Tag Archive | inspiration

Be Ceaseless – The Blog Series

Ceaseless. The dictionary loosely defines it as “without pause or stop; unending”; however, I define it as “a person who is unstoppable; a way of being; the attitude a person takes when they do not allow people or circumstances to stop them from achieving their full potential”. It’s a word that defines who I am to the core of my being. I can’t go anywhere without being identified as “that ceaseless author”, a moniker I wear with pride.

But I have gone beyond that. Ceaseless is tattooed on my forearm for all the world to see – a constant reminder of how my children see me and a way to remind myself just how strong I truly am. Over time, it’s evolved into the hashtag #BeCeaseless – encouraging others to view their own circumstances in a different way. BeCeaseless is on t-shirts, bracelets, and even has its own Facebook page. It’s taken on a life of its own, and I’m proud to say that my own failures gave birth to this movement.

Yep. Failures.

For me, being ceaseless is a state of mind. A few years ago, I finally realized I was far stronger than I’d ever given myself credit for, and without that sudden clarity I hate to think where I’d be right now. My only regret in life is that I didn’t realize it all sooner. The fact that I was 43-years-old before I saw myself through my children’s eyes…as someone who is relentless…pushes me to do better and be better every single day. But I’m not doing it for them per say. While I want to set a good example, and be a role model to my kids, I’ve had to learn it’s okay to be a bit selfish about my own wellbeing and my life’s goals. No one is going to hand me the success I want out of life. I have to work hard and earn it. And now more than I ever, I know it’s within my grasp simply because I believe it.

That may seem like hokum and new-age thinking. But even quantum physics has a theory about the law of attraction. By thinking positively and expecting good things to happen, positive and good things will happen. Perhaps that is oversimplifying its definition, but you get the gist of it.

I wasted far too many years on self-pity parties, pessimism, and blaming others for my problems. Everyone has their own demons – a past they’d like to forget and an uncertain future that seems doomed for failure. Skeletons hang in closets like neatly organized bedlam where we hope they’ll stay hidden from the curious eyes of society. I planned to keep my own skeletons hidden from everyone I knew for fear of being judged. But I recently discovered that by keeping my struggles buried, embarrassed to let others discover my failures and pain, no one would ever know the real me or why I am who I am.

There are incidents from my past I wish I could forget, but every traumatic event shaped the person I was to become. Through the tears, the hardships, and the pain, I am now someone that my younger self would be proud to know. Toxic people, fear, blame, and self-loathing will only stand in the way of letting you become the person you always thought you could be. Happiness is up to you. No one, not even me, can motivate you to become who you were always meant to be. That, my dear, is entirely up to you.

This is the first of many blog posts – a series that will ultimately make you see you’re not alone. My ultimate goal is to make you understand just how strong you are. Life is hard, yet you are made of harder stuff…but only if you believe it. As the days, weeks, and months go by, you will discover how broken I once was and how I was able to fight my way back to become the person I am today. I’m not perfect, and I am nowhere close to where I want to be in life…yet. But the point is this…through self-belief, ambition, perseverance, optimism, and planning, I know without a doubt one day I will succeed in everything I want to achieve because I am allowing it to happen.

You can achieve anything.

My hope for this blog series is this: that you discover the hero inside yourself. By figuring out how to let go of the past and embrace your future, you will find that you are free to become the champion of your own story.

As for me…I am ceaseless. I am strong. I am the she I always meant to be.

Who are you?

Why I Write

Many people are under the impression that authors write because they want to be famous. This is true in some cases. However, that isn’t always the case. Some do it to supplement their income. Others do it just for the joy of writing. Many do it because they feel they have something to share. For me, the reason I write is personal.

Growing up, I was told I could do anything I set my mind to. But each time I made a decision on what kind of career to pursue, someone in my life told me why I shouldn’t.

“You can’t go to school for journalism. No daughter of mine is going to be a filthy liar for a living.”

