- Any healthy diet (based around veggies) can work; you just need to find real foods you can enjoy eating, day in and day out.
- Find strength training exercises that are fun, make you feel kick-ass, and get the results you wouldn’t want to live without.
- Do cardio that you would do for fun even if it wasn’t good for you.
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.
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.
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 —
WARNING: A little extra language in the pictures of this post — because I was feeling passionate!
In life there are two pulls — the urge to become more and the necessity of loving yourself as is. I don’t believe these forces are incompatible but we too often tell our story as ‘I’m broken and I must fix myself.’
But we’re not broken. We are spiritual beings having a physical experience and our bodies can shatter, we can grow tired, we may even get lost. And we can definitely make mistakes. But we can’t break. And at our soul level there is something so fundamentally strong and beautiful and full of glorious purpose that it burns brightly our whole lives and we cannot lessen its glow one iota — we can only hide it from the world and even ourselves.
We lose sight of the things that make us beautiful and make us dream. We sell our days for power and money, and give away the peace of night in exchange for fears and insecurity.
There was no grand scheme, no master plan to build a society that told us, from birth to death, that we are not good enough. Companies just sold things, and advertisers discovered that praying on our fears, playing to our vanities, and distorting our dreams sold a lot of soda. And cars. And weight loss devices.
An unintentional side effect of this effective advertising is, on a massive level, unconscious self-loathing (oops!). And before you think I overstate my case, I’ll ask ‘Are you happy with the shape of your body?’ ‘How often do you wish you had more money?’ ‘Do you think other people have more fun, more vibrant social lives than you?’ Or as my sister put it, she grew up thinking you couldn’t be the hero of the story unless you were ‘the pretty one’.
And having to grow up at school, trapped in a building with a bunch of other confused kids doesn’t help. So we emerge, blinking, into the strong sunlight of adulthood and look around, lost. And yet we often still try, still push toward our dreams and our heart’s desires.
But the road is long, and we stumble, then retreat. And somewhere along the way we can grow cold, or even cruel. We gain weight and believe ourselves maybe just the ‘sassy friend’ instead of the luminous heroine. I’ve had pretty good self esteem for a few years now (starting my groups People Who Have Come Alive & the Athens Writers Association was a big turning point for me), but even I was thrown backwards, back to TV show expectations of my youth recently when I fell for someone and wondered ‘Could I even be seen as attractive to him?’ And I’ve worked on this stuff for years! But billions of dollars have been spent in the same time span to tell me I lack something, or many things.
So cover our glow in armor, in hardheartedness, in shrouds. We develop traits we don’t like, and these become the weak places where we also build up our strongest defenses. And somewhere along the way, we believe a myth we have helped write, the story of why we don’t deserve success — in business, in love, or in life.
Before I started my groups, my self publishing, or even a lot of my self improvement, I too had a myth. I was a ‘nice’ girl who was too shy for groups, too boring to have friends, and too ugly (read fat) to have a boyfriend. It hurts and bewilders me now to write these words, because I never expressed them to anyone back then, but none the less, it was a story — a reason — that I used to explain my life. The truth was I was quiet and introspective, and curvy (and still am).
So what changed my outlook? I think I just realized that I had felt and wrestled with these feelings, these ‘lacks’, most of my adult life, so it followed that I could be having exactly the same conversations with myself in 10, or 20, or 30 years. I didn’t want that and so I decided to take action — bringing the people I wanted to know together, speaking even when my voice shook, and building a body I could love — with or without a man to enjoy it with.
So how do you let go of these brainwashed ideals and layers of armor? How do you honor how awesome you are and know how far you can go?
5 Ways to Love Yourself and Reveal Your Awesome
- Start questioning your authorities. When you think, ‘I need to lose weight’ — STOP. Ask yourself where this desire is coming from — love or fear? Do you love dancing around, and feeling great with tons of energy? Or do you read magazines and watch shows that take 1% of the human population and then Photoshop and light them to look like 0% naturally do? If you think you need more success (and money) ask yourself why. Will that really make something inside you different and happier or have you just been told the validation of life is cha-ching! cash? After you start questioning your sources, consider cutting the toxic ones out of your life while looking at things from a new perspective (read blogs about people beating anorexia or helping children in disadvantaged countries, watch foreign films, find quotes and people that build you up, read bios of great historical figures). And when a person you know offers their opinion, always ask yourself, ‘Are they someone I want to emulate, to aspire to be?’
