Find a Way or Find an Excuse: Passion Project Day 1

OK, I know that many people know that I’m a writer.

(For those that had no clue, hi, it’s nice to meet you.)

Some know me well enough to know that I love to start new projects; and those that know me really well know that for how fast I churn out rough drafts, that correlates to how long my editing and revision stages are.

(It takes me For. Ever. to revise and edit a draft, if that was in anyway unclear.)

Well, just FYI, I’m basically finished with a rough draft of a writing project.

And I’ve been ignoring edits. A lot of very reasonable and logical excuses have come up—stuff like “Oh I’m tired! Oh I need to sleep!”—but in the end, I live by basic philosophies.

One is: If it’s important enough you’ll find a way. If not you’ll find an excuse.  

I am not an excuse maker. I hate excuses, it makes me feel icky and powerless. I set up my life to minimize excuses and instead come up with solutions.

The one thing I know that works really well for me is public accountability. So, I’m going to put out there that I will show up every day to do these edits and share one thing from my edits that day, whether it’s a passage of what I’d written or a key takeaway from the process of showing up.

(I’m also drafting a non-fiction book, the working title of which is called Choose Your Own Adventure…it’ll be a learn out loud kind of book about creating your best day, every day, and creating a life your love. As if I needed more things to add to my day, ha!)

I’d even noodled around going live on Facebook, but then it would just be my head talking at you, and that’s not really all that exciting. Anyways, I’m kind of an early bird, so I don’t expect anyone to see them live, but heck, why not.

I’ll commit to be live every day to show some accountability to what I’ve been doing so far, and what that may look like. If you want to follow along, I’ll be posting in this group:
https://www.facebook.com/groups/yourbestdayeveryday/

It’s a closed group, but hit me up and I’ll approve you!

Thanks for letting me be a part of your day!

xoxo

Liza

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My Word or Theme for the New Year

I have always made New Year’s Resolutions or goals. Most of the time I’d achieve several of those goals, and made significant progress toward the others. However, I always felt a sense of disappointment or a feeling like I’d missed out on an opportunity or something important.

For all my self-reflection I still felt disconnected from my life. Like I was just on auto-pilot rather than paying attention and driving. It wasn’t until I changed up my New Year Resolution ritual that I started making progress toward goals that mattered.

MY OLD RITUAL

New Year’s Resolutions give me the same peace and reassurance I would get when creating any action plans. It gives me a sense of calm and focus in the scattered white noise of “What Might Happen.”

It’s not unlike looking at a blank white page. The yawning new year of possibility. The empty blankness of a potential story.

I used to sneak off and find a quiet moment in the hubbub of New Year’s Eve, and take a moment to write down thoughts of the past year. They were stream of consciousness and unguarded and (usually) filled with a lot more self-criticism than highlights. Then, sometime after the ball dropped, I’d go to my journal again, and write down my hopes for the coming year and what I want to accomplish, which would then be translated into SMART goals.

It was all so technical and textbook and exactly what I did for my day job to achieve success.

The problem was, I wasn’t achieving success. Not my definition of it, anyway. Yet, I kept achieving my goals.

I usually just chalked it up to my usual self-critical, high achiever nature. I was dissatisfied because I was never satisfied, and I believed I wasn’t supposed to be satisfied with anything. At least, not in this life.

AWAKENING

I wasn’t completely passive over the years, and I don’t think anyone would have characterized me as such. I’ve been told that I was confident and analytical and independent, all attributes that I admire. But, most people that I interacted with at the day job (which took up 90% of my waking life) would never have called me goofy, silly, or creative, which I also felt embodied the Real Me.

I had completely embraced this role of being the Professional (which is a role that I thought I needed to be in order to drive the sales results I needed), that I ignored, ridiculed, and suppressed anything else that didn’t conform to that view of myself.

(Most of my life I was textbook INFJ. Only in the last 10ish years did I flip to an INTJ).

I was enjoying success at work. I had a wonderful relationship with my husband and we would go on these epic adventures. I had a goal to write novels, and even though they weren’t quite polished or publishable, they were still being written, so that’s a positive, right?

I was doing all the right things, so why was I still feeling like I was missing out on my life? Why did I want more?

Of course, the first thing I did was chide myself for wanting more. That was materialistic and bad. But, I knew I didn’t want to stay where I was, so the only choice was continue going up the ladder and be promoted, right?

After (too many) years of self-doubt, I finally stumbled upon thought leaders and books that have changed the way I viewed myself and my accountability toward my life. I didn’t have to be unsettled or dissatisfied with my lot in life always wanting more. The “more” that I wanted wasn’t material wealth or gain. The “more” I wanted was living a life that used up my full potential and talents.

What I had been feeling was stunted growth. I always felt on edge, like I had to do and say the right things or be a certain way. Like I was playing a bit part in the story of my own life.

