The Weekly Round-Up

It’s been an intense week here for a lot of reasons. Don’t get me wrong and think that I’m complaining or calling it “bad”, it was a week full of multiple balls in the air for each of us. JB traveled back home on Saturday and it feels as if Coffee in The Netherlands, October 2014we barely had a weekend before it was full speed ahead into the week.

There was a management shift at his office recently, which has led to more meetings than normal and the new guy’s attitude that he must “fix everything – even if it isn’t broken”. That meant a mentally tired and sometimes frustrated JB at the end of the day and more than once, we were in bed before 8:30 rolled around.

As for my world, I blocked off writing and editing time almost every day last week. And not just “writing time” but appointments on my calendar for two hours on this project or two hours on that project. I made significant progress on each of my projects, but to be honest, I have created some mighty big deadlines for myself. Those deadlines have me feeling a little on edge and a little afraid and a lot empowered.

My What I’m Writing

I just wrapped a three-week series based on my personal history of keeping a journal: why keeping a journal is good, how I recovered from the betrayal of having my teenage journals not only read, but destroyed, and how to take care of yourself when you create new truths about yourself.  Though all of those pieces were written earlier in the month, I did a fairly heavy edit on this week’s piece, 10 Tips to Hasten Post Fire Recovery to the point that in some places, it felt as if I was writing it fresh again.

I got four drafts written this week. Two drafts for future articles for  YourTango, which I owe edits to my editor tomorrow.  One piece is about marriage and the other piece is about parenting a child with mental illness. The other  pieces – one about Being Busy (SO Busy) and another about being true to your own soul – are for my work blog.

I dusted off the outline for my memoir this week and begin laying out the structure of that book in Scrivener. I also create a draft of part of the forward.

I set a publication deadline for my other Work in Progress that’s a bit on the aggressive side, but logically makes a hell of a lot of sense. I spent most of my time organizing this, again in Scrivener. This project needs significant attention in the coming week.

What’s Happening with Work

One of the decisions I made in regards to my business in 2016 is to restructure how I offer my current courses.

ClearingBrainClutter_AdI am converting Make Your Inner Sex Kitten Roar to a fully downloadable, do-it-yourself course available beginning October 12, 2015, which means I need to get to editing, don’t I? Previously, I offered the material delivered via a weekly email.  Right now, I have all of the course material in Word just waiting to be combined and edited into one giant document.

Most of the courses in the 30 Days to Clarity family are also being moved from the email format to a downloadable workbook that can be purchased at any time. I committed to delivering the first version to current participants of the Fall courses as a bonus, so the first deadline is the Clearing Brain Clutter: Discovering Your Heart’s Desires to be delivered on September 8th. I have a rough version of the book completed and now it needs to be edited.

What I’m Reading

I’m still reading An Altar in the World, mostly in the mornings, though on occasion, I’ll read a bit from it before bed.  I go for a tiny dose each day, until I’m “full up”.

Fiction wise, I’m finishing NYPD Red 3. Taking the Master Class with James Patterson has shown me a whole ‘nother side of taking ideas and getting them in a publishable format, so to read what comes from that process always fascinates. Besides, Patterson and the writers he works with (Marshall Karp on this one) shows me how collaboration can be successful and a way to develop characters that are real.

This week, I skimmed Delicious!  I read it in June but refreshed my memory a bit before my book club meeting on Tuesday.

And last night, I finished reading A Vision in Velvet, pure cozy mind candy with lovable characters and little doses of humor. I enjoy Juliet Blackwell and am looking forward to her first “non-cozy” book coming in September, The Paris Key, which I’ve already pre-ordered.

What We’re Eating

I’m “off” cooking anything new, elaborate, or super involved right now, yet I’m desperately missing creating in the IMG_20150616_194211kitchen.  One of the simple facts of living is that I can’t do everything even when I want to, so I have to be honest with myself and admit that just to much of my creative energy being spent in the office that I just don’t have IT when dinnertime rolls around.

What that means is we’re having old standby meals that I ensure are healthy by choosing quality ingredients. Typical dinners this week have been oven roasted Wild Salmon or Wild Halibut served with grains and spinach, Dorothy Lane Market Salmon Patties on whole wheat buns with oven fries, or chicken sauteed in a pot with veggies – corn, tomatoes, zucchini, squash, spinach and onions.

I have to confess, though, that I’m hoping some new cookbooks come out this fall to inspire me to experiment.

What’s I’m Shaking My Head At

The new wave or Guru Preaching that routines mean you are doomed to be a boring individual. I love variety of life, but I know that taking the attitude of “just taking life as it comes” equals not “getting shit done”. Things like a healthy lifestyle, writing a book, creating change in your daily living all require solid and supportive routines. Yes, we gotta shake things up, but anyone that accomplishes true transformation does so with solid habits. Just sayin.

