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.


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.


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


The Fastest Way to Change Your Life For the Better



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.

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.


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

Courtney Carver

Back — and Better Than Ever

Hi there.¬† Remember me? ¬†Sorry for the long absence since my last post, but I hope once you hear what I’ve been up to, ¬†you’ll approve.

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First ¬†of all, I want to say thank you to each and every person who follows this blog.¬† When I¬†started writing here, I was imaging you all — you wonderful, creative, and inspiring individuals who¬†I’m honored to write to — but I had no idea how fast this would come together or what fun¬†I would have.
And I feel like this is a big moment of change for a lot of us.¬† My life is changing more than it¬†ever has and in wonderful ways (more on that in my next post), and I feel like our journey¬†together is also beginning an exciting new phase . . . if you’re willing to continue adventuring with me that is, and I hope you are.¬† It’s going to be very¬†exciting.

One reason I’ve been MIA recently is that I made you a present.¬† Oh, I know, I shouldn’t have. ¬†But you guys are too awesome and I just want to share everything helpful I can with you.
So, without further ado, I present my 2013 self improvement book, How to Come Alive: A¬†Guidebook to Living Your Dreams — now available as a FREE WEBSITE with fun links and awesome¬†quote/pictures.
Cover by Sarah Cerulean

Cover by Sarah Cerulean

My book will still be available on Amazon as a paperback or an ebook (and it’s a charmer), but I¬†want everyone to be able to dig in, see how they like it, and share it without the awkwardness that¬†comes from trying to turn a work of love into a dollar sign — and I do love you all and want to see you¬†succeed beyond even your wildest dreams.¬† And if my book can help you in even a tiny way, then it¬†will have succeeded in its purpose.
In a nutshell, How to Come Alive is the twenty-five ideas that have helped me most in living the life of my¬†dreams.¬† Even though I have big goals I’m working on right now, I’m already tremendously¬†happy in my life and it’s not just luck — it’s moving continuously toward those very things that¬†make me feel most alive.
A word about consumerism: I love buying things from people and companies that I love and¬†that do great work, and I do think it’s a shame if we start to believe that everything should be¬†free.¬† That said, I hate the fearful, mercenary attitude that I see in some creative self promoters. ¬†They are afraid they can’t make a living at this, so they get ‘tough-minded’, and¬†you¬†feel¬†as if they are asking to turn out your pockets to¬†pay for their coffee habit. ¬†Nobody wins.

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For myself, I reject the status quo. ¬†I’ve worked hard on my craft for 16 years.¬† I love writing.¬† And you know what? ¬†I’m going to be¬†just fine.¬† In fact, I’m going to be awesome.¬† This is what I was put on Earth to do, and one day¬†you’ll say you knew me when — and none of that awesome success is dependent on me¬†tweeting ‘AVAIL ON AMAZON 99CENTS NOW!’, asking a few hundred nice strangers to buy my¬†book, or trying to guilt people into helping me mainline caffeine.
What I want, much more than money, more even than to make this calling my vocation — what I¬†want most is to share the magic, joy, beauty, and perfection of life with you. ¬†This world is amazing, you are amazing, I am amazing. ¬†So if you get a chance, visit my ‘Come Alive‘ site, look for something that moves you, and start¬†living the life of your dreams. ¬†Cause if I can do it, flippin’ believe you can do it.
I will ask one thing — if you enjoy what I do and know of someone else who might enjoy it, share¬†it.¬† And I promise to keep sharing on this website the awesome, magical things I find that inspire me, and¬†together, we’ll keep moving forward toward a future so bright it burns our eyes.
Thanks again for making the first two years so enjoyable.  I look forward to many more.
Now go enjoy your present —¬†

Follow Your Excitement


When you decide to change your life, improve your world, or reclaim your dreams you will come to a time when you get really excited about something you consider ‘silly’ or ‘trivial’ — and in that moment, you have discovered magic.

Think about it — how often do you get excited in the day-to-day? ¬†Not pleased, not happy — little kid excited. ¬†Won a trip excited. ¬†Finished the race excited. ¬†And more importantly, what do you do with that information?