I had crammed all of me in a too-tight jacket and pointy-toed heels.*

In just a couple of years, I had attained success and awards that only 1% of my peers would reach. I was set up as a mentor and coach. I was respected and sought after.

I didn’t have a concept for it at the time but looking back, I realized my soul wasn’t getting fed.

The only time I felt true joy and light was when I was creating and writing, and I ignored it or wasn’t serious about it because I needed to make the practical and responsible choice of getting an income and providing for my family.

Thankfully, I stumbled my way out of that soul-crushing job into a place where I realized that I wasn’t the problem. It was the system. I didn’t want to move up in a corporate system that wasn’t feeding my soul. And only when I removed myself from that environment, was I able to see that I wasn’t wrong to feel stifled.

It’s OK to want other things. It’s OK to want a career that doesn’t involve moving up a corporate ladder. It’s OK to choose out.

It’s OK to choose me.

And what I realized I wanted was to be in business for myself. I wanted Freedom. Around 2 years ago, on New Year’s Eve 2014, I wrote a new kind of resolution. Operation: Freedom.

MY NEW RITUAL

On New Year’s Eve 2014, I wrote myself a story. It was kind of depressing, but it was a story nonetheless complete with highs and lows and learnings. But I didn’t end it with action plans for creating a better 2015. I continued writing the story, writing it in present tense. I described all I felt and saw and did. I wrote out what I created for myself and what I was known for, and I ended it with a “can’t wait to see what happens next.”

Then, I re-read what I had written, and saw a motif. I realized that in order to accomplish what I needed to get done, I needed to be fearless in action. I couldn’t play it safe or be stuck in analysis-paralysis. Fearlessness is acting in the face of fear. I would “feel the fear, but do it anyway.”

Everything I wrote out for myself in 2015 came to be, and it felt good because they were the Big Things that mattered to me. I was making progress on the goals that fed my soul, and gave me a sense of deep satisfaction. I became debt-free, which was a huge burden lifted. Talk about Freedom! My husband and I enjoyed an anniversary trip to Maui, where we got married. I was still working a day job, but it filled my creative and business side well, not to mention, paid me more than the soul-sucking one. I made progress toward my writing goals. And I laid out a strong foundation for my business.

I wanted Freedom for 2015, and I did it by embracing the idea of Fearlessness.

For 2016, I did a similar exercise, but instead of Fearless, I chose the word Curiosity. It was a subtle difference, one that I could relate to more authentically.I loved acting fearlessly, but I also know that fear is important and signals something, so I didn’t want to quite be fearless all the time.

Besides, I was tired of acting. I’d been acting for the majority of my adult life, and I didn’t want to pretend to be something I wasn’t in my entrepreneurial endeavors.

So, Curiosity would be the fuel that pushed my boundaries in order for me to grow. Curiosity would be the guiding thought that would empower me to “try it out.”

If I ever felt that body-cringe of fear when faced with a new and different idea, I would open up, and lean into it instead. Lean into new experiences. Lean into new challenges. Lean into vulnerability.

Because I did that, I have made strides to launch my business, write new content, create a passion project, and found a coach and mentor to accelerate my success in 2017.

I know 2016 isn’t over yet, but I already know what I want 2017’s theme word to be.

Why.

The last couple of years, and the experience of over a decade, has imprinted this truth into my life: that I need to absorb what is useful and aligned with my core values and purpose. Discard anything else. I need to ask Why? before I even think of adding something else to my vision.

I already know that I can accomplish goals. My question now is: Why is that a goal in the first place? Is it aligned to the outcome I want?

Simple. Efficient. Effective.

See the difference? I think of my outcome first. Then, I design my goals to get me to that outcome.

Thank you for your time today. Maybe in the future I’ll create a challenge around creating Simple, Efficient, Effective action plans. “SEE Your Goals, clearly” or something like that. Still an idea, of course, but it has merit, for sure! 🙂

xoxo

Liza

*there’s nothing wrong with business suits and stylish shoes. I love them! But I also love sandals, Converse, being barefoot…you get the drill.

This Week

This week had started out hopeful. Even though I spent a part of a “day off” on Sunday at The Job, I still spent most of it with the hubs. We even went out to both lunch and dinner–amazing!

We spent the 4th mainly indoors. Even though it’s a national holiday, it was basically the only day off I had from The Job to catch up with my writing projects, and also finish one of the best shows I’ve seen in a long time: Healer, starring Ji Chang Wook and Park Min Young.  I’m not exaggerating when I say it is easily one of the best “TV” shows I’ve seen, hands down.

I say “TV” because I stumbled upon it on Hulu.com and it was like a gift! A beautiful, amazing, shining beacon of happiness and positivity that I can look back on for this week. Because after Monday, the week slowly crumbled and devolved.

(That’s saying something when Monday was the highlight of an entire week.)

