How Do You Show Yourself Love?

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Being a creative person can be hard. You look at the world, and you see trends you’ve seen in fiction—that downward spiral before everything falls to hell. You look at your life and it doesn’t look like it does in your head, or like it should look on the page.

You’re not alone.

Studies have shown that creative people are very prone to depression and mood swings, leaving us susceptible to the terrible proclivity for self-neglect. It’s not that we want to be depressed, and we certainly don’t want to push our friends away, but sometimes we just need to recharge our batteries. This tends to be ten times worse if you’re in a creative rut, doesn’t it? Our inner Eeyore pops out with a compelling, “What’s the point?”

The point is: It will pass.

I’m not trying to diminish your feelings of inadequacy or loneliness or failure. We all have those feelings, especially when it looks like things are going down the toilet faster than we can swim. I just want you to know that it doesn’t last forever.

One day, you’ll emerge from the funk and get back to work, because your art is what you were born to do.

I’ll let you in on a little secret: We all feel like frauds sometimes. We all feel like failures sometimes. It does not make us less than we are, and we are awesome.

So, let me pose my question to you: How do you show yourself love?

I know it can be a nightmare just getting out of bed in the morning, but you still deserve love and you need it most from yourself.

Let me give you some pointers from when I have my bad days, or even days that I just work a little too hard and it doesn’t feel like enough.

1. Tell yourself it’s okay. You’ll get on it when you’re ready. Progress is important, and, unless you have a deadline that you really can’t miss, giving yourself some breathing room is the best possible way to love yourself. You can’t be expected to drive your brain into the ground! If you need to take a day off, take a day off. You don’t need to justify it to anyone.

2. Write through the block. Sometimes, taking a day off makes me feel worse than if I could just write something. So, write something! Don’t pick up your favorite work in progress, though. You may not be able to write to your satisfaction today, and that could make you feel a whole lot worse than you already do.

Try something different. Write a character letter or journal entry and get into your favorite protagonist’s head! Write a letter to yourself. Rant about something! Make list of all the things you love about writing or your current work in progress. Hell, make a list of the reasons you like the spot on the back of your cat’s left ear. It doesn’t matter, just write something. You’d be amazed at how easily it can get the ball rolling.

3. Take a bath or a walk. Go to a part of your city or town you’ve never been to before and explore a bit. (I mean, don’t trespass or anything. Be careful and respectful.) Just settle in and listen to music awhile. Recharge and clear your mind, however you like to do that. Yoga With Adriene is one of my favorites. Regardless of what you choose to do with this ‘down time,’ make sure you take care of yourself doing it.

4. Make a list of all the reasons you became a writer or artist in the first place. It might help rekindle that passion. Remember, though, this is for fun and to show yourself love, so keep the reasons positive!

If you chose to write because you had something bad happen to you that you need to get out, don’t let that dominate your reason. Your reason may be better viewed as using writing to heal or help others. Getting that negativity out can still be positive.

5. Spend time with friends or family. Jared is the one person I know I can rely on to pick me up when I need it. He’s funny, even if he doesn’t have any idea what to say when I’m sad. He knows what I like and what I need—even if it’s Star Trek: Voyager and a cup of coffee.

I know this is a hard one for some of you. I spent several years in Florida, away from the people I love and with no friends in the vicinity. It was hard for me, and I can’t express what it felt like to have no access to my Tribe. If you feel this way, it may not be much, but you can contact me. I’ll be your Tribe. ❤

6. Know that you are enough. That’s it. That’s the bottom line and the pinnacle of self-love. You are enough, and it can be hard to remember that, but it’s ALWAYS true. Always.
You are enough, and the world needs your art.

Battle on,
Kit

What do you do to show yourself love?

Have you ever felt like you had no love for yourself to offer? (<—Then reread number 6, okay?)

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A Writerly Christmas List: 6 Gifts for The Writer in Your Life

The holiday season is upon us, my loves!

It seems that, every year, the ‘gifts for writers’ posts start cropping up, and they’re always pretty awesome. Etsy and various geek-centered shops, like ThinkGeek, tend to put out some creative and fun ways to delight the writers and readers in your life during the holidays and all year round.

