Tag Archives: goal setting

A City Girl’s Take On Country Bumpkin Life

Lessons from a greenhouse
Although a city girl at heart, I’ve had the unique opportunity to experience country bumpkin life. I’ve lived in big cities and small towns and been happy in both, each having their different types of blessings and opportunities and lessons to be learned. (I’m on the “bloom where you’re planted” program.) I can see why people can thrive or tank in either setting.

Recently, in my country bumpkin life I’ve thoroughly enjoyed going through an entire cycle of growing food in a garden and all the lessons that go with that — lessons from a greenhouse to be precise. As a city girl I never thought I’d be the type to enjoy playing in the dirt, wrangling hoses and watering systems, or battling bugs. Correction, I do not enjoy battling bugs. Ever.

But as I carried a basket of fresh vegetables picked from said greenhouse, I started realizing all that I’ve learned in the short time I’ve had the opportunity to be a garden girl.  There are valuable lessons to be learned from a greenhouse.

1. Prep work is never fun, but oh so necessary.

Making the decision to grow something—be it flowers, herbs, vegetables or something else is just the initial step–but there’s a lot to be done between the planting and picking of a garden. Besides doing research and gaining knowledge on what grows best when and where, there is effort involved in making the investment to order seeds and equipment and do the dirty work to prepare the ground and soil for planting. You can’t just put seeds in the ground and expect something to grow. I wish.

First the soil must be cleared of all the junk and hindrances of past use. This includes getting rid of rocks, breaking up hard soil, getting rid of any weeds, and then replacing it and replenishing it with fertilizer and filler. Things won’t grow in hard crusty ground. New life and growth happens in soft, rich soil. It must be prepped and tended well before anything goes in it. Just as in real life, if we want good things to happen in our future, we must prep our present and clear it of the junk from our past that will prevent any kind of new growth. We are in charge of creating and prepping the environment in which we want to see growth and change. This requires a conscious decision, can get a little dirty, is not all that fun, but is oh so necessary.  Doing this is the key to getting what we want later on.

2. There are no instant results.

Wouldn’t it be fabulous to just drop some seeds in the dirt and come back the next day and have strawberries and blooms? Unfortunately, that’s not the way it works in the gardening world and that’s not the way it works in real life. I knew this going into this greenhouse endeavor, but I’ll admit it can be a little demotivating to go in every day  and all you’re watering is dirt. For months there are no signs of life or change whatsoever. Without the hope of a future harvest, it can feel pointless. But what we don’t always realize is what’s going on under the surface. In gardening, the seed goes into the soil, has to die, and then it slowly starts the process of germination and growth as it’s watered, tended, and cared for.

When it comes to our dreams and future, it’s very much the same. There may be months if not years of effort in doing the right thing, making choices and sacrifices without seeing one shred of improvement or movement. If we don’t understand this process it can be all too easy to give up when we don’t see instant results. Resist the urge to base progress on current circumstances. Keep watering your dirt.

Just as the farmer and gardener sow seeds in the ground of the kind of product that they want, having to wait and trust that the process will lead to a harvest, we have to sow into our dreams and our futures and be willing to wait and “water” them before we ever even see any progress or results. There are sunny days and rainy days, both are needed for results. Just because it looks dry and dull does not mean good stuff is not happening behind the scenes. Good things take time. Good things are worth the wait.

3. Tend and protect.

It’s so exciting to see the first leaves pop through the dirt. Green on brown is a beautiful combination. The first signs of life are something to smile about and can be extremely encouraging. Yet the work is far from over…but at least after all this time and waiting you can see that something’s happening.  Signs of life!

I almost screamed the first time I saw holes in the leaves of the beloved plants in that greenhouse. Ok, who let the aphids and slugs in? This is where I learned that pests and other attacks will come and you’re not the only one who wants to enjoy the goodies. If these issues are not addressed, they will kill what you’ve been growing and waiting for. Bugs are awful, but they cannot be ignored. In the gardening world, did you know you can put empty tuna cans full of beer that attracts slugs and drowns the little buggars? I didn’t, but now I know. Or that sometimes you have to sacrifice one infected plant and pull it out in order to save the rest of the patch? Sad, but it works. Greenhouse - growth! It should come as no surprise that when going after our dreams and desires and making the effort to cross off our lists and go after what we really want, there will be setbacks and things that come to attack and derail our efforts. There are other parasites out there that are more than willing to enjoy our labor and devour what we’ve been waiting for. If ignored and left unaddressed, they will. It is so important to pay attention and protect our dreams. Stay focused, and be prepared to fend off discouraging words of others, distractions, and counterfeits that are like weeds to our wants. Have no mercy for slugs.

