September 2011 Review: Change

Autumn leaves symbol of change

Tammy Strobel and Gwen Bell have inspired me to try out a monthly review.

It might help me keep my feet on the ground!   And I hope it will help and inspire you in some way too.

Sudden Change

Like a sudden, dramatic fall storm, change seems to be popping out of nowhere and everywhere.  Is change touching or disrupting your life too?

Listening to one of the interviews in the Earth Changes series at Evolving Beings gave me a new perspective on change.  Apparently, there are many powerful planetary and astrological shifts in play at this time – like the Comet Elenin and the Uranas – Pluto Square (2011 – 2016).  These forces are shaking things up quite a bit for individuals and society.  Witness the Wall Street protests as one example.

It seems like a really good time to learn to dance with change, don’t you think?  We’re in this together so let’s support one another.

Trust, receptivity, living consciously, being responsible for your actions, coming from the heart, and realizing a sense of connectedness with all others will help you navigate these stormy seas.  Change itself is not good or bad.  It just is.  We can decide to flow with it or resist.  My initial temptation is to resist, but my aspiration and intention is to flow.

Flowing with Change

On a personal level, change threw me for a loop in September.  Believe me, anything you think will never change can and may indeed change.  It can happen in a flash.  What seemed familiar can instantly seem oddly unfamiliar and even foreign.

I felt the rug pulled out from under me, but it woke me right up to the truth of impermanence.   How could I have forgotten?  Holding on to a cozy, happily ever-after scenario will never work.  Everything changes at one point or another.

Continue Reading

Has Blogging Murdered Eloquence & Elegance?

Have you compromised your writing style to be a better or more popular blogger?

It’s true, blogging is a different medium.  It requires a somewhat different touch.

But how far do you go?

This question has been stirring in my heart and mind for quite some time now.

A fitting topic, so it seems, on the occasion of receiving the Stylish Blogger Award from the wonderful happiness enthusiast Galen Pearl.  Thank you, Galen!  I’ll pass the honor along at the end of this post.

In the meantime, only the bold and the brave should proceed!  You will indeed encounter humungous words, an abundance of funny symbols, and several of my pet peeves.Continue Reading

One Powerful Word 2011, Yours & Mine

The idea of choosing One Powerful Word as your guidepost for the new year seems to have a highly positive magnetic charge.  There’s so much excitement and enthusiasm for this simple alternative to New Year’s Resolutions.

If you haven’t chosen your word yet, that’s OK.   There’s no rush.  Let it germinate and blossom in its own time.  You’ll find inspiration and simple tips for choosing and working with your perfect word in my original blog post – One Powerful Word:  A Simple Approach to New Year’s Resolutions – and in this article too.

By the way, we cheat!  One word, two, or three – it’s all good.  It’s all OK.

Your Powerful Words

It was a supreme pleasure to hear your enthusiasm and read your chosen words in your comments.  Here are the words that you have either embraced or been seriously tempted by:

  • Balancing Serenity and Full Throttle Ahead
  • Bold
  • Compassion
  • Continuous and Never Ending Improvement (CANI)
  • Courage
  • Creativity – Express and Embrace
  • Decide
  • Fearless
  • Flow
  • Growth
  • Healing
  • Just Breathe!
  • Gentle
  • Kindness and Positivity
  • Love
  • Mindfulness
  • Minimalist
  • Nying je – the Supreme Emotion
  • Omipotent
  • Peace
  • Peace and Abundance
  • Present
  • Reconciliation
  • Rise and Shine, Sunshine
  • Simplify and Grow
  • Success
  • Team-Time
  • Trailblaze
  • Passion
  • Void
  • Yield

You will find more inspiration for finding and working with your special word in these insightful blog posts.

  • Lance at The Jungle of Life chose shine.
  • Galen at 10 Steps to Finding Your Happy Place chose yield.
  • Tess at The Bold Life chose love.

Or if you need more words, try these simple approaches:

If you’ve written a blog post on your One Powerful Word 2011 please leave the link in the comments.

My One Powerful Word 2011:  Healing

Almost all of us need healing in one way or another, don’t we?

It might be a small hurt from sharp words, a funny kink in an important relationship, a deep childhood wound, a severe trauma, or sudden serious illness that’s caused us to lose our ground.

