Category Archives: Motivations

How to Write With a Whip

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Ever get caught up in frustration that there’s just not enough time to write?

Between working full time, homemaking, investigating information we need to write, and a few other significant endeavors, like parenting, many aspiring writers feel they’ve been “tied to the whipping post!”

 

(Here you may imagine I inserted a video of the Allman Brothes playing the song, “Whipping Post.” Or, you can go to You Tube yourself, leaving me no copyright issues.)

Tired of feeling whipped? Let’s take that WHIP in hand, turn it around, and get cracking!

First, let’s clearly identify the factors that WHIP us, ie., detract from our writing time:

W is for working! While some writers are fully financed by someone or something, most of us have to work full-time to keep that ever-so-important roof over our heads and food in our bellies! Read the rest of this entry

Doctor’s Recommendation

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Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.

Dr. Seuss

(The Lorax)

Compassion: Left and Right

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Marge lay exhausted at the end of a long day, her eyes puffy from too many tears. It has been an emotional day for her. As she lay on the sofa catching a quick break, an ear out for when her son’s trach needs suctioning, she becomes acutely aware that Read the rest of this entry

Dark Chocolate to my Soul

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This slideshow requires JavaScript.

First smile from my baby~

Fingertips at my back~

Purple hued sunsets o’er mountain or sea.

A word fitly spoken~

Laughing toddlers at play~

Secret gifts sent before there’s a plea.

Read the rest of this entry

Happy WordPress Anniversary (to me)!

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Something from WordPress arrived in my notifications box today!

Borrowed from a website that borrowed from . . .

Borrowed from a website that borrowed from . . .

Excited (in the style of Ralphie, opening his package from the Lil’ Orphan Annie Radio Show), my heart raced. Could it be? Freshly pressed?

The highly coveted Freshly Pressed Award, in my box?

 

imageBut, alas, it was just a little congrats for one year blogging.

 

 

Ditto. . .

Ditto. . .

 

It’s okay, though, WordPress, I do appreciate you remembering our special day. Now that I’m over the initial let-down, I think it was really nice of you. It has been a good year together.

A year ago today, you helped me publish my first blog post. Wading through the countless themes, layouts and options, we put together a pretty good start.

During the year, I learned a few things. I found that there are some excellent people all over the world who participate in WordPress blogging. A few became fast friends, as we enjoyed reading one another’s posts and commenting in supportive dialogue. I have new friends in Scotland, Canada, and across America. I’ve had visitors from nearly every country! All this without annoyance from over 14,000 spammers that Akismet blocked for me.

This is a snapshot of my all-time visits. The list of countries is three times longer than would fit!

This is a snapshot of my all-time visits. The list of countries is three times longer than would fit!

I’ve seen reader interest wane in the face of serious and lengthy posts. I’ve caught a few waves of new likes and follows from brief and light-weight posts. I’ve played with some blog-building strategies suggested by overnight-success bloggers. Oh, and I almost forgot, published 60 posts. Not bad for a full-time professional with a second full-time job (family).

In the beginning, I heard that publishers want new writers who can boast a platform of 10-15,000 followers. “You can build that in a year while you write your book,” one author told me.

It’s been a year. I’ve missed a lot of sleep! I’ve built a platform of a whopping 200-something followers. Few ever comment (come on, people, it’s lonely without conversation!).  I’ve written only about a tenth (if that) of my book. I don’t feel too successful on this one-year anniversary, dear WordPress.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not blaming you. I’m just saying, it isn’t what I thought. Just like in marriage; there is the honeymoon stage, then comes disillusionment. To make a life-long success, couples must get through these phases to real love.

I still hope to finish my book, to live to see it published, and then maybe another after that. Not just for fun, but to make some (albeit small) difference in the world, one that will outlive me.

Whether I’ll need to build a sizable platform or not, I don’t know. What I do know is, I’m not wasting my time here (well, maybe a little!). I’m learning to write better. I’m learning about others, what they see and have to say. I’m learning plenty about what doesn’t work. And, it’s pretty fun.