I’m not going to be posting links to shops here, but I will share a list of ideas for that special person in your life—especially if that special person is a writer. I encourage you to go to Etsy or Amazon or wherever, just pick your poison, and search one of the ideas below. Add your own flair. =]

1. Notebooks. All notebooks are nice, but there’s something special about receiving a journal that caters to our tastes. You can find them at Michael’s, A.C. Moore, or OfficeMax, among others, and they come in a variety of prints, covers, and designs.

If you really want to get fancy, buy a leather cover that takes sized refills. I have one from Barnes & Noble that takes size 4 refills, which is a pretty standard size. I think Mead makes one for cheap. I got mine for about $20, and I’ve had it for 6 years. Last year, my boyfriend made me a new one out of deer and cow hide when he was trying out leather working. It fits the size 4 refills as well, so I can still make use of the ones I bought and stocked up on!

2. Pens. I have a particular type of pen that I like—the Uni Ball Jetstream in 1.0 blue ink—and I can guarantee the writer in your life probably has one, too. Check out what they write with and see if you can get them a package of them. If they don’t write with a particular variety of pen, then buy them a pen you find neat. Cross, Parker, Pilot, and Shaeffer all have awesome refillable pens, and they tend to put out gift sets around this time of year.

I personally like ballpoints, but I’ve got a neat Cross rollerball with gel ink that writes nicely and fits inside my leather notebook. Ballpoint, rollerball, gel, and fountain pens are available in most of the aforementioned brands, so you’ve got some variety to choose from. Cross and Parker pens start at about $20, but you’ve also got options like Monte Blanc that start at $200. It really depends how extravagant you want to go with your pen gift.

3. White board and dry erase markers. I have a 24” x 36” porcelain white board that I do all of my initial brainstorming on, and I love it. If I could upgrade to a wall-sized white board, I’d probably outline every page of my novels on it. You can get inexpensive 18” x 24” boards for about $17 at Walmart, or you can go to somewhere like OfficeMax and get a massive board for upwards of $70, and every size and price point in between. They are absolutely invaluable to my process, and I know many writers who use them as well.

4. Scrivener or Storyist. If your writer has a love for finding new ways to write, one of these writing tools could prove to be revolutionary for them. It allows you to write your story, organize your notes, compile outlines, all in one easy-to-manipulate file. I love Scrivener. I have no idea what I’d do without it.

Scrivener has a Windows and Mac version, but I believe that Storyist is only compatible with Mac. There are tutorials for both all over the internet. Storyist goes for about $40, Scrivener is also $40, but if you’ve won NaNoWriMo, or can get a code from someone who has (Literature & Latte encourages the codes to be shared, so don’t feel bad about it!), then you can get the license for either program for half price.

5. A writers conference or retreat. These are pricey, and I know it’s hard to plunk down, like, $500-$1000 for a weekend-long event, but, if your writer is getting serious about publishing and networking, conferences are invaluable. They allow your writer to network with publishers, agents, editors, and other, more experienced writers.

They’re not hard to find. Just google “writers conference” and your state or surrounding area. There are sites that compile them by location or genre, and niche sites that host their own.

There you have it! Happy Holidays!
Kit

What are some gifts you’d recommend for the writers in your life? What do you, as a writer, want for Christmas/Hanukkah/Yule?

Turkey Day–two days late

Note: This was supposed to be posted yesterday… and it was late then. So, there you go.

Hey, everyone!

It’s been awhile! The last several months have been a whirlwind for us, so blogging hasn’t really taken front-seat. I’m regretful of that, and I’m working forward to rectify that neglect.

So, here we are. Americans, Happy Thanksgiving yesterday. Rest of the world? Happy Thursday yesterday.

The first Thanksgiving in America was held as a harvest feast in 1621, and, supposedly, 53 Pilgrims and 90 Native Americans were in attendance. This whole heartwarming event likely ended in small pox and bloodshed in the long-term, but, from a modern standpoint, it’s a day to be happy for what we have.

Squanto, a Native American who had been captured and sold into slavery, before making his way back to the New World, was sent by his tribe to make sure the idiot Pilgrims didn’t get themselves killed in New England’s less-than-hospitable, late winter environment. It was this compassion that began the alliance between the settlers and the Wampanoag people—one of the only positive alliances that came out of the settler’s invasion—and it lasted 50 years.

I’ll bet the settlers were pretty thankful for Squanto and that alliance.
As per tradition, I’d like to discuss what I’m thankful for.

