J is an excellent feelings letter if you’re feeling jostled, jerked around or even jilted. It’s the perfect feelings letter for someone who writes about relationships, right? There’s also jealous, jumpy, joyless and jinxed. Sort of makes “J” seem like a gloomy feelings word actually, so let’s move on to the positive. Joyous. Jubilant. Jazzed. I like jazzed. I feel that way a lot.
So, right away, jacked-up caught my attention. I don’t think I’ve ever used this phrase. But it reminded me of watching endless hours of Say Yes to the Dress: Atlanta (my favorite!). You know, the show where the brides get one-on-one service from a whole team of bridal consultants who bring them a seemingly endless supply of wedding dresses to try on. We all get to sit back and watch as the family drama unfolds while drooling over the latest in bridal couture. And just when you think she’ll never find the right dress, she does. And Monte comes along and jacks her up. And suddenly everyone is crying because she’s had her “bridal moment.” Yep. As a bride-to-be, this show is irresistible.
I wouldn’t consider myself a very girly girl. I don’t do make-up or hair much. I buy clothes when I have to. I did have an Imelda Marcos-esque collection of shoes once, but spent most of time in my Target flip flops. The stunning pair of Michael Kors heels in my closet – worn once. Yep. That’s me. I do admit, however, that wedding dresses bring out my inner girl. There’s something magical about a big fluffy princess dress, complete with sparkly jewelry and fancy shoes. I write for a bridal magazine and it’s a surreal process, flipping through hundreds of runway photos to study the latest in bridal fashion.
My wedding is this summer and I had decided to have a very casual wedding with no wedding dress in sight. I almost made it, until I went dress shopping with my cousin. I swear I only tried on those wedding dresses to get an idea of what style of dress I might want!!! And I really can’t be blamed for buying my dress, right? I mean, It’s stunning and perfect!!!
OK folks. What’s got you all jazzed up, jacked-up or jerked around today?
“I” is the category of cheater feelings. Half the list includes two word phrases starting with “in,” and though I acknowledge the validity of those types of complicated multi-word feelings, there are some simpler “I” feelings that I find a whole lot more fun.
One of the best parts of being a writer is that I get to let my overactive imagination loose. And because I am one of the world’s most decorated catastrophizers, it gets pretty colorful around here. It’s an amazing feeling to create characters and stories with nothing but my own creativity to hold me back. And it’s even more fun when the characters take over and begin to write their own stories. It’s like having an exclusive behind-the-scenes pass to a great show long before it opens to the general public.
Which, of course, leads me to impish (which may be the best feeling word ever and certainly is a stand-out in the “I” category). I’m pretty sure I am in a constant state of impishness. I am a plotter. Ask anyone. I’m truly happy when I’m scheming. And being a writer is such a healthy outlet for my plotting. I find myself talking through the elements of my current novel and cackling as I go. Impish. Yep, that’s me all the way.
Anyway, it’s Monday and we’re on “I.” So, let’s talk about inspiration. What inspires you? For the writers out there, where did you find your inspiration for your current WIP? Who in your life inspires you to do more, work harder, live smarter and love?
We had a big discussion about happiness vs. contentment several years back and I was thinking about it this morning. Some people asserted that happiness is fleeting; that contentment is what we should strive for, as if contentment is the more permanent condition. We went back and forth about what happiness really is and I don’t recall ever reaching any kind of resolution. Is that because happiness is unique to each individual? Obviously the things we find entertaining and inspiring may differ wildly from person to person.
Our ideas of what “the pursuit of happiness” involves has changed over time. And I have to tell you, I’ve always found it strange that we have this idea of the pursuit of happiness as something that applies to everyone when society works so hard at times to deny the things that might make some people happy – i.e. marriage and employment equality, voting rights, property ownership rights (of course, these things change over time but there always seems to be one group who’d rather not allow another group to have something they want). Why, when as a society we say that we value this inherent right to pursue happiness, do we present so many obstacles to attaining it?
