Exciting Book News and a Big Leap in the Right Direction

InExciting Book News and a Step in the Right Direction one of my first classes at Wanderlust Yoga Festival, the meditation instructor told us to ask the universe the ultimate question. “Who am I?”

I asked, “Should I be a writer?” I mean, I spend a majority of my time writing blog posts, screenplays and books. My first book took years. What if I’m supposed to be doing something else with my life? Kind of a frightening thought, right?

After our last class and an amazing experience over four days in Whistler, BC, I met my daughter, Courtney, at a restaurant. While we chatted over lunch, my phone buzzed. It was noisy and I couldn’t hear the caller. The number was similar to my oncologist’s and I thought someone was calling from the RMCC. Rocky Mountain Cancer Center. I’m three years out and had scheduled a six month checkup for a few days from then. Anything related to cancer makes my heart stop.

“This is Pamela Nowak from RMFW. Your manuscript, THE FOREBODING, has been selected as a finalist in the Colorado Gold Contest.

OH! Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers!!

“Wow. I can’t believe it! Thank you so much!” She gave me the details, we hung up, and I told Courtney.

Shocked and excited, I had to go outside to DANCE!

Exciting Book News and Big Leap in the Right Direction.

Courtney took this shot through the restaurant’s window.

The universe heard me loud and clear. I’m on the right track. This is my debut novel and the result of a huge learning curve. I think of it as my thesis from five years of intensive study through all kinds of classes, including the school of pervasive and incessant rapping on my pointed head.

This coming Saturday night, September 10th, six of us will stand up in the front of the room and the winners will be announced for best action/thriller. Sure I’m nervous, but honestly, I already feel like a winner. Haven’t you heard that overused line a million times on awards shows? It’s the truth. No matter what place it gets, I’ve already won.

THE FOREBODING is a finalist! How cool is that?

6th place or 1st, my husband, Danny, will be there to record another happy dance.

How do you react to good news? Do you think you’re on the right path?

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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!

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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?

 

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Another inspiring post for you!

 

Fear of Earworms on America’s Birthday

flags at front door

Usually, I’m totally psyched about America’s Birthday. I’ve always looked forward to the 4th of July, but this year something is lurking in the back of my mind.

I am very afraid.

It all started a few weeks ago. I had an earworm. That’s not unusual. Many of us have experienced a song that got stuck in our heads, sometimes lasting for days on end.

You wake up and it starts. Later that morning, you hum the tune while in the car. The same song pops into your mind while taking a shower and at that point you may sing along.

Days later, the earworm becomes obnoxious. It torments you.  Attached like a shadow, it won’t let go. It makes itself at home. It finds a fold of gray matter, dons its headphones and tunes into one song. It smiles and stretches out. Then it does the unthinkable. That dang worm presses, REPEAT.

Most earworms don’t bother me. I’ve had old church hymns stick in my craw even though I hadn’t heard these particular songs for years.

fear of earworms on america's birthday

This was different.

I have no idea why this particular song stuck in my small cranium, but it did. Maybe I heard it sung during the NBA playoffs or the beginning of a Rockies game while flipping through channels. I don’t remember.

The Star Spangled Banner became my earworm. No lie.

Right????

It became so ridiculous, I started singing the goofy lyrics we made up when kids to make it more fun.

“Jose, can you see?…”

I know! While on our Epic Road Trip, I tuned into Pandora’s pop music list and it finally disappeared. Whew!

Now it’s the Fourth of July. I’ll actually hear it sung several times today. The thought of it seeping back into the dark folds of gray matter and stretching out like a parasitic house guest, makes me cringe.

It’s not that I don’t like the song, but I’ve probably heard it in my head a hundred times in the last few weeks. I’m over it.

I’m not sure how I’ll cover my ears and my heart at the same time. I might bring noise-canceling headphones.

This video is safe. It’s instrumental. Ha!

 

Happy Birthday, America! I hope you all have a safe holiday. Cover your ears, just in case.

What was your worst earworm? How did you get rid of it?

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Ready for a Wild Ride?

road tripping across the west

I’m ready. My bags are packed and the drinks are on ice. Soon, I’ll be on the road. My husband, Danny, and I will travel almost thousand miles in two days. We’ve driven more miles in less time, but plan to stop along the way.

What kind of adventures are ahead? There will be quite a few. Follow my wild ride over the next week, and you can tag along!

This is my 500th post. Woohoo! That’s a lot of Wild Rides…

Do you plan to take any road trips this summer? Where would you like to go? Any tips you’d like to share?

Random Acts of Chat – He was kidding, Roxy

Funny photo man with dog and comic bubble

With several California trips on the horizon and a vacation in Vancouver and Whistler planned for the end of July, I had to scramble to book a kennel for our Bichon, Roxy. I’m not sure what the price per day is in your area, but it has gotten expensive here in Boulder. My husband, Danny, didn’t grow up with pets, but I know deep down he loves Roxy. Today, his love must have been buried just a little deeper.

After catching up with other blogs, I chatted with Danny about our vacation plans:

ME: I can’t believe how expensive the kennel has gotten.

Danny looks up from reading the newspaper and we lock eyes.

ME: It’s going to cost $33.00 a day to board Roxy and that’s with a 25% discount for booking her for more than five days and another percentage off for being a frequent boarder.

DANNY: That seems like a lot of money.

ME: I gotta believe it’s like fifty bucks a day to board a dog. That’s super expensive.

Danny stared at me while pondering. I imagined him calculating the cost of boarding Roxy over the next year.

DANNY: We should leave her at the kennel and get a new dog when we come back from vacation.

I laughed until my cheeks hurt.

Don’t worry, Roxy. He was kidding. 

Will you be boarding a pet this summer? Is it expensive where you live? Are you going on any vacations? Want to board Roxy for us?