Category Archives: Lessons Learned

How to find your passion in life…

It is no secret that I’ve gone through a big process of reinventing myself over the past few years. The reality is that we’re always evolving into someone new. There is no stopping it. We’re shaped by our interactions with others, experiences that we have, and even what information we choose to feed our minds. Every decision we make is a catalyst for some sort of change in our lives. So, it is perpetual with time.

Living in the modern world is simultaneously easy and difficult. There are all sorts of expectations for how we are supposed to live, be, and even act. For most of us, we do our best to  simply fit in and go with the flow. We get a job after schooling. We work the set schedule with some overtime. We then draw a paycheck, pay our bills, have a little bit of fun with friends and/or family, and then we repeat the process. But for some of us that isn’t enough. Instead, we need to be doing something that truly allows us to be ourselves and to be involved in life.

So, how do you find what really sets your soul on fire? How do you discover that thing that you truly love to do?

This is where a journal becomes a necessity. You start in the past with what you loved to do as a child or a teen. No, I’m not talking about what all your friends were doing. That’s how you ended up where you are. I mean what did you truly love to do when no one was looking? I find that those are the best places to start.

You excavate what you once loved. Dig deep and then you try those things again. Did you spend a lot of time coloring as a kid? Pick up a coloring book and some crayons or colored pencils (if you choose the adult versions). See if it still gives you the same joy it once did.

Did you like to sing or put on puppet shows? Why not go try a karaoke or deliver a monologue at an open mic night somewhere? Pick out a new monologue to learn and practice in the mirror. Why not opt to take a drama or acting class?

Were you a poet or writer? Why not dust off old ideas and see what you can do with them now? There is a thriving writing community out there who would love to have you join whatever your level is.

From there you can explore new ideas that come up. Maybe that love of the dramatic has turned into a love of directing the stage or a film. Maybe a love of coloring turned into a love of feeling the paint slide over a canvas instead. Maybe you are interested in picking up a camera now. There could be any number of things that can help you find that passion in life. The key is exploration.

So pull out your pen, open a google doc, create a video log to talk to yourself so you can hash it out and figure it out. Try new things and explore the world around you through different eyes for a while. You may find that you learn more about yourself than you realize.

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The Waiting Game…

We spend so much of our time waiting.

Seriously think about it for moment. We wait to grow up. We wait to have an education. We wait for appointments. We wait for payday, the weekend, our favorite shows to premiere a new season, movie releases, and other trivial things. I am currently waiting on that lovely refund from the IRS as a further example. Aren’t we all? There are things that are worth the wait, of course, like finding the love of your life before you settle down. You’ll just have to take my word on that one. I should know. But what truly baffles me is how we wait to take the steps to live our best lives.

We’ve all found ourselves stuck in the rat race. There are all sorts of ruts and traps to fall into. We settle into many roles in life without even realizing that we’re doing it. I know I did. And in some ways I still do. But, let me just say that a shift is happening for me. It is as much spiritual as it is mental.

In 2017 I spent a lot of time thinking about what sort of life I want to lead. And through my journaling and letters I discovered that I have been my own biggest obstacle in living that dream life. I’d almost be willing to wager a bet that, if you were to really think about this, you would find that you’re in a similar position.

I’m a plus size woman. That fact alone presents a whole list of obstacles in life. Society honestly treats plus size people differently regardless of the circumstances. I think that this, combined with conditioning by various life experiences, leads me to a place where I imposed many restrictions on myself as to what I could do in life. That eventually led to a bevy of excuses to procrastinate.

  • I’ll wait until I lose 50 pounds before I take new headshots.
  • I don’t want to do a book launch until I can wear that dress in the back of my closet.
  • I don’t want to film videos because I look awful.
  • I don’t want to spend money on my hair, makeup, etc until I am able to go out more.
  •  I’m not going to put myself out there because all people will see is fat
  • No one will take me seriously as an author, blogger, vlogger, speaker until I look like x, y, z….

Yes, I’ve said all of these to myself at some point. Some of them more recently than others. And they are all completely ridiculous reasons for not chasing my dreams.