Another thought. Parents say “I just want my kids to be happy,” but they often have a preconceived notion of what that looks like. Maybe it means, “I want my Susie to marry a good man and give me lots of grandchildren” or possibly “If Tom gets good grades and a good education, he’ll never have to struggle like I have.” So what happens when Susie decides she never wants to get married or have children? If Tom drops out of high school, are his chances for finding happiness ruined? Many parents embrace the lives their children have chosen, even if it takes some time. But many don’t.
I wonder if we (the big WE) really just don’t get what happiness means? What do you think? What’s happiness for you?
For me personally, happiness comes when I follow my heart and take responsibility for my decisions. When I am happy, I am confident, brave, and strong. And though I consider myself a very cheerful person, I wouldn’t say that I am always happy. So I guess I consider happiness to be just like any other feeling, one that comes and goes in reaction to various internal and external factors.
Hope you all enjoy the rest of this philosophical weekend!
I’m feeling so grateful today for all the love and support I’ve gotten from my readers, my family and my friends. Starting a writing career is a tricky business and I’ve had to turn to so many people for help with everything from editing to moral support. It’s humbling, and while I know that my brand of writing is not for everyone, I hope it touches lives. Thank you for all your support. I truly couldn’t do this without you all.
One “G” down. Now, onto another of my favorite “G” feelings – giddiness. Technically speaking, giddiness comes when you get so excited you get disoriented. It has to do with the physical sensations that accompany excitement and happiness. I can honestly say that I feel giddy fairly often. I just assume this has to do with my excitable nature. When I get excited, I get EXCITED! If you’re not in the mood for a bubbly, perky, hyper girl, being around me when I’m in the middle of a project is not a good place to be. Of course, if you ever need a boost, I’m your girl. I get carried away and I carry people away with me when I can.
Feeling a little bit giddy right now. Can’t wait to share all the things I’ve been working on with you!
And before I get my nose back to the grindstone, I want to close off with one last “G” – though it’s not a feeling. I’m working on my monthly newsletter, which goes out on the 15th. As an email subscriber, you get the chance to win a book of your choosing every month in a giveaway that I call “The Big Read.” Promoting reading and literacy are high on my list of priorities so this is one way to help encourage people to pick up new books (not just mine). If you’d like to sign-up for the newsletter, visit the homepage of www.AmyRivers.com.
G is for goals and I’m off to work on achieving mine. What are your goals?
F has some of the best feelings! Are you feeling feeble? Foiled? Feisty? Fainthearted? There’s a little something for everyone on the “F” list.
Why write about feelings in this blogging challenge? Two reasons. First, as a writer, I spend a lot of time thinking about how my characters are feeling. In order to create complex characters, my understanding of their feelings and emotions has to reach beyond happy, sad, scared and angry. It’s interesting to think about how different people react to different situations based on their personalities and backgrounds. For instance, a person who’s never had their heart broken is going to react differently than someone who’s been through it before. Victims of crime often behave in ways that confuse others or even hurt their credibility. But their feelings are informed by their life experiences and their tolerance for pain, fear, anger, happiness, etc. Every person is unique.
Second, I have a Master’s degree in psychology. I LOVE feelings J Both personally and academically, I’m completely fascinated with how emotion impacts a person’s decisions and how hard it is to heal from psychological trauma. Feelings are just feelings, right? But somehow it’s near impossible for some people to just sit with their feelings. Have you ever seen a person who keeps themselves in a perpetual state of motion to avoid having to deal with their feelings? I have. This person can’t sit down. And when they do, they have to create things to do to fill the void.
Truth is, it can be frightening to face our feelings. Fear of the unknown can be difficult to overcome. People sometimes dismiss our feelings – after all, they’re all in our heads, right? But it’s just not true. Feelings manifest themselves physically. When we’re happy and in love, we might notice that aches and pains disappear. We have more energy and stamina. We are able to accomplish more. When we’re depressed, we feel knots in our stomachs. My anxiety gives me hot flashes. Just try convincing me while I’m sweating profusely and the room is spinning that it’s all in my head, as if I can just stop the crazy with a flick of a switch.
The problem with dismissing a person’s feelings is that it also cripples our own ability to empathize with that person. It allows us to jump to conclusions, to make wrong assumptions and to judge another person’s behavior without truly understanding them.
