How to Turn ’18 Up to ’11’

Hi! Good to see you; I know it’s been awhile ;-).

So, this year has been crazy. And awesome. Crazy-awesome? Yes. And I’ve wanted to get back to the website for a while but I’ve never found the perfect thing to say, the ideal reentry into the form. But… who cares? I’m just gonna jump back in, explain a little about what I’ve been doing this year, and package it in a way that hopefully inspires you to greatness this year too.

So, without further ado…

7 Ways to Turn ’18 Up to ’11’

from Oopsy Daisy

  • Set a goal that makes no sense. A year and a half ago, while eating mussels and drinking mimosas at George’s Lowcountry Grill in Athens, GA (highly recommended), my sister Sarah and I set a goal — almost more of an agreement. A goal to change everything, upset everything. And goal to move forward (a goal not quite ready to be revealed to the world in this post). Suffice to say, this goal could not coexist with the life we were living then. One facet involved getting rid of 50% of the items we owned. That’s been a huge change. For yourself, if small goals are not getting you where you want to go, it might be time for a crazy, audacious one.
  • Write out a list of everything you need to do in 2018 to accomplish that goal. My goal has three components — health, being a professional writer, and getting way down on possessions — so I wrote out about twelve categories and eventually 100 tasks in those categories, For example, one component is Less Stuff, a category within that is Mementos and and a task is getting down on the amount of personal papers I inherited from my mom. Clearing each task off the whiteboard is very meaningful to me and I only have about 56 tasks left on the board right now (a little behind schedule, but man — the progress I’ve made this year!).
  • Change the method. Over the last couple of years I’ve returned to my first love — screenwriting. I still enjoy novel-writing too but I’ve gotten very excited about learning more and working to bring characters to life on the screen. I’m not saying I wouldn’t make it as a novelist, but it felt like the right time to adjust my sails and find a fresh wind to push me toward my ultimate dream of being a ‘professional writer’. And it’s been so thrilling to learn through podcasts and web classes and books. I have advanced so much and feel closer than ever to my goals. So if you’re not making the progress you want, maybe change tactics and literally try a different approach.
  • Dump the Junk. Even if your goals have nothing to do with less stuff, please please consider spending a bunch of time deleting items from your house. It’s been to empowering and freeing to go through each room and purge. We’re following the book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondō and she insists on picking up every thing you own and seeing if it ‘sparks joy’. It works, and trust me, everything become easier, more fun, and more possible when your house and your life isn’t full of unneeded and unnecessary things.

Taken by the author

  • Go somewhere that changes everything. For years I’ve had a goal to see an old growth forest (very few remain east of the Mississippi River in the United States). And last year I settled on visiting Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest in North Carolina (Kilmer wrote the poem ‘Trees’). So this summer, on the way back from a family reunion, we finally stopped there and walked among 300+ year old poplar trees. It was a life-changing experience and made much of our day-to-day worries seem trifling and silly. That place now serves as an inspiration — my north star is a forest.
  • ‘Hell yes!’ or ‘Fuck no!’. As I’ve made all these big goals and devoted my time to reaching them, I have had to step away from other things. Even organizations you like, people you have fun with, and activities that you enjoy may need to be set aside (even blogs you enjoy writing!). The idea here is that — if you want to accomplish your goals — everything, everything in your life is either a ‘Hell yes’ or a ‘Fuck no’. There is no middle ground. This is an Android Jones quote, and if you see his art, you’ll understand what that level of passion and commitment gets you. I’ve kind of given up living a normal life right now and because of that, I’m living an extraordinary one.
  • Just do it. Imperfectly. Now. Most of the things I’ve been doing this year don’t feel timely — is now really the perfect moment to write this screenplay? Do I have the emotional reserves today to look through Mom’s old things and toss stuff? Is this the opportune period to network and meet real professionals? Isn’t like… 2019, or never, a better time? But as Lemony Snicket said, ‘If we wait until we’re ready, we’ll be waiting for the rest of our lives.’

Are you don’t have the rest of your life to wait. The rest of your life is reserved for something better.

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What Will You Do in 2018?

loveprintstudio.blogspot.dk

Few people recognize the symbolic value of the blank slate, the clean page, more than writers. Whether looking at our characters, our projects, or the actual blank page in front of us, we know that possibility is a magic few recognize in all its potency.

