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Teri Brown - Young Adult Author

Summer of Reset

The last school year was tough on me, but at the same time it was a period of explosive personal growth. At the beginning of the year, I took a part time job, partly to help out an old friend, partly because I wanted to be able to help out my children financially and partly because I love to teach young children and I missed it. So every morning I would head to the full time job at 6:00 AM, work my eight hours and then head to the afternoon job for 2.5 hours and then come home. I was gone from the house for 12.5 hours. I got through the first few months on pure adrenaline and organization skills. By February, I was burned out. I gave my boss notice that I wouldn’t be able to do it another year and hung on for dear life until June 14th.

During that time, I did several online workshops: Me and White Supremacy by Layla Saad helped me unpack a lot of unconscious bias. Mindset Reset by Mel Robbins taught me how to get out of my own way when it comes to reaching my personal goals. I started reading and promoting books by Native American authors. I fired my agent, sold the book of my heart, got really good at the day job, obtained a wonderful publishing mentor and survived the spring from hell which included a dead computer, dead pipes and worst of all, the passing of my beautiful niece.  And that doesn’t even include children being taken away from their parents and people in concentration camps.

It was time for a physical, emotional and mental reset.

I joined a gym, reupped my meditation app which had just expired and went on a ten day road trip with my husband and dog. I’m running with my granddaughter once a week because for me, it wouldn’t be a reset without nurturing the relationships that connect me to the circle of life. (Yes, I just had an image of Lion King in my head as I typed that.) I also embarked on a 30 day food reset journey. Kind of like Whole 30, but not. No sugar, no coffee, no dairy, no processed wheat, no alcohol. Bob’s Red Mill Protein Smoothie powders to the rescue! I don’t particularly believe in cleanses, per say, I have a perfectly good liver to do that, thank you very much. I do, however, believe in changing your relationship with food and alcohol if it gets out of kilter and after last school year, everything was out of kilter.

Relationships are also coming under scrutiny… I realized that I have friends who can’t get out of their own way long enough to know what friendship is really about. As I get older, I realized that I need to strengthen those relationships that are mutually nurturing and cut those that are not out of my life.

I’m reevaluating my goals, as well. My problem is that I have too damn many and I’m at the point of my life where I need to focus. So other than the usual (relationships, job success, activism, etc), I’m focusing on my fitness and my writing. I have a lot to offer, but not if I let myself become depleted. Perhaps one of the best things I gleaned from Mindset Reset is the concept that passion is energy. Do more of what makes you feel energized. Do less of what depletes you. In the end, for many reasons, the job that I’ve had on and off the less ten years was depleting me.

Also on the docket is my relationship with my own creativity and writing. The book of my heart taught me what it’s like when you are invested with every fiber of your being in telling a story. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve loved telling all my stories and am proud of each of them… but there was something special about the last one… I am ready to try new things and stretch myself in creative directions. I won’t be editing other people’s work anymore. I only have enough time for my own creativity.

At any rate, I will also be blogging more again, because I really, really like it. It makes me happy and God know we could all use a little more happy.

Self-Doubt: Surefire Creativity Killer

How many synonyms are there for roller-coaster? Ups and downs, highs and lows, mixed bag, ebbs and flows, peaks and valleys—all of those describe the week I just had.

Something really good happened at the day job… but it was preceded by something worrisome.  I started taking Wednesdays off at the afternoon job…but it was marred by a thoughtless phone call. My get up and go was slaughtered by too many sleepless nights and I made some poor decisions regarding diet and exercise, (hello candy and fast food drive-throughs!).  I got editor requests for two different manuscripts by two different editors, had a great new YA idea with editor enthusiasm and all that good writing news was suddenly pummeled by waves of creativity killing self-doubt.

Nothing smashes creativity like self-doubt.  It’s like a Conor McGregor uppercut to the jaw— creativity just taps out.

