Why Damn Fine Words Could Be a Game-Changer For Me

Damn Fine Words: Contest Entry

Krithika Rangarajan

Question: Why writing is important to your business success, and how Damn Fine Words could be the game-changer you need?

I take five hours to complete the first draft of a 1000 word post.

I itch to walk away from my laptop every ten minutes.

I get excited by a new project, but don’t have the gumption to see it through.

I am extremely passionate about words, but my heart plummets every time I sit down to write.

I am horrible at generating ideas.

I am afraid of receiving less-than-stellar feedbacks.

I am panic-stricken at the thought of failing.

I possess the intention to succeed, but lack the willpower to fulfill my dreams.

I get stuck in the planning mode or research phase.

I am envious of writers who wax rhapsodic about their ‘state of flow’.

I act less and react more.

I promise to write every morning, only to be distracted by my ever-filling Inbox.

I engage in constant comparisons and always fall short.

I am always frustrated, dejected and scared.

I think about quitting every single day.

Why are these issues problematic? Because I am a full-time freelance writer.

The success of my business is directly dependent upon my ability to write fast, write more, and write better. If I have to position myself as a confident writer who can produce clear, compelling and creative prose, I need help – and fast.

I need a mentor who cares about the success of aspiring writers, entrepreneurs and freelancers. I need a mentor who can whip my butt into action with a smile. I need a mentor who gives a damn.

The Damn Fine Writers course promises to teach us a ‘wash, rinse, repeat’ system that will help me achieve a lot more with a lot less stress. And I am extremely ‘teachable.’ Deadlines, assignments and instructions inspire me more than some elusive muse who never shows up. A structured outlet of expression rouses me to show up every day and happily do the work to grow as a professional writer.

I have waited too long to accept my writing dreams.  Now that I have made my choice, I don’t want to wait for the ‘right time’ to accelerate my career.

The time is NOW. I am ready.

A Dream That Was Squashed for Too Long

I have been a logophile all my life. As a child, I spent every second of my free time devouring books, pulling all-nighters to read my favorite Agatha Christie or Sidney Sheldon thrillers for the fifth time.

But I never wrote.

I didn’t have a journal. I didn’t outline stories. I didn’t even express my desire to write.

My culture did not explicitly encourage writing as a career. And I didn’t have the courage to break the rules and follow my dreams.

So I remained content acing class assignments and penning horrible poems that only my mom loved.

In 2014, at age 32, after reading Jeff Goins’ “You ARE a Writer” on a turbulent flight, I got back home and scribbled the words, “I am a writer” on every available surface. It took me another month to acquire the courage to mouth four words for the first time in my life: “I am a writer.”

Now, why did I narrate my backstory?

As a woman in her mid-thirties, I am paralyzed by a palpable fear that it is too late for me to become a reputable writer. I condemn myself every day for not starting sooner. I spend more time wallowing in self-pity than playing with words, which saps my enthusiasm.

I am tired of belittling my dreams.

I am tired of being afraid.

I am tired of postponing my pet projects.

I am tired of wasting time.

I am tired of being tired.

How Could Damn Fine Words Change My Life?

Sometimes, I wonder what would happen if I dropped my excuses, befriended my fears and chained myself to the chair. I dream about being efficient, effective and energetic. I have visions of being a respected feature story writer with some magazine or startup.

Then I look at the mocking cursor that blinks at my stupidity and snap back to reality. It reminds me that despite my passion for writing, I lose my excitement at the first hint of an obstacle. Then I begin to doubt my skills. This negativity feeds on itself until I am swallowed by disgust and depression.

How can I ever hope to succeed if I am not strong enough to move beyond my obstacles?

Damn Fine Words will equip me with the practical know-how and self-assurance to achieve my goals. Instead of languishing in my dream-world, I will acquire the support to DO what needs to be done in order to bring my dreams to fruition.  I will have a much higher chance of quickly becoming a positive, expressive and (thrice as) productive writer who crafts engaging words that are loved and shared.

Damn Fine Words will also rejuvenate my freelancing career.  Working on the coursework will give me the courage to position myself as a worthy writer who strives to exceed a client’s expectations – every time. I will pitch more often and stop taking rejections personally. I will no longer shortchange my talent, confident that I can back up my price with quality work. Consequently, I will start enjoying a profitable business in a career of my choice.