4. When harvest comes, pick!

It’s actually not my greenhouse, I’m just in charge of it and have the pleasure of working it. I’m a worker bee with consumption benefits. I may do the daily watering and weeding, but the ultimate decisions and future of the greenhouse is not mine. The authority to harvest and decision to enjoy the goodies belong to another, but I do get to enjoy the benefits and all that goes with it.

It surprised me though that the owner of the greenhouse did not do anything once notified that the flowers were in bloom and the crops were ready. They were too busy. I thought they’d be excited for the news, isn’t this what all this work and waiting has been for? Instead, they were weary and not ready for what it takes to bring it all in. Here was all this time and effort spent on creating this amazing produce and beautiful flowers, and I watched in disbelief as it was ignored and started to pass its peak. All these delicious vegetables and flowers were saying, “I’m ready. Time to enjoy!” Sadly there was no one but myself to enjoy and delight in them…and I certainly can’t consume all of them myself!

It seems like this should come as a no-brainer, but I find that in real life this can happen too. Sometimes we can become so focused on the fight and the project itself that we don’t realize it’s time to enjoy the rewards. If we’re not careful and paying attention, we can miss our harvest. Don’t miss the moment. Or we’re too tired or exhausted when it’s all done and aren’t up for harvest season when it arrives.

It can be difficult sometimes to slow down and truly recognize the moment and enjoy it when it comes, or believe we’re worth the celebration or reward. I am a big believer in celebrating the work and accomplishments of others. Celebrate birthdays, go to graduations, dance at weddings, coo at babies, and take time to acknowledge and love on those that have worked so hard for that moment. There’s too much in this life that pulls us down, don’t ignore the moments or the big (and little) wins that make us smile!

Just like in the greenhouse, often times our harvest and blessings in life can be more than we can use or enjoy by ourselves. I don’t think this is an accident. We are meant to be funnels and channels to get good things to others. Gardening, sowing and reaping are about multiplication–one little seed with the proper care can turn into an entire harvest that many others can enjoy and benefit from.

With the owner’s permission, I took my basket out to that little greenhouse and filled it with greens and goodies to distribute and give away. It was time. The harvest was ready even if the owner wasn’t. If I didn’t do it, it would just all rot and go to waste. How awful would that be? There was plenty for me, the owner of course, and even enough left over to drop off the neighbor’s house and to use as thank you gifts. I loved seeing their faces light up when I came bearing beets, tomatoes, garlic, mint, chives, onions, basil, and kale. There was so much more than I could ever use.

The best part is, it doesn’t stop here. This is a season. One of many. There is a specific season for each task and opportunity and soon it’s going to be time to start the cycle all over again and enter another season. It doesn’t stop with the crops and harvest I have right now, there’s so much more future growth. There will be new dreams to plant, new ideas to cultivate, and new things to enjoy with reasons to celebrate.

Who knew there could be so many lessons from a simple greenhouse? Far from any type of green thumb, yep, this city girl has a lot to learn from country bumpkin life…and is still growing!

30x30 lessons
Harvest – round #7. Plenty to share. Can you believe this is in November?!

Looking For Next Steps

For those that feel stuck….

I know what it's like to be so worried you'll either do the wrong thing or, just as bad, do nothing at all. I imagine you've experienced this feeling before too. It seems that we all have, at one time or another, stared at a roadblock in life and wondered, Is this it? Am I finished? Should I give up? What do I do now? But scripture tells us the Word of God is a "lamp to my feet and a light to my path" (Psalm 119:105). This means that no matter how dark your surroundings, you never lose your way. God will guide you to your destiny. It's never too late.

Here is the key: You have to take a step. New beginnings don't happen on an escalator, they happen along a path. In faith you make progress by taking one step at a time. If you are determined to succeed in life, God's grace will enable you to do what may seem impossible to your natural thinking. God has promised to do His part, but you have an important part to play as well. 

