Tag Archives: 30×30 list

When Things Go Amiss – The Launch of a Book

In just a few hours there will be a pre-release party, just one of several events launching the Life Before The Lottery: Living Beyond The Bucket book into the realm of public view. Eight months after the initial Kickstart, the words are written and the printing press finally finished, yet the real work is far from over. But for now, today, it’s time to curl my hair, put on some cute shoes, and raise one of many toasts in celebration to those who have pulled and cheered for this project. I am humbled, grateful, and a little embarrassed by all the support. This is amazing.

The Amazon pre-order link posted slightly earlier than originally anticipated (thanks Amazon robots), leading to a “temporarily out of stock” situation just days before the planned release happening September 22, this Monday. On one hand, I can freak out. On the other hand, it’s actually worth a smile. This book is full of failure stories. Maybe a highly inconvenient time to be “out of stock,” but completely worth a giggle because I could be battling an entirely different problem…a book no one wants to read sitting in a warehouse somewhere in Indiana.

No matter what Amazon does or does not have at any given moment, I have several opportunities over the next two weeks to hug real live souls who have been pulling for this, rooting for this, or are even just plain curious. And for that, I am extremely grateful. It takes a village to publish a book (thank you to the teams of people, brilliant minds, and talented individuals involved in this!) It takes even more to fight fears, distractions, disappointments, self-doubts and naysayers. But we’re here. We made it. It’s happening. I was told to go get it, and it’s officially been “got.” Thank you Lord!

So whether Amazon gets it together in time for Monday’s official online release or not, whether people show up at the upcoming launch events or not, or whether this thing moves or not–I can smile and say the risk was worth it. Check. I am trusting this book and the words in it will make it into the right hands with the right hearts at the right time and be exactly what’s needed at just the right moment. (Or whenever Amazon feels the need to do so. *giggling*)

So cheers to book launches and all that goes with it!

Life Before The Lottery - Amazon Launch

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Are You Pursuing Something That’s Worth Pursuing?

You are a pursuer. The Declaration of Independence recognizes and declares the fact that we were endowed by our Creator for the pursuit of happiness. But what exactly is that? In pursuit of happiness, what are you pursuing?

There’s a lot of things in this world to pursue. Not everything can be caught. (Nor should it.) Every day when we wake up, we are going after something. What is your something? Is it more money? A promotion at work? A bigger house? New car? Better education? Something for the kids? A better bod? Healthier bank account? Better relationships? A new relationship? That cute girl? That amazing guy? Peace? A dream?

Are you pursuing something that's worth pursuing?

In pursuing the publication of this upcoming 30×30 book that’s now just weeks away from launching, I was asked that very question. What exactly am I pursuing and what does success look like to me in the book world? I had a really tough time answering that. It’s almost easier to tell what I’m not pursuing or not wanting than what I do. Sometimes it’s easier to identify what’s not right or not working than what is.

I do not want a ton of books sitting in a warehouse somewhere. I do not want to be the lonely author twiddling her thumbs at scheduled upcoming book signings because no one showed up or no one cared. I do not want to bug and bother friends and family and be a burden in this whole process in any way. I do not want to find a bunch of errors in the final edition after the major print run (although I’ve been told errors will surface no matter what or regardless of how many editor eyes have been through it. *sigh*) I do not want to be axed out of Amazon for a bad book. I really don’t want a chain of bad reviews. I do not want to be seen as arrogant, come off as vain, or become full of myself because of any type of success or self-promotion that’s required to do this. Yuck. I do not want the Kickstarter backers and supporters of this project to be disappointed in any way.

I do not want to fail.

Huh. That was easy to define. Even if every single one of the things mentioned above happened, I know in my heart of hearts this book was worth it. Had to be done. As with a lot of other things in life, it’s so easy to label and identify what I don’t want. But the question still lingers, what does success look like to me on this and what am I doing to pursue it? Because at the end of the day, if I don’t know what I’m pursuing, how will I know when I actually get it?

Is it a dollar amount that will be the signal of success? Is it a number of copies distributed? Is it getting on any certain best seller lists? Is it positive reviews or feedback from the readers? Is it a lead in for the next book? Is it being recognized publicly or attributed some type of “fame?” The answer to these for the moment, at least for me, is no. That is not in my pursuit of happiness.

After much thought, I decided what I really wanted out of this whole thing is change. I would like to see change in people’s lives. Change in their own pursuits. Change in their own directions, perspectives, and dreams. This of course can’t happen if the book never reaches people’s hands to begin with, so for the moment the immediate goal is to somehow get it out there and trust it will get into the right hands at the right moment, hitting the right hearts and producing the right results. I want to hear stories, letters, posts and tales of how this 30×30 project affected someone else. For me, that will be my success. (That, and not sitting on a pile of books in a warehouse. Even better, a second print run.)

...for the moment the immediate goal is to somehow get it out there and trust it will get into the right hands at the right moment, hitting the right hearts and producing the right results.

I’m also looking forward to seeing what type of change this brings to my own world. Writing this book unleashed a new list, new dreams, new desires, and a new beginning. Incredible sacrifices were made in pursuit of the 30×30 book dream. More than I ever care to admit. Something important hinges on this book and I can’t wait to find out what it is and what’s on the way. On that particular note, I really don’t know exactly what’s on the way or what I’m to pursue next…but I’m in motion and excited to go get it, whatever “it” is. So cheers to change, book launches, the pursuit of something that’s worth pursuing and all that goes with it!

Go ahead, pursue something that’s worth pursuing.

QUOTABLE QUOTES FROM PEOPLE MUCH SMARTER THAN MYSELF

The Launch of A Dream: The Launch of a Book

I can see the finish line.

It seems so far away and yet so much closer than I ever thought possible. This last February I pulled the trigger on a Kickstarter project and the troops rallied behind the dream of publishing a book on the 30×30 List. That was February. Fast forward to right now and in 5 weeks, we’re going to launch a book.

Book Launch - coming soon
It’s happening!

Wow. We’re 5 weeks out from launch time! Layout is done, the printers are printing, just signed the warehouse contract today, Amazon’s on board, local book stores are stocking up, and now it’s time to party. I’ve learned about ISBN’s, copyright, legal jargon, pricing, content editing, copy editing, font choices, layout design, epigraphs, social media campaigns, press releases, warehouse logistics, and so much more of the nitty gritty details that go into publishing a book than I ever wanted to know.

But now I know. And now it’s time.

Save the date for one of the upcoming book launch events, grab a friend and come raise a toast to all involved in this beast of a book! Thank you for believing in this project and backing a dream. It’s happening. *pinch pinch* Can you believe this whole process began in February? Thank you for being a part of this. This could never have happened without you. Let’s celebrate!

LAUNCH PARTY
Friday, Sept 26th @ The Book Bar in Lakeside
4280 Tennyson St, Denver, CO 80212
5:30-7:30pm

BOOK SIGNING
Friday, Oct 3rd @ The Bookworm of Edwards
295 Main St, Edwards, CO 81632
4:00-6:00pm (A happier happy hour)

March to the beat … F-R-E-E-D-O-M

With the July 4th holiday come and gone and the parades over and pie eaten, I can’t help but think about the concept of freedom and what it really means year-round. And what it doesn’t. We all know that “freedom isn’t free” and this particular holiday is a celebration with roots reflecting the price paid by those that sacrificed and had a vision of freedom, but what exactly is freedom anyway? And are we enjoying it to it’s fullest extent the way it was designed?

According to Webster’s Dictionary, freedom is a noun and “the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint.”

Freedom to me isn’t just fireworks, the right to vote, and rights given in a document. To me, freedom is in and of itself having a choice. If there is no choice and there are no options, then there’s an absence of freedom.

It’s called prison.

I love living in a country where there are choices and freedoms in almost everything we do and I never want to forget that the freedoms we have are not enjoyed everywhere. We are exceptionally blessed to have choices. What we have is truly unique. We have the freedom to live and work where we choose–there is not a preset caste system that determines what we can do and where. If I want to, I can be on a flight tomorrow and fly anywhere within the 50 states by only flashing a driver’s license. No visas, no proof of purpose, no waiting needed. That’s amazing.

There is an enormous freedom and amount of choices available in what I eat, consume, and spend my money on. I can go to different grocery stores, buy different brands of items, eat them at my leisure, or even throw them away. The choices out there in style and fashion alone on how I choose to represent myself is staggering. Is it a sweatshirt and yoga pants day? Or maybe some cute capris and a tank? Or is more of a business suit needed for what I’m doing? In one outfit choice I can change my entire appearance and choose to look chic, hippy, hipster, professional, preppy, athletic, casual, country, foo foo formal, or something in-between. I have the freedom to choose who to speak to, date, marry, and be in relationship with. No prearranged pragmatic marriages here. I may value their opinion, but my parents or family members don’t have the ultimate say in who I’m legally joined to. In today’s culture I have the choice in who I give my heart to and who to experience life with. (Thankfully!) That’s not the case in a lot of cultures. I have the choice of when, who, how, how fast, and how long to have connections with people–and thank God for that! Even the choices and options available in how we maintain those connections and communicate with one another is breathtaking. Dinners, dates, phone calls, email, text, Skype, Face Time, Facebook, social media, snail mail, pillow talk, or whatever kind of talk…there is an incredible amount of options to enjoy our “freedom of speech” in how we connect with others.