But sometimes healing isn’t easy to come by.

Then the planets shift.  A karma completes.  Grace penetrates.  The time is suddenly and gorgeously ripe for healing.

I didn’t choose healing.  Healing chose me.

It all began gradually last summer, a month or two before my birthday.  In astrology, this is the time of the solar return when themes and issues in your life naturally shift.  It’s not the exact time of your birth time. It may be the day before or the day after and it changes each year.  As astrologer Mary Fortier Shea explains.

“A solar return chart is a chart erected for the time that the transiting Sun returns to the position of the natal Sun.”

“The significance of the solar return runs birthday to birthday, with a three month overlap at the beginning and end of each year.  The symbolism of the new solar return can be felt as much as three months before the birthday by very intuitive people.  Usually, at this time, one becomes aware of new directions, opportunities, and problems.  …On the other hand, the significance of the old solar return may not feel passé until three months after your birthday.”

This may be one reason that many people aren’t successful with New Year’s Resolutions.  It’s not a natural time to make changes for everyone.

Since my own birthday in September, I’ve noticed an increase in spontaneous occurrences related to healing.  For example, I happened upon a medical intuitive who graciously tuned in and told me the name of a specific remedy I need.  I didn’t know this person and didn’t ask for a reading.  It was a brief, chance encounter.  I may never see her again.

So HEALING is my One Powerful Word 2011

Profound healing.  Deep healing. Joyful healing.  Playful healing.

Healing encompasses faith, contentment, comfort and ease – the other contenders for my 2011 extraordinary word.  A single word doesn’t have to be limiting.  Like a jewel with many facets it can and most likely will  reflect different aspects of your transformative process.

What am I healing?

  • A frazzled nervous system
  • An overactive immune system
  • The remnants of trauma

My Healing Tool Kit

Here’s my healing toolkit:

  • meditation and mindfulness
  • loving kindness
  • faith and trust
  • breathing exercises
  • relaxation
  • rest
  • playfulness
  • visualization
  • nature
  • the elements
  • gardening
  • chi gong
  • expressive writing – blogging and journaling
  • eco-friendly conscious living
  • drumming
  • intuition and receptivity
  • NAET and other unconventional approaches to healing
  • acupuncture
  • meaningful relationships

Meditation itself is profoundly healing.  It’s the core of my approach to wellness and a primary focus in my life.

“The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, not to worry about the future, or not to anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.” – Buddha

What does healing mean to me?  This definition captures the essence of healing:

“Healing means to ‘to make whole.’  It, in fact derives from the same root as ‘health’ and ‘whole.’

from The Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Sourcebook – A Guide to Healing, Recovery, and Growth by Glen R. Shiraldi

Recovery means returning to your former state of health.  That may not always be possible.

But healing – feeling whole again – always is. Here’s a toast to feeling whole again.  For me and for you!

Have you chosen One Powerful Word for 2011?  Please tell us in the comments and let us know how the process has been for you.

If you liked this article, please share the link with others.  Thanks so much!  Sandra

Expert advice on writing faster blog posts

I know I am a good writer. Now, I aspire to be a faster writer!  Is that possible?

There are plenty of bloggers who claim they can write 20-minute blog posts.  Are they delirious?

While following 30 Days of Getting Results the Agile Way, a free online course offered by Microsoft manager J. D. Meier, 20-minute blog posts were offered as an example of setting boundaries.  I respect J. D. and know he’s not delirious so I asked him, “Is it really possible to write 20-minute blog posts?”

Lessons from J. D. Meier on writing faster blog posts

J. D. says you can write an excellent blog post in 20 minutes.  This is his advice in a nutshell with my added commentary.

1.  The key is to get clarity on one specific problem you want to solve. J. D. focuses each post on sharing one useful nugget that solves a problem, answers a question, makes you feel, or makes you laugh.

Having expert knowledge at your fingertips clearly makes it possible to write more quickly.  Without expertise, posts will take longer.  Therefore, it makes sense to focus on topics you have already mastered, at least part of the time.  Take a minute to review your previous posts to see if they have one focus or whether they meander.  If you are a wanderer, try practicing one focus per blog article.

