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Posts Tagged ‘making choices’

Who Am I?

Who Am I?

As a writer, and as a human being, I have struggled with believing in myself and my purpose many times over. Throughout my life I’ve doubted I had what it took to do a certain thing, or be a certain way. I kept thinking I needed more education, more time, more money, more something. I was wrong.

 

What I’ve learned is that what I have right now, today, is enough. The lessons I’ve learned just from living have taught me well. The reading I’ve done have helped educate me. My own intuition is usually spot on. It’s when I doubt my intuition that I stumble and fall. I have been talked and guilted into doing things I knew weren’t right for me. Why? Because I didn’t believe in myself and my purpose enough. I doubted my strength. I doubted any God-given talent I may have. I kept seeking the right fit for me. I listened to others who were also seeking their own path. I learned that’s okay. I learned from those experiences, with some tremendous take-aways for my life and my writing. I met people I would not have met otherwise. But more importantly, each stumble had me righting myself and realizing that my instincts, my intuition, were right. Each time I fell I came away more sure of who I am and where I’m supposed to be. These are all good things.

 

I used to wonder what my purpose on this earth was. Now I don’t. I know, just as I’ve honestly, deep down, always known, that I was born to communicate with others. My writing allows me to do that via the written word. My public speaking allows me to do it via verbal communication with others. My blog, website, and social networks allow me to do this via the written word and the world wide web.

 

Storytelling

Storytelling

When I write, I don’t start out thinking about what message I want to convey to readers. I write to tell a story. I write from the heart. It’s really only after the story is completely written that I realize the message, or theme that tends to run through each story. This theme tends to be one that speaks to the value of love and people. The value of connection to other people and our humanity is what really lies behind each of my stories. I believe we are all connected. I believe we all provide value to each other, and to the world at large. I believe we all teach and learn throughout our entire lives. My purpose, as I see it, is to share those beliefs through any medium available to me. My stories tend to be character driven. I enjoy focusing on the relationships that shape the characters, their conflicts, and triumphs. As I said, I don’t write with the purpose of conveying a hard message in mind. I guess my own innate beliefs permeate my writing on an unconscious level. Once I became aware of this, I was glad. It means it isn’t contrived. It doesn’t seem to matter whether my characters are fictional or based on real historical people. I visualize a story and I wonder who the characters are. I wonder how they would feel in certain situations. I wonder, “what if”.

 

I want to continue living the rest of my life that way. I want to live my life intent on connecting with other people. I want to teach and to learn and to understand as much as I can. I suppose that’s also what fuels my love of travel. For me, travel is about learning and connecting with new people in new places. It’s about discovery, and I like that.

I enjoy sitting in my little corner of the world and writing stories about people and places that might resonate with readers anywhere else in the world. To me, that’s the coolest thing possible.

 

Believing in yourself means listening to that little voice that whispers in your mind. It means trusting that voice and your instincts. When we’re honest with ourselves, we often know, instinctively, what’s right and what’s wrong. We sometimes get an instinctive sense of the character of people we meet. Ever meet someone new and felt an immediate affinity for them? Ever met someone and felt an immediate sense of distrust, or even fear, of that person? That’s instinct, and it’s often the truest piece of feedback you’ll ever receive.

 

Believing in your purpose starts with acknowledging that you have one. It’s about acknowledging that you are here on this earth for a reason. By being honest with yourself, and trusting yourself, you’ll know what that purpose is. Sometimes it takes a very long time to learn to trust yourself. It took me almost fifty years, and still I struggle some days.

 

Writing is hard. It requires the writer to trust that what they are sharing with the world is of value; that it brings something to other people they don’t have, or are seeking. It means accepting the multitude of rejections and keep on going. It means believing that every no is one step closer to a yes, or forging an independent path to getting the stories out there. It means learning, growing, and pushing the boundaries of comfort. It is the greatest leap of faith in yourself possible.

