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Dream + Intention + Action = Reality

I’m a dreamer.  I’ve always been a dreamer.  When I was young, I dreamed of dancing professionally, working in a corporate setting with an important title, starring/co-starring in a musical and being a teacher of some sort… which I had the blessing of experiencing all of them.  But I also have dreams that have not yet come true, such a becoming a rock star, a film actress, an acupuncturist, and a public speaker at a big conference of some sort.

I realize that I may never experience hundreds of thousands of fans singing along to one of my songs during my world tour.  I also may not walk the red carpet as I stop to pose for the photographers and be interviewed by correspondents from Entertainment Tonight before I make my way into the Academy Awards to take a seat next to my co-star.  I do, however, believe that I can become an acupuncturist and a public speaker at a big conference.  So why do I believe that the first two are probably not in my future but that the second two are?  The difference is ACTION.

Fulfilling the dreams of becoming a rock star and a film actress would be pretty awesome; but honestly, I don’t think I would be willing to pour my time and energy into going after these things.  (I do have an acting coach/mentor that I work with, but I act because I love it and not because I want to be famous.  But back to the topic of this blog…) Although I haven’t done it yet, I do believe that when the time is right, I will go back to school to become an acupuncturist as well as doing the necessary research and apply to become a speaker at a big conference.

When you have a dream without intentions and actions, you will see years pass by with those things remaining as dreams.  In the past decade, how many dreams did you start out with?  How many of those have come true, and how many are still dreams?  And of the ones that remain your dreams, are you taking actions to make those dreams a reality one day?

Dreams stop being dreams
when you make them a reality.

So practically speaking, how do you fulfill a dream?  I’m not an expert at this, but here’s how I go about fulfilling my own dreams:

1. Write down the dream.

Literally.  Write it down.  When I don’t write down my dreams, they stay in my brain for a while, and then they go away.  When I write them down, they begin to exist outside of your mind.
Example:  “I want to be a published author.”

2.  Come up with a plan.

2a)  First, start with writing down big milestone steps.
Example:  “I will begin writing my book on March 1st, finish by July 1st, have it edited by August 1st, have book cover designed by August 14th, submitted for print by August 31st and order books for my first book event by September 1st.”

2b)  Next, fill in the action items and tasks within each milestones.
Example:  “I will write for 2 hours at Panera Bread on Wednesdays and 3 hours at the library on Thursdays.  I will reserve an AirBnB in Denton, TX to take a week-long sabbatical in June in order to focus and make significant progress in my writing.  I will schedule a photo shoot with my models for the book in July.  I will research book cover designs and decide on how I want the cover to look like.  I will write the back cover content by August 14th.  I will save up money to purchase enough copies of the book for my first book event in October.”

3.  Start taking action!

Take what you wrote down in step 2 and do them! 

 

As 2019 comes to a close, get ready for the new year and the new decade(!) with some dreams and goals by sticking to the plans you come up with, and continue to revisit the plan to make sure you are staying on target to complete the tasks necessary to fulfill your dreams without giving into distractions. 

 

With Gratitude,
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Last Christmas of this Decade…

It’s that time of the year…  Festively decorated houses, gridlock mall parking lots, free 2-day shipping (for us Amazon Prime Members), receiving packages, etc.  In the middle of all the hustle and bustle, it is so easy to forget what Christmas should really be all about.  Holiday To-Do List (1)So, using the “Holiday To-Do List” that I saw on-line (I recreated the photo on the left), I decided to personalize each point:

1.  Buy Presents Be Present

My love language is Receiving GiftsThis doesn’t mean that you can buy my friendship.  It just means a lot to me when a family member or a friend gets me something (it could be a box of Altoids) because it reminded them of me.  It shows that they were thinking about me.  But because receiving gifts is my love language, I tend to default to giving gifts to show my appreciation and love (that’s probably one of the reasons why I do a monthly giveaway to my newsletter subscribers who have purchased a copy of my book).  I want to work on being more present in these last few days we have left in 2019.

