Welcome to Following the Whispers blog

Thank you so much for taking the time to visit. Hope you enjoy your stay. I blog here whenever I feel the need. This blog was created at the time my memoir came out, in February, 2009. Its motto was: creating a life of inner peace and self-acceptance from the depths of despair. Now, my focus is sharing this journey we call life.

“Only one thing is more frightening than speaking your truth, and that is not speaking it.” Naomi Wolf

“We are called human beings, not human doings.” Wes Nisker, Buddhist teacher

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs…(And) if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.” Theodore Roosevelt

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Get Healthy Blog Hop

Stephen Tremp, L. Diane Wolfe, Michael Di Gesu and Alex J. Cavanaugh have teamed up for a Blog Hop that focuses on health. This is an issue with many bloggers who have expressed gaining weight over the holidays and other negative health issues that they are dealing with. Here is a Blog Hop that can help us make 2013 a year that we can help turn the tides! 

The Objective: Share with everyone something you have done that affected your health in a positive way. You can share an awesome low cal low fat tasty recipe. Post simple tips to lose weight. Or a testimony on what has helped like joining Weight Watchers. Recommend a routine like P90X or Insanity. Or stretches one can do while sitting in their office chair working or writing. We’re sure people have countless great tips and ideas they would love to share.  To find the participants list, go to one of the host blogs and follow along. Here then is my contribution:

As many of you know, I have been maintaining a 67 pound weight loss for several years. It's easier now, because I have been living this way for so long, even trying to go back to my old habits for just one day doesn't work. I could write a book about this journey, but for the purposes of this blog hop, I'll  narrow it down to a few tips.

  • I hired a nutritionist to help me understand my body, my food issues, how much food I needed to eat each day to lose, and then to maintain. And to tell me what foods and food combinations to eat at each meal.
  • I began to exercise a minimum of 3 times a week. I needed to find an exercise routine that worked for me, since I hate gyms and won't go. I love to dance, so that's what I do. I dance around my living room for a half hour, vigorously to get my heart rate up. Then I worked with a physical therapist (I have knee and shoulder issues) to use body resistance for weight training, since I won't use weights.
  • I don't eat out very often, and when I was losing, it was even less. Eating out, no matter how healthy the choices, causes pounds to go on. I would eat at home, and then join friends for tea. Or a small salad, with oil and vinegar.
  • I limited my complex carb intake to one serving per day.
  • Last year I cut out sugar and white flour. I lost another 15 pounds without trying.
Being food conscious and healthy is not easy. You must read ingredient labels and be vigilant about what you put in your body. I still have moments of resenting what I can't eat, but when I look in the mirror and when I feel how good my body feels, I let go of that and am so very grateful.

How about you? Is your weight where you want it to be? It's never too late...

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Telling the Truth Tuesday: The duality of our nature

I believe we all have two voices inside of us: the voice of Spirit/Light and the voice of gloom and doom. You know the difference, right? The voice of Spirit is quiet - a gentle whisper that guides us to be our best selves. The voice of gloom and doom tempts us to do things we know aren't good for us - like eat that piece of chocolate, not do our exercise, don't do the things that feed our souls. And why is it that the voice of doom is so much louder than the voice of Spirit. And is so much easier to listen to.
Instant gratification versus long term fulfillment. I am working on identifying these two voices and in the moment, choosing the voice of Spirit over the voice of gloom and doom. I don't always succeed, but as I do this work, the sense of inner peace expands.

How about you?

Monday, May 27, 2013

Monday Musings: Consequences

In everything we do, there are consequences. When I lived my life on automatic pilot, I was unaware of this connection and so was blindsided frequently when things didn't go the way I expected or wanted or thought they would. Now that I am conscious and present more of the time, I am more fully aware of the concept of consequences. So, when I made a decision to cut back on my blogging activity, only posting and visiting other blogs on Mondays and Tuesday, and not participating in a blogfest unless it really really appeals to my fun side, I knew there would be consequences in terms of getting new followers and the number of comments I receive. Since it was a conscious decision, I am okay with this result. That doesn't mean I don't wish it were different. I wish there was more time each day. I wish I had more energy. I wish my writing was going faster. I wish, I wish, I wish.

