Wild Rider Magazine – Crush Procrastination, Boost Your Blog and Writing

Life Hacks * Tips * Blogging * SEO * Movies * Links * Inspiration

This is the second issue of Wild Rider Magazine. Bringing you discoveries from around the web and my wild life.

In school or out for good, here are a few tips and life hacks to help you beat procrastination and links to improve your next blog post or writing project. We all want to do that, but a lot of things can get in the way. Procrastination or lack of focus (Wait. What was that sparkly thing over there?), fear of missing out on social media, and the lack of new information can throw our latest WIP (work in progress), into a death spiral. We can only get so much from the internet.

I’ve put together Ten Ways to Help You Reach Your Goals.

Magazine issue explores procrastination, boosting your blog and writing

Fight Procrastination:

We’ve all faced procrastination. It can lurk in the shadowy background of any project. It comes out of hiding as soon as we don’t want to work hard, we lose interest, or can’t solve a problem.

Most of us find it hard to disconnect from the Internet. We plan to get our work done, but with temptation only one click away, it can be super tough. I looked into a few apps and then realized we could do most of this on our own.

Here are some tips on combatting this enemy:

Reset your notifications. Popups used to drive me nuts while writing. I tried shutting down a few of them, but ended up turning all of them off. If there’s a fire somewhere, I’ll get a phone call.

Set a timer for 25 minutes. I’ve done this several times to make myself settle down and start on a writing project. Once the 25 minutes are up, I either quit, reset the timer, or continue writing.

I also have use this method for writing blog posts, limiting myself to 25 minutes. Sometimes I spend hours and days on posts only to get the same amount of views. Nope. I didn’t use a timer on this one.

There’s a timer on your phone or you can use this site to countdown.

Make a list of goals. If I don’t write them down, I space out half of them. I bought a daytimer in January and make a list and check off at least a couple items every day. I have long term goals in the back of it along with contest entry deadlines. I know many people make lists on their phones and that’s great, but there is something about physically crossing them off that gives me an extra special sense of gratification. I’m all about gratification and rewards. Promise me a gold star and I’ll work for it.

#UNPLUG4HOURS.  Announce to your social media friends that you will “peace out” for a few hours. You’re on the honor system and could lurk, but if you comment or Like something, you’ll be busted. I use #unplug4hours on Twitter. It helps me stay on track when I’m having a hard time focusing. For more on unplugging check out my post called Unplug 4 Hours. It works!

Twitter. Find a posse of writers trying to finish a project and meet up on Twitter or Facebook. Do a writing sprint and meet up again to give your buds virtual high fives.

Check Out These Links for Writers and Bloggers:

Read on to find a list of links to great websites, podcasts and classes. But lets start with a movie. Didn’t you love watching movies in school?

What the movie Blair Witch Project can teach you:

The first Blair Witch movie proved you didn’t need a stellar cast or elaborate sets to make an intense movie. With one view from a movie camera lens it created and executed tension so taught, it was exhausting to watch. Have you been told you need to create tension in a scene? You need to make your reader care what happens to your protagonist? This is the movie for you. The sequel, Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2, comes out September 16th although this one seems bent in the horror direction.

Links for Writer’s Conferences and Podcasts.

It’s not too late to find a writing conference. Check out the Association of Writers and Writing Programs at AWP.org. I will attend The Colorado Gold Conference in Denver September 9-11. See you there!

The Writer’s Life will link you up with 15 writer podcasts. There are many tips and interviews to explore.

Use iTunes? Then check out The Open University for all kinds of free classes. Don’t have a Mac? Check out The Open University website and search for a variety topics.

Follow this Website. You’ll be glad you did:

I found Donald Maass’s blog, Writer Unboxed, and check it frequently for insightful writing and business tips. I also use their search bar if I’m looking for something in particular. Donald posts once a month and always blows my mind. A new article is posted every day by knowledgeable Writer Unboxed authors.

See How Your Site Ranks.

Ever heard of Alexa? Well there are probably quite a few in the world, but only one ranks your website. With Google constantly changing their logarithms, mine has been on a roller coaster ride for months. I still check once in a while for kicks and giggles.

Content is key, so the aforementioned links could help you.

SEO information from the experts. 

Now that you’ve returned from summer distractions, posting more regularly may also help your rank. Who knows? For SEO information, read MOZ’s Whiteboard Friday. Let me know if something works for you.

So now you should be ready to rock your new projects and learn something new. You can kick procrastination, and take your blog and writing project to another level. You might want to start by making a list.

Click here for last month’s issue of Wild Rider Magazine.

Click for more of the Wild Ride.

