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.

 

 

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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.

Back — and Better Than Ever

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

Found on graphicdesignjunction.com

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

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

Cover by Sarah Cerulean
madnessofart@gmail.com

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

Found on laurenconrad.com

For myself, I reject the status quo.  I’ve worked hard on my craft for 16 years.  I love writing.  And you know what?  I’m going to be just fine.  In fact, I’m going to be awesome.  This is what I was put on Earth to do, and one day you’ll say you knew me when — and none of that awesome success is dependent on me tweeting ‘AVAIL ON AMAZON 99CENTS NOW!’, asking a few hundred nice strangers to buy my book, or trying to guilt people into helping me mainline caffeine.
What I want, much more than money, more even than to make this calling my vocation — what I want most is to share the magic, joy, beauty, and perfection of life with you.  This world is amazing, you are amazing, I am amazing.  So if you get a chance, visit my ‘Come Alive‘ site, look for something that moves you, and start living the life of your dreams.  Cause if I can do it, flippin’ believe you can do it.
I will ask one thing — if you enjoy what I do and know of someone else who might enjoy it, share it.  And I promise to keep sharing on this website the awesome, magical things I find that inspire me, and together, we’ll keep moving forward toward a future so bright it burns our eyes.
c294d8327373a5d576927c9c2be18fb1
Thanks again for making the first two years so enjoyable.  I look forward to many more.
Now go enjoy your present — inspirationlivingdreams.wordpress.com.

How to Get There From Here: The Beginner’s Guide to Goal Setting

When you have a dream, it sneaks around the edges of your consciousness, coming to the forefront of your mind in the oddest times — in the shower, listening to radio interviews, when someone asks ‘What do you do?’  But how do you cross over from a dreamer to a doer?  With thousands of books and hundreds of methods, how do you find a way that works for you and moves you toward your dreams?

For myself, I both feel like I’m falling short all the time and that I’m making real progress.

Quote by Sarah Cerulean

I recently heard on the radio that February 8th is when more people cancel their gym memberships than any other day (I could not find anything to corroborate that).  And many people give up their New Year’s resolutions far earlier.

But this is about changing your life in a big, permanent way — so keep fighting, keep learning, and know that starting again is still progress.  Just a few easy steps can also immeasurably increase your chances of success — for example, almost all very success people (millionaires, famous athletes, etc)  have written goals, and yet the vast majority of New Year’s resolutions are never put on paper.  Here’s what I’ve learned that has helped me make my life so exciting —

How to reach your goal:

  1. Make sure it’s a goal worth reaching.  This may sound silly but if you’re about to put hundreds of hours (oh yes) and tons of effort into a dream, first make sure it’s your dream (not your parents’ or spouse’s or society’s) and then make sure you really, really want the life you’ll have at the end of it.  Want to run a marathon?  Are you ready to give up lots of free time, family time, etc to reach that goal?  Want to be a lawyer?  Go talk to lawyers, read books by them, and decide if the day-to-day is something you’d enjoy.  The idea here is not to scare you off but to make sure you really care — that passion will be a key ingredient.
  2. Find a way to make your dream quantifiable.   Jack Canfield suggests that for a goal to work he’d have to be able to show up at a certain date and time to see if you’d accomplished your goal.  So if you said ‘I’ll weight 155 pounds on 12:00 pm on September 15th, 2015’, then someone should be able to show up and weigh you on that date, whereas if you said ‘I’ll get in shape in 2015’ there’s no way to test that.  Now, I’m a little more flexible with my goals, but a goal that a child could understand will help you immensely.
  3. Pick a goal that depends only on you.  I can’t say “I’ll win a Pulitzer and get a job at Valve Software in 2015” because no matter what I do, it’s in other people’s hands who gets those awards and jobs.  Now, something like ‘I will sell 100 copies of my book,’ or ‘I will get 600 followers of my blog’ could be more realistic because you could work toward it and it doesn’t rely upon one or two people deciding to back your goal.  For the earlier example, a more self-focused goal would be ‘I’ll write (and complete all drafts of) my best novel ever in 2015,’ or ‘I’ll read two books on resume writing, write a great resume, and send it to fifty companies I would love to work for (including Valve) in 2015’.
  4. Limit your number of goals.   “If you have more than three priorities then you don’t have any.” ~Jim Collins.  One site suggests one goal from each category — Health, Finances, Career.
  5. Understand that willpower is a finite resource.  You want a balanced life, and you want to move forward on different goals at once, but realize that you may have more success if you focus your strength.  I’m hitting it hard in exercise, writing, and yoga and so I’m allowing myself to have a few extra snacks right now (actually, I’m now into ‘Paleo month’, but this was true when I wrote this piece for a class a few weeks ago 😉 ).
  6. Make a ‘setback’ plan.  You’ll fall off one day — it’s human nature — so why not have an emergency plan to breakout for when that happens?  Either make up / replace what you’ve lost (an extra workout later in the week to replace an earlier one) or figure out the best road back after an ‘off’ week.  Remember, your goal is progress, not perfection.

