photo by ruby montalvo published on

It’s important to be good to others, but don’t forget to be good to yourself too

Be good to yourself. It’s a simple concept. It means treat yourself with love, consideration, and kindness. Be understanding and forgiving towards yourself.

The concept is simple, but not always easy.

What does it mean?

“Good people” are kind, supportive, considerate, and generous. They help us feel positive about ourselves and about life.

They’re like a warm blanket on a cold night or a bowl of chicken soup to ease a scratchy throat. 

But sometimes it feels more natural to be good to a stranger than to ourselves.

We tend to beat ourselves up, focus on our weaknesses, and criticize ourselves when we’re less than perfect. 

How can we lift ourselves up instead of putting ourselves down?

Be kind. Especially through difficult times, small acts of kindness go a long way. Take a few minutes out of a busy day to meditate, listen to uplifting music, or go for a walk.

Smile. Let your smile be your signature look. It can change your disposition and open your heart to self-love.

Be grateful. There’s an old saying that goes, “I cried that I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet.” It doesn’t change your situation, but it may help you see it in a more positive light.

Forgive. Forgiveness is a powerful gift. It can take time to “get over” mistakes and imperfections, but it starts with a choice to forgive yourself.

Every day is a chance to be better than you were yesterday, to do better than you did yesterday. Make it a point to treat yourself with love, kindness, and compassion. Be good to yourself the same way you strive to be good to those you love.

Photo by Ruby Montalvo published on

The struggle to finish and get to the “The End”

I’m working on another book, a follow up to A Song for Jessica.

And I’m having a heckuva time getting to “The End,”

Finishing that last 1/3 of the book has really gotten me down.

It’s hard to finish off a project, especially one that has no concrete deadline, no one waiting for it, no one depending on it for life, health, welfare, or other.

And I’ve given this idea a lot of thought: Why is it so hard to get to “The End”?

Here are some ideas:

Finishing the first draft means I’ll have to look at what I’ve done.

Ernest Hemingway once said, “The first draft of anything is sh**.” This first draft is a necessary step in a long process. I can’t expect the work to be good at this stage, but I can’t go any further until I finish this first draft. Finishing the first stage forces me to see what I’ve written which leads me to wonder if it’s enough of a story.

Self-doubt can shut me down.

It’s constant, but for me, self-doubt gets worse toward the finish. I have to do my best to avoid the negative self-talk and keep the positive and encouraging self-talk going.

I feel impatient for the final draft and I have a long way to go before I get there.

With my first book I didn’t know what I was getting into. I was naive enough to think it was pretty decent when I handed copies out to my Beta Readers wanting their honest feedback on the work, and Thank God, I had people who could tell me the truth. It needed work.

I think most projects are hard to finish, but maybe for slightly different reasons.

  • We get bored and are ready to do something else.
  • Or we love what we’re doing and don’t want it to end because then what would we do.
  • We lose our motivation to finish for some other undefined reason

Years ago I ran the Chicago Marathon and I was so close to the finish and so tired and ready to be done, and I remember thinking, “One step at a time. Just put one foot in front of the other.”

I kept my eyes on the finish line and kept moving forward. That’s how I finished. It wasn’t pretty, but it was done.

That same mindset will get me to “The End.”

There must be some sort of study about why it’s so hard to finish stuff (books, notebooks, challenges, etc.), but I don’t need anyone to tell me it’s hard.

And there may be other, more sophisticated ways of getting to the end, but I’ll just keep doing it the way I did it that unseasonably warm October day in Chicago:

Focus on the finish line and take one step at a time.

That’s how I’ll get to “The End”.  And I can’t overthink it or I’ll never get there. 

Slow is okay as long as I’m moving forward with the finish line in sight.

Photo by Ruby Montalvo published on

The downside of comparing yourself to others and how to get past it

Everyone does it, right?

Compare your success to someone else your age and think, “Wow! She’s so successful and so happy. And I’m struggling every day. Why can’t I be more like that?”

Maybe it’s only human to judge your actions and success as compared to others. That sense of competitiveness is ingrained in us. On the surface, there’s nothing wrong with that.

But how does another person’s success or failure impact you?

Let’s say your friend is super successful. Great job, happy marriage, cool vacations, nice car.

Does it make you feel happy for her and worse for you? Does it spark a drive that makes you want to work harder, be smarter, and more like her?

Or does it make you feel more like a failure? Do you beat yourself up for not being further along or more successful?

What if your friend suffers a setback, maybe loses her job? Do you suddenly feel better about yourself and your situation?

Focus on you

Comparing yourself to others may be “normal” and “common”, but it can put you in a lingering negative mindset.

Even though, when you think about it,  you know your experience/situation/progress are unique to you (as others’ are to them), and it’s counter-productive to compare yourself, it can be difficult to stop.

Some things to consider:

Keep your focus on you.

The only person you have any hope of controlling is yourself. Be your best you and life will be better for you and those you love.

Count your blessings.

Nothing can turn around a bad day like a healthy dose of gratitude. Life is fragile and nothing is guaranteed. Spend more time counting your blessings than comparing yourself to others.

Celebrate others’ success.

Have you ever known anyone who waits for someone to fall on her face and then laughs like Nelson from The Simpsons, “Ha ha!” If you watch The Simpsons you know Nelson was a bully and a sad and lonely kid.

Another person’s success doesn’t make you a failure. Be happy for them and keep focusing on your work and goals.

Get past the negativity

It’s normal to compare yourself to others, but don’t let it leave you feeling negative and envious.

Make your only challenge to be better than you were yesterday. Strive to be the best “you” you can be.

Photo by ruby montalvo published on

3 Empowering messages to tell yourself when you feel doubtful

You're braver than you believe,
and stronger than you seem, 
and smarter than you think. 

