Lori Robinett: {Creating} My Path

musings of a wife, mother, writer . . .

Archive for the month “December, 2013”

Mindfulness

Callaway County Sunrise

Callaway County Sunrise

As 2013 draws to a close, I think back to what was easily one of the most difficult years I’ve ever experienced. It went from a top-of-the-mountain high to a deepest-depths-of-the-ocean low. The year dawned with hope and excitement. My daughter was in her senior year of high school, and was showered with scholarships, awards and good wishes. I was so proud of her, so excited for her. Four days after the party we threw her to celebrate her high school graduation, she left. No explanation. Horrible accusations. The pain I felt was beyond what I ever imagined, and I seriously wondered if I would survive. It seemed a hurt that deep would leave wounds that could never heal.

But they are healing. I saw a therapist, I journaled, I researched, I sought answers. Most importantly, I ALLOWED myself to begin healing. The most helpful thing for me has been MINDFULNESS. If you are dealing with a difficult situation, try this:

  • Breathe. That’s right. Breathe. In. Out. Feel the cleansing air come in through your nostrils and let it fill your lungs. Breathe out, expelling darkness and hurt. Breathe in healing, and breathe out hurt.
  • Be. Just be. Allow yourself to sit quietly. Let your mind flow where it will. Listen to your surroundings. Feel your heartbeat.
  • No expectations. Recognize that whatever you are feeling is valid, but recognize that what you are feeling is just that . . . what YOU are feeling. If you release your expectations of others, and focus instead on what you are feeling, you will begin to heal. The only thing you can control is your reaction to others. (that was my mantra for the holidays “no expectations” – and I ended up having a wonderful holiday season)

Take a moment to look back over 2013, the good and the bad. As you enter 2014, live each moment fully and completely. Appreciate it.

“Today I am fortunate to have woken up, I am alive, I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it. I am going to use all my energies to develop myself, to expand my heart out to others, to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings, I am going to have kind thoughts towards others, I am not going to get angry or think badly about others, I am going to benefit others as much as I can.” Dalai Lama

Santa Suit Gift Card Holder

Santa Suit Gift Card Holder

Santa Suit Gift Card Holder

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a fan of gift cards, but don’t like the giving part of them, so this year I tried to dress them up a bit. In this case, literally. 🙂 I was looking through my scraps and found this red piece of cardstock, already cut. As I held it up, it occurred to me that if I used it like a gate, the cuts would look like a neckline. I grabbed my handy dandy Martha Stewart score board and scored the sides so they would fold in neatly. I took a piece of scrap black cardstock and adhered it on the right side only, to look like a belt. I put one little magnet inside the red flap on the right, and another little magnet on the underside of the black cardstock.

Now, here’s a tip for working with magnets as closures. Pay attention to the polarity! The best way I’ve found is to go ahead and adhere your bottom magnet where you want it, then drop your second magnet on top. It will automatically flip and stick. Then put a glue dot or adhesive on the back of the second magnet and press your cardstock on top of that. If you follow this method, working in order from bottom to top, you will be assured that your clasp will line up and close correctly.

Finally, I added some snowflake Stickles and gold Stickles to add a little buckle and bling.

Oh – and the inside! I cut slits in the center of the red cardstock with an Xacto knife, using the envelope accessory of the Martha Stewart scoring board as a guide so that the cuts would be at a 45° angle. By cutting slits, I was able to insert the gift card into the slots so that it wouldn’t fall out.

Have you ever made a gift card holder? Please share your ideas – I’d love to hear about them!

Gift Card Holders

I love giving gift cards, but hate not giving a package to open, so this year I am trying to dress up my gift card holders a bit. One person on my list is getting a gift card to the movies. So, I looked around online and found a few ideas – a popcorn box, a movie clapper and a cute themed card and then I looked at my stash of goodies. And this is what I came up with:

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I started with a popcorn bag (we have a cool popcorn cart just outside our “media room”), then I folded it twice, so that the top of the bag was at the back and the “popcorn” illustration was on the front, like this:

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I used adhesive to glue it so it would stay together. Next I punched two small holes on the very back piece and put in a couple of large eyelets. I strung bits of Christmas string (the metallic stuff that you can use to decorate presents) through the eyelets and tied double knots on the back side. This allows you to hang the gift card holder on the tree. I opted to decorate the front with a single strip of Christmasy washi shape, inserted the gift card in the pocket and, TA-DA!, the gift card holder is ready to hang on the tree!

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Winning National Novel Writing Month (reminiscing . . . )

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In honor of NaNoWriMo and all those who are currently returning to the real world, I thought I’d share something I wrote in 2009 after winning. I hope you enjoy it:

I don’t know why I’m surprised that December is nearly half over. It happens faster and faster each year. I used to think it was because I was getting older and quit looking forward to things so much (you know, when I was a kid I couldn’t wait for Christmas but it seemed to take forever to get here . . . the watched pot never boils – like that). But now, I think the world is just spinning faster. I can almost hear the wind whistling past my ears.

Oh, wait . . . that was just the cold, December wind. Never mind.

It has been 21 days since my last post.

Oh, wait . . . I’m not giving my confession.

Sorry. My NaNo fried brain isn’t functioning quite right just yet. What I wanted to tell you is that (drumroll, please . . . ahem . . . really – make that drumroll sound or drum your fingers on your desk, whatever works best for you) . . . I WON!!! That’s right, you are now looking at (sort of) one of the proud winners of National Novel Writing Month 2009. I finished with a grand total of 50,629 words. (OK, I’m bowing now . . . thank you, thank you . . .).

