525,600 minutes

The first time I ever heard the song Seasons of Love from the Broadway musical Rent, I was immediately hooked! The first line “525,600 minutes” caught the attention of this numbers geek. As I listened to the entire song for the first time, the messages of community, love, and friendship came flying through. Seasons of Love remains one of the songs that I most likely to sing along with as I’m driving down the road or sitting at my desk. It’s even one of those songs that I may spontaneously begin to sing with no prompting!

On Monday of this week when I opened up Facebook, I saw a posting about the theater students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School singing at the Tony Awards on Sunday night. Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School will forever be etched into my soul as the location of yet another mass school shooting in our country.

As I recall that horrific day, I think of those who were killed including teachers who sacrificed their lives to save students. But one story I did not know was that of Melody Herzfeld, the theater teacher who hid 65 students in a closet to avoid the gunman. On Sunday night, she was given the 2018 Excellence in Theatre Education Award.

To honor Herzfeld, some of her students sang Seasons of Love at the Tony Awards. As I watched the performance on Monday and countless times since, I thought about how the students had been through such terror and were now singing about love. I imagined just a piece of what it might have been like as those students huddled in the closet not knowing what was to come. Their performance was so incredibly powerful!

My favorite definition of power is “the ability to influence others and ourselves”. I am fascinated by power and try to take great care of my own power. Over the next few blog posts, I’ll be sharing more about power, what can be done to take care of it, and other related topics. I invite you to join in the conversation.

And one more thing before we go…CLICK HERE to see the Tony Awards performance of Seasons of Love by theater students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

So that’s my story and I’m sticking to it! Thanks for taking the time to read this post and have a tremendous Thursday! ☺

CROPPED - Jane's watercolor picture

Jane Freund is an author, encourager, speaker, book coach, and pun lover. She has written or co-written 19 books and helped authors from 5 to 85 get their books written and published. Jane’s latest book, her first historical fiction novel, will be out in the fall of 2018. Previously, Jane taught Communication for ten years at Boise State University.

Jane can be found on Facebook, Goodreads, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram and smoke signals. OK, she is kidding about the smoke signals!

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Why I wrote my obituary

One of the benefits or hazards (depending on your perspective) of being an author is that I get asked to write and edit people’s obituaries. I’ve lost track is to how many I’ve done but I’ve learned a lot whether the obituaries were for people who were an important part of my life (such as my parents) or those I had never met (such as my friend’s sister).

An obituary is so much more than facts such as birth and death dates, hometown and burial place, and names of those who passed and those who were left behind. An obituary is about capturing the personality of the individual and what and who was important to them.

Several years ago, I was struggling with what direction to go with my life. I had already begun my career as an author but life is much more than work. I’ve seen many lives affected by workaholism and knew that finding balance had to be a priority.

But as I’ve shared in the last couple of blog posts, I’ve struggled with having too many priorities. I believe that if everything is a priority then nothing is a priority. As that was bouncing around my head those several years ago, I remembered a comment that few if any people on their deathbeds wish that they had spent more time at the office.

So I began thinking about what and who really matter to me. What were my priorities? How did I want to be remembered? I didn’t know the answers but I knew the questions. I also knew a way that would help me get those answers. So I sat down and I wrote my obituary.

When I write a book, I refer to the first draft as “emotional vomit”. In the subsequent drafts, I clean up the mess. But the first draft is about getting what’s in me out of me and onto paper. I strive to do true brainstorming which means not judging whether what I write is feasible or not. I create how I want the book to be.

I applied the same strategies and techniques to the process of writing my obituary. I have dreams that I want to accomplish and wrote my obituary as if I had done so.

Also, I limited the length of my obituary. By doing so, I was able to hone in on what my priorities truly were at that time. Yes they have changed but it’s more of a tweak than a deletion and replacement.

And of course, I left out the date and place of death cuz I don’t know when and where and where that’s going to happen. Incidentally, I’m not planning on having this obituary used anytime soon. 🙂

But I do use it myself as the foundation for making my priorities a reality. I don’t want them to simply be words on a piece of paper but ways that I live my life.

I have shared this writing your own obituary idea with others and quite a few have said doing so has helped them find their priorities. It’s not for everybody but if you’re willing to do so, I encourage you to try it. If you have any questions or comments, please let me know.

So that’s my story and I’m sticking to it! Thanks for taking the time to read this blog and have a wonderful Wednesday ☺

CROPPED - Jane's watercolor picture

Jane Freund is an author, encourager, speaker, book coach, and pun lover. She has written or co-written 19 books and helped authors from 5 to 85 get their books written and published. Jane’s latest book, her first historical fiction novel, will be out in the fall of 2018. Previously, Jane taught Communication for ten years at Boise State University.

Jane can be found on Facebook, Goodreads, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram and smoke signals. OK, she is kidding about the smoke signals!

If everything is “Breaking News” then…

From the time I was a little kid, I’ve watched the news. I grew up with Huntley-Brinkley and Walter Cronkite. They would read one story at a time and have an occasional related picture on the screen next to them. Sometimes there would be a reporter in the field who would talk about the story. Furthermore, most TV and radio stations went off the air each evening at midnight or some other designated time.

Now before I go any further, let me make something clear: I do not buy into the “evil media” belief. The media gives us what we want and if we want something different, then we have to let them know that. We do that through ratings as well as direct communication with the media themselves. So let me continue…

We live now in a world of 24-hour news from a variety of sources. In addition, information comes at a much faster rate. News stories are shorter and and more fast-paced. Also, information such as the weather, sports scores, stock reports rolls across the bottom of the screen in multiple-level ribbons. Plus, I don’t know of any TV or radio stations that go off the air on a daily basis. A lot has changed!

