Tag Archives: achieving your goals

Monday’s Lie.

“Sometimes it’s important to work for that pot of gold. But other times it’s essential to take time off and to make sure that your most important decision in the day simply consists of choosing which color to slide down on the rainbow.” ― Douglas PagelsThese Are the Gifts I’d Like to Give to You: A Sourcebook of Joy and Encouragement

Instead of my traditionally long posts, over the summer, I’ll be offering up brief snippets instead…

This week, my fifth novel released and early reviews look promising.

In an attempt to keep this short and sweet(?)….

I also learned the following:

  1. There’s almost nothing really food and a nap can’t fix. ;) A repeat lesson. I’d like to think I’ve got it now. :)
  2. Attempting to plan a trip for my large, multi-age, family is less easy than scheduling surgery for some of the busiest people on the planet. (I know, I did this in a former life.) This recent experience made me long for the days when life felt simpler (though I’m sure it probably wasn’t)—before my kids were grown up with lives and jobs and things that made being together in one place for an extended length of time rather difficult. But, like most things, not impossible…
  3. A method to teach my (younger) children some of greatest gifts I’ve ever learned: How to listen, stay present, and how to gauge people and situations effectively. The answer to this question came by way of a novel I’m reading titled, Monday’s Lie. Growing up the protagonist’s mother was a covert special ops agent who often played “spy games” with her children to teach them life lessons and more importantly, memory tricks. I’ve often pondered how to best to impart these lessons upon my kids— particularly in the day and age they’re growing up in— one that’s full of distraction and endless quick fixes. Who knew that playing spy games (with a point system!;) might be the answer? Another answer, of course, would be to lead by example.

And, so, for now, that’s all she wrote.

Out of Pocket.

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“How did it get so late so soon?” ― Dr. Seuss

We’re still smack dab in the middle of a remodel here…and I just want to say…

If I owe you a phone call or an email or a blog post…or some other form of communication…I’m sorry.

Let me explain: Have you ever seen that show Extreme Home Makeover… where things just magically happen, and voilà they’re done, and everything looks so nice?

Well, here it is NOTHING like that. ;)

Also, everything, everything, EVERYTHING that can go wrong…will go wrong…

I think there’s even a law about it somewhere. ;)

But I can’t complain—as this was at least 45-60% my idea. One can’t be sure anymore. :)

The moral of the story is this—

If you’re writing a book…budget in more time.

If you’re remodeling a house…budget in more time.

In other words, for pretty much everything…BUDGET MORE TIME.

Oh and speaking of writing a book…we have a firm release date AND it’s up for pre-order this week. 

Lastly, a little something from the book…

But first—just to clarify, I’m really not complaining. These projects have been a ton of fun and I’ve learned so much in the process. The equivalent of a bajillion life lessons…let’s just put it that way. ;)

Out of Pocket.

Your love was a currency
I never could afford
Yet I would have given everything—
Emptied out the whole of me.
Just to have a little for myself.
That’s the way you wanted it
And I gladly paid the price.

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Good to Great

“Good is the enemy of great. And that is one of the key reasons why we have so little that becomes great. We don’t have great schools, principally because we have good schools. We don’t have great government, principally because we have good government. Few people attain great lives, in large part because it is just so easy to settle for a good life.” ― James C. Collins, Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t

Last week I wrote about my big little lesson in betrayal and after having some time to reflect upon not only how I allowed these things/people/situations into my life (businesses) but how tolerant I was in ignoring the warning bells going off inside my head at each step of the way, I realized it was paramount to take account of my own shortcomings in order to move forward.

A major one of those being that I’d spread myself too thin. Turns, out it’s fairly easy to be betrayed when your attention is all over the place. I mean, who knew? ;) But, deceit aside, what’s more relevant in the long run was that in an attempt to be good at a variety of things I’d actually failed to be great at the things that truly matter– at least to me.

In short, the greater lesson here was the realization that I don’t want to be a good writer…I want to be a great one. I don’t want to be a good wife (and mother) I want to be great at it. And I don’t want to be a good business owner I NEED to be a great one. And while I guess the definition for what makes one good versus great is rather personal and subjective, I do believe that deep down I knew the difference.

I knew that I was allowing my attention to be diverted away from what was important to me. I was an active participant in that– and it cost me.

I also knew that I had to leap off the hamster wheel, take back my attention, listen, and focus on what really matters.

And by “really matters,” I mean the stuff I want to be great at. Which as it turns out, sadly, pretty much can’t be all the things. ;)

Long story long, if the people you love, the work, and/or the journey of becoming, are at the mercy of anything, which matters less than those things, then trouble will no doubt ensue, as it did for me.

I know because prior to my big little lesson I was, for a while, at best, decent at prioritizing.

Good, maybe…sometimes.