I have the choice in what I believe, what I worship, who I worship with, and where and in what I put my heart. Or what I don’t. Precious blood has been shed for this. Many have died to give and maintain this ultimate freedom. I will never fully know all the incredible sacrifices made for me to have and keep this freedom. That is probably one of the greatest freedoms of choice we have. We were wired for freedom, we were designed to make choices. From the very beginning our Maker gave us the power to choose–He did not make robots–He made free-will. The simplistic beauty of choice is so vital to our human spirit and seems so natural that it’s almost too easy to take it for granted.

But sometimes we go amiss in our freedoms. Freedom may be “the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint,” but that doesn’t mean that freedom doesn’t have consequences or results in what we act, speak, and think. Freedom is not independent of consequences. Although freedom entails and is directly connected with choice, it does not mean that those choices don’t have direct or indirect consequences. Freedom is not free. Freedom is directly entangled and intertwined with responsibility. We can have the freedom to choose poorly.

There is such a thing as a wrong choice. It doesn’t take long to see evidence of that. In some given scenarios, some options are better than others or more or less desirable. Sometimes we choose to not choose, and even that in and of itself is a choice. We can choose not to exercise our freedoms at all and in doing so, lose them. We are a byproduct of our choices. Big choices, little choices, everyday choices. Good, bad, and everything in between…our choices shape us and the world around us. Our choices and freedoms are not solitary, they very much so affect those around us.

The best part is, we have the freedom to recognize this and continue making choices to move ourselves in the direction we want to go. Choose to make a list, choose to write it down, choose to catch a vision. We can intentionally make choices to change our situation, or even maintain and keep the situation we’re in. No, we don’t have control over final outcomes or the choices of other people, but the sheer fact that we even have options to begin with is something to value in the highest degree. There is power in choice. There is power in freedom.

July 4th may be over and gone, but our freedoms are not. Be powerful, be free. Make good choices. Make bad choices. Enjoy it! QUOTABLE QUOTES FROM PEOPLE MUCH SMARTER THAN MYSELF:

 

Go Ahead. Let The Inner Princess Out.

Recently I experienced one thing that every little girl dreams about…pretty pretty princess hair. (Okay, girls dream about a lot of things, but I’m referring specifically to pretty princess hair.)

A friend conned me into attending a festival that in order to feel legit, one should really have a child under 10 years old with them. That apparently did not matter to us. Instead, we decided to make a day of it and I was treated to an entire afternoon of  full on “kid fun.” This included riding an elephant, chowing down on a fair-style turkey leg, enjoying a deliciously dripping ice cream cookie, waving at a parade, seeing a magic show, and getting my hair professionally braided (complete with flowers AND glitter.) For those who have not fulfilled this childhood dream, I highly recommend it.

Pretty Pretty Princess Hair
Pretty Pretty Princess Hair

Although not officially on the Next List, there were several events that day that got crossed off an unofficial “mini-list.” (C’mon, not everything can make the official next list. There are however, bonus items that can be enjoyed as opportunities crop up. Actually, now that I think about it. I just might add it to the Next List just so I can cross it off! *te he*)

Little Back Story:
Years ago as a little girl I remember going to this same fair with wide eyes and wonderment wanting to experience all of this. I don’t know if it was the no-frills attitude of my mom or maybe possibly due to parental budget reasons, but for some reason I have good memories of the fair itself but I just never got to have the “whole” experience. There was left a longing for the hair flowers, the exotic elephant ride, and the overall princess treatment.

Fast forward years later and I found myself laughing as we flitted through the festival in the hot summer sun with a checklist in hand. We were on a mission. Giggling, we paid the $4 and rode the floppy eared gentle giant, staked out the perfect spot for the parade, and I tried so desperately to sit still for the intricate hair magic. I may be well into adulthood, but there’s definitely a little girl heart that wants to enjoy every bit of moments like these. That’s the beauty of being a full grown adult — should you choose to release the “inner child”, you have the power to make childhood dreams come true with your very own adult resources. The only thing you need to get is permission from yourself.  It’s important to play. Always remember to play.

Who knows, maybe there are childhood desires that seem so menial but somehow deserve a spot on your list. Put them on there! Maybe it’s a museum, an art class, or a certain kind of animal that needs to be petted or hugged. Maybe it’s touching a slimy sting ray, swimming with dolphins, or getting your face painted.  Ever want to ride in a parade? Meet Mickey Mouse? Win at tether ball? See a shuttle launch? Get a baseball signed at a game? Maybe it’s time to do it.

It doesn’t matter what the childhood dream is, don’t bury it. Resurrect those buried childlike desires. Create that list and let that inner geek out. Go play.

Seriously, go play!

 

 

 

In Honor Of…

In Honor Of…

I read an article the other day about a family who is continuing to cross off items on the bucket list of their daughter who was killed by a 20-year old drunk driver. I teared up as I thought what a wonderful way to honor a loved one and how difficult it must be for her friends and family to do that.

Her parents found her list folded and tucked inside a make-up bag with only a handful of items checked off in her short 21 years. Most recently, her parents took her ashes up in a plane during a flying lesson, checking just one of the many things off of her list. They may not be able to “fall in love” for her, but they can run through a poppy field, tour Niagara Falls, drive Route 66, and visit the Smithsonian.

In Honor Of Cristina Chesterman
In Honor Of Kristina Chesterman

There are so many things in life that just seem unfair. Losing a loved one to a drunk driver, the death of a child, a loss to cancer, a school shooting, natural disasters and so many other things that break our hearts and cause us to ask the big question. Why? The injustice of it can lead us through feelings of anger, loneliness, heartbreak, depression, more anger, and often times hopelessness. No matter the cycle of swirling emotions, the big question still lingers. Why?

Questions. So many questions. Where’s God? Why didn’t he come through? Why did He allow this to happen? How come this isn’t happening to anybody else? How come that person is not suffering any kind of consequence? Why?

The haunting part of this young girl’s story is the item on her list to “save a life.” I’m sure as a student going to nursing school she had different thoughts as to what this may look like. Little did she know that her unexpected death would save 5 lives through her choice to be an organ donor. A nine-month old infant, a 55 year-old man in San Francisco, a 64 year-old grandma…and even a family friend received one of her kidneys.

Personally, when I find myself asking these burning questions that just won’t seem to go away the only answer I seem to come to is the gaping reality that I don’t have any answers at all. I am not the answer holder. But just because I don’t have an answer doesn’t mean that there’s not an answer. It just means that I don’t know it…yet. All I can see and all I can focus on is the finite point in time of the pain and the loss, the bigger picture is lost on me. The only thing that seems to help is to know that there is a bigger picture.

In this season where spring is springing and so many are about to celebrate the Easter holiday, I can’t help but think of the pain that went with those individuals surrounding the Easter story. Whatever you choose to believe or not believe, this particular holiday is a marker of new beginnings and fresh starts, forgiveness, and a symbol of ultimate love and sacrifice. The key players in that crucifixion saga I’m sure could not see the bigger picture either. They did not know the lives that would be saved through the tears and the innocent blood shed. There were no bunnies or chocolates in that story, but violence, betrayal, confusion, pain, injustice, and death. Not all that different to what we feel when going through our own losses.

But in that story, the bigger picture is just that. Bigger.

There is a comfort in knowing that there is a bigger picture, a bigger plan, and a broader tale than what can be seen at the moment. Some questions will never be answered, but that does not mean that there is not a bigger picture. We can ask those questions–especially that ugly big one. Pretty sure our Maker can handle our tough questions. But the answer may not come in the form that we expect. We’re not the author of the bigger Story. We’re not even the author of our little story within the bigger Story. Sometimes our piece of the tale is to continue on in the journey even when we don’t know how the story will end or even what the next chapter may entail.

Maybe our part is to continue on through a poppy field, the Smithsonian, or even Route 66.

 

Susan Vieira: 64 year-old organ donor recipient
Susan Vieira: 64 year-old organ donor recipient

 

To read more about Kristina Chesterman, please click here.Kristina Chesterman Memorial Foundation

Kristina’s bucket list:

  • Be in four places at once
  • Go to Venice
  • Learn to play chess
  • Beat someone at chess
  • Save someone’s life
  • Own two pieces of property (one with livestock)
  • Manage or own my own business
  • Get married
  • Have kids
  • Learn to fly a plane
  • Go to four (out of seven) wonders of the world
  • Fly first class on a plane
  • Visit the 50 states
  • Ride in a hot-air balloon
  • Go parachuting
  • Go sky diving
  • Ride a camel
  • Travel to all the continents
  • Be remembered as “the smiley girl”
  • Break up a fight between two guys over me
  • Be in homecoming court
  • Run through a poppy field
  • Tour Niagara Falls
  • Go to the Smithsonian
  • Drive Route 66

A Tale To Be Told…The Whole Story

What’s the story you want to tell?

It happens to everyone. We all go through something tough, something challenging, something that takes us by surprise or something heartbreaking and we have a decision to make. Usually these are decisions we were never planning to have to make in the first place. When it’s all said and done, years later, what’s the story you want to tell?

