Now Is The Time

Well, here we are. It’s been a month since I’ve attended a meeting outside my home. A month since I’ve taught in a classroom. Since I’ve had lunch with a friend, gone to a movie or stood in line at the grocery store. Even for an introverted writer who loves solitude, staying home this much gets weird.

Every day I bike through my neighborhood with my dog. She’s well over a hundred in people years, so we don’t go far. Lots of stopping and sniffing. I want her to keep her muscle strength as long as possible, so I persuade her even when she’s reluctant. She gains enthusiasm as we progress and on our way home, she trots along beside me, wagging and smiling. I put her inside and go out for a longer, harder ride. Sometimes I walk a Bosque trail. Most days I visit the local park to sit under a Ramada and watch people playing with their dogs and kids.

Everywhere I go, people greet me. They wave from cars and porches. We exchange anecdotes about our dogs, our shopping challenges, the weather. I know twice as many of my neighbors as before the pandemic. Maybe because more people are home. Maybe because community is our only bulwark against the waves of tragedy and fear sweeping our land.

It’s so odd that now we express our love for each other by keeping our distance.

I’m one of the lucky ones who can work at home and order what I need. And suddenly there was plenty of time. The perennial excuse evaporated overnight. Without appointments, errands, and classes, I could be wildly productive.

But it’s a month in and I’m just beginning to settle down. I have written. I always do. But my productivity did not escalate with the additional time. I found myself dithering, staring into space, watching shows on Netflix I didn’t even like.

My old responses to stress—procrastination, obsessing on unimportant details—re-appeared. My thoughts and fears about the pain and suffering hovering over the world like a black cloud was the culprit.

I meditated and prayed about it. Took the practical steps feasible for me. Reminded myself that I am safe. I am healthy. At this moment, I have a place to live, food to eat, beautiful animals to keep me company, friends to call and zoom with. And now, I’ve started offering writing workshops via zoom. Why not? Virtual training may be the new normal.

Finally, it occurred. This is the time. To stop making excuses. To look at my reactions to the changes in our world without flinching. To walk the talk. Be honest. The reason I’m not working on my new book for six hours a day is because I’m nervous!

When I’m nervous, I procrastinate. I read every email, news reports, the latest statistics. Being informed is fine, but knowing all the details doesn’t help.

So what does? What helps us live with uncertainty? This is what I came up with

  • Acknowledge feelings. It’s okay to feel anxious, stressed, impatient, depressed. Feelings denied only pop up later. Now is the time to admit that I’m human. I’m upset. I don’t like this. I want it to end.
  • Make self-care a priority. A walk, a bike ride, a yoga tape, an online exercise class. Deep breathing, meditation, stretching, dancing around the living room. Now is the time to move—bodies and emotions so those negative thoughts don’t dig in
  • Keep in touch. Call, skype, email, zoom, wave from the porch. Make a new friend while out walking the neighborhood.
  • Help someone. What can I do? Who needs help?
  • Tolerate uncertainty. There’s no telling how any creative project will turn out, so that’s nothing new for a writer. It’s a good skill to master. Now is the time to let go of trying to control things. It was mostly an illusion anyway.
  • Take small steps. Now is the time to say, I don’t know, and move forward. The best cure for paralysis is action. One foot in front of the other.
  • And most important, notice negative thoughts. The what if’s. The it might’s. None of them are real. They’re just thoughts. And thoughts can be changed. Dissolved. Replaced.

I am safe.

I am healthy.

I have what I need.

I can adapt.

I can create.

I can do my work.

I can love.

Color Yourself Creative!

Color Yourself Creative!

The word is out!

Creativity goes up when stress goes down!

It also turns out that subjective feelings of happiness depend less on what we have and more on what we do.

Who doesn’t want to feel excited at the start of every day? Satisfied with the result of the day’s effort? In harmony with the impulses that spring from within?

So how can we increase our satisfaction with our lives?

Many people bemoan their lack of inspiration. I’m not creative, they say, all the while wishing they could be.

Others are sure they don’t have time. It’s true that we’re all busy. I meet people who say, wistfully, after the kids grow up, after I start making more money, after I retire, THEN I’ll do my creative work.

But what if your inner muse grows weary of waiting? What if your ideas fade to dust because you haven’t put the energy into making them real?

Creativity is like a garden. It you don’t water it, it dries up.  It doesn’t take a lot of water. A regular sprinkle is better than the occasional downpour.

The good news is, you can be creative now. Without quitting your job. Without getting another degree. Without committing to writing a breakout novel or painting the next modern masterpiece.

All you have to do is give yourself the time and space to relax. To let your creative impulses come forth. Creative work comes from play. From downtime. From daydreaming. From noodling with ideas, words, pictures. From giving yourself a gift that only you can give. Permission to be who you are. 