Any comments or questions? Maybe you can think of something to add that may help another Wild Rider.

Appointment? Wonder Why We Wait So Long?

Wonder why we wait so long for appointmentsThree months ago, I made a doctor’s appointment. Later, I decided to fill my day with them. Why not blow one day instead of three? I scheduled another at 10:30 and my last at 4:45.

I arrived at the doctor’s office on time. This was the first appointment of the day, so I thought I’d get in and out quickly. I’d have plenty of time to run errands before my next.

The minutes clicked away as patients seeing other doctors came and went. Maybe I didn’t allow enough time for my next appointment. My palms began to sweat while I caught up with blog comments on my phone. I waited and waited and waited as my gut tightened.

Thirty minutes later, I considered downloading a book to read. The nurse called my name.

After hustling into the examination room, I stripped naked and donned one of those lovely tie-in-the-back gowns. Then I sat up on the table and waited and waited and waited again. I stared at my purse and longed for a book to read.

Another THIRTY MINUTES passed.

Finally, my OB-Gyn arrived. Whew! He had checked out my old fibroids with walkers and seeing eye dogs the last time we met and also performed an endometrial biopsy. The first time it had been so painful, I almost bolted from the room. I had been nervous about this appointment and didn’t want any more problems. After a thorough examination, he told me that my uterus had shrunk. The seeing-eye dogs have left the building. YAY!

It’s all good now. Only routine exams from now on.

While I raced to my next appointment, I had an AHA moment.

THE MOON. Of course! It was a full moon the night before. My doctor probably delivered babies all night. I would think that many doctors’ offices are filled after that particular phase.

I made it to my second appointment since they were running late too. No surprise there. At 4:45, I prepared for a long wait at the hair salon and it didn’t disappoint. No matter. I wrote a new chapter for my book.

Early the next morning, I had an appointment with my orthopedic surgeon with a follow up about my knee and broken wrist in January. The moon continued its crazy spell on people and the x-ray order was screwed up. I should have brought War and Peace.

From now on, when I book ANY kind of appointment, I’m going to make sure the moon is in its fingernail stage.

What do you think? Have you noticed a correlation? I bet you will now!

Click here for more Wild Riding Adventures.

Stop Negative Thoughts and Be Creative!

How think more creatively

Most of us would like to think more creatively. I would. As human beings, we dream every night and play out all kinds of creative scenes. Writing is my thing, so I want my mind to be filled with new thoughts. I love it when new characters, scenes or plot ideas pop into my head, but I wish they would appear more often. With such an over-active mind, how do I do that?

In one of my first meditation classes at Wanderlust Yoga Festival, I learned that up to 90% of our thoughts are old and repetitive.

Wow. I consider myself a creative thinker, so I was horrified that much of my time is wasted.

The instructor explained there are many kinds of old thoughts. The most common are negative. We play out scenes where we have felt loss or have been wounded long ago. They’re on a loop. We replay them over and over again. There is nothing we can do about these scenes. They happened. They’re in our past. Most of the time these loops make us feel bad, guilty, or fill us with regret. Not only do we hold them in our minds, we hold them in our muscles, our gut, our heart, our bones. It’s not healthy.

We think about the people in our lives that don’t understand us.

They can live in the present, but the memories imprint and then we regurgitate our latest conversations. They may be one of our acquaintances, a co-worker, or a neighbor. Their negative impact can hold us back in some way when their unkind words make us doubt ourselves. We don’t need more doubt. We have enough as it is. Everyone is on a path, but these people seem to trip us up. These “viral” loops in our brain make us feel inadequate. For some strange reason, we continue to regurgitate them anyway. We add them to our already heavy load. We are sensitive human beings.

On top of that, we have worries and fear.

Oh, my God. They are the worst. We all have them. They live in our future. We make plans and try to control what happens. A certain amount of planning is important, but what if the expectations become huge? It can paralyze us. I have held off sending emails that could further my career in writing because of the fear of a typo, an awkward sentence or a rejection. Instead, I hesitated and had to build up my confidence before pressing send.

There is also the fear of choosing the right path. What if we made a wrong turn somewhere? We may have faltered, twisted and turned around, or may have been seduced by sparkly things along the way. How do we know?

resolutions illustrationAll of these thoughts weigh us down. They take up the majority of our time. In order to free up space for creativity, we shouldn’t think about something that happened last month or ten years ago. The negative people in your life? They aren’t worth your time either. Obsessing about the future doesn’t help since it’s more out of our control than we think and it never turns out exactly how we plan, anyway. So make your plan and move along.

Sound easy? It is.