There's a tale to be told...

No matter what difficult situation you’re in right now or what tough moments you’re currently going through, breathe. Later on it’s going to be a story to tell. This incredibly difficult thing and these tough decisions are just another part of your tale and in time, the thing that you are going through right now is just another chapter and another addition to your story. It will be a part of your overall story that you’ll be able to look back and say, “I remember when….” The good thing is, we all have a choice in what that story looks like. Not in what happened or the circumstances given–that part we have no control over–but in how we handle it and what we do.

I know a friend whose wife left him and his three small kids for their realtor after they just relocated to a new state. How he handled that situation, how he treated her, how he acted during and after the divorce is part of the story that he has to tell his kids…and tell his future wife later on. I know multiple friends who lost their houses during the housing bust. Financially devastated. What they did, the choices they made, and how they handled those losses and how they picked up the pieces and moved forward is now a part of their story. What happens when a family member suddenly passes away, or when a natural disaster takes out everything you’ve ever loved or known? Job losses and how unemployment, job hunting, and maintaining communication and relationships with family during that time frame is part of the story.

Tragedy happens. Difficulties happen. Unfair things happen. That part is out of our control. But what is in our control is our reactions and how we handle those moments. It’s not just about the “getting through” and the “going through” process, but about what we want our story to look like years down the road as we tell it in the other chapters of our lives to the other people in our lives. The struggle is part of the story.

When I flunked out of college I…  When I lost my job I…  When I got cancer I… When my kid went south and became pregnant I… When he got deployed I… When he passed away I… Or when she left me I…    These are the things that combine into the overall story of our lives. These defining moments and surprise decisions are what create our individual and personal story. There’s always a story to tell.

http://blog.whitneyenglish.com/the-struggle-is-part-of-the-story/

Even every day living is part of our tale. When we’re single, how we act and what we do becomes our backstory for when we meet that significant someone. What’s really fun to hear are how two single people’s stories collide and become one tale. At weddings and engagements we always want to know how two people met. We want to know the love story. Oh, how the choices we make determine the type of tale we can tell! When we don’t even know it, we are writing our own story.  (And maybe even the story of someone else!)

The question is–are we doing things that we want to be a part of our story and tell about? Are we creating the type of story that we even want to tell at all? Or are we brave enough to ask ourselves if we’re making choices that later on we won’t want to talk about? Hide that part of the story. In light of our past experiences, our present circumstances and our future hopes and dreams, are we making the choices and decisions that are creating a story we want to tell? There’s always that one moment, that one decision, that one chance that can take the story in a completely different direction. The funny thing, sometimes we know when those moments are and sometimes we don’t.

Who knows? Right now, there may be a decision that needs to be made or a choice that can take you in one direction or another. The question is not necessarily what should you do, the question may be what story is it that you want to tell?

Whatever it is, make it a story you want to tell. Go ahead, make it a good one!

QUOTABLE QUOTES FROM PEOPLE MUCH SMARTER THAN I:

  • The struggle is part of the story.” – Whitney English
  • If you don’t want anyone to find out, don’t do it.” – Chinese Proverb
  • Decide that you want it more than you are afraid of it.” – Bill Cosby
  • May your choices reflect your hopes not your fears.” – Nelson Mandela

KICKSTARTER SUCCESS! A Reason To Smile. (And Smile BIG!)

I told myself I would not be a clock watcher. This morning I woke up to post my last update,  plea, and posting in the 30×30 fundraising campaign and then told myself I would NOT sit there and anxiously watch the minutes tick away, wondering if the funds would come in. I would not.

Thanks cookie.
I’m working on it, thanks cookie.

With just hours to go in the fundraising campaign to raise dollars for the 30×30 book publishing project, I was 80% to goal and had roughly $1,400 left to go. In a normal world some might consider that success. After all, $7,100 is a lot of money in just 30 days. But in the Kickstarter campaign world of crowd funding it’s either all 100% raised by the 30 day deadline or no funds are collected or exchanged. Nothing. Not even the funds that were already raised. That’s the beauty and the beast side of Kickstarter.

As I logged out of my computer with 4 hours left and 20% to go, I went to go pour myself a cup of coffee and give my thanks to God, no matter how this turned out. I figured He’s the one that gave me the dream and desire to share the stories and go to print, He could open up the hands and hearts to make this happen. Every single pledge, every single backer to this project is an answer to prayer. I could have easily busted out a credit card and forced this to happen. Trust me, I thought about it. But that is not the tale I want to tell and that is not how I desired this dream to go down. Personally, if He’s not in it and not involved, I don’t want it.

God is never late. But He’s also never early either. As I was taking deep breaths and getting ready to ignore on purpose the last few hours of the campaign, I stood in the kitchen in shock as I  got really good news.  The 30×30 project is officially 100% funded! The phone rang with congratulations and the news that the 30×30 project was 113% funded with $9,635. I could hardly breathe.

It’s really happening. After roughly two years in the making, this book is really going to happen. I have a sneaky feeling that as this project moves forward in the publishing process that there will be more “God winks” and more tales to tell. I am taking the rest of the day to let my heart sing, smile uncontrollably until my face hurts, and do the happy dance while reflecting on all the amazing faces that have played such a key part of this process…and then it’s time to get to work and keep moving. I have a book to publish.

So from me to you, I raise my cup of coffee in celebration and cheers–thank you for being a part of this journey. Nicely done everyone.

Can you say “summer book launch?”

THANK YOU!
What good news looks like…
THANK YOU!
The 30×30 project is 100% funded! It’s happening–THANK YOU!

Lessons from the Broncos

As a Bronco fan there was nothing more painful than watching the team in orange go down in flames against the Seattle Seahawks. (To all the non-football fans out there, the Denver Broncos lost in an 8 to 43 spanking in one of the most embarrassing Super Bowls this last Sunday.) Seattle’s defense was nothing short of amazing, and kudos to every player that touched the field. Their win and first Super Bowl title was well-earned. Bravo gentlemen, bravo.

Super Bowl 2014
What Defeat Looks Like

Today I wore orange.

Nothing is more natural than to want to hang a head in shame after an embarrassing crash and burn. To throw off and stamp out any hint that reminds us of the shameful failure. No one wants to talk about failure, let alone represent it. So I was not surprised when I got a few eyebrow raises and mocking comments thrown my way. All in jest–but their version of reminding me just in case I wasn’t aware, that my team lost. And lost big. Oh, I know. But I’m still wearing orange anyways.

In the sports world, there is an incredibly interesting trend of “bandwagon fans.” People who show up out of no where as super fans when the team is doing well, and then mysteriously disappear and are no where to be found as soon as the team does poorly or there is a loss. This does not just happen in sports. Sadly, it happens when it comes to a lot of things in life. Everyone wants to be your friend when you’re in the spotlight and viewed well by others, but we all know it can be very, very lonely when we’re in a pit and fall on hard times. It’s in those ugly moments when we find out who our true friends are…who our true fans are.

But what about the under dog? People also like seeing “overcoming stories” and cheering on those that rise above adversity. We need to see examples that real people with real problems can conquer the impossible and prevail over the tough stuff. We need it. We crave it. We long for it. We need to know it can be done. We need that encouragement. Sometimes it’s those stories that we remember and learn the most–not the big winners.

Here’s a little reminder from an article I read recently:

Unlike Carl Lewis and Daley Thompson, Derek Redmond is not a name that conjures up memories of Olympic gold medals. But it is Redmond who defines the essence of the human spirit. Redmond arrived at the 1992 Olympic Summer Games in Barcelona determined to win a medal in the 400. The color of the medal was meaningless; he just wanted to win one. Just one. Down the backstretch, only 175 meters away from finishing, Redmond is a shoo-in to make the finals. Suddenly, he heard a pop in his right hamstring. He pulls up lame, as if he had been shot. As the medical crew arrives, Redmond tells them, “I’m going to finish my race.” Then in a moment that will live forever in the minds of millions of people since then, Redmond lifted himself up, and started hobling down the track. His father raced out of the stands, and helped his son cross the finish line to the applause of 65,000 people. Redmond did not win a medal, but he won the hearts of people that day and thereafter. To this day, people, when asked about the race, mention Redmond, and can’t name the medal winners.

Now THAT is something to cheer for.

I have to remind myself of this as I am coming upon a situation that can either be an amazing reason to celebrate, or something that I’ll be tempted to tuck tail and run from. In three days I will either have fundraised the $8,500 needed for the publishing of the “Life Before the Lottery – 30×30” book I’ve been working for two years on, or not. It’s an all-or-nothing campaign on Kickstarter where I have 30 days to raise 100% of the project funds or absolutely no funds are exchanged. Zero. Zilch. Not even the $4,300 that’s already been raised. (That’s the beauty and the beast side of Kickstarter.) Victory or defeat comes in three days. I’m halfway to my pledge goal and well into the 4th quarter.

Deadline for pledges is February 7th at noon. It is then that I will be either celebrating my own personal Super Bowl or crying in my beer.

I know people are rooting for me, for this. There’s over $4,300 in pledges that says so! And it is because of that very thing that I am touched by the support and so grateful to the backers of this project. So no matter what happens on February 7th when the fundraising clock runs out…I will be wearing orange then too.