- Joyce Meyer, You Can Begin Again

Quotable Quotes From People Much Smarter Than Myself:

  • “Chords that were broken will vibrate once more.” – Fanny Crosby
  • “You can’t start the next chapter of your life if you keep rereading the last one.” – Anonymous
  • “The new day is too dear, with its hopes and invitations, to waste a moment on the yesterdays.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • “Moses spent forty years in the king’s palace thinking he was somebody, then he lived forty years in the wilderness finding out that without God he was a nobody, finally he spent forty years discovering how  a nobody with God can be a somebody.” – Dwight L. Moody
  • “A ship is safe in harbor, but that’s not what ships are for.” – William G.T. Shedd

 

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.

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.

Bonus Blog 1: Continuing the cross-off…

It’s time to celebrate in my world. Yesterday the 30 day self-imposed blog challenge was completed, which was a big win in and of itself, but that’s not the only reason to smile and do the dance of joy. Today I crossed off an item on the next list–one that I thought would take awhile to do due to the nature and difficulty of the endeavor. No, not hiking a fourteener (I attempted that the day before and failed. Big bust. More to come on that amusing story later.) Today is about Wheeler.

Wheeler Geologic Area - Near South Fork, CO
Wheeler Geologic Area – Near South Fork, CO

Wheeler Geologic Area. This natural wonder of rugged terrain and beautiful geologic formations is hidden in the 1.86 million-acres of the Rio Grande National Forest and is only accessed through 28 miles on a difficult to expert level ATV 4×4 trail or a 14 mile hike. For the past 1 1/2 years I’ve lived in Southern Colorado just minutes from the highway turnoff to Pool Table and Hanson’s Mill–the access trails that lead to the trailhead–and I just couldn’t quite seem to ever make it happen. Wheeler Geologic Area has called my name and beckoned to me and yet at the same time eluded and evaded me, somehow remaining just out of reach. Until today.

Let me take a second to brag on God and the mysterious way He sometimes works. For the last 1 1/2 years my office at the South Fork Visitor Center flooded with tourists who I’ve pointed in various directions, telling them where to go to enjoy the best parts of the area. Ironically some of the very places I would send people with such authority and confidence I had actually never been. Wheeler in particular. I have an unofficial list of places I want to visit and experience in the area while I have the opportunity and geographic incentive to do so–a secret list. Although not everything I want to do has made the official “next list,” Wheeler was a big enough gem to officially make #25. But I don’t own an ATV or know of very many people that are physically capable or willing to hike 14 miles on a whim.

So imagine my surprise just one day after miserably failing in the attempt to hike a fourteener (#26 on the list) of getting a 7:00am phone call with an opportunity to go to Wheeler that day. The local ATV group (aptly named the Silverthreaders Outdoor Club with most members of the retiree 65+ variety) was heading out at 9:00am and one of the riders had an extra seat! Whaaaaaaaaat? After almost two years of trying to beg, borrow, bully, and bribe my way to Wheeler I had an immediate and surprise invitation to go in less than two hours. I love it when God opens doors!

Two hours later as I sat on the back of a roaring and rumbling ATV trekking the 28 miles to the coveted destination, I had to laugh. When I put Wheeler on the list I had envisioned hiking in and experiencing this wonderment with a group of good friends, celebrating our athletic journey and determination–maybe even on a camping trip with s’mores and stars and good beer. Instead I found myself sharing the adventure with a group of generous and well-seasoned outdoor lovers with more wrinkles, grey hair, and good stories than an AARP convention. Today’s reality was completely different than the vision I had in my head when putting it on the list. But I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

It reminded me of the lesson I learned when completing #29 on my 30×30 list…hot air ballooning. As a twenty-something putting “hot air balloon ride” on the list I had envisioned more of a romantic experience with a special someone, maybe in wine country or an exotic vacation location, and not what really happened.

For the hot air balloon experience I had always envisioned an incredibly romantic date with champagne and kisses and lots of bright colors and flames. (Can you tell I’m a hopeless romantic?) Reality was, at the time I was just months away from turning the big 3-0 and so stinkin’ close to crossing off the final items on the list, but had chosen to enter back into singlehood with no special someone to fulfill  the romantic balloon dream in my head. (That’s a whole other story.)

I had a decision to make. Was I just going to let that item slip by because in my dreams I had hoped someone would surprise me with it? Was I willing to risk not crossing off one of the very last items on the 30×30 list that I had been working on for years just because it wouldn’t be how I envisioned it when I penned the idea years ago?

