To the Young, Broke, Lost, and Extraordinary: Part One

from Oh So Beautiful Paper

Hi readers! I got an email a few weeks ago from a young man in Asia who had questions about his life and hoped I could help. I answered him as best I could but his questions were really interesting and made me ponder what I would tell myself if I could talk to a 20 year old Katherine Cerulean. I hope you find the conversation as interesting as I did. ūüôā¬†

Hi Karl,

Your email today really got me thinking. A lot of people I interact with are like myself, a thirty-somethings or older who is at that time and place where we’ve been one thing for a long time and we’re ready to grow into something else (some people call this a midlife crisis). But what about you, and the millions of other Young Extraordinaries out there? You’re still growing into your first skin, and learning who you are and how to navigate through life.

I feel wholly unqualified to offer advice to you because —

  • Our lives are probably so different
  • ¬†My upbringing and past are so unusual
  • I’m still figuring out life myself

BUT there’s one unmistakable advantage I have over you — I’ve been doing this (life) 17 years longer than you have. And hopefully my advantage is a vantage point from which¬†I can see a few of the pitfalls and help a little as you move forward.

from tipjunkie.com

I’m going to address each of your questions in turn —

I feel like I have nowhere to go right now. I am still 20, a fresh graduate. But I am very anxious as to how my life would be in the next coming years. Will I find a job? 

Great question! Hard question. In my mind, there’s two things — jobs and careers.

JOBS:¬†My mother and her mother were always beloved and valued by almost every boss they ever had, and when I was a teenager my mother said it would be the same for me — and she was right. Every place I’ve work at, every manager I’ve worked for, has at the least been glad I was there. Why? Because of work ethic. Hard work. I’ve seen it again and again — it’s not the brightest, or the most outgoing — it’s the person who —

  • Shows up on time
  • Has a good attitude (no complaining)
  • Ask questions so they can improve
  • WORKS HARD and steadily
  • Wants to become better and seeks to exceed expectations
  • Treats everyone with respect
  • Is grateful

If you can do even half the things on that list, every manager will want to keep you; if you can hit them all most of the time, then your future is golden. You can start tomorrow at a local restaurant, and you can end up managing or owning it one day. Just tell people that’s your dream and WORK HARD almost everyone will want to help you succeed. And if you find the rare person who’s a jerk to you, then leave right away and go work somewhere else — the world is full of good people.

So know that ‘a job’, something to put food on the table, is available if you work hard enough, keep looking, and even work for free for a day to show how useful you can be (of course some people have disabilities that can make it impossible to work — all the more reason for the rest of us to be grateful and put in our best effort).

from The Things We say

CAREERS: This is harder; this is what I still struggle with. I presume that you want not to just have a job but to have a career, hopefully in the field of your degree. I know times are tough out there but tough doesn’t mean impossible. I think here you have to decide one thing (for now, you can always choose differently later on): do I love my chosen field?¬†No ‘maybe, ‘kinda’, ‘sorta’. Do you¬†love something about it? Do you think it’s important? That it makes the world a better place in some way? Are you helping people, even just to understand their tax return? Do you lose time — and hours fly by — when you’re doing or studying it?

I ask because you are going to do your best work, and be most successful in a career that has at least some of these traits. And every job has these, but not every job has these traits¬†for you. So if you have a different passion, believe me, start looking at making that your career NOW. It might take more schooling down the road, or interning, or learning a craft, but if you love something and don’t follow it, you might end up regretting it.

The second reason I ask if you love your chosen field is because I’m about to ask you to WORK REALLY HARD in it, so I want to make sure all your effort is worth it. Because I live in a college town, and I’ve seen a lot of friends and coworkers get degrees, ‘try’ to find a place in their field for a minute and then give up and stay as retail workers (nothing wrong with that, I’m a retail worker, but only while I hone my writing craft). But I also know people who wouldn’t take no for an answer and are now having great careers. Just be ready to —

  • Move for your job, even if it’s only for a few years.¬†If you are willing to do this then you will be ahead of 95% or more of your colleagues. If you really want this career, then be excited to go wherever you need to to make it happen. I know a professor who moved from one coast of the USA to another to get the job he’d been dreaming about. And I know a writer who moved from the east coast to Hollywood, even though the odds seemed long, and she ended up an Emmy-nominated TV writer with a successful career.
  • Never, never, never, never give up. Persistence is the one thing that really seems to separate winners from the quitters. I’m going to be a professional writer because that’s my destiny. My motto is that it’s not ‘if’ but ‘when’. I could be 80 years old but I’m going to do it. Don’t panic; I’m not suggesting a 60 year journey to get your career going. But if you really want it, keep at it. Ask people in the industry how they got their big break. Send out resumes (all over the country, remember). Look at going to other countries. Look at the one-step-down-job from your dream — can you start there? Should you start your own business?
  • Be flexible. There a wonderful¬†story in¬†The Success Principles by Jack Canfield (a¬†great book) about a middle-aged man who wanted to become a movie producer. The only job he could get at the production company was in the mail room. It was hard and tiring work and coworker and after coworker quit because they wanted great jobs too and they hadn’t come Hollywood to sort mail. The man hadn’t either, but he saw what they didn’t — this was only a stepping stone. After a while he ran different errands, WORKED HARD and soon enough, got his chance to move up a level. Eventually he became a hugely successful producer. So always play the long game — will a job less than perfect now lead to the advancement you really want later?
  • Make yourself better. Whatever your field is, you can improve. Take more classes, read more online, do experiments at home, ‘stalk the gaps’ and figure out how to do things better than the industry’s doing them. Practice every day. Ask for help from mentors and professors. Learn how to be a better person, a better coworker, a better everything.
  • Go sideways. When you can’t find a straight path into the career of your dreams, go into it sideways. I wanted to be a novelist and in the process of doing that I’ve become a screenwriter, self improvement author, self-publishing guru, blogger, freelance writer, editor, founder of a writing association, teacher, public speaker, teleplay writer, poet, and more. I’ve been moving forward — more people know me, my work, and I’m respected in my little corner of the world. And when I get more well-known, then I’ll have all these skills and friends and connections to bring with me.

from POPSUGAR Fitness

Will my current girlfriend still be with me on in the near future?

Probably not. I remember my first love and how an older friend said, “The first one always breaks your heart”. He was right, and even if your current girlfriend isn’t your first deep love, the odds are you two still may grow apart and want different things as time goes by. But that’s alright. Enjoy each other now and¬†if she’s not “the one”, then know that you have some great, perfect person living out in the world that’s just¬†waiting, excited, for the day they get to meet you. The phrase “Unanswered Prayers” is very true — today I’m SO glad I didn’t marry my first love.

