Take Care of YOU Simple Habits for the Writer, Creative, Everyone! #AuthorToolboxBlogHop

*Below is not a transcript of video.

A few years ago, I had to go to the doctor’s office because I was experiencing so much wrist pain I had to get it checked out.  At that time, I learned everything I needed to know about carpal tunnel syndrome and because it sidelined me for quite a while, I decided to start making some changes quickly to avoid ever going down that road again. I developed some really easy habits that I do every day that I wanted to share with everyone who writes, stares at a computer all day or is on the phone regularly.   

A lot of writers, and creative people in general, tend to overwork themselves especially when they’re in that zone or experiencing that ever elusive “light bulb” moment.  We’ll write for hours without stopping — we’re also prone to over-due it when we’re experiencing some sort of block – we’ll keep grinding and pushing, not realizing the possible physical toll we may be putting on ourselves, not to mention the mental one, by hunching over our laptops and staring at the computer screen for hours.  

I believe that keeping ourselves physically healthy is just as important as keeping our mental and emotional state in check.  As artists, sometimes we faulter on all of these in the hopes of creating that next masterpiece.  But I’d like to offer the idea that if you can implement some really simple habits now, it may help prevent you from unnecessary injury and pain later.  If you start now, it will also become a seamless part of your everyday way of working and will not impose on your creativity, but actually may help it! 

So, what am I talking about?  Well, please watch the video for a visual explanation.  But simply, start learning to take 1-minute breaks throughout your day to do some small stretches with your fingers, your wrists, neck and shoulders to give yourself a break from sitting in a static position.  Staying in the same position for long periods of time can lead to cramping, stiffness and in some cases, possible carpal tunnel syndrome.  Give yourself 30 seconds to a  minute break every hour at least, to reassess your body and stretch for just a bit. 

I use the alarm on my phone for just this purpose. I set it up to chime in one hour increments and the “ring” I use is a very subtle soothing chime. The type of “ring” you use IS important – I learned this the hard way – because sometimes you really are in that creative zone and you don’t want something to jar you out completely.  But a soft notification is just a reminder to finish the thought and do your quick stretches to take care of your fingers, shoulders, neck and overall posture. 

Please note: I’m not a doctor – so understand these ideas are what work for me and I’m sharing them with you in hopes that it will help you.  I also think it’s important to state that I don’t think these tiny stretches throughout your day should take the place of what we all should be doing to have good and healthy lives – eat right, work-out/be active, mediate, walk and make sure you hydrate with water regularly.  But adding these small moments throughout your day will definitely help with taking care of the physical part of you, the writer, the artist, the worker, so you can continue creating all those beautiful stories the world needs to hear. 

I hope this has been helpful. I’m curious what other people do to prevent from getting stiff or cramping while writing.  I’d love to hear your thoughts! 

This post is also part of a great group of writers called #AuthorToolboxBlogHop  – please click on this hashtag or the pic to find other great sources of tips and tricks that other great writers use to keep on creating… 

As always, thanks for stopping by! 

The Only Guarantee

The only thing we are guaranteed the day we are born is that inevitably we will die. We don’t know how or why or when, but eventually we all do stop having “TIME” to do, to be, to live.  It is an undeniable truth we all have in common.

I’m not going to say what you think next – I’m not going to encourage you or try to inspire or motivate you to live your best life.  I’m not.  I have faith that you try to do that every day. We all do the best we can with what we have in front of us. And yeah, I’m tired of the constant cheering on, the pushing and the loud screaming about all the ways for you to succeed.  As if you’re not already doing your best to be better every day…

No, today, on this day of remembrance, this day that reminds me of how precious life is – how we can lose a college friend like Cesar Murillo, in a moment, for no reason at all except that he was in the twin towers going to work – on this day when I reflect on time, on birth, on death – on this thing we call life, the only thing I’m going to encourage you to do, is to take a deep breath.  Exhale.  Take a moment to be grateful for all of it. For the process, for whatever all of THIS is. Existence, possibility, life. 

If you’re reading this be grateful for the good, the bad, the mundane, the joyful, the sad. Reflect on this moment as a powerful one. As a quiet one.  Acknowledge that you are here, you are worthy, lovely, and perfect just as you are.

Appreciate this moment in a time of grace.  And never forget…

How precious life truly is.

College. Friends. Life.

Real Power

Somebody posted a comment the other day about “power”.  It had me thinking about people who have real power. 

When I think about power, I consider people like Barack Obama or Oprah Winfrey or someone like JK Rowling – there are others in different industries of course, like Warren Buffett or Bill Gates… we can go down the list of people, but the point is, I doubt these people ever walk around telling others how powerful they are…

That’s what I saw on this post on social media yesterday that got me thinking about what is real power

Simply, if you have to tell people how powerful you are, then you probably aren’t that powerful. 

People who have real power or authentic power are people who understand their influence and realize the responsibility that comes with being someone who can impact others so easily.   