 

Walk Your Own Path

Walk Your Own Path

Whatever you do in life, you determine your own path. You make decisions that affect your future every single day. The beauty is that if you make a mistake, you CAN make a new start. The addict can get clean. The unhappy person can learn to be gentle with him/ herself and love. The person intent on gaining material wealth only can change and choose to re-connect with the people in their lives and give something back to the world. You get to choose your reaction to any given situation.

 

Believing in yourself and your life’s purpose is the greatest gift you can give yourself and the world around you.

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Never Forget

Never Forget

Today is 9/11, and although I’m Canadian, with it comes the vivid remembrances of that fateful day when the United States was attacked on multiple levels. It was also the day we buried my paternal grandfather. It was a very sad day indeed. Yet after the funeral, I gathered with several family members and we remembered my grandfather with love and joy. We laughed and told family stories. We said heart-felt prayers for those who lost their lives in the terrorist attacks, and for the families affected. We grieved and we loved, and clung together.

 

The next day, I returned to work as usual, my life resuming the normal course of events. That doesn’t mean I didn’t hurt, or think, or feel. It means I had a job to do, and that job is living. It’s really the only job that counts, when you get right down to it.

 

My dad always says, “You can step off a sidewalk and get hit by a bus any day, so you better live every moment of every day you’re given.” No truer words were ever spoken. The older I get, the more I believe this to be true. When I was younger and raising my children, I was so caught up in the day to day minutiae of my life, that I didn’t give a lot of thought to my future. I was a working single mother living at the poverty line, and life was hard. What got me through was my family, my children, and my desire to do better.

 

Roll The Dice

Roll The Dice

A few years ago, I started re-evaluating my life and realized that I had choices to make. We all do. I could choose to live my life alone, or seek a partner to love. I met and married my husband just a few short years later. Then I started questioning my choice in career in real estate, then mortgage sales, and realized I wasn’t enjoying it. I had another choice to make. Either put up and shut up, or change it. I chose to change it. After a life time of putting it off, I decided I needed to follow my dream of becoming a professional writer. Writing had always come easily to me, but I had never undertaken anything as grand as a book before, and with a grade ten education, the prospect was daunting. Still, I had to try.

 

So, I continued to work while I began writing my first book. It wasn’t picked up, but I learned a lot about the processes along the way. I wrote a second book, and it wasn’t picked up either, but I learned more, and continued writing. I started a third, but didn’t finish it. Some day I may go back to those earlier attempts, but for now, I’m moving ahead.

 

Then I wrote In The Spirit Of Love and it was picked by Echelon Press. I was elated! I was on my way to becoming a published writer. How cool was that. But I didn’t stop there. I began working on the sequel right away, while learning the ins and outs of marketing and promotion of books, how to do book readings/signings, and getting out there in public, talking about it, and putting myself in the spot light. It wasn’t comfortable at first, but necessary. I knew that. I made lots of mistakes, but I also had incredible role models in my mother and younger sister, who have become extremely good public speakers. I learned to push myself and my boundaries to get where I wanted to go, and at fifty-three years of age, that’s something to be proud of.

 

Despite the numerous rejections I’ve received, I still persevere. I get hurt, I get sad, I get disillusioned, but I choose to move on. I try to learn what I can from each situation, some of which makes its way into my stories. I’ve met some really wonderful people along the way. People I wouldn’t have met otherwise. That’s cool.

 

Over the years, I’ve watched my younger brother go for his dreams, playing pro-football years ago, building a life and a business, and falling in love. He didn’t always get it right the first time, but I think he’s finally met the right woman, has a life he enjoys, and children and step-children he’s proud of.

 

My middle sister has built a life and a business with her husband, striving to be the best she can be and treating everyone fairly and honestly. She loves her children unequivocally and is eagerly awaiting the birth of her first grandchild. She continues to strive to build the life she wants alongside her husband, and despite some real set-backs, lives each day to the fullest. Her boisterous laughter fills any room she’s in, and makes others laugh and smile along with her. What a joy she is!

