Minimal Monday

I have been very fortunate in motherhood with three wonderful, grown daughters whom I adore. Mother’s Day is a happy, celebratory occasion for me.

But last night as I was going to bed, I was thinking of all the moms who have been alienated from their children after a contentious divorce, as my mother had been when I was just four years old (the topic of my memoir-in-progress). I personally know a few of these mothers, and occasionally hear from others whom I’ve never met. They are loving, kind, deeply saddened mothers who desperately want to reconnect with the stolen hearts of their children.

I will not go into detail about ‘attachment-based parental-alienation’ because it is beyond the scope of this blog post (*It happens to dads too). But what I do want to tell you is that last night, without overthinking it or even pre-planning it, I reached out to a large number of these parents on a private online group, and shared my heartfelt thoughts with them. I just couldn’t let Mother’s Day go by without offering my understanding, empathy, and love. And they deeply, sincerely appreciated it.

What does this have to do with decluttering or minimalism? When we are doing our best to get rid of all that does not serve our best lives, including old beliefs, fear, and overthinking our heart’s desires and impulses, often what comes through are the most natural, aligned and effortless words and deeds.

Love isn’t hard.

Minimal Monday

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about creating structure in my life around certain goals and habits. If you missed that post, you can read it here: https://danalaquidara.com/2022/04/18/minimal-monday-10/

As of yesterday, I added some much-needed structure around finishing up my memoir. I am in the editing stages of my memoir, but have gotten stuck there for so long, I had to do something different.

I suspect the only one to take longer than me to finish writing a book is Joy Imboden Overstreet. I learned through the #amwriting podcast that she ended forty years of procrastination when she finally published her book, The Cherry Pie Paradox last year.   Yes, you read that right; forty years! Joy is in her eighties and described the great sense of relief she felt once she did it. Can you imagine? I can.

So to try and end my own procrastination, I joined a May Day Facebook group in which we authors will check in with each other every Monday for the month of May. It won’t be as motivating as hiring a book coach like Joy did, but it will help.

So, with the loose but added structure of my May Day accountability group, my task at hand for the month of May is to make progress every single weekday, whether I feel like it or not.  Clear and simple, day by day, I am committed to moving forward. I just know I meant to have my memoir out into the world before I am eighty.

Minimal Monday

The wound is the place where the light enters you.” -Rumi

This morning I awoke feeling especially committed to finishing and seeking publication for my memoir. It is my writing project that requires the most vulnerability, risk, and the biggest investment of time and heart and mental strength.

Several years ago, I took first place at Boston MOTH live storytelling event while performing a piece from my memoir-in-progress. I was recently able to obtain a recording of this event, although I haven’t played it yet. I had been very encouraged after that night at the MOTH – elated even- and I had high hopes for my memoir. But then everyday life and fear and the distractions of other projects kicked in and it was just so easy to deny how much time was slipping by without making a lot of progress. I had excerpts published here and there, but too often I let the work go untouched for weeks, and often months, at a time. Those months turned into years of a project that rarely saw the light of day. I was moving it forward, but at a snails pace.

I guess it has taken me until now to finally give myself the permission that is required to complete such a thing. I think that permission has been building, coming from many sources, both internal and external, but the bottom line is that I finally accept that this book is part of my purpose.

Shining a light on our wounds while also showing how we are transformed by the wisdom that is granted, or the knowledge, or healing or forgiveness, is the gift of memoir. It is one way, my way, of being of service and finding meaning in a world where suffering happens.

Perhaps I’ve been a slow learner, or a fearful participant, and am finally embracing the work is that is mine to do. I am grateful to be all-in on this project once again, and this time to see it all the way through to the light.

Happy Monday!

***

I write a bit about healing old wounds in my book, The Uncluttered Mother.  https://www.amazon.com/dp/0875169163/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_NF90YHKDCJ2K3WSGB0VF

If you have read and enjoyed this book, please consider leaving me a reviewIt would be greatly appreciated. I want to share my book with hardworking, overwhelmed moms far and wide. Reviews are an important part of making this happen. Thank you!

Review here: http://www.amazon.com/review/create-review?&asin=0875169163

Minimal Monday

Happy 2022!  I am late to the party, I know. I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want this year and it just comes back to this:  I want to keep simplifying my life in ways that support living according to my top priorities. I think we all want this to some extent, don’t we?

My top priorities continue to be health, family and writing. It was never difficult for me to narrow down what I value most to just three areas, but these three encompass a lot. For instance, “health” includes physical, mental, and spiritual wellness. “Family” includes strong relationships with multiple VIP members. And “writing” is code for completing my memoir, continuing to share my nonfiction title, The Uncluttered Mother, and seeking out various speaking opportunities. In addition, my writing life includes a lot of reading, some of which I will share in my blog posts.

I am so happy that you are along for the ride with me in 2022. I know that you have your own top priorities as well as your own challenges in honoring them.  I really think this is a universal desire – to do more of what we value and less of what we don’t – because in doing so, we feel more like our unique, creative selves. While living life on our own terms, we have more to offer the world that is authentically generous.

All of this is to say that in 2022 my blog posts will be called “Minimal Monday” and each week I will share one thing that I am doing to increase creativity, energy, and peace. Like The Uncluttered Mother‘s subtitle, I will finding more ways to Free Up Your Space, Mind & Heart.  In keeping with the minimal theme, I will keep my posts to a minimum – nothing too lengthy – just one simple idea at a time to nudge us into manifesting the lives we desire.

Are you in?

I will see you next Monday.

Life is complex, but you are simply divine.

