Dinner in Kingman, Arizona

I am sitting outside a Del Taco in Kingman, Arizona and Ray is inside ordering up a few bean burritos for us. It is 7:14 pm and we are still almost 5 hours from home. Midnight is our ETA. Today we have fought strong winds through most of West Texas and New Mexico, which has made the usual relaxed drive a bit more challenging. No rain, so that’s good, but it’s been both hands on the steering wheel sort of wind.

I am ready to be home. This trip seems long this time, particularly since we usually drive only one way and then fly back. This time after 2 weeks we are heading back via car. The dogs are with Rachael and it was hard to say good-bye to them and to her. Sometimes I miss my baby girl more than others, but this time, I would have preferred to just stow her in the back seat and bring her home. She is returning to CA at the end of June. I am happy about that.

Ray has just returned with our dinner. I will close since I know we need to eat and then get back on the road. I just wanted to check in since I will be very tired when we arrive home (God willing) late tonight.

All in all, a good trip. I just will be glad to get home and settle back into CA life.

Asleep at the Wheel

We have made it to Quanah, Texas in one piece, no thanks to me. I was driving along, listening to the radio while Ray was crumpled in the front seat, sleeping. I was aware that I was tired. After all, we were up by 6 this morning and worked hard to get ready for the realtor to come this afternoon. In fact, I had logged almost 15,000 steps on my step counter by 7:30 tonight when we finally left Sherman. So, maybe that’s why I apparently drifted off to sleep at the wheel and only woke up when I hit the rumble strips and then Ray yelled, “What’s happening?”

My response as I corrected the car back to the road, “I fell asleep, but I’m awake now.”

As you might expect, I immediately pulled off and we switched drivers.

Ray made it at least 15 or 20 miles before we headed to a motel.

So, now it’s time for bed and I’m just glad we’re not dead.

Hallelujah.

I think a good night sleep will make a world of difference.

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A Reason to Feel Pleased

I am sitting in the kitchen of our Texas home on our last night here. Tomorrow, mid-afternoon, we head back to CA via car. We will arrive in time (God willing) for a full roster of my students on Thursday.

The kitchen is quiet. Rachael came earlier and picked up the dogs to take to her house in McKinney. She will keep them for the 2 to 3 weeks before we return. Ray has already retired for the night. I am wide awake thanks to the iced tea at dinner I knew I shouldn’t drink but did anyway.

Tomorrow we have a zillion things to do before we get out of town. We really need another week here to finish up the Dimmit house so it can go on the market. Alas, we don’t have the luxury of that time so we will leave detailed lists in the hands of the very capable Darrah Dunn and Chris Robinson, who will continue to do what they do when we’re not here-attend to all the necessary details. It is frustrating, however, because we are so close to completion, but are not quite there. I know these things will get done. I just wish I could stay so I could help with that process.

I am happy with the progress we’ve made, however. The house is beautiful and will be a joy to live in for anyone who is looking for a restored 1915 Dutch Colonial. The details of this house – coffered ceilings, three sets of beveled glass doors in the living room, a gorgeous staircase, and a huge cook’s kitchen with two sinks and cabinets galore, make the restoration of this home a real pleasure. There is something indescribably satisfying about taking a house in near tear-down condition and bringing it back to its glory. It is not unlike finding an abandoned child in rags wandering through the streets, alone and afraid, and after much loving care seeing that child emerge whole and full of love and trust. (Yes, that might be hyperbole, but, trust me, it is something along those same lines.)

So, we will leave tomorrow knowing that our baby is almost ready to go out into the world. And just like with a child, it has truly taken a village to make this process happen. Ray, of course, is the cornerstone of this operation with his vision, design ability, and logistical mastery. Darrah and Chris bring their considerable expertise to the picture. I toss in a few ideas of my own. Together, we have brought about a miraculous rebirth to this lovely old home.

Indeed, we all have good reason to feel proud.

