Habit #5: Value Life’s Little Blessings

Advice from One Smart Lady

Habit #5
Value Life’s Little Blessings

“May we never let the things we can’t have or don’t have, or shouldn’t have, spoil our enjoyment of the things we do have and can have.” Richard L. Evans

This statement is so true. There are times when we allow our anxiety or passion for our pursuits overshadow our relationships with our family and friends. We work hard to obtain the financial independence so we can be debt-free. We spend hours attending webinars and seminars on the internet and around when we can we travel around the globe. When we do that too often, we forsake our relationships and our own personal needs. This is the purpose of this series, “The Habit of Your Mind.” Sin did not become sin until the law was introduced. These habits have been introduced to you so you know “how to do better.”

Dr. Hart shares the story of The Guinness Book of Records entry “The Greatest Miser”, Hetty Green. She was a financier and New York Stock Exchange member whose desire for wealth consumed her. You can Google her full story. She maintained a bank balance of $31 million and died with an estate worth $100 million. She lived on cold oatmeal and in a home where she refused to heat. The living condition was so bad it caused her son’s leg to be amputated because she refused to heat the house. She died after having a convulsion while arguing over the virtues of skim milk.

As we, those of us pursuing our fortunes on the internet and off-line, work hard to build our businesses and enterprises, we must be mindful that obtaining great wealth does not always equate to obtaining great happiness. In most cases, it is just the opposite.

So of the things that bring you great happiness, do not cost anything or very little. Just think about it. Take a moment and jot down moments that bring a smile to your face remembering the time when…

We have become a nation addicted to extremes. The bigger, louder and edgy something is, it captures our attention. That is why videos, pictures, and memes with animals and children bring the softer side out of us. I set up a page, “Let Your Light Shine” because I wanted to be able to go to a page and scroll through at times when I needed a smile, laugh or even cry.

The 5th habit goes deep into how well our spiritual foundation is structured. How do we respond to life’s gotcha’s or lacks?

 “Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat,
Or what ye shall drink…Behold the fowls of the air;
For they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns;
Yet your heavenly Father feedeth them.
Matthew 6:25-26

I recall that scripture from time to time as I go through challenges periodically in my life. I take a walk and take in the world around me.

What do you do to self-heal and rid yourself of anger, disappointments, and regret? Consider this short list:

  • Visit Friends
  • Visit Family
  • Walk in the Park
  • Bike in the Park
  • Run in the Park
  • Sit in the Park
  • Fish by the water’s edge
  • Work in your garden
  • Admire a garden
  • Conversation with a Stranger
  • Conversation with an Old Friend
  • Snuggle with a loved one
  • Snuggle with your pet

The list goes on and on, and these items do not cost anything to do. What are you willing to do to ensure you ‘Value Life’s Little Blessings’?

You have been given Five (5) senses, use them to bring you closer to enjoying God’s gifts to you.

  • Go to the Library and take out an audio book – Listen to the words and allow your mind to travel to another time and place.
  • Go to the Library and take out a book – See the words and allow your mind to travel to another time and place.
  • Find a local eatery or prepare something at home – Eat and taste the food that brings you enjoyment. Note: I just recently began eating cream cheese and jelly sandwiches. I loved them as a child. We did not have bagels in our home in the 50’s. 
  • Smell freshly cut grass; flowers; food being prepared by your neighbors; the scent of a loved one-spouse, babies, etc.
  • Touch someone you care deeply for and allow them to touch you. Hug a child. Hug your pet. What do you enjoy touching? I love soft clothes and blankets; rose petals and my cat’s fur. I love snuggling up next to my husband.

Reach out and accept these blessings. Each and every day take the time to enjoy the little blessings in your life.

Next: How the Ten Habits Fit Together: Habit 6: Accentuate the Positive
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Is My Story Worth Telling?

Advice from One Smart Lady, "Just Write"

MM910001095When you begin your project, it is too soon to judge if your story is worth telling. Just Write. As you review and edit, you will be able to restructure your story whether it is Fiction or Non-Fiction. Writing a book takes  time. I am going to refer to your book as a manuscript. Your manuscript can be messy and full of flaws until you submit it to the editing phase. Your book, on the other hand, has to be clear, with words that move the reader from page to page with anticipation of its end.

I have come across stories I began writing in the past but never completed. As I read them over, I can still see a good book in them.

In the 90s, it was my intention to be a romance novelist. So I listened to co-workers talk about their relationships and experiences, as well as, document my own. I decided to blend our personalities and life experiences to create my characters.  The following is from a manuscript from 1995.

“The first time she saw him, he appeared to be larger than he actually was. His eyes were almost green, complementing the dark green sweater he wore. Since then she had seen him in other colors, and she noticed his eyes changed. “I think they call them hazel, ” She thought.

They met one night when she stayed in town with friends. She dreaded the long train ride home to an empty house. She longed for company and someone to laugh with and talk to. Unbeknownst to her, his silver tongue, and good humor would be the beginning and end of her happiness.”

Many times she’ll wonder if the decision to leave her husband for another man while having an affair with a third was the act of a sane person.

“May I have a moment of your time?” Those eight words started it all. That moment stretched into an eternity.

###

So, this proposed story was about a woman’s journey living with bad decisions and the consequences her decisions caused.  Is it worth telling? Yes. Even though our heroine has a dark side to her life, there is hope for her and the story could be written to illustrate how she changed her habits of infidelity around.

I also hear, “Who wants to hear about my life. It is and was boring.” When someone responses with these statements, I begin asking them questions like these:

  • Are you living the life you dreamed you would like to live? If not, what happened?
  • What was your life like in high school?
  • What kind of friends did you have? Did any of their personality stand out in your mind?
  • What was your hometown like?
  • What are some of your accomplishments? Failures?

Depending on the individual, if they are actually interested in writing, they find something to start with and build the story around it.

If you are blessed with the desire to write. Just write. Do not worry about its value or worth. Just write. You will be surprised what you have stored in your subconscious mind just waiting to come out. When you have completed your story, an accountability partner and editor will help you structure and frame your manuscript. For now:

Just Write.

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What Do I Say?

Advice from One Smart Lady, "Just Write"

MM910001095

Until you have a clear picture, Just Write. What? Anything. Whatever is on your mind. Just write and see where your mind takes you. Just like reading takes you on a journey outside of your environment, writing does the same thing. I allow you to escape to lands unknown…past and future.

In 1995, because my core training came from over 10 years of computer programming, I took a more technical route when I began to write again. I completed a few months of therapy and enjoyed the structured journaling my therapist had me do during and after each session.  Today, I found my manuscript and was shocked to see it was typewritten. Typed not on a computer, but an electric typewriter.  I remember owning a blue Brother’s electric typewriter in the 60s, but I do not know if that was the one I used.

I entitled it “You Must Be Kidding”.  I advise my authors when they begin writing not to be overly structured.  My advice is to write in composition books, journals, pieces of paper or talk on their smartphones or tablets. It was more important not to lose the thought or story. Capture it, however, they can.

Being a structured programmer, I created an outline based on the  facts of my life. My story was not a memoir or biography but it was to be based on my life experiences.

Page 1: Reported my birth year and every year in which something eventful occurred spanning from 1950 – 1985; birth, first home in Germantown, elementary school, junior and senior high schools, my first and second corporate jobs, three marriages and my return to college to earn my degree.

Page 2: Listed all of the places I lived between 1950 and 1972…although I lived at a different location in 1978 through 1985. Each year had a description of who I lived with, where we lived and any other pertinent information I wanted to record  at the time.

Page 3: Just had a page titled “Credit Cards and Debt.” (I don’t know why I would write about that.)

Page 4: This page listed four category headings:

  • 72.0000 – Life with Cliff
  • 79.0000 – Life with Joe
  • 83.0000 – Life with Don
  • 85.0000 – Deborah’s Life

The next five pages described events in detail. Honestly, not the content of a final draft. Just information I wanted to glean content from. It was my plan to write romance novels. I wanted to give my heroines happy and fulfilling lives because I wasn’t doing such a good job with my own relationships. Writing allowed me to experience feelings I could not feel through my marriage.

I began reading the entire series of  books by successful romance authors and study their writing styles. These were just four of my favorites, and I read all of their books. It was as if I were taking a course on about each author.

  • Julie Garwood (17 Novels)
  • Jude Devereux (50 Novels and 5 Short Stories)
  • Kathleen Woodiwiss (10 Novels)
  • Judith McNaught (12 Novels and 2 Short Stories)

I figured with my multiple marriages, I could write a series of African-American romance novels. My plan was to create my characters based on my husbands and people I knew. As a writer, I was in control of how they responded to challenges in their relationships, the outcomes would be different from how mine turned out. Instead of being married to three different men, the stories would be about three married sisters. These women would be able to work out their differences with their husbands. That was the plan.

So, back to you. What to write? The professionals say to write what you know. That was what my first rejection letter told me. When I was 18, I submitted  a short story to Redbook. They liked the story but believed it not realistic. It was a story about a telephone operator (took place in the 70s before the breakup of Bell Telephone and advent of cell phones) and a stranger who always called at 2:00 am. As the story evolved, they became friends and at the end, she agreed to meet him after work. This, of course, was against the rules, but they became very attracted to each other.

Now I’m not sure what part they believed was not realistic. I wrote what I knew. I was an Information Operator in the Directory Assistance Department for a year at Bell. I had many men compliment me on my  sweet voice. I was also invited out for drinks after work. So the only missing piece was, she was African-American and he was European-American. That was the only part of the story I had not experienced in my short lifetime.

As I write this, I realize I did eventually fulfill that missing piece of the story with my marriage to my husband, Joe. I went against the rules, met him for a drink and we married 7 months later by a Rabbi.

So writing what you know is not a real reason to have your story rejected. How many science fiction and fantasy writers really experienced every aspect of their tales? So do not be forced to change your story, unless it is to strengthen and clarify it.

Write as the spirit leads you. Just Write.

 

What Is My Purpose For Writing?

MM910001095First, get a clear understanding as to why you are writing this book. What story or message do you desire to get across? Who do you want to read your print book and listen to your audio book?  Without a purpose, you will be as they say, “a ship without a rudder.”

My purpose is to write as much as I possibly can about my life experience in hopes it will encourage and inspire others to begin writing today. As they read One Smart Lady Says ‘Just Write,’ they can see how easy it is done.  So they can say, “I can do it.”

During the course of my publishing career, most of my author’s stories reflected their life challenges, struggles and how they overcame them through their growing faith in the Lord. Now I know not everyone believes as I do. Nevertheless, I believe even if it is only faith-based on your own strength, you have a story to tell.

I want to read about someone who does not share my faith in the Most High God, and/or Jesus’ role in my salvation. I want to read how they succeeded to overcome their challenge or life struggles. It would be interesting to compare their story with another person experiencing the same challenge and struggle but who had a relationship with Christ. I want to read how someone or something hurt them and they walked away from the fellowship of the church.

I write to inform, as well as, entertain.  In my book, “Joy Comes Through the Mourning” I write about my experience as a widow. Most may think this is a sad topic. The book includes short stories, poems, and examples of mind games I played as I overcame the death of my husband, Donald Karper in 2003. I  originally ended the book with my joining my current church, Green Grove Baptist in 2004. As I worked on the final edit in 2011, I realized I needed to add, how my growing relationship with the Lord strengthened me and allowed me to open my heart to my husband, Willie Smart, who I married in 2008.

I write to encourage and empower young individuals to follow through on their dreams at the age they are, not waiting until they are older. In my book, “Hadana and the Skating Club”, my co-author was my seven-year-old niece, Hadana Trinity Smart. Yes, another One Smart Lady. It occurred to me that we were enjoying telling each other stories, and her ability to tell the story with passion and maturity. It also occurred to me to find a young artist to design the front cover. I found that artistic talent in Joy R. Smith. Joy was a senior at Hun School of Princeton and has since graduated and is attending Drew University.

So your purpose is developed for many different reasons. As you write, your purpose may be skewed in the beginning and will take form the more you get into the meat of the story. Don’t be took concern about grammar and structure. Pay close attention at this point to the building of your story and your characters. If writing non-fiction, do your research make sure it is sound.

So as I always say, stop over thinking about what you are going to write and “Just Write.”

 

 

How Do I Get Started?

Advice from One Smart Lady, "Just Write"

MM910001095“Just Write” is the answer to one of the #1 questions asked by those looking to write and publish a book: “How do I get started?” So ask I ask, “Why do I want to write this book?” and then tell them to “Just Write.

I am writing “One Smart Lady Says ‘Just Write'” because it seems to be the catalyst for getting first-time authors to begin their writing project. I tell them to throw the formulas and structure out of the window and just write uncensored and unedited. Then go back and examine and evaluate what you’ve written.

Over future posts, I will answer questions by using examples from books edited and published by Gladstone Publishing. Who should subscribe to this post? Individuals who have no idea how to get started with their writing project. “Bestselling Author” status is not the only goal you should set. The first goal should be to write a very good book that is readable, enjoyable and viral; one people will recommend to their family, friends, and associates.

I will ask questions and give you my answers. You should write and answer these questions as you can.

What is my purpose?

First get a clear understanding as to why you are writing this book. What story or message do you desire to get across? Who do you want to read your print book and listen to your audio book?  Without a purpose, you will be as they say, “a ship without a rudder.” Read More

What do I have to say?

Until you have a clear picture, Just Write. What? Anything. Whatever is on your mind. Just write and see where your mind takes you. Just like reading takes you on a journey outside of your environment, writing does the same thing. I allow you to escape to lands unknown…past and future. Read More.

Where does my passion lay?

What are you passionate about? What are your conversations with friends and family like? Are you repeating the same stories to them you have been telling over the years? Have you been writing in journals, on napkins at restaurants or any scrap of paper or in your smartphone or tablet? That may be where you will find your passion and your story. Read More.

Is my story worth telling?

When you begin your project, it is too soon to judge. Just Write. As you review and edit, you will be able to restructure your story whether it is Fiction or Non-Fiction. Writing a book takes  time. I am going to from this point on, refer to your book as a manuscript. Your manuscript can be messy and full of flaws. Your book, on the other hand, has to be clear, with words that move the reader from page to page with anticipation of its end. Read More.

Who am I writing for?

There may be times when you begin your manuscript, your audience is children. When I began writing “Pearl, The Little Light That Shines” my intention was to prepare a book for pre-teens to young adult. I had an accountability partner to whom I read each draft. As the book progressed, we began to understand the reader was going to be a must older audience. At the time, I was upset, but then I remembered my purpose. I wanted to tell a story about a young girl who lived in the 50s and 60s and tell how she dealt with the day-to-day challenges presented in her life. Through a series of books, each book would take place at a different time in her life.

How will my story reach them?

Am I referring to marketing and distribution at this point? Yes. Even as you decide on your audience, you have to also see where they live and play. Keep you eyes on both print and social media venues. Join special interest or focus groups who share your interests. Get yourself known. Begin to put together your own Facebook Group, Twitter and Instagram followers. Grow your business. Yes. Writing is a business which you should take seriously. Begin to grow your team. Who will be your publicist? Who will be your event coordinator? Who will design your marketing material?

As I said, you are building this team of resources. It takes the time to build a relationship which is strong. That is why you should do it as you are writing your manuscript.

Many have been stopped by the thoughts: “I’m not smart enough.” “Why would anyone want to read a book written by me?” “I don’t write. I hate writing.”

Well, if you can speak your story verbally…your story can be written by a Ghost Writer. There are many people in the world waiting for a solution out of their situation. Your story may be the one to help them. If you hate writing…dictate it and have it transcribed. There are no more excuses in this high-tech age.

Just Write.

 

2014 GGBC Women’s Retreat Memories

I want to thank Joyce Patryce-Clark (Joy-Pat) for Capturing the Memories of a spirit filled retreat. Sometimes we need to retreat to build up our strength and resolve. I recommend you set time aside to watch this pictorial presentation. You may not know these women, but I bet you go through the same struggles and disappointments. We learned we do not have settle for less than what the Lord would want us to have. We do not have to settle at all. We can go after our dreams and achieve them by keeping God as the center of all of our plans.

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