Making Each Day Count

I was browsing my bookshelves for a book to read, and I pulled out Make Today Count by John C. Maxwell.  This book was a purchase I made when Walden Books was still open, several years ago.  It is a book that really made me think.  At the time, the author's assertion that he could tell how successful someone was by following them for a day (any day), seemed unlikely to me.

Reading it now, I think differently about that claim.  I tend to agree with him.

Mainly because what is done daily showcases what you are prioritizing, what is important to you.  In that light your day takes on a new shape.  In a year filled with loss, it has been hammered home more often than not that there are no guarantees.  This moment is all I have and I'm striving to make each day count.  This book is a short read and has some interesting points that it makes.  It is a short read, and worth the time spent on reading it.

My favorite passage from the book is:

"What you become is the result of what you do today.  Every day of your life is merely preparation for the next."

If someone followed you around for 24 hours what conclusions would they draw?  Are those conclusions an accurate portrayal?

Getting Inspired and Running With It

Where does inspiration come from?

I know mine comes from a bit of everywhere.  It mostly comes down to being open to it, and paying attention.

I have been really excited about the progress that I have made in my #100DayProject.  Today is Day 30, and I have completed and posted thirty 5X5 paintings.  The styles, techniques, and subjects are all different and I have added a personal, unique flair to each one.

The progress I have made with this project and the creativity I have been able to use has given me an idea for my next book.

Why do some habits click and others don't? Even when the same process is applied?  Is there something that can be done to ensure success?  I'm intrigued and I have dived into the writing process to get the most out of the idea.

In a lot of ways, following inspiration can take you on a leap down the rabbit's hole and you are surprised where everything ends up.  That is my hope with this book.

The universe is also trying to give me a sign.  The One Thing keeps popping up everywhere for me.  It is next on my to be read list.  

Hope you have an inspired week.  

Keep your eyes, ears, and heart open for inspiration.  Then run with it and see where it can take you.

Try something new and lose yourself in learning and seeing for the first time.  Set a challenge for yourself and see how far you run with it.

Three Weeks into A New Creative Habit

There is an observation that you need a minimum of 21 days of a new habit in order for it to kick in.  I crossed over that threshold today with my 22nd consecutive day of finishing a painting a day in my #100DayProject.  (I included a picture of my process below.)

Consistency is the key.  Every day making it happen and count.

I have tried so many different techniques, new color mixing, adding Flow-Aid, painting shadows and so much more.  The biggest eye-opener to me, has been how many shadows I see.  Everywhere.  From my dog's shadow when she was standing in the grass outside to the moving shadows as the sun sets.  

Along the way, by default, I learned a bunch about Instagram.  I had a blast getting inspired by several painters from portrait to graffiti to sculpture.

Inspiration is all over the place.


Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It by Kamal Ravikant.

This book is a short read with a very important message.  Two of my favorite quotes from the book were:

"Real growth comes through intense, difficult, and challenging situations."

(What can you do to challenge yourself this week?  I know what I'm challenging myself with.)

"The truth is to love yourself with the same intensity you would use to pull yourself up if you were hanging off a cliff with your fingers.  As if your life depended on it."

Don't let go of it.  Loving yourself is something that will be important for today, tomorrow, and the next day.


Making the Switch from Writing Nonfiction to Fiction

I started out writing make believe stories when I was younger.  My imagination ran wild with me and I scrambled to keep up with my writing hand.  Then life sort of happened, as it tends to.  I kept all those scribblings and fond memories in my desk drawer.  It might as well have a label that said "Someday" on it.

Fast forward to 2016, and I was coming to grips with a diagnosis for sarcoidosis.  A rare disease that not much is known about, and there is no cure.  As cliched as it sounds, there is nothing like facing your own mortality to make you look at things in a fresh perspective.

One thing I knew I needed to do right away, was I wanted to finally get serious about writing.  So I joined an online mastermind and set to work on my rough draft of what turned into my first book:  Breaking the Chains of Silence.  I faced some of my biggest fears during the writing and publishing of that book.

Seven months later, I published Exploring Atlantic Canada my travel memoir of a solo trip I took to visit some of Canada's eastern Provinces.  Now, I enjoyed writing nonfiction, but ultimately it is not the final destination for me as a writer.  I have my eye set on writing fiction.

As a reader, I devour both fiction and nonfiction.  However, what do I pre-order the most of?  Romance.  Shout out to some of my favorites like Jay Crownover, Meghan March, Karina Halle, Penny Reid, Alessandra Torre and more.

Making the switch from nonfiction to fiction writing is much more than just a new genre.  Everything from how I mind-map/ brainstorm, to how I outline, to how I write has changed.  

My whole approach has been modified as I go.  It has been an interesting process so far.  I've hit some roadblocks and made a few breakthroughs.  