Found on leighnoelle.com

First pick three goals.  Then break each one down like this —

GOAL: Run a marathon in 2015.

PLAN: Last race in my area is the Xmas Day run.  But, I’ll be pretty busy at that time of year, so I’ll plan to run in the Spooktacular Halloween Marathon, with a fallback of the Turkey Day Trot Fun Marathon.

BREAK IT DOWN: It’s January 18th now, so I want to be halfway to my Oct 31st goal by roughly the end of May.  So I’ll enter the June 1st, Summer Half Marathon to keep me on track.  I’ll need to be able to run 13.1 miles then and I can now run 1 mile.  So I want to run 6 and a half miles by the end of April and three miles by March 15th.

HELP: I’ll read two running books and talk to the people at the local shoe running store about training and new shoes.  I’ll also read up and buy food to help me feel my best and put on muscle.

WEEKLY PLAN: Go on three runs this week, each a mile long.  Next week go on three 1.2 mile runs.

OTHER POSSIBILITIES: Find a running buddy; buy a sports watch, talk to my doctor.

 

Found on runnersblueprint.com

In the end, YOU can change your life.  All it takes is determination, hard work, flexibility about your methods, and a burning desire to see your dream become a reality. This is the moment — you got this! 

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 . . .

Attention: You’re Awesome and You’ve Got This

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 —

Found on feedproxy.google.com

 

2. Trust the process —

Found on shinystarrlight.tumblr.com

 

3. Stop comparing yourself —

Found on carrieonblogs.com

 

4. This quote forever —

From my sister

 

5. You have no idea how amazing you can be —

By The Mincing Mockingbird

 

6.  Be passionate, Be present, Be you —

Found on youtube.com

 

7. Let’s sail beyond the horizon —

Found on girlmeetslife.com

 

8. You are more beautiful because of what you’ve survived

Found on beartales.me

 

9. The time has come to actually see the person in the mirror —

Found on theblondevegan.com

 

10. Take a deep breath (you’ve got this) —

Found on vi.sualize.us

 

And finally, say to yourself —

Found on pokememes.memebase.com

 

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

 

 

Can enrolling in an imaginary academy change your life?

Actually a building in Cotswold, not Sumar Academy.

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?

Would You Join a Health Club if You Never Had to Leave Your Computer Chair?

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Then join us!  This next year, for FREE, you can be part of the rockingest, funnist health club in the universe.  Details below —

  • New year, new ideas. As much as I’ve enjoyed our real life ‘Come Alive’ meetings, I wanted to do something different for the new year. So, starting with December, we’ll have an ‘online only’ meetup that binds us and challenges us for that month. You can ‘attend’ in Jan., skip out on Feb., leap back in for March — ‘attend’ only what excites you (of course, we’ll still get together in Athens when people want to, we just won’t have a set schedule). This way, even when we’re busy, we can still be moving forward together in wonderful ways.

    DECEMBER CHALLENGE —
    Eat healthy this month and get enough rest. Give yourself the gift on feeling good.

    That way you’ll come into 2014 feeling great! There’s no ‘hard and fast’ rules; you’ve lived long enough to know what makes your body happy and healthy. And remember, the goal is progress, not perfection.
    Note: Comments section is where we can talk, share ideas, and cheer each other on — let’s get a dialogue started!

    All you need to do is join the free site Meetup.com, then join us at People Who Have Come Alive.  Here’s the link for the December Challenge.  Whatever you do, have a great 2014!