Family

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This is my second Thanksgiving with Jared, the love of my life, and it was around this time in 2014 that I met him for the first time. We didn’t start dating until March of 2015, but November set the ball rolling.

My store manager was transferred out of our OfficeMax location and his last day was November 16th, if I recall correctly. Jared came in as a new Operations Manager with the new store manager from Office Depot. We’d merged the previous year with Office Depot, so our whole staff was wary of the new guys. I remember our first Black Friday together, and Jared out-shined everyone with his speed and work ethic. Big dork. I couldn’t help but respect him.

By January, I had a stupid crush on him, and I managed to screw up literally everything I touched whenever he was scheduled. It was a mess. I’ve never had an issue asserting myself with people I’ve liked in the past, but Jared was on a whole different level. I mis-fed the large format laminator. I ruined several bookleting and padding jobs. Print Services Supervisor, and I was like a bull in a China shop.

In March, he asked me out. He was super nervous and it was very cute. We wound up going to St. Augustine for the day the following week. We had lunch together the next day, and it lasted well into the night. We’ve been inseparable ever since. It was easily the most enthralled I’ve ever been with someone.

Our first Thanksgiving together, Jared had to work that night. We ate a meal together, just the two of us, and off he went.

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This year, we were surrounded by our roommates and his mother, and it was amazing. I wish my own parents could have been here with us, but distance is a bitch.

Friendship

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This year, I’ve seen friends spend their first Thanksgivings with their significant others, experience a first Thanksgiving as parents, as husband and wife, and in new homes. Some of you have written or published your first novels and I know you’ve all made progress in your art and in your lives.

I’m so thankful for you and proud of all of you. Keep doing what you’re doing, and you’ll be even closer to your goals and your dreams at this point next year!

Peace

The people in Standing Rock, ND currently protesting an oil pipeline aren’t able to know peace right now. They’re locked into defending their lives and their clean water, air, and community in the face of aggressive riot suppression units, and, if they break to indulge in a feast of exorbitance, they leave the crews in Standing Rock unopposed.

So, I’m thankful to have peace in my life, and I wish the people in Standing Rock peace and victory in their protests. I hope they can emerge successful, uninjured, and that they are able to enjoy time with their families and loved ones without the fear of losing sacred land, health, and the safety of their families.

Food

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We worked hard on Thanksgiving this year.

I made turkey with an herb butter rub, and my great grandmother’s potato dressing.

Jared made a sweet potato casserole with marshmallow.

Kevin made vegetables simmered with chicken stock and bacon, several apple pies for us and our neighbors, stuffing, and mashed potatoes/sweet potatoes.

Max made a delicious homemade cranberry sauce.

Jared’s mom, Sandy, made green bean casserole and brought us some tasty King’s Hawaiian dinner rolls.

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Together, we enjoyed one hell of a feast, and I’m incredibly thankful we had the means to do that for one another and spend that time together. Not everyone is this lucky.

The first Thanksgiving, according to the History Channel, featured swan, seal, and lobster, as well as deer and a medley of vegetables. We may be a long way off from that menu, but I think we’ve managed alright. =]

Battle on and enjoy a leftover turkey sandwich,
Kit

I know we’re a day late here, but what are you thankful for?

J is for Jared #AtoZChallenge

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I know what you’re thinking. “She could have picked a more writerly-centered topic for J—like anything writing-related.” You’re both right and wrong.

This post is about the people who love us, encourage us, and hold us accountable.

I love Jared more than anything. We’ve been together just over a year, and he’s been an absolute freight train of encouragement for me. When we first started dating, he stalked every possible corner and crevice of social media for what I might be like as a person, and discovered my (then intermittent) writing on Goggles & Lace.

Being creative is cool, but, let’s face it, some of us are a little less than motivated when we’re feeling inadequate. If you’re like me, the more you have to do, the less likely you are to do it, and you just sort of pill-bug into blanket burrito and binge watch something you have tepid feelings about on Netflix for 77 hours. It’s not pretty, but that’s real life. I’m all about the bloggers and creatives that are all “PRODUCTIVITY AND CONQUEST!” Hell yes. I totally agree! Productivity and conquest… hypothetically. I want to be productive, and that’s a fact. I want to be able to power through novel after novel and edit a thousand things before lunch, but you know what? Depression and inadequacy are intensely real feelings, and sometimes it’s just hard to push past them.

