Brandyn Blaze

Life Between The Scenes

Category: Words Of Wisdom (page 1 of 6)

Rethinking Your Schedule: Cut Stress and Find Your Path

I’m not sure if I’ve let you in on this before or not, but I love lists. Lists, schedules, file folders…I love to feel like I have everything together.

Lately, I’ve been trying the bullet journal thing, and I have to admit it’s made a huge difference. Keeping all my lists in one place and being able to combine my diary entries and daily planner has been a great move. However, this isn’t really what I want to talk about today. At least, not entirely.

Because of my love of a well-defined routine, I decided to set out my blog schedule for 15 months. The idea was to use the time between books to write a ton of posts and schedule them out, so that I wasn’t trying to juggle both parts of my writing life at once.

This worked well for awhile. At the beginning of the year, I wrote 15 or so posts and scheduled them out. I focused on my next book, and it ran like clockwork. Then I stopped writing posts to add to the queue. Now that my book is ready for release, I decided it was time to get out in front of the blog posts again.  Until I looked at my schedule.

A few of the ideas no longer felt like a good fit, and even more of them seemed too time consuming. I know I’ll get back to the “harder” ones once my brain has made the shift out of “book mode”, but it still highlights a very common struggle in my life: overestimating what I can do.

 

de-stress, get rid of stress, bullet journal, unclutter your mind, overestimate what you can do, relax

 

One of the things my bullet journal forced me to do was shorten my daily to-do lists. I have my progress trackers for long term goals: daily word count, exercise, guitar techniques I’m working on, and so on.  I also have longer lists of various projects I want to tackle and things I must do. This cuts down my daily to-do lists considerably, so that I can focus on two to four things I know need done.

Somehow, I stayed locked into my old blog plan, though, and it seemed to be causing me more grief than necessary.

Today, I was “supposed” to share a short story I’d been working on. Because I’ve been focusing on my impending book release, it obviously didn’t get finished. I still felt that I needed to put something out, so I started this post, hoping I would find something I wanted to say.

And I did.

After thinking about the stress my rigid schedule has caused, I decided to let go of it. Instead, I have a list of possible post ideas that I can pull from. I can still write them in bulk and schedule them out like I have been, but now there’s more room for new ideas. There is also more room to move things around as needed.

The other day, I posted on Facebook that despite the fact that nothing major had happened, I was feeling very blessed. Everything has been humming along rather smoothly lately and I am constantly amazed at how much love fills this house. I can’t help but think that this new shift in my prioritizing has had a big hand in that.

Instead of constantly thinking about all I have to do, I’m focusing on what I can do today. I’m giving myself permission to relax and to let go of the guilt I’ve always felt when I don’t check off every single item on my list. I do what I can and catch up the next day if I need to, which is a big change for me.

 

don't stress, relax, all i can do is all i can do, rethink your schedule

 

I’ve been putting a lot of emphasis on getting rid of stress and mental clutter lately, and I have to say, it feels great. I’ve also been trying to focus on using the inevitable stress we all feel to propel me into action, which is tough when you’ve always used it as a reason to avoid something.  Reminding myself that doing something now will cause less stress in the long run has really gone a long way.

And that’s the point I want to get at. Never stop looking for a better way. We weren’t meant to spend our lives stressed out to the max or pushing through things that bring us no joy. Sure, there are times we have to do things we don’t necessarily like (scrubbing toilets, anyone?), but we can always change our perception and focus on the payoff instead. And if there is no payoff? We can change our course.

 

less stress, relax, change your path, quote, thousand wrong roads

 

This journey has been incredibly eye-opening. Each and every day I am working towards building the life I had always dreamed of, and I know each one of you can do the same. The trick is to not get discouraged and keep trying new methods until you land on something that works. Don’t fret over what hasn’t worked, or things that have epically failed, just keep charging forward.

Two years ago, I would have told you my dream was to own my own home, to have a happy family, to write full-time, and have time for my music. Today, all of those things are a reality. Don’t get me wrong, there’s still some kinks to work out, and the steps towards those goals started many years before that, but we got here. Now it’s time to focus on the details to bring that picture into focus.

I wrote about dreams awhile back and how important it is to have a clear vision of what you want. I still believe that’s true. You need to know exactly where you want to go so that you can create a roadmap. However, sometimes the only way to figure out what you truly want is to start hacking away at the things you don’t want so that it can reveal itself. You also have to be prepared to take the scenic route and get lost a few times along the way.

Have you figured out where you want to go yet? I’d love to hear all about it in the comments below!

It All Starts With A Dream

Every now and then I spend an entire day lost in a daydream. Quite often, I’m dreaming of the future. What kind of life do I want? What kind of person do I want to be?

I’ve long studied the Law of Attraction, which states that in order to achieve your dreams you must visualize them in the present tense. You must feel in your mind that they are already a reality so that your mind opens up to new pathways to your goal.

imagination is everything albert einstein law of attraction make dreams a reality charity

My dreams are fairly simple. I just want my family to never worry about how to pay our bills or put food on the table, and maybe go on a vacation every now and then.