Local tragedy where two coworkers died in completely unrelated circumstances days apart…National news coverage of needless, inexplicable deaths…International news coverage of militant attacks in Bangladesh and Baghdad.

My heart is heavy. My eyes are hazy. My mind is numb.
These are not the best conditions to write.

I know I should focus on the positive…that I should count my blessings…that I ought to be grateful for what I have…tragedy happens all the time…etc.

I know all this.

But sometimes, it’s OK to shut down my brain and just sit and feel.
So I read. I’ve been listening and soaking in others’ stories, and pray that others have love, support, and light that they can huddle around to give them a semblance of peace at this time.

Hopefully, next week will be a little bit brighter. As for this week, I’m done.

WIPWednesday: Pictures

I love visualizing. I think it’s a great tool to really get after your goals. It helps that I’m also a visual learner and have a great photographic memory.

I’ve been using Pinterest as my virtual WIPspiration since its earliest beta-testing days. I don’t necessarily need to find the perfect picture for my characters or settings; I look for images that capture the feel of my WIPs for that time when I can finally draft and polish them. (Until then, my WIP ideas are outlined and are kept in various writing diaries until they’re ready to be drafted!)

But! I’d been lucky to find some really cool pics that capture a couple of my characters and settings.

First, here’s my MC:

Ren WIP 2 Writing Character

 

And here’s another major character:

DanielHenney as Gage

Aren’t they adorable?? When I stumbled upon these pics I was like “OMG THAT’S THEM!”

And, here’s a setting that I never knew could exist but totally fits in my WIP:

Cave island

I think I want to travel the world just so I can keep taking pictures of random stuff to WIPspire me. I have a few trips this year that’ll help me out with that. I’ll eventually post them throughout my blog as featured images.

And, for the curious, CLICK HERE to see the rest of WIP2’s Pinterest board!

May the Fourth

It’s Star Wars Day, and in honor of it and #WIPWednesday, I thought to share my current writing diary.

(Fun fact, Star Wars Day is also my blog’s birthday–>I started blogging six years ago, and thought it would be kind of poetic to start again today.)

 

Isn’t this so cool?? It’s a limited edition Star Wars Moleskine notebook, with fun stickers and technical specs for the X-Wing Starfighter. ^_^

When I saw this in the store, I knew I had to have it. I’d even kept it in its wrapper forever waiting for just the right project to use with it.

Then a month ago, I thought: what was I waiting for? What better, more perfect book could there be to chronicle my WIP2 revisions? After all, didn’t I pitch WIP2 as “Star Wars meets DUNE with a teen-aged cyborg” once upon a time?? (To a couple of full manuscript requests, I might add, but I was too lame to actually send it off. A good thing, too, because it was NOT ready back then. Like, at all.)

So, after a years-long hiatus from this particularly project (because Reasons), I am happy to say that I’m finally hitting my revision-y stride and found the story that I wanted to tell years ago. I kinda had to go full-circle on it, and yeah, I suppose I lost a few years only to say the same story. This time, though, I like to think that I trust myself now and have confidence in the worthiness of my ideas. That I have the discipline, passion, and talent to keep throwing down words until I get just the right combination to fit this story. And, if all else fails, I surely have the ridiculous work ethic/drive to see this to a polished The End that I can finally (Finally!) be proud to send off to agent slush piles.

Anyway, it’s great to be back, hanging out in familiar worlds, chatting with my characters. It’s like a great reunion of friends–when you get together, you pick up your conversation exactly where you had left off years ago.

How about you? Whatcha been up to?

Coffee. An Unconditional Love.

I love coffee unconditionally.

I enjoy everything about coffee. The smell. The taste. The color. The texture.

Though I prefer the beautiful smoothness of Kona coffee, I will still drink down the bitter dregs of cafeteria coffee.

I function well enough without coffee, but with it…I’m unstoppable.

This week, I stumbled upon THIS ARTICLE, which stated that “NASA scientists believe the research demonstrates that web-spinning spiders can be used to test drugs because the more toxic the chemical, the more deformed was the web.”

Hmm…

…of all the drug-addled spiders, the webs of the ones on caffeine lack the characteristic “wheel” of a normal spider web. In fact, caffeine makes spiders “incapable of spinning anything better than a few threads strung together at random.”

So, does that mean that a writer on caffeine would be incapable of anything better than a few words strung together at random?

(It’s like one of those Zen Koans…like, “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”)

Anyway, all that to say, even knowing that caffeine is more toxic than the average drug, wrapped up in coffee, it’s still my drug of choice.

And, you’ d have to pry my coffee from my cold, dead hands.

See? Unconditional love.

(Also, I know that NASA wasn’t trying to compare spiders and people. I’m not completely crazy.)

(Besides, people like reading random words.)

Photo credit: Coffee Love By Gordana Adamovic-Mladenovic

Photo credit: Superhero by Vegas Bleeds Neon