Posted in blog, Monday Blogs, Motivational Posts

ūüĒź Self-Care & Mental Health Lessons Learned From LockDown #MondayBlogs

[ CW:// Stress, Anxiety  & Depression Mentioned in this Article (Content Warning) ]

Hey guys! Welcome back to my blog! Been ages, I know. Motivation went out the window unfortunately in 2020. You know, I thought I was the queen of excuses, the Pro of Procrastination before … but 2020 has taken my ‘laziness’ skill onto a whole new level! Not a thing to brag about, trust me I totes know!

But you know, 2020 wasn’t all bad.

Being stuck at home and unemployed for seven months has left me with loads of time to self-reflect on, well, myself. So I wanted to share with you what I learned about Self Care and Mental Health in case they help you as well if you’re struggling with survivor’s guilt of the pandemic, the stress of unemployment/job hunting, or just general anxiety about all the Sh* going on in this crazy planet.

I almost titled this post “Life-Changing Lessons Learned From LockDown” for more clicky-click’s but I felt like that was too much of a clickbait and I care too much about my audience (that’s you!) to fall into that temptation.  Plus, the lessons I learned weren’t exactly ground-breaking or revolutionary, but they helped me cope through one of the most stressful years of our lives. It started with the Toilet Paper crisis and ended in 500,000 deaths in the US alone and counting of the historical coronavirus. So now more than ever, I think it’s important we normalize discussing Self-Care and Mental Health. Make it more than trendy buzz words, sharing our process can help others go through theirs. That, I do firmly believe. Sorry for using ‘now more than ever’, if you’re like me, you probably cringe every time an advert uses that line. But sometimes, the cliches just fit.

Anywho – let’s get on with what you’re here for! Lessons on how to survive stress and help make the days count.

Just a DISCLAIMER! I am not a health care professional or a psychologist. I STRONGLY advise seeking help if you feel a strong sense of hopelessness for a prolonged period of time. These are tips that have helped me, and I hope by sharing, you might get some nuggets of mental health tips. Right-o, here we go!

The Art of Meditation & Chakra Balancing:

If you’re a fan of the original Avatar the Last Airbender, then you’re probably already familiar with at least the main principles of Chakras. Basically, there are seven balls or aura’s of energy that connects inside of you to a higher power. The goal is to keep all seven chakras open so that you can release any unwanted or negative energy back into the universe where it can be redirected to where it is needed.

Learning more about the Chakras and keeping an open mind of the existence of Chakras has helped me control my emotions, set my mood, and aided with my ability to fall asleep faster. For example, if I was feeling exceptionally anxiety-induced, had a bad episode of restless leg syndrome, or feeling like I didn’t belong anywhere I would focus on my ROOT CHAKRA. When I *finally* got my day-job at a call center (hey, it paid them bills!) and my throat kept hurting every day from making 100+ calls a day, you guessed it … the THROAT CHAKRA helped me get a little more comfortable being on the phone for so long and the courage to speak up. And I used the HEART CHAKRA many times to redirect negative or sad energy that I absorbed from others as an Empath, especially customers who were dealing with loss of a family member, that I couldn’t shake off without meditating on the HEART CHAKRA.

There are plenty of other examples of how the Chakras helped me cope, but that could easily be a blog post on it’s own!

And, before you say the chakras are pseudo-science or a type of placebo … I used to not believe in them either. I just didn’t think they were for me. Boy, was I wrong! I’m glad I rediscovered the world of Chakras because they’ve greatly improved my mental health. And now I check-in on my Chakras almost every day!

But I separate mediation with Chakra Balancing because to me they are not the same thing. Both have their place and are equally important. And if you prefer one over the other, that is perfectly okay too! You do not have to do them both. But personally, I enjoy doing them both because it helps me calm down, change the narrative of my mental chatter into a positive one, and generally just connecting with the Self and the Universe in a meaningful way. Yeah, this stuff really does go deep. 

But how deep you want to go is always up to you! That is important to remember. You are in control of your thoughts; your thoughts do not control you. That is a lesson I have to re-learn almost every day. But you now what? That’s okay. It’s about giving yourself grace.

Using Meditation as Escapism:

While it maybe isn’t the greatest thing to use escapism to help cope with stress, anxiety, depression or insomnia, as some would call it running away or hiding from your problems instead of solving them, at least it is a safe outlet that helped me relax during the fear of the coronavirus era.

I know I am not the only one, because when I shared a particularly relaxing binaural sleeping track from YouTube to my IRL bestie, she said it was the first night sleep in a while without nightmares and she works in the coronavirus ward in a hospital. There is strong science how binaural beats work and using sound to tell the brain how to feel.

