ONE WOMAN WRITING RETREAT

I’m still designing how the label “Writer” fits me. Writing still exists as more of a hobby or side-gig right now, but occupies more real estate on my 8-year plan.  So I try to emanate what writers do… They write, read, write, wander, go on writing retreats, write, submit articles, drink wine, apply for writing residencies, write, procrastinate, get a publishing deal, get distracted, and write.

If you love this journal, you can click on the picture to buy! #afflink

So far, it’s been hard to create a regular habit for me.  I started my blog to force the daily writing habit (but my kids went to sleep earlier back in 2012). Now that they’re older, and seemingly never go to bed, my train of thought gets too easily distracted by the constant movement in my house. I don’t have a protected writing space physically or mentally. I often go away from home to get any writing done.

My writing retreats consist of Saturday mornings when I get up to move my car by 7:30am (due to street cleaning) or when I house sit for others and put distance between me and my laundry, dishes, bookshelf, stack of magazines, and binge-worthy shows. Conferences and retreats always sparks ideas and energizes me to write, but I don’t want to spend a lot of extra time and money just to get writing done. Also, while I love the networking aspect, I get more wrapped up in other people’s ideas and know that sometimes, I need to focus more deeply on my own.  

It dawned on me that when I wrote my master’s thesis 5 years ago, holing myself up in a hotel near my home helped me retain my focus! I live only 6 miles from the Crowne Plaza LAX hotel, limiting my travel time, and knew they’d done extensive renovations.  With their view of LAX, it makes my mind wander enough to get the “what ifs”  flowing without making me want to get up and wander. 

In order to maximize my time, I set up a few guidelines and enforced them:

RESPECT YOUR TIME – While on this mini retreat, use time wisely! Set boundaries, eliminate distractions. Although a bed to myself and unlimited paid TV movie channels tempts me, I purposefully left the TV off or swore that I’d wait until I met my productivity goals. (Turns out it never went on).

PERSONALIZE YOUR SPACE – Rearrange any furniture not bolted down, that moves easily. I made sure the desk and my notebooks would be the central focus. I stayed close to the air, put my back to the view, and felt more invested in the job at hand.

SET GOALS – Whether aiming for a certain page count, or hashing out an idea by meditating on your ideas, make a schedule for yourself to allow balanced time for eating, sleeping, working, and daydreaming.

HEALTHY FOODS – My goal focused on not spending too much time and effort on meals. Though this hotel does feature a variety of food in the lobby, I knew if I ate in the hotel, I’d get wrapped up in conversations and get distracted. I purposefully drove offsite for dinner. Kabuki in the Howard Hughes center offered me flavorful sushi options outside of my routine spicy tuna rolls. 

I packed a weekend’s worth of healthy snacks for my marathon writing session.

I did wind up running to the lobby for a salad from the Boulevard Market Cafe and it hit the spot!

HYDRATE – My fluid routine consists of equal parts coffee, water and wine – in that order.  Creative juices flow more freely with proper hydration! 

VOLUMES OF SUPPORTING MATERIALS – Obviously, I’m the one you should look for in the case of an emergency that may prevent us from returning home right away. Not for my snack and hydration supplies but for my books to read to pass the time.

SELF CARE – Make sure you take time to be still, or pamper yourself, or do whatever helps your daily routine dissipate and allows you to center and be present for your writing weekend.

BE FLEXIBLE – You may define this as yoga, I define this as forgiving myself and allowing the schedule to reveal itself as I go. Things may change, I may not hit every  mark, but still dedicating time to myself and living in a boundary-less space while stretching my creative muscles felt amazing!

I’d love to report back that I finished a novel in 24 hours, or even an outline, but I didn’t. Still, it’s worth the exercise to get away, organize my notes some, and remind me what I love about writing. Next time, I plan to amplify my efforts with large adhesive note papers and some expo markers, or even a pile of square note pads that I can stick to the wall and continue to hash out ideas.

What about you?
When is the last time you did a retreat?
Were you alone or with friends?
What is your favorite part of getting away?
What are you writing right now?
Where should I go next?
Alone or with other writers?

#Writing #Writerslife #retreat #CrownePlazaLAX #KABUKI #Restaurant #Meditate #bath #wine #books #notebooks #ideas #Write #iboughtit #MakesMeWander

POWER OF CONNECTING WITH KINDNESS ROCKS

If your wish list includes any of the following:

Kindness • Joy • Community • Meaning • Friendship • Creativity
Quiet time • Beauty • Connection • Family Time • Meditation
Excitement • Energy • Purpose • Inspiration

I have a kind powerful project for you!
PRINT OUT: How-to instructions for an intimate or large event (below)!

