Your Words and Stories Are a Gift to the World (According to SARK)

I’m in the midst of reading SARK’s Juicy Pens, Thirsty Paper. It’s one of those books about writing which causes you to pause and digest the meaning. Sometimes for days.

One of the sentences which stands out to me is this one on page 49:

All of our words and stories are gifts, to and from the world.

I paused and thought. Is that true?

Something in me recoiled. Is it true that ALL of our words are gifts? Some words cut like a knife. Some words make you feel as if someone has chopped of your right arm.

But then, searing words can be a gift too, if you search for the benefits of the situation. If nothing else, biting words coming your way suggest that perhaps you should remove yourself from the situation. After words come action, you see. So even biting words have their use- as a warning from those whose company you might not need to keep.

Still, I think I see what the author is saying.When the words are meant to be helpful, the fact that they are a gift to the world is more obvious.

For example, I recently suffered through a strong bout of IMPOSTER SYNDROME. It happened just as I planned to launch something that I have never had the guts to do before. So I asked my group if anyone can share a story of conquering Imposter Syndrome.

A story. I was asking for a story.

Why? Because I was hoping to follow in the footsteps of people just like me. I had hoped to make their story of success my story. There is something powerful in seeing or hearing someone else conquer what seems insurmountable for you.

I thought too of my own article here on this website – Why Your Blog is Necessary. To sum it up, I say in that article that your blog is necessary because the marketplace of ideas is bare without you. Someone might need to hear from you. You never know who can use your story right at that moment. So stick your neck out and say something.

I needed to take my own advice.

I ended up agreeing with SARK after all. Your words and stories can become a gift to the world.  Someone might need to see your shoe prints where they would like to tread. What’s your story?

Peace Be With You,

Deborah

P.S. This goes back to what we’ve discussed earlier – What is your primary gift to the world?  Your gift could be words.

Bill Cunningham, Fashion Photographer | Introvert in the Spotlight #1

I discovered Bill Cunningham -fashion photographer for the New York Times-  about a year before his death in 2016. His documentary –Bill Cunningham: New York– is fascinating. He lived a single life and a singular life. Although I don’t recall anyone straight up saying in the documentary that he is an introvert, Cunningham seemed to live the life of one.

In an article for the New York Times, Cunningham says,

“I STARTED photographing people on the street during World War II. I used a little box Brownie. Nothing too expensive. The problem is I’m not a good photographer. To be perfectly honest, I’m too shy. Not aggressive enough. Well, I’m not aggressive at all. I just loved to see wonderfully dressed women, and I still do. That’s all there is to it.”

Career-wise Cunningham found something that he liked; he stumbled upon fashion photography when someone gave him a camera. How can an introvert in a social world like the world of Fashion (with a capital F) be comfortable? I think the answer is that he found a little cubby for himself in the industry.

His employers gave him a great amount of autonomy – something introverts tend to need. He would shoot runways, but he was also fond of street style – photographing what people wear around town.

He would run around New York City, not necessarily talking to anyone, but observing trends, photographing patterns of sartorial behavior, investigating style and delighting when people bring a little brightness to winter with a pop of sky blue, heralding the spring.

His face absolutely lights up as he describes fashion, when he says that you do not know what people will think to wear next. That’s when I realized Cunningham must have been something like a birdwatcher, except the birds are human and they change their plumage every day. The possibilities are endless.

I appreciate Cunningham’s attention to male fashion –  you can still see his archived weekly trend-spotting videos at the New York Times website. Male fashion, to my untrained eye, does not seem to change much. But Cunningham finds the subtleties, and appreciates the boldness of youngsters paving the way for a revolution in male fashion – something I would not have noticed. Cunningham’s attention to detail quietly draws your eye to what you would not have seen.

Check out the documentary, tell me what you think.

Sincerely,

Deborah

 

 

An Introvert on the Career Schmooze

Long ago, a mentor said to me, “Deborah, to gain the career you want, you must schmooze.”  I interpreted schmoozing as going to functions that you do not like, where there are powerful, or potentially powerful, people in your industry and ingratiate yourself to this group.

As an introvert, highly-sensitive person, and chitchat avoid-er, I was never really comfortable with schmoozing.

A local leader in my industry invited a select few university students to his house for dinner. Guess it’s time to schmooze; I accept.

Turns out I misheard. The dinner party is actually cocktails by the pool -one of those gatherings where you stand around and pontificate over a glass of Merlot.  I did not anticipate this scene. (1)Chitchat is always awkward and (2) dinner would have given me something to do.  Now, my teetotaling self must stand there with a glass of water trying to be interesting. Already I’m uncomfortable and want to go home.

However, I recall my mentor’s words – Schmooze, Deborah. Schmooze!

I remain at the party,  but I stand next to the Gouda tray, hoping to blend in to the nearby ferns, I guess. One of my classmates sidles up to me -a classmate who is clearly on his second glass and who has never said more to me then, “What’s the homework?”    Holding forth about his career, he says, “Yep! I do not like [our industry] – it’s boring, it’s tedious, I can’t stand it.” ” But this,” he says, sweeping his glass in an arch towards the house, the pool, and the cheese,” is why I’m doing it.”

Sip.

At that moment, I stopped feeling awkward and contemplated what I had just heard. This young man was going into a career that he already knows he does not like, just to have a pool that he will not have time to use. The industry that we were headed into works you with long hours; he would only have to time to brag about the pool at work, not actually use it. Not only that, once he earns the physical object he wants,  he is still left with the career that he hates.

Maybe that’s why he felt the need to imbibe, to get away. I felt an enormous wave of pity towards him. “Isn’t there any other way to buy your pool,” I thought, “than putting yourself through a career that is clearly torture for you?”

Hours later at home, as I contemplated the scene again, I realized I had also tortured myself by staying longer than I should have.  Years later I realized that I had done a disservice to  myself  by  being in denial and remaining in an industry and a culture that I did not like.

I say this, fellow introvert, not to discourage you from accepting invitations, but to learn from my mismanagement of self.

Sure, we all do uncomfortable things, that’s a part of life. However, many introverts still complain about networking. I posit that schmoozing might not always be the problem for introverts on the career hunt; sometimes the issue is in not knowing what is important enough to us to be worth the discomfort.

Going to that party was an attempt to boost a career that I did not want. (But I had not yet admitted that to myself.). Therefore, staying at the party past my comfort was not worth the time.  I could have used the time to build a different career in another, more organic way.

We’ve talked about dirt sandwiches before on this website. Every lifestyle -whether introverted or not- has something unpleasant about it, what I call a “dirt sandwich.”

For an introvert, that might mean the unpleasantness of networking to find a job, or suffering through initial chitchat to find compatible friends. Whatever your dirt sandwich may be, you must decide this: For what are you so hungry that you do not mind grit in your teeth to gain or maintain that life?

Everybody must decide this, not only introverts. It’s just that the dirt sandwiches differ with each person.

For introverts, maybe the job which requires so much networking isn’t for you, even if you are good at the job. Perhaps the psychological and emotional cost of entry for that career is not within your emotional budget right now. Perhaps your mind is trying to tell you to go in another direction and you are not listening.