A coworker knit me a hat and as she gave it to me, she pointed out the flaws. All I saw was a beautiful hat; all she saw were the mistakes.  The experience struck a chord—have I ever offered a manuscript to a critique partner without apologizing for it in some way?

Has any writer?

I’ve been doing a lot of studying lately about default thinking and how it affects creativity.  (If you haven’t heard Mel Robbins speak on the topic, you really should check it out. Great stuff) So what is my default? I knew mine immediately- not good enough. “I’m not good enough, my writing isn’t good enough, my work isn’t good enough and nothing I do will ever be good enough.”

So of course, I chose to be an author.  Because the industry is just so warm and fuzzy and affirming.


The trick is to change your default mode of thinking.  Awareness is key. How many times a day do I tell myself that I’m not good enough? I kept track and was surprised at how often that default mode crept in.  Awareness give you a chance to replace default to deliberate with an opposing message. My opposing message is “I am good enough. I am a talented writer constantly improving my craft. I am a talented transition specialist constantly striving and learning to be better. I am a good teacher, mother, wife, daughter, activist, human.”

The amygdala, the emotional center of your brain, doesn’t logic things out. It’s the keeper of your emotional memories and those memories are a part of your default mode of thinking.  Its job is to keep you from being hurt—it warns you with anxiety and self doubt. Whenever you do something creative, it goes on high alert because people who create are opening themselves up to criticism and negativity.  So in a sense, the very act of creating something triggers self-doubt and that’s a conundrum for those of us who MUST create.

So how can your creativity beat self-doubt down when your own brain is working against you?

  • Be aware of your default mode and replace it with positive opposing messages.
  • Start a meditation practice. It raises awareness and builds the muscle to replace default with deliberate.
  • Start a gratitude practice. Science is showing that the emotion of gratitude gives a sense of well-being… which is a mighty foe against self-doubt. (More blogs about this coming.)
  • Power up your creativity muscles by filling the well. (More on this later too!)
  • Realize that this is a never-ending battle.

I have never met a writer, (or nonwriter for that matter) who doesn’t battle self-doubt. Realizing that I’ll never vanquish it completely compels me to stay sharp and aware so I can continue to create, no matter how chaotic my week is or how  many times self-doubt hits me with a brutal uppercut.

Morning Routines that Infuse Your Writing and Your Life with Creativity

I’ve had people ask me about my morning routine, (okay, one person, hi Gill!), so I thought I'd blog about it. Like most blogs about anything, you have to wade through the story before you can get to the stuff you really want to read. If we didn’t tell story, blogs would just be bullet point lists of the good stuff and what fun would that be? So…



As many of you know, I’ve had one good cancer scare and two actual cancer events and there’s nothing like facing your own immortality to crystallize what’s really important in your life. Of course, being a slow learner, it took me several tries. There’s nothing unique about my priorities and goals--humans, at their core, mostly want the same things: love, connection, a feeling of self-worth, financial autonomy, etc.  Two things vital to me are making a positive impact in the world and creativity. Being an activist is as natural to me as breathing, (I actually have news footage of me in the eighties protesting trapping in Prineville, Oregon carrying my three week old son), but creativity is something I’ve had to work at. Writing is my chosen outlet, though I’ve become quite a good cook, as well. But being somewhat greedy about life, having one or two creative outlets aren’t enough for me. I yearn for creativity in every aspect of my  being. I want my own personal brand of creativity to be reflected in my home, my relationships and my jobs. I want to live my whole life with a think outside the box mentality. It came down to a single question, “How can I approach my life in a way that not only infuses my writing with creativity but permeates through the rest of my existence?”

So I’m on a multi-year exploration of what creativity is, the brain science behind it and how to get more of it. As some of you know, when I was teaching up at PCC for their community education program, I offered creativity classes. In my after-school program, I use brain science to approach things like empathy, social skills, and pretty much every subject. At my job as a transition specialist, brain science and creativity helped me develop assessments to help students learn about themselves and plan for the future. I LOVE this stuff. Though I have a TON to say on this topic, I’ll leave it for later and share the routine I use to promote a think outside the box, problem solving, creativity infused outlook on life. As I put together my morning routine, I tried to incorporate scientifically backed activities… I’m not much into expending energy with actions that do nothing but take up my precious time.