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POWER OF POSITIVITY
During challenging times, rather than get weighed down by things outside of our control, we must positively influence the space we occupy – mentally and physically. Then, pay it forward!  

The Kindness Rock Project immediately caught my attention because of its sentiment and simplicity. People paint rocks with pictures or inspirational messages and leave them around town. Not only does this offer all the excitement of a city-wide treasure hunt, but it brightens up the scenery with little bursts of joy! Others find them and keep them or re-hide them. It’s easy to do for all ages, meaningful to both the giver and the receiver, plus it delivers unexpected, burst of beauty. This project engages the full community!  

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Bea’s original Topock Rock!

POWER OF SYNERGY
About the time I’d learned of #TheKindnessRockProject my good friend and fellow creative soul, Bea, found inspiration in a painted rock she stumbled upon while on vacation in tiny Topock, AZ! Talk about synergy! We immediately agreed on the potential for this creative venture and the potential impact on our hometown – empowering people, encouraging children, all while weaving stronger ties within and with surrounding communities! The rock group #RedondoRocks was born.

POWER OF CONNECTION
Being able to experience this project first-hand through the kind heart of the Project’s founder, Megan Murphy, really left a lasting impression with me. She, like I, lives to make connections. Sprinkling kindness and encouragement helps anonymous people connect on an non-intimidating, yet intensely personal, level and provides a boost of whatever that person needs! While each rock creates one individual connection, kindness is contagious and the excitement grows exponentially!


Some communities create Kindness Rock gardens in their neighborhoods or schools to counter bullying, and encourage kids who feel challenged while journeying through a rough spot.  It also helps center people in their lives because, truly, we all get in a grind and time flies by. But when a flash of color or a kind saying catches your eye, you are instantly anchored in that spot, in your day, feeling those emotions and getting caught up in the color or the weight of the rock. I love how a simple gesture can have such large meaning.


POWER OF FEW
The #OMagInsiders painted rocks together while cruising on Holland America.  After going ashore in Alaska, hunting for hiding spots in quaint Ketchikan, I felt thrilled and rewarded. Returning to the ship that afternoon, Megan rewarded me with the news that my rock was reported “found” before I even got back on the boat by someone who worked on the ship!  Talk about a full-circle moment! Kindness Rocks also helped us connect with a specific passenger and a very direct intent that left all of our hearts overflowing!


POWER OF MANY
Megan believes that the right rock always finds the right person.  Additionally, the interpretation of what power these rock groups hold and how to deliver it to individual communities comes from within them. Some groups start with an individual, a small troop of children or circle of friends painting and hiding rocks. Some kick off with a large community gathering evolving into regular rock-painting parties! Painters are first-timers or seasoned artists using pens, paints or stickers to adorn their rocks with pictures, sayings, or mascots. Then people spread out to cover their community (or represent it elsewhere) with kindness.

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SECRET POWERS
While Bea and I knew we were offering a fun evening for all ages at our first painting night, many secondary gifts popped up! Guests went offline. People exhaled and slowed down. Parents and kids painted together, or allowed each other the mental space to stay as long as they wanted. Folks tapped into their creative side, filled each other’s kindness buckets and painted with passion! Friends either found a new tribe or the perfect spot for quietly perfecting their craft! Plus the fun spills over from the event and carries people for weeks while hiding their rocks, posting teasers on social media for where to find rocks, or others posting when rocks are found! The power of the group’s hashtag means that the web of Kindness woven throughout the community may be felt whenever one wants it.  

A large part of this comes thanks to The Great Room Cafe who shared this vision of a kinder community and let us take over their party space while offering delicious food and fun activities for those who were done painting but wanted to linger in this evening a little longer. This was truly the perfect venue for such magic to occur!

Bea and I look forward to hosting our next painting party and helping people plan their painting events! We wholeheartedly believe that many little gestures add up to a grand statement!  The Kindness Rock Project reminds us that the power to control our own happiness, and contribute to others, was with us the whole time.

Paint it Forward!

Where to find us online:
REDONDO ROCKS INSTAGRAM
REDONDO ROCKS FACEBOOK
THE KINDNESS ROCKS PROJECT INSTAGRAM
THE KINDNESS ROCKS PROJECT FACEBOOK

PRINT OUTS:  How to host your painting party:
Kindness Rocks Home Painting Party

Kindness Rocks Community Painting Party

What about you?