The idea of  ‘New Year’s goals’ has acquired a cynical sheen in today’s society — many of us make them either in bad faith or we softly snicker at those who create such plans and count down the days until that donut is eaten, or that new project is abandoned.

It is easier to laugh at our human shortcomings than to embrace the profound weight of our enduring strengths. Because, as Spider-Man says, “With great power comes great responsibility.”

I love that responsibility. I love the power you and I have to create a 2018 for the ages. A year from now you can be in disbelief about how much you have accomplished, and so can I. The question then is: How much do you love the beauty you have been given?

We are storytellers, artists, wordsmiths and teachers, and within us lie worlds undiscovered and un-shared. Be like your heroes and write the words coursing through your soul, share the stories and lessons shining from their private and scared alters, and act in the manner of the glorious and the gladdened. Whether you create for yourself, the world, or a host of angels, this year take up the actions of your heart — and take them seriously.

 The next 365 days are yours. You may dance in them, adventure through them, cry at their indescribable beauties and at their searing sorrows. Be challenged by them, taught by them, confounded by them — but they are yours.

They respond to you, to your beck and call, to your intentions and your actions. Under hard work, they bloom. Sprinkled with inspiration, they sparkle. Blessed with your faith and fanaticism, they will turn the next year into a paradise, a wonderland of exhaustion and excitement, of hard work and amazing victories, of goals sought and revelations found. There is nothing trivial — no meat for the cynic — in the land you and I are envisioning.

We see the beauty that is but the reflection of the seeker.

Diply

The successes of this new year will be built with strength, for inspiration, by dedication. The victorious will be the passionate and purposeful. They will illumine the Earth, and set the stars to jealousy.

Their work will realign the cosmos. Their journeys will become legend. The statues built in their honor will tower for a hundred years.

They will be you and me. We will be the prototypes of a new renaissance.

And when you share your vision with the world, the every one of us will see the beauty of this existence a little clearer.

I can’t wait.

B. Lovely Events

Upward and onward,

Katherine Cerulean

Five Tips to Actually Freakin’ 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 😉 ) 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. 😉
  • 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.

 

 

The Most Successful Fat-Loss Plan of My Life

Found on bendifulblog.com

Right out the gate, let me be clear about one thing: I don’t believe in the term ‘weight loss’ as a healthy mindset.  Lots of things add up to your body weight — organs, muscle, bones, fluids that keep you alive.  And believe me, you wouldn’t want to trade your heart to weigh a few less pounds.

Found on stylecraze.com

But realistically, a lot of people gain muscle when they lose fat, and then they get discouraged because the scale they check daily says they’re ‘gaining weight’.  I don’t own a scale.  Instead, I have gone from a size 18 to a 16 to a 14 (with 2 new belt holes I had to create ’cause I’d run out of old ones).  And that’s just been in ten weeks.  Even more dramatic is how I look and feel.

Found on fitgirlsdiary.com

So stop chasing a weight goal and start pursuing your best, most perfect self.  Believe me, weight from muscle looks SEXY.
So, when I decided to FINALLY get to my perfect shape I knew I needed to do something I’d never done (because I wanted to get something I’d never gotten before).  Some goal-setting plans talk about assuming it will be HARDER than you think.  I do believe that’s a good way to go.  I assumed it would be the hardest task of my life (so far) to achieve one of the greatest successes of my life — and you should too.

Found on trendhunter.com

Which is why you need to make sure you know your goal and really, really want it — for yourself.  Don’t do it just because your friend’s going on a diet, you want to impress some hot guy, or you think you ‘should’ for health.  You have to want it in your marrow.
You have to be willing to do anything (that’s healthy and safe) for this goal.  If you want it, you CAN achieve it.  After my success with earlier goals this year (getting my first tattoo etc), I went about this from the viewpoint — ‘They can slow you down, but they can’t stop you.’
I’m hungry right now.  I’m sitting in a car dealership getting my oil changed (this was true for the first draft).  I can’t eat their free popcorn or walk over to the Sonic for a shake as was my tradition — and I LOVE it.  I got myself an unsweetened tea before I came here and I’m so, so excited about how I’ll look and feel by my birthday (Nov. 1st).
I don’t even want the shake — I want the change.
So, here’s what I’ve been up to, but bear in mind that the successful diet is the one you can stick to.  There’s nothing magic about what I’m doing.  The magic comes from the dedication, the excitement, and the positivity with which I’m pursuing this goal.  So banish ‘can’t’ from your vocabulary, and know that the math works and you can do anything you set your mind to — you just have to want it badly enough.  And if you say you can’t give up a favorite food, imagine if your children or whomever you love most would drop dead if you took one bite of refined sugar.  You would NEVER touch sugar again — it just wouldn’t be a choice; you’d find another way to live.  So don’t say you ‘can’t’ — say you choose not to, or that you choose to.  Because you can do this.