I doubt very much that their goal was ever to be powerful.  I feel that being powerful is most likely a byproduct of who someone is in the world and can never be an actual goal.  People with REAL power tend to be people who inspire and uplift others. They know who THEY are, they know their strengths and most likely understand their weaknesses and therefore always open to learning something new.

To me, real power is a very elusive thing. It’s different from being a leader or wealthy. It actually has nothing to do with your title or standing.  Real power has everything to do with how others view YOU and nothing to do with what you can control. 

Hmmm. Just something I’ve been thinking about. Here’s the video I made before my run yesterday that got me thinking….

Carmen    

The Perfect Time of Day

My most productive time of day tends to be the early morning. Always has been.  I’m what you call a “morning” person.

I wake easily at 4:30am, on a late day 5:00am – I pour my coffee and start writing. It’s this perfect kind of quiet that fuels me. It’s not just the absence of cars or the lack of people talking in the distance, it’s more about a pure nothingness that seems to be the start of something…  a new beginning, a new day, a new possibility that inspires me.

I’ve always been this person. Even as a kid. Back then, I’d wake up early and run out into the street in front of my house and stand under the still dimming light of the streetlamp and start to dance. I loved that time – I remember it as if it were yesterday – there’d be no cars, no movement, no sound anywhere –  and yet my thoughts were so perfectly clear I could hear the symphony as I danced along the gravel “floor”…

I do love the quiet. My dream would be to live on a ranch close enough to the city, but far enough away to not hear the daily sounds of trucks going by and neighbors doing their thing – kids jumping rope or the gardeners blowing leaves.  In the city, even the quiet of the day is still not really quiet at all. There’s a natural hum that happens during each day, different depending on the time – that too is preferable to pure country living, where crickets and cicadas are a type of noise I’ll never get used too.

Then there’s the ocean.  Oh, how I love thee – but not to live by.  Near the ocean is fine. 2 miles is perfect in fact.  But to sleep by the ocean waves, although beautiful and fierce, would be the same kind of pain to me as the crickets and cicadas – disturbing and out of sync with my need for that pure nothingness quiet that starts my every day.

I don’t know how it ever happened. I don’t remember the day I became a morning person.  I don’t think you can force yourself to be one or the other – it’s just an “IS-ness” I do suppose.  Maybe, if you’re born in the morning, then the morning is your time?  I have no idea. But I was born in the early morning and that just makes perfect sense. 

So, yes, I love the early morning sunrise. The glow of all things new. It’s my favorite time of day. My most productive too.

Carmen

Global Verification: A Tech Idea That’s Overdue

So, a couple years ago I was frustrated by an article I saw that talked about reviews that had been planted on Rotten Tomatoes about the movie Black Panther. I was annoyed because the reason someone figured out that the reviews were fraudulent was simply because the movie had not premiered, and the studio had not given copies of the film to anyone to actually review it. There was no way for all of these “reviewers” to have seen the movie to make such comments.  Thankfully people at Rotten Tomatoes had realized this and were able to delete all of the bad reviews before the movie came out. https://www.indiewire.com/2018/02/rotten-tomatoes-block-black-panther-fan-score-sabotage-1201924400/

Clearly this was a huge dilemma for the studios. They realized quickly that a predominantly black movie was about to be smeared before it had even premiered.  The racist viewpoints about a black superhero or movie in the Marvel Universe that might potentially break box office standings, could easily be undermined before it had even been shown.  (Bravo Rotten Tomatoes!)

Bad reviews do and can potentially determine the outcome of film’s box office potential – this is NOT new news, but the blatant racist leanings of the comments and viewpoints made about this movie that had been unseen, made this event crystal clear: the continued power of bots, the power of unverified reviews and comments continue to be an ever mounting problem on the “interwebs”.  Of course we can reference what’s come out in the Mueller report about the election of 2016 and what may happen again – the point simply is: we have a huge problem with verified information on the internet. 

I was so frustrated by this situation when I read about it AGAIN – that the solution seemed so crystal clear to me that I wrote an email to Mark Cuban. Honestly, I have no real reason why I picked Mark Cuban except that he was on my LinkedIn feed at the time and I followed him and I knew he had a lot of money.  I’d been thinking about this problem for years – back when I started online dating WHEN IT WASN’T COOL to do it (we’re talking 2007!!!!).  I knew THEN that there had to be a better a way to deal with this.  So, yeah, maybe sending a vent email on LinkedIn to Mark Cuban wasn’t the best idea, maybe someone like Elon Musk would have been better, but I wasn’t really thinking it through, I was just annoyed and looking for someone with money to investigate this issue and start working on what I think is still an easy solution to the bigger problem!!!  

