There is Movement in Stillness: Nourish Your Root System

At the start of this month, my family and I took a three-city road trip. We picked up my mom-in-law from Memphis, visited some family in Louisiana, and headed down to Houston to see more family. Then, we headed back down to Memphis to close the weekend. We had a great time laughing and eating greasy chicken and enjoying each other’s company, old school style. I did not take many pictures; I did not post many pictures. I just wanted to refresh without social media’s input. I wanted to bask in my mother-in-law’s laughter and joke around with Dad. I wanted to hold babies and scold children. I got to talk to a horse too. I don’t think he was in the mood for conversation, though. It was hot, and my little cousins were annoying him in the way children do. We exchanged a few looks, murmured a few words, and each went about our way.

I still checked in on my social media, but I held back from posting myself. But then something happened as it often does when I step back. I didn’t want to come back! Even after we returned home, I decided to take a few more days off to sit back and reflect on myself. Often when I do this, I notice something pretty amazing: there is movement in stillness. Sometimes when we are doing nothing, we feel like nothing gets done, but actually, everything is getting done! As soon as we relinquish the need to control every outcome, things can move along as they were naturally intended to without us getting in the way. It’s like standing in a room with your eyes closed and not doing anything as the objects in the room start to move and position themselves around you. It is magical the way things line up when we embrace the quiet. Here are a few things that unfolded when I removed myself:

  • I received confirmation to move forward with the project I have been working on in the background for almost two years now. I will talk more about FAPA: From Aspiring to Published Author in a separate post.

 

  • I started work on a new collection of poetry I am calling My Soul is a Witness. I will talk more about this in a  separate post

 

  • I have been trying to get into audiobooks for a while now. I tried once with Renaissance but the narrator couldn’t go through with the project due to family issues. I put Even Salt Looks Like Sugar up on ACX and opened it to auditions. I also forgot about it. Over my break, however, I received three new auditions from narrators who read my sample script for Even Salt Looks Like Sugar, culminating in a total of six auditions. Yep, you heard me right, SIX!

 

  • I am Soul, received two new reviews. Those of you who are Indie Authors know how exciting that is as reviews are often hard to come by.

 

  • Even Salt Looks Like Sugar received one new review with the invitation to possibly do a signing or reading for the organization Sagacious Women of Business this fall.

 

  • The poetry contest got more submissions and email subscribes.

Nourish Your Root System

The part of the plant that grows below the ground are called roots. The main function of the root is to anchor the plant in the soil, to absorb the water and minerals from the soil and prevent soil erosion. There are different roots and root systems. There are tap roots that grow down into the ground and fibrous roots that grow out in all directions underground and looks like a bush. The difference is that tap roots are deeply rooted and fibrous roots are scattered and not that deep. Most weeds are under the fibrous system. It’s easier to uproot and transplant plants under the fibrous system than it is to uproot plants under the tap root system.

If much of the root system is destroyed, a portion of the leaves and branches will die. And if we repeatedly remove the leaves from a tree, some of its roots will die because it connects the leaves on the trees to the tree’s roots. The fruits on a tree are also directly connected to the tree’s roots. The growth of a tree’s roots requires a nourishing of the entire tree itself and when done properly, a strong tree is not easily uprooted by strong storms.

  • What is unseen (roots) must be healthier, stronger than what is seen (branches / leaves)

Work is not just about the physical act of doing something or what we see on the surface. It is not just about posting to social media every day, or blogging twice a week. What is unseen (our hearts, intent, character) directly affects what we see (how we interact, speak, what we produce). The root system of any tree needs to be as wide if not wider than the branches. Meaning what is below (unseen) must match (or even outmatch) what is above or what we see on the surface and if it doesn’t, the tree will fall over and die with the first bad storm.