I dream of buying a secluded piece of land and building an earth bag home. Our power will be solar. A good portion of our water will come from the sky. Our pool will be self-sustaining. We’ll grow our own food.

I dream of owning a record shop with a snack bar, where all the local kids come and hang out. I can be an awesome mentor for kids who otherwise lack parental direction. I’d encourage the youth to create their own clubs and support groups and use the space to better themselves.

I dream of owning a bar and grill that serves great food and provides a venue for local bands, comedians, and other performers to showcase their art.

I dream of running a charity that works to foster a sense of community and give others the resources and information to turn their lives around. We would offer various classes and seminars, which would be “paid” for via donations or volunteer hours. You could even volunteer to teach a class! We would provide clothing, food, and other items to those in need, and offer  cash assistance for things like rent, bills, or other necessities. We would help connect people to other services if their needs are beyond our scope.There would be counselors and life coaches available to help people establish a strategy to break the cycle of poverty. Maybe we’d even have a shelter for those in direct need of a safe haven.

Of course, I’ve dreamed about what it would be like to become famous for my writing or my music or what have you. I’ve fantasized about what it would be like to suddenly have large sums of cash. What would I do if I had so much money that I never had to think twice about it for the rest of my life?

I’ve thought about it extensively, and quite honestly, I can’t imagine why anyone would ever need so much money. You need a roof over your head and food in your belly. Damn near everything else is just frivolous.

take what you need, use all you take, give what you can. It all starts with a dream

I would still build my sustainable family farm. Most of my purchases would still be second hand. I would set aside a small amount for my child(ren) to go to school, but I would still expect them to contribute to the funds as well. I’d set aside a modest emergency fund and a retirement fund. Some of my money would be given to friends and family to help them get ahead. I’d start my businesses and make sure my employees were paid enough to support themselves and their families. I would start the charity mentioned above.

The rest?

It would go into helping people who are homeless or in direct threat of homelessness. I would work on an individual basis and find out what they need to create a stable life. Perhaps that would mean paying for rehab or education (or both). It could mean helping them find a job, or paying for medical bills. Maybe it would mean paying a year of rent in advance and setting them up a stipend to take care of bills and food until they are back on their feet.

I would do what I could with my funds to help others. If I had the fame to go with it, I would use my position to prove to others that you can still live well on a lesser amount of money while directly contributing to the betterment of society.

Of course, helping others doesn’t have to wait until you have obscene amounts of cash. Anything you can give of yourself is a step in the right direction.

This year one of my goals is to step up my game and give more. I’ve always donated clothes and other items to local charities, and helped those around me when I can. Still,  I would like to do more.

That is my dream. To live simply, and do what I can to ensure others can simply live.

What’s your dream? Tell us about it in the comments below!

 

 

Change And The Art Of Letting Go

Sunday morning, I decided to give this blog a face lift.

It wasn’t a decision that came easily. In fact, it took me a few months of hemming and hawing before I finally accepted the fact that something needed to change.

The day before, my husband and I had looked at my website and talked about changing a few things up. He’s about to build his own, and helping me tinker with mine was good practice. At the time, we were focusing on small changes. Safe changes. The next morning I woke up with a renewed vision and did something uncharacteristic and did a massive overhaul.

For some, it might be an easy thing to do. You wake up, decide to change your theme and go forth with confidence. For me, it was a massive turning point.

I’ve never been good with change.  As a kid, I would become upset when my mother or my grandmother decided to rearrange their furniture. I liked the comfort of knowing exactly where everything was at all times. I like stability.

The older I got, the more I hated change. I don’t like it when plans get disrupted, even if it’s only a five minute detour. I don’t like traditions being eschewed in favor of new, exciting routines. I just don’t do well with it, period.

This resistance to change is often rooted in an unwillingness to let go of things, be they mental hang-ups or physical items. This has always been an issue for me as well, as evidenced by the dozens of totes cluttering up my office.

letting go, change, clutter

And this is after a purge!

These containers hold countless artifacts of my life, from early childhood until now.  A lot of these things really don’t serve much purpose, but the idea of letting them slip away is hard to face.

This need to hold onto things is especially strong if I’ve sunk a lot of time and energy into something.

When I started this site, I had a very clear vision of what I wanted. I’d sketched out a logo that I loved and had a friend of mine create it for me. I carefully chose my colors and my theme to fit well with it and created a feel that served me well. I spent a lot of time thinking about the symbolism, and even wrote a blog post explaining it.

brandyn blaze logo

It’s still a pretty great logo.

When I decided to change my theme, I kept trying to force that logo into my design. Over and over, I found that it just didn’t work.  Although I still loved the design, it no longer fit. I needed to do something different.

As you can imagine, it was incredibly cringe-inducing.

However, as I looked at the preview on my screen, the dread was replaced with pride. This is the image I wanted to present. This looked like me.

