Springtime is Renewal Time

It may not seem like it with snow coming down in early April, but Spring is the season of sunshine and renewal. It’s a time to start fresh or start over new plans for whatever you may want to change in life. For me, it’s starting over with my blog. Again.

Renewal happens Everyday

In nature, renewal happens every season. In the past couple of years,  I felt like I have been starting over a lot. every day, in fact. But, that’s how we learn and grow. Everyday is an opportunity to renew ourselves; to revisit our wants and needs. When we go through tough times or make mistakes. It happens. I think about my shortcomings and how I can learn and renew myself.

The point is every day is a new day to work on new dreams and goals. Everyday is a new chance for you to start over; to renew yourself. Your dreams; your goals.

Today, I encourage you to think about what goals and dreams you want to renew. What are you wanting to achieve for yourself? What will you renew today? I know I will.

By; Heiddi Zalamar

Renewal Time – Image by Author

 

Evolution: Heiddi 2.0

Evolution?

I should say so. After a year-long hiatus preceded by a two year hiatus, you figure why do I keep doing this to myself? Haven’t I figured out what I’ve wanted to do yet?

Frankly, no. Here I am a college graduate and bilingual licensed mental health counselor working with low-income families in New York City. As of 2011, when I received my licensure, I also accomplished my goals. Which is an amazing feeling and a proud moment for me.

Turning Point

But, with all my accomplishments and achieved goals as of 2011, comes what next? For the past few years, I’ve been trying to find out. I’ve reduced a lot of my extra-curricular activities such as playing guitar at my local church (12 years), paid blogging (6 years) and writing in general (too many years to count).

Self-Evaluation

I’ve been spending more time in self-evaluation mode while also prepping for the arrival of my second son, Benjamin who arrived on June 21, 2014. Yes, Andy’s a big brother now and I’m still the single mom of now two amazing boys. I’m a very happy mom.

While being a proud mom is great, I still have goals simmering within me waiting to be unleashed in the world. I’ve found that I need to set new goals and discover new passions.

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What I hope to share on this website is positivity and wellness – whether I’m writing about mental health or the simple things that bring me joy. I’d like to keep writing and sharing these with you.

The Heiddi 2.0 Evolution is here – will you join me?

3 Ways to Be Kind to Editors & Writers

Hiya Freshman Writers! Hope this finds you well and writing. Today’s post is about being kind to Editors & Writers. September marks Be Kind to Editors & Writers Month. We all know that there’s so much negativity in the world today. This month, I wanted to share my tips for spreading the love. Here are some ways to spread kindness all around and keep the positivity going. Enjoy!

1. Be polite. Remember that good manners (online and off) speak volumes about who you are.

2. Sharing is Caring. Freshman Writers, you have expertise in something. Share what you know if a writer/editor asks. And even if you don’t, pass it along to others in your circle. You never know who you can help.

3. You get more flies with honey than vinegar.  The world of freelance writers is small, even though cyberspace can seem huge. People communicate to one another; especially editors & writers. Stay positive on-line and share negativity offline with trusted friends. When I get upset about something, I talk to friends offline to gain perspective. In this way, I get my feelings out without hurting anyone’s feelings.

Hopefully, these tips will help you keep the positive energy flowing all around you; both online and off.

Happy Writing!

Love Note Day

Hiya Freshman Writers! Hope this finds you well and writing. Today’s post is in celebration of National Love Note Day according to BrownieLocks.com. I’m a sucker for a great love note so I thought we could use this as a prompt. Share what you like about love notes and even one of your own! Below is my contribution. Enjoy!

Happy Writing!

 

Dear Son,

Little boy, you’re the center of my world. You’re my motivation to get up everyday to work hard. You’ve pushed me far beyond my limits and even my dreams. You’re the best thing that’s ever happened to me and I love you. You’re my favorite kid in the whole, wide world and I live for your smile. Remember that I’ll always be there no matter what.

Love,

Mami

5 Tips on Handling Rejection

Hiya Freshman Writers! Hope this finds you well and writing. Today’s post is about something that touches writers all of the time – rejection. Yes, to some writers who’ve dealt with it, rejection is a hard blow. Especially after putting in hard work and heart into the writing. To others, rejection is motivation to keep on going; to keep tweaking the writing; to keep the pen moving.