It’s actually very interesting how sound really can impact the brain. It’s really fascinating thinking how you can tell your brain to either relax or hype up depending on the types of sound wave frequency played by the music. The military is even exploring using it to help vets with PTSD. I personally use the binaural beats technique to relax at night and stay asleep (this track was the one that gave my bestie so much relief), or focus when I’m writing or working.

There are lots of YouTube channels that use the frequencies to either unleash serotonin (the happiness trigger), mediation frequencies that help connect you with the Universe or God if you’re religious, or even frequencies that claim to give you as much energy as coffee

All it takes to unlock these magnificent, almost magical tracks is a quick YouTube search. I strongly recommend YouTube Premium, so that you can shut off your phone and still listen to the tracks and not be disturbed by adverts. Now, I’m not saying you NEED YouTube Premium to highly enjoy these tracks, but it really is worth it.

The binaural beats are an easy way to escape your mental chatter and just relax or focus on what you’re actually wanting to work on (like writing or studying).

However, these music tracks aren’t the only way to enjoy an escape.
Guided meditations have been almost an addiction for me for a year and a half now, and I find myself listening to them nearly every night since.

My fave way to drift off into dreamland for a relaxing night’s sleep is to the soothing voices of Jason Stephenson, the Honest Guys, SleepTube music, and more.
It started out on a particularly dark night of the soul where my insomnia and depression felt especially helpless. I think I searched for “sleep depression” on YouTube and that led me down the happy rabbit hole of binaural beats, guided meditations and hypnosis therapy.

Of course, you should speak to your healthcare professional as none of these are substitutes for therapy or medication. However, in my own experience, I found these worked better for me than some of my medication. Again, that is just my individual experience so please don’t go in thinking this can be a cure-all. I found the guided meditations and hypnosis sessions just helped me sleep, which sometimes with depression feels an impossible task. Just a warning, for me it did almost the opposite effect,and I found myself sleeping too much. So again, just a precaution. Definitely recommend you set up a few alarms to wake up in the morning, as at least with me, the hypnosis meditations especially would let me sleep for hours and hours … well beyond the recommended seven to eight hour recommendation of healthcare professionals.

Now I did do a little bit of meditation back in 2019; and it helped a little bit going through the motions of everyday shuffle, but it wasn’t until about March of 2020 that I typed that fateful YouTube search and as they say, the rest is history.

I definitely recommend Headspace App and the Calm App to get started with mediation. Is important not to worry about “doing meditation right” or have any expectations going in. Just concentrate on the breath itself and try to clear your mind.

If you have depression, I highly recommend the Headspace App. There is a course there that helps change one’s relationship with depression, and it helped me through a spell in 2019. I only canceled it because I started to prefer guided meditations on YouTube, but I recommend trying a few out and seeing what sticks with you. Please note non of these are sponsored! Just personal recommendations. I will probably do a full blog post on my fave meditation apps, so stick around for that and follow my blog / subscribe to my youtube channel for more good stuff on mental health tips!

Self Care Lessons Learned in 2020 and 2021:

So, this is a very much do as I say and not as I do. Because I know if I do most or even half of these tips I would be much better off for it. But I keep adding it to my planner and my calendar with the hopes that one day I will have a “perfect day”. But between my procrastination and TV addiction, half of this Sh* just doesn’t get done. But I still plan and advise on these tips because they have been proven by hundreds of people to be effective, maybe even thousands of people. I’m sure you have heard some of these tips before, and the days I actually do them, I do feel much better. So here we go!

Check Your Chatter:

One thing I really liked about Headspace, was it helped me recognize the voice in my head, my inner critic, isn’t always your friend. For me, it more often was my worst enemy. My self-doubt grew to gigantic proportions after my debut novel Quest of the Prodigy got so many negative reviews. I felt I failed as an author, and therefore as that was what I recognized the most, failed as a person. I know, calm down the drama right? But that is what self-doubt does, blows things way out of proportion.

And Headspace helped keep myself in check. It seems every day I have to re-learn this lesson, but it’s always a good reminder. Sometimes when I feel so crippled by self-doubt I want to scream, I try to write down my thoughts in a journal or a voice-memo on my Apple Watch if I don’t feel like writing. Brain-dumping is a very useful tool for self-care! 

If you hate your handwriting like I do, I strongly recommend using your phone or smartwatch for a voice memo to brain dump. Even if you never listen to the voice memo’s again, which I usually don’t, it feels good just to get it out there. Imagine chatting with your favorite human to connect with like a parent or a bestie, and unload your thoughts onto that voice memo. Don’t worry, it should be that only you have access to it, so don’t worry about others judging it. And, try not to judge yourself as you speak into the microphone, just let all of your thoughts go.

