#30 Days Trying to Find Joy Challenge – Day 15 (Final) My Epic Success and Failure

Friday, March 27th, 2020 – 6:24pm – The Ending Of my Challenge.

The good news is, in so many ways, my 30-day challenge, that I only ½ completed, was a great success. It pushed me to write at times I’ve never written before. That was huge.  Breaking out of my systematic way of writing by hand and then transferring written work to a digital format was/is time consuming. I feel comfortable in saying, I don’t need to do that anymore.   Don’t get me wrong, I still prefer to write with pen and paper, especially when it comes to my journal or writing the first draft of my second book, but I’m not against writing straight from keyboard anymore. In that sense, mission accomplished!   

My failure is that this coronavirus situation in our country and world has done me in something fierce.

Emotionally, I’m an absolute mess. I’m keeping it together, mostly for my friends and family. I have family who work in hospitals and clearly we’ve all heard the horrible circumstances they’re dealing with just not having enough of the basic equipment and gear (PPE’s) to do their jobs.  But there’s also a mental toll they’re taking on. Watching people die. That’s hard at any time.  Sure, it’s part of their jobs but it’s never easy. It’s made even harder because it’s continuous. And, I’m sure, some people would not die during this pandemic if we had been more prepared.  If our government… 

I can’t even go there. This is not about THAT. My point is, being there for my friends & family on the front line as best I can – listening to them when they finish a shift, is what I can do to help them.  But hearing them vent and just watching the toll it’s taking on them has been heart-wrenching to say the least. I don’t let them know I’m crying, I want to be strong for them. But inside I’m dying. And when I finish the call, I cry. Deeply.  And then I move onward.   

I have friends – mi familia – with young children who’ve never had to spend this much time with them regularly. In one way, it’s very funny.  I remember these friends wanting so desperately to have children. And of course, they love their kids, but yeah, damn!  I couldn’t spend that much time with a 6 year old either, let alone 4 of them.  I’ve done my best to answer every call and be the “Auntie” who’ll talk to the kids for a bit on WhatsAPP or Skype or Zoom just to give mom or dad a break.  I mean it’s not much, but it’s what I can do to help. Again, I don’t share how bad I feel for them – but after I’m done, I say a prayer for all them. 

I have a couple of friends whose marriages were on the rocks to begin with but now this situation is making it even worse in a lot of ways.  Relationships are hard always. Harder when you’re basically in quarantine and your responsibility is to your kids.  So… I’m happy to hear them vent too. One of my friends shared a glass (or bottle actually) of wine over Zoom.  I literally watched her get drunk via video cam, all while she complained about her fiancé.  Yikes!  

I’ve also had to revamp my own job/business. Like everyone else, I’ve been considering long-term changes to my own industry and possible job/client loss and adjusting accordingly. It’s tough.  I’ve seen major businesses get stuck in this and I’ve heard small business owners and CEO’s cry because they had to let their staff go and can’t pay them anything because they have no sales to cover the costs. Better to let them file for unemployment…  It’s been sad to listen too and yet I continue to do my job as well – even though I know I’m not getting paid either. It’s the right thing to do. 

My epic failure, if you will, is not being able to finish the challenge because by the time 9pm rolls around and I eat my dinner and think about my writing challenge, I end up falling asleep – lately on the couch, with the TV on, watching some show I was sure to start binging, humming in the background.

So, I’m okay with finishing my 30-day challenge today.  I didn’t complete it, but I accomplished my goals and for that I’m so grateful. 

More importantly, I’m so blessed to have so many friends and family who feel comfortable to talk to me or reach out to me when they need a hand. I wish it were like normal times where life was just doing it’s thing and we were all hanging out together because that’s what people do – but this works too.  Our true character is tested not when things are easy, but when things are hard.  And so far, I think I’m doing okay. 

I hope you are too.

Much love & thanks for stopping by.

Carm~  

This just made me feel so good… We all need a little more joy.

Create Your Own Challenge #AuthorToolBoxBlogHop #Writing

As I’m writing this piece, I’m in the middle of a 30 day challenge I created for myself.

The idea was rather simple: could I find a way to write — actually physically type — on my laptop some of my thoughts from my morning journal? See, I write — hand write — every day in a journal. I’ve been doing it since I was a kid. And I keep those journals, which are black hardcover bound sketchbooks, and that’s how I came to write my first book. It wasn’t my intention but it was time to shred all of those sketchbooks I had in storage. So many boxes and taking up too much space so one day, I started randomly going through them. Some, if not most it, felt like junky writing — because, let’s face it — that’s what journaling is all about, writing anything and everything. But then I found these pieces. These moments in time. Scenes that made sense. They were heart-warming and poignant. The book Canela formed almost instantaneously.

