Tag Archives: finding time to write

The Gift of Pneumonia: A Shift to Self-Care

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This picture is of me, March 21st, after a round of antibiotics had kicked in, relieving my pneumonia. Today, March 25th, I’m nearly 100% better. I can walk down the hill and back, but then need a nap. I am overly aware of how fortunate I am. My journey of self-isolating began weeks before California was mandated too: around Feb. 25th, a month ago. Bronchitis set in and I stopped teaching yoga at the hospital and also at a studio where I teach 5 classes weekly. Everything began to shift for me internally, spiritually, however, on the morning I woke my 18-year-old son urgently. I was coughing up blood. I needed his help. We decided to go to an urgent care, as my boss at the hospital had said the ER was slammed. In the urgent care, however, there were many people waiting to get in, some arriving from Europe, another from Egypt. I couldn’t stop coughing and I made my son wait in the car. I don’t think I realized the magnitude of the situation then. I do now. How fortunate am I to have been given antibiotics, and not been sent to the ER to be tested?? My Dr. told me it would be a risk to go to the ER now. I needed to behave as if I had COVID, take the antibiotics, isolate. If the antibiotics worked, I’d be okay. In reality, I could have tested positive. My boys had returned from Switzerland and England with their dad Feb. 23. Their dad and his girlfriend live in New York and travel the world nonstop. This family easily could have been infected with COVID 19. If I had tested positive, I might have been hospitalized and been isolated from my sons.

It occurred to me, a few days later, as I was editing a manuscript in bed and listening to them trying to cook, fending for themselves, that this could have been a complete disaster. Had I been hospitalized and separated from them, there were no plans, nothing set in place to protect/help them. My oldest son didn’t have enough money to handle this situation or buy food for himself and his little brother. He didn’t know how to access the accounts that I have. He didn’t know where my life insurance policy was. His dad should not fly here from Manhattan. It was ground zero for COVID19. It would not be a good idea for him to get on a plane, risk others, and come here, risking the boys.

It’s funny how all my life I have lived with a deep sense of the importance of serving others—perhaps to justify my existence, my worth. I learned this from my mother, a child-protective services social worker and avid volunteer. Yet, serving others to the point that I’m not taking optimal care of myself or my boys, makes zero sense. I have been a FT single mother for 11 years. You’d think I would have this down by now. But, in retrospect, I had been teaching far too much yoga, missing dinners, missing homework times with my sons, now 11 and 18. I had been tackling far too many writing / editing assignments with corporate clients, forgetting my novels, my raison d’etre. Why? Because I thought I needed the money and needed to serve. But in reality, I’ve learned from this time of extreme isolation, that I could have just trimmed my finances to adjust to my priorities. Since I have been isolating and the boys have been home-schooling, we have given up all the extras: hair appointments, Starbucks, dinners out, babysitters, gym membership, all of the expensive kids activities such as martial arts, violin lessons, volleyball. We have been forced to give this all up due to social distancing. And do you know what? We don’t really miss it. My oldest misses soccer, but at least that was free :).

 

Since I have been in isolation, I have taken on all that intimidated me in the past. I did an audit of my accounts. My financial adviser was far too conservative and earned way too much in fees. An account with him had earned zero in three years. Bull years at that! I transferred all of it out and am now making my own decisions, my own trades. I have up-dated all of my accounts too, putting my sons as equal beneficiaries. All of this information, and some cash, is in the locked safe. My oldest knows how to access all of this. I have said no to my boss at the yoga studio, who wanted me to record classes. I tried to record one yoga class, but was too winded and it took me and my son over 3 hours between shooting it and then editing it and it still wasn’t that good due to audio issues. My time is valuable. If I have little time here, I need to focus on what matters: my boys and my writing. One manuscript is edited again, another I am working on this week. All three manuscripts will be in my lock box as well.

If I get sick again, we now have a plan. My oldest will be in charge and he will not fly to see his dad (who left NYC and is now isolating in a Tennessee mountain cabin) for at least two weeks – wait and see how they are feeling and how his dad is feeling. Our garage has enough food for a week. He has money to go shopping.

For now, I am focussed 100 percent on this family and on my well-being and on my writing, the reason why I am here. I have audited out all the distractions. I have always meditated daily, but now am meditating twice daily. We will get though this. I firmly believe that we are all spiritual beings living a physical existence. Those who die from COVID19 will still exist. And they will be surrounded by unconditional love. I have never been afraid to die. But I am fearful for my boys to be alone, not supported, and to feel scared. There is only so much that is within my control.

Today, I am grateful for the reminder that self care, is equal to self love. During meditation, this is the affirming message I received: The love you seek to attract, the compassion you hope to attract, starts within. Love yourself. Care for yourself. Care for your family. It begins here, then will ripple outward miraculously.

