Saturday, April 22, 2017

Visualize....




The funny thing about all my research on minimalism, decluttering, morning rituals – all the articles I’ve found have led me to other topics for self-care/improvement. I feel like I’m becoming a new age, granoley person (which is not a bad thing at all.) I love granola….and Pinterest…but I digress.

One of the ideas that popped up frequently was that of positive thinking, which in turn leads to the idea of visualizing. Visualizing the life I would like to have, the positive outcomes I am hoping for, and generally believing that the universe wants nothing more than to give me everything I’m wishing for. There are a TON of articles out there on the subject and I’ve only read a small amount, but the idea is very intriguing. My best friend’s mother loved telling us to visualize. “You have to picture what you want and then you send it out to the universe,” she would say. She was also a fan of driving around packed parking lots saying “who’s saving my spot?” And every time a spot would open, and not just any spot. A spot right up front, prime real estate. So what? It was a parking spot, not the lottery. The point is she believed completely in the idea that the universe was going to provide her what she needed in that moment, and dam if that isn’t a powerful idea. 

I’ve decided in this, my unintentional quest to (really) improve my life, I’m going to have to keep branching out in my way of thinking. If that means visualizing things I want for my life, then so be it. But, I think this has to be a two part process. It’s one thing to think about what I want in my life, but I need to also change my overall outlook on life in general. I can’t just say I would like to have a, b, & c, I also need to believe it can happen. That means striving to be more positive, removing as much negativity as I can. I should be hopeful about what could be, while at the same time being thankful for what already is. Instead of having my first thought be “Ugh, I hope they don’t hate what I’ve written,” it should be “Oh, I can’t wait to hear what they like about it!” Instead of thinking “I wish I was making money off of my writing,” I should be saying “I’m so thankful we have the jobs we do and are able to pay all of our bills.” This idea makes so much sense to me in the visualization process. Why would God/the Universe want to give me anything more, if I can’t be grateful for all that I have now?

A goal of each day is to find at least 5 things to be thankful for and write them down – concrete proof of all that is right. A new goal is to say thank you throughout the day, and not just for the easy things. The electric bill is a reminder that we have the wonderful conveniences of the modern world. A pile of laundry means I have clothes to wear, while dirty dishes point to all the food we have to eat. So many people in the world would love to have these “problems.” 

My hope it that eventually saying “thank you” will become as natural as breathing. I know in this day and age commiserating with someone over bad stuff is such an easy habit to fall into. It’s more common for some reason to bemoan when we’re having a bad day as opposed to sharing enthusiasm for all the good in our day. I am so guilty of this – I don’t know why it’s such an easy trap, but I sincerely want to be better about it. 

So I’ll start with this….. Thank you for reading and I hope you have an amazing day!

~Adrienne

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Spring Cleaning For The Mind



OK. I have the physical decluttering under control (i.e. it’s a work in progress.) 

Great right?

My desk is clean, the piles have been corralled and I should be able to sit down at a moment’s notice and churn out a couple of chapters, right? Right….that’s how creativity works. You flip that switch and the words just come. I’m being slightly sarcastic. I don’t know many writers who can work that way. (If you are one of them don’t tell me – leave me my illusions please.)


I wasn’t having writers block in the traditional sense. I had thoughts and words, but they were all tangled in my head. For the last year I’ve mainly been writing in spurts. I would jot down an idea during the day, or worse, make mental notes and hope they didn’t float away. But, when I finally had an hour at the end of the day, I was mentally exhausted from staring at a computer all day at work. My personal process has always been that I need time to ease into the writing. I need to find the right music, I might doodle a little bit, read over what I had written the last time, read another person’s blog, anything that will get my mind into writing mode. You might call this procrastination, and you wouldn’t be completely wrong, but that’s how my mind works. It has to be coerced in a way into being focused on writing. Unfortunately, after all this preparation, now I’m forty five minutes into the aforementioned hour. And if I only have an hour, well what can I really complete in the fifteen minutes that are left? 


YOU NEED TO MENTALLY DECLUTTER ADRIENNE

(Yes, I yell at myself sometimes – again, all part of the process.)


Funny enough, in the middle of my Pinterest searches for minimalism, some random articles on self-care and morning rituals, kept popping up. I gravitated toward the ones that focused on people who were creative, or who were trying to be more creative. The morning rituals intrigued me – mainly because I’ve never been a morning person. Like ever. But they all pointed to the fact that your entire day could hinge on how your morning started. Prior to this my mornings had gone something like this. Snooze 5 times, at least, stumble from bed into workout clothes, attempt exercise routine (all while trying to wake up.) Then, while getting ready for work, my mind would be a steady stream of consciousness. Whatever was bothering me from the day before, what I was worried about for that day, some idea for my WIP that I needed to write down, and sometimes a quick prayer to get me through that day.


