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Currently Browsing: Blogging Along

Hard Work is Hard Work

Seems a given that if you work harder, you’ll get better results. It’s the American way, the Puritanical philosophy. And while I’m not a lazy person, I can also say that I’d probably find it easy to avoid more work. It Smacks of Effort.

There are times when we want things and we know that we’ll have to put a little extra effort into achieving them. Taking final exams for school for example. Or studying to pass your drivers test and receive your driver’s license.

Happy Mail Number One on Shalavee.com

I was asked recently to take part in an Instagram challenge to promote snail mail and national letter writing month along with the Happy Mail Club. I felt flattered to have been asked because that meant I could be trusted to follow the rules and create quality content related to the cause.

But what it also meant was that I had to work harder than I usually do it seems, to take and make pictures that were nice enough to post in this elevated “tag everybody and you represent us” fashion. I was a little more particular and was surprised again at how difficult styling a photo is when you truly care about the outcome.Earth Day Happy Mail Challenge two on Shalavee.com

I’m thinking I’m a regular underacheiver because now I was reshooting my displays after looking at them on a bigger screen to judge the composition or the light. I deemed them to have more potential than I had captured in my first round of shots.

Sometimes you get lucky with a photo. But partly because I’m taking the majority of my pictures with a fancy phone camera, I feel the need to retouch them 9 out of 10 times. If you take them in the ideal place with the ideal light, you are likely not to have to touch them usually. But otherwise, I’ll be fiddling with those shots. And that is a minimal amount of effort compared to composing the shot in the first place.Styling with four legged beasties on Shalavee.com

And there’s always the shooing away of the furry four-legged beasties who want to know what the heck you are doing with all this cool stuff next to the very best view of outside in the house. It’s a given here.

The next step requires more work. Where you want to be, that next step up? That will require an extra effort, that added concentration, that time to edit, and think, and edit again. You do this to prove that it’s worth it to yourself. You’ll be proud of yourself when you complete it. And impressed that what once seemed a hassle to you, now seems like what you always needed to do.DIY happy mail post final on Shalavee.com

Yes, I think we are prone to fight that mindset of faith in the work to deliver you to the next level. To take the easy road is a preset. To keep the load light, moving from thing to next thing, making “progress”. That even the changing of the gears is work in and of itself. But it’s the best work to be done. And when your heart knows what it wants, you need to back it up by exclaiming, “Well lets get to doing whatever it takes to make this happen.” I wanted to prove that I was capable of beautiful work and I proved it. I expand as I take on projects where I push my comfort zone and come out ahead. And I am happy to know what my capabilities are always.

If you enjoyed what you read, subscribe, via the subscription box in the sidebar, to my thrice weekly posts via your emailbox. And visit me on Instagram to see my daily pictures, friend me or like my page on Facebook. Or come find me on Twitter or Pinterest too. I am always practicing Intentional Intouchness so chat at me please. I live for conversations.

And, as always, Thanks to you for your visit.

Pump Up My Platform

You may or may not know, I offered up a proposal to teach a class on Creating an Author’s Platform. And the moment I did this I thought, “Girl you better start pumping up your own platform so you look like you are all-knowing all-seeing platform girl.” A few elements an author’s platform encompasses are social media, your personality, other projects and places you are engaging with and being published, and who you know. I’ve blogged and been online steadily for four years. I have learned a tremendous amount about social media, gathering a tribe, and all things online etiquette-y. But one of the areas I pale in is self-promotion. This is a particularly dreadful area for many of us artistic types, especially women.


Self-promotion is a tricky concept as we don’t want to appear demanding or egotistical. And so we err on the side of not saying anything as opposed to coming off as this. Except, as Jeff Goins, online writer and marketing guru points out, you are even more egotistical if you expect people to come and read or appreciate your artistic efforts if you’ve said nothing. Unrealistic, to say the least, and sort of mean to yourself.

platform on shalavee.com

If you are feeling wobbly about what you have to offer, the trick is to figure out how you can make it look like you think you’re good enough (while you honestly try to feel it) so that others think you are too. Everyone wants to support a winner, my friend’s Mom says. If I’m a publishing house, I will want to represent a writer who has already started their promotional work. So you have to say things like,

