Growing Pains

Growing Pains post 2

So yesterday was Valentine’s Day and oddly enough it got me to thinking about how much I’ve grown. I can remember a time where Valentine’s Day made me anxious. Was I going to be alone on the day of love or was I going to have someone to share it with that particular year? At the stage in my life where it bothered me if I didn’t have a valentine I did not love myself enough yet, hell most days back then I didn’t even like myself (I’m talking late teens and early twenties here), and then whether or not I did like myself usually depended on what someone else thought of me. I didn’t realize it then because people didn’t talk about stuff like mental health but I had already begun my dance with depression and I needed validation from others to feel some sense of self worth.

So needless to say Valentine’s Day has never been one of my favorite days because it was either a really extreme high (because I had someone that year) or an even more extreme low (because I didn’t and I had my mother’s voice echoing in my head telling me no one would ever want me). I don’t bring any of that up to be all sad and depressive, only to point out that I truly have grown. I said a couple of years ago that I was starting a journey in which I wanted to be by myself for a while and grow my relationship with God and the one I have with myself, that I wanted to start to love myself a lot better and treat myself better than anyone else could ever treat me.

Now because I’m a mother and almost every time my daughter and what she needs will come first I don’t always succeed at treating myself to nice things or even pampering myself at all, but I have improved my love of myself and I have (at least I believe I have) strengthened my relationship with God which has also in turn provided even more self awareness and allowed me to see in myself what God sees in me, what HE has always seen in me. For me valentine’s day is no longer about whether I have someone in my life special or not because I know that I always have someone special in my everyday life and that is me (and of course my child but you get the point) and that’s enough.

I’m still growing and there are still improvements that I am making within myself and within my relationship with God but I can truly say that I have a peace within me now that I don’t think I’ve ever had before and I love it. I don’t look at Valentine’s Day with disdain anymore and it doesn’t make me sad like it once did so many years ago. I think that my growth in terms of self acceptance and my spiritual growth has spilled over into my writing career and the journey of fulfilling my purpose and I believe that it will continue to nurture those areas of my life. It’s funny how we rush so fast in our teens and early twenties to grow up without realizing that our growth never really stops, or at least it shouldn’t. I hope that I’m always growing, that we are always growing because there is always so much more to the next stage of life then what we learned on the last.

Jimmetta Carpenter

Writer/Editor

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The Never Ending Balancing Act: Structure versus Spontaneity

Change versus Spontaneity post

I’ve been thinking over the weekend about change. There are a lot of experts that advise you that change is good and that you shouldn’t be resistant to it. Then you have plenty of experts on the opposite end of the spectrum that say that setting deadlines is a good thing and that having structure and routine is something that can help stabilize someone’s life and help them to stay focused on the journey ahead of them.

I tend to lean more to the side of routine and structure, perhaps I lean a little too far in to it. It’s no secret to anyone who truly knows me that no matter how open I appear to be to change and spontaneity, I am extremely resistant to it. I’d like to say that I’ve only recently grown a barrier to the idea of change but I think I’ve always been this way since I was a little girl. I like knowing what’s going to happen, to know the way the day is going to go and precisely what I’ll be doing and when. That kind of structure pretty much guarantees the same outcome and while that may seem boring to some, it’s also safe. I guess the problem is that it may be a little too safe.

The odd thing is that the kind of life I’ve always dreamed of having for myself, since I was ten years old, could never be possible without embracing the idea of change and being spontaneous. There are a lot of things that I would change about my life and one of the things at the top of that list is my resistance to change itself, and my anxiety over the things that I do not know. So what is the right way to go about things?

Do you go with throwing caution to the wind and embracing every change that comes your way or do you plan and set deadlines and stick to a structure that helps keep you on track? I suppose that is what I struggle with because I want to be spontaneous and accept whatever changes may come my way but then I lose my balance and the shifts that begin to happen don’t allow me to stay focused and on track. Where is the middle ground on change versus structure? Is there a good balance between being overtly open to every changing scenario and still keeping enough structure to stay on course?