2.  Wrap Gifts  Wrap Someone in a Hug

This one sounded a little cheesy to me at first, but I started thinking about how you just don’t know what kind of day someone is having.  Some time this year, my husband Shawn saw a homeless man near his office as he was walking to his car.  The homeless man asked for help, and Shawn gave him all the cash he had in his wallet (we generally don’t carry cash, so the fact that he had some was unusual); but what impacted the man more than the money was the fact that Shawn spent a few minutes talking to him afterwards, and he gave the man a hug before he got in his car and drove home.  I want to work on making people feel special with a hug the way Shawn made that homeless man feel that day.

3.  Send Gifts Give Love

Because we live on the opposite coast as our extended families, we send a lot of gifts during this time of the year.  But how much love am I giving during this holiday season?  Am I taking the time to make sure I’m loving people the way they feel loved (not everybody’s love language is going to be Receiving Gifts).  I want to make sure I take the time to figure out what my friends and family’s love languages are so that I can give love the way they will feel loved.

4. Shop for Food Donate Food

I must admit, I have not done a great job at donating food.  I mean, I feed all of my daughter’s friends when they come over (it’s amazing how much food teenagers can consume), so sometimes I feel like I’m donating food to them!  But seriously speaking, I know there are people in my community who may need extra help with food during the holidays.  In fact (as I’m writing this), I just remembered a friend who can probably use assistance with food this season.  I will reach out to her today to make sure she and her family have food to enjoy this week.

5.  Make Cookies Make Time for Others

I tend to like being alone.  I like going to bookstores alone, and I even enjoy having a meal at a fancy restaurant alone.  Not that I’m anti-social; I just enjoy “ME TIME” because that’s how I recharge (yes, spoken like a true introvert).  But this holiday season, I’ve been making plans with friends that have been wanting to spend time with me (and vice versa).  As I get older, I desire memories more than material things.

6.  See the Lights Be the Light

This is a big one.  In order to be the light, I need to be shining.  And in order to shine, I need to be intentional about walking in my authenticity.  I find myself wanting to get lazy and hibernate as the weather gets colder and life gets more hectic.  I need to make sure I go back to my Why’s.

 

I hope that this has inspired you to make your own Holiday To-Do List that goes beyond the hustle and bustle of Christmas!

 

With Gratitude,
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Drowning Out Distractions

I’ve traveled a lot this year. Since January, I’ve been to over 30 cities in six states (not including the stopover/layover cities), covering approximately 15,000 travel miles totaling 82 days.  Next year, I imagine I’ll be traveling just as much if not more. I love road trips with my family, flying across the country to visit family and friends, and I even love traveling for work.  Granted, I schedule my own out of town/state work trips which is such a blessing.  I also take work-related vacations in the form of sabbaticals.  This summer, I spent a week at an AirBnB in Denton, TX.  Other than my husband, no one else knew where I was because I wanted to take that time to rest and focus on my writing my book.  I needed to get away from my day-to-day living (aka distractions) in order to accomplish my goals.

Distractions are inevitable.

For a couple of months during the fall, a gardener would come by with his leaf blower to clear out all the leaves… right in front of the glass windows of the studio that I teach yoga classes at.  It never failed that he would come while we were in the middle of a class.  At first, I thought to myself, “Why can’t he come by AFTER my class ends?  Why does he always have to cause so much ruckus when we’re trying to practice yoga?”  And then I stopped and laughed at the irony of my thoughts.  Being that one of my goals as a Yoga Teacher is to help my students take the lessons they learn on the mat (in my classes), off the mat (into their lives), I told my students, “Do you see that man with the leaf blower?  Do you notice the distraction?  I invite you to acknowledge that this is happening at this present moment… and now, let it go.  Let go of the distractions and become present.”

It’s amazing how the brain is able to drown out distractions that we choose not to pay attention to.  Both my husband and daughter have the ability to study and work in the middle of a busy Starbucks and other places where there’s lots of noise.  I, on the other hand, prefer silence (or at least my earplugs) in order to focus; but there have been many occasions where I’ve engaged in deep conversations in the middle of a public space with many potential distractions.

According to an article in the Journal of Neuroscience (cited in Scientific American), the brain will intentionally weaken its response to things that seem less important so that it can become more sensitive in reaction to what you choose as the focus.  This is great news!  Since we now know this fact, all we have to prioritize and figure out what is truly important to us.  Once we establish our priorities and make conscious efforts to make those things important, the brain will do what the brain does by drowning out the distractions.

