BP Naturally

My Drug-Free Journey of Managing Bipolar Disorder

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Video: Reaching Your Writing Climax

http://goo.gl/tEcyzI – Chorus of Blue

Once you get into the habit of writing you will eventually reach your writing climax, a plateau in your desire to write. How do nurture and maintain your passion and still manage a normal life? Does writing take precedence over housework? Child rearing? Spousal needs? Let’s explore that. #tenminutes

This post is a part of the #tenminute challenge. To learn more visit: Ten Minute Challenge and join the movement!


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Fireside Chat: A Formula for Finding Your Ideal Writing Environment

http://goo.gl/wcrI8o – Chorus of Blue

We spoke a while back about the need for a space to write. A dedicated area, be it an entire room, a corner, a chair, even a stair on the back porch, to write. A place you can always return to to get yourself in the right mindset. I have not yet pinned down that space for myself.. though visions of it haunt me daily. Instead, I’ve simply been going outdoors. First, it was a cozy space in the back yard… but facing the back fence got old very fast. Then it was a chair in the front yard, but that scenery gets old quickly too. Now Ive taken to walking down to the university and relaxing (or trying to) in the grass. In search of the perfect space Ive ran into hornet infested areas, far too-frequented quasi gardens, and now a space where the ants think I’m part of the scenery. Needless to say, I haven’t been entirely successful yet. I probably spend more time trying to find a space to get comfortable than I do actually writing… and that is not a win.

So my instincts are telling me I may need to retreat to my home again. A place that is hardly conducive to order, let alone peace. But I had a bit of an epiphany yesterday, in discussing the issue with my husband… it may be as much the space as it is the time.

In a recent video post I discussed finding your writing sweet spot… which is basically, finding the optimum time of day to write. In the video, I focused on the internal… when are you most inspired, etc. But in reflecting upon my own struggles to find balance and a time and a space to write, suddenly the idea came full circle. And it’s so obvious, you’ll laugh. The formula is simple:

Comfortable, Dedicated Space + Optimal Time for Inspiration + Optimal Time for No Distractions = The Ideal Writing Environment

I know, it’s silly right? Of course that’s the ideal formula! You already knew that. But for me, it was so simple, it went right over my head. I have been struggling to find a space… and I realize now that I’ll need at least one indoors, considering weather conditions, and one outdoors, considering… well, life conditions, but I also need to find the best *time* both for ME and for my FAMILY for me to write. That’s right, their needs matter too. Sometimes. Haha!

To be clear, my needs as a writer come first… what that means is: the hour of inspiration is non-negotiable. Every writer has an internal sweet spot… an optimum time to write, when they feel most inspired. And for the vast majority of us, there’s little you can do about that. On the other hand, we all have family obligations of one kind of another… kids to tend to, jobs to get to, spouses to accommodate, parents to assist. Very few of us are so unlucky (?) as to be all alone. If you’re blessed these times complement one another. If you’re not, you may need to make adjustments. In my case, I’m not so lucky and I need to make a few adjustments.

My most inspired time to write is in the wee hours of the morning. I write well, and with more passion and focus, when it’s 3am, than I ever could at 12 in the afternoon. Sadly, I also have a toddler who likes to stay awake til 3am, who gets sudden bouts of voracious hunger and demands peanut butter and jelly, over and over, until she’s stuffed fat, full and totally satisfied. Quite the conundrum and a serious inconvenience.

For the last couple weeks, I have been trying to write in the mornings, usually from 9am to 12pm or later, and avoided waking the kids up til then (to keep the house quiet). Oh, it’s somewhat effective, I write, though not especially well, but the kids’ schedules are totally jacked! The change I need to make is obvious and simple: I have to change my writing schedule to work earlier, this will accommodate the kids needs and my own needs, while allowing me to embrace my natural sweet spot!

So the plan is to start working from 4am to 8am each morning, allowing me to finish up and start the kids’ days at a reasonable hour. Hopefully, this will take care of two elements of that formula: Optimal Time for Inspiration + Optimal Time for No Distractions. So for now, the main challenge will be adjusting my toddler’s schedule… *queue ominous music* pray for me, ya’ll.

This is a part of the fireside chat series. Casual conversations amongst writers about writing.

Have you found your writing sweet spot? Do you know your optimal time to reflect and write? Do your internal needs as a writer conflict with your external needs as a parent, spouse, employee, student, etc? Have you begun your quest to find a balance? Looking forward to hearing from you all, can’t wait to see how the schedule shift works out. Til then… thanks, as always, for reading, folks. See you by the fireside.

