Category: Inspiration

5 Things I’ve Learned About Change

One quarter of 2018 is past. It’s supposed to be a year of metamorphosis around here, but what has really changed? If nothing else, I’ve learned a few things about the process of making changes.

In January, I posted my word for the year. I made a lovely graphic.

And then a few weeks later, I adopted a new branding design. Which included a lovely new logo.

Things were off to a metamorphic start. Oh yes.

I penned blogs about what was changing: career,website and me. And maybe a few people even read them.

But when change happens to someone else, it doesn’t affect us. I mean, really. Other people move or find a new job or send a kid to college. We might feel for them (especially if we’ve experienced these changes before), but there’s no metamorphosis in our life when that happens.

1. Change Takes Purpose

Let me explain this. Things change in our lives without our PERMISSION. That’s a circumstance.

In order for us to truly “become something better” there has be be purposeful change.

For example, we get laid off. That was a job we loved and felt called to do. Now we hit the streets to find a new job. After a few dozen applications and some not-so-fruitful interviews, we are offered a new position and we accept it.

However, the new job might end up being only a circumstance. If we don’t embrace this new place and employ our gifts toward this different mission, we won’t change.

WE won’t change.

Just because circumstances change, it doesn’t follow that we will change.

So when life throws you a new circumstance, be a good Marine. Adapt. Improvise. Overcome. And most of all, set your mind to making the most of it so you become a better person.

2. Some Change is Excruciating

I have no idea what the caterpillar feels inside a cocoon. I’ve always imagined the little guy spun his secure bed, fell asleep and woke up as a butterfly.

We aren’t caterpillars. If we sleep through a change, nothing will happen.

My experience this past year is that the longer I’ve been in one place, the more difficult it is to change. More than that, it’s often an unpleasant experience.

Think of it this way, your car is stuck in the mud. You rev the motor. Wheels spin. You sink further into the mud. The more you struggle to get out of the rut, the deeper you get into it.

So it is with changing something that has been static for many, many years.

In order to pull ourselves out of the rut, there’s going to be external force needed. And then there will be internal struggles to accept that application of brutality.

Metamorphosis in the human arena is agonizing.

3. Change Can Be Small

We want big and flashy. This is most often true in areas where we’re making physical changes.

We start a diet and exercise plan. Three days later, our muscles scream and our stomach rumbles. We step on the scale and see:

We’ve lost one pound

One pound?!? For all this misery? Why am I doing this again?

Because big changes start small. Think of the avalanche. It can start with a single pebble sliding down the slope. It hits a larger boulder which rumbles. Dirt loosens around it. When it goes, it takes trees and more rocks with it, leaving behind a corridor of destruction.

The thing about a small change might not even be that it becomes bigger. Often it remains a small, simple thing: filling out a gratitude journal every evening before falling asleep.

But that ONE LITTLE THING bleeds into every area of life. It might begin as, “I have to pay attention to what I’m grateful for so I have something to write in the journal.” Soon enough it becomes a habit to give thanks for all the little things.

The rain stopped when I walked out to get the mail. The cat didn’t run away when I needed to load him into the carrier (and I’m not wearing scratch marks in the aftermath).

The truth is:

4. Real Change is S-L-O-W

Weight loss is another one of those things we want to happen now. Nope, actually, yesterday.

How long did it take me to pack on that extra fifteen pounds? A year? Two years? And yet I think I should be able to drop it in a couple months.

What I’ve discovered is that when I try to be diligent about eating a low calorie diet and exercise every day until my muscles STOP aching, I get burned out. My limit for persevering in both of these things is about one month.

One month? Can I even lose FIVE pounds in that time?

But when I think about it like that, it discourages me. So instead, I look at things as progressive. My sister the Beachbody coach has lots of motivational memes, and they make me feel like a failure if I let them.

Instead, I pull out my calendar and see all the times I know it will be difficult to stick to low calorie eating. I make sure I can up the intensity of my workouts during that time, but I don’t plan to follow the restrictive eating plan.

Why set myself up for failure? Instead, I shoot for MAINTAINING the strides I’ve already made.

After the week of vacation, I return to another 21-day focused eating and exercise plan. At the end, I give myself a week or a weekend to relax in the kitchen.