2. Write with might. The faster you go, the more you will flow, unleash, and surprise yourself.

This is excellent advice for improving both speed and quality of writing.  Write for 20 minutes straight without stopping to review, edit, or make corrections.  If you find writing for a full 20 minutes too challenging, start by experimenting with 5-minute free flow sessions. Use this approach for every draft and see if you can pick up speed over time.

3. Use a plain text editor.

J. D. has taught many people on his team  to write quickly and not let tools or their inner-critic get in the way.  His team members have been surprised by how much faster they write in a plain text editor.

4. Another approach is to aim for 20-minute blog posts progressively by shaving off 10 minutes each time you write a post.

If the idea of a 20-minute blog post is too intimidating, a gradual approach like this might be an effective alternative for you.

5. Each post is an opportunity to practice.

Speed increases with practice.  Professional bloggers often advise writing 1,000 words or more each and every day as a means to improving both speed and quality.  It takes practice to perfect any skill.  This doesn’t mean publishing every word that you write, but practicing daily to get better.

6. Capture your main ideas when they flow, scribble them quickly into a plain text editor or a notebook if you are on the go, and then let them percolate.  Go back to an idea when you are in the “zone” and flesh it out.

Speed and quality will always be best when you are in the “zone.”  Do you know your optimal times for writing?  Do you have methods for getting into the “zone”?  Do you write when you are inspired or do you push yourself to soldier on?

7. Finish with a quick pass. When you are done writing your draft in a plain text editor, paste it into your favorite editor or your blog editor, and then make a quick pass to sweep your writing, add links, and tune it up.

Simply being aware of efficiency can help you to find shortcuts for all the steps involved in fine-tuning your first draft as well.

The caveat

Almost everyone agrees that it’s realistic to aim for a 20-30 minute first draft.  Those who have perfected the prowess like Jim Estil are able to write 400-500 word blog posts in 20 minutes.  J. D. outshines them all with his capacity to write even longer posts in 20 minutes.

Here’s the caveat: most bloggers find that it’s the additional proofreading, editing, creating links, finding an image, and initial research that take up an extra meaty chunk of time.  However, by following and practicing J. D.’s tips, you will be able to reduce the amount of time it takes to write a good first draft.  Chances are, you will also find the process more enjoyable.

Reality check with Jon Morrow and James Chartrand

Remember, we are all different. Don’t be disheartened if it takes you longer to write a blog post.

In an article on getting more blog traffic by writing less, Jon Morrow from Copyblogger says,

“Some writers are faster than others, but in general, if you’re spending less than two hours on most of your posts, you’re probably going too fast. Cut back the quantity, and focus on quality.”  The 1200-word article that contains this quote, took Jon four hours to write and he said “…that’s pretty fast for me.”

In a comment on Jon Morrow’s article, James Chartrand from Men With Pens says,

“I can write about 500 words in 15 minutes, and it can be good enough to go without an edit.  That said, good enough is relevant to where it’s being posted and for what reason. “How to make peanut butter” $5 content mills? You betcha. A leading blog with 100k readers? Truly great blog posts take me a minimum of 2 hours and often around 4, when all the editing, reading aloud, double-checking and extra stuff is factored in.”

Not all of us will win the Olympic medal for the fastest blog post, but we can all improve.  Here’s my strategy.

My strategy for writing faster blog posts

My question to J. D. arose from his advice on “Sloughing Off” from 30 Days of Getting Results the Agile Way. He says, “letting things slough off simply means either letting things go from your plate either by design or as a natural process of focusing on higher priorities.” He goes on to explain that this involves creating boundaries and then letting go. Boundaries can be determined by quantity or time.

To achieve my goal of writing faster, I decided to use J. D.’s advice on setting boundaries in addition to practicing his writing tips.  I am limiting the total amount of time I spend on blogging each weekday and also keeping an eye on word count.  Limiting word count is a great way to reign in a tendency to be wordy or complicated – and your posts will automatically take less time.

J. D.’s tips are helping me to write more efficiently and more effectively.  This is freeing up time for other high priority activities—blog related and otherwise—without sacrificing quality.  It’s also a great way to avoid writing fatigue and instead keep the joy flowing.  Many thanks to J. D. Meier.

I’m curious: How long does it take for you to write a first draft?  A complete a post?  I would love to hear your advice on writing faster, please share.

If you liked this article, please share the link.  Thanks so much!  Sandra