#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.

Quarantine Fever: 50 Things I've Never Been Asked #30 Days Trying to Find Joy Challenge – Day 13

March 20th, 2020 8:30pm – oh, some fun questions

1. What is the color of your hairbrush? – I don’t use a hairbrush. Fingers only.

2. Name a food you’d never ever eat. – Shellfish

3. Are you typically too warm or too cold? – Too cold

4. What were you doing 45 minutes ago? – Checking out TikTok Dancing

5. What is your favorite candy bar? – Not a bar. Justin’s Peanut Butter cups DARK Chocolate only. Yes, I’m bougie like that nowadays.

6. Have you ever been to a professional sports event? – I’m originally from Boston. It’s mandated for every child born in the state.

7. What is the last thing you said out loud? – “Oh my God! You’re a f*cking Moron!” Screaming at TV watching “someone” doing a press conference.

8. What is your favorite ice cream? – I don’t eat dairy anymore. But it used to be chocolate chip!

9. What was the last thing you had to drink? – Water

10. Do you like your wallet? – I get compliments ALL THE TIME. It’s very unique.

11. What was the last thing you ate? – Spinach Salad w/Chicken

12. Did you buy any new clothes last weekend? – No.

13. The last sporting event you watched? – NBA Championship 2019 😦

14. What is your favorite flavor of popcorn? -Popcorn is not my jam, so just regular, I guess. At the movies, sharing it with someone.

15. Who is the last person you sent a text message to? – My friend Mia

16. Ever go camping? – Yes!

17. Do you take vitamins? – No.

18. Do you go to church every Sunday? – If you mean the beach, then yes. I go three times a week at least.

19. Do you have a tan? – Born this way. Don’t be hatin’.

20. Do you prefer Chinese food over pizza? – I prefer Chocolate Cake above all else. But sure, Chinese food, if you mean American Chinese food over pizza wins every time.

21. Do you drink your soda with a straw? – No.

22. What color socks do you usually wear? – depends on the outfit. Prefer NO socks.

23. Do you ever drive above the speed limit? – Not on purpose.

24. What terrifies me? – The pain I see in others that I cannot fix or help them with.

25. Look to your left, what do you see?American Collector Magazine with Barack & Michelle Obama on the cover.

26. What chore do you hate? – Doing my own bookkeeping.

27. What do you think of when you hear an Australian accent? – Hot men?  My friend Andrea and I were just talking about how men with accents trump all other “must have’s” in men. Hahahaha! 

28. What’s your favorite soda? – Root beer

29. Do you go in a fast food place or just hit the drive thru? – Drive thru.

30. What is your favorite number? – 12

31. Who’s the last person you talked to? – Beata

32. Favorite cut of beef? – New York steak, short loin

33. Last song you listened to? – “River” Bishop Briggs

34. Last book you read? – “The Alchemist” again.

35. Favorite day of the week? – Saturday morning

36. Can you say the alphabet backwards? – Yes. (the trick: write it down first.)

37. How do you like your coffee? – with Almond creamer

38. Favorite pair of shoes? – My old school Jimmy Choo Classic Boots, Tamara Mellon MJ Patent, Office of Angela Scott  Mr. Colin Monkstrap  ßit depends on what I’m wearing that day.  Favorite pair for shoes is too big!

39. Time you normally go to bed? – 10pm-ish.

40. Time you normally get up? – between 4:30am-5:30am

41. What do you prefer, sunrise or sunsets? – Sunrise. My favorite time of day. 

42. How many blankets on your bed? – That’s too personal.

43. Describe your kitchen plates? – Blue-ish grey.

44. Do you have a favorite alcoholic beverage? – Red, with chocolate notes.

45. Do you play cards? – War? That’s all I know.

46. What color is your car? – “Champagne” – that’s what it says.

47. Can you change a tire? – Yes, but never have.  Nails.

48. Your favorite state? – To be in a state of joy. Laughter. 

49. Favorite job you ever had? – Speaking on stage.

50. How did you get your biggest scar? – I jumped out of a window and my knee caught the fencing and sliced open. I was a teenager.

That was fun — just for a little change of pace!

Hugs.

Carmen

We Are Better Than This #30 Days Trying to Find Joy Challenge – Day 12

March 19th, 2020 7:20pm – We Are Better Than This

What I didn’t plan on, what I didn’t foresee is how much my arm and wrist would hurt with all this additional writing.  It’s not just that I’m typing later in the day – In the past, I’ve written for hours at a time and never flinched.  But with this whole coronavirus situation, my whole way of doing things been has thrown in so many surprising ways.  I’ve been using social media that much more and writing (by hand) in the morning, typing throughout the day and then trying to type at night, I’m definitely feeling it in my right hand and arm.  I never understood what carpal tunnel was/is, but I do now.  The strain is real.

As I’m writing this, Governor Newsom (California) just announced a “stay at home” order for all of California.  Hmmm. About time. I’m so okay with this – we’ve had this in place in Los Angeles for a bit of time anyways.  It’s all good. I’m happy to do what I can to help my fellow Angelinos and my fellow Americans to stay safe.  This is easy.  We’re in this together and we’ll get through all of this ONLY by caring about one another.  Kind of crazy though, right? 

I want to mention I was on Facebook and pretty much reprimanded a few people who were inflaming people and freaking people out.  I don’t know why people enjoy almost gossiping or sharing crappy stuff?  I honestly don’t understand the point most days.  I mean, sharing something that may be an injustice so people are aware of it is one thing, but sharing people behaving badly – like freaking out over toilet paper?  I don’t know.  We are better than this.  All of us. If people are behaving badly out of fear, don’t exploit it. Help people calm down. Relax.  And remind them we’ll get through this together.

By the way, there’s plenty in this country for supply. But if you keep hording, there is not enough for your neighbors.  Take a breath. Be considerate. Be kind. Be a loving human being. Yeah, let’s bring that back. A loving and considerate American. THAT is my American dream.  That we all get back to loving each other for reals.  Yeah, yeah, I know it’s kind of kumba-ya-like, but isn’t that the real American dream?  Where we all feel safe and supported?  Hmm… Maybe it’s a Global-human-dream. 

Okay, yeah, I need to stop writing right now… my hand hurts and I’m a little over-top even for myself.  Ha! 

But hey, if you’re gonna dream, you might as well dream big! 

#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).

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