Leaping Before You Look

by Amanda Linehan on March 27, 2014

in Personal Growth

I wrote a post a few years ago, How I Quit My Job When I Didn’t Have Another One Lined Up, that popped into my head recently. I went back and re-read it, and I had another thought about that process, one that I didn’t get into in that post. So, here’s the thought:

Sometimes You Need to Leap Before You Look.

I explained in that post that on my last day of work, I had applied and interviewed for precisely one job. It was my first choice moving forward, but I had always planned to keep applying and interviewing at other places too. I just hadn’t done that yet.

I gave about three weeks notice at my job, and at that point, I hadn’t even gotten the call saying I had an interview yet. I had only applied, and that had been a couple of months prior.

So, when I decided to give my notice, I had one job application out and nothing else. I had almost nothing in the way of actually moving toward a new job, but I gave that notice anyway.

I remember sitting with my supervisor (who, very fortunately, I had a good relationship with) having a one on one meeting and I must have looked completely dejected at my assignments coming up because he finally asked me if everything was OK.

Before I could answer the question, I started to cry.

I’m not a big cryer to begin with, and that’s the only time I’ve ever cried on the job, but in that moment, I broke. I had been trying to hold on for so long that when the tiniest thing cracked my facade, I completely crumbled.

Long story short, my supervisor finally said to me, “you need to decide what you want to do,” meaning make the decision as to whether I would stay or not, and in that instant, I knew exactly what the answer was.

I needed to leave.

Even though I didn’t have much lined up in the way of another job, I knew that was the answer for me.

I let my supervisor know the very next day that I would be leaving, and he encouraged me to quickly let our Regional Manager know so they could get moving on finding a replacement. I gave my official notice by the end of that week.

A little over a week later, I got a phone call from the one place I had applied to saying they wanted to bring me in for an interview, and we set it up for a day during my last week of work.

After I got off the phone, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I had only gotten the interview because I had let go of my old job first.

There was no logical reason to think that, as, practically speaking, they were completely unrelated events, but still, that was my first thought.

This wasn’t cause and effect, as it wasn’t possible that quitting my old job had directly lead to me getting an interview, but I wondered if something else was at play here. That letting go of the old, and committing to a new path, had opened up enough space in my life for this new thing to enter it.

A Few More Tidbits

The story ends where I leave my job, accept the new one, and never look back. Until about two years later when I got curious and looked up my old company.

It no longer existed.

About a year after I quit my job, I happened to drive into a nearby shopping center where one of the locations (not my location) of my former company was located. The weird thing was that it didn’t seem to be there.

I was on the other side of the shopping center and didn’t bother driving closer. I drove home and forgot about it.

Fast forward another year, and I thought about that moment in the shopping center, so I searched for my former company.

Turns out that half of the locations closed down by the end of the year, 2007 ( I quit in April of that year), including the location where I had worked. And by the middle of  2009, the entire company went out of business.

I had been on a sinking ship, and hadn’t realized it. But I didn’t go down with the boat because I had already taken the leap.

 

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My 3 Favorite Quotes

by Amanda Linehan on March 17, 2014

in Quotes

Hepburn_quote2Miller_QuoteLeigh_quote

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Wattpad

by Amanda Linehan on March 13, 2014

in Announcements

I recently joined Wattpad, and have been posting some of my fiction there.

Currently, I’m posting my young adult novel, Dragon, by chapter. Chapter 11 went up this past Sunday, and I’m posting a chapter every Sunday until the book is complete. Dragon has 21 chapters, so that brings us to sometime in May when it will be completely posted.

I also have a romance short story posted, Their Love Could Follow Moonstones, which is from my flash fiction collection, Writing on the Walls Volume 1.

In the near future, I’m going to post some more short stories, and when Dragon is all complete, I’ll probably start posting Uncover (my other young adult novel) chapter by chapter.

Wattpad is free to use. You just have to sign up. And for anyone who doesn’t know, Wattpad is a site for reading and sharing stories.

If you would like to follow me there and/or read some of my fiction, my username is amandalinehan.

