Welcome to my new blog home. It was with a very heavy heart that I have finally left LiveJournal where I have been happily blogging and building a water-cooler network of friends for seven years. But the technical issues that LiveJournal continued to have made it more frustrating than fun to blog so it was time to go. On the plus side, I was easily able to move all my old posts over here. Now they are nicely categorized and tagged and will be a much better resource for people to use. On the down side, no comments were able to be imported and that’s rather heart-breaking when I consider some of the wonderful conversations I’ve had with people over the years. I decided I could spend who knows how much time trying to hack the code and have it maybe work or I could just let it go. People can still go back and comment on any old posts here and I’m motivated to write entertaining and helpful posts to get some new conversations up and running.
Some of my popular posts from the past, such as the series Of Dogs and Writing, have been added as menu items at the top.
I’ve gone a long while without blogging. Part of it due to the frustrations with LiveJournal, part of it to do with this shiny new website my blog is a part of now, and part of it is just plain life. And so it goes.
I’ve been working on a lot of art lately and am excited to announce that I am going to be in my first show at the Axis Art Gallery in San Jose. The opening reception is February 29th and exhibit will run through the month of March. Read more details about the show, and if you’re in the San Jose area, I hope you’ll stop by to see the beautiful art our group has created.
I’m putting the finishing touches on another website that will showcase my California native plant garden and talk about our journey to claim a little bit of space for wildlife in the middle of this busy city.
I’m also starting to plan something fun for National Poetry Month. In the past I’ve written a poem a day for the month of April (see the menu for each year’s collection) but this year I’m going to do it with a little interactive twist. Stay tuned for more details.
Old friends and new, I bid you welcome. Poke around the blog and website and since I’ve just moved in, please let me know if something isn’t working the way you expect it to.
Hello blog. It’s been a while. First things slowed down (in the middle of the series about my incarcerated teen poets) because Livejournal had the attack on their servers and then, well, life intervened, as it has a way of doing. And even though people say you don’t need to say to write a post about being gone I feel compelled to say a few things. Three, I think.
Number one, a couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of going to Las Vegas to speak at their SCBWI conference. I had a wonderful time talking about creating characters and met some enthusiastic writers. But if that wasn’t enough of an event, the day after the conference I had the pleasure of finally meeting the half-sister I never knew I had.
My lovely niece capture the very first hug.
What do you think, can you see a resemblence?
We spent a wonderful day together talking about similarities and differences and telling family stories. And as I posted on Facebook (forgive me for those of you reading this/seeing pics a second time) there will always be a hole in my heart from not knowing my dad but getting to my sister and some of the rest of the family goes a long way toward filling that up again.
Second, I’ve been spending a lot of my time and energy on learning how to eat in new ways and man, that takes more time than I realized. It’s taken most of my focus just to get into these new habits but now I’m feeling like yes, they are habits. I’m maintaining the healthy course I want to be on and I don’t feel at all deprived. I’ve lost 38 pounds so far and plan on keeping with the program until I am as healthy as I can be and then staying on the program to keep myself that way. And by “program” I don’t mean something like Weight Watchers or Jenny Craig or some diet with a catchy name. I count calories and track it every day. I’ve cut out sugar and flour except for rare occassions. And that’s about it. It really is that simple.
And third, I’ve been able to focus on my writing again. At last. In the past year I’ve let go of a ton of emotional baggage that has been weighing me down for years. And then there’s the whole getting healthy thing. Not eating the right foods was rotting my brain and affecting my ability to focus. So I’m back to work, hard and fast, on my YA verse novel, coincidentally enough, about a very interesting pair of sisters. I’m sure you’ll get to know them a bit better as the character letters start going back and forth again.
I’m a lucky gal. Life is good and I’m smart enough to know it. You know those songs where they say, “I feel like I could fly…” Well it’s like that.
Yeah, just like that.
So hello blog, I’ve missed you.
The mattress on our bed has a mountain running right down the middle of it. I think it’s fairly common when two people share the same mattress for years. You each sink into comfort on your own side of the bed and then, over time, this mountain forms in the middle. We turn the bed on a regular basis but still, there it is. When we bought the bed the salesguy told us it would form a hump in the middle and that was not considered a flaw in the mattress. It just was what it was. Accept that the mountain would one day appear and there wasn’t a darn thing I would be able to do about it.