Here are a 5 helpful hints so far:

~Set daily goals to build momentum and consistency.  Get in the habit of writing every day, even if it is only a half an hour.  Then you can build from there.  This is one I am still improving on, but I have set a goal of writing 500 words a day in my project targets in Scrivener.  Having my session targets helps me focus and push to reach my set target and surpass it.  (Today's session pictured below.)

~Read some structure and story basics books.  Be careful.  It is easy to keep on reading, convincing yourself you aren't ready to start writing, yet.  This can become a form of procrastination and avoidance of getting started on your writing.  I was guilty of this, then I opened up a new project in Scrivener and started writing my first scene.

~Keep a notebook to jot down ideas when you are in line at the grocery store, or at a doctor's appointment.  Write down conversational snippets, observe people and their mannerisms and facial expressions.  The best way to write real dialogue is to listen to people speak around you.

~Reverse engineer the story if you want to.  You do not have to write linearly.  Start at the ending and then go back to middle and work your way back.  I'm not a pantser or a plotter when it comes to my outline, but more of a flexible outliner.  I write like I travel.  I know my destination, but I'm not rigid and allow some creativity and spontaneity along the way.

~Set a deadline for rough draft completion.  This is not set in stone, but it is a very clear goal to work toward.  That whole saying about a task swells to the amount of time you give it, is true.  No floundering and working toward someday.  My goal date for this draft is June 19, 2017.  My word count is at the bare minimum 55,000.  By the time I publish it will be around 65-70,000.  I know I usually add chunks during the editing phase, so 55,000 is a jumping off point.

I'm excited to share more on this work in progress as I go.  Have a great week! 

Consistency and Creativity

For the last week, I have painted a 5x5 inch small painting and posted the finished result on Instagram.  I know in order to complete my 100 day project, I need to be consistent-- on a daily basis.  

I have found that consistency doesn't hurt my creativity, it promotes and sparks it.  My goal with this blog is to consistently post every single Monday.  It can be updates on my books, the book publishing journey, inspiration, or #BookLove for a book I recently devoured.  I want to share with my readers on a consistent basis.  It is a work in progress.

As for Instagram, I'm learning the platform and starting to really like it.  Each day this week I have posted a completed, and sometimes still wet, painting.  I didn't wait for inspiration, or a Muse, or permission.  I knew each day I needed to complete a painting.  I started and went with it.  Creativity usually showed up after I started.

Before this week, I had not used acrylics.  I had previously bought a cheap set from the craft store that came with a set of brushes.  For all my paintings I have used a #8 round brush, a plastic pallet knife (for color mixing), and the plastic pallet that came with it.  Nothing fancy, but it works.  The only extras were a tube unbleached titanium and a bottle of acrylic fluid for the glaze I needed to mix for the bread and butter painting.

What I'm getting to, is that I'm not a fine arts major.  I took Experimental Art in high school and was able to learn the importance of keeping a sketchbook (which I always have in my purse) and we learned the basics of watercolor and oil painting.  I liked both of those mediums.  Oil painting has more steps to clean up and isn't feasible if you don't have a studio or space for the painting to be wet for days.

Acrylics offer easier clean up for your brushes with water and faster drying times.  For the most part that holds true, but at times I feel like it doesn't dry fast enough!  But what I am trying to say is that I think anyone interested in giving it a go, should try acrylics.  This medium is beginner friendly and fun to try out.

To recap, consistency is not easy.  It is a constant work in progress.  However, I think that the more consistent we are, the more Creativity shows up.

Try this week to be consistent with something whether it is practicing your musical instrument, writing, or painting.  Keep at it and you'll reach your goals.  Jump in and get started!

Week one of the #100DayProject completed!

Week one of the #100DayProject completed!

Joining Instagram and Learning How to Paint

Today, I joined Instagram.  If you want to check it out, my username is: marieschaeller.  Or you can click here.  My main goal of joining was to begin and document my #100DayProject.  For the project, I'll be painting one small 5x5 square every day for 100 days.

Before today, I haven't really used acrylics.  I like to learn and try new things.  I purchased a book called Learn to Paint in Acrylics with 50 Small Paintings: Pick up the skills, put on the paint, and hang up your art by Mark Daniel Nelson.  These are small and quick.

For the first half of the challenge, I'm following the book and painting in order.  I'll see what happens after the 50th painting.  Either I'll keep going with acrylics or switch it up with some watercolors.  

Check out the feed to see how I fare with this creativity challenge.  Feel free to join in on the 100 Day Project, and don't forget May 15th starts the five day Bare Naked Bravery Challenge.  Lots of creativity and inspiration in the month of May!


#100DayProject Day 1 Painting "Moonrise"

#100DayProject Day 1 Painting "Moonrise"

Do You Need a Little More Bravery in Your Life?

What is bravery?  From listening to Emily Ann Peterson's podcast, Bare Naked Bravery, I think it is different for every single person.  So many people on her podcast showcase different facets of bravery, courage, and just plain old guts.

Speaking from personal experience, bravery is something I could always use a little more of.  If you are interested in getting more bravery in your life, join me and many others in joining the 5 day Bare Naked Bravery Challenge.  

