Tag Archives: meditation

3 things I’ve learned from writing

1. The process of writing means more to me than the finished product.

I’ve gone back to reading several of my old works. Admittedly, some pieces are cringeworthy; others still resonate true today. This comes as no surprise, really. The familiarity of what I’m reading allows me to bypass the story and concentrate on elements of craft. I see things differently than when I first published in 2011.

When I was a non-writing reader, the rules of grammar and punctuation only came to light if I saw an obvious error. Poor sentence structure, the overuse of adverbs, word repetition, etc., were but fleeting impressions.

Now, I’m more focused on how a sentence can be improved upon. This is probably why writers are advised to read — a lot. We feed off and learn from the writing of better authors.

Although completion of a short story, novella, or novel is cause for celebration once it’s published, it is no longer mine. The process of writing is what is important from a learning perspective, and remaining attached to a story after it’s made public serves no purpose.

2. The more I write, the more I learn about others and the less I know about myself.

Writing fiction demands that I look at the world through the lens of others, to inhabit my characters in order write their stories.

By gaining insight into others, I’ve discovered how little I know about myself.

Allow me to explain.

Because I must expand my imagination to write fiction, I sometimes question if it is truly me who comes up with the stories. In the genre of mystery and suspense, I’ve researched by reading a lot of true crime. It’s not surprising I’ve filled my mind with some awful images. That I am also a news junkie only adds to the chaos inside my head.

It’s great for fiction, but not so good for maintaining daily calm.

To stay grounded, I meditate and do yoga. In meditation, all kinds of thoughts come up. I simply observe them, attaching neither good nor bad feelings toward them. Acceptance of these thoughts trains my mind to stay calm and be in the moment. This translates to a more easygoing manner outside of meditation, and hopefully, more awareness.

Yoga serves to strengthen my physical being, which is intimately connected to the mind.

To create believable characters, it’s necessary to nurture them to behave in a way that might be contrary to my own behaviour. The important thing is staying true to myself when I’m not in my fictional world.

3. Writing can be all encompassing.

Writing absorbs me when I’m “in the zone.” At these times, I don’t need food or sleep, and I avoid all distractions. My only purpose is to ride the creative wave for as long as it will take me and as far as it will go.

It doesn’t happen too often, but it’s an amazing feeling when it does.

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What are some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned from writing? Please feel free to share. 🙂

XX

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Toning my Mind, Body, and Breasts

I hope you’re here for my mind and not my breasts. 😉

The title is a bit misleading, so allow me to elaborate.

Over the next month (possibly longer), I’ll be blogging about my mind, body, and … something else. I’m calling it the Mind Body Series. The “something else” is a by-product of the work I’ve been doing to improve myself mentally and physically.

For this post, I’ll talk about toning my mind and body and only touch on my breasts.

Hmm … that didn’t sound right. What I mean is, I won’t be offering any tips on how to make your breasts perkier or firmer, in case that’s why you stopped by.

As October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month (USA | Canada | UK), it’s important that I highlight this worthy cause in any way I can. Since I was diagnosed in 2000, both detection and treatment have improved significantly for those with breast cancer.

It’s encouraging to read about the progress over the years and know this disease may someday be eradicated—in my lifetime.

breast cancer awareness month

The stuttered beginning of this post provides a small indication for how I’ve been feeling the past two years—hesitant and unfocused. It’s affected every area of my life, most notably my writing. I’ve pushed ahead as best as I can, but it’s been a difficult time not knowing how long the lethargy would last.

In essence, when would my mind bounce back to the way it was—to when it was sharp and clear, without the filter of cobwebs behind a thick fog, buried under a rock?

See? I need major help with my metaphors too.

empty brain

On paper, my thoughts were dysfunctional and incomprehensible to me. Others did not seem to think so, but I’ve always been my own worst critic. The words rang hollow. At times, I felt like my brain was empty of thought. This, of course, was impossible. What offered me small comfort was knowing that I can write. I had proof of it in my previous books even though my perception of my writing had changed. When I used to read my old work, I would think: “Ha! I can write better than that now!” and feel good that I had improved.

Now, I did not recognize myself in my writing. I felt like an imposter, which wasn’t all that different from how I felt when I first started writing fulltime. Call it self-doubt or a crisis of confidence, but whatever it was, it gripped me in a headlock and was not letting go.