No, I don’t eat everything in sight. Usually, I’ll reward myself with pizza (and I don’t eat the whole thing) or baked goods (that I give away or share so I don’t eat them all). Then my head is in the right spot to do another 21 to 30-day focused weight loss plan.

It could take me six months or ten months to lose those fifteen pounds, but that’s still LESS time than it took to gain them.

5. Change isn’t always Better

Sadly, change isn’t always the best course of action. It’s difficult to admit this in a post extolling the virtues of metamorphosis.

I’m not talking about YOU attempting to improve something and it falls apart. That’s failure. And failing is the key to success.

Sometimes we were OKAY in an area of life we decided needed to change. Maybe we’ve decided to double the number of books we read in a year. Reading is great, right?

But if we forfeit family time, sleep and preparing nutritious meals (because we’re reading!) then we’ve missed the point of making a change.

Sometimes, we are healthy even if we aren’t a size six anymore. This doesn’t mean we should indulge in a daily dose of ice cream or cookies. Let’s not become UNHEALTHY. But we don’t have to strictly count every calorie. If we miss a workout, there’s no need for self-flagellation.

If reading self-help books makes me adopt a negative self-image, this isn’t a change for the better. We must weigh the change from every angle.

The world is filled with excellent things that I’ve never tried. And if I tried them they could hurt me or deter me from the best course for my life.

So it’s important to remember that a change doesn’t have to be permanent. If you make a change and discover it’s actually detrimental to your life purpose or mental or emotional health, you can change back. Or better yet, re-evaluate WHY you wanted to change that and see if there’s another way to achieve the end result you desire.

What have you learned about change? Have you experienced any of these five lessons about change first-hand?

Transformation: Me

Transformation means a complete change. Are you sick of hearing about it yet? This is the third and final post in the series about my 2018 word of the year.

Whenever I choose a word, it might be meant to impact a certain area of my life. For example, when I chose to have an attitude of gratitude in 2016, that was mostly a mental transformation.
However, the memes I shared on social media also affected my author brand. My change of attitude helped me with my physical goals of reaching a healthy weight toward the lower end of my “target.”
However, I wasn’t intending to change from creepy caterpillar to winged butterfly. There will be no plastic surgery to alter my face and form. No mutations are being invoked at the cellular level.
So this means my personal metamorphosis has specific parameters.

Physical Transformation

After years of resolving to lose weight, I’ve given up on setting my goals in those terms.

Yes, I have an “ideal” weight in mind.

But this transformation is more about building muscle, endurance and all-around fitness levels.
Along with that, I’m juggling food choices until I land on something that will help me do what I’ve always done: eat what I want and maintain my weight.
In younger years, this meant working out a little longer or harder for a few days before or after a splurge (like Thanksgiving dinner with all that cornbread dressing and gravy).


However, my fifty-year-old body isn’t keen on cooperating with that. I thinks that doing the same workouts is a big waste of time, and it will greedily cling to every scrap of chocolate ingested. And place it inconveniently on my waistline.
Ugh.
So I may have my work cut out for me to morph into a butterfly in the physical realm.

Spiritual Metamorphosis

Last year knocked me down and kicked me repeatedly while I huddled in the fetal position protecting my head from the blows.

The biggest battlefield was in my spirit.

I’ve always prioritized my spiritual self. I learned long ago that when my spirit went hungry, it drained my emotions and physical strength. Eventually, I withered.
That’s where I ended up last year.
Now it’s time to cocoon that ugly caterpillar and rely on the Holy Ghost to transform her into something resembling a Christ-like individual.
One area I’ve lacked in years past: meditating on scripture. It will blow your mind to realize how much more often meditating on scripture is recommended over simply studying and learning it.


So why haven’t I focused on it before now?
Your guess is as good as mine, but that’s what I plan to do to fortify my spirit for the next big battle.

Writing Transformation

Yes, it might seem the website and branding should fall in this category, but I don’t see it that way. Those are about my CAREER as a writer.
I’m changing my focus in writing. In turn, the website and branding need to reflect that.
This year my writing is going to focus on Christian and inspirational work. Yes, I have a sweet romance coming out this summer, but I wrote that story in 2017. I hope to release a sweet romance novel, as well, but it’s a compilation of the novella series I penned from 2015 through 2017.