In my last post, I talked about investing time and love into the things and people that mean the most to you. That’s still true. I mean that with every fiber of myself. Make those people feel loved and valued, especially if they reciprocate. It’s easy to drain yourself on people who don’t give a flying monkey fart whether you fail or succeed. Hell, I even have a few friends who are like, “Oh, damn. That’s too bad,” but are definitely feeling a little victorious over my failures. Whatever. You can’t make those people your priority.

Jared came to me at a time in my life when I was considering giving up. I tried to restart Goggles & Lace and move my career forward, but I didn’t have the emotional capacity to invest that love in my work.

And you know what?

Sometimes I’m just lazy.

There. I said it. I’m sometimes just like, “I want to eat mac & cheese straight out of the pot while not wearing any pants and watch Young Justice for the fortieth time.” (Also, when I say “sometimes,” I really mean “usually.”)

We all need someone to help us combat that feeling. There are great benefits to having that one person look at your writing and call you out on things! Seriously, I encourage you to sit down and make a list of things that your person is great about when it comes to your creative ventures. Then I encourage you to give them that list in some form or other. Here’s mine, for example:

  • Jared calls me out on my bullshizzle science. Science and math are his things, so when I’m writing science fiction and something doesn’t mesh, I definitely hear about it. I can ask things like “I need a sustainable off-the-grid energy source” and he can list me options and tell me how they work. I love it. It gives me jumping off points for further research.
  • He says things like, “So, how’s Amity Dawn coming?” because he knows when I’m not writing and it shames me into getting my butt into gear.
  • Jared is a reader, not a writer, so if I ask advice, I won’t get it the way he would write it. He tells me what he’d like strictly as a reader. I love it.
  • When I get into a really great writing groove, when I’m done, he wants to hear about it. He treats me like my writing matters, and you have no idea how much that helps. Even if he’s never read it.
  • “I need a bigger space for planning,” led to him securing me a 24×36 inch whiteboard for our wall.
  • He’s BUILDING ME A COMPUTER so I can do creative things, work, and… you know… also play games. The laptop is great, but it’s not a practical work space for me anymore, and he recognized that. He’s a godsend.

The bottom line is, it’s important to have someone who understands your needs, period. As a writer or artist, those needs are just a bit more niche than they might be if you were doing something else. Praise the people who care enough about you to treat you like your work matters.

Battle on. ❤

I is for Investment #AtoZChallenge

Where you invest your love-You Invest your life

When people think of investments, they tend to think of money, I think. At least, I did for a long time. Coming from a family who struggled financially my entire life was difficult, and everything I did or wanted to do was always put into categories of financial manageability. There were many years I went without school pictures or activities, was too afraid to be a strain on the family by asking for anything beyond basic necessity, and stayed away from social activities that would cost money.

My mother was fantastic, of course. She got me a class ring, tickets to every semi-formal and prom, bought my dresses, and managed to scrape together what I needed for field trips so I wouldn’t miss out. We were always fed and always had a roof over our heads, which is more than so many people get. I’m not complaining about my life up until this point. I’ve had a good life, though a hard one, and it’s taught me a lot. Hell, I didn’t even go to college until I was 28 because I was terrified of the crippling debt. The words “I don’t know, that’s a lot of money,” defined my life. When I heard them, regardless of who was saying it or their intention, whatever I was planning was pushed aside and I went back to school or work, deciding I wouldn’t be able to do it anyway.

Over the years, though, I’ve learned that money isn’t the only investment. Sure, investment and financial responsibility will take a person a long way in life, but it’s not the end all and be all.

Investments also consist of time, passion, attention, and love.

