In the Meantime…

We all seem to be heaving huge sighs of relief because the year 2020 is now officially behind us. Maybe you’ve said it yourself, “Happy New Year…so long 2020 and GOOD RIDDANCE!” In reality, what we are really doing is ramping up the hope in our hearts. Covid is at its worst, BUT there is a vaccine…which signifies the light at the end of a year-so-far tunnel. Smiles are erupting over the sheer idea of removing (and dare I say building a baby bonfire out of) the masks.

I’ve done my own share of happy dancing, but I have also decided NOT to wait for the day of facial freedom to pursue other projects. Even while receiving my own hope infusion, reality still lets me know that there are a few miles yet to travel. There are no instant releases, rather the responsibility to finish the journey. Instead of pouting about the facts, I’ve adopted a mini-mantra that says, “In spite of Covid, I will….”

You see, I’ve also learned that waiting for the perfect time was a part of my other (pre-Covid) life too. It was the thing I used to stall out, ignore or purposely overlook the things I needed to do/learn to move forward. All that shut down time gave us ample time to look in the mirror, right? So……

In spite of Covid, I will continue to press in and climb my ladder, rung by rung, until I am standing in the position I daydream about. I hope you decide to do the same! Perhaps we can even give each other a hand up or a shove every now and again during 2021 🙂

You are invited to join my teaching partner, Laura Domino and I for one class a month…these classes are virtual and designed to provide one-on-one feedback..if interested you can email me at Melanie@MelanieStiles.com OR join my writers Facebook Group: WLG Writers Life Group where the videos and links are posted. I hope to see you there!

A Christmas Collection

Could I interest you in a quick course on Christmas tradition? Okay…here we go….

The first recorded date of Christmas being celebrated on December 25th was in 336, during the time of the Roman Emperor Constantine.

The two most popular Christmas carols of all time are:

  1. O Holy Night 
  2. Silent Night

The world’s tallest Christmas tree is artificial and located in Sri Lanka. It measures a whopping 236 feet!

The two most loved desserts in America are:

  1. Chocolate chip cookies
  2. Apple pie

As for the standard American Christmas dinner? It varies from state to state.

Alaska prefers prime rib, while Connecticut leans toward turkey. Hawaii prefers Kalua pork and Louisiana cooks up a gumbo. New Mexico includes tamales, Pennsylvania grabs a goose and South Dakota slices up a ham! And the most popular main course in Texas? It’s deep-fried turkey! 

The average age that children stop believing in Santa is eight, but this author has lived far beyond that age – AND STILL BELIEVES! 

Rudolph remains Santa’s favorite reindeer, although he’s NOT one of the original eight…can you name them?

The three most common Christmas gifts are:

  1. Gift cards/money
  2. Makeup products
  3. BOOKS!!!

Of course, that last entry lights up my author’s heart. And on that note, I’d like to encourage you to go out and buy a book for someone this Christmas.

May God bless each person who reads this blog. May you find supreme joy in celebrating the birth of Jesus! Merry Christmas!

On Finishing Strong…

I know I sound like a broken record, but it continues to be a lumpy, bumpy kind of year. I review my business calendar/journal habitually in November. It’s helpful to use it as a base to plan forward. There are very few things that haven’t drastically changed from January until today. I’m sure it’s the same with you. And because we are where we are (wherever that might be), most of us can safely assume 2021 will at least begin in similar fashion.

That’s exactly why I propose we bring 2020 to a close by encouraging ourselves with what has NOT changed. 

Ask yourself the following:

Were you chasing a writing life before 2020? 

Do you still feel the passion to put words on a page?

Do you carry the belief that there are people who can appreciate your labor in some way?

I’m assuming you replied yes to all. If that’s true, then YOU can go ahead and define those answers in one word – PURPOSE. 

And here’s the interesting thing…purpose that has lasted throughout a year like 2020 is not likely to dissipate anytime soon. The only thing that can (and probably will) alter is the path we may have to take to achieve our final goals. The essence of who we are, as writers, remains the same. So get a head start on the coming year. Stand up now with faith, courage and a refreshed determination in who YOU are!

YOUR PURPOSE will prevail if you persevere! 