Also, before anyone freaks out about how early I get up and feel like they could never do that… I go to bed about 8:30. After dinner, I'm done, finished, wiped out. There's nothing creative about that time period because I have nothing left. In the morning, though… that’s when I’m at my most productive and creative. Plus, I’m at work by 6:30 am, so in order to have my morning time, I get up in the wee hours. I get an average of seven plus hours of sleep because it's difficult to be creative when exhausted.

I actually have two routines… one for when I get my 30 minute walk in before work and the other when I walk at lunch with a friend.

Walk at Work Routine

4:00- 4:15 Wake up, start coffee, meditate.  There is a strong connection between meditation and creativity and I think it has to do with how meditation helps control anxiety, though there may be a deeper connection.  I actually wrote on this topic for Writer’s Digest.

4:15-4:35 Journal/free write/coffee. This is how I check in with myself. I jot down my goals because it’s a powerful reminder of your overarching priorities. Then I journal my thoughts on how I'm doing on reaching those goals. Sometimes I do a timed free write ala Natalie Goldberg style.

4:35-4:50 Mobility exercises. This is a routine that I got from the book, Younger Next Year, the only fitness book recommended to me by a health care professional… my endocrinologist told me it was fantastic and recommended it. The exercises can be used as a warm up or as a standalone routine to keep all your moving parts moving.

4:50-5:20 Eat breakfast and go over the plans for the day. I use the Best Self Journal for this. I don’t use a regular paper planner anymore because electronic is just so much more convenient, but the journal has a place a to do list, a gratitude component and a place to write your main goals for the day. I believe in the power of gratitude and in most studies on happy people, gratitude comes up again and again. I think it’s important to get really specific about what I’m grateful for instead of remaining general. For instance, instead of writing, I’m grateful for my home, I write, I’m so grateful for the new kitchen we put in after Born of Illusion sold. It makes me happy just being in it. Being specific evokes more powerful emotions of gratitude and the point is to really feel it. In time left over, I read a book on the writing craft, self-improvement, history or current events. I also use this time for resistance, which is why you’ll often see my activism posts during that time.

5:20-6:00 Shower, pack lunch, take care of the dog, leave for work, blah blah blah.

Walk at Home Routine

My walk at home routine is similar except I get up early and cut some of the other things. In other words, I have less time for dawdling on walk at home days.

3:45-4:00 Meditate

4:00-4:15 Journal/coffee

4:15-4:35 Mobility exercises

4:35-5:05 Walk on the treadmill.

5:05-5:25 Breakfast and planning

5:25-6:00 Get ready for work.

When I first started my routine, I felt anxious about being so scheduled so I really focused on flow-simply moving from one thing to another without obsessing about it. I focused on the activity instead of on the time. This is really freaking hard when you’re on the treadmill, so I listen to books during that time to distract myself from watching the clock.

The most important aspect of my morning routine is that the entire thing would fall apart if I haven’t already prepped for success. I make most of my breakfasts at the beginning of the week—they just take a few quick minutes in the microwave. You already know that most of my lunches are also premade. I’ve laid out my clothes, wrote my to do list and planned for my morning the night before. All of this prepping creates a morning routine that increases my chances for a positive and creative day and it's those days that slowly build a creative life.

Success in almost anything lies in the planning for it and living creatively is no different.

Do Something Amazing

Every Friday evening, I tell my students to go out and do something AMAZING over the weekend. Actually, I say the same thing to my co-workers much to their annoyance, because then I judge what they think is amazing by saying things like, “No, binge watching such and such on Netflix isn’t amazing,” or “No, playing video games isn’t amazing,” to which they hem and haw and argue. Then I tell them that they don’t know what amazing is.