In all, Damn Fine Words will mold me into a more efficient writer – faster. Being supported by an engaging community will spur me to become an organized, reliable, delightful and spirited writer who relishes writing for her own audience and enriches the brand image of her clients.

All Is Not Lost

Despite my grimness, I am not just sitting around and doing nothing. From the moment I owned my destiny as a writer, in February 2014, I have written almost every day.  I began freelancing in earnest around eight months ago, during which I have helped a variety of clients with their blogging and transcription needs. I am in love with the diversity of freelancing. I wake up looking forward to researching and writing my next assignment.

Even the gloomiest days don’t have the power to prevent me from getting back in front of my computer. I wait for my tears to dry and then resume my work, trusting that my passion will lead the way.

My greatest strength is that I don’t give up – I will continue to persist, even if the mean side of my mind never stops preordaining my failure. I don’t know what else to do but write. I don’t want to do anything else but write. So write I will – every day.

Damn Fine Words will turbocharge my career. But even if I don’t win this contest, I will continue placing one foot forward

Because I am a writer – and writers write.

Thank you for this wonderful opportunity to learn from you, Ms. James Chartand.

What’s Your Favorite Summertime (or Fall-time) Escape That Recharges Your Creativity

Note: I participate in the Barefoot Writer contest every month. The title of this blog post was the question for the July contest. I have copied and pasted my response below. However, I am curious – what is YOUR favorite way to recharge in summer and/or fall? :D

ROADTRIP

Exercising on the treadmill is my favorite summertime activity. It recharges my creativity by giving me a much needed pause from the hustle of life.

Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to frequent the gym this year.

My husband’s erratic schedule has forced me to walk our dog, Oreo, daily! These twice-a-day walks with my cookie don’t leave enough time for gym duties. I haven’t stepped into my fitness center since the beginning of May.

But I am not complaining.

Much to my surprise, walking outdoors has proven to be immensely beneficial. I was never a fan of exercising in the lap of nature. I thought it would be boring and, more importantly, wouldn’t burn as many calories as a sweaty run on an inclined treadmill.

I was right about the latter. Walking my dog will not transform me into a lean machine. I was wrong about the former. Walking nourishes my mind, body and soul, which is equally rewarding.

In fact, as someone with a troubled body image, I find it liberating to not worry about numbers while walking. I focus on finding ways to enjoy my present.

There are times when my agitated mind and achy body demand loud music, so I listen to my favorite songs. There are times when my soul yearns for solitude, so I walk quietly by Oreo’s side, occasionally yanking his leash when he meanders into a stranger’s yard or spends too long sniffing the grass for poop. There are times when my mind demands a fun podcast, so I select shows that enliven my mindset and my words.

In effect, I relax into the moment by giving in to my heart’s desire.

Oreo is a fabulous stress-buster too.

Two days ago, I took him for an evening walk around my neighborhood.

The sun had dipped below the horizon. The gray clouds stood ominously still, like they were waiting for someone’s permission before releasing their pent-up rage. The leaves swayed like a restless dancer, whooshing from one side to the other. Even the usually mellifluous birds cried out in stress.

I don’t like the dark and I don’t like thunderstorms. I didn’t want to get caught in the middle of a torrential downpour, so I walked at a faster pace. Meanwhile, my gleeful puppy, completely oblivious to the mounting anxiety of his owner, took his sweet time smelling his favorite droppings.

After clenching my teeth for ten minutes, I looked down at Oreo who was peering askance into my eyes, as though saying, “Just loosen up, will ya, and have fun with me!” Then he ran and I had no choice but to run with him. Watching my cartoonish dog run sideways made me laugh out loud.

That spontaneous laughter felt good.

Nothing recharges our creativity better than a moment of uninhibited fun, eh?

Mission accomplished.

Again, tell me readers, what is your favorite way to relax, recharge and rejuvenate your creativity? (And if you are interested, please check out my winning entry for January, 2015)

Two Simple Words That Make a “Morning” of Difference

Note: This post first appeared on Medium

These Two Words Can Make a -Morning- of

Good Morning

It feels good to see these two words on my screen. I haven’t uttered them in three years.

