~~~ Notes from Minnesota ~~~
Happy August! Oy, what a summer!
If you recall, the cancerversary was crazy. Luckily, I emerged from that insane experience holding onto my NED status (No Evidence of Disease). Then my long time writing companion (and Doxie Cross extraordinaire) Rudie passed away. That was one rough month.
But hearts heal. And today a new muse graces Filbert Publishing’s global headquarters.
Little Lina, named after the mythological sorceress who “steals the hearts of men” has definitely lived up to her moniker. The Humane Society folks tell me she’s a flame tipped Siamese. With her vivid blue eyes and motor boat purr, Lina’s not only stolen my heart, but she’s apparently taken over my Facebook/Instagram walls as well. Good grief. Who would have thought three pounds of furry flesh could influence life so much.
That said, I’m actually getting a few things done over here.
At long last, I officially launched my first novel since the cancer. Reclaimed Haven: Murder on First hit Amazon last week. Initial reviews are strong. (Yay!) I learned tons during the release, some things I hope to share with you.
Also, I’m set to launch a nonfiction titled “Stuck: Transforming Everything You Think You Know About Creative Blocks. This was a tough one to write, especially in these odd times when it sometimes feels like human frailties must be masked behind a brave mask of positivity. It’s too bad honesty appears to suffer in the face of persistent optimism.
I’m the first to admit my life isn’t always perfect. Writing projects come and go. Cancer still sucks. And the havoc difficult times trigger can really disappoint.
And yet, especially for creative entrepreneurs, we must continue. We must create. It’s often not only our livelihood, it’s our heart beat.
But, I’m getting ahead of myself.
Truth is, I had a heck of a time creating anything new for nearly two years after my diagnosis. The first was filled with cancer appointments, scans, blood draws, and such. The second year wound up… well you’ll see.
Either way, I had a heck of a block to face. And I document that journey, as well as how you can learn from my revelations, in “Stuck.” I’m pretty pleased how it turned out. ARC readers responded positively to the message, which was pretty awesome.
You’ll get a taste of “Stuck” in today’s feature article.
I hope you not only enjoy it, I hope you’ll find the information helpful if/when you face an obstacle to your creativity.
Onward and upward,
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An Excerpt from the upcoming book, Stuck: Transforming Everything You Think You Know About Creative Blocks
Beth Ann Erickson
Cancer is cancer. It sucks. You won’t find many silver linings in that world. It’s pretty much devoid of magic, too… unless you really look for it. So, imagine my surprise when I received a hospital visit from a friend who told me, “Just remember… thoughts create reality. Think the good ones.”
Had I not been high on narcotics, I probably would have come up with a sarcastic reply. Instead, my mouth dropped.
Here’s the deal on that: the previous night as I hobbled through the hospital halls, I discovered what I thought was cherry popsicle juice on my knee. The problem with my theory was that I hadn’t consumed anything. At all. My colon still hadn’t “awakened” from its assault so I was living through a forced fast.
When I turned around, I discovered a trail of red drips behind me.
“How odd,” I thought. Then I opened my house coat. That’s when I was greeted with a plume of red spread across my entire abdomen.
Dang. A complication.
Upon inspection, it turned out I was the proud new owner of a massive ecoli infection. In addition to being sliced nearly in half, I now had a gaping hole in my incision and a river of unattractive goo continually dripped, leaving a trail of spots wherever I went.
It was lovely. The nurses packed bandages over the offending area and I proceeded forward with my recovery plan.
I kept up my daily routine of walking, waiting for my colon to wake up, holding my breath, anticipating the moment I could go home and resume my life. My only priority was getting better and this setback wasn’t on my to do list.
So, to have a “friend” inform me that if I were to simply brighten my attitude, I’d be miraculously healed, felt like a slap.