- Make time for what makes you awesome. So often we only work on our weaknesses. In the book Now, Discover Your Strengths, the authors talk about how you want to shore up your weaknesses, but only enough that they don’t slow you down (they use an example of Tiger Woods improving his short game so it would not detract from his amazing long swings that got him to the green so quickly). The takeaway was that you are never going to be amazing because of your weaknesses — it’s your unique strengths that will blow people away. So take pride in the things that come easily to you, delve into the hobbies and sports that you excel at (I once told my sister that I felt like I was ‘made’ for cycling — and that is a powerful feeling, almost like you’re cheating). In the same way, I didn’t really ‘fix’ my character flaws, I just walked away from them and focused on stuff I rock at — and I’ve never looked back.
- Get healthy. Seriously, throw out the scale (it’s a horrible measure of health), and forget about diets (these temporary things you hate) while embracing diet (a lifelong way of eating that makes you feel great). So much self esteem and endorphins lie on the other side of exercise and eating right. Also — weed, drinking, and excessive sugar can all be enjoyed, but they can also become a crutch that makes us feel powerless and reliant on their mood enhancements. And I know smokers already feel beat up upon, but I really do feel like that addiction unfairly makes you feel powerless — a slave to nicotine — many times a day, so I hope, if you smoke, you find out how powerful you are and break that habit into a million pieces.
- Become an inspiration to others. Write a book. Lead a cause. Start a group. Blog about fitness. Mentor a child. Follow your dream so hard that others stare in wonder. When I started my groups, a strange thing happened: people started telling me how awesome I was, and how I was inspiring them. I felt there must be some mistake, but no — I was just living my life but even what I considered small acts — hosting a meeting, sharing what I knew, encouraging people with a few words — others saw a value to that and spoke up about it. This inspired me to do more — publish a book, give a public reading — because I realized that we all have fears and insecurities and the more ‘fake it till you make it’ I did, the more bold and brave they would become in their own lives. Suddenly, being awesome wasn’t about just me.
- Speak to yourself with love. Not get all psychological on you, but there’s only one person watching everything you do and commenting on how you do it. It’s you. And it was a real wake-up call the first time I read something like ‘If you wouldn’t speak to a small child like that, why would you speak to your inner child that way?’ It’s really hard to live an inspiring life if someone is degrading you all the time. So, give yourself a break. It’s been shown in studies that being ‘hard line’ or tough with yourself does not improve your willpower or results. In fact, the opposite is true. You are already doing great things — give yourself some love.
So start seeing yourself as beautiful.
Fall in love with who you are at your silliest and most sublime.
Forgive the actions and thoughts of your past and know they are not you.
Make choices that reveal your inner glory and magnificent joy.
Say “Screw you!” to any society that hasn’t gotten on board with your level of sexy, awesomeness, or lifestyle.
Heal your body and free your mind.
And lastly, when you feel imperfect, remember the words of Leonard Cohen — “There is crack in everything . . .
Recently my sister caught up on reading my last few blog posts and, with a moan, called them ‘challenging’. She wasn’t against the content or the ideas — I think it just seemed like a lot to take in after a month of busyness and bad eating, and sitting here in our unheated house with intermittent water issues.
The journey can seem long and our goals mighty, but what I don’t probably talk enough about here is how freaking amazing, fantastic, gorgeous you are (all of you, not just my sister 😉 ). You are improving, learning, and growing all the time — and you’re still pursuing your hopes and dreams with amazing tenacity.
So here’s ten fantastic, encouraging things you need to hear right now —
1. Change your life today —
2. Trust the process —
3. Stop comparing yourself —
4. This quote forever —
5. You have no idea how amazing you can be —
6. Be passionate, Be present, Be you —
7. Let’s sail beyond the horizon —
8. You are more beautiful because of what you’ve survived —
9. The time has come to actually see the person in the mirror —
10. Take a deep breath (you’ve got this) —
And finally, say to yourself —
I’ve been making up stories for as long as I can remember and, as I’m turning 35 in a few months, it looks like the odds are good I’ll be telling them for the rest of my life (not just gonna yell ‘That’s it! I’m done!’ as I blow out my birthday candles). But how did I grow into the writer I am today? Here’s what I remember (note: these ages may be off a little) —
Age 6 — Some of my first memories were playing with He-Man figures, though I remember liking the villain Skeletor better than the hero. We also had an Apple computer and played ‘Choose Your Own Adventure: Cave of Time’.