It’s easy for me to just say that structure is what works for me and leave it at that but if it was truly working then I would be where I want to be by now. Perhaps the very reason I haven’t reached that next level just yet is because I’m too afraid to reach out and grab the ledge above me because that means I would have to actually let go. To let go is scary. That means I have to trust what’s coming next, in an outcome that I can’t see.

Change is necessary to go to the next step on my journey and I know that but it’s hard to not know how things will turn out. So I guess the question is can I have structure and still fully open myself up to change or am I just going to keep holding on to the things that I already know. I don’t know how I truly feel about letting go of the structure that keeps me so grounded but I guess this year (my year of no excuses) will help me see just how open I can be.

Jimmetta Carpenter

Writer/Editor

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Accountability Measures

Accountability Measures

So I have said this year was going to be the year that I stopped making excuses for why I couldn’t do something. I acknowledge that I can’t just say an automatic yes to every single little thing but that doesn’t mean that I can’t make a substitute solution so that I can still stay on the right path to my end goals. For instance, one of my main goals this year is to stop waiting for a traditional publisher or an agent to say yes to my books and say yes to them myself by self-publishing them with the ISBN #’s I’ve been sitting on for literally over five years now. So I know that my budget is going to be an issue. To say that it is tight would be a gross understatement, but to get around the issue that I can’t exactly afford a professional book cover, I am going to use a special graphic program (as professional as I can get it) and learn how to do one myself (and if you knew how challenged I am in the area of technology you would understand what a huge deal that is for me lol). So my no excuses rule means I can’t focus on the lack of money to get a professional book cover, I just have to make a way to do one on my own.

Now there are some other things that I have been making excuses for and I realize that I am going to actually need to set some deadlines. Deadlines are what keeps people who second-guess themselves at every turn and can what if their way right out of an opportunity, people like me, held accountable for actually following through. I am supposed to start back at a hobby that I love and had to stop because I had gotten injured. I was supposed to had gotten back to it last year but I was feeling a little scared that I would re-injure myself. I told someone that I would finally get back to it this year but I left it open ended with no actual set time. It gave me a way out of it by not having an actual time pinpointed. That same person made me pick a date the other day and now that I have that date in my mind (it’s March 5th by the way), now I feel obligated to stick to it. I don’t have any excuses right?

So with my book, that’s supposed to release soon (I know, very vague right lol) I had made the commitment to publish a book but I just didn’t say when. I suppose I did that as some sort of safety net just in case something went wrong with the whole process. With no deadline, I wouldn’t have to explain to anyone else why it didn’t happen. But that pretty cowardice right? So I’m setting a deadline hear and now that the re-release of my book, The Diary: Succession of Lies, is going to be released on March 1st, 2019. So you heard it hear first and now I have to no choice but to do it because I have no excuses! So deadlines are the thing now! It’s what I need to hold myself accountable—my new accountability measure if you will! Do deadlines work for you? Let me know how deadlines have helped you in your life?

Jimmetta Carpenter

Writer/Editor

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The Creative Circle We Keep

Creative circle post

I had a wonderful, much needed conversation last night with one of my fellow creative friends and it gave me the extra boost that I was in need of. When you’re a creative it’s not always easy to find other creative people that will get you and your (sometimes out there) ideas the way that you do. I don’t need a lot of people around me, it goes against my solitary, anti-social (more like socially anxious) nature, but what I do need every once in a while is someone to throw ideas around with, preferably someone who isn’t just going to tell me something is a good idea because they can feel the sheer excitement that I have for it. I need someone honest, who’s going to tell me if it’s any good or even if it’s just so out there that it might actually work because chances are that I would otherwise second-guess myself right out of it.