Whether or not you and your girlfriend stay together (and there are a lot of lifetime loves who DO get together young), here’s a few things that I’ve learned to help you become a great partner and person —

  • Always respect them. Their ideas, opinions, and fears are important to them. Seek to understand rather then ridicule them. In the same way, I think “kidding” people about anything they like or hate or fear can be disrespectful to them. Try to kid about things, not people.
  • Listen to them. I read once that a great conversationalist is a great listener. So really try to be silent and listen, and let people finish their thoughts before adding your own. And know that most of the time people aren’t asking for a solution, just sympathy.
  • Never use words as weapons. Like breaking a mirror, you can never undo a cruel word. And while you may forget the fight and what you said, the other people may remember it¬†until their dying day. And every time they see you, they may think ‘He’s thinks I’m stupid. He called me stupid. He helped me do this or that because he thinks, deep down, that I’m too stupid to do it myself. Because that’s what he said that one time he was too angry to lie.’ That’s right, the other person will think your angry words are real and your ever-after kind ones are false. Avoid losing their trust by not speaking in anger. Just go for a walk alone and cool off.
  • Who cares most wins. Now, this only works if the other person isn’t a jerk, so don’t date jerks ūüėČ The rule for our family has always been, that the person who really needs something or cares about something, is the person the family supports. You talk, listen, and then give in — unless you really care. She¬†really¬†wants pizza and you’re ambivalent? She wins! You really want to move for your career and she happily works at home. You win. It’s also important NOT to keep score (“You won three times last week so…”).
  • Do things for them — and thank them when they do things for you. If there’s a competition, it should be about helping the other¬†most. My sister and I live together and the ‘thank yous’ flow free and fast. She’ll thank me for washing dishes. I’ll thank her for cooking dinner. Heck, I’ll thank her for carrying my coffee cup back inside —¬†because I didn’t have to do it. I appreciate that I didn’t have to do the work she does and she’s glad of all the stuff I do. Always be on the lookout for ways to make her happy, surprise her with her favorite take-out meal, or flowers, or doing a chore she was loath to do.
  • Work on being someone you’d want to be with. The truth is, people get with and stay with those who are “on their level”. So be a positive person, helpful, kind, fit, healthy, going somewhere with your career, and giving something back. Always be learning, growing, listening, interested and sympathetic toward others. If you worry about staying together with your girlfriend, ask her what her ideal night out would be, her ideal day in, her ideal husband. Ask what she loves about you and what opportunities she sees for you to grow and improve.
  • Be happy. Find a job, home, and life that you enjoy. Take time to play your favorite music, go on adventures, and learn things. Because if you’re happy, you’ll attract people to you.

from modernmommyhood.com

Next time we’ll continue this piece with a discussion about paying your bills, feeling lost, and how to be a superhero.

“Oh Penhallam, We Love You!” or, A Guide To How to Make the Next Six Months AMAZING


Saved by
ŚĪĀ ŚĪĀ

So a few years ago I talked about the possibility of going to an elite academy to pursue the life of my dreams. And now, I’ve done it.

And you can too.

Because, you see, Penhallam Academy is made up. Not real. A fabrication of the mind. And yet here I sit, in class, learning, growing —¬†writing.¬†I just had breakfast (a lovely paleo sausage omelet), and the whole ‘school’ is beautiful, cleaner and more spacious than my home has ever been. And this is the first day of¬†six months of dedication, learning, and¬†being scored on how well I’m doing in working toward my dreams.

DO YOU WANT TO KICK BUTT IN 2017?

If you’re like a lot of us, you may have started 2017 with the best of intentions (and a champagne hangout). But let’s face it, January can be a terrible¬†time to start a big change-your-life program. The weather’s lousy, water pipes tend to burst (or is it just mine?), and everybody’s sick for three out of the four weeks.

Honestly NOW is the best time to me. The weather’s great, flu season is over, and a six month plan still ends before the start of the holidays. So if your 2017 dreams are still in the incubator stage, don’t worry, you too can join a elite, prestigious take-no-crap academy that will make all your dreams come true. Don’t believe me? Watch this spot for the post six months from now.

from
cutewhenfrustrated.blogspot.com.au quote from ‘Treasure Planet’

What is Penhallam exactly?

For my sister and I, Penhallam Academy is a plan to act like we were given a scholarship to an amazing place of learning and accomplishment, one with an impressive and venerable record. You could also imagine your place as a writer’s retreat, boot camp, internship, artists colony, or anywhere else that is away from the world and has certain rules and/or expectations. Of course, I still have to go to work, but the rules still apply there (eating well, etc) and I still have to hit all my daily goals or classes when I get home.

Basically it’s a dare — if someone offered you the most amazing education, from a place where graduates went on to have a unbelievable success, would you go? Oh, but there’s one thing — you’ll have to work harder than you’ve ever worked in your life. Would you be willing to struggle and strive from now through October if it meant you would be in the best place of your life — health-wise, career-wise, person-wise — in six months?

Only you can answer that. This is about all-in. This is about change your world forever. I’ve spoken to several people recently who have been undergoing that quarterlife/midlife crisis deal (myself included!). And to me, it really comes down to one question — who do you want to be for the rest of your life?

If you’re ready to dig deep, I’ll give you a step-by-step of how I got accepted into Penhallam and how you can too.

First stop — your dreams and goals

You have to know where you want to go, so you need a destination. Then you need a road map. There are many wonderful posts about goal setting (including mine) so we’ll skip that part here. The main idea is to find 3-5 goals from different areas of your life that scare you a little and excite you a lot. Not the things you coulda, woulda, shoulda do because other people think they’re a good idea¬†— but things that excite you. And they should be clear, verifiable goals that can be accomplished in six months.

My goals are —

  • Finish my novel
  • submit 50 query letters to agents
  • write six teleplays
  • have two sit-down meals a week with my sister
  • get rid of 50% of the things I own
  • Be able to cycle 25 miles again
  • Be a size 12 instead of 16+
  • meditate for 600 minutes in the next six months

Okay, so that’s not 3-5 goals. You’ll see how I’m going to do it in a second.

from Life Light Up

Second — What should you spend the next six months doing?

Once you’ve got your goals, you need to know what ‘classes’ you should take to get there. What can you do every day and every week that will help you reach your¬†goals?

The classes I get graded on are —

  • Writing
  • Exercise
  • Eat a paleo diet
  • Yoga
  • Clean the house
  • Wash the dishes

Lastly — how do you get scored?

The idea is that a ‘perfect week’ would get you a 100 points, an ‘A+’, a 4.0 GPA. See the chart here. So after you after you decide on what actions or ‘classes’ will help you accomplish your goal, you need to divide your 100 points between them. Note: I just have writing time whereas my sister Sarah (an artist) has classes for drawing, oils, etc. You can make as many or few classes as you want but do what excites you. And do what works for you: I get lots of great work done whenever I can make myself sit down to¬†write. In contrast, my sister has no trouble putting in the hours but sometimes needs more structure to finish things.

My point system —

  • Writing — 25 hours a week — 1 point per 30 minutes — total 50 points
  • Exercise — 30 minutes, five sessions a week — 3 points per session — total 15 points
  • Eat a Paleo Diet — eat right each of the seven days — 2 points per day — total 14 points
  • Yoga — yoga every day — 1 point per yoga session — total 7 points
  • Clean the house — pickup and straighten every day — 1 point per day — total 7 points
  • Wash the dishes — all dishes clean at least once per day — 1 point per day — total 7 points

As you can see, this totals 100. Also, we can see that if I didn’t spend any time writing, I would be getting an ‘F’ even if everything else was perfect (only 50 points). Because writing is important. Whereas if I blew off washing dishes for seven days, I could still get an ‘A’ (93 points). Because if I’m writing for 25 hours, eating great, exercising etc, I’m rockin’ it out — even without having the dishes sparkling.

from
bodywork.blogg.no

Remember, you’re the teacher AND and student.

