Do you ever feel like there’s something missing in your life? Or that you don’t always feel on top of your game? Maybe you’re like me – out here hustling your way through the gig economy, which brings a certain level of stress, along with the freedom of working for yourself.
Or maybe – you’re in a rat race that feels it never (ever) ends.
Or maybe, your home life is full of the boisterous activities of children and you never seem to get a break.
Or maybe – ALL of these!
Regardless, September’s got a little gift for you. A huge reminder that if you don’t prioritize your own needs you’ll suffer, no matter what your life looks like on the outside or how well you think you’ve got everything managed.
You see, September’s a special month: Self-Care Awareness Month. And as a freelance health and wellness writer, I’m all over this. Clients are ordering blogs that fit in nicely with September’s focus on self-care and I’ve been covering some of these topics in my personal writing as well.
Here’s a little of what you can do to take full advantage of this gift of September, this month, and from now on! See the 3 links below to start right now getting your life back into balance.
Note: If you’re not a Medium member you’ll only be able to view a limited number of articles each month. If you want to read more than that – or if you want a killer side hustle just by telling your own stories! – then here’s where you can join for a tiny fee each month. Part of your fee will come to me as the one who told you about this wonderful opportunity! (Don’t worry – you get the same opportunity when you join this interactive reading and writing community!)
Now, go forth and take the best care of yourself that you can! Share with us your favorite ways to self-care yourself to success by leaving a comment for other readers. And to stay in the know on this and other topics of interest for your personal journey – whether you’re a hard-working freelance writer or not! – then plop your email right here:
Thanks for reading today. I am Christina M. Ward a full-time professional writer. Yes! I make a living doing this very thing! There’s no greater day than one spent behind the pen…pushing words out into the universe and getting paid to do what you love. Join here to get started.
There are some exciting things going on in the world of writing. Whether you are a reader or a writer or both, you likely know the power that words can have in our lives. Today, Fiddleheads & Floss Writing Services (aka—ME) has reached a milestone and I have you all to thank for it.
Writers who intend to write books must do just that—write the books. But, of course, life gets tangly. There’s this whole Covid thing. Sometimes we move to new towns, start or end relationships, wait patiently for a new grandbaby to be born. We bang our steering wheels in traffic and we curse when the delivery of groceries is not what we wanted. In short—we’re all out here adulting as best we can. It gets tiresome, right?
And I have a question for you today:
Do you think that there is more to life than this?
Really, think about that.
(Don’t worry—I promised an announcement—and it’s coming…)
But I want you to think back to a time when you were a small child and there was a wild sense of curiosity in you. Remember that time? No, no…don’t focus on the traumas or the disappointments of your childhood—focus on the child. The curiosity and often whimsical thinking of your childhood self.
There, now, you in the sandbox…you, chasing fireflies or playing ball…you with the mix-matched socks and the wild hair (and don’t care!)…let’s stay here for a while. You’ve been adulting, you’re tired, and you deserve a treat. A mental play treat. A treat made up of words that transport you to someplace else.
What’s the Big Deal?
Now for the announcement: Fiddleheads & Floss has released a second collection and it is a whimsical gift. A nature-bound playground that is waiting for your tired mind to just let go and let words. Let the power of words take you to places you really need to go. Let words whisk away the stresses of life and tickle your mind with a little good plain FUN with poetry. Sure, there are a few dark moments in there—but this book is more playful, more inviting, and more sensory-appealing than its predecessor; organic. Don’t get me wrong, organic was good—people loved it—but this new collection takes your heart and mind to a restful place where life can melt away.
Read it to yourself. Read it to your children or grandchildren. Let poetry soothe you and remind you to share those joyous and curious moments of life with them. We are so tangled in the complexities, the often weighted difficulties of life…that we need to remember our child-like souls. Our limitless dreams. I think, especially in light of last year—we need this.
As much as I needed to write this book—I think there are people out there needing to read this book.
Catch Your Fireflies!
So, my loyal fans and followers—the coolest people ever, in my humble opinion—will you show a little support? It’s easy:
✔ You can purchase your very own copy of fireflies
✔ You can share this post with your friends or forward via email to your friends and family.
✔ You can share a picture of you with your copy—on your social media—and tell others why you love the book.
