Let’s just say May was a trying month for me. I had a birthday but otherwise inwardly, mentally, I struggled. And while I am not ready to talk about it, I want to use this as an occasion to lift you in case June is that month for you. In case July is that month for you. In case August is that month for you, and so on.
This is the story of a boy, his father, and a donkey. The man and his son went to town with the boy riding the donkey and the father leading it. They came upon a group of people who criticized them, saying, “hey, what are you doing? How could you let your father walk? He should be on the donkey!” Listening, the man and his father switched places. Now, his father rode on top the donkey and his son walked. They walked and came to another group of people who criticized them, saying, “how dare you have your son walking!” The boy and his father then tied the donkey to a pole, and both carried the donkey. They came to another group of people who laughed, saying, “that’s so silly! Why would you carry the donkey? Haha.” Eventually, the donkey fell off the pole and it exhausted both father and son.
I have summarized a story many of you already know or have heard before. Sometimes it is not the father and son but the husband and wife. The moral of the story is you can’t please everyone and if you try by listening to everyone, you will find yourself confused. As an Indie Author, I want you to remember your journey is and always will be unique. While I can give you an insight into my experience and while your experiences can be very similar, it will never be exactly the same. If everyone did things the exact same way, there would be nothing original. Your purpose differs from mine so your experience will be different. I’ve heard so much about Self-Publishing and I just have to shake my head because I have lived the complete opposite of the advice I read. If I heeded everything I read I would be just as silly as the father and son who thought it would be wise to carry a donkey on a pole. While this is a fictitious story it is also real. How many of us are carrying donkeys because people disagree with everything we do? All the father and son had to do was keep moving and block out the noise. And that’s all you have to do.
For a short stint in High School, I tried out for the track team. My gym teacher begged me to do it because she admired how I ran. What I learned is if you start out fast, look behind you or beside you it will slow you down and burn you out before you make it to the finish line. You got to stay in your own lane, keep your eyes in front of you and pace. Start off steady and pace, breathe. This is how you win. You gotta find the pace right for you and ignore what other people are doing or saying because it can discourage you from what you are doing. It is the equivalent to starting a race by going fast. Starting too fast is a common mistake. When someone runs at a pace that is faster than his or her capabilities, it’s entirely counter-productive. Fatigue will set in and force the athlete to slow down later. This is how you lose. At the end of the race you are moving slower when you should run faster. If you paced and stayed the course in the beginning, you would win.
Independent – Free from outside control; not depending on another’s authority.
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I was in the city on this beautiful, warm day, and I wanted to get a pic by the water but I wasn’t sure if I could make that lil jump without getting wet. I was going to say, “that’s okay,” when a young lady behind me says, “you can do it, sis!” I turned around, jumped and made it. This had me thinking about the importance and ease of what it means to support one another. It doesn’t always have to be something grandiose, flowers and sparkles and rainbows. Doesn’t always require us to be present either or taking professional pictures. Nope. Support is simple and requires us to do nothing but go the extra mile for one another. This young woman’s comment blessed my soul, made me smile and gave me the courage to “jump,” and she didn’t have to do it. She could have let me go about my way. She could have shaken her head or said something smart under her breath. She could have easily judged me. Instead, she empowered me. No celebrity status needed, no large crowd around us, no audience, nothing but the hot sun on our faces and the opportunity to get a cute pic because we felt beautiful today, like the weather was. And just like I don’t have to publish this post, I will. I will go the extra mile like someone did for me and return the love.
Whatever you want to do, do it. Don’t worry about what people will think or failure. Let faith lead you. Make the jump. Leap. “You can do it sis/bro!”
If you’re new to this blog, you may not know that I don’t celebrate holidays. This is the time of the year when I have to defend myself against the naysayers who cannot believe for the life of them why I would forsake Christmas (*insert eye roll*), and be on the lookout for people who would want to deceive me into celebrating. For me, the winter months are just as “cold” as the weather. It’s a stressful time. I can already feel the clouds closing in on me and my motivation plummeting.
That’s why I wanted to send you a quick message on motivation just in case you’ve felt your energy draining too. How do we stay motivated even when it’s hard?
Balancing Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation
Motivation comes from two sources. Intrinsic motivation comes from within you. For example, the desire to publish your book may be important to you. The satisfaction of knowing that you have made a difference in the world by adding your voice and experience is gratifying and provides you with an internal reward.
Extrinsic motivation comes from outside you (environment, family, friends, e.g.) and encourages you to achieve your goal by providing external rewards. An example of this might be the encouragement you receive from someone you love for the potential for your testimony to change lives. They may push you to publish your memoir or put in extra hours at the gym. They may say, “Wow, looking good girl!” You know you don’t really look good (you literally just started working out yesterday), but those kinds of positive reinforcements give you that little push you need to keep going
For times like these, it’s a good idea to balance both the extrinsic and intrinsic motivation in our lives. That is, managing inspiration that comes from ourselves and from others.