The most significant work is the work we do on ourselves behind closed doors (unseen), how we nourish our root system. This “Soul Work,” as many deem it, is necessary for business growth and personal growth because how we feel about ourselves directly affect everything around us. It affects who we commit to in relationships and friendships, how we run our businesses, how we establish or do not create boundaries, and how we treat and interact with others. It is not about some pseudo-revolutionary Self-Care Social Media Movement. It is not about putting ourselves on pedestals and becoming a lover of self in the arrogant and cocky sense. Self-care is about recognizing and acknowledging that nourishing the root system of our lives will determine the quality of the fruit we will eventually produce. This nourishment could mean:

  • Praying
  • Fasting from food
  • Fasting from Social Media
  • Stepping back, taking breaks from work
  • Meditating, reading, thinking
  • Crying when we need to
  • Talking when we need to
  • Being silent when we need to
  • Writing (non-business related)

What are some ways you nourish your root system? What keeps you grounded? Comment below!


Don’t forget to preorder

Keep Yourself Full in ebook below!

Free with Kindle Unlimited

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CLICK HERE TO PREORDER.

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(This book will be available in ebook and paperback
when it releases on August 6th)

About.

 

Keep Yourself Full is a spiritual handbook that focuses on our return to self-love. It is a reminder that self-care nourishes the quality of our lives and makes us fit to be of service to others. Through my testimony, I give examples of how we self-abuse and how that differs from self-love, why it is essential not to take things so personally, why we must establish and enforce healthy boundaries, and how assumptions kill relationships. We learn that by investing in our well-being spiritually, physically, mentally, and professionally, we can be of service fully to others. It cannot be ignored that we treat others how we feel about ourselves. When we realize that what we do to others, we are equally doing to ourselves, we can use this awareness to heal. By treating ourselves better, we treat others better. Keep Yourself Full is about keeping ourselves filled with love and all that is good so that we are overflowing with enough to share with everyone else.

CLICK HERE TO PREORDER.


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3rd Annual Poetry Contest: Time is seriously flying by. August will be here before you know it! If you have not already, be sure to enter this year’s contest BEFORE August 1st!

Click here or the hyperlink above to learn how to enter

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4 Ways I Balance My Blogging and Writing Life

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“Where do you find the time?”

Is a question I get a lot so I thought I’d answer it in the form of a blog post so that more than a few individuals can benefit.

I also thought it would be interesting to see if I can write this with a two-year-old around.

With a few exceptions, you can expect a blog post from me almost every day. Is it an obligation? Nope. No one is making me blog and I don’t feel obligated to do so. I actually just enjoy blogging and although we have a long way to go, I like what this blog has become so far. I like the groove I’ve settled into here and the community I’ve built thus far. But, I am also an author and I do have a life outside this medium. I have a career, a husband, and other things to dedicate my attention to.

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Me: “I’m almost finished baby.”

“Huh?”

Me: “I’m almost finished.”

“Huh?”

Me: “Nevermind.”

So, when do I find the time to blog? How do I maintain a consistently updated blog, publish books and not neglect my family?

80 / 20 Rule

I don’t know if it’s because I am getting older or if I’ve learned to love myself more (combination of both?) but I don’t overwork myself anymore. I’m still disciplined but I no longer feel obligated to overdo it like I used to years ago. It’s not necessary. A few hours a day is really all it takes (I am working on removing actually and really from my vocabulary…though I actually like using these crutch words. Work with me here people). Instead, I am always thinking about the 80 / 20 rule and strive to incorporate it into my everyday life.

From Wikipedia:

“The principle was suggested by management thinker Joseph M. Juran. It was named after the Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, who observed that 80% of income in Italy was received by 20% of the Italian population. The assumption is that most of the results in any situation are determined by a small number of causes.”

This means that with just 20% effort, one can achieve 80% results or 80% of outcomes can be attributed to 20% of the causes. (…and my phone rings. Ignore that and keep writing. Ignoring stuff, that’s another point but we’ll get to that another time).

One way I balance blogging and writing are to dedicate at least 20% of my time toward blogging or 20% toward writing and then get on with my life.

Example: 8:00a – 10:00a = 25% of time Blogging

I found this really neat chart HERE. It calculates how much time you spend toward an 8-hour work day. Based on this chart, two hours of work in an 8-hour workday is already 25% of my day. Pretty neat.