Most of the time I don’t think much about the mountain unless I’m trying to roll over and it suddenly feels like I am trying to roll myself uphill. A few times I’ve gotten frustrated with it and piled all sorts of heavy objects on top of it, hoping by bedtime that it would have miraculously flattened back down again. Of course that never worked.
This morning I woke up sleeping on an angle, half on the mountain and half rolling down the hill, and I smiled. I’m sure the smile was influenced by my before-bed reading of Patti Digh’s book Creative is a Verb. I thank her for that.
There are always going to be mountains in our lives. I usually throw myself at them with equal parts of anger that I have to climb yet another dang mountain and blind energy to just hurry up and get it over with. Forget about other plans or enjoying the view. There’s a mountain in my way and I need to get past it.
Or do I? As Patti said In my reading last night, "You are always in choice."
Not every mountain needs climbing. Lots of the time you can walk around it. Take another route. Or maybe, just sit at the foot of the mountain and contemplate its place in your life. Embrace the mountain and sometimes they vanish right before your eyes. Gather supplies, make a plan, and go ahead and climb.
But the important thing to remember is you don’t have to climb every mountain. You are always in choice.
Along with this award comes a few responsibilities.
1. Thank and link to the person(s) who nominated you.
2. Share seven random facts about yourself.
3. Pass the award along to five blogging buddies.
4. Contact those buddies to congratulate them.
Now for my seven things. I was going to do them about me but really, I’m not very exciting. So instead I thought I’d do it about some projects that are vying for attention in my writing brain.
I have seven projects of interest. Now the trick is, of course, to pick one, commit and finish it. But it seems I no soon pick and commit that another one is waving a hand and begging for my attention. Then there are the days when none of them are talking to me and I figure I’m just going to give up writing and become one of those statistics that didn’t live up to her potential which means, (according to Celebrity Apprentice) someone who isn’t doing their work. Anyway, here are some thoughts about the seven near work-in-progress projects I have.
1. A young adult verse novel which has me struggling with how to merge the inspiration of the true story, two sisters who never knew the other one existed, with the fictional reality of a book that would be interesting and meaningful to teens. What I love about this is the idea of doing a verse novel for teens and being able to push the envelope farther than I did with Hugging the Rock. What worries me about this is trying to tell a story in two voices and somehow tie it all together.
2. Max. A middle grade prose novel that deals with animal abuse and child abuse. So a dark, dark place to journey. What I love about this is the relationship between the main character and the dog in his life. What worries me about it is that it is so dark that it won’t work for the middle grade audience. And I worry about pulling myself out of the dark places this book will take me.
3. Plant Kid. A middle grade prose novel about a boy’s discovery of native plants and the man who mentors him. Of course I love the native plants and gardening aspect of it but I worry that there’s no plot and that it would be a total snooze fest for this age group.
4. Flyboy. A young adult prose novel about a boy who loves to fly and his search for where he fits into his world. Hmmm…sounds like the story of my life. I have loved Flyboy for 25 years. I am afraid I might have overloved him. Perhaps after finding my father, learning more about my family, maybe I don’t need to write this book anymore. But after having so many years invested in this story and becoming, I hope, a better writer over time, I would like to think I could still write it.
5. An adult memoir based on the poems I wrote last year, for National Poetry Month, about the father I never knew. I love the idea of writing a memoir in verse. I got some wonderful support in the writing of the poems last year. But I have also, in times since, gotten some really harsh feedback on them as a memoir project so I don’t know if I am strong enough to go there again.
6. Essays about dogs and writing. I want to do this, to do something with the essays I wrote in the series of blog posts, "Of Dogs and Writing" but I confess, I queried a few people about it a year or so ago, got some negative feedback, and dropped the ball. I don’t think a traditional publisher would buy this. But I am pondering the idea of self-publishing it through Lulu or CreateSpace or something like that. It’s just hard to convince myself it would be worth the time and effort it would take.
7. Some kind of art and poetry project, perhaps native plant poetry combined with some of my collage work. But again, this would probably have to be self-published. I think it’s wonderful that we have the opportunities to publish our own work when it is the right move for us but I worry, after being involved with the traditional publishing world for so long, if self-publishing would feel odd to me.
Hmm…I was hopeful that writing these out would help me focus but I guess it isn’t going to be that easy.
