Writing a book is a journey in itself. When your write about yourself like I have in my debut novel and creative memoir, you may encounter moments in your writing journey that force you to deal with your fears and past experiences. That’s what has been happening during my Digital Sisterhood memoir book writing process. I have started and stopped many times. I have been overwhelmed and wounded by my own need to control a creative process that requires constant surrender. I have allowed my reaction to the edits I received from my publisher in December to stall my publication process. In short, it has been a creative struggle I often wish I did not have to deal with, but I am hanging with support, positive energy, and love from an amazing team of family, friends, peers, yoga teachers, an acupuncturist, a book editor extraordinaire, a keep it real life coach, and detailed copy editors who keep me on track.
I have also used inspiring books to strengthen myself from the inside out as I finalize the manuscript. One book that has inspired me greatly is writing teacher Judith Barrington’sWriting the Memoir. In her book, Barrington writes with emotional honesty about the memoir writing journey. It gave me the words I was looking for to describe the bottled up emotions I have been carrying around about my writing fears. It was liberating to read her guidance on theme selection, voice, tone, form, plot, scene, and character development. She also stressed the value of having a disciplined practice. I enjoyed her references to writings by Alice Walker and Virginia Woolf. After I finished her book, I felt refreshed and ready to pick up my editing pen and complete my Digital Sisterhood book edits. What a blessing!
The book begins with a forceful statement that has become my mantra: “Your first task as a creative person is to “mind your mind.” Maisel’s words forced me to go deep within to define, accept, and take full responsibility for my career as an artist, coach, and writer. It also helped me better understand my doubts and fears.
My favorite chapters (Chapter 1 on the Mind Key, Chapter 2 on The Confidence Key, Chapter 3 on The Passion Key, Chapter 3 on The Freedom Key, and Chapter 8 on The Identity Key) helped me develop a series of affirmations and action steps I am using to:
Ground myself daily.
Complete my Digital Sisterhood book edits by May 31.
Finalize my book publication process with my publisher by June 30.
Finalize and launch my book marketing plan by July 15.
Increase my creative expression opportunities, clients, and revenue streams as an artist/coach/writer on a monthly basis.
In short, the book was a game changer for me!
If you are an artist, writer, painter, singer, filmmaker, musician, sculptor, dancer, actor, and creative person or professional who is faced with challenges, doubts, and fears in your creative process, click here to buy a copy of Making Your Creative Mark. Enjoy!
Maisel is amazing! He is a creativity coach and the author of many books including Creativity for Life and Coaching the Artist Within(two books I plan to read this summer to further develop my own practice and services as creativity coach). He has blogs on the Huffington Post and Psychology Today and writes a column for Professional Artist Magazine. Visit www.ericmaisel.com.
Disclaimer: This blog post was written as a review for New World Library.
Prior to the Summit, I had the honor of serving as an content advisor for the agenda and presenters. Working with Stacey was pure joy! Why? Because she is extremely passionate about and committed to making sure the Blogalicious community is informed and has access to information, opportunities, thought leaders, and tools. The final agenda topics and presenters that Stacey and her team developed represented a gold mine of expertise.
Many of presenters like Social Lens Research founding partner Julie Diaz-Asper, TechSavvymama.com founder Leticia Barr, and ScapsofMyGeekLife.com founder Michele McGraw were women I met during previous Blogalicious conferences.
Several like Blerdology CEO Kat Calvin, DiversiTech founder Christine Johnson, and Blerdology CMO Amanda Spamm were women I met at social media and tech events in D.C.
A few like MOJO Mediaworks, LLC founder Allissa Richardson and 1776 co-founder Donna Harris were women I connected with on Twitter and other social media sites.
Two women were new discoveries for me: The Social Studies Group managing partner Wendy Goldman Scherer and Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham. These women were all dynamic, friendly, and positive. Each of them displayed an incredible amount of generosity while sharing their expertise during their presentations and throughout the Summit.
The women who attended the event were also dynamic, friendly, positive, and open to sharing their experiences. At the end of the Summit, I told Stacey and Xina that it was one of the best days of learning and networking I’ve had all year. I left the event feeling energized and on fire about my upcoming book, business, and the Digital Sisterhood Network.
I am really excited to share that I will be giving a talk on social media leadership at the BlogHer conference on July 26. What Type of Social Media Leader Are You? is the title of my presentation. The presentation will give me an opportunity to share my thoughts on social media women’s leadership and to introduce the Digital Sisterhood Leadership Project to a larger audience. I am so grateful to the BlogHer team for giving me a platform to share my leadership thoughts and work.
