You alone are enough. You have nothing to prove to anybody. Maya Angelou
Do you feel afraid to trust yourself? Like you’re not enough?
I’m a thriller writer, not a psychologist, but I can tell you that we all need help developing a positive view to life. My secret is journaling. Religiously. I’ve done it since I was a child, and it’s helped me find inner peace and increase my love of self.
How, you ask, can something so challenging to obtain nowadays seem so simple? It’s not. Learning to be centered each day, amid the chaos of life and a pandemic, takes work. That will be up to you.
What ‘m talking about is my simple process and the tools I use. That is, what I do every day and the tools or “forms.”
Seriously, where does self love begin?
Your passion, whatever you do that if you stopped you’d die, can help define and shape self love. One reason I love Rachel Carson’s writing is that she lived her passion, articulated in “Silent Spring.” As a result, her work advanced a global conservationist movement. I also admire Diane Fossey’s message and her passion for the mountain gorillas she loved. In the case of both these women, their passion became the source of a strong, disciplined devotion to self.
But aren’t individuals with too much self love narcissists? Only if they refuse to reach out and feel empathy for others. I don’t see that in Carson’s or Fossey’s case.
Like these women, I am a strong conservationist, and I have a defining passion: my writing. In the most dire of circumstances, I captured the emotional lessons in my journal, reflected on them, and used them to gain insight into who I was and wanted to become. A second defining passion is my love for this earth, caring for it and teaching others to do the same. My novels and short stories reflect my belief that we have only one earth. There is no Plan B. I’m passionate about my earth-first work here at Mucky Manor, including caring for my chickens.
You’re like, “Oh, nawwww, Mary, no more chick wit anecdotes.”
I’m sorry, but just one more.
Are you a chicken-hearted decision maker?
Yesterday, Mama Hen took two hatchlings outside to introduce them to the world. This is always a dangerous time. The hatchlings are helpless but they get really loud, especially if they get separated from their mom. Their “Peep! Peep! Peep!” attracts predators and other hens, who eat unguarded hatchlings.
So, I went out last night to lock down the coop, and there they stood. Cold, alone, and peeping like mad. Mama, true to instinct, had gone inside to roost. They were too little to follow. I could not tell which was their mama and which was not. I mean, forty hens, y’all! So, I found a hen with chicks and put the two orphans with her, unsure if she’d accept–or kill them.
This morning, I found the orphans, alone and peeping so pitifully it broke my heart. My inner critic awakened. She screamed, “Mary, take the hatchlings inside or you’ll be guilty of letting them die.” This, despite the work I knew was involved in hand raising hatchlings. I stood firm. No, I decided. I’m going to watch what happens and THEN I’ll decide. Five minutes later, Mama Hen came clucking in to gather her chicks. I smiled, glad I’d trusted my judgement, glad I’d defied my inner critic.
What If four simple affirmations could change your life?
In my 9.9.21 blog post, I discussed “inner peace” and how you can gain it through writing and tracking a few daily steps. If you need the form I use, download it here: https://muckymanor.wordpress.com/. In today’s blog, I’m adding writing affirmations to increase self awareness and promote self love, which leads to positive change.
An affirmation is a simple positive statement, starting with “I” and stating a concern or fear and/or what you are doing to overcome it. Here are some examples:
- (Body): I am in good health and strong: I can lose weight and feel better.
- (Body): I have carpal tunnel: I can change my daily writing schedule and ease my pain.
- (Spirit): I am a kind, loving individual: I am part of a community that accepts and loves me.
- (Spirit): I enjoy social interaction: I am focusing my energy on two social media sites.
- (Career): I am a focused author: I am enjoying my journey to success.
- (Career): I am balancing writing and family time.
- (Relationship): You can do that if you choose: I am happy in the world I am creating for me.
- (Relationship): I am sorry you feel trapped by your former partner: I’m comfortable letting go.
How Do I Write My Affirmations?
I use two tools or forms to keep track of my affirmations: Post-it notes and a daily tracking sheet. You can find the tracking sheet by clicking on the “affirmations” link below. Begin by writing your affirmations on Post-its. Go ahead. Give it a try. Take your time and think each one through. Remember, keep it positive. Don’t use negative words or “not,” e.g., “I will not . . . “
Got them done? Time to stick them on your tracking sheet (link for the download below).
IMPORTANT: Leave your tracking sheet out where you can see it every morning before starting your day. I leave mine on the kitchen counter beside the coffee pot.
Did you enjoy my post? If so, please share. Thank you!
Do you feel like inner peace is out of reach?
Our world is in chaos for many reasons. When you walk out the door, it’s not “when” I’m coming home, but if, especially with covid surging.
