New Year, new permission to be creative

Well this is embarrassing; I haven’t written anything since November. Since that was the start of the holiday season it’s not too surprising, but it is a sign that when life gets hectic, writing stops. Does it stop for you as well? How do you keep the words flowing when you’re swamped by family and work and friends and activities that all seem so damn important.

Friends and family are important! But so is writing. Writing keeps me focused and centered, which makes me much easier to deal with. You’d think my loved ones would insist I write every day. “Here Terena, take this mocha and go to your room for an hour and write. You’re getting bitchy.”

I do it to myself; writing brings me happiness, but doesn’t benefit anyone else. I feel selfish when I take the time to create and rest. Most of the women I know feel the exact same way; our creativity doesn’t matter unless someone gives us permission to use it.

Bullshit! That’s my new mantra for the New Year: Bullshit!

Starting right now, I give myself permission to write. Permission to speak. Permission to have fun. Permission to take care of myself. Will you give yourself permission to be your most creative self?

Permission is just the start; you have to also follow through and do it. But if we wrap our brain around the idea that what we love to do is important, then we’ll take the time to do it. As long as we don’t think it matters, we’ll put everything and everyone above what we really want to do. I want… no, I need… to write. I can’t explain why and it doesn’t matter. I don’t need to justify my need. Justification ties in to permission. I don’t need to justify why and I don’t need anyone’s permission other my own.

No matter what you love to do, give yourself the time and energy to do it. Whether you love to garden, paint, sew, cook, sing, dance, take pictures, or knit baby booties, do it! Do it with all your heart. Even 30 minutes doing what you love will feed your creative soul.

But no guilt. Guilt kills creativity and happiness. If all you have is 15 minutes while hiding in the laundry room because your kids won’t stop bugging you, do it then. Don’t beat yourself up because you only had 15 minutes! Praise yourself for carving out a few minutes to be creative. No excuses and no guilt. We can do it!

Of course I have to follow my own advice. Who’s gonna help me?



This writer is tired of epic years.

As a writer, I should enjoy adventure, drama and changes. Good stories come from epic years, those years in your life when everything falls apart and is rebuilt, transformed, and reborn. Pick up any novel and there will be chapter after chapter of drama and cliffhangers.

Living an epic isn’t as much fun as writing one.

2015 was one of those years when I wondered if I actually was a character in a book. Was I up a tree having rocks thrown at me by an invisible writer? I had adventures, like going to New Orleans during Mardi Gras (talk about adventures!). I had bitter-sweet moments, such as when my daughter graduated high school in June. And there was great drama as my husband and I faced death with his cancer diagnosis. We laughed, we drank, we cried and fought and dreamed and hoped. I learned more about my self and how resilient I can be in one year than I had learned in 5.

This writer is overflowing with stories. I’d like 2016 to be a quieter year so I can write them.

From talking to friends and family, I am certainly not alone. 2015 tested everyone I know, some in just as epic ways as I. Illness, accidents, divorces and deaths happened with such frequency we’re all jittery from shock. Four people in my immediate circle of friends and family passed this year, including my own grandfather and my daughter’s grandfather. Cancer popped up in two acquaintances, and I had my own cancer scare when a tumor was removed from my forehead; Thankfully it wasn’t aggressive, but it was malignant.

I am sick of cancer and illness. I want my loved ones to be healthy this year. I want relationships to stabilize and love to grow. I want people to calm down and stop reacting in fear and anger. I want calm so we can heal from a too epic year.

Happy New Year everyone. May 2016 allow you the time to breath.

Forget Resolutions: What do you want to learn in 2014?

Have you ever looked up the definition of the word “resolution”?

Resolution: The act of finding an answer or solution to a conflict, problem, etc. : the act of resolving something (from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary).

Did you know the word is a noun, not a verb?

How many resolutions do you make each year, and how many are you able to keep?

I stopped making resolutions several years ago because I got tired of setting myself up for failure. I kept promising myself that I would learn to cook and eat better, but so far all I’ve learned to cook is steak. Not veggies or quinoa or curry or even meatloaf, just steak. I gave up promising to get in better shape or be more organized because by March my running shoes were still clean and my date book was empty. But now I wonder if I was making resolutions wrong. If a resolution is a noun and not a verb, then maybe we need to think of a resolution as a tangible thing and not as a goal. Maybe a resolution is more of a transformation than simply the number of hours you log at the gym.

Instead of making resolutions that are about losing weight or earning money, what if we ask ourselves, “What do I want to learn this year?”

I want to learn to be kinder to myself, so I will look for ways to do that. Perhaps I will stick with meditation or read more books or spend more time with friends. Perhaps I’ll do all of that. Perhaps eating more veggies will make my body happier. The point is, rather than beating myself up for not meditating four times a week and eating more broccoli, I will praise myself for all the ways I try to treat myself gently. Rather than telling myself I’m a loser for not getting to the gym, I will tell myself that going to the gym is important because it makes my body happier.

Resolutions are a tool to help you, not hurt you. If resolutions make you feel guilty/angry/lazy/stupid, then they are worthless. Forget resolutions. Think deeper and ask what you hope to learn in 2014. Then find the tools to help you. If the word “resolution” is a noun, why are we treating it like a big, angry, scary verb?


2013: Do you know anyone who didn’t have a difficult year?

I don’t know anyone who hasn’t had a difficult year. Relationships shattered; jobs vanished; housing collapsed;  finances withered. Even health seemed difficult to maintain in 2013. What is it about this year that caused even the toughest amongst us to cry “Uncle!” Just like so many this year, everything in my life cracked. I lost my job, had surgery on my shoulder that didn’t resolve the pain, my daughter was ill, stress quadrupled, and my marriage suffered. At the end of this year, I feel emotionally and physically battered to hell, and I know damn well I’m not alone.

Is there a single person anywhere who doesn’t feel like 2013 was the equivalent of a treck to Mordor?

Why was 2013 so hard? Astrologers blame Mercury. Politicians blame the economy. Conservatives blame the collapse of social norms. Is it the hang-over from the “Great Recession”? The crazy weather? Toxic chemicals in our drinking water? Hormones in our food supply? What is causing so many of us to suffer?

The Winter Solstice is here, and this year it holds more meaning for me than in past years. The darkness feels stronger, literally and figuratively. The days are cold and the nights too long and all I want to do is curl up in my bed and sleep until Spring. Usually, I love the Winter, but this year it feels that it will never end, even though technically Winter hasn’t even started yet. If only the sun would shine warmer, then maybe we could all get past this miserable year and start again. We could go outside and breath in the Winter air and know that the sun’s warmth is closer, the daylight will lengthen, and soon it will be time to plant the garden again.

Feeling completely discouraged, I hung two strands of colorful lights on my house yesterday in honor of Solstice. You can’t light bonfires anymore (at least not in town), so holiday lights are the next best thing. When the sun set I plugged in my lights and instantly my home felt more cheerful. The shadows glowed with red, green, blue and yellow light, and suddenly I felt that although 2013 tried hard, I wasn’t beaten.

I have no idea if 2014 will be a “good” year, or not, and I’ve given up hoping it will be better. I just know that I will still love and fight and dream and cry and eventually find a small bit of peace. I know that I have more to learn and more to do. I know that there will always be struggle, and sometimes the struggle will be more than I can manage.  I’ll lose a few battles, but I will not give up the fight. I know that ultimately I will continue to love and be loved. I know joy will find me when I am saddest.

Time to plug in my holiday lights again. Happy Solstice, dear friends.