I had to make a decision. I could wish and hope for someone to plan my balloon adventure and run the risk of being disappointed when it didn’t happen, or I could choose to face the current disappointment of doing it differently than how I originally imagined. Face it, there are things within our control that we have the power to manipulate and change, and there are things that are out of our realm of influence and we just have to make do with what we have been given. I realized that I had been given an incredibly fabulous set of friends who had enjoyed the 30×30 journey with me and had been extremely supportive throughout the years—why would I not want to include them in one of the last items on my list? No doubt some of them had lived their dreams vicariously through me as they encouraged me to keep ticking them off the list. Why would I want to disappoint them by giving up on the last item and not finishing what they helped me start? I had wanted the balloon ride to be a special, romantic, and a private moment when in reality I had the power to make it a memorable event to share with lots of people I cared about.

As I kept thinking about it the more I got excited. I had the power to turn a disappointment into a celebration. It was then I decided for my 30th birthday I wanted to celebrate it with all my friends in a hot air balloon. Why stop there? Why just make it about me when we could celebrate the birthdays of all my friends who were also born in the Fall? We could all have a big balloon for our birthdays! To my surprise, as the save the dates went out an overwhelming response of support flooded back in. There were people who had no intention of going up in a balloon themselves but wanted to come anyways and help celebrate with both feet firmly planted on the ground. I lovingly nicknamed our non-flyers “cooler jockeys.” One friend said she was so excited to help cross off one of the last 30×30 items and she couldn’t wait to find out what was on my next list! And so what began as a rather disappointing goal started turning into an opportunity to not only celebrate the end of an era with loved ones, but to literally look towards the sky and kick off the next set of adventures, along with the next decade! Yes, we even made t-shirts.

A fellow 30x30 balloon participant...and fall birthday baby
A fellow 30×30 balloon participant…and fall birthday baby
30x30 hot air balloon celebration
30×30 hot air balloon celebration
30x30 Celebration T-shirts
30×30 Celebration T-shirts

So today I sat on the back of an ATV for 28 miles crossing off a much desired item on my list in a not-so-desired way and couldn’t help but laugh. Had I not learned my lesson from my balloon experience? It won’t always look like the picture in my head. Again, it won’t always look like the picture in my head. I thought that I learned long ago that God will fulfill the desires of my heart…but it doesn’t mean that He’ll do it like how I pictured. Actually, more often than not He won’t. God is way too big and way too amazing to be put in a box and limited to my small imagination. Maybe one day I’ll finally learn that for good.

Waving to Wheeler
Waving to Wheeler
Fellow Wheeler participant
Fellow Wheeler participant
Cow parade on the way to Wheeler
Cow parade on the way to Wheeler
Wonderful Wheeler Participants
Wonderful Wheeler Participants28 miles on one of these

QUOTABLE QUOTES FROM PEOPLE MUCH SMARTER THAN I:

Day 30: Navigating through the fog…

Thirty-one days ago I took on a self-imposed 30 day blog challenge to get moving in the right direction on finishing the unfinished project of writing a book on my 30×30 experience started years ago. It all began with a bad attitude in a California coffee shop, turned into a list of 30 things I set out to do before turning 30, and ended with 29 of the 30 items being checked off…and one very happy, very blessed girl. Fast forward two years later and I was in a fog on where to go next–both on the book and on the next chapter in my life adventures. Stuck and not knowing exactly how to move forward on the 30,000 word book monster, I was inspired by a friend who had taken on the 30 day blog challenge and thought I’d join the ranks of those who blog. Thirty-one days later, it’s time to take a brief look back over this online journey.

Let’s see–several stories were told about memories and lessons of items on the completed 30×30 list, along with a few painful flashbacks, followed with some personal victories and wins in my current situation, and finishing with some admitted challenges along the way. Throughout the last thirty-one days of this blog challenge my next list grew from ideas in my head, to eight items written on a sheet of paper, to thirty-four items publicly posted in the blog…and it’s still growing. This is a really  big win. So how does that work into the ultimate goal of falling back in love with writing and finishing the 30,000 word book monster? It’s currently off to an editor for round one editing and I have a standing appointment on the calendar in September to discuss the next steps in the editing process…and there’s currently talks in the works for the book cover. I do however still need to connect and follow up with some other bookie items and contacts that I’ve been avoiding and procrastinating on. That will come. But more than anything, I am closer to the overall goal than I was thirty-one days ago. That is a big win.