Because years of being a coach has shown me that most folks need help to establish new habits and they can’t create new ways of living, because frankly, how can you master anything if you don’t approach it with regularity and respect? That’s why I keep reminding myself that compassionate self-discipline is the key to really moving forward towards goals.   Yes, we need to shake things up and evaluate what’s not working, but to preach that the new gospel is no routines will make you happier just isn’t logical to me in any form.

Most people that transform their life do so through structure and a steadfast approach. They take small, but consistent action.

What happens when these glamorous and seemingly-have-it-all-together gurus preach this is that people believe that their answer to happiness lies in emulating their Guru’s life and then find they don’t get any lasting results.

Maybe my life – and my approach to life – is “boring” or seems mundane. But I can tell you I’ll take this loving, nourishing approach over the years of worshiping busy and having no foundational routines to help make move things from “idea” stage to real.

What’s Really Floating My Boat

I’ve begun a letter writing project with a friend. Sure, we could (and do) email, however, there is a different kind of intimacy in putting pen to paper and sharing what’s happening in my inner landscape. It’s helping me to get clear around a portion of my desires and goals, too.

The process of going from Writer to Author. It’s a mindset shift and has changed how I am approaching writing that isn’t immediately consumed.

Getting my eyebrows dyed. My hair is dark brown (and grey). My eyebrows? Blonde. Making my eyebrows the same color as my hair? Priceless!

My relationship with JB. It’s always floated my boat, so to speak, but in recent months I’ve been more San Diego 2014 (5)transparent with him around what I want long term when it comes to career and lifestyle. He’s getting more verbal around the same and has taken to remind me, often, because I need to hear it out loud, that no matter what I choose, he’s behind me 100%.

Having a partner that has my back, that’s willing to listen as I talk about what I want in five years and ten years and what needs to change in order for that to happen is completely new to me in my life experience.  I always dreamed about a love like that, but never really thought I would have it.

Happy Sunday.

Do you like reading this kind of weekly round up?

A Week from August Break 2015

Days 13 through 20

I have been knee deep in work this past week and my time at the keyboard has been spent either writing for work or hydrageas_fadingediting. Lots and lots of editing. I have gotten most of one of the projects into Scrivener and am happy with how that feels when it comes to organization.

On Wednesday, I spent way too long sitting. It was productive, but I got up from the desk feeling hunched up and tight in the shoulders and my back. I may need to start setting a timer to remind me to get up and STRETCH or move.

I wrote in the newsletter (which goes out tomorrow) about how hard this week has felt when it comes to the new morning routines. How easily I could have skipped my morning reading  (because I’m too busy) or skipped the 750 words (because it isn’t real words on paper).

I know the resistance is really about fear. What is going to happen when I do what I set out to do?

So, I get real with myself. I get compassionate. And I show up and do the work. There was a reason I shifted the mornings to include reading and morning pages. Because I need the structure and feel it gives.

Today will mean less time at the desk than usual. I have a haircut appointment and lunch scheduled with a friend afterwards. Oh, and groceries. We need groceries to survive the weekend ahead.

My goal for this weekend is a bit of a round-up kind of post here to share what I’ve been working on for the long-term for my business, those changes I am making as we make our way from 2015 to 2016.

In the meantime, my collection of August Break 2015 images for days 13 through 20.  (And Happy Friday)

Day 13 – Last Year

Day 14 – Favorite Smell

I wasn’t sure how to photograph this one, because I have so many favorite smells.

There is the smell of JB, fresh from the shower. The combination of his Coast soap and Old Spice Deodorant with the faint scent of fresh laundry and starch when I hug him goodbye in the mornings. And then, his end of the day scent, when the traces of Coast and Old Spice have faded a bit, the starch is a bit wilted, and there is the faint scent of Man Working.

I love the scent of cinnamon in the air. It’s warm and crunchy cinnamon toast or pumpkin bread baking.

And roses. Though old fashioned, I love rose scented talc or a lightly fragrant lotion with undertones of rose and bergamot in all it’s yumminess.

Day 15 – Art

Day 16 – Fire

Day 17 – Reading

Day 18 – Look Up

Day 19 – Sweet Delights

Day 20 – Two

in closing


I was having lunch with  a girlfriend yesterday and the conversation, of course shifted to businesses. I am at that Flickr Creative Commons alysinwonderland baublesNext Step as I mentioned earlier and I’m not quite sure what direction to go.

In the past, that would have meant that I didn’t quite believe there was a NEXT step, just that I needed something to be different. I knew that I had the answers somewhere within my heart and soul, but there was zero clarity to unlock it.

These days, though, that isn’t my mindset.

I see a plethora of possibilities in my path forward.The sabbatical I took in April was a huge eye-opener for me that I am needing something MORE along with something LESS.   Sometimes, too many choices is more challenging than only a couple of choices.