Think About Others: 

I’m in no way calling you a selfish person! But sometimes when you have Depression or Anxiety, it’s easy to only focus on your to-do-list or your problems. I believe that’s just natural.

But when was the last time you texted your friend or family member? Or better yet, when was the last time you called them? Can you go shopping with your friend (even if it’s shopping online together)? Can you call your sibling and ask how their day was going? What about a cousin? The point is, try to make an honest connection with someone else. At least for that time you’re on the phone with them, you’re not thinking about yourself.

Dont’ have an inner circle? That’s okay. Think about volunteering to a cause that’s important to you. Like a food pantry or soup kitchen. Or donate to babysit a neighbor’s pet or child. You know, just throwing examples off of the top of my head. I heard that volunteering is very good for the soul. I should probably take my own advice and try it sometime!!! LOL ūüôā

Get Moving: 

Okay! ūüö® MAJOR HYPOCRISY alert here! ūüö®

I’ve had “workout” on my calendar for three years now, and have yet to get started lol.
In 2019 I was able to do Yoga a few times a week, but I quickly fell out of it when I failed to see results. I know, weight doesn’t get lost overnight (wouldn’t it be great if the fat could actually get up and walk away?) – so definitely don’t lead by my example, lol.

But time and time again do I hear that even walking 10 minute a day can boost dopamine, and I really need to try it!

Maybe tonight I will dust off my treadmill and do a 10 minute walk. Anyone want to take a challenge with me and hold each other accountable? Seriously just let me know!  Totally game!

But even if you don’t have any equipment at home, there are LOTS of free YouTube on equipment-free workouts you can do in the comfort of your living room!

I personally am not a gym person. I feel like I am judged too much by other patrons of the gym. But if you’re the competitive sort or enjoy taking group classes, I highly recommend it! Just bring your own hand sanitization wipes to reduce the possibility of getting the coronavirus that is still at large at least as of March 2021.

Cook At Home:

Not only is it healthier to cook at home, it also helps the brain. Lots of preservatives, extra fat, MSG and other not good stuff found in fast food and restaurants these days makes the food you eat go straight to your waistline. Not only does it help you gain weight, it’s not good for the brain.

In about 2017ish I gave up fast food for one whole year. Yes, I really did! I found I had more energy and my cognitive thinking was clearer. I did not lose the weight I wanted, but it was a good start.

In 2020 I ordered pizza about five+ times a month. Not only did I gain 45 lbs, I found I was sluggish and tired all the time. Gee I wonder why, right? The Pizza Diet is not one I can recommend, lol.

But back then I didn’t eat healthy because I didn’t think there was going to be a tomorrow. I did not think humanity was going to survive the coronavirus outbreak. Hella dramatic, I know. But that’s what depression does. Warps your reality. One could say Depression is a gaslighter. Tricks you into believing the worst.

So, I spent my days during lockdown glued to the TV and eating pizza. Papa John might have been happy taking my money, but my body wasn’t happy. And neither, was my mind.
But it wasn’t all pizza and takeout. I became a much better cook during lockdown!

I picked up an Instant Pot Omni Plus (not sponsored) and got into cooking big time!
I made a Copy-Cat Chick-Fila sandwich, amazing Pork Chops and Gravy and other dishes that made me almost want to become a professional chef!

While cooking was a fun hobby and created meaningful bonding moments with my mom as we cooked together,¬† it also was a dangerous one as I wasn’t watching my portions. It also helped contribute to my 45 lb weight gain, so I definitely recommend putting AWAY leftovers before you eat, so not tempted to eat the entire servings like I was. But, that’s just a tip from me on my own experience. If you have self-control, don’t worry about it! But for me, self-control, what’s that? I’m a totally all-or-nothing kind of girl, and I would love to be able to get better at that.¬† But hey, 2021 is still young, maybe I can work on that!

That is the great thing about your Self. There is always room for improvement!

So yeah, this article is a long one. But there are so many lessons when can learn from a stressful time like the era of coronavirus has been for hundreds of millions of people around the world. The stressful times are in no way over, but if we keep our own mentality about the times we live in, in check, then maybe, just maybe we can learn to enjoy existing and making every day count, just like those corny greeting cards tell us to.

Happiness doesn’t always come easy, but it’s easily always worth it. And yes my friend, YOU deserve to be happy. Don’t let anyone else, even yourself, tell you otherwise.

