Loving Lately

Watching
I finally finished season one of The Crown, and I’m officially hooked! This show gives a fascinating peek into the human lives behind England’s centuries-long monarch institution. When Queen Elizabeth inherits the throne at age 25, I don’t think anyone would ever quite understand what a burden this was for her. While her position as “the crown,” is meant to represent God, consult with the government and preside over the Church of England, she’s also faced with competing agendas between her husband, sister, mother and the Prime Minister (who is Winston Churchill at the time). It’s amazing that she’s still queen today at the age of 91. If you haven’t seen it already, I think you’ll find yourself just as easily captivated by this series.

Reading
I’ve been completely devouring The Glass Castle, a memoir about Jeannette Wall’s unbelievable childhood. I’m about 1/3 of the way through it, and as each chapter passes I’m astounded by all she experienced with her quirky, unstable family. They moved from town to town, her dad from job to job, while they barely ate and at one point slept in cardboard boxes. She burned herself cooking hot dogs at the age of three, was accidentally thrown out of a moving car, and faced life-threatening school bullies. Each vignette seems more shocking than the last, and I’m waiting to hear of how she finally breaks free. How did she get out on her own, and become a thriving writer with a college degree? This is my idea of a good book.

Eating
After too much indulging for most of December, and then getting the flu the first week of January, I’ve been working to eat much better this past month. I started with trying to get this green smoothie in most mornings. It’s really delicious, and you don’t get an overwhelming taste of kale. I’ve also been trying to take my lunch to work more frequently and these food prep containers have helped so much. I like to take a salad in a separate bowl, with some leftovers and the toppings in these containers. For dinner I really enjoyed these quinoa black bean stuffed peppers. So tasty and they make several servings. What have you been making lately?

Doing
Earlier this month I completed a big freelance project which was such a relief. I hope to share more about that soon. Now that it’s staying light a little later, I’m taking advantage of evening walks at the park near my work, pictured above. I’m also contemplating a bike purchase to use on the trail near my place (really digging this one). On another note, I recently went antique/vintage shopping, and wow I think I’m hooked. I snagged some incredible finds, and am thinking of sharing it all on a post here. Stay tuned!

How to Start Writing – Part 2

In the first post of this series, I chatted about being open as a writer and getting prepared to take in ideas as they come. Once those ideas are brewing, it’s time to get them out, and hone your craft as a writer. Start with the most pressing idea first and enjoy the satisfaction of bringing those thoughts to life.

Schedule & Go for It

If you don’t know your best writing time, try out a few different options. Try the early morning, try the evening, a lunch break, or the weekend. I’ve found that early mornings and evenings aren’t best for me because I’m trying to get to work in the morning, and in the evening my brain isn’t as sharp. I prefer Saturday mornings, or a quick mid-day session when I have a break at work.

Once you’re in the moment of writing, don’t hold yourself back by trying to craft absolutely perfect sentences. Let your thoughts flow and get all your ideas out. You’ll go back later and trim the edges. You can also approach your writing like it’s addressed to a friend. I was recently reminded of this tip, and it helps so much. You don’t feel held back and you don’t feel hindered to say everything perfectly.

So, start somewhere—even if the thoughts are ugly, unpolished or seemingly dumb. If you have the desire to write, the right words will eventually make their way to the page. Once the idea is out, you can cut, paste, edit and scrap until those words are crafted in a unique and satisfying way. Once you get a taste, you won’t be able to get enough. And that’s the goal, to keep returning to the page, and sharing your unique perspective with the world.

Takeaway: This week, look at your schedule, and choose an open time slot where you can write for about 30 minutes to an hour. See how you like it, and schedule accordingly for the next week. You can also set up a “writing date” with a friend (see #2 on this list) and work in tandem. Either way, jump in, and take an action step toward your goal. I’ll be back with Part 3 to chat about editing, and making the finishing touches. 

On My Reading List

Now that it’s finally cooled down after 100 degree temps in late October, I’m ready to cozy up and start some new reads. I’ve had these four on my list for a while, and am looking forward to the mixture of good fiction, memoir and writing inspiration!

The Light Between Oceans
Now published over five years ago, this popular best seller was also made into a movie that I’ve also held off on seeing. The unique and intense plot of a couple secretly keeping a baby they didn’t conceive looks perfect for a cold, rainy weekend.

The Right to Write
Though I’ve not read it, I’ve also heard many good things about The Artist’s Way, also written by Julia Cameron. I thought The Right to Write would be a perfect introduction to her work. I look forward to reading more about her writing process.