My time can now be spent writing, washing dishes, or doing laundry. (1-2hrs is about the time it takes me to polish a decent sized blog post, that’s only about 25-30% of my day.)

“TT…”

“Yes?”

“I wanna take a bath.”

“OK.”

Scheduling Blog Posts

One of the most valuable time savers of mine is scheduling blog posts to go out. I write my blog posts early and if I can’t finish it in a couple hours I leave it alone and go do something else. In the evenings I come back, use Grammarly to edit them (because I’m not rich enough to hire someone to edit my every blog post) and then schedule the post to publish midnight my time (12:00 or later Central Standard Time). This means I may be asleep when it publishes which does two things:

“TT…?”

(1) Helps those outside the U.S. to catch the post early their time.

“TT…?

(2) Keeps my blog active throughout the day as people are tuning in under different time zones.

“Yes, love?”

“Where mommy?”

The only thing I am doing when I wake up and throughout the day is responding to the commentary, reading and re-blogging articles I like, liking and commenting on other people’s blogs and sharing them online. I may also publish other random thought posts but those don’t take as much time as say a post like this one.

Special Blog Segments

Another way that I balance my blogging and writing time is by introducing special segments. A Special Blog Segment is somethi…

“BJ Nooo!”

1o6wox

A blog segment is something I made up to mean blog posts that have a specific theme and is published weekly. I have several:

Monday – Author Interviews

Wednesday – No Whining Wednesday / Writer’s Wednesday

Thursday – Throwback Thursday Jams

Friday – Black History Fun Fact Friday / Movie Night Friday

Though I missed you all last week, I use these themes to keep this blog consistent with valuable content.

Re-spin Old Blog Posts

I’m a little obsessed with this because of how much value I get from it. I have to remind myself not to overdo it. Re-spinning blog posts is an amazing way to update the blog in as little time possible. Every now and again I re-publish (re-spin) old blog articles or poems that have proven valuable over the years. This gives new followers an opportunity to read the content, share it and offer their feedback too. But most time worthy, it gives me the chance to update my blog by not having to write anything new. This only takes a few minutes of my time.

  1. Use WP app to access my WP dashboard
  2. Go to posts > all posts > scroll through old posts (to pick a specific category go to All Categories > choose category)
  3. Choose a post I like, preferably a high value one (or one I think should be high value but didn’t get much attention)
  4. Find one and click edit
  5. Schedule it for a future date

For those who have already seen the post, they may not get new email notifications (it will show in the reader again but I will double check if you will get it again in your emails) for those who are new to my blog, they will definitely get a notification of the post as if it was brand new. It will be like I just wrote it and attract new views. (I’d recommend waiting at least a year before re-spinning posts so you have enough content so readers are not like “wait, didn’t she / he just post that tho?”)

By focusing a small amount of effort toward one task at a time, scheduling blog posts, re-blogging, creating special themed posts, downloading apps that make things easier and re-spinning old posts, you can cut down on your blog time too and use it to write your next book.

Note: How to Blog with a two-year-old: Lock the office door, put non-working electronics in front of him so he thinks he’s typing too, and keep looking back every 3 seconds. Draft your post, save it, give him a bath and put him to bed. Come back later, edit the post, schedule it to go out. 

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Confidence and Writing Discipline

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The most important factor in a writer’s life, at least in my opinion, is not mere talent. Neither is it some mysterious entity floating in the air called luck. It is not how much you blog or how less you blog. It is not how much money you spend or how little money you spend. It is not even your profound research and marketing skills. These elements surely help, but the greatest difference and perhaps the most unique too, between writing and other careers is a writer’s level of discipline and confidence. To keep writing, I often find that I must maintain a proper balance of each of them. Believing enough in your ability to write and having a consistent writing practice is often the difference between aspiring authors and published authors. Of course, it does not stop here but it is a step in the right direction.

The advice we hear from like-minded bloggers, agents, editors, or just authors, in general, have always, and perhaps will continue to be, our focus on writing. Because engaging in any activity of whatever sort on a daily basis naturally makes one more familiar with it, we will always hear how important it is to write and to keep writing. While this is good advice, I think that for many writers finding the time to write and sketching out a daily routine is not always easy and this is often underestimated  by those who are not writers or those who consider writing to involve less work than other careers.