One way to help yourself is to think from the point of view of a confident and successful teacher who has just taken¬†you on as a student. The student has promise and potential. What are their strengths and their weaknesses? What kind of class plan will help them reach their goals? In my case, I knew paleo could help me lose weight, so if my goal is to lose those pounds that have crept back on, then doing something I know works is a smart teacher move — better than trying something I have no experience with. Is it easy? (five minute break for laughter here). No, but it gets the results I want.

So see all the potential within yourself — and recognize how hard you’ll need to work to bring it out.

The key —

Be serious. Be excited. Be committed. My sister and I bought special necklaces to wear and a banner and welcome mat in the Penhallam colors of teal and gold. I know the Penhallam fight song — I¬†wrote it. I’m ready to work hard and push myself to the max. Because in six months, I’m going to SHOW YOU what I’ve accomplished, what my GPA is, and how much closer I am to my dreams and goals.

So join Penhallam and send me updates at katherinecerulean@gmail.com. Be part of the graduating class in October. Or create your own amazing school (start here to find a kick-butt old English name for your academy).

Is it silly? Is it a waste of time? Or is it exciting, unusual, and a great way to start to see yourself and your goals anew?

by Sally Murray
THE REAL PENHALLAM!

FIRST DAY UPDATE:

It’s now about 6:00 pm (this will probably post a few days from now) and the first day of Penhallam is almost done. When I complete 45 more minutes of writing time, I will have a perfect day and have gotten 25 points on this first day of the new week (since I work full time, ‘off’ days have increased importance).

I’m tired. But it’s been great. My sister has cooked us amazing paleo food (and chia seed pudding!). I’ve taken a walk and done yoga. The house looks great. And I’m writing this post, I did one for the Athens Writers Association too, I’m changing my office in a big way (getting rid of two book shelves), and I’m reading submissions for an AWA comedy collection. I’ve done a¬†lot. I’m tired (wait, did I already say that?) but I am looking forward to the rest of this week, to getting my first ‘grade’ on Sunday, and to seeing just how far and how fast I can go.

After all, Penhallam is an amazing academy — I’ve got a lot to live up to!

by Shannon Honeyford

Welcome to 2018

Happy New Year! And congratulations! I know 2017 got off to a bit of a slow start for you, but man — you picked up the ball and¬†ran with it. The last eleven months have been full of hard work, new challenges, and amazing accomplishments. You might not have gotten everything completed on your resolution list but you achieved a lot! You’re better positioned to live your dreams than ever before. And maybe more important than WHAT you’ve done is the ATTITUDE with which you’ve done it. Wow — you are an inspiration to all you meet.

from luna---belle.tumblr.com

from luna—belle.tumblr.com

Eleven Months Earlier

Things didn’t look so good. The best of intentions at New Year’s ran smack dab into the harsh wall of reality. It was kind of funny actually; it was like the moment you got serious all the little monsters and bugaboos crawled out of the woodwork and made you set aside your big dreams to deal with them.

By the end on January, things were ‘back in hand’ but you were exhausted and wondered if you could ever regain your momentum and make this the¬†year that mattered and that changed everything.

by David Hirst

by David Hirst

How You Made 2017 Into a Rocket Ship

As the calendar turned to February, you started to feel excited again. Unreasonably excited. Sure, you were still tired, still bruised from your battles. But deep in your heart you started wondering if those January monsters were not just guardians at the gates and now that you’d bested them, you were in exciting, new territory. The year was young, the year was yours. And you were ready to fulfill the promises of January 1st.

All you needed was what every adventurer needs — a faded but trustworthy map; a bag of food — fuel for the journey, a mind for exploration, and heart full of gratitude for this chance, this trail. You looked about yourself and gathered:

THE MAP

You had a list written and printed out, that clearly defined where you most wanted to go this year and step-by-step for how you would get there. You took this map and placed it where you would see it every day and could check it off as you got closer and closer. It was so exciting as the months passed to see your progress. Standing at your destination at year’s end, you couldn’t imagine how you would have made it without it.

THE FUEL

You can’t get anywhere on an empty stomach. So you found new inspiration — from a blog, a book, a new Pinterest board, and new friends. Maybe you read these wonderful books —

from the American Library Association

from the American Library Association

from Amazon.com

from Amazon.com

A MIND FOR EXPLORATION

As you watch the clock tick down the minutes until 2018, ‘Champagne’ glass in hand, you realize that most of your success this year came from changing your attitude. In fact, you’re a little angry it took this long to learn how to live your dreams. It’s not easy, but it sure seems simple now. You take a breath and realize that now is right on time. You were finally ready this year to become the champion you’ve always known you could be. So what if it took awhile¬†to reach this place — it was SO worth it. You realize that the best things about your new mindset were —

  • finally embracing failure as a stepping stone
  • forgiving yourself, forgiving yourself for everything
  • seeing hard work as essential¬†and exciting
  • seeing play as essential and exciting
  • knowing 100% that you were capable of becoming this amazing person you’ve now become
  • learning to laugh and enjoy the adventure

    from fodors.com

    from fodors.com

A HEART FULL OF GRATITUDE

I know. Back in late January you didn’t feel so grateful. It was cold (sometimes). You got sick. And mostly, your dreams felt at a standstill. But then you realized how lucky you were. Very, very lucky. You had amazing talent, unerring taste, and a dream that you never stopped thinking about and working toward. And you were now in a position to be able to follow that dream — even just a little bit — every single day. You had the drive and determination to turn your goals (your map) visible. And people now STARE in disbelief. They think you got lucky. And you get a little teary-eyed because you did get lucky, you got¬†you — this amazing, able, fantastically dedicated person who said ‘Screw it; I’m going to be the exception. I’m going to be exceptional.’

And every day after that, all throughout 2017, you thanked yourself each day for being the person who went for it and chased after your dreams so hard. And you were also thankful to everyone and everything else that made 2017 such a success.

CONGRATULATIONS! HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Now it’s time for those 2018 goals… ¬† ūüôā

2016: Let‚Äôs Be Honest

from fromupnorth.com

from fromupnorth.com

So, I really want to have a knock-down, drag-out with 2016 to figure out what happened, what went wrong, and how to make 2017 amazing. I know a lot of people who have had similarly adversarial relationships with this past year.

That said, when I get honest I sometimes depress people by talking about the highs and lows in vivid detail (I think I permanently scarred my sister when she read an unpublished piece about my relationship woes; I thought it was funny stuff).

So, since this is mostly about me and the challenges of this year, feel free to skip it and we‚Äôll pick back up with something more positive next time. BUT I do feel like the lessons of 2016 have propelled me into the most important new phase in ten years (more on ‘Phase Two’ in my next post).

For those who choose to remain: Beware, for here be monsters.

from theberry.com

from
theberry.com

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times

This year I completed my best novel ever, the first draft of which I finished on a beautiful spring day while sitting on a hilltop and feeling as one with nature and the universe, and marveling at my own abilities.

I also cried like three times on my birthday in November ‚ÄĒ and none of those times were from joy.

So that about sums up 2016.

What went wrong?

Well, this year just had some challenges (though I’m very lucky and blessed overall). In January someone going 40 rear-ended me at a stop light and totaled our car. I was fine and his insurance paid, but it was a lot of stress at the time. We had a rat in our house for the first time, which lead to a month-long odyssey to get rid of him (my respect for rats increased multi-fold).