I spent a lot of time trying to maintain a good attitude. For the most part, I was able to succeed. I’m glad I did. The last thing the people around me needed was a cranky puss and while I fully acknowledge bad attitudes didn’t cause my cancer, a bad attitude definitely could’ve slowed down my healing process. Maybe. Perhaps. Who knows?
Despite my setback, I continued to follow instructions. I walked daily. I didn’t eat or drink until instructed to do so. I didn’t complain because it wasn’t the nurse’s fault my colon wouldn’t get moving after its incredible shock.
In that regard, while thoughts didn’t change reality, they influenced the way I perceived it. And that’s rather huge.
The troublesome part of reality is that it’s not black and white. I’ve discovered it tends towards various shades of gray. If you focus too much on the positive, you risk becoming some sort of out of touch Pollyanna. If you focus too much on the black, you run the risk becoming a curmudgeon, or worse.
It’s in that area that the Buddhist concept of “The Middle Way” becomes relevant.
Acknowledging the bad, embracing the good… then realizing that both “good” and “bad” are relative concepts… this is where you venture towards some mind blowing revelations.
This whole “thoughts create reality” concept can be particularly damning when facing situations beyond your control. If reality is biting you in the butt, the last thing you need to hear is that by shifting your attitude, you can obliterate a serious infection, influence the actions of others, dissolve tumors… you name it, I’ve heard lots of crazy when discussing this topic.
But if you change the verbiage just a little bit to “thoughts influence your perception of reality,” it’s amazing what you can accomplish.
I wasn’t going to stay in that hospital one minute longer than I had to. And thanks to my good attitude… the attitude that believed I could move on from my setbacks… I actually got sprung the day my colon finally woke up.
Did everything go slick? Nope. I cried all the way home my incision hurt so bad. I even wound up in the emergency room when in addition to my ecoli infection, I contracted nice case of cellulitis.
But my thoughts had nothing to do with any of these setbacks. Every one of these events were the reality of a crazy cancer surgery.
And while I was in the process of wrestling health issues, my creative block continued to grow in strength… and size.
If you’re facing a block, it’s there for a reason. It took me a long time before I could untangle my mind enough to deal with mine. Perhaps you’re in a similar situation.
That said, you don’t need other people proclaiming “thoughts create reality” to complicate matters. In my case, all that claim accomplished was generate copious second guessing as I not only examined my culpability in a cancer diagnosis and now a serious infection… both of which were big surprises. It’s very likely you’re in a similar situation and don’t need complications when dealing with events that may have triggered your block.
Yes, I’m all for accepting personal responsibility for my mistakes. Also, I know a good attitude will go a long ways towards making almost any bad situation bearable.
However, it’s wise to acknowledge we live in a busy, crowded world. Sometimes it’s almost like trying to cross a street filled with bumper cars. Sooner or later, despite your best efforts, you’re going to get hit. Your only hope is that the damage isn’t too severe.
No amount of happy thinking is going to change that reality.
That said, acknowledging your attitude will influence how you tackle the problem can become a powerful tool to overcoming challenges.
1. Let’s take a fast look at your attitudes. While acknowledging a bad attitude can’t necessarily change the situation, a good attitude can make the situation more livable. It can also help you notice tools, escape routes, and detours you may not have noticed. Is there any situation concerning your block where changing your attitude could alleviate the situation a little bit?
2. How do you react to negative situations? What can you do… or release… to manage your moods?
3. Is there an area in your life that feels out of control? Is this a situation you need to control? If it’s out of your hands do you think you’ll be able to release it? If you’re able to release it, would your block seem less severe?
4. List a few uncontrollable situations. What would happen if you released them?
Your thoughts do not influence reality. However, they influence how you react to reality.
You can use any of these articles free of charge on your own website or zine. Just don’t make any changes and be sure to include this byline:
This article is courtesy of Filbert Publishing. Make your writing sparkle, write killer queries, get published. Subscribe to Writing Etc., the free e-mag for freelancers and receive the e-book “Power Queries.” http://filbertpublishing.com
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