Top Ten Ways to Have a Happy Life

This popped up in my Facebook memories today. A couple years ago, someone asked me to write my top ten rules for a happy life. It still rings just as true today as it did then.

 

1. Follow your dreams. At least one, at least once, even if it screws up all of the rest of your plans.
2. Love. Love hard. Love even and especially after your heart breaks.
3. Cultivate radical honesty. Some people won’t love the real you, but the ones that do will be the ones you want in your life.
4. Do something really difficult that you thought you couldn’t do. Me: Quit smoking. Got my degree after the age of 40. Walked a slackline. Threw tomahawks. Once you’ve done something you thought you couldn’t do, you have confidence you can do it again and again.
5. Take care of a someone or something that can’t give you the same level of care back. A dog or a child or a cat or a fish.
6. Love your family. Grow your own if you can’t do that with your biological one.
7. Learn to stop talking shit about yourself! And don’t let others do it to you, either.
8. Develop loving friendships with women.
9. Base your happiness on your own life, not on how it compares to others.
10. Recognize your own worth every day in some way. Value you.

Advertisements

Are you a real writer?

I belong to several online writing groups. Some are geared toward feedback, some are instructional, and some, the bulk of them, are simply places for writers to get together and talk about writing. Online groups are an excellent way to connect with other writers when a live writing group isn’t a possibility.

Lately, I’ve found a disturbing trend happening in my groups – maybe it has always been there, but I’ve seen it a lot recently… People telling other people that they aren’t real writers. I have been seeing it constantly in my groups and it is pissing me off. Some new writer who is just learning to break out of the cage of self-doubt and flex those creative skills is going to read these judgmental posts and slip right back in. These are just a few examples of what I mean:

  • You aren’t a real writer if you don’t write every day.
  • You aren’t a real writer if you don’t feel compelled to write.
  • You aren’t a real writer if you aren’t almost overwhelmed by your ideas.
  • You aren’t a real writer if you haven’t studied the craft of writing.
  • (My personal favorite) Writing is hard. If you tell me you love writing, I’m going to assume you aren’t a real writer.

 

I’m a writer. I don’t write every day. I don’t always feel compelled to write. I am sometimes overwhelmed with ideas and sometimes, I stare at the blank screen for an hour paralyzed with the fear that all of the ideas have dried up forever. I have studied the craft of writing. I continue to study the craft of writing. I can’t imagine I will ever stop studying the craft of writing. There are a lot of ways to do that and they don’t all involve going to college and many of them are free. The fact that I have a degree in Creative Writing doesn’t make me a more genuine writer than anyone else. In fact, I think I’ve learned more about the craft of writing over the past year than I did in my years of school.

I love writing. I also hate it. Sometimes, I’m afraid of it. And sometimes, it even bores me. It’s a job, it’s a life, it’s a passion, it’s an addiction. It’s a dream come true and a way to make a living. It’s creating worlds and it’s forgetting to move the laundry to the dryer because the story is so compelling, it can’t be stopped until the end. Some days, it’s deciding all the heating vents in the house need to be cleaned because that’s easier than writing. Writing is hard and sometimes it’s easy. Sometimes writing is busting out an incredibly brilliant short story in twenty minutes and sometimes it’s laboring over a submission with a deadline for three weeks.

There is one thing that makes someone a real writer. They write. They write when they can, they write when they’re able. They write. End of story. If you want to be a writer, write.

Now, if you want to be a published writer or a freelance writer or a working writer or a novelist or a blogger or —- Well, that’s a different story.

But whatever you do, don’t sit in judgment of someone else’s writing process. A real writer is too busy focusing on their own work to point a finger at everyone else.

 

New Year’s Resolutions

This year, I will not make any resolutions that imply I am anything other than perfectly wonderful just the way I am. I will not make any resolutions meant to make me feel bad about myself, nor will I make any sweeping pronouncements about how I want to be thinner, smarter, better, more.

This year, I won’t make any New Year’s resolutions that aren’t expressly intended to make me or my loved ones feel good about themselves.

This year, I resolve to practice self-care. This year, I’d like to treat my body with loving care. I want to spend more time at the farmer’s market and less time at big box stores. I would like to walk more, bike more, eat more vegetables. I would like to spend more time dancing. I want to save the money for a few pedicures. I want to make sure my sex life stays fresh and loving and invigorating. I want to sleep soundly. I resolve to hug my dog daily. I resolve to spend more time playing with my cat.

This year, I want to connect more. I resolve to send more paper letters. I want to reach out to someone who hasn’t heard from me in a long time. I would like to smile at more people. I want to compliment strangers. I want to tell my friends when they are wonderful and let it go when they are not. I want to appreciate the people who love me. I want to continue to be grateful for calling a partner into my life who loves me and shows me in a billion different ways. This year, I want to talk to my mother more often. I’d like to have more women come to my house for talks and coffee and shared breakfasts. I’d like to touch my friends more, hold their hands, hug them, ask them if they are lonely, or if they are living their dreams. I want to help people who need help.

