Mental Health

Five Sure Steps to Becoming More Brave

Every step towards growth is a step that matters. But sometimes taking those steps is uncomfortable…and scary. Uncomfortableness can lead to some pretty intense anxiety. Figuring out how to manage the stress and anxiety, is to combat it with every weapon you can brandish. Here are just a few things that helped me get through another week of being brave.

1. Invest in some fantastic waterproof makeup. Because sometimes being brave hurts a little. Because being honest and authentic is hard. Saying those honest things is harder. And if you’re sensitive, there may be days filled with intermittent crying sessions. But if you have waterproof makeup, you can have a tiny cry when the moment arises and then you can still look like the new confident rockstar you actually are.

2. Keep a tight schedule. For me, being brave is hard. And it means being completely open and honest with how I’m feeling. Which in turn has meant that I’ve had to be more vocal about my feelings. Confronting and voicing those feelings can be uncomfortable. I am not advocating keeping yourself so busy that you don’t take care of yourself, because that doesn’t make sense. But in line with keeping goals, spend your time working towards them. Chase those dreams as you move through the uncomfortableness. It will help ground you and keep you focused.

3. Don’t neglect your self care. Because if you are going to tirelessly chase your dreams and improve your life, you will burn out if you go full stop. At least in my case. So schedule downtime and honor it. (I hope you all know, I’m saying this because this list is more for me than anything). Watch a movie with your friend or by yourself. Listen to Justin Timberlake and dance around in your underthings. Just make sure you are honoring whatever it is that feels right to you.

4. Exercise is important! If you are prone to anxiety attacks this might be especially important. When you go about doing brave things that shake you out of your comfort zone, the moments before you do it and even for a bit after can rattle you a bit. In order to move through this, breathing becomes especially important. And what better way to do it than to get your yoga or swimming or hiking exercise on. So get out your mat and do some sun salutations and strike some warrior poses. Your body and your calm mind will thank you.

5. Prayer! Keep on talking with Heavenly Father. He will help sustain you and direct you to more opportunities in which to be brave. If you don’t believe in a higher power, I say meditate. I do that too. Slowing down and being mindful of where you are and checking in with how you feel is a great way to figure out if there are any adjustments you need to make to your new brave routine so you can keep fighting the good fight.

And with that, I will leave you with this quote:

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” -Nelson Mandela

*photo credit to Catherine McMahon

My First Novel

An Introduction to Grace’s Mom

Brianne: Christmas 1990

The rumble of the MAX shook the abandoned building Brianne was sleeping in. She shivered as she woke. Fumbling for the dirty canvas tarp she was using as a blanket as she wondered how long she had been out. Her stomach growled loudly and simultaneously she felt nauseous. Her head was pounding from lack of food. Pulling the ragged purple beanie further down over her ears, she realized she was sweating. A tremulous shiver ran down her spine and she closed her eyes willing her body to warm itself and hopefully drift off to sleep.

After a few minutes she had to get up. Brianne paced agitatedly the length of the makeshift bed she had fashioned. Pulling at her hair and itching her arms under her thermal shirt. Sifting through her scattered thoughts, she attempted to construct some kind of game plan for the day. But she didn’t even know what day it was. “Was the shelter full? Is today the day Jaxson was back from the coast?” she thought as she tugged her sweaty and oily hair under her beanie. “My hair used to be so beautiful and healthy,” she thought dismissively and switched back to wondering what day it was.

The rain on the roof was thundering and only intensifying her anxiety. She grabbed her dirty red jansport backpack with all her belongings, pulled an old scarf out and threw it on. She donned her backpack, shoved her sleeping tarp and makeshift cardboard box pillows under some random garbage on the side of the room and set off to check out the shelter scene.

The icy Oregon winter rain penetrated her thermals almost immediately. Brianne couldn’t feel her toes in the holey boots she was wearing. The rain seemed to penetrate into her very bones. Her beanie was good protection from the rain, but not from the intense sweating she was doing underneath it. Brianne’s thoughts were jumbled and she couldn’t quite remember where she was going. If only Jaxson were back; maybe she could then shake this nauseated feeling and maybe she could be warm again.

