pinned the button to my t-shirt and walked away feeling as if I’d just been hugged, feeling better than I’d felt all day. My grasping thoughts dissolved and I realized the only better feeling would be to pass the button on to someone else, expanding the hug.

Goals are good

photo (12)

It’s good to have goals and strive to improve, move forward, move faster. Don’t we all spend a lot of time at that effort and reap well deserved rewards? But, once in a while, isn’t it heavenly to rest in the thought that I am enough?

I’m happy to pass on my cheerful yellow button to the next person I meet who wants it, and in the meantime, I’m passing it on to all of you in this post.

What does “I am enough” mean to you?

photo (7)

Motivation and Magic

I keep a notebook of spiritual and motivational advice that helps me navigate this life with as much grace and dignity as possible. I need it because I often fail at the grace and dignity part. I get lost.  It used to embarrass me that I needed a prop to find relief from negative thinking. What if I was a self-help-aholic?

That changed when I read an interview with the Dalai Lama a number of years ago.  He said he has to manage his motivation every day. Reading that interview was a gift. No wonder it was so difficult for me to stay positive and respond to life’s challenges with grace and dignity, even the Dalai Lama had to work on it.

Each morning I page through my ring binder to “manage my motivation” before starting the day. It’s filled with affirmations and advice from wonderful authors, and religious and spiritual leaders across all faiths. It opens my mind and heart. Magic happens. The alchemy of the day transforms from fearful to fabulous.

How do you manage your motivation?

photo (8)

A Story’s Setting

Why do so many writers set their stories in hometowns, even if they haven’t lived there for many years? Because in those formative years, whether small town, city or suburb, so many of life’s firsts happened—when we were most aware and all our senses alert.

After nearly a lifetime of experiences, the first ones are still seared into my soul:

  • First smell of lake. Skin puckered and eyes bloodshot from staying in it from morning till dark, you smell like lake too. You are lake
  • First love. You grin so hard and so long your jaws ache, you kiss so hard your mouths bruise
  • First disappointment when he doesn’t show up; first heartbreak when you realize he’ll never show up
  • First taste of sugary doughnuts your palsied great-aunt Emma made in her kitchen. You thought she was an angel because she wore a white apron, white kerchief and lived in a cloud of white flour
  • First loon’s call. You think it’s calling to you, and it is. It’s all calling to you—the breeze unsettling the birches, canoe paddle slapping the water, conversation of Mergansers floating under the dock, a peeper chorus
  • First reflection.lake

I hope this blog post prompts a few memories of your own remarkable first experiences. I’d love to hear them…