Thank you to all the fans out there pulling for me.

30×30 Publishing Dream Kickstarter.com Pledge Page
(If you want to be a part, feel free to pledge or help to get the word out–thank you for every forward, tweet, post, and link shared!)

QUOTABLE QUOTES FROM PEOPLE MUCH SMARTER THAN I:

Olympian Derek Redmond’s heroic finish – video

Failure Hall of Fame

With 9 days left to go in the 30×30 Kickstarter publishing campaign, there’s a lot of questions on what is actually in the book. Let me be the first to say that it’s not just my stories. Here are some of my favorites profiled in the section on failure.

  • Henry Ford failed and went broke five times before he succeeded with his motor company. He went on to revolutionize the assembly line and become one of the most successful entrepreneurs of all time.
  • Beethoven’s teacher called him “hopeless” as a composer. He went on to write 9 symphonies, 32 piano sonatas, 5 piano concertos, and 1 opera.
  • Winston Churchill failed the sixth grade. He was defeated in every public office role he ran for. He then became British Prime Minister at the age of 62.
  • Thomas Edison’s teachers told him he was “too stupid to learn anything.” Edison also famously invented 1,000 light bulbs before creating one that worked.
  • Steven Spielberg was rejected from his dream school, the University of Southern California, three times. He sought education elsewhere and became a director of over 50 movies, producing over 111 films.
  • Harland David Sanders, the famous KFC “Colonel,” couldn’t sell his chicken. More than 1,000 restaurants rejected him. He went on to have over 600 KFC restaurant franchises throughout the country.
  • Vera Wang failed to make the U.S. Olympic figure-skating team. Then she became an editor at Vogue and was passed over for the editor-in-chief position. She began designing wedding gowns at 40 and today is the premier designer in the business, with a multi-billion dollar industry.
  • Walt Disney went bankrupt at age 22 and was fired by a newspaper editor because he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas.” He created 81 feature films with 48 Academy Awards.
  • Fred Astaire’s first screen test, the judges wrote: “Can’t act. Can’t sing. Slightly bald. Can dance a little.” Astaire went on to be the most famous dancer of all time and won the hearts of American women forever.
  • Dr. Seuss’ first book was rejected by 27 different publishers by age 33. He’s now the most popular children’s book author ever.
  • Vincent Van Gogh only sold one painting in his entire life, to a friend. He sometimes starved in order to create the 800 paintings he’d eventually do. Today, his works are priceless.
  • Sir Isaac Newton was tasked with running the family farm but was a miserable failure. Newton was sent off to Cambridge University and became a physics scholar, discovering many of the laws and theories that not only furthered our understanding of the universe, but also gave future scientists the tools to discover how to enter space. He discovered gravitational force and established the three Universal Laws of Motion.
  • Abraham Lincoln failed in business in 1831, lost his job and couldn’t get into law school in 1832, was defeated for state legislature in 1832, defeated for Speaker in 1838, defeated for nomination of Congress in 1843, lost re-nomination in 1848, defeated for U.S. Senate in 1854, defeated for nomination for Vice President in 1856 and again defeated for U.S. Senate in 1858. In 1860 Abraham Lincoln was elected President of the United States, ending the Civil War and slavery during his presidency.

Every single one of these people failed. Multiple times. Every single one is a success story of someone rising up and overcoming hardship to influence the world around them and is an example of what can be done when failure is refused. Persistence pays off. Facing fear and refusing to give up is what defeats failure. Do not be afraid to fail. Do not be afraid of the tough stuff.

(Pledge on Kickstarter by Feb 6th to help get more of the story out.)

What Happens When The Dream Dies

Dreams. We all have them. As children we dream of being doctors, firefighters, astronauts, teachers, moms, and dads. We dream of our wedding day. Of throwing the winning touchdown. Of performing in front of thousands. But then somewhere along the way something happens. Somewhere in the process of growing up, we quit dreaming. It happens to everyone. Security and safety took the place of risk and reward. It happens to everyone.

It happened to me. It’s easy to give up. Sometimes we even pretend we don’t even want it anymore. We lie to ourselves. It happens to everyone.

I’ve started and stopped writing the 30×30 book multiple times. Even now with 30,000 words written and a game plan in place, I find myself wanting to pretend I don’t care about whether it happens anymore. To protect myself just in case it doesn’t happen. When I don’t know what to do next, when it looks like it won’t happen, when each step forward turns out to be two steps back, or when my efforts seem utterly fruitless…it’s tempting to give up on the dream. It happens to everyone.

But what if God is asking you to dream again? What if your heart’s desires are planted there by God Himself? He is the ultimate dream giver. What if it’s not for your glory, but for His? To inspire others. Feed the hungry. Help the poor. Start a business. Lead a group. Help someone else. It’s never too late. Ever. The world is waiting.

That’s part of what’s behind my 30×30 Kickstarter campaign. I have a dream to publish the 30×30 stories and the concept of living life before the lottery–living out your dreams…and I have 15 days left (or until February 6th) to fundraise and see it happen. It’s an all-or-nothing campaign where the entire $8,500 is pledged and raised or I get nothing. Zilch. Nada. In some ways it seems totally doable. That’s only 242 $35 pledges–and if I think about it, with 254 Facebook friends, I can wrap my mind around it. Completely and totally possible when the goal is broken down and thought about it like that. But then on the other hand when I look at the overall $8,500 goal, sometimes it can seem so far away and completely overwhelming. But that’s the beauty of dreams. There’s a side of them that’s overwhelming, and there’s a side of dreams that can be tangible and real.

I should know. I’ve lived it. The whole story behind the 30×30 list is that I lived out and saw 29 of the 30 things on my 30×30 list actually happen! I am a living breathing example that dreams really can and do come true. Against all odds, we truly can see the impossible become possible. And I am also a living breathing example that we need to keep dreaming. Always keep dreaming.

To Be A $35 Pledger:
Kickstarter.com

 

Dream it.
Go ahead. Let yourself dream.

MERRY NEW YEAR! Uh oh, New Year’s Resolution Time.

There may be more truth to this than not!
There may be more truth to this than not!

MERRY NEW YEAR!

Uh oh, resolution time. For someone who is all about goal setting and knocking out items on the 30×30/Next List/Decade List/Bucket List or whatever title it’s given, I actually am not a huge fan of New Year’s resolutions.

Whaaaaaaaaaat? Shocker, I know. I think it’s mostly because I, like many others out there, don’t keep them. Quite frankly I don’t even remember any of the New Year’s resolutions I made last year…or the year before that, or the year before that. Boo. I guess that goes to show just how important they were. On the other hand, I absolutely love fresh starts and clean slates and for that very reason I love putting a bow on the old year, blowing a kiss (or possibly flipping the bird, depending on what type of year it was) and waving hello to a new one. For me, New Year’s resolutions have always seemed empty and hollow. Even when I do make them and put effort into actually making good ones, I still can’t seem to maintain them. And when I don’t I feel bad.  I don’t particularly like doing things that make me feel bad. Resolution guilt, no thanks. There’s enough in this world that tears us down and gives us reasons to fall apart, I don’t need to do anything to help that.

Although I may be cynical and a bah-humbug about New Year’s resolutions, I am a firm believer in the power of setting goals (both big and little) and then putting the work and effort behind it in order to meet those goals. I don’t know exactly why, but I almost think that putting the resolution label on a goal almost dooms it to fail. It’s the kiss of death. That’s why I loooooooved the concept of the decade/bucket/30×30 list. Just making my 30×30 list was empowering, let alone actually completing 29 of them. Yes, the 30×30 list had a definite expiration date, but it allowed me to have goals for multiple areas of my life in a time frame that also allowed the freedom to be able to pursue them as the opportunities arose.

Looking back at the last six months makes me smile when I realize that not only did I set a vision and create the 39 items for my “Next List,” but in that short six month time frame I’ve actually already crossed off 10 of them! I definitely can’t boast a similar success rate for any of my New Year’s resolutions. Maybe the trick is not to make resolutions for just this year, but to take the time to sit down and to seriously make a wide array of positive goals for the next few years or even the next decade and then see just how many can be crossed off in a year. That way whether it’s one thing crossed off or ten, you’re still making improvements and not berating yourself for the other 10 that you didn’t do. If your goals can be turned into a game or a challenge to see how many can be accomplished instead of the “I will do these five things or else,” you will have a much better chance of success than if you don’t do them or you can’t get them all done and you feel like a failure.

Who knows, I may not get to cross off all the items on my “Next List” like I crossed off 29 items on the 30×30 list, but with 10 checks already under my belt so far I think I’m off to a really good start. So maybe this year my only New Year’s resolution will be to keep going after my Next List. I can’t wait to look back a year from now and see how many Next List items can be attributed to 2014. I do believe this is going to be a very exciting year. Cheers to 2014 and all the good things to come!

Hello Fresh Start.
Hello Fresh Start.

QUOTABLE QUOTES FROM PEOPLE MUCH SMARTER THAN I: 

 

VIDEO Debut – Watch the 30×30 Project Unfold

30×30 List: Living Life Before The Lottery Video Debut

Gearing up for the publishing world, check out the 30×30: Living Life Before the Lottery video.