I sit here tonight thinking about where I would be if only I had listened to myself and trusted my gut when I was young and full of confidence. At least, I could fake it when I needed to because I was angsty and rebellious in my own way. And yes, I could be a lot further along in this writing and promotion career. I’m not the spring chicken I was but it is never too late to start doing what you love.

So tell me what is holding you back from pursuing your own dreams? For me it is more than the weight or size issue. But, I’m telling you, I’m tired of excuses. I’m reading more, writing more, trying new things, and just going for it.

I want to cultivate some content for my Youtube Channel based on this issue: Overcoming Your Obstacles To Living Your Best Life. So your feedback will help me to really delve deep into how to deal with those issues and find ways to move beyond them so that you can do what will honestly make you thrive in life.

Don’t want to comment publicly? That’s okay! Email your feedback to me at annebellewrites@gmail.com and I’ll do my best to respond. I’m thinking I may even do a few interviews on the topic as well. So, let me know if you’d like to be included if you care to send me your story.

Monday’s Gotta Happen Right?

Welcome to the start of another work week readers. How was the weekend for you?

I admit that I was a bit of a lazy bum this weekend. I did some writing, of course. Not a ton of it but, enough to say it was productive. I also spent some time with the Winchester boys via Netflix. I know, I’m a little late to the party with this series. If I’m honest about it though, that’s probably a good thing. Seeing as I can never watch just one episode and… well… commercials suck! So, I’m enjoying the catch up. And those episodes will likely serve as motivation and distraction on the treadmill at the gym.

Yes, I said gym. I joined the local Anytime Fitness and got started last week. It’s going to be a long road for me. But, I started and I intend to keep going. We all start somewhere. Might as well be now.

In fact, I think it is important to realize that you can start over anytime and anywhere. Its what life is really all about. We live in one type of series of events for a while and then, we make a decision to change something and start a new chapter. Sometimes they aren’t very big changes. Other times they are upheavals that shake us to our core.

Look, I don’t know where you are in life. Only you know that. But one thing I know to be certain. None of us, including you, are simply the sum of our pasts. Everyone makes mistakes. It is part of being human. But, no matter what you face as a reality of those past decisions, you can make the choice to live differently and move forward.

Above my writing desk I have a quote that I pulled from an old planner years ago. That thing was full of juicy quotes. But this one stands out to me.

Every year, day, hour, minute, second…. is a chance to start over.

It really is true. And only you will know to what degree that applies to you.

Maybe you just need to make more of an effort in a particular area of your life. Maybe you need to make a change to put yourself first for a while and drop toxic relationships in your life. Maybe you need to completely reinvent yourself. Some of those are easier to make happen than others. I know. But whatever the case may be for you, it is time to make the effort to start anew.

So change your attitude, your habits, your look, or maybe just your socks. The point is, make that step to living your best life. Get clear about what that looks like for you and just go for it. You may surprise yourself. You’ll never know unless you try though.

Just know that I’m with you on that ocean of change. The gym, the videos, my writing projects, and even where I am putting focus this year for my own life is changing. It won’t always be an easy road. It is one that I know I need to travel regardless though. Maybe I’ll share more of that journey as we go along. Will you?

 

Video Days…

Wow guys! I had no idea what an ordeal creating this content was going to be. I am still determined though.

As I write this, it is nearly 1:00AM and I have approximately 5 hours remaining on the rendering of my first video. I have no idea how long it is going to take to upload it to YouTube. But that will have to wait until I get up to be started. So, the video will go up at some point.

In the meantime, I did get my intro to load and I’m excited about that part. So I’ll be working on some other videos this week so I can get some content up but, so you can get the notifications and subscribe. Here it is!

I really wanted to show off the fun side. All the different things I do and I think I succeeded there. I may tweak it as I gather new experiences, clips, and images but for a start I think this is a good option.

I have learned a very important lesson though. I really need to invest in a better computer. This video editing is no joke. And I’m sure it will be a good investment. So, I’m already doing research. Glad this is coming up at tax time.

I know this is short but, I wanted to share what was accomplished. Now, I have to get to the day job in the morning so, I think sleep is a necessary component of my day.