Be fierce. Embrace your feelings. And acknowledge that every person around you is also full of feelings. Ask yourself the next time someone is rude or does something you don’t understand, “what might they be going through right now.” You’ll find it a whole lot easier to empathize.
Sure, I could have gone with something easy like excited or elated. And they were at the top of my list a little while ago. But then I started feeling at peace with the world, balanced…and wouldn’t you know it? There’s a word for that! Equanimity is a state of psychological stability or composure, undisturbed by external forces (thank you Wikipedia!) Today, I find that my feelings truly are balanced. I feel…well-adjusted. Huh. Who knew?
My personal favorite on the list of “E” feelings words is emotionally bloated. Yes! Now THAT is my usual state of being. Or maybe just emotional “fullness.” (get it?) I like to think that by keeping an open mind and heart, I allow myself to have experiences in life that fill me with emotion – both good and bad. Being an emotional person, and allowing myself to feel even the negative emotions fully, makes me very empathetic, I think. It’s easier to put myself in someone else’s shoes when I just go with the flow. You know?
The world is full of possibilities and I intend, as always, to dive headfirst and see where I land. But for the moment, I’m going to enjoy this feeling of equanimity as I expect it will be short-lived. (I’m easily excitable after all).
How’s your Wednesday going? Feeling excited, elated….maybe a little evil?
I decided to write about determination today since, in my humble opinion, it’s critical for any writer (and also for any parent). As a writer, I can find a million reasons not to sit and write. Too tired. Not motivated. Having a bad day. Can’t think of what to write. Have other things to do (just nine more rounds of Monkey Wrench on my iPhone, right?). No one likes my writing anyway (this thought usually comes on the heels of a rejection). The thing is, if you want to succeed in writing, you have to be determined. And when you feel determined, it’s a whole lot easier to sit down and do the work.
So, determination. A good feeling, eh? As I was contemplating “D” feelings, I scoured a few websites to look at lists of feelings, emotions and traits. This is a rather common activity, actually. These kinds of lists are great brainstorming tools for writers – that and a handy dandy thesaurus. So, as I’m perusing the lists, I realize that “D” has a definite disadvantage (there it is, did you see it?). A lot of negative prefixes start with “D” including –de and –dis. As a result, the majority of “D” feelings tend to be the negative. I can feel dejected, disappointed, despondent, dismissed, disoriented, disrespected…the list goes on and on. I got a little dismayed as I read the “D” list, but it also made me feel defiant! Yes! I would write about determination to transcend negative “D” syndrome. It was a daunting task, and at first I was dubious, but feeling decisive, I plunged forward until I felt delighted by the silliness of the result. OK, you get the picture.
Back to determination. I’m determined to have two complete first drafts done by the end of the year, to enjoy the beautiful weather and to learn a few more words in German before I embark on my honeymoon this summer.
What are you determined to do?
Oh boy, oh boy! Monday is in full swing as I write this post. I wouldn’t consider myself a morning person by any stretch of the imagination, but for several years I worked as a contractor for the federal government and my start time was 6:30am. That, plus an hour-long commute, taught me to perk up before facing my co-workers and employees. (It also taught me to set my alarm on the bus, just in case I fell asleep on said commute) As a result, I’m not a complete ogre in the morning, Monday included. It helps that I’m a cheerful person by nature, and I’ve managed to extend that to the wee hours, despite my desire to stay tucked under my covers.
Now, my children on the other hand…yikes! Crankiness is the word of the day every Monday morning. It’s not surprising, right? After a weekend of staying up late and sleeping in, facing the new week is just no fun. I remember being a kid and being intensely cranky. Of course, my dad woke us up every morning for school by singing a loud and off-key version of “School Days” so I might have been a teeny bit justified in my mood.
So, in order to keep the Monday crankiness at a dull roar, I’ve developed a system. I wake my kids up half an hour before I need them dressed so they can play, dally, moan, groan…whatever it takes to make that second pass through their rooms less traumatic. Generally, it works. No matter how cranky they are on my first pass, they’ve perked up by round two and we can conquer the morning routine without (much) resistance.