I usually greet my husband in one of several exciting ways:

  • With a sullen “Morning” into my coffee cup (How is ‘morning’ even a wish? It is a half-baked exclamation at best and a boring noun at worst!)
  • With a “Shit man, stop snoozing already. Just get up!”
  • If I am feeling marginally optimistic, I might give him a morning hug.
  • Silence.

As children, we were taught to wish everyone a cheerful morning. My mum insisted. I didn’t know or ask why.

Not until last Monday, when I voiced this phrase after a long hiatus.

Last Sunday, while reading another listicle about how to make mornings more productive, I suddenly realized that none of these articles recommended saying “Good Morning”. Most, if not all, posts extolled the virtues of meditation, cold showers, working out, and free writing.

All great choices, but I wondered whether they were overlooking the easiest way to lend a frisson of delight to our AMs.

Did “Good Morning” have the potential to brighten my day in any tangible way?

I had to find out. So I conducted an experiment.

Three days out of six, I wished my husband “Good Morning.” The remaining three days, I didn’t.

I am here to gladly report that these two unassuming words proved immensely powerful. There was a marked difference in my attitude, resilience and determination whenever I wholeheartedly wished my husband and my pup “Good Morning!”

Following are some ways in which “Good Morning” sets the stage for a pleasurable and proactive day:

a. It acts as an acknowledgement AND an avowal of joy

“Do not say, ‘It is morning,’ and dismiss it with a name of yesterday. See it for the first time as a newborn child that has no name.” — Rabindranath Tagore

By saying “Good Morning”, you are not only celebrating your present — “Yes, THIS moment is a blessing” — but are also promising to hold onto that pleasurable feeling, at least for a while — “Yes, I shall do my best to enliven this morning.”

It is simultaneously a confirmation and a commitment, setting a hopeful and happy tone for the remaining 16 hours. What’s not to love?

Just thinking about greeting my husband tomorrow brings a smile onto my tired face!

b. It gives you a pause and connects you to the outside world

“Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life.” — Omar Khayyam

There have been too many mornings when my husband hurriedly rushes out of the home, while his wonderful wife stares bleary-eyed at her computer, not looking at him even once.

A loving ‘Good Morning’ gives you a break from the daily hustle to connect you with the recipient — even for just a moment — before life’s demands take over. In this one moment, you feel less alone and more in sync with your world.

Also, while husbands make it darn hard to love them, this phrase miraculously softens my irritation towards mine! ;)

I am willing to look past petty annoyances— like his uncapped toothpaste, his strewn dirty clothes and a dry tea cup — to appreciate him as a person with goals and desires.

Regardless of anything else that might happen later in the day, I am glad that we both had one moment of peace and togetherness.

That memory is ours — forever.

It’s quite magical, really.

c. It infuses you with gratitude

“When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive — to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.” — Marcus Aurelius

“Good Morning” rouses you to appreciate your life, while also wishing the best for the recipient.

These two words honor the gift of life.

You have just been given another day to inch closer towards your dreams and share your love — what a blessing, eh?

Doesn’t this inspire you to give, do and best your best the whole day?

d. It is just a nice thing to say

“Every morning was a cheerful invitation to make my life of equal simplicity, and I may say innocence, with Nature herself.” ― Henry David Thoreau

Even if none of the above reasons resonate with you, “Good Morning” is just a heartwarming salutation.

It is a generous gesture that can vivify someone’s mornings, especially if they woke up on the wrong side of the bed!

“Good Morning” makes the grumpiest riser smile and the groggiest eyes twinkle! (At the very least, the cantankerous risers will have a fun memory of throwing a cup at anyone who dares to imply that mornings can be good ;))

Conclusion:

In our always-on, distraction-rich world, happiness can often feel like hard work.

But it doesn’t have to be.

Two simple words — Good Morning — can strengthen and stimulate you to rock the first four to five hours after you wake up (if not the whole day!)

You don’t have to believe me. If you have drifted away from this habit, reinstate it and let me know whether this phrase works wonders for you too.

Thanks for reading, friends! Please share if you agree :-)

Staying Sane in Moments of Insanity

5 (+1) Statements That Keep Me Sane in

“The best way of removing negativity is to laugh and be joyous.” David Icke

It was midnight. The bedroom windows were open.