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Hopefully, you are already feeling happy pretty often, and doing fulfilling things sometimes. ¬†But excitement — telling strangers, breathless squealing excitement — true, rousing joy, how often does that happen?

But don’t tell me it¬†doesn’t happen. ¬†You may just have ignored your passions for so long that they can only whisper to you. ¬†More likely, you think the things you love are silly, pointless, or a waste of time.

For myself, television writing is like that right now. ¬†I love, love LOVE watching great shows, and the¬†bit of teleplay writing I’ve done has been very scary and exciting. ¬†But I love novel writing too (and blogging!) and maybe do see prose writing as more serious or legit. ¬†And teleplay writing scares me, it scares me to death. ¬†I wrote half of a pilot, reread it, and it terrified me — because it was good.

Fear doesn’t necessarily accompany this excitement, but the voice of ‘reason’ often does. ¬†What moves you is probably something there’s not enough of in the world, at least in your mind, but if you start telling a friend how you spent eight solid hours decorating one cupcake, you may get a lot of push back. ¬†Or a look of incredulity.

That’s okay. ¬†What you love isn’t for everyone, but if you¬†love it passionately enough, you will transcend ridicule and find admiration. ¬†Maybe not from everyone, but if you’re madly into something, there has never been been a better time to find and connect to all the people worldwide that share your passion.


Because, while you don’t have to transmute your excitement to anyone else, many passions (and most of our great art, writing, invention, etc) plus lots of great careers, begin with a desire to share, to inspire (the root word of enthusiasm). ¬†So when something excites you more than other people, know that means that you would be willing to work longer, keep perfecting, and dream about this thing¬†more than the average person. ¬†And as you know, there’s no traffic jams on the extra mile — there’s only people doing what excites them every day and living out their dreams.

So don’t worry about if your passion could be your paycheck — if it contains any kind of true magic and genius at all, it will probably look like the opposite for quite a long time.

That’s all right, because when you follow the things you love, you’ll be grinning like an idiot and having the time of your life.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a teleplay to write.

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The Audacity of Fantasy; or Why I Still Fall in Love

I am in love again. ¬†It’s only the fifth time in my life. ¬†It is with a person I don’t really¬†know, I only know of. ¬†It’s not a celebrity (though no shame if you are — they’re probably someone who’s worked hard to achieve their dreams and entertain others) — he’s just someone I’ve talked to a little.

Pin by Florence and Joseph McGinn

My sister doesn’t like it when the fantasy part of my personality runs away with me — she’s afraid I’ll get hurt. ¬†And true enough, I think I cried for two days (at least it felt that way) when the first guy I loved when I was 20 said he liked me as a friend.

But I am confused about how I feel about daydreams, fantasies, and the assorted imaginings that this guy I like will show up at my Best Buy one day, a beautiful smile upon his face.

Also, as a writer, imagining things is very important to me. ¬†The difference between two characters having a conversation (in my head) and me imagining¬†me talking to this guy is indescribably small. And love, true indescribable¬†love, is a big part of my storytelling —

“Did love exist?¬† Love as Shepley saw it?¬† Yes, he knew it did. ¬†He had experienced it, but he could not now remember if he had seen it in others in real life or only in dreams and novels.”

— A Caged Heart Still Beats

That’s probably the truest thing I’ve ever written that expresses my feelings on the subject.

But outside of books, I get the feeling that fantasies can be very harmful, and even become a substitute for working hard and going after your dreams. ¬†Take the lottery: is it harmless fun to buy a ticket and for a dollar envision what you would do, where you would go, and how exciting it would be? ¬†On the surface no, but I know people who have played for years then had to awaken to the reality that their real life wasn’t what they wanted, and it probably hadn’t been for a long time.

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Also, I’m a big believer in action — the ability to make it so. ¬†So if a fantasy ignites your dreams and causes you to make goals and move forward, that’s great. ¬†And a lot of motivational leaders believe in the power of affirmations and envisioning yourself in the place, shape, job etc that you desire.

