#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.

#30 Days Trying to Find Joy Challenge – Day 10

Saturday, March 14th, 2020 – Saturday working, grateful & Marvel

Today’s joy, just happened. I finished working on a data-entry project I needed to do for a client on the East Coast by Tuesday. But yup, I ran errands early this morning (grocery store run which was… well, pretty okay considering the crazy Coronavirus times we’re living in) and then, came home, sat in-front of my computer and “data-entry’d” myself away. And now, I’m done! Yes.

The rest of the evening will be taken over by a glass of wine and a little Marvel. I think I’m in the mood for Dr. Strange. I love that scene right before The Ancient One dies and they have that awesome exchange. Yeah, I’m gonna watch that tonight, at least until I fall asleep — and just be grateful that for today, in this moment, I truly am okay.

Good night / Good morning my friends.

Carmen

For those who are NOT Marvel fans, you may not care for this clip — but thought I’d post it for those who want a quick Marvel pick-me-up. I love this scene:

#30 Days Trying to Find Joy Challenge – Day 8

March 12th, 2020   Thursday 8:44pm  – My gift, my curse

Well, today was a challenging day. The rain was fierce coming down throughout the day  and I had a client cancel and a project I had to put aside for a while.  I think that’s going to be the norm during this whole Coronavirus thing, but the loss of Michael weighed heavily in my bones as I went about doing things. I don’t want to harp on it too much – but losing someone you love is hard. But it’s also a part of life. I guess for me today it was about thinking too much about some great moments we had – I went and bought some chocolate today too to honor him and I laughed and then cried…  Yeah, I’m so sad he passed away. 

Today was challenging because I had to much on my plate and I’m just finishing up the work on my To Do list. I’ve decided that I really need to make money doing something I love. For real.  I can’t keep working for people who don’t “get” it. People who are mean are one thing, but people who are not empathetic towards other people’s needs are a complete other.  Don’t get me wrong, I hate mean people too. But I hate even more working with people who are so caught up in their own world, so self-absorbed, that they don’t even recognize when they’re hurting people.  And here’s the thing: I can’t help but call it out.  Ugghh.

Now, you might think that sounds like a good thing, but I guess if I had a bucket of money somewhere and I didn’t have to pay any bills at all, then me calling people out on their bullcrap would be an okay thing to do.  But most times, when I have to say something, I resign, or quit or walkway and lost the job, at least on my own footing. 

Yeah, yeah, yeah, principle. 

You know what though?  Being principled has lost me thousands and thousands of dollars.  I wouldn’t change a thing that I’ve done – don’t get me wrong. But it always bums me out when I just can’t keep my mouth shut any longer and have to tell someone, basically they’re an asshole.  Or, they’re a slimey asshole. Or, they’re a cheap slimey good-for-nothing asshole.  I think you’re getting the point. 

Now, in all fairness, there have been people who appreciated the call out.  Some people, in this case an extremely wealthy woman, had no idea she was being a cheap asshole to her staff by not paying them more.  I was frustrated with her for a while, and finally I sat her down and told her sternly,

“You just came back from Barney’s with a wardrobe that includes a White Tshirt that cost over $600. Do you realize that’s more than what you pay your housekeeper for two weeks of work? She cleans your toilets for goodness sake and she’s asking you for $1 an hour raise and you’re having a complete breakdown over it. What is wrong with you?  Just stop it.”

She took it well. She took it like a woman of privilege who had a realization that she had lost her way. 

Yeah, I took some solace in that. 

Truth is, I’ll always be as honest as possible. I’m blunt, but I try to be as kind as I can be, till someone’s behavior is just too much. Then I’ll go off on them. It’s both a gift and a curse, of course. And although I may have lost a lot of money by saying my piece various times in the past and walking away from a client or job, I have no regrets. I can’t work for unethical people. I really can’t be around people who are mean.  And I really hate people who have no no emotional intelligence or integrity whatsoever.  So yeah, no regrets. 