I hope these “lessons” have helped! A lot of them are stuff already known but forget every day.¬† I think the biggest thing I discovered in recent years was how amazing binaural beats and guided meditations / hypnosis have been. You do have to be careful who you let in your head. Do some research and make sure the person is legit, like a certified hypnosis. But even if they aren’t certified, read the comments of the video and see if they’ve helped others. If they have a large following i.e. subscriber count, and/or lots of positive comments on the channel, chances are you can trust them.

But people know these are stressful times. And bad people take advantage of that. So just do a little searching to make sure the guided meditation videos are there to help you. I personally haven’t come across any harmful ones, but just wanted to throw that caution there. Not to make you paranoid, because I genuinely believe most people want to help, but you know. Some people just suck. Not you though, I’m sure ūüôā

ANYWAY sorry for that tangent. I think that is a good stopping place for this article. I hope it helped get you ideas on how to manage stress, depression and anxiety! My condition runs in the family, so I don’t think depression will ever truly leave me. But I refuse to be defined by it, and I refuse to live the rest of my life like I lived in Lockdown. A depressed pizza-holic who was anything but productive.

That being said, I am pleased I survived. And I will continue to work on my stress every day so that it doesn’t control me.

One thing I did re-learn was that I control my thoughts. My thoughts do not control me.

And I hope you have a safe and happy Monday, my friends! Be well! Stay safe! Stay Creative & Geeky!

~Claire

The BreakDown:

  1. Give Yourself Grace
    • Reflect Daily or Weekly in a Journal or brain dump
    • Treat Yourself As Kindly as you would your pet, a stranger or a friend
    • Make the space you spend the most time in comfortable and inspiring
  2. Keep Routines Simple
    • Keep it Simple! Instead of listing every single step on your to-do-list, try to group them in a category instead
    • Be kind to yourself if you don’t have energy to do everything on your list, even a little progress is better than no progress at all!
    • Keep trying then next day! Don’t give up on a goal just because you’re not on a winning streak, keep going!
  3. Life Does in Face, Move On
    • In 2020 it reminded me the world moves on whether you stay in bed all day or are actually productive. So do what is right for you! Do you boo, do you!

Got any tips of your own that helps you manage stress and mental chatter? Share in the comments below! Might help a fellow Creative Geek ūüôā

Catch the Video version of this blog here and if you could kindly subscribe to my YouTube channel you’d be my BFF!!!! Cheers! ūü•ā

