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I just love index cards!  They are incredibly useful. At under $5 for 500 in a variety of sizes and colors, ruled and un-ruled, and a host of accessories, they really are cheap and cheerful.

Their uses are expansive.  I keep coming up with new ideas.  Though it may be old school, I have found them helpful in keeping track of my most important contacts. They can be color coded for business associates, colleagues, hot prospects, whatever you need.  They are easy to retrieve and more accessible for jotting notes than a spreadsheet.

But this post is about writing.  Most recently, I have used index cards to help make sense of scenes in my novel. The next plot point is coming up soon, but I wasn’t exactly sure what had to happen to get there. The order was unclear and the build up missing. There are quite a lot of scenes that I imagine might need to take place before the big swing in the action.

I began by labeling each card with a short, BOLD TITLE for the scene. Next, I put the characters involved and listed the points I want them to cover, the things I want to happen between them. There’s plenty of room to say whether I want this to be narrative or a full blown scene. I can note any other characters that play a role, a distraction, conflict, added tension or anything else that occurs to me along the way.  Whether I’m waiting in line or sitting at my desk, I can have these little cards nearby.

When I have filled out all the information I need, I can spread them across a surface and have a wide perspective of the action.  Seeing how it all builds, what scenes might be repetitive or need some punching up or moving around.  I have found, in the past, that I sometimes need to change the order to make them flow better.  This view of the action helps to see all these things.

If it’s all in the right place, I can begin to number the cards in the proper order. This way, when I sit down to finally write it, I have a precise guide, making the writing a whole lot easier!

This method can certainly be used in other kinds of writing.  If you’re writing a paper to prove a point, you can create cards for each of your arguments and see if they flow logically.  Each card can offer highlights of the points you want to make.  When writing procedures, the cards can hold each step along the way, making sure it all makes sense.

The first life lesson here is in seeing things from a broader perspective.  Too many scenes, (or anything) bouncing around in your head, even listed on a piece of paper can’t compare to the visual you can create with these cards.  Perspective improves your vision.  Being able to see the Big Picture you can make calls that you can’t from a single slice.

The second lesson  is about taking things in small steps. The gathering of the information into manageable bits that are easier to digest.  Chores, ideas, feelings are handled much better in small packages.  Organized and collected.  This helps the artist brain whenever it’s tossing things this way and that.  For big dreams and ideas, you can use 5 x 8 cards to whittle them down to human size.

One of my favorite career consultants is Charlene Holsendorff.  She gave me some simple, but profound advice recently.  She told me it is all about your attitude.

She is so right!  Your attitude changes everything.  It transforms a job hunt from  grueling drudgery to fun activities that can put me in a great place!  It can melt hopelessness and frustration into excited enthusiasm. Of which frame of mind or attitude do you think you can garner the best results?

Attitude is another one of the magic ingredients that do not require anyone’s permission but your own.  Some might call it the positive slant.  But it comes from making choices and practice (which is repetition of the choice).

Whether it’s job seeking or spending time with your kids or going out dancing, your attitude has a huge impact on your enjoyment of any activity.

I am of the mind, as well, that what you put out is what you’re likely to get back.  It’s just energy movement.  If I send out positive waves, that energy is more likely to find  like energy to connect with.  It makes sense to me that the happy energy will attach itself to and bring in more happy things.

Even if this theory about like energies coming together is in error, you are still going to ease the process a whole lot more if you program your own attitude.

I find music programming works really well for me.  Attitude adjustments can also come from a change in perspective.  I might need to get up and look at things from a different point of view.  I could also listen to others to discover how they see it.  The combination of the two (yours and mine) could produce a wonderful new attitude!

Attitude can often be shifted by a decision if the proposed action is being backed by Love or Fear.  Ask: “Am I seeing this through the eyes of love or fear?”  A momentary scan of the body can reveal which is which.  Are you tense or relaxed? A change of physical location can also alter your attitude. Especially to nature.  Allow it to refuel you.

Decide where you want your attitude to be.  Do something to help it.  Keep at it and it will reward you with a lighter load, and may we say at least that you’re likely to have more in your life that makes you feel good.

Many people feel that loving yourself completely is selfish and that you’ll be so consumed with yourself, you’ll never have time for others.  In fact, the opposite is true.

When you are fully in love with yourself, you are complete.  You have what you need, so you no longer depend on others to supply you with the love and attention we all crave.  It’s so freeing to release that need.  Is there any more freedom than not needing anything from anybody?

Fully loving yourself means you are aware of all that’s so wonderful about yourself.  You see how special you are, just the way you are.  This gives a grounding, a sense of self esteem that’s solid.  You no longer need to prove it.

When that constant striving is gone, what’s left is a knowing that you truly deserve love and attention.  This makes you completely open to all the good stuff others want to give you.  Rather than doubting or discounting it, you gobble up every bit. This creates an abundance of love building inside you.

From this overflow you can more deeply love and care for others. When you are full yourself, you don’t demand from others. You have so much more to give, without depleting your own supply. With more than you need, you willingly and easily give.

One of the ways I use to love myself more is to stop seeing myself through my own eyes and start thinking about how others see me.  When I’m churning out phrases like “I’m such a loser,” “I have nothing of value to give,” I change my perspective and say, you know, my friends might see me in a different way.  They might say I do have something to offer.  Left to my own devices I might not be able to see what I have, but taking a different view helps to see the truth.  This clarity will build up over time.

Taking good care of myself helps too.  Whenever I do something nice for me, buy myself a gift, or make a choice that supports my health and well being, I feel self esteem growing. 

