Jan 092017
 

 

Every year, I re-evaluate my life’s goals. I take into account, where I am, what I’ve done, and where I want to be in the future. I think about my health, my family, my career, and my friendships. This type of evaluation becomes more essential the older I get. If I know where I’ve been and I have goals, then I know where I’m going.

This year, there have been some losses and health scares in my family. These situations have made me realize that I must make better health choices to get my body and mind to its optimum state.

I also believe that being healthy goes beyond the physical and that I need to be as mentally healthy as possible. This is why I am learning how to take things as they come, surround myself with supportive and positive people, and think before I speak. I will also put out supportive and positive energy. I will be more appreciative of the happiness that surrounds me.

I love being able to witness the good that surrounds my family and friends. I love it when they not only what they want, but what they deserve. This year, my husband received his master’s degree, my son received an excellent report card, my sister went back to college, and my brother helped my parents move to North Carolina to be closer to him. They are all pretty happy, which makes me happy.

Watching my family succeed is motivating because if they can do it, then so can I. They make me feel invincible. I am determined to sharpen my writing, editing, marketing, and design skills. I will utilize these skills to be as successful as possible this year.

The older I get, the more I realize that time is one of the most important currencies in my life. I will not squander it away as I have done in the past. It is important to be selective about who I spend my time with and what I spend my time on. This year, I will spend more time with my family, on my work, and on myself.

I know how easy it is to lose your way. This is why it’s important to set goals with time limits and take action.

Here are some questions you may want to answer to help you with your own life evaluation:

  1. What did you want to accomplish last year?
  2. Did you accomplish what you set out to do? If not, re-evaluate if you would still like to do it this year and create a list.
  3. Think about what you wish to do this year. Where would you like to be? Create a specific to-do list with a plan of action complete with deadlines.
  4. Then take action. Like they say, there’s no time like the present.

This is your year and nothing will stop you. You can do it. Good luck with all of your goals!

“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you’ve imagined.” -Thoreau

Happy New Year!

 

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Aug 232013
 

My sister and I recently finished our collaborative picture book. I’ve got to tell you – it feels amazing! It took a lot of hard work, motivation, and serious revision, but we’re finished. It looks awesome and I like the way it reads.

I am proud of us!

This work is especially important to me because it’s about growing up as a multiracial kid, a subject I know all too well.

I grew up in Chicago in an area called Ukrainian Village and went to a grammar school in Humboldt Park; a neighborhood that was a stone’s throw away and mostly Puerto Rican. Many of the students that attended my grammar school were 100% Puerto Rican. My sister and I were not. We were genuine Poliricans – half Polish, half Puerto Rican. It doesn’t seem like such a big deal now, but it was back then. I didn’t and still don’t speak Spanish or Polish. To people in these very strong communities that is a no-no. It looks lazy and like you don’t care enough about where you came from, but that is incorrect. All that means is that neither language was available to you. If you were not immersed in a particular language, chances are, you did not pick it up. That’s what happened to us. It had nothing to do with us being lazy or not wanting to connect with our cultures. It didn’t have anything to do with the kinds of people we were or the kinds of people our parents were. It did however, have everything to do with the environment we grew up in. Now try explaining that to a child. I can tell you from personal experience that all of those things don’t matter because kid world is different from adult world and it comes with its own rules. Kids can be loving and enthusiastic, but at their worst they can be as cruel and illogical as any adult.

I was told that I wasn’t Puerto Rican because I didn’t speak Spanish in the 7th grade. When I stood up for myself, my classmate asked if I was calling her mother a liar because that’s who she got that idea from. She was the tallest girl in my class and she was towering over me in a threatening way. For a moment, it scared me. Would she really hit me? I didn’t know. All I knew was that you never wanted to call somebody’s mother a liar in grammar school because it could get you punched. So I did what any kid my age would do, I backed off and let it be. I never believed what she said, but I never liked her or her mother again. From that day on, I refused to be her friend.