I’m so glad I just wrote that all out — somehow, I feel better. Today, was a good day. Yeah, I like who I am. I wouldn’t change a thing. Not for all the money in the world. And that ain’t no lie.

Well, I didn’t think I would write about that tonight, but there you go – surprise, surprise! I’m kind of loving this end-of-day journaling thing.  Hmmm.

Till tomorrow, I guess.

Carmen   

The Hardest Part #AuthorToolBoxBlogHop #Writing

What’s the Hardest Part of Writing?

I guess most people would talk about “writer’s block” but I’ve already spoken about that phenomenon and it’s not the hard part of writing at all. To me, that’s just part of the process of writing. 

For me, the hardest part of writing has nothing to do with writing. 

It’s like anything else –  I’m sure there are highs and lows to being a doctor or teacher or a painter or whatever profession we may be talking about, but if you love what you do, you’ll accept those parts of the process that feel heavier at times than the parts that are light and somewhat easier. So, writer’s block is just a heavier part of the process.  Struggling to finish a chapter or connect the dots between characters, just part of the job.

The hardest part of writing is what happens AFTER you finish your masterpiece. And this goes for all types of art – whatever it may be – whether a piece of writing, or something you’ve sculpted, painted, music or even mastering your acting skills – all of it, unless you’re planning on keeping it to yourself and just sharing it with family, has to become a business. The hardest part for me was NOT being aware of what to do AFTER I’d written my manuscript. I had no idea where to start, what to do – and so I did what many people do and started submitting my unsolicited work randomly to publishing houses hoping someone would read my “brilliant” writing and just have to publish it. 

That didn’t happen. 

After being thoroughly disappointed by continuous rejection letters, or worse, no response at all, I shelved my manuscript for a couple of years.  Of course, then naturally I started to believe it was a horrible piece of writing and a stupid idea. No matter how strong of a person you are – and no matter how many times people tell you NOT to pay attention to criticism, we’re all only human.  It grates on you.  Multiple rejection letters and terrible pieces of advice from strangers who clearly had NOT read my book – did a number on my confidence.  It was not a great time for me as a writer.  Self-confidence is a thing as an artist. 

So, my advice to anyone writing their first novel or script or poetry – START to think of your creativity today as a business.  I know it’s sometimes hard to find the time to write, but if you’re committed to your work, please also take the time –even if it’s just a few minutes a week to researching the “Business” end of your industry.  It took me so long to figure it out and even NOW I’m still learning some of the tricks to the trade. 

Here is some basic information to start you thinking about your creativity (whatever it is) as a business:

  1. Join LinkedIn (yes, even if you’re a writer, or actor or sculpture or whatever). I was never a big fan, but now it’s become the best place to connect with like-minded individuals.  Here’s why it’s great:  People in all types of businesses post their successes and failures and ideas and suggestions and it’s just another avenue to learn. Here’s my link if you want to add me:   https://www.linkedin.com/in/carmensbusiness/
  • Join BlogHops.  I never knew what this was until Author Raimey Gallant saw one of my blog posts and invited me to join!  This #AuthorToolBoxBlogHop is a great resource on so many levels!  But there are many “Blog Hops” and if you don’t know what they are – because I surely didn’t – then do a quick google search and get on board. It’s an easy way to connect with the community and share your thoughts and ideas as well as learn so much about the writing world as well!  (BlogHops can be for other topics as well…)
  • This piece of advice is mostly for my script and actor friends, but I bet it also applies to really anything at all:  know who the entertainment lawyers are for your industry. And if you can pay a retainer, or sign with a lawyer on a percentage basis, know that pitching your script is something a lawyer can help you do. Yes, everything is about money, so it might be harder if you can’t afford to hire a lawyer. But I learned THIS YEAR that studios, including places like Netflix and Amazon studios will be more likely to hear a pitch from a lawyer than someone who is sending out their ideas “unsolicited”. My book has been pitched to a production company for a possible deal with Netflix – NOTHING HAS COME OF IT YET and in this town that really means NOTHING. But, it would have never even gotten to this point – a legit hearing – if I hadn’t had a contact from a “legit” source.
  • Go to places that support writers (or whatever your craft may be).  Seek out organizations that have other ways to network and grow. For example, here in Los Angeles there is a great organization called Writer’s Blok.  It was much cheaper when I first joined back in the day and I can’t lie, I think the monthly costs are a little high nowadays – but if you join their mailing lists, they do have some free sessions and free events once in a while. The point is this is another great way to network.  I prefer NOT to write with other people – but I can’t lie, when I found this group and decided to try it, I took my manuscript off the shelf and finally found a way to get it published!  It was a great place to figure out what was next. Wherever you are on the globe, there might be a place in your neighborhood that has this type of organization.  I found this by going on MeetUp and just searching for “writers” within my neighborhood.  Best thing I ever did for my book!  And my confidence!