Please Read and Share my Writing

That is tougher than it seems. But if it were a friend’s piece who I adored, I’d say excitedly, “You reaally need to put your eyes on this. My girl has wisdom in spades and has helped me countless times to figure my way out of tough spots and find hope and a plan where I didn’t think there was one.” Or something equally lovely. So you see, I’m attempting to move myself out of the 120 subscriber rut (oops look at that, it’s now 119) I’ve apparently stalled in. If you love what I have to say, subscribe to my posts please. Makes all this effort a little more worthwhile. platform on shalavee.com

Meanwhile, I am planning an Instagram picture challenge beginning May 16th, 2016. I am cooking up a bonus offering for people who sign up to receive my blog posts in their inboxes. And am considering offering a single email delivery a week option that encompasses all three weekly posts. Is that something Y’all might be interested in? Might just start it up and see what happens.


Meanwhile, I’m exchanging interviews with lovely artist Mama Megan Gray, I am finishing up my Book Manifesto course now so that I understand in-depth what I really want to offer my readership, and I will be sending out writing submissions again sooner than later because that’s what I need to do to gain Klout! More art, more fun, more time, all would be nice yes. And here comes Summer! Sigh.

If you enjoyed what you read, subscribe, via the subscription box in the sidebar, to my thrice weekly posts via your emailbox. And visit me on Instagram to see my daily pictures, friend me or like my page on Facebook. Or come find me on Twitter or Pinterest too. I am always practicing Intentional Intouchness so chat at me please. I live for conversations.

And, as always, Thanks to you for your visit.

Seeing Me and Thanking You

I’ve always been invisible. Not like the cool invisible where you can get away with diabolical crime schemes or walk around naked and nobody would see you. But invisible to myself. I could not see me as other people saw me. I’ve written about it again and again but only because I was lucky enough to even notice something was missing. I just knew it was important for me to find out.

I remember the first time I felt like I was seen as a blogger and writer was almost three years ago. It was a community event. It was raining. And abruptly, a lovely fellow artist came up to me and told me that she enjoyed reading my blog. That she felt acknowledged by the honesty of my words or something to this effect. That I should keep writing. She was thanking me for what I just can’t help but do. Wow!Family after Eamon's Birthday dinner at Cafe Sado's on Shalavee.com

This would be the first of many random gifts of kind words from my readership. Understand that I can never really know who’s reading except when people tell me. And where they may not have the courage to write a comment to my posts below, I have been so lucky to have people screw up their courage and tell me to my face.

First, Keep doing it. Keep gifting your lovely words of acknowledgement and appreciation to whomever inspires you because you never know what that might give back then to them. Secondly, the cumulative effect of these gifts of kindness and heartfelt appreciation have done wonders for my ego and consequently my esteem. I’d say I’m about 75 percent visible to me now. That I’ve heard what you’ve said and am taking myself and you very seriously in the best possible way.me and my friends Melissa and Karen on Shalavee.com

I won’t stop being me nor will I stop sharing me and my life’s perspectives with anyone who cares to read it. I’ll be a life-long sharer. And I can truly say that the cumulative effect of having strangers tell me that my life’s struggles has meaning and beauty to them, well that feels like both the whip cream on top and the sugar rush which is propelling me to move on.

I’m finally writing something that I’ve been “meaning to write” for a very long while now. A short expose, an acknowledgement of my purpose, and a call to my own life’s action. I can see clearly now the rain is gone and I’ve shooed the perpetual clouds over my head. And I have you all to thank for bringing out the sunshine and helping along my process. Thank you dear readers !

If you enjoyed what you read, subscribe, via the subscription box in the sidebar, to my thrice weekly posts via your emailbox. And visit me on Instagram to see my daily pictures, friend me or like my page on Facebook. Or come find me on Twitter or Pinterest too. I am always practicing Intentional Intouchness so chat at me please. I live for conversations.

And, as always, Thanks to you for your visit.

The Relentlessness of Motherhood

My go to word in describing parenting is relentless. My baby daughter, ungrateful and miserable, can cry at me at least ten times today, what feels like 70 percent of the day, beating me down further and further into defeat. The relentlessness is daunting.

You’re review is in. Fifty percent of today will not meet with her satisfaction and, according to her, you suck at parenting.

