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Barbie Dream House

I had one of those apples to oranges moments a couple of weeks ago and again last week. The one where I compared where I was to where I believed someone else was and then despaired over it. Compared my insides to someone else’s outsides. And it wasn’t just a moment, it lasted a couple of days. I sat with it willing it to wash over me.

There are many women writers and bloggers online I greatly admire. I feel honestly lucky to be able to read their writing and be moved by them. And in a wobbly moment, I found myself thinking, “I really can’t write like that. Not that well.” Which is partially true. I write the way I do and they the way they do and our writings are sometimes as good in different ways. But each of us is always the best person for the “being us” job.

Fiona and the digger from Barbi Dream houses on Shalavee.com

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Until you get a rejection letter and those other people get published on Huffington Post the next day. Then, as you’re trying to be gracious and share and support them, they go and get published again. And they gush at how they can’t believe it. That’s when the girl with the new Barbie Dream House needs to go suck it.

Seems my definition of myself in my head is the girl who’ll never get the Barbie Dream House. I don’t drive the right pink sports car. I don’t hang out with the hip Kens. And even Skipper thinks I’m weird and shoves me towards those Bratz dolls. But this gal with the new Barbie Dream House who I’m trying so hard not to envy? She’s also the gal who would out herself in a snappy momentito for feeling begrudging of another’s success.

drawing on the porch from Barbie Dream House on Shalavee.com

So I took my time and I let that possible resentment go into the cosmos. And I resigned myself to resubmit something else to Huff Post and something else again. Because her hard work and my hard work are commendable and the apples and the oranges might be fruit but there are many many different factors in having them flourish and be added to fruit salads all over the globe. Styles and editors and forces that be just need to have the antes upped.

And no one is begrudging me my Barbie Dream House but me.

My Writing : Q & A

I was offered up an opportunity by All The Everydays blogger Jean a chance to muse my writing process. A writing prompt of the most publicly introspective kind.  Although I’m a writer, I don’t write about my writing process or purpose or motivation. I may write about what I’m thinking about, what I’m passionate about, what I’m mulling over, or what I just went through. So here goes. I’m a bit interested to hear my own answers.

What am I working on?

I am a willy-nilly writer. I write on whatever subject topic interests me. Until it doesn’t anymore. There’s more than a few pieces that languish in the nether regions of my computer because I lost interest in them. And there’s lists of post topics that seemed like a good idea when I thought of them.

I am working on organizing an Eastern Shore of Maryland bloggers meet-up so that we may exchange ideas and gain the support of other human beings who sit at computer screens a lot. I am also working on a project called 50 Asks which is a round about way of gathering courage and momentum to submit my writing to the bigger world. I need to find more guest posting opportunities. As for current writing pieces, I’m always thinking about something. Sorting out the bigger subjects worthy of bigger places to be published from the smaller ones.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

There are more than a few of us who are genre escapees. We hate labels. Except we still happen to be mothers, creatives, and writers who have blogs. I can call myself a lifestyle blogger. I am definitely a personal essayist. I’m a blogger who started my blog to gain practice writing. I’ve been writing privately in journals since I was 12 when my English teacher Mrs. Johnson had our class start journaling. The next year, in 8th grade, Mrs. Park said I should think about doing more creative writing. 30 years later, I started to do more creative writing.

Why do I write what I do?

My writing topics range from rogue squirrels and farty butts to why disciplining your children is a great thing. I am a recovering neurotic and victim to my self-discovery more often than not. But of late, I write because I’m curious to know what I might find when I do so. It’s cathartic and good for me as a bowl of flax Wheaties. I like myself when I do it.

How does your writing process work?

First, I get an idea. Then this can go several different ways. I may write it out longhand on a lined tablet while watching the children play at McDonald’s. I may sit down and pour out my first thoughts into a text document that will live on my computer desktop. Or I may write the idea down in my journal or a scrap piece of paper which hopefully ends up near the computer or a list of things to do. Or I may forget to do any of these things for days until the idea melts away or hopefully reappears.