 30×30 List: Living Life Before The Lottery Video

30x30 List: Publishing Project
30×30 List: Publishing Project
Click Here For Video

As in life in general, the 30×30 list/project/book has been experienced and is coming in stages. I think that’s designed on purpose. Maybe if everything happened all at once we wouldn’t be able to handle it.

So as I delve deeper into the 30×30 book publishing project and the world of book publishing, I am finding that this too comes in stages. Stage one, write the dang thing. Check. Stage two, read it. Check check. Stage three, find an editor, layout guy, author community, and book publishing gurus to tell you about all the other unknown stages and parts needed to actually birth a book. Check and check. Stage four…do it.

Wait. I got stuck on that one. The doing it part actually involves stage 3.5, find funding. So on that note, I have started a Kickstarter project for any and all who want to be a part of the publishing journey. Publishing is not a solo act. As soon as Kickstarter approves and publishes my 30×30 project (any day now), I’ll have exactly 30 days to fundraise the $8,500 it’s going to take to get this thing off the ground and in print. Kickstarter is an all or nothing thing. I either raise all of the $8,500 needed in 30 days or I get nothing. Daunting? Maybe to some. I did the math, and if every one of my Facebook friends donated $33.46, I’d be on my way to the printers. Cakewalk. (Ok, we all know it’s a little more complicated than that, because not every one of my Facebook friends has $33.) Personally, I think it’s quite fitting that the 30×30 book project has 30 days to raise the dough to do it. So let the kickstarting fundraising games begin! I can’t wait to high five my supporters and backers I continue on in the next stage and next chapter of this 30×30 journey.

Check out the video.

http://animoto.com/play/sGpPf0lBzAVcHRBElGmJww

And hunt for the 30×30 project within the next few days on http://www.kickstarter.com

Be sure to let me know what you think. I love thought bubbles.

Phone Sensitivity – Guilty.

While at a Christmas cookie party I found myself barraged with questions which later led me on a journey of self-reflection. It’s funny how something that seems so simple on the surface can be so fully loaded underneath. There are several things on the “Next List” that fit into that category. Without knowing the backstory, they look pathetically easy and almost like a cheap check-off. This is the case with #13, “Kiss goodbye to the dreaded Blackberry.

Don't be jealous....
This is how I roll…don’t be jealous.

One fabulous and lovely girl at the party started innocently poking fun at my cell phone (as she should, it’s a sad beat-up little Blackberry from the ancient days), and I was quite amused and rather relieved when a long-time girlfriend stepped in and ever-so-sweetly yet protectively said, “Uh, uh. Ash is a little sensitive about her phone. Leave her alone.”

This goes far beyond new tech phone jealousy. Much deeper than affordability or upgrade eligibility. I’ve been eligible for a fancy phone upgrade for months. So why the delay? Why the sensitivity? Why not just cross that off the list and get it over with?

Because in my world, it’s not that easy. I wish it were.

Little backstory: First and foremost I had a Blackberry for work back in the day when it was still cool to do so. At the beginning of the year I had given up the yucka Blackberry when a loving and generous boyfriend bought me a new state-of-the-art fancy pants phone when he asked to merge phone plans. Cute. It was a random act of kindness that meant a lot to me. I wish the story stopped there. I’m not a tech person, and it took me a long time to succumb to the Apple bug when I bought a Mac for photo editing purposes. I loved that someone would see the need and step up and take care of it for me, not because I couldn’t do it myself, but because they were willing and wanting to do so. There is just something so beautiful when someone shows they are paying attention and that they care.

Fast forward several months and I am sitting front row at a funeral and later canceling the account and returning to the store the very gift that once made me smile and feel so cherished. Going back to the yucka Blackberry stung in so many ways that I can’t even describe without fighting back tears. And as painful a reminder it is and as desperately needed a new one may be, I somehow just can’t bring myself to purchase one for myself. I wish I could. I’ve even walked into the AT&T store multiple times telling myself that “this is the day,” and have walked out empty handed every time. Maybe some day I’ll be successful. Maybe a small part of me wishes that somebody, anybody else, will be kind enough to know me well enough to be strong–and care enough–to take that bullet for me (because I evidently am not strong enough to do it myself.) But today is not that day.

It does not make it any easier that just a few weeks ago I sat on a friend’s couch catching up with a bunch of giggling girls and looked around and saw that all three girls sitting around me had not just fancy new phones, but iPhones. Of course I would notice them. When I salivated and oogled their new toys like they were candy I couldn’t and shouldn’t touch, I winced to find out that each girl had been given the phone as a gift by their significant other. Random acts of kindness in action. The salt in the wound was when all three acted as if it weren’t a big deal at all. I heard multiple times, “I didn’t even really need one, he just did it. I don’t even know how to use it.” Ouch.

So at the cookie party when I awkwardly fell silent and turned red in the cheeks, I was grateful to not have to answer or defend my questionable taste in phones. The fact that I’m even able to talk about it now to the “public” is for me, a really big deal and a huge step in an attempt to hopefully someday be able to cross off #13 on the list. In my world, this is not just  simply “time to get a new phone,” it really is for so many reasons something I need to have the courage to kiss goodbye. Anyone can purchase a new phone. It’s not hard. But when it comes to supposedly “easy #13” on my Next List, it IS hard for me and I really do have to kiss it goodbye. And if I am the one that has to go in and make that big girl purchase, then quite honestly I’m just not ready to do that yet. For now, it stays on the list.

One Frustrated Cookie

Can You Identify?

Ever had a dream drop down in your heart that you know you were to do, to have, or to experience? It’s actually quite scary when it happens, because the excitement of living out the dream can drown in the very realistic possibility of it not happening. And who wants to live with an unfulfilled dream? Maybe that’s why some people crush it before it can even begin to take shape. Sometimes we think that it’s easier to not even start than to take the risk beginning something we don’t know how to finish.

Destiny and fate are words that don’t quite describe it accurately, but the feeling is something along those lines. It’s that nagging feeling of a dream that just won’t die, no matter how dyer the circumstances seem. The scary part happens when you just can’t see, reason, or figure out how it’ll happen, but you know deep down that it’s on its way and it’s for you.

That’s faith, my friend. Believing in something that you can’t see, feel, or touch…but believing nonetheless.

That’s how I feel about several things in my life, but mostly about this stinkin’ 30×30 book. More than anything I know, that I know, that I know I’m to write this 30×30 book and get it out there. There have been many many moments when I want to throw my hands up in the air in utter defeat. I’m not sure I even want to any more, but that deep down gut feeling that I’m to do this just won’t let me go. Barf!

The struggle lies not just in the writing, but in the actual producing and publishing processes that I know absolutely nothing about. I’m just me, who am I to write a book? Let alone how to publish it. And who am I to give any type of advice to other people…it’s not like my life’s in order or that I have everything figured out.

But when we’re given a dream and a vision, it’s in the pushing forward when we don’t have it all figured out that breakthroughs happen. It’s in doing what we can and trusting that God will come through in the things we cannot. And that’s where I sit right now with this book dream.

As I move forward in this book project my head spins with ISBN’s, layout, editing, websites, marketing plans, and of course…funding. All things I don’t have the slightest clue in. So as a little peek under the tent, I’m in the process of putting together a Kickstarter fundraising project to kickstart the final stages of what needs to happen to get this book dream out and in print. All I have to say is, I don’t know exactly how, but I know it’ll happen. Stay tuned for more on that as I put the pieces together. It’s coming…

I read something this week that hit home in my heart. “We often think receiving what we’ve been guaranteed ought to be a cakewalk, but Scripture shows the opposite is more often true. The most profound things God promised were often fulfilled against the greatest of odds and through the most difficult of hardships. To God, faith is often the point–God does nothing cheaply. Perhaps the divine nature of a promise fulfilled guarantees its expense. We may receive a hundred unexpected things from God with delightful ease while the fulfillment of some of the things we believe He promises us proves virtually impossible. You see, the impossibility is what makes the fulfillment of the promise fall under the God category. God makes promises man simply can’t keep.” — Beth Moore, The Patriarchs

So on that note, all I have to say is that I’m hanging on to this book dream…along with several others. Quite honestly I’ve had it for a while but I just didn’t, and don’t, know exactly what to do with it. I feel that God dropped this book idea into my heart for a reason and come hell or high water, it’ll happen! Who am I to let my fears and doubts stop God from doing His thing. There are some behind-the-scenes reasons why this book project seems impossible, but I am so glad to know that I am hooked up with the One who specializes in the impossible. Can’t wait to see how this whole thing plays out.

One day there will be a book in print. And then I am going to throw a party.

Thankful for random fortunes that make me smile. How did it know? Thanks cookie.
Thankful for random fortunes that make me smile. How did it know? Thanks cookie.

QUOTABLE QUOTES FROM PEOPLE MUCH SMARTER THAN I:

*Ding* You are now free to move about the country.

Sliding through the airport at 6:00am on a random Tuesday morning sans coffee, I noticed far more than I probably should have at that hour. As we were going through the standard stripping of shoes, belts, coats, jewelry and metals, I couldn’t help but notice the woman behind me becoming more and more agitated and riled  up. Riled up is an understatement. Close to causing a scene would be a more appropriate way to describe the situation. Those she was talking to were not helping.