Perhaps more introverts should ask, “What would I like my life to look like?” Answer that, and networking  becomes just another dirt sandwich – nothing pleasant, but nothing quite so major as it was for me at that party.

Since that party, I have reinterpreted schmoozing as being around like-minded people. It has been my experience that when you become excited about a job or career -one that you really want-  you might be nervous at first, but you plow right through, even if it comes at the high cost of social interaction. And sometimes it’s actually fun -Imagine that!- because you are discussing topics that are interesting to you with people who share that interest.

You learn to create a budget for networking, psychologically. That might mean that after networking, or interviewing, or whatever-ing, you decide to journal about your progress (or however you decompress). Before a meeting, you might have butterflies in your stomach, a frog in your throat – basically, the whole animal kingdom in your gut- but you push through it, because it gets you closer to that life you want so much.

Let me sum it up. To introverts on the career/job hunt:

  1. What would you like your life to look like?
  2. Does that job/career get you closer to that life in a meaningful way?
  3. Make sure to budget -psychologically- if that career you want comes with the high cost of schmoozing.
  4. Schmoozing is a little less aggravating when you’re working towards something meaningful to you.
  5. (Oh yes, and don’t try to do this alone, if possible. Have someone who can commiserate with you -whether that’s a career coach, friends/ family, or the nice people on your Facebook group.)

Peace be with you,

Deborah

Wreck This Journal [A Review]

Dedicated to perfectionists all over the world, the Wreck This Journal challenges book lovers and journal writers not to hold every book as precious and un-fool-around-able (or, at least, not this book).

Wreck This Journal is an art journal with prompts. With page-by-page instructions, such as “Rip it up,” “Drag it,” and “Climb up high; drop the journal,” this book seeks to make you uncomfortable enough to become creatively destructive. “You may begin to live more recklessly,” it promises (or threatens, depending on how you view such a thing).

You are writing (or stomping, or placing sticky things) on 224 pages of a lightweight, travel-friendly journal that is small enough to fit in your purse, but not your pocket or clutch.

This review is of the 2012 black edition. Apparently, there are several other editions with different covers, and, presumably, different prompts.

My casual perusal of others who have used this journal, including the reviews on Amazon, suggests the people who love this journal, REALLY LOVE IT! They proudly showcase finished Wreck It Journals tied with rope and stuffed to the gills with who knows what kind of adventure.

I purchased this one back in 2015. My memory of it was that it was not for me. I struggled to find a purpose for it in my journal writing life since it did not encourage introspection, recording history,  and other things that I do with journals. I remember it as being pointless. I did not pick it up again after a couple of days.

However, after reading my main journal from back then, I see that the Wreck This Journal had its purpose in my life, even if it was only for a couple of days. It influenced me to think outside of the lines in my usual journal. According to my main journal entry, I credit the book with influencing me to draw in my journal (Gasp!); trace the outlines of other journals in my main one (What?!); ignore the lines (Horrors!). All of that ultimately led to being open to changing date headers, and including more pictures of my family.

So thanks, Wreck This.

You might like the Wreck This Journal if…

  • …you like journal prompts.
  • … you have enjoyed (or would like to start) an art journal.
  • …you are a perfectionist when it comes to books, and you want a way to stretch out of your comfort zone without ruining the books you care about.
  • …you don’t mind your fountain pen bleeding through (which you won’t because you are meant to ruin the journal).
  • …you wish to take your journal with you. (It’s travel-friendly.)

The Wreck This Journal might not be for you if…

  • …you cannot stand when anyone dogears a page.
  • …you find prompts unnecessary for how you journal.
  • …you want more meaningful, introspective journal prompts.
  • …you don’t like the idea of wasted paper (some instructions include ripping things and tossing them away).

 

Do you have a Wreck This Journal? What do you think?

Sincerely,

Deborah

P.S. You might also find useful this double review of the Q&A 5-Year Journal and the One Line A Day 5-Year Journal.

 

An Archeologist’s Blog about Burying Books

Book lovers! Here’s an odd little blog to read – Burying Books. It’s all about stories of people who placed books in the ground and covered them up, sometimes retrieving them.

Motives vary – neglect, artistic drama, hiding it, penance for allowing their writing to take them away from loved ones.

The blog, which has not been updated since 2015, is purportedly run by archeologist Gabriel Moshenka of The University College London. He writes,

“This blog is for one of my many research interests: buried books.  I love books and I own an awful lot of them.  The idea of burying books in the ground seems rather odd and interesting.”

A fun little, slightly morbid past time, especially when the books are buried with people. Of course, you’ll find the story of a recent discovery – The Faddan More Psalter,  a book dating to the year 800 which was found in a bog in 2006- as well as stories from the past,  like Dante Rossetti’s retrieval of poems  that he regretted not publishing.

Head on over and see what you think.

Sincerely,

Deborah

Journal Prompts -After Listening to a Music Album

Have listened to a music album recently and wish to write about it in your journal? Here are a few prompts to get you started.

Journal Prompts for Listening to a Music Album

  1. Name the album. Why did you choose it?
  2. Is it your first time listening to this album? If you listened to it before, what spurred you to listen to it again? What prompted you to listen the first time?
  3. Who is/are the artist/ artists?
  4. When did you first hear of the artist?
  5. What was your initial impression of the artist? Has your opinion remained the same? Changed?
  6. How would you describe the genre?
  7. Do you have other albums of this artist? Which ones?
  8. How does this album rank with that of this artist’s other albums?
  9. How does this album rank, in your opinion, with that of other artist in this genre?
  10. How do you think future music will be consumed? – we’ve had records, CDs and now digital downloads. What is next?

 

All the best,

Deborah

Journal Prompts for After a Concert

Do you need journal prompts after attending a concert? Here are a few prompts to get you started.

Journal Prompts for After a Concert

  1. What concert did you attend?
  2. What is it about this artist that induces you to spend time at one of their concerts?
  3. Recall the first time you ever heard a composition or song from this artist.
  4. Who attended the concert with you?
  5. Why did you attend this particular venue (as opposed to buying tickets for this artist at a different venue)?
  6. Affix the concert ticket (or a copy of it) to the journal page and write about the process of buying it.
  7. Affix any other ephemera (or a picture of it) to the journal page. E.g. A concert program, a piece of confetti shot out of a cannon. Write about its purpose at the concert. What excites or interests you about it?
  8. What did you wear? Why?
  9. Describe the process of traveling to the venue. Was it fun? Why? Why not?
  10. What are your two favorite compositions or songs from this artist? Why?
  11. How many more of this artist’s concerts would you like to attend?
  12. Has this artist inspired you in some way? Describe how.
  13. What do you think this artist’s career will be like in ten years?
  14. Where did you go after the concert? Who was there with you?
  15. Will you ever be able to return to life as usual? (Sure you will. Just give yourself a couple of weeks. :))

 

All the best,

Deborah

Faulkner’s Advice to Writers

Stumbled across this press conference featuring William Faulkner from May 20, 1957. You may listen to it or read the transcript at The University of Virginia.

Questions put to the author of As I Lay Dying include inquiries about advice to young writers. Though the question is about young writers,  Faulkner’s answer is to any writer, regardless of age.

Enjoy!