For the better part of this year, I’ve limited my blog to music posts and author promotions. I figured I couldn’t mess those up too much. Penning an original and personal post had become increasingly difficult. I wrote the last one when I returned from my grandmother’s funeral, and that was nearly ten months ago.

If it were not for R.B. Wood’s WordCount Podcast and Toby Neal’s Lei Crime KindleWorlds series, I would not have done much creative writing at all. Both of them gave me opportunities to write—at least in the short fiction format.

Regardless of how I felt, it was important that I kept up a daily writing ritual, so I turned into a robotic vomiter of words for the sake of meeting word count.

word vomit

I tried to maintain discipline, anchoring myself in the knowledge that these words were not without merit. The problem was, none of them were in the proper order for my next book—A Fragile Truce, which was to follow Stranger at Sunset, released 2014.

I had planned to launch the second book less than a year later, followed by book three shortly after that.

The pressure to meet my deadline prompted me to withdraw from social media for a while, but that didn’t help.

What was happening to me?

Was it the dreaded writer’s block (which I had vehemently denied even existed?)

writer's block

Or was it something more sinister?

Following a couple of trips to see my doctor, he diagnosed me as severely anemic. My iron level was non-existent and my blood pressure so low he was surprised I didn’t faint. I was 50 at the time. It made sense I would be experiencing hormonal fluctuation and other symptoms of life change. Still, I never thought it would affect me with such intensity—to the point where both my mind and body felt foreign to me.

I know every woman goes through this, and some I’ve spoken to have much worse symptoms than me. I was also reminded that fifteen years ago, my oncologist told me there might be lingering effects from my chemo treatment. I guess I had chosen to ignore that little piece of information. Unfortunately, it was impossible to ignore the connection between changes in my body and how it affected my ability to communicate – both verbally and via the written word. I never used to struggle to find the right words. Now, It’s on the tip of my tongue syndrome occurred more often than I cared to admit. My vocabulary plummeted, which meant writing took longer since I needed to consult a Thesaurus more often.

Something had to change, but what?

meditator

Since my mid twenties, I’ve meditated regularly, which I owe to saving my mind from becoming even more erratic than it already was. What I didn’t realize was the process of stilling my mind (sitting for long periods in meditation) was not fully serving me at this stage in my life—not physically anyway.

I’ve never really had to exercise. Moderate physical activity was enough to keep me in good shape, but I knew I needed to do more. I felt sluggish and heavy. I couldn’t sleep.

In February, against my doctor’s wishes, I decided not to take iron supplements and instead, started a regimen of Chinese herbs. They have helped me regain much of my energy. I don’t have that lethargic feeling anymore, and best yet, my foggy brain cleared up as well.

chinese herbal concoction

Concoction of dates, goji berries, and dong quai

I also did something opposite to what my doctor recommended. He wanted me to take it easy with exercise. I understood his rationale, but I listened to my body, and my body told me it needed to move. It needed to move A LOT. I felt manic when I made the decision to join a hot yoga studio in the neighbourhood, like I had been on ice for far too long.

5-lb-dumbbell

I started going to classes two, three, then five times a week. One of the classes is a Body Tone class which is fitness inspired. We work with weights, loud music, and the pace is breakneck. I imagine it’s what “Bootcamp Yoga” would be if there was such a thing. In the beginning, I couldn’t even do half the moves of the hour-long class. I am now happy to say that after eight months, I can complete the full class—with gusto! I’ve even moved up to using 5-lb weights from my original 3-pounders. Though that might not sound like a lot, performing repetitive weight-bearing squats, lifts, and sit-ups in 35C (95F) heat is exhausting. I walk out of the class drenched but feeling happy and invigorated. The workouts have also helped me sleep much better.

I returned to my doctor recently for a follow-up appointment and told him what I had been doing. He was fine with my approach though a bit concerned I had lost 10 pounds since I started yoga. It shocked me, really. I don’t own a scale, so the only time I ever weigh myself is at my doctor’s office. It was never my intention to lose weight, but despite my thinner body, I felt stronger than I have ever felt in my life.

All good news, right?

Well, there is a small downside to the story … and that’s where my breasts enter into the picture.

Or more accurately, it’s where they make their exit.

Those 10 pounds I lost came straight off the top. I didn’t think it was possible to go down a size from a 32A bra, but it is.