Take good care all,

L. xo

Yoga for Writers Workshops

 

Forgive the ‘you knows’! Clearly, this was a one take job, lol. I’m a writer for a reason. I’ll need to practice before public speaking! California writers, for more information about my yoga for writers workshops held monthly, please send me a note. In these workshops, we do not read from our material, nor do we critique each other’s work. We start with a 30 minute gentle, non-heated flow that incorporates kundalini, hatha, breath work—all at a beginner level—designed to let go of fear and to level our energies so we can talk together more productively. We can then share tips regarding pitch letters, queries, proposals, synopsis writing, contests, agent responses (or rejections, part of life) and strategies to find time to write every day—especially important for those of us who have children and busy day jobs. We come together for support. IF two people connect and want to review each others writing, they can swap emails after. Workshop costs cover the rental fee for the studio, btw, so typically $15/each. Email me for more information: laura.roe.stevens@gmail.com.

 

Have a blessed day! Laura

Seeking the Write Life

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What a dreamy writing spot I had last year in Greece! This is where I wrote a bulk of my last novel, Between Thoughts of You.  I led a Yoga & Writer’s Retreat in a remote area of Styra, Greece on the Delenia Cliffs—about a 30 minute drive from Nea Styra port and where few cars enter, due to hair-line turns on rocky, unpaved roads. These ancient roads roll past trails leading to ruins called Dragonistas, or pre-historic Dragon Houses of unknown origin mentioned in the Iliad. What an inspiring spot to write! For me. (But it might have been too remote for some of my yogis, lol.) I have a bohemian side from my North Carolina roots where I was raised near horse farms and in what Californians would consider rustic terrain.  I love being close to nature, hiking, listening to crickets—especially when they are competing with crashing waves. Add a night sky filled with stars and you can see why I didn’t mind living in a barn for a week—even if it had bats and huge spiders! I gave the main house to the yogis, who had pool and cliff and Aegean views, as I had my private writing spot every morning and most afternoons.

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As the yogis decided to snorkel or sight see or hire drivers to take them to towns with restaurants and bars, I stayed put and wrote. Yes we had sunset yoga & meditation classes daily and three writing workshops, but days were open to explore. I mainly stayed put. Maybe I should have ventured out more, but I was focussed. I did this in Rome the previous spring—writing most of my days in seclusion, and walking around after sunset for inspiration. It helped me craft this novel and finish the first half. I was so close to finishing the whole draft when we were in Greece, that I just had to keep going.  As a full-time single mom, I get so few full days to write. You may say that I fight for the time to write, when most of my friends lament of paralysis and procrastination. I can’t wait until that’s all I’m battling! For me, I juggle school stuff and homework for the boys, cooking, laundry, cleaning and soccer during the week—and I admit that I may not juggle it all that well. The minute I start to visualize where my novel is going, I find a way to sit down and write, whether at school, on the side-lines of a game, or even in bed at 5 a.m. where my black notebook lives in my side drawer. I dream of the days when I live “the write life” —meaning a life where I can devote five hours a day to my writing. I’m not even sure how I’ve managed to write three novels and am starting my fourth as the last nine years have been filled with sorrow, diapers and now a teenager all navigated solo. But it’s my journey. While I should be proud of what I’ve accomplished, I’m not completely. I’m determined to get better at my writing and at managing my time & life with my boys. I sent my last novel to beta readers and friends and must have edited it five times. I dream of the day when I get published traditionally. I love collaboration. I’ve been an editor of magazines, and I dream of working with an editor and agent and having that contract so I can write full-time, while of course teaching 2-3 yoga classes a week for balance and sanity! Until then, I will sneak writing time. I will steal a few moments here, a few moments there, and have a messy home for it and prepare too many frozen dinners.

My boys know that I’m focussed. I spoke with an executive at Random House earlier this year, showing him my synopsis and he said to me: “can you just get an agent so I can help you.” The traditional route demands representation. Self publishing demands marketing and self-promotion savvy. I don’t mind doing some, but I’m already writing my next novel. Who knew it would be harder to get an agent than to write to novel? But I continue to try and I continue to learn. I’m pitching an agent every week, as well as small publishing houses, a few have my novel now for consideration. I’m submitting to writing contests as well. It’s a business and I need not take rejection so personally, as many agents and publishing houses have specific genres/voice they are seeking and it changes constantly due to fluctuations and trends in the market place. I’m keeping an open mind and open heart.

And until that contract manifests, there is always another yoga & writer’s retreat! Next summer I’ll be in Spain watching my 16-year-old perform in opera houses and symphony halls. Isn’t that amazing? I can’t wait to watch him play violin, (and probably cry!) and then set up shop for my yogis. I’m debating between Madrid & Barcelona…I love both. There is power in creating space virtually, emotionally and physically to write while in inspiring get-a-ways. There’s just something magical that happens when taking that plunge—getting on a plane, leaving our bills, our neighbors, our little world behind that can become suffocating or distracting. It allows us to open up to possibilities. In the very least, it allows us to get inspired and talk about our dreams. As adults, it’s easy to shut down and lean into responsibilities, demands and fear. But without a little adventure and a little exploration, life becomes dull and heavy. We all need and deserve an injection of inspiration!

I can’t wait to tell you where the next retreat will be. And in the meantime, I’ll continue to juggle: to seek balance between loving my boys and supporting their needs, while striving to write another captivating novel that hopefully shows the power and survival of love—that always exists, even in the broken places.

Until then, have a beautiful month.

Laura x