Unidentified participant: Mr. Faulkner, you may have touched on this previously, but could you give some advice to young writers? What advice would you give to young writers?

William Faulkner: At one time I thought the most important thing was talent. I think now that—that the young man or the young woman must possess or teach himself, train himself, in infinite patience, which is to—to try and to try and to try until it comes right. He must train himself in ruthless intolerance. That is, to throw away anything that is false no matter how much he might love that page or that paragraph. The most important thing is insight, that is, to be—to curiosity—to—to wonder, to mull, and to—to—to muse why it is that man does what he does. And if you have that, then I don’t think the talent makes much difference, whether you’ve got that or not.

Unidentified participant: How would you suggest that he get this insight? Through experience?

William Faulkner: Yes, and then the greatest part of experience is in the books, to read. To read and to read and to read and to read. To watch people, to have—to never judge people. To watch people, what they do, with—with—without intolerance. Simply to—to learn why it is they did what they did.

Faulkner’s advice to writers, summed up:

  1. Understand that talent matters little, it’s the practice that is important.
  2. Train yourself, practice writing.
  3. Practice infinite patience.
  4. Ruthlessly edit.
  5. The most important thing is developing insight and curiosity.
  6. Develop insight and curiosity through reading and observing people.

It’s great to know. What do you think?

Peace,

Deborah

Journal Prompts for Aunts and Uncles

You are an aunt or uncle and you have read the tips for being the best aunt or uncle ever. Tip number six is to savor the moments. One way to savor the moments is through journal writing.

The following writing prompts are not only to help you capture the moments, but also to help you think through the relationship that you would like to have with your nieces or nephews, whether they are minors or adults.

Let’s get started.

Journal Prompts for Aunts or Uncles

  1. How many nieces and/or nephews do you have?
  2. How would you like them to remember you?
  3. What traditions would you like to begin or maintain in the lives of your nieces /nephews?
  4. What does being the best Aunt or Uncle mean to you? What does it look like?
  5. How can you set aside time to know your nieces /nephews and their goals in life?
  6. How can you help them achieve their goals?
  7. What is your relationship like with their parents (or the people who are raising them)?
  8. How can you improve or maintain your relationship with the parental figures so that you may continue to have access to the little ones?
  9. If your nieces /nephews are adults, what do they need from you now that you did not or could not provide in their childhood (For instance, a routine or act might not have been appropriate for the age or mental development of the child)? How can you incorporate whatever the newer elements are into your relationship?
  10. If your nieces /nephews are adults, what should you now omit from your relationship that was appropriate when they were children, but does not help them to progress today?
  11. If your nieces /nephews are adults, what traditions will you continue from their childhood?
  12. “I feel loved when my Aunt/ Uncle does______.” How would your nieces /nephews complete that sentence?
  13. What are your Aunts /Uncles like?
  14. What have your Aunts /Uncles taught you that you will add to the relationship you have with your nieces /nephews?
  15. How can you encourage your nieces/nephews to write in journals?
  16. Create journals about your nieces/nephews which…
    • …Record thoughts you want them to remember
    • …Capture words or concepts that they have uttered to you
    • …Include pictures of them, pictures of them with you
    • …Include notes from them
    • …Tell them about your childhood relationship with your sibling(s)
    • …You present as a gift to them at some point (You can leave the journals to them in your will, even.)

Peace be with you,

Deborah

The Q & A a Day 5-Year Journal and The One Line a Day 5-Year Journal [A Double Review]

Yours truly started writing in both the Q&A a Day: 5-Year Journal and the One Line a Day: A Five-Year Memory Book back in October of 2015. I committed to writing in them for just over a year before putting them to rest. They did not work for the way I journal, but they might work for you.

Both of the 5-Year Journals use the same principle – they are each a “condensed, comparative record for five years, for recording events most worthy of remembrance,” according to One Line a Day.

Each page has Month and Day printed on it; it also has five sections on it. Each section is comprised of a space for a year date and a handful of blank lines.

Additionally, Q& A a Day gives you 365 one sentence questions to answer, such as ” If you were a literary character, who would you be?”

One Line a Day comes with a ribbon page marker. Q& A does not.

Both The One Line a Day Journal and Q&A Journal might be for you…

  • … if you prefer a small, hand-sized journal that can fit in your purse (But not your clutch. I have tried it.)
  • …if you have little time but want to jot something down in a journal
  • …if you do not need much space for writing all your thoughts
  • …if a larger blank page is intimidating
  • …if you would like to have notes from 5 years of your life on one page (That’s the most awesome feature.)

Additionally, the Q&A a Day Journal might work for you…

  • …if you need a random prompt every day
  • …if you are just getting started and you don’t know what to write about yet

Additionally, The One Line a Day 5-Year Journal might work for you…

  • …if you want to note a few ideas for a specific topic (e.g. This journal might be great for guests to leave a note about their stay in your rental space; it might also be a great health progress journal – just enough space for a few stats; it might be your gratitude journal.)
  • …if you want to give it as a present to a child. (The other journal, the Q& A Journal, assumes that teens or adults are using the journal. The questions reflect this audience.)
  • …if you prefer a ribbon bookmark already in the book.

Neither journal might be for you…

  • …if you prefer leather journals. They are made of some kind of heavy cardboard.  (You can have them rebound in leather.)
  • …if you feel like you’re about to explode from all the things you didn’t write because there is not enough space to contain your genius!
  • …if you prefer wide journals.
  • …if you prefer to journal with a fountain pen. (My fountain pen bleeds through both.)

I love the idea of seeing 5 consecutive years of the same day on 1 page. Seeing your progress (or lack of it) is fascinating. The concept is great. I just need more space to write; I like to write anywhere from  2 pages (average) to about 10 pages a day.

Because I was also writing extensively in my main journal, the 5-year journals became a brief summary of something I had already written. The redundancy really burdened me. I began skipping days in the 5-year journals, then writing in them retroactively. It was a mess.

If a 5-Year Journal was my only journal, of the two, I would go for the One Line A Day version. There are no prompts to ignore, so it’s a miniature version of my main journal.

I also feel a little sick to my stomach that I recorded pretty much the same activities on the same days of the year – I had not altered my life one bit. My lack of progress was staggering. And the year had gone by so fast! I might return to this journal one day, just for that kick in the pants.

Peace Be With You,

Deborah

P.S. You may purchase  the Q&A a Day: 5-Year Journal or the One Line a Day: A Five-Year Memory Book by clicking on the titles.

P.P.S. Have you used one of these journals? What did you think?

Introvert at the Theater [Stage or Movie]

You might enjoy a play or a movie, but how do you navigate the special circumstances which come with being an introvert crowded next to strangers in one spot, in the dark, for a couple of hours?

The most challenging moments might come before and after, when the house lights are up and everyone is engaged in small talk or finding a seat. Hopefully, during the play or movie you are so enraptured in the acting that you relax a bit about your surroundings.

Here are a few ideas for enjoying the theater a little bit more as an introvert.

