Today Is The Day

Sunrise

Sunrise (Photo credit: mathstop)

As it always is when I see the very real possibilities of death come into focus, I have become even more aware of my time. Things that seemed so important and crushing no longer matter. My goals, which I’ve always imagined would wait for me, I’m now pursuing with a near-desperation.

It’s sad that my renewed motivation came from someone else’s bad news, but I refuse to squander this drive that my new awareness has given me. I will be giving myself an assessment and re-evaluating my goals and the path I need to take to get there, and I’ll be making changes to impact those goals sooner rather than later.

TODAY IS THE DAY will be my theme for this next year (my new year starts in September, because that’s when new years start of course). Essentially, I’ll be focusing on the ONE thing that I can do that day to make an impact on my life goals. I’ll be working on creating actionable plans before I get into it full force, but I’m already feeling more empowered and optimistic. Perhaps you’d like to join me? It’s OK if you don’t. We can still be friends. 🙂

For today, my One Thing will be a crushing leg work out that I’ve been too afraid to do, but I know would be a huge return on investment once I get it into my normal routine.

So, what ONE thing will you do today to get you closer to where you want to be?

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A Peek Outside

I like my cave.

My cave is warm and filled with coffee and the occasional chocolate.

No one lives here but me. I am enough.

I create things of beauty and light and wonder.

I don’t wonder if I am good enough or original enough or artsy enough.

My creations make me happy.

But then, I peek outside, and see All The Others do All The Things, Things that are BIGGER and BETTER than I can ever make them, and I feel so small. And my creations are nothing but misshapen lumps in my hands. I let them go and they drop with a thud.

I shuffle back into my cave.

My cave that is no longer warm but cold and I huddle in a corner.

But now instead of just me, a great many Others fills my cave.

They crowd me.

I am lonely.

But then.

Then.

My creations peek into my cave. They call to me.

I resist. I remember the small feelings, and how they can hurt.

One by one, my creations return to me. I refuse to see them. But they refuse to go until they are seen.

And little by little, I see them.

And I see they are not misshapen lumps after all. They are just different from All the Others’ Things.

And even so, their form is not the point, not the goal in itself. Creating them is.

I am happy when I create them, and in that moment, the creation is a thing of beauty and light and wonder.

I remember this truth, and I crowd out All the Other voices.

And I see that All the Other voices is just my own insecure voice echoing around my cave.

And when I stop speaking my insecurities, they disappear and I am just me again.

In my warm cave filled with coffee and the occasional chocolate.

And I see that I am enough.

Believe the Impossible: Lessons from Through the Looking Glass

Recently, I’ve felt a little like Alice in Through The Looking Glass–overwhelmed by the quest before her, with only the weirdest threads of wisdom as guidance.

Usually, I can follow the threads and make connections to my real life and motivate myself to keep striving, to keep pushing toward my goals. But lately, I  feel more tired than motivated. More why bother than why not–echoes of my previous thought patterns. 

‘I can’t believe that!‘ said Alice.

‘Can’t you?’ the Queen said in a pitying tone. ‘Try again: draw a long breath, and shut your eyes.’

Alice laughed. ‘There’s no use trying,’ she said ‘one can’t believe impossible things.’

‘I daresay you haven’t had much practice,’ said the Queen. ‘When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

(Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass, Chapter 5)

Then I remembered Alice. She was constantly faced with all kinds of strange obstacles and unknowns. No one seemed to give her a straight answer about anything. Even though the other characters gave her all the answers and resources she needed, at the time, she didn’t have context for that information until after she finished the quest.

Alice was comfortable with the unknown. She encountered the non-sensical world of Wonderland, with its talking animals and took it all in stride.

Alice was open to new experiences. A potion made her shrink. A cake made her grow. But, Alice would never have known that if she didn’t follow the vague “Drink me” and “Eat me” commands.

Alice was the ultimate problem-solver. She would question everything around her, and even when she received riddles for answers, she persisted in asking more questions. Ultimately, she made those answers work for her, bending them to fit her agenda.

And, at least Tim Burton’s reimagining of Alice, her belief in the impossible things that she already knew to be true (talking animals, a potion that can make you shrink, a cake that can make you grow, etc) allowed her to accomplish the (seemingly) impossible feat of slaying the Jabberwock. When Alice returns to her real life, she used that new found strength to leave the life that was expected of her (an arranged marriage and kowtowing to weird relatives), and forged her own path.

Alice’s adventures is yet another reminder that you can’t connect the dots forward, only backward. You don’t get to find out if the path you’re on right now is the right path. You don’t get to know if your decisions are the right decisions. You just have to trust that the choices that resonate the most with your core values are the right choices–that each day is a deliberate step in the path of your own choosing.

 


Have you allowed yourself to believe in the impossible lately? Have you encountered gurus (self-proclaimed or otherwise) that made you question your path? What steps have you taken lately toward your goal(s)?

Welcome To Your Next Level Up

Stairway

Almost there (Photo credit: Kaneda71)

Recently, I discovered that I was a winner in my paythebills job’s most coveted contest. I’m not going to lie, ever since I became a store manager three years ago, winning this contest has been something that I’ve hoped for. Not in one of those realistic ways, like saving up to pay for a cool vacation or to buy the next awesome book. No. It was more like one of those “wouldn’t it be nice if I win the lottery” kind of wishful thinking.

