Happy Halloween!

It doesn’t feel like it. Halloween has a smell, it has colors, it has a temperature, it has a feel, and none of those things are in the Arizona air. I’m really missing Ohio right now.

As I was trying to think about what to write about today, I decided to go back and see what I’ve written in my past annual Halloween posts.

And then I discovered that this “tradition” I have of making a Halloween post exists erroneously in my memory, because I’ve written only one Halloween post ever.

Which blows my mind, because Halloween is my favorite holiday of the whole entire year!

Last year, I was on the road from Ohio to Arizona during Halloween, which I thought very appropriate—the death of my old life and the birth of a new life. I remember writing a Halloween post in Motel 6. I’m not sure what happened to it.

It was interesting to read how freaked I was a few days before we left: I was terrified we’d never get to Arizona. Once we were on the road, I was utterly fascinated with how big the sky was, in “The Sky is Falling.”

And I was still on the road when I wrote one of my most heartfelt blog posts ever, staying up until 5am to finish it, which is the only time that’s ever happened. It took me a full year to write it, which is also the only time that’s ever happened: “It’s Not Normal.”

I had little to say about Arizona in the first month I was here, except “It’s Complicated.” I was in a state of culture shock. I remember vividly how it felt like I’d moved into a war zone, with Border Patrol everywhere and helicopters flying above and signs all over the place. I still get woken up at 2 am with helicopters landing behind the RV Resort, but now it’s an irritation rather than a WTF?.

I tend to dedicate every Samhain to something, to give it a certain focus, to use it for personal growth. But this year I’m unprepared. No theme. No focus. I have no ritual planned. I’ll probably clean my camper, call my best friend, and go sit in the desert. Maybe do a Tarot reading. I’ll have a nice, quiet Samhain.

Which is nice, too. I try to force too many things in my life. If I do that, then I’m not open to what may come.

Did you dress up for Halloween? If you didn’t, what would you have liked to dress up as? Did you go trick or treating? Pass out candy? How are you/did you celebrate? Happy Halloween! Blessed Samhain!

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Written by Natasha Fondren in: Musings | Tags:

If You’re Alone…

Two amazing videos via Rhonda Stapleton. The first is about how to be alone, something I learned a long time ago, but it’s a great and sweet video. I want to show it to every teenager or person who’s recently had a breakup.

And this… THIS is the most awesome thing I’ve seen! I want to show this to every older teen and woman who’s ever felt the pressure of “pretty.” (Would that be every girl and woman in our society?) I clapped out loud about 75% of the way through… you’ll see what I mean. This is totally awesome!

I’m in the middle of a bunch of projects, but I should be coming up for air soon… with a new website for my eBook formatting business!

How are you these days?

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Written by Natasha Fondren in: Musings | Tags:

Enthusiasm and Writing

If you’re my Facebook friend, you know how much I enjoyed the Mixed Martial Art event on Saturday. It totally inspired me. Two of the many fighters just loved their sport so much, it was like watching unfettered, pure, and joyful enthusiasm.

(I’ve always felt that way about Taekwondo. Most fun I’ve had in my life.)

Enthusiasm is such a pleasure to watch.

And I thought: Why can’t I approach writing like that?

It’s true that in my first days of writing, I’d just grin at the screen and toy with the words I’d written. I love how each word carries so many nuances and connotations. SO cool. I love, love, love language.

What I think is difficult about writing is that I can’t sit down and be in an enthusiastic and joyful mood when I’m trying to write a gripping story full of conflict. I’m mostly a “Method” writer, so I put myself in the emotional frame of mind (and heart) of my characters.

Given that by necessity, one has to put one’s characters through hell, I’m walking in the shoes of someone whose life is a real mess when I sit down to write. (That sentence makes me laugh on so many levels, that I’m not even going to fix it.) You can’t be feeling all happy while you write about someone’s mother dying.

So I’m wondering: How does one write with enthusiasm? Can you really sit down to write and feel, “I can’t wait to get all depressed about the fact that my mother died and there are werewolves chasing me!”