I shredded about 25 boxes of journals.

For whatever reason, habit really, when I wake in the morning, I have to write. And sometimes that stuff is so good! And I keep thinking, “If I could just write like THIS on my blog, maybe other people would enjoy this or have feedback or help me with ideas…” or whatever. The point is, I always want to share parts of my journaling but I can’t. I just can’t.

And I had to ask myself why?

The biggest reason is because once I know I’m writing for someone else to read, OTHER than myself, my hand-writing changes. The other problem is that something’s lost in the translation. I write in English, so it’s not a language thing. But if I start typing out what I wrote by hand to put it up on my blog, I start editing, I start “fixing” sentences and hell, it just becomes such chore.

So, I wanted to see if I could change my habit and/or just challenge myself. I decided to try and share my thoughts with my blogging friends but instead of sharing my morning journal-therapy session with everyone, why not instead try to share something else? Why not type directly in WordPress at the END OF DAY and see if that churns up any decent thoughts.

I didn’t want to put too many guard rails on it. I wanted to feel like I could write about absolutely anything at all. One thing I do before I go to bed anyways is a recap of my day. It’s not a writing thing, just a thinking thing. I never to go to bed angry, so I always try and find something joyful to pull from my day to remind myself that no matter what’s happened, that the day had a piece of joy in it, worth remembering (actually this works, everyone should try it!).

So why am I telling you all of this? Because I think I’ve grown as a writer these past 15 days. I’m half way through my personal writing challenge as I’m writing for this #AuthorToolboxBlogHop and I’ve changed. How? Well, in the simplest way, I’ve been able to write more easily using the keyboard verses a pen. Clearly that’s a ME “growth” thing and most people probably don’t have this issue. But my morning journal is still my therapy, my private ramblings, but my evening writing has been this newfound voice and joy… That’s the second way I’ve grown as a writer! There’s a freedom in my writing that I hadn’t felt before this challenge. I’m excited, in a different way, to share. I still have the second half of the month to go — so who knows what else I’ll learn, but I do know this: it was a great idea to just challenge MYSELF instead of jumping on some other formal “competition” or “writing program” or another blog hop (I love this blog hop, I’m just saying).

Challenging yourself to something different in how you write just changes things up a bit. It’s like a refresh button. Or maybe a reSET button? I once challenged myself to only write a paragraph every day for a week after blindly picking a random word from a dictionary I had on my bookshelf. That was so hard! I remember being baffled by it. Most of the time I didn’t really understand the word’s meaning I picked. Ha! But it was a good challenge to change things up a bit. I’ve also done the normal kind of challenges where you try to write from a different perspective or tried different types of writing… I attempted to write poetry once. Uhem, so not my thing!

My point is simply this: Do something to challenge yourself. Stretch those writing muscles! Do it for a couple of days, a week or a month. But if you’re needing a little “pick-me-up” and/or you’re feeling like you could use a little change of pace to brighten up that old trusty writer’s brain or you suffer from that age old term, “writer’s block”, then give it a try. Try a little challenge of your own. Oh, and if you do, please share!

#30 Days Trying to Find Joy Challenge – Day 9

March 13th, 2020   Friday 8:05pm   – Facebook, Video, Unexpected Kindness

Well, today’s joy came unexpectedly. I posted a video on my facebook page thinking I might be able to help a few people who find themselves unexpectedly working from home, but actually, people reached out to me and ended up helping me.  Kindness really is a thing! 

Here’s what I posted:

“Social Distancing doesn’t mean social isolation.” Please take good care of yourselves and yes, be kind. Here’s my few minutes of advice. Hugs y’all.

We will get through this, together.

Hugs and much to everyone!

Carmen

#30 Days Trying To Find Joy Challenge – Day 1

Thursday, March 5th, 2020 9:45pm – First Entry, Rambling Introduction

I write every morning, about 5:00 am-ish with my morning coffee. I use a pen and a sketchbook. Long-hand is the right word. I tend to like cheap pens, Bic blue preferably, with a red one around just in case I choose to draw hearts or arrows or who knows what. I’ve been doing it since I was a teenager.

There was a time when I was trying to post some of those entries and I got a lot of great feedback. There really is something personal and intimate about reading someone’s journal, right? And when it’s hand-written and so unique to that person, it feels even more real. But, when I did share those posts, it was hard because I’d have to re-write what I wrote and then it was clouded somehow by the idea that I was “writing for the blog” sort of speak. Something just felt so inauthentic. And, it was hard. It became a chore.