After hearing about The Help movie, based on the best-selling book by author, Kathryn Stockett, I was amazed to learn that her manuscript was rejected an amazing 60 times! 6-0! According to More Magazine (on Yahoo Shine),  Kathryn Stockett went through 60 rejections before her manuscript was accepted on try #61. I couldn’t believe it! She’s made of strong stuff indeed. And in sharing her story, she revealed one tip that kept her going until her writing was accepted.

1. “Give into your obsession.”  Kathryn simply zeroed in her focus on her manuscript. Over and over, she worked on it. Writing and writing until she felt it was ready to send out. Which leads me to the next tip:

2. Find a space for your writing to grow. Kathryn went so far as to rent a hotel room to work on her writing after her daughter was born. Find a nook just for you to write in. Which brings us to tip number three:

3. Have supportive friends and family.  Someone had to be there with the little one while Kathryn was writing – that was her hubby. Nothing helps a writer more than to have people who understand your compulsion to write. Even if they don’t write themselves. Having a support system can help you when (and it happens to all writers) you DO get rejection.

4. Celebrate the first rejection. Kathryn shared her first rejection letter with friends. This is a great way for writers of all levels to reframe the idea that a rejection is truly a rejection. Sometimes, writers can get caught up in feeling sorry for themselves and then stop writing. Here, Kathryn took a lemon and made lemonade by cheering and then getting right back to work.

5. Don’t quit. Kathryn didn’t stop writing. She kept going. One of the easiest things to do after a rejection is to quit; to think that you’re just not cut out for writing. Kathryn pushed through this and kept working. And you Freshman Writers can do it, too.

Freshman Writers, I hope Kathryn’s story inspired you the way it inspired me. She stuck to it and now her book is a best-seller that has been made into a successful movie. Cheers Kathryn! I salute you! Thank you for inspiring Freshman Writers, readers and movie-goers everywhere!

Happy Writing!

Stepping out of my comfort zone

This past weekend, I attended an exhibit for my friend’s son, who is a photographer. I was happily surprised when a picture of my living room was there and told him so. He apologized and I told him how honored I was to have my living room in his photo exhibit.

As each photographer presented, I noted that some were less confident than others in talking about their work. Some of the students were nervous, fidgety and it was clear that speaking was not their forte. Enter me with my bright idea.

I quickly jotted down the idea to talk to one of the staff members at the program about working with the students on their speaking and presentation skills. Then I picked up a course calender to quickly scan for classes on speaking and presentation. I didn’t find any there.

Surprised at myself, I waited (a bit nervously) patiently until the end of the exhibit to speak to a staff member who enjoyed my comments on the students’ work. (The audience was invited to share comments on the pictures exhibited.) She asked me how I was connected to my friend’s son and when I replied, I added that young people need support from adults who care about them.

It was here that I launched my pitch to work with the teens on speaking and presentation. I asked if there was any thought given on working with the teens on presenting their work and added that I didn’t find anything on that in the course schedule. She stated that the students are busy for the ten weeks of class and don’t get the chance to work on it whereas students in the year-long program had presentation lessons scheduled in. The staff member then stated that it’s definitely a need that someone could fill. So, I presented her with my handy, dandy business card (since I keep them with me at all times). To which she replied that she would pass it on to the program manageer.

Yes, I was scared, but I was also really excited about my idea. My goal in life is to make a difference. Whether it’s with my writing or counseling skills doesn’t really matter as long as I can help people be better for themselves. I’ll keep you posted! Keep your fingers crossed for me.

Use Your Senses – Do you hear what I hear?

Hiya Freshman Writers! Hope this finds you well and writing. “Do you hear what I hear” is a popular Christmas song, but for me,  it’s an inspiring way to write.

In my last post I challenged you to use your senses to get you writing. We writers can often get bogged down by the writing process and get side-tracked. Sometimes we forget that writing is about using all of our senses – listening is a great one to use.

My day job requires me to listen to people  – everyday I listen for needs, requests and feelings. Part of my job is to be an active listener – ie – giving my full attention to someone else. I pay attention to the content of the statement and then repeat it. I also pay attention to what isn’t said out loud. Hearing something – ie in the background – is very different from actively listening to something and being able to repeat what you heard.

Your challenge, Freshman Writers, is to sit on your own and close your eyes. Listen to the sounds around you for five minutes and then write about it. Did you hear a train rolling by (as I do everyday at work) or did you hear the buzzing of a bee? If you have a hard time recalling the sounds you hear, try using a digital recorder or use the voice note function on your smart phone if you have one.