  • Have you painted Kindness Rocks?
  • Have you found a Painted Rock?
  • Are you a member of a Rock Group? If so, list your club’s url in the comments!
  • Do you keep rocks or re-hide them? What would Oprah Do?
  • Do you have a favorite story involving Kindness Rocks? If so, please share in the comments!

#RedondoRocks #TheKindnessRocksProject #KindnessIsContagious #PaintItForward #PayItForward #Kindness #PaintedRocks #RockGroups #PaintingParty #Cruise #Party #RandomActsOfKindness #OMagInsiders #Oprah #HollandAmerica #Ketchikan #Alaska #TopockRocks #KindnessRockGarden #TheGreatRoomCafe #BoldMoves #makesmewander

PARENT MUSIC FESTIVAL TRAINING PROGRAM – Part 1 of 3

Ecstatic, after buying 2 tickets to Wango Tango music festival for my daughter and I (for her birthday); Sentimental, having attended the same festival 17 years ago but now passing the torch; Thrilled, as every single artist tops our list of faves; Panicked, as mosh-pit concerns blind-sided me; Relieved, upon viewing my assigned seats; and Driven… I began training!

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Mom, You Rock from afavoritedesign

Don’t laugh, just follow along:

Couch to Music Festival: Parents Training Guide

  • SET CLEAR GOALS: We have 5 weeks to train for:
    • DANCING OUR ASSES OFF for at least 4 ½ hours straight
    • CLAPPING THUNDEROUSLY for every encore
    • YELLING for each amazing artist loud enough so they respond “I love you too!
      …all with minimal bathroom/snack breaks

 

Are they Over-Excited or Under-Trained? WTF: Wango Tango Fangirls

 

  • START SMALL/BUILD SLOWLY:  With one step, we’ll begin and celebrate our high notes!
    • TRAINING PLAN – Start with one step, increase by 10 min. a day. Just focus on the build, not the full distance!
    • FESTIVAL LENGTH – We chose a 1-day festival but this training may be adapted for weekend or 3-day concerts as well – just allow more time to train.
    • Advanced: Build from previous concert experience of 2-3 hours

  • ENDURANCE TRAINING: To avoid dancing muscle fatigue:
    • SHAKE IT – Grab ear buds, start dancing everywhere! In your living room, while doing dishes or brushing teeth!
      Advanced: Make your kids teach you dance moves – fun(ny) for all!
    • CROSS-TRAIN! – Swimming and cycling build endurance but for a simple weight-bearing exercise – walk or jog!
  • STRENGTH TRAINING: To avoid jello arms and legs that may inhibit your ability to drive home:
    • SQUATS – Strengthen the quads and glutes to jump up for each new act with renewed vigor. Bonus, they help your core!.
      Advanced: Hold a squat position with slight bounce to Whip the crowd into a frenzy!
    • ARMS/BACK – Push ups, bench presses, and curls strengthen and amplify clapping.
      Advanced:  Shoulder and upper back strengthening ensures your clapping remains fanatically “Above-the-head” and your Nae Nae won’t look like a no no.
    • CALVES – Calf presses lift yourself above the screaming crowd to lock eyes with your favorite artist. No need to add more than your body weight – unless someone will be seated on your shoulders.

 

Advanced: Crowd Surfing – see Wikipedia how-to

Coming tomorrow in Part 2 of 3: Voice Conditioning, Avoiding Injuries, Know Before You Go

WORK FIELD TRIP: Ran off to the circus!

Julia Cameron calls this an Artist Date, I prefer Work Field Trip.  

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I’ve already mentioned how the invitation to attend the Premiere Event for Cavalia’s Odysseo in Irvine this weekend already fulfilled my dreams!  This show, and this assignment, took me on a creative journey magically stirring something awake in my soul. When I received another invitation to attend press preview day, I immediately accepted this gift.

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As with many favorite childhood trips, my experience started from the freeway once I spotted the flags atop the tent.  The idea that the largest touring show in the world sat on land where nothing existed a week before astounded me.

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I mingled with other bloggers, press, and VIP guests. Though many were there for an assignment, most bubbled over with passion for horses, music or art.  

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Hah! My gear vs. their gear – I need an upgrade!

The show itself was more spectacular and high-energy than expected. The beauty of the show overwhelmed me and invigorated all of my senses.  Each act flowed into the next gracefully – even the 18-ton merry-go-round!.

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Even more amazing, we received behind-the-scenes access from Odysseo’s Founder, Normand Latourelle.

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Odysseo’s Creator: Odyssey = Journey with O = “eau” (water) at the end of the journey

He explained that computers traditionally direct musical cues for a show of this caliber. Because this show features live animals with individual temperaments, this show’s cues come from a live director. With the timing of so many seemingly death-defying acts, timing was crucial.