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Can’t Sleep? Try A Gratitude List.

by Amanda Linehan on March 10, 2014

in Living

Gratitude lists are certainly not my original idea. I have used them to good effect, though.

In fact, I don’t use them enough. But when I have, not only have they made me more appreciative and serene, but they have even helped me fall asleep when I had been laying awake in the middle of the night. I tried it because it was the only thing I could think of to do.

The basic idea of a gratitude list is writing down or thinking of as many things as you can that you are grateful for. Sometimes this isn’t so hard, and at other times you have to dig deep. But, I’ve also found that once you get rolling, the easier it gets.

If you’ve ever tried doing this, especially at times when you think your life is falling apart, cultivating gratitude almost instantly makes you feel better.

Even if the first few items on your list are: 1. I’m alive 2. The sun is shining and 3. I made it through all those green lights on the way home from work, it’s something. And you can always go from there.

I’m generally a really good sleeper, so nights where I can’t get to sleep at all or I pop awake in the middle of the night and start ruminating are unusual (which I am grateful for, by the way).

But one night, I popped awake and couldn’t stop thinking about a stressful relationship issue. An hour passed by and I still wasn’t back to sleep yet. I was getting more and more physically uncomfortable (too hot, too cold, can’t find the right position to sleep in, etc.) and my mind was running at full speed.

I was getting up to go to work the next morning, and I hate having to wake up early and go into the office when I haven’t slept well, so I was getting worried that I might not be able to get back to sleep.

I tried taking off all my blankets and laying in the cold for a while, which is a trick I will use when I can’t sleep (because then I can put all my blankets back on and get toasty warm again. This will often put me right out.) and it wasn’t working.

Finally, I started to make a mental gratitude list because I figured that if my mind was active anyway, I might as well put it to good use.

I’m sure I started off with things like the fact that I was in a comfortable bed, that I was warm, that I have a secure house, and I went from there.

The list went on and I kept thinking of more and more things. I felt calm where I had been anxious, and comfortable where I had been restless, and soon I didn’t need to continue with my gratitude list.

Because I had fallen asleep. :)

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How To Take A Nap

by Amanda Linehan on March 3, 2014

in Living

  1. Recognize that you are sleepy. Or that you need a break. Maybe you’d like to feel refreshed for the second half of your day. Whatever your reasoning, acknowledge that you’d like to take a nap.
  2. Forget about feeling guilty. Let that go. If you want to rest, rest. If somewhere deep inside of you there lives a belief that says, ‘adults don’t sleep during the day, only four year olds do that,’ let that go (and you may want to examine where that comes from – later – not during naptime, of course. ;) ) Or, if you are worried that taking a break and resting for a little bit will throw off your productivity, try it and see what happens. My prediction is that the earth won’t fly off it’s axis and your life will be mostly the same as it was before you laid down to take a nap.
  3. Pick the perfect time. You know that time, somewhere in the middle of the afternoon, when you’re dying to get horizontal and close your eyes. That’s the time. For me, that sweet spot is somewhere between 2 – 4 pm (and it probably is for a lot of other people too). Going much later than 4pm for a nap, except in extenuating circumstances, leaves me feeling groggy for longer than I want. So I try to keep my napping to the mid-afternoon. You may be different. Just find your own sweet spot.
  4. Pick the perfect spot. My preferred place to nap is on the couch in my living room, with a blanket. This doesn’t always work if there are other people occupying the living room, however. Sometimes I’ll nap in my bed, but oddly  enough, I don’t prefer my bed for napping. Also, you may need to get creative if you’re not at your house and you want to nap. When I’m at work, and go out for lunch, I’ll sometimes see people sitting in their cars in the multi-level garage where I park with their eyes closed, presumably napping. Maybe not the most ideal spot, but it gets the job done. I do something similar except I drive to a nearby park first. It’s really peaceful there and I can see green things like trees and grass. ;) I don’t always fall asleep, but that’s OK. Closing my eyes in the middle of the day is luxury enough.
  5. Set a timer. I used to just free-form my naps. Meaning that I laid down, fell asleep and woke up when I woke up. I might have set an alarm if I had to get up and do something, but otherwise I just let my body fall asleep and wake up when it wanted to. Now, however, I find it better to actually set a timer for napping. I’ll usually set it for twenty minutes. It’s amazing how refreshed I feel after being asleep for only five or ten minutes. (I don’t usually fall asleep right away when I nap, and sometimes I don’t actually fall asleep at all.) It might seem like five or ten minutes of sleep isn’t worth anything, but I beg to differ. Sleeping too long in the afternoon will leave me groggier than I would like. I want to rest and feel refreshed, not feel like my nap is dragging behind me the rest of the day, so timing it is the way to go.
  6. Don’t fret if you don’t fall asleep. Even when I don’t fall asleep, I find my naps refreshing. Just getting to be quiet, still, and comfortable while closing my eyes is fantastic. And if I do sleep, that’s just icing on the cake. If you lay down and have a lot of thoughts, don’t worry, when you notice you’re having one, gently let it go and bring your awareness back to your body in some way. Don’t turn nap time into some kind of competition or goal. Don’t try to be efficient. Nap time is never wasted even if you’re not sleeping.
  7. Do it again. If you found your nap to be enjoyable and refreshing, do it again another day. Make it a part of your routine, even. Dare to sleep in the middle of the day. Even if only four year olds are supposed to do that. :)