  1. Create a social buffer by bringing a couple of friends or relatives that you like. Sit between them. Depending on your personality, you might feel less drained around people that you already know than you do around strangers.
  2. If no one is going with you, choose an aisle seat. Yes, you will need to do the aisle seat polka- stand up and sit down to allow others to pass through to the middle seats. However, there is one less person on one side of you to chatter.
  3. Remember why you are attending and choose only the plays or movies that you think you will especially enjoy. A grumpy theater patron was seated next to me once. No one, introverted or otherwise, would have found him pleasant, but I  felt particularly unnerved. I contemplated leaving. Was it worth the time to sit through this play and his rudeness? Since I had wanted to see this play for years and had traveled far to see it, I decided that it was worth it. Had it been a movie theater, or other place without assigned seating,  I would have found another seat or left. It was the value of the play that kept me there.
  4. Patronize specialty theaters that tend to be smaller and have fewer distractions. I visited the Alamo Cinema in Texas.  They are a movie theater which has assigned seating and offers dinner. They have a policy which excludes children, except on one day of the week. I love the little ones; they do not bother me. However, for some people, including introverts and highly-sensitive people, a young child doing what children do during a movie is discomforting.
  5. Wait for the DVD or digital download. Nothing replaces live theater or a 30 foot screen. However, sometimes you just cannot be bothered with seeing a new release at the cinema or going to the theater. Wait until the film becomes available for home entertainment. Even some theater productions (dramas, operas, etc.) get a second life on film. Visit Digital Theatre for British theater on film. A few years ago, a company called Broadway Near You  brought Angela Lansbury and James Earl Jones to the cinema in their performance of Driving Miss Daisy at the Comedy Theatre in Melbourne. This production was filmed and is now on DVD; this seems to be the wave of the future. [Side note:  Stage performances will have a great boost in sales when virtual reality becomes commonplace. Immersive tech will help people to feel as if they are there without needing to physically travel to a specific theater. ]
  6. Appreciate the fact that -whether you are at the cinema or at a stage play- the house lights will turn down soon and shroud the crowd in darkness, giving your senses a break from ingesting input about those surrounding you.

What are your theater tips for introverts?

Sincerely,

Deborah

Heirloom Journals – Prompts for the Journal That You Will Leave to Your Children

Not all journals are for yourself exclusively. Some would rather leave their writings to their children as heirlooms. Here are  a few writing prompts to get you started.

Journal Prompts for a Journal That You Will Leave to Your Children (Heirloom Journals)

  1. Tell your children how much you love them.
  2. List and explain life concepts that you find imperative to know.
  3. What is your name? What is the name of the other parent?
  4. How did you meet the other parent? Describe this relationship.
  5. What are your children’s names? Why did you name them this?
  6. Describe something that is unique about each of your children.
  7. Describe a special moment that you have enjoyed with each of your children.
  8. When were you born?
  9. When were your children born?
  10. Where were you born?
  11. Where were your children born?
  12. Where did you live during childhood? Did you enjoy it? Why? Why not?
  13. Where did you raise/are you raising your children? (Author’s note: The early years are especially crucial to record, since the children might not recall the details.)
  14. Who raised you? What is your relationship like with your parents or parental figures?
  15. Describe your childhood.
  16. Describe what you hope your children will take from their childhood.
  17. Do you have siblings? List your siblings. Explain what your relationship was like with them in childhood and what the relationship is like now.
  18. Describe what you’ve learned from your relationship with your siblings.
  19. Did you have pets as a child? How was that experience for you?
  20. What were your favorite toys?
  21. What from your childhood have you incorporated into your parenting?
  22. What from your childhood have you not permitted in your parenting?
  23. What traditions would you prefer that you children maintain?
  24. How would you prefer that your children remember you?
  25. Share quotes from your favorite people – e.g. relatives, authors, speakers, neighbors, etc.
  26. List and explain books, songs, or other media that you want your children to remember.
  27. What are your food preferences?
  28. What are your dietary restrictions?
  29. Are any of your food choices related to significant family traditions? Explain them.
  30. Quote your children, anything that stands out to you. (Author’s note: It has been my experience that older children ask, “What was I like at the age of X? “ “Did I have a catchphrase back then?”)
  31. Affix notes from your children into the journal and explain the circumstances under which you gained possession of them.
  32. Who is someone important to you that your children never met? (e.g. Their deceased great grandfather) Describe that person.
  33. Explain why journaling is important and why you have given this journal to your children.

Date Headers for Your Journals

When organizing a handwritten journal or day’s log, many people enjoy writing the day’s date at the top. To help your eyes see the start of your day’s entry with the greatest of ease, many journal writers embellish the date or create a unique header.

If you search online for “date headers,” you’ll find many ideas in the Bullet Journal community.

Here’s an article from Tiny Ray of Sunshine – “Add Stylistic Headers.”

I have created a few headers below that you can try.  You artsy folk can do it even better.

it's deborah - date header examples - with site logo
Here I’ve dashed off a few headers that, hopefully, with spark something in your own imagination.

Let me drop a word here. Please remember why you are journaling. Do not spend all your time trying to choose the “right” color or the “perfect” header or you’ll not actually write anything. Make progress, not perfection.  Onward.

Peace be with you,

Deborah

An Introvert with Roommates (6 Tips)

Yours truly has had roommates, dorm mates, apartment mates, house mates, duplex mates… you name it. It was torture. Hello! My name is Deborah and I am an introvert.

I’m not blaming my roommates; they were all fine. It’s me. It’s the way I am built – I need more solitude than most people.

I cannot tell you how best to live as an introvert with people in your home, because, frankly, I was terrible at it. But I did learn a few things that made me less miserable in a crowd.

Tip#1 Find the benefits

Write it down, embroider it on a pillow, slap it on your face if that’s what it takes to remember benefits of having people in your house.

You can endure almost anything well if you think it’s for your good. This doesn’t mean you should remain there with those people; it just a tactic to endure with less stress.

Tip#2 Carve out a space for yourself

You can have a special place in your home. (Your room, perhaps. Or an extra long time in the bathroom). A place that’s just your own – your own mini home within a home. This is where you are free to do as you please. Savor that.

Now, let’s say there is no place like this in your home. Can you find such a place outside of your home, like a park, or a stand of trees, or a coffee shop, or a corn field? Can you stay there for as long as you need to, then  eventually go to your room to sleep?

Sometimes writing in a journal -even in a crowd- can be that mental home within a home, a space that is just your own (like a turtle toting its shell).

Tip#3 Stretch your socializing muscles and get out there with your roommates more

Come out to the common area and say  “Hi” to your roommates for a few minutes. Catch up on the day. (I know you don’t like chit chat, but non-introverts often do. It suggests you care.) Then dip back out into your introvert space. If you are having fun, stay longer.

You’re establishing good will and stretching yourself a bit. This is also practice for when you have your own space and there is no longer the roommate to be a social buffer, to answer the door for repair personnel and what not.

Tip#4 Anticipate -in writing- the day that you will have your own space.

I laid out plans that I called THE GREAT ESCAPE. It has three phases – “Out of,” “Through” and “Into.” It’s not enough to want to escape FROM. You can escape and go anywhere, perhaps even to a worse situation. You must also plan and anticipate running TO something that you want. In that way your planning isn’t all negative.

I slowly chipped away at the items listed under each phase. It felt good to accomplish a little bit of independence. This small progress helped to sustain me. When a chance to grab a space to myself cropped up, I leaped at it since I already knew that it was close to what I wanted. Which brings me to the next point.

