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Gratitude when you’ve lost everything

Wild fires engulf the hills and mountains of Simi Valley, California (CA).This has been a hard year for many people I know. I have friends who were forced out of their homes during the recent California fires. A coworker of a high school friend was killed at the Borderline shooting in Thousand Oaks. I’ve been in touch with people who lost friends at Stoneman Douglas. A long-time coworker was laid off months after his wife died.

Even if no tragedies affected you this year, we all suffer from a persistent dread of what is happening in the world. We look at Washington and see endless chaos. We look at the economy with a nagging sense that something terrible is about to happen. We no longer look at the future with confidence.

With things as they are, how do we celebrate Thanksgiving this year? How do you show gratitude when you’ve lost everything?

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Write anyway

WritingI started on my NaNoWriMo project, but life, as it often does, has other ideas. I already knew I would have hernia surgery later this month. And then, we got a call from our Registrar of Voters asking for volunteers to be poll workers. They are expecting a large turnout for these midterms, even bigger than the 2016 presidential election. I couldn’t write about the importance of voting and democracy without doing my part, so I volunteered.

Everyone who writes has their time limited in some way. Family emergencies, overtime at work, distractions from social media, or just those dry spells when words don’t seem to come. Write anyway.

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Memento mori

A memento mori seal from ItalyRecently, Manuel Oliver presented a 3-D printed statue of his son Joaquin at Times Square. I’ve talked about Stoneman Douglas before on this site. But this particular story says something about how we view death — and how we value life. It’s important we look at this, especially with all that has happened in the past few days.

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Elections and hernias

The ballot from my first electionBy now, you’ve heard plenty of people (including myself) tell you how crucial these midterm elections are and how important it is for you to come out and vote. If you are still unconvinced, let me tell you about my hernia.

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Give yourself permission to…

Selfie at Indie Author Day 2018Welcome to all of you who found this site from my flyer at Indie Author Day. My site has plenty of tips on writing and public speaking, but I want to give you the most important tip of all.

Take care of your health.

When we are creating, working, or dealing with our other responsibilities, health is the last thing we think about. But you can’t do any of these things when you’re sick, exhausted, or lacking in energy.

We also need to consider mental health (which isn’t separate from physical health). The “tortured artist” is a stereotype and a dangerous one at that. Depression, anxiety, and other issues hamper our productivity, not enhance it. Therapy and medication don’t take away our creativity, but it can help us exercise it. (To learn more, see this video by Jenna Moreci.)

Taking care of my health is a lesson I continue to struggle to learn. But I’ve found one phrase that helps, “give yourself permission to.” Here are some ways to use this.

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