Don’t Stretch Yourself Too Thin
I bought a book at the Decatur Book Festival I will be reviewing as soon as I find the time. As de Old People Would Say is a collection of Caribbean Pearls of Wisdom & Experiences. The collection was inspired by the author’s great grandmother who was born and raised in the British Virgin Islands and moved to the US Virgin Islands as a teenager. I love this book! It’s like sitting at the foot of the elders and soaking up all the wisdom of their experiences. One saying is:
“Doan hang yoh hat whey yoh han’ cyan reach.”
Translation: Don’t hang your hat where your hand can’t reach.
The sayings have their meanings under them so the everyday person can understand it. This saying means not to overextend yourself. If you know something is too much for you, don’t put yourself in the position. I used to think loving myself was giving so much of myself to others that there was nothing left for me. When I did this, I burned myself out and had to step back. Don’t spread yourself too thin by taking on too many tasks.
A mismatch between your habits and your schedule causes stress.
Limit Social Media Time
We mimic what we are around the most and in this now technological world we must now consider social media as a part of that. Being around people is no longer limited to being physically around them. When it comes to social media, people have become far too comfortable and tend to use the platform to whine, complain, and criticize others. Even worse, there’s a strange habit of sneak dissing. For those of you unaware, sneak dissing is when someone’s post is a cryptic, subliminal message to someone else. They may think that person is wrong about something or is in need of correction in general. The person disagrees with how that person lives their life in some way. Instead of reaching out to the person privately, the sneak disser will publish a post that is speaking indirectly to the person they wish to correct. It is a form of passive-aggression.
If this sounds cowardly, it is. Social media has many good uses. Unfortunately, it has become a platform for cowards. We don’t talk to each other anymore. Instead, we post how we feel on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Limiting your social media time will help you to stay focused on what’s important and you’ll develop the healthy habit of ignoring non-sense. Less time on social media will also help you to develop better posts when you are logged in. The time to think will certainly help to guide your posting decisions.
If you find yourself lacking in motivation, it may be time to clean up your environment on and offline.
Control Your Emotions: Mind Over Matter
Mind over matter is a popular saying for a reason. Cliche as it may be, it has a powerful meaning. If you can elevate your mental thoughts, you can master the physical things around you to include your actions. For instance, I used to think of this time of the year as “the darkest time of the year.” Although I still do in some ways, I have stopped speaking that over my life. Why cast those kinds of spells over yourself? If you stay in the light, there can be no darkness. One way to stay positive is to stop allowing our emotions to be controlled by others. The truth is that you will never stop suffering if you have an emotional reaction to everything people say about you. Learn to sit back and observe. Let stones people throw at you be used to stand on and the dirt to plant you. Haters are secret admirers and you should be honored to be the source of their inspiration.
Let attacks be the source of growth. Watch, pay attention and master yourself before your thoughts master you.
Do Something Fun
If your life is all about work, you are probably stressed out or just boring. Take a break every now and again to do something that has nothing to do with work, writing, or children. Don’t be afraid to have some fun. A good way to do this is to reward yourself. For example, after doing well on an assignment from one of my classes I decided to stop studying to catch up on one of my favorite TV shows. I also make it a rule not to work continuously for too long. It’s important not to get too comfortable but the breaks help keep me refreshed and excited about getting back to work. I am also one of the grown people who believe in taking naps. I also enjoy a glass of wine every now and again. I try to limit myself so that when I do drink, it’s a reward for working hard (and not just because it’s Thursday…seriously, drink too much and that starts to affect your outward appearance. You’ll be thirty and look forty. It’s a good idea to moderate your alcohol intake too.)
Over the next few days, I challenge you to think about an inside and outside reward that could help to keep you motivated in your darkest hour. Do you get your drive, your need to succeed, and your willingness to make a difference from inside of you (intrinsic)? Are you inspired by someone else who generates enthusiasm for you (extrinsic) or perhaps a combination of the two? Does the motivation you feel infuse you with the enthusiasm to achieve your goals even when it may become difficult?
Remember to take care of your mental health.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of Yah. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of Yah that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
Wanda wants nothing more than to escape the oppressive upbringing of life with her abusive foster mother. Miss Cassaundra manipulates the system by bringing lost children into her home turned whorehouse and collecting the money. Wanda knows what it’s like to be abandoned and has no doubt Abby is Cassaundra’s next case. When an opportunity arises, that could save them both, Wanda must find a way to get the paperwork that will secure their freedom. But Cassaundra’s got eyes everywhere and no one can be trusted when even salt looks like sugar.
Been a minute since I gave you an EC quote Friday. Today I just want to remind you that it’s hard to beat someone who won’t quit. Whatever you do, just keep going:
If you wrote an article no one reads, write another one. If you sing a song no one hears, sing another one. If you publish a book no one reads, publish another one. If you dance your heart out and no one watches, dance again. The most obvious solution to me in the face of adversity is to keep going. To always try just one more time.
There is a popular saying “the sky is the limit.” It is used to display the belief that you can go high, as far up as the sky. I disagree with this saying because the sky is not the limit. There are elements beyond even the sky. You can stop at the sky or you can go above and beyond it. I want to use this as an example in today’s podcast for the potential for us to do great things without being limited. The sky is not the limit. You are.
Listen to “The Sky is Not the Limit” now on Soundcloud or iTunes