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The live music added a delicate veil of beauty to our experience.

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Conversations with performers brave enough to leap from their career paths to follow their passion truly inspired me.  One performer studied marine biology before attending circus school, another hoped to earn money while studying for the Bar exam. Some turned their professional riding into performance careers.

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Most people I know dreamed of joining the circus at least once in their lives. The nomadic family lifestyle mixed with the artistic beauty and danger of a circus mystify and entrance us.  

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WTF: Way too fast – can’t wait to see the full-length show!

Normand pointed out what I feel represents the true beauty of the show:  With the many different breeds and cultures represented here, everyone gets along. They believe that peace is best for a beautiful show. It’s been thrilling spending my hours on a “job” submersed in such creativity and such beauty.

 

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Lea Riviere Mixed Media on Canvas

 #OdysseoOC

SOMETHING ABOUT NOTHING

I wake up daily at 6am, intentionally or not. Today, being a rare morning with no children nor commitments, I set my alarm later.  At 8am I awoke relishing how great it felt to still be in bed.  I closed my eyes just for a moment to wake up slowly and when I did, it was noon!  As a teen I loved sleeping in, but now I hate wasting half my day.  I planned to hit the beach today and knowing I’d missed half my prime tanning hours caused some reconsideration.

Up and at ’em lazy butt!

I debated whether I should clean house today and relax tomorrow but knowing myself and that I only had half a day tomorrow before picking up the kids, watching the clock wouldn’t be relaxing.  I also hesitated since I would be forced to a new beach due to weekend crowds at my favorites.

After a trip to 7-11 for sustenance, I was on my way!  Once I was in the car, radio blasting with the windows down, I remembered how much I loved heading to the beach all day with good friends!

Today, I didn’t bring friends.  My goal was to relax, read a book and get a tan dark enough that I don’t have to wear stockings at work. When I arrived, the sea of people and sunshades mixed with the sea!  I walked far enough to find breaks in the crowd and found my people – a gal with her kindle.  I set up my stuff, checked-in on Facebook vowing to not leave until I’d read every page, and cracked open the book!

My little window of paradise
The only unobstructed view that I saw!

The 210-page book, “The Necklace” took me nearly 4 hours to read in between dodging beach balls, flipping over regularly to tan evenly, and staring at sailboats. It felt good to do nothing yet accomplish something! For me, finishing a book in one sitting is a rare accomplishment!  Reading the book made me feel a part of a rare sorority so I left feeling like I spent the day with great girlfriends – or maybe I just spent time allowing myself to be with me and enjoyed the company.  I’ll do a full write-up to talk you into reading it too!

FUN FRIDAY: WORK FIELD TRIPS!

Field Trip Today!

Field Trips created the best school days – leaping outside the lines and learning by accident. At one job, we took a field trip to see their latest film at a public theatre – with popcorn!  I started another job when the taste of their outing to an exhibit, with lunch and an event Tshirt still lingered!

The Artist’s Way speaks to creative souls!

I love Julia Cameron’s “The Artist’s Way” books, especially one heralding Artist’s Dates. She encourages weekly sightseeing trips into our towns. While hers implies a solitary effort, the goals remain the same:

1)    Top off your tank, tap into creativity – Exposing your self to surrounding energy opens you to great gifts and experience to draw on.

2)    Catch a new buzz –Even textbook business strategy involves creativity applying it to your product. Leave the stale boardroom and breathe the benefit of fresh air. Exist for a while in the heart of your target audience.

3)    People that play together, work well together – Employers take note, a small gesture of a few free “stolen” workday hours treats employees in a huge way! I don’t mean leaving early, as most people return home to more “work.”

Coffee Shop Conference Room

I took a field trip to step away from lists, hear different conversations, lose myself in a latte and melted brie, and not wash dishes afterwards. My perspective shifted within 10 feet from the door.

A woman talked to the barista – whom she knew.  When he stepped away, she said hello to me and offered me the messenger bag on her shoulder to carry my laptop.  I gratefully declined explaining my month-long home purge. She commiserated with me saying that in her van, things get crowded for her and her bed, which she shares with her dog.  I chuckled saying no matter the size of our containers, we fill them.  The man returned with her ice bucket, she bid me a good evening and left.  As I ordered, I bought a gift card for the man to save for her next visit.  Rather than assume whether she needs help or not, I hope she, too, may treat herself to a meal, frothy drink and someone else to clean up.

Share your favorite field trips!

YOU should start a blog too…

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