Well, let me just say, that the PROBLEM revealed itself again recently while I was on Twitter – and this is why I’m here writing this now.  During the Robert Mueller hearings lots of conversations were going back and forth on social media and again, I kept hearing that the “Russians” are trying to undermine our elections – Robert Mueller said it himself:  They’re doing it right now as we speak. The next part of the conversations always goes something like this: 

“We have to educate people on how to spot fake news”, or “People need to become more educated and be careful…”

It’s such a one-sided solution. 

What’s the “solution” I’m talking about? 

Instead of attempting to ONLY make people better educated on what is and what is NOT a bot or a “fake” website, commentator or ad, why not also make it easier for people to recognize a VERIFIED version of all of those entities online?  In other words, why not make it easier to SPOT an organization or individual online as a LEGIT organization?

Imagine, if you will, a Global Verification on the internet. It’s possible. Some companies already do it – like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.  They have those little blue verification markers for Celebrities and such. Here’s an example of a verified account (@violadavis):   Imagine, if – just like passports in the physical world you were able to use your verified handle  wherever you went online and people would KNOW you or your website were verified by a legit entity?  People could then choose to “listen” to your commentary – the little blue legit “signs” or “identifiers” on Twitter and Instagram folk partially does this, but only for “celebrities”. But, imagine if everyone could be legitimized across all platforms, using their handles, across all countries on the internet? 

With the technology behind Block Chain, I know this could be done – and maybe it’s already being worked on – but there has to be a way that an individual, who wants to be taken seriously ONLINE would have a global verified handle account that they could use as they go and communicate on Twitter or Facebook or LinkedIn on any Website. Also, it would make it easier to spot legit sites and so on.

Imagine all the applications  – people would not confuse websites like www.abcnews.com with www.abcnews1.com  — which is a good example of how people were creating FAKE new sites with similar names and confusing people with actual FAKE news.  But the applications are endless.  Most importantly, even if YOU choose to go to the FAKE site or you visited it accidentally, you would know it hadn’t been VERIFIED.  After that, the choice is yours to accept that information as truth or not.    

Now, I know this is a huge idea.  And this is just the beginning – I’ve been thinking about this for a while now and don’t even get me started on the 2016 election!  To me, this has been foreseeable for a long time and has been in my non-techy head for a while.  It may seem too big of an idea, but so wasn’t going to the moon when no one thought it possible – for me, it’s just always been about interest and yes, about necessity!!!! 

Anyways, I have to believe people smarter than me are working on this somehow – but I’m stunned that simple things like verifying me – a non celeb – on Twitter is still a non-possibility.  Why can’t Twitter find a way to verify committed and decent “regular” users of the service?  They seem to only verify people based on celebrity or size of followers or what they deem impactful situations. This is what leads me to believe that NO ONE is working on a bigger more important solution that would inevitably be how we all identify online. 

This is a HUGE idea. It continues to eat at me and so trust me, in the past couple of years, I’ve tried to get some people interested who I thought might be.  At the very least, they had money to make things happen — and as always, people tend to say they’re “interested” but then really don’t follow up. Totally cool. Asi es la vida. But after sharing my idea with a few “very interested” who would have the means to follow up on it, I realized today why not share it with my cool contacts online who might have some insight and care about this too? Either way, ENOUGH wasting time on the possibility.  It’s an idea. Someone “stealing” an idea is just bad juju on so many levels. But this really isn’t about one person. It’s not about making a profit (though this would clearly be HUGE) – but it is a necessity.  We need to do something to help people recognize legitimate sources of content on the internet.  And maybe this is just the tip of the iceberg? Maybe there’s a better way to go about it – I’ve been thinking about this for a long time and I can only imagine that there are others, way smarter than me – who have some thoughts on the subject. Maybe someone knows of something like this and it’s being worked on all along?  If so, please, do tell! I’ve done my research so be ready for a clapback if it’s something I’ve already heard of (hahahahaha! I say that with such love though) but yeah, send it my way. I need to know someone’s working on making the internet a better place to be!    

And another way to think about it is this: if Amazon can deliver packages to people all over the world and not be confused by “authenticating” an entity, then why isn’t this possible?  To me, it seems like such a no-brainer. But you know, I have a million of these ideas that stream through my head — never once have I felt the need to share….

Hit me up if you have any thoughts or questions on this – I’d love to hear more information and more ideas.  Hmmm…imagine an internet where you could land on a website or read a comment and KNOW there was a way to trace back to who said it and why and not worry that it may be a bot or fake information?  Think passports, licenses… validation. Verification. It doesn’t mean you can’t go on “anonymously” if you wanted too – surely, there are people who lie all the time about who they are online and if you wanted to do that, you could.  But, for the times you wanted to be taken seriously – or more importantly, as a consumer – imagine feeling comfortable about going to a site and reading a comment and KNOWING through a simple visual that it was the legitimate source…

Let me stop. I can go on and on forever about this…

Just an idea from a non-techy-but-very-techy-interested-kinda-gurl.

Carmen Lezeth Suarez