Twinkling pinpoints of delight winked at me from above. An invigorating breeze wafted in, lifting the hair over my ears, like it was getting ready to whisper sweet-nothings. I smiled, tilted my head and closed my eyes. I eagerly anticipated its secrets.

For around sixty seconds, the sounds and smells of the magical night kept me safe from the monsters of the world.

Drip.

An ugly thought invaded my mind.

I furrowed my brows and mentally kicked it out. Nothing was going to drag me out of my paradise.

Not today.

Drip. Drip.

Too late. My admonition was a second too late.

Two other thoughts took advantage of the opening and thudded after the first thought.

Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip.

Unlike an IV drip that energizes an sick person with every drop of glucose, my negative thoughts enervated me with every tiny drip.

“Just think of any negativity that comes at you as a raindrop falling into the ocean of your bliss.” – Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

My head complained against this intrusion. A pain shot from the center to the ends of my skull.

Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip

My forehead was split into two by a deep crease at the center.

I writhed in agony, pleading with my negative thoughts to stop: “Please, please, please, please.”

My exhortations fell on deaf ears.

Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip.

I opened my eyes, tears of frustration now freely flowing down my ashen cheeks.

Then I screamed – an eerie scream of helplessness that scared my sleepy dog.

Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip.

I jumped out of the bed, my body hot with shame, anger and despondency. The balmy breeze seemed like a mockery now.

My mind, body and soul were consumed by this ‘basilisk of negativity.’

Drip. Drip. Drip. DripDrip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. . Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip.

I ran down the stairs and fell onto my couch, banging my head over and over again against its arms. When I felt too fatigued to hit my head anymore, I sagged onto the floor – desperate, dejected, depleted.

One of my close friends pinged me at that moment. I assumed her nudge was God’s way of reconnecting me with reality. With leaden hands, I typed what I was going through and how I was feeling. I was especially concerned about my apathy – I felt disinterested and detached from every human emotion. In all honesty, I felt like a sociopath with no compassion.

However, venting to her  helped, especially since she always finds the right words to comfort others.

“If you find yourself plagued by a recurrent worry, train yourself to think of something else. Your conscious mind can concentrate on only one thought at a time, and driving the negativity away will free you up to move forward again.” – Harvey Mackay

But she is not always around to help and such freaky occurrences are, unfortunately, common.

I breakdown in despair and fear every single day. Derogatory, desperate and deplorable thoughts swirl around in my brain – over and over and over again. I am too ashamed to even tell you what they are. Like a ruined tape that repeats the same lyrics, my mind conjures up the SAME thoughts every hour of every day of my life.

Yes, I am tired. So tired. It is no fun stumbling over the same roadblocks repeatedly.

I recently learned that there is a term to describe what perennially negative people like me experience: automatic negative thoughts or intrusive thoughts, a speck on the spectrum of OCD.  (This article eloquently describes some of what I think and feel on a regular basis.)

When uncontrollable negativity assaults your peace of mind, the best you can do is wait out this storm, TRUSTING that these gruesome thoughts will evaporate soon. I wait for this lull AFTER this storm.

Once my darkest moments pass, and the fog clears just a bit, I whisper the following affirmations to myself:

a. I am not alone: Knowing that others too flail against such disconcerting thoughts helps me in two ways: (a) It tells me that none of us is evil. We are just disturbed – emotionally – and can all get better together; (b) It holds my beliefs in perspective. My situation might seem completely petty to someone who is living through worse. I whine only to select people – the rest have no idea about the disquieting machinations of my mind! They don’t need to know –  they just need to feel my hugs and love and compassion.

b. I will never let my negative thoughts overpower my positive actions: Your thoughts have as much power as you give them. I admit to giving my negativity too much power, but I will never allow those disgusting emotions to taint my actions. The worse my thoughts, the kinder my actions. This motto keeps me sane.

c. My mind is dark, but my soul is not: My best friend succinctly summarized my plight after I was brutally honest about my struggles and asked her whether I was a horrible person. She said, “Kit! You are not mean. Not at all. But your mind is terribly mean to you.” There is a reason she is my best friend – the woman never fails to make me smile. Her utter faith in my inner goodness gives me hope that even the bleakest of thoughts do not have the power to tarnish my soul. I just have to be very careful to barricade my soul from enemy forces.