Posted in blog, Monday Blogs, Motivational Posts

ūüĒ•Pivoting Goals Is NOT the Same as Failing #MondayBlogs

Hey guys! I’m finally back out of my rut! Real-life got in the way, and, uh, I had to work on some mental health issues but welcome back to Claire’s Cre8tive Club! The hub for porudictives, Cre8tives, and/or Geeks!
So today we’re talking about pivoting goals and why/when you should and how it’s NOT the same thing as a failure even though sometimes it might feel like it.
Hit that like button if you can totally relate to feeling uneasy about changing a long-term goal!
While I”m naturally a very indecisive person (see my channel rebranding video); I’m not talking about changing goals on a whim. I’m talking about goals you’ve been working on for months, years or maybe even your whole LIFE that *just* hasn’t manifested yet.
If you’ve been dedicated that much time, effort and maybe even money into your goal that’s still just a dream … when does it become SENSIBLE for a MIND SHIFT PIVOT?
I’ve found myself at such crossroads twice this year. And it’s really taken a toll on me mentally. Because at first it didn’t feel like growth. It felt like a fail. It felt downright unfair. I’m not one to give into the “why me” syndrome but at times when comparing how hard I worked to where I actually was – it felt extremely unfair.
I was a kind, hard-working person; why wasn’t I getting ahead? And, when is it time to change life directions? Well, I did a little soul-searching and I wanted to share my thoughts about changing long-term goals. Because when I realized I’ve been trying to be a morning person since 2014 — almost six years now; it’s likely not going to happen. But then I remembered just how long I’ve been a night owl. Since high school!
So let’s see, 17 years of being a Night Owl since Junior year of high school in 2002, about 17 years, versus 6 years of totally re-wiring my brain to convert from team Night Owl to team Miracle Morning 4:00 am Club. And I know what you’re thinking: “Gee, Claire, why not try 5:00 AM or 6:00 AM?”
Yup! I tried that too! Sometimes I could get up at 5:30 AM and still feel like a major win, but it still wasn’t satisfying to me because it wasn’t 4:00 AM!
I know, I know. I totally have a super bad habit of being an “all or nothing” kind of girl. And I’ve tried to work on that too. I know it’s not about all or nothing. I know every moment matters. But I find I’m unable to change that mindset. I really have been working on it the last month. And it’s been helping. But it’s hard to change who you are overnight!
But back to pivoting life goals; here are some tips on how to feel that changing major goals can be good, healthy and even motivating!
1. Think of it like a business plan and you’re the CEO of your own life.
If your goal is to workout before work in the morning, and you’ve spent years trying to mindshift into a morning person but just hasn’t been able to meet your annual goals … what would any boss do to that employee that constantly under-preforms?
Well, chances are, they’d be fired. Sadly, that’s the way the world works. So think of that as a separate entity of your mind; and give yourself permission to FIRE that goal. You will feel a huge weight off your shoulders as you HIRE a new goal to feel motivated in that failed goal’s place.
But sometimes it’s hard to let go of an employee.
To help move on during internal company transitions; give your old goal a proper “exit interview” so YOU can feel a sense of closure. And maybe don’t think of it that you failed that goal; but rather, that goal wasn’t moving the company’s business model forward … i.e; your lifestyle, in a better direction. By giving it a proper send-off, you can also give yourself permission to move on and grow from the mistakes or perhaps what about that goal didn’t work for you.¬† Write down these thoughts and reflections in some type of journal as a way to truly let that employee go so your Biz can move on!
2. Keep a record of all the times you’ve tried before.
You don’t need a complete diary or memoir (unless you want to!) but write down a few milestones of memories that your goal DID go well. When you glance down at all your achievements were successful, this will help you learn some lessons from your goal. And give you a reminder that it all wasn’t a total waste of time. I think, at least for me, that’s why it feels like such a fail. Because maybe you don’t have anything physically manifested from your efforts and time. So, it may truly feel like a waste.
BONUS TIP: When you do find another goal to replace that former employee, try keeping a brief track record of when you achieve that daily goal. Maybe just choose a color pen to represent that goal, and either write a checkmark or an X if you didn’t do it that day.
That way, you can feel the progress happening or not, even if the results aren’t yet visible to anyone else. Like working out for example or studying a new language.
Whatever your goal, by tracking it every day or at least once a week, you can give yourself a bit of a progress report. This may help motivate you to go forward because you’ll be excited when you see all of those checkmarks!
3. Call it an experiment.
One way to really help make a ‘failed’ goal not feel like a total failure is simply rephrasing it in your mental chatter. By calling it an experiment, it almost sounds natural that it didn’t work. After all, the very definition of an experiment is a TEST. So what if that goal wasn’t for you? You tested it out and now you know. And by realizing it wasn’t for you, it helps you look for a new experiment to test on!
Remember what Thomas Edison said about experiments: “I have not failed. I’ve just found¬†10,000 ways¬†that won’t work.‚ÄĚ
Cliche as that quote might have become, it is true. Keep failing until you’ve found the one that works! Or find a new experiment to try if your passion for the old one has expired. Which is totally natural. Sometimes, we just get into different things at different points in our lives!
Well guys, I hope that helped you interpret an experiment so changing goals doesn’t feel like a fail.
In conclusion, it’s okay to change your goals, no matter how long you’ve been working on them! It doesn’t make you pathetic or anything negative as maybe you first feel when you realize it’s just not working anymore. And it’s okay if someone else you admire has made better or faster progress than you on the same goal. It just means you’re human and that maybe that goal wasn’t your jam after all. Nothing wrong with changing life directions.
So go ahead, put your best foot forward and try to hire another goal for yourself! You deserve to move forward instead of keeping dead weight bringing your company down.
Have you ever changed a major life goal and felt less than stellar about it? How did you move on? Share in the comments, you never know who you might inspire!
Don’t forget to hit that subscribe button to jon me in the next post, and I’ll catch you guys next time! Remember to cre8te often and be kind always!
Have a great day,
Posted in Monday Blogs, Writing Posts

#MondayBlogs: How To Be #Creative Every Single Time!

Welcome to Claire Cre8tes! My shiny new channel that’s all about #AmWritiing, productivity, creativity, and Geek culture! I can seriously talk about writing all day long! But ain’t nobody got time for that! So let’s stick to today’s topic! If people actually knew who I was, they would ask me: where do you get your ideas?

 

Well I actually have the opposite problem where I have way too many ideas! It creates a very real struggle of being able to focus on one project and complete it before I finish a project.

 

[bctt tweet=”Having too many ideas creates a very real struggle of being able to focus on one project and complete it before I finish the first idea.” #amwriting #creative #passcreativityon]

 

So do I have any ideas on how to beat creative block? Oh boy, do I! My most favorite tip is coming up, so stay tuned for that! And don’t forget to share this post on Twitter, you never know who in the #AmWriting community can use a bit of creative motivation today!