Age 7 — Loved listening to stories but couldn’t hardly read at all till one summer my sister and I got excited about the Athens Regional Library’s Summer Reading program. I think I read about 50 books including my first ‘big’ novel — Black Beauty.
Age 10 — Wild Ponies! Wild ponies everywhere! I loved The Black Stallion, The Island Stallion, Smoky, and all those horse stories and so I made up a lot of tales of wild horses while running around a 50 acre property my mother care-took.
Age 12 — Huge TV fan. We never had cable (still don’t) but for a while I’d watch 2-3 hours a night and tape many programs (tape, ha ha, the memories!). I once even pretended I was the head of a network and invented 50 series (each with a log line) and then rolled dice to see which were successful and got ‘high ratings’). Few of the people who call me intelligent and thoughtful today know just how many episodes of The Nanny I’ve seen.
Age 13 — ‘Sisters’ the TV show premieres. I’ve watched better shows with my sister and mother (Quantum Leap!) but something about this show makes me start telling stories about people instead of horses (mostly just Teddy & Falconer [a young George Clooney!]). Adolescence has begun.
Age 14 — I’m reading a lot of Stephen King and Dave Barry. Also, SeaQuest DSV and The X-Files debut followed by Earth 2 a year later. My sister Sarah and I spend untold hours playing out ‘episodes’ of the shows that we ‘write’ (as well as Chicago Hope). We even have props, like a bicycle tire gage that serves as a syringe.
Age 15 — I start my first book, pretty much called ‘If Dave Berry Had Written Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’. I write a few chapters, enjoy it, and still remember a scene where a road crew is placing giant, brightly-colored fish in the highway, like stones in cobblestone. My adventures in literary greatness have begun.
Age 16 — I make an epic sci-fi / fantasy love story called Move to Fathom about the assistant to the president who is destined to be the soul mate to an invading alien king. Strangely enough, I only write down the dialogue, not the whole story.
Age 18 — I decide I’m serious about screenwriting. Later, when asked why, I said, “I was just enamoured by Hollywood I guess.” I take a 2 day workshop lead by Michael Hauge. As a home-schooled-off-the-radar person, it is my first formal training. I go on to complete two feature length screenplays — ‘Murder in the Movies’ which is about a murder on a murder mystery set, and ‘Divining Grace’, which is about an angel earning his wings by helping a human girl.
Age 19 — I get first job just so I can buy an amazing desktop computer with my sister for gaming. It was AWESOME. Suddenly, Duke Nukem 3D, Unreal Tournament, Arcanum, X-COM, Civ II, and Myst start to inspire me.
Age 21 — Watch High Fidelity and then start reading Nick Hornby. My favs (in time) become About a Boy, High Fidelity, and Slam.
Age 22 — I take a three week trip to England to watch the world’s largest dog show (why do other people go?). I also fall in love for the first time (well, first time recipatated) with a handsome English bloke. I come home determined to finally start my story ‘Other Gods’. I try it as a novel instead of a screenplay because I want to flesh out the world and make it deep and meaningful. I fall instantly in love with novel-writing. I also join my first critique group and learn about the evils of -ly words. And I started watching LOTR and the reading the book for the first time. Yowza! I realise I have to take my writing to a whole new level.
Age 23 — Go to my first Writer Conference. I have a fifteen minute session talking to Patrick LoBrutto, who ruins me for talking to any other agents/editor/etc types — he’s so sweet and nice and helpful. I’m probably here today because of him (at least partly)! Also see 28 Days Later — the era of my modern movie love has begun. Suddenly Rain Man and Titanic just don’t seem quite as great. Hello (in time) Danny Boyle, Zack Snyder, Guillermo del Toro, Neill Blomkamp, Darren Aronofsky, and Alfonso Cuarón.