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A Different Kind of Easter This Year

Today was the first day in almost 32 years that I haven’t spent Easter with at least one of my children. That’s a biggie for me, but it’s okay. Everyone is well and I am the one out of pocket, not them. We are in Texas working on the completion of our house project across the street from our Victorian (the Dimmit house) and it made more sense to stay here and finish up details than to leave and travel cross-country back to CA in time for Easter Day. Plus, Friday was Rachael’s birthday and although I didn’t actually see her that day due to her work, I think the idea of having us 30 miles away versus 1500 was some comfort for her. We will leave on Tuesday to head back to CA, and hopefully all of this extra time will mean the difference in our getting the Dimmit house on the market versus having it sit for more time. So, Easter away from our children seems okay, just this once.

Instead of attending church at our beloved St. Thomas the Apostle, Hollywood, we instead went to St. Stephen’s Episcopal church here in Sherman. We saw old friends there and enjoyed the company of two new friends here, Carol and David Griffith, who are fellow Episcopalians. They invited us to lunch at their home after church and coffee hour and that was another first for me in a very long time: someone else made and served Easter dinner. Wow. What a concept. When we arrived back to our home here, we had yet another visitor, Marshall Reid, who stayed and visited for several hours. That was also quite a treat.

I have to say that I while I would have loved being in LA for Holy Week and Easter Sunday, I experienced something new being here instead. I saw that life can shift and can also be good. We had a lovely time today, surrounded by old and new friends. We also had a chance to see Easter celebrated here at St. Stephen’s, which was not that different than St. Thomas, just on a smaller scale.

I only wish I had gotten to see granddaughter Luna experience her first Easter egg hunt. That would have been a lot of fun. Alas, I may have to arrange a belated hunt upon our return later this week…

Rachael is coming tomorrow for a visit before we head back to CA. I will look forward to seeing her pretty face then. Today, she had to work for much of the day. So, Easter was not as leisurely as she (or we) would have liked for her.

On that note, I will close. Happy Easter, family and friends. Please know that you are in my heart today. Here’s wishing this time of new hope and promise will fill us all with joy-filled love and life.

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A Short Letter to Rachael on Her Birthday

Dear Rachael,

I have been thinking of you all day since this is your birthday. Let me just say a few things about you that I know:

1) You are one of the nicest people I know.
2) You are smart.
3) You have an exceptional sense of humor.
4) You are one of the most sensitive people I know (in terms of picking up on unspoken cues).
5) You are very good at understanding the dynamics of a group interaction.
6) You have a great ear for music.
7) You are independent.
8) You are adventurous.
9) You have a clear sense of who you are.
10) You are comfortable in your own skin.
11) You see the best in people.
12) You are very responsible with money.
13) You like to make a plan and stick with it.
14) You will push yourself out of your comfort zone.
15) You are an introvert.
16) You love good books.
17) You love your family.
18) You have a strong sense of self.
19) You appreciate beauty and have an eye for design.
20) You love good food and are getting to be a better cook by the day.
21) You are a loyal friend.
22) You are clear about boundary setting.
23) You live a healthy life.
24) You love animals.
25) You love kids and they love you back.

I am stopping here, but these are a few things I know about you, sweet girl.

You would make any mother proud, but you make me exceptionally proud to be your mother.

As my dad would say, “You’re a little jewel.”

Happy 23rd birthday, Rachael. I believe your life will only get better and better. I wish you the best of everything good in this world.

Much love, Mom

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To Ron on His Birthday

Today is Liz’s boyfriend, Ron’s, birthday. Ron and Liz met the first day of law school and have been pretty much joined at the hip since that first meeting. (Or so it seems from a mother’s perspective.) They survived that 2 year accelerated course, then studied for and took the bar together before heading out on a 2 month cross-country trip together in a Ford Focus. After learning they had both passed the bar, they ventured out into the job market, where in not too long a time, both landed jobs where they are learning all sorts of new information to aid in their careers. Two weeks ago they moved into an apartment together and are now getting settled.

The gist is that Ron has been part of our family for the past almost 3 years. He has also been a constant support for Liz as well as a good person all round.