I’m going to pass the award along to the following people because I would like to know more about them.
Boy, after National Poetry month I seem to have fallen off the blog wagon, again. I had a Friday Five, sort of, in my head. But this morning five seems like four too many so I have just one random thought.
About a month ago I cut my hair. It was long, long enough to sit on. Long enough to make an impact when I walked into a room and I’ll admit, that impact was a big factor in me keeping it long for such a well, long time.
But I cut it. Cut off 13". More than a foot. Cut it so it is a little below my shoulders.
I expected to get a little bit of attention when people saw me for the first time because, to me, it was such a dramatic (almost traumatic) event. In the month since I cut it I can count on one hand the people that noticed it. And they were all in the same room at the same time. After that, nothing.
Now granted, if I were still working in cubicle land I think more people might have noticed but still it surprised me. And heck, if I’m being honest, it hurt for a bit. Then I realized there is an important lesson here for me if I am smart enough to internalize it:
What you think you look like matters less than you think, so quit worrying about it so much.
Food for thought. I think.
Laura Salas and Lisa Bullard have teamed up for a wonderful new offering for writers at all stages of their careers.
Mentors for Rent is an hourly service that gives you the chance to chat via Skype or conference phone call with both Laura and Lisa where they’ll answer your questions about the craft and the business of writing for kids and young adults. They’ll even critique your manuscript on the spot.
I was going to post this on Friday for a Friday five but then it started getting really long. Then I was going to post it on Saturday and didn’t. By Sunday I convinced myself to wait until Monday. That’s the way my thought process has been going these days.
I haven’t been around the blogosphere lately because I’ve been doing a lot of pondering about myself and my writing and my online life and art and a whole bunch of stuff. Not sure that many folks even read this any more because I haven’t been good about interacting and I know that’s what makes you fall off of other people’s radar. Anyway, here are some thoughts around some of the things I’ve been thinking.
1. It’s important to think about the whys behind your doing of things.
I have become (mostly unintentionally) greatly disconnected from the online world. Some of this is a carryover from all the house stuff last year but some of it is me dog-paddling for so long that I just don’t have the energy to keep it up anymore. Hard to keep swimming when you don’t see any land in sight. So lately I’m not Tweeting. I’m not blogging or responding to blogs. I’m trying to keep up on Facebook status updates but that’s about it. In some ways this has been good. Online is noisy and even if the noise is virtual, for me it’s like being at a rock concert 24/7. And I don’t do concerts.
Taking in all that info, trying to remember who to check in with, making the rounds and making the rounds and then, one more time, making the rounds it can drain me. It can also fill me, when there’s the give and take with people but because of my unintentional disconnect, there hasn’t been that give and take. I’ve taken from everyone for too long without giving back so people move on. I understand. It’s the way things work. The trouble is figuring out where to jump back in again because it’s not just the jumping in…it’s the convincing myself to keep going beyond those quiet times while things build back up again. So this has been the subject of much pondering on my part.
I recently bought and watched a CD from Brene Brown called The Hustle For Worthniess which was an extension from one of her books (sorry, I can’t remember which one) but the idea of hustling around, doing things we think will make us worthy of someone’s attention rang a little bit too true for me. So I’ve been wondering, why do I Tweet? Why do I use Facebook? And most importantly, why do I blog? Am I trying to help other people or am I seeking attention for myself? And if I want the attention, is that a bad thing, a hustling for worthiness sort of thing? I’m still trying to figure that one out. What confuses me is that a friend told me recently that I am at my best when I put myself out there with honesty and transparency. That rings true for me but then it is all about me, me, me and I don’t know that I am offering anything else to the world.
2. Not everything you try is going to work, and that’s okay.
I am probably going to retire The Poetry Push I started on Tuesdays. It hasn’t taken off and I know that a big reason for that is because of my own lack of participation in the event and in other online things. I think the result might have been different if I had started it during a peak rather than a valley. I might use the list poem prompts as my project for National Poetry month since that’s coming up next month and I have no idea what I am going to do for that. Two years ago when I participated for the first time I wrote haiku about my native garden. Last year I wrote poems about the father I never knew.This year I have no idea. I thought about trying to write poems about Cassie but I don’t know if I could come up with 30 of them. I thought about doing a different poetry prompt each day, doing the exercise myself and hoping more people would participate. I thought about trying to write about art and what it is adding/doing to my life. But so far nothing seems both right and achievable. Because I really hate failing.
