A Positive Choice

Stephanie had a computer problem today, so I’m posting this for her. Enjoy!

As I said last week, I’m in the midst of a move. This week I am in my new place, but in the midst of unpacking chaos. What that means is this will be another short blog. Hopefully, though, it will be thought provoking.

      The other day I was having a conversation with my daughter-in-law. She was telling me about a mutual friend who texted her with complaints about his life. He can turn the happiest moments into reasons for depression. We laughed and said he didn’t have anything to complain about. Both of us have have lived through worse. In fact, some are happening now.

      As we listed a few, I realized being content really is a choice. I can chose to dwell on the negatives of my life, such as being forced out of what I thought was my home or having to live on an extremely tight budget and being forced by circumstances to to live with my son and daughter-in-law. Or I can chose to see the positives of my life. I am starting over, I’m creating a new life and going forward into a new adventure. I have a special opportunity to truly get to know my daughter-in-law, creating a relationship that is a joy to both of us and will set the tone for our families for years. Best of all, I get to practice my faith every day, seeing so many instances of my God’s provision and care.   

      This principle is powerful. When I choose to see the positives, to be grateful and to acknowledge the good things in my life, I’m happier. I’m also more focused and make forward progress. When I dwell on the negatives and spend my attention on those things that aren’t quite right, I have no joy, very little focus and even less motivation. Each choice, to dwell on the negative or the positive, creates its own mini-spiral, drawing us deeper and deeper into that mindset.

      Today I choose to see the great good in my life and enjoy this new chapter of my ongoing adventure. Won’t you join me?

Self-Publishers Online Conference and Other News

Me and My Mom in Sydney

I am about to leave for Michigan to visit my mom. She’s been in ICU since Easter and a very generous friend bought me a plane ticket home to see her! (Thank you, God!) In the rush to leave tomorrow, I thought I’d leave you with some things I’ve been reading about lately.

First, I just signed up for the Self-Publishers Online Conference! Yay! The last day to get the Early Bird Discount – $50 off – is today! Check it out and see if it’s something you’d be interested in. There is also a free “preview” call on May 2 that you can sign up for on the web site. I’ve listened to both of the other free preview calls and I’ve enjoyed them enough to decide to sign up for the conference.

Interested in learning more about what people are earning from self-publishing? I’ve linked to Debra Holland’s blog several times so you can read about her wild and crazy success. In fact, just last week she made the USA Today bestseller list with an ebook! To get a difference perspective, some of us are still not making much. My book, Little Miss Lovesick, came out the end of September and I only last week sold enough copies on Barnes & Noble to warrant getting paid. (You only have to earn $10.) Here is a blog post from Rhonda Pollero, a writer who is taking the long view on her sales.

Speaking of income, here’s an article from Novelists, Inc. by writer and teacher, Lawrence Block on writers and income. Very level-headed.

Dean Wesley Smith wrote a post comparing how much you might make selling short fiction to a traditional source, like a magazine, versus self-publishing it. I’d been wondering about this myself.

When the whole writing and publishing business gets you down to the point where you aren’t doing anything (writing, for instance  ::waves hand in the air:: ), consider again the power of positive affirmations. Here’s a post on that from the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood.

After you get yourself psyched up from the power of your positive thinking, you may decide to procrastinate just a tiny bit more in the name of research and craft. If so, here is an article from Writers in the Storm with “13 Ways To Show (Rather Than Tell) in Your Love Story.”   And Savvy Authors has an article  on “Writing with Emotion – Yours!” that I enjoyed.

By the way, if you write humorous romantic fiction and still think it’s okay to say “chick lit” in front of other writers, here’s a site for you.  I just found it and haven’t explored it, but I was excited that there are other women out there writing fun stories who aren’t ashamed to admit it. 🙂

If you’re interested in writing a nonfiction piece about your self-publishing journey, this might be of interest to you. Flirty Author Bitches have a call for submissions on that topic. Again, haven’t looked into it much yet, but it looks interesting to me. (Maybe something to do in the hospital during the long hours of waiting.)

Finally, do you blog? Do you think having pictures makes your blog more interesting and easier to read? Do you have a heck of a time trying to find such picutures? ::me waving my hand wildly again:: I did a Google search (my husband’s answer to everything) and found this. Happy Kitty.

I hope one or more of these pieces helps you. Remember to look into the Self-Publishers Online Conference today in case you want to register and get the Early Bird Discount. And read that article on affirmations. Figure out what affirmations look like to you. I’m going to read it again and journal on it and come up with a system that works for me. I think I’ll incorporate Bible truths into mine, something that I can believe in easily without having to force myself. “I am a bestselling author” doesn’t work for me. But “All good and perfect gifts come from God, and I use my gifts to encourage and entertain others” is something I already believe to be true. Hmm, I might have to blog more about that! 🙂

Happy Writing, Everyone! Thank you to everyone who has been praying for my mom, my family, and me! Keep those prayers coming – they’re working!

Battling Voices

          I’m sure many of us have heard the “statistic” that a person needs five affirmations to combat every one negative said to them. Recently, I read an article that presented that idea in a new way. This article stated that our interactions with others should be 97 percent affirming and supportive. Not just to make others feel good, but to raise our own credibility. When the majority of our interactions are positive and affirming, when we demonstrate with words and actions how much we value those in our lives. When we regularly act in ways that help, encourage and inspire others, they experience our commitment to them and to the relationship. When we occasionally need to confront a true negative issue, our love and commitment are so tangible in their lives it combats the emotional battering that a rebuke often engenders. In other words, it gives us credibility.