I say this because I stumbled upon part of this technique before the yoga adventure.

When I received a request for my full manuscript, I was so excited! Then I panicked. Over the previous two weeks, a few new ideas had popped into my head. There were a couple inconsistencies that needed to be fixed. Since they had bubbled up at weird times during the day, I hadn’t written them down. I couldn’t remember what they were. I was leaving town! I had a doctor’s appointment at 2:00! It was noon! I had two hours!

What would I do?

My stomach knotted while all kinds of negative thoughts popped into my head. I didn’t have time to sit and read through 370 pages, but I wanted to send it as soon as possible. Timing is everything.

I stared at my laptop on the kitchen counter and then I looked down at the rug. It was worth a try. After getting comfortable on the floor, I took a deep breath and tried to clear my frantic mind. I concentrated on my breath (this may sound weird), and stared at the insides of my eyelids. I took several deep breaths and thought about my main character. Then I drifted over (and I mean barely thought about), a few plot points and BAM! Those five corrections popped into my head.

Instead of thinking, I freed my mind and listened.

This happened because I calmed myself and stepped away from the source of stress. Breathing does that. In two three, out two three. Over and over until the heart rate slows and our brains fill with oxygen.

In the case above, I had thought about these corrections before, but only momentarily. I had been in that creative space when they were formed, so I had to get back into that level of calm and relaxed thinking in order to bring them back.

If you’re facing a brain block, sometimes it gets worse if you try to force it. That’s when we are using the wrong part of the brain. I don’t believe good books get written with the cerebral cortex. It’s too logical. Creative thinking has to come from that dreamlike state where the book flows like a movie. I write what I see in my mind’s eye.

I set aside time to write creatively and try to hit between 1000-2000 words. If I’m having a problem settling down, I do what I did when I panicked. I slow my breathing. I think about my last scene and the characters. I try to come up with the most interesting event that could happen, the worst-case scenario, or a way to reveal something new. Then I start writing.

At the festival, I learned another way to become more creative. By letting go of all those negative, unwanted, or unneeded thoughts, the brain can flow to new ideas . The process of letting go makes room for them.

Imagine them as black smoke deep inside your bones, your muscles, your gut. Breathe them out. Get rid of them. You don’t have the time for old negativity.

It’s funny, how it feels weird to let them go. It’s as if we’ve clung to them for protection, but they don’t protect us. They hurt us. They keep our wounds open, so they don’t heal.

The first three days of the festival, all of my old wounds broke wide open. It was scary, at first to be so vulnerable. I had to think about them, so I could finally release them.

Negative memories and thoughts hold us back. They undermine our confidence. We’ve learned our lessons. We don’t need reminders of misunderstandings or mistakes. They need to go back to where they belong. In our past.

resolution illustrationI thought I had to go out and fix everything by doing, but I was wrong. I needed to accept who I am and chill. Everything will ebb and flow the way it’s supposed to if we trust we are on the right path and keep working hard toward our goals. We need to quiet our minds, so we can listen to our sub-conscious thoughts, stop forcing everything to solve problems, and be.

We are human beings after all.

Are you able to let go of negative thinking? How does the creative process flow for you?

 

Click for more adventure on my Wild Ride.

Another inspiring post for you!

 

How I learned to fly!

wanderlust yoga festival learning to fly

I learned how to fly. I let go. I trusted. I flew by being, not doing.

Yesterday, I returned from Wanderlust Yoga Festival in a peaceful state of bliss, feeling renewed, refreshed and very sore. From meditation to slack lining, this four day adventure blew my mind.

I had worried about my first class, acroyoga, mentioned in my last blog post. As I sat among sixty others waiting to become fliers, I wondered how my mending body would perform. Partial knee and broken wrist notwithstanding, I hoped I had the strength. I wasn’t worried about my own body crashing as much as face planting someone else. My mind jumped from doubt to regret that I hadn’t worked out enough. I worried my body wasn’t strong enough. That I wasn’t enough. As I sat under blue skies with the breathtaking mountains in the backdrop, my heart raced and my palms perspired.

Our instructor said we couldn’t fly without one, three letter word. Yet. We couldn’t fly, yet. He said we would all fly by the end of the class.

No way, I thought.

How did we practice? Through grounding trust exercises. We would have partners and had to learn to let go.

Looking back, this was the perfect class to start the festival.

supporting a flyer

That’s me on the bottom as the support system.

So much of the festival was about letting go. Letting go of the same negative thoughts. Letting go of old wounds. Freeing our minds to create space for new thoughts to grow. Learning to listen so we could trust our soul to guide us along the way.