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Poem: An Intimate Knowledge

http://goo.gl/0Qe2LB – Chorus of Blue

Although I know its not necessary
to know the name of each bird,
Their distinct calls:
Chirp, shrill, twitter, caw, whoop, tweet, whistle, wail

Or the name of the soft green grass beneath me
Or the genus of these familiar jagged-leaved weeds
Evergreen needles, long purple blooms
The gray versus the brownish-gray squirrel
These flat stacking stones
The strange blood red bugs with frightening shells

Although I know it is not necessary
I mourn it still:
my ignorance.

And wish I knew more for the sake of reflection
More of the difference between cement and concrete
More about iron and brass and steel
And the exact difference in degrees from sun to shade
And how vast it is upon the waiting body.

I wish I knew more to say with greater scientific accuracy
How beautiful, or still, or moist, or loud, or certain nature is.
How much more powerfully it can be received if we know, with precision,
the how and why or what and when.

But there is something contrived in a poem that seeks to teach
And something sentient in one that only reflects
with whatever limited knowledge and whatever searching senses
it is driven from, within.

So it is simply that a field
of tiny palm-sized birds
pick in the grass beside me
Keeping a safe distance
Always aware.

And they rise at once
As a single fluttering body
And alight in a low tree
Wary of a danger
I do not know is there.

Or the pair of young squirrels
their little claws scratching
against the tree trunk,
as they frolic in their play.

Or the dance of bugs above me
Swirling all about me
Green or black or pale white wings,
lazy in a sun-lit sway.

It is each single blade of grass
shuttering in the breeze
Shading the soft, moist soil beneath

It is the whisp of spider webs
Shining in the autumn sun
Caressing my bare, white feet

It is all of this:
Just as you might imagine it,
Sweet and full of intent.

It is all of this
And I cannot say more
of its sweetness

than your own listening heart
might have said.


This post is a part of the #tenminutes series, a challenge to write for ten minutes, every day, no matter what. To learn more visit: Ten Minute Challenge and join the movement!


Journal: The Myth of Balance

http://goo.gl/otAqmz – Chorus of Blue

I got straight up out of bed this morning, went pee, then walked downstairs and sat down at the laptop. It’s probably not healthy, probably not balanced, buts it’s already after 9 o’clock and I should have been writing hours ago. I can tell you that balance is something I talk a lot about but have yet to achieve. Even in a single day, balance eludes me. I think a lot about this vision of a writer’s life. I know tons of writers have kids, and husbands, and homework, and dinner, and maybe even small businesses with orders waiting or jobs that tie them up for hours on end. I know someone is out there being an amazing writer and doing all of it. But I’ll tell you a a secret, for me, there is no balance. And I genuinely do not see how it’s even possible for me to do it all.  I just don’t see it.

When I commit to ten minutes of writing each day, it turns into six hours. And not six hours of me writing the next great American novel, just six hours of me writing in tandem, reflecting here and there, type, erase, type, erase… churning against the wave of writer’s block that seeks to destroy me. An all-consuming ocean that works to leave me wasted like a wet rag on the sandy shores of ineptitude. Writer’s block can keep you writing very little for a very long time. And it will if you choose to work against it. Six hours can actually turn into twelve hours… and even if it doesn’t, even if you only get lost for three or six, that means that the house isn’t being cleaned, the chores will not be checked, school lessons will go untaught, orders will not be filled, illustrations will not be drawn (yes, I do that too, smh), meals will not be made, parents will not be called, ties will not be kept. I don’t have any strong interest in hearing about my husband’s day, or doing my hair for marriage’s sake. All I want to do is sit down in the quiet and write. And every little thing that interferes with that is an annoyance.

For me this happens with EVERYTHING. When I commit to motherhood for a week, yknow, give it 100% of my undivided attention… no free time, no me time, uber sweetness, calm, patience and lots of positive motivation. Basically, just be there and be awesome for my kids… other things lie at the wayside as well. And I resent every single thing that interferes with my commitment to mothering. My husband’s needs annoy me, orders and customers are an unwelcome burden, my writing is an inconvenient afterthought. All that matters is my kids and our relationship and their growth into amazing human beings. I buckle down and read my parenting books, do fun activities with them, take walks, cuddle on the couch, have lots of heart to hearts. All I want to do is spend every waking moment being an amazing mom… until I burn out or feel guilty for neglecting my husband, my writing, my orders, my health, my sanity. And then its onto a new focus, perhaps my health… and I’m super focused on finding inner peace, taking my supplements, getting exercise, taking walks… or my faith, and all I want to do is study my faith- book after book, and pray, and reflect and advise my sisters, and do charity work, and just be the most committed, amazing believer I can possibly be.