The main casualty of this weight loss is now I have to get rid of many of my bras. I love beautiful lingerie, and I’m a bit embarrassed to admit I own several push-ups that feel like they could double as a football player’s shoulder pads. They transformed me from a 32A to a 32C—a two-cup increase. Woohoo!

bras

These babies could stop bullets!

When I fitted myself with these push-ups the other day, I laughed my ass off! I thought I was going to topple over. Suffice it to say it looks unnatural for me to have such large breasts now.

Did you ever think you would be so intimate with my intimates? Heh.

It’s been a trying and interesting time. I’m not one who complains, but I wanted to let readers know why I haven’t been able to deliver on my trilogy. At the same time, I also wanted to thank you for reading my meanderings, now and in the past.

The good news is I’m on the mend.

My mind is much improved with Chinese herbs and meditation. My body is leaner and growing stronger with yoga, and last but not least, even though there is less to them now …

love your breasts

Stay tuned for the next instalment of my Mind Body Series when I talk about travel and returning to a magical place—Bali.

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Music Monday moves with Bridge Over Troubled Water

It’s the last Monday of August, which means my final Simon and Garfunkel song for the month.

“Bridge Over Troubled Water” is my friend, Allison’s favorite song by the duo. This post is a tribute to her and our friendship, and unlike the song, we were near warm and peaceful waters when she took this picture of me.

Thanks, Al. 

eb at millcroft

Meditation at Millcroft Inn

Have a lovely end of August,

~eden

 

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Writing is like …

This is a blog meme. What is that, you ask? I had to find out before I attempted to add to it.

A meme is a self-propagating unit of thought spread from one host to another, an idea-gene, if you will.

For bloggers, memes can provide insight into the personalities of other writers that you wouldn’t necessarily find in their writing.

This meme was passed on to me by my friend, wild and witty thriller author, Jason McIntyre. I think he’s purposely trying to push me over the edge by adding more to my writing plate, however, I’m rarely one to pass up a challenge, so thanks Jason!

Here’s my attempt at keeping this meme alive…

Writing is like controlling a vicious beast—not literally, but some days, it sure feels that way.

My attempt to tame the beast is through meditation. The task seems simple: concentrate on one thing and one thing only—my breath. Just feel my breath as it comes into my nostrils, and feel it as it exits my nostrils. Direct all my energies toward this instinctual life force. Do it for an hour daily to attain a sharper mind and gain the ability to write with more focus. Breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out…

I sit perfectly still in the lotus position on the floor, eyes closed, hands folded peacefully in my lap, and the alarm clock set to go off in an hour. Ten seconds in, my thoughts wander to yesterday. Did I remember to take the laundry out? Did I send off that e-mail for my interview? Shit, I forgot to call my mother!

Rein in that savage beast! Concentrate…breathe, okay…

My thoughts skip ahead. What am I making for dinner? I need to get my teeth cleaned. Did I just hear my mailman come up the walk? Stay in the moment, dammit, just think about the breathing!

And so it goes for the next hour as I cautiously dance around this maniacal animal, coaxing it to behave, using my powers of persuasion to break its uncivilized spirit. I refuse to kill it, but I want to grab it by the neck and choke some sense into it, make it listen to me, show it that I’m the master. And yet…despite my reasoning, this feral creature tears at me with its dripping fangs, and I spin around and around to…

Fantasy time: An editor from Random House calls me. She’s read my book and would like to fly me down to New York for a meeting. She wants to discuss a series and …

Pep talk time: I can do this. I know I can. I’m strong, hang in there…

Whining time: How can one hour seem so bloody long? My right knee hurts, why do I need to sit like this? I could sure use a chair. When the hell’s that alarm going off?

And just as I’m ready to think only about breathing, I’m jolted out of my meditation/nap by the “beeping” of my alarm. As much as I’ve tried to force this wicked animal into submission, I’ve only experienced a few moments within the hour when it actually obeyed me. Those few moments were sublime—moments where there was a true connection to the present and doing what I had set out to do.

As each day passes, patience will grow those few moments into seconds, and seconds into minutes, and in time, this wild beast will be trained, healthy, and with all its bad habits happily obliterated.

I can only hope.

*  *  *  *

So who am I asking to carry on this blog meme? Three lovely female authors whom I’m proud to call friends:

Paranormal romance writer: LM Stull

Young adult writer: Patti Larsen

Horror writer: Rebecca Treadway

Ladies, may you go the distance with this meme!

Stay sexy,

eden

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