Great, well…I’m working on it. :)

Because, it cost me, sure– but mostly because this is one lesson I REALLY don’t want to have learn over again. ;)

The Answer To All Life’s Questions.

“Everything takes time. Bees have to move very fast to stay still.” ― David Foster WallaceBrief Interviews with Hideous Men

I’ll be putting the finishing touches on my upcoming novel, Around The Bend by this time next week, if not sooner, and I’m pretty pleased with where this story is leading me.

It’s been both a teacher and a lesson, that’s for sure. :) There were places I didn’t think that I could go, that I went. And there’s still a little ways to go…so, who knows, I might just surprise myself. ;)

In the meantime, in breaks between writing the hard stuff and having fun, I’ve been playing around with poetry and really not caring how bad or how good it is. :)

The latest, below…

The Answer To All Life’s Questions.

There’s beauty in the silence,

Wisdom in stillness,

When there’s no audience to please, nothing to be said, no one, and no where to be—

You’ll find yourself there.

Hanging On. Letting Go. And the bitter taste of eaten words.

“Anyone who has lost something they thought was theirs forever finally comes to realise that nothing really belongs to them.” ― Paulo Coelho

“Mom. Don’t write about me,” he says.

Ok, so I won’t.

But what I will write about is this. There comes a certain time and place and point in life where you have to practice what you preach. And sometimes those things taste a little more bitter than you might’ve thought. Words are easy to say, sometimes they are even easy to write or to type–but they aren’t always easy to live.

I talk (write) a lot about following your heart. Doing the thing. Making the call. Writing the letter. Saying yes. Saying no. Saying what you need to say. But to pretend that it’s always as easy as that isn’t the whole truth. I have a kid leaving for college in 30 or so days. TO ANOTHER STATE. :) And oh my gosh, let me just tell you that I’m not coping very well with it. At. All. I know this isn’t healthy. I know that you’re supposed to pretend that letting go is easy. That you’re happy to see them off. I also know that I probably look like a crazy mother (pun intended) by hanging on to someone/something that’s mostly already gone. Stay here I say. There are so many great schools here, I plead. Deep down I know it’s wrong. But that doesn’t stop me. The truth is no matter how you try and package it this is just one more slap upside the head in the long string of things lately reminding me of the transient nature of life. People leave. Kids grow up. Your loved ones die. And so on, you go.

So yeah, letting go isn’t easy. Just as holding on isn’t, when you’re meant to let go. My neighbor (hi Greg.) once gave me some really great advice, saying (in regards to parenting but can really be used for most things) “If you let go too soon, there’s a problem. Just as there will be if you hang on too long.”

But damn it if that ever elusive middle ground isn’t hard to find.

What I do know is this: the way that you live your life is the way that your children will, too. It doesn’t matter what you say. It matters what you do. Even if those things are ultimately good things–they are watching. So, if you follow your heart, pursue your dreams, refuse to conform, and so on and so forth–you should probably be prepared for them to do the same. The problem with that being, I find, is that you can’t spare them the heartache of doing so, as much as you might want to.

It’s a dance, this parenting gig. Sometimes it’s a waltz, sometimes the cha-cha, but mostly, I find it’s a two-step. It’s hanging on and letting go. And the timing of it all, as it turns out, is ever so important. Otherwise, you’re just a really bad dancer.

P.S. I love this video so hard. It’s everything I’m trying to say, only said better. ;) It’s visual poetry. It’s philosophy. It’s beautiful. Two minutes. Shots of Awe. I can’t get enough. You really should watch it. I don’t think you’ll be sorry. :)

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Guess what time it is??

“I went to my son’s graduation this weekend, and I heard a great quote I’ve never heard before from Albert Einstein. It was that the greatest danger to the world is not the bad people but it’s the good people who don’t speak out.”  –Hamilton Jordan

It’s commencement speech time, that’s what. My son is graduating next week, the son who I gave birth to at fourteen, and so it’s a tad bit emotional around here, these days. If you know me (and even if not I’ve blogged about them a ton) then you know I have a very deep affinity for commencement speeches. Partly because I’m a lover of words and partly because I didn’t graduate from higher education (which makes me appreciate them all the more) but also because it’s typically a certain type of person who gives them, and I swear I could watch for hours upon end.