physicalculturist.ca

Clean Eating —
This is the way you lose excess fat: a calorie deficit.  That’s it.  And while exercising can help the process, you basically have to eat less while your body reverses years of bad eating (in the early days of this plan, I sometimes liked to say ‘today my good eating and exercising will make up for June 2002’ or ‘November 1998’.  This made the day seem big and important and reminded me what I was doing at a certain month and year and how I eat better now than I did then.
Now, I don’t like counting calories and I’m a world class exception-maker (‘a customer yelled at me; now I deserve a shake’).
So I decided to ‘go paleo’ — 100%, for six months.  You can learn more about paleo here, but the main gist is that (before agriculture) our bodies spent hundreds of thousands of years adjusting to us being hunter-gatherers — so vegetables, lean meats, fruits, nuts, and eggs tend to make our bodies happy and healthy.  By the same rational — grains, dairy, and refined sugar are not foods our bodies have yet evolved to process well, and so they can make us sluggish, fat, and sick.

Found on buzzfeed.com

What does this means for the modern diet-seeker (because a GOOD diet is something you want to be on for the rest of your life, not a fad to be discarded as soon as you goal is reached)?
It means that you can eat almost as much as you want if you’re paleo — just the kind of foods you can eat are limited.  So a lovely homemade meal of salmon, kale, and broccoli?  Eat as much as you want.  For me, having good food always available (even a can of tuna), means I never really, really feel deprived.
So I’m eating smoothies or eggs for breakfast (yes, I drink a little fruit juice and kefir which isn’t quite paleo).  I’m also loving salads, and having great dinners of fish, shrimp, and chicken along with copious servings of veggies.
For sweet snacks, paleo pancakes with honey, paleo chocolate pudding, 100% juice pops, and chocolate milk (almond milk, raw cocoa, and a bit of honey), and smoothies with raw cocoa, are all good options.
My sister Sarah and I have also got in the habit of taking vitamin C, D, E, Magnesium, and Fish Oil — I don’t know if it helps, but it seems nice.
I know it’s easy to think — bleh!  Salads and fruit, oh joy.  I’ve felt that way in the past too, but keep in mind one thing: your palette is used to unhealthy fats, refined sugars, and heavy flavorings.
After just a few weeks, you body resets (even after a lifetime of fast food eating), and suddenly you don’t want or need sugar in the same way anymore.  I remember just a few weeks into my no-sugar plan a co-worker was leaving and they had a giant cookies-and-cream cake for her going away party.  I was trapped in a tiny room with this giant cake — and already, I didn’t want it.  Not really.  Those cakes were always such a sugar-high treat, but already it didn’t look like REAL food to me.
REAL FOOD:

thefitfork.com

 NOT REAL FOOD:

wefollowpics.com

I’ve been looking for my next sugar ‘hit’ most of my adult life.  That’s sad to admit.  But even when sipping a shake I’d be wondering what was next.  So, at least once in your life, take a break from being addicted to sugar, eat real, recognizable food for a few weeks, and see how you feel.
You owe it to yourself to know what feeling awesome feels like.
Strength Training —