Then our grandmother died. Her health had been failing for a while but it was my and my sister’s first big loss since our mother died twelve years ago.

I also picked some goals that were not perfect in retrospect. My goal to enter a 60 mile cycling ‚Äėfun ride‚Äô in May was both ambitious and not super-fun to achieve, and it didn‚Äôt help me from slipping from fit to fat as the year wore on.

I also planned to submit 500 queries to agents, or resumes¬†to businesses and websites‚ÄĒ all in an effort to make something happen this year. I probably submitted about 150, mostly to no effect.

So that‚Äôs the bad. Oh yeah, and I was waaayy excited about driving a European musician from north Alabama to New Orleans (dreams and romantic fantasies included) only to have the trip be canceled last minute (amazing, heartfelt, 7,500 word piece about that is in the works). ¬†ūüėČ

Oh, and the election was a heartbreaker for me.

It’s not that so many bad things happened, it’s just that I really wanted big, good things to happen. I wanted to get an agent and sell my novel. I wanted to get in my best shape ever. I wanted to get a boyfriend. And get out of my retail job.

None of those things happened, and as they say, expectation is the root of misery. On the other hand, a lot of very good things happened in 2016. Sarah and I always have a best of the year list, and mine included —

Highlights of 2016

  1. Finishing ‚ÄėSociety & Civility‚Äô. My best book yet, and the one I had to rewrite the most. I‚Äôm very proud.
  2. Finishing one television pilot, one screenplay, and ‚ÄėTriad‚Äô first draft. My young adult, superhero novel ‚ÄėTriad‚Äô had been brewing more a while, as had my renewed interest in writing for the screen.
  3. The whole stupid canceled trip to New Orleans. I got to hang out with my sister instead, and felt more than I had in a long time (it was bad feelings but those too are valuable for writers).
  4. Hearing Frank Turner live again. The closest thing I’ve found to a shot of pure inspiration.
  5. Eating at The National (the best restaurant in Athens, GA) for the first time.
  6. Some other good stuff.

But as a whole, the challenges seemed to overshadow the triumphs. So what did go wrong? And how can I right the ship in 2017 and ensure that I don’t end up crying on my 38th birthday?

from TheFunnyBeaver.Com

from TheFunnyBeaver.Com

— 2017 Plans —

  1. Set goals you can achieve. 500 query letters just wasn’t very realistic for someone who can only write about one every thirty minutes (and it might not even be the best way to get an agent).
  2. Align your goals with your dreams. In the same way, being out of my retail job by the holidays pretty much meant I would just have had to go find a different retail job ‚ÄĒ not really my goal. And cycling 60 miles in one day proved something, but it didn‚Äôt mean I‚Äôm healthier now than last year.
  3. Get back on track quickly. The best times of last year were the weeks and months that my sister and I were on track, getting rid of clutter, eating right, and working on our writing and art goals. But the aforementioned hardships (car totaled, Grammy passing, trip falling through) led to extended periods of eating badly and not doing much toward our dreams. In hindsight, I would have pushed harder to get back on course sooner.
  4. Figure out what you really want. Part of my unhappiness was born of really wanting to move into a new phase of my life (another longtime retail worker just mentioned to me that, between the two of us, we have been there almost 25 years ‚ÄĒ woof). I keep saying that I‚Äôll have time for a boyfriend ‚ÄĒ when I‚Äôm living the life of my dreams. I‚Äôll have a nice house when‚Ķ I‚Äôll be fit when‚Ķ I‚Äôll travel when‚Ķ And these things have became tied to me being a professional writer who lives off what I earn. Oh, and I‚Äôve decided it‚Äôs cool not to have children as long as I can have a great career. So, as you can imagine, each year that hasn‚Äôt found me becoming a ‚Äėprofessional writer‚Äô has added my confusion. Hence the crying on my birthday. When will this ‚Äėpay off‚Äô? Of course, I have a great, enjoyable life as is, but I do have desires unfulfilled. I think I need to date and travel and make the house nicer now ‚ÄĒ not just plan for someday when I have my dream job.
  5. Make a perfect life here and now. A lot of my plans for 2017 involve living my dream life in the present moment. I want to write a lot and on projects that I love and that excite me. Basically, I want to act like I’m already being paid to write what I love most, like millions of people are clamoring for my next creation. I want to live in a minimal, clean home full of beauty. And I want to eat and exercise like I’m already achieving everything else I desire. And maybe I’ll even add in the happy chaos of dating someone.
  6. Realize that ‘Madness isn‚Äôt for everyone’ — but it might be right for me. That’s a new tattoo I‚Äôm thinking about getting (and an E.M. Forster quote). Basically, to me it means that the hard work, nay insanity, of living your dream life isn‚Äôt for everyone. A dream is a pretty thing that doesn‚Äôt take up much space but a goal ‚ÄĒ a dream unleashed ‚ÄĒ is a wild, vibrant, life-changing — and altering — force. I think that 2016 really saw me bringing my dreams out into the open and I think that caused a lot of chaos in my heart and in my life. My fantasies about the trip revealed my romantic side that had been neglected, while submitting queries and resumes showed how much I want to join the ‚Äėprofessional‚Äô writing world. These aren‚Äôt bad things, but they are hard. Saying our lives, and ourselves, are not perfect is never easy. I understand now that it‚Äôs part of the process of changing up my life and I‚Äôm prepared to suffer a little on the road to living my dreams.
  7. Do less. One thing about these big, new, exciting dreams is that they take a lot of effort. I think I want next year to be about doing a few things really well, instead of a lot of things okay. I‚Äôve always loved the idea of boarding schools, or retreats ‚ÄĒ going somewhere and just living for one purpose. I‚Äôd love to really focus in 2017, and say I could end up with several great writing projects done, and the nicer house than ever, and feeling in shape. I want to back off¬†on other things ‚ÄĒ bigger travel or even a new job ‚ÄĒ and really work on getting some amazing writing done.
  8. Let go. This year I pulled back from my role in the Athens Writers Association a little and told my writer friends of my plans to travel more and eventually live in other places. It was hard. It felt like I was abandoning them and destroying what we‚Äôve built together. But it‚Äôs not my future. I created the group I wanted, and love all the wonderful experiences I’ve had and people I‚Äôve met. But now I feel drawn in new directions and would feel resentful if I felt like I had to stay and oversee the AWA forever. If it is meant to be in the long-term, the AWA will belong to others. In the same way, my sister and I had some amazing trips up to visit our grandparents on the lake and those times are changing too. I think the more wholeheartedly we can release the rhythms of the past that no longer serve us, the quicker we can change our lives for the better and embrace our destinies.87955017bc1fa5715cea2f755db2b36b
  9. Read the writing on the wall. Honestly, some of the pain of 2016 came really from not seeing reality very clearly. Now, I‚Äôm a huge fan of dreams and possibility but I probably should have been more aware ‚ÄĒ that the dream trip might not happen, the Republican candidate could win, and that a Jane Austin-inspired novel might be a challenging sell. Big goals are still good, but it helps to be open to things not always working out as expected.
  10. Just ride it out.¬†Stuff happens. That‚Äôs just life. There’ll always be little issues and annoyances. And one of the more important things that happened last year, losing our grandmother, had been on the horizon for a while. Life is always going to have its share of challenges. Even a ‚Äėperfect life‚Äô with the dream job and house, would still have colds and oil changes and accidents. Some part of life is just handling what‚Äôs thrown at you with grace. And 2016 threw a few things at me. I’m still working on the grace part.
  11. Spend more time on what you love. Some of the best times in 2016 were doing fun things with my sister, and cycling through the beautiful countryside, and writing. Especially the writing. Even now, when I’m tired, a little bummed out, and just about done with 2016 (I wrote the first draft of this mid-December), I’m still happy to be writing. To have gotten up early to write, and to be planning all the great fiction I’ll create in the new year.
  12. Grow better instead of just growing old.¬†In 2016 I learned that I‚Äôm now in the ‚Äėmiddle-aged‚Äô group. I still feel young but I do know that time is passing. And I‚Äôm thankful because I feel like I‚Äôm so much more improved¬†now as a person than I was 10 or 15 years ago. I‚Äôm a better person, a better writer. And I think the important thing is to take even bigger steps next year to become the person I want to be and live a life I love ‚ÄĒ now and for years to come.
from TheFunnyBeaver.Com