So, if you want to hang out another year or so, WordPress, I’m game. Do you have an iron, though? I could really use some fresh-pressing; I’m starting to get wrinkled.

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Happy Anniversary!

Joan T. Warren

Faith or Fear: Roots Run Rampant

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Fear has roots with underground runners! Just when I think I’ve pulled the biggest, up crops another branch. I pull it, and off of that one, a myriad others, in all directions.

As a young adult, I realized I was a people-pleaser. I wanted people to like me, to approve of me, and for things to be peaceful, no conflict.

I dug into the matter. “There are weeds in this garden, Lord, help me pull them out by the roots and let your truth replace all the lies I believed!”

“If people get upset, you’re going to get hurt.” Yank. “I will wipe away your tears, bind up your wounds. A tender shoot I will not break.” (Ah).

“It’s all your fault!” Yank. “You were a child when you learned this, it was not your fault. Let me show you instead what is your responsibility now. . .” (Wha?)

“If you’re good, nothing bad will happen, so you must be bad because bad things happened.” Yank. “Bad things happen, regardless; look what happened to my Son.” (Oh).

One root led to another, until, looking up at the garden, it was disheveled. Some roots broke off, leaving tiny pieces and hidden sections that sprouted back up later.

“You’re a mess, you’ll never get this done.” Yank. “Let my Spirit guide you; I will send rain to loosen the soil, then the roots will give more easily. You are already perfect in my eyes, so don’t worry about it so much. As a matter of fact, how about you hand me those gloves and let me be the gardener now?” (Oh, okay).

That was over twenty years ago.

Gradually I got free. Free to say yes or no. Free to confront or let go. Free to choose according to what rang true in my gut instead of whatever others said. Free to live with the consequences, positive and negative, of my own choices. Free to learn and grow as a loved child would.

Fear still crops up, though. Just today I read a blog-friend’s post on fear and realized some new ones to take to the Gardener:

http://holisticwayfarer.com/2014/02/26/what-if-you-werent-afraid/

Without fear, I will be able to achieve my goals, which are huge, by the way. More on that later.

Your turn: fear or faith? What do you see as your biggest victory over something you feared, and how did you find the courage  to achieve it?

Comment and/or post your related link.

Related links:

http://kimberlyharding.wordpress.com/2014/03/02/to-fear-or-not-to-fear-two-images-to-help/#comment-5046

I Feel Cherokee

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My Great-Great Grandmother Elizabeth Sophia Grey. Eastern Tribe. Can you help me find her true identity? She likely changed her last name at least.

My Great-Great Grandmother, Elizabeth Sophia Grey. Eastern Tribe. I believe she changed her last name. Do you know her?

I feel Cherokee.

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Shrouded in secrecy after hiding from Indian Removal in the 1800’s, my 1900’s family seemed unable to pass on important information to support our Cherokee heritage. We can trace all directions but this one.

Though just a small percentage runs through these veins, my Cherokee blood is mighty. I feel it when I look at the sky, when I walk near great waters, when I head toward the mountains, when I read their stories.

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I feel Cherokee.

I feel Cherokee values, these from the Cherokee Preservation Foundation website:

  • Spirituality, which creates a bond among Cherokee people in good times and bad, and is a source of hope.
  • Group harmony in community and kin relationships, and freely sharing and giving time, talent and treasures.
  • Strong individual character, with integrity, honesty, perseverance, courage, respect, trust, honor and humility.
  • Strong connection with the land and commitment to stewardship of the homelands of the Cherokee.
  • Honoring the past by knowing one’s ancestors, identifying with and belonging to the tribe, and living and preserving Cherokee culture.
  • Educating the children by providing values-oriented education and recreation, and by being strong role models for them.
  • Possessing a sense of humor, which can lighten pressure in serious situations and help people make good decisions.
Mary Agnes Grey Burris, my Great Grandmother

Mary Agnes Grey Burris, my Great Grandmother

Not knowing these values were Cherokee, they have been my values–except that I don’t know my ancestors. Not yet.