✔ You can send a copy to a friend who needs a little sunshine in their life.
✔ You can leave a kind review—that helps writers SO much.
Preview of fireflies:
There was a time when you saw new things every time you went out into the world. The sunshine felt warmer. The clouds in the sky had names and faces. Each day brought some grand adventure and all you had to do was show up.
Who says when we grow up that all of these wondrous happenings must stop? Who says we can’t still look outside our windows and imagine all the adventures, all the joys, all the wonder life still has for us? Why shouldn’t we see the world with this type of curiosity and share that with our children, our grandchildren?
Some joys in life must be colorful, whimsical, fun, and mysterious. I see the world this way each day. Perhaps it is a coping mechanism. Perhaps it is a trauma response. Perhaps it is simply reminiscent of all those quiet hours I spent beneath a blanket as a child reading books and volumes of children’s poetry. I paint what I see and feel into poems. Because I must. Because it helps me to make sense of this world. And because I hope, you’ll come with me.
So you can see — even when the world feels dark, there is always light.
Just ask the fireflies.
An entire tree can be stripped bare by ants. Let hope be persistent as ants.
The gathered are powerful.
One by one, one piece at a time, let a steady stream of hope carry away all that weighs me all that controls me all that burdens me still.
The gathered are powerful.
—Let Hope Drip Here
Here it is. A new year rising, a great orange ball of fire in the sky, wearing my name like a smile.—Tomorrows
oh yes, I’d live out my days in the pages of a children’s book
far, far away ─ I can hear the faeries sing turn the page dear friends
and let me climb in
—Within the Pages
A heart in the dark learns to be its own light.
BONUS: Fireflies features some artwork and photographs of other budding artists. I wanted to feature some visual images in this book and support other artists who are out there immersing themselves in their gifts and sharing that with the world.
This past week I shared a story to my Substack newsletter (a free subscription service!) and since then I have received messages and had some really personal conversations with some of my readers. The story, clearly, is affecting people. I have been meaning to share it here with you all and have had quite a busy week. But here we are, Friday, the cusp of a weekend again and I think the timing is perfect to share this and set the tone for your weekend. Let’s talk about the “invisible people.”
Many of you know, I have just moved into a new apartment. New to me, anyways. I have never been a particularly sociable person and most of the time I avoid people at all costs.
But in a busy apartment complex that’s next to impossible. Instead of running for the nearest bush to hide behind whenever someone speaks to me—I am trying a new strategy. Just talk to them.
I live in a rather cheap complex. There are people of all races and ages. Most of them have pets. Many in my building and the one next to me are older and live alone. There are some areas of the complex that are ripe with drug use and other areas with children playing. There are handicapped people, loud people, some very odd people, and some that never speak to anyone. People of all sizes, shapes, colors, and lifestyles.
When someone speaks to me—I have no real way of knowing whether they are one of the pot smokers, a regular worker, a friend or foe. Sure, I can look them over and try to decide, but this isn’t a very fair assessment. If it were, everyone that lives here would think I am angry and tired. Usually I am neither but my face tells a different story. When someone lifts a hand and asks how I am doing or comments on the weather—they are giving me a chance. It seems to me, the kindest thing to do, is to do the same for them.
Invisible people. Let’s get to that. What about the people who don’t move at the same pace as everyone else. Or communicate in the ways everyone else does. The people who move through society—whether it’s their age or health condition, or simply that they are lonely—and people just pass them by without paying them any attention. The older I get, when I am moving about out in public, the more I feel like one of these invisible people. And by saying invisible people, it is less about the people and more about those who overlook them. It is about what we choose as a society to value and to give our attention. It says more about us and how we treat people.
That guy in the wheelchair gets lonely just like you do. That older lady with the little dog, well, she gets tired or bored, same as you. The ones with the drugs—I’ll leave them alone for safety reasons, but everyone else? They are fair game for pushing my own limits, and for having a little small talk.
A funny thing happens when you open yourself up this way.
You begin to enjoy the quirks and oddities of people. You hear their stories. Share in their daily habits a little and begin to get to know them a little. And well, dare I say, you might actually like them. Soon you remember their names, their dogs’ names, and they remember yours. My dog, Josie, in fact, was instrumental in pushing me a bit out of my comfort zone. Dogs bring attention. And attention I have always avoided. But little furry ice-breakers that they are, they often take the burden off of you to start conversations with people.