The scene of the crime
The scene of the crime

As one who was bitten by the travel bug long ago and had a good chunk of my 30×30 list heavily weighted in the travel bucket, I am no stranger to the airline industry. And as one who had a job requiring over 80% travel, over the years I’ve been stripped down, detained, missed flights, had luggage lost, and have all around been inconvenienced in all the standard ways travelers can be delayed and inconvenienced. Clearly she was upset at the inconvenience of the traveling policies in place at the airport and she was more than willing to voice them to anyone who would listen.

As I slid my trays through the x-ray, I decided I couldn’t keep quiet any longer. I calmly turned around to her and shrugged my shoulders as I said with a smile how grateful I was to be able to have the freedom to fly at a moment’s notice. Slightly louder I voiced how I loved living in a country where we have access to 50 states without visas, green cards, or months of paperwork and  how I couldn’t believe how easily I can go from one end of the country to the other simply on a whim. And with the sweetest smile I could flash, I finished my little speech by saying that if all I had to do for that freedom is take off my shoes and prove my identity with a simple state driver’s license…I was more than willing to do that.

Needless to say that shut her up.

Does the 3 oz plastic baggie liquid rule make sense to most people? Or the shoe stripping and computer check? Maybe not to the average traveler. Can we ask questions and make snide comments regarding the ridiculousness of the inconvenience? Sure. Are there reasons these rules and policies are in place? Two towers and multiple non-disclosed prevented incidences that we’ll never ever know about say otherwise.

Yes, there are a lot of problems in our country. There are a lot of other blogs that can get into that. But if you want to complain about the travel troubles of our country, I highly recommend taking a trip to any other continent and country and attempt to jump through their hoops and abide by their travel policies and then tell me how awful the United States is. I dare you.

I double dare you to do it before I’ve had my coffee.

Tick Tock. Outrun the clock…

Lesson Learned: I Am An Excuse Maker…and I Am Out Of Balance

This is where time belongs...in your hands.
This is where time belongs…in your hands.

After I made my list I quickly discovered that there were multiple items that could be grouped into categories. In honor of the movie “The Bucket List”, I called them category buckets. I had a financial bucket, a travel bucket, a fitness bucket, a romance bucket, and a “just because” bucket. But some things on my list conflicted with other things on my list. My travel bucket conflicted with my financial bucket and my quest for adventure conflicted with my need for peace and stability. Right there I had a reason to give up, I couldn’t even agree with myself on what I really wanted! But I’ve dealt with a lot scarier things than conflicting interests, so I continued the balancing act and kept attempting to squish all the excuses that kept popping up. And I was full of excuses. But one of the ones that kept rising to the surface was the issue of time.

Little known secret I discovered…I have been given the same amount of time as everyone else. My day has the same 24 hours in it as the person sitting next to me. We’ve all been given 24 hours to our day, seven days to our week, and twelve months to our year. No one has been given any more or any less time. Period. Time is the great equalizer. No matter what your age, salary, occupation, background, childhood experience, family size, or gender…we all have the same 24 hours in a day. It’s how we use it that makes all the difference.

Time is an extremely valuable commodity. Just like money, we spend it. The things, reasons, and amounts that we spend our time on vary from person to person and situation to situation. We spend our time in a similar way we spend money—we spend it on necessities, pleasures and entertainment. (And we probably waste it on unimportant things more often than we’d like to think or admit.) Some of us are very good time managers, while others are not. Just because you are good with your money does not necessarily mean you are good at handling your time, and visa versa. And very often if we have a lot of one, we tend not to have a lot of the other.
Image
I am not an expert in money management, nor time management. But they both play significant roles in the ultimate outcome of successfully achieving any type of goal. For example, I am admittedly a travel junkie and my 30×30 list was heavily skewed towards travel and adventure activities. With credit card waving wildly in hand I could’ve had half my list accomplished in 60 days if I wanted to (and trust me, I thought about it.) But I would’ve been in debt up to my eyeballs and that would not have helped me with the other items on my list in my financial and health buckets. Debt creates stress and stress creates health problems.  I may have won in one bucket but completely tanked in the other two. If I went completely out of balance in one category, I would’ve jeopardized the success of my other goals in other categories. After creating my list I saw that I my financial bucket was quite full. I had umpteen # of travel related items, a desire for more education that would probably come with a hefty price tag and student loans, and goals of having my car loan and credit cards paid off.

I remember staring at my list and thinking that I had just written an impossible list of conflicting goals. On the one hand I had some very expensive dreams, and on the other hand I wanted to be financially more responsible and debt free. This required a bit of strategy.

I needed a game plan. I needed to get a handle on my financial bucket before I went out and played and crossed off things in my adventure bucket. Initially I sat down and had to figure out the ugly truth on where I stood financially in order to know exactly how big of a hurdle I had in order to meet my goals of becoming debt free. Not very fun but extremely necessary. So I spent the first few months and years focusing on my financial goals and paying off my credit cards and developing a game plan on how to pay for a master’s degree. Then later on I couldn’t stop laughing as things fell into place to pursue some of the travel items on my list. I was able to truly enjoy them since accomplishing one item in one bucket wasn’t burying me in another.

It may not be very fun, and possibly a bit humbling, but learning to crawl before you run is far better than tripping and falling on your face because you never mastered the fundamental basics of moving forward. If I had not been financially healthy first, I would have been forced to decline the opportunities that arose to go rafting in the Grand Canyon, cruise the Mediterranean, or see a Broadway play in New York because I would not have been able to afford them…or anything else for that matter.

So my question is this–what are you spending your time on? It would be interesting for just one week to record or take special note of exactly how much time we spend on the various activities throughout our day.

Answer Me This:

What is the average time you spend getting ready in the morning?
What is the average time you spend commuting to work or school?
What is the average number of hours you spend working?
What is the average number of hours you spend watching TV?
What is the average number of hours you spend on the internet or playing video games?
What is the biggest time sucker in your day?

Ok, so what needs to change?

Uh oh, somebody got a tattoo.

Uh oh, somebody got a tattoo. *Te he*

Image

In all fairness, I already had one. I just got it expanded and upped its cuteness factor. The original artwork was less art and just…well, old ink. Not a regret by any means, it just needed a little updating and TLC with an ink master. So onto the Next List it went.

Why? Really, I get asked that a lot. Whyyyyyyyyyy? Oh yeah, I see the judgment and snarky attitude behind the question. No, this item doesn’t go under the “just because I can category,” there was actually a lot of thought and effort involved in this one. And an appointment. Fully sober. With a pre-sketch. I will admit the actual re-inking took place in Vegas, but where else is one supposed to find a legit tattoo artist?

The whole re-ink experience did not exactly go as I had pictured. This seems a little scary since the decision–good or bad–is permanent. Believe it or not, there are expectations that need to be met when getting a tattoo.

Tat Lesson #1: Pick your shop and your tattoo artist wisely.
I researched and reviewed many tattoo shops in the area and was very specific for what I was looking for. I wanted a shop off the strip, had been around a long time, was appointment only, and of course clean and hygienic.  When I had picked the shop and called to make an appointment, they put me in touch with one of their shop artists after I described what I wanted. With a little back and forth with texts and pictures with the artist to secure the appointment, I finally had a date to check another item off the Next list. I was a little less confident though when my chosen artist wasn’t on the website, didn’t have an example album of his work in the shop when we went in the day before to check the place out, and upon arriving the shop looked closed.  I knew this whole thing was a little risky, but it was a risk I was willing to take. I just wanted to make it a calculated risk. Don’t worry, turns out he wasn’t on the website because he was the newest guy to the shop coming from a different shop in the area, had been tattooing for over 23 years, the shop wasn’t closed (just dark, it was an 8:00pm appointment after all), and his name was imprinted in the window and the logo. Relax. If getting a tattoo wasn’t a little sketchy it wouldn’t be as much fun.

Tat Lesson #2: Brush up on your social skills
I was on the table for over 3 hours. That’s a lot of time to stare at a ceiling and the same wall. You want to be nice to your artist, keep him happy, engaged, and awake (just kidding). Really, I now understand why people have ongoing relationships with their tattoo artist–you bond. This guy found out the backstory on the original tattoo, why the new one was important to me, made suggestions to improve the artwork, found out about some of my 30×30 and Next List items, what I wanted to do next…and all with a needle in his hand. Just know that it’s going to take longer than you think. It will always take longer than you think. That’s ok, you don’t want to rush greatness.

Tat Lesson #3: Know what you want
Don’t be that girl and don’t be that guy who goes into a shop and picks something off a wall. C’mon, this is permanent. Put a little thought and meaning into something you’ll have forever. Or until the next laser surgery. My tattoo artist entertained me with funny stories of what people had chosen…or how. (These stories were part of tat lesson #2: social skills. Yes, I completely laughed at other people’s expense.) I walked in with examples of two different sketches of the style I was looking for, along with giving him pictures ahead of time of my original tattoo. Unexpectedly, during the pre-consultation he actually talked me into a little something different than what I originally had planned. His suggestions made sense. He’s the expert, he’s been doing this for over 23 years, he’s seen the stupid decisions and mistakes, and he helped create something that I would ultimately be happier with down the road. Way to go tattoo man!