Every fiction story I write this year will have a Christian worldview. They will be intended for readers of Christian fiction (specifically romance, but my romances are atypical).
I hope these readers will enjoy my writing style enough to purchase my sweet romances. They will certainly be candidates for picking up Reflections from a Pondering Heart or either of my Bible studies.
I am changing from a general market romance author to a primarily Christian author. I hope that will include women’s fiction and fantasy as some point in the future, but the metamorphosis has to start small.
What area is most difficult for you to transform?
If you missed my earlier posts, you can read about my website transformation and the transformation of my brand and platform by clicking on the appropriate highlighted word.

For more information about all my releases, jump on board for Hero Delivery and snap up some free fiction as a “thank you” for signing up.

Transformation: Genre Branding & Platform

It’s hard to make a change when you don’t have consistency. Or at least that’s what I told myself about my author brand and platform. And then came 2018 and its Word:

The truth is, I’ve been walking around rather apologetically since I started this professional author gig. Well, except for a few months around the time of this release:

“What do you write?” People would ask.
“All sorts of things.” And then my eyes would dart to the side. “Most of my published stuff is romance, but I have one YA Fantasy and a women’s fiction novel.”
I’m guilty. I was ashamed to admit that I wrote romance. Many of my author friends are angry and revolted as they read this.

Because romance writing isn’t anything to be embarrassed about. Is it what I “dreamed” of writing? Nope.
But it IS what I’ve been able to market to publishers, and where most of my readers come from.
This is the year I embrace that identity. With one caveat, of course.

My Brand: Before

I’m not even sure I had a brand before this. Check out the things I used for continuity across every social media platform.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you saw those things, what would you guess I wrote?

What? It doesn’t scream any genre at you?

That would be because I wrote so many genres I feared embracing anything that might look distinctively romance or fantasy or nonfiction or Christian.
Is it any wonder I haven’t been able to build an audience? No one can figure out what it is I’m selling here.

My Brand: After

 
One thing I’ve heard over and over is: “As an author, YOU are your brand.”
But what does that really mean? What does that LOOK like in logos and colors and fonts?
I am a person who loves to read many genres and has too many ideas to contain in a single writing category. So do I brand multiple personalities? How?
This is what I learned from a quick quiz from Kaye Putnam and her Brand Personality Quiz:
1. I have elements of several personalities in my brand
2. The ones that appeal to me most are Hero and Magician
3. To settle on ONE or know how to properly combine these, I needed to discover what I want my ideal clients (readers) to FEEL
Light bulb moment.
I knew the answer to this. So I took some time considering it more deeply.
I want my readers to feel understood and hopeful and encouraged. I want them to be empowered to chase (and capture) their own dreams.
Yes, I want to offer them escape, but more than that I wanted them to see themselves between the pages and know they are not alone. Someone relates to how they’re feeling and what their lives are throwing at them right now.
Then I outlined all of that and shipped it off to a designer. Perry Elisabeth is a freelancer I met through a Facebook Group. I’d been admiring her cover designs for months and I’d succumbed to the magnetism of her WriteMind Planner.
And this is what she came up with.



There was a transformation here, right? I can build a platform with this distinctive symbol.
Based on that, what genre would you guess I wrote?

And if you say “romance” or “women’s fiction” I won’t cringe. Because in 2018 I’m going to publish three (or more) Christian romances with women’s fiction themes and motifs.
More on that later.
What do you think of the new look? What/how does it make you feel?

What Does it MEAN to Change?

It’s week three of the Year of Metamorphosis and I’m not seeing a butterfly moment yet. In fact, my caterpillar’s looking a little lost. Where’s my change?
What does it even MEAN to change?
The dictionary says change means to make the form, nature, content, future course, etc., of (something) different from what it is or from what it would be if left alone.
In that case, there are a few little changes.
Like the colors I use on my website. And a few nifty social media templates I can use to “create” a new brand.
But who wants a little change? If that’s all I was looking for, I certainly wouldn’t have chosen the gold nugget “metamorphosis” for my annual theme.
I probably wouldn’t have even settled for the twenty-dollar transformation. We all know what that word brings to my fantasy-inspired thinking.

Image from comicbook.com

The thing is change happens a little bit at a time. Like erosion. The water runs down the side of the mountain. A decade later, it causes a crack. A century later the face of the mountain looks totally different.