Did I fly? In many ways, yes, I did. Old wounds both mental and physical reopened, so they could be released.

Was is painful? Yes! I was close to tears for three days. On the fourth, I felt stronger, lighter, happier. When I came to Whistler, I had planned to solve problems by doing. When I left, I had made a decision. Being and letting life happen was enough. My body was enough. I was enough.

I could fly!

flying high in acroyoga
Have you ever gone on an adventure that changed you in some way? Would you consider going to Wanderlust? Do you want to open your mind to new ideas?

Warning! Wanderlust Adventure Ahead

practicing yoga in tree pose near a pond for WanderlustWhen my daughter, Courtney, asked if I’d be interested in going to Wanderlust, I said, “Sure!” I’m always up for traveling, but had no idea what she was talking about. Last week, she sent me a video of a class we’ll be taking. I laughed until I cried.

I hope no one gets hurt…

Wanderlust – Whistler 2016, is a four-day yoga festival that includes everything from the obvious, (yoga) and meditation to paddle-boarding, hiking and rocking out to DJs at night. I signed up. After all this isn’t my first yoga rodeo.

In seventh grade, I took a class as an elective at Our Lady Queen of Peace. I was hooked. I loved the relaxed atmosphere and how it slowed my active mind. I continued my interest through college. For a few years after having kids, I took a class poolside at a beautifully landscaped Boulder home. When the sessions became more aerobic than meditative, I dropped out.

It has been a few years since I’ve really been into yoga. With wrist and knee issues, I recently attended a few classes in Boulder to test my body. With a pad under my knees, I could do everything, in restorative, gentle yoga, anyway.

I thought I was good to go.

Courtney instructed me to sign up for all of the classes on her schedule, so I blindly clicked away. Last week, she sent me an email and asked if I had read the class descriptions. Of course not. I rarely read instructions.

One of the classes we’re taking is Acrovinyasa. She sent this video and I laughed until I cried.

We’ll be partners. I assume I’ll be on the bottom. I just watched the video again and it still cracks me up. Think of me spinning around like a top next Thursday. Ha! Still laughing.

My husband, Danny, is coming with us. His yoga themed bad dad jokes have been hitting me in waves. He is running two 5Ks as part of the event and will go on a hike, but he also signed up for a couple of yoga classes. There is hope. I think I’ll buy him that guy’s bandana. Could be a good look for him since he’s planning on walking around town with a cross-body yoga mat and a water bottle. Ha!

I’m really looking forward to the classes, especially the ones involving positivity and opening up the mind to creativity. I truly believe writers, musicians, and artists get into a creative flow that seems to come out of nowhere. It’s why I write with a vague idea of my plot points and could never use an outline. Whenever I concretely think about what should happen next in my book, I go into “deer in the headlights.” Instead, I imagine the characters and setting, and the scene rolls in my head like a movie.

Wanderlust should be a mind bender. I hope my body bends too. I can’t afford any breakage.

Don’t worry, Courtney and Danny will take lots of pictures. Remember, I have no shame.

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Are you into yoga? Have you been to Whistler or Vancouver? Is Acroyoga for you?

Summer’s Race for Stillness

three daisies

Summer fun includes a wide range of activities. Some can be enjoyed at breakneck speeds while others require taking a moment to be still and take in the surrounding beauty.

It’s wildflower season in the high country. Summer is so fleeting at high altitudes, it’s hard to find them at their peak. I went on a quest.

While hiking Baker’s Tank in Breckenridge, Colorado, I shared the trail with others on a different sort of quest. It was part of a race course for mountain bikers. I was surprised they took the time to say hello, smiling and chatting as they passed. Later, I found out the race was 100 miles long! I don’t know if you’ve ever biked in the mountains, but sometimes you can walk faster than you can bike when trails become treacherous.

On the way back home, I found this amazing field of flowers. They were backlit by afternoon sun. Time stood still while I stopped to take in this magnificent sight.

In stillness we find beauty.

 

daisy macro

As I headed to the car, a bike racer road up behind me on the trail. He was a couple miles away from the finish line, all downhill. You can see the relief in the smile on his face.

“How many hours have you been biking?” I asked.

mountain bike racer

“Nine hours. Almost done,” he said while whizzing by.

Amazing. We both succeeded in our quests only mine required complete stillness.

Do you have plans to go hiking this summer? Is it winter where you live? Have you ever mountain biked or found a huge field of wild flowers?

This is a response to the Weekly Photo Challenge – Details.

Click for more adventures on my Wild Ride. You are welcome to share my photos on Pinterest!