This year, I want to spend time focusing on my career. I want to finish my fourth novel and start my fifth. I would like to submit at least one more short story this year than last. I want to find ways to market my self-love classes to a wider audience. I would like to network with other writers and teachers. I want to find a job teaching online with a college or university.

This year, I would like to stress less about paying bills. I don’t want to buy more stuff, but I would like to be able to pay the electric bill and my mortgage in the same week. I don’t want to be rich, but I want to be unafraid of where the next groceries are coming from. This year, I want to put some effort into making enough money that I can make decisions about spending, rather than reactions. This year, I’d like to make enough money that I can donate some of it to causes that touch my heart.

This year I want to stay informed about political decisions that can harm myself and my family without letting the news drag me into a depression. I want to act to protect myself and my loved ones without allowing myself to be silenced about that which is important to me.

This year, I want to be myself. I want to do what I want to do. I want to follow the calling of my own soul. This year, I resolve to be proud of myself. I resolve to follow my dreams. I want to love freely and live openly.

This year, I will cherish what I have, rather than pursue what I don’t.

Happy New Year.

 

 

Creating Self-Love

You are the creator of your life. Do I need to repeat that? YOU are the creator of your life. I know sometimes you have anxiety. I know you find yourself getting frustrated. I know you might hate your job or argue incessantly with your spouse. I’ve been giving online and live class in self love for several years and the one thing I’ve learned through talking to hundreds of women is that so many of us, in one way or another, think that we aren’t good enough.

My six week online course in creating self-love, increasing self-confidence, and learning to living a life of joy is designed to give women the foundation they need to overcome a lifetime of social conditioning and emerge as strong, empowered women who value themselves and recognize their own self-worth. I help women start to overcome anxiety, panic, doubt, fear, social pressure. These classes include a once a week live class in which I offer participants information and journal exercises and the chance to share their own experiences. The classes do include some homework. Participation in the homework is optional, but the program does have a greater chance of success if the participants give it their all.

Email me at bethburnett70@yahoo.com and I will send a guide to pricing and individual class subjects. The next Monday class is full, but I have space available on Tuesdays, 8 PM EST starting on March 17th.

My live workshops are a modified version of the online class meant to offer women the same foundation in a group setting. I offer workshops in my home or in your home. Email me for details.

Inspiration and co-authoring

I have to admit that I never understood the urge to co-author a book. Oh, sure, if Neil Gaiman asked me to co-author a book with him, I would say, “Yes,” but only because it’s Neil Gaiman and I would be able to meet my favorite author and hopefully, his incredibly talented and gorgeous wife.

But I digress. The thing is, I find writing to be such a solitary activity. You are completely inside of your own head, your own soul. You have to dig into recesses in the deep, dark places and access that stuff that you don’t share with anyone. Ever. Then, you wrap that shit up into your character’s personality flaws or past experiences, get rid of the *really* squirrelly stuff in the editing process and let it go.

Co-authoring means you have to allow someone else access to all of that crap. Someone else gets to see the ugly stuff. Someone else gets to see what goes on behind the curtains. Someone else gets to see the pure, unvarnished you, whether it shows you in a good light, a bad light, or a terribly embarrassing light. It has got to be terrifying.

The thing is that even with having a blog where I talk about my thoughts and feelings and insecurities doesn’t mean that I am opening my ENTIRE self up to the world. I still edit these posts. I still sometimes go back and say, “Oh, man. That is too much. Not that. Nope.” Yes, there are my real thoughts… these are my real feelings. But they’re not  the low down, raw and bare thoughts that come out in private journals in the deep, dark recesses of the night.

So what happens when you decide you are not only going to co-write a book with a friend, but that it is going to be about such a deeply personal subject that the entire thing will consist of laying bare these raw emotions, dissecting them, and putting them back together with another person? Terror, that’s what. Trust plays a big part in it… but trusting someone to love you unconditionally and then giving them everything you have ever done wrong, or thought in the middle of the night, or worried about, or wished for, or desired, or hated, or cried about takes a huge leap of faith in the other person. And in yourself.

But (and I do have a point and it is an important one to remember, at least for me) writers have to write about the hard stuff, even if it hurts. And when an idea comes and the idea is good, a writer is being a coward or an asshole if she ignores the idea. If the idea is there, begging for attention, then it is because that idea needs to be written. So, I have recently been half of a two person team that came up with an amazing idea, or series of ideas for at least another two books. And the idea of sharing all of that inner shit with someone is dead terrifying. But the idea of being untrue to myself as a writer and refusing the idea altogether is untenable.

Guess I am going to be a co-author. 🙂