The BlogHer 13′ conference will mark my fifth year of participation. BLOGHER-WOW! It’s gonna rock! So get ready Chicago!
Last week I joined over 5,000 women and a few good men at the Hilton New York in New York City to celebrate and experience the BlogHer community and economy!
Since returning to my home in Washington, D.C., I have:
Reflected and journaled about my experiences and lessons learned during the conference (was able to write in my journal thanks to the time I had on my Bolt Bus ride home to D.C. and my daily subway rides to and from work).
Prepared several blog recaps (posted a few on my blog) that I will be using in chapters for my forthcoming book, Digital Sisterhood: Fierce Living Online for 25 Years.
Talked to my book editor, parents, team of business advisors, and a few friends about lessons learned from the conference.
Posted my photos of the moments I cherished most and shared them on Facebook, Flickr, Instagram, Twitter, and my blog.
Reached out and connected with new and old blogging friends via Twitter (especially on #DigitalSisterhood Wednesday), Facebook, email, and text messages on my best friend, my HTC EVO smartphone.
Read and was inspired by many recap blog posts and tweets written by conference attendees.
Begun to map out the follow up work I need to do between now and the end of 2013 (yes next year) to enhance my talents and skills, expand my thought leadership, deepen my connection and engagement within my own network and the online/offline communities that support me, and further develop my revenue generating streams as an author, artist, blogger, coach, speaker, workshop facilitator, yoga teacher, and Reiki practitioner (what a mouthful!).
Mailed thank you cards to some of the BlogHer team members and people I did not have a chance to meet or deliver a card to (the southern belle debutante and sorority girl inside of me is compelled to write thank you cards …. my mother is responsible for this behavior).
Organized my small stash of swag with plans to give some of it away as gifts to family and friends (adoring my favorite swag … the Martha Stewart orange journal …. What can I say? The writer in me loves journals and the Martha Stewart brand!).
This morning I woke up with a deep sense of gratitude for all of the things the BlogHer team and community have done and continue to do. I reflected on how I am a direct beneficiary of their efforts. I remembered the impact their efforts have had on me since my first BlogHer conference in 2009 and the conferences I attended in 2010 and 2011. I smiled at how much I have been able to dream and do as a result of the lessons learned, skills developed, connections I have made, and speaking opportunities I have had. So I wrote an email to BlogHer co-founders Elisa Camahort Page, Lisa Stone, and Jory des Jardins, and members of their amazing team, Polly Pagenhart, Shannon Carroll, Maria Niles, Lori Luna, Amelia Elsbee, and others that was filled with sweet words of gratitude and thanksgiving.
My email talked about how much I value what the BlogHer team does to build and nurture its ever-growing and evolving community, conference, and economy (just love that I can say BlogHer economy … I need a t-shirt to wear in D.C.). I acknowledged how hard it is for them to build a movement, community, business, and economy. I reminded them that because they invest in me I invest in them, and we are ONE! I sprinkled in some of my flowery words and phrases to make them smile and touch their hearts too!
Now I am writing this blog post to say thank you to everyone connected to BlogHer. That means YOU … my fellow attendees, conference volunteers, online community members, speakers, sponsors, vendors, brands, companies, and organizations. Together, we are a movement of passionate and powerful people. May we each recognize, affirm, value, and express our contributions in ways that support our highest and greatest good as individuals, communities, businesses, brands, companies, and organizations!
With deep gratitude and blessings,
Ananda, your digital sister
PS: I am feeling really good due to a Starbucks de-caf venti Cafe Americano with three pumps of raspberry and my own rice milk, my comfy and cute Ann Taylor Loft dress, and Pandora.com playing in the background! LOL! It’s just that kinda day! Can you feel me?
Did you know National Internet Safety Month is observed in June?
This year the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA), a non-profit public-private partnership focused on cybersecurity awareness and education for all digital citizens, launched a “STOP. THINK. CONNECT.” campaign to encourage Internet users to slow down, be mindful, and think about how they interact and communicate with others online. NCSA’s campaign also encourages adults to teach a young person about better online safety so that they use good judgment and behavior in their digital life.