So dreams that become action = great. ¬†And everyday five-minute-fantasies, where you and a friend tease about what you’d do on your yacht or how you’d choose between Channing Tatum or Ryan Gosling are probably healthy ways to bond and joke in a fantasy context.

But¬†—¬†what about the gossamer dreams, the ones that seem real as life, the love stories that I believe in my heart of hearts¬†could¬†come true? ¬†My dreams about work and jobs I think¬†can happen, if I work hard enough. ¬†But this lonely orphan of a dream about love, what to do with him? ¬†Will, in time, he just be buried out back, next to his four brothers?

I still fall in love because I still believe in happy endings. ¬†I need very little from my beloved, just them to continue rockin’ out the world with their awesomeness. ¬†For them to be kind and thoughtful and amazing and give me space and hold me close. ¬†I know these things are possible because I would offer these things.

So I’ll keep my fantasies, and keep falling in love. ¬†But I’ll also keep working to make my life even more exciting than my dreams —

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The Things That Make You Scared Are the Things That Make You Dream

‚Äē Ellen Johnson

Quote by Ellen Johnson

Since Black Friday, I have been working hard every day to launch myself forward toward the life of my dreams. ¬†Exercising, yoga, and especially doing a lot of writing (it is my passion and life’s purpose after all!).

What I didn’t plan on, was how freaking scary it was going to be.

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Found on

It’s scary. ¬†It’s scary not to know how you’ll look in a year or where you‚Äôll end up living or what job you’ll be doing. ¬†Or who you’ll be with.

As soon as I realized I was creating all this forward momentum, I realized I needed a destination.  Boy, then did it hit the fan.

First a little background. ¬†Ever since our parents broke up and then my Mother died (about ten years ago) by sister and I have sought stability. ¬†Just making things calm, and safe, and comfortable for ourselves and each other. ¬†And we’ve been spectacularly successful. ¬†Now though, it’s a time of change. ¬†And when I started thinking about my future, I realized I wasn’t sure what I really wanted.

Was I still a novelist foremost?  What about my inspirational and self help writing?  What about my unceasing love of TV and intrigue with the idea of writing teleplays?

Did I want to travel most?  Settle down in an amazing new place?  Or stay in Athens, GA?

Was I ready for a big new step if I fall in love?  Or did I just want to run around the world for a while and have adventures?

Clearly, for all I’d dreamed about my life after retail and working as a full time writer, when faced with the idea of it actually coming to pass, I simply had no idea.

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Fear is a natural response to the unknown. ¬†But, we are not living in the wild. ¬†There are no bears and wolves around (for most of us). ¬†Fear should not be a red stop light, a firm ‘No! ¬†Go back, you fool!’ ¬†Instead, it just tells you that you are stepping onto unknown ground. ¬†For me, in the weeks since this started, there have been five main types of fear (see if you too recognize these as you step off the well-worn path toward the life you were destined for) —

Five Fears That Prove You’re Doing Something Right

  1. Fear of Failure. ¬†Right off the bat, I thought “What if I set this big goal, tell people about it, and can’t do it? ¬†What if I belly flop? ¬†And most importantly, how will I stay positive if I’m a failure? ¬†This is probably the fear that stops 90% of cool, amazing, incredible things from being made and stops more discoveries of best friends, soul mates, and mentors than any other. ¬†But the truth is, even big failures don’t really get much traction — my Athens Writers Association had a reading once where almost no one showed up. ¬†It wasn’t fun at the time, but we learned something about how to do it better, and it doesn’t mean much when held up against all our successes. ¬†The best advice for this kind of fear is ‘Feel the fear and do it anyway.’ ¬†The only way to do anything worthwhile is to realize the price of failure is small, no one’s getting eaten, and the rest of the world isn’t really going to pay your one act that much mind. ¬†What they’re responding to is that you’re living a life of action. ¬†I fail in tons of ways all the time (eating habits, not being as perfectly kind as I could be, trying to cheat by counting reading ‘The Hobbit’ as ‘writing time’) and yet many people tell me I inspire them. ¬†People will forget the minute and remember that you did something they were afraid to even try.