But we don’t want erosion. We want an explosion.

But do we really? You want someone setting dynamite off in your life?
Backpedaling now, are you? I know I am. I’ve had a few explosions and I’ll beg for erosion. Even if it tries my patience.

Define Little

Small. Tiny. Minute. Unnoticeable.
It’s like that first five pounds you struggle to take off when you’ve got twenty-five to lose. It takes weeks to convince your body to give it up. You’ve worked out. You’ve stopped eating everything that tastes good (if it tastes good, it’s either bad for you or fattening).


And no one notices.

Even the mirror doesn’t see it.
You start questioning the scale. Did I really lose any weight?
But then you pull on that pair of shorts you couldn’t squeeze into last summer. And they button. No, they aren’t loose or even comfortable, but they’re zipped up.
It might be small and unremarkable, but it’s a start.
Change that is slow and steady will likely be long-lasting.

Define Big

Huge. Gigantic. Enormous. Monumental. Noteworthy.
In the weight loss scenario above, will twenty pounds be a BIG loss? Sure. You’re only five pounds short of the goal. You’re 4/5 done.
It’s time to celebrate. But probably not with a slice of New York Cheesecake and chocolate sauce. Better to go shopping for a new outfit.
However, if you’ve got to lose one hundred pounds, the twenty pounds doesn’t seem so big any more.
But why not? It’s still a chunk of lard gone from your frame. Why not celebrate it?
Why do we have to weight the importance based on percent of change or distance from the finish line? Let’s celebrate every step in the right direction.
Celebration is a mindset. Accentuate the positive.


Transformation vs. Metamorphosis

Transformation: the semi truck into a giant, alien robot who will kick butt on the bad guys.
The semi truck is bad news in its own way. If we want to take out the speedster in the Porsche, the semi will do the job. So, a transformation keeps many things the same, but changes enough to make it noticeable.
But a metamorphosis, that’s something altogether more amazing. It’s hard to see the caterpillar when the butterfly bats those gorgeous wings in your face.
Sure, if you go to a molecular and cellular level, you’ll see they’re basically the same thing. But no one walks around with a microscope in their pocket.

Metamorphosis is a huge change, a life-altering transformation.

The caterpillar crawled but the butterfly soars. A life on the other side of metamorphic revision is more dissimilar than similar.


So, maybe I’m not shooting for a metamorphosis this year (except in the way I think…more on that later). Maybe all I want is to transform my brand so my audience can find me.
It will still be my fifty-year-old body once I get it firmed into a certain weight and fitness range. And it probably won’t look much different on the outside, but I hope it will FEEL more healthy and alive on the inside.
One step at a time, I’m making these changes. Because that’s the only way real change happens.
How would you define change? What are you hoping to change this year?

Shake Up that Routine

Let’s face it, we all like our routine. Even those people who share they decide at the “spur of the moment” brush their teeth in the same pattern every day. We are creatures of habit, and in order to embrace metamorphosis, our routine needs to be upended, thrown in the dryer, sent on three rounds of a roller coaster, and get capsized.
Research shows that one way to keep your brain sharp (and those of us in mid-life know the mind is the first thing to slip) is to make slight changes to your daily habits. Maybe you take a different route to the grocery store than usual. Or you try a new store altogether.
Something about the thought it takes to deviate from the regular daily pattern keeps the electricity charging through your brain. That’s all it takes to keep it engaged enough that it won’t conveniently forget where you hid that anniversary gift so your spouse wouldn’t find it. (Don’t worry. You’ll find it in a few years, and it will be a happy reunion.)
I started my path to metamorphosis a little early. The day after my last birthday, I cleared my schedule so I could take my car to the dealer for application of the protective package they worked hard to sell us.
Here’s all the ways this little “detour” shook up my daily routine:

  1. I had to get dressed and “presentable” a full half-hour earlier than I would for any substitute teaching job (I missed this one by five or six minutes)
  2. I had to navigate big-city traffic on unfamiliar roads between my husband’s office and the dealership
  3. First time driving into the fancy auto-door service bays, filling out paperwork and driving off in a loaner car (a smaller and not as technologically advanced version of my car)
  4. Pack up my “office” and work in the Hillsboro Public Library
  5. Eat lunch with my husband

And there were more. In fact, it turned into a L-O-O-N-G day away from home. From 7am to 8:45pm. Believe me, my cats were NOT impressed.
Neither was I as my stomached tightened when the traffic closed around me. Or when my computer battery flashed low and I was scouting for a power outlet in an unfamiliar environment.