Something else that I’ve noticed that has changed is the amount of “breaking news”. In the course of my early life, I remember only two news stories for which they broke into regularly scheduled programming to report. One was when Alabama Governor George Wallace was shot and the other was when President Richard Nixon had a blood clot in his leg and was hospitalized. I know that there were other ones but these are the two that jumped out the most at me.

I compare that to today when I can get one or two breaking news stories on a daily basis. There can’t be that much breaking news in the world. In other words, how can so many stories rise to the level of priority? If everything becomes a priority then nothing is.

The same could be said of life itself. If I have too much going on and I’m trying to get it all done, then nothing gets done. I can’t have so much “breaking news” in my life that I lose track of what my priorities are. So it’s a matter of figuring out what my priorities truly are. Once I do that (and believe me it’s an ongoing thing), serenity is much easier to achieve and retain.

So how much “breaking news” do you have in your life? What can you do to truly determine your priorities? feel free to share that in the comments below.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it! Have a terrific Tuesday ☺

CROPPED - Jane's watercolor picture

Jane Freund is an author, encourager, speaker, book coach, and pun lover. She has written or co-written 19 books and helped authors from 5 to 85 get their books written and published. Jane’s latest book, her first historical fiction novel, will be out in the fall of 2018. Previously, Jane taught Communication for ten years at Boise State University.

Jane can be found on Facebook, Goodreads, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram and smoke signals. OK, she is kidding about the smoke signals!

Callie and my new perspective

When I got up this morning, I had already decided what my blog post was going to be about. Well, that’s what I get for doing my own thinking because my cat, Callie, had a totally different topic in mind!

Let me give you a little background about Callie. For many years, I had been owned by several cats. You see, dogs have owners and cats have staff. But over the years my elderly cats have passed away leaving Callie as my only cat since just about a year or so ago.

Now Callie has made it perfectly clear that she waited her turn to have my attention and she has no interest in sharing it with any other animal or human. I shudder to think what she might do if I brought a boyfriend into our world. Anyway Callie had been abandoned twice so when I left my old neighborhood, I took her with me.

Now with that background laid, let me tell you about this morning. It was like any other morning in that if I didn’t get up fast enough, Callie would stand at the end of the bed and meow. When I did get up, she would almost always walk slowly in my path. I would grumble about her being under foot as I didn’t want to trip over her.

But this morning, I thought about a new approach: What if I picked her up? Now mind you when Callie does not want to be picked up she has a low rumbling growl that tells me to put her down as quickly as possible. It’s usually happens when I need to get her inside the house and she doesn’t want to go there.

So I decided to risk it and pick her up. I braced myself for the growl and instead received a purr. She continued to purr as I fixed her breakfast which then I set down along with her so she could eat.

I realized that Callie being under my feet was not about me. I thought she was trying to trip me up when in fact she just wanted to be I held and petted for a minute. She got breakfast and I got a new perspective. What a deal!

Think about a situation you’re involved in and ask yourself what another perspective could be. Doing so could really solve a problem that may have seemed to lack a solution.

So that’s my story and I’m sticking to it! Have a marvelous Monday ☺

CROPPED - Jane's watercolor picture

Jane Freund is an author, encourager, speaker, book coach, and pun lover. She has written or co-written 19 books and helped over 140 people achieve their publishing dreams. Jane’s latest book, her first historical fiction novel, will be out in the fall of 2018. In addition, Jane taught Communication for ten years at Boise State University.

Jane can be found on Facebook, Goodreads, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram and smoke signals. OK, she is kidding about the smoke signals!

Bringing back my nagging blog

For the last three years I’ve had a blog. Now you probably didn’t know that because I posted on it about 40 times in those three years. I’ll help you with the math and tell you that’s about once a month. Now my problem wasn’t that I had nothing to write about but the exact opposite: I had a whole bunch to say. But because I couldn’t say everything, I chose to say nothing. And because of the fact that as one of my college friends says, “Jane, you have the attention span of a gnat”, I had all sorts of projects in mind.

So about six months ago, I captured all of those nagging ideas in a couple of notebooks titled Questions and Next Steps. Then like the recovering procrastinator I am,  I began thinking about, researching on, and ignoring what was laid out in those notebooks. I told myself I was busy writing my first historical fiction novel but that became a convenient excuse.

Then about a month ago I sent my historical fiction novel to the editors and decided to take a six-week hiatus from doing anything related to the book. I had hit the point of diminishing return with it and needed to focus on something else. The notebooks came flying to the top of my to-do list and making a decision about the blog was a priority so I did. Drum roll please…

Every day, I will write and share some kind of a post with you. They will most likely be in the categories of author, communication, self-care, learning, or community. Now those may sound serious but you can count on the fact that my humor will be integrated in as well. Sometimes, my posts will be a series based on a topic such as forgiveness or self-sabotage. I’ve written books on both those and certainly have things to say in blog posts. Other times, I will share thoughts, insights, and stories from other major interests I have.

However what I share is not simply going to be musings as I would like you to have a takeaway or two from each post. A college professor of mine said that “the most useless knowledge is that which stays in the classroom.” I don’t want the information to be useless but rather something that can be practically applied to life. Along those lines, your comments and other feedback are most welcome.

Well that’s my story and I’m sticking to it! So stay tuned as tomorrow you’ll get to read my first new post from my rejuvenated blog. And the topic will be… Oh you’re just going to have to come back tomorrow. 😃

Jane Freund is an author, encourager, speaker, book coach, and pun lover. She has written or co-written 19 books and CROPPED - Jane's watercolor picturehelped over 140 people achieve their publishing dreams. Jane’s latest book, her first historical fiction novel, will be out in the fall of 2018. In addition, Jane taught Communication for ten years at Boise State University.

Jane can be found on Facebook, Goodreads, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram and smoke signals. OK, she is kidding about the smoke signals!