from TheFunnyBeaver.Com

NOTE: Since I wrote this in late December, I’ve had a very exciting Christmas when my beloved sister Sarah gave me a replica of Thanduril’s sword.

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That character has always been special to me and this sword is a huge symbol to me. I’m ready to be worthy of wielding such a weapon, and it’s a reminder to be daring and ‘all-in’ in my writing and my life.

Sarah and I have made some awesome new habits in our life and when you do that, to quote Sarah’s 2017 mantra — ‘Everything changes.’ Next post I’ll get into what we are doing and how you too can make 2017 the best year yet.

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Ten Quotes to Lift Your Spirit

According to a lot of people, 2016 has been a tough year (myself included). Hopefully the holiday season will be especially cheery and bright this year and here’s an early gift of ten of my favorite quotes to improve your day —

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Hamilton the Musical

Hamilton the Musical

from imagevalley.co

from imagevalley.co

if-i-find-in-myself-desires-which-nothing-in-this-world-can-satisfy-the-only-logical-explanation-is-that-i-was-made-for-another-world

kmba-ira-glass-quote

— Ira Glass

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from imgfave.com

from imgfave.com

from weheartit.com

from weheartit.com

etsy -- BlushBoulevard

etsy — BlushBoulevard

And one to grow on…

Matt Adrian / The Mincing Mockingbird

Matt Adrian / The Mincing Mockingbird

What’s Your ’10’ Career?

Just a couple of days ago I sat down to make a business plan while waiting¬†in a Chinese restaurant for my takeout order to cook (tip: if you can’t figure out a surefire plan for your business in ten minutes, then why bother? ūüėČ ¬†The only thing I had time to do was make a list of 11 money-making ideas related to writing, and then rate each idea on a interest/excitement level of 1-10 (ten being screaming-at-the-ceiling-excited [so what, I scared a few¬†patrons]). ¬†I put down the numbers as fast as I could, with a minimum of thought. ¬†The idea here was to get an almost subconscious feeling for how much I wanted to pursue these options. ¬†That¬†idea may sound touchy-feely, but I believe¬†that what draws you in is also¬†where you have your greatest potential.

from AhteesDesigns on Etsy

from AhteesDesigns on Etsy

As I wrote down the numbers, I was surprised — there were strong feelings, and no hesitancy, in my actions. ¬†When I looked back at the list, the path — usually¬†so muddied by my indifference as to HOW I earned a living writing — was suddenly crystal clear.

My List:

  • Novels: Self Published ¬† ¬† ¬†— 3
  • Novels:¬†Traditional ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†— 10
  • Screenplays ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† — 9
  • Self Improvement Books ¬† — 7
  • Articles ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† — 1
  • Teaching ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†— 2
  • Teleplays ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† — 1o
  • Greeting Cards ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† — 1
  • Editing ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† — -1
  • Web Site Design ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† — 3-5

The truth, however scary, was right before my eyes. ¬†I might enjoy writing articles (like this one!) and teaching for free, but my soul blanched at the idea of doing that as a job. ¬†The problem with this ‘revelation’ was that I already was making plans to¬†push it this fall and write for¬†Huffingtonpost, set up paid classes, etc. etc. ¬†But my list said (since I already have a ‘day job’ that pays the bills) that I should only really be working on four things — novels, screenplays, teleplays, and self improvement books.

Woah.  That IS what I want to be doing, but is it also what I SHOULD be doing?  To answer that, I need to go back and introduce you to a book that absolutely changed my life.

from mariongundersonart.com

from mariongundersonart.com

What are your strengths?

The online Strengthfinder test (which you get a code to take when you buy a NEW copy of the book ‘Now, Discover Your Strengths), has 34 themes or ‘talents’ that a person can have, like Includer, Intellection, Input, Positivity, ¬†or Responsibility (those are actually my themes). ¬†You get your top five revealed and for me, it was a life changer.

Like never before, I was able to see my positive qualities¬†laid out before me. ¬†These talents are so integral to who I am¬†and come¬†so easily to me that I took them for granted. They are the traits that, when praised,¬†make us¬†say with a dismissive wave of the hand, ‘Oh, everyone thinks like that’, but other people are drawn in and in awe of your abilities. ¬†And we ALL have talents, but often we can’t see them without help — we’re just too close to their source.

Talents like ‘Intellection’ (the ability to think deeply about things), when combined with knowledge (like how to build a story) and skills (hours upon hours spent writing) equals a strength (fiction writer). ¬†It’s soul-level compulsion meeting a thing you love to learn about and do on a regular basis.

from Huffington Post

from
Huffington Post

How does this fit into your life (and mine)? ¬†Well, I highly (HIGHLY) recommend buying the book, just in case it gives you a fraction of the joy it’s given me. ¬†But for now, look at the list of talents and see if any jump out at you —

Now, any talent can help any job — ‘Self-Assurance’, say, is helpful everywhere. ¬†But, when combined with your personality and passion — your talents can push you in certain directions. ¬†If you look back at my list of money-making writing ideas, you’ll notice that teaching rated quite low. ¬†I’ve done it¬†from time to time, and even enjoyed parts of the experience, but it’s also nerve-wracking, exhausting, draining. ¬†I love the results — happy students and a chance to think more about a topic (that ‘Intellection’ again) — but the idea of doing it all the time for money sounds tiring. ¬†Also, none of my talents involve people except ‘Includer’, so a ‘Maximizer’ or ‘Developer’ might be more at home in a teaching setting.

On the other hand, take novel writing. ¬†I’m as happy as a pig in slop. ¬†Oh, the work is still hard, but I want to be doing it all the time. ¬†And it makes sense when you look at my talents:

  • Includer — I love to look at the misunderstood, broken, forgotten characters and try to understand them and pull them into the story
  • Intellection — Thinkin’ about stuff 24/7/365
  • Input — Learning about Victorian England, old-fashion carriages, the experences of orphans, the periodic table –everything’s interesting!
  • Positivity — Novels take a long time, but faith that I can finish and finish well keeps me going
  • Responsibility — Doesn’t tie in exactly, but it helps me manage myself and get the work done (sometimes)

 

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Now, doing what you love and enjoy can sound like an overly simple answer. ¬†But if you think about it, even now, at whatever job you’re doing, there are facets of your job that draw you in and others that repel you. ¬†Try doing what you love a little more and the things you dislike less. ¬†Seriously. ¬†Stop doing the junk you hate and see if anyone notices. ¬†I did this at my ‘day job’ and now our department has risen to be ranked in the top ten out of over 1,000 stores. ¬†I didn’t do it alone, but I’m sure spending time on the things I was more passionate about helped.