 

I’m going to cut to the chase here: there is nothing divine or mysterious about inspiration! No greek goddess has descended from another era or dimension to give you your epic ideas! As awesome as they feel when you do get a brilliant idea, it is both satisfying and at the same time completely terrifying that they came from you. Yes, you!

 

[bctt tweet=”As awesome as they feel when you do get a brilliant idea, it is both satisfying and at the same time completely terrifying that they came from you. Yes, you!” #amwriting #creative]

 

That same person who thought it was a good idea to put that embarrassing thing in your mouth when you were three years old!

 

It’s a terrifying notion that great ideas can come from you, because you might either be wondering if you’re good enough to execute these ideas or if because they did come from you, are they actually good ideas?

 

My greatest advice is to just give it a try! Who knows if it’s a great idea or not. Certainly you won’t know until you try, show it to a few people, and ask them!

 

[bctt tweet=”My greatest advice is to just give your idea a try!” #creative]

 

It’s also equally important to be you! You’ve heard that motivational quote: just do you.¬† I know you have! If you have even been on the Internet, like ever, I know you’ve heard it! But that cliche quote applies to writing, too.

 

If you simply try to write ideas based on sellability* it won’t be as easy to write as your passion projects, that’s almost an absolute guarantee! So it’s important to find a genre, a story or a character you can’t get enough of writing about. Your passion will be able to be read off the page. But be careful, because likewise, you’re boredom can also be sensed by the readers as well! Think of readers like Jedi Masters, they can sense when the author has stopped caring!

 

[bctt tweet=”Think of #readers like #Jedi Masters, they can sense when the #author has stopped caring!.” #amreading #creative]

 

And if all else fails, as positively cliche as it is, my #1 tip aside from just to be you, is remember that book you read that made you want to be an author in the first place! I.E: remember why you started! For me, it was the first Harry Potter book in 1997; it would have been in the 6th grade. And it made me want to write a book that inspired people, too. And sure it took me 20 years later, but I have!

 

Basically when I am feeling the most stuck, I pause what I’m working on and start something new. I get inspiration from hearing other authors talk about writing. I turn to Twitter for the #AmWriting community. I remember why I started.

 

[bctt tweet=”Basically when I am feeling the most stuck, I pause what I’m working on and start something new.” #creative #creativeproblems]

 

And funny thing, when all else fails and I try to give up being an author and go to being normal: I find I hate being normal and go back to writing. So sometimes taking a break is also all that is needed.

 

What about you? What writing tips do you have to get rid of creative block?  Share in the comments!

 

Thanks so much for joining me today, and I look forward meeting you in the next one!

 

Happy writing!

 

Posted in Monday Blogs, Uncategorized

#MondayBlogs Fall: A Season to Let Go (Of Creative Block)!

Hey guys! Thanks so much for joining me today. I am back on my regular schedule! You know, the main reason I’ve been so absent this year is two reasons:

 

1. Is confidence. My book did not do well at all and even got some extremely negative reviews on an Advanced Reader Copy review site and it really hurt my creative confidence. It made me question if I have what it takes to be an author. Furthermore, it made me not want to be creative at all!

 

 

2. Mental illness made me question the point of everything, I know there’s no shortcut to anything that matters, and I know how super important it is to be consistent on social media every week! But not only was my depression and anxiety making it extremely¬†difficult to wake up and get out of bed each and every morning; it also produced an annoying but ever-present voice in my mind ask:¬†why¬†does¬†this¬†matter?

 

 

Deep down I knew I wanted to post, but the couch is so very comfortable and there’s so much to watch on Netflix that I didn’t really stand a chance!

 

Because I really DO love talking about writing and the creative life! Not only is it super inspiring, but I love helping others feel inspired too! In fact, that’s why I started to begin writing in the first place! I wanted to create inspiring stories that empower the reader! To make the reader feel special. And that’s why I took the negative reviews so hard. I felt like I failed. But¬†there’s¬†more stories to be told! More books to be written!

 

And I think in my fog of mental illness, I forgot that. So here I am, starting over.

 

 

I’m going to try and let¬†go¬†the negative thoughts of others. I’m going to try and let go the pressures and stress that my co-workers and bosses dumped on me. And I’m going to let go of the very strong worry of publishing another failed novel.

 

I’m going to start over. As a student. I’m going to pretend I’m back in college ten years ago in 2008 and I don’t know anything about writing. It’s time to re-master my craft. From grammar basics, storytelling strategies to character development and plot twists. I’m going to pretend like I’ve forgotten everything I think I know about writing and start anew.