Tip#5 Sometimes the escape route isn’t the most ideal, but can be a stepping stone

Knowing what you want is great. But don’t dismiss what could be the stepping stone to your next phase just because it’s not THE dream space.

This is why it is crucial to understand your escape plan in detail so you’ll know a portion of it when you see it.

Tip#6 Prepare for fear when you do finally have your own space

Sometimes when you get what you want you start to become  a little afraid. You are, after all, changing your identity from one with roommates to one without. Everything is on you.

We’ve already discussed how to Prepare for Fear, on this website. Basically, you remind yourself that this fear means you are getting closer to your dream. Also, use this fear to remind yourself of other successes in your life. You succeeded then, you can handle this new season of  life as well.

Once you have your own space to yourself, it is wonderful. You can still socialize with people during the work hours and social hours, but once you come home… Ah! Sanctuary!

Sincerely,

Deborah, Introvert

P.S. I have just found this article. Check out the Introvert’s Guide to Dealing with Roommates over at Dear, Introvert for more ideas.

P.P.S. You might also try The Introvert Advantage: How Quiet People Can Thrive in an Extrovert World”  by Marti Laney, Psy.D. There isn’t a section specifically for roommates, but try Part 2, Section 6 which is about Socializing and think in terms of housemates. That might help.

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Journal Prompts for After Watching a Movie

Journal Prompts for After Watching a Movie

  1. What movie did you screen?
  2. Summarize the plot.
  3. What would you change about the plot?
  4. Why did you watch that movie?
  5. Where were you?
  6. Who was with you?
  7. Were there snacks involved? Which?
  8. Do you have a favorite actor in this film? Who?
  9. What would you change about the casting?
  10. If this is an old film, how would you re-cast it with actors working today?
  11. If this is a new film, how would you re-cast it with actors from the past?
  12. If it is a film from the early 20th century, compare it with the radio version of the film.
  13. Is this film up to the usual standards of this actor/ director/ writer/ studio/franchise? Why?
  14. How was the soundtrack? How was the score?
  15. Did you like the film? Why? Why not?
  16. Does this movie remind you of a different one?
  17. Is this a reboot, remake, sequel, pre-quel? How does it compare to the original?
  18. If this film is part of a series, rank each one.
  19. If this film is part of a series, what do you think is misunderstood about the series or its fans? What do you think is great about the series or its fans? What do you think could be better about this series?
  20. If you watched it in the theater, do you plan to purchase a copy later? Why? Why not?
  21. Discuss the poster art/ cover art for this film.
  22. Discuss the advertising for this film. Did it intrigue you?
  23. Is there memorabilia accompanying this film? Do you plan to purchase any? Why?

 

All the best,

Deborah

Journal Prompts for After a Play or Musical

Have you attended a play or stage musical recently? Here are a few journal prompts to get you started writing about your experience.

Journal Prompts for After a Play or Musical

  1. Which Play/Musical did you attend?
  2. Where was the venue?
  3. What is interesting about the venue?
  4. Why did you attend this play?
  5. Who attended with you?
  6. When did you first hear of this production?
  7. Do you know people in the play (or behind the scenes) by name? List them and discuss why they interest you.
  8. Describe the plot.
  9. Does the plot (or do the characters) remind you of a different play?
  10. Does the plot (or do the characters) remind you of a different form of art or different discipline in life? E.g. The two lead characters in The Taming of the Shrew remind me of two boxers going in for the kill.
  11. Which actor caught your attention the most? Why?
  12. Which character surprised you the most?
  13. Which character is your favorite? Why?
  14. How were you dressed?
  15. Attach a photo of the evening (such as a selfie taken in the lobby or a picture of the program) and discuss it.
  16. Where did you go after the play? Why?
  17. What play/musical do you plan to attend next? Why?

All the best,

Deborah

Introvert at a Multi-Day Conference (15 Tips)

Conferences can be informative and enriching for you personally and professionally. However, they can be a bit draining for an introvert – one who, among other things, tends to find energy in solitude.

Here’s how yours truly – an introvert- has navigated some of the multi-day conferences.

  1. Go to the conference with a list of goals. You might wish to list something for every day of the event. e.g. Day 1- Exchange contact information with one person who meets X quality. Day 2- Eat alone, etc.
  2. Anyone -extrovert or introvert-  will be exhausted with 4 days of sitting down for lectures at 10 or 12 hours each day. That’s a lot of sitting. Be sure to exercise before going down to the lecture hall.
  3. If the conference is big enough to have concurrent lectures, it’s easier to skip out without being noticed. Do it, if you need to do so. You are not being rude; you are taking care of your health.
  4. If you go to a big business conference, be prepared to sign a waiver wherein you give permission to be photographed. Your image might appear in their promotional materials. This is becoming increasingly standard. Just a heads up.
  5. Bring raisins to boost your energy for the marathon conferences. Raisins are small and portable and there is no noise to disturb anyone.
  6. If possible, stay at the hotel where the conference is taking place – there is less hassle to go back to your room and order room service.
  7. It is ok to skip a lecture (unless your employer sent you there to take notes, in which case, tough it out, then reward yourself later. Also consider a new job.).
  8. If this is a trip you are taking with other people, consider going to different lectures and connect with them later with your notes. This gives you time to leave and return to a lecture without needing to explain anything.
  9. One time, at a small conference, the host made it clear NOT to go back to your hotel room and order room service during lunch. Instead, she wanted everyone to go to lunch with a different person on each day of the conference. I did it, thinking I would miss out on something. That was a mistake. The people with whom I ate lunch were nice, but I never saw or heard from them again. Meanwhile, I was drained from being around a lot of people all day without a break. Don’t allow the fear of missing out to rule the day. You know your body better than anyone else. Listen to it.
  10. For bigger conferences with cameras everywhere, the spotlights are mostly focused on the stage, except during Q & A when they are turned on the audience. One time I had had enough of the spotlight in my eyes, stood up and went to the back wall. Just FYI.
  11. That hot item that you MUST HAVE to buy in the concession hall/ book emporium is on the lecturer’s website or on Amazon. You don’t need to bum rush the concession hall if you’re tired, no matter what they tell you.
  12. The concession room/ book emporium/exhibit hall -which you visit during a break in the lectures- will place any food at the back wall. Just to buy a sandwich, you will need to run a gauntlet of booths filled with people who are trying to sell you their latest book or program. Decide whether you have the energy needed to do this. Remember why you are in there. Finding the booth number of your favorite businesses or groups ahead of time helps you to make a beeline for them; then you can run right out again, if needed.
  13. At the end of each day (perhaps even after each lecture, if there is enough time), return to your notes to cement the ideas you want in your brain. This is also a way to decompress on your own.
  14. Before going to the conference, check to see which lecturers have a website and which ones do not (most people do have one now-a-days). If two concurrent sessions seem interesting, go for the one who has no website, and catch up with the other one online later. (That’s how I found a mentor, by the way. The lecturer with no website had nothing to say; the lecturer that I missed, and whose content I checked out later, became my mentor.)
  15. Make sure you have an online presence, as well. Business cards are going the way of the dinosaur. People check out your stuff in an instant  – your website, your Twitter account, etc. People will want to catch up with you later. It’s a great way not to have to talk too much if they know they can dive into your content later.