“There have been times when I felt suicidal and I would stop my head from going in that direction of negativity because I thought there’d be something I’d miss that was funny in the future. If there’s a chance I’m going to laugh tomorrow then want to live to experience that.” – Dave Navarro

d. I have risen before and I will rise again: Since my mid-twenties, I have been beset by one challenge after another. But I have always found a way to crawl out of my black holes. If I can defeat my woes once, I can defeat them again – and again and again and again.

e. I have something or someone to live for: When I find no reason to live for myself, I try to think of someone else who is invested in my happiness. Knowing someone cares lend me the courage to care for myself too. Knowing I have dreams that deserve my love gives me the strength to drag myself back up and continue placing one foot forward.

f. I want to be happy, think positive and sprinkle love (and laughter): Sometimes, just knowing that you WANT to get better helps the healing process. Never give up this WANT to feel better, even if you lose all hope of getting better. That WANT will imbue you with revitalizing energy to do, be and give your best.

If all else fails, I just stop thinking and pray that my good Lord escorts me to a gentler place. I trust that He won’t let me down and that He is guiding me, albeit through some twisted and tedious roads, to a place of serenity and smiles.

It is no fun being strangled by detrimental thoughts. It is no fun being entrenched in gloom. It is no fun being constricted by nastiness.

But I also know that happiness is well worth every trial, every tribulation and every trouble.

So I will continue opening my bedroom windows and letting the breeze in, hoping that tomorrow will be better.

One day, restful sleep will come.

Until then, I am prepared to grapple with my negativity. What I am NOT prepared to do is give up.

How do you deal with negative emotions, dear readers? What holds you aloft when your mind screams at you to sink?

5 Benefits of Handwritten Notes

5 Benefits of Handwritten Notes

“Your friend sent me a handwritten ‘Thank You’ note,” said my mom, sounding pleasantly surprised.

I remembered that my friend had promised to write my mum a note for gifting her a perfume.

Thinking about my sweet friend, I smiled into the phone and said, “She loves writing notes, mum.”

My mum responded, going for the jugular, “And you can’t even be bothered to return my call or send me an email”

Oops. I should have realized the direction of my mum’s thoughts.

Now, I don’t hand-write notes for a specific reason: my handwriting is pathetic. Why would I want to put others through the torture of deciphering my messy scrawls?

But I laughed and said, “A daughter should take her mum for granted. That’s her right. You should not expect such gestures from me. I bet my friend doesn’t write notes to her mum”

I heard my mum ‘tsking’ and could envision her funny pout!

“Oh, I am sure she does. She seems very sweet”, she said

I could hear the unspoken ‘unlike someone’ in her voice.

That was my cue to wrap up the call!

I made some conciliatory noises, placated my darling mum and slammed the phone in relief.

“Phew, that was close,” I whispered, reminiscing again about my lovely friend who often sends me notes of friendship, love and encouragement.

I sent my friend a quick text, gently chiding her for making me look bad. I also reminded her that she hadn’t sent me a note in ages!

We exchanged some ‘lols’ and ‘Muaahs’ and ‘love yous’.

But the morning conversation kept churning in my head and I ruminated about the value of handwritten notes.

From what I can infer, following are five benefits of handwriting a note to a loved one (or even a stranger!): 

a. It makes the recipient feel special

When my husband and I moved into our new home, we visited our neighbors just to say ‘Hello’ and offer some chocolates. One of our neighbors was not home.

The next day, we received a lengthy note of apology from them. It was completely unnecessary, but it, nonetheless, made us feel special!

My friend’s messages never fail to make me grin, dance, sing and reconnect with my passion, my dreams and my life. I screech excitedly whenever one of them pops in my mail!

I am sure you too have received handwritten notes. They could have just been some scribbled words on a greeting card, but didn’t you feel special?

This is the era of text messaging and social media updates. Most of us rarely spell out words – H.R.U and IMO sound familiar? – let alone pen handwritten notes to others. But our nonchalant disregard for words is all the more reason to write a message by hand.

Imagine how wonderful someone will feel if you go that extra mile by sending a handwritten note that says, “I care.”

b. It gives you a pause from the hustle of life

Did you sit down and do nothing today?

Yep, you read that right.