I don’t want to do that anymore. So, I’ve stopped sharing those outright entries. My morning journals are my private therapy for sure and maybe someday they’ll be shared with the world, but hopefully not. They aren’t very good after-all, just my random thoughts, while I’m drinking coffee and I’d love to think I’m brilliant when I’m writing, but eeeh, I’ve re-read some of that stuff and I’m positive, uhem, no. Not brilliant at all. In fact, it’s just gibberish most days. Venting about whatever, swooning over whomever and maybe, if I’m having a pretty fantastic day, something creative worth remembering to recreate later in my next book or something. But honestly, most days, yeah, nothing…

So, what am I doing? Why am I writing at 10pm at night on my blog and just basically riffing on a blank page? Well, I’ve come up with an idea — nothing too grand, but I want to write about my day for the next 30 days and see if I can see a pattern or maybe learn something more about myself. I’m actually not editing at all, not re-reading and not really paying attention to grammar or whatevs. I say all of that, as if in other posts, I pay attention to any of that. I don’t. I suck at grammar, spelling and the like. Can I be honest? As a “writer”, I almost find pride in that. Sucking at all of that and still calling myself a writer. Ha! Truth is, at the end of the day, grammar and spelling is the least important aspect of writing. To me, that’s what an editor is for! But creating a story, engaging a reading so much that they can’t stop from finding out what happens next, THAT’s writing! Well maybe more story-telling. But I’ve met many people who are great at story-telling and horrible at spelling and grammar, but I’ve never met the grand master of grammar and thought they were a gifted writer, orator and story-teller. I’m sure the unicorn of all of it is out there somewhere, but I’m not at all gifted in either, but enjoy the process of story-telling so much that yeah, I’ll keep calling myself a writer even if my spelling and grammar sucks big time! Ha!

It’s so late and I’m just rambling. I am. I’ve decided that for the next 30 days, I’m going to just account for my day. There are no rules except that I write something on this blog for the next 30 days, every day. My honest hope is to see if I can recognize any patterns and/or make any changes to just make life a little easier. At the very least, like I posted above I hope to find something positive in the day.

Life’s been difficult for quite a while in so many ways. I assume it’s what most people are going through, but keeping my spirits up and keeping myself on-point and engaged has been paramount. This is the next step. I need to account for my day and although I was doing it on my calendar it just isn’t the same. If I have to answer TO someone or, in this case, just answer to my nightly blog post, then maybe that will help keep me on-point!

So yes, this is a selfish activity. I’m not sure where it’s going or what it’s for and I have no real rules. Just, I want to write and update my blog for the next 30 days on a regular basis. I can write about anything that’s happened in my day. But other than that, no rules.

Today was a great day in that I went for a 2.5 mile run and then did a great Centr6 workout. I worked a bit today, but was on the phone most of day. My whole food thing was meh today and honestly if I could just conquer the food thing I swear I’d be golden! When I win the lottery the first purchase is a full-time chef. I swear it! I cook for myself and really do a decent job nowadays of eating well, but goodness, I’d love a CHEF’s meal any day over mine! I’m also just not that into cooking for ONE person — so I tend to cook for the week and then am so sick of eating the same thing by the end of the week that I find myself nibbling on other crap. Yeah, today was a bad eating day, again. Tomorrow’s another day. Crossing my fingers.

Other than that, I have nothing more. I interacted with a business colleague today about the possibilities of working for his firm. Kinda cool and not something I was expecting! That may be what’s next in my life — not sure. But it was real nice to talk to him about it anyways. I may be ready to to work for a big firm that does great work in my field. I guess I can go either way, continue my small business and working with individual clients or…yeah, I think I’m ready to move onward. More security maybe? Actually, who knows. But if there’s a firm I’m going to work for, it would definitely be his. He’s a good man and it’s a great company. Eeh, we’ll see. That might be a good thing.

That’s pretty much it. I also wrote down 10 possible podcast topics since I’m going to record something next week with another colleague/friend. Hmm… I may write more about that later. I’m crossing my fingers it goes well tomorrow.

So, that’s it. Boring I know. But I’ll post again tomorrow and maybe, at the very least, it will help me to SEE what work I’ve been doing and what I can improve upon.

Did I help anyone today? Eeeh, maybe, but I can’t remember anything significant. But, at the very least, I kept to my agreement from this morning and posted my evening thoughts exactly. Sorry if you made it this far reading gibberish. But thank you…

Okay, until tomorrow. I’m dead tired. But I’m still excited by the possibilities!

Carmen (PS. I won’t double check anything so please, forgive any and all of it. I’m just riffing here way past my bedtime and just seeing how this goes).