Found on etsy.com

In a recent large study, two groups both lost weight while exercising, but the first group did only cardio and lost equal amounts of fat and muscle, while group two only did strength training and lost only fat.  Strength training can make that big of a difference.
Basically, strength training makes your muscles grow and that tells your body that you need strong muscles and are using them all the time, so then your body grabs fat instead.  With cardio, you’ll lose more, but more of everything.  For me, a balance is good and I enjoy both.
I have a friend who has lost a LOT of weight over the last nine months.  That’s great, but they only reduced calories and did no exercise so they look a little ‘wasted away’ right now.  It’s great to get the dangerous weight off, and now he has started exercising, but for myself I want to feel strong AND sleek, every step of the way.
So I’ve found some core exercises online to strengthen my torso and I’m also lifting free weights.  I do three sets of the five exercises (all of which are done while lying down, so it’s hard to say I’m too tired to lie on the floor 😉 ).  It takes about 20-30 minutes.
I’m looking lean and feeling very strong.  I really like seeing my arms and torso get hard and sleek.  And please forget the ‘myth’ of getting too muscular, you’re not gong to wake up one day and look like a young Arnold Schwarzenegger — but you might wake up one morning with a killer bod.
Cardio —
Ah, I love me some cardio.  Specifically, I love me some cycling.  Sarah and I cycle three times a week (heat waves depending) going anywhere from six miles to thirty miles at a time.  And it is giving me strong, slim legs, great lungs, and a great heart.  That said, even though I think cycling is a perfect exercise, you need to find the perfect exercise for you.
Anything that gets your heart rate up, and you’d love to do for an hour or more at a time can be great — I just ask that you keep trying activities until you find at least one you love.
Actually, the secret to all this is filling your life with things you love, and cut out the things that stress you out.
  • 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.
In the end, just never give up — either on yourself or your potential.  It’s taken me a long time to put all the pieces together, but I never gave up on improving myself.  Don’t see yourself as ‘having’ to diet and exercise, see yourself as getting to train up to be stronger, sleeker, and more awesome than you’ve been in your whole life.  I’ve been working toward improving my body for over ten years.  I’ve had setbacks but I’ve never been at such an exciting place as I am now.
So do a little research, steer clear of too-good-to-be-true promises, and get prepared to work harder than you ever have before.
And then get ready to change everything — starting with yourself.

Found on engelta.hubpages.com

Found on invisiblechildren.com

The Defining Moment of Your Life

Welcome to Awesomeville

Population: YOU

Found on blogs.disney.com

I’ve been MIA from my blog for a little while, for a few reasons:

  • I’ve been launching a website for ‘How to Come Alive‘ (see last post)
  • I’ve been hitting it hard in terms of exercise, eating right, cleaning, and novel writing (more on that soon)
  • I wasn’t sure what to write

WHaaa-aat?  Yes, I felt clearly this spring that I and my posts were changing.  It was time for the dawn of a new era.  I first thought I should just power through, and do what had worked before, what I had enjoyed immensely since launching this site three years ago.

But instead, I took a step back.  Till I was ready, renewed, excited — till now.

Found on etsy.com

Because part of the slow-up was that I too — in my life — had hit a wall and now had to change.

My ‘perfect year’, which started on ‘Black Friday’ 2014, now has moved into Phase Two — starting May 1st, I have gone paleo for six months, am exercising a bunch, have plans to clean the whole house and give away a ton of stuff, and am moving forward with my writing.

And I have been following the idea of ‘What if THIS is the defining moment of my life?’  Up or down, yes or no — the life I’ve dreamed of or a sad mirrored distortion of my hopes and plans.

Found on andersonandgrant.com

I’ve also been on a success streak this year —

  • My sister Sarah and I got our first tattoos
  • We finished the state park ‘climbers club’
  • We started cleaning the whole house
  • I trained Sarah so she could join me on the Twilight Gambler Fun Ride (a 34 mile cycle ride) for the first time and she finished with no problem.

So these small successes propelled me forward.  I asked myself — what’s next that I want to accomplish?  The answer was: I want to reach my ideal shape/weight/strength.  Oh, I’ve been improving, but like a lot of us, I’d have ‘big plans’ that didn’t quite happen in the eating right department.  So I decided that I’d use the successes of this year to build a ‘perfect shape’ plan.

And it’s working.

It.

Is.

Fucking.

Working.

It’s also one of the hardest things I’ve ever done — but that doesn’t bother me one bit because I look great, feel great, and can’t wait to see where the next day finds me.

Found on fitbie.com

Now, you may want the details — but you may already know them.  You may have heard them your whole life.

That’s right: exercise and eating right.

I know I’ve heard them my whole life.