By the time she reached the shelter her teeth were chattering and she was shaking so badly she couldn’t see straight. She felt a tremendous urge to vomit, but she wasn’t sure when the last time there was even any food in her stomach. “How long was I out?” she thought listlessly. She hadn’t reached the doors, but a nearby garbage can provided a place for her to dry heave in. Trying to stand up straight proved to be impossible as the world around her began to spin. Brianne suddenly felt the only thing she could do was lay down, and so she did. She fell in a heap to the wet and icy ground

Humor · My First Novel · The Fair Young Maiden · writing

I’m back

Hello all! Just wanted to apologize for my long absence. Nanowrimo took a lot out of me…which is funny, because I didn’t finish my book! I did, however, discover a whole new plot line for Grace. I decided to make it about Grace AND her mom. It will be a piece that is more about growth and forgiveness… and I am so excited about it. I just need to schedule more time to do the actual writing. I’ll pick a sample this week and introduce you to her mom. I think you will want to know her story, just as much as Grace’s.

I have another blogpost I just wrote up tonight, but since I am exhausted, I plan on editing it with fresh eyes tomorrow. The blog topics will range from Oprah’s Golden Globes speech, my religion, and the fresh outlook I have for 2018 with new ways I intend on challenging myself. Thank you to any of you who have continued to follow me in my absence! I look forward to getting back into the swing of things.

My First Novel · writing

Just Write

So I mentioned the writer’s conference I attended in my previous post. First of all, I learned soooooooo much! I fan girled hard in every single workshop I took. There were published writers EVERYWHERE. There were workshops on how to overcome your writing barriers, how to be more mindful in your writing, how to write a poem, increase your online presence, and how to watch movies to improve your writing. My absolute favorite workshops were presented by a lovely lady who I want to snatch up as a mentor. She works in publishing and let us know what we could do as beginning writers to improve our chances of getting picked by a publisher. The first workshop with her had me changing some of the other workshops I had intended to go to because I learned so much in her class about how to write emotion in fiction. It was phenomenal. The presenter also participated in the panel about how to increase your online presence, and then two more workshops about writing tension in your dialogue, and last but not least, how to snap pictures with your writing. I took so many notes those two days (and mostly in her classes) my right hand ached. It was exhilarating and I felt challenged. And yet, this is the first time I have been able to write anything all week.

 

I became paralyzed by being surrounded by so many people who have been taking their writing so much more seriously, for so much longer than I have been. I have sat down several times and just stared at my screen. Even with the tips from another presenter talking about how to get out of that “sitting and staring at your screen” thing. I have just felt scared. Like, what if I don’t tighten my lines enough and I become too wordy. Because people, I like words. I use them…a lot… and the whole experience made me rethink some of my ideas for my book; in a positive way. The changes I want to make are exciting. But here is the thing, that self doubt thing. There is that voice in the back of my head that tells me it is not going to be good enough. Or it won’t reach anyone, or touch anyone. Self doubt is rough guys. Logically, I know many writers suffer from this kind of block. And didn’t I just learn a whole bunch of tools to help me combat this? As a matter of fact, I took 3 workshops on this very idea.

 

So today, I decided to work through it. Or write through it, rather. One of the challenges to keep writing was to “just do it,” in fact the presenter said specifically “just shut up and write.” So… you’re welcome? The great thing about recounting my experience with the conference is it is actually stimulating the ideas I had generated while I was there, but was too tired to really explore and write down when I got home. I even went up the canyon on Sunday and felt reenergized and ready to try writing, yet I didn’t do it. I just stared at the computer or told myself I was too tired to be creative. Which eventually led to feelings of complete inadequacy. Because, how can I be a writer if I can’t make myself spit something out onto the page? So I decided to shut up and write. I put on a Vivaldi playlist from Spotify (where I discovered some amazing opera) and I turned off the TV. And then I set some goals.