 

Last weekend I attended my younger sister’s third wedding. I’ve learned a lot from her. She has endured more heart break and emotional disasters than anyone I know, but she continues to laugh out loud, love everyone, and give back more than she receives. She’s lost a child at eight months pregnant, two failed marriages, one absolutely devastating family tragedy involving an ex, followed immediately by breast cancer. Her family was falling apart, her children were struggling to deal with new realities, and still she carried on. Then she met her current husband, and fell in love. She hadn’t let the heart breaks of the past change her ability to love and trust. She went all in, and that showed us all the power of faith and love.

 

Celebrate Your Life

Celebrate Your Life

Now, most people would have taken that third marriage to a tiny hole in the wall and had a quiet ceremony. Not my sister. She had a blow out, Woo Hoo I’m Here, Kick-Ass wedding at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island. It was expensive as all get out, but fabulous. She treated it like a first wedding, saying she refused to pay it less honor that the first two which were not successful. A friend who attended the wedding reminded me that my sister had earned the right to do things her way. She was here damn it, and she wasn’t going to do anything quietly. Well all right! We had a blast, all of those who attended shared in the love, the celebration, and exercised their right to shout out, “We’re here!” Thanks sis.

 

I’ve said so often that too many people put off till tomorrow what they could be doing today. It’s sad and unnecessary in so many cases. I can’t count how many times I’ve heard about this couple or that couple who planned to do so much when they retired, but one never made it that far. One is left to go on and make sense of the changes they face alone. I never want to be that couple. So, I told my husband I wanted to live for today, while planning for tomorrow. We downsized completely, sold our home, and made some drastic lifestyle choices to allow me to work full time as a writer. He’s retired after thirty years as a manager at BellCanada, but his pension is very small. We make it work. I want to spend time with my family, children and grandchildren, and travel when and where we can. I’ve come up with some pretty unique ways to accomplish those goals and fit them within our means, but we both agree, life is too short not to take risks and do what matters most, spending it with the people who matter most, and enjoying what we can of this life.

 

Long and winding road

Long and winding road

I don’t know what the future holds for me, or for my husband and I as a couple, or anyone I love for that matter. What I do know is that reaching for your dreams, working hard to make them come true, and taking risks is important. Waiting for tomorrow is different from planning for tomorrow. I believe we all have an obligation to ourselves to live our best lives possible each and every day, while doing what we can to ensure a safe and happy future. They key is to remember, we aren’t promised tomorrow, only right now.

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Indecision

Indecision

If you are a writer, or a reader who has a curiosity about writing, you might understand this dilemma. You see, I’m experiencing a bit of a conundrum in my writing. Having just sent off the draft edits for the sequel to my debut novel, I’m faced with that dreaded, “what next?”.

 

I’m torn between starting a new series based on the two previous books right away, or taking on an entirely new project in the romance genre, but very different than the first two. I already have ideas for both, but wrestle with which to tackle first. I’ve even considered writing the two simultaneously, but I’m not sure my old brain can do that.

 

The truth is, both hold equal appeal, I’m just not sure how or where to start. As a woman who has passed the age of fifty, this type of situation has happened many times before in my life, separate and apart from my writing. So I acknowledge the need to stop for a bit and let my heart lead the way. Unlike my personal life, if I make a wrong start, I can simply put the current work aside and make a new beginning.

 

But wait, isn’t life like that too, to some extent. We’ve all heard of people who’ve made some pretty horrendous mistakes in their lives, and for a variety of reasons, chose to take a different path to find the peace and happiness they seek.

 

Years ago I divorced my first husband and chose to seek my future without him. It was one of the most difficult decisions I’d made up to that point. I was barely thirty-two years old and the mother of two young children. I had no job, and things at home had reached a melting point. I didn’t know what my future would hold as a single parent with very limited financial resources, but I knew I had to make a new start for myself and my children. The relationship wasn’t a healthy one, and rather than stay, I chose to take on a new direction. I made the right choice.

