Celebrating Small Wins – Writing Clarifies Thinking

I posted a little “100 word story” on LinkedIn last week on celebrating small wins. It reminded me how as writers, we almost never know how our short posts or observations will resonate with readers. Sometimes a surprising thing will get a lot of likes. On the other hand, something we wrote that we “felt” as profound is met with crickets

This is why blogging can be such a great practice for testing new material as we keep writing on longer topics. For one, we don’t know the algorithms that social media uses. In fact, these algorithms are always changing. So it’s possible (and likely) our people didn’t even see the post. Another reason is that time of day and time of week determines when our readers are most available. How would we even know that if we didn’t try different posting schedules? I love it that WordPress has taken my 750+ posts in the last 4 years and has a dashboard for when people are most likely to read. How fascinating!

As we work on larger projects like books, more complex than blog posts, we will inevitably run into roadblocks. I hit a big one this past week as I thought I would get to the “close to final” version ready for proofreading. At first I got very frustrated because it meant I would miss an “internal” deadline I had set for sending it to my advance reader group and my editor. Then I felt grateful as I realized how writing (and particularly editing) can clarify our thinking.

For a 3 minute video on this topic, click here.

I don’t want to send out a book with a section that isn’t working for me. If it doesn’t work for me, it certainly won’t work for my readers. So while the self-imposed timeline was not met, the more important thing is that I feel the writing is in integrity with what I think and believe (especially for nonfiction).

This will not be my only book. I’m starting to see this one as the cork on the champagne bottle. There’s bubbling stuff in there that I want to serve up, both fiction and non-fiction. This is not my magnum opus, but rather a place marker along the writing journey.

Care to share your small wins for the day or week with us? Drop a comment below!

Be well,

Cristy

Book formats question

Releasing a book feels like the most vulnerable thing I’ve done in my life to date. I see my thinking in black and white print, concepts that danced through my consciousness becoming still. Now they will be available for others to critique or enjoy. My errors will glare at me. And I will continue to write books, and to create. Grateful every day that I live in a country where this is possible and encouraged.

I love reading paperback books (over eBooks or hardcovers). I love the tactile experience of a paperback book. What’s your favorite format for reading?

Please let me know in the comments below!

Cheers & happy weekend!

Cristy

Photo credit link

Resilience is Cyclical and Cumulative

Resilience is built over time and life cycles. It accumulates. This is one reason I appreciate working with mentors and wise coaches. They have been through a lot. We all have. Every challenge and devastation in our lives is a junction. Grief or trauma can feel unbearable at the time. When we get distance from whatever hurt us, we absorb the lessons. This is why I love coaching and mentoring. Inquiring from “one step away” can be such a powerful experience when someone is facing down their personal dragons.

What dragons are you facing? If you need support, please reach out.

Hope all is well in your world!

cristy@wedefydefinition.com

P.S. I am toying with a series or a challenge of posting 100-word stories, based on an article I read by Ran Walker in the September/October issue of Writer’s Digest. I struggle to write concisely, which is why hiring Kay Grey to be the editor for my book is an absolute lifesaver. Not sure if I’ll do it daily or weekly but the above is an example that I posted to my LinkedIn page. 100 words is about one paragraph. Enough to express an idea, but not so much that we ramble. A worthy challenge.

(There, I just did a second!)

 

SelfPubCon in less than 15 hours! 4am for me!

Hello Friends,

I am not sure how many of you are in the Self-Publishing space or consider yourselves “indie” authors. I’ve been thoroughly enjoying the Self-Publishing Advice Podcast from ALLi. For a reasonable annual fee that works out to be less than the cost of paperback book per month (at least the trade paperbacks), they have a treasure trove of resources for their members.

Free 3-day pass if you become a member of ALLi.

Since I’ve been working away at my first book, I have delighted in the idea of being my own book publisher. While I realize the final product will be different from something that Penguin Random House or HarperCollins would produce, I hope any neurodiverse folks like me (or anyone who feels like “cover” some aspect of their identity at work) receive it as an offering of love.

Though I realize the knowledge sphere (and the blogosphere) is a crowded and noisy space, but it excites me that past gatekeepers are so much less relevant than they used to be. I won’t give up reading the authors I love (of course) and enjoying books that are produced in a high quality way. I squeal with delight when Liz Gilbert, Martha Beck, Glennon Doyle or Celeste Ng publish anything new. And yet, how many undiscovered voices become discoverable when the (largely) white, male, neurotypical, ableist gatekeepers no longer get to bar the doors ?

I realize there is potential for right-wing scary types of people to publish as well. Hate speech is also increasing in this time of algorithms and weird amplifications of dangerous ideas (maybe that’s what led to the January 6th debacle at the U.S. Capitol). To me that makes it even more imperative that marginalized voices, whether they are BIPOC sisters and brothers, disabled, neurodiverse, non-binary or LGBTQ+, or any other flavor of human can connect and form communities.

Self-publishing is one of those means, and I think it holds the potential to amplify voices that publishers have scoffed at in the past: “There’s no market for that!”

Just because they cannot “see” or acknowledge our market does not mean we do not exist. And as the marketplace of ideas allows for more perspectives, it excites me to imagine the possibilities for the more sensitive and imaginative folks in the world to find their voice.