It would be easy to feel depressed, to give up, and finding inner peace (even for someone as positive as I) is a struggle. Everyone, it seems, has advice on how you find inner peace, from 4-7-8 breathing to goat yoga, but it you’re like me, goat yoga isn’t an option.
So you ask, “Mary, how do you do it?”
Don’t worry, life coaching’s not my side hustle. I’m a writer, and although you might not agree, so are you! Like me, you can use writing to gain inner peace. I use it to get the focus I need to do my most difficult work, like taking characters on three-hundred page journeys, or editing novels to my own high publishing standards. I’ve found a simple system that’s easy, fun, and it works. I want to share it.
“So, Mary, are you getting ready to give me the address of a Buddhist retreat in Tibet?”
I’m glad you asked, but no. That kind of interior journey only happens in Brad Pitt movies. What I’m sharing is my “how to,” my how-I-did-it. But it will take time and require that you focus on you. And, after all, isn’t that the goal?
What are the steps to writing my way to inner peace?
There are several small, fun, and easy steps to take each day, but if you’re not into journaling, you can do the steps every other day or even once a week. You just have to do them consistently over time. The more you journal, however, the more you’ll progress.
The steps can be classified into four basic categories, which you will work within. Remember, these steps constitute the first phase. There are more to follow, and I’ll blog about them in the coming weeks. They include some truly fun work with writing. For example, you’ll learn how to do mind mapping and dig into your psyche. You’ll play with free writing and get lost in a world of your creation that will take you places you’ve never dreamed, and then (I can hardly wait!) we are going to have a ball with bathtub and shower word art and sidewalk graffiti!
For now, though, let’s stick to the first goal: getting started. Following are the categories you will be having fun with right now.
- My spiritual path
- My relationship(s)
- My body
- My career/hobby/wheelhouse
Note: I’ve not put any emphasis on a particular category or ranked it. You decide which category is your first, second, third, and fourth, or give them all equal ranking if you think you need to work on all four categories equally.
How do I fill in the categories?
Let’s get going with the form I’ve made for you. Just click the links below to get it. I’ve provided two files. One shows my daily sheet with tasks for each category to help you jumpstart your own daily worksheet. I’ve also included a blank form in PDF format so you can download and print it.
For each of the four categories (spiritual, relationships, career, body), you’re going to brainstorm two to four tasks you can perform to move you forward. Keep them simple and easy to perform. Completing these steps regularly (daily is best) helps discipline you mentally and prepare you for the coming steps on your journey to inner peace.
What’s my next step?
Inner peace isn’t just a progression of steps, although I’ll be guiding you through the process that keeps me sane, happy, and at peace every day here at Mucky Manor. I don’t want you to think you’ll be getting “writing assignments” because this isn’t a writing class or a workshop. It’s a journey. You might resist and say, “I hate to write.” Again, this isn’t about writing. You can scribble, draw pictures, slop coffee or food all over your form. But you already know how to write and probably do it every day, so we’re going to use writing as the tool that guides us along our way. I promise it will be fun and easy.
Get your daily worksheets printed and going. Have fun with this, and be sure to find me on Facebook (link at top of page) and let me know what’s working, or if you have questions. We’ll be adding “affirmations” next week. Meantime, don’t forget to share and invite friends over!
I could still feel the chick’s warmth, and my anguish grew as I rubbed its wing, no bigger than your thumbnail but meant to lift the bird powerfully to its nest, if it had lived. I checked to be sure. Yes, it was dead. Confused and trying to leave the coop in the company of its mother, it had been crushed by the other hens, in their rush to get outside the coop.
Mucky Manor Chicks and Mom.
On the Death of One Small Chick.
Yesterday, I’d been there to watch it hatch. I watched the mother hen pick cracked shell from the hatchling’s feathers, its eyes yet to open, its head still softly dented from confinement in its shell.
It took me no time to cry. I did. I sobbed and held the chick and looked up but didn’t bother questioning. I didn’t waste time asking God why this small life, only hours old, had ended, why its life had been granted in the first place–if it was of so little consequence. I didn’t ask why because, you see, the chickens teach us things. They teach: we’re not all meant to survive.
I drew an analogy. Bear with me as I work through it (I’m a writer, so my thinking is convoluted, and my words follow the intricate pathways patterned by years of immersion in linguistics).
The company of my chickens comforts me while I, like you, struggle daily through this pandemic. I’ve learned to listen to them, to interpret their language, to love their presence as they group around my legs and wait for me to say or do something affirming our odd family dynamic: I–human–and they, chicken, both remnants of two prehistoric kingdoms of sworn enemies. Nevertheless, despite our past differences, we are today dear friends. We are today family, so we stood in silence, while the warmth of the dead baby chick ebbed against my palm, a cupped coffin of love and blood and bone–a fitting funeral for an uncelebrated life.