When I first learned about NCSA’s “STOP. THINK. CONNECT.” campaign, I thought about the digital footprint of my fabulous and creative niece who is a digital native, a recent high school graduate, and a soon-to-be college “fresh-woman.” I wondered what she knew about being safe online and protecting her digital footprint. So I called and chatted with her about the importance of being safe online, making smart choices on what she posts online, and promoting a positive self-image in her digital life. I also told her that I would continue to check in with her throughout her college experience to make sure she is managing her digital activities in a responsible manner.
After my conversation with my niece, I decided to attend Cox Communications’ Internet Safety Discussion featuring America’s Most Wanted John Walsh and Leticia Barr, a family internet safety and security expert, social media consultant, and founder of TechSavvyMama.com (one of my favorite digital sisters — she is the green dress in the photos contained above) on June 28 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. During the discussion, I learned several tips I plan to pass on to several friends with children (some are my nieces and nephews).
•95% of tweens use mobile devices. Only 20% parents enforce controls (we gotta do better).
•Parents should talk about Internet safety with their children as early as possible (good aunts should reinforce these teachings!)
•Caretakers (grandparents, aunts, uncles, babysitters etc) should know about and enforce the parents’ Internet safety rules when they are taking care of the children.
•The United States does not have a national standard for teaching online safety in schools (we need to advocate for one).
•Children are not immune from identity theft (we have to do a lot of educating with children on these matters).
•Parent should model what they want for their children when it comes to technology (so should extended family members who spend time with the children).
•Common Sense Media rates apps for age appropriateness (great tool for parents to use in helping children use technology responsibly): www.commonsensemedia.org.
To learn more about the discussion, go to Twitter and search for the hashtag #coxtakecharge.
After the discussion, I attended a blogger reception and after-party sponsored by the Everywhere, a social media marketing firm based in Atlanta (one of my favorite firms to work with). Both events gave me an opportunity to:
Today is #DigitalSisterhood Wednesday on Twitter. It’s a weekly celebration that I host to honor women in social media. It always energizes me and leaves me feeling proud to be a woman who uses her digital voice to honor, connect with, and build community with a diverse group of social media women. Many of these women keep me informed, inspired, and encouraged.
Last week was a hard one. I had difficulty watching and reading the attacks against President Barack H. Obama. I took it personal. I let it all get to me. I started doubting my power to affirm and support the successful 2012 re-election of President Obama. My attitude shifted when I started reading the Twitterstream of Dr. Goddess and Zerlinda Maxwell on Saturday, June 9. They were live tweeting from the Netroots Nation annual conference. One of Zerlinda’s tweets included a link to President Obama’s video message to the Netroots Nation attendees. Click here to watch it.
After watching President Obama, I started to feel hopeful. My day got better when I went to run errands in my neighborhood and met two sistafriends who gave me a mouthful of reasons why they were stepping up their support for President Obama. I came home and wrote my mission statement and a list of the ways I will support President Obama’s successful re-election campaign. See below.
My Mission Statement
As a supporter of President Barack Obama, I choose to express my support by:
Sharing information and advocating Obama Administration policies and programs (especially the programs that support women and girls) with my fellow Americans;
Encouraging Americans to register to vote, to learn about President Obama’s successful policies and programs, and to invest financially in the Obama campaign; and
Investing in the Obama campaign financially each month to demonstrate my commitment to President Obama and to take ownership of the counrty I choose to live in as an American citizen.
Ways I Will Support President Obama
Create a mini vision board in my vision board book that affirms President Obama’s re-election and review it daily to keep my mind focused on the positive. (DONE)
Dedicate my daily yoga and meditation practice to sending positive energy to President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, Obama family, Obama Administration, Obama 2012 Re-ElectionTeam, and people of the United States of America. (STARTED)
Invest in the Obama 2012 campaign on a regular basis by making a financial contribution each pay period. (WILL START THIS MONTH)
Use my summer and fall monthly yoga class as a fundraiser for the Obama 2012 Campaign. (WILL BEGIN ON JUNE 24)
Plan and host a local fundraiser for the Obama 2012 Campaign with one of my neighbors. (WILL BEGIN PLANNING IN JULY)
Stay updated on the White House Initiatives and Obama 2012 Re-Election Team’s efforts. (STARTED ON MONDAY)
Use my digital voice wisely to blog, post Facebook updates, and tweet about the great things the Obama Administration and 2012 Re-Election Team are doing each week. (STARTED TODAY)
Talk to people I meet about registering to vote and share the great things the Obama Administration has done to improve the United States since 2009.