“Self-discipline, what many call will-power, refers to the ability to persist at difficult or unpleasant tasks until they are completed. People who possess high self-discipline are able to overcome reluctance to begin tasks and stay on track despite distractions. Those with low self-discipline procrastinate and show poor follow-through, often failing to complete tasks even tasks they want very much to complete.” – Wikipedia

When a writer transitions from the workplace to fulfill a writing career, his initial challenge will be to maintain a certain level of self-discipline. For years he has not had to create his own time sheets, develop his own projects, and schedule his own lunch breaks. All of this has been done for him by the corporation in which he has worked for. It is now that, as a full-time writer, he must put in the necessary time to ensure a proper work day, rest, and vacation time.

He must dig deep into his resourceful mind and find the inspiration to write, in some way, daily. If he is not writing, then he must attempt to focus that energy in the direction of reading, social media marketing, offline marketing, and public speaking events to keep in line with the workflow. As we can see, the full-time writer has a lot to do and it is not always easy finding the discipline to get it done.

Sometimes it is just so hard finding the time. What I have come to invest in, however, is my purpose. As long as I remember my purpose and invest in that it is usually enough to keep me moving. This is because discipline works hand in hand with motivation and drive. It is that ingrained, determined urge to attain a goal or satisfy a need. It is the answer to the question, “Why do you write?” This answer is different for each of us but the result is the same. If every full-time writer kept his primary goal, the answer to the question of why he or she must write, always at the forefront of his mind it can undoubtedly become the catalyst to a more disciplined writing life and as a result more material.

Yet, in all of this, a writer must still believe in his ability to write and speak this into existence.

There’s a lot of criticism out there for writers. It is enough to keep us full for a lifetime. Not only in its relation to the backlash geared at Self-Publishers, but many people also do not see entrepreneurship, specifically writing, as being a “real job”. For this reason, confidence is necessary to be an apart of this movement. It is not to think more highly of yourself than you should think, (*caution: recipe for disaster*) since there is a power greater than you. But confidence is the state of feeling certain about something.

Working for you can feel like a blessing and a curse. There is so much to do, so much to strive for and (wait for it) so much failure. But if you believe in that aged old saying, “hard work pays off”, you will allow self-discipline and experience to train you into the professional you need to become.

One of the greatest ways to maintain just enough confidence to get the work done but  at the same time maintain just enough humility is to be of help to others as best and as often as you can. What you do always comes back. How you treat others will almost certainly reflect how you yourself are treated. It’s not always about you, and yet your personal goals are still important.

So there’s a balance between our level of discipline–which will get the work done–and our level of confidence, which will keep us going when a project has failed to meet the goal. In the words of Kevin Nance, “failure curdles into something else… I go down into that failed place, and I think, ‘I’m going to take a look at that failure and make something of it”.

Value Yourself, Value Your Time

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I don’t know who wrote this but I had to share it. It’s so true. We only work and spend our time according to how we see ourselves. Meaning that if we don’t think we are worthy then we are not going to value our time and therefore not do anything with it. Taking time to spend alone and reflect is not something that is optional for me. I believe that mental health is just as imperative as physical health but is highly underrated. Rarely do we consider mental clarity or offer exercises to help to maintain that kind of balance in our lives. Mental stability is just as important to me as physical health. Taking care of myself helps me to have the endurance to take care of others. Prayer, meditation, and just overall quite time gives me a chance to listen to my own thoughts, cultivate new writing ideas and examine where I am right now in my life, my goals, and those things that need to be improved. It helps me to be of service to my husband and to my community. The same way that reading and studying helps to exercise my brain, quite time and reflection help to clear my mind and organize my thoughts. For us to truly value our time I believe what the quotes says, we must first value ourselves. We have to know our worth in order to know what we’re worth. Only when we believe that we are truly worth it, will we have what it takes to truly appreciate these moments that too soon become memories.