These are a few of the ways that I have navigated multi-day conferences as an introvert.

What are your tips?

 

All the best,

Deborah

 

P.S. Find more about introversion by clicking the Introverts category or tag.

What Kind of Writer are You? (and other questions from SARK)

Author Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy (AKA SARK) is someone whose books about writing and personal development are new to me. I’m currently reading her book, Juicy Pens, Thirsty Paper: Gifting the World with Your Words and Stories, and Creating the Time and Energy to Actually Do It.

The book is meant to be inspiration for the writer. In it there are interviews of writers with a series of questions. I will answer these questions so that you’ll get a better sense of who runs this website. Also, let me know how you would answer these questions.

What kind of writer are you? What do you love writing?

Non-fiction is the genre. Personal development, online changes, introversion, Scannerism, journaling are all the topic of choice for internet writing.

Journaling is where the seeds for this website’s articles are planted.

I delve into poetry occasionally, but not on this website.

Before writing or creating, what are some of your favorite rituals?

This writer is the type who will use a pre-writing ritual as a means to procrastinate and not actually write anything; it’s best that I not have any more decision points before writing. I just dive right in.

When an idea occurs, I jot it down immediately and, if I have time, expand on it; that’s usually in my journal. Later, I mine the idea to discover how it could be useful for the reader.

I love writing because:

I write in different ways.

Writing for myself – which is how I use journaling – has become something more than just what I love, it has become more of a necessity every year. Journal writing is a means to express all your thoughts, if you wish (“express” in the essential meaning of that term- to press out). It is rare these days not to jot down something in the journal on a daily basis, in the same way that it would be rare not to sweat in the summer heat. It must come out.

Writing for community is how I started writing online. I started a random blog in 2006, which I niched down into a classic movie blog and joined a classic movie association. I love connecting with like-minded individuals.

I also like to inspire people where I can, and remind them how their voice is necessary.

Writing for business purposes is a different beast. Or is it?

Worrying about SEO, making attractive images, wondering whether you should also start a concurrent Instagram/Twitter/Pinterest/Snapchat/Facebook account, whether you should blog on Medium.com or keep that info for your own blog -and that’s just putting out content so that people know that you exist- can be a pain. You haven’t even begun to talk about the goods or services that you offer.

As a certain businessman (whose name rhymes with Vary Gaynerchuk) has said,  these days your business should be a media company that is an expert in X. Meaning, if you sell garlic sausages, you should also be seen as the expert in adjacent things as well – how to cook the sausages, the best food pairings with sausage, etc.

It’s enough to tear out your hair!

Or at least I thought it was until recently when I realized that my original way to communicate online – writing for community- is my thing, is where I’m comfortable. Now I am learning to enjoy writing for business.

Do you ever dislike or feel frustrated by your writing? If so, what kinds of things help you?

Journal writing is only frustrating when I’m not in the position to do it – e.g. when someone is talking to you and you would rather write in your journal, but that’s rude. I patiently wait until I can make a respectful exit, then I go write something.

Writing for other people is frustrating when I don’t know if what I’m doing is useful, or whether it comes across as silly, frivolous or sales-y.

To get feedback, then, is crucial. Opening the comments section has helped. Having an account on Twitter -where people seem more likely to respond- has helped. Straight out asking in Facebook groups, “What is useful to you” also helps.

Do your night or day dreams contribute to your work? How?

Most of the time, I do not recall my nocturnal imaginings.

Day dreams are all about side projects. So, no, they do not seem to contribute to my work, except to indulge my Scanner nature.

Who is a writer?

Anyone who writes is a writer.

What words of support and encouragement can you share with other writers?

I love the word “share” these days, as that was the catalyst to revamp this website and business. If I’m sharing what I know rather than pontificating from on high, I am more likely to contribute. I feel better in that space- the space of sharing. (Your mileage may vary.)

/digression

Fellow writers,

It has usually been my experience that understanding why you write is bedrock for the best writing you will do. The “why” then guides you to timing, platform, content, whether or not to write for others or for yourself, etc.

Then you tweak and fiddle with all of these elements for years until you find something that works for you and your audience. If writing is not fun, then perhaps a different mode of communication is better for you – audio, video, or through one of the other senses. Try it.

What are your answers to SARK’s questions?

All the best,

Deborah

Journaling Q & A Part 1

Today I answer 3 frequently asked questions about journaling.

Question 1

I’m worried about someone reading my journals after I die. My family will think I’m weird if they read what I write. What can I do?

Answer 1

You are not alone. Many people ask that same thing. Here are a few options you might try.

  1. Include your journals in your last will and testament as soon as possible. This week or today. Your executor will distribute or destroy your journals as you will. Tell your executor where you keep your original will and where you keep your journals.
  2. Put a disclaimer in or on all of your journals or on the container or shelf that houses your treasure. The disclaimer can say that these words are written by an imperfect person. Something like, “Read these journals at your own risk.”
  3. Put your journals in a time capsule that is not to be opened until 50 years after your death. In that way, most of the people that you’re worried will read your journals might not be around to read them.
  4. You may cut out the parts that you think are the most weird or incendiary. Of course, you never know what anyone will find offensive.
  5. If you do not plan to re-read your journals, you might consider destroying them yourself now. Of course, that is a personal decision that I cannot make for you, but it’s certainly an option. Be aware that you might end up longing for the content that was lost.
  6. You can always donate your journals to The Great Dairy Project  – a diary preservation society. They understand discretion and wait until your diary is no longer contemporary in order to bring its value to the public.
  7. You can also find a way not to let it worry you. Visit a counselor or therapist who might be able to help you alleviate this anxiety.

 Question 2

Many people suggest using a leather journal. I’ve bought a leather journal, but l do not feel worthy to use it. Now I feel guilty for wasting money. Can you help me force myself to just start anyway?

Answer 2

A journal of any kind is a tool that you use to suit your purpose. It is there to serve you.

Clearly, the leather journal is not serving your purpose – that is, to help you write. It is now clutter in your house. Get rid of it, return it, resell it, give it away.

Then, use a journal with which you do feel comfortable. If you need to do so, use whatever you usually write on – graph paper, notebook paper,  printer paper, stationary- until you develop the habit of writing. I have seen journals on stenographer pads. These are all much less expensive than a leather journal. The point is to start writing. Your tools should not inhibit you.

Perhaps your first entry can be about why you feel unworthy of a more expensive writing supply.

Question 3

My father read my journal when I was 17. I felt betrayed. I have never written in one since. I am now 37 and I would like to reclaim the journal-writing habit. What would you suggest?

Answer 3

When you read a question like this your heart goes out to the person. This is, unfortunately, a common problem in many households. Your trust and privacy have been violated; you are associating that with journaling. It makes sense that you would hesitate starting the habit of writing again.

To develop a habit of writing, I would suggest the CUE, ROUTINE, REWARD method. You will spend less time hesitating and debating whether to write and you’ll spend more time actually writing.

Establish a CUE, a signal, such as an alarm on your phone,  that reminds you to write. Then engage in the ROUTINE, write in the journal. If you need to, just write the date and only one sentence, such as “It was been 20 years since I’ve written in a journal.” Close the journal, put it away.