I am a dual creative. I love words and pictures. I value my success in both mediums and have striven really hard to get better at both. I believe I’m succeeding. Find me on Instagram and see if you think I’m doing OK ? 

Three bloggers that I love…

If you like to read my stuff, let me suggest you read :

That Curious Love Of Green –  Like me, Jane is always working to create a balance between her creativity and her love for her role as Mammy. She lives in Ballinamore, Co Leitrim in the North West of Ireland.

A Chesapeake Journal - Kathy lives here on the MD Shore a county to my south. She’s my gal and her brief picture posts are very reflective of the relaxed life of living in this unique Chesapeake Bay region in the small communities on the peninsula.

Destination Here & Now – Marg and I are both Hogans. She lives in Bathurst NSW Australia. Her photography is amazing and her posts weave words with these stunning pictures often in a dreamy poetic fashion.

Thanks to Jean for her flattery and inclusion. I really did enjoy the challenge. And I hope you take a moment to follow the links to her blog or my other friends blogs. Thanks so much for visiting.

If you enjoyed what you read, subscribe, via the subscription box in the sidebar, to my thrice weekly posts via your email box. 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. 

Getting Out Of My Head & On With My Life

For a long time, I’ve been waiting to say it. To state what it is I need to say. Knowing that once it’s said, I can move on. And I’ve avoided even daring to think about what it is I need to say. Avoiding taking the time to sit down and let it tumble out of my head where it clogs my arteries of thought like karmic cholesterol.

Waiting is hard. And yet easier than the next step. Sometimes. Until it isn’t anymore. In this article from Lifehack, I found some very sound advice on moving onwards. And a wonderful quote from Anaïs Nin.

“And the day came when the risk

to remain tight in a bud

was more painful than the risk

it took to blossom.”

I have felt stuck on a precipice, a threshold where I teeter being held back only by my own arms. And somehow, that is comfortable. I’m disassociated from what I see beyond the doorway. I’m not allowed to dream those dreams out there. Wouldn’t want to get stuck out there and be unable to get back to here. The comfortable muddy stuck place of which I know of.

I watched the women at the Blog U ’14 conference. I watched them hard. Their interactions and authenticity and needs like advertisements pinned to their pretty dresses. And I wondered what I was doing here really. I couldn’t see where I fit into this picture. I wasn’t this kind or that kind. I was tired and sick and beaten. But I stayed as present as possible. Because my disconnect was so strong that I needed to get through to the other side to see why.

whether you think you can graphic from Shalavee.com

On the other side now, I have a feeling I know exactly what’s going on. This feeling of numbness means I have to finally take it all seriously. To start walking the walk and stop talking the walk. I need to decide what one little ‘it’ is and move. Declare my intentions and own my talent. Submit my writing and allow the doors to open. Have faith. Let go of comfortable hopelessness. Getting out of my head and on with my life.

I need to decide my life story in my way by my own means and madness. Not by the stories others tell of me. Not worrying about doing it right. Just doing it. These women gathering at this blogging conference stressed that we can’t do it alone. And if I take nothing else away, I’ll remember that. We are greater for the sum of our parts. We really can’t do it alone.

I was recently reminded that I’m a personal essayist. I want to get paid to write. I want to say “I’m a freelance writer” without the twitchy ‘waiting to be busted’ feeling at the end. I am simultaneously wanting to be legitimized and terrified of being legitimate. I fear success not failure. Because once you get that plate spinning in the air on a stick, you have to keep it there. 

And eventually, I’ll probably want to publish a book. I’ll be hooked on wanting to know what else I can compose of my lessons. I’m going to need people to support me and read my stuff and that’s why I need you and you and anyone else you know to like my pages and places and hang out with me online everywhere. When the opportunity comes, I’ll be ready to grab my help.

More importantly, through these interactions with people are countless opportunities to learn lessons and to be humbled and grateful for our oneness with a larger human community. Countless moments to feel loved by complete strangers and close friends and to exponentially offer that love back to others.

And that is what I was gifted from these powerhouse speakers at #BlogU14. I am not alone. I don’t suck. I am a freelance writer. I have a lot talent and passion and drive. And I am ready to step into my Shalagh suit and wear it with pride. This empress’ new clothes are almost visible. I’m beginning to see the visible me and not the invisible me.