Age 25 — Shadow of the Colossus (PS2 game) comes out. DA-mn. Never gonna forget that world. Time to up my game again.
Age 27 — I watch Deadwood, my first cable show. I know it only as ‘That show that won all those awards and people curse a ridiculous amount”. After watching the first episodes, I know it as the show that changed my idea of TV forever.
Age 29 — I finally finish my first novel ‘Other Gods’. The story of two servants of the god of Darkness (one willing and one unwilling) on a journey to destroy all of the gods on a desert planet. It clocks in a 140,000 words but I’m very proud — my first book!
Age 31 — Start my second novel ‘A Caged Heart Still Beats’. I had been trying to write a sequel to ‘Other Gods’ but the timing just wasn’t right. So I decide to pick a short, sweet idea, and ‘Let my romanticism off the hook’ for the first time. A love triangle starring a man trapped in a cage is born.
Age 33 — I start People Who Have Come Alive, to inspire others to live their dreams. I also met Rob White, an Athens-area writer who has inspired me in many ways including founding the Athens Writers Association that year. I also wrote my first non-fiction book ‘How To Come Alive: a Guidebook for Living Your Dreams’ and self published for the first time. Yow! Things are getting busy!
Age 34 — Finish and self publish ‘A Caged Heart Still Beats’. Will finish (soon!) 12 year project — ‘Fall Street’ novel. Am writing a teleplay. Soon to start next novel …
Still crazy after all these years.
For those of you who couldn’t make it to my Athens Writers Association class in Athens last weekend, here’s a taste of what we discussed —
- Make your characters interesting. The best way to make me believe the love story is to make me believe in them. No matter how good the blueprint, if your building materials are Styrofoam and gummy bears, that cathedral ain’t standing for long. The more interesting and complex your lovers are, the more we’ll believe in them and root for their ‘happily ever after’. If your having trouble with the love story, go back and spend more time figuring out who these people are.
- Go for an off-kilter aesthetic. Symmetry is beautiful but, to me,love stories thrive in the place between beauty and ugliness. Let me explain— the cheerleader and the jock get together. They both like the same things, the same movies, and same religion. They’re perfect for each other. Are you asleep yet, ‘cause I am. There’s nothing wrong with that story if there’s an important ‘other’ element (’perfect’ couple must overcome her drinking problem or they’re both men- and it’s 1950). But in most cases, I’m more interested in the people you wouldn’t think would be together. My character Maurice (who follows the god of Darkness) falls for servant of a rival god just as a war is about to break out. A different Maurice (E.M. Forster’s) is a college-educated city man who falls for a simple (but super-charming) games-keeper. This is not just about differences in background, this is about the characters seemingly having good reasons to have no interest in each other and yet finding themselves very interested indeed.
- There’s obstacles to their happiness. Now, you could say that’s more about good storytelling than being ‘believable’ and yet part of the real world is diving into challenges and changes as you add a new person into your life. Your family might not approve; their family might not approve. You might live in different cities. But better yet — you might not agree about everything. I think some of the best love stories have the characters standing in the way of their own happiness. Can they move aside and allow themselves the happy ending? And should they? Love can spring up between diametrically opposed characters, say a detective and a killer, and they may love each but still make choices that ensure they won’t walk into the sunset together.
- Neither one is perfect. Most often the hero (male or female) in more interesting and flawed and the ‘love interest’ is some sort of perfect, beautiful, glowing god or goddess from the sky. No matter how great they appear to their lover, the love interest should have flaws, even tiny ones. In my mind, Edward (in Twilight) was a little too boring and perfect — a wish fulfillment for an accessory instead of a human being. Compare that story to My So-Called Life’s Angela and Jordan. The most interesting thing about us is often our weaknesses. And it’s often those weaknesses that we are most protective of in those we love.