Are you cheerful or cranky in the mornings? Is Monday different than the rest of the week? Is your caffeine consumption higher on Mondays?
Looking forward to hearing from you. Happy Monday!!!
Boredom is not something that I feel terribly often. This is mostly due to the fact that I keep my to-do list REALLY long. And if I have some down time, I pick up a book. So, in honor of boredom, and as a recommendation on how to curb it, I thought I’d dedicate some space to another B words – books. Here are some of my favorites.
Mystery / Thrillers / Suspense
These are my primary source of entertainment. I’m currently reading through the D.D. Warren series by Lisa Gardener. I also enjoy Gillian Flynn and Mary Kubica for psychological thrillers. And I love me a good detective novel. The Prey series by John Sanford is wonderful and for a little serial killer action, Tami Hoag’s Liska & Kovac series provide hours of gruesome entertainment.
Can’t go wrong with Isabel Allende for something beautiful and full of emotion. I started with The House of the Spirits and went from there. Allende’s tribute to her daughter Paula is so touching, it’ll bring you to tears. And there’s nothing like the classics. For romance, a little dose of Jane Austen. For drama, Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina was already on my list of favorites before it made it to Oprah’s list.
I have kids so I read a lot of kinds books. My son is a voracious reader and we just finished the Harry Potter series. It had been years since I read those books and it was even better the second time through. We’ve also read every book Rick Riordan ever wrote. He’s turned my son into a mythology nut and the books are just plain fun. Some of my other favorites from my childhood including Lloyd Alexander’s Book of Three series, Susan Cooper’s Dark is Rising series and, of course, C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia.
What are your favorites?
April Fool’s Day for me this year is April 3. This morning I woke up and realized it’s the 3rd day of the month and I’d completely spaced – and I mean, entirely forgotten – to get started on the A to Z Blogging Challenge. Luckily, I’d decided to talk about feelings this month and guess what? A is for anxiety. A perfect segue into today’s blog. Yippee!!
I suffer from anxiety. Not the passing “roller coasters make me nervous” (though they do) or “ack! I have to sing in front of how many people??” (I get this one every single time I perform) anxiety. My anxiety is chronic and has made it difficult, at times, to function normally. After my daughter was born, I realized I was having crippling panic attacks every time I breastfed. As it turns out, there’s an actual reason for this having to do with fluctuations in lactation-related hormones. Unfortunately, I didn’t know that at the time and the anxiety was so bad that I had to lie down so I wouldn’t pass out (not exactly ideal when you have a newborn to tend to). People with anxiety are faced with many choices. During my daughter’s infancy, I chose to give up breastfeeding so that I could function more normally as a parent. I wasn’t thrilled, but given the information and resources I had at the time, I think it was the right decision.
Over the years, I’ve thought quite a lot about how my anxiety has affected my choices. For instance, I love to travel. But for a while there, I wasn’t sure I could fly again. On one flight, I spent the entire time in the air with my head pressed against the seat in front of me, struggling to regain control of my insane thoughts. And because I come from a long line of anxious women, there were moments when I resigned myself to my fate: a quiet life keeping my anxiety in check.
Fortunately, I crave adventure. As I get older, and my kids grow up, I realize that there are a million things I want to do, both on my own and with them. And as a writer, I need and want to have adventures. To experience new things that I can write about. To put myself out there in the world and see what happens. And in order to do that, I need to conquer my anxiety. Actually, I’m not sure I believe in “conquering” my anxiety as much as I believe that I must learn to work with it and around it. The truth is, I still experience anxiety daily. I have a whole arsenal of coping tools and I use them faithfully, but that doesn’t mean I don’t feel anxiety. I’ve just learned how to deal with it more effectively.
What I find interesting is that, the more I share about my experiences with anxiety, the more I hear similar stories. Anxiety is one of those conditions that makes you feel isolated and alone, and yet, it takes almost no time to find lots of kindred spirits in the fight against anxiety.
Feel free to share here. You (WE) are not alone.
I'm generally pulled in a million different directions and I wouldn't trade it for the world. Here's a glimpse of my life - hope you enjoy it! And if there's a big lapse between posts, well, that's the way life goes in Amy's world.
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