Monday & Thoughts On Living

Hello my readers! I hope that you’re all fairing well in this wintery weather. Here in Texas it was a crazy day. As I was leaving the office the temperature was 52° F and as I got home 30-45 minutes later it was 38° F. I took my umbrella and my coat and gloves this morning when it was about 64° F. It is no wonder that everyone I come in contact with is sick. GermX is my friend lately.

I have a couple of things I wanted to put out there tonight. It is no secret that I have a YouTube channel that I’ve been preparing for. I’m happy to tell you that my first video will be posted on Monday January 15th, 2018. In fact, there will be two! One is a static invitation and about the channel type of post and the other will be actual content post. So, I’m going to backtrack on Monday to post links to those videos for you to easily access them. Why? Because I’m a total Newb at this and have no idea how this is all going to work out until I actually finish editing and uploading. So, please, be patient with me in this process.

I have been blogging off and on for years. I am a writer. It is what I do well. So, you may be asking “why have I decided to jump into the video realm? It’s a fair question. So I’m going to address it here, for now.

This is me. I’m a heavy woman who has always had a big heart. There’s no need to go into the details of why or how I ended up the size I am now. It is just a fact.

Every year, I make a list of resolutions. Like many others out there they include losing weight, eating healthy, drinking more water, and the usual things. But 2017 was a hard year in many ways. The latter half of the year left me doing a great deal of soul searching and dealing with the reality of my own mortality. I started to question myself on a much deeper level. I prayed for clarity and direction. To my surprise, I actually got what I asked for.

I’ve spent most of my life being concerned with what others thought about me. I hid from view in group photos and avoided full body shots. It is something a lot of bigger women (and I assume men) do. We want to look, act, and feel just like everyone else. But, we stand out no matter how much we try to hide away. Then we become painfully aware of any situation that even hints at embarassment for those we love. Subconsciously we read far more into things that are said, many times, than is really there. The result is even further seclusion from the world. For me, something has finally clicked. And I realize that there is something much bigger at play here than just me.

Getting in front of this camera is terrifying. I know that there are going to be people out there who will attack me solely because of the way I look. I deal with that every day. And I’ve often used writing as a way to cope with the emotions that go along with that. This has to get beyond the fear. It will get easier for me. There are going to be posts about writing, creative living, plus size living, and I want to allow all of you a bit of a window into my world. I think it is going to be an exciting thing once I move through the initial jitters. I hope that you will too.

Why now? Because I am tired of living my life on the sidelines waiting to be the perfect size, have the perfect smile, hair, or make up. Life is imperfect. We are all flawed. And I think it is so important for other bigger people to see someone being real, honest, living life, and reaching for a big dream. I’ve been inspired by other writer and youtubers out there who have shared their own journeys. And I feel like I have a unique perspective to offer that could help others find their voice and encourage them to start living their fullest lives as well.

So much in my life is changing. I’ve realized that writing a book isn’t enough. I want this to be a career for me. I want to entertain people with great stories and characters. I want to travel and meet readers, give readings, help and inspire others to reach for their own creative dreams. To do that, I have to get out of my shell. I have to undo years of conditioning. I have to be healthier than I have ever been before and strong enough to say, “You know what world, HERE I AM!” And I am finally there.

Conquering the fear isn’t easy but, I’m just going to go on blind faith that the right people will connect through these means. Blogging, Vlogging, and other social media are tools that will allow me to reach far and wide. This year, is about learning about them and then using them to live my dreams.

So, will you join me?

Connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. I’d be delighted if you would join me in subscribing to my new channel as well. Info will be live on Monday as soon as there is a video to share over there.

See ya soon!

 

Happy Everything To Everyone!

As a child I grew up with big family Christmases. The kind that includes cousins and other extended family all being under the same roof. There was a ton of southern food on two tables where we ate in shifts. In the living room of my grandparents’ home was a modest Christmas tree but, the gifts would be piled near the ceiling and out into the living room floor. The kids, myself included, would be in a flurry of excitement on Christmas Eve asking when we would open gifts until one of us got into big trouble for getting on one of the adults’ nerves. And when it came to opening them, it was a veritable blizzard of paper and bows that would look like colorful snowdrifts against the sofa’s and chairs until we started cleaning it all up.

