A dedicated journalist

I was sitting in a cafe yesterday writing in my handwritten journal, having dumped coffee on it 10 minutes earlier in my haste to start eating my breakfast.

The older man asked me, “are you a dedicated journalist?”

I responded, “I do enjoy writing. And I do it every day, or nearly so.”

“Wow,” he said, “I write often but sometimes not for months.”

Then he told me a story of some notes he’d taken last November while his wife was sick and in the hospital for 2 weeks with a mysterious illness. She asked him to record some of the things that happened, and the symptoms. He said it was hard to go back and write that up, even though he had a lot of notes.

I commented on writing about times that are difficult in our lives. It can be difficult, when the event or period was emotionally charged in some way. It requires us to relive that time, and sometimes we re-experience those emotions. But at the same time the writing is therapeutic, and it releases something, like therapy when the story is told and “witnessed” by ourselves or a compassionate person.

We talked for a couple minutes and he apologized for the interruption but I went back to think about his question, “are you a dedicated journalist?”

Yes.

I love the act of writing, so much so that I lose myself in it at times.

It occurs to me that Brene Brown and Liz Gilbert have written about this concept at times, the sad fact that we only value things that we get paid for in this society.

But some of us create art, writing, music, poetry because we must. Not because we expect to get paid. I mean, certainly making a living is important. In fact, I need to dig up some consulting work in the next couple of months or I’ll be looking for a “regular” job again. But sometimes we must release something in us onto a page. Brene Brown said once in the Magic Lessons podcast “unused creativity metastasizes.” I believe it.

Maybe I’ll add “dedicated journalist” to my Linked In profile and see what comes of it.

Cheers & happy weekend,

Cristy

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Art from a London Airbnb, taken September 16, 2018

 

 

 

Happy Blogoversary!

Last Labor Day I started this blog, so I am celebrating a year of nearly daily posts (340+). I had no idea I would keep so faithfully to a regular schedule when I began. I also have to laugh at some of my posts in the first couple months- darn, those things were too LONG!! I barely have the attention span to read them myself!

Colorful Drinks Cinco de Mayo Wishes Instagram Post

To those of you who have read, supported, liked and commented: my sincere thanks! I continue to enjoy this journey with you. What a great privilege to have platforms like this where we can share our ideas and connect with others.

I look forward to seeing what the next year may bring. Hope you have a happy Labor Day (to those in the U.S. and Canada)!

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

 

 

 

Throwback Thursday: B minus work

This week’s edited piece is from a post I did back in December 2017. As I get ready to meet some deadlines for writing projects, it is a great reminder to just get the work drafted.

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To those of you who are waiting for your blogs to be perfect to publish them, here is some advice I got originally from Brooke Castillo of the Life Coach School podcast. Do B minus work, but get it started ahead of time. It echoes advice I have received from other authors like Anne Lamott and Brene Brown: settle for shitty first drafts the first time out (SFD’s – aka stormy first drafts).

This is great advice for those of us who suffer from perfectionism. Often we procrastinate because we worry about our idea not being good enough or our final product not being polished enough. This is especially true for women, it seems, so we delay holding up our hand when we already know the answer.

We may need to practice greater confidence when it comes to starting things. Just getting started, and getting it out, we overcome the “activation energy” it takes to get the momentum moving. For me as a writer, I seldom struggle for a topic. Give me a topic and I can rattle on all day about it if you want.

But when it comes to telling a story or constructing an argument effectively, I know it takes me more time to get it right. Even if the words flow out, and they typically do when I give myself uninterrupted time to write, the final product is not complete.

art of scribbling
Photo credit link

It is best when I allow the words to flow and not worry too much about structure or ultimate form of a piece. When it comes to blogging, it is inherently a shorter form. I struggle with not going on for TOO long, so I often write a first version during half an hour in the afternoon and then return to edit in the morning when I am fresh.

At that point, I typically add graphics, correct grammar, perhaps cut out sections or paragraphs or sentences that wander and make sure the idea makes sense.

Not worrying too much about the reception of an idea is another way to get the work out there quickly. We can only know what is in our own minds, not what will resonate with others. So it is best not to worry and obsess about what they want, and focus instead of what we want to say (despite my recent worry about this).

What I realize now is that my blog has become a place where I can try out ideas, play around with stories I find interesting, or concepts I am trying out in my life. I have nothing specific to “sell” out here, and sometimes I have gotten useful feedback on my ideas.

The practice of sitting down once or twice a day and getting those ideas onto the screen has helped me clarify some of the questions I ask myself. Over time, the answers get refined, and the focus gets clarified.

If I do not start with B minus work, there is no opportunity to shape and polish it to become “A” work. But one of the great secrets to adulthood is that there are no grades anymore. We do not have to rely on others’ evaluations of us to be successful.

Every day we can decide how we want to assess our own success, and the quality of our days. That is probably the best news ever. If we can be kind to ourselves and acknowledge that we did the best we could for that day, it is always enough.

Cheers,

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

 

Plummeting views – was it something I said?

Hiya WordPress peeps,

It seems a bit strange but I noticed last week that my overall views of my blog plummeted rather precipitously and suddenly around August 11th after some steady climbing in the last few weeks. At first I did not take it too hard – people are on summer vacations, after all. They have important things to do, and since I write for myself, I did not worry about it.

Then I thought: is this related to the policy change on Facebook, where there is no longer auto-posting enabled for our blog posts?

