Tag Archives: achieving your goals

What I learned from being a quitter…

“Commitment means staying loyal to what you said you were going to do long after the mood you said it in has left you.” — Orebela Gbenga

I told this story in front of fifty-five women the other day and they seemed to think it was pretty funny so…

This is what happens when a survivalist and a minimalist decide to climb a mountain together:

There will be many “discussions” about why one needs so many items for a DAY HIKE.

Eventually, the minimalist relents because she understands: You can be happy OR you can be right. 

Only, what she should have understood is that if the level of difficulty for a climb is listed as very strenuous, it actually means VERY STRENUOUS. Because if she had, she would’ve certainly fought a little harder about the BS that was being loaded onto her back.

At any rate, eighty-five percent of the trek to the summit turns out mostly uneventful. Except for the fact that the survivalist half of the party likes to annoy the other half by teetering on the edge of a mountain with fifty pounds of unnecessary camping gear strapped to his back. And let’s face it: pretty much no one is going to believe he “just fell.”

They make it to the point where there’s about two hundred feet left to go to summit. This is how the rest of the climb is described:

Follow the trail to the right and back down a few hundred feet before ascending a steep, slippery slope (which can be covered with snow) to a signed viewpoint.

Get ready for some more serious climbing and scrambling through the boulders that make up the summit.  The trail gets faint further up. When in doubt, keep going up. Some rocks will move under foot so be sure to use your hands for balance.  You’ll notice a couple plaques, memorials, and flags once you reach the top.

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This is where she decides to quit. For one, she’s carrying too much crap to make it fun. Two, she decides their children need at least one surviving parent.

She tells him to go on and to leave his pack. And for God’s sake to stop teetering on the edge. Or he is going to die. One way or another. He agrees. This is all his fault. But she doesn’t say so. Or maybe she did. She probably did.

She perches herself in a spot that unbeknownst to her seems to be designated for all the other quitters. She meets three people from her hometown and one from the Dallas area. They get to know each other. Turns, out they can’t breathe at 12,000 feet either. This quitting thing is amazing! I mean what are the odds?!?

Two men on their way down access her situation and ask who left her with two packs. You see! Sympathy. This quitting thing isn’t so bad after all! 

Plus, she’s always saying she needs to be more gentle with herself. This was her chance!

She sits there. And weighs her options. She watches him climb. She considers whether or not she’s really done. She thinks she is.

Until two people stop not far from her. She listens as a man consoles his partner. “It’s ok,” he says. “No one will know you didn’t make it to the top. Just say you did.” She watches as the woman nods and appears relieved.

And that’s when it hits her: She’ll know.

Quitting is a bad idea. She might get sympathy. She might even  meet people (nice people!) to hang out with along the way. People who will console her with camaraderie.

But, in the end, she’ll know. 

So she gets up, dusts herself off, leaves those packs where they are, and climbs to the top.

“Where are the packs?” He asks when she reaches summit.

“Down there,” she points.

“You just left them?”

She gives him the look. “I don’t even want to carry those fuckers down. Do you really think anyone else does?”

He smiles.

Because he knows… she’s right.

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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. :)

 

 

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