Wild Rider Magazine – The Premier Issue

Apps * Movies * Twitter * Blogging * Life Hack * Recipe * Inspiration

Wild Rider Magazine Discoveries from the web and my wild lifeHappy TGIF, Wild Riders!

Welcome to the premier issue of Wild Rider Magazine. Bringing you discoveries from around the web and my wild life.

I had been toying with a Friday bi-monthly magazine to share highlights of the newsworthy, including tips, hacks and a sweet recipe, so here it is.

App News: Pokemon Go! Why you should give it a go.

Heard of Pokemon? I remember my son, Kelly, being too old for it while his sister, Courtney, beat all the boys at school. The playing cards are still in a binder in her room. If you’ve been wondering what everyone is doing while walking around looking down at their phones, they are probably engaged with the new app, Pokemon Go!

Before you groan and tune out, let me tell you why this is brilliant. Kelly just moved to the Los Angeles area. He and his girlfriend, Leksy, downloaded the app and walked all over LA until 4:00 AM. last Saturday night. They ran into several people while trying to find “gyms” (places where you are challenged to win points). Soon they traveled in a posse meeting many others along the way. Seems like a great way to make new friends, get some fresh air and exercise.

Having a problem getting out of the house? Download the app. I did. You can find me on the app at Soosiemon walking with my eyes glued to my phone somewhere on Pearl Street, Boulder.

Movie News:

Have you ever noticed how many books and movies feature writers? I guess some authors hang on to the idea, “Write what you know.”

Top literary agent, Donald Maass, tweeted this news:

Two major surprises. I had no idea Thomas Wolfe was such a dick and who knew Jude Law could pull off a southern accent? Looks like a great movie.

Twitter contests for authors of unpublished books:

For everyone who has a book to pitch, this is for you.

There are several Twitter pitch contests for writers who have finished their novels and are ready to publish. #Pit2Pub and #PitMad are popular hashtags among many others that give us a chance to pitch our books to literary agents and direct to publishers.

Tweet a 140 character hook:

Who is your main character? What’s the inciting incident?  What are the stakes?

If an agent or editor “favorites” or gives your tweet a heart, then you’ve won! Check out their tweets to find out how to send your manuscript. But only send it after you’ve happy-danced around your kitchen at least once.

The next #PitMad is September 8th. The next #Pit2Pub is January 18th, 2017. That gives you plenty of time to write a book to pitch.

Check your website’s loading time:

Do you think your site loads pretty fast or does it take for freakin’ ever? You don’t want potential readers to give up while the tiny wheely thingamajig spins.

Click to Pingdom.com and find out how many seconds it takes. It will compare your site to the loading time of others and give you a percentile and grade rating.

When I posted large photographs, mine became slothlike. After reducing their size, it cut the loading time in half. Widgets can also add seconds.

See how fast your blog loads.

Life hack of the week:

I have a million of these. My dad was the original MacGyver, so it’s probably genetic.

Being a writer, I stare at my computer screen for hours on end. The knots in my neck become gargantuan. It makes me really sleepy since the blood doesn’t flow properly.

Tennis balls to the rescue. Lay down on the floor. Place one of them under your neck and roll it around until you find the painful spot. Push down on it in a circular motion. I stacked two of them with one hand to really hit the spot. After two minutes of massage, I rested on the floor then slowly rose to my feet. I could feel the difference. No afternoon nap today. Yay!

A recipe for sweet readers:

I found my daughter’s recipe for brownies and made them last week. They were super easy and delicious, so I had to share.

Courtney’s Chocolate Brownies

Prep time: 25 min. Bake: 45 min. 16 Brownies.

2/3 cup butter or margarine

5 oz. unsweetened baking chocolate, cut into pieces.

1 3/4 cups sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla

3 large eggs

1 cup flour

1 cup chopped walnuts – optional.

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease bottom and sides of 9 inch square pan with shortening.

In a 1 quart sauce pan, melt butter and chocolate over low heat, stirring constantly. Or heat in microwave 30 seconds at at time. Stir at intervals. Cool 5 minutes.

In medium bowl, beat sugar, vanilla, and eggs with an electric mixer on high speed for 5 minutes. Beat in chocolate mixture on low speed, scraping bowl occasionally. Stir in nuts. Spread in pan.

Chocolate sweetness, viola!

Inspiration for the weekend:

Have you ever noticed how the smallest things in life can hold you back? Calling an old friend, making an appointment, going to the gym. There are so many things that eat at us. It takes so little effort and yet the payoffs can be huge.

 

I hope you enjoyed the first issue. Let me know what you think in the comments.

Click for more of my Wild Adventures.