An All-consuming Year

This year I’ve been consumed by

  • Politics—how does a country go from the grace and dignity of Obama to Trump?
  • Capitol Crimes 2017 Anthology. Chairing  an anthology of short stories for my local chapter of Sisters in Crime was time-consuming but rewarding, and I was thrilled to have my submission included

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  • House hunting—looking to downsize
  • Family and friends—healthy and happy for the most part—a blessing
  • Pets—both rescues, Sox is velvety, loves to play and taunt Shooz, our puppy. Now a year old, Shooz keeps me running, climbing under beds to retrieve toys, playing tug with her, throwing the ball, and so on. They bring me joy

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  • Blow Up on Murder—trying to make my latest Spirit Lake Mystery the best I can

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Always Incomplete

My book is not quite complete. I’d hoped to have it published in 2016 but time has gotten away from me. My new projection is that January will be the magic month. Shooz continues to yank me nearly off my feet when we pass other dogs on our walks, so more training is needed. She’s still afraid of men in hats and I’m not sure how to deal with that. My concern over the political situation disturbs me hourly, and it’s harder than ever to watch the news. We haven’t found a house yet, but will keep looking.  I’m grateful for family and friends who are nearby, yet always missing the ones far away.

And yet, if I know one thing about life, it’s that in order to thrive, we need to embrace the incompleteness because that’s where possibilities lie. Possibility sparks curiosity, curiosity engages imagination, imagination triggers action and action stirs up the magic.

Wishing you all a healthy, happy, prosperous and magical 2017.

 

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Forward! But not just yet.

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I don’t spend much time looking back. I’m too busy working through each item on my “to do” list, adding a new task as each one is completed. But this past week I’ve been circling, not quite ready to move forward.

I’d thought that after the whirlwind of October and November book panels, a book fest, speaking at the giant Bouchercon conference in Long Beach, and sending my second mystery to my beta readers, I would tackle all the marketing projects I’d put on hold. But that wasn’t working.

What I really needed to do was fill the well, and celebrate my achievements over the past two years. When Focused on Murder came out, I hardly had time to enjoy the moment because I was moving full speed ahead to promote it, and starting the second book in the series.

This week, I’m feeling grateful for the people who continue to support me, and I’m reflecting on all the times I moved through fear to do one more thing that was new and uncomfortable. It was worth it.

To those of you who might have forgotten to congratulate yourselves on your progress great and small this year, I hope you, too, will take a moment to be pleased about what you’ve accomplished.

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

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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?

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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?

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