Who Thought This Was a Good Idea?
I get so engrossed reading memoirs and can’t wait to read Alyssa’s account of working as a White House Aid under President Obama. That job is still on the dream list in the back of my mind and it will be so interesting to get an inside view of her life while there.

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine
The voice of Eleanor as the narrator of this heart-warming story sounds humorous, refreshing and relatable. Word on the street is that Reese Witherspoon is making this into a film, so I plan to devour it before it hits the mainstream big screen.

Check out my previous reading list here. 

How to Start Writing – Part 1

Do you find yourself wanting to write, but don’t know where to start? To many, writing seems like an intimidating process and something uncomfortable to jump into. Although I write materials for businesses and organizations, I’ve had a similar journey for many years when it comes to personal creative writing.

One of the most helpful things I’ve been told that has changed my perspective, is that if you write, you’re a writer. You don’t have to wait to call yourself one once you’re a published author.  I love to help other aspiring writers get in that mindset.

If you desire to write but you aren’t sure how to dive in, keep reading as I’ll share some helpful tips to get you started in this three-post series.

Be Open & Get Prepared

Writing is so easy when you have something to say. Perhaps a situation has irked you, or a thought has sparked passion in your soul that you must share with the world. The hard part on the other hand, is when you want to write but you can’t pinpoint exactly what to talk about.

I have found when this is the case, it’s best to release any pressure on yourself. When you just live life, the ideas will come to you. The key is to be open and looking, knowing that the right idea will come at the right time. So be proactive and on the lookout. For me ideas arrive while I’m working, sleeping, walking, reading, talking to a friend, listening to a podcast, or singing to music. Creative thoughts generally appear in the middle of life, when you aren’t pressuring yourself.

I know it’s an idea I want to run with when it stays on my mind and I have a yearning explore it through words. I know I won’t be satisfied until I’ve at least tried to write about it. Sometimes it’s for a blog post, sometimes for a book chapter, or something I’ll use later. So give it a try: release yourself from the pressure, be open, and be prepared to write those ideas down when they arrive. Once you do sit down to write, having a list creates an exciting starting point, and something to look forward to.

Takeaway: How can you be ready to write your ideas down? Find a dedicated notebook, or use the notepad on your phone to jot down the thoughts you want to return to. Need some further suggestions to spark your creativity? Check out my list of ideas here.

Summer Highlights

Every time a new season begins, it seems like everyone says “where did the time go?” I would certainly say the same about this summer. I really didn’t have much planned aside from a few weekend trips and outings with friends. As I wrote about in June, these months were spent finding a good balance as I introduced a large freelance project into my schedule.

Just about every other weekend was dedicated to working on the project, so although I didn’t get out and adventure as much, it’s felt great to work toward the goal of completing the work. Aside from this new routine, here are some favorite standout memories.

Just a couple weeks ago, I turned the big #35! How did that happen?! Wasn’t I just 25? At least that’s how it feels. I had a fun weekend of celebrating with various friends and family, and hit up some of my favorite restaurants. One stop was at True Food Kitchen in San Diego during a shopping trip with my mom. Pictured on the top left is the most refreshing drink– made of coconut water, OJ, pineapple juice and honey.

This summer I benefited from my dad’s recent move to a small mountain town, about an hour away from me. He lives right next to a pretty lake and I ventured up there a few times for a small get-away (seen from top and bottom photos on the right). We’ve walked around the lake, rented a row boat, and grilled burgers on his deck. His home is surrounded by trees and silence; basically a little slice of heaven.

Another dreamy locale was the site of a friend’s wedding in Dana Point. She and her husband reserved a public park that perfectly overlooked the water as the ceremony backdrop. The park is located in a neighborhood (shown in second photo on the left, with my friend Jess) and parking was surprisingly a breeze. The reception afterward was held in her parent’s beautiful backyard where they served delicious tacos and cake.

For most of the summer we were blessed with very mild weather, so several evenings a week I would walk my surrounding neighborhood. I love being able to regroup on a walk and enjoy the longer days. Catching a sunset is always the crowning event, and I try to capture them as much as possible (third photo on the left). They always help me take pause, and enjoy the moment I’m in.

And last, I can’t recap this season without highlighting a recipe! Back in July I made this no-bake cheesecake with berries, and it’s very much a crowd pleaser. If you’re looking for one last sweet summery patriotic treat, give this a try. So easy and fun for Labor Day, and you don’t have to fire up the oven. It’s a snap to pull together, and the perfect way to sign off summer until next Memorial Day.