I don’t, of course, get that judgy with the children I teach at the afterschool care program where I work. But when pushed, I tell them to do something they've never done before. Like paint a rock and leave it on a trail. Write a poem. Paint pictures out of shaving cream, or better yet whipped cream and then eat them. Ask your mom or dad to go on a walk with you and collect leaves or point out every red thing you see and see who can find the most. But mostly, I mean do something new or creative, or something hard or something that makes you a bit anxious. Why? Because that is what electrifies the neurons in your brain and creates an opportunity for growth.

And growing, keeping your brain growing, is everything.

By doing something amazing, something that creates peak experiences, we’re also learning how to see the amazing in the ordinary. I’m reading The Art of Imperfection by Brene Brown and something she wrote really resonated…that people who’ve experienced something traumatic such as war or genocide, say that the things they remember with the most clarity are the ordinary experiences… kissing their child goodbye before school, the smell of coffee in the morning, the way their dog sighs before falling asleep. Those moments become elevated in their minds precisely because they were so ordinary, so familiar, so comforting. It seems almost counter-intuitive that doing things that are out of the ordinary can create appreciation for the ordinary, but it’s not.  Life is by turns both extraordinary and ordinary… appreciating both and more importantly NOTICING both, being mindful of both, is how we create a life that is both examined and well-lived.

Speaking of well-lived, my goal this year is to do something that scares me once a month. This month, that something is painting. I’ve always hated my own art and doing this in public curls my spine. Next month, I’m going cross country skiing… which for someone who is uncoordinated, clutzy and out of shape, is quite nerve-wracking. The month after, I think I’m going to try some kind of marital arts… though my friend, author April Henry would disagree… one person’s scary is another person’s passion.

What am I doing that’s amazing this weekend? Running a 5k, heading downtown to see a friend’s band play and going to see the King and I with my mom. Way too much amazing for my taste, but fun stuff all. Still, I look forward to next weekend when I have very little planned and the ordinary will be that much sweeter for it.

This Year’s Harvest

I’m not a pagan, nor do I play one on TV, but I find myself drawn to their holidays. Why? Because celebrating the changing seasons in whatever fashion makes much more sense to me than celebrating holidays fabricated to keep the pagans/wiccans from observing festivals like the Autumn Equinox. Celebrating the final harvest and the changing of the seasons feels so organic to me and, in my quest to find celebration without deity, I am making merry on the first day of fall.

Last night’s bonfire was the beginning. I had a friend who I hadn’t seen in a long time over and I listened as she and my husband strummed their guitars by the light of the fire in the crisp cool air.















This morning, I sat and journaled about what I’m harvesting in my own life. As always when I journal thoughtfully, I discovered a few things…

During the Autumn Equinox, there is as much daylight as there is sunlight and it represents a certain balance in the universe, so I thought I would look at the seeds I’d planted in my life—one that came to rich fruition and one that failed and offered up no fruit.

Last spring, I signed up for a half marathon. I had five months to train for it. At that time, I could run/limp through a 5k. Now I’m not sure I can even do that. Obviously, I won’t be harvesting that fruit. My job now is to figure out why. My inner critic of course, says it’s because I am lazy, a failure, a loser. I know better, though, so I bitch-slapped my inner critic and dug deeper. Did I commit to too much over the summer? Was my goal reasonable given the circumstances? I wondered if I simply didn’t prioritize my health and decided that wasn’t it. I’ve lost almost ten pounds and eat more veggies than I ever have. I am very mindful now about what goes into my mouth. After pondering on the lack of harvest, I realized that the failure to achieve that goal was a combination of many things, not excluding my habit of aiming unrealistically high in many aspects of my life. I simply don’t have the time in my life to dedicate to running, therefore that crop failed. I need to learn to plant achievable seeds. There is a balance between aiming high and being realistic.