Last night I got some clarity on a few things I was thinking about and she even gave me some perspective on some ideas that I wasn’t even viewing as broadly as I should have been. She’s a really good person, who understands my neuroses (because we’ve known each other for over a decade) and how sometimes the overload of ideas can drive you up a wall because she’s a creative too and she takes risks every day within her writing career. Today, carrying the words of our conversation in my mind, I was definitely more focused and I was a little more confident in taking a few risks I had been holding back on before. I felt inspired and I felt ready to inspire others!

I think that all creative people, especially writers, should make sure they have someone in their life, in their circle that they can help give them some kind of clarity on the ideas they are thinking of. If you’re anything like me, you need someone to keep you from second guessing everything wondering if this or that is going to work because inevitably there’s always going to be someone that isn’t going to like what you do and you can’t let the thoughts of those few that won’t like it and won’t get it detract from the hundreds, or thousands, maybe even millions of people who you could help or motivate or encourage with what you desire to put out into the world. If you already have that circle in place, treasure it and nurture it because it is precious and it is not always easy to come by.

Jimmetta Carpenter

Writer/Editor

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In the Moments When You Think You’ve Failed

 

 

failing post

I was having a moment the other day. Actually I had a few moments over the course of the past weekend. You know those moments when you just question and second guess every single little thing that you’re doing because you’re not sure if you’re really doing anything right. There were some things that weren’t going right in my actual writing the other day so it made me question whether I’m even still any good at this writing thing I love so much or am I just wasting my time. I looked at my numbers (my stats)on my blog posts and on the posts on the magazine and even though they were going up the increase just wasn’t matching up with the effort that I was putting in so it made me wonder if I was doing enough or was I just not good enough in that department either.

There were some other little personal things that I was having issues with which I’d rather not go into detail about that were making me question myself as well. Then my daughter and I had a, how shall I say, difference of opinion on something that made her upset with me (when I felt like there wasn’t any reason for her to be—typical teenage stuff) and because of all of the other little moments I had been having I was already feeling on the edge of having my emotions spill over so that moment with her just made me feel like I was now failing in the mom department as well. I’m not going to lie, I shed a few tears this past weekend because I just felt like nothing I was doing was good enough or right and I felt like I was literally failing at everything.

Then I went to church Sunday and my pastor’s message was about being ready to (fittingly enough) deal with adversity in life. He talked about how adversity makes you stronger and how nothing you ever achieve in life will be achieved without going through some great adversity. He talked about trusting in the relationship that you have with God and in the fact that while it may often times seem like things aren’t going right, that they aren’t going just the way you think they ought to go, and even how sometimes it may seem like the path you’ve chosen is wrong because of the turmoil or hard times you may be going through, that you have to not only trust God through the hard times or the uncertainties, but you have to trust that the relationship that you have built with God is strong enough to get you through those times until you reach the light on the other end of what seems like total darkness.

It’s not the ease of life that is what lets us know that we are fulfilling the purpose we are here to fulfill, but rather the strength that we discover in ourselves when we have come out of the hard times. That strength that propels us forward and allows us to keep moving, battle scars and all, to the next level is what lets us know that in the end we only fail if we never put up a fight. So even though I had my moments where I felt like I was failing at everything that I was doing, I realized on Sunday, that as long as I was still trying, still fighting to get my message out, fighting to fulfill my purpose, fighting to be a good mom and raise my child in the best way that I possibly can, I may not do everything perfect and I may make a lot more mistakes along the way but at least I’m fighting. That alone means I’m winning!

Jimmetta Carpenter

Writer/Editor

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Are You Really As Ready As You Think You Are?

are you really ready 1

I was thinking about what it means to actually be ready for the things that you dream for and that you say you want. My Pastor preached this past Sunday about what being ready really meant. It’s not just speaking into existence what you want for your life. It’s not even just knowing exactly what it is that you say you want. Those are important factors but what it really means to actually be ready to receive your dreams is about much more than that.