Then REWARD yourself. It can be an intrinsic reward, such as savoring the accomplishment. It can be an extrinsic reward, such as finally getting around to reading some books on your shelf. Whatever you enjoy.

Eventually, merely engaging with the cue or signal induces you to crave the routine and the reward. Writing will become associated with pleasure. It will become a habit.

All the best,

Deborah

For more journal writing tips, click here.

Why is Vlogging Popular?

Entrepreneur Roberto Blake asks his guest “Why is Vlogging So Popular?” in this video: “How to Become a YouTube Vlogger: featuring Sara Dietschy!” You may click the link for their answers to the question. Here is my answer.

Why is vlogging so popular?

First, let’s define what we mean by vlogging.

When I first heard the term in 2005 or 2006,  a vlog simply meant any kind of video on your weblog, as opposed to offering only text or a single image on your blog. The content of the video was irrelevant to the definition of vlogging.

Today, the term vlogging –at least, as it is used on Youtube, the second largest search engine in the world- means a specific kind of video wherein the person takes the camera (and thus the audience) throughout the day. If he goes to a coffee shop, he films it. If he goes to a wedding, he films it. Then he ends the video at the end of the day. There are variations, but ultimately, a vlog now means a video diary of your day, especially when outside of the house.

Now, why is vlogging popular?

Vlogging is popular for at least two reasons:

  1. Vlogging extends and strengthens the KNOW, LIKE AND TRUST factor.

When you know a person from the internet and she gives you a taste of her life beyond just the one room in which she usually films [It is typical of Youtubers to film in one room.], you feel as if you are getting a better sense of her.

The vlogger might show you the rest of the house, the surrounding region, the friends and family in her life. You accumulate more incidental details which constitute the person that you watch regularly. It’s like the details of a character in a novel – you know the person a little better and what’s important to her. You then trust her further.

  1. Vlogging is vicarious travel

When vloggers film their region, or the cafes they like to visit, they are creating a travelogue. What might be mundane for them is an informative adventure for others.

The Disney vlogger who has an exclusive pass to access a ride before it opens created a useful video. He filmed the ride in the front seat from a 1st person perspective. A mother thanked him in the comments section since the video helped her frightened child to study  the twists and turns of the ride like a luge driver before arriving at Disney. Having that access calmed him.

Here is an example from my own experience. One of the first videos of Casey Neistat that I watched was of his trip to Marfa, TX for a wedding. I did not know that Neistat is famous, but I did know Marfa – the basecamp for location shooting of the film Giant with Elizabeth Taylor and Rock Hudson.  Neistat stays in the Rock Hudson Suite, which I did not know existed before watching his vacation video. He has added to my classic film knowledge and inspired me to travel there.

Why do you think vlogging is popular today?

Sincerely,

Deborah

How to Be the Best Aunt or Uncle That You Can Be (In 6 Tips)

Are you a new aunt or uncle?  Congratulations! You are in for a real treat. This relationship can be a treasure for you and the little one.

Yours truly has been an aunt for over a decade now, which means I know a lot of things that do not work and a few things that do. Let me share a few of those things that might benefit your relationship with your niece or nephew.

1. Be Excited!

Being an uncle or aunt is exciting. You are almost like mom or dad (But with the advantage of returning the kids to their parents when you’re finished babysitting ). You are a different version of grandma or grandpa. You are that perfect blend of authority figure, modernity and screwy fun to them. Celebrate it!

2. Get Your Bluff in Early; a Tantrum is Not Cute and Leads to Future Problems

I’m not saying that if you bribe the kid with an extra ice cream cone to compel her to stop screaming that she’ll one day murder the gardener in the basement.  However, she will learn from that kind of training that she will receive whatever she wants if she just yells loud enough and embarrasses you. What a terror to unleash on the world.

Do not do anything the parents will have to undo. You are there to help raise a responsible adult; you’re not there show how awesome you are (even though you are pretty cool).

3. Teach Them What You Know

Family traditions, your occupation, your hobbies, virtues – whatever you do, let your nieces and nephews in on your life. Tell them stories of when their parents were young.

Tell them the concepts that you believe to be imperative to know. You are giving them another perspective on life. You are imbuing them with the knowledge that has taken you years to glean so that they will not need to reinvent the wheel.

Teach them what you know


4. Always Respect the Parents

Right now the whole family is elated that the little bundle has arrived.

However, there might come a time in the future when you might not agree with everything the parents are doing, you might not raise your own children in that way. However, unless you have legal custody, the nephew or niece is not yours.

Barring some kind of extreme circumstance, like criminal behavior in the home, what you can do instead of contradicting the parent is influence the authority figures by creating a good relationship, a respectful relationship. Bite your tongue if you have to do so. Eventually, you will be able to make gentle observations and occasional suggestions, when appropriate.

Remember that to have access to the child, you must establish trust with the parent.

Now, let’s say your brother (your niece’s dad) likes to complain about his wife. Do not join in. Skirt around the disrespect as much as you can; that’s not your place. As you establish trust, suggest ways that the couple might mend their differences.

When you disrespect a child’s parent, you are bashing his or her hero. Not only is that a character flaw in you, the child is less likely to respect and listen to you.

Remember that an aunt or uncle is there to supplement parenting, not overhaul it.

5. Be There to Listen and Humbly Share Advice with Nephew or Niece

Develop a relationship with the ankle biters when they are younger; it’s easier for them to trust you when they are older. That ease will lead them to talk to you and consider your opinion when mulling over a problem.

In other words, be accessible. Learn their goals and objectives. What is important to them? How can you help them achieve what they want in life? At times, all they need is a listening ear. Be there.

6. Savor the Moments

Be in the moment. Take photos. Write in your journal about what little Timmy/little Kwame/ little SeokJin did today. Record little catchphrases and habits that they use as young children and remind them of same when they are a little older. Everybody likes to hear about themselves. It also shows that you care enough to pay attention.

My uncle would say to me on occasion, “Enjoy this time now, kid. Pretty soon you’ll be an adult with bills.” Frankly, as great as childhood was, I wouldn’t turn back the clock for anything. Still, I know what he meant – savor your moments, they are fleeting. Perhaps he was savoring a moment with his niece when he said it.

Now go forth and prosper as the best aunt or uncle that you can be!

Sincerely,

Deborah

Why You Procrastinate (& What to Do About It)

You have a goal to reach but you often procrastinate. Why?

Let’s look at the three aspects of achievement,  go through the process of elimination and determine where the problem of procrastination might exist so that you can get started again.

There are three aspects to reaching a goal:

1) Where you are

2) Where you want to be

3) The method to get there

Anything within these three spheres can be trip you up, prevent you from reaching the goal , encourage you to procrastinate.

Think of your goal as the far side of a lake. You are standing on this side of the lake. The lake itself is part of the journey to your goal.

Some people seem to jet ski right over to their destination quite easily. But you have barely dipped your toe into the lake, you have procrastinated.

So let’s look at where your biggest issue might be in the process of achievement.