3. Play time is an important gift to give yourself, especially guilt-free play time.
I gave myself the gift of March as an entire month of play. It came about as a result of taking with a friend about working and not working and she said you know, there’s a big difference between not working and beating yourself up about it and feeling guilty and then, instead, giving yourself permission to take time off and then not feeling guilty about not working. She was right so when I went to my Asilomar conference at the end of March I let myself think about which one I was doing and finally decided to give myself a month of guilt-free play. I’ve been taking painting lessons online and doing a lot of art. I’ve been sitting in the garden and doing nothing. I’ve been reading non-fiction. And I’ve been waiting for stories to tell me they want me to pay attention to them. The stories, well they’ve surprised me. I’ve been reading more poetry and feeling, at times, less like writing it. I am being drawn back to some middle grade prose ideas I’ve played with. Then of course I start to second-guess myself about why I feel less like writing poetry when I go back and read what I’ve written and mostly like it. I think some of it has to do with the labels and pressures that are placed on verse novelists. (Not that labels and pressures aren’t places on all writers.) Which goes back to my first point and wondering if it is about chasing worthiness again? I’ll continue to let myself see-saw on story thoughts for the next couple of weeks and see how I feel at the end of March.
4. Doing something with a friend makes it more fun. Plus there’s that accountability factor.
Some of you might have read
5. Learning something new makes you look at everything else in life differently.
I’ve been mostly focused on art this month and really stretching myself to learn a lot of new things about art in a short amount of time. I love the excitement that comes with learning something new. I love the lack of pressure that comes from being a newbie. I love making "mistakes" and just letting go of the mistake as learning experience and not beating myself up.
I dug into my stash of "beautiful blank books" and just started throwing paint on the blank pages. (oh yes, artists suffer from blank page syndrome just like writers do.) I wanted to overcome the idea that the book was too beautiful for me to use and anything I put into it had to be beautiful too. I had a stash of craft paints that have (to me) a horrible chalky texture that I can’t stand to touch, especially after becoming addicting to Golden Fluid Acrylics. So I decided to use them as a first layer in a new art journal. Every time Cassie rang the bell to go outside I’d sit down at the art desk and slap a coat of paint on a couple of pages. After about a week the journal is mostly filled up with color. Some color I like. Some I don’t. It doesn’t matter. It just the first layer and it’s only paint. I can paint over it. I can collage over it. I can even rip the pages out if I really don’t like it. But I no longer have a blank page staring at me. Now I have something to edit. Just like writing. You can’t revise a blank page.
As usual this went on a lot longer than most people want to read but hey, I’m consistent with my gabbiness. Here’s hoping to be around the blogosphere more in the future.
I've been dealing with some health stuff this week so it has been an unproductive week which makes the Friday Five a bit more difficult. But I'm going to give it a shot.
1. I am hit and miss with my 2 poems a day. More hit than miss so that's good.
2. I hit Zero In-Box with my emails. This was huge because while all the house stuff was going on and my hard drive was dying I wasn't using my Outlook mail. I just left everything in Gmail which really got to be a pain because I'm addicted to sorting my mail into folders. When I was finally able to download all my old mails and then added them to what had been in Outlook before, well I had 12,000 of them to process. I still have about 100 in my "follow-up" folder but hitting zero felt great!
3. I have confirmed in my head that my office needs to be painted green. It might be a year before I get to it and I have no idea which green because the green I used in the rest of the house reads brown in my office, but just picking the color family felt pretty darn good.
4. Our family lost a childhood friend this week, a young man, only a few years older than my son. He lived across the street from us, the oldest of three sisters and he played big brother to my son through-out his childhood. I remember him best with a skateboard under his arm. My son wrote a moving post about it here.
5.I added a new habit to nightly routine – reading a poem a night and recording what I read. I chose index cards to record the name of the poem, the book it was from, what I liked it about, any favorite parts and how it makes me feel. I haven't read enough poetry and I want to read and try to understand more of it. I keep thinking of some kind of blogging poetry community, something apart from Poetry Friday, where we could discuss poems we read because there is just so much I don't understand. I began with Billy Collins and the second poem of his I read was called Monday and spoke to the vision of the poet who is always looking out the window because there is always something there to see. I loved it until the last two stanzas but then it lost me and I wish I could talk about the poem with someone and understand what I have missed.