The chickens teach that we’re not all meant to survive. They also teach that it’s easy to get caught up in a stampede and be killed. So: I weave together the seams of my analogy, lest you grow impatient with me. As I stood with my chickens, I took their lesson to heart. I’m a Covid-19 long hauler, but I’m aware I must decide how to interact with my human community moving forward, that I must responsibly choose how to protect you–from me. Should I get a vaccine, although there is yet no FDA approval? Should I wait? How do I choose? How do I responsibly act to care for my community–as they are acting to care for me?
I’ve noted that there are “vaccine bullies,” those who try to shame others into getting the vaccine. I’m not blaming President Biden. I think his initiative is admirable, and I pray like you for his and our conuntry’s success. If simply getting a vaccine en masse will stop or slow the Covid-19, I’m for it. I plan to get vaccinated, once I’ve evaluated my choices. But has the president’s initiative lent impetus to yet another vanguard of bullies? The vaccine bullies.
Get it. I did. Nothing happened to me.
That’s great. We’re all in this together, and it’s positive to hear the success stories. But who speaks for those who’ve received a vaccine–and died? Who can say which vaccine, definitively, works? Who can assure vaccine recipients there will be no long-term effects? Why can’t we each decide and choose for ourselves? How do we sort through solid scientific evidence, in such short supply, and find the facts?
Like my chickens, I know we’re not all meant to survive. I almost didn’t. But having Covid-19 helped me know this: I am responsible for making my decisions, not voices on social media. No pressure from vaccine bullies will change that. Surviving Covid-19 has made me hyper aware that I share air with the world at large and must act responsibly. Surviving also taught me to avoid groupthink or vaccine bullying.
Are you feeling pressured to get a Covid-19 vaccine? Are you feeling shamed or bullied? Share your story with me on Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/MaryMcFarlandWriter/
I stood staring down at a lone spider web poised above the ground. It was dew covered, the droplets gleaming in the sun. I thought, I’m lucky. I’m the only human alive who’ll get to see this particular miracle. Then I grew sad. Do we humans appreciate nature’s intensity? It’s full loveliness? It’s artistic impact on our lives?
I’m a story teller, so I make up stories about everything I stumble onto in my daily life. Doesn’t matter if it’s just a spider web. Like the spider, I weave silken webs, but with words. I find magic in small things. Stretching the spider web, I give the mundane “presence.” I look into the imaginative space, and when I do the spider web becomes a home where faeries secretly live and shower voluptuously in the sun’s nectar. I stretch the story: the faeries flee suddenly, when a crow flies over and its shadow terrifies them.
But . . . where are they now? Where do gypsy bands of displaced faeries hide?
In our minds, mostly. And in childhood storybooks and fantasy fiction. It takes little to be called genius in my book, just recalling the part of you that in childhood gasped in awe at little things, like blow bubbles. Or spider webs. Or your own bare feet on the lawn, toes wiggling, hands clasped.
If you read fantasy and enjoy the lives and characters we writers create, then you’re blessed. You’re genius at looking past the sparkling dew drops and reaching into the imaginative space with us as we gift you with our stories.
Don’t get the big head, dear reader, but we writers need you. I don’t mean to buy our books (a kind gesture). What I mean is that, without you, we’d still be making up stories about faeries who hide from the shadows of crows, and that’s good. But how would we get word out that the faeries need rescuing from their unfounded fear? (Crows have never been known to harm faeries, have they?).
I don’t want to alarm anyone, writer or reader, or innocent crow, but if you’ve got a band of faeries hiding on your lawn, please ask them to return to Mucky. I miss them. Pass the word. Enjoy this day!
A well-tended patch of dirt is a reminder that we’ve worked hard, done well, and created something. Maybe we’re not all artists. Not all writers. Not all Kardashians. Maybe some of us are meant to just enjoy being alone with our thoughts, diggin’ in the garden or drafting a paragraph or two that only we will ever read. Maybe not worrying what it is that we’re formulating or “creating” is the best way to go.
That’s perfectly okay, isn’t it? Let the ones who create to entertain us do their thing. I confess, if time permits, I wonder what all the fuss is about movie stars or authors who are “stars.” We’re all going right back into the dirt. We’re all the same. Equal. Why showcase one creator over another? Don’t get me wrong. It’s not irresponsible or selfish to enjoy creating or even to dream of writing a best seller. I know this because when I’m not gardening I’m spending my whole day creating stories.
You’re asking, “So, Mary, what does growing veggies and creating stories have in common?”
Great question. No pat answer. But I can tell you this: both are acts of creation that get in a person’s blood. If you’re a gardener, or a writer, you get what I’m saying. If you’re a movie star, you might not. 🙂
Today permits me no space for gardening. It’s raining. Ground’s wet. No worries. I’m editing Act III of Phantom Fire because several of y’all (Hi, Sue DeBord!) have said, “Can’t wait!”