Writing Matters

I’ve recently made significant revisions to my book The Uncluttered Mother and it is being review by two publishers. So fingers crossed, I will find its home soon.  In the interest of walking my talk, I finally did some long overdue digital housecleaning. This is the only decluttering chore that I have truly dreaded, and it felt great to get it done. 

Now that I am lighter and less distracted by digital clutter, and my first book is out of my hands (for now), I have turned my attention back to my memoir. I’ve grappled with the title for months (years?) and have settled on Alienated; of all the themes a reader could glean from this book, I think that alienation is the most significant. Personally, I was alienated from my mother after my parents’ divorce when I was four years old; perhaps only a small fraction of readers will relate to this particular trauma. But of a more universal motif is the alienation  from myself that I struggled to overcome after such a loss. So although it reads like a poignant memoir, it is my intention that it offers hope of wholeness and healing for anyone with a tough childhood, one that left them disconnected from their own power. 

How do I marry my two books, one narrative nonfiction and the other memoir? Where is the connection?  Well, if there is too much inner and outer extraneous matter, if we are too distracted,  we will avoid – or never find- the path back to Self.  On the contrary, it is hard to be uncluttered and remain alienated because in the open spaces, the way is revealed.

Where’d You Go, Creativity?

It is no accident that I am writing about the challenge of carving out a creative life when it’s been so long since I’ve written anything here.

Why is it so challenging to carve out a creative life that stays consistent?

Allow me to state the obvious:  Creative projects are often  solo pursuits in which we have to give ourselves permission, accountability, boundaries around our time and the will to keep going when it is just so easy to let it go among everything else competing for our time and attention.

And in addition to a creative life requiring time to create, it also requires time to just be. Writers and other creatives need alone time like they need air and water.  So if we need quiet time to prime the pump and quiet time to create, and we live in a time that practically insists – or at least expects – us to be hyper focused on the outside world, much more so than on our inner selves,  then of course it takes more than a little effort to protect a creative life.

Essentially though, I know I am capable of doing better, of doing more. Life is full of choices and I think I am running out of excuses.

Recently, I saw the movie Where’d You Go, Bernadette, based on the bestselling novel. Bernadette, so far removed from her former artistic career, has become anxious, destructive and unhappy.

It’s not so difficult to imagine a bout of writer’s block that goes on far too long resulting in my own demise. Perhaps that’s a bit dramatic, but the longer I leave a written book gathering dust, an essay unwritten, or new ideas to die on the vine, the more intimidating it feels to crack open the door to the work. It’s as though I cannot bear to face what I have neglected.

Good things, life affirming things, happen during a creative spell that are hard to replicate. When engaged in a creative pursuit, we are in the flow of a higher consciousness. In the act of creation we feel energized,  joyful, at peace, and expanded.

We don’t think and feel in the same way. Those neural networks our survival thinking had wired are turned off …we see new possibilities. We are now quantum observers of a new destiny. And that release heals the body and frees the mind”.

 ­- Dr. Joe Dispenza, Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself.

In short, we are better when we are creating! We are happier, calmer and freer. Who doesn’t want that, for themselves and every creative person they love?

***

I could write about how to fight the good fight and maintain consistency in creativity, but clearly after such a dry spell, I am not the one to give such advice. Besides, it’s been spelled out already in some fabulous books such as The War of Art and Big Magic.

But speaking of magic, I occasionally get some good insights in my dreams and recently I awoke with these words in my head:  Just do a little bit each day.  The message was that simple and that clear.

So there you have it. This was my little bit for today.

 

Thinking Inside the Box

20180623_124724Long before I ever had a laptop, back in the day when I was tapping at keys on a typewriter, I kept various writing notes in a decorative box, the kind you find at a craft store for keeping photos or other treasures in.  While I was raising young children and my writing time was limited, it got my creative juices flowing just to take the box out and hold in.  I always knew I’d get back to my work-in-progress when I could steal time again and often that was enough to keep me satisfied.

My daughters have grown and moved out, and like Virginia Woolf, I now have A Room of My Own in which to muse and write and pile up essays and book chapters on my laptop. But despite the space and all the technology available to me today, I have not outgrown The Box.

My box has changed in size and type only, having now upgraded to one I found at Staples that fits my 4×6 index cards full of notes, quotes, and ideas. It comes with matching dividers and an adjustable follow block, keeping all cards upright and orderly. If one can fall in love with a box, I surely have.

I store essay and blog ideas, memorable quotes, notes from books I’ve read, and anything else that may inform my writing.  For jotting down notes away from home, I simply carry a little green index card holder, one that easily fits into a purse or a book bag. Notes from this can be transferred into the box later. 20180626_105010

Why not just store all these notes digitally? Because I often read in bed and want to be able to write on a 4×6 card rather than record info onto my laptop. But mostly because, whether working on an essay, blog or book, I want to be able to move the cards around, rearrange them while I am referring to them, build the piece I am working on.  Having so many tangible ‘moving pieces’ to work with gets me to the finished product, the whole thing, in a way that feels so satisfying to me. It’s all part of the creative process.

I see my oldest daughter, now a mother of two babies, struggle to find time to create.  I recently reminded her of her art journal, of the importance of getting her ideas down on paper, of not letting them fade away like a poignant dream that can no longer be recalled.  Whether in a box, a journal, or digitally, capturing our ideas in a way that we can easily refer to later, is half the fun and half the progress.20180626_145743

Place holders of inspiration. Nuggets of information. Parts of the whole, pieces of projects, even with small pockets of time, bit by bit will bring the dream into focus.