Just as I do in my yoga classes, I invite you to take a moment to drown out the distractions by sitting still, focus on your breaths by becoming aware of the rise and fall of your belly as you inhale and exhale.  Continue to observe the breath as you close your eyes for several breaths.  Once you open your eyes, continue to sit still and make note of how you feel.  Notice the beauty of living in this moment.

Namaste.

 

With Gratitude,
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Lessons From a Lemon Tree

 

About three years ago, my husband and I spent the day in Balboa Island in Newport Beach, CA.  A lot of the homes there have big windows facing the walking path and the harbor, so it’s fun to just take a stroll and glance into people’s homes.  I know it sounds creepy, but it’s almost impossible to walk around there without looking into people’s homes.  In fact, I’ve had some homeowners wave to me from their house if we happen to make eye contact! 😂

One of the things that I noticed in their patios was potted lemon trees.  I thought to myself, “That would be so cool to be able to grow my own potted lemon tree!”  But being that I don’t have a green thumb (I once killed a bonsai tree), I was hesitant in starting one; but I did it anyway!  I took seeds from a lemon that I bought at the local grocery store and planted three of them in one pot with some soil for citrus trees.  I faithfully watered it according to instructions that I found online.

I was so excited when it started sprouting up and growing slowly but surely.  I didn’t expect any fruit for at least a year or two (especially because I was growing them indoors with constant exposure to sunlight during the day), but I didn’t care. I was just so happy that I could actually grow something that started as seeds from a fruit that I bought at the store.  I didn’t take pictures of the growth, but it looked something like this:

I had big dreams for these lemon trees.  I got excited thinking about how I was going to have freshly picked lemons for my water and tea every morning.  I pictured myself making lemon pancakes, lemon pepper fish, lemonade… I was mentally collecting recipes.  As they grew bigger, I separated them into their own pots (so three trees!).  I was so proud of my lemon trees; I’m surprised that I didn’t assign names for them!  They were thriving and growing beautiful, big leaves that smelled like lemons… until they all started to get sick.

When I first noticed that the leaves were turning yellow, then brown and falling off, I went online and did everything that I found to do in order to revive my sickly trees; but in the end, they met their destiny:

They’ve been dead for a month now, and I finally decided to accept defeat.  I planted all three of them together after they died so that they could all be together.  It’s kind of comical and tragic at the same time in my opinion.  And while I’ve been looking at this dead pot of lemon trees, I’ve been reminded of three life lessons.

Lesson #1:  Find joy in the simple things.
When the seeds started sprouting up, I couldn’t believe how happy I was!  I looked forward to seeing their growth every morning.  Even when there was a million things going on, watching my little lemon trees-in-the-making made me stop and marvel at this miracle of growth.  When I stop to look at a rainbow, listen to the birds chirping in the morning, feeling the warmth of the sun or watching old couples holding hands, it brings me back to the present moment which allows my heart to smile and appreciate the simpler things in life.

Lesson #2:  Be consistent in watering and pruning.
I did my research to water only as often as I needed (not every day).  When there were diseased branches, I pruned them to make sure they were not going to make the rest of the plants sick.  I need to make sure I’m getting “watered” by constantly learning and developing my strengths as well as getting “pruned” by cutting out bad habits, thoughts and actions that do not serve me for my highest good.

Lesson #3:  Check the soil!
I think my plants died because I did a poor job checking the ph of the soil.  There are soil testing kits out there, but I decided that the only thing my plants would need are plant foods.  In life, I must assess my soil to make sure I have what I need in order to thrive.  I’m not talking about selfish ambition; what I mean is that I need to make sure that I surround myself with people who I feel safe with and cared for.  Community is so important because we are all connected.  If my “soil” is not the right ph for me to thrive, the negative impact will ultimately spread throughout the entire universe.

In 2020, I will be planting seeds for new lemon trees.  Maybe this time around, I will actually be able to make those lemon pancakes!

 

With Gratitude,
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10 Year Challenge

I’ve been seeing a lot of these “10 Year Challenge” posts on social media lately.  I’m sure you also have seen your fair share of photo posts of your friends (and maybe strangers) of what they looked like in 2009 and what they look like now.  Here’s mine:

Other than gaining about a dozen gray hairs, a few wrinkles and having less elasticity in my skin, I don’t feel like I look too different in these photos; but the person that I was in 2009 is definitely not the person that I am today.