Tat Lesson #4: Know that it’s going to hurt
I’m not just talking about the actual pain of getting it done, needles and all. I’m talking about the after-care. I was tender for over a week and had to choose my wardrobe carefully. Good thing I was just seeing friends in California the next few days–sweats it was! I did bring a friend to this little artwork session, but even they couldn’t handle it the entire time. Just know, no pain, no gain. Watching the process of the body healing is quite fascinating. Like a good girl, I followed the after-care instructions to a T. I really do like my new addition. I’ll like it even better when it’s fully healed.

So what did I get…and where? That’s for me to know and only an invited select chosen few to find out! C’mon, you really thought I’d post a picture? No way! I’m not that kind of girl. Sheesh.

The feeling of invisibility. Not being seen, not being heard. Being ignored. Being forgotten.

I walked through the hallways of the nursing home my Ginnymom has been living in since January after a series of strokes left her unable to stay in her home, and I realized part of what makes visiting her so difficult is walking by all the lives and wrinkly faces far past their prime. (I realize not everyone has a Ginnymom. For those of you who are unfamiliar with what a Ginnymom is…my adorable eighty-nine year-old grandma.)

It is human nature to want to connect, to be heard, to be loved, and to be valued. What do you do when someone seemingly is unable to do that? Is unable to respond? When there is no interaction and no way to communicate, it is far too easy to become invisible and fade into the background. Nursing homes seem to be a collection of people and lives who have faded into the background of a young and bustling society that has left them behind. The thing is, their value as a human being hasn’t changed, just their physical ability.

You don’t have to be old and in a nursing home to feel invisible though.

I had the opportunity to go to California a few weeks ago and visit and reconnect with friends. I drove past my old apartment, waved to my church, and had the chance to eat at some of my favorite restaurants. But the best part of the trip was seeing my friends and getting updates on each of their lives since I had left. I was quite surprised to find each of them in their own way and situation admitting their struggles with loneliness.

Some were married, some had gotten new jobs, others had recently become new moms. Each one in a different situation and life stage, but surprisingly all going through their own version of invisibility and loneliness. Not at all what I was expecting, but real nonetheless.

I remember how miserable and alone I felt during the time I created the 30×30 list. I felt invisible. Even though it was my list, it got me to focus on something other than myself. It created vision, reasons to interact, and it gave opportunities to move forward. The list created a connection to others around me in ways I never could have imagined.

Feeling invisible, forgotten, or left behind? You’re not the only one. Take a moment to look around and it won’t be hard to find someone else facing the same thing.  We have the power and the ability to reach out and help others in ways we cannot help ourselves. So do. Find a way to be kind. Step outside your comfort zone and get beyond yourself. Go be good to someone. You’ll be surprised at who really needs it.

kindness

Ok, deep down what I really want is…

What would you do if given an unlimited amount of time and an unlimited amount of money? What would you want and what could you accomplish? Uninhibited, what would you do? Those can be scary questions.

These were the type of questions asked when creating my 30×30 list. It can be an uncomfortable and somewhat dangerous thing being truly honest with what you really want. Because that would mean you might actually have to make an effort to go and get it. Uh oh. It’s definitely easier not to ask yourself those type of questions, but life won’t ever be fulfilling if you don’t. I know, I was there.

I was miserable. Sitting in that coffee shop years ago playing hookie from a job that was unfulfilling and living in a city I felt was killing my soul, I realized I was 24 years old with a lot of life ahead of me. The question was, what did I want that life to look like? That was the first question. After taking some time to answer that first question on “what” I wanted, it was time to take a moment to think about the “how.” Thennnnnnnn I decided that maybe that wasn’t such a good idea after all. It’s not a good idea to get bogged down with the how. Focus too long on the how and you can get distracted and scared away from the what. Quite frankly, the how portion is where God gets to come in and do His thing. Don’t be fooled, God is not just some giant slot machine in the sky or a magic genie at your command. Get Him involved when you’re developing the “what” part of your list, then genuinely ask and trust Him for the “how” portion.

Fast forward several years later after crossing 29 of my 30 items and I am proof that He did. And that can be the other scary part…asking God. What if I ask for something and I don’t get it? What if the answer is no? I’d rather ask Him for a lot and only get half of what I asked for then ask Him for nothing and get all of that. Not only is it scary to admit to ourselves what we really want, it can feel slightly ridiculous or even intimidating asking God to enter the picture. It can feel like He’s so big and “up there,” and who am I to bother Him with my silly wants and desires? The truth is, He would like nothing better. God loves being involved with the details of our lives. After all, He’s the one that gave us those dreams to begin with. He’s just waiting for us to ask Him. Waiting, waiting, waiting. Sometimes we feel like we are waiting on Him when really He’s just waiting on us to get Him involved.

So do it. I dare you. I dare you not only to create your list, I dare you to give it to God. Tell Him. Submit your list to Him and trust that He will give you the right things at the right time. And if He says no, there’s a good reason. Trust me, I know. The one thing unanswered on my list–the one thing I just couldn’t make happen no matter how hard I tried–was the best thing that never happened.  God sometimes answers us directly, sometimes He answers differently, sometimes He answers by delay, and sometimes He denies our prayer. No matter what the answer, it’s ultimately for our benefit. Number 29, own my own home, would’ve sunk me had it actually happened. I lived in California during the whole housing boom and bust, and if I had gotten my way, I would be busted right now. It wasn’t fun, but I thank God for His “no.”

Not a fun answer. But sometimes the best kind.
Not a fun answer, but sometimes the best kind.

Honestly, the whole home of my own thing is a slightly raw subject matter in my world. Is there a house in my future? Absolutely. Do I know when I’m going to get it or when it will happen for me? Not a clue. That’s not really up to me. But that desire is still there, I’ve given it over to the One who knows what He’s doing, and I just rolled that item onto my Next List. Oh, and don’t worry, I’ve created a secret mini list of must haves on this future house of mine to keep the hope alive. It includes a nice big yard for Scottie dog, double sinks in the master en suite, a soaker tub, and a fantastic porch/deck to put a porch swing or some adirondack chairs. HGTV is one of my favorite channels and I keep an Amazon wish list of decorative items to fill it. It’s always good to have a detailed blue print of what one wants. *Big smile*

Quotable Quotes From People Much Smarter Than I: 

Ever had the feeling of being left out? I’m having it right now.


Ever had the feeling of being left out? I’m having it right now.

Who chooses to be left behind and left out on purpose? This girl. At this very moment my two best friends who I’ve both known for over two decades are in San Francisco right now…and I am not. I love girls’ trips. I just like them better when I’m actually on them. And as I’m sitting at home on the couch watching TLC’s last episode of “What Not To Wear” on a Friday night, I can’t help but think that I was supposed to be on that trip.

Little background: A few years ago when I created this 30×30 list, one of these two fabulous ladies conned me into training for a full 26.2 mile marathon…and I was dumb enough to do it. (See previous blog post on that whole crazy experience!) I had never run more than two miles in my life, so you can only imagine my reaction when given the push and challenged to run 26.2.

After hooking into Team In Training (an organization whose mission is to find a cure for Leukemia and blood cancers), I reluctantly committed to going to 6:30am workouts every Saturday morning for over four months, wearing through multiple pairs of sneakers, fundraising over $5,000, and choking down more Gu and salt packets than I’d care to admit. The friend that convinced me and supported me to take on that experience also trained for her first full marathon as well. We picked a race, trained in two different states for it (her in CO, moi in CA), and then met up in Florida to cross the finish line together. Ok, I’m super slow, so she actually crossed before me, but it was still pretty fantastic. This was an experience I will never forget, nor will ever be able to truly express to her how special it was. And the best part? The other friend flew out to support us! I thank God for friends like that.

The short one...I blame her.
The short one…I blame her.

Fast forward several years later, and the other friend who flew in and supported us on the sidelines trained this year for her own race, fundraising and having her own Team in Training experience after watching her father fight and survive his own battle with blood cancer. I am so proud of her and have seen what her and her family have been through, so you can only imagine how excited I was to join both of them in San Francisco and support her as she crossed that fabulous, hard-earned, finish line. This was a girls’ trip, a celebration of life, and a way to support amazing friends as they go after their own dreams.

But I’m not there. I’m here.

In life there are disappointments and detours that take us in a different direction than what was originally planned. In life, there are moments that require the tough choices and for us to do things that are not enjoyable at all and sometimes downright uncomfortable, but ultimately for our benefit. I fully admit this is one of them.

Due to some family needs and obligations I am having to wave from afar and cheer them on from my home in Colorado. Don’t feel sorry for me. This was a choice. A hard, difficult, and not-so-fun choice, but a choice nonetheless. You see, my parents are celebrating their 40th anniversary with a looooooong awaited trip to visit wine country in California. In order for them to be able to do that, I had to stay and hold down their business, keep an eye on the funny farm (three dogs, two cats, a horse and 5 acres of property), and be around to take care of my elderly grandmother.