- When it comes to cliches, don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. There’s certain phrases (and situations) that you should probably avoid like the plague (I promise to stop now). The ‘tripping into a stranger’s arms’ or ‘both reaching for the last- whatever’ are pretty overused as meet-cute devices. And I shouldn’t have to tell you to avoid actual cliches like ‘Her heart skipped a beat’. That said, don’t give up the emotion or impact you’re looking for, just find a more clever way to express it. In the beginning of Jumping the Broom, Sabrina is tired of sleeping with cheating run-a-round men and makes a promise to God to not have sex again until it’s with her (as yet unmet) future husband on their wedding night. So you get the feeling God is about to introduce her to the man of her dreams, and he does — when Sabrina accidentally hits Jason when he walks in front of her car. Her overreaction of bumping into him goes from funny to sweet when the audience sees their both smitten from the start. Likewise, if you feel like your character’s heart really did skip a beat (arrhythmia) then write that, but write it in such a way that it’s uniquely you (or better yet, uniquely your character). ‘Lucy decided she was having a heart attack, right now, right here in Josh Logan’s office. Josh raised his beautiful eyebrows in concern. Great, thought Lucy, I meet the man of my dreams and the only place he’ll ever take me is to the morgue.’ Dig past what you’ve seen and try to really connect to your character, where they might meet someone, and how they might react (especially if it’s not smooth).
- The best times aren’t the most perfect times. The best kiss, most romantic date, hottest make-out session, and favorite moment may not be exactly as planned. Scarlett and Rhett first kiss beside a dirty wagon with an unconscious woman and a baby in it, and he’s about to abandon her to drive miles by herself through a war torn countryside. Oh yes, and Atlanta is burning to the ground behind them. Their both soot-stained and sweaty — and it’s a great kiss. Much better than if they were in a perfect hotel room with glasses of Champagne. The same way that the ‘perfect’ first date with your crush might be ruined when he has to drive you to the hospital because your best friend got into a car crash- while driving drunk. Worst night ever? Not so fast, your friend was all right and while you watched her sleep, your crush sat down beside you and took your hand — and in that moment you kind of knew he was going to become your husband.
- Make us believe these two could have a great life together. Whether or not you have a sunset planned for your two leads, we (the readers) should at least believe it could happen. By which I mean, their personalities and souls are compatible. Do they laugh together, get each other’s humor and priorities? Do they respect the other’s mind? Even if they are opposed in some major way (she’s going to war/ he’s a pacifist) you still want to believe they could be happy if that one thing didn’t exist. Some characters fight and misunderstand each other so much that I want to separate them now, and I’m certainly not betting on a golden anniversary. In the same way, if your characters break up and get together more than once — I’m gone. I’ll go give my heart to a love story I can believe could work out longterm. The exception is something like the film Sid & Nancy: totally screwed-up characters whose destiny is to burn down the world with their love — and hate.
- Don’t fall into traditional boy/girl relationships. This is related to the tip about cliches. You may have noticed that in a couple of examples above, I role-reversed (she have a drinking problem/she’s going to war). That’s because few places force characters into tighter traditional roles than love stories. ‘“Don’t leave me!” She begged, clinging to his sleeve. He shook her hand away- cold, unfeeling.’ Youch. But what if you reversed it? Suddenly, it’s at least a little interesting. In Fall Street Claire is a sensible, sane, and intelligent 15 year old. Tommy is the popular kid two years older than her. But as they become friends, she realizes he’s a lot more emotionally needy than she is, and she had to reassure him and look after him. The reverse wouldn’t be much of a story, but the fact that people would expect an older boy to act one way (especially around a younger girl) to me gives the scenes more interest. One interesting way to break out of stereotypes is to have both of your characters be male or female. ‘Gay’ films or stories as genre can have their own cliches (just like ‘chick lit’). But I’m not talking about category fiction here — I’m talking about taking the exact story you were already telling and making the lovers the same sex. ‘He’s an ex-marine and the only person who can save the President from an assassin’s bullet. And he teams up with a rookie Secret Service agent to protect the leader of the free world. All the while, sparks fly between these two!’ It would be an interesting twist, and it might help you break out of expectations while writing it (ie the assassin — OF COURSE — holds the agent hostage in the final battle).
- Sometimes it doesn’t work out. One of the most believable love stories is ‘the one who got away’. 99.99% of romance stories try to deliver that happy ending — your story can really stand out if you admit that sometimes love can’t conquer all. If you really see your character unable to forgive him, unwilling to move to Bombay, or fatally shot in the final showdown with the assassin, consider following your instinct. There’s always room for another Wuthering Heights or Romeo and Juliette. Now, in a lot of cases, we want the happy ending and woe be to the writer who tricks us. So consider giving us a heads up (right in the beginning the narrator of 500 Days of Summer tells us ‘This is a story of boy meets girl, but you should know upfront, this is not a love story.’). You can also have an open-ended love story where you leave us hopeful without promising sunsets and grandbabies. In romance even a pinch of doubt can shake the reader out of a rose-colored haze and remind them of events in their own life.