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What If You Couldn’t Succeed?

by Amanda Linehan on February 24, 2014

in Inspiration

Sometimes when we’re stuck, the well-meaning person we’re talking to might ask us, “What would you do if you couldn’t fail?”

And this is a good question, as many of us are afraid of failure in our endeavors, so if we imagine a world where the possibility of failure is completely removed, this might get us moving forward in a way we hadn’t thought of yet. It opens possibilities for us.

But, earlier this week, I flipped this question around, and asked myself “What would I do if I couldn’t succeed?”

I imagined a world in which I somehow knew for certain that I would never succeed. Specifically, I was think about writing fiction and being able to support myself fully from that one day, which is a non-goal that I have. ;)

I asked myself, “If I somehow knew for certain that I could never, ever succeed in writing fiction and having a full-time income come from that, what would I do? How would I go about writing/publishing? How would I live my life?” And almost immediately, I felt a sense of freedom and relief.

In a nutshell, if I knew I could never succeed with writing, I would do whatever I wanted to do. :) I would follow my creativity and inspiration wherever it lead. I wouldn’t worry and fret about this and that not happening. I would experiment, I would take risks, I would do things because I was interested in them or because I wanted to learn more or because I simply enjoyed them.

I might not ever succeed, but I would never fully fail either.

Whereas the question “What would you do if you couldn’t fail?” removes the fear of failure, the question “What would you do if you couldn’t succeed?” removes the barriers to following your inspiration, taking risks, and being as creative as you can be.

Frankly, these are the same questions, just asked in a completely opposite way. Two sides to the same coin.

If I could never succeed, then I would do things that creatively excited me, even if I thought it possible that it wouldn’t make a big splash with readers.

If I could never succeed, then I wouldn’t worry so much about making mistakes, since they would make no difference anyway. I wouldn’t worry about not having this or not having that. I would just work with what I had right now, knowing that, at least in this moment, it’s enough. And that when I did need more, I would get it.

If I could never succeed, then I would take breaks and live the other parts of my life whenever I felt that I needed to, because writing/publishing wouldn’t have to be this gray cloud that hung over my life all the time, mocking me because I hadn’t “made it” yet. I have an entire life to live, and writing is just a part of it. It would be a shame if I could never truly enjoy my life as a whole. But, if I could never succeed, then I can fully participate and be present to all parts of my life, which is quite a gift.

For all the striving that I’ve done, I’m not really sure that it’s gotten me anywhere, and along the way, I forgot to look out the windows and enjoy the scenery.

Because the real truth is, I might never succeed, and if that happens, I don’t want to have put all my eggs into this one part of my life and have ignored/avoided everything else. Because no matter how much I enjoy writing/publishing, it’s not my life, it’s not who I am, it’s not Me. I’m Me.