No wonder I felt mentally cluttered. 


So I pulled together the ideas that appealed to me the most and created a plan. The hardest part of the plan was the need to get out of bed – an hour earlier than I had been. Stay with me. I know it sounds like I’m a masochistic, but I needed to start my day off in a much calmer way. The only way to do that was to not literally hit the ground running. For the first week my goal was simply to get out of bed earlier. Anything that took place after that was considered a bonus. I’ll admit it was very difficult and I snoozed a couple of times. I actually set the alarm for earlier than one hour since I knew that would happen. As each day progressed I added in a new step. 


I dress in my workout clothes and make myself a bottle of lemon water and a strong cup of coffee. Moving to my desk, I listen to a meditation channel on Pandora. I have a couple of books of daily readings and depending on time and mood, I read at least one. By then my coffee and water should be half gone so my brain is (hopefully) ready to wake up. I start with a clean sheet of paper for each day. In the beginning it was mainly doodling and a couple of sentences about why I was awake at this ridiculous hour. But after a week the entries became longer, more detailed, actually making some sense. Some days I’m just venting about life. Sometimes it’s me trying to figure out an issue. There are even days that it almost turns into a prayer of sorts; maybe asking for the grace to get through just that one day, or for someone in my life who is dealing with something. I always end with a list of five things I am thankful for. I used to be very good about writing a thankful list every night, but it got away from me at some point. This way I start each day with a conscious effort to say thank you and be grateful.


At this point I’m more awake and ready to exercise without fear of falling over. From there I get ready for work and I’m ready for my day.


So that’s it – not an earth shattering change, but something that I feel is pushing me in the right direction. I’m about 3 weeks into the process and so far so good. Some mornings are easier than others. Some mornings I actually look forward to the ritual and the solitude. There are also times when all I want to do is turn off the alarm and go back to sleep. 

I’m a work in progress.


So far the biggest change I’m noticing comes from the little extra writing that I’m doing in the morning. I’ve noticed ideas are coming to me more frequently and when I do have time to write, it’s not taking me as long to get into writing mode. I’m being more productive, which has been my main goal all along. It’s still a little early to say it’s a major success, but I’m curious to see where this goes after I’ve been at it for a couple of months. I’ll keep you posted……


Adrienne



Friday, March 17, 2017

Clearing away the clutter

Wow, is it dusty in here or is it just me? I seriously can't remember the last time I was here. I think when I did come in, I'd turn on the light, take one look, feel overwhelmed and run out. And yes I'm speaking of the blog as well as my office.

Piles of paperwork that needed to be filed, bags of junk mail that need be shredded, clothes that needed to go to goodwill, unfinished projects, and basically just a lot of stuff. Stuff that had spilled from this room into every other room in my house. There's all kinds of studies that say clutter can lead to stress and I started to believe it, because I was experiencing it first hand. I couldn't get to my beautiful writing desk, because that's where bills and every other piece of paperwork would come to die. 

My closet was overflowing with too many clothes and shoes. I couldn't even see the floor of the closet because my shoes took over every inch of space. I kept telling myself I'd do something about all of it.... soon, but I never did. 

There was a constant shred pile on the corner of the dining room table, waiting for one of us to make a trek to the office. A plastic bag used to catch recyclables hung on the door to the basement, again, waiting for someone to take them to the bin in the garage.

One day I decided to work on my laptop at the dining room table, but, when I wasn't looking, the paperwork, had migrated to this room as well (probably because there was no more room on the desk). Along with it came magazines, catalogs, hats, gloves, bags, etc. And it wasn't just the dining room table. The breakfast bar and the kitchen island started to disappear too. 

I get the heebie jeebies when I see the show hoarders. Looking at my house - I started to get the heebie jeebies. Coming home every night, I would have to steel myself for the mess awaiting me. I'd take one look and any energy I had would immediately drain out of me. I couldn't believe how much the clutter and mess was affecting my life. I literally couldn't concentrate and things were beginning to suffer. Number one was my writing, which had become relegated to writing group one night a week and maybe a Saturday where I would run off to a coffee shop to force myself to sit and focus. Something had to give.