So, to you, Ron, let me just say that it’s been a pleasure having you in our lives. It has also been wonderful watching you and Liz clear those career hurdles one after the other and support each other – and your friends – along the way.  You have been generous and kind in your dealings with the whole family, and you can cook up some tasty food to boot.

I hope you have had a great day and I wish you the best for the upcoming year. Keep being the very fine person you already are.

Fondly, Len.

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Early Birthday Celebration for Rachael

We have just arrived home after visiting our daughter, Rachael, in McKinney. Friday is her 23rd birthday, but she has to work so we celebrated this evening. Rachael and I both commemorated her birth by going to the Sprint store and getting new iPhones. I have had an android for the longest time and she has had an iPhone, but an earlier version. So, after spending 2 hours there, waiting and then being waited upon, we emerged with our new mobile devices in hand.

I am eager to try mine for the enhanced photo feature. My android had gotten so slow it was a little like having someone with an old-fashioned camera say, “Now don’t move. I mean really don’t move. In just a minute, I promise, this thing will click.”

Ray says I can now shoot 10 pictures in the time one took with my older camera.

The actual telephone function becomes the least interesting element of these devices. All the other gadgets are what now seem to make all the difference.

We ate pizza with Rachael and then went to her apartment for her present-opening. Her dad had found a wonderful yellow mixer that brought a smile to Rachael’s face. She also received a few little items including Life in the Leatherwoods, a book I had given my mother back in 1979 on her April birthday. This was purely sentimental, but I could see Rachael appreciated it. I knew she would.

We had a lovely time with our almost 23-year-old baby girl. Lots of laughing. A mark of times spent with Rachael.

Unfortunately, my homemade birthday cake turned out to be a big disappointment.  Hard as a rock is a more apt description.  I made it earlier today and put it in the refrigerator.  I guess that was a bad idea.  Luckily, nobody was very hungry and we all got a good laugh out of it.  I still don’t quite know what happened since I bake all the time, but never again will I put a cake in the fridge just in case that was the problem!

Oh well, next time I’ll make a soft cake…

Happy upcoming birthday, Rachael Marie Beaty.  I love you!

Rachael, Luna and Me (not my best hair day)

Two Weeks Ago at Luna’s Birthday

 

 

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Mea Culpa!

I recently received a letter from The Provo Canyon Review letting me know that one of my flash fiction pieces had been accepted for publication. I was delighted, of course, and very pleased they had accepted “A Brother’s Gift,” a story I am especially fond of.

Today I received my notification that the online version of The Provo Canyon Review had gone live. I went straight to the link and saw my name and the title, “Grace.” I was surprised, but thought, Oh, they changed the title. When I clinked on the page I discovered that this was in fact another flash fiction piece I had submitted, not “A Brother’s Gift.” The gist, “Grace” was the one published in The Provo Canyon Review.  A total mix-up on my part.

I am including a copy of my story below along with my bio and the link to the online version of the print magazine.

Here you go:

Grace

By Len Leatherwood

Grace Chesterfield lay curled up on the overstuffed couch in her father’s office on Wall Street reading under the light of the green and red stained-glass dragonfly lamp. She snuggled under a cashmere throw, reading Wuthering Heights and dreaming of Heathcliff. The comforting clicking of the stock ticker on its handsome mahogany stand kept lulling her to sleep.

She had a slight temperature, just enough to keep her from going to school, and her father had insisted that she come with him to work rather than stay all day alone with the new housekeeper. Grace had been happy to come along. Ever since her mother had died just two months before, she hadn’t wanted to be too far from her father. She knew that was an immature response for a girl of twelve, but she didn’t care. She also knew that her father needed her as much as she needed him, at least for now.

Grace woke up to his cool hand on her forehead.

“Still a little warm,” Jeffery Chesterfield said, pulling the blanket up to his daughter’s chin and stroking her cheek with his finger. “We have to get you back in the pink, dear girl,” he said, “we have the Setzler’s party this weekend and there are going to be ponies for you to ride.”