          I’m renewing my commitment to this principle. I’m making a conscious effort to tell those around me what I see in their lives that I admire. I’m changing my perspective so that I can verbalize their value. Instead of saying someone is stubborn, I recognize (and say!) that they are determined and persistent. Non-confrontational is kind and gentle, friendly and affirming. Outspoken and bossy is honest and dynamic.

          It is amazing to see those I love respond so quickly to my attempts to verbalize their value. It’s also a little sad. Were they so starved for affirmation that, like a plant craving water in a drought, they immediately “green up”? As I watch their reactions, I realize I am feeling the same thing. I need to use this principle for myself. I’ve lived in an environment, some of my own making, of self-condemnation for long enough.

          I have an internal voice that constantly tells me I’m not good enough, that I won’t succeed, have nothing of value to offer others. It’s been there all my life, lurking in the shadows of my mind, doling out discouragement and doubt and degradation. I’m not sure of the root, but I’m also not sure it matters. It’s possible my parents or childhood family members responded to me in ways that caused me to internalize those feelings of failure and unworth. People in my adult life did the same. But I’m not willing to lay blame. Determining and laying blame will do nothing good in my life. It only leads to a continued sense of unworthiness. It keeps my focus on how I’ve been damaged, not how to heal.

          I need to refute that internal voice. I need to present truth to my mind-heart. I need to destroy the lie that I am incapable of succeeding in anything. Being a writer, words are my weapon of choice.

          In the past, trying to force affirmations on myself seemed so fake. Self-help books and articles suggest writing or saying over and over “I’m a great writer” or “I deserve success” or any number of other suggestions. It’s never worked for me. I can say it, but I don’t believe it. There’s nothing of substance. This time I have an idea that might make a difference.

          I have a list of personality traits. (I got in a Margie Lawson class.) It’s just a list of about 50-100 different traits, all positive. Things like adventurous, persistent, realistic, fun-loving, idealistic. I started using this list to help me find positive things to say to those around me. Now it’s time to use it on myself. I plan to go down through the list and each day write in my journal at least one way I have exhibited one personality trait. Instead of saying to myself, “You are kind and gentle,” I’ll say, “The way you spoke to your friend was kind and helped her make that decision” or “You try to are so conscientious that you want to make sure everyone’s needs are met.” I think this tying the trait to an action will more effectively combat that negative internal voice and the lies and discouragement it spews.

          That’s my version of living and growing one day at a time, one step at a time. What’s yours?

Deciding Which Voices I Will Listen To

          Positive self-talk. What exactly is positive self-talk?

          I’ve read people who insist it is a “Name it-Claim it” activity. If I say “I am a brilliant scientist” often enough, I will become a brilliant scientist. Even if I have no interest in biology or physics or genetics. I’ve never been able to believe that just saying something made it true. That seems like wishful thinking or trying to brainwash myself. Not true positive self-help. /span>

          I do agree, though, that we can choose where to focus our attention. I can choose to notice the good and the positive or I can choose to notice the bad and the negative. Like my father. I’ll say “This sunshine is nice and warm today, isn’t it?” and he’ll say, “My plants aren’t getting the rain they need.” The ensuing conversation becomes depressing, focused on the harm that comes from lack of rain. Until the very next rainy day, when he’ll be complaining about floods and mold and no sunshine. 🙂

          I think true, helpful positive self-talk is somewhere in the middle. It is not brainwashing or wishful thinking. It is not denying any of the negatives actually present in my life. It’s not trying to force myself to believe something untrue. (I”ve had enough of that.) It is focusing on the positives. It is spending time noticing the happy parts in my life. It is commenting on and developing those aspects until they overshadow and maybe even cancel out the negatives.

          The struggle, at least for me, comes in finding those positives and learning how to focus on them. I’m basically an optimistic person, but I’ve had some pretty depressing seasons in my life lately. I’ve dealt with deaths of loved ones, quarrels and family disagreements, difficult financial times and more. I can’t just ignore the negative impact these things have on my life.

          When I took Margie Lawson’s online course, Defeating Self-Defeating Behaviors, I learned some very practical ways to practice positive self-talk. Margie taught us to list at least five positives each night before going to bed. Five good things to think about, five things to be grateful for. By reviewing my day and finding at least five things that are positives, no matter how small, I change my focus from negative to positive. If I also do this in the morning, before getting out of bed, my day begins on an upbeat note. This is not ignoring any of the negatives or difficulties. It is spending some crucial time, at the end and the beginning of each day, focusing on what is good and positive in order to find hope and motivation.

          Another activity that helped to generate positive self-talk in my life was Margie’s list of personality traits. She gave us a list with probably a hundred adjectives, such as energetic, happy, sensitive, frugal, kind, etc. We had to choose those that described us. That was such a balm to my spirit . As I read through all these positive personality traits, I saw many that described me. Yes, I had struggles. Yes, I sometimes made choices that went contrary to what I really wanted or was best. Yes, I sometimes chose not to exhibit those positive qualities, but they were a part of my regular, routine day. Most days.

          I’ve rediscovered that list. I’m printing out those traits that describe me. I’m posting it where I can see it every day. Seeing this brings the better part of my life into focus and drives away the unwanted negatives. Seeing them written, acknowledging they do in fact describe me, shines light into what had been a dark pit of failure. By doing that, I change that failure into success, that despair into hope and that discouragement into motivation.

          Are you letting discouragement and negative self-talk drain away your passion and motivation? Focus on what is good in your life. Remind yourself of what you are doing right. Change that negative talk into positive.