My stomach rebelled at more non-home-cooked food.

My brain cells? They were firing like an Independence Day fireworks barge. Sparks were flying. Old neural pathways were zapped while new neural highways settled into place.
In fact, I sense enough of a shake up that I can return to my daily routine for six to eight weeks without harm to my aging gray matter. (This is NOT research-based information. More like wishful thinking.)
This single day may have been an earthquake in my world of happy routines, but it didn’t hurt me. I managed to edit pages in the quiet of the library. My internal navigation system didn’t lead me into mighty detours.


Did I change into a butterfly-like creature of Portland traffic? Not hardly. After all, change is a process, not a single epic event.
What can you do to shake up your daily routine? Have you tried this will less-than-happy results?

Another New Year: Another New Word

It’s January. Again. Another new year. And around here that means a new theme or focus word.
This year’s word blindsided me shortly after we returned from our Branson vacation. I kept seeing a form of this word and as I was working through the ramblings from National Novel Writing Month that became some of December’s blog posts, I was struck by it.
Transform. Transforming. Transformation.
But that sounded too much like Transformers (”more than meets the eye”) so I immediately put my wordy nerd brain into thesaurus mode.
What did I come up with?

Was 2017 Dauntless?

Maybe you forgot that I’d chosen to be dauntless in 2017.


Just choosing the word was like a double-dog-dare to the enemy of the soul.
No matter how much I tried, I could never find the mindset of fearlessness I needed to plow ahead.
Instead, troubles, trials, and transitions bombarded me until I sat down in a heap with my arms over my head.
Hardly the image of a dauntless author chasing the publishing contract she KNEW she would get in 2017.
All of that makes me leery of choosing something daunting again for this year.

Metamorphosis Defined

When I think of metamorphosis, I think of the change of a furry caterpillar to a beautiful butterfly. That’s probably why you’ll see so many butterflies in the next few months as I’m inundating myself with this word.
But, aside from the biological definition, what is a metamorphosis? Dictionary.com says it’s “a complete change of form, structure, or substance, as transformation by magic; any complete change in appearance, character, circumstances, etc.”
So what does that mean for me? Am I changing from human into something else? I don’t think so. And the only magic that will be used is the grace of God.
I’m hoping the make changes in a few areas of my life, though. The biggest one is right here in my writing world.
Maybe you’ve already noticed the difference in my website. I hope you like the changes, but they aren’t done. I’m working on making it “look” and “feel” more like me.
The other thing is that this year I will focus my writing—almost exclusively—on Christian markets. This is a huge change for me, and it makes me more than a tad nervous.
The biggest motivator of this change is the Kindle Worlds contracts. I have a minimum of three more novellas for the First Street Church in the works for 2018.
I’m still going to do at least two projects with my independent publisher—romances. They know I’m changing my focus, and they’re supportive of my decisions. It’s one of the things that I like the best about them.

How it will look in my Life

My metamorphosis isn’t going to take me from a size six to a size zero. Or in the other direction to a size sixteen.
I’m planning on being disciplined in my exercise and eating until I reach the optimal weight for my height and age, but it’s hardly going to look like a transformation.
No butterfly wings for this fluffy girl.
Since my focus in writing is becoming more spiritual, the area I expect to morph into something mega is in my spirit. I’ve got a planner that helps me align my thinking along these lines.
The two nonfiction projects I’m planning for this year are both Bible-based. It’s time I powered through the grief handbook once and for all. So that’s a priority for this year.
And I didn’t write a new study book in 2017. That’s the other project I’m requiring of myself. I’ve got tons of ideas (of course) but I need to narrow them into a single topic that can be dissected over ten to twelve lessons.
Your ideas are welcome, as always.
Do you choose a theme or word of the year? What was your 2017 word? What will you focus on this year.

Why Resistance to Change is Futile

Warning: in this post you will see a TON of cliches thrown around. It’s because I’m trying to make a point about facing life changes. The Borg in me knows “Resistance is Futile,” but still I resist.

Change is inevitable. Change is constant.