I am about to begin a couple new projects and increase my participation in creativity and career. One Instagram project starts today. And a project called 50 Asks inspired by Tammie Bennett and Sandra Harris. I’ll fill you in the next posts.

Visit me on Instagram to see my daily pictures, friend me or like my page on Facebook. Or you can find me on Twitter or Pinterest too. I am always practicing Intentional Intouchness. Chat at me and I’ll chat atcha back. Thanks to you as always for your visit. 

Blog U ’14 Continues

This is the continuance of my post about the Blog U ’14 conference, held in my hometown of Baltimore, Maryland at the University of Notre Dame of Maryland last weekend, the first weekend of June. The conference kicked off Saturday morning with a Q & A panel of our teachers. Jen Mann, Ilana Wiles, Karen Alpert, Susan McLean, Kim Bongiorno, and Nicole-Leigh Shaw asked and answered questions about their experiences on their journeys as bloggers to writing success and fame. From trolls to book deals, it was entertaining, interesting, and I was overwhelmed by the successes of these women, who apparently never sleep, have obtained.

blog university '14 on Shalavee.com

We all chose 4 one hour sessions of blogging education on subjects of interest. My picks for lessons to learn were on Making Money With Your Writing, Treating Your Blog Like a Business, Going From Blog to Book, and Twitter & Facebook use. Takeaways?

Call yourself a freelance writer to everyone you meet. Everyone. Your butcher, your baker, your candlestick maker. You never know who may need something written. I helped a Mom with her kids college entrance essay once. He just graduated with a degree in Engineering.

Shop your work out everywhere and all at the same time. Don’t worry about the editors so much. They take care of themselves. First come, first serve. Be honest but don’t hold your breath and do ask when you can expect a decision.

Do nothing for free. And keep raising your rates. People who ask you for stuff for free (besides Huffington Post) are uncool.

Build a community by being yourself. Facebook is going to disappear (begin to demand money from its junkies) . It will be replaced and you can always take your community wherever you go. They like you for you.

Publishing has changed. You are only limited by your lack of creativity to use the social media well to make it happen. One writer used Kickstarter for money to just promote the book. And asked for the advance copy readers to write Amazon reviews. Which shot it to the top of the best seller list. Creative uses are what get you where you want to go.

Full Tilt beer from the cocktail party at #BlogU14 on Shalavee.com

No we weren’t drinking beer at the conference, this was the cocktail party reception the night before.

Know that social media is used by others to see if you are hireable and desirable. I despise twitter and I’ll be making a better effort because I believe what I heard there at the conference.

Huger still, they handed out a paper containing a list of writing submission possibilities and their contact info and how much they pay. Unheard of? Not at Blog U.  

While learning all of this, I was also simultaneously treated to a perpetual dribble down the back of my throat throughout, the first signs that my cold was kicking in. I just thought I was allergic to Notre Dame. Or learning maybe. My stomach wasn’t quite in the mood for coffee provided by Baltimore Coffee and Tea, yet another place I was employed by so very long ago.

blog university on Shalavee.com

The courses were highly informative as they know their stuff and kindly answered all of our questions. What was really awe-inspiring was the reiterated concept of supporting one another. If you can include and help your friends, why wouldn’t you? This conference was born out of these friendships for the idea of enabling others to make their own communities. And even though I really wasn’t a follower of any of the teachers, yet, I was very impressed by the intention and integrity of their mission.

Eddie's on Chas Street in Balto, MD from Shalavee.com

I took a break before the prom in the evening to go back and relax at my hotel cell. I stopped by my favorite Eddie’s grocery store for my favorite picnic basket filler :  a roast beef sandwich, some organic cherries, Terra Chips, and a thank you card for the Blog U staff. And grabbed a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc from next door for hotel wine-d down time. Which I enjoyed immensely as I sat there without underwear fiddling on my phone for a very very long time.