The risk in not following your talents and passions is that you can work very hard and not¬†really get ahead or have anything to show for it. ¬†You can give your life away to the ‘supposed-to’s and¬†only end up with the ‘oughta-haves’.

But if instead you make your own list, and write down — real quick — your own 1-10s, you may discover what you should be doing with your life. ¬†And if you find a way to use your universe-given talents in service of your passion? ¬†Well then, we should all get out of your way, because you might just be about to take off like a rocket.

from Etsy

from Etsy

And now, I’ve got to get back to that screenplay. ¬†And that novel. ¬†ūüėČ

Struggle As Adventure

from quotesvalley.com

from
quotesvalley.com

Strug·gle
verb

  • make forceful or violent efforts to get free of restraint or constriction.
  • strive to achieve or attain something in the face of difficulty or resistance.
  • have difficulty handling or coping with.
  • engage in conflict.
  • make one’s way with difficulty.

Struggle doesn’t sound like fun. ¬†Maybe, it doesn’t even sound right — if you’re strugglin’, did you take a wrong turn somewhere, make a mistake, or overshoot your abilities? ¬†At best it sounds like something to be borne, and then quickly gotten past.

And while I consider myself very lucky and have never known true hardship, there were early days in my adulthood of struggling to make ends meets and then figuring out how to build a new life with my sister after my mother suddenly passed away. ¬†My sister Sarah and I also had to fix up our childhood home to move back there — water pipes and electrical outlets needed fixing, and new fences for a dog pen had to be built.

These times were not fun — hardly any of it. ¬†Back then, we dreamed of a unknown, rich uncle showing up out of the blue and whisking us away to live on his Frisian horse farm in Spain (he was a Gary Oldman/Sirius Black sort). ¬†We didn’t choose any of that struggle, and yes, we wished for it to be over. ¬†And yet, around the edges we still found bits of fun. ¬†I vividly remember digging post holes with Sarah for the dog pen while pretending to be characters from our favorite sci-fi shows (Earth 2 and SeaQuest DSV) and laughing our heads off. ¬†And that moment was important.

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The other kind of struggle is the struggle you choose. ¬†Now, it beats the other one, hands down. ¬†But…¬†it’s kind of like choosing to jump into a raging river to save someone’s life instead of being pushed in: you get the warm, fuzzy feeling of doing the right thing but that’s little comfort when your lungs are full of water and you’re thrashing around in the water. ¬†For me, this type of struggle has defined 2016.

Ahh, 2016. ¬†I just keep expecting it to turn a corner and get easier and yet I’m pushing against all barriers and really trying to reach a new reality with my dreams of health, fitness, having less stuff, and taking my writing career to the next level. ¬†It hasn’t been easy, really none of it, but the results are real and the progress is visible (and now I can say I’ve cycled 65 miles in a day).

Publication1

But is it enough to just find tiny moments of joy and appreciate what we gain from struggle? ¬†Isn’t that kind of gratitude akin to ‘Mmm mmm, these¬†Brussels sprouts really taste like they have a lot of vitamins!’ ¬†Whether chosen by us or chosen for us, this state of increased difficulty can last months or even years — shouldn’t our lives be full of joy and adventure even in the midst of challenge and change?

I just read ‘Peter Pan¬†and Wendy‘ for the first time.¬† One of the striking things was that Peter never really seemed to seek comfort and peace. ¬†Oh sure, he and the Lost Boys enjoyed coming home in the evenings and having Wendy mother them, but that was just so they could rest and renew for tomorrow’s adventure. ¬†And sometimes in a battle, if the tide turned and Peter’s forces were easily winning, he would switch sides and start fighting the Lost Boys just to up the challenge. ¬†Most of us can’t imagine asking for¬†more of a struggle, but Peter gleefully embraced it, found it interesting, and even became bored if triumphs¬†came to him too easily.

Back in the real world, how can we re-frame the struggle as adventure? ¬†Our struggles are as unique as our lives, and some of them may seem joyless and insurmountable. ¬†But whatever our challenges, we always have control over our minds and how we perceive ourselves —

How to See Your Struggle as the Greatest Adventure of Your Life

  1. Be grateful for the chance. ¬†Whatever you’re doing, where ever you’re going, someone somewhere wishes they were in your shoes. ¬†Whether you’re in debt, want to lose weight, working your way through school, or fighting cancer — somebody wishes they had that fight. ¬†A person hit and killed by a bus yesterday would love to have your today — it may not be easy but there’s a beautiful breeze whispering¬†through even the hardest days.
  2. Know that you’re getting a chance to show off your badass-ery. ¬†The biggest fights show the hero off to their greatest advantage. ¬†In¬†‘The Princess Bride’ our hero Westley is dueling with a very accomplished sword fighter,¬†Inigo Montoya. ¬†He’s been really challenged by their fight and THEN Inigo makes known a devastating secret — ‘I’m not really left-handed.’ ¬†Inigo switches to fighting with his dominant right hand and we wonder if our hero is doomed. ¬†Instead, Westley deftly switches his sword to his other hand too and reveals, ‘Neither am I.’ ¬†He’s as good as the best in the world. ¬†And so are you. ¬†People¬†run from struggle. ¬†Most lives are carefully built around its absence, so just being willing to wake up every day and resubmit yourself to many punishing challenges qualifies you for a lot of kudos and admiration. ¬†That’s not saying everyone will notice but many more will than you realize (you may be inspiring your teacher, parent, or child without even knowing it). ¬†So remember, you’ve got the tools and you’re got the talent — and you’re handling on a daily basis what would scare the shit out of lesser mortals ūüėČ
  3. ¬†Redefine what you’re looking for in life. ¬†Do you really just want that lee in the storm? ¬†A warm beach and a cold drink? ¬†When we’re tired, peace and relaxation sounds like the best things life has to offer. ¬†But again and again studies show that our greatest satisfaction and even happiness in this life comes from¬†working toward goals that deeply matter to us. ¬†Life should have pleasures and we should enjoy them — but pleasure isn’t what makes life worth living. ¬†Get out of the mindset of desperately seeking easy street — that place where your job is perfect, your family life carefree, and to-do list done. ¬†Goals are very important to our satisfaction, but remember that John Lennon said, ‘Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.’ ¬†This wild, turbulent time is exciting and full of possibility — enjoy the race more and look toward the finish line less. ¬†Because what you will remember later is always the race.
  4. Own your struggle. ¬†You chose to be here. ¬†Yes, you did. ¬†Because ‘here’ is the struggle and you could have just laid down, given up, or exited out. ¬†You decided to be here and you decided to fight for what you want. ¬†One of the most important things I ever learned about having a job was that I¬†chose to have a job — no one coerced¬†me do it; it was a decision I made to have money for the things I wanted. ¬†In the same way, you can get ahead of your challenges and at least feel like you’re choosing this life instead of having it forced upon you. ¬†Be proactive about taking care of the issues you can control (pay your bills on time¬†if you can instead of adding late fees on top of your other money woes), develop a plan for going forward, and trust yourself to be able to handle any challenges that come your way. ¬†For myself,¬†I know I can always quit fighting, and go live a life of fast food, reality TV, and mediocre achievements — but¬†I chose to keep fighting: to create great art, to find my fans and embrace them, to get the body and live the life I want, and to never settle until I have the man of my dreams in my arms.adventure
  5. Embrace uncertainty. ¬†A lot of the trouble with struggling is fear. ¬†We’re fighting for freedom or¬†to make our way forward. ¬†We have hopes, goals, dreams, or even just the desire for a little peace and quiet. ¬†During the hardest times of moving into our old house after Mom’s death, I remember hanging a poster on wall of my bedroom by the artist SARK and thinking that that poster would still be there when things were much better, and so it connected me to a future I desperately wanted to come to pass — and it did. ¬†And then it passed by, and became the now. ¬†The point is, whether or not all our dreams come true, we’re still moving forward and everything will be all right, in the end. ¬†If we release our fears, then struggle looks a lot more like just acting out our deepest goals and desires in an exciting, unfamiliar place. ¬†We’re having a dashing adventure, sword fighting with pirates. ¬†Or we’re exploring lands no one has ever laid eyes on before. ¬†Or we’re risking it all in a ‘hail Mary’ shot that will either fail spectacularly or land us in the company¬†of legends.