Is this perhaps why so many writers struggle with procrastination and avoidance? I mean, who wants to ruin a happy mood by going down in the dumps to write a character going through hell?

I can see how one could be enthusiastic about editing, however.

No conclusions today. Just wondering.

What do you think? How do you (can you?) bring enthusiasm to your daily writing?

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Written by Natasha Fondren in: Full-Time Writing,Writing Craft | Tags:

Bieber, I Wish I Were You

I can’t stop watching and cracking up over this video. Gordon Pinsent reads from Bieber’s memoirs:

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Written by Natasha Fondren in: Pop Culture | Tags:

Happiness: It’s a Mindset

Happiness has been on my mind lately. I’m happier than I’ve ever been in my life, and I’m honestly not quite sure why. Maybe because I’ve done so much growing and changing in the last year or so? Change and uncertainty have brought temporary freak-outs, but my friends helped big time, and I’ve learned to be happy no matter my circumstances.

Maybe it’s just age: Lots of my thirty-something friends say they grew settled and happy in their latter thirties. I really like my life and who I’ve become.

So today I was stunned to listen to this TED talk by Becky Blanton: “The Year I Was Homeless.” She’s a writer who decided to camp in a van for a year. You see how I can relate, LOL?

Within months, she decided she was homeless (!!!!), even though she still had her van. This perplexes me on many levels, because I meet plenty of people who choose to move into a van and travel. A good writing friend of mine is doing it now. There’s been an upsurge of young people and college students who wisely decide to live in a van or small motorhome to save money. Even the famous and fabulous INTERN!

Visitors to the RV Resort I’m staying at are so varied. Some are retirees in $200,000+ motorhomes who’ve dreamed and worked all their lives to live this way. Some are families who crave freedom and want to “roadschool” their kids and let them experience the country. Some have jobs that move from place to place, and this lifestyle allows them to have a family and a home on the road.

Some are people like me, who’ve decided to live simply. Some see it as temporary until they buy a winter home, or until they make more money. Some see it as a result of unfortunate circumstances. I just met a man who’s decided this lifestyle is “getting back on his feet.”

It’s odd: Same lifestyle, such a range of interpretations. Some see it as failure, some as a dream fulfilled.

Eventually, Blanton learned that homelessness was a mindset, not a lifestyle. I liked when she said, “People are not where they live, where they sleep, or what their life situation is at any given time.”

The next TED talk was “The Science of Happiness,” by Nancy Etcoff. How apropos!

Money does influence happiness, but materialism derails those things we humans are genetically programmed to receive pleasure from: enjoying the natural world, getting outside of ourselves, and the act of reproduction—sex. (Did you know having sex once a week is a bigger predictor of happiness than money?)

Her research answered how I’ve become so happy this year. I’ve gotten huge pleasure from discovering the natural world around me. I’ve gotten rid of most of my things and have become very happy being un-materialistic. (I can’t tell you how wonderful it feels! Definitely the number one contributor to my happiness.)

I’ve come to prefer walking outside to get to the bathroom so I can look at the stars more often. I wake up every morning and look at a sunrise over a mountain range. I volunteer. I live within a small and social community, both at the RV Resort and in the coffee shop I frequently write in. I even have a plan for the reproduction bit, even if it probably won’t involve sex. :-(

(Three and a half out of four is a pretty darn good life.)

At the end, she quotes Rilke:

If your daily life seems poor, do not blame it; blame yourself, tell yourself that you are not poet enough to call forth its riches.

One last note on happiness. Dan Gilbert, in his talk called, "Why Are We Happy?" notes how humans believe that acquiring something or changing our circumstances will make us happy, but that research shows this is untrue: traumatic events and incredibly wonderful events tend to return us to our previous happiness level within months.

Dan Gilbert quoted Sir Thomas Browne:

I am the happiest man alive. I have that in me that can convert poverty to riches, adversity to prosperity, and I am more invulnerable than Achilles; fortune hath not one place to hit me.