We all have creative gifts. For some, that means serious writing, painting, music, design. For others, it means craftwork. Or nurturing a beautiful environment. Or growing healthy vegetables and beautiful plants. Doesn’t matter where your talents and impulses take you. What matters is that you follow them.

Easy to say, you might sneer, and you’re right. It is easy to say. BUT, it’s also easy to do.

Start small. Allot a short period of time on a regular basis when your creative self can roam free. Turn off the phone, the computer, shut the door and be with yourself.

You could meditate. Read inspirational material. Draw. Write in your journal. Or sit and listen to yourself breathe. Or you could evoke your inner creative self with color!

Color Your Way to Your Creative Self

A great way to relax in your creative time and get those juices flowing is to get an adult coloring book, some crayons or colored pencils and have at it! It’s amazing how relaxing it is to color beautiful designs that an artist has produced. The proliferation of these books speaks to how effective they are, both in reducing stress and promoting creativity.

Books with almost any theme that interests you are available on Amazon. I’ve listed a few below, and there are many others.

Have you tried coloring as part of your creative process?  I’d love to hear about your experiences.

Adult Coloring Book for Stress Relief

Adult Coloring Book Stress Relieving Animal Designs

The Secret Garden Coloring Book

Color Me Calm

The Dreamwalkers of Larreta, Book 2

 

I’m thrilled to announce the publication of my second book of the visionary fantasy trilogy, The Dreamwalkers of Larreta.

If you like to read fantasy with a metaphysical twist, I hope you’ll try my books.  Both are now available in electronic format.  The Tyro is in paper now, and The Rending will soon be out in paper soon.

The Tyro is the first book in the trilogy about earth-born dreamwalkers who re-unite on the world Larreta after centuries of incarnations on earth. They have barely arrived when they are thrown together to solve the mystery of time rifts that threaten the existence of all life on Larreta.

Jesse holds the secret to the origin of the rifts. He swears he and Leo are old friends, but Leo can’t remember him and isn’t sure he wants to. To save both worlds from destruction, Leo’s memories must surface so he and Jesse can create a vital passage through time and space. But can he face the pain of his past and form a bond of trust with Jesse before it is too late?

In The Rending, Leo and Jesse join forces to create a volatile passageway through time and space. Leo’s skill is looking backward in time, while Jesse sees the future, even when it endangers his life. But Jesse hasn’t learned to control his abilities. And Leo doesn’t dare succumb to his passion for the beautiful newcomer.

The fate of two worlds depends on the bond of trust developing between them but the dark puppet master behind the rifts has other plans. And patience is her greatest virtue.

 
 

 

 

Visionary Fiction

When I started writing short stories, I was struggling with my novel, which refused to bend to my will. I wanted to write a fantasy about the characters who lived in my head and the alternate worlds they inhabited, but they kept wanting to tell me about their re-incarnational experiences on earth.

So I put the book aside, used my dreams as a starting point, and wrote shorter fiction. More manageable, I thought. Again, the characters kept bumping up against the veil that separates ordinary reality from what lies beyond.

I shouldn’t have been surprised since that happened frequently in my everyday life. It seemed more natural, so why shouldn’t my fiction reflect what visions as well as actions, flights of fancy as well as plans and goals?

I had to study meditation and then metaphysics before I realized that my reality was normal even though it included phenomena most people didn’t recognize. Just lucky, I guess.

Now that I have learned more and written a lot more, I find my work falls into the category of Visionary Fiction, a subset of speculative fiction (fantasy, science fiction, paranormal, horror) that uses ancient teachings to inform the present day.

According to the Visionary Fiction Alliance, a growth in consciousness is the motivation for protagonists in this type of fiction. It explores human potential and celebrates the possibility for evolution and co-creation. The plot elements of dreams, visions, reincarnation, and psychic abilities figure prominently.  Finally, a place where I fit in!

My book of short stories, The Way Home, explores the journeys of characters who are trying to get home and keeping bumping up against an invisible wall.

The Dreamwalkers of Larreta is a fantasy trilogy, published by Ellysian Press. Two spirits have furthered their education through the trials of earth incarnations so they can return to Larreta and find each other again. Difficulties abound.

If you enjoy fiction with a twist, characters who are more than even they know, and some (slightly skewed) insight into the human condition, you might enjoy reading visionary fiction. You could start with the visionary fiction reading group on Goodreads.

 

 

 

The Tyro is out in Paperback!

My new novel, The Tyro, is now available in paperback on Amazon. Book One of the fantasy trilogy, The Dreamwalkers of Larreta, it has already been well received by reviewers for which I am very grateful.

We are having a Facebook Celebration for Tryo on October 2, 4-6 PM PDT. Join us for games, contests, and the chance to win free books. I’ll be there to answer any questions you might have.

tyro-ebook-only-for-web