My focus can jump from my faith, my family, my friends, my marriage, to my business, my illustrating, my writing, my health… the list goes on and on. But what never really comes into focus is: balance. I don’t know how to do this balance thing. Because 24 hours, sans maybe 6 for sleep on the best of days, is never enough time in my mind to be an amazing mother unless I devote every moment to it. Anything less is selling my kids short. And 18 hours is never enough to devote to my writing, or my personal health and wellness, or my business. There’s just not enough time in a day to do any of these things right, and dividing that time amongst various obligations always makes every obligation suffer, and not just a little… a lot.

I know this obsessive perfectionism is a problem… and it’s always going to make me feel like a failure at something, an underachiever at everything. And I know its not logical or sensible or even possible to subsist in believing this and ever finding happiness. But here I am… I’ve been writing for 45 minutes, I really need a shower, my stomach is rumbling, my teeth are mucky, the kids should have been up hours ago… and the writing for today has only just begun. Sigh… balance. Right.  #tenminutes

This is a part of the Ten Minute Challenge to write for ten minutes everyday, no matter what! Join the movement.

“Much obliged.” We often interact with people based on how we feel about them. Relationships require obligation. Contemplate your relationships with various people in your life and write about them in terms of obligations to those people.

Note: We are obligated to our spouse, our children, and other household family members. We are obligated to our co-workers, our customers, our friends. The nature and extent of a relationship can always be looked at in terms of obligation. Note that obligation is not necessarily a negative concept. And, admitting that you are “obliged”, does not mean that the other person is trying to be manipulative. Continue the exercise by writing your response to what you have written about that relationship. A simple example: A co-worker picks up the donut order for the the office staff. Response: I need to volunteer to pick the donuts up next week, or need to thank the person for doing so. Ready? Set. Write forth! #tenminutes

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Poem: Business as Usual

http://goo.gl/qU4jTd – Chorus of Blue

I wake up and want to write.

Pull on my favorite gray sweater
Brew a cup of coffee
Settle into the dirty couch.

There are so many ideas
Thoughts running through my head
And I tiptoe across the keyboard
Hoping to keep the house quiet.

I recount dreams
Blog, Edit, Repost.
Type without much thought
Building habits in the quiet.

But gradually children wake up
As I knew they would
And I try to give the sense that
I don’t want to be bothered today

Today I am writing, children.
And you should work things out for yourselves.

But they see my silence
My short, but soft, answers as a problem:
Do you want me to make you something to eat?

Or an invitation:
Mommy, I woke up with all these birds outside my window, and…

Or it goes unnoticed:
Can I eat the leftover chicken from a couple of days ago?

Business as usual.

And that’s the inevitable part of writing, isn’t it?
That your peace will be shattered
Your flow, interrupted.

Whether children or deadlines
Hungry cats or needy husbands


Will be in the way.



This post is part of the Ten Minutes Daily Challenge. Learn more at: Ten Minutes Challenge hosted on Chorus of Blue

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Journal: Dreams of the Dead & Living Nostalgia

I woke up after a series of disorienting and wild dreams. Dreams with long bus routes going in the wrong direction, apartments with unfamiliar people, a strong sense of panic, confusion and loss. I woke up after dreams of my grandmother needing me to set up a shower and my failure to do something so simple… pipes leaking everywhere, failure and chaos. In reflecting now, that seemed to be the theme… an inability to do things right. Failure. I remember a boy who I loved, I remember saying I always ended up with these best friends… boys like Lalo and Juan and Darren. They meant so much to me, mean so much.

This boys name was Chris and he was tall and heavy-set, and I told him I loved him, and I did… but something went wrong and instead I found myself having to love his brother, who suffered from crippling depression, and my friend didn’t trust me to take care of his brother and I knew I was in over my head.

They were strange dreams… not “bad” dreams, as much as strange… anxiety-ridden. Dreams I don’t mind reflecting upon. In my faith, we don’t share our bad dreams… and those with horror, those that make me cry out at night, that make my husband wake me because I’m talking, shouting, weeping in my sleep… those I don’t share. Those remain somewhere inside of me, forgotten to my conscious mind. But these ones, these ones that allow jinn to play the part of people I love… these ones, I don’t mind. Even when I’m failing them and disappointing them… seeing them again, close enough to touch. This is a comfort, and these I’ll ponder upon, these are worth reflecting…

Continue Reading:  Journal: Dreams of the Dead & Living Nostalgia.