When my sister and I talk about ‘adventure’ movies versus ‘action’ movies, we often say how — No matter how hard, difficult, or dangerous the path is, there is nowhere in the world the adventurer would rather be, and there’s nothing they’d rather be doing. ¬†Because here is where your gumption’s tested, where heroes are made, great discoveries of knowledge, treasure, and secrets revealed, and you’re living the story that will be recounted joyously a hundred times around a hundred campfires when you’re safely back home. ¬†The adventure is where you are most alive, using all of your talents to escape traps and outwit enemies, in awe of your abilities and fortitude, and where — when you catch your reflection¬†in a quiet moment, in a lull in the battle — you find yourself with the biggest grin on your face, shocked at your good fortune and strength, your trials and triumphs, and astounded at the recognition that this is the best moment of your life and that you were so blessed to be gifted with this struggle, for inside it, you found yourself.

from piccsy.com

from
piccsy.com

 

The Fastest Way to Change Your Life For the Better

from buzzfeed.com

from buzzfeed.com

A little over a year ago I decided it was time to start getting rid of some of my and my sisters extra possessions. ¬†We had been limiting the amount of new items for a while but there were several rooms full of things that I hadn’t even¬†looked at since we moved 11 years ago. ¬†Just, hadn’t looked at. ¬†Actually, it was more like — hadn’t dealt with. ¬†A lot of this stuff had belonged to my mother before she passed away, or were ‘useful’ things from her herb shop like books and essential oils. ¬†We also had stuff from our childhood, from our grandmother, and tons of old books the family had collected.
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I started going through every room and soon my cry was, ‘Why didn’t I do this years ago?’ ¬†Now, there are tons of good articles on ways to reduce clutter, but I just want to share with you a few of the things I did and why they changed my life forever. ¬†I can’t imagine going back to the way I lived before — and I’m so excited about where I’m headed next.

8 Things I Learned While Halving What I Own

  1. We don’t KNOW what we own.¬† Weird but true. ¬†If you have ‘mystery boxes’ you aren’t really owning and using those things — they’re just taking up space.¬†¬†I had two boxes full of my grandmother’s photos but I’d never looked at them. ¬†I didn’t¬†know about those pictures in any sense of the word. ¬†But looking through them taught me a lot about my grandmother’s life, and then I was able to keep some favorites and send the rest on to my uncle and his family — allowing others to¬†know more too.
  2. We only interact with a tiny portion of what we own.¬† ¬†Imagine for a moment that you have electric blue, glowing dust on your fingers — how many things do you touch in your home on a daily, weekly, or even monthly basis? ¬†Now imagine that gazing upon something also lights it up with blue dust — what things in your house would glow — how many pictures? ¬†And how many rooms would have nothing at all touched or seen over the course of a month? ¬†I learned that ‘storage’ (except for winter/summer clothes)¬†doesn’t actually seem to have a point. ¬†Why are we keep up with this stuff?
  3. It’s much easier to let go of things in rounds. ¬†Last spring I made a list (always make lists!) of every room that I wanted to go through. ¬†Then this spring I did it again. ¬†The goal here is to let go of what you can, and then happily keep all other things till the next round. ¬†Maybe you’ll use it by then, or maybe you’ll realize that it’s not important to hold on to. ¬†The point is, the more times you return to a place, the easier it is to get rid of stuff.
  4. It’s fun to gift your things away. ¬†One of the downsides of hoarding/collecting/acquiring is that you can feel possessive and fearful — ‘These are MY things, and someday I’ll use them.’ ¬†When you let go of things, the opposite is true — you feel generous and trusting. ¬†The universe and you have¬†got this and you’re not imaging that somehow a broken Nikon camera from eight years ago is all that — one day — will stand between you and starvation. ¬†So give books to your friends, give tools to your neighbors, ¬†and give everything to Good Will/charity etc. ¬†Selling off things is so much harder than giving them away — trust yourself and let it go!
  5. The¬†equation ‘MORE STUFF = BETTER LIFE’ is false.¬† ¬†I wasn’t raised to be materialistic, but we also never got rid of¬†anything. ¬†If you were tired of having something on a shelf, it went to the closet. ¬†Cleaning the closet? ¬†Move it to the pantry. ¬†Then the garage. ¬†Our life wasn’t ‘richer’ for having more things, and we didn’t have more fun by having every room crowded by junk either.
  6. Making it a joyful process is a key to success. ¬†Don’t think ‘I¬†must¬†get rid stuff to make my life better’ . ¬†Instead, just see what you’re¬†excited to get rid of. ¬†Everything in life works better if you happy and excited.
  7. Trick your mind by taking everything off the shelf/out of the closet and only putting back¬†what you want. ¬†My sister taught me this one. ¬†For years, every square inch of her bedroom walls were covered in art — from tiny cards to giant posters. ¬†And occasionally she’d take a couple of old ones off and put a few new ones up. ¬†But it was only this year that she transformed her room into something awesome. ¬†She did the work and took¬†every single picture off her wall. ¬†So now it was harder to put the things back on than just get rid of them. ¬†This changed her way of thinking and she threw away a lot of pictures that no longer inspired her, and re-sorted the other stuff so that similar works could be together.
  8. You become richer by having less. When I started getting rid of my ‘to-be-read’ books last year, it felt like a betrayal of who I was — I’m a writer, a reader. ¬†But that very first day also taught me a lesson: down on a bottom shelf, un-examined for years, was ‘Roots’. ¬†I was about to get rid of it but then I read the first pages and it ended up being one of the greatest reading experiences of my life. ¬†I realized then that I only really enjoyed the things that I saw and interacted with — I ‘got’ a book that day instead of losing the 20 I gave away. ¬†And over and over again I’ve found more peace, more rest, and more joy as I’ve given away excess items.

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A year later, I look around and I can’t imagine why I had all that stuff. ¬†I didn’t use it, I didn’t need it, and the emotional weight I was attaching to¬†old family items didn’t increase my love for the family members who had owned them.