Being the stats-oriented person that I am and curious about this change, I opted to do a little research on this issue. I looked as the “referrers” to the page and realized that the number coming from FB is actually quite a bit smaller than from WordPress.

plummeting
Page stats for readership of meximinnesota blog

I also realize that when I am around more (and not traveling) I like to engage in more reading and commenting on others’ blogs. This is great for connecting with others with whom we share interests and passions. It also helps us discover new sources of knowledge and writers we respect.

I discovered that when I write short and concise pieces (less than 500 words), I get more views and likes. This is obviously related to our short attention spans and our expectation that blogs are short and to the point. It is part of this medium that we do not want to spend large amounts of time on any one “read.” I get that.

I know there are algorithms used by various sites in order to “serve up” content based on search terms and other sophisticated uses of SEO. So I am patiently deciding whether to put any thought into this, or just to let go. It may be that I discontinued the WordAds for a few weeks as an experiment. Maybe that affects view stats as well.

Seasons change, and priorities change. I love this medium for helping me hone the discipline to produce writing regularly, quickly and efficiently. And I love the connections I have made here and the community I have found. I shall let go of any “ego trip” around this blog and let it be what it is.

To those of you who comment regularly, thanks so much! You keep me motivated, and I am grateful for your support of my work.

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

 

 

 

Throwback Thursday – Integration

This week’s Throwback Thursday is an edited piece from November 2017. It sent a chill down my spine thinking about how far I have come in that time, in writing through these changes in my life. So grateful that this blog has allowed an exploration toward the next part of my path.

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As I was sitting in savasana today at my morning yoga class, a concept kept arising into consciousness. It was Integration.

I wonder if my search for balance and equilibrium is actually a search for integration. Bringing together my personal and professional lives, uniting my body, mind and spirit, accepting the positives and the negatives. It is all part of one rich and fulfilling life, after all.

Why do I find it challenging? Perhaps my scientific training works against me here. I strive to isolate variables, to design proper controls, to decrease “confounding factors.” It is a noble pursuit, when we want to understand a mechanism for a system.

I then consider another concept from a similar root: Integrity. These concepts both relate to a state of being whole. Stemming from a similar Latin root, these words express what I seek.

Yin Yang Wikipedia image

It is not so much about work/life balance, which always reminds me of a seesaw. It is more about bringing it all together, not having to isolate parts of myself in certain  contexts, but rather bringing my whole self to every situation. I like the yin/yang concept, and the idea that we have complementary parts within us. I have written about this before.  Perhaps that is what this blog is about, to integrate the “mexi” and the “minnesotana” parts more meaningfully, in every part of my life.

What if we viewed the entire natural sphere as an integrated whole, all part of some vast and intricate web? Everything, everyone and all of the in between is connected. We are not binary – one against another, us against them. We are all part of this vast universal story, ever changing, ever growing, ever recycling the parts that need to evolve to something new.

This brings so much peace to me, embracing both my darkness and my light. It means acceptance of what I am, where I am today in my journey, not chiding myself that I am not further along. Change unfolds gradually and when I “push” instead of allowing, it often sets me back. I am eager to know what is next, to see around the next corner. But I need not worry.

My soul works and plays at integrating. It seems to do this better without the fretting of my ego or mind. When I pay attention to the ease and the grace that comes from sitting still or small movements, I can feel integration physically. At the same time, I notice myself acting with greater integrity in the world. This feels like a true definition of success for me.

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cristy@meximinnesotana.com

How Does Writing Help Us Heal?

via How Does Writing Help Us Heal?

Okay, this blog is somewhat self-promoting, because Julie de Rohan mentions me in her post. But the topic is so relevant and I agree so strongly with the the concept that I want to share it with my readers as well.

Julie de Rohan
Photo cribbed directly from Julie’s blog 

Julie is a psychotherapist in the U.K. who works with clients who struggle with overeating issues. As this is a struggle I have faced (and also probably 70% of the women I know) I always find her writing and insights to be right on target.

I have recently re-listened to a favorite resource on this topic, an Audible book by Geneen Roth called Women, Food and God. Every time I explore another layer of this issue, I realize how much relationship with food is a microcosm of my beliefs about the world. But not until I excavated this issue in my writing and my meditations did I start feeling peace toward it.

Thanks so much for exploring this issue, Julie. You write about it (and many other topics we share in common) in such an accessible way.

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

 

Saturday Share – Untangled

Happy weekend, peeps!

This Saturday’s blog love goes to Alexis Rose of the Untangled blog. Alexis writes about PTSD and mental health and she has written a book about her journey as well.

untangled
Untangled blog – link 

I really love her poetry and her wisdom. She posts on topics I find inspiring and I really appreciate her work. When you need some beauty or inspiration head on over to her blog and you can find it.

Cheers & enjoy your weekend!

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

 

300 posts!

This is post 300 of the mexi minnesotana blog!

It seems almost unbelievable to me, but this blog has motivated me to keep posting and creating on an almost daily basis since last fall. I had thought I would post 2-3 times a week originally, but as the fountain of ideas opened in my mind, sometimes I have had a hard time limiting myself to just one post per day…

Over time I have tried to be more concise, shorter and more focused. But now and then I cannot resist a longer piece when I need to really explain and explore my ideas. Fortunately there is room for all types of content on the web. Nobody forces us to read anything.

I want to thank all of you who have commented, liked and encouraged my writing. An unexpected bonus of this process has been finding a community of similarly spirited people who write about topics that interest me. I am truly grateful for your engagement in creating and envisioning better realities for us all. While we may not always have the time for detailed comments and feedback, knowing that others are willing to contribute to this online writing community is such an amazing gift.

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Thank you all for your engagement and participation in this wild and woolly web called the internet! 

Wherever your writing leads you, I hope you have a great journey along the way.

cristy@meximinnesotana.com