Words slung around with verve.

How ironic. Change means “to make different from what would be if left alone,” and constant means “not changing or varying; uniform; regular; invariable.” Although in this case the third definition for constant is more fitting: “regularly recurrent; continual.”

In other words, things are always changing.

But we often resist change.


If we have to change, then we want to snap our fingers and be changed. But it doesn’t work that way. It’s a process. It’s a journey.
In fact, life is the progressive change of an infant through adulthood. If considered in that way, we wouldn’t want to remain an infant forever. Some people are stuck in such a state and they’re deemed disabled.
Meaning, if you can’t change then you’re hindered at living.
The process of living is the pathway of change. A baby learns to eat and walk. It grows and can soon run and talk. The first few years are filled with rapid growth and change.

And if that growth doesn’t occur, parents are quick to consult a specialist. They need to fix it. It would be horrible to get stuck in a formative stage.
But when an older person is faced with change, the tables turn.

“It’s always been this way.”
“It’s worked this way for years, so why change now.”
“If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.”

Bring on the cliches. As many of them exist indicating humanity’s resistance to change as those encouraging growth.

“People don’t resist change. They resist being changed.” Peter M. Senge

Let’s analyze this saying in reference to Empty Nest Syndrome.

It isn’t that we don’t want our children to grow up into responsible adults that live on their own. It’s that we want to remain attached to them, an important part of their life.
We are still parents but our ROLE is being changed. And we don’t get to say how it will change. That’s up to our children.
Moving to an empty nest is one of the changes I faced in recent years. But it certainly wasn’t the hardest one.
It became easier to accept when I focused on what I was gaining rather than what I was losing. Sure, the kids were moving out and wouldn’t be around as much, relying on me as much. But that meant we had a guest room and I could redecorate it. It meant cooking less and less mess to clean up. Suddenly, I only had to consult one other person’s schedule before making plans.
Plenty of changes are forced on us. We lose a loved one, and you can bet we didn’t choose that. We know resistance is futile, but still we drag our feet about entering the valley of grief. We hold memories close, revel in the pity of loss.
And we can stay there a long time. It’s up to us to stop resisting, to get moving forward, to go through the process.

Remember, change is a process.

And, yes, I’m going somewhere with this post. In fact, writing and re-reading it was part of my process for evaluating 2017 and brainstorming words for my 2018 theme.

You’ll have to come back next year to see the end results.

What’s the biggest change you’ve faced? Did you resist it? Why or why not?

BIG MAGIC for Creatives

At the suggestion of an author I follow, I checked the audiobook of BIG MAGIC: CREATIVE LIVING BEYOND FEAR written by Elizabeth Gilbert. After all, I needed something to listen to while I cleaned the house and logged miles on the pavement.

In case you’re not familiar with authors, Elizabeth Gilbert is the author of EAT, PRAY, LOVE, so she had a little authority in the are of creativity. As a bonus, she narrated the audiobook.

What’s the Magic?

Inspiration is the magic behind creativity. There’s tons of noise about listening to your muse and being inspired by certain things.

Gilbert has an interesting view on inspiration. She proposes that ideas are the offspring of inspiration. Ideas float freely through the air around us, buzzing into the hearts and minds of various people, looking for a receptive venue.

When they find an artist that pauses to consider them, they stay awhile. They plant their seedling concept into a ready mind where the willing artist considers it.

If the artist, waters and feeds and otherwise tends the idea, it happily grows and flourishes, until finally it becomes the premise for a novel, theme of a painting or thought behind a symphony. Then it goes fully formed into the wider world to be viewed and appreciated by everyone.

Should the artist give up on the idea, it won’t wait around forever. This is why sometimes when we set aside a project for awhile, when we come back to it, the magic is gone. We can’t get into the flow again. It suddenly feels stale and unimaginative.

Gilbert has proof for her hypothesis regarding ideas. It’s a real eyebrow-raiser, and involves an exchange of ideas with Ann Patchett through nothing more than a touch. That’s all I’ll say about that. Read (or listen to ) the book if you want to know the whole score.

Gilbert’s advice: consider art as a vocation rather than a career. Even if you do it full-time. Once you call it a career, the weight of responsibility (to pay the bills and feed the artist’s family) presses against ideas, stifling them.