Brick by Brick

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Whether you’ve taken the dive back into society or you are holding back in lieu of a vaccine date, no doubt there exists new dimensions to old dynamics. Some things have probably altered considerably or even faded into the background, while others have presented themselves for attention front-and-center. In essence, writing, editing, marketing, platform-building and dealing with everything else can seem a bit much – given the state of the day.

So what to do? Throw up our hands and wait for a better season? Of course not! But it may be time to learn how to better pace ourselves. I was commiserating with a writer friend about the losses of particular career opportunities such as in-person events (lost nine of those), conferences (two of those) and the general mind malaise that crops up unexpectedly (very different from traditional writer’s block, right?). Her words of comfort took me by surprise.

“Well, most of us are going back to square one and starting over together!”

Hmmmm….does that matter? By embracing the idea of starting over, with a relatively clean slate, was she saying it could (dare I say it?) be an exciting, even invigorating experience, to step outside of our old methods? Could we thrive in this chaotic season by learning, initiating new processes and communally networking with others to advance our writing and marketing endeavors? I believe she was…and I’ve taken the hint. But the real question is: HAVE YOU?

No writer can ever hope to become an expert at anything overnight, but it is a VERY realistic expectation to simply place one block of learning and application upon another. We can come back better and stronger – brick by brick together! If you have any questions I can help with, let me know!

Flying Over Hurricanes

We all have at least one thing in common. Off and on, change happens to everyone – pandemic or not. So, change is not the real issue, when it comes to pressing in and moving forward, is it? Perhaps, it has more to do with our navigations.

The other day, I just happened to read a short piece on airplanes. And …I think, inadvertently, I learned a life lesson. Turns out thunderstorms are a huge issue where all things aeronautic are concerned. Flying through certain cloud formations has historically caused severe damage – even to the point of breaking structures apart in mid-air! That’s why our flights get delayed and cancelled. If a reroute is unavailable, air control chooses wisely to wait until a storm system passes. (Note to self: NEVER complain about this again!) 

Life, these days, can tend to feel much like we are the plane attempting to fly inside all types of weather. There is the heaviness of the racial discrimination cloud, the thunder of political upheaval and the constant crosswinds involved in flying through a Covid19 world.

Sometimes, we are able to reroute and still get to our destinations. In other instances, there are things in our lives that have been cancelled. I believe what is most important is the fact that we are still getting out there on the runway for takeoff every day.

A final tidbit to consider…while we may be forced to participate in some aspects of change, we can opt out of others. Wisdom arrives in recognizing those moments. Hurricanes do not impede plane travel in many instances. The pilot simply adjusts his/her altitude and flies OVER. 

May you find yourself able to navigate as well as the planes in the coming days….and if possible, at every opportunity, may you gather your altitude and soar!

Special Note: I’m very excited to announce a new workbook that is set to publish before the end of 2020. It’s been my pleasure, as a life coach, to create a self-guided coaching workbook called, Hey Wait a Minute…I Didn’t Ask for This! More details to come through social media announcements.

119 Opportunities

In my opinion, it is extremely important to remain positive about everything. I don’t always succeed, but I work really hard at keeping the mindset of moving forward into continual green pastures. I know…color me Pollyanna (for those who don’t remember or never knew….she’s a fictional character known for finding something good in ANY situation).

That being said, I’ve managed to cultivate friendships in the same vein. I surround myself with people who genuinely believe our next beautiful moments are just over the horizon…..hence…119 opportunities.

Recently, I was challenged by a friend to find three things that I have not fully engaged in….things I truly want to accomplish….and to focus on them for the next 119 days. In case you haven’t thought about it just yet, that is exactly the number of days left in the year 2020. I’m challenging YOU to do the same. We have 119 opportunities to do something that really matters….maybe not to the world…..or even to anyone else….three things born strictly out of personal value to the proverbial me, myself and I. Will you join me?

How wonderful would it be? Imagine saying (if only to ourselves), “I actually put the items that inhabit my daily thoughts on the front burner of my life for 119 days!” If you have even a bit of Pollyanna inside, type, “I accept the challenge!” into the comment section below. I promise to keep you in my prayers for the rest of the year…and I secretly hope you will choose to do the same for me.