I want to know my ancestors. As a garden bed needs turning, I  feel the need to dig into the rich soil of those who have gone before.

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I feel Cherokee.

I feel Cherokee land. My husband and I sometimes dream about different places in the world we may like to retire to. When we are finally free of the commitments we have to our present locale, where will we land? Where is home? We could go anywhere.

Appalachia by DenesiaChristine

Appalachia by DenesiaChristine

The land that feels like home, though I wasn’t born or raised there, is the land of the Cherokee. It was their homeland for unknown centuries, until immigrants (whom they largely welcomed and helped) forcibly drove them out of it. Former leaders of our United States misled them, broke promises and cheated them out of their homeland. Now they have reservations. It all used to be theirs.

Winter in Higher Elevations, Appalachia by DenesiaChristine

Winter in Higher Elevations, Appalachia by DenesiaChristine

My daughter moved to their region recently. Nearly every day she posts pictures on Instagram, and expresses her pure joy and love for these mountains. I am moved. I can’t help but click ‘like’ on every photo! We love that land. We want it protected, nourished and cherished. We look forward to knowing and loving the people as well. If you would like to see more of her inspiring photography, you can follow her on Instagram, she is DENESIACHRISTINE.

Wildflowers in Appalachia by DenesiaChristine

Wildflowers in Appalachia by DenesiaChristine

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I feel Cherokee.

I feel Cherokee history and culture. I love the way Cherokees welcomed and worked with settlers. I’m intrigued by their prophetic awareness of the Great Spirit, how they saw peril coming from the new people, yet they embraced them, believing in a greater good in the long run. I endorse their respectful practices regarding hunting, caring for all living things and wasting nothing. I love how their “good medicine” includes healthy relationships.

I have much to learn about and from the Cherokee. As I write my first novel, I will be doing just that. One of the main characters in my upcoming novel is Cherokee. We will explore and learn in and through her character. I hope to learn important information to support my family’s Cherokee heritage for future generations, and to support the Cherokee nation as a whole.

I feel Cherokee. It feels good. I hope you’ll enjoy feeling Cherokee with me.

©Joan  T. Warren

To begin learning more about Cherokee, and Appalachian history,  try these links:

http://www.smokymountainnews.com/news/item/655-at-long-last-cherokee-telling-their-own-story

http://appalachianstudies.org/resources/docs/97whisnant63.html

Excuse me, but, um, They’re Killing People! Part 2

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“. . . writing from heart to heart toward healthy relationships and living, involves both personal lives on a small scale AND global relationships. After all, we are all individual people on this earth, and we are one humanity.”

Welcome back! This is part two in a three-part series. In part one, we learned some background information that is crucial to understanding this portion. Here is a link to part one:

Excuse me, Part 1

After reading Brian McLaren’s articles addressing the need to speak up about extremist Muslims targeting Christians for death, I shared some background with you on my history of personal experience with author and activist Brian McLaren, and initiated this series as a means to personally respond to his suggestions and to invite further discussion and thought on the matter with you, my readers. This series of three posts can serve as a platform where we can begin to speak about the rising tide of religious violence, and engage in meaningful conversation that has the potential, given form and shape by its partakers, to become a profound and guiding philosophy in our present day challenges.

Personally, I had many questions and concerns while reading McLaren’s articles. I hope that in sharing them here, our mutual engagement may advance my own thinking as well as, perhaps, our global consciousness. Here are my responses to part one of Brian’s article:

First, I must say that I agree with Brian’s assertion that the persecution and murder of Christians and other non-Muslims by extremist and terrorist Muslims is appalling. I agree, too, that the lack of reporting, discussing and acting upon these matters is also abhorrent. As Brian explores possible reasons for the relative silence on the matter, he suggests six possible reasons. Here, I review four of the six that, in my view, need further exploration.

First, Brian suggests that people are silent perhaps because we fear being counted as extremists, but that the resultant silence aides and abets extremism and is in itself evil:

“But wrongly and unwisely – many simply remain silent. In so doing, they aid and abet extremism in both Christian and Muslim communities. As Powers stated, quoting Bonhoeffer, “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil.”