The harvest currently bearing fruit has been something I planted several years ago when I added these lines to my morning affirmations:

  • I am completely committed to working for my family’s success,


  • I will obtain a BA which will help me achieve my goals.

Though those affirmation seeds led to hearty plants that are now coming to fruition, it didn’t happen in quite the way I thought it would. I only have my AA but I do have two amazing jobs that are working to fulfill affirmation number one. Both jobs, (one as a transition specialist for a local high school working with disabled youth and as a teacher for an after-school program), not only allow me to help my family succeed financially, they fulfill the need of another goal I have of making a positive impact in my community. That field is garnering a rich and vibrant harvest, though in totally unexpected ways.

It’s only by taking the time to explore the successes and failures of my crops that I am able to figure out how to sow seeds that yield better harvests.  Autumn Equinox or Mabon or whatever you want to call it is a wonderful time to reflect on the past growing season and preserve the harvest for the coming darkness.

Happy Fall everyone!

I’m Feeling Fine

The publishing business is fully of dizzying highs and stomach plunging lows and my writing career is no exception. From a nasty publisher to a six figure deal to getting dumped by my agent to dumping my agent, from international sales to film agents, to famous producers being interested in my book to books tanking, from scoring articles in national magazines to having an editor completely rework your copy because she hated everything you gave her... I've pretty much seen it all. I could teach a master class on publishing—and if there was any money in it and I had the time, I probably would, ha)! If you aren't crazy when you start writing, the business can make you crazy.

Writers have a tendency to internalize every single rejection. Each criticism becomes a corrosive agent of self-doubt. To survive in today's constantly changing industry, you have to be able to roll with the numerous punches and zig and zag through a myriad of options. It used to make me nuts. It doesn't any more. I've reached a place where I can leave an agent (which I did last week) and not freak out. To decide that my writing is worth care and consideration and to choose both traditional paths and non-traditional paths.

For me, this recently achieved equanimity has to do with the realization that

  1. I am not my writing.
  2. I am more than an author.
  3. My day job and my activism give me so much satisfaction that I don’t have to look for publishing success as a measure of my worth.

Don’t get me wrong. Publishing is clearly wonderful. There’s absolutely nothing like “the call”. Nothing. But I think I’ve reached the point where I can navigate the industry without having it squeeze the breath out of me… and every writer on submission knows exactly how I feel.

For instance, this week alone, I left my agent, made my own submission to a non-traditional publisher for one book and am about to submit another to a large traditional publisher… on my own. I’m already researching plans for my next YA. And I’m fine. There was a moment last week when I was all , “What. The. Hell???” After about 20 minutes of that I was like, “Okay. So that’s that and this is this and what am I going to do next?”

Then I was fine. You  know why? Because for me, being proactive is empowering. Being responsible for my own writing, my own career and my own choices is empowering.

I’m not saying that I won’t be as subject as the next person to the highs and lows, but now I know that no matter what… I’m going to be fine.

Confession and Reflection

I graduated last night. Now before you ask me which university I graduated from and what I majored in, I have a couple things to share with you… it wasn’t a university, it was a community college and my major was an Oregon Associate of Arts Transfer Degree and I’m not going to transfer.

Saying both of those things is hard for me. Really hard. And yet the power of those words and the meaning behind them is worth exploring, both for me personally and within the wider context of what it means to not to hold a BA in a country that both worships and hates education.

Education is the key to unlock the golden door of freedom. George Washington Carver

That’s just your education talking. An old saying usually uttered in rural America to anyone who has gone to college whose thoughts and ideas they disagree with.

That those two philosophies have always existed side by side in this country is like a microcosm for the divide we find ourselves currently embroiled in. Tradition vs innovation. That age old knee jerk reaction to change is almost instinctive—a biological reality to keep us safe from the unknown. This divide has existed in European culture since the Church first started persecuting scientists. It is created by the fear that learning something new will destroy the old and that fear is nurtured by the gatekeepers of the old.