 

  1. At work we are asked to set personal goals as well as business related goals. My personal goal is to complete an outline for NaNoWriMo. I have attempted it many times and I have never achieved the much desired 50,000 word count. So, in preparation for my meeting on November 16th I have decided my personal goal is to write my novel’s outline and to make sure I have half of the words written by then as well (25,000 words). This freaks me out to no end! But I am so excited to try it this year. Not only do I have my writing group to help support my efforts, now you all know it, and my colleagues at work know it; so I have high hopes I will get it accomplished.
  2. One author during the panel about increasing your online presence mentioned not pushing so hard on your online presence until you have something actually published. Don’t be frightened readers, I will continue to work on the blog because it is fun! But I am definitely going to start focusing on Grace a bit more.
  3. One presenter suggested setting a minimum word goal. Another suggested setting at least a 1000 word goal per day. So when I figure out which one works best for me I will let you know. I am not going to tell you which writer was the most successful one in this scenario. I don’t want the pressure, and I am relatively certain one’s success has to do with how long they have respectively been writing.

Are you planning on trying out NaNoWriMo this year!?!? If you are you can look for me on their site. My username is mandahggnkiss !! 

What goals are you making to improve your writing?

My First Novel

More from Grace

The next day. Grace rested on the sizzling wet cement. The towel she had put on the ground was bunched up into a pillow under her neck. The sprinkler on the lawn kept the ground under her body wet and cool. Her short wet brown hair stuck to her cheek as she inhaled deeply, drinking in the smell of the mixture of warm cement and the grass her grandpa had cut earlier that morning; before the sun had time to start smothering the crispness the night before had left behind. Grace had to keep her eyes clenched shut in order to keep the sun from blinding her. She was downwind just enough that she could feel the light spray from the sprinkler. 
Soon enough, she was pulled out of the mire of her thoughts by the slam of the screen door and the Cody screeching happily as he ran out to stand over Grace. Feeling his little shadow blocking the sun from her eyes, she left them closed, “Yes Cody?” At just that moment she felt his little finger poke her cheek, “Gwacie come eat,” he giggled and poked her two more times. Grace’s eyes flew open.
“Ah c’mon Cody, that hurts,” she muttered as she swatted lightly at his tiny hand. She took his little hand in hers and pretended to bite him. “Mmmmmm you tasty,” she said in a growly monster voice, “nom nom nom.” Cody squealed in delight and ran away towards the house, giggling and screaming something nonsensical. She heard Grandma open the screen door and holler, “C’mon Grace,” as she pulled herself up off of the ground and dried herself off a little better. 


When she was mostly dried she walked quickly to the front door. She could smell that Grandma had fried up some bacon and immediately surmised that BLT’s were most likely on the menu; Grace’s favorite! As she entered the house, she took the steps two at a time and raced into the kitchen. Grandma was slathering mayo onto the toasted bread and Grace’s stomach growled. Grandma must have heard it too, because she immediately said, “Now Grace, you know you are not going to sit on my chairs in a damp swimming suit. Go change and it’ll be ready to eat when you get back.” She didn’t have to ask Grace twice, not when there was bacon involved. The little imp darted into the bathroom and hurried into her dry clothes. Just as she was tugging her shirt over her ears she heard the telephone ring. Grace glanced in the mirror and tried to smooth her wet drying hair out of her face, encouraging it with all her might to just lay flat. After about 5 seconds she lost interest and saw her unsuspecting Grandma pick up the phone while she scooped Cody up who was trying to sneak out of the kitchen and down the stairs again. She hadn’t strapped him into his high chair yet and he was sneaky. 
“Hello?” Gran said. Her face fell and her old, soft, brown eyes flashed in anger. She put the receiver on her chest and handed Cody to Grace, “Buckle him in would ya?” Turning the corner from the kitchen into the hallway to try and hide her phone conversation from the kids. Grace’s heart started pounding a little. There were only a few things that made grandma’s eyes flash, and Lily’s daughter was one of them. 

My First Novel

Grace Excerpt 2

Just then Grandpa came booming in from the garage hollering, “ Now, where are my favorite grandchildren!?” Cody and Grace both ran over to their grandpa and he picked both of them up. He smothered them with the best scratchy beard kisses known to man. Grace immediately took Grandpa’s dirty old ball cap and put it on her head. She grinned happily at him.  It was too big for her and it smelled like the garage, sweat, and his aftershave, but she didn’t care. Cody wiggled to get down and Grace hung tightly with her arms wrapped around his neck. “How’s my Gracie?” he whispered. She shrugged her shoulders and he gave her a big squeeze. She was happy to be there. It was peaceful at grandma and grandpas. But there was usually a small ache in her heart at the beginning of all of her stays with them.