Perfectly Intentional

I’ve had this idea in my head, a romantic idea, of what living an intentional life looks like.

For me, this means each morning when I get up and run through my morning routine. That routine includes morning pages, writing to my goal word count and perhaps a morning walk, all in my own time. In my mind, I am able to continually work forward in my goal of finishing my novel and getting it published.

This intentional living carries over to other parts of my life. Eating healthy, appropriate finances and interactions with my family are all part of my dream of intentional living.

Perhaps a reminder of the definition of intentional living is in order:

performed with awareness; done deliberately, consciously, or on purpose

The reality is so different than the definition.

The truth is I tend to stay up too late to have the ability to rise in the morning. For years, the only time I’ve been able to truly be alone is after my hubby goes to bed. I like the hours between 10 and midnight, but that means the 5:30 am alarm is ignored. I still write every day, but it is most often at the end of the day.

I tend to live in my own little world until a patient, or not so patient, reminder that I need to connect with people, family and otherwise.

I deal with stress by spending money and throwing my life out of balance.

Intentional living this is not.

As far as the rest of my intentions, planning and making healthy food is but a pipe dream and I would much rather be alone than in a crowd, so interactions with others is a struggle. Even appropriate finances are often out of my reach, through a lack of intention.

I cannot be alone in this. People everywhere make New Year’s resolutions, and by February, most of them have been broken. We set goals only to completely fail, even if we set SMART goals.

Our intentions are good; the problem is in the execution.

Life, it seems, is a nonconformist.

Oh, there are some mornings where I manage to sit down to my morning pages and even get my writing done, but something always has to give. Seldom is there enough time for everything I think I need to live my intentional life.

So, what are the next steps?

You keep going. Every day, you wake up and try again.

If that means that I am only able to write one of my usual three-morning pages or perhaps a few hundred of my usual 500 to 1000 words per day, I still do it.

If that means that I have to make my morning coffee rather than purchase it on my way to work to keep the finances in balance, that’s what needs to happen.

If that means the only dishes that you wash are the forks so that the family can eat the take out you’ve managed to bring home, then so be it. At least you are together.

An intentional life isn’t meant to be perfect. Sure, I still have that perfect picture in my head of what intentional living means to me, the reality is that life simply goes on. It doesn’t wait for perfection.

Neither should you.

What Are You Reading?

Hibernation – I’m quite certain the bears have it right. Except for the massive weight gain in the fall, sleeping through the coldest and darkest part of the year is a fabulous idea.

The next best thing to hibernation, because let’s face it, we all need to eat and interact with other human beings, is finding ways to escape the dead of winter.

 

If you are lucky enough to go somewhere warm, that is wonderful. If you can’t, reading is my favorite way to escape.

You have an abundance of choices in which to find an outlet: epic fantasy, romance, and mysteries are just a few categories. I’ve discovered young adult novels will keep me on the edge of my seat and the writing is excellent.

How wonderfully easy is it to get lost in these fictional worlds!

January is the perfect month for another type of reading: Intentional Reading.

January is the month for change as everyone sets goals, resolutions, and intentions for the rest of the year. Learning something new can be added to that list.

January has fewer distractions, hopefully, so you can immerse yourself in whatever it is you would like to learn. I’ve been reading Story Engineering by Larry Brooks for the past several days and will continue until I’ve read it through.

Though not new to me, I’ve learned (once again the hard way) that reading non-fiction books, almost regardless of the topic, gets my creative juices flowing. While I have been reading Larry’s book, I’ve been working out some of the details of my new novel which has some interesting twists.

Reading is one of the tenets of Gabriela Pereira’s DIY MFA, and as such, her book is on my reading list.

Others I’ve been reading include Simon Sinek, John Maxwell, and Brene Brown. Each of these authors seems to fuel the fire of imagination and creativity on which I have come to depend.