Interestingly, I headed out to walk the pooch the other morning and found myself in the most beautiful cloud of fog that engulfed the canyon that I walk almost every morning. Everything but the steps right in front of me remained hidden. The cliffs, the river, the familiar pastures  and fence lines that I know are there, and even the road ahead. I smiled as I realized that sometimes in life when the fog settles in you can lose sight of the big picture and what’s ahead. This is not always a bad thing. There are times when it’s okay to slow down and focus just on the steps in front of you and not necessarily on the distance you need to go. Sometimes you need to stop altogether and dig your heels in just not to lose any ground. This is the time to breathe deep. Eventually the fog will lift. It always does.

The foggy view

I realized I was in a fog with my book project. I had been too concerned with the big picture and all that needed to happen that I was distracted with the overall view and the end result. The “I don’t know what to do” fog forced me to slow down and focus on the smaller tasks right ahead. It’s okay to feel lost and a bit disoriented, but all will right itself when the fog lifts. And the fog will lift. Fog is always temporary. When it does eventually lift, it usually leaves things refreshed, hydrated, and glistening when the sun comes out.

I look forward to the sun coming out and shining on this project. Keep checking in to find out how it’s all coming along. This isn’t just about the 30,000 word book monster anymore. This is about the next list and the journey of progress towards shaping the next chapter. Cheers to the next list, the next chapter, and all that goes with it!

Day 29: Authenticity and the real deal

Those with a good eye may or may not have noticed the absence of a posting yesterday. This was on purpose, sort of. With two postings left to do in this 30 day blog challenge there seems to be the need to finish strong and have the last official postings be profound and full of wisdom. I had no wisdom yesterday.

Not exactly sure I have any today, but I’m willing to take a stab at it. I sat at my keyboard last night ready to post something just to be able to say I did and to “complete the challenge.” And then I stopped. There are times that this really has been a challenge. Opening up about personal experiences and private thoughts is not an easy thing for me. Posting them on the internet for anyone and everyone is even harder. I didn’t know what I was doing when I started but I knew I had to start somewhere. Then I realized that there are times in life when you have to start somewhere and boldly move forward and to do something just to get started. Sometimes that’s what’s needed to become unfrozen and to take that first step, otherwise we’ll never take it and we’ll never move forward.

And then there are other times to take a step back, take time to pause, and to carefully and with purpose process and negotiate the next steps. This can loosely be called planning and forethought. Some things need to be handled with care and with thought, moving rashly or quickly just doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t seem right.

So last night I went to bed without a blog post on the official day 29. I could’ve chosen to complete this self-imposed 30 day blog challenge flawlessly with technically no hiccups in the days. Could have. Probably would’ve felt better if I had (my ego could’ve used a little pat on the back). But I would have known that it really wasn’t flawless–I would’ve known that my heart wasn’t in it and that I was just going through the motions. Honestly, I think you would’ve felt it and known it too, and that’s not fair to those reading this.

Looking back at my original 30×30 list I can tell that there are items on there that fell in that first get-it-done and just-do-it categories, and then there were the items on the list that needed a little more TLC and effort behind them. Some items took a lot of effort and planning and time. More than anything it’s about balance. Sliding too far on one end of the spectrum or another can be detrimental if not downright dangerous. The good news is that I care enough to notice and have the abilities to make corrections and tweaks where needed. And when it comes to the next list, this blog, and finishing the 30,000 word book monster…I care. They’re worth it.

QUOTABLE QUOTES FROM PEOPLE MUCH SMARTER THAN I: 

Day 26: Run, walk, limp or crawl to the finish line…

Four more days until I cross the finish line of this 30 day blog challenge! I know you can’t see it, but I just did the dance of joy. It’s exciting when you get to a point of being so close to finishing a goal or something you’ve worked hard on. Pretty sure that’s how I became addicted to running and completed a full marathon and three half marathons in one year.

I lied. Truth be told I have never been addicted to running. I don’t even like it. At all. Still don’t. But that feeling and the rush of crossing the finish line is what is addicting, and in 2007 I begrudgingly caught the running bug. After being relocated in California for the third time for a job and a promotion, I had to start all over again as the new girl in a new city. I was struggling. Pretty sure my friends were tired of my complaining, as evidenced when one of them got sick of it and asked me if I had thought about joining a running club and training for a marathon. Funny girl. I had never run more than 2 miles in my entire life, so the possibility of running 26.2 miles was far beyond comprehension.