When I think about all the other changes in my life I have met with resistance, I have to laugh. There was never anything to fear and most of the time they wound up being pretty insignificant. It’s easy to succumb to the momentary discomfort, it’s harder to  appreciate the growth that those changes can bring.

Sometimes you just have to take a deep breath, muster up some courage, and let it go, having faith that it will all work out for the best. If you’ve read my novels, you’ll agree this is something Maggie could work on as well!

You only lose what you cling to, letting go, dealing with change

What I’ve learned is that there is a very specific process to this, regardless of how big or small the change you are about to make may be.

Step One: Recognizing what is holding you back.

Maybe it’s a box of old junk in your closet. Perhaps it’s a bad habit or a toxic relationship. It could be a limiting belief about yourself or a past hurt. Whatever it is, get a firm grasp on what exactly is blocking your way forward.

Step Two: Assessing the situation.

Why are you holding onto this? Is it helping you or hurting you?  Are there other issues that are interlinked with this one? What do you need to do to get rid of this blockage?

Step Three: Acknowledging the good (if any) that it brought and the fact that it is no longer serving you.

Allow yourself to think about the purpose it served. Maybe a self limiting belief helped you avoid something that was too difficult to deal with in the past. Maybe this item, like my logo, it did the job at the time but no longer fits with your mission. A person who you’ve shared good memories with may no longer be good for you. That bad habit may have gotten you through some bad times.  It’s okay to admit that  something isn’t entirely awful , while still acknowledging that it is no longer beneficial to you.

Step Four: Focusing on the positive aspects of the change you intend to make. 

Are you making this change to free up space in your home? Will this change have a positive affect on your physical or mental health? You’re making this change for a reason, hold on to it. If you’re moving away for a new job, for instance, focus on the new opportunities for growth, rather than dwell on the people and places you’re leaving behind.

Step Five: Say goodbye.

This doesn’t have to be a long drawn out process. Nor do you need to literally talk to the item or idea, however sometimes it is helpful. Let the thought go, throw the item out, burn those papers, whatever you need to do to close it up and move forward.

Sometimes, you may want to hold on to a piece of something. Maybe you take a photograph of an item you are giving up, or save a scrap of an old shirt to work into a quilt or scrapbook. I chose to incorporate the old logo into this post to preserve it (and, of course, I kept the file on my computer).  Maybe you need to write a little something about it.  As a matter of fact, when I have to remove a scene from a book I’m working on, I sometimes save it in a separate file in case it can be rewritten and worked into another story.

Whatever action you need to take to implement this change and ensure a smooth transition, do it.

Step Six: Breathe. That’s it. Take a deep cleansing breath and give yourself a pat on the back. Change takes bravery, no matter how small. This is more true for some of us than others.

Now that the hard part is over, go forward with confidence and enjoy all the benefits that are sure to come from your decision.

What’s something that you have had to let go of? What helped you through it? Share your tips in the comments below!

Embrace Your Talent: There’s No Such Thing As Bad Art

Have you ever met someone who has a real talent, but can’t see it themselves? Perhaps you have a friend who can draw really well. You see them drawing and tell them it’s great, and they reply with, “I’m no artist” or any number of self-depreciating remarks, making you wonder if they’re blind or just being modest.

I know plenty of these people, and it never ceases to fascinate me. There seems to be this fear of coming across as bragging that prevents people from celebrating their gifts. There’s also the issue of comparison to “real” talent and a very narrow idea of what constitutes “good” art in whatever medium we’re working with.

Every now and then I get the urge to broaden my creative horizons and try out a new mode of expression. Admittedly, some of these endeavors are less than impressive when compared to professional artists, but I am always proud of the things I create. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, right?

Last year I decided to try my hand at painting and created this piece that now hangs in my kitchen.

no such thing as bad art, embrace your talent

Not too shabby.

I know I don’t have the talent of a professional artist, but it was a lot of fun turning that blank canvas into something colorful and unique.  What I love most about it is the way it evolved. Originally, I had intended to create an abstract piece, but as soon as I painted the first purple triangle I turned it into a mountain scene. That sort of organic transformation is what I live for. Just being in the moment and allowing things to unfold.

This is the reason I cannot commit myself to enjoying just one type of music or one genre of film or one genre of books. It’s the reason why I rarely run across any sort of creative work that I can’t at least appreciate, even if it’s not personally my cup of tea.

I don’t believe that it’s possible for any creative output to be objectively bad. Self-expression is always a wonderful thing, as long as it’s authentic. In fact, I’d argue that self-expression is crucial to our mental health.

Whether you choose to express yourself through sewing or cooking or painting or singing or writing or woodworking or what-have-you, you cannot be whole if you ignore your strengths.  Each one of us has some sort of talent. Whether or not other people embrace it is none of our business. It just needs to make you happy.

So do what you love and do it the way you do it. If you ever find yourself worrying about whether or not it’s “good enough”, remember that there are people in the world who don’t like The Beatles. The Beatles! You’ll never win ’em all, but if you can win yourself, you’re doing alright.

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