Another tactic is to remember to offer myself congratulations when they are earned.  It’s so easy to skip over the successes because there’s always another challenge ahead.  But taking the time to pause and notice what I’ve done creates more fertile ground for the love to blossom.

Listing the things I like about myself is a fun activity.  I start with rote items like a school report card, but then something happens.  It shifts gear and I find surprising things about myself. The more of these gems I can find, the deeper I feel about myself. It makes sense:  when you’re falling for someone you focus on those things you like best about them and your love grows.

SARK likes to give herself hugs.  I’d like to hug her for that one.  She knows a thing or two about loving yourself.

There are so many ways to love ourselves it’s a wonder we don’t do more of it!

I get a Whispering email from my coach, friend, and spiritual guide, Paulette Terrels.  Yesterday’s mentioned this phrase.

It seems so easy to trip over all that’s going wrong. As if that’s the only thing that speaks to us. Certainly it can seem like the loudest voice. But by making simple choices during a day, to smile more, to choose the positive slant, to note what’s going right, we can make profound changes in our lives.

You might start by noticing how often you fall into awareness of what’s going wrong.  It may surprise you how many times in a day you see only what’s going wrong. See if you can switch it – right there and then – to what’s going right. All it takes is one moment of awareness. Start asking, what is working?  What is good?  Sometimes all it take is a glance at a beautiful day, or a loved one to restore your perspective.

Then see if you can start to notice and count the things that go right.  When the printer does its thing without a hiccup.  When you get through on the first try.  When what you asked for is delivered complete and on time.  How about after a very satisfying meal?

Something disappointed me yesterday and I found myself under a cloud of gloom the rest of the day. (It didn’t help that it got so dark so fast!) I suppose it could be looked upon as a good thing to allow myself to grieve. To feel what I was feeling. But it sure felt lousy.

This morning, however, when the sun shone again I was able to see things in a brighter way. That maybe I didn’t get the reaction I wanted, but there were some things that went rather well yesterday, ways I got what I wanted and what I expected. There was a delightful little surprise that now I can see offers light along the way that looked so shadowed and difficult just hours before.

I wonder why I wasn’t able to see that yesterday? Once I told myself the story that I was let down, I began to see everything under the guise of disappointment. Yes, feeling your feelings is good, but maybe if I had been more aware I could have felt my feelings and been done with it in a few moments, rather than several hours. It was, after all, not devastating news, just falling a bit short of my expectations.  But I wasn’t able to see that until much later in the process.

Maybe if I’m in the practice of seeing what’s right, I’ll be more aware when I slip into the pool of what’s going wrong. It’s really rather odd how when you’re in that mode, things that aren’t so bad take on a negative pallor.  And then I remember a time three years ago when something similar happened.  Up pops something  from last month. How about the time when I was 10 and didn’t get what I wanted on my birthday?  See, nothing ever goes my way. . .  Yikes!  The human mind is a strange beast.

It’s all just a matter of watching, being aware and making a new choice.  To look around and see what is going Right, instead of allowing what isn’t to drag you down.

Travelogue 5 – A Cult of One

One of the things I like so much about this program is that the exercises are easy and fun. My co-author and I are trying to keep the exercises in our book in this realm of “doable.”

As I lay down to do the visualization exercise for “Change Your Perspective, Change Your Life,” before I was fully relaxed, it came to me: I used to say, all the time, “You gotta suffer to sing the blues.” What I was saying, in response to some Aw-gee-I’m- sorry from someone, was that it was somehow cool to sing the blues. I didn’t mind suffering so much because it would etch lines in my face, put a notch on my belt, to show that I deserved to sing the blues. Yuck! Isn’t it funny how the easy answers don’t seem like they’re much of anything until you pay attention to them? I hadn’t thought of that in years.

The image took a little more time, but I feel often like I’m dragging around a lot of weight (physically and emotionally). When I finish slogging to the top of the hill, thinking I’ve finally done it, gotten somewhere, I see 50 more hills looming ahead of me! I suppose the image of the suffering blues singer may be vivid enough!

I haven’t come up with a new image as good as Libby’s, the fast downhill skier, moving along, wind in her hair. Lovely. My first thought was floating down a lazy river, but I doubt that’s going to get me where I’m going (or take off any weight.) Maybe I can see myself driving in a sporty convertible, cruising down the highway like Emma Peele . . .

Libby instructs us to come up with a new credo. One that will ” . . . inspire you to achieve, motivate you to act, incite you to risk, force you to conquer fear, convince you to love.” That’s a lot! I choose Let it shine! as my new credo. Again, it kind of popped into my head. I wasn’t completely sure of it at first, but it’s feeling better and better. It’s from a Dan Fogelberg song and I like the idea of honoring him. Easy to remember and could go with my driving scene. . . And apply to many aspects of my life. I’ve posted it on a sticky note on my desk. I also really liked Libby’s credo of “Maximum Enthusiasm with Minimum Effort!”

Libby says, “Often, we just don’t know how to shift our perspectives to see our struggles as noble instead of futile, or our relationships as happy works in progress instead of battle grounds.”

I’m following her suggestion and shifting my perspective. I feel a change coming on. I’m doing a lot, consulting with a mentor or two, building a business and writing my spiritual book, but surely the work I’m doing through the Traveling Hopefully exercises is contributing to this change. Things are shifting, breaking up . . . I’m starting to do things differently, see things in a new light. I have a vision of what my life can be. I’m realizing that all I have to do to make it happen is to Let it Shine! It amazes me how much help, support, and encouragement I have around me, all the time. I have so much going for me! And all I had to do was see it. I’m shedding baggage and getting freer. Making it easier to do what I’m led to do. Traveling, not only more hopefully, but lighter, too.

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