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Bonhoeffer

On this point I struggle.  Read the rest of this entry

Excuse me, but, um, They’re Killing People–Part 1

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Excuse me, but, um, They’re Killing People–Part 1

A Little Background

A friend from the 1970’s is now a well-known writer, activist and speaker. When I first met him, he was probably about twenty years old. He was remarkable, even at that age, in his charisma, warmth, dedication, musical talent and ability to reach out to and relate to nearly anyone in an authentic and meaningful manner. He was the first person I met whose life called me to rethink my oh-so-well-informed-19-year-old-critical-judgment that all Christians are hypocrites.

imageBack then, remember, young people were idealistic. We were peace-loving activists who believed we could change the world. Brian exceeded all the other I’d-like-to-teach-the-world-to-sing-type activists I knew, as he embodied the notion of love and purity, doing his best to live as Jesus would in present day. No pot-smoking, let’s-all-love-each-other-but-I-really-mean-let’s-go-to-bed-sort was he. No, he was idealism at its best, and I loved him for it. I followed. I joined his family’s home church, meeting in an elementary school on Sundays and in their home on Wednesday nights. They meant to create a new testament church, similar to what the apostles in the early church experienced. We met in a circle, facing one another, talking about how we were doing, sharing a Bible verse that we felt encouraged by that week, praying for each other, singing songs together, breaking bread. I pretty much devoured every word, soaking up the lessons and applying them to my life as if they were the cure to all that ailed me. It was really quite wonderful, while it lasted.

Before long, the little church dissipated, dwindling away rapidly once Brian went off to college. It was he who was the main attraction, after all, in that time and place. Yet we who were impacted by those relational meetings remain bonded over time and space, even sharing a Facebook group today. Brian went on to an English degree, then became a pastor, and later a full-time author, activist and speaker.

Several years ago I stumbled upon him again, and found that he has not lost the ability to influence me powerfully. Through exchanging a few emails, reading a few of his books, his blog and Facebook page, Brian again spurs me to go beyond my working definitions in life, and out of my realm of comfort.

imageNot blindly, though: I am not a loyal follower of anyone like I was when I was 20. No, these days I’m more apt to think for myself. I’ve seen enough hypocrisy among Christian leadership to make me reconsider my 19-year-old-wisdom. I’ve met more dysfunctional, toxic and down-right scary folks in churches than anywhere else, and I’ve met some of the most sincere, authentic people-of-little-faith in the most ungodly  places.  So, now, when I read Brian’s writing, I don’t swallow it whole, but I certainly give it thoughtful consideration. Read the rest of this entry

Reaching Out With WordPress

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keyboard and penThe way I figure,

if this conversation

~blogging~

reaches even one person,

then it is worthwhile;

even if that one

is just you

or me.

Heart reaching heart,

relating,

encouraging–

this is life.

Note: The above poem is my offering to a fellow blogger’s event, in which one responds to three words offered and writes whatever one wishes. The three words today were figure, reaching and conversation.

My reflections were also partly inspired by thinking about the value of what I am doing as I spend many hours blogging, reading and following other bloggers. For example, Randall A. Golden’s “The Curse of the Follow Button” helped me solidify my underlying feelings (after putting a lot of work into some pieces and finding them hardly viewed), which in turn helped me get beyond that emerging frustration and transition to acceptance and balance. After all, we don’t want to forget the main reason we’re here as we excitedly make new connections and catch Follow Fever (more to come about that later).

Also included in today’s offering is WordPress’ weekly challenge, to participate in a Blog Event (as above) and incorporate one of WordPress’ extremely-easy-to-access blog features such as using the Media Explorer to  insert a tweet or YouTube video.

Here’s an example:

If you would like to participate in this fun and interesting challenge, follow the links below, where you’ll also find my official event:

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/blog-events-listing/

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/09/23/weekly-writing-challenge-events/comment-page-1/#comment-244525

https://joantwarren.com/2013/09/17/hope-joy-and-chores/

Thanks, and enjoy the process!