She’s a good friend and quite convincing. Before I knew it I had signed up to join a running team and was going to make the attempt to train for a full marathon through Team in Training–an organization that fundraises for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society by training people to run or walk long distance events. Twenty-six point two miles…yeah, I’d call that long distance.

She thought it would be fun to challenge me to train out here in California while she trained back in Colorado, and then pick a race to run together. Not only would it be a healthy and stress-relieving activity, but it would also link me to a group of other active individuals with similar passions while being a part of a bigger picture and promoting a great cause. Sounded like a good plan. One problem, I hated running and had never run more than two miles in my entire life!  It’s not that I wasn’t athletic or pathetically out of shape, I just hated running. I admire people who do it, but I personally found it excruciatingly painful and boring. Apparently this meant nothing to my dear friend in Colorado because she signed me up to go to an information meeting at my local library that following Saturday, and sent me the address and meeting time. I got the hint.

Unsure of exactly what I was committing myself to, I took the challenge. When I told my family that I was going to run a 26.2 mile marathon and fundraise over $3,500 in five months to benefit blood cancers, they practically laughed in my face and patted me on the head. It’s not so much that they were unsupportive as much as they knew how much I hated running, let alone running 26.2 miles. But this organization and program was designed to help people just like me to do exactly that, begin a goal with no experience from ground zero. The coaches and mentors gave advice from what kind of shoes and athletic wear to buy to what to eat.  They even organized us into pace groups and gave us tailored training schedules so we would be with other people of the same skill levels. And to my surprise, there were people as slow and even slower than I was and having just as much fun. We met twice a week for training workouts that built up our endurance in slow and manageable increments, as well as gave us tools and tips for successful fundraising to meet our financial goals while at the same time hitting our fitness goals. Want to talk about commitment? Four months of 6:30am practice runs every Saturday. That’s commitment.

When I joined the running team I didn’t know anyone who had ever completed a full marathon, and now I was surrounded by people who were training to do just that! Each week after our Saturday workouts I would call my family back in Colorado and tell them how many miles I ran that morning and what it was like. They’re skepticism eventually turned into cheerleading as I entered into  the fitness level of being able to run double digits. The day that I ran ten miles I thought to myself, “It really looks like I might go through with this!” Although I don’t think anyone really believed me until I actually crossed the finish line and had the picture to prove it.

On January 7, 2007 my Colorado friend and I met in Orlando, Florida and crossed the finish line at the Disney World Marathon with our arms in the air, sweat in our eyes, and smiles on our faces. We were joined at the finish line by her husband, a friend who flew in to support us, and another of my Colorado friends who trained through Team and Training and ran the Disney  ½ marathon the day before. A first for all of us. I caught the race bug and ended up running four more races that year.

Crossing that finish line after 26.2 miles shifted something in me. Through that experience I learned several things: 1)  that it is possible to set big, hairy, audacious goals; 2) that I need the help of others to achieve them and I can’t do it all on my own;  3) that there is planning and preparation involved in order to achieve success and the desired results; 4) and that there will be obstacles to push through and many,  many temptations to quit. And most of all, that the effort is worth it. Running a 26.2 mile marathon is not normal. Less than .02% of the world’s population ever attempts to do it. But I found a group of amazing people who encouraged, motivated, and trained with me to achieve a goal I thought was unachievable. And in meeting my fundraising goal to benefit those with blood cancers I was actually able to help others in the process! Some of my dearest friendships in California came out of this experience. And several other friends have since trained and completed their first marathons as well. They looked at me and figured if I can do it—the very slow anti-runner—then anyone can do it. This one event set me on fire and gave me the momentum to cross off more than twelve items on my 30×30 list over the next two years.

Realizing it's actually going to happen--26.2 or bust baby!
Realizing it’s actually going to happen–26.2 or bust baby!

It’s okay to set goals that seem impossible. In fact, I dare you. And the best feeling is when  you reach the point where you’re almost there. Ok, the best feeling is actually crossing the finish line, but there is a magic moment and a tipping point when you realize how hard you’ve worked and that you are almost there and are going to make it. Don’t quit. And if you have, re-start. You may be just around the corner from the finish line. Crossing the finish line is worth all the sweat, tears, pain, and effort…it is.