There is so much more I could list. But I just wanted to get the idea in your head that the hardest part of writing isn’t always about the writing.  It’s about realizing that in order to get your creativity SEEN, READ, HEARD – that you’re also going to have to wrap your head around it being a business!

There are so many people who write about self-publishing and/or how to get an agent and such – so I wanted to offer some other, less talked about ideas.

My hope is that this has you at least thinking about the business end of things… I hope this was helpful. 

‘til next time,

Carmen

A Note to UNDER ARMOUR’s PR Folk

  • I wrote  this on a Facebook comment section of Under Armour’s advertising of a sports bra that the brilliant Misty Copeland was wearing.  It’s in response to another person telling me that Kevin Plank (CEO of Under Armour) really wasn’t saying all that much….  here’s my response.

Thank you for your information.  However, I’m quite concerned with any business that vocalizes their opinion during such a turbulent time in our country so much so, that their own spokespeople (Misty, The Rock and Steph Curry for example) find it necessary to come out and set the record straight, sort of speak.

Here’s the thing:  I don’t want my country to fail – no matter who’s in office.  I’m not sure any SANE American wants that.  So, if any administration finds the need to reach out to people in business to get answers, to give help or advice, then so be it. I know other organization like Amazon, Tesla and others have met with the Administration trying to assist in the next steps…  I get all of that.  Unfortunately, like UBER, you guys (UA) stepped in it and you stepped in it “bigly”.

You don’t get a pass from me because this is the business you’re in.  You should know better.  And yes, I’m so disappointed. I do love Misty Copeland and she was one of the first reasons I made the change from Nike to UA.  And just yesterday, I bought NIKE shorts online — I haven’t bought from NIKE in a long time but I’m getting ready for a Tough Mudder in March so I bought two pair.  Honestly, I didn’t even flinch at where I was going to purchase my new items… I just did it.

When you guys “step in it” it does something to the subconscious.  And surely, I’m not a supporter of this NIKEadministration.  But as professionals in this field, you guys should know better.  Maybe the same thing happened with Obama – people got upset with organizations that supported him, I have no idea.  Regardless, just like Uber, you have some mending to do from a PR point of view.  Of course Uber went all out and wrote a letter to its customers, and when I got rid of the APP on my phone, I got a letter from Uber asking me to reconsider and to give them one more shot – then, I was asked to just read a little more information on what the organization is doing to help others, to clear the air.  I linked over and saw a more detailed outline of what they were doing to be on-board with what is MORALLY right – and yes, not lose me to Lyft (I’m not completely clueless that, at the end of the day this is capitalism after all and business is business – I’m fine with that, as long as you have a moral compass as a human being, as a company).

Am I using Uber nowadays?  Not just yet, because I haven’t needed to.  But, I put the app back on my phone and I certainly will next time I need a ride.  I give Uber credit for acknowledging the issue and realizing they probably could have done better initially.  They didn’t deny the mistake.  Or make it sounds like it was just some little thing.

If Under Armour wants my business in the future, it needs to stay out of politics.  Period. Full Stop.  If it chooses to assist OUR COUNTRY in helping any administration, it needs to do so, understanding the ramifications of all of their verbage, and acting accordingly.  I would think this is PR 101.