What she said to me divided us. It made me feel like I was not good enough to be Puerto Rican, that even though I had this blood running through my veins, until I spoke Spanish, I would never be good enough for that girl and all of the other Latina’s that spoke Spanish. To them, I would be just be an imposter, a fake, different.

Being different is the worst thing you can be in grammar school. Nobody wants to be different. Everybody just wants to fit in and blend and exist because nobody wants to be made fun of. Everybody just wants to be left alone. Most days, I was, but some days, I wasn’t. So, I just got quieter and quieter. All I wanted to do was disappear. And I was disappearing or at least my self-esteem was. That’s how it all started. That’s when I learned how to bury my feelings. That’s where it lay until this one day when I took my son to the park.

This older kid singled him out and told these little girls not to play with him because he thought my son looked weird. Weird to kids nowadays seems to be the new racial epithet. And he wouldn’t let it go. He was berating him and my son didn’t know what they were saying because, well he was two, but I did and it brought back all of these horrible memories of being ostracized by ignorance. All because he looked different. It made me angry.

So, in order for my son to be accepted into their world he had to look like them? Who told them that nonsense?! Where did they pick up that ideology?! I wanted to leave and never take my son back to that park, but my husband said no. That we weren’t going to just walk away and hide. That doing so would be teaching our son that he’s not welcome to play where ever he wanted to and that is not a good lesson to teach a child. You know what? He was right!

And then one of the little girls said something that changed everything. She said, “WHO CARES IF HE LOOKS WEIRD. I DON’T CARE!” And I wanted to applaud that little girl and I was, on the inside, because even though she didn’t know it, she was standing up for my son, for people of color, for me. I knew then that my son and this world would be okay. And that is how our picture book was born.

It’s a book that is long over-due, a book that kids like my siblings and I have been waiting for our whole lives. We are currently shopping our PB around and we’re hoping that it gets picked up soon. This world needs this book and more books about being multiracial; about acceptance and love.

Our fingers are crossed.

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Nov 272012
 

I constantly bite off more than I can chew. I know I’m not the only one. What I want to know is, why do we do this?

Every year, from October thru February, my life is insane. I have no business taking on a new project, but like many people out there, I have a superhero complex, so I do. This past month I decided I was going to give Nanowrimo another go. After all, the last time I completed Nanowrimo was in 2005.

This year, I actually had a good idea and spent time creating a chapter by chapter outline. I even wrote a character analysis. I was ready to construct my amazingly, awesome, completely thought-out novel, but after writing 1,000 words I realized that I couldn’t devote the amount of time necessary. This of course, was in addition to the fact that I needed to finish up the other projects I have in the works.

I have no business starting anything new.

This is why I’ve decided to take this new novel bit by bit. I will finish it when it’s right for me to do so and it will be right when I have finished all of my looming projects. I desperately want to give this new project the respect it deserves.

On that note, there isn’t very much time left for Nanowrimo, so I’d like to wish all of the Nanowrimer’s out there much luck. Keep going! You can do it!

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Sep 042012
 

These past two weeks have been incredible. I won a query critique and a critique of the first two chapters of my novel from Amanda Sun. Her YA novel, Ink is coming out next year, which I can’t wait to read. I won the critique through The Write On Con, which is a completely amazing and free conference for writers. I implore you to check it out. It recently ended, but you can find tons of incredible information through their archives. Please go visit them when you get a chance: writeoncon.com.

A few days later I got notice that my short story, The Town on the Road was to be published in Luna Station Quarterly, which publishes speculative fiction from new and emerging women authors. It’s now live so you can follow this link to read it. I am so glad LSQ exists and I wish them much success in the future. Now I just have to find a home for the other short story orphans sitting on my desk. To read the rest of issue 11, please visit this link. As you all know, literary magazines are labors of love, so if you have a few bucks to spare, please support Luna Station Quarterly by buying an issue. Issue 11 is available for purchase for $2.99 in EPUB, MOBI and PDF formats here.

