Saturday, December 31, 2016

2017 Has a New Name.

As I wrote in a previous post, every new year, I name the upcoming one based on what I hope to figure out, do, or achieve in those 365 days. To be honest, I'd struggled trying to find a fitting name for 2017 as I had plenty of plans and goals but no simple way to sum up what I wanted. That was until I stumbled upon this quote by, oddly enough, Brad Paisley.

"Tomorrow is the first blank page of a 365 page book. Write a good one."

It struck me as I read it ... 2017 is going to be my Year of Intent.

intent [in-tent] 1. something that is intended; purpose; design; intention. 2. the act or fact of intending, as to do something.
My past has been riddled with poorly managed time, effort, thoughts, etc. I've looked back at those who've experienced the same amount of hours as me, doing similar things, who've accomplished so much more. Never once have I begrudged their success. In fact, I celebrate their various achievement more than they even know. But in some ways, I compare my accomplishments to theirs. Not in an unhealthy or competitive way, but the way that says: Look at the things they've done. Look how far they've come and grown, because they've managed their efforts wisely.

So this will be my year of deliberate intent. I'll deliberately plot my time, setting and keeping my schedules as purposefully as I manage my finances. I won't feel selfish for investing in me, my family, my home, or my career. There's enough time for all of it if I focus my attention.

I'm going to intentionally enjoy life! I'm going to take every moment to be grateful, to revel in each and every day given to me, because we aren't promised tomorrow. Living in the now has been something I've always struggled with. When I reach a goal, I don't take time to celebrate it; I ask, "Now how do I get to that next level?" But we have to take time to appreciate where we are and how much we've gained or overcome. So each day will be lived with purpose and gratitude.

When I'm writing, I won't get down on myself for not doing more in any given day; I will celebrate what I did get done with no pressure for tomorrow. When I'm spending time with my family, I won't think about the housework that hasn't been done or what I need to do next for my job. I'll intentionally give my attention to my husband and children when it's their time just as I will when I write or am focusing on self-development. Each thing benefits the other.

My mind has been my greatest gift and my onerous weakness, because I haven't always given my thoughts purpose. My mind runs away with itself -- sometimes to create magnificent worlds and new creatures or to think of fun ways I can bless those I love ... but sometimes to steal my joy by getting caught up in too many possibilities or to listen to those niggling voices that tell my nothing is ever enough. 

But, 2017, you're about to be a different year. One full of INTENT.

Be present, guys. Live intentionally. Happy New Year and here's to a purposeful 2017.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Lift As You Climb - You Won't Climb Alone.

Image result for walk humbly
I love success stories. I especially love success stories that involve people who've overcome tremendous struggles to achieve their goals. In the past few years, I've witnessed fellow authors grow to New York Time bestseller levels and sign movie/TV deals. I've seen many commit to leading their lives in a more health-conscious way, losing 50+ pounds or giving up sugar after years of being a slave to the sweet dictator. Many of my friends have grown spiritually and emotionally, courageously severing ties to toxic people and situations and bravely choosing to step outside their comfort zones in order to find themselves. A few have even gotten to a place of being debt free. And I commend you all.

Image result for it takes courage to grow up and become who you truly areIn the words of E.E. Cummings, "It takes courage to grow up and become who you truly are." You should celebrate your accomplishments! BUT remember your past, where you came from, because you can't help someone up if you're standing over them ... or constantly reveling in your own success.

Thankfully, most of my friends who've overcome their obstacles or who've grown beyond their dreams have used their journey to inspire others. They take opportunities to shine from a place of humble success. There are those on the other side, as well, which is unfortunate considering how far they come to really only celebrate alone. Because how can you help someone grow when you're always focused on your own awesomeness?

Image result for lift as you climbAs the beautifully-inspiring founder of Utopia Con, Janet Wallace, says, "Lift as you climb." Remember this life isn't about how much you can achieve for yourself. It's how you can use your own life lessons to help others reach their dreams, which in turn, will help you! Nothing motivates you quite like seeing how your own growth/struggles/achievements inspires others. If YOU (vs your process, method, lessons-learned, etc.) are the focus of your "inspirational/motivational" movement, consider why you're telling people what you are. Is it to make yourself feel good about what you've done? Or are you actually showing someone, "Hey, this is what worked for me. It might help someone else."