And yet educational achievement is revered by so many that my lack of education was a cocklebur stuck in my sock. The shame of this lack needled me even as I published more and more books and was asked to speak at schools and teach novel writing for our community college’s community education program. This lack of education was something to be hidden, suppressed, buried beneath a ream of achievement. I lied about it on job applications, changed the subject when the inevitable “where did you graduate from?” was brought up during discussions and once, years ago, when my young son outed me during a conversation, “but mama, you said you dropped out of high school”, I wanted to die of shame and humiliation and cried about it in the bathroom later.

Very early I decided that I would rather be pretty than smart and since I felt the former wasn’t possible, I would concentrate on the latter. Of course, math was a problem and math, in the end, was one of the things that doomed my educational career. Not one teacher or administrator in my high school asked why a girl could get A’s in sociology, creative writing and psychology and yet fail general math. If they did ask that question, the answer was always because she wasn’t applying herself. So I quit. Plus, you know, it was the eighties and I wanted to party.

Flash forward several decades and several books later, I took and passed my GED test with almost perfect scores. (See Daddy, I AM smart!) Except for math. I studied and studied, took the math portion again… and passed by one point. I had my GED. But I told very few people because no one knew that I was a high school dropout. (Even now, just typing those words at my keyboard makes my stomach clench and there are people I love who will probably be pissed that I was dishonest with them.)

But as is often the case when you achieve something, the GED wasn’t enough. I realize now that I had biases against people who hold GED’s—they were the people who didn’t have what it took to stick it out in school. People who were somehow less than those who could. And I was one of them. Which is just crazy fucked up because that means that NO ONE can ever rectify a mistake they made as a teen—a mistake that hurt no one but themselves. And crazy fucked up because school isn’t and has never been a one size fits all proposition and education should be made accessible for all students and in a way that works for them. I KNOW this… yet the shame lingered.

So, in spite of being contracted by major publishers and being a success on the outside, I went back to school so I could feel like a success on the inside. I chose to start with community college because it was the most affordable and offered an online component that would work with my very busy schedule. My ambition was to get my BA and a master’s degree and teach writing at a university. I wanted to breathe in the rarefied air of higher education, sit in an office filled with books and hear the crunch of leaves as students walked the quad to another class. Yeah, I’m aware that doesn’t exist anymore but I had dreams, people! DREAMS!

But life shifted. During the very long 3.5 years I spent getting a two year degree, I was blessed with another grandchild. The world changed and activism became a part of my daily life.  I got a full time job that I love and one which affords me the opportunity to make a difference in young people’s lives on a daily basis. My writing suffered because I didn’t have time.

So I started to ask myself why. Why at 54, would I want to go deeper in debt when both of my careers are fulfilling and exciting and I’m so privileged to have them?  I was so conflicted that I even threw a party with some of my closest and most accomplished women friends… the wise soul’s party, where I was able to talk out my feelings about continuing my education and get sage advice in return. I knew in my heart that it had come to the point where I either had to choose to live my life or choose to get more degrees. I simply didn’t have time for both and I, better than most know how dangerous it can be to put things off. Deep down, I really want to write more books and play with my grandchildren and get more politically involved, and yet…

What I’ve come to realize is just how deeply my biases about education and success are ingrained within me. How imposter syndrome is a real thing. How afraid I am of missing out on opportunities that can only come from having that higher degree. For instance, I’ll never be asked to teach at a cool MFA program, get selected for an amazing residency or be the director of a non-profit when the only degree listed on my application is an associate’s. But why would I want those things when I'm really happy with where I’m at? Why am I always striving and pushing myself endlessly?

Quite frankly, it’s exhausting.