Am I sad that I’m not in California too? The brat in me says “absolutely!” I should be wine tasting with my two best friends, “cheersing” their hard earned accomplishments on their own lists. Would I make the same decision again if given the opportunity? *Pausing only slightly* You bet. I am so blessed to have parents who love each other and have fought to stay together through the tough stuff, who actually want to celebrate their 40 years together, and have worked hard enough to have a life that needs to be looked after and cared for. Since we were all evacuated for 8 days due to the fires this summer during their actual anniversary (I remember the morning my dad wished my mom happy 40th on the way to a Red Cross meeting with the smoke plume looming in the air), I am honored to do my part in order for them to be able to get away. There is no way I would even dream of taking that away from them.

What it really comes down to is this–in order to be able to support my family and give back to them I had to swallow my selfishness and temporarily put my own wants and needs on the back burner and choose to support my friends from far away. The best thing about friends like that–they love me enough to not have it any other way either.

Busted Without A Blueprint

See it. Say it. Do it. Sounds like three easy concepts, but in reality doing them can be a bit trickier. But there is some truth and power behind those three phrases. If you can’t see it, or if there’s no vision, how are you ever going to be able to speak the words and do the actions in order to make it happen?

A man with a plan...I dig it.
A man with a plan…I dig it.

In order to build anything, you need a blueprint. Sitting down and creating your list (whatever you choose to call it), writing it down, and putting pen to paper is like creating a master blueprint of where you want your life to go. Drawing up a blueprint is sometimes a lengthy and detailed process, but oh-so-necessary. Blueprints are essential if you want to build anything lasting and worthwhile. (I should know–growing up in a household where my dad was a realtor and my mom was an interior designer, I’ve seen my fair share of blueprints!)

A contractor building a house needs to be able to first visualize and have a concept on what the house will look like, then create blueprints and write down the specifics regarding the dimensions and details of the house to be built. How big? How many bedrooms? What kind of style? What’s the purpose? Then the contractor has to speak and communicate to the other parties involved in order to share the vision, obtain the materials needed, and get the other workers on the same page so they’re all building the same house. If one construction worker buys materials for a Victorian home, another a log home, and another is trying to build a ranch style bungalow, there will be a mess.

Get the tools. Use them.
Get the tools. Use them.

And then finally there has to be action behind the blueprints, contracts, and purchased materials. Someone–or multiple “someones”–need to actually do the work in order for the house to be built and become a reality. If no one lifts a hammer, there will never be a home. Action cannot happen without proper communication, and communication never begins unless there’s a dream, a goal, or an objective. Without communication to keep everyone motivated and on track as they work, there will only be chaos. Without the combination of action, communication, and vision there will be no house, no finished product, no dream realized. It takes all three.

Ever driven by a neighborhood or a business that had been started but never completed? I’m always  sad when I see dilapidated or unfinished buildings. There’s always a story behind it, but somewhere along the way this process of visualizing, communicating, and doing at some point broke down. If that’s just a physical representation, how much more of our own dreams are abandoned and unfinished in our own lives?

Are there any unfinished properties in your own world or unfinished dreams in your own heart? Are there things that you started but then never completed because something didn’t align in one or more of these three areas? Your list is your blueprint.

Because you are...
Because you are…

Sometimes we don’t even want to look in the direction of our abandoned dreams because it’s too painful. But if we can take a breath and find the courage to dig deep, break ground, and begin the process of seeing the dream once again, new life and new resources and new encouragement will begin to breed. You can begin to reconstruct an abandoned dream, or begin construction on a brand new one. But we have to be the head contractor of our own dreams and begin the process. Your list is your blueprint. We have to draw the blueprints and communicate to others who need to be involved in the process.

No one else is going to build your dream for you…they can’t, they don’t know what it looks like. But you do. Figure out what it is you want and then set your mind to do three little things—see it, say it, do it!

QUOTABLE QUOTES FROM PEOPLE MUCH SMARTER THAN I:

When all your plans go to pot…

The derailment of plans and good intentions. It happens. Even after completing 29 of my 30 items on my original 30×30 list and creating and beginning the Next List, I still find myself getting derailed and disappointed. After taking on the self-imposed 30 day blog challenge to fall back in love with the list I seemed to have found a second wind to get crackin’ on the new Next List. During the blog challenge, not only did I create and pen the items on the Next List, I’ve been able to knock out a few fun things here and there, which has been quite encouraging.  So far I’ve crossed off 7+ of the new items on the Next List…and it’s been less than two months! People have been sending in their own lists, which I absolutely love! I even saw some light and movement on the book publishing front. Woo hoo! That my friends, is progress. And progress feels good.

But then in the course of one week there were a couple of setbacks that took me by surprise. Both on some upcoming plans for the Next List and on the headway made in moving forward with the book. One step forward and two steps back. Just when I think things are opening up–boom. Doors slam. Guess I need to start knocking on other doors.

A couple weeks ago I pulled the trigger and made plans to cross off “East Coast Fall” off the Next List, lining up a much needed trip with possibilities to cross off multiple Next List items all in this one trip. How can you not be excited about that? The plan was to stay with my aunt in DC and check off a few states on some day trips while out there for two weeks, heading up with her to Boston and/or Philadelphia during the weekdays to go see friends. I was excited at the possibility of visiting  and crossing off Delaware, Pennsylvania, Jersey and even good ol’ Massachusetts.  (I’m working on visiting all 50 states–so far I’ve got 30 down and will be on track if I cross off 2-3 a year. Any chance I get to cross another state off the list, I’m in!)

But as life would have it, it looks like my initial plans to play tourist are fading fast. Unbeknownst to me, apparently my aunt and tour guide has obligated and committed herself to dog sit for a high maintenance pooch pretty much the entire time I’m there, which puts the ki-bash on any travel trips and adventures that I had my heart set on. *sigh* Due to some other factors that have changed, I now have lost my connections to stay in Phili and Boston, along with having my wheels and planned mode of transportation yanked. The thought of renting a car and driving solo in an unknown city’s traffic just to cross off items by myself is completely unappealing and makes me scrunch my nose. And if you know anything about my sense of direction and driving skills (or lack thereof), it is not a good idea to turn me loose in any poor unsuspecting city.

Ewwwwww.
Ewwwwww. No thanks.

Look at me. Whining and pouting about something that in the grand scheme of things is not a real problem or worth worrying about. Who wants to hang out with the whiny girl? So I am choosing to make an attitude adjustment. Time to recalculate. Even if this trip is nothing like I originally planned and all I do is sit in a town home with yucka foo foo fido, I will still find a way to enjoy myself and redeem this trip. (Don’t get me wrong, I am a doggie love-ah, but not when one unexpectedly and unnecessarily wrecks my vacation and travel plans.) But I have decided to move past the pity party and am determined to be grateful for the opportunity to wave to our nation’s capitol (even if it is from a distance), and I will be open to whatever twists God has up His sleeve on this one.

When all is said and done, maybe this disappointing turn of events will give me a reason to re-visit someday and try again. Can’t complain about that.

QUOTABLE QUOTES FROM PEOPLE MUCH SMARTER THAN I: 

Bonus Blog 2: Crossed another one off the list!

Question: Ever put things on your daily to-do list that you’ve already done? I know it’s cheating, but I do that. Probably more often than I should. If I’ve taken out the trash, I will mark it on my daily list just so I can cross it off. It’s satisfying. There’s something motivating about looking at a to-do list that has some to-do’s already done.

I also find that there are some things on the next list that fall into the “just because I can” category. Things that aren’t necessarily difficult or have a significant reason behind them but earned a place on the list because I do actually want to do them at some point and for some reason just haven’t. Like visit Durango, Colorado.

Durango, Colorado
Durango, Colorado

Durango is a cute little mountain college town with main street shopping and an overall great little getaway. Durango is only 99 miles from where I live. So why haven’t I been there since I was 12? I don’t know. No particular reason. Why did it make the next list? Because it would be just silly for me not to go and enjoy this adorable mountain town while it is so close and easily accessible. I don’t know the future and I don’t know how long I’ll be graced living in this particular area, but while I’m here I’d like to keep a tourist mindset and enjoy all the perks this area has to offer.

That was actually part of the mentality in birthing the original 30×30 list years ago. I was miserable and this close to pulling the trigger to move out of California when I asked myself, “What would I regret not doing while I had the opportunity and proximity to do so?” As I penned those items the list quickly grew to things that weren’t just California based, but to what I really wanted to do overall. And then I capped it with a deadline to do those things before turning 30. I’m the kind of girl that can procrastinate with the best of ’em–I need deadlines. It worked…I crossed off 29 of those 30 items!

So yesterday as I was running errands in Pagosa Springs (the next town over, just over Wolf Creek pass), I sat in my car while waiting at the bank and looked at the clock. I was already halfway to Durango, do I do it? *evil grin* Yes.

So I did. I pumped up the tunes and cruised the remaining 50 miles and found myself parking along Durango’s main street. As I walked up and down the street with my iced chai tea, I paused as I saw the old time photo shop. I smiled as I remembered being 12 years old and dressing up in pioneer style and posing for a funny family photo. We traveled often with another family and I remember having so much fun on that vacation in Durango. Good times. Did I plan on going to Durango by myself when I put it on the next list? Absolutely not. But I had an absolutely fantastic random afternoon crossing off an item on my list…just because I can.