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  2. Fear of¬†Success. ¬†Now this one may seem silly on the surface, but it’s actually quite reasonable: our whole lives are constructed around things we know how to do, and to handle. ¬†Think about it — you do what works. ¬†You know how to drive but not a stick-shift, so your car’s automatic. ¬†You don’t have to like your job, but you probably could do it with your eyes closed. ¬†Even bad situations, like being in debt, you’re probably¬†comfortable¬†with. ¬†You only change things that fall outside your comfort zone. ¬†House’s drafty? ¬†That’s fine. ¬†Roof fallen in? ¬†You’re gonna call someone (my roof is fine BTW ūüėČ ). ¬†So when the idea of wild, mad success comes around (and that’s the kind that falls into your lap when you start living the life of your dreams), of course it’s scary. ¬†You don’t know how to do that. ¬†How would having a great husband or wife fit into your routine, your relationships with other friends, your alone time? ¬†Would you like working at your dream company? ¬†Would you be good enough? ¬†If it all was going great, would something horrible happen? ¬† I recently was reading part of my new novel¬†Society &¬†Civility¬†to finish up my writing time late one night. ¬†But then I still had a bit of time left and so opened up my teleplay from the summer, called¬†Family Lines¬†and about a family of demon hunters. ¬†I’d only written 20 pages (for an hour long pilot) and had quit, thinking it wasn’t going well and I sucked. ¬†But I reread those 20 pages that night and —¬†they scared the crap out of me. ¬†They were good, very good (in my approximation). ¬†So what does that mean for my future? ¬†The best way to dispel this fear is with feelings of gratitude and excitement: you are in this wonderful, unique spot to change your life and make the world a better place (following your dreams always makes the world a better place). ¬†And the truth is, you can be comfortable in loving relationships, working your dream job, and having a life of adventures, or you can be comfortable with just what you’re doing, right now, for the rest of your life. ¬†Your choice.

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  3. Fear of Looking a Fool /Upsetting People /¬†Inconveniencing¬†People. ¬†I’m not cheating by rolling all of these fears into one, I recently felt them all from a single act. ¬†I wrote to someone who’s an inspiration to me, someone I’d actually like to be friends with — and then I felt really uncomfortable. ¬†I wanted to let them know their work inspired me, but did I go too far, sound over the top? ¬†Did I scare them by being weird (I’m on a journey to be more open and honest and that seems to be a little unfiltered and frightening — at least to me)? ¬†And worst of all did I seem unhingled? ¬†A hanger-on? ¬†A stalker? (I’ve been a stocker for years in big box stores, but that’s spelled a little differently). ¬†In truth though, I am none of those fears, simply someone inspired, and whether or not they respond, they probably don’t think anything bad about me. ¬†This fear is about staying small, nondescript, and not making waves. ¬†Your friends, your family, strangers you accost on the internet — they all have a way they’re most more comfortable with you being¬†and that is just how you are now. ¬†If you get fit, what does that say about their lives? ¬†You move across the country for that dream job, where does that leave Movie Night? ¬†You express your feelings (for any one in any way) and suddenly they have a new issue: how to respond to you (and their day was already full up). ¬†The only thing I can say here is, treat others how you would want to be treated. ¬†Having my friend get fit would be great; having them say ‘You’d look so much better 20 pounds lighter’ would not. ¬†Having someone write that I inspired them would be a boon to me; having a ‘fan’ say we must write a novel together, share a house (and more) would get a quick trip to my banned email list. ¬†So don’t worry, just be daring and send some good into the world.
  4. Fear of Hard Work. ¬†Now, I’ll expound all day and all night on the importance of working hard, but even I have my limits. ¬†And that is what I’m trying to change. ¬†I’ve been hitting this exercise/yoga/writing goal for weeks and that’s going okay, but the thought of digging back into editing my two new novels scares me (and writing for TV, well, we don’t even talk about that…). ¬†This is related to fear #1 but a little different. ¬†It’s knowing you¬†can do something, but being unsure if you want to put into it the Herculean effort required. ¬†I’ll never forget how when I started editing my first novel, I was convinced I was doing something wrong; the editing was making the book much better but¬†it was too hard. ¬†Surely I’d missed a step, or didn’t know a trick? ¬†Truth is,¬†everything you love was created with an inordinate amount of elbow grease. ¬†You want to create something people love and will cherish? ¬†That’s reason enough to work past this fear.