Did you sit down for even five minutes and do nothing today?

I am going to take a wild guess and say, “NO!”

We are dominated by To-Do lists. From the moment we swing our legs off the bed in the morning to the moment we swing our legs back onto the bed at night, we are in a constant state of movement. We are so consumed by making a living that we forget to live.

Handwriting a note gives you a pause from this mindless hustle. It allows you to stop, take a deep breath, think and put down your thoughts.

It is a form of meditation that will imbue you with new ideas, new energy and a new mindset. While I haven’t penned a letter in a long time, I have rediscovered the joy of putting pen to paper while ideating and making outlines for my blog posts.

There is something satisfying about connecting the nib of your pencil or pen to a paper.

c. It forms more meaningful relationships

Those who journal might relate to this.

Journaling is a handwritten message to yourself. You don’t filter, you don’t censor, you don’t edit.

You just pour yourself onto a blank piece of paper. It is an intimate transaction between you and your notebook. The mere act of seeing what you have written on paper helps you make sense of chaotic thoughts. In effect, journaling offers clarity, meaning and peace to your life.

Handwritten notes, while more polished than journal entries, also give you the courage to bare your heart. Unlike texts, video chats or even face-to-face conversations, you don’t have to worry about how your emotions will be received at that instant, which allows you to reveal your feelings with less fear and more depth.

And unfiltered truths always bring people closer.

Recently, I apologized to a loved one via Facebook messenger. Those two lines erased years of resentment and anger. I forgave that person and myself for holding onto grudges and generally making our own lives hell.

Imagine if I had written a letter to that person? Yep – our relationship would have blossomed.

d. It increases focus and sharpens your brain

I checked Facebook five times while writing this blog post. I could have turned off my Internet, but I needed to research this particular section and hence remained connected. Alas, my favorite social network is couple of clicks away and I couldn’t resist scrolling through it.

However, not once did my concentration waiver when, two hours ago, I was conducting research for an important assignment using two books, a pack of tiny post-it notes and a pen. My laptop was not in sight. I scanned through two books within an hour and now have enough information to start typing my article tomorrow morning.

Technology, as wonderful as it is, lends itself to distraction. Pen and paper, as quaint as it is, lends itself to concentration.

You don’t have multiple open tabs that scream for attention. You don’t waste an hour watching Criminal Minds just because the lead actors are hot (WHAT? I don’t do this!) . You don’t stop every five minutes to see if anyone has liked the picture of your scrumptious dinner at IHOP (WHAT? I don’t do this either!).

It’s you, your pen (or pencil) and that paper. Simple, clean and distraction-free.

I am not an expert on the science behind handwritten notes, but, from what I read, ‘finger movements activate parts of our brain’ – the Reticular Activating System (RAS) – that enhance our focus.

Also, engaging your motor-skills and memory via handwriting bolsters your creativity and hones your brain. The physical act of writing down your thoughts allows you to THINK and form connections that might otherwise be invisible. The more you utilize your brain, the stronger it becomes and the easier it becomes for you to come up with ideas!

Finally, studies have also proven that writing by hand accelerates learning because it slows you down (see (b)) and lets you absorb what you are writing.

e. It keeps you happy

This is really a cumulative effect of the above points.

When you care enough about someone to write a note by hand, you automatically feel great about yourself. Because nothing bolsters our self-esteem more than showing kindness to someone else, especially when that person least expects it.

As you write more messages and form deeper associations, your quality of life will improve. You will feel lighter at heart. Your smile will feel more natural.

Handwriting notes also provides a sense of accomplishment. I know that outlining an article by hand or just capturing random thoughts on paper reduces my dissatisfaction and increases my confidence.

When you feel good about yourself, you are bound to BE happier.

So, yeah, I am going to test my own theories by handwriting a note of admiration to that loved one (from Facebook), my bad handwriting be damned. My gut tells me that this act will revitalize our relationship. Meanwhile, maybe I can show my mom some extra-love too! Really, what have I got to lose, eh?

Over to you, friends. Do you write messages by hand? What are some other benefits of handwriting notes of love? Thanks for engaging with me.