My top seven words to embody my experience with motherhood are:

  1. Chaos
  2. Temperance
  3. Perseverance
  4. Relentless
  5. Confusion
  6. Patience
  7. Exhaustion

All problems could be solved, you think, if only I had their money or their family. Those people with their 5 extra family members to spread out the stress of the 16 plus hours a-grueling-day of care-taking and giving. If only I had their time and money to buy nicer clothing to cover up my ever-widening butt until I could hire that trainer to help me widdle it down. For now, I wear my ill-fitting sweats, placing my greying thinning hair into something up-ish. My nails and cuticles dry and ragged for lack of care. I have that look of survival and neglect. That wild look that says I’ve thought about fleeing in my fantasies. The dull look of disbelief that this will get better no matter how many times people insist it will. Beaten and hopeless is all the rage in the truthful Mommy circles.At the grocery store years ago on Shalavee.com

If only I had the money to buy a SUV that I could comfortably load and buckle my child into without having the rain soak my back. Then I’d slip into the front seat and drive smoothly away to drop my privileged child off at that member of the care-taking team whose day it was to take them. Or I’d hire a housekeeper/child care-taking person as a stunt double so I could escape and make art or do lunch or have beauty salon time. Where’s my miracle money? My large ever-loving family? Where’s my get out of hardship free card?

No I won’t be looking forward to “taking care of myself” with a kale and flax smoothie tonight. Instead I’m thinking of making pasta with gravy, cheese, and deep-fried potatoes and a side of beef so that I can feel an ounce and moment of comfort that I never feel in my day-to-day existence. Wash it down with a 12oz glass of Shiraz and pray I can stay awake to watch any escapism television.Baby Fiona on Shalavee.com

Why is it wrong to want it to be easier than this? To want the release of the hardship and grinding daily agony. I want to feel light and unencumbered. I want privilege instead of lack. I want a child who doesn’t make me constantly feel like I’m failing her. I want to stand here in the winner’s circle and not the survivor’s circle. Like my mother did. Like hers before her. Because deep down I don’t believe there’s any other way for it to be but hard.

And If you enjoyed what you read, subscribe, via the subscription box in the sidebar, to my thrice weekly posts via your emailbox. And visit me on Instagram to see my daily pictures, friend me or like my page on Facebook. Or come find me on Twitter orPinterest too. I am always practicing Intentional Intouchness so chat at me please. I live for conversations.

And, as always, Thanks to you for your visit.

I Read What I Write and Discover Myself

I write to discover, and then I forget myself again. It’s been a really interesting journey discovering who I am and what I know. Then, like so much dust churned up, the ideas dissipate back into the computer files. The complexity of me is lost to myself, to others.

I envy my blog’s readers as they know me better than I often know myself. I find it equally interesting that many of my friends never read my blog. They must figure they’ll catch up with me when they see me. Or maybe they don’t want to know too much about me for fear they may not like me as much as they do now. Fiona and Me on shalavee.com

The me here on the blog is more “me-er” than in real life. A kind gentleman reader fussed recently that he felt bad for me always being so down on myself when I come across as such a confident person in person. I explained that with three posts on the blog weekly with subjects tending towards the wobbly, the picture of me is skewed and concentrated. But in this way, I can show that my humanity is here and so the reader can allow for their humanity too.

I never ever imagined that writing would lead me to such a wealth of self-knowledge and acceptance. A deeper understanding of self and the kindness of people in general has given me renewed faith in both myself and others which is exquisite as liquid hope. Opening up to others’ thoughts and worlds has given my brain sustenance and gifted me all sorts of friendships with all sorts of people including myself. And a boundless bounty of perspectives. Fiona's hair on shalavee.com

I made a passing comment in the beginning of the year that I wanted to read my writing daily. In that way, I could remember what I do and why it is I think others should really read it too. Because sometimes when I read my stuff, I think I rock. Hope you are enjoying at least this one post. There are 700 more posts hidden and awaiting my to read and recycle them. Acknowledging that I am a writer has been one of the greatest gifts to myself. And it’s gonna keep on giving until I keel over.

If you enjoyed what you read, subscribe, via the subscription box in the sidebar, to my thrice weekly posts via your emailbox. And visit me on Instagram to see my daily pictures, friend me or like my page on Facebook. Or come find me on Twitter or Pinterest too. I am always practicing Intentional Intouchness so chat at me please. I live for conversations.

And, as always, Thanks to you for your visit.

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