So, a little more each day, Josie and I go out for our walks and we get to know people. Nice people. People that just tonight had me laughing ‘till tears when one of them shared a story about walking to the mailbox with the dog’s leash and getting halfway there before she realized she had forgotten the dog back at her apartment. We laughed and laughed. A whole group of “porch sitters” just congregating in the afternoon lull and sharing a bit of conversation about life.
And with the isolation of “the Covid year”—I’d say we all need a little more of that.
Say hello to the invisible people. The not-so-Instagramable people. The regular everyday folk who aren’t necessarily doing anything spectacular, but are walking around you in the same spaces as you, feeling all those same things that you feel. Have a laugh with one of them. Learn their name. It’s a real blessing; one you may not have realized you needed.
Christina, one of those invisible people with a little doggie
Here’s the skinny on News Break, what it is, and why you should follow your favorite content creators.
Have you heard of News Break? Well, I hadn’t either until they invited me to be a part of the new Content Creator Program, a paying content stream for my work. It is my understanding they have only accepted 200 writers to this program.
News Break is a popular free app that funnels local news stories right to your phone for you. Live in a small town? It’s ok because anything in your area will come to you–and it’s super helpful to stay on top of what’s going on in your area. If you want to download the free app, here’s the link to do that. FREE NEWSBREAK APP
You will likely see me sharing my profile all over the place as I need to build followership on this new platform. The platform pays handsomely, so I need to give this a good head start! (I mean 1K a month? Yes please.)
A Living Your Best Life / Fiddlehead Life feature post
Today I am grateful for new beginnings.
Yes, even the ones that are traumatic and painful. Because sometimes, life turns you right on your head. Suddenly nothing makes sense, everything is barreling in a new direction, and it seems everything in your life is totally out of control. Have you ever had a change like this in your life?
Suddenly he wants a divorce? A loved one passes away? You get fired from your job and suddenly have no idea what you’re going to do? (Insert your trauma HERE.)
Life is a series of decisions and the results of those decisions. But what happens when it is totally out of your control and everything is turned upside down?
You’re traumatized. Maybe a little angry. Okay, maybe a whole lot angry. But being the dedicated optimist that I am, as I sit here in the midst of my trauma, I have to look for the silver lining or I think my head might actually explode.
Trauma happens to you. It happens to your mind. It happens to your body. And it happens to your life. If you struggle to control the trauma or force it away, you can often find yourself in a losing battle. After all, it wouldn’t be trauma if we had much of a say so in the matter, would it? So you dig in, you dig deep, you find your strength, and then you set out to find a purpose for this new direction in your life.
I suggest that you not only tie a knot in the end of your rope and hang on but that you grab onto that rope and swing out over that canyon like a child swinging out over the creek. Shout like a lunatic and laugh through tears. Release, release, release.
You have to find joy in your trauma as ridiculous as that sounds. You have find that one thing in your new beginning that you can cling toand call hope.
In the midst of my trauma right now, the biggest thing I can cling to is the excitement over living on my own for the first time. I’m 46 years old. I went from a family of seven in tight quarters to living with a new husband at the age of 18. I got divorced and remarried within a year. I raised my two sons and 10 years ago met up with my boyfriend and his five-year-old daughter and we have lived as a family since.
Until two weeks ago. My relationship over, I have to figure out what the hell to do with my life right now. We had all of these plans and ideas of what our future looked like together. All, gone. In a matter of about 30 hours, it all came crashing down and I found myself leaving with what would fit in my mother’s car. I left my cat and my dog behind. The air suddenly felt foreign to my lungs.
So, I have never lived alone. In my life. And I have always wanted to. This time, though it is a bit unexpected, I cling to that little bit of excitement to help me get through the unbearable pain and sadness that my body is experiencing right now. I cling to the vision of getting my own place. One that lets me retrieve my dog and my cat, and start over.
I envision wiping down the counters in the evenings after eating a meal in front of some TV show that I wanted to watch. I envision playing music when I want. I envision working in the peace and quiet of my own home. I envision decorating the place to my own liking without a care in the world is to what everyone else thinks about it.