10 (+2) Commandments of Writing

Note: I am not a master of ‘archaic’ language, so you will not find ‘thous’ and ‘shalts’ in my post. BUT I hope this modern version inspires you just the same! ;)

10 (+2) Commandments of Writing (2)

  1. You Will Not Judge Your Ideas or Shitty First Drafts

  2. You Will  Carry Some Device to Record Your Thoughts, Feelings and Impressions

  3. You Will Not Compare Yourself to (or JUDGE) Others (my Achilles Heel)

  4. You Will Be Gentle With, Loyal to and Nurture Your Passion

  5. You Will Respect Your Writing Time By Turning Off Criminal Minds in the Background (you have no idea!)

  6. You Will Use Just as Many Words as Necessary (aka Clarity triumphs!)

  7. You Will Minimize the Usage of Adverbs – Most Definitely ;)

  8. You Will Remain True to Your Voice, Vision and Values

  9. You Will Not Overuse Alliterations (aka Stop Acting Smart and Start Being Helpful)

  10. You Will Never Stop Learning (aka Read More, Listen More, LIVE More)

  11. You Will Be Open-Minded About (and towards) Proactive Feedback

  12. You Will Relax and Have FUN!

Most importantly, you will trust your passion – like you trust your family, like you trust your friends, like you trust your soulmate. 

What would you add to this list?

From my Heart to Yours: Dare to Bare

Note: I posted this message across Facebook and Google Plus yesterday, but felt it deserved a bigger audience. Because this message is important – and LIFE-CHANGING!

Dare to bare (1)

Couple of nights ago, I had an emotional breakdown on Facebook. I felt hopelessly lonely, lost and listless, and took to this public forum to vent my feelings. I thought I would be branded as a whiner.

I was wrong

I received an outpouring of love, support and HUGS from my dearest friends. My experience emphasized the POWER of being open, vulnerable and unpretentious about your emotions.

Your vulnerability is not a vice – contrary to what you might have been told (and those who mock you shouldn’t – and don’t – matter to you). It takes guts to be honest about your feelings. So please dare to bare!

My experience at a hair salon yesterday only reaffirmed the importance and influence of transparency. 

Your Woes Are NOT Yours Alone: A Trim and a Talk

“I define connection as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.” – Brene Brown

I enjoy getting a hair-cut at the Hair Cuttery salon in my neighborhood.

More specifically, I enjoy getting ‘snipped’ by a woman named, let’s call her, Ms. M – a talented and tenacious single parent who juggles her job and her child with envious ease.  Despite not having a partner and having a mom with multiple health issues, she never fails to smile and make her customers feel special.

So I look forward to spending couple of hours with her every other month.

Yesterday was even more special.

Connected by a Common Struggle: Emotional Eating

My good friends on social media know that I have battled Anorexia in the past, but not all of them know that I am struggling with Emotional Eating right now. Most people wake up with a grin of anticipation, but I wake up with a heart heavy with dread. Every day, I promise I wouldn’t hurt myself. Most days, I do!

I haven’t shared the intimate details of my current struggle because they are immensely humiliating.

But I exposed my vulnerability to Ms. M yesterday.

Something told me that being honest would HELP her, especially considering that she made several references to her eating issues and weight.

So I told her more than I have ever told anyone outside my immediate circle (read: husband) and a fistful of friends.

Ms. M hesitatingly asked me about my past, and I obliged her. We then chatted about healthy diets, what foods she can incorporate to satiate her sweet tooth without eating a tub of ice-cream in one go, and other nuances of dieting and fitness.

I was rewarded at the end of my session when MS. M said,“I feel much less stressed after you come. We need to hang out more.

With a smile, a nod and a promise of my delicious Banana Bread, I left, with a new friend and a profound life lesson:

Do not be afraid of being vulnerable. Being sensitive and vulnerable are NOT curses (as I often believe). They are HUGE blessings that uplift even the lives of strangers.

The next time you struggle with or are afraid of something, do not ignore your feelings. Do not pretend that all is fine.

Does that mean you should complain non-stop? NO. But there is a difference between complaining and sharing. Neglecting or ignoring your emotions only postpones the agony. You can rest assured that secreted sorrows will erupt with the fury of a volcano and the force of a tornado at some point in your lives.

Why not let out your struggles when there is still hope for improvement?

Be the person who dares to bare. I can GUARANTEE that someone else is sharing your woes, and will feel a heck of a lot better – or, at least, less ALONE – after interacting with you.