I’m thankful for those experiences. And Christmas is very different for me now as an adult. This year, the biggest gift was the best. My mom was here with me. If you know me at all, you know that my mother and I are close. For me, Christmas has always been about things we did together. Decorating the house was a big deal. But, so is the making of the many batches of candies, cookies, pies, and cakes that become gifts to our friends and family. Those things make Christmas for me. And while, we were both battling some sort of cold or flu bug, it remains just as special an experience because she is here this year. Though I do wish that we could have worked out going North to be with my brother, my grandparents, and our family there. I’m just happy to have family to spend the holidays with. I know that won’t always be the case. Having already experienced holidays alone, I’ll treasure it when I can.

I suppose I’m a bit reflective now. Starting my 39th trip around the sun today and I have to give some thought to what the last year has given me so that I can prepare for a prosperous New Year. This year has been a lot of personal growth. The health issues alone that I have faced have brought me to a place of understanding my own mortality. We don’t get younger after all. And changes are already being made for the positive in that respect. There has also been a desire to get my life together at last.

It feels like much of my existence has been a sort of floundering about without real direction or purpose. This past year, I’ve done a considerable amount of soul searching trying to find meaning in life.

You see, like many young women, I expected that I would eventually marry and have a family of my own. That I would have the opportunity to create my own family traditions for holidays. To pass on my own wisdom and creative perspective to my own children. I expected that, like my mother before me, I would be a mom and have a home that I could fill with laughter and memories. I didn’t expect it to be perfect or without the need to make do with limitations. I simply expected it to be mine. But, nothing in my life has ever turned out the way I expected. It seems that is just something I need to accept and move on from.

I married… the wrong man. I tried to make it work but, in the end divorce was the only answer to a bad situation. I tried to date for a while, of course. That didn’t turn out so well either. My realization about the type of men I attract has led me to a place of not even wanted to jump into the dating game to attempt it again. I really am much better off on my own than in a relationship with these types of men. But accepting singledom at 39 means that I have to give up the dream of children and a family in the traditional sense. So, I have to find a way to fill that void in my life because if I don’t, I know that it will consume me and leave me a shell of the vibrant woman I once was. In fact, it already has done that in some ways.

For me, the logical choice is a focus on career. No, I do not mean my current day job. My writing has always been my comfort and my escape when things get dark and foreboding in my life. I have talked many times about my desire to be a full time fiction writer. Somehow, I’ve always managed to put it off in favor of other things. I think it all comes down to fear for me really. But, it is time to be brave and find my courage again. To get out there and do something with my life. I certainly can’t keep sitting around waiting for something that isn’t ever going to happen.

No, my 39th trip around the sun is one that I want to make sure I make the most out of. I want to push myself to write more, connect more with people who share my interests, publish, and really give myself a fighting chance of having a life that I want. The next week will be about reflecting and planning for a prosperous 2018. Bringing this year to a close and preparing to start anew.

There is still Christmas to celebrate this coming weekend as well as a new year to ring in. But, I am also going to be making some announcements here on the blog as well. So I do hope you’ll stay tuned and subscribe to be sure you don’t miss those.

For everyone reading, I hope that this finds you happy and surrounded by loved ones. Share your hopes for the new year with me. And I’m certain we’ll be seeing more in the weeks to come.

Merry Christmas to you all! And a Happy New Year!

~Anne Belle

And Then Life Happens…

What’s the John Lennon Quote?

Yep, that would be the one.

Living creatively is as much about stopping and experiencing life as it is about creating things that will enhance it for yourself and possibly others. It is impossible to create constantly. If we do we deplete the well of experience and inspiration that we draw from. Once in a while, it is necessary to stop and smell the roses. Whether that is literal or proverbial is entirely dependent on the artist.

NanoWrimo is a huge undertaking even for published authors. 50,000 words in a 30 day span is a huge commitement. It takes planning and foresight. Not to mention everyone in your life being on the same page as you and willing to pick up the slack if you are working full time. Planning is a must if you expect your story to have any sort of flow or cohesion at the end of November. And sometimes, life happens and you know you aren’t going to make that goal.

For me, when it happens, as in previous years, I don’t just stop. Whether I finish a self-imposed ludicrous deadline, or not, isn’t the end of the world. We can’t plan for all the interruptions that can happen in a month.