So what’s different?  Focus.  Like I said, absolutely-defining-moment-of-my-life.  I’m not trying to make this work in addition to everything else, this is the whole fucking show.  My main goal right now is Perfect Shape.  Everything else is a hobby, an interest.  Every day I want to be better at the end of the day than the day before.  And this goal is super-important because, aside from health and happiness, it will prove my ready-aim-fire planning success at one of the biggest goals I’ve ever taken on, a goal a lot of people never reach.  And when I reach that goal . . .

Found on othertees.com

I’ll be ready for THE defining goal of my life, my reason for being.  Starting after my birthday in November, my #1, most important, all-consuming goal will be PROFESSIONAL WRITER.

I wouldn’t bet against me.  And a big part of what makes writing this blog fun is making YOU impossible to bet against also.

So go visit the website version of my book, How to Come Alive.

Get ready for an exciting NEW level of awesome in your life.

And in my next post I’ll dig into the hows and whats-its of my new perfect shape success.

Just know this — my focus has made my current life more exciting than ever before, and I’ll do everything in my power to help you make this the defining moment of your life too.

Follow Your Excitement

from Oprah.com

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?

Found on rachelgadiel.com

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.

from Examiner.com

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.

Found on sendcere.com

5 Ways to Love Yourself and Reveal Your Awesome

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.

Found on wisdom-square.com

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

  1. 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?’
  2. 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.
  3.  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.
  4.  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.
  5. 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 . . .

THE ‘WHAT THE HECK DO I DO NOW?’ LIST: HOW TO REEVALUATE YOUR LIFE — PART 2

This spring I wrote a post called How to Reevaluate Your Life.  It talked about asking the right questions when you know you want something different out of this brief, beautiful existence.  This is the next step, about answers.

Found on meetville.com

That quote scared me.  I have plans — but I always have plans.  And I’ve been talking about some of them for ten years or longer.  I don’t want to risk my life passing while I dreamed of a different existence I was too scared to even attempt.

 

Quotable Cards

Quotable Cards

Ah, fear.  Not fear-of-spiders fear (which is silly because spiders are awesome and eat things that bother you).  Instead, when your questions start to give you an idea of what you want, you’ll get afraid.  You may even get hostile.  You may look for people to blame, reasons it’s too late, or you may re-reevaluate your life and say ‘Hey, this isn’t so bad,’ (hint: If you find yourself saying this — Yes.  It.  Is.)

So, after you start to get an idea of what you like, and don’t like, about your current life — what the heck do you do now?  I’m glad you asked.

THE ‘WHAT THE HECK DO I DO NOW?’ LIST:

  1. Take a ‘Reevaluation Vacation’.  Back in May of 2014, I really felt stuck and wondered if I hated my long term job in retail.  Then I decided take an 8 day vacation (the length was based on hearing that it took 8 – 14 days for your body to really rest and recuperate away from work).  So I stayed home and did every day whatever sounded most enjoyable, not really ‘movie marathons’ but things like walks and yoga and writing (and making collages!).  The point wasn’t just to party but to give myself time away from the hustle-bustle (I tried not to leave the house except for park walks).  You might not be able to do as I did, but even a long weekend (or having someone watch your kids for a couple of days) can be very clarifying.  For me, I realized I didn’t hate my job I just needed to be doing more of the things I loved.
  2. Plan the Plan-y Plan.  All talk and no action will get you nowhere but… It’s an important first step.  Still, like the awesome Larry Winget says, you already know what you need to do.  You’ve probably known for years what you need to do.  So, now you’re going to do it.  That’s it.  That’s the plan.  It’s as simple as imagining your perfect life (not a vacation or the day you meet Oprah, just a regular day in your extraordinary life), then realizing what would need to happen to get there (healthier weight, advanced degree) and distill it down to something you can do every week and every day to reach that goal.  You don’t have to know every step, just the first step.
  3. Do it with love or not at all.  Presumably, you’re reevaluating your life because you’re tired of living a compromised existence, full of activities you hate and things you’d rather not be doing. SO STOP.  Really.  The life you are supposed to be living, the life you’ll excel at, is doing what you love.  All.  The.  Time.  Don’t believe me?  Just try to be deliriously happy and not change the world for the better.  Betcha can’t do it.  When you’re trying to figure out what your life should be like, follow what makes you smile, what makes you excited.  Now, in the long term, I’m not talking about pizza and Netflix.  I’m talking about the little kid inside you, and what gets them excited, makes them want to leap off the couch, plastic sword in hand, yelling “Yay!’ at the top of their lungs.  Because starting right now, you’re closing the door on the mediocre part of your life; you’re through compromising.
  4. Only spend time on goals that are of Soul-Level importance to you.   Really.  The big stuff.  Not the things you think you should be doing, or will impress other people.  Your goals should be change the world / change your life forever achievements.  This doesn’t mean you have to be selfless — I want to be in my perfect body for me (and to inspire others to live healthier lives).  Writing my novels is completely selfish (and could create works that others will enjoy as much as I do).  Even my goal of keeping the house cleaner is no small thing (sometimes we have squirrels) because I want to honor my sister and create a place worthy of both of our artistic dreams.  Any goal can have meaning, but its only chance of success is if it has deep meaning for you.
  5. Ask yourself if this is the defining moment of your life.  My sister and visionary, Sarah Cerulean, often talks about ‘The story of your life’.  If you were reading or watching a bio of how you achieved all your dreams and came to lead such an inspiring life, what steps would have brought you there?  Assuming the outcome is amazing-great-spectacular, when did things start getting exciting?  Could you trace it back to these days, this time when you said ‘I deserve more’ and starting working hard for it?  The truth is, the clock is running — if you’re ready, you can make your life as great as your fantasies, but if you back away now, you may just let some of those dreams slip away forever.  Scary but true.  And the vision I have for the rest of my life (and yours) is way too grand and exciting to turn away from now.  THIS IS YOUR MOMENT.  You have been training your whole life for this leap, for this proof of your awesomeness.  Keep going.  You’ll make it.
Created by me!