She names many fears and addresses her own methods for counteracting them. She debunks the idea of a “suffering artist” and proposes creatives fill their well with love for their art. The art will reciprocate with kindness.

My Takeaway

I enjoyed the various anecdotes and personal experiences shared by Gilbert. This will be the only book of hers I have ever read (although I did see the film version of the best-seller mentioned above, but we all know it was NOWHERE as amazing as the book).

Although I’m not entirely convinced of her theory regarding ideas, I can see how she would have made the conclusion she did.

Ideas are inanimate. However, the Creator of all things could very well send them on the air and into the hearts and minds of people He wants to develop them.

I have said, “Inspiration struck. The words poured out of me.” However, this isn’t inspiration in the sense of “God-breathed” scriptures.

Instead, I mean an idea bloomed and was ready for harvest. It responded to my watering with introspection and my feeding through brainstorming or research. It’s growth can no longer be contained in my heart and mind,

Idea explosion makes me adore writing a first draft. Sure, some parts of it might be a struggle, but I’ve learned to skip to the part the muse want to expel. The other parts will fall in line–eventually. Or maybe they will end up being summarized, nothing more than connective tissue for the brain child birthed with a minimum of labor.

A few lines jumped out at me, and I scrawled them down. They’ll be fodder for reflection in the quiet corners of my mind.

It’s true fear dampens creativity, can destroy it altogether. This is why I chose “dauntless” for my word this year. And why I’ve embraced the unexpected opportunities that have flowed my way this year.

BIG MAGIC isn’t an especially long book, so I recommend it if fear is stifling your creativity. It can’t possibly hurt anything, right? And it might invite the Big Magic of Inspiration to drop an idea (or ten) in the fertile soil of your imagination.

If you’ve read this book, what was your takeaway? What fear stifles your creativity?

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Paying the Ultimate Price: A Salute to Veterans

Veteran’s Day graces the November calendar, brightening it with red, white and blue. And although this isn’t a day to salute those who paid the ultimate price, it is a time to honor those WILLING to pay it.

Thank you to those currently serving in the United States Armed Forces. I offer you the deepest respect. And to those who served in the Armed Forces in times past, thank you for your service.

Yes, I’m technically a veteran since I served in the US Army Reserve, but it feels like a cheap imitation of the service given by men and women who left their families behind to face enemy fire in a hostile place. I’m in awe of those people (and there was a time in my life when I would have gladly been one of them).

A couple months ago, I read a blog post that touched me. It featured a military veteran.

The Price of Giving it All by Kelly Balarie

Two shadows appeared. One was a small, old, hunched over man with a cane and the other a young and vibrant woman with a flowery dress.

Sitting, they leaned in toward each other and talked. A father and daughter? 

All I could think as I noticed this man’s feeble body, his leaning body on that old war memorial was, “He must be telling her about a life that counted.”

He’s saying, “Sure, I paid a mental price, seeing all that war stuff, seeing people fall. The battles, the pain, the sacrifice. But when push comes to shove, I gave my all. My life. I offered up what mattered.”

Only a few minutes later, I saw the “Vietnam War Veteran” pin on his cap. I wanted to remember this man, because without saying a word, he delivered to my heart a message from God: Kelly, if you give it all up for me, you won’t look back and regret your life. You’ll sit on a memorial of what I did and rejoice over it.

I asked the man if I could take his photo.

To finish reading this post, click here.

I was touched by the idea that God used this bent soldier to speak to the heart of a normal woman. A woman who had never donned a uniform.

He used the old war memorial to remind her (and through her, me) that He will build a memorial of our faith when we give up everything for him.

Jesus promised to reward his followers if they willingly forsook all to follow him. This requires daily recommitting our future to him, picking up our cross and following.

Paul compares the Christian life to that of a soldier.

And let’s face it, most of us live in a cushy home and wear whatever uniform we want and eat things that make military chow resemble Dog Chow. So why aren’t we willing to give it all up for Christ?

As we enter these next few days, flags will fly. Memorials all over the U.S. will host special ceremonies to honor veterans.

If Christ is your savior, consider enlisting in his army, signing on for a lifetime of service. Suit up in the spiritual armor and step outside your comfort zone, committing to give Him all.

He already paid the ultimate price for you.

Are you serving Jesus? Can you commit to following him every day?