Last night, I graduated from Portland Community College with honors. I sat with nine hundred other people who worked damned hard to get there. While I was overcome by gratitude to be a part of it, I was also aware of a sense of shame. Shame that I ever thought less of people for whom education didn’t come easily. In that crowd of nine hundred, there were people who were older than I am. There were Dreamers who fought for that two year degree with everything they had. There were people who wheeled themselves up to the podium to receive their diplomas. When Senator Jeff Merkley asked if there were any students who were the first in their family to graduate college, hundreds of people stood. When he asked how many people were receiving their GED’s that night, dozens more people joined them. Next to me, a young man waved as his father walked by… he and his father were graduating the same night.  The diversity of that group, the determination and grit of that mass of people is something you can’t find anywhere else. Not at a state college and certainly not at an Ivy League school. In addition to those of us who were receiving our associate of arts or science degrees, there were people who were graduating with certificates in welding and auto mechanics, people who achieved credentials in medical and dental assisting, web development and fire protection technology. Something dawned on me as I watched the endless line of humanity marching across the stage… these are people who now have the education to care for our children and elderly, work in our offices, fix our cars, give end of life care, help care for our pets when they’re sick, help addicts kick their habits and fly helicopter rescue missions. These are the people who will take our blood pressure, fix our infrastructure, manufacture the products we consume and police our communities.

These are the people who make our fucking world go round.

And I am so very, very proud to be one of them.

Yes, there’s sadness, but there’s always a shadow of regret when letting go of one dream to reach for another. I was accepted into three different colleges and there may always be a feeling of loss over what might have been. I’ll probably always have to fight my sense of educational inferiority, but perhaps my inner struggle is just reflective of the conflict our nation has always had concerning education. After all, we live in a country that worships at the altar of higher education while at the same time defunding schools for our children and cutting programs that allow our disabled students equal access. But I’m not going to let that conflict define me anymore and I AM letting go of the shame I feel for dropping out of high school.  I will never stop learning. I will never stop achieving. My associate’s degree is enough.

I am enough.

Education is the most Powerful Weapon which can be used to change the world. Nelson Mandela



Common Pitfalls to Avoid when Saving the World.

When you have a save the world complex, it's important to watch for the following pitfalls:

  1. Being angry at people who seem to be obtuse about the suffering of others. Everyone has a protective layer that keeps them from being heartbroken over the myriad of injustices and suffering surrounding them. In some folks; the layer is several feet thick. Sometimes it’s almost as if they blame the sufferer for hurting. Try not to get angry, dear ones. They may be battling their own demons—like assholery and callousness. Remember that anger impedes the work.
  2. Mistaking the save the world complex for the savior complex. You’re not here to help the professional sufferer—they’re actually quite attached to wallowing in their pain and unless you’re a professional therapist, run when you see yourself trying to make someone happy to no avail. It‘s their job to find their own happy, not yours. Being entangled with the chronically unhappy and dissatisfied takes away time from your work for social justice, intersectionality, economic equality, environmental action and education, and world peace. They suck up valuable time from the work. (And please, don’t think I’m talking about the clinically depressed—I’m talking about toxically unhappy people. Learn the difference. The clinically depressed needs help. The professional sufferer needs to be eased out of your life. Protect yourself and the work.)
  3. Looking at the work with too broad of a lens. It’s difficult when there’s so much work to be done to narrow your focus to the issues that feed your soul, but it’s important that you do so. You’ll feel better, like you’re making more progress when you focus. Because I’m in school and work full time, my focus is all over the place. I don’t really have time to set get my teeth into one or two issues, so I use what little time I have to calling my electeds over a ton of topics, writing thank you cards to people showing courage, trying to get the vote out by sending reminder postcards and giving money to various non-profits in need. Saying focused also helps you from getting burnt out by the sheer magnitude of the work to be done. I’ll be figuring out a process on how to narrow my focus and choosing which issues feed my soul this summer when school is over. (One more term!)
  4. Forgetting to take care of you. It’s imperative that you know that real self-care isn’t actually bubble baths, scented candles, massages and pedicures. Self-care is creating and maintaining healthy boundaries. Self-care is educating yourself, being mindful of your time, saying no and working on yourself and your own issues. Saving the world is taxing—mentally, physically and emotionally. The work demands that you keep yourself healthy in all those areas. Our community and the world desperately need more emotionally and mentally healthy people. It’s not selfish, it’s necessary.