So I started searching for organization ideas obsessively on Pinterest. In the middle of all the posts one central them kept popping up - minimalism. Instead of just organizing your things, the idea is to learn to live with less. Downsizing, decluttering, capsule wardrobes - all catch phrases related to the minimalist lifestyle. I'm not ready to move into a tiny house, or get rid of all my books yet, but the whole concept sounded so very appealing.. I won't give a lesson on it here as I'm still far from the ideal minimalist. Search Pinterest if you're interested - seriously. 

Here's a quick list of some things I did accomplish/change in the past couple of months.
  • Donated 10 large trash bags of clothing
  • Donated 2 bags of shoes
  • Donated 1 huge trash bag of towels to the local SPCA 
  • Consolidated 2 trunks of bedding into 4 good sets that are stored inside of a pillow case for each one and kept in the linen closet (WHY was I keeping twin sheets when I haven't had a twin bed since college?)
  • Started a box in the basement where I randomly add books (some mind you), knickknacks, old picture frames, and kitchen paraphernalia (how many knives can one person use??) At the end of the summer it will go to our churches garage sale
  • Moved my remaining shoes off the floor and onto a closet shelf where they now sit in a beautiful row
  • Bought a super inexpensive cubbyhole  bookcase that is now stored on the bottom of my closet on it's side. I purchased $1 cloth bins that I put in them to store the remainder of my clothes. Everything fits perfectly and I have to tell you, I'm getting the itch to ditch some more of the clothes after winter is over.
  • Consolidated the contents of mine and hubby's old, beat up dressers so that we could downsize into a newer, much nicer dresser that we can share.
Once I started hubby was motivated to get in on the action. He cleaned out 2 junk drawers, a cabinet and 3 bags of clothes as well.

BUT some of the biggest changes were the simplest and most ridiculous. Ridiculous because it's hard to believe something so tiny could make such a big difference. 

  • We made a small spot in the closet by the back door. It holds a bucket and a bag for the recyclables. It's out of sight and when it's full we take it to the garage.
  • I installed a hook inside the closet of the backdoor to hang a bag for anything that needs to be shredded. Since this is where we open the mail it make perfect sense to have it right there. Junk mail immediately goes in the bag instead of on the kitchen table, island, my desk, kitchen chairs...you get the point.
  • I employed hubby's carpentry talents to make a 3 tiered mail bin (yes I found the plans on Pinterest.) One slot is for coupons, ads and magazines, one is for letters, bills, anything that needs to be looked at, and the last one is for outgoing mail. He added some hooks to the bottom of it for keys, hat, umbrella, and garage door opener. 

Again, the simplest idea and yet it has made a world of difference in keeping the counters and most importantly, my desk, clutter free. The heebie jeebies started to take a hike and I started to write again. 

But after a few weeks I felt like I needed to do some mental decluttering as well....

I'll let you know how things are going in a few days :)

~ Adrienne




Saturday, January 23, 2016

Dear Readers......

As someone who hopes to one day have a book nestled on a shelf at Barnes and Noble, the library, or even the book section of Amazon, I feel the need to give a shout out and some love to the people who make those places possible.

READERS

God bless readers. You pick up a square object with sheets of paper, a little ink, and you climb into the little (or big) world that the author created. You root for the protagonist and boo the antagonist. You cry, cheer, and sometimes are just genuinely pissed at the ending. You will argue with other readers and professional reviewers who just don't get what the writer was trying to say. You're thrilled when you hear the book is being made into a movie, and frustrated beyond belief when you find out the person cast for the lead character looks nothing like what you pictured in your head. Readers are detailed, analytical, critical, and brutally honest. Most of all, they are the person we most want to impress. They are the ones we are working for. It is their love we're trying to earn, so to speak.

The reason for all of this is that I got some love this month. Two of the people who so generously offered to read/critique my book for me, delivered their feedback. I've said it before and I will say it again. Letting someone else read your writing is downright scary. I would liken it to giving someone the ability to read your mind. Why would anyone do such a thing right? And yet writer's do it - ALL THE TIME. 

That being said, the feedback outweighs the paralyzing terror.
I'm kidding. It's not that bad......(Yes it is.)

The point is they both gave feedback that was analytical, detailed, and completely honest, while at the same time being very kind. They told me what they loved, what made them laugh and what broke their heart. They also showed me what needed work, what didn't ring true, and most importantly, suggestions for how to make it better. They both are writers as well, but their investment in wanting to help me make it better, is what makes them a reader. 

So to all my the readers out there - Thank you....
I'll keep working until I get it right :)

~Adrienne