I don’t know about you, but my mind is constantly “on.” I’m thinking ahead to upcoming interactions, coming up with strategies to meet my goals/deadlines, ruminating on past conversations, trying not to care what others think of me or my social media posts, figuring out how to improve my relationships, running through book ideas, planning out my weekend, and on and on…
It’s exhausting being in my head. I’m sure I’m not alone, though I sincerely hope you’re in your head, not mine.
So, I recently started meditating (again) just to start my day with a calm instead of a rush. I’m still testing out whether I prefer guided meditation, with or without affirmations—usually without—or just a timer and silence. So far, it depends on the day.
But that’s not really what this post is about. It’s about what makes us feel happy.
A recent guided meditation I tried focused on the idea that we’re happiest when we’re present in the moment. Nothing new. That’s one of the key points of meditation, to focus on our body, our breath, our space, right now.
Can we even be happy when our minds are elsewhere on the timeline? (Rhetorical question.)
Luckily, you can be present without meditating, though meditation is great practice for learning how. Simply concentrate on what’s going on right now. Give this moment, the person talking, the task you’re working on, your full attention.
Some activities give you little choice but to focus (boxing, jousting, watching a newly mobile baby). Which is one of many reasons I enjoyed martial arts in the past, and returned to yoga a few years ago. Both require an awareness of my body and my breath to keep me from taking a header onto my mat.
Even while running—which shouldn’t be that mentally taxing—I find that I can’t hold a complex thought for long (like, don’t ask me to do math) because my focus is on my breathing, my form, sometimes the pain, and my surroundings.
Much like traditional meditation, these moving meditations are a much needed break from…well, myself.
You might find relief in knitting, painting, singing, coloring, or building a bookshelf. Or, you know, writing. Maybe that’s why having a creative outlet is so important. Though when that outlet becomes your job, can it still serve as a calming intermission? (Also rhetorical.)
Other things that tap into that “present” feeling for me are traveling, hiking, watching the ocean, or exploring a new-to-me part of town. Half of what makes a sightseeing vacation so much fun is that my thoughts are mostly captured by the new and interesting things around me, keeping me in the moment.
If a week on the beach or in a cabin is more your speed, that relaxing holiday might be one of the few times that you allow yourself to slow down and fully tune into your surroundings and your companions. Or a really good book.
Vacations offer a break not just from work and school and routine, but from our scattered attention—hello cell phones and email and social media—from our concern about what comes next and all that we need to accomplish. No wonder we can’t wait to take a break.
I’m not traveling as much as I’d like right now—and I can’t do it every day anyway—but I am stepping up the frequency of yoga and meditation (and always running). I’m honestly shocked how much better I feel during and after yoga. Even at the end of a short routine, my muscles and my mind are less tense.
Such mini “vacations” have become a brilliant respite from the whirlwind of my thoughts. I’m grateful to have found activities that give me the rare gift of presence.
How do you cultivate a sense of contentment or find a moment of peace in your life?
P.S. If you’re interested, yoga doesn’t have to be an expensive hobby. There are plenty of free online resources, videos from your library, and even monthly online subscription services that cost less than a single yoga class. In-person lessons are my favorite, but I attend a class once a week and use videos or my own made-up routines the rest of the time. If you’re just starting out, a rug is fine if you don’t have a mat. You also don’t need special leggings from fancy “athleisure” stores. Any workout wear or comfy clothes will work, especially in the privacy of your home. Heck, do it in your underwear if you want to! Just, maybe, close the curtains. 😉
Happy New Year!
May 2020 bring you joy. (Also a new Men of Steele book—which I’m hard at work on—and Scrivener 3 for Windows.) 😉
Writers, if you've been waiting to take one of my Scrivener online classes, you can get 20% off any course for 7 days only by using the code 20NEWYEAR20 at checkout (discount expires 11:59pm PST on January 7, 2020).
Sign up now at ScrivenerClasses.com, start when you're ready, and work at your own pace.
Happy reading and writing!
Here’s a quick update on all the fun things happening through the end of the month. I hope to see you around!
Love Romance Reads Interview
I'm over at the Love Romance Reads blog today, dishing about my origin story (as a writer), where I write, some of my favorite authors, and who I admire.
I've included lots of photos—and even a video—so I hope you'll drop by and ask me a question or post a comment!
Military Romance Facebook Party
Join me and ten military romance authors for fun and giveaways on July 30th from 12-6pm Pacific (that's 3-9pm in New York, 8pm-2am in London, and 7am-1pm July 31 in Sydney). We'll leave the party open until Sunday, so no worries if you can't make it live.
Select “Going” on the Facebook party page to get a reminder so you don't miss the fun!
Last Chance for the Summer Bundle of Romance Giveaway
The Summer Bundle of Romance Giveaway has been extended until July 31st! This is the one where I've teamed up with 30+ fantastic authors to give away a huge collection of Romantic Suspense novels to 2 lucky winners, PLUS a brand new eReader to the Grand Prize winner!
You could win my novel BLIND JUSTICE, plus books from authors like Sharon Hamilton, Kate Allenton, Blair Babylon, and more—just by following me and other great Romantic Suspense authors on BookBub!
Enter the giveaway by clicking here => bit.ly/RomanticSuspense-July2019.
Have a wonderful July and August!
Happy new year! I know, it’s a little late—and I completely blew off posting on the blog in December—but I was working feverishly to finish my manuscript and celebrating the holidays with family. Did you have a good holiday? Is 2019 treating you well so far?
We took the kids on a short cruise to Catalina and Ensenada over Christmas. I don’t cruise well, but it was a fun trip, and I enjoyed having both kids home for more than a week. My oldest is all the way in Virginia, so having them here was a special treat.
(If you want to see more photos of my travels, my dog, my writing, and whatever other quirky thing catches my eye along the way, the best place to follow me is Instagram.)
My big news for the new year is that I finished the first draft of Men of Steele #5 yesterday! 🥳 It took me far too long, but it feels great to reach The End. I’ll have to work on revisions soon, but I hope to have the book out in late March. I’ve been wanting to tell Tara Fujimoto’s story for ages (she played a key role in Blind Fury and a minor role in each of the other books), so I’m excited to finally give her the HEA—happy ever after—she deserves.
Keep an eye out for previews and a cover reveal. And if you’re on my newsletter list, you’ll see it all first, along with some of the best books I read in 2018. 😉
Anything exciting in the works for you this year?
Have a fabulous 2019!
Overwhelmed by holiday crowds and shopping yet? Looking for some holiday fun and maybe a few prizes for yourself?
The Charmed Connection Readers Group—a Facebook group where readers and authors connect—is hosting a holiday bookstore and author takeover.
Throughout this week, from November 26th (that’s today!) through December 2nd, authors will be popping in with games, giveaways, and yummy holiday recipes. You can browse the holiday bookstores to find new-to-you authors, get delicious recipe ideas in Mrs. Claus’s Kitchen, and chat with authors and other readers.
I’ll be taking over The Charmed Connection on Thursday, November 29th from 4-5pm Pacific Time (that’s 7pm in Virginia, 1am Friday in Barcelona, and 11am Friday in Sydney). Mark your calendar now and join me for the fun!