©JoanTWarren

Hope, Joy, and. . . Chores? A Blog Event!

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153530199Surfing around WordPress and the blogging communities, one occasionally stumbles upon a pearl of great price. Pearls that delight the soul, engender camaraderie and inspire creative joy! One of the beauties of blogging is sharing these pearls. In that light, this post is a Blog Event, so that we can share pearls of encouragement with one another.

So, here is your challenge: Write about a time when you needed encouragement and then stumbled upon a pearl of great price. Try to stay within the topics hope, joy and/or expressing love in the mundane (i.e., chores). Your comments should include your story (or a link to your story) and a link to the site that you feel is a pearl. The list will grow and we’ll have a read-a-fest that’s sure to encourage!

Here are a few blog posts  that lit me up this week–just click on the orange links to read them:

http://reowr.wordpress.com/2013/06/27/the-treasure/#comment-5059

http://lenarigby.wordpress.com/2013/09/16/oh-afflicted-one/comment-page-1/#comment-3

http://belasbrightideas.wordpress.com/2013/06/11/making-the-bed/

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Shape.com and belasbrightideas.wordpress.com

©JoanTWarren

Pope Francis: A Consumerist’s Confession

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This is not one of my humor pieces.

This is serious:  I have a confession to make.

It is  extremely difficult to admit. I feel ashamed of myself and I want to change, and though I’m not Catholic, Pope Francis has something to do with it.

What are you thinking? Is it akin to what’s-his-name texting naked chest pictures? Lying, cheating, adultery? Plagiarism? Greed, avarice?

Actually, its worse:   Read the rest of this entry

Life, Death and Grains of Sand

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We never know how long we have. We don’t know how long we have with the ones we love. Read the rest of this entry

Leaders, Followers and Fancy Footwork

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Do you aspire to leadership? Are you a leader?

Are you a follower? Do you hope to be a follower?

Leadership is highly valued in our society. Following–not so much. Just as we’d never set out to become a drug addict, we don’t set out in life to become followers. Is this right? Can we all be leaders? Should we all? Is there anything wrong with being a follower? Read the rest of this entry

What does it mean? What does it matter?

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What does it mean to live heart to heart in a shielded world? What does it matter?

Today I passed the television as it played to an empty room. Katie Couric’s show was on, a first for me. She interviewed teens who nearly lost their lives from designer drugs. A young man explained how he got into Molly (ecstasy, MDMA, reportedly in its purest form) and began selling it to support his habit: when he tried it, it made him “feel like telling all his secrets” to someone, and in less than hour with someone he felt a close bond, like he’d known them forever. Wow. Sounds like the drug intensified then satisfied a craving he didn’t even know he had–a craving for intimacy, a craving for authenticity, a craving for feeling open and close to another human being. It’s too bad he needed a drug to give him that, since the side effects are so disastrous.

Living heart to heart is perhaps a bit like Molly, except it is real, throughout, and there are no significant negative side-effects. Living heart to heart is Read the rest of this entry

Birth of a Blog: Heart to Heart

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Somewhere around my fiftieth birthday I started thinking seriously about what I could still achieve in the fifteen to twenty years I had left in the work force, and hoping I’ll have many healthy years after that to pursue leisure, creative and volunteer activities. I set goals, then made some tough decisions and changes to help me reach those goals. As of this writing, five years have passed since then. Sometimes I feel I am no closer than I was, that unforeseen challenges have blocked progress. Time to stop and take stock.
What was I thinking? In these five years I started and finished a master’s degree, started my own business while maintaining my annual income, kept up a large percentage of maintaining our home and daily life, helped my husband’s business through four months during shortages of office manager, front desk and phone system meltdowns, managed the stress of helping a teen stepdaughter through some serious challenges (that shall remain confidential unless she consents to my sharing them), and gave a large portion of my time to nurture and care for my live-in step-granddaughter! Whew, and, now that I think of it, all while battling fibromyalgia and menopause! Not too shabby after all.
This brings me to why I began this blog. About twenty years ago I felt a Read the rest of this entry