Friday, January 21, 2011

Enjoy The Ride

It's my pleasure to welcome back bestselling author, Stephanie Rowe, to Over Coffee. I've read Stephanie's suspense novels and enjoyed each. I'm excited to see her foray into paranormal and I'm looking forward to reading her new series.

Stephanie's topic is a good one. Taking the time to celebrate the positives in our life. It's all too easy to concentrate on all the negatives--things we didn't do, lists we didn't finish--that we forget all the things we have done. Life is not just a list of things to do and tallying check marks on things accomplished or big red X marks on those we haven't.  It's also about giving ourselves permission to stop and smell the flowers. It's a cliche, I know, but true.

When was the last time you took a moment to appreciate the sound of laughter, kittens playing, or a song that makes you feel good? Even in writing, instead of beating yourself up over what haven't gotten done, or worrying yourself over the small wall you hit, why not look at how far you've come in the story? What you like about your characters or what made you want to write this story?

How do you accomplish that change of attitude? Stephanie has a few thoughts on that.  

Stop right where you are.
Close your eyes.


Listen.



Listen.




Listen so closely, until you hear a sound you like.

It might be your daughter singing in the next room as she does her homework. It might be the silence of your car, letting you know that no one else is in there, and it's your time, your space, your world to think and be whoever you want to be. It might be the sound of wind rattling distant chimes. It might be the snoring of your dog as he chases tennis balls in his dreams. It might be the lady in line behind you, laughing as her baby gives her googly eyes. Whatever it is, there is something in your environment right in this moment that feels good, if you simply take a moment to identify it, and then enjoy it.

I have a confession to make. I'm one of those people who is always trying to push myself to the next level, to reach the next goal. I want to become a better writer. I want to write a more engaging scene. I want to be more clever in my writing. More unpredictable. I want to be a better tennis player. I want to be more fit. I'd really like to find a way to keep my house cleaner.

It's great and admirable to have goals. There are lots of workshops on how to set S.M.A.R.T. goals so that you're in the best position to vaunt your life forward by leaps and bounds. Aspire! Achieve! Mush, mush! Onward and upward! Hup, hup!

Yah, yah, that is all excellent and stuff… 'cept it's not. Not really. Not if you're like me.

See, I have this little problem. In my quest to accomplish all these things, I have a habit of dwelling on the "nots" instead of the "rock on!"

What I mean by that is, I'm never taking the time to stop and compliment myself on what I've done. I never take the time to look at myself and tell myself that I'm doing a good job. I never pause to simply enjoy what I've accomplished so far, or to notice the good stuff. Instead, I just see what I haven't done. I notice what I've screwed up. I obsess over how I've come up short yet again. I give myself grief for failing to be as outstanding as I want to be. And you know what? If you do that enough, you can become pretty darn good at making yourself feel like a pathetic underachiever with no hope of ever accomplishing anything worthwhile for the rest of your life, which then, of course, makes you feel not so hot. It's almost as if I think that the only way I will be motivated enough to keep working is if I sufficiently condemn where I am and what I've accomplished.

Recently, I decided that it was time to break the cycle. I want to feel GOOD. I want to skip down the hall, basking in the fact I wrote 3000 words, not berating myself for the fact I didn't write 4000. I want to spend time enjoying the good reviews I get, instead of worrying about writing that next book. I know that next book will get written. I know that kitchen will get clean before anyone of significance sees it. But when I enjoy the ride, instead of obsessing over it, then those words get written by someone who is happy, and oh, boy, do those words come out so much more beautifully when I'm feeling good. It feels magnificent to take the time to pat yourself on the back. It's marvelous to pause to enjoy the lovely song on the radio instead of gnashing your teeth at the traffic. Don't we all owe it to ourselves to learn to enjoy the ride a little more?

Hell, yeah, we do!

So, pause for a moment, sit back in your chair and think about three things you did or experienced today that were just great. Feel proud. Chuckle. Bask. And then, when you have thoroughly milked those three things for a good five minutes, notice that your heart feels a little lighter, your mind feels a little clearer, and suddenly the story you were so frustrated with seems to write a little easier. That's because everything is better when you feel better inside. It only takes a minute to slow down, look around, and find a few things that make you feel good.

Try it. Five minutes every two hours. See how your day unfolds. It'll be worth every minute.

Enjoy the ride.

Start now. Look around. Think about your day. Tell us about something in your life, something that you did or saw or experienced, that makes you feel good.

Will you start the ball rolling?


HE NEEDED A KILLER WOMAN...

Blaine Underhill was one lucky man. Having recently escaped a century and a half of imprisonment at the hands of an evil witch, he's determined to save his still-enslaved friend. But in order to do so, he'll need the help of one of the world's most lethal women.

SHE WAS DROP DEAD GORGEOUS, LITERALLY...