Reading intentionally means reading with a plan. While not quite as fun as reading to escape, reading non-fiction keeps your brain limber for the rest of your life’s work. For me, that is my creative life, and I must feed that life. Intentional reading is part of the process.

Whatever you read, however you escape, this time of year is perfect for it.

Next time you pick out something to read, try to learn something along the way. You won’t regret it.

Intentional Choices

I’ve been thinking a lot about intention, whether it is intentions or intentional living. I’ve discovered this is a difficult thing for me to write. Not because I’m struggling with my own life in this area.

I’ve learned that I’m struggling to write about intentions because I have no words for intentions.

When I don’t have words, it’s probably because I don’t understand what I am writing about. I’m a bit concerned because intentional is in my blog title – I should know something about this.

The problem is that I have this picture in my mind that I am having a hard time translating that picture into words.

This week, I’ve decided that my idea of intentions has to do with living an intentional life. Of course, the following definition is subject to change as more lessons and thoughts come my way.

For better or worse, here is the definition I am currently working with:

Intentional is a state of being. It is making deliberate choices
to live in such a way that makes your heart happy.

Now, the idea of making your heart happy is one that may or may not require an explanation. It is a feeling that we know when we have it but putting it into words is difficult. For me, my heart happy has a resonating hum that I can feel in my body.

 

Here is something that makes my heart happy: 

 

Of course, a friend of mine has a different thought about intentions which I am adding to my thoughts. She said that intentions are like prayers, we send them out and let them go.

I like this idea too.

We all speak english and are fully aware of the different definitions for words, depending on usage and context. I think this is one of them. Perhaps I will add more definitions to my ideas of intentions as I go along.

How does living intentionally look in life?

In each moment we have, we can either see as in interruption or an invitation?

We all recognize interruptions. They are the things that cause frustration and dissatisfaction in our life.

Invitations are different. They require a new way of thinking. It is asking the question: How am I going to respond in a positive way?

For instance: This morning I was left in charge of #tornadoabel who is the cutest thing 2+ year old around. However, you don’t get your own hashtag for being cute. He is a bundle of energy and not all of it is positive.

This morning inspiration struck and I needed to write. Abel doesn’t understand the concept of work and thinks that is a jungle gym. I had a choice to make. Actually there were three choice I saw:

Choice #1: I could wait on the writing. The inspiration, though subdued, would still be there. I just wanted to hit the keyboard while I felt that rush.

Choice #2: Getting frustrated with Abel, thereby making the morning awful for the two of us. He argues back, you see.

Choice #3: Accepting that he is busy and not really trying to keep me from working.

The last one is especially difficult because this child will do things like go after the cat and when I get up to redirect, he will run to my computer, which he knows he isn’t supposed to touch. Yeah, just put this on endless repeat with some snuggles and tantrums and you will understand how he got his hashtag.

Living intentionally is hard. Making each choice deliberately to do the best thing for you is hard. Not falling into the bad habit of frustration and anger is hard, that is my go to reaction. I’m sure that you have other reactions.

I believe it is worth it. The difference between the days where I make intentional choices and the days I don’t are palpable. I prefer the days where I chose to the invitation.

What choice will you make today?

Election Day Intentions

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By the time post is live, election day will be over. Since I don’t tend to involve myself in politics, except for my chosen causes, I won’t weigh in on all the ugliness this election has caused.

What I will talk is about living intentionally in the midst of the chaos.

 

Living intentionally means deciding what is best for your life, regardless of whatever influences are about you. Staying out of the fray has been nearly impossible in the past several months as this election has become more and more contentious.

I’ve tried to ignore everything but that doesn’t work.

What has worked for me is:

*Accepting that people will disagree with me. As with many things in life, politics are one area that agreement is impossible. Rather than argue and fuss. Accept that people will disagree and move on.

*Focusing on the next task. Regardless of whether or not the next task is folding the next load of laundry or running to the poles to vote, keeping focused on the things that make your life run will reduce the angst that comes in the midst of chaos.