Grace snuggled deeper into the soft couch. “Couldn’t we just stay home one weekend, Daddy, just you and I? Couldn’t we maybe spend time in the back garden like we used to do with Mommy, just relaxing and reading and doing absolutely nothing?”

Jeffery placed an additional log on the fire. “But Mr. Setzler is one of my wealthiest clients, and you and his Laura have become friends. Surely, spending time out in the country and picking a pony to ride everyday sounds fun for you.”

“Only if you’re with me the whole time,” Grace said, trying not to sound whiny. “It’s just that every weekend we have to go visit your clients. It’s almost as if you’re afraid for us to stay home alone.”

Jeffery looked a bit sheepish. “I’m afraid I’m guilty there…the house feels so empty without your mother and I’m not sure how to cope with that change.”

“So is that why we keep going and going and going?”

“Oh, dear Lord, girl, is that how you’ve seen what we’ve been doing?”

“Yes.”

He sat on the edge of the couch, deflated. “I’ve been a coward, I’m afraid.”

“Not a coward, Daddy, just sad.”

He pulled out his handkerchief and dabbed at his eyes. “Look at me behaving like a baby.”

Grace snuggled close to him. “Could we tell the Setzlers I’m just a little too ill to come this weekend? Could we, Daddy?”

“But they’re expecting us and we have already committed and…”

“Daddy, please!”

“But…they are such kind people and – “

“The more reason they will understand.”

“Perhaps next weekend, my dear, so we’re not rude…”

Grace curled into a ball on the couch and covered her head with the blanket. “Never mind, Daddy. It’s all right.”

Jeffery Chesterfield stood silent, contemplating the social consequences of a last-minute cancellation. He was just concluding that the Setzler account was too profitable to risk when his gaze settled on the framed Latin quote above his desk, Forest fortuna adiuvat, ‘Fortune favors the brave.’ He picked up the telephone and said loud enough so Grace could hear clearly. “Mrs. Setzler, I must beg your forgiveness…”

Grace sat up, eyes shining.

When Jeffery placed the phone back on the receiver he said, “Could we plan a few activities so the house doesn’t feel so lonely?”

“We can weed the garden and take a walk and just sit and talk,” Grace said, excited. “And we can play dominoes or cards or horseshoes – -.” She paused, then added, “But, Daddy, we may also have to be sad and lonely just a little bit since Mommy isn’t there. It’s okay, we can do that, too, and it will be all right.”

Jeffery leaned back in his office chair. “To honor her memory?”

“Yes,” Grace nodded, “and to show her that we are brave.”

Len Leatherwood has been teaching writing privately to students in Beverly Hills for the past fourteen years. She has received a state and national teaching award for the past five years from the Scholastic Artists and Writing Awards, the oldest and most prestigious writing contest for youth in the U.S. She is a daily blogger as well as a published writer of flash fiction/memoir with pieces appearing in flashquake, All Things Girl, True Words Anthology, numerous literary journals, and A Cup of Comfort Cookbook, currently available on Amazon. She will be presenting a workshop in Austin, Texas in April on “Transforming Your Writing Life in Just 20 Minutes a Day” at the 2014 Stories from the Heart IV National Memoir Conference sponsored by Story Circle Network.

Here is the link to the literary magazine. I hope you’ll check it out!

http://theprovocanyonreview.net/len-leatherwood.html

Provo Canyon Review

Quiet Here after a Trip to “Stinky’s”

I am sitting in our Texas home. The gas fire is bright orange in the old space heater and the outside temperature is heading down to 31 degrees tonight. The lights are low and the only sound I can hear is the traffic from the highway off in the distance.

We’ve had a hectic day of settling in here, complete with a trip to the metal recycling center. This place is called “Stinky’s” and it fits the name, not in smell, but in sight, with a whole backlot filled with piles of assorted car parts, wiring, old metal posts and basic junk of many varieties. We added our load to the pile while a front loader filled a big 18-wheeler with old water heaters. I felt good we were recycling, but the middleman’s job is not a pretty one, I assure you.