“I think becoming a radio D.J. is a bad idea. There’s no future in it.”

“You’ll join the military over my dead body.”

“You want to go to school to study literature? There’s no money in that. You need to be more realistic in your goals. Dreams don’t pay the bills.”

You get the point.

So, for years I went along with all of it and did what was expected of me. I went back to college and earned a degree in business. Any love of writing that I had left in me went dormant. I went about raising my daughters and going through my 9 to 5 days as if nothing was amiss.

And then in 2009, something happened that changed my life. I didn’t realize it at the time, but it was the start of something amazing. Something big. Humongous.

I lost my job.

Yep.

So there I was. No job and no way to help support my family. I tried to find a new job, but it was tough out there. I became withdrawn thinking I had disappointed my children and my husband. I cried almost daily and couldn’t get out bed. But after a few months, I discovered something that consistently seemed to cheer me up.

At the time, the Harry Potter movies (at least the ones I owned up to that point on DVD) played 24/7 in my bedroom. I watched them over and over – and over and over and over. They made me smile. They gave me hope. And they gave me an idea.

I pulled out my husband’s old laptop and just began to type. I’m not sure where the words came from, or the story for that matter, but they started to flow nonetheless. It began to develop into a narrative about a girl who discovered an ancient secret that was handed down from mother to daughter. Her newfound powers were to be used to save the world and her family. And since my oldest daughter’s birthday was coming up, I decided that I would finish it and give to her as a birthday gift.

When I finished, I thought the story was brilliant.

Looking back, the story was crap.

But I wrote it. I wrote every single word. I poured my heart and soul into the story, and in the end I dusted away any of the cobwebs that had gathered in my brain throughout the years. My juices began to flow and I wrote another book. Then another, and another, and another.

And then those same people who discouraged my dreams early in life came back and said all the same things.

“You can’t make any money writing books.”

“So after you write this book and get it out of your system, are you going to quit writing and get a real job?”

“Don’t you think your time would be better served cleaning your messy house than writing books? It’s not like you’ll ever be famous.”

But this time, I didn’t listen. I smiled politely and walked away.

Why did I continue to write? It wasn’t necessarily to become famous, or make a lot of money, or even to get noticed – although those are all nice goals.

It was because I’m not just an author. I’m also a mother to three amazing young ladies. They look to me for guidance in life – a role model to show them how life should be lived. And what kind of role model would I be if I gave up on my dream?

“Don’t do as I do. Do as I say.” I heard it a lot growing up – almost daily. But as the years passed, I realized that it was some of the worst advice anyone could have ever given me. Actions speak far louder than words. My daughters look to me to learn how to deal with life’s situations through my actions and reactions. Because – come on – let’s get real. How often do our kids really hear what we have to say?

I write because I want to show them that following your dreams isn’t folly. It’s important. It’s the dreamers in this world that have given us movies, books, music, television shows, new medicines, prosthetics, art, and a whole slew of other things that are important in this life. Einstein was a dreamer as was Edgar Allen Poe. They all dreamed of giving the world something we’d never seen before. Where would we be if they had given up?

My 2 oldest daughters

My 2 oldest daughters

My daughters need to know that failure happens. People fail every day. But if you get up each time, dust yourself off, and keep moving you haven’t truly failed. The only time you really fail is if you stop trying.

I have one daughter who dreams of one day working in TV, film, or Broadway as a make-up artist. I have another daughter who wants to become a pastry chef. Neither of these are “practical” goals. Some might even say they’re unrealistic or impractical. But why should that stop them from following their dreams?

My youngest daughter

My youngest daughter

So I continue to write – push ahead – improve my craft in an effort to make my children proud and show them how to succeed in life through example. I don’t need to be famous. I don’t need to make a million dollars. I only need to show them my resolve, and then maybe…just maybe…one day I can show them how that hard work pays off.