If you can take the sounds you hear and convert them into words, you can help your writing shine by being more descriptive and expressive. Your readers will be able to understand how the screeching of a howler monkey can resemble nails on a chalkboard and cause you to grind your teeth in reaction. Not pretty sounds by any means, but you get my point – those sounds are painful to the ear.

Use your hearing sense to write and see what you come up with. Feel free to come back and share your experience.

Happy Writing!

Use Your Senses – Eyeball it

Hiya Freshman Writers! Hope this finds you well and writing. This post is one of five that I’ll be sharing here about using your senses to help you write. Read on for this week’s prompt and come back here for more in the coming weeks.

My day job finds me working with people everyday. I listen to what they say (or don’t say) and watch their body language.  I have to figure out how people feel, whether they reveal it with words or action. After lots of training at school and experience in the field, it’s very natural for me. Eyeballing people can be a great way to get yourself writing.

What does this have to do with you Freshman Writers? Here’s a prompt for you. Find a comfortable place to sit where it’s busy with people. Describe what you see and only that. Use active words to describe actions, colors, textures, etc. See what you come up with and feel free to share it here.

Happy Writing!

Catching up with myself

This week brought me one major accomplishment – passing my licensing exam. I rarely share it here, but one career goal is to be a licensed professional in my field.  No more waiting for the exam date, no more stressing out over what I know or don’t know and no more darn studying.

I’d been studying for seven months now and felt stuck in other aspects of my life because I was waiting to pass this one exam. I stuck with it because I knew that gaining my licensure would open many doors.  I’m in shock right now that something I set out to do six years ago has finally come to pass.

I realized that this morning as I shared the news with a friend. Six years from the time I started grad school until now. The first thing I wanted to do was sleep because I hadn’t slept well for several nights prior to the exam. To suddenly have the weight of this lifted from my shoulders and see this huge goal achieved has really caused me to stop and reflect on what I want to do next.

Of course, the next step is to find a new dayjob with my shiny, new license (ie better pay and better hours). Then I started thinking of what else I wanted to accomplish because I really can do anything I put my mind to.  So, I thought about my writing.

I’ve felt stunted in the writing process simply because it wasn’t my central focus for the last several months. I still wrote, but not in a planful way because I didn’t make the time for it. My time was for studying and building up my self-confidence for the exam.

I’ve now been doing research on breaking into magazines (yet again), but with small goals in mind. I’m starting with fillers just to get my feet wet. I’m also doing research on effective blogging so that I can grow The Freshman Writer blog as well as to market myself better as a blogger in general.

I can see that my writing talent now is in blogging. Since I know I can blog, why not put my energy into it? Other ways I’m catching up with myself is to focus on things that I love doing – writing, reading and having time to myself. I really missed just being me.

Under Pressure

Hiya Freshman Writers! Hope this finds you well and writing. Today’s post is about being under pressure and how that affects your writing. I came up with this after going through my own ‘dry’ period and wrote about it here.

For some, being under pressure works. It can motivate you to push yourself harder and further in your writing. That kind of pressure can get you to try new forms of writing, submit to that magazine (that you think is out of reach) or start a new writing project. It can help.

For others (like me recently), being under pressure doesn’t help. It turns our brains into mush, keeping us from writing a coherent thought. Pressure can be intimidating and makes the road to publishing daunting.

But, it doesn’t have to be this way. I have a couple of tips that can help you depressurize and get back to your writing.

1. List all of the things that are bugging you. Even the small act of writing out our stresses can lighten the load and helps get the junk out.

2. Separate the things that you can change and the things you can’t. There’s so much that we think about that is out of our control. The weather, the economy, gas prices – there’s just too much out there that we can’t do anything about. So why worry about it? Get rid of the stuff that you can’t fix and work on the things you can.

3. Figure out ways to deal with the things you can change. Maybe change your writing schedule or read a good book. Take a walk or start a journal. Your power is in your hands and you can make your writing happen. No one else can do that for you. Life will continue on without you anyway, so focus on the stuff that matters to you.

4. Give yourself a break. Being under pressure can be hard because you feel you don’t have a chance to breathe. Take five minutes or 30 seconds to just sit and breathe. Take in the oxygen (good stuff) and get rid of the carbon dioxide (bad stuff).  The act of deep breathing (if you allow it) can calm you down and prepare you for the next step.

Life is hard and we all know that. These tips have helped me let go of the junk, empowered me to get back on the horse and allowed me to write again. I just wanted to share with you the tricks that get me through challenging days. Feel free to share what helps you Freshman Writers release pressure and write.

Happy Writing!