 

Love rules

Love rules

Years later I met my second husband and fell in love. He had three teenaged children and by then my own children were teens. That made five teenagers that we were considering putting together as a family. No, insanity doesn’t run in my family; it seems unique to me. I didn’t know what the future would hold in this proposed new scenario, and I could see the pitfalls ahead. But I was in love with this man, I cared very much about his children, and so I followed my heart. Now, we have five grown children and five incredible, beautiful grandchildren. It certainly hasn’t always been easy, by a long shot, but I’m happier for having my husband and our combined children than I ever was alone. Together, we’ve created a family that bickers, and loves, much as biological families do. I made the right choice.

 

When I was fired from a job as a medical office administrator for standing up for myself against another staff member with more seniority, I came home devastated. I cried, ached and felt such shame for being fired from a job I’d taken pride in. Then my husband asked me if I’d ever wanted to do anything other than work in an office, as I had since I was seventeen. I was stunned. No one had ever asked me that question before. I took it seriously and really thought about it. I was forty-one years old, the kids had mostly grown and gone, and I was in a new space in my life. I’d always wanted to get into real estate, so I told him I wanted to take the required courses, obtain my license, and go with my gut. Keep in mind here that I hadn’t even finished high school, having foolishly quit school two months before graduation in order to marry my first husband. The thought of taking an extensive course and begin the formal learning process again was daunting, for sure. It was also exciting. I completed that course, got my license and thoroughly enjoyed selling residential real estate for the next seven years. I made the right choice.

 

After those seven years, I was tired of long days and nights and little time away from work. I realized I had started missing out on so many family functions and important personal time with my husband due to work requirements. I’d gotten disillusioned with real estate sales and the sometimes cut-throat attitude of so many of the agents I’d encountered. I’d also met some wonderful co-workers and clients whom I truly enjoyed. But I was unhappy, so I wondered again, “what next?”.

 

After serious consideration, and in talking with family and friends I trusted, I made the decision to move into residential mortgage sales. It seemed the ideal fit based on my years in real estate and my basic knowledge of mortgages etc. I still wasn’t sure it’s what I should do, but I went ahead and took the courses to obtain my license and went to work selling mortgages. I should have listened to my gut instinct. I’d grown weary of commissioned sales and had only shifted the focus from real estate to mortgages, with little to no real change in the type of work I was doing. After only three years I was left dissatisfied and unhappy with where my career was going.

 

So it begins

So it begins

I remembered my husband’s question all those years ago about what I wanted to do with my life. I had always wanted to write, but had put it off. It was such an “out there” thing to do, and I was afraid to tackle the commitment I knew it would take. I hummed and hawed. I agonized and chewed it over for weeks. Then one day while I was off for Christmas break, I decided to just go for it. I went upstairs to my computer and sat down and began to write a story I’d been mulling over, along with my indecision. Approximately eight hours later, I came downstairs beaming. I hadn’t written anything stellar, and most of it I would later re-write completely, but that wasn’t the point. The point was, I’d crossed a line. I’d taken hold of an old fear and once again chosen to go with my gut feeling. By the time I came downstairs from my office, I knew I wanted to be a writer. I had my, “what next”.

 

It’s been three more years since then, and during that time I continued to work. Last November, with the release of In The Spirit Of Love, my debut novel, I already knew I’d found my place, so decided to quit my job and write full time. In truth, writing is where I probably should always have been. I’ve learned so much this past year, and the years before it. I’ve learned to trust myself and listen to my instincts. I’ve also learned that, just like in writing, I can choose my path. If it isn’t right, I’ll stop, listen, wait, and go with my gut.

 

I know I still have so much to learn, and I’m still not sure what I’ll do regarding my next project, but that’s okay. What I do know is that I’ll keep writing. In movies I’ve heard characters talk about the possibilities “tomorrow” holds. I think of Gone with the Wind and Scarlet O’Hara, who vowed to go home to Tara and figure out her future. I think of Little Orphan Annie who sang brightly of “Tomorrow”, and I think of all the songs and films and talk shows that encouraged me take chances and dream big. It isn’t even all about “making it big” (although that would certainly be nice). It’s about finding myself and my true passion and letting it lead me to new experiences. I guess what’s next for me, is simply to write.

 

So, what’s next for you? What dreams or aspirations have you followed up on, or wished you had?

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The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap

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