  5. Fear of Leaving People Behind. ¬†As I mentioned in fear #2, this could be moving across the country, but I’m thinking more in an emotional sense. ¬†I like the people I work with at my ‘regular’ job. ¬†I love my friends. ¬†I worship my sister. ¬†And if I change, what happens to them? ¬†Will they like who I become? ¬†Will our paths diverge? ¬†I feel that this period of growth will unsettle a few relationships (just as a child can feel ‘growing pains’ as their legs lengthen), but I also feel strongly that the best thing I can ever do for them, the kindest act I can bestow, is to become as wonderful and amazing and perfect a me as I can be. ¬†I didn’t start this. ¬†My friends and mentors inspired me to greatness, and I hope to inspire others. ¬†Think of yourself as leading the charge into a wonderful new adventure. ¬†I’m reluctant when plans suddenly change and my day is altered by a friend’s suggestion, but I’m always happy (after a bit of grumbling) to leap on board and then I have an amazing day, usually one of the best of the year . ¬†Give your friends the same time to adjust and a chance to join in the fun.

In the end, it all means that, when you get serious about living your dreams, the world gets big and exciting fast. ¬†I’ve only been at this for a few weeks and already it’s getting crazy. ¬†What will a few more months bring?

The most exciting thing, the thing I wish I could transmute to you, is how fast you can start to change your life and that each challenge and fear can be met and mastered.

I don’t have all the answers yet. ¬†Heck, I don’t even know most of the questions. ¬†But I am so scared and so excited.

Because I’m living a life that matters. ¬†And I’m getting braver every day.

How To Become Beloved

  • Give it away — your time, your love, your heart
  • Say the sweet things you usually only think
  • Work hard
  • Always be honest, even about the little things
  • Keep your promises
  • Help others achieve their dreams
  • go the extra mile
  • Don’t take your frustrations out on others
  • Seek the things that make you make smile, then smile about them
  • Find a life so exciting that others cannot help but grin when they think about you
  • Find money and material items to be some of the least important things on Earth
  • ¬†Love yourself
  • Let your inner glow, light, madness, and weird-irasity shine
  • See everyone as perfect at a soul level
  • Have empathy, or at least, have sympathy
  • Do little surprises for those you love all the time
  • Know it is better to be tricked a couple of times in your whole life than to be suspicious¬†all of your life
  • Dance when your spirit call you to
  • Know that everyone is a ‘bad dancer’, ‘nervous about public speaking’, ‘afraid to talk to that person’, and could ‘never do that’ even though they’d love to — and then go be the person that shows everyone how awesome life is on the other side of fear
  • Love animals, nature, and life
  • Listen to other intelligent opinions
  • Know your worth, and refuse to spend time with anyone who doesn’t treat you as a magical, beautiful, perfect being
  • Seek adventure
  • Always have a beginner’s spirit and a master’s patience
  • Find the one thing you were put on Earth to do, and do it
  • Put down the phone when you are already in a room with people you love
  • Look others in the eye when talking to them
  • Never make jokes that are cruel
  • Give your ‘positions of power’ away but keep your strength
  • Love everyone
  • Live in the now
  • Know that you are worth it
  • Don’t sweat the small stuff
  • Turn off the TV and talk to others
  • Be a geek about anything you love
  • Be kind in words and thoughts , even to those who are cruel — especially to those who are cruel
  • Don’t steal
  • Look at life as a blessed, gifted miracle
  • Release worry
  • Embrace how awesome you are
  • Live the life of your dreams
  • Realize that you need only be and act from your highest, truest self and you will be instantly beloved by those you are meant for — and those who don’t understand and value your perfection you are happy to release to go on their way
  • Be kick ass.
  • Remember that in a hundred years none of this will matter
  • Remember today matters
  • And always —