I took a few pictures of Stinky’s just to give you a window into that world. Here they are:

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And my personal favorite…

SAMSUNG

As I was checking out inside the building, a woman saw my name and said, “I knew a Leatherwood when I was in high school. His name was Sam.” Of course, that’s my brother, who is 56 this year. Sam, if you’re reading this, you have a long lost friend who works behind the desk at Stinky’s. She spoke of you fondly.

I am happy to be here in Texas. We have lots of work to do this week as we prepare to sell the house that we’ve been restoring across the street from our home here. Wish us luck. We need it. But it helps that it is now beautiful thanks to the hard work of Darrah Dunn and Chris Robinson. Thank you, guys. Here’s hoping all goes well at this next phase of the process.

On that note, I will close.

Happy evening, folks.

My Handout for the “Writing 20 Minutes a Day” Workshop for SCN

The following is my handout from my 1 1/2 hour workshop today at the Stories of the Heart Memoir Conference in Austin. I think it’s fairly self-explanatory. The conference was exceptional this year for me. I felt as if I took away some critical information related to writing and publishing. Hopefully, my workshop was helpful to others. It is always great to see old writing friends and make new ones. I am already looking forward to the next conference in 2 years!

How 20 Minutes a Day Can Transform Your Writing Life

 

Benefits of Writing/Blogging 20 Minutes a Day:

2 ½ years (or 864 posts) ago I wrote:

If you write daily, you will Increase writing fluidity, develop your “voice,” discover who you are and how you think, feel good about yourself by doing something every day related to writing, believe you are closer to being a “real” writer, stop debilitating perfectionism, have a daily chronicle of your life, and create a body of work.

If you blog daily, you will increase readership, open yourself up to people writing similar things on the internet, create a community of writers, increase your chances of attracting an agent, and others’ posts will spur your own writing.

Today I would add:

Writing 20 minutes a day will often not just be 20 minutes, but rather an hour or two before you look up from your writing.

You begin to see life more fully since you are now always looking for “material” for your writing. You may find yourself taking more pictures, as well, since photos will help you to remember the details of what you saw.

You’ll find that your family will inform you they already know what you’re telling them. “I read your blog, Mom.”

If you’re lucky, you will find random people writing you and confessing that they love your blog. These may be neighbors, acquaintances or old high school friends who you haven’t spoken to in forty years. That’s a lot of fun, by the way.

You’ll discover a ready source for quick rewrites and submissions to either online or print journals. I have increased my publication rate significantly since I have so much more material to work with than ever before.

You will remain puzzled why anyone would find your boring life/blog interesting, but you will accept that there are truly people out there who want to read about the ordinary aspects of someone else’s life. Go figure.

You will also begin to see which pieces your readers respond to and which ones seem to leave them a bit cold. Ironically, for me, the more brilliant I think the piece is, often the less response I get. Conversely, the simpler the piece, often the greater response.

You will find yourself experiencing all of life more fully: music, art, literature, relationships, spirituality, etc. because you are now constantly thinking about how to transform these experiences into writing.

You may, in fact, feel as if you are actively growing as a human being because you are allowing passion and discipline to be an active part of your daily life.

Challenges to Writing 20 Minutes a Day:

2 ½ years ago I wrote:

1)I am boring and so is my life.
2) Why would anybody care about what I’m writing?
3) I am wasting my time. I will never make money doing this.
4) I have nothing to write about. I am blank.
5) I am not a good writer, why am I bothering?
6) My family is complaining that they need me, and I should be more attentive to them.
7) I am kidding myself that this makes any sense.
8) Other people give me that look that reads, “Oh my, who do you think you’re kidding? You will only fail at this.”
9) I would write, but I have so many other more important things that need my attention.
10) I am too lazy for this; this must be for other people not me.

Today I would add:

!) I need to write earlier so I am not always tired when I write.

2) I need to have some plan-ahead blogs in case I truly can’t write that day.

3) I need to have a ready resource of prompts just in case I am dead cold with ideas for my 20 minutes.

4) I need to get comfortable with who I am so I don’t censor myself when writing (within reason, of course).