This is where it gets tricky, because for creatives it’s so easy to choose the shiniest bauble.Often, we choose the shiniest bauble in a basket because it looks the prettiest. Then we discover that the shiny bauble isn’t real silver or gold; it gets its shine from cheap glue and glitter.

What I need in the next step is something that is beautiful, lovely and nourishing. Because the number one priority (ah, back to that word again, PRIORITY) is the quality of my daily life.  Shiny Bauble choices are for New Year’s Eve and One Time Events, because they don’t need to last and aren’t meant to be for the long run.

The shiniest bauble doesn’t produce the best quality of living day after day because it’s not something that’s sustainable, and frankly, it isn’t something I desire to sustain.

It’s taken a lot of years to come face to face with the fact that though I am passionate and excitable, I love peace.

I used to believe that life could only be fulfilling if there was drama and excitement, until I got a taste of a life that had a different kind of excitement. And that excitement is finding the peace and perfection in ordinary, every day moments.

Life is truly a grand adventure, I just hadn’t understood that adventure was to be discovered in sharing coffee with JB while the birds serenaded us. And that we could ALSO have the OTHER kind of adventure of experiencing beaches and sail boats and ancient ruins and historic homes. I thought it had to be and either / or situation.

I have created the kind of personal life that rewards me with those moments in my daily life, but to allow it’s growth and sustain it, my business world is going to have to shift.

I wish I could say that this little ramble has allowed me to discover exactly what IT is, but the possibilities lay before me still.Well, except that super glittery possibility. It’s definitely lost it’s shine.

Glittery Bauble Image by Alys Perry via Flckr Creative Commons

Sixteen Years and Sixteen Months

It was 1998 and the internet was “new”. After creating my first website, I created a daily web-log. Web-logs were initially about updates to the website, so folks could see the history. It wasn’t long before the web-logs became blogs. Because I loved words, I soon joined in.  I wrote about file5951239550691daily life, seeking balance while working full time, managing children and trying to keep my marriage together. The blogging community was small back then.

Blogging wasn’t in vogue. We didn’t write because we were focused on building our “platform”. And it wasn’t about business – it was personal. We wrote because we needed to share our stories. We wrote because we needed to connect, be seen and be heard.  I made friends through my blog. We didn’t have comments, so we communicated via email and on the phone. To this day, I am friends with people I met in the early days. I wrote daily and hand-coded my blog in the early days. I had tried Blogger, but it wasn’t consistently up. I bought my first domain and migrated to hosted service. Eventually, I migrated to B2 and because I wanted to service the needs of other bloggers, I created website themes for them.Writing allowed me to begin to understand who I was and what made me tick. Writing helped me work things out.

When life changed, my blogging habits changed, too. In the midst of my divorce (2004), I stopped writing so much. Then, like all habits, I slowly got away from the habit of writing. The work I was doing demanded more discretion.

I missed personal writing. Yet, it didn’t fit my lifestyle and didn’t feel like a safe way to express the happenings of my world. Besides, blogging was changing. Folks said we needed a “niche” for our blogs. People blogged about their businesses.

I wrote on and off. Mostly off. My website name and location changed. I did some anonymous blogging here and there.

I kept coming back to blogs because I missed writing. I missed sharing the pieces of my story.

When I began the process of moving to Ohio, creating a shared life with JB and then restructuring my business life, work began taking the lion’s share of my writing time. A weekly professional blog demands attention. A weekly newsletter demands more attention. The creation and maintenance of courses around clarity and unleashing the core of who you are take time – as does the maintaining of my professional social media spaces and “growing my platform” by writing for larger websites.

It’s been sixteen months since I’ve written anything publicly personal that wasn’t work related in some way. And, here we are sixteen years and sixteen months later.

I’m making no promises about how long I’ll be writing here in this space again because I wish to tell no lies.

I re-opened and refreshed  this space so that I would be able to participate in Holidailies. Writing daily feels like a stretch and a push and a pull, yet deep down I know that it’s something I need. To nourish myself and nourish my muse.

on this Veteran’s Day

“On this Veterans Day, let us remember the service of our veterans, and let us renew our national promise to fulfill our sacred obligations to our veterans and their families who have sacrificed so much so that we can live free.”
– Dan Lipinski

“America’s veterans have served their country with the belief that democracy and freedom are ideals to be upheld around the world.”
– John Doolittle

“Valor is stability, not of legs and arms, but of courage and the soul.”
– Michel de Montaigne


“This nation will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave.” -Elmer Davis

“We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude.” -Cynthia Ozick


“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” – John F. Kennedy

All photos take by Debra Smouse in and around Washington DC

From top to bottom:  Vietnam Memorial, Arlington National Cemetery, The Lone Sailor (US Navy Memorial), US Navy Memorial, Arlington National Cemetery, Korean War Memorial, Vietnam Nurses Memorial, Arlington National Cemetery