Nick Mom Prom from Blog U on Shalavee.com

The prom was a hoot. My favorite gal was the little dynamo, Holly, on the right in the pouffy armed pink number. She was the energizer bunny on the dance floor. People had all sorts of retro gowns they’d gotten from Ebay. I had just gone to my local Goodwill and settled on a long not-so-flash-backy-thing that hid all my bodily sins so I was happy too. The DJ was stellar, although there certainly could have been more light on the dance floor (my husband does event lighting). A great time was had by all except the gal who fell out in the middle of the dance floor but ended up being OK. Perhaps all the candy, cupcakes, and coffee gave her a wicked sugar crash. I’m sticking with that story.

blog u collage from Saturday's events on shalavee.com

So now is my opportunity to be inspired, delve into my writing, and pull out the good stuff to send off. And soon, I’ll tell you about how I’ve gotten involved in just the right challenge to inspire me for this task. Next post is my emotional wrap up.

 

Visit me on Instagram to see my daily pictures, friend me or like my page on Facebook. Or you can find me on Twitter or Pinterest too. I am always practicing Intentional Intouchness. Thanks to you as always for your visit. We’ll talk if you want to.

A Reminder That I’m a Personal Essayist

I started this blog when I admitted I was a writer, even when I wasn’t actually even actively writing. I needed to give myself a legitimate platform to owe and publish writing practice on. The ‘Why’ of my blog was for my writing. I admit that I forget that sometimes.

In 2012, while attending the Bay To Ocean Writing Conference held on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, I happily discovered my writing style was personal essay. That revelation was provided by George Merrill, who taught a class session that day on the subject of personal essays. He made my conference experience memorable. And the validation gave me an extraordinary high.

The sky fro a Reminder that I'm a personal Essayist on Shalavee.com

A couple of years later and I recently have found myself in Doubtland. So today I attended another workshop by Mr. Merrill to bookend and remind me of what I love to do. His exuberance and genuine teaching ability are inspirational. He embodies the good story, that which connects us. The telling process is human validation.

An authentic personal essay is forged from honesty and an intimacy with yourself. The subjects may be ones you have to push yourself to reveal the truths laying under your mental rocks. The process involves an exploration and a fascination in questions we share universally. The self-revelation is inspired and our passionate exploration may lead to a place most would just avoid. As a personal essayist, I have to find my way to these uncomfortable places because that means I’m growing. Because, if you’re not growing, you’re dying. Soon enough.

Personal essayist is storytelling on Shalavee.com

Stories authenticate our existence. They heal us. They reconnect us. They are exactly what other people want to hear and share when we converse. And they are a reflection of a society at a given time. Historical and necessary, one person at a time. And all the information George, who aptly referred to himself as an elder, provided has given me another round of validation I guess I needed.

Journaling and blogging as a medium were not mentioned and yet are very much a part of my personal writing experience. Through journaling I developed my voice. Because there I speak to myself without being concerned with another audience. Once that voice cemented into my style, the blog then became a place to practice purposefully. The blog format was constructed, and has been abused, as a personal storytelling platform. Yet, this is what makes it compelling. Sometimes my thoughts are spit out and published in a rough form but among the typos and the tense problems, there’s often an image nugget and human truth you can take away and place on your soul shelf. Because I’m am living in real time on my terms, in my words, here and now.

Fiona chewing on the pencil eraser from A reminder that I'm a Personal Essayist on Shalavee.com

The writing of a personal essay is not an egotistical act. Because I do not write it to call attention to myself but to share an authentic thought with even just one other person without pandering and manipulation. So not an egotist, I even have a hard time asking for people to like my blog because I want people to discover me and like what I do on their terms. That detail needs some therapy though because having an audience does make me really happy. And the bigger the audience, the more I’d probably contribute. It benefits everyone.

Thank you George Merrill for you enthusiasm for your craft. I’m sending you a note and the dollar I shorted you for your book. Looking forward to reading your essays and the inspiration to keep writing until I am an elder too. Hopefully one who can inspire others half as well as you.

And thank you to my readers, to those of you who say you enjoy reading what I write, it means more than I could put proper words together to describe here now.

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