  • You wind up finding the people that become your tribe. The people that encourage you, no matter what the cost. If you want it, if you need it, you’ll find a way. Those are the relationships you invest everything into—it’s not about money. Family is important, but family isn’t just the small unit of people you were born into; it’s the group of people you build for yourself. Whether they’re permanent or transient, they’re the people who touch you, and investing time, attention, and love into those relationships, however brief, can change you for the better. I’ve learned this pretty intensely, after moving so damn much in my life. Not everyone sticks around, and that’s okay, but don’t let that connection mean nothing.
  • You find your passion(s). I love writing. I love working with creative people and helping them to become better at what they do. Investing passion into those things can be hard sometimes, since they don’t pay the bills just yet, but they add more to life than the “Well, I can’t afford to do that” moments. It’s not monetarily expensive to love something, but it’s more rewarding than fat bank account. (The bank account helps, I’m sure. I mean, we all like to eat, but think bigger picture for me, yeah?)
  • You will find love. I’m not saying romantic love, necessarily, but you’ll find love. Sometimes it seems bleak and lonely, and it’s hard to put in the effort to find people like you, who enjoy the same things you do, but you’ll find them. Hell, maybe you will find romantic love, which is great! My greatest hope for you, though, is that you find love in yourself and in being alone. You’re of value all on your own. Not just as a friend or a girl/boyfriend or wife/husband. You’re worth your own love more than the love of anyone else, and that’s a hard pill to swallow sometimes. Invest in self-love!

The point is, invest in the things that matter. Invest in yourself. Invest in health and awareness and love. Invest in the people that speak to your soul. Invest in your art and your writing and your music.

You’re the creative. You’re the ones who keep emotions stirring and that’s what keeps the world turning.

Battle on. ❤

What would you add to the list? What have you invested in that propelled you forward?

H is for Hopes and Aspirations #AtoZChallenge


Seems like the “this is what I want out of my career” posts are popular lately. Truth is, I want to be a published author. Big shock, yeah? I know. Pick your jaw up off of the floor, please. Your spit is leaking on the carpet.

That’s not all I want to do, though. My big goal is to become an editor for a publishing house. I want to get paid for making people’s work better and showing them how to improve their writing. But I don’t want to teach. Seriously. Teaching looks awful. Freelancing is okay, but it doesn’t pay the bills.

I love knowing that a writer can come to me at any point and ask me to work with them to improve their baby, the work of art only they could bring into this world.

I love taking a manuscript and being able to make little notes here and there, praising the author’s word choice or imagery.

I love knowing that those who come to me for a true run-through of their manuscript understand that I will not praise what needs work, but I will never tell them it’s bad. It’s never bad. It’s never hopeless. I can help you fix it. It’s what I’m here for.

My hope is simply to get paid consistently for doing this. I love what I do and I want to be able to afford to keep doing it. I’ve got a bit to go, about a year, left in my degree program, but hopefully I can snag a job someday.  Retail and customer service aren’t my forever-job. Ideally? I want to be traveling the world and editing and writing and just being a rootless wanderer. ❤ I’m broke, though.

What are your hopes and aspirations? Don’t be humble! What do you want out of your career? What would you do if you could do anything?

G is for Gumpathon! #AtoZChallenge

Alright! Back in February 2013, I put together a writing challenge called the Gumpathon! It’s a 30-day challenge, not unlike the NaNoWriMo events, that encourages writers to finish off any drafts they’ve started! If you have a single novel you need to hammer out, just want to throw together a short story anthology, or have a handful of projects that don’t exactly have endings, THE GUMP IS FOR YOU!

But you know what else? I’m expanding it this year. I want to include all creatives in our little Gumpathon. Artists, finish that painting, sculpture, or installation you’ve been working on! Musicians, spin us something beautiful! Crafters, crochet an afghan! Put all of your vacation photos from last year into a scrapbook! Sew that skirt!

So, here’s how it’s going to be. I can provide the writing side of this, but if you think the crafting, arting, etc community should have some guidelines of its own, suggest some! My contact page is above, or you can just post on my Facebook wall! Let’s complete the guidelines so we can make this a yearly tradition, right?

Awesome. So, here are the writing rules:

The Rules:

  1.  Set your own goal and stick to it. No flip-flopping. Pick a word count you want to achieve within the month, and make it happen.
  2.  The write-a-thon starts at midnight on 1 May 2016. To clarify, you shoulduse a novel or project you’ve already started!  You just cannot count anything prior tothe start date.
  3.  All word counts must be reported by 31 May 2016, 11:59:59 PM. You can do this on the Gumpathon Facebook page or the Kit MacConnell Facebook page! We don’t have an actual site for the Gumpathon yet, but that may change in the future.

If anyone has any ideas for rules or even rewards, feel free to pitch them.  And if any non-Gumpers want to be a part of the community, check us out on Facebook: Writers with Gumption!