I know Ms. M did. I know I did. And now we are good friends.

Real relationships are based on REAL emotions. So open your heart. Your transparency is changing lives!

Can you think of a time when YOUR honesty made someone’s day (including yours?) Thank you for offering us a glimpse into your world.

Weekend Edition – Time to Write Plus Good Reads and Writing Tips

krangara:

Read this, and you will never again complain about having no time to hone your creative gifts.

I have always thought of time in terms of ‘huge chunks’ – if I don’t have even an hour, why bother writing or reading anything, right?

WRONG.

The remarkable Jamie of Live to Write, Write to Live makes us realize that you don’t need huge chunks of time to pursue your passion; those seemingly insignificant ‘5 minutes’ can coalesce to lift you higher – mentally, emotionally, spiritually, physically and creatively!

Please follow Jamie!

Kitto

Originally posted on Live to Write - Write to Live:

On Making Time to Write in a Real Life

paris clockI’d been having trouble with my computer. The machine, a beautiful MacBook Pro, is only a few years old; but something seemed to have snapped in its shiny, silver brain. No matter what task I set it – opening a program, popping a new tab on my browser, saving a document, loading a web page, etc. – it froze. Whether its paralysis was born of fear or confusion or obstinance, I’ll never know. All I know is that each move I made resulted in the same outcome: the spinning, rainbow pinwheel of death.

At first, I was frustrated. Then, I became furious. I had so much to do and no time to waste. Precious minutes were sucked down that candy-colored vortex as I sat, blood pressure rising, tapping finger tips trying to pierce my wooden desktop.

Until I realized that those…

View original 2,627 more words

Marketing crack: Kicking the habit

krangara:

This is absolutely brilliant.

I shall remember this article every time the short-term demands and woes of my life threaten to overpower my long-term vision and dreams.

LOVE LOVE LOVE

Originally posted on canalside view:

o-CRACK-COCAINE-facebook

“We’ve created a gambling culture in which we tune out everything except the most immediate outcomes.”

Laurence Fink, Chairman and CEO, BlackRock

“Addiction is a pathological attachment to something attractive in the short term, but destructive over time. Recovery is about looking where we’re going and choosing a path that can last.”

Dr. Chris Johnstone, addiction specialist

IMPATIENT TIMES

Would you rather receive $100 today or $125 a year from now? Although a 25% increase is an excellent one-year return on investment, the average decision-maker would choose the smaller immediate gain rather than the larger future gain.

Psychologists tell us that this is because decision makers generally feel disconnected from their future selves – which leads them to prefer smaller immediate gains to larger future gains.

This tendency to discount the value of future gains is what psychologists call “temporal discounting” and what economists term “rates of time preference.” It’s…

View original 4,611 more words

Romance Under the Stars

Romance Under the Stars

A caress as soft as a whisper

brushed past my warm cheek

leaving a trail of biting cold

awakening my leaden eyes

Fingering the remnant of the chill breeze, I frowned

Someone had left the window open

My old and tired bones ached and creaked

as I jumped out of the bed

and plodded towards the window

My gait as graceful as a rhinos’

I lowered the window shut

not sneaking a peek outside

The shades were to come next

Oh – they never cooperate

Emitting a loud sigh, I tugged at them

The movement prying my eyelids open

the frown still in place

I had no intention of looking out

my comforting bed was calling out my name

But my eyes had other plans

They gazed outside

And just like that

I was awe-struck  – my hands went still on the shades

Muted by the moonlit glow

the world slumbered on

I craned my neck upwards

to find a few scattered stars and a shimmering moon

smiling down at their friend below

breathing gently in their arms

For now, the friend looked calm and comforted

bathed in the tender light of the heavens

My sleep long forgotten, I smiled

and tugged one last time at the drapes

quietly pleading with them

to not intrude on this intimate vista

With a gentle whoosh, they listened and covered the window

I tread back to bed

with a much lighter heart and a much wider grin

even a spring in my step

I felt blessed

for having been given a glimpse of

unreserved love

I fingered that spot on my cheek again

This time, with gratitude

For the chilly kiss on my cheek

For the sneak peek

into the world of unsullied affection

into the most indelible portrait

of romance under the stars