5) I may need to have particular days for certain types of writing to help organize my blogging week better.

6) I need to be sure and categorize my blogs every time I write so that I (and readers) can more effectively find my posts when doing a Google or Yahoo search.

7) I need a better phone so I can upgrade my photographs.

8) I need to learn how to incorporate occasional podcasts of my work on my blog.

9) I need to learn how to title my blogs better for increased readership.

10) I need to take the chance to write fiction, nonfiction, poetry or whatever I damn well please on my blog. In other words, I need to banish DOUBT.

The Power of Intention: Learning to Co-Create Your World Your Way by DR. WAYNE W. DYE

TRUE NOBILITY: “True nobility isn’t about being better than someone else. It’s about being better than you used to be.”

Faulkner’s wisdom: “Don’t bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself.”

Don’t compete. Come from your soul and CREATE.

Be you. The best you imaginable.

DELETE!

“Hit the mental delete button every time fear appears.”

Fear? Delete.

And ask yourself the question: “What would I do if I wasn’t afraid?!?”

More wisdom on the subject of doubt:

William Shakespeare: “Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win by fearing to attempt.”

Ramana Maharshi: “Doubts arise because of an absence of surrender.”

Emerson: “Always, always, always, always, always do the thing you fear and the death of fear is certain.”

Some inspiration from Brenda Ueland

Taken from her book, If You Want to Write: A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit

If you compare yourself to other writers, Brenda says:

“Don’t always be appraising yourself, wondering if you are better or worse than other writers.”I will not Reason & Compare,” said Blake;”my business is to Create.” Besides since you are like no other being ever created since the beginning of Time, you are incomparable.”

If you are constantly dissatisfied with your work, Brenda says:

“If you are never satisfied with what you write, that is a good sign. It means your vision can see so far that it is hard to come up to it. Again I say, the only unfortunate people are the glib ones, immediately satisfied with their work. To them the ocean is knee-deep.”

If you don’t know what type of writing you want to do, Brenda says:

“Tackle anything you want to–novels, plays, anything. Only remember Blake’s admonition: ‘Better to strangle an infant in its cradle than nurse unacted desires.’”
If you get discouraged, Brenda says:

“When discouraged, remember what Van Gogh said: ‘If you hear a voice within you saying: you are no painter, then paint by all means, lad, and that voice will be silenced, but only by working.’ ”

18 Tricks to Make New Habits Stick:
Scott H Young

Wouldn’t it be nice to have everything run on autopilot? Chores, exercise, eating healthy and getting your work done just happening automatically. Unless they manage to invent robot servants, all your work isn’t going to disappear overnight. But if you program behaviors as new habits you can take out the struggle.
With a small amount of initial discipline, you can create a new habit that requires little effort to maintain. Here are some tips for creating new habits and making them stick:

1. Commit to Thirty Days – Three to four weeks is all the time you need to make a habit automatic. If you can make it through the initial conditioning phase, it becomes much easier to sustain. A month is a good block of time to commit to a change since it easily fits in your calendar.
2. Make it Daily – Consistency is critical if you want to make a habit stick. If you want to start exercising, go to the gym every day for your first thirty days. Going a couple times a week will make it harder to form the habit. Activities you do once every few days are trickier to lock in as habits.
3. Start Simple – Don’t try to completely change your life in one day. It is easy to get over-motivated and take on too much. If you wanted to study two hours a day, first make the habit to go for thirty minutes and build on that.
4. Remind Yourself – Around two weeks into your commitment it can be easy to forget. Place reminders to execute your habit each day or you might miss a few days. If you miss time it defeats the purpose of setting a habit to begin with.
5. Stay Consistent – The more consistent your habit the easier it will be to stick. If you want to start exercising, try going at the same time, to the same place for your thirty days. When cues like time of day, place and circumstances are the same in each case it is easier to stick.
6. Get a Buddy – Find someone who will go along with you and keep you motivated if you feel like quitting.
7. Form a Trigger – A trigger is a ritual you use right before executing your habit. If you wanted to wake up earlier, this could mean waking up in exactly the same way each morning. If you wanted to quit smoking you could practice snapping your fingers each time you felt the urge to pick up a cigarette.
8. Replace Lost Needs – If you are giving up something in your habit, make sure you are adequately replacing any needs you’ve lost. If watching television gave you a way to relax, you could take up meditation or reading as a way to replace that same need.
9. Be Imperfect – Don’t expect all your attempts to change habits to be successful immediately. It took me four independent tries before I started exercising regularly. Now I love it. Try your best, but expect a few bumps along the way.
10. Use “But” – A prominent habit changing therapist once told me this great technique for changing bad thought patterns. When you start to think negative thoughts, use the word “but” to interrupt it. “I’m no good at this, but, if I work at it I might get better later.”
11. Remove Temptation – Restructure your environment so it won’t tempt you in the first thirty days. Remove junk food from your house, cancel your cable subscription, throw out the cigarettes so you won’t need to struggle with willpower later.
12. Associate With Role Models – Spend more time with people who model the habits you want to mirror. A recent study found that having an obese friend indicated you were more likely to become fat. You become what you spend time around.
13. Run it as an Experiment – Withhold judgment until after a month has past and use it as an experiment in behavior. Experiments can’t fail, they just have different results so it will give you a different perspective on changing your habit.
14. Swish – A technique from NLP. Visualize yourself performing the bad habit. Next visualize yourself pushing aside the bad habit and performing an alternative. Finally, end that sequence with an image of yourself in a highly positive state. See yourself picking up the cigarette, see yourself putting it down and snapping your fingers, finally visualize yourself running and breathing free. Do it a few times until you automatically go through the pattern before executing the old habit.
15. Write it Down – A piece of paper with a resolution on it isn’t that important. Writing that resolution is. Writing makes your ideas more clear and focuses you on your end result.
16. Know the Benefits – Familiarize yourself with the benefits of making a change. Get books that show the benefits of regular exercise. Notice any changes in energy levels after you take on a new diet. Imagine getting better grades after improving your study habits.
17. Know the Pain – You should also be aware of the consequences. Exposing yourself to realistic information about the downsides of not making a change will give you added motivation.
18. Do it For Yourself – Don’t worry about all the things you “should” have as habits. Instead tool your habits towards your goals and the things that motivate you. Weak guilt and empty resolutions aren’t enough.

http://www.lifehack.org/articles/productivity/18-tricks-to-make-new-habits-stick.html

Character Questionnaire

This questionnaire was invented by the noted French author Marcel Proust. These questions are frequently used in interviews so you may want to pretend you’re interviewing your characters. You can also ask yourself these questions for memoir pieces.

 

  • What do you consider your greatest achievement?

 

  • What is your idea of perfect happiness?

 

  • What is your current state of mind?

 

  • What is your favorite occupation?

 

  • What is your most treasured possession?

 

  • What or who is the greatest love of your life?

 

  • What is your favorite journey?

 

  • What is your most marked characteristic?

 

  • When and where were you the happiest?

 

  • What is it that you most dislike?

 

  • What is your greatest fear?

 

  • What is your greatest extravagance?

 

  • Which living person do you most despise?

 

  • What is your greatest regret?

 

  • Which talent would you most like to have?

 

  • Where would you like to live?

 

  • What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

 

  • What is the quality you most like in a man?

 

  • What is the quality you most like in a woman?

 

  • What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?

 

  • What is the trait you most deplore in others?

 

  • What do you most value in your friends?

 

  • Who is your favorite hero of fiction?

 

  • Whose are your heroes in real life?

 

  • Which living person do you most admire?

 

  • What do you consider the most overrated virtue?

 

  • On what occasions do you lie?

 

  • Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

 

  • If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

 

  • What are your favorite names?

 

  • How would you like to die?

 

  • If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be?

 

  • What is your motto?

 

Blogging – Go to WordPress and dive right in. There will be a learning curve, but just stay with it. You can learn this. Ask your friends to sign up. Also, post your blog to Facebook and Linked In. You will have a readership in no time.

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