I envision coming and going from my home with freedom, and without having to explain myself or my actions to anyone.
These are things I have never experienced before, so I am holding onto that vision to get me through these difficult times for my heart.
I’m not going to lie, it’s been extremely painful. Some of the time the tears overtook me so hard, I couldn’t breathe. I find myself walking outside in the dark at 3 am. I am forgetting what day or time it is.
Trauma can turn your life inside out and it can be horrifically painful. I’m not saying to pretend you’re not in pain. That would be counterproductive and unhealthy. Honor your pain. Admit it’s there. You have to STEP UP your self-care, listen to your body, and slowly work your way through the pain to find a place of peace.
And while you’re doing that–get on your rope swing and take a few chances looking for some joy with in yourself. It may take you a while to find it, but I guarantee you, it’s there.
With a new beginning comes new possibilities. It’s up to you to decide what those possibilities are and dig deep for the bravery it takes to pursue them.
Don’t let anyone call you selfish. You know the pain that you are in and you know what you’ve been through and you know that you are processing that pain in this moment. And don’t be afraid to call this a new beginning. New beginnings can be painful, yes. But they can also be immensely transformative in your life. Those pivotal moments happen so few times in our lives, that if you were to see those pivotal moments as an opportunity not to be missed, you can take back some of that control you have been missing.
That’s all for now. I hope you all are well and I hope you are taking care of yourselves and listening to your own inner voice that tells you what you need. Honor yourself and don’t be afraid to go after the life that you want!
I am very pleased to share with you all that an exclusive magazine, The Coil, via Alternating Current Press, has chosen a poem of mine which I submitted to them in April of 2019. It takes a long time to hear back on poetry submissions, but they are so worth the wait to add credibility to your resume…so we poets submit and we wait and we hope.
I am excited to add this publication to my resume and share the post with you all here. Also this poem is a semifinalist for the Luminaire Award:
Your submission has been entered into the semifinalist round for the 2021 Luminaire Award, for a chance to win $100 and other prizes. Your submission will receive additional print publication if it is chosen as a Top-5 Finalist in the editor’s pick selection. We will be in contact with you further down the road when we are ready to lay out the forthcoming publication.
I am gathering them, snapshots on a line, puzzle pieces, building blocks, roots.
Individually, yes, strength. Each a painting, a break in the timeline of my life, a check mark.
Together they say something bigger. Together they are a timeline.
Snapshots become an art gallery, puzzle pieces, when placed, begin to lose their lines of separation, a picture forms.
Building blocks form a bridge, one to cross over into epiphanies.
Roots intertwine and feed our souls up limb and out our branches to each leafy finger grasping sun.
Together, they are better. Together, these poems are my book.
My book, is me.
I am gathering them, assembling them, birthing them all over again into one, my fingers, my face, my hope in the sun.
I am compiling my first poetry book. It is an act of faith.
Faith that others will want to support me and own a collection of my work — I promise, it is better than the quality of the above poem, which is little more than a bit of nonsensical rambling from a tired poet who promised to write a poem every day of the month for POMwrimo. (POMwrimo is a current event going on in my Facebook group for Poets from the Medium platform.)
The new book contains some of my best work, and a few poems that no one has ever seen before. (Yes, A World Without Butterflies is in the book.)
To say that I am excited is to barely brush the surface of this experience.
To all you poets out there — believe in your work. Honor your work. Never, ever give up on your work.
Christina Ward 💗 is a poet who has a lot to celebrate tonight. Poetry is one of them.
is not love which alters when it alteration finds or bends with the
remover to remove — it is an ever-fixed mark.” — from some Shakespearean
sonnet I had to memorize in high school. This poem still plays in my
head fairly often and its meaning has deepened for me over the years.
The poets have a lot to say about love, but I thought today I’d share
with you some of the wisdom of poets about loving yourself. Being true
to yourself. And being your own best influencer, cheerleader, and
begin with Rupi Kaur, not necessarily my favorite poet, but the
simplicity found in some of her poems is truly inspiring. This little
nugget is probably one of the deeper thoughts in her work:
“Our backs tell stories no books have the spine to carry” ― Rupi Kaur, quote
story does your spine carry? Are you sharing that story with the world
without fear or shame? We all have a precious story under our skins and
it is worthy of our attention. Worthy of honoring.