In other news, I recently visited Stanley’s Fruits & Vegetables in Chicago and bought a coconut. I wanted my son to experience the awesomeness that is coconut. He was super excited, but the best part came when he was watching me crack it open. I used a drill on the seam of the coconut and cracked it open with a hammer. My son was obsessed with the insides, but for some reason he refused to eat any of it. Oh well. More for me! Here’s a photo:

 

I’ve also been working on completing some home projects and as I was pulling the top off of a paint can, it slipped out of my hands and landed on the counter. Here’s what I saw when I lifted it:

 

Even the paint splotch was upset at my mishap! LOL!

Well, I’ve got to get back to work! Laters!

Have a lovely week y’all.

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Dec 072011
 

I’m convinced that luck comes in waves. In the past couple of weeks, I’ve noticed that a few people around me are going through rough and tough times, while others are at their optimum. Case in point, one family member was recently laid off, while another was offered a promotion and raise. His wife was also offered a job with a competitive salary. Earlier this year their situations were reversed. What the heck is going on? Is this some kind of reversal of fortune? Is it their turn to get showered with good luck from the universe? Does good and bad luck come in waves? I’m starting to think yes.

This good luck occurred within the last couple of weeks, which brings me to this – the moments before the New Year always count. Whatever you want to do this year, whatever dreams you have can still be reached. Don’t give up just because you may be in the midst of a bad luck wave. Keep pushing along because good luck is heading your way.

Confession: I’ve been putting off the completion of my novel because I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and it scares me. Sounds strange, I know, but exposing my inner most thoughts is a frightening thing for me, hell, for any writer. It’s a vulnerability I didn’t expect to have and one I didn’t prepared for, but I’m pushing forward. There’s not much sense in keeping my manuscript hidden on a file folder on my desktop. My plan is to finish my novel by the end of this year and edit it early next year to get this pony in the publishing show.

I want to leave this year on a high note. Don’t you? If so, then take this as your sign to sprint to the finish line and get whatever you need to get done – done.

I’m wishing all you writers and artists out there good luck on your current project! You can do it.

“Let me know – do I still got time to grow? Things ain’t always set in stone. Let me know, let me know. Seems like street lights, glowing, happen to be just like moments, passing in front of me, so I hopped in the cab and I paid my fare. See, I know my destination, but I’m just not there.”

-“Street Lights” by Kanye West

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Nov 172011
 

I’m attracted to books that help people explore who they are. I’m also attracted to books that help people figure out what they want to do in life. Why? Well, because for years I struggled with what I wanted to do in life. How do you compete with the big dogs when you don’t even know which industry you belong in? Therein lies the conundrum.

When I applied to the University of Illinois, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. Then I was accepted. I went in general, major undeclared because I didn’t know who I was. I didn’t know what I was really good at. And there’s a huge difference between being good at something and then being really good.

The truth is I was afraid of choosing a career. I thought careers were forever and that once you chose one that was it – you had to follow through. There was no turning back. What if I failed? What if hated what I chose? I didn’t want to be one of those people stuck in a career they hated. I didn’t want to be one of those people waking up every day going to a job they despised. I was afraid of disappointing my parents, and worst of all, myself. I didn’t want to ruin my life. It was all rather terrifying.

One day, I realized that nobody could help me choose what I wanted to do in life. No counselor, teacher, parent, or friend. I had to make my own decisions. I had to make some choices. Trying not to make the wrong choice was like treading lightly on a ground filled with land minds; agonizing and stressful.

I chose to major in English/rhetoric with a minor in communications. I didn’t realize until my junior year that I wanted to be a creative writer as well as a journalist, but it was too late. I wasted too much time taking a bunch of classes I didn’t need.