Writing: The Flow

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I’ve been promising myself that I will get back to Billie Blanks for months now. I cheated on him once. Her name was Jillian Michaels and let’s just say those six weeks together was something else, but eventually I stopped seeing her too. I realized I enjoyed Tabo a lot better and vowed I would get back into it. The problem is I’ve been out of commission so long it’s hard to get back into it. I hate the nauseating feeling I get those first couple of days back, the worst. So I pretty much blame that and prolong another day. But what does this have to do with writing?

I love routine. Not so much for the routine itself, but for the organization it brings to my day. While I don’t perform the exact same tasks each day, I love knowing where things go and how they should be done; following an exact path. There is a problem however with routines and schedules and such: breaking them. Writing takes so much concentration and focus that I notice that the more I break into the routine of writing each day it slows me way down. It’s like trying to start exercising again. Once you’re exercising on a daily basis and are in a position to keep doing it, it’s really not so bad. It may take time to start, but once you start and are used to getting up every morning and hitting the pavement or hitting the gym your good. When your momentum is up, you’re up. But when you slow down and especially when you stop, it takes twice the energy to get back up again and continue the flow. I find the same is true for writing.

I would tell you not to miss a writing day, but I don’t really believe that. Instead I want to tell you to balance your writing life. While writing every single day keeps you in the habit, you can also get distracted inside your own head. You’ve been in the groove so long you haven’t the time to come up for air and see what the rest of the world looks like. As such you miss opportunities to write, influences that could have provoked a great story. Your writing sure, but you’re also too into yourself. You have not given your mind time to rejuvenate for a chance to birth fresh ideas. It’s like editing your own work, at some point you have to give your eyes rest or you won’t catch the constant flow of mistakes so easily recognized by everyone else. Instead, write as often as possible, but take a day or two and don’t write at all. In fact, try not to even think about writing on these days. I know I know I’m talking crazy now. I know that some people (like me) have very sensitive minds, that is, whether it’s writing or exercising its best not to stop at all. Any break can make the next move a great struggle. But, when you have the time to think about something outside the craft not only will it give boost to the creative mind, it also gives life to the work flow.

This is not about slowing all the way down and please don’t stop! Do that and your pen’s going to weigh a lot more than it actually does, trust me on this. But this is about balancing your time. Now that you have set time aside to write, give it the nurturing it needs by creating a balance. Write often, but stop every now and then to focus on something else without getting comfortable in your laziness. You really only need a day or two away from your writing to nurture the groove and get back to the work flow.

Unplug: Balance and Technology

balance

I have a motto in life: Balance is everything.
That said I try to maintain a proper balance in my life of all that I do because stability is foundational. If I like a particular desert I try not to overindulge. If I have a certain opinion, I try not to make that opinion law unless it is law. I enjoy exercising for example, and in so doing I try to maintain a certain body weight, but I do not believe fitness and diet itself makes one healthy entirely. I’m not going to turn exercise into some kind of religion and depend solely on salads to keep me healthy. I believe spiritual health is the key to physical fitness. If someone is weak minded it doesn’t matter how much they work out they will not survive hard times. I can store up as much water is necessary for a drought, but if I don’t possess a strong mind I will go thirsty still. That doesn’t mean however, that physical exercise is not important. It’s not always about losing weight but, as Jillian Michael’s puts it: “It’s about being strong physically so that you’re strong in every aspect of your life.” I don’t know much, but what I do know is that proper balance is everything, the lack of which can throw something off. An improper balance of one thing can cause too much or too little of something else. If you don’t drink enough water, you won’t be able to properly nourish your kidney’s. If you drink too much water, you can die (it has happened).

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Today’s technology is wonderful. Because of which I am able to reach people all over the world from this blog alone. Fifty years ago we could not have fathomed what technology has become today. It has changed everything. People can attend schools online. People can shop online. People can even publish books online. The increase in technology and the way it is used today is a great tool for the visionary. People who have a vision to share and understand how to properly use technology to make manifest that vision have greatly benefited from the blessings technology has to offer. Entrepreneurs and small business owners can take advantage of today’s technology to make their businesses more efficient and effective. No longer am I sitting at a desk hand writing this article out with the intent to mail it to every single one of you, but technology has instead given me the freedom to expedite that process by way of typing into a computer. I can then copy and paste this article into my blog post without having to re-type it. Technology has done this. Needless to say I am a big fan of technology.