There are so many opportunities to expand our connections on the internet. I so want to avail myself of those options. I suppose I could choose to spend 3-4 hours per day instead of the half hour I now allow myself. But if I did that, other things would be sacrificed. Can I sacrifice my novel? I don't think so.
Can I sacrifice my singing? I don't think so? Can I sacrifice my time with my hubby? I don't think so.
Can I sacrifice my spiritual studies? I don't think so.

Do you handle the consequences of your actions well? Do you think about the consequences before doing something?
Inquiring minds want to know....

P.S. I found this quote the other day and thought of all the writers out here who get upset by negative reviews and critical comments about our work. This is for all of you:

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs..(And) if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly."
Theodore Roosevelt


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Telling the Truth Tuesday: Having fun!

Life is difficult. That is the first line of an old favorite self-help book, "The Road Less Traveled." The author goes on to say that once you accept that, it gets easier. Hmm. It does? I guess I have moments of ease, but the reality of my life is that it isn't easy for me. The reasons no longer matter to me. It's my job to find my way, spiritually, emotionally and physically, to inner peace. There is no way around that road - it's hard. But so so worth it. Yet I must balance this hard work with joy and laughter and plain old fun. I'm so damned hard on myself, I forget to have fun. My hubby is great for this. He loves to try to make me laugh. And most of the time he succeeds. If he doesn't, it's my bad, not his.

My Sugartime rehearsals are once again fun, now that we are a duo. Our focus is on having a good time, not worrying about whether we're singing the right notes. That doesn't mean we don't work on getting the notes right, but it's not the focus. That's the difference. So I'm having fun singing, doing my work out routine, which is basically dancing around my living room for a half hour, hanging with hubby and friends. The writing isn't so fun these days. I'm having to go thru my manuscript line by line, trying to show, not tell. Oy! Doesn't come naturally to me. But it's joyous when I do find a way to say the line in a way that shows.

So, are you having fun today? If so, how?

Monday, May 20, 2013

Monday Musings: milestones

I have a young friend who just graduated from high school and will be going away to college in the Fall. I've watched this young lady grow up before my very eyes and it made me think about milestones and how important it is to mark them in one's life. We celebrate the big things like birthdays and anniversaries and graduations, weddings, funerals. But what about other milestones? Things like finishing the first draft of your first ever novel? Reconnecting with an old friend? Losing those last 10 pounds? Doing something well that you've struggled with for awhile? It's a way of honoring ourselves and our processes and our journeys and feel like we're not just marking time here on this planet--not just ticking off a to-do list.

How about you?
What milestone might you need to recognize and honor?

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Telling the Truth Tuesday: I'm scared

I don't like to admit I'm afraid.I've been called courageous often in my life because of the choices I've made, but the truth is, I don't feel courageous at all. I just do what I feel in my heart is the right thing to do and have made some very difficult decisions because of that. But I try not to let fear stop me. Someone wrote a book called "Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway" and I love that title because I think that's what we need to do. But when I'm afraid, I become paralyzed and can't do anything.

So how do we overcome paralysis due to fear? Recognize what we are feeling. Acknowledge that it's perfectly okay to be afraid. What's not okay is to let it stop us. Have a gentle talk with ourselves about what our greatest fear is - what is the worst outcome that could happen? Usually, once I acknowledge the worst that could happen and come to terms with accepting that as a possibility, the paralysis lifts.

How about you? Do you let fear stop you? If not, how do you overcome it?

Monday, May 13, 2013

Monday Musings:powerlessness

I spent 9 years in the 12-step program of Al-Anon and Adult Children of Alcoholics. The program helped me immensely. The very first step in the program is "I am powerless over alcohol (or whatever) and my life has become unmanageable."

I needed a reminder about powerlessness. So often I take on issues that are not mine without even realizing I'm doing it. But the truth is that I am powerless over anyone else's stuff. I am powerless over outcomes. I am powerless over just about anything except my own thoughts, feelings, and actions.

When I take on someone else's pain, it's like if someone were drowning and I jump in and manage to save them, but I end up with hypothermia. I could, instead, throw in a line for them to grab. I have to find ways to be empathetic and caring and loving without inhaling the pain.

How about you?

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Telling the Truth Tuesday: Distant Friendships

I had the most wonderful week last week because one of my dearest friends from my previous life in Portland, OR came to visit for a week. We have a closeness that really makes my Spirit happy and when we are together, it is quite magical. I was able to enjoy the moments we have together, feel the sadness when she left for home, know that I miss that in-person connection, but also know that the closeness and connection are not diminished because we are distant friends.

Isn't it similar with blogging buddies?