Identify ways I can support the Obama 2012 Re-Election Team on the ground in the summer and fall. (STARTED ON MONDAY)
Talk to my father “J” about his digital activism in support of President Obama each week. Why? J stays on top of all things Obama. He uses his Facebook, Twitter, and email accounts to keep his network informed about the Obama Administration’s great works. His positive attitude and unwavering commitment to President Obama keep me uplifted. (STARTED ON MONDAY).
Check out my first week’s post about some of the great things President Obama and his team have done to improve the lives of women and girls. Most of my posts will focus on women and girls (so get ready!).
In April, the Obama Administration hosted the White House Forum on Women and the Economy and released a report that outlines a wide range of policies, programs, and initiatives that support women and girls at all stages of their lives. Nearly 200 women participated in a conversation about the critical role women play in driving U.S. economic progress. Click here for more details. WOMEN POWER ROCKS!
Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to President Obama and Chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls, published a WhiteHouse.gov blog post that discussed how women entrepreneurs are creating jobs in June. It includes an interactive timeline with profiles of different women entrepreneurs. I discovered Yes! Organic Markets owner Kathy Rachel is featured in the timeline. I shop at Yes! two to three times per week in my D.C. neighborhood. I’ve been supporting this woman-owned business since 1992. GO WOMEN ENTREPRENEURS!
If you are on TEAM OBAMA, how are you supporting President Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign? Share your comments below.
My digital diet for the week of April 9 helped me be more mindful about my time. I was able to write, rest, practice yoga/Reiki/meditation, go to the gym, take care of home and personal finance responsibilities, attend an art exhibition opening at the Joan Hisaoka Healing Arts Gallery, participate in the monthly artists-in-residence meeting held at the Smith Center for Healing and the Arts, create collages with patients and staff at the Walter Reed National Medical Military Center, and read chapters from Brene Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection during my morning commute with greater ease. I noticed my creative juices were flowing much better. The best part of the week was not carrying my smartphone with me most days.
My biggest challenge was going online in the evenings to check my email and other social media accounts. On some days, I spent more time than I originally budgeted. So I am working this week on sticking to my plan.
My greatest lesson learned was that when I write my Digital Sisterhood book chapter drafts on paper instead of my lap top I am less likely to go online in the evening.
Last month I started making a weekly collage to nurture my creativity journey. These collages help me stay on track with my commitment to expressing my visual voice. Many of them serve as visual affirmations that I use to support my fierce living commitment to self-care, fitness, unplugging, and completing my Digital Sisterhood book. I included two collages above from my April collection. What do you think?
How are you nurturing your creativity?
Are you making collages or artwork? If yes, share links in the comment section.
I am in the middle of writing my second memoir, Digital Sisterhood: Fierce Living Online for 25 Years. It’s my third book in five years!
My creative process is magical, messy, and SLOW right now. I am struggling with the fear of writing a new book and wondering how it will be received. I have turned to my artwork for comfort.
My creative soul has found sanctuary in Collagetry. Collage + Poetry = Collagetry. It is a technique I developed while working as an artist-in-residence for Smith Center for Healing and the Arts at Howard University Hospital.
A few weeks ago I created several Collagetrys (my made up word) for patients I was working with at The Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. I took photos of the collages because they spoke to my writing fears and life as an artist. See below.
This Memoir Collagetry reminded me to own my story and voice in my writing process. It also reminded me of the collages I made during my first memoir writing process and the energy and inspiration I received after creating them. So I made a mental note to make more time in my writing process for collage.
The message of this Healing Artist Collagetry really touched me: Self-expression. This is you. This is now. Healing artist. Your heart. Watercolor landscape. It offered me permission to use my healing artwork as a path back to my memoir writing.
After reading the book’s description on Amazon.com, I ordered a copy. I started reading the book and have enjoyed the journaling exercises which are forcing me to confront my writing fears. One of my fears is running out of inspiration. So I have turned to Pinterest. I created two inspiration boards for my art and writing. I use them on a regular basis to stay energized. Check out the links below.
I returned to reading Poets & Writers on a regular basis. The February issue focused on inspiration. I have been rereading Frank Bures’ article about creating inner space for inspiration. It reminds me to UNPLUG from technology, my to do list, my writing deadlines, etc. Unplugging creates more time to relax and recharge. When I do it, I am able to surrender. SURRENDER is the key that unlocks the door to my creative process. So wish me luck as I practice the art of surrender from now until the fall season, make Collegetrys to overcome my writing struggles, and complete my fabulous Digital Sisterhood book!