Humility truly is the most attractive thing you can wear.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

A New Year - A New Name

Several years ago, my wonderful friend and personal Yoda, Elizabeth Isaacs, introduced me to her New Year's tradition. Anyone who knows me, realizes how much I truly loathe New Year's resolutions. Most of the time, it's a poor excuse for good intentions, and more often that not, you don't fulfill them, and you wind up feeling like a failure. This reaction often leads to you reverting back to old habits with a vengeance.

Back to my point, Beth told me her tradition was to name her new year based on what she hoped to accomplish in those 12 months. Be it personal growth, emotional development, getting your finances straightened out, or choosing a healthier lifestyle, her method meant your upcoming 365 had purpose. By naming it, it'd become more than a 'hope so,' and shifted into an actionable goal. Just like a baby or a pet, when it has a name, it feels more real, tangible. And you connect with it.

I began doing this back in 2015 when my year was titled: The Year of Self-Discovery. I spent the majority of my 30+ years on this planet doing what was expected of me vs being true to myself. It goes without saying, 2015 was a mess in more ways than one. Life kind of fell apart that year, because I'd decided "good enough" wasn't good enough anymore. Understandably, 2016 needed some help.

The following year was named: The Year of Personal Development. I spent 12 months putting my life back together. It started with replacing all the bad I'd weeded out with good things. I lost 60 pounds. I refocused my attention on bettering my situation and state of mind, so I could be a better mom to my kiddos. I tried new things, new jobs, new experiences. I read a lot of non-fiction aimed toward enhancing life and overcoming the garbage from the past. I grew ... and grew. In fact, I grew more in 2015-2016 than I had my entire life leading up it. A lot of is was painful, like quitting a bad habit and having discomfort of missing your 'go-to' fix. I chose the harder road, but what was waiting at the end made that harrowing trip worth every moment.

Now, we're mere weeks away from 2017. I know last year was pretty rough on many. So I encourage you to take a day or week to decide what happened in the last 12 months that you'd like to see different in the future. What would bless you most to have, do, or accomplish? What really gets your heart beating fast when you see it in your life? You'll know it when you find it. But give it a name!

Saturday, November 19, 2016

...but that isn't believable.

YA. Young-adult. Teen reads. However you want to say it, it's a genre that's been up in the air for the past decade or so. By publishers' standards, it's generally accepted that the main character falls between the ages of 12-17. Since the dawn of novels like Twilight, readers' ages have branched out in both directions. In fact, according to Publisher's Weekly, over half of readers who choose YA are in fact over eighteen with the majority being in the 30-44 year old range.

With readers being older than the characters they're reading about, YA novels have a taken a hit for being "unrealistic," "immature," or "over-the-top." While I agree those issues can pose a problem, I think many forget the true age of these characters. Don't you remember being seventeen? Just getting out of bed was cause for melodrama. That's the life of a teenager. I was a pretty reserved and level-headed teen, but I also remember that feeling of can't-live-without-you first love ... the love I thought would last forever. I remember the pain of not fitting in and constantly worrying about saying the wrong thing. Of feeling like a total pariah because I was different than everyone around me. Of getting stressed because my skin wasn't cooperating or freaking out because my favorite shirt was dirty, and I as supposed to meet my friends at the mall in an hour. 

Everything in my life was a code: blue, the-world-is-on-fire, how-can-I-continue-like-this level of importance. 

And that's how it should read in YA. People want to hate on insta-love. They get down on conflicting emotions and love triangles. They hate that characters seem "weak" or "indecisive." But at seventeen, it's impossible to decide what outfit you're going to wear that day let alone what your future holds, relationships or otherwise. 

We've lost sight of what drew us to YA to begin with: the innocence and the passion in each aspect of life. It's the time when you feel the strongest, the purest. You aren't jaded by the soul-sucking aspects of adulthood. You're free to feel things at their fullest, without reservation. You throw caution to the wind, and you live. That's the beauty of being a teen. It's not an excuse to act out or be reckless. There are boundaries even in youth. My point is, as a teen, you're a walking ball of crazy, and that's how it's supposed to be.

So, the next time you pick up a YA novel, appreciate the struggle of your high school aged character. See life through their rapidly-changing lenses. Relish in the victory being asked to the dance by their crush. Weep at the loss of their first love. Feel with every part of your being because you know they do.