If I knew then, what I know now…

I love English and rhetoric, but there will always be a special place in my heart for journalism, media and communications. I love reporting. I love seeking out the truth. Now that I’m older, I can honestly say that not immediately declaring a major was a mistake. I should’ve double majored in Journalism and English right from the start.

For the last couple of years, I’ve been evaluating my life and reading career-centric books. I believe they are extremely useful for a number of reasons. One, they force you to answer questions you have been avoiding. Two, they make you feel like it’s okay to say how you feel. Three, they encourage you to take risks. Four, they inspire you to take action and everybody knows if you want something in life, you’ve got to take action.

I wish somebody would’ve given me a book like this when I was a teenager. I think it would’ve really made me think about who I was and where I wanted to be.

The books below are excellent in helping people to discover who they are:

The All About Me books are amazing. They are interactive, so you just fill in the blanks. There are questions asking about who you are, what you think and what you would do in certain situations. If you want to learn more about yourself, fill out this book and pick it up again in five years. Your answers will blow your mind. No joke! For an extra challenge, fill out the All About Us book with your significant other.

344 Questions: The Creative Person’s Do-It-Yourself Guide to Insight, Survival, and Artistic Fulfillment is a book I picked up a few weeks ago. I randomly stumbled across it and decided to order it and I’m glad I did. This is a book of questions geared towards designers, but applicable to anybody. There are questions in this book I’ve never asked myself and there are others I can’t seem to stop thinking about. This book is written in interactive flowcharts, so you write your answers directly in the book. It took me about three days to fill it out and during that time, I found myself being rather introspective. It’s extremely helpful if you’re interested in doing a life evaluation or are at a crossroads and are unsure about what to do next.

What I’m trying to say is, figure out who you are, what you want and then trust yourself enough to go for it. If you let your fear get the best of you, you’ll never know who you are or what you’re made of. Take a risk. Take a chance. Believe in yourself!

On that note, I’m off to work on my novel. Thanks for reading! Good luck on your life journey.

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Apr 182011
 

The last Crusader challenge has fallen upon us and here it is:

Show Not Tell Crusader Challenge: In 300 words or less, write a passage (it can be an excerpt from your WIP, flash fiction, a poem, or any other writing) that shows (rather than tells) the following:

  • you’re scared and hungry
  • it’s dusk
  • you think someone is following you
  • and just for fun, see if you can involve all five senses AND include these random words: shimmer, saccadic, substance, and salt.

Here is my entry:

Her eyes grew wide, her face hot, her heart pounding. A growl roared from her stomach. Shut up, shut up. She darted forward and stepped ever so carefully on the cracked floor. Reaching an icy brick wall, she placed her cheek next to it letting the cold sink in before licking. She cringed at the saltiness and wiped the disgusting taste from her tongue.

A boom shook the place; the vibrations ran through her body like a subwoofer. Did somebody push over a dumpster? She spun around, her foot caught. She pulled on her ankle. Rubber soles slapped the floor. She yanked it out and ran.

“Who’s there?” she screeched.

The hairs on her forearms stood up as the edge of the doorway made its way under her fingertips. She reached down. A cold, metal knob saluted her. She twisted. The door flew open. Darkness dripped from the hallway. She sprinted down the corridor; her hands shaking, her eyes saccadic. She grabbed her chest and felt around the pockets of her pants. Her inhaler was gone. There was a wheeze, a misstep, a fall. Get up dammit!

A light shimmered in the shadows. She used her last bit of energy to pounce like a panther and push.

It was dusk, but the streetlamps illuminated the downtown sky. A congested sidewalk filled with laughing tourists passed. Wiping the sweat from her forehead, she rushed across the street, bumping into people along the way.

“Watch where you’re going moron.”

A smile crawled on her face. She was alive and still in Chicago. She took a deep breath. It smelled like rain on top of hot concrete.

It was the substance crazy dreams were made of.

***

The end for now.  To learn more about the Crusade, please visit: Rach Writes.

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