So, if I could never succeed, then I’m actually free to fail and be present to the process along the way. And that is all I can ask for.

I would hate to get to the end of my life and be disappointed because I didn’t achieve something, as if that was the only marker for a life well lived. And let’s face it folks, at the end, you’re going anyway, and when you’re gone, everything that you’ve done or didn’t do, doesn’t matter anymore. Like the expression says, “There are no pockets in shrouds.”

But, if I’m free to fail, then I’ll write that story that a lot of people might not like, because I enjoy writing it and there are at least a few people who will enjoy reading it.

If I’m free to fail, then when I’m writing the story that a lot of people might not like, and I want to write something that might not work, or that’s too outrageous, or that will get criticized, I’ll write it anyway, because I’m experimenting and seeing where that takes me.

If I’m free to fail, and learning something new in the publishing/promotion process, I’ll just do it, even if I feel like I haven’t got a clue what I’m doing. Because I can learn along the way, and change things as necessary. It’s not that big of a deal.

So if you’ve tried asking yourself how you would live if you couldn’t fail, and couldn’t quite get moving the way that you would like, you might want to try asking yourself how you would live if you couldn’t succeed, and see where that takes you.

I could also just be really weird. ;) But flipping this question around has brought me a freedom that I hadn’t found before, and ultimately, gives me a new lens through which to look at my life.

So if you knew, for certain, without a doubt, that no matter what you did you couldn’t succeed? What would you do?

 

 

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An Alternative To Goals

by Amanda Linehan on January 6, 2014

in Personal Growth

It’s that time of year again when a lot of us create new goals and plans for how to reach them. The beginning of a new year is a hugely optimistic time and I think all of us do a lot of thinking about what we’d like to have or develop in the upcoming year.

Although I do spend time at the end of one year/beginning of the next thinking about things I’d like to have, do, or improve in the upcoming year, I have found myself settling into a much more fluid way of creating and achieving goals. So much so, that the term “goal” might not even be appropriate. (But, we don’t need to be that nit-picky.)

Creating Goals

Part of my issue with goals is the setting of them in the first place. In the past, I might sit down at a specific time for the specific purpose of creating goals, maybe categorized by different areas of my life. But what I found was that my best goals sort of just “arose” in their own time.

When I sat down with the specific purpose of creating goals, sometimes they just felt uninspired or forced. So, even though it was the new year I might not come up with any goals that really made me feel something. My best goal that I created that year, may have popped into my mind while I was at the grocery store or sitting at my desk at work.

Goals and Desires and Swimming

Which brings me to my next point. The word “goal” has a very purposeful connotation, but, really, isn’t a goal just a want or a desire? It just sounds a little better than saying, “here are my desires for the year.” The word “desires” is a little fuzzier. But, for me, that’s why I think I like it.

In the course of your days and weeks, you are exposed to so many things that it’s almost impossible to not to have desires creep up on you. And these, I think, make the best goals.

A couple of years ago now, I’m not sure why, but the desire to do some swimming for exercise popped into my mind. Although I can swim, I’m not a swimmer – not for exercise or competition or anything more than wading in the ocean or enjoying a pool in the summertime. But the thought wouldn’t leave me.

Over the next eight or nine months, the idea of swimming stayed with me, but I didn’t have access to a pool and wasn’t really sure how well I would do swimming laps – if I had the skill or endurance.

The thought kind of incubated in mind over these months, but I didn’t take any action. It just didn’t feel right. And then, one day, it felt right.

It was like, the idea had gestated and now felt ready to be put into action. I can’t explain this really well. It’s just a feeling that I get. I feel particularly energized and attracted to whatever it is that I want to do. Almost like I’m being pulled toward it and I can’t stop that pull (but I don’t want to).

I joined the local YMCA, bought an appropriate bathing suit and some goggles and got in the water. (By the way, I was pretty bad at first! I found lap swimming very difficult and had trouble making it one length of the pool. But there was something telling me to just keep going, so I did.)