For two years, I was a finalist, good enough for recognition and a gift card (for which I was truly grateful), but just missed out on the grand prize. So, when I finally won for 2011, I actually didn’t believe it. I still don’t. Heck, I probably won’t really believe I won the contest till I’m actually at the conference.

Isn’t that the funniest thing? Something that was beyond a possibility suddenly becoming a reality and here I am, not even believing it. I guess my issue is that I haven’t really reached an end point. In fact, I feel like I just climbed a reeeaaallllyyyy long flight of stairs, reached the platform, only to see another flight of stairs. And, another. A never-ending spiral of increasing challenges and expectations.

It’s enough to make me dizzy if I think about it for too long.

I know I shouldn’t be surprised. There will always be another milestone to reach, another goal to shoot for, another layer of complexity to master. That’s life. Besides, any goal worth pursuing isn’t about arriving at a destination, but the stuff you learn about yourself along the way. Or something.

So instead of freaking out about the sky-high results that I’m expected to deliver year-over-year, and the ever-expanding areas for which I’m held accountable, I’ve made a concerted effort to focus on my priorities week by week, measuring progress on them each month.

Eventually, I’ll get to a point where I can be in the moment and celebrate winning (probably during the conference in June). But, now, I have work to do. I need to train my mindset to meet a whole new level of expectations this year, and I have to answer this internal voice that questions if I can win again next year.

It’s a good thing I like challenges.

How about you? Any big goals for this year? Where do you see yourself a year from now?

That Moment

Today is officially spring.

And, to mark the occasion, the magnolia tree outside my living room’s picture window burst into color, seemingly over night. The change in view was so dramatic, I blinked at the tree for a few moments, wondering where it came from (admittedly, I hadn’t had my coffee yet, so my brain was still asleep).

View from inside my living room. Looking out my picture window is better than TV, especially in the height of summer with all the woodland critters out and about.

Of course, the tree didn’t exactly bloom over night. For months, it was there, all awkward and spindly, slowly waking up after winter, grumbling and stretching and feeling for the sunshine in all the gray.* 

A lot of unseen processes skittered about beneath the surface, preparing the tree to flower at just the right time. Despite the unusually warm winter. Despite the other flowers that bloomed prematurely in February. Despite all other reason for it to bloom earlier because conditions seemed right, it waited to bloom when it was ready.

When that moment arrived, it was startling. It was as if before that moment, I only saw the idea of the tree. A shadow of its true tree self. And, though it took its time to show me what it really is, it’s still beautiful in its own right, and just as beautiful as the other trees that bloomed before it.

Magnolia tree blossom. I had to take the picture quickly because the birds and squirrels were angry that I disrupted their hang out.

*Note: this may not be scientifically accurate.

And It’s Leap Day

So, I felt the need to blog today. As if I needed to put a stamp on this day to recognize that yes, indeed, it’s a 29th day in February and that a 29th day in February is a Rare Day that needs to be Memorialized and Celebrated. Or something.

At any rate, in honor of the fact that I can only really write “February 29” every four years, I’ll share 20 mini-goals toward my big life goals that I WILL make happen by the next Leap Year. I’d write 29, you know, because of The Significance that is Today, but as you’ll see, I already had these 20 mini-goals in mind, and I didn’t want to spend extra time making up nine more, when I could be accomplishing the goals on my current list. Like the first one. I’m sure my crit partners would like for me to get on that one, like now.

(Plus, I kinda hate nines and prefer round numbers.)

In no particular order, except for #1:

  1. Finish WIP2. Query it.
  2. Meet my writing buddies at DFW Con. Be accountable.
  3. Go to my paythebills job Event this year (a BIG deal, trust me!). Be inspired. Go next year.
  4. Go to World Fantasy Con. Be a Fan Girl.
  5. Write and finish WIP5. Because it’s snarky yet sweet.
  6. Write and finish WIP4. Because it’s an overwhelmingly huge fantasy novel, and I love challenges.
  7. Write and finish WIP3. Because it reminds me to forgive.
  8. Rewrite my Hot Mess of a first novel. Because by now I will have the skill to execute its storyline.
  9. Be credit card free. Being able to give generously to people means more to me than amounting crap I don’t need.
  10. Read all of Haruki Murakami’s books. Because his stories are what I want to write, but lack the skill.
  11. Revisit the idea of going to graduate school.
  12. Go on a Disney cruise with my family. Because I want to visit Harry Potter World. I said it.
  13. Grow a vegetable garden. Because paying $4 for a salad is ridiculous.
  14. Return to Maui. Hopefully a few times. Refresh my spirits.
  15. Go on a mission trip. Maybe Brazil, or back to the Philippines.
  16. Learn to surf. For real.
  17. Road trip to more national parks. I missed out on Mount Rushmore and Yellowstone Park the last time.
  18. 90% of my food will come from local, organic sources. For reasons too numerous to share here.
  19. Own a puppy. Because my husband has this need to love and be loved.
  20. Continue to meet my physical fitness goals. Because it’s more fun to DO these things in a body that can keep up with my travel goals!

What milestones are on your list?

Image attribution: Shalom Jacobovitz