Monday, May 6, 2013

Monday Musings: Adverbs and Cliches

Too many adverbs and clichés in your writing? I've got just the fix for you.
by Jessica Bell

Writers constantly have rules thrown at them left, right, and center. Show, don’t tell! Stop using so many dialogue tags! More sensory detail! More tension! Speed up the pace! Yada yada yada ... it can become overwhelming, yes? I used to feel overwhelmed by it all too. In fact, I still do sometimes. It’s hard enough to get the words on the page, let alone consider how to put them there.

In Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird, she says that in order not to be overwhelmed, a writer needs to focus on short assignments. She refers to the one-inch picture frame on her desk and how that little picture frame reminds her to focus on bite-sized pieces of the whole story. Basically, if you focus on one small thing at a time, the story will eventually come together to create a whole. I believe the same applies to learning the craft of writing. If writers focus on one aspect of the craft at a time, the process will seem less daunting and piece by piece it will come together.

My name’s Jessica Bell, and my own struggles with feeling overwhelmed inspired me to write the Writing in a Nutshell Series of pocket-sized writing guides. So you can learn to hone your craft in bite-sized, manageable pieces. In the first book of the series, I focused on demonstrating how to transition “telling” into “showing.” In Adverbs & Clichés in a Nutshell: Demonstrated Subversions of Adverbs & Clichés into Gourmet Imagery, I deal with another of the most common criticisms aspiring writers face: to absolutely avoid adverbs and clichés like the plague. But see, right now, I just used one of each. I also used a couple in the first two paragraphs of this post because they come naturally, and we utilize them frequently in everyday speech. But in fiction, too many adverbs and clichés weaken your prose. It’s considered “lazy writing,” because it means we don’t have to show what’s happening.

If your manuscript has too many adverbs and clichés, it most likely means that the emotion you felt while writing it is not going to translate to the reader in the same way. So how exactly can we approach the subversion of adverbs and clichés? For starters, play around with simile and metaphor when you’re trying to convey emotion, and for action, use strong verbs to show it happening in real time.

The key? Think smaller details rather than the bigger picture.

Need some help and inspiration?

In Adverbs & Clichés in a Nutshell: Demonstrated Subversions of Adverbs & Clichés into Gourmet Imagery, you will find thirty-four examples of prose which clearly demonstrate how to turn those pesky adverbs and clichés into vivid and unique imagery. Dispersed throughout are blank pages to craft your own unique examples. Extra writing prompts are also provided at the back of the book.
“Jessica Bell's latest pocket guide, Adverbs & Clichés in a Nutshell, will inspire you to leave bland behind and pursue your creative best. With force and clarity, she demonstrates how adverbs and clichés hobble vibrant writing. She then marks a course toward unique expression and provides workouts that will help writers at every level develop a distinctive voice.” ~Laurel Garver, freelance editor, author of Never Gone and Muddy-Fingered Midnights
Purchase links:
Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon Ca | Kobo

Bio: The Australian-native contemporary fiction author and poet, Jessica Bell, also makes a living as an editor and writer for global ELT publishers (English Language Teaching), such as Pearson Education, HarperCollins, Macmillan Education, Education First and Cengage Learning.

She is the co-publishing editor of Vine Leaves Literary Journal, and the director of the Homeric Writers’ Retreat & Workshop on the Greek island of Ithaca.

For more information about Jessica please visit:
Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Insecure Writer's Support Group - May

Can't believe it's that time of month again. Ninja Captain Alex's support group for writers: www.alexjcavanaugh.blogspot.com. If you don't know Alex already, not sure how that's possible, but do check out his sight. Alex is the one of the most giving, supportive bloggers in the universe.

Having finished my first draft of my first ever novel, I was feeling pretty darn good. I wrote a novel--something I never thought I'd do. I received some feedback from trusted readers that they wanted more of the story at the end. I tried doing that, but it didn't feel right, because this story came through me in a very organic manner. It wasn't from my head. So now, I need to go inward once again, and see if the story itself has more to tell.

I also need to begin the second draft, wherein I flesh out more details, add in descriptions and other craft techniques like metaphors and similes. Not my strong suit, but in writing my memoir I learned that even though these things don't come naturally to me, I can go back and add them in later.

I'm in an incredible process with this book and with my spiritual life and they are deeply entwined. It's very nice not to be writing an "insecure" post today, but rather sharing from my strength.

How about you?