Inspiration is Everywhere

As a writer, people often ask me, “Where do you come up with your ideas?”

There are some who believe that authors merely sit in an office with a laptop in front of them and just come up with ideas on the fly…that somehow plots and story lines come to us as we pound away on the keys.

Wrong.

Truth is, most of us find inspiration in everyday situations. Many authors will sleep with a pen and paper next to their bed in case they wake up from an ingenious dream. Some will overhear a person say something clever, causing the author to think, “I should put that in a book.” There are others who will simply walk down the street, look up, and see a cloud that resembles a dragon, and voila…a story is born.

Boy wearing a hoodie. Artist: Remi Martin

Boy wearing a hoodie. Artist: Remi Martin

Inspiration is everywhere. I have often found that the best ideas come from the most unexpected places. I love strolling through antique stores and finding odd items and photographs that make me wonder what kind of story they can tell. My 16-year-old daughter will draw sketches that have been known to give me ideas for characters in my books. I’ve also been known to browse social media and find photographs or phrases that influence my creativity on that particular day.

Even people themselves are great walking-billboards of ideas. The way they look, the way they talk, what they say…I can’t help but wonder who they really are and why they act the way they do. I guess I have a way of constantly wondering what makes people tick – a student of human nature.

Women working in a haberdashery in the 1930's.

Women working in a haberdashery in the 1930’s.

But what I really love is discovering new places. Comic book stores, rolling hills, a deserted gas station, a downed tree, a long stretch of highway, a tire swing, or an alleged haunted hotel…who knows what kind of stories could have taken place there in the past…or even the near future?

And that’s where it starts.

I escape in to my mind and begin to contemplate the “what-ifs”. What if fallen angels were real? What if ghosts could really interact with people? What if time travel was real? If I could go back in time, who would I want to talk to and what would I change? What if the apocalypse happened tomorrow? What if the world suddenly changed? What if the future we fear actually happens?

Then, I take those what-ifs and put them together with the items, places, or people I’ve met along the way. That guy that works behind the counter at the local coffee shop? What if he was a demon? Or maybe a demon hunter. What if an entire town of people suddenly vanished and no one noticed? How will society function one hundred years from now? Two hundred years? What if everyone you loved was tragically taken away from you? How would you react? In the end, one idea ultimately flows in to another until the basic plot becomes words on a page.

There are currently 8 pages in a Word document on my laptop with ideas for future story lines. My next project was inspired by the hills that surround my home in South Dakota and the idea that they would make a great battleground for a an epic battle. The main character came to me after seeing a dark photo of a girl curled up on a sidewalk when I was browsing through Pinterest late one night. The best friend of the protagonist is a frumpy nerd who loves comic books and role-playing games…and just happens to be inspired by one of the funniest, smartest, sweetest, nerdiest guys I know.

The comic book in my hometown in South Dakota. Can you say “nerd-vana”?

Creativity can strike anytime and in any form, and I have to be open to it when it does. I have become quite good at taking the ordinary and turning them in to something that I would like to read myself.

Which brings me to this. For those of you who have always wanted to write, allow me to give you some advice.

1) Write. Stop making excuses. Even if you can’t write every day, just write.

2) Your writing doesn’t have to be perfect. Get the story on paper and worry about making it perfect later.

3) The more you write, the better you’ll get. So write as often as you can.

4) Read, read, read. And don’t just read one kind of genre. Read them all.

5) Don’t play in to what is hot at the moment. If you want to write dystopian, write dystopian. If you want to create a world of vampires, write about vampires. They’re telling you that sci-fi is a dead genre? Write it anyway.

6) Open your eyes to everything around you. The places you visit. The people you meet. The items you see lying in the street.

Don’t ever underestimate your ability to create worlds. Every night when you close your eyes, your brain goes in to overdrive and generates amazing and colorful scenarios and narratives. The trick is channeling your subconscious and making it…conscious.

Go forth and write. And remember…inspiration is everywhere.