What was my secret for success?

1) Write every day. My goal was to write 1,667 each day. (Some days I made it, some days I didn’t.)

2) Don’t read.

3) Use every available moment. If you work, eat at your desk and write yourself an email. Carry a notebook with you. If you commute, carry a handheld recorder. You don’t have to dictate your story, but you can talk to yourself – what if this, what if that, how can you screw with your main character’s life . . .

4) Bribery. I want a Nook so bad I can taste it. So, I promised myself that if I win, I’ll buy one. Now, I’m just waiting for the money to appear. (wait! what the? there’s no prize $$ for winning NaNo? Dang!!)

And how do I feel about my winning story, Gateway to Hell? My story is just getting wound up, just started at about 47K words, actually, and part of me really wants to finish it. But first, I need to get through the holidays. I’ve got a house to decorate, Christmas cards to make, dinner rolls to make, gifts to buy. And since I’ve only got 2 weeks ’til the Big Day, I think I’ll take a break from writing and focus on the holiday and family. Probably should, since I kind of neglected the fam last month. So, my plan is to smother them with attention for the next two weeks, and then start a serious rewrite of Denim & Diamonds. Those characters have been talking to me again (and so have my characters from NaNo ’08. I hope this doesn’t mean I’m schizo. Then again, for a writer, is that a bad thing?), which is like slipping into my favorite pair of faded Tommy jeans on a Sunday morning. It feels right. Who knows, maybe with a touch more suspense and a dash more sex . . . it might end up being a whole new book!

So, that’s how I did it and those are my writing plans now that NaNo is over and I must return to the land of mortals . . . what are yours?

Post NaNoWriMo Blues

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I haven’t participated in NaNo for the past couple of years, but I miss it. Still keep up with the NaNo site over November, and when it’s over – and after I congratulate all the winners and see how my buddies did, I realize just how amazing the movement that is NaNo is. It’s AMAZING! I’m so proud to have been a part of it in past years.

I can’t help feeling a little sad in December.  I’m proud of the winners, for persevering, and for making writing a priority for 30 days – a mere 1/12th of the year. I know that many of those folks are now feeling depressed. They miss thinking about story,  characters, plot, setting, tempo. They miss the frequent emails from writing buddies.

But now that I’ve transitioned out of NaNo and into writing throughout the year, I feel more like a true writer. I feel pulled in 20 different directions at times, but my writing is consistent. I have one novel polished (and an editor has requested the full – cross your fingers!!), another novel in rewrite, and several novels drafted.  I have made writing a priority throughout the year, and I feel as if I’ve made real progress in my skill set since I’ve done that. NaNo was wonderful for teaching me how to turn off the dreaded Internal Editor and push through that first draft until I reach “The End.”

NaNo Lessons:

  • Turn off the Internal Editor
  • Start the story at the beginning
  • Tell the story
  • Write the ending
  • Every first draft is PERFECT in that it exists

Have you participated in NaNo? If so, what did it teach you? And have you continued to participate?

Drawing Inspiration

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I always assumed that the writers I look up to (Stephen King, James Patterson, Stuart Woods, Lea Wait, Jennifer Crusie, and many others) are surrounded by inspiration. That is, until I decided to start taking my writing seriously. One of the first affirmations I chose for myself was “I do not wait for inspiration to write, I am inspired by writing.” If I wait to be inspired, I won’t touch a keyboard for weeks, even months, because life gets in the way. There are so many demands on our time, that we don’t have the luxury of waiting for inspiration to hit. One of the young writers I work with years ago told me the blank page staring at her freaks her out, and asked how I can sit down and just start typing. “What inspires you?” she asked.

The answer for me is competition. In order for me to be successful, I have to be accountable to someone other than myself. It’s way to easy to lie to myself and bargain with myself. I believe me and fall for it every time. At this point, I have eight completed novels (one published, one in the editing stages and the remainder in rough draft stage). I would never have gotten there if it were not for four very important things – in no particular order: Book-in-a-Week (BIC HOK TAM!!!), National Novel Writing Month, my critique group (this is a talented group: Colleen Donnelly, Ericca Thornhill, Carolyn Branch and Jennifer Bondurant – pay attention to those names. You’ll see them on the best seller list someday), and my friend Lynn.

I need that push, that drive, that accountability, which is currently offered by my critique group. And there used to be NaNo (this is only the 2nd year I haven’t competed). All of my completed novels started as NaNo novels (by the way, our little region frequently finaled in the top 10 for the average production per writer list!! Kudos to us!!). And that’s how I got hooked up with my writers’ group. I really like these people, and even though I only see them occasionally, we share a unique bond. I joined up as a Nano’er and stuck with them throughout the year. It is well worth it to have a face-to-face meeting with other writers. We writers are a different breed. By our very nature, many of us have tendencies towards introversion. This gives us a chance to talk to others that understand our hopes, our fears, our dreams, our frustrations.

So, that’s what does it for me. Accountability and competition.

And the chance to meet some fantabulous women for breakfast every other Saturday!

I encourage you to give serious thought to what inspires you. Do not wait for inspiration to hit. It doesn’t knock on your door and ask if now is a convenient time. Surround yourself with inspiration. Think about what fires you up and makes you productive. It may be something like a support group, or it may be something completely different, such as having a ritual before you begin writing. Once you find something that inspires you, incorporate it into your life, and start making your dreams become realities, bit by bit.

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