Our circumstances may change, but we make our happiness independent of those circumstances. Not counting depression and mental illness, science says we have the power to change our happiness level by getting out in nature, living outside of ourselves, losing our materialism, and having sex. *grins*

What do you think? Have you ever had a mindshift that turned a life you hated into one you treasured, or vice versa?

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Written by Natasha Fondren in: Musings | Tags:

Well. That Told Me.

I’ve always been in the Facebook-is-social-fun-only camp. I know people use it to effectively market, but most of the time, I see people using it ineffectively to market. (At which point they’re quickly blocked.)

But apparently Facebook is way more than I was giving it credit for. This video, produced by RC Productions (Melanie’s company! She proofed it. *grins*), told me:

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Written by Natasha Fondren in: Pop Culture,Writing Biz | Tags:

Loneliness and Writing

I’ve been feeling a little lonely lately. It’s just I need to get out more—but if I get out more, I’m not writing as much. And I have a ton of writing to do this fall, so the first priority is writing right now. I’m a writing machine this fall.

Loneliness and boredom have always been a part of my story-making life. It was at first how I managed insomnia. As a child, it took me about two hours to fall asleep every night, so I needed something to think about. I created imaginary worlds I visited and developed for years.

In my first few years of school, teachers would complain that I stared out the window too much. (I was just imagining stories.) I specifically remember in second and third grade, working very hard at developing the skill of weaving stories in my head while pasting an interested, attentive expression on my face.

I didn’t really put fingers to keyboard until my late twenties. I was still sick and spending every moment I wasn’t working pretty much in bed. It was awesome, because I could “live” a whole, active life through my stories. Most all my friends had moved away—and I’d moved away, so I was pretty lonely then. My characters were my friends. :-)

When the RV Resort fills up, I do start to feel a little overwhelmed with my social life. Just walking to the bathroom, you end up talking to people for at least an hour every day. Right now I’m missing it.

But loneliness has its uses. It helps to sink into a story so that you forget the rest of the world. I write faster and more when I’m lonely, when there are no social distractions.

That’s a drawback to Facebook. I love staying connected to my friends, and I am so, so, so thrilled to see the daily happenings of my old friends and acquaintances on Facebook. Sometimes I’m tempted to pop on Facebook to connect with friends, but it’s more productive if I sink into my story to assuage the lonely feelings.

It’s a balance. I need enough human connection to stay happy and sane, but not too much that I lose that need to sink and disappear deep into my story world—because that’s how stories get written.

Being a writer is weird, isn’t it?

Do you find a certain amount of social deprivation helps your writing? Does loneliness pull you deeper into your story world? Does your word count go up when your social interactions go down?

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Written by Natasha Fondren in: Full-Time Writing |

Life as the Art of Practicing

I’ve spent most of my life practicing. Hours and hours before I even went to conservatory. Then after, if I wasn’t practicing myself, I was teaching the kids to practice. And later, I added a writing practice and a Taekwondo practice.

It’s probably no surprise that I love practicing.

Breathing has been a difficult activity, lately. The other day I had yet another asthma attack. I still get afraid—of having to spend a fortune going to the hospital, of waiting too long to go to the hospital, of passing out. You know, not being able to breathe is a little scary. :-P

And then I had a thought: what if I pretended that an asthma attack was merely a practice session for conquering fear?

I decided that every time I get an asthma attack, I’m going to practice not being afraid. I’m going to pretend like it’s the end of a race, when you’re pushing as hard as you can and you feel like your lungs are going to burst and it hurts like hell.

At that moment, people tend to push through and run with all their heart and win—or they don’t.

So my idea is that every time I have an asthma attack, I’m going to pretend I’m racing. And I’m going to practice being the kind of person who runs all the faster at the end of a race.

That way, conquering fear will be that much easier in real life.

I almost can’t wait for my next asthma attack.

Have you ever used a difficult part of your life as practice?

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Written by Natasha Fondren in: Musings | Tags:

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