In 2009, I was working full-time as an Analyst for a Fortune 500 Company, songwriting and recording at night, singing in a Christian band… and exhausted, insecure, and unhappy with a lot of things in my life.  I was dealing with feelings of inadequacy in all aspects of my life (feeling like I wasn’t good enough of an analyst, a musician, a wife, a mother, a friend… the list went on and on).  I had gone down from a size 12 to size 2, but I still felt like I was too big. I was obsessed with working out, losing weight, putting strict restrictions on food, etc.  Needless to say, 2009 was a very trying year for me.

2010 was a year of rebuilding myself.  With the support of my husband, I left my comfortable, well-paid job to focus on spending more time with my family.  I decided to do contract work so that I can take summers off to spend with my daughter instead of sending her to summer camps.  I made sure I only worked when her school was in session.  I also started taking Mixed Martial Arts class to work on my inner strength (the outer strength came with it naturally).  I also returned to practicing yoga more regularly.

2011-2012 were spent soul-searching.  I tried my hand at being a consultant for an MLM company (which I realized that I was pretty good at but was not passionate about).  I tried starting a resume-writing business and an event planning business.  I just couldn’t figure out what I wanted to put my energy into professionally.  I experienced a lot of highs and lows those two years, but by the end of 2013, I had successfully gotten back into the fitness industry as a Zumba Instructor and Dance Fitness Instructor.  I also decided that I was going to become a Yoga Teacher.

In 2013, I completed my 200-Hour Yoga Teacher Training.  This changed everything for me.  I experienced a transformation from within that shaped the way I began to view life.  I became more calm and grounded.  Life stopped being about DOING but rather BEING.  My relationship with God began to become deeper and more intimate.  I heard God’s voice through His Word (The Bible) so much clearer.  I became more in tune with the Holy Spirit.  I felt more connected to Jesus.

2014 was a year of experiences.  I completed an aerial yoga instructor certification and opened Dallas’ first Aerial Yoga Studio with two business partners.  I learned how to run a studio, train the staff, do payroll… all the while homeschooling my daughter and spending time with my family.  I had to kiss my social life goodbye, but that year was a pivotal time for what was to come.

In 2015, I experienced transitions of many kinds.  The lease was up on our aerial yoga studio, and we had to relocate due to a change in landlord who wanted to use our space for his business.  We tried so hard to find a new location to reopen; but after looking and negotiating with various building owners/management for months, we decided to close our studio.  Around the same time, my husband was offered an opportunity to transfer to their Charlotte office.  After many prayers and a visit to North Carolina, we made the move to North Charlotte in October.

I started to become known as the “Aerial Yoga Master Trainer” (training future instructors) as I began to certify instructors in North Carolina (as well as Texas) in 2016.  By this time, I had “perfected” my aerial yoga teacher training manual as well as my teacher-training skills.  This was the first time since leaving the corporate world that I started to make a decent amount of money.  I loved traveling to Texas to certify instructors while making a lot of money in the process.  I realized that year that I had a knack for training instructors; so I started to pray for greater things for the upcoming year.

I launched my own 200-Hour Yoga Teacher Training in the beginning of 2017.  It was challenging to write the manual, teach while learning and researching, but I was eager to meet that challenge.  I learned a lot about myself and others while I ran my 200-Hr YTT and 30-Hr Aerial YTT in 2017 and 2018.  I felt that I found my calling professionally, and I was convinced that teaching, training and certifying future yoga/aerial yoga teachers was what I will be doing until it was time for me to retire (although I don’t think I would ever completely retire).

2019 became the year of accomplishments.  God had placed a desire in my heart to write a book about biblical meditation in 2017, but I pushed that desire aside for two years because I didn’t think I knew enough to actually write a book about it.  But after wrestling with whether or not I should author a book for a couple of months, I started writing it in the beginning of March which the publication goal date of October 1.  I actually ended up publishing my book in September all the while completing a certification training to become an IMX Pilates Instructor!