If I can stop one heart from breaking, I shall not live in vain; If I can ease one life the aching, Or cool one pain, Or help one fainting robin Unto his nest again, I shall not live in vain. — Emily Dickinson, “If I Can Stop One Heart From Breaking”
makes your life have value? The attitudes and actions you admire most —
implement. Time is a gift for you to use. May it bring out your best
I CELEBRATE myself; And what I assume you shall assume; For every atom belonging to me, as good belongs to you —Walt Whitman, from “Song of Myself”
is the last time you took a moment to simply celebrate yourself? If
Walt thought it wise — I might be inclined to think it is a good idea.
Have you written a song of yourself?
Remember the sky that you were born under, know each of the star’s stories. Remember the moon, know who she is. Remember the sun’s birth at dawn, that is the strongest point of time. Remember sundown and the giving away to night. Remember your birth, how your mother struggled to give you form and breath. You are evidence of her life, and her mother’s, and hers. Remember your father. He is your life, also. Remember the earth whose skin you are: red earth, black earth, yellow earth, white earth brown earth, we are earth. — Joy Harjo, from “Remember”
your history with all its flaws, imperfections, tragedies — and
victories, remembering your roots can help to put a life in perspective.
Give yourself credit for being a part of history, your history, and the
ones that come after you. We are all a part of something bigger — and
this is a beautiful thing!
You do not have to be good. You do not have to walk on your knees for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting. You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves. — Mary Oliver, from “Wild Geese”
Oh, I love me some Mary Oliver. I thank her for this bit of wisdom — love, and do, and be yourself. You are worthy. Just…love.
And then the day came, when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.— Anaïs Nin, “Risk”
Nin spoke from the heart, without fear. I love this snippet of her
writing because it reminds us that we are all growing, changing,
blooming. Nurture yourself in this beautiful unfolding.
Hope is the thing with feathers That perches in the soul And sings the tune without the words And never stops — at all — Emily Dickinson, from “Hope is the Thing with Feathers”
Hope. A precious and sometimes fleeting commodity that comes from within. Dig deep to find it when you need it most.
Let me not to the marriage of true minds Admit impediments. Love is not love Which alters when it alteration finds, Or bends with the remover to remove. O no! it is an ever-fixed mark That looks on tempests and is never shaken; — William Shakespeare, from Sonnet 116
perseveres. Are you loving with yourself through tempests? Do not be
shaken — when all else is gone, or when others may fail you, you have
yourself! This is a poem of love between people but the core message is
of love. Loving yourself is a good place to start before you can love
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I, I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference — Robert Frost, from “The Road Less Traveled”
poem reminds us that we all have choices and to be brave, be bold, be
curious. Life truly is a journey and our maps are all infinitely unique.
Be your own navigator, courageously.
It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for, And if you dare to dream of meeting Your heart’s longing. — Oriah Mountain Dreamer, from “The Invitation”
are your deepest achings? Your biggest dreams? This poem digs deep with
such simple language into the desires of the heart. It encourages us to
follow our spirit in the direction of our dreams. I truly love this.
Listen to the MUSTN’TS, child, Listen to the DON’TS Listen to the SHOULDN’TS The IMPOSSIBLES, the WON’TS Listen to the NEVER HAVES Then lost close to me — Anything can happen, child, ANYTHING can be. — Shel Silverstein, “Listen to the Mustn’ts”
Silverstein, author of some of my favorite books from my childhood,
reminds us here to believe in ourselves with childlike fervor. — A
deep-dive into Shel Silverstein’s brilliant work is a day well spent and
a mood lifted — any day! (Start with The Giving Tree, and Where the Sidewalk Ends.)
sure the number one here is obvious — and I can’t read this poem
without hearing the deeply moving, captivating voice of Maya Angelo
Just like moons and like suns, With the certainty of tides, Just like hopes springing high, Still I’ll rise. — Maya Angelou, from “Still I Rise”
cathartic ancestral flow of this poem brings me to tears every time.
But on days when picking myself up feels difficult, I hear her words
chanting to me:
I rise… I rise… I rise…
Thank you for taking some time out of your day today to celebrate with me the wisdom of poets. And to celebrate you. You, are worthy.