I’m sure I’m forgetting many more pitfalls that are important to the work, but my body and my dog are telling me to move now. Hugs, love and light to all my fellow save the world peeps. We got this.

Saturday Mornings

I love Saturday mornings. It's when I look back on the week to see which goals I reached and where I fell short. It's when I ask myself honestly if my goals are attainable or if I'm holding the bar too high. How did I self-sabotage myself? Are these little goals creating the life I want to live now and the life I want in the future? In the midst of the busy, did I include down time to relax? Did I nurture my important relationships? What did I learn?

Last week I did some ciphering and learned that everything I want to do in a day takes up 22 hours give or take. That includes 7 hours of sleep, working out, food prep and eating, work, commuting, meditation, journaling, homework time, etc. There IS enough time to do what I need to get done, so why am I constantly falling short? I'm thinking social media. Not socializing, really--I realized that I'm reading five or six news articles or essays from various news outlets a day. Something interesting goes by on my feed and CLICK, I'm there. While being informed is important, I think I need to cut back. So that goes down in my goals for next week.

Also, in between a Human Development exam and a Transition Workshop on Thursday, I'm going to be  plotting my next book. I've played with and tossed at least a half a dozen ideas because I have to find a concept and characters that compel me enough to fit it into my schedule... and I think I have it. And it's beautiful and different and its a YA, not an adult.

Also, there's a total solar eclipse next Wednesday morning that I'd like to see if possible. The weather man says not likely, but you never know!

Also, I have realized that the things hurting my stomach the most are coffee and milk. (Sniffle) So I'm going to try to cut back on my coffee intake and replace milk with cashew or coconut milk. Both of those things go down on the goals for next week.

Also on the list for next week, two IEP meetings, a lab field trip to the coast, and planning a party for my female friends because that's on my list of intentions for this year... spending more time with my women friends.

Right now, my puppy dog is bringing me tennis balls and tug toys because she knows I'm not getting ready to go to work and she knows what that means. She loves Saturday mornings, too.

2018 Themes and Staying Open to New Things

It’s hard to believe that I will have my AA degree in June. Seriously, Four. More. Classes. This three year journey has been exasperating, stimulating and transformative. I spent a lot of time going back and forth as to whether I should continue my formal education or not. Oregon State University has a wonderful online Human Development and Family Sciences degree that I’d love to have. Education, while taking time from some of the things I love to do, also helped me do other things with more clarity and understanding. I believe more education would take my ability to create social change to the next level. However, not only is it cost prohibitive, (especially since my husband is seven years from retirement), but working full time means I could only go part time and it would take me another three years to finish. So that’s probably not in the cards. Most of the time, I’m at peace with that decision.

So. What to do with the time this will give me? My themes for the year run the gamut from creativity to self-definition, from developing leadership skills to developing the discipline necessary to do the work I was put here to do. Whether that work is in my outer world—activism, career, writing/publishing, relationships—or in my inner world—peeling away the layers of bullshit to reveal my authentic self, being more mindful of the needs of others, etc—it all needs discipline.

Because discipline is by nature active, I’ve come up with a couple ideas to help me foster it. I signed up for another half marathon to discipline my physical self and I also plan on taking a meditation retreat or two. In addition, I’m looking for a project that will help me grow my already formidable organization skills and foster my creativity. What that project looks like, I’m not sure.

The first half of 2018 will mostly be about finishing up school, political resistance and getting better at my job as a transition specialist for LD youth, but after that… I’m excited for the possibilities. I have several writing projects floating around in my head and I’m waiting for one to stick. I’m also waiting for that project/opportunity to tap itself on my shoulder and announce itself. I am by nature a planner… but this waiting, being open… it feels kind of good. It feels right.

Happy New Year!