Most times the only thing that has gotten me through the “struggle”and over the hump (that’s what growth is, right?) has been learning from others who’ve survived struggles of their own. And, really, who hasn’t? Whenever I’m having a particularly tough time and it feels as though I’ll never “get where I’m going” I hit up Youtube and watch commencement speeches, because not only do I know that will they lift me up, but there’s a lot wisdom to be garnered within them. Below are two of my favorites this year. I love what William McCraven, U.S Navy admiral, says here on the top 10 lessons he learned from basic seal training–from making your bed– to standing your ground with sharks. I also loved what Sandra Bullock says about dance parties– dancing before you leave the house, that it changes how you walk out in the world. All true stuff, and it’s good to be reminded of all that we’re capable of, from time to time. It’s easy to forget that we have power, and to take that power back–to remind ourselves that the choice is ours, to choose how we react in any given situation. Oftentimes, it feels better (and safer) to play victim. I’ve certainly been guilty of it, but let’s not do that, ok.  :)

Lastly, a few weeks ago I blogged about a story I told  my husband about  how making your bed leads to overall greater happiness, and while at the time I said it (though I understood it to be true) I was mostly joking. Later that day he asked me if I noticed that he’d made the bed. He said he’d considered that I was right about people who make their beds being more successful. Funny, I had actually used the word “happier” but he’d heard successful. Anyhow, he told me he wanted to put my theory to test (he’s the last one out of bed, to be fair) and let’s just say ever since that things have been even happier than they were before. ;) That said, when this commencement speech crossed my desk, it made me smile. I always say: thoughts are things–and what we put out, shows up in return. And just like is said below, about changing the world, perhaps I won’t get around to that (today)—but maybe, just maybe, someone out there needs to hear this as much as I did. And who knows? Maybe watching it will change their day. If I know anything, I know that by changing one persons day, you create a ripple effect, which has the power to effect a lot of people’s day. And hey, you gotta start somewhere, right? As it turns out, making the bed, just so happens to be not a bad place to do it. :)

 

 

The Creative Process.

“A story is not like a road to follow … it’s more like a house. You go inside and stay there for a while, wandering back and forth and settling where you like and discovering how the room and corridors relate to each other, how the world outside is altered by being viewed from these windows. And you, the visitor, the reader, are altered as well by being in this enclosed space, whether it is ample and easy or full of crooked turns, or sparsely or opulently furnished. You can go back again and again, and the house, the story, always contains more than you saw the last time. It also has a sturdy sense of itself of being built out of its own necessity, not just to shelter or beguile you.” ― Alice MunroSelected Stories, 1968-1994

The creative process has always been something that amazes me. It’s just so interesting how something comes from “nothing.” I want take it apart and dissect it, understand the who, why, what , where and when of it, as is my nature, but the truth is that one really can’t. The interesting thing I find, also, is that in most of my “negative” book reviews the issue the person has is over a decision a character did or didn’t make. At first I took personally as until one really “understands” the writing process it’s difficult to explain that the things the characters might’ve done (or might not have) is not a reflection of myself. Part of what is fascinating and albeit at times extremely maddening about the process, is that the characters have a life and a voice of their own. I relate it to parenting a bit, because like children, characters may be “of you” but they are not you, so to speak. They come with a mind, and habits, and a voice–all their own. And just like in parenting as writer I think the real trouble comes when one isn’t able to make that distinction. Some say being a writer is like having multiple personality disorder but (most of the time) I don’t see it that way. I think it’s more like seeing life in 3D verses two dimensional. In Technicolor versus black and white. It’s like the way the Buddhists describe enlightenment in many ways.

Starting/writing a new book for me is always a thrilling and yet terrifying time which I akin to dating someone new. Or falling in love. It’s terrifying to think that you’re starting over, from scratch. And thrilling for that very reason, all the same. You’re getting to know your characters in a very raw, real, and interesting way, but first you have to sift through “all the stuff.” It’s like a Tootsie Pop, I guess. It takes a while to get there…but the good stuff is underneath.  :) I think the key is enjoying the entire process, the getting there, and recognizing it for what it is.

Right now, I’m exploring a new protagonist and sifting through my own “stuff” in order to find her voice. At first, it typically starts as a little whisper, something that makes you go “hmmm” and then as the process continues it grows louder and louder, until you can’t ignore it, where it’s almost a part of you–and yet it isn’t. This morning I watched my half-sleeping husband laying in our bed the I turned and called over my shoulder : “Hey when you get up, make the bed. I read somewhere that people who make their beds are 62% happier, than those that don’t.” I said it in an extremely annoyed and “over it” tone, which surprisingly couldn’t have been any more different from what I was actually feeling in the moment.  I then left the house to deposit my multitude of children at their various schools and as I was driving I wondered just when and how I became a person dreadful enough to make that kind of statement, specifically in the kind of tone I used–and then I realized that it wasn’t me at all. I was partly living someone else’s world, where she thinks and speaks in that way. When I arrived back home, my thoughts now on other things, I walked into my bedroom and noticed the bed was made. I paused and thought to myself: so this is what it’s like to be her. Then I smiled because I realized I am at that point in the process where I know it’s working. It’s just starting to take shape from “nothing” into something a little more recognizable. And it’s a damn good feeling, I must say. After all, as the saying goes: “variety is the spice of life.” Truth is, it certainly doesn’t hurt ones marriage either. ;)

P.S. This is what I’m running and writing to this week: http://youtu.be/sE5WscjdNZs
 

 

 

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