Created by Katherine Cerulean

 

 

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

― 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.

Found on loveandlaceblog.com

Found on loveandlaceblog.com

It’s scary.  It’s scary not to know how you’ll look in a year or where you’ll 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.

Found on glogster.com

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.

    Found on onelifewords.tumblr.com

  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 😉 ).  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.

    Found on whisper.sh

  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.

    quotes.lifehack.org

  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.

Your Lifetime Goals — What’s on Your List?

“I’m goin’, that’s all there is to it! I’m freaking goin’ . . .” (Scotland)

Two weeks ago I got inspired and made a Pinterest board of my 101 lifetime goals (I don’t care much for the term ‘bucket list’).  See my complete list here.  At first, I was going to keep my list a ‘secret’ board, so no one else could see it (I was afraid some of my writing goals might sound egotistical or shallow).  But then I thought, ‘Hey!  Maybe we don’t talk about the big things enough and if even one person is inspired, it’s worth a little teasing (No, I don’t have to marry Joseph Gordon-Levitt — he may be just a placeholder(!).

The interesting thing about this exercise (which I got out of Jack Canfield’s wonderful book The Success Principles) is that it makes you think about the rest of your life.  Really.  However old you are now, however long you think you’ll live, there is a finite amount of time left.  According to one Death Clock, I have 54 years left.  Now, that’s a long time — but it will pass fast.

And to me it’s not even about some sort of ‘seize the day/savor the moment’ creedos.  It’s about the kind of person who would be doing all the things on this list.  They would be fit, and ready for adventure.  They would make time (and save money) for the big things.  They would say ‘YES!’ to the unknown void of awesome.

You never know one of your lifetime goals is to take Peyote until you make the list

These goals also remind you to get going.  I’ve now made a list of 20 of those goals that can be achieved in the next couple of years.  Visiting every continent?  Might take a while.  But eating at Cinco y Diez (an upscale local restaurant), cycling 50 miles in a day, and going ziplining are quite doable (you’ll have to trust me about the cycling one 😉

So I encourage you to make your own list, board, collage or whatever inspires you.  Then pick a couple of goals and start taking the steps to complete them by the end of 2015 (or 2014 if you’re feeling feisty).  According to Pinterest co-founder Evan Sharp, “Our mission is twofold.  The first half is to help people discover the things that they love.  The second half is to enable people to go out and act on those things, to make them actually part of their life.” (Wired, Aug. 2014)

That’s what you want to do with your list: discover what you want to do with the rest of your life and then go do it.  

For myself?  I’ll be celebrating my birthday this year at Cinco y Diez and coming home to cross a life goal off the list.