WHERE YOU WANT TO BE/ YOUR GOAL/ THE FAR SIDE OF THE LAKE

One aspect of goal-setting and ridding yourself of procrastination is making sure that the goal is something you want. That might sound too simple, but -honestly- we’ve all been trained to believe that we should want this, we should pursue that. But do we really want those things?

Have you checked in with yourself to determine whether the goal is yours and not simply something others have told you that you should want? At times, we procrastinate because we do not want to achieve that goal and are in denial.

At other times, the problem is that what we wanted before isn’t exactly what we want now, but we haven’t noticed the change in desire.

Circumstances change. You change. The goal changes. Your attention, what’s valuable to you, changes. You should adjust as the variables shift.

Example – Let’s say you’re a bachelor who wants to climb the corporate ladder, so you work late on weekends and it’s no big deal. Suddenly you are engaged to be married.  Is working on Saturday still interesting to you or would you rather use that time to become better acquainted with your future spouse?

If circumstances have changed, account for what it means and how it affects your perspective of your goals.

Write down not only the goal but the purpose for it. Review the purpose regularly to determine whether it still fits.

WHERE YOU ARE/ THIS SIDE OF THE LAKE

You have determined that the goal you are pursuing is the right one for you. Great! Then, your procrastination might be induced by a second aspect of achievement – your current environment.

Your physical space and surrounding area might be uninspiring. (Alter it to be a place where you want to live. Or perhaps it’s time to move.)

How you arrange your physical space or items can help or hinder you in your goal,  they can induce procrastination.

Example – You have the goal of jogging more often. Arrange your life to make that more likely to happen. You might choose the CUE-ROUTINE-REWARD Method for this. You create a CUE  or signal which reminds you to work on your goal. That signal might be to see your jogging shoes next to the bed or next to the door. Then you engage in the desired ROUTINE – jogging. Then you REWARD yourself with something that you enjoy very much – perhaps finally finishing that novel you have not made time to read. Whatever works for you.  Eventually your mind and body anticipate the Reward just by interacting with the Cue. Voila! You have a habit and environment that helps you achieve your goal.

However, environment means not only the physical space.

That which you ingest mentally can be discouraging. ( Be careful of what music, movies, books and concepts you absorb. They could create self-defeating attitudes.)

That which you ingest physically can be energy-draining. (Eat the most health-giving food that you can afford.)

Those with whom you spend time can be knee-jerk negative people in general or those who find nothing beneficial in your goals. (Spend time with others who are more encouraging. You must counter-act the negativity with truth, of course, but also with the will and the team to help you see it through.)

Everything around you or in you is your environment.

You can use the CUE-ROUTINE-REWARD method on each aspect of your environment to help you create the habits you need to conquer procrastination.

THE METHOD TO ACHIEVE YOUR GOAL/ THE BOAT ON THE LAKE

You’ve decided that the goal you have set is the one you really want to reach. You have found ways to create an environment that will help launch you towards your goal.

But procrastination still has you on the wrong side of the lake.

Now let us consider the third aspect of achievement – the method to reach your goal, the boat that gets you to the other side of the lake. The method might trip you up.

Example – If you wish to rid your diet of all sugar, you might decide to toss out all sugar and anything else sweet from your house right now.  In two weeks, you’re still craving sweets and you sneak out to a store late at night to buy a forbidden Snickers bar.

The “no sweets” method doesn’t seem to work for you, at least not at this stage. But you don’t give up.

You try a different method.

You decide that you will keep something sweet in your life, as long as it’s not sugar or chemical sweetener substitutes.  You begin using exclusively Stevia Reboudiana – a naturally sweet plant with fewer calories than sugar. You hire a nutritionist to be your accountability partner.

You must continually tweak the variables that do not work for you  by using different methods.

Procrastination doesn’t necessarily mean you are a broken human; it simply means that the procrastination brings you something that you want. Do you want more time with your family, so you go home early, and that’s why you haven’t put in the time to turn in your TPS reports at work? Do you want not to smash your fingers again while hammering a nail and that’s why you’ve procrastinated on nailing those frames to the wall? Do you want to avoid a person at the party and that’s why you haven’t bothered to dress yet when it’s time to leave? Determine what procrastination gives to you and find another method to gain it.

——

Ridding yourself of procrastination and achieving your goal is like crossing a lake. How is the launching pad? Do you really want to get to the other side?  What about your method to travel across the lake? Would you rather take a jet ski?  A dingy? A paddle boat? Would you rather swim and test your mettle? Would you rather stay on this side of the lake –a familiar side- and make the best of it?

Understand that any one of these variables could be your stumbling block. Consider each of the three aspects of achievement, determine where the issues lie to get started again.

Above all, have patience with yourself and do not give up.

Sincerely,

Deborah

Further resources for stopping the habit of procrastination

Journal Prompts for Writing about Childhood

Hi! It’s Deborah.

I’m part of a journal writing group on Facebook. One of the members mentioned that he has used old family photos as journal prompts. You start writing whatever the photo brings to mind and get a glimpse into your own mind, or record an old memory. What a great idea!  Especially if you add a copy of the photo on the journal page.

Do you need journal prompts for writing about your childhood? Here are few to get you started:

  1. What is your earliest memory? [The other year, I read What Your Childhood Memories Say about You . . . and What You Can Do about It” by Dr. Kevin Leman. In it, the author posits that since the brain always remembers what happens to you, the memory that you subconsciously select as your earliest one reveals your true perspective on life.]
  2. What is one thing that you enjoyed doing as a child?
  3. Did you have pets as a child? Which was your favorite? Why?
  4. Choose a piece of childhood memorabilia. What stories does it bring to mind? How did it come into your possession?
  5. Where did you attend school? Did you enjoy it? Why? Why not?
  6. What did imagine you would do as an adult? Did you do it? Why? Why not?
  7. What foods did you enjoy as a child? Which ones did you dislike? Do you still enjoy/dislike them? Why?
  8. Write about your parents. What are their names? What are their occupations? How would you describe your childhood relationship to them? How does that compare with your adult relationship with them?
  9. Were your parents great with handling money? Why? Why not? Did you learn anything from the way they handled finances in your childhood?
  10. List 2 people other than your parents who stand prominent in your childhood memory. Who were they? What relation were they to you? Did you enjoy that relationship? Why? Why not?
  11. What were the family traditions? Have you changed any of them in your adult life? Would you like to change the traditions? Why?
  12. If you’re the letter writing type, write a letter to someone from your childhood in your journal. (You do not need to send it. This is simply a device to help you explore your past.)
  13. How is your spouse’s childhood similar to yours? Or does it differ? How have you dealt with this?
  14. What childhood would you like to provide for your children (or future children)?

That might hold you for a fortnight (or longer if you’d rather not write in your journal every day).

Peace be with you,

Deborah

How to Prepare for Fear

Dr. Susan Baili says in her book Live a Life You Love: 7 Steps to a Healthier, Happier, More Passionate You”  that when embarking on a goal we must prepare to be afraid. When an opportunity that you want arrives, you might feel pangs of fear. This is not a signal that you will fail; it’s a natural reaction to something new.

Dr. Baili says she uses the fear to congratulate herself: “Well done! Fear means you’re getting closer your big dream.” This calms her down immediately.

Continue reading How to Prepare for Fear