Run towards your finish line even if you can’t see it yet. Don’t let it elude you. It’s there. Go get it.

Yep, we started in the dark.
Yep, we started in the dark. The short one, she’s the culprit–I blame her.
The beginning of the 26.2 mile journey...
The beginning of the 26.2 mile journey…
The hardest I've ever worked for a kiss!
The hardest I’ve ever worked for a kiss!

QUOTABLE QUOTES FROM PEOPLE MUCH SMARTER THAN I:

Day 25: The wedding march

When I originally created my 30×30 list several years ago, I almost put “get married” on the list. Almost. A happy, healthy, long-term relationship–sounds like a normal thing for a twenty-something girl to want, right? So why isn’t it on the list? If it’s something I want someday in my future then that seems like a natural thing to put on the list, right? But as I thought about it, I wanted to put things on my list that were within my realm of control and my sphere of influence. I didn’t want to limit something so monumental and life-changing to a number and a check on the to-do list. Why would I want to set a deadline that would put undue and undeserved pressure on something that I was only 50% part of the equation? Getting married is not a “to-do” item. That is a season of life all its own that will come naturally and in its own time. Who am I to put a deadline on that?

There have been two times in my life that I have had to make some tough decisions regarding entering into that commitment and that season of life, and twice I chose not to. If it’s not right, it’s not right. It seems more acceptable to have been married and divorced at this age than to not have married at all. I don’t generally get accolades for choosing to not enter into something that wasn’t right and for not being a divorce statistic…typically no bravos for making good choices up to this point. Sometimes it takes more strength to walk away than to stay. Too many people get married just to get married, forcing something that deep down they know better. They do it because they think that’s what’s expected of them, or because that’s what’s supposed to be next, they don’t think there’s anyone better, or because they’re afraid to be alone. There are a lot of reasons why people get married, not everyone does it for the right reasons. We’ve all seen it. Heartbreaking.

I’m sure there are some people reading this right now that might admit to themselves, “That’s me, I’m in that category.” Refusing to settle for “right now” is not anti-marriage or being too picky…it’s being strong enough to know where you’re at and being stable enough to be selective about who is in the seat next to you throughout life’s journey. Choose poorly and the journey is going to be an extremely rough one.

So I left that little item off my list on purpose, and I am so glad I did. There is a spontaneous streak in me that can be dangerous at times.  I know this about myself. In order to avoid panicking and the temptation to do something rash–like wake up in Vegas or order a mail-order groom—I decided instead to leave that particular life’s desire off the official list and leave my heart up to my Maker and his timing…and not Vegas or the mailman. But just because I purposefully chose to take the pressure off myself and be released from that numerical deadline doesn’t mean everyone else is okay with my decision.

I’ve noticed that my singlehood can make people uncomfortable. They want to “figure it out.” I’ve even had a co-worker sincerely ask “Why hasn’t anyone scooped you up yet?” True story. Try answering that one. The look on his face and his puzzled expression was priceless. There’s this weird and unspoken underlying expectation in society that if I’m to be considered normal, by the time I turn 30 I’m to get a degree, get a career, get a car, get a husband, get kids, get a house and oh, by the way, look and feel the best in my entire life. Is anybody else’s head spinning from the pressure? What happens if all that doesn’t happen in that short ten year time frame? Ten years seems like such a wee amount of time to fit so many momentous things if I have over 80+ years to live. What if I don’t have all those things or do all those things in my twenties, am I a failure? I may want them or desire to someday have them, but if they don’t happen in the allotted time frame of my twenties, is there something wrong with me or did I not do something right? With all the amazing things and blessings I’ve experienced  in my life, why am I judged on that one thing?

Not everyone meets that special someone in college or within the first five years after high school. If you did and that’s your story, congratulations! I love my friends who did and I have had the honor of standing in many a wedding celebrating their next chapter. But if you didn’t find that special someone early on and you’re still waiting, trust me, you’re not the only one. God has an individual plan for each and every one of us and it does not look the same or like any body else’s personalized plan.

Growing up my mom used to smile at me and say, “You certainly break the mold!” I’ve heard this more times than I can count. I don’t know if I break any molds, but I certainly don’t fit into one. My story is not the standard stereotypical story. It never has been. Honestly, I would probably be disappointed if it were. Just because I’m okay and have peace with the twists and turns in my journey does not mean everyone else is.

People can get weird about