For example: You get sick. Your attention is pulled away on a project at the office, requiring you to work late most nights. A dog that is persistent in his need for extra snuggles or play time. (Don’t laugh. Have you ever tried to write something with a chiweenie yapping at you from the end of the bed? Impossible! I really need some noise cancelling headphones.) Kids needing attention or homework help. Not to mention extra acitivities with them being off from school or prepping for plays etc. Spouses that want attention or need something from you when you’re in the middle of a huge plot twist. (Suddenly I’m very thankful for my single status.) Toss in a major family holiday to the mix.

The point is. Life happens. No matter how much you plan your schedule or think you have all the distractions in check, life will eventually find a way to pull you away from the projects in your head. And that’s okay.

When you find yourself completely flustered with all these things; sometimes all you can do is embrace them. Enjoy the moment. Be present with the people you care about and who care about you. Whether they be big, small, or furry. They won’t be there forever. They will eventually leave you to your thoughts and projects. And you may find something in those moments that adds just what you needed to your projects.

For me, it is all about embracing this journey we call Life.

Goals Post

We are quickly approaching the end of 2017.

To be honest, it’s been a bittersweet year for me. I’ve tried new things. I’ve dealt with some major health issues. I’ve worked, I’ve played, I’ve procrastinated, been distracted, and at times had a sort of laser focus. The one thing I have to admit is that I haven’t accomplished nearly as much as I wanted to this year. Procrastination is not your friend, as I’ve learned. But, there are still two months and a major writing challenge left in the year and I’m going to make the most of it.

It doesn’t make sense, to me, to start a quarterly goal list now. So I’m just going to set a few goals for the next two months as I prepare to tackle 2018 and make it the year of the writer.   

  1. Finish my draft of the second Slauson Cove book. – Tentatively titled The Castain Curse, this WIP has been much requested by my current readers. You’ll likely be happy to hear that this project is taking a front seat. I’ve made it my NanoWrimo project so you can follow along on progress by going here: Anne Belle  but keep in mind that the goal of NanoWrimo is to complete 50,000 words in 30 days. I already had about 18,000 words drafted when I started. The over all goal for the novel is to have at least 100,000 words to make it a complete novel. So my Nano efforts will likely get me about 3/4 of the way to completion. Completing my first draft by December 31st will allow me to start fresh in January with edits and getting beta reader feedback .
  2. Start that darned YouTube Channel – Yes, you read that right. I’m stepping in front of a camera. This has been on my mind for over a year. I’ve gotten so much motivation and clarification on writerly things from watching videos from other writers who have been generous enough to share their journey to publication with the world. Not to mention giving a more realistic picture of what the writing life entails. For me, it helps me feel less alone in this process. I’ve had a difficult time connecting socially with other authors in my area because of this crazy work schedule. So, I’ve decided to add my own voice to the writing community online. And I can’t keep procrastinating based on appearances. Like many a plus size person, I usually avoid the cameras for fear of not being taken seriously and it turning into a circus. But, it is high time to face that fear and just do it. I see plenty of bold and beautiful plus size people doing this so, I can do it too.
  3. Create a plan for marketing new and old work in 2018- This means I need to figure out a budget, how much  time to spend on things like social media, blogging, videos, and all the other things that go into it. I need to do some face to face marketing so, I need to research conferences and events at which I can go and sell my books. This is, quite frankly, just as daunting as that camera. But it needs to be done. And I know so many things need major updates if I am going to make a serious go of writing fiction as a career. So, getting that plan in place is my first step.
  4. Purge The Papers- I have more mail and paperwork piled up on my desk and in the nooks and crannies of my room than any one person should have.  I have to take time to sort through them and organize myself. On top of that it won’t hurt me to do a general purge and clean of my space. The organization process may require me buying some file bins and shelves. But it will definitely be worth it to start with a clean slate in the new year.

Those are pretty big goals for two months time. So I’m going to stick with those. January, I’ll post some quarterly goals and a recap on whether I met these or not. Call it my accountability post, if you will. I think it will help though.

What about you? Do you have any goals for the rest of 2017? Share them with me in the comments or by email.

Explanations…

*taps microphone* Hello? Anyone still here?