Trinity Harpswell is sick and tired of being a Black Widow. Having managed to go three years without accidentally killing anyone she loves, she's one short week away from freeing herself from this killer curse forever. When Blaine tracks her down and convinces her to help him, little does Trinity know that the next seven days are going to be murder! Excerpt


~*~*~*~



Four-time RITA® Award nominee and Golden Heart® Award winner Stephanie Rowe is a nationally bestselling author of more than twenty books. A life-long reader, she began crafting stories at age ten, but didn't realize it was her dream until she was an adult.

Once the light dawned, she immediately left behind "work" as the world defines it and went to "work" as she defines it, which means getting up every morning with a smile in her heart so she can spend the day doing that which makes her spirit sing.

Stephanie believes in learning to listen to your heart in order to figure out what your dreams are, and then opening yourself to the inspiration that will direct you there. She believes we all deserve the right to enjoy life, that the ride should be as easy as we want it to be, and that we all should accept nothing less than making our dreams come true. Stephanie lives in New England, and spends every day doing her best to fill it with people, observations and activities that uplift her soul, which include writing, tennis, friends, and her amazing family.

Visit Stephanie on the web at http://www.stephanierowe.com/.

16 comments:

Dana Fredsti said...

A lovely and inspirational post, Stephanie! I had a whole list of 'to do's' over the holidays and ended up getting sick and not getting much done. For a while I kicked myself for not living up to my own expectations, but I ended up spending a lot of time on the couch reading and cuddling my oldest kitty, who passed away two weeks ago...so now I'm so thankful for the illness and the forced rest... and it's been a valuable lesson to focus on what's positive and what I have instead of the laundry list of negatives or not dones... this post is another great reminder!

Jenyfer Matthews said...

Like you, I seem to have ever higher standards of achievement for myself but I do also try to celebrate and enjoy the little things because otherwise what's the point? Great post.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Dana, I think we're our own worse critic and worse enemy at times. One of the things I had clients do when I was a counselor was give me a list of accomplishments. I also made them give me 3 positive things they did the day they saw me. It helps put things into perspective. :-)

~Sia McKye~ said...

Stephanie, welcome back to Over Coffee. I love the sound of this new series. I enjoyed running around your website too. :-)

This was a very good article. One that helps us change our attitude. It's all in the way you look at things, isn't it?

I mentioned to you earlier, tonight I took the time to redo my nails. Took off the old polish and redid them with new polish. A little thing, but when my nails are fresh and pretty it makes me feel pretty and feminine. I also had the chance to drink a good cup of coffee and listen to some music. All in all it was a relaxing time.

Stephanie Rowe said...

Dana, what a great reminder that sometimes things are unfolding exactly as we want, even if we don't understand it at the time. I'm so glad you were able to spend time with your kitty.

Jenyfer, that's fantastic you try to celebrate the little things. You're right: if you don't, what's the point?

Sia, thanks so much for having me back, and for the great intro! That's great that you had your clients do the list of 3 positive things. It really is all in the way you look at things. Sounds like a great evening with your nails and coffee and music. Good job!

N. R. Williams said...

Interesting interview. It is sad but true that we focus too much on the negative. I'm thinking positive thoughts for you and your blog book tour.
Nancy
N. R. Williams, fantasy author

Talli Roland said...

What a wonderful reminded to celebrate our accomplishments! Thank you!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I really need to do this more often.
At the moment, I hear a gurgling sound that my cat thinks is purring...

~Sia McKye~ said...

Talli, thank you for stopping by. I enjoy your blog and love the idea you and Don (DL Hammonds) had about posting our significant others views of our accomplishments. Great idea. Our family's support is indeed something to celebrate as a good thing in our life. :-)

~Sia McKye~ said...

Diane, lol! "gurgling" I love hearing my cat purr. I have one whose purr is so quiet you can only feel the vibration. My favorite is one whose purr is like a liquid question mark. They do make you feel good though.

walk2write said...

I'm having a wonderful time visiting all of these new websites, including yours, and all because of a blogfest (DL's and Talli's). Right now, I'm listening to the birds at the feeder just outside the window. Great advice, to stop and listen.

Stephanie Rowe said...

Thanks, Nancy! It's good to be aware of our tendency to focus on the negative, so we can change it. 

You're welcome, Tali! I love your idea that Sia mentioned. What a great thing to do.

LOL, Diane! My cat actually drools excessively when he purrs. I thin he's part St. Bernard.

Walk2write, I love listening to birds. They are so beautiful.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Sia and Stephanie .. Sia - love the new photo! It is so important to remember the bird-song, to just be .... in a little world of our own for a while ..

.. and especially remember those who support us .. being positive and not dwelling remotely on the negative keeps life going forward

Have good weekends - Hilary

~Sia McKye~ said...

Thank you Hilary. It was taken a few months ago at a conference.

@Walk to Write--I love birdsong. I have feeders outside several windows and I can see one from my office. It's fun to watch their antics. There are times, I swear, they're eating and gossiping.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Stephanie, how many books are you planning in this particular series?

readwriteandedit said...

Excellent advice, Stephanie. We are so programmed to look at the problems and to fix them that we don't take time to appreciate the successes and joys. Here's hoping everyone takes that time today.

Beth