FIRST Monday: Give it all You’ve Got!

HAPPY MONDAY!

Can you believe it? We’re half way through 2018 already! As this year flies by, I’m busy building Books & Coffee to provide you with new and improved content. Be sure to stop by each Monday to jump start your week and look for more new features coming soon! Today we’re kicking off a new feature called FIRST MONDAYS.

Starting today, every first Monday of the month you’ll find a POWERPACK for all you CREATIVES out there!

  • Something inspirational– either a quote or essay that will inspire you.
  • Something sensational—for your sense of taste, that is—a healthy recipe! Something delicious and nutritious—brain food!
  • Something professional –a tip or challenge to help you overcome a weakness and/or keep your creative juices flowing!

AND

*Wild Card* Sometimes I will add a physical challenge since I believe that exercise is a powerful tool for enhancing creative flow! So, get ready!

TODAY’S INSPIRATION

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You pull your floral wrap a little tighter around your bust and carefully adjust your Erykah Badu head-wrap and sunglasses as you stroll onto your favorite beach feeling safe, and therefore confident, in the sun although the sun is barely touching any of your bare skin. Your kids sprint past you, carefree and happy, towards the welcoming waters that beckon, but you resist the temptation, settling into your beach chair to catch up on your summer reading. This is great, you say to yourself. So relaxing. But you ignore the puddle of sweat that is making small rivulets in the sand beneath your chair. Apparently, the cool cotton cover-up is not so cool after all! As you adjust to pry apart your thighs which are stubbornly sticking together you hear a man whistle. Looking up you quickly realize who he’s whistling at: a bikini-clad woman is walking straight towards you! She’s about your height, about your weight and, yes, your complexion too, but she has none of your hang-ups. Her varicose veins are in full view, climbing up her dimpled thighs like ivy. Her not-so-trim tummy tips over her bikini bottom and her breasts are all smooshed inside a sports-bra-style bikini top that is working way too hard to keep everything together! Her curly hair is swirled into a bun on top of her head and she’s wearing huge sunglasses that cover half of her face. She has on bright red lip stick, big hoop earrings and high-heeled sandals that make her look 6 feet tall!

Amazing!

Did you just say that out loud? Her shoulders are back and her head is up. She smiles as her eyes meet yours. “Hey girl, you are rockin’ that head scarf! Mind if I sit here?”

“Of course!” She sits and you listen as she tells you where she’s from, where she’s been and where she’s going. Then she stands abruptly and says, “well, it’s been nice chatting with you, honey, but I think I’m going to take a swim, it’s so hot out here!” And off she goes. Kicking her shoes aside she trots, cellulite and all, into the cool blue sea, happy and free, while you sit, sweating and safely covered under a head-wrap and not-so-cool-cover- up…

Fear can hold you captive. It can absolutely confine you to a tight space and convince you that there’s nothing else you can do–so don’t even try! But, if you look, you’ll see that there are people all around you who are doing it. They’re pushing past the fear and going for it–running headlong into their dreams, diving head-first into the ocean of probabilities, not allowing the uncertainties to hinder them. They don’t look back to consider “what if” and don’t worry about what “might be”. They can’t allow the thinking of others to slow them down, they have to accept that the sea holds their destiny and, however imperfectly, if they dive in, the worst that can happen is they’ll come out wet!

If they can do it. Why can’t you?

It’s summer. Shed the wrap and give the beach the body you’ve got!

It’s your life. Stop holding back! Shed your fears and give it all you’ve got!

What have you got to lose?

TODAY’S SENSATION: Try this tangy citrus salad! It’s a guilt-free snack or dessert that’s perfect for summer!

TODAY’S CHALLENGE: Next month I’ll have a creative challenge for you. But it’s summer! Head to the beach or community pool with a pad and pen (leave your laptop at home). Jot down whatever comes to mind–without editing–and come back to it later, when you have time. You’ll be surprised by what emerges when you allow yourself the freedom and space to just be!

Happy Summer!

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Cover Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash

Girl in swimsuit photo–Facebook post.