 

 

There’s something kind of thrilling about starting over, don’t you think? Because when one let’s go of their bruised ego, maybe that means that anything is possible!

 

 

It might be 80 degrees around here and hardly feels like the first week of fall in my shorts and sandals, but mentally at least, I’m ready for it to be fall. I’m ready to start over as if I was starting a new semester in school. So much has changed for me this year, both in health and career, in friendships and changing of interests. I’m not sure if I’m going backward or forwards¬†in my life, but the important thing is to keep moving. As the cheesy saying goes: if nothing is changed then nothing is gained. Or, something like that.

 

So what about you? What are you going to let go if you could? Share in the comments below, and let’s let go, together!

 

As always, happy writing!

 

Posted in Geeky Rants, Monday Blogs, Uncategorized

#MondayBlogs: 20 Years of Hogwarts My Home. Thank You @JK_Rowling!

This weekend Twitter reminded us it was 20 years ago this past Saturday of the US book release that Harry Potter¬†first crossed the Great Lake (the Black Lake in the films) and Twitter was feeling extremely¬†nostalgic with many #BackToHogwarts posts. Barnes and Noble, Simon &¬†Schuster and the New York City Public Library (my novel¬†has a scene that takes place there, BTW!) and other news pages all were tweeting #HarryPotter20 fandom vibes. It made me reflect on how instrumental J.K. Rowling’s magical masterpiece really was in¬†my¬†life and I dedicate this post to Harry and the fans that made it a wonderful journey to be a part of.

But 20 years is still a very long time. I had been there since the beginning. It was back in middle school. Would have been the 7th grade. 13 years old I was. And I found it totally by accident.¬†Little did I know, my life would never be the same. I remember very clearly the day I found the Boy Who Lived. But it felt like, Harry and his extraordinary world, had found me. Let’s take a trip in my Pensive, a.k.a. memory lane, and see where my first steps into the most wonderful Potterhead fandom began…

So it was an English assignment, and it was one of the toughest ever. We had to pick out a BOOK in the¬†LIBRARY¬†in only THIRTY MINUTES! Now I’ve never been much of a reader. So this challenge was a great task for me. I remember scouring the stacks of this library looking for … sigh, a¬†book. Well, I browsed and browsed and browsed the children’s / MG books of 1998 and found nothing. Then I browsed the rest of the¬†library.¬†Teacher¬†was looking at me, so I pretended¬†to be interested in some of the spines of books so she thought I was busy. But I wasn’t busy, I was bored!

There was a strange book with a boy riding a broom on the cover. Huh. I walked by. I was frustrated when my friends found books with fifteen minutes to spare. They started to check out their books and even started reading already! I was running out of time. Teacher even reminded us our time was almost up.

I¬†sighed,¬†and snatched the spine of the book with the boy riding his broom. I stared at the title: Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone. Uh, okay. I didn’t have time to read the back blurb. No¬†idea what it was about, but it was a book, I wasn’t going to get in trouble, and I was happy enough. I checked out the book and showed it to my friends. They LAUGHED at me and said that was a kids book. I stared at them: uh,¬†weren’t¬†WE¬†kids?

We headed back to the classroom just in time for the next period. I managed to complete the first part of that assignment, yay!

A couple of weeks into the assignment and I was really enjoying the book! Like really, really enjoying it! Loving a book that didn’t feel like a forced reading assignment was a new sensation to me. It flew by and it was fantastical. I remember sitting at our reading times during one English class, and actually set the book down on the table on¬†it’s¬†spine and¬†declared to myself loudly, proudly in my head: “I can do this.¬†I write a story like this.” and ever since then; it’s been my dream to be a writer!

I remember when the books started to REALLY take off. It was the third book in the series that the rest of the nation was starting to catch up to the ‘Potter-Mania’. But by then I was well obsessed with the series. I was already in some roleplaying forums online (back then I was obsessed with an RP site called¬†Twilight-Sky¬†before it became¬†a clique and full favoritism/cyberbullies), I was researching more about the Harry Potter world and Hogwarts. I even got in trouble with my family because my older brother caught me using the computer interacting with Harry Potter fans and saw the “Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry” and called my mom ASAP just to get me in trouble. “Mom, Mom, Claire wants to be a witch! Mom!”¬†That brat!

It was very hard before people knew what the books really were about to explain I was not interested in ‘goth’ or the ‘dark arts’. But I didn’t really care. Even though the argument led me¬†in¬†tears and made me feel strange for liking such a book, I knew it was worth it. Because with those books, I felt¬†apart¬†of something. I was part of an online community that was like no other. My real life friends also slowly picked up on the series and we formed our own ‘Hogwarts’ houses. Of course: I was in Hufflepuff.