*Move forward. Though this may or may not be a historical election, our lives from day-to-day won’t change very much. We must keep moving forward toward our best selves.

Though I hope you did your civic duty and voted today, I truly hope you found ways to be intentional with your life.

P.S. I apologize for the shortness of this post as it is NaNoWriMo and my words are focused elsewhere.

Late by Intention

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I wanted to call this blog post “Whoopsy Wednesday” because my life became crazy enough that I missed my normal weekly post. I berated myself for this “lateness.”

 

 

In thinking about this “mistake” I’ve realized something I’ve talked about before: perfectionism is overrated. Sometimes what seems like a mistake is the universe’s way of letting you know something is out of wack. It is nature’s way of saying that you’ve still got work to do on your way to intentional living.

Living intentionally isn’t about being perfect and always hitting the mark you’ve set for yourself. Living intentionally means that even though sometimes things don’t go exactly as planned, you can always move on to the next thing. Or, you can simply pause, gather yourself and breathe.

Recently, I listened to writer, Sue Merrell, speak at a local conference. She gave some great advice on writing that I believe applies to intentional living:

1. Look around
2. Write down what you see
3. Don’t give up

I am taking these words to heart and not just about my writing. This advice can be used in so many areas of life and art.

Lots of people have been using Sue’s advice without even knowing it.

It’s fall in Northern Michigan which means that there is so much color to take in. The skies have been particularly beautiful, especially sunrises and sunsets.

Now, my life has been just crazy enough that I’ve not paid attention but others that I know have noticed some wonderful sunrises for the past few days. They have looked around, snapped a picture and enjoyed the moment.

Here is one from a friend and fellow blogger:

Deb Thompson, Just Short of Crazy
Deb Thompson, Just Short of Crazy

 

Deb Thompson posted this picture earlier this week. Check out her travel, food and lifestyle blog at Just Short of Crazy. She goes to some amazing places and shares those experiences with her followers.

 

 

I’d say she took Sue’s admonitions to heart.

Oh, Darling What if You Fly

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I’ve been on hiatus for the past couple of months. Hiatus from this blog but not from writing and creating. Having made some grand plans, which didn’t come to fruition, I humbly come before you with a confession.

 

I have some bad habits, as most people do. Perhaps you can relate.

One of my bad habits, or perhaps this is part of my resistance, is that when I am confronted with something new, the first thing I do is “research.” I put the word in quotes because this type of research often means that I spend a few (or more) days focused on the subject, finding all kinds of information, even signing up for classes, before I begin to ruminate over my thoughts.

I do learn a lot of things. However, there is a problem with this behavior.

The thing, whatever I am working on, often doesn’t get done.

I reach a point where I have to stop myself and say “just do.” Learning takes place on so many levels, research and education are only one part of this process.

This blog fell victim to my habit of falling into “learning mode” and letting the ruminating thoughts create fear and resistance.

The good news is I have been making baby steps with both my thoughts and writing.

As life doesn’t offer many guarantees, neither do I when it comes to reaching my goal of weekly posts. I intend to accomplish many things in the coming months. I will do my best because this is what I believe will work.

I intend to publish a weekly blog post.

I intend to continue working on my blog to bring my readers the most helpful information I can.

I intend to continue my fiction writing, including participating in NaNoWriMo 2016.

I intend to continue to work on my craft, through reading, writing, and connections.

I have a few other things in the works to provide even more helpful services as creating in a vacuum can be difficult. Please stay tuned for the changes and updates. It will be well worth it.

Needing to take a break is one thing, milking it for all its worth is another. Sometimes you just have to close your eyes and jump. I am reminded of the following quote:

“What if I fall? Oh, but my darling, what if you fly?” By Erin Hanson

Playing it safe by staying in research and education mode, won’t get me where I want to be. Nor will it be helpful to anyone else.

So, here I go, flying once again, ready to learn the lessons I need to learn. I hope you will join me on this journey.