If you're looking for the Poetry Friday round-up, please visit A Teaching Life.
Though it might be the season for retrospectives I’m not buying into it. I am not doing a look back at 2010 because I already spend way too much time look back and wishing I had done things differently. Instead, I’m looking forward.
I’m looking forward into possibilities.
I’m looking forward, sometimes only ten minutes at a time, but that’s okay. It’s enough.
I’m looking forward because there could be something absolutely amazing waiting for me around the next corner and if I’m turned the wrong direction, I just might miss it.
Keep in mind, I live in a big, crowded Silicon Valley city. But one of the reasons we put in the native garden was to invite wildlife into our yards. We’ve been pretty sure there was a hawk hanging around the past few months because of the bird feathers we’d find every so often in the yard. Now we know it was likely this beautiful Cooper’s Hawk. I didn’t have my good camera and had to take it through the dirty window but he (she?) stuck around long enough for me to get a few pictures.
I've been away from blogging for a while due to house renovations and my inability to focus on a gazillion things at the same time. So I was trying to figure out how to ease my way back into things during one of the craziest months of the year. Christmas is light around here. I'm not doing any tree or decorations mostly because the house still isn't finished and will probably get put back together around the 23rd. That's okay. Next year I can go all out.
Anyway, at night I've been reading books of poetry and books on the craft of poetry and just trying to generally learn how to think more poetically. There were a few exercises that spoke to me but I am going to pick just one and try to do it every day. I'll post my rough efforts and invite you to play along. The idea is to learn to notice what is all around us and try to make a poem out of the simple yet specific things we see each day. Each day I will make a list of 5 things that I see and try to use them in a poem. Simple huh? We'll see.
It's late and I'm snuggled up on the couch and too lazy to move around so here are my 5 things. Feel free to use my 5 or notice 5 of your own.
layers of dust
shadows in the corner
Shadows in the corner
can't hide secrets
can't hide s
I’m so excited. The new shelves for the library were just delivered and they are even more beautiful that I had imagined. I can’t wait for our carpenter friend to come over tonight to help us attach them to the walls, remove some backings for the electronics and bolt them all together.
Can’t wait to put all the books back on there again!
I’m home after a few days in Minneapolis which mean a few days of trying (and not succeeding) at sleeping on a bed of bricks. I slept 10-1/2 hours last night and feel myself approaching human again.
There’s so much to say but right now I have to get some work done and then get to a meeting so I’ll try to blog more in depth and with some pictures, later today.
One thing I will say now is that I’m 99% sure that it is time for me to move the bulk of my blogging to a different platform, away from Livejournal. I’ve really known this for a while but have kept my eyes closed because of all the work that I know it will entail (because of course I want to keep most of my old posts) but since Winding Oak is redesigning my website it’s the right time for me to do it.
I will keep LJ for more of the friendly rants and chatty things.
KidlitCon is a week away. I’m going a little early so I can have some time with friends and my co-workers at Children’s Literature Network. The fantabulous Laura Salas is arranging a little hangout next Thursday night, the 21st, at 8:15 pm at the Holiday Inn Metrodome which is after we go to the Christopher Paul Curtis lecture that night at the Kerlan. If you want to join us Thursday night, please let me know.
I decided if I am going to Kidlitcon in a few weeks (and I am) and since it is a conference about and for bloggers, it might be a good idea for me to jump back into the blogging waters. Here goes.
I’ve probably started this blog post 20 times over the last week. I tried a Cassie post and a house post and even considered a garden post. I tried writing about the current WIP, a YA verse novel. I tried writing about the new character that just started speaking to me that has to wait. I tried writing about a lot of things but what would usually happen is that I’d get a few sentences down and I’d decide that it wasn’t witty enough for a come-back-to-blogging post.
So life, the short version.
Lots of stuff done around the house. Lots of stuff not done around the house. Susan got happy. Susan got sad. Some things changed. Some things didn’t. Life goes on. The end.