Mayhem Monday: A Tale of Betrayal

She was doubting me. Every word she didn’t say said it all! She didn’t think I was ready for this. I had come to her for advice and for a good word, but she didn’t think I could hang!  She’s part of the “in group”. They know her. They like her. So, I need her to vouch for me, to tell them I can be trusted, to tell them I can produce quality work. But she can’t do it. She won’t do it.  She all but said so with that extra breath and sigh between her words– with the reluctant “uh” and the rhetorical sidestep that she hoped I didn’t catch.

“I’d be happy to tell them you’re a nice person.”

Wow.

I thought I had proven myself. I thought I had performed well in her presence, but her voice oozes with a polite uncertainty.

So, I’m on my own. I’ll have to sell myself. I’ll have to persuade the “in crowd” without her endorsement. I’ll have to prove to them that I’m worthy and capable of being part of their group based entirely on my own merits. Can I do it without the support of someone with higher status and cred?

Hmmm, but then again what was I looking to her for? Did I place too much stock in her worth to begin with–and too little in mine?  I was sure that her stamp of approval was what I needed to get in–but is it?


What if her hesitation to endorse me was my own? Her uncertainty in my skills and abilities, her unwillingness to vouch for me… suppose they were all mine?  Could I be my own worst enemy?

Here I am thinking she will have my back–but who is she? She of all people knows what I’m capable of, yet she hesitates.

“You know if you go in there they are going to expect you to come with your ‘A’ game,” she says with that sideways glance.

“What? You don’t think I can bring the ‘A’ game?

“Well…”

As I look around to see if she will escort me through the doors of opportunity I realize she is doubting me… and she is me!

 

Yet, “if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed…nothing will be impossible for you” (Matthew 17:20)

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Mayhem Monday: Advice to Writers–Keep Going!

Overwhelmingly insignificant. Those are the words that I wrote down. It was the only way I could think of to describe how a beginning writer feels when she’s trying to gain her footing on this overpopulated landscape where writers come a dime a dozen! What sets me apart? What makes me different? Special? Worthy of attention? These are the kinds of questions a writer asks each time she sits down to write. Perhaps these are the questions that others ask as they set out to make their mark in the world as well—singers, artists, athletes—all those whose gifts feel special to them and to their loved ones, but look so pale in comparison to the esteemed greats of society–those who have achieved the highest heights and honors in their class, whose garments we can only hope to graze with the tips of our fingers in a crowded street if we’re lucky.

It’s hard when you’re buried under a mountain of crumpled papers and unfinished manuscripts, and discouraging when the rejection slips come in faster than the book proposals that go out. It’s demoralizing to sit, shivering in the corner of crowded coffee shops, pleading with God for inspiration while trying to tune out the distracting chatter as the blank page of the computer screen is mocking you and the blinking cursor keeps time with the fleeting seconds you have left before your other responsibilities invade this small space in time.

How, exactly, does one move from the crowded streets of insignificance, obscurity and non-productivity onto the fast track of notoriety, achievement and fecundity? I’ve been listening to some authors’ success stories and the same answer emerges from each one—“keep going,” they say. Keep doing what you’re doing. Keep writing. Easier said than done, huh? But, the consensus is, there’s no magic pill, no easy answer and, unfortunately, no shortcut. There are always exceptions, of course, but for the vast majority, the path to success is an arduous process of putting one foot (or should I say word?) in front of the other and refusing to lose faith. That feeling of insignificance is simply the reality that you’re not the only one who can do this—that is, write stories, articles or books—but it should be countered with another reality: you are the only person who can be you. At the very least, there’s that. So, they say, the trick is to infuse your work with your self—something that is unique to you. Do you know what’s unique about you? (Take this personality test to find out: My Personality)

Rather than focusing on the successes of others, focus on being your best self. Focus on improving as a writer, an artist, an athlete, etc, not so that you can be more like someone else, but so that you can be a better version of yourself. With your own past and future successes in sight you will have less time to drool over the achievements of others and your own significance will loom larger in your eyes. After all, each of us has been given an assignment. Let’s not waste time wondering why someone else’s assignment looks more interesting than ours.

In the grand scheme of things we do matter and we can and will make our mark in this world. We just have to keep going!

Happy Monday

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Cover photo by Kinga Cichewicz on Unsplash