- It’s weird and different. In real life, it can be hard to explain exactly why you connect to a certain person, what so funny about them, and why you can’t get them out of your head. Most people will never understand exactly why you fell for each other. But in fiction, the writer needs to make us understand, to feel the love story from the inside out. You can do a surprisingly good job with the simplest story. Imagine a teenage boy — he carries the girl’s books every day, asks after her family, and- is totally ignored. But he keeps trying. And, if she’s worthy of him, we want him to succeed. That said, the shortcuts to connecting to your readers (his startlingly blue eyes, her pounding heart) — we understand we’re suppose to care without really connecting to the story. Your readers, and your characters, deserve better. Dig deep, and discover what makes these two different and how to write something you’ve never read before. My favorite love quote (which I can’t find the source of) is “Her lips were so close, what else could I do?”
And that’s what you want; give your readers no choice but to fall in love with your story, your characters, and your view on romance. It could be the beginning of a lifelong affair.
“Get your hero up a tree, throw stones at him, then get him down.” — old saying in playwriting
So, a month ago, I was real excited. And then what happened? Life.
Those who know me know I haven’t been myself lately. I have been quiet and tired. Since January, my sister and I have had pipes burst, the well’s power shut down, a longer run of low temperatures here in Georgia than I can remember in my lifetime, snow, no indoor water, and the top third of a dead tree fall to the ground 30 feet from us — which was funny (especially since we were on our way to fix the well) but it was really close too.
None of that matters. Or more precisely, none of that’s slowing us down. It’s February now, time for us to re-find those 2014 goals and enthusiasm and I challenge you to do the same thing. This is going to be the most frekin’ exciting year yet of our lives and that all begins by picking back up those goals, dusting them off, and saying —
We OWN this year. Let’s prove it.
My 2014 goals —
- Cycle 50 miles in one day
- Publish my novel ‘A Caged Heart Still Beats’
- Publish my novel ‘Fall Street’
- Be in the best shape of my life (hard not to be with goal #1 😉
- Go Paleo for two solid months
- Write something new that is the best thing I’ve ever written
- Do yoga every day of the year starting now
- Make my home the most inspiring it’s ever been
- Do 12 adventurous things I’ve never done
- Get rid of 1/3 of my possessions
Ah Sumar Academy. I’ve just arrived here two days ago and I’m already learning so much. I’m a little home-sick and a little intemidated but mostly I’m excited. People graduate from here to do GREAT things.
Oh, BTW, did I mention this place is totally only in my mind?
From classic English stories to more modern takes like Hogwarts, there’s a lot of appeal to the idea of packing up, leaving your old world behind you, and submitting yourself to a whole new world of challenges that a boarding school or academy offers. So when I decided to change my life this year, I imagined myself at a wonderful place of high standards and higher learning.
Part of the goal here is to live my ideal life each day, so life at the school has rules that help me to do that. Such as —
- It’s always clean at Sumar Academy.
- It’s an honor to be a pupil here so looking nice and acting with pride is required.
- There’s daily yoga and exercise and we write every day.
- There’s also teachers and classes for inspiration and ‘fun’ daily — those things must be pretty important.
So far I’m excited and the first session lasts two months. If I like it (and they like me), I can sign up for the next session. People who graduate here leave for amazing lives and I can’t wait to be one of them. Did I mention they only serve Paleo food here — wild.
Oh, by the way, they mentioned your name and said you have what it takes. Now this place is hard work, but if you join us you’ll be in the elite. Of course, your head master or head mistress may be a little different than mine, but I’m sure they’ll challenge you and change you into something great — into the person you were always meant to be.
So, will you be coming to Sumar Academy in 2014?