Being ready is about being knowledgeable and skilled in the things that you will need to do to prepare for your dreams. It’s about being attentive to the things and details that need to be addressed and the distractions that need to be removed so that you can be ready when the time comes. It is about being in the position that you need to be in, in order to make sure that when opportunity presents itself you are able to invest what’s necessary in yourself and your purpose. Being ready also means that once you have properly positioned yourself and you are rightly focused, you are then willing to put in all of the hard work that it will take for you to actually attain your dreams. Most of all, I think that to be ready means that you have to be available to receive your dreams, and fulfill your purpose. If you are too busy focusing on the things that aren’t going to get you to your dreams then you aren’t really ready.

You see there are so many things that we often times think that we are ready to jump into and it’s not that we don’t truly think that we are. It’s more often than not that we don’t truly understand exactly what being ready means. When I had my first book published back in 2008 I thought I was ready for what came next but because I was naïve as to all that it encompassed to be successful at being a published author things didn’t exactly go as I had envisioned them going. The book didn’t sell well and I was overwhelmed with the other side of what being a published author meant (the business side) and although I thought I was, I was not ready for that.

When opportunity comes knocking to make our dreams come true we always like to think that we are ready for whatever comes after. We don’t always properly assess things and what’s worse is that we find that we hadn’t properly prepared for what it is we said we wanted. We end up not being as ready as we thought we were. This is why we have to make ourselves ready. It’s not enough to just want the dreams we have envisioned to come true. We have to begin preparing for it long before the opportunity comes to knock at our door. So the next time that you say that you are ready to finally get all that you’ve been dreaming for, think about whether you are truly ready and properly prepared. Think about whether you have assessed everything and the amount of diligence and tenacity that it will take for you to see it through. Think about whether you are truly ready and more importantly, are you willing to step into your purpose and fulfill your dreams with the gifts that God gave you!

Jimmetta Carpenter

Writer/Editor

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The Journey Doesn’t End at a Closed Door

on the other side of the door

As I started this year with all of the excitement and anticipation of anyone dead set on taking their dreams to the next level I sat and thought about something that my pastor preached about a few weeks ago. He talked about not just asking God for what it is that you want out of your life but believing and knowing that God will do for you all that he promised he would do. The important part of his message that he spoke about was how sometimes we allow our impatience and our discouragement hold us back from getting all of the things that we’ve been asking God for. We want what we want right at that moment and somehow we think that if it doesn’t happen on the time table that we had in our mind that it means that it’s never going to happen at all.

I think that that’s what I have been doing, unknowingly of course, but I’ve been so impatient. It sounds funny saying that when I think about the fact that I’ve been at this for over a decade now but if I think back there have been so many moments where I felt like a breakthrough might have been coming but then an obstacle presented itself. Instead of holding steady and pushing through that door which was simply stuck, I turned and went backwards trying to trace my missteps to figure out what I missed that would have made the door open easier and quicker. The truth is, in those moments where I turned and tried to see where I went wrong my energy would have been better spent trying to push through that door that was just stuck, not locked, simply hard to open.

There isn’t a set time where everything is just supposed to magically come together. Just because the results aren’t immediate or as fast paced as you think they should be doesn’t mean you’re not making progress. Everything that is worth having has been won in a struggle. We have to stop putting a time table on our dreams and making it as if they’re not worth striving for if they don’t happen at the precise moment we want them to.

There will always be a different door at the turning point of any moment in your journey and what’s on the other side of it won’t always be easy to access but we can’t give up and we can’t turn back trying to create our own do-over. Now it’s true that there are some doors that were meant to be closed in order for others to open but we can’t confuse what’s not meant for us to open with what just appears to be too hard to open. We have to just push through, no matter how hard we have to push, until we knock that door down. Don’t walk away before you finally get everything that it is you’ve been waiting for. The journey isn’t over just because you have to stay in the same place for a little while longer than you initially planned. Keep pushing through those doors because the next level is coming!

 

Jimmetta Carpenter

Writer/Editor

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