Okay, rant over. Anyone else joining me for this one? Or will I be alone at 4am central time with my coffee and in my pjs?

Cheers, happy writing & happy weekend, whatever is ahead for you!

cristy@wedefydefinition.com

Dear WordPress – I hate your block editor

Dear WordPress,

I hate your new block editor “upgrade”! It’s one reason why I post less often here, have started a blog elsewhere, and why I’ve accidentally deleted paragraphs and had to frigging copy paste my text elsewhere and re-copy it back. I still haven’t posted an entry that would have taken me 10-20 minutes, but has now taken 45 minutes because I keep inadvertently deleting a whole paragraph instead of just selected words!

Argh! If I could figure out how to go back to the other editor, I would. It’s not a complex post, and it only has one uploaded image.

Are other people having this problem? I guess I always assume it’s me, because I’m impatient with technology most of the time. But it really seems to be SO much less user friendly than the way I used to post, and choose a photos, etc.

It may be time for me to have lunch, take a break from my computer and come back to the other post I started an hour ago before I got too frustrated…

Deep breathing usually helps.

Struck Stupid?!?

I recall the Dean’s bearded face and twinkling Santa Claus eyes looking at me from across the lovely mahogany desk that guarded him. After my story and my tearful confession of worries he said, “It’s not as though you’ve been struck stupid!?”

But he was wrong. That’s EXACTLY what it felt like. I was a senior in college, a second year Resident Assistant (RA) for my dorm, considered one of the smart ones, the “together” ones. I was a biochemistry major and pre-med at the time.

And yet: when I tried to study the bacterial colonies for my independent study with a professor, my head swam in confusion. I kept mixing up the protocols and I couldn’t seem to figure out why. My lab notebook was a mess, and I couldn’t seem to follow basic instructions.

Physical chemistry class was like trying to make out an ancient obscure language without a translation dictionary or the faintest idea of grammar. Even the subjects I loved like developmental psychology were a slog to read and understand, while before I had lapped them up like a cat at the milk bowl.

What was happening in my brain? Did I somehow manage to fake my smarts long enough to get through three years at Swarthmore and now my hidden “lazy girl” identity was letting herself out of the bag? Had I hit my head in my sleep without knowing it?

Fortunately, I did not let the Dean’s denial of my visceral and felt experience get to me. I persisted in trying to find a trusted advisor to get help. When a friend suggested, “Why don’t you try Psych Services at the Health Center?” I quivered. Oh dear. I’m an RA! What will my hallmates think if their trusted advisor can’t figure her sh*t out on her own?

Nevertheless, I knew I needed help. The cognitive fog in my brain was not normal, and other physical symptoms like intense sugar cravings and sleep disturbances were not helping. We often think of depression as a mood disorder, but not everyone knows that it can have other effects beyond “feeling down.”

In only two or three sessions with my kind therapist, I started feeling great relief. I discovered how negative my self-talk was, and how viciously I attacked myself for not being able to achieve what I knew I could do (normally). I had not been truly aware of litany of attacks that had become my constant internal monologue. I did not know these regular self-loathing sessions would have such a detrimental effect on my body and mind.

Through cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and a return to my journaling practice, I was able to identify thoughts that were not serving me. I started to question and “loosen” some of those beliefs that were causing me so much pain. Within 1-2 months, I was able to visit my adviser to request a change in my major. The choice of psychobiology served my passion for understanding behavior and people, and I had taken all the pre-requisites. I ended up graduating on time with high marks on my “comps,” the final essays required for the interdisciplinary major.

Later I learned that nearly all therapists have their own support or supervision from another therapist. In the helping professions it is wisdom to have this support, not weakness. In my late twenties my second depression required therapy and medicine. It also led to the end of my first marriage, when I realized being a wife did not mean being a martyr.

By my thirties after completing a master’s degree and having more experience in the work world, I began taking care of myself physically and emotionally as a non-negotiable practice. I learned more about what my neurodiverse brain requires to be balanced and productive, and I had befriended people who loved me for me, not because of what I could do for them.

Today I send so much compassion to the young woman that struggled to get help. I am so proud she didn’t give up, and that she learned that kindness to herself was always the first and best move.

After a successful career as an operational leader for a multi-country clinical research department in the medical device field, I speak openly about these struggles with mental health so others know they are not alone. We ALL require support from time to time. Whether it is from a kind friend, a Psych Services therapist, an Employee Assistance Program or a personal coach, the “go it alone” method does not work.

You owe it to yourself to receive the support you need for a fulfilling and healthy life. It is a sign of strength to recognize and pursue your wellness in this way. And I’ll be applauding you rather than denying the reality of your experience.

***

Cristy De La Cruz is an inclusion facilitator and mentor to leaders and teams. She is the author of “Unleash, Unlearn, & Enliven: Decolonize Your Hidden Identities and Embody Your Somatic Wisdom” (forthcoming release on Oct 31, 2021). This story has been modified from her book. To receive resources to help you along the journey and to win a chance for a free copy of the book, please email her at cristy@wedefydefinition.com with the subject header “book drawing.”