- Spend half as much on Christmas this year
- Give twice as much to Charity
- Start that blog
- Get a ‘walking buddy’ and walk three times a week
- Make a party plan, and only go (and eat and drink) when you really want to
- Start your novel
- Write a love letter to yourself
- Go to a dance — and dance
- Find a new favorite song
- Plan to make 2014 amazing
- Picture who you want to be in 49 days (and make it happen!)
- Get on the Paleo diet
- Start Cycling
- Go on a blind date with the idea on finding a new best friend
- Do something nice for a stranger
- Visit your oldest relative
- Make a homemade gift
- Take a class
- Make a Christmas playlist that makes you want to dance all day long
- Make Christmas cookies with your best friend
- Write a love letter to your dream boy/girl (even if you haven’t met them yet)
- Invest in bath bubbles
- Buy a new comforter — super soft
- Clean out your least favorite room — make it your favorite
- Write down one hundred people you are grateful for and tell them about it
- Make a ten year plan
- Make a five year plan
- Make a one year plan
- Don’t plan everything
- Pick three days between now and New Year’s to be ‘do nothing’ days — and have Ferris Bueller fun
- Watch a ‘Reign’ or ‘Blacklist’
- Buy a Frank Turner song
- Visit this Pinterest page
- Watch a TED talk
- Visit a state park
- Write a poem
- Buy a Christmas ornament that speaks to your craziest, awesomiest self
- Make your own Christmas cards out of memes
- Send Thanksgiving cards
- Become an adventurer
- Be kinder than necessary
- Spend a full day cleaning your house
- Smile more
- Give away everything you don’t love
- Stop apologizing
- Start to awe people
- Try a new genre of music
- Buy Lady Gaga’s song Christmas Tree
The following is a guest post from a good friend and fellow Athens Writers Association member, Jennifer Innes. Jen has shown an incredible amount of courage and persistence in going after her dream and I think we can all learn a lot from her. Enjoy!
I started my first novel at some point in middle school. This book was pretty awful, but main themes that would become the ties that bound my writing together were there and it was a good start to what would become an almost twenty year career in writing.
By 2002, I was pretty confident that writing was the path I wanted to take. It was my second year of college and I had to decide where I was going to transfer to and what degree I was going to pursue. I gave up on a lot of different career ideas but writing wouldn’t let me quit and so I went on to get not one, but two degrees in English.
Fast forward eleven years and you’d think I’d have a million books in print and I’d be world famous (okay maybe just moderately famous) but no, I let myself be held back from my full potential. Over the years I’ve written many books, well to be honest, I have half written many books. Almost every book I started sits on a computer drive, half completed, each project waiting to be seen to the end, and I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. Typically life would happen and interrupt the writing process for far too long and then fear would set in.
The only four letter word that truly disgusts me is ‘fear’ because it controls most of my life. With my novels I feared completing them because I was scared of both failure and success simultaneously. I was afraid of these things because in either situation I would be powerless. I began writing as a child to escape the powerlessness I felt and as an adult I still try to escape those feelings which means I don’t finish the novels that want to be finished and I don’t pursue my dreams of being a published author.
But it’s not all a sad story. Several years back I met someone who would become a dear friend to me. He was also a writer and he was also afraid. Together we began a novel that we both were dedicated to and by metaphorically holding each other’s hands, we helped each other complete the novel, edit the novel, and now we are pursuing publication together.
When deciding how to go about publishing our book we settled on self-publishing but wanted to see if other people would be interested enough in our book to help fund some of the publishing costs. We started a Kickstarter campaign on Kickstarter.com for “The Beginning of Whit” to test the waters so-to-speak, and so far the response has been pretty phenomenal. Kickstarter itself was another one of those fearful things because “failure” and “success” are attached to any Kickstarter campaign. But we are pushing forward because the possibility of success will help launch our book and that would feel more amazing than sitting in my comfort zone avoiding failure.
So I ask you, what is stopping you from doing the things you want to do? Is it fear? Is it something you can overcome? Don’t waste twenty years like I did, do something about your hurdles today. I said to a friend once, “I’m my own biggest hurdle.” He said, “Then get out of your own way already.” What sound advice!
Please check out the Kickstarter for “The Beginning of Whit” at:
Jennifer’s blog can be found at: www.fanwritunit.blogspot.com
Find her on twitter: https://twitter.com/TheLameUnicorn
Find her on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JenniferInnesAndrewGrace