Long story short, I started swimming, was not very good, but eventually was talking to another swimmer at the pool who recommended a “learn to swim” program that I did end up buying and following, and I’m happy to report that I’ve gotten a lot better and swimming is now much more enjoyable.

So, I guess you could say that I reached my goal in this situation. But the truth is that I’m not sure it was ever really a goal in the first place. Swimming was just a desire that arose one day for me, and I followed the feeling of that desire to it’s completion. (And, really, there is no completion because I’m still swimming and still improving, and will always.)

Goals, Your Gut and The Road Ahead

Sometimes I think that setting goals requires you to “use your eyes” too much, rather than your gut. You look out into your life and see the things that are missing, and then you try to fill those in.

My goal of swimming didn’t fill any particular purpose in my life. If I had sat down and taken a good look at my life, I wouldn’t have seen learning to swim as filling in any holes in my life. It just came to me one day, and I couldn’t let it go. The opportunity arose and I took it, even though it sort of came out of left field.

Goals can make you think that you’ve got everything under control. That you’ve planned it all out, and with perfect execution you can get exactly to where you thought you would go.

But then something happens. Maybe a good thing, maybe a bad thing, but a thing nonetheless and reaching your goal becomes that much more difficult. Or, you just don’t have the motivation to follow it anymore. Any you realize that no matter what you planned out, the Universe sometimes just has different plans for you.

So, really, goals aren’t necessary. You’ll still have wants and desires (and if you want to call them goals, go ahead, this is really just a semantics thing and the way that I like to think about it), and if the opportunity arises and it feels right you can follow them. And if it stops feeling right, you can drop them. Or just maintain them without growing them. Anyway is fine.

I’m not really sure that at this point in my life I have goals anymore. I have things that I want, I have desires and I do follow them. But mostly, I see what comes up in front of me and take the opportunities that I get.

It feels good not to think that I can plan everything out and get there just the way I thought (although sometimes this thinking does creep back into my mind). And it’s probably more realistic.

I’ll get to where I’m going. It’ll probably just be a really winding, twisty kind of road.

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Free PDF Copies Of Fiction Titles

by Amanda Linehan on December 20, 2013

in Announcements

This is just a quick post to let you know that I now have free PDF copies of all of my available fiction titles on the My Fiction page of this blog.

Feel free to download, read and share these copies, and let me know what you think. Either by leaving a comment on the My Fiction page or by contacting me through email or social media.

For the near future, I plan to keep adding copies of all of my fiction titles to the list of free PDFs, so if you see a new story go up in the sidebar or a post about a new title, check the My Fiction page and the PDF copy will very likely be there.

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NaNoWriMo and Losing

by Amanda Linehan on December 5, 2013

in Writing

November is over. Novels (or parts thereof) have been written, and though I did participate in NaNoWriMo for the first time since 2009, I did not repeat my previous “win” from that year. (Previous NaNoWriMo 2013 posts here and here.) No big deal though, there was plenty that I got out of it.

  1. I wrote 37,955 words of my novel, North (working title for now, may actually be the title when all is said and done). This is more than I would have written in a typical month so that’s cool. Nothing like a little outside motivation to get you moving a little faster.
  2. Writing without any written plans/notes/outlines turned out great. I really like this way of writing, and though there were a few places where I slowed down, I didn’t really get stuck anywhere. I think this will continue to be a part of my writing process in the future. NaNoWriMo is great for experimentation.
  3. Lastly, I really enjoyed participating in write-ins with other NaNoWriMo participants. And I also resurrected my participation in the local writing group I belong to (since the write-ins were organized through that group), so I think that’s two birds with one stone.

I will admit to being a little bummed when I realized that I was slowing down and didn’t think I’d be able to catch up by November 30, but I just weighed my options. Push myself forward to get it done and maybe cause myself some unnecessary stress, or let go  of the “win” and just see how far I could get.

While I was thinking this all through, it occurred to me that “winning” NaNoWriMo or not doesn’t really come with any consequences, positive or negative. If you “win,” you get the personal satisfaction of reaching a goal and achieving something (which is not necessarily a small thing), but nothing else. And, if you lose, nothing happens either. So, in the end, I just let go of the 50,000 word mark, knowing that I would finish the novel anyway. And if completing the draft happened in December or January, no big deal.