At first, I was offended because I was chosen last for the house and got stuck with it, but then I came to love it. Keep in mind, this was before we knew about Newt Salamander and Cedric Diggory. Hufflepuff wasn’t cool yet. We formed our houses in book three. But I wore my literal badge we made with pride.

It was the third book when it slowly started to become an international sensation. And the fourth book when they made the first movie. And then no longer was I laughed at. No longer did my family think I had a secret interest in witchcraft. They understood. They finally got on the Harry Potter bandwagon and wow did that bandwagon explode!

One of my friends stopped liking Harry Potter when it took off. She didn’t want to ‘conform with the masses’ or whatever. I shrugged. I didn’t care if it was getting so popular — it made me love it more!

Dressing up for the midnight showings and midnight book releases. Getting anxious because the next book was taking¬†FOREVER¬†to be released! Roleplaying online what we thought was going to happen. Shipping Harry with Luna and Hermoine with Draco. Pretending we were going to the Yule Ball too and dreaming which side-character would ask us to the ball (I was practically in love with Lee Jordan and crushed he didn’t get hardly any screentime). Predicting what cruel trick Snape would do next before we knew his true backstory. Getting BLOWN AWAY by the twist at the last two books. And making new friends who shared a love for the fandom. Debating which house was the best, what our Quidditch position would be, and if we would be brave enough to sign up for Dumbledore’s Army or not.

My friends and I were also obsessed with the James Potter years, creating our own stories about their misadventures in Hogwarts. It was brilliant and even though we were well into high school, we felt like we were still kids. And with how popular Harry Potter had gotten, it became, cool. No longer did we feel like dorks. We can wear our passion with pride.

Yeah, the 90’s and early 00’s were a wonderful time to be alive as a Harry Potter fan. Granted, it still is! We’ve still got a massive fandom of almost three generations. We have the Harry Potter worlds. We have the movies that are immortal on the silver screen (and no¬†slaughtering unicorns required!) and plenty of Merch to make us feel like a real wizard, just like Harry. But it’s not quite like before the books finished. I suppose, though, that’s why they call it nostalgia.

To be honest I still haven’t seen the last two Harry Potter films. I haven’t read the Cursed Child. And I haven’t re-read the HP books in a very long time.

It’s not that I’m over Harry Potter. Not even close! And I still declare myself a Hufflepuff with pride, even on my Tinder profile! I know the reason I haven’t seen the last two HP films: I don’t want it to be over.

I know it’s silly. But I treasure my Harry Potter memories. There’s so many! It’s why I became a writer. It’s how I met so many wonderful folks online. Some of them I even met in person from other countries! But I just don’t want the journey to be over. I know it never will¬†be,¬†because I’ll always have those memories in my heart. But I worry that if I watch the last two films, that it’ll be like, growing up in a weird way. Saying goodbye to Hogwarts forever, somehow. And I’m not ready for that. But I know that’s a silly way of thinking. Because Hogwarts will always be there for me! No matter how old I get.

Because as JK Rowling herself said:

“Whether you’ve come back by page or by the big screen, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.”

I simply love how supportive Jo is of her fans. I adore how she recognizes how deeply impactful the books are to us, and she doesn’t mock us. She doesn’t tell us that it’s not real or we need to grow up. No. She welcomes us home. And if you’re a Harry Potter fan, no matter on what degree, we all¬†have shared that home together.

And that is where the true magic really lies. It lies within us.

Maybe, just maybe, it’s time to watch the last two Harry Potter films. Maybe it’s time to appreciate the gift that J.K. has given us, and move forward. Not grow up. I could never do that, not really. But onwards is a good place to start. Because as Dumbledore once wisely said:

“It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live, remember that.”
-Albus Dumbledore

Thank you, J.K. Rowling, to be brave enough to publish something so completely different back in the 90’s. Thank you for giving me the gift of an interest in writing and accepting my imagination instead of being ashamed or afraid of it. Thank you Harry Potter fans for 20 years of a magical journey. Thank you to the new generation who will love the books as much as we did. And thank you for reading this post today. It was an emotional one, but I felt like my #HarryPotter20 needed to be shared.

What about you? What’s YOUR #HarryPotter20 story? I know everyone has at least heard of Harry Potter – but have you ever felt a personal connection to it? Have you ever called Hogwarts your home? Share in the comments!

I hope you all have a magical journey back to Hogwarts this week!

Thanks, Potterheads! Stay Geeky!

~A Geek Named Claire