~ A.A. Milne

We’re often our own biggest obstacle. And we don’t even have to say a word or lift a finger to sabotage our own success.

All we have to do is play those old messages we keep in our heads, the ones that say we don’t know what we’re doing, we’re not good enough, we’ll never succeed, and our ideas are stupid.

Those negative messages that fill us with doubt and keep us from ever getting started.

They become our excuses to stay where we are and keep us from trying something new. Those messages keep us from doing what we’ve always dreamed of doing.

What does that mean for you?

What’s that thing you’ve dreamed of doing, but never tried because you think, “It’ll never happen.”

What would happen if you empowered yourself to move forward instead of shutting yourself down before you even start?

Replace those old, negative messages with these empowering truths:

You’re braver than you believe.

Bravery is not the absence of fear, it’s taking action despite being afraid. The unknown can be scary. It’s okay to be afraid, but don’t let fear keep you from taking steps toward your goals and dreams. Build yourself up instead of building up your fear.

You’re stronger than you seem.

What’s your idea of strength? If you consider a person you think is very strong, chances are she wouldn’t have chosen her course. She did what she had to do. Even she may not have imagined she could do what she did, but when the time came, she chose to persevere.

And when you pursue a goal because you want to do it, not because you have to, you may not realize the strength you posess. You think, “I could never do that.”

But you start anyway. And little by little you accomplish that goal you didn’t believe you were strong enough to accomplish, and you’re as surprised as anyone.

You don’t know how strong you are until you have to be.

You’re smarter than you think.

You have intuition that goes beyond knowledge. Intuition helps you sort through what you know and guides you in your best direction. You may not think of yourself as being very smart, but your intuition makes you smarter than you think.

And no one knows everything about everything. That’s okay. Ask questions and figure it out as you go along.

Your goals and aspirations are important. Don’t let self-doubt and fear can keep you from  them.

When you feel doubtful about your own abilities, remind yourself:

You’re braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.

Watering day and other excuses for not getting to work

Watering day and other excuses for not getting to work

Have you ever had a project that you want to do and know you need to do, but for some reason you avoid doing it? Maybe it’s really important and you’re afraid you’ll mess it up, or you’re not 100% confident you know what you’re doing so you avoid it completely.

This is my account of one of those days written as it happened.

Today is Thursday.

The time is now 11:40 AM and I have not written a single word of my work in progress.

It’s getting late. I need to sit down and write my daily 1000 – 1500 words (first draft of new book, a sequel to A Song for Jessica). I can usually get it done in about an hour and a half, two at the most. Most days I’m done by 11 am.

But today I’ve felt distracted.

Usually, the idea of sitting down to write a scene or develop a character gets me out of bed in the morning. Seriously, I know how lucky I am that I get to to do this.

Today, instead of jumping out of bed ready to write, I lied in bed feeling sleepy until I remembered it’s my watering day (San Antonio Stage 1 water restrictions). I haven’t been very consistent about watering the grass and my yard’s looking downright dusty, so I had to get up.

Once I got the sprinkler and water height just right, I set the timer to remind me to move it to the next spot.

Put a load of laundry to wash.

Walked my dogs.

Moved the sprinkler.

Sat and stared at my blank computer screen.

Water my potted vegetable plants that aren’t doing so well.

Moved the clothes.

Talked to my daughter on the phone for at least 20 mins.

Moved the sprinkler.

Wrote a few words, then deleted them.

Got on Social media, checked emails, read some articles on book marketing, made coffee, ate watermelon.

Folded clothes.

Turned the water off and put the sprinkler away.

Sat and stared at my blank computer screen.

This is really not like me.

It’s like I’m avoiding sitting down to write as if I don’t want to do something I usually love. What’s wrong with me?

Because I’m an analytical person, it makes me wonder why I’m not doing what I know I need to do. I can think about that for another 30 minutes or hour, which will solve nothing.

So instead of writing my work in progress (my 2nd novel), which is my priority because I want to publish in December, I’m writing this blogpost about avoiding my work.

This avoidance doesn’t feel quite like procrastination. I’ve often …

(oh, hold on. Someone’s at the door.)

Okay, I’m just getting back to my desk. My niece stopped by to drop something off and we ended up talking for about 40 minutes. But that’s okay!

Focused conversation with a grown niece or nephew is a rare and special occurrence.

So, yes. It’s now nearly 12:30 and still not a word of my story written today.

I have a blogpost drafted. That’s something.

My yard’s watered. That’s something. A load of laundry’s done. That’s something. I talked to my daughter and she had a very productive day. That’s something. I got to visit with my niece. That’s something.

Those are all good and important things.

But I have work to do.

It doesn’t matter why I’m avoiding it or what I’m doing instead. What matters most, in this case, is that I’ve committed to tell a story. So tell it.

Okay. I’m ready.

Just do it.

When I finally settle in and get it done, I exceed my 1500 word goal. The scene is done and will need extensive editing, of course. But I can’t edit what’s not there, so writing the far from perfect first draft is a necessary step.

And I realized something interesting as I wrote.

The scene needed an important pivotal point in the plot that I wasn’t sure how I was going to work through. It made me wonder if that’s what I had been avoiding all morning.

But an idea developed as I worked, something I hadn’t planned. The scene may change, but it’s a starting point and that’s what I needed.

So, it’s nearly 3 PM and my work is done for the day. It wasn’t pretty, and it felt a little painful today, but it’s done.

That makes me smile.

It’s a good reminder:

A day when you’ve done your work, even when it was hard and even when you could have left it for tomorrow, is a good day.

Little by little, a little becomes a lot. ~ Tanzanian proverb