I think next year, I may not push myself towards the 50,000 word mark at all. I think I may just set up a writing schedule and see how close I can get using my own natural creative/writing rhythms. That will be a good experiment. :)

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NaNoWriMo and The Way I Work

by Amanda Linehan on November 11, 2013

in Writing

NaNoWriMo 2013 is over a week underway, and so far so good.

I’m a little ahead of where I need to be in terms of word count and I’m really enjoying my story! I think “pantsing” this story was definitely the way to go, as I’m constantly surprised along the way. It’s a little scary too – when I start a plot point and am not sure how it’s going to play out. I have to just wait until I get there and see what happens!

All of this writing over the last week has got me thinking about the way I work, because while I’m doing NaNo I have to stretch myself a bit. Some thoughts:

A Little Each Day or A Lot Every So Often

My work style tends to be that I like to write a (relatively) small amount each day, but write almost every day. I don’t get too tired this way and I always feel refreshed when I sit down the next day to write.

In contrast, although I have been writing everyday since November 1, I’ve been writing amounts that are larger than what I usually write.

I’m pretty comfortable writing 1000 words in a sitting, which takes me about an hour, but for NaNo I’ve been trying to write at least 2,000 words per day and I’ve had some days where I’ve written over 3,000.

For some writers, these amounts in a day or in one sitting aren’t bad at all, but for my little plodding fingers, feels like a lot. I’m definitely more tired after writing 2,000 or 2,500 words at a time than I am writing a thousand, but if I’m going to hit 50,000 words for the month some part of my normal process has got to give, and what’s giving is the amount i’m writing in a day.

The Space Between

Another reason I like to write a little each day is that it provides me with a lot of space between writing sessions.

I can write in the morning, finish up what I want to get done for the day and not have to think about it again until the next morning.

I like that gap because I feel refreshed the next time I sit down to write. And I like to think that my subconscious is working away on the story while I’m doing other things, so when I sit back down again I’m better prepared to continue telling the story than I would have been had I been slaving over it.

I’ve found myself wanting to get away from my story, wanting more separation from it since I’m not getting as much of a gap between writing sessions. And I’m enjoying my story! But even still, I want more space from it.

Early Birds and Night Owls

I’m definitely a morning person and this information is not new to me. No matter what I’m doing, I simply have more energy in the morning, so, if at all possible, I like to write early in the day – no later than lunch time.

Again, NaNo has forced me to go outside my comfort zone here, and what I’m finding is that I definitely can write at other times of day, it just doesn’t feel as good.

And, no matter when I write or how good I feel, when I go back through and read what I’ve written I can’t really tell the difference, so this may just be a matter of morale for me.

I feel good when I write in the morning, so when I write in the morning I feel good. And feeling good leaves me in better spirits about the story as a whole and about life in general.

It’s nice to know that I can write anytime and have it be decent. It’s just interesting to me that maybe writing when I have the most energy simply leaves me feeling better overall.

With or Without Others

I think what has surprised me the most over the past eleven days is how much I enjoyed writing along side of other people, as I often think that one reason I’m drawn to writing is because I enjoy working by myself.

Last week, I attended a “write-in” with maybe fifteen or so other writers and found it really enjoyable and motivating.

I had never, not once, written in the presence of other people who are also writing, so I was pleasantly surprised. I thought I might not be able to focus as well (not to mention that it was in the evening), but I found that pretty easy.

So what I’ve learned about my work process so far is that I can work outside it, but there is a reason I have a preferred work process to begin with: for enjoyment.

Thinking about all the above sections, with the exception of writing with others, I would choose my way over any other way if given the choice. It’s simply what I enjoy the most.

And as far as writing with others goes, this is one of the reasons why NaNoWriMo is so great. It affords you the opportunity to have camaraderie with other writers, which is saying something considering how solitary writing is.

I think this is a great addition to my work process. :)

 

 

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