The slightly longer version. We now have a stair railing so Cassie won’t launch herself sideways off the staircase on the way down. However the guy that installed it cut the carpet wrong and now all the carpet on the stairs have to be replace. The first arguement with the painter came over varnishing the banister (one coat is good enough, right? And who really notices the bumps in the wood when you run your hand up and down the rail?) The house interiors are painted and look beautiful. The bathroom cabinets are painted and look like crap and need to be redone by a different painter (who will also be redoing the banisters.) The colors I picked for the walls are just what I wanted, however some of it ended up in places that weren’t walls. The colors on the fireplace in the new dining room, not so much. New chairs for the new sitting area are finally the ordered but the rugs are eluding me, probably because I’m not willing to pay a thousand dollars for a rug that Cassie will, at one point or another, throw up on. The wood floor is still not installed and is another month away. In the meantime furniture is bunched up in places, left from when we had to move it for the painters. Cassie’s play area has shrunk by half because there are boxes of all the stuff we took off the walls for the painting and won’t be put back up until the tile is demoed. It feels like we just moved in but were told we couldn’t unpack for a couple of months. The built-in bookcases for the library were scheduled to be delivered/installed the weekend I’m at kidlitcon so that’s being pushed out another week too. In the meantime the old bookcases in the library have been partially dismantled and moved into my husband’s office for his book collection which leaves a few thousand books in the library stacked willy-nilly.
It is, as you can imagine, exhausting.
What does this have to do with writing? Nothing and everything. The single thing I am sure about myself as a writer is that my very best writing is when I rip my guts wide open and let them spill on the page.
The book I’m writing about right now is inspired by my father poems written last April for National Poetry Month. It’s inspired by finding my sister and my brothers and aunts and uncles and oh so many cousins that I found when I located my father’s obituary. It’s inspired by my own life and some of the questions I had as a child, questions that have never, and now, will never be answered.
While all this work has been going on around the house there have been confrontations that I have worked hard to avoid, many times I bit my tongue, telling myself to pick my battles. There have been compromises from what I wanted to have done to what we could afford to have done to what was even possible to have done considering the eccentricities of our house. Prices of things have doubled then tripled and electricians who should have been done in a couple of weeks were here for over a month.
Thank goodness I’m writer. All that emotion, all that, I’ll say it, anger, it has to go somewhere.
What better place to put it in than in a book?
My friend Toni Buzzeo is offering a great giveaway for PreK and Kindergarten teachers!
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Enter to Win this perfect read aloud for the ‘getting to know you (and the rules)’ first month of school. The book will come packed in a backpack of school supplies (as Annie always has a backpack packed for adventure).
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As I once again climb back on the blogwagon I am trying not to kick myself too hard in the backside. I’ve been sorting out some things in my head that meant staying away from the blog reading and blog writing because while I believe in emotional honesty and transparency in my work and in my blog, there are things going in my life the rest of the world doesn’t need or want to hear about.
But I think I figured out a couple of important things and the rest, well I hope to figure it out as I go. We’ll see. This Friday Five is inspired by things I’ve learned, or relearned, about myself recently.
1. All the social media opportunities surrounding us today make it easy to reach out and connect with other people but the fact is, (IMHO) you never really totally change your core personality. If you’re an introvert (like me) jumping in and out of the cocktail party chatter on Twitter is probably never going to feel completely comfortable, you will probably edit and reedit your Facebook status update a few times before actually posting and you will continue to occasionally stick your foot in your mouth, even if the conversation is virtual. I love social media. Love the idea of what it represents in global sharing and connecting. But what I am learning about myself is that social media conversations, whether on Facebook, blogs, Twitter, wherever – they all make me feel like I am back at school trying to prove that I belong somewhere. God I had so hoped I was past that but evidently not. In another lifetime perhaps, I hope to master the art of casual conversation. In this lifetime, I’d just like to accept that I am who I am.
2. You have to sow before you can reap. Seems pretty basic but I needed to be reminded of this. I think it’s a class that ought to be taught in elementary school so it becomes an ingrained habit. Apply it to just about anything that isn’t working in your life and see if it rings true. There are some fields I can’t revisit and that makes me sad.
3. No one cares how much you beat yourself up because they’re too busy beating themselves up so why not stop it already?
4. Thinking doesn’t make it so. Work makes it so. Again, apply it to something that’s not working in your life and see what you think.
5. Build a support system long before you need one so when you need one, they’re there. Otherwise you’re going to spend a lot alone wishing you had someone to talk to about stuff that was going on in your life.