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

https://write-2-be.com/

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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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Honoring the Legacy and the Purpose

honoring the legacy

So on this day, a day in which we honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a man who was the very definition of courage and living fearlessly, it makes me think about the things that we take for granted. I’m not talking about just being grateful for our health and our family and the luxuries we’ve been able to afford for ourselves. I mean those things are definitely nothing to dismiss in any way. But there are other things that we sometimes don’t appreciate the way that we should like our gifts and our purpose.

Everyone has a gift to be used to fulfill their purpose in this world. I don’t believe that there is any one person that doesn’t have a reason for being on this earth that is not solely specific to just them.  When we waste so much of our time resisting those gifts, questioning that purpose, and second guessing whether or not we are properly equipped to carry out the mission that we were given in this life, we are taking for granted our opportunities to make this world a much better place.

Just think of what it would be like if Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had resisted the gifts that God gave him, or questioned the purpose that God gave him at every turn. Imagine if he allowed any fears that he might have had, not just for himself but for his family, do the deciding for him in whether or not he took on the fight that he did. What if he had allowed his doubts to win and let the purpose he was given go unmet. I would hate to think of what this world would be like had Dr. King not honored his gifts and his purpose.

What Dr. King managed to achieve in his short time here on this earth is more than most people accomplish in a lifespan of a hundred years. If we just stop doubting ourselves, our gifts, our purpose, and be appreciative for the opportunity to fulfill that purpose then what kind of change could we continue to make for this world. How many lives could we possibly affect if we just let go of the second-guessing and be grateful that we were equipped with the gifts necessary to make a change in this ever so crazy world. So when honoring Dr. King today remember that he was a man about taking action and go act with purpose!

Jimmetta Carpenter

Writer/Editor

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The Writer’s Myth I Love to Ignore

Killing the Myth.png

Every writer has there own methods and ways of doing things. They have their rituals and their habits (sometimes bad ones) and strategies that work for them. Typically writers go by very broad rules of the trade that are spread across the masses and for the most part I will say there is truth to those habits and rituals and ways of doing things. However, there is this one myth, this very big no-no that writers, or any creative type really, aren’t supposed to be doing a lot of if they actually want to get any substantial and quality work done. Watch lots of TV.

For years I have been trying to find some justification and arguably some back up to my inherent belief that watching a lot of television as a creative (in particular a writer) does more good than harm and I think I have finally found it. I stumbled upon a blog post the other day (okay it wasn’t a stumble, I regularly follow her blog) in which the blogger acknowledged that while her love of binge watching Netflix has quite possibly halted work on several writing projects, it also added value and perhaps even a bit more passion into the projects that she was able to complete.

Now I do not have Netflix (Yes I know, I’m about the only person left in the world who has no desire to have a Netflix account), however, I do have an extreme love of watching television. I have my regular nightly shows, mostly police procedurals or any drama with a bit of mystery to it (like Law & Order SVU, Chicago PD, or Criminal Minds to name a few), and I also have my hospital dramas (Grey’s Anatomy and Chicago Med, and I’ll throw Chicago Fire in here too because I don’t know where else it would fit). I even like my political dramas (Scandal, Madam Secretary), and of course the all important Soap Operas (Young & the Restless and Bold & the Beautiful). Also I like my comedies (Big Bang Theory, etc) my history channel shows, and my cooking shows… Okay you get the picture, I have an interest in pretty much every aspect of television and that’s not including my love of movies. It goes without saying that I watch a large amount of TV and I have to have the TV on to go to sleep at night too (I need the noise).

To my point, I have been told countless times that people in writing, or any creative avenue really, are more productive when they watch less television. I have balked at this theory ever since I’ve heard it because it just doesn’t make sense to me, or rather for me. I mean I know that there are quite a few largely successful people who write for television and own television companies and don’t watch TV so I know that it clearly works for some people but it baffles me how you don’t watch the very medium you create for. Just as baffling to me is a writer who doesn’t read books (and believe it or not there are some) because how can you create for an audience when you don’t partake in what you are in fact producing.

Needless to say, I am the opposite and perhaps the exception because I don’t focus very well when I don’t have something on my television, and it can’t just be anything, it has to be something that inspires me when I’m writing (and yes I actually write while I watch TV—so see I’m still being productive during my TV time) or even just something that inspires a new character, or a new subject I want to write about. Television doesn’t just inspire me, it also calms me, and it is my relaxing place for when I’m stressed and worried and need to just calm down or if I’m just feeling really anxious or depressed and I need to laugh. In all actuality, sitting in silence, without the TV will probably lead to a less productive day for me because silence drives me a little crazy and I don’t concentrate very well in it, thus leading to lack of productivity.

So if you have a method that’s not supposed to work for you as a writer but somehow it works, just go with it. I know it may seem to not make sense to anyone else doing what you do, and it may just go against all of the rules of the trade but aren’t rules sometimes meant to be bent a little. At least bent to work just the right way, and in your favor. The wonderful thing about being a writer or any creative is that your out of the box thinking can lead you down a path you never saw coming, and in the best most possible ways! So go forth and buck the trends and laugh in the face of the myths!

Jimmetta Carpenter

Writer/Editor

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