Now I feel like I have breathing room. ¬†And with each carload I take to Good Will, I feel closer to being able to travel the world, to move cities if I wish, and to live the life of my dreams. ¬†But even if I wanted to stay right here for the next 50 years, I’d be glad to do it without sharing the space with that old, broken Nikon camera.

Try it for yourself. ¬†But be warned: you might just jump-start a revolution that reverberates throughout your entire existence. ¬†Today the pantry, tomorrow — the world!

from Courtney Carver

from
Courtney Carver

Five Tips to Actually Freakin‚Äô Make Your Dreams a Reality in 2016

Found on salsalabs.com

Found on salsalabs.com

This has been a crazy time for me. ¬†I work retail and I basically just become an eating, sleeping, and retailing machine for the six weeks before Christmas. ¬†Then life gets back to normal. ¬†I’m not proud to have fallen off on my exercise and writing goals BUT I am proud of how excited I am to get back to them in the new year. ¬†I’m gonna be all right — in fact, in 2016 I plan to be spectacular.

And I’d like you to be spectacular too. ¬†You can do it. ¬†Whatever your dream is you can make a¬†big step forward this year. ¬†It’s not easy. ¬†If it were easy you’d already have done it. ¬†But it SO possible, that’s why you’re smiling a little now, why you’re getting excited somewhere deep within your soul. ¬†The truth as I know it is that there’s a thin line, a sliver of possibility between the mediocre everyday and impossibly extraordinary — a path you¬†can walk and — to quote¬†Henry David Thoreau — “Meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”

Found on startupvitamins.com

Found on startupvitamins.com

But if you want to change your life in a significant way, as I did last year when I went from a size 18 to a size 12 and as I hope to next year with my writing — you have to understand that you only have so much energy — mental and physical — and it’s precious. ¬†As far as I can tell, your regular life takes up 80% of your energy (work, relationships, day-to-day chores) so your success depends on guarding and focusing the other 20% on your goal.

Succeed and you’ll feel like you’re tied to a rocket blasting into the stratosphere. ¬†For these suggestions, I’m gonna to assume you already have a goal (click here if you need some planning inspiration) and just are looking for ways to move your dream into reality.

So here’s my five tips to actually freakin’ make your dreams a reality in 2016:

  1. See yourself as amazing.¬† Just recently I gave a friend the wonderful book,¬†Now, Discover Your Strengths¬†, which encourages people to worry less about their weaknesses and instead see the greatness in their innate abilities¬†. ¬†I know I’m awesome, but seeing myself as someone with strengths in Inclusion, Intellection, Input, Positivity, and Responsibility helps me focus on the things that set me apart and come easily to me. ¬†I know you can do great things, and you just have to believe it too. ¬†Look at your whole life, what you’ve done, what you’ve withstood, the kindness you’ve given others. ¬†Part of the book’s power¬†is that it points out the special talents that come easily for you are the first things you overlook while saying¬†‘Everyone thinks that way,’ or ‘It’s nothing special.’ ¬†But you are special, and you can absolutely nail this — just go read some inspiring quotes and believe in your potential.

    Found on fitgirlsdiary.com

    Found on fitgirlsdiary.com

  2. Don’t spend your energy on¬†negative¬†relationships.¬† I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — I¬†RUN, I don’t walk, I run from negative relationships. ¬†It doesn’t matter if the person meant to hurt me with their words, or absence, or choices — if I feel bad after talking or thinking about them — I move on. ¬†I’m not callous, and I don’t judge. ¬†But I don’t believe I can ‘fix’ anyone who isn’t personally asking for help (or looking for it on my blog ūüėČ ) or change anyone’s personality. ¬†And I’m almost sure you can’t swim to the island of your dreams with the 500lb yoke of a negative realationship around your neck. ¬†Stop trying. ¬†Step away. ¬†Give up. ¬†And remember —

    Found on fbcdn-sphotos-c-a.akamaihd.net

    Found on fbcdn-sphotos-c-a.akamaihd.net

  3. Realize¬†that this is not a time for ‘normal’. ¬†From now till whenever you achieve your goal, recognize that you may be giving up a lot of free time, limiting outings with friends, working extra hard etc. ¬†And that’s okay — no one’s asking you to give up the things you enjoy forever. ¬†I gave up sugar for five months so I could be the size I’d wanted to be for 15 years — and so I could be the healthiest possible going forward. ¬†Five months is nothing in the scheme of things.

    Found on etsy.com

    Found on etsy.com

  4. Hard work is a form of magic. ¬†By now I’ve come to see that gladly working hard is a rarity. ¬†I’m not sure why. ¬†Maybe parents punished you with work early on, maybe school made it boring and dumb and soul-sucking. ¬†Maybe your peers taught you that only suckers go the extra mile. ¬†Or maybe you think you’re smarter than the rest and are gonna find the ‘shortcut’ to success. ¬†I really don’t know. ¬†But man, you have got to work hard. ¬†I wish I could wave a magic ward and make you love putting in the effort, because then you’d be so far ahead of the crowd. ¬†Now, it’s never easy — and it’s only sometimes fun, but you get such amazing returns. ¬†If you like working hard, that’s great — now just make sure you aim yourself toward things that matter (I’m still working on this myself). ¬†If you don’t like work, try to work harder anyway — move faster, stay later, do the thing you’d rather not. ¬†Because your dreams¬†are possible but they are also on the other side of a lot of dedicated practice.¬† And as my sister Sarah, an artist, says, ‘I don’t think dreams ever come true with half-assed effort.’

    Found on quotesqr.com

    Found on quotesqr.com

  5. A good plan + hard work + time = success. ¬†There’s really no secret to getting where you want. ¬†You already know how to do this —
  • Set aside a couple of hours (hopefully somewhere alone and quiet) and write out your big goal. ¬†Then break your goal into smaller monthly goals, then weekly goals. ¬†If your goal requires several points (i.e. go to Ireland requires money, passports, time off etc) make sure each of these sub-goals gets broken down too. ¬†Note: Actually writing them out is essential (don’t just think about them).
  • ¬†Work hard. ¬†Push yourself to do a bit more than you feel comfortable doing (i.e. 12 sit ups instead of 10). ¬†Do something¬†every day toward your goal. ¬†Imagine you’re already world-class — how would you exercise, write, talk, dress, etc if you’d already achieved your goal? ¬†Note: Doing a crummy job, I’ve learned, is just about as pointless as doing nothing. ¬†Be all in.
  • Give it time. ¬†Once you’re working hard at a good plan, stop second-guessing yourself! ¬†You can refine a little from week to week, but for the most part just say to yourself, ‘I’ll see where I am in six months,’ because all good things take time. ¬†Note: If you’re doing it right, your plan probably feel like it’s ruining your life almost immediately — for a time, things will get harder. ¬†When this happens¬†don’t change your plan — you are probably going full-steam in the right direction. ¬†Give it six months. ūüėČ
  • Prepare for success. ¬†Dreams do come true. ¬†And there’s no feeling like committing yourself to a big dream and then starting to reap the rewards. ¬†For months last fall, everywhere I went friends commented on my great appearance and health — and I had the satisfaction of seeing a long-term dream come galloping — full-glory — into reality.

Let’s do it together in 2016.