An explanation is in order for such a lengthy absence. And I’m happy to give it considering all that has happened for me.

Like many of you I have many talents and interests. Some call it a blessing and others a curse. My own truth is that it is somewhere in the middle. It seems that I am fighting with time, more often than not, to make a way to pursue all of them with any sort of proficiency and take care of myself. I admit that in the past 10 years, I’ve not taken very good care of myself physically. It caught up with me and I landed in surgery. The whole experience has given me reason to take stock of life and what I want from it. Prioritizing certain efforts in life will reap better results than stretching myself thin and getting nowhere on any of my projects or interests.

This year was a bit of an experiment with my mother to see if we could build a baking business from home. What we realized is that most people here in our neck of the piney woods don’t want to pay what our creations are worth. That leaves us with very little clientele. We did a charity event on the 14th of October and the response to what we offered and our pricing made it clear that opening a bakery in town is not a good risk financially. So, that was a bit of a reality check. Though, I don’t regret giving it a try. I enjoyed it and the time spent with my mom. We’re still going to keep decorating and taking custom orders. We just altered the plan and expectations a bit.

For me, it brought my initial dreams to the forefront again. You could say that I took a break from writing with any sort of regularity. Certainly there have been a number of stalled months in 2017. But I want to finish the year strong and with something to show for all the efforts I’ve made. So, I did some brainstorming and have a whole list of topics to write about here on the blog. I even have a grand idea to bring some workshops and a workbook for you all. So, there is definitely some time in the studio that is happening to get all of that together.

Let’s not forget that I have another Slauson Cove book in the works to finish up this year and hopefully be releasing in Spring or Summer of 2018. ( More on that later.) So I have a lot on my plate as we come to another turning point in my life. Time to get with the program and try to reach more of the world.

Vastly Overrated…

You know, it is funny how sometimes I have this overwhelming desire to have what is considered a “normal” life. You know the type. The white picket fence, husband, 2.5 kids. I’m sure that it works for some people and they are quite happy with it but for me, it doesn’t necessarily work.

I’m quirky and introverted. I’ve always been so. I don’t think that is something that I can change about myself and be happy really.  It is also the thing about me that most “normal people” don’t get.

Now,  I can pass for normal when I need to.  I can don the dress, put on the makeup, and carry on a conversation with the best of them. But, where am I truly in my element and happy?

At home, in my pajamas, with my dog and my laptop, writing away at my desk or the kitchen table. That’s the usual spot. Sometimes you’ll find me on the couch watching Netflix with an embroidery project or at the easel with my headphones on. But mostly, it is just doing what I am right now. Tapping away at the keys on my laptop.

I think it is important for everyone to figure out where they thrive. I know that I spent way too much time trying to fit in where I never really belonged in the first place. All for the sake of having that version of normal I mentioned before.

Embracing yourself as you are is important for many reasons. I might be a baker and decorator but I rarely like to do anything that is cookie cutter even if I am aiming for simplicity. I try to think outside the box and do things that will make me happy more often than I just go with the flow these days.

So ask yourself these questions. Answer them honestly because, well,  they matter to you.

  1. What makes you happy?
  2. What are you good at that you honestly enjoy?
  3. How much time do you spend of your week or day doing those things?
  4. What keeps you from doing them more?

I asked myself these same questions when I was just out of school and again recently as my life changed again. The answers evolved over the years. They were very different at the ending of my last attempt to be normal than I thought they would be. What I really learned from them was that I needed to find my bliss and stop reaching  for something that I wasn’t sure would make me happy and focus on the things that did.

Your normal is likely different from mine. The truth is, it is up to us, as individuals, to create our own version of normal for us. Going with the usual social norms, is akin to letting society tell you how you should live your life without question. And that, my friends, is vastly overrated. Take what resonates with you from it but add your quirks and your own flair to life. Wear the funky ties or the bright colors. Take your notebook with you wherever you go. Sketch in the park or set up an easel and paint. Dance or play your instrument on a busy corner for the fun of it. Speak up at an open mic night. Or whatever else you feel moved to do.

Whatever you do in your life. Just be you. We are all amazing in our own way. So, just as I sign my novels when I meet people, I say to you; Embrace your journey! Your story is in your own hands to write. So make it a good one!