5 days of simple (free) Bare Naked Bravery challenges revealing the meaningful and exhilarating sides of your life, business, & creativity.

You can sign up for the challenge here.  It is free and will be delivered to your inbox, starting on May 15th.  I can't wait to see how this plays out and what will be accomplished.  Please share with your friends and spread some encouragement around.

If you want to hear others share their bravery, check out the podcast here.  You can listen and subscribe for free on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, or iHeartRadio.

What would you do if you had a little more bravery in your life?


Standing at the Corner of Should and Must.

Did you ever feel like there were signs that you were on the right path?  I had a song stuck in my head, The Foggy Dew by Sinead O'Connor.  Random, I know.  Her version of the song is used by the Dropkick Murphys when they are playing live as an intro for them to come out on the stage to.  

I hopped onto YouTube to listen and watch the video.  The next video to play was a Chase Jarvis interview with Elle Luna.  You can find that video here, it is part of the 30 Days of Genius Series by CreativeLive.

Previously, I had started to watch this video but had to leave before listening to the whole thing.  When the signs led me back to it, I had to see it.  Once I watched the whole video, it inspired me.  She mentioned her Twitter handle and I went over to Twitter to check it out.  

The signs kept on coming.  Her agent posted that her book was on promo right now.  I went to Amazon and one clicked on that right away.

Her book is colorful and a quick read that I highly recommend!


At the Crossroads of Should and Must:  Find and Follow Your Passion by Elle Luna.

In the book, Elle defines Should as "how other people want us to live our lives".  As opposed to Must, which is "who we are, what we believe, and what we do when we are alone with our truest most authentic self."

One line that stood out to me and followed me long after I finished reading was:  "If you believe that you have something special inside of you, and you feel it's about time you gave it a shot, honor that calling in some small way-- TODAY."

I am standing at the corner of Should and Must from moment to moment through my days, and you are too.  It is the choice we make in that moment that leads us forward.  The way she put it to choose a same way to honor that today.  Not tomorrow.  Not a huge jump into the unknown, but a small, doable way.  Follow a sign and head in the direction of your MUST.

Can you do something small today to turn down the road of must instead of should?


When A Piece of Jewelry Transforms to a Heirloom.

It was Easter, a few years ago, before dessert was brought over to the kitchen table we were gathered around.  My grandmother passed each of us cousins a jewelry box.  Each of us were given a piece of jewelry that had significance and history to our Nana.

Yesterday was the first Easter without our Nana.  It was a day filled with reminiscing and a few tears, too.  But it was the stories she told us on that Easter that still stands out to me; and her foresight to want to share and pass on the heirlooms while she still had a chance to tell us the stories and see us wearing the pieces.

At the time, she gave me a ring that belonged to her mother.  I was in my writing group at GoogleWorks that I mention in my first book, Breaking the Chains of Silence.  It started out as a group for grief and healing and turned into so much more for us.  I shared a poem in my group that I wrote, inspired by Nana sharing a story about the piece given to my sister.  It made me think, and I shared my concerns with the Tuesday night writing group that I feared my Nana did it because she knew something we didn't.  Like she knew her time was coming.

When her birthday came during the summer of 2012, I made her a framed copy of the following poem with pearls glued all around.  I also gave her a letter that she kept behind the frame.  While thinking of her, I wanted to share the poem.


3 rows of real pearls,

So beautiful

A gift from Nana

with a story,

"Your grandfather's mother

frowned when he gave this to me

and spitefully she said,

'One pearl for every time

he'll make you cry'."


She recounts this with humor and defiance,

Personally I'd like to think

a majority of the tears

were for joyous occasions,

4 of those pearl are for

the happy tears of 

bringing a baby into this world.

And 3 more for the babies

that didn't make it,

6 more for the granddaughters,

Along with a handful more

on days we made her proud.

One more for her wedding day

since she's such a sentimental romantic,

And several more on the day Pap died

when she couldn't let go.


Gently she passed it down

the table to my sister,

Passing a heirloom down

for her to safe keep,

As she touches the pearls

she sheds a few tears,

Jokingly she accepts and says,

"Thanks for passing the curse to me."

                  ~~Marie Schaeller, Spring 2012.

Reading the poem makes me think of that day and puts me back in Nana's cozy kitchen with the family gathered around.  Whenever I see my sister wear it, it makes me smile.  I'm grateful she passed our pieces to us while she was here to make that special memory with us.  

Nana knew how hard it would be when she passed on, and wrote personal letters to each of her children and grandchildren.  It felt like a sweet embrace from Nana at a time when I really needed it most.  She is missed greatly by my family and I.  Her legacy and the time she spent with all of us means the world.

April is also Poetry month, and I'm hoping to share more of my poetry before the month is over.  Writing is a way to connect with others and ourselves.  It is also a way that I document, cherish, and understand my world. 

If you can, pull your family in closer, relish your traditions, and make memories that last.