But like I said, balance is everything.

While technology has made it easier to be in more than one place at a time, and to instantaneously receive and give information, the pacification of technology has taken away our ability to think critically, perform the simplest of tasks without it, and can even take away our desire for self sacrifice. Today, too many of us have become lazy, the smallest of tasks we are now unable or unwilling to perform. From using a broom to hand washing clothes much of the new school generation do not know how to perform these simple chores. We are a generation who grew up on the washing machines. It is (the washing machine), a beautiful invention that I adore. I appreciate having one because I know that many families do not. But if I don’t take the time to understand how to also wash clothes on my hand, this technology has become useless. It has become useless because when my washing machine breaks, and I cannot afford the laundry mat, I cannot wash my clothes. Technology is great, but when it get to the point where we cannot do something as simple as walk down the street without factoring technology into the equation, it has become a waste of valuable time, and an electronic leash in our lives.

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With the increase of Kindle and e-books for example, many book stores have closed because of the decline in print book reading. I’m a bible believer. So it is very much convenient to have a bible application on my smart phone. It gives me the chance to have it at my fingertips without having to carry around my hard copy. But I also need to be able to see the words off screen every now and again. I need to be able to highlight scriptures and run my fingers across these words, flip through pages, etc. But while Kindles, e-books, smart phone screens and PC monitors are great, print book reading is still a valuable skill; enhancing thinking critically, engages the imagination, reflection, and vocabulary. So every now and again I enjoy a good book and try to research outside the internet (which I must say is becoming increasingly more difficult to do).

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But I have an exercise / challenge for each of you: Every now and again (you can choose how more or less frequently), unplug. Step away from whatever form of technology is consuming a large majority of your time to the point it is stopping you from sharpening certain skills . If you don’t know how to wash clothes on your hands, let the washing machine breathe awhile. If you don’t know how to wash dishes without the dish washer, don’t use it for a few days. If you have never swept a floor, put the vacuum cleaner in the closet for a day or two. If you have lost study time because of Facebook or your husband /wife /children hate you because Twitter gets more time than they do, or your cell phone is practically attached to your hand, take a couple days and unplug.

Amazon-Fire-TV-Homescreen-002Studies show, for example, that watching TV, which we can now equate to the computer monitor and smart phone screen, tablet, etc., is equivalent to staring at a blank wall. Among the electrical waves in the brain is something called the alpha wave. It is the wave most active during sleep, creating a sense of relaxation when our eyes are closed. Studies show that this wave is most active while watching television. I like watching TV personally, and I enjoy seeing the symbolic messages embedded in some of my favorite TV shows, but I must maintain a proper balance between my TV time and study time; my TV time and praying time; my TV time and good old fashion conversation. I am not one to advocate for the complete annihilation of television. I understand the whole tel-evil-vision thing, but I think there’s a lot put out before our face that we need to know about. Much truth is revealed in movies and etc., that we often miss. At the same time, I do not think one should spend all of their time in front of the TV either, because there is also important information in books we often miss.

green-family-game-night-best-green-games-for-familyI must say again, I am a fan of technology. But I am also a woman of balance. If you can’t give up your electronic leash for a few days, you are missing out on other things that are non-technical. Technology is good, but family time, engaging with people face to face, print book reading, etch., these are all still very much needed in our lives as each provide a variety of skills and lessons to learn. Likewise (speaking of balancethose of you still living in the stone age need to also realize that technology is present in today’s world; if you are computer illiterate you should probably seek to adjust to the times and plug into a world of which you are absent. But getting back, the need to have things quickly and at our fingertips has limited so many skills on some level or another. Take a few days to step away from the screen for awhile, unplug, and you’ll be amazed at the level of calm and meditation you were able to achieve just by stepping back for awhile.