From 2009 to 2019, I was able to experience many challenges that sometimes tested my character deeply which helped me to mature and become stronger.  I also experienced some amazing things such as going on a 17-day roadtrip with my family (which was the beginning of many long vacations we have been blessed to take), choreographing and leading flashmob dances for high profile events, moving to a new state, gaining wonderful friends, mentoring teenagers, taking a short sabbatical, writing and publishing my first book, teaching yoga and meditation at retreats in beautiful places…  This decade has been awesome!

I may wake up with more aches and pains than I used to; but this has been the most favorite decade of my life because I was able to trade in some of my youth for invaluable experiences, much growth, wonderful memories, and a zeal for life that I have never felt before!  I am in a place in my life where I can decide to be still, listen to God, make some tea, and enjoy everything life has to offer!

As you reflect on your “10 Year Challenge,” I hope you’re able to recognize all the blessings that have come out of this decade.

 

With Gratitude,
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Little Reminders of WHY

As a yoga/meditation teacher, author, writer, homeschool educator, teen ministry leader, business owner and — more importantly — wife and mother, it’s easy to lose focus and forget the reason why I do what I do.  I start each day by thanking God for giving me another day here on earth, and I ask Him to help me to live each moment for Him and to remind me of why I do what I do.  I had one of those great reminders through one of my clients last week.

I showed up to teach a private yoga session that morning with a yoga practice that I had planned for her.  I customize each practice for my private clients according to what their needs are so I always come knowing what I’m going to be teaching; however, I felt led to do something different with her that morning.  When I asked her how she was feeling, she said that she was having some low back pain and that she would prefer to do something more relaxing that day.  I sensed that there was something deeper, so I agreed that she does need something more restorative.

One of the methods that I teach is a myofascial-release technique, so I incorporated using a foam roller into her yoga practice.  We worked on releasing tension in the upper body first which she absolutely loved.  But then the minute we started working on the hips, she took a quick, guarded inhale and proceeded to hold it.  I asked her to slowly allow herself to exhale.  As she released her breath, tears started to well up in her eyes and an apprehensive sigh came out.  I explained to her that when we hold on to unresolved emotions that do not serve us, they get trapped in the hips (which I learned during my yoga teacher training).  I told her that it is completely normal and okay for her to cry, that she was in a safe place to let her guard down.  I felt honored that she trusted me and allowed herself to release what she had been holding on to for years as she allowed her tears to flow.  At the end of our session, she gave me a big, unguarded hug that reminded me of why I became a yoga teacher.

It’s easy to forget why we do what we do day in and day out.  In the middle of running errands, responding to e-mails and text messages, checking our social media, going to work, meeting up with friends for coffee, driving kids to and from school/friend’s houses/activities, etc. etc. etc., we miss so many opportunities to see the blessings in all these things.  We miss opportunities to experience moments that remind us why we do what we do and the reason for our calling.  We get so busy planning for the next thing on our schedules that we miss the quick smiles of thanks and the moments that make us laugh, proud, grateful, and at peace.  I believe that anytime something touches our hearts, we need to pause and allow ourselves to experience that moment so that we can plant it deep into our souls.  When these seeds of reminders are planted, they will be embedded so deep that when distractions and discouragements come (as they always do), you will quickly be reminded to persevere… because your authentic self is counting on you to hear the WHY to what you do.

I’m grateful for moments when God uses the universe and the people in it to remind me of why I do what I do.  That one morning last week, God used my client to help remind me of my authenticity as a yoga teacher.  There are reminders everywhere; you just have to silence your mind and be still in your spirit to notice them.

 

With Gratitude,
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Indie-Author Do’s and Don’ts

I wrote my first book in six months.

I didn’t really think this was a big deal until I started promoting my first book BE STILL: The Power of Biblical Meditation. One question I’m asked the most is, “How long did it take you to write and publish your book?” When I tell them that it took 6 months to write the book, 1 month to edit the book and 2 weeks to design the book cover, I’m usually met with a blank stare or a response like, “Oh my goodness. I’ve been writing my book for over 2 years!” I’ve also been asked about how I did it in less than a year. You can read about the approach I took in my last week’s blog, Dream Killers (And How to Overcome Them).

I wanted to focus today’s post on what I learned along the way of independently publishing my first book (to be completely transparent, I’ve only published one book so far; but I refer to it as my first book because I’m currently writing my second one). After doing some research, I knew I didn’t want to publish my first book the traditional way of getting a literary agent who will shop around for a book deal through a publishing company. I didn’t want to submit my manuscript to dozens and dozens of literary agents. I didn’t want to lose any creative control over the content of my manuscript. I didn’t want to wait a year (or more) before my book is published (provided that I could find a literary agent who would represent me). I didn’t dream of becoming a New York Times Bestseller Author, nor did I dream of becoming a millionaire through this book. I simply wanted to write. I wanted to obey God by writing this book that He put on my heart three years ago.

I’ve been writing my whole life. I learned how to read and write Korean when I was four years old. When my family and I moved to the U.S. when I was nine years old, I became fluent in English within a few years. I wrote all throughout my teenage years, and I became an A&E Editor for the college newspaper. I went on to become a Sr. Technical Writer for several Fortune 500 Companies. With my writing background and project management training, I was pretty confident that I could write and publish my book without any issues. I did publish my book independently before my self-imposed deadline, but here are some do’s and don’ts I learned along the way:

DO:
  1. Create an outline.
    I wrote out my chapter numbers and titles and created a preliminary Table of Content.
  2. Write down a timeline, milestones, tasks and resources.
    See last week’s blog.
  3. Write consistently.
    It doesn’t matter if you feel like you have a writer’s block. Write anything and everything. You can edit out irrelevant things later.
  4. Give yourself some “padding” time
    Allot extra time for the tasks in case unforeseen circumstances come up.
  5. Go easy on yourself
    Show yourself some grace if you don’t finish your tasks in the time frame that you had allotted… Because it will happen.
  6. Remove yourself from distractions.
    I did most of my writing at the local library and Panera Bread with ear plugs.
  7. Have a pre-order sale.
    Holding a pre-order sale started the buzz among my friends (and their friends) on social media not to mention some revenue even before the book was even published.
DON’T:
  1. Edit your own manuscript!
    Initially, my husband was supposed to edit my book (he also has a writing and editing background); however, he started his MBA program this year, so I knew that between his full-time job, MBA program and helping lead the Teen Ministry at our church (which I also have the privilege of doing alongside of him), it was unrealistic for me to ask him to edit my book.
    Because I had experience in editing books for other authors (I edited two books last year), I decided to take on this task. It took an entire month of editing over a dozen times (this includes line editing, content editing and copy editing). I printed the entire book three times before I was able to publish it (and even then, I missed one thing, which I have corrected after publication).
    It is one of the most time-consuming part of publishing a book, and I highly recommend that you get another set of eyes to fine-comb through your manuscript. For my second book, I plan to pay an editor to complete this arduous task.
  2. Bypass getting a group of beta readers.
    I got lucky in that my friend and mentor, Lisa Washington, wrote the foreword for my book. She read my book from cover to cover and gave me some great feedback. Lisa is a fellow yoga teacher and author. She is also a celebrity chef (you may have seen her on Food Network), CEO of B’Tyli Natural Skin Therapies, Life Coach, and a Cover Model among many other things. She gave me a lot of feedback on the content of my book, and having her become my beta reader allowed my book to be so much better than I had imagined it would be!
    Beta readers will be able to provide valuable feedback that will elevate the quality of your book content.
  3. Order too many books!
    I had several book events lined up a few months before my book was published, so I went ahead and ordered 600 books! I ended up selling about half within the first month (which is still very good), but the rest are in my garage where I grab a box whenever I go to my next book event (which I guess isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it probably want necessary to order so many books since there are many people who have purchased copies straight from the website).
  4. Take not enough books to your book events.
    I always take more books with me than the number of attendees. I’ve had several people buy 3-5 copies to give as gifts.
  5. Expect to sell millions of books within the first month (or the first year)!
    Unless you have a million friends and family, you probably won’t sell as many books as you may think.
  6. Sit around and assume people will buy the book through one post on social media.
    I had a lady who purchased my book after seeing about 15 posts about it. She said she kept forgetting to purchase my book, and she needed that 15th reminder to purchase it.
  7. Try to do this alone.
    Go to writer’s conferences, join Facebook groups, listen to podcasts, and become a part of the #writingcommunity on Twitter. We are all here to encourage, motivate, and lift each other up.

Happy Writing!

With Gratitude,

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