Monday, March 9, 2015


I started a part-time job last week. I went into my training knowing full well that it was going to be a suck-fest for the first little while, during the learning curve. I don't know about you, but nothing's worse than being out of your comfort zone and feeling like an idiot at the same time. So, on Day 1 I inevitably felt like a fish out of water. Day 2, I'm feeling good. Really good. Like maybe this won't be so hard after all. Day 3, not bad. Learning a computer program and still doing pretty good. Day 4, snow day. Day 5, up until 1/2 hour before my shift ended, this is cake! Then, at 3:00 p.m. - HOLD THE PHONE. I made a tiny little mistake on Day 1 that has now contaminated all the work I did the other days. What is my first reaction? "Misty, you idiot! You failure! You can't do anything right!"

Needless to say, this teensy little blunder haunted me the whole entire weekend. My trainer wasn't upset about it at all. Only to be expected, she said. Just a natural part of training, she said. But I continued to feel crappy about it. Why? Because I was being way too hard on myself. Not only did I verbally abuse myself with words like idiot, failure, etc., (words I would never dream of using on my loved ones) but I couldn't let it stop there. I had to badger myself about it for the next 48 hours.

Why do we do this?? I actually have the answer! And yes, I went to therapy a few years ago to obtain it. I think therapy is the best thing in the world. Everyone needs someone to get them out of their own head from time to time. The things I learned from my counselor were mind-blowingly simple, and beyond life-changing for me.

Here's what I learned. The Feeling Good Handbook is worth its weight in gold.

If you can get through a non-fiction book that size, good on you. I won't even try. But here is the basic premise:

You identify an EVENT that made you feel something negative. In my case, the stupid Day 1 blunder that set me back.

Identify negative feelings that resulted from this even: shame, frustration, etc.

Record your automatic thoughts: I'm an idiot, I can't do anything right, I'm a loser, my trainer must think I'm so stupid, etc. Rate each thought from 1-5 (1 being I don't really believe that thought, 5 being I absolutely believe it.)

Here is an example of a worksheet in the book. I actually have my very own composition notebook that I use for this all the time. It is red, and my family knows not to go near it if they don't want their feelings hurt!

Now identify thought distortions in your automatic thoughts. Based on the above scenario, mine would be Overgeneralization, Discounting the Positives, Mind Reading, Emotional Reasoning, etc. We all have these, they are hard-wired in us. It took someone pointing mine out to me before I realized my thoughts were unhealthy at all. Here's a list of the little buggers:

Next you go back to your list of automatic thoughts and re-rate them from 1-5 according how much you believe in them still. If you don't feel better after, then you haven't correctly identified the event.

This has helped me so much. It actually changed my whole outlook on being a wife and mother. And even though it is usually in the back of my mind, I find that I need reminding. So if you, like me, find yourself being your own worst critic, then GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK. If that means eating a Kit-Kat while talking yourself down from a masochistic cliff, then go for it.

Thursday, January 8, 2015


Motivation has become my new nemesis.

I'm not sure if it's because I feel guilty being idle in an empty house for six hours a day while my kids are at school, or if my 38-year-old body can't keep up with my 18-year-old ambitions. I suffer from OCD - obsessive creativity disorder (self-diagnosis)- and as my husband and children know, I'm not happy if my hands aren't busy. Stop by my house at any given moment and you will likely find me cutting out a new sewing project, cross-stitching yet another whimsical cow, or trying my hand at embroidery.

Usually a good project is a cure-all for me, but lately even the things I love to do make me go "ugh . . . I'd have to get up to do that . . . never mind!" And these are my hobbies, mind you - the things that give me the creative outlet I need, a much-needed break from reality, the "me time" that allows me to act less like a bear coming out of hibernation when my kids start coming off the bus. We're not even talking about the unpleasantness of dishes, laundry, coming up with something halfway decent for dinner, etc., etc. And I haven't even mentioned the taxi duty we find ourselves on with doctor/dentist appointments, music/dance lessons, church activities . . . is your brain starting to hurt yet?!

 As you may imagine, if I do accomplish any of the above, I'm exhausted by the end. So my question is, how do we find time to write? How do we walk away from all those balls in the air and give our story-telling its dues? And even if we find the time, what about the emotional and mental energy it sucks out of us? I don't know if any of you struggle with these same concerns, but as we're all writers and mothers I'm sure you've felt the pinch. Here are just a few things that keep my writing (and sometimes even myself) from falling by the wayside:

 1. SCHEDULE WRITING TIME. Treat it like any other commitment you couldn't or wouldn't neglect - like an appointment. Put it on your calender or in your phone or wherever the schedule portion of your brain lives.

 2. GET OUT OF THE HOUSE. I'm much more accountable for my writing when I'm not at home, being distracted by all those balls. And let's face it, sometimes having my uber-comfy king bed upstairs is too much of a temptation in the afternoons.

 3. IF THE WRITING ISN'T FLOWING, SPEND SOME TIME IMAGINING SCENES. I do this when I'm in the car. Sometimes I even monologue it out, ignoring the strange looks I get from the drivers of passing cars. At least in our day and age I can pass it off for a phone conversation on my blue tooth.

 4. TEAM UP WITH OTHER AUTHORS FOR A WRITING SESSION. This works every time, unless we get sidetracked chatting. But chatting has its benefits too - I have worked out quite a few plot issues just talking it out with another writer.

 5. TAKE LITTLE SNATCHES OF TIME FOR WRITING. Be happy with the result, even if the word count leaves you feeling anti-productive. A book is made up of words, so every little bit helps.

 6. TURN OFF THE TECHNOLOGY. Ignore the little yips and blips your phone makes every time you get an email or text, or every time a friend creates a new Pinterest board. Anything truly important usually comes in the form of a call. Even then, don't answer unless it is your significant other or the school!

 7. PUT PEN TO PAPER WHEN INSPIRATION STRIKES. I realize this isn't always possible. Most the time the writing bug bites me when my whole family is home and wanting my attention, or on a Sunday when I shouldn't be "working". But if you're all lying around watching the latest episode of The Voice and the urge hits, grab your laptop and go for it. Ask yourself if the thing you're missing out on is more important than getting a good scene down.

 8. BE WILLING TO LET GO. This is super hard for me. Sometimes I schedule that writing time, I get out of the house, turn off my phone, and the stars seem to all align . . . until I start typing and I can't get a word down. If this happens, give yourself a break. Be willing to move on and try again another day. If you're having trouble getting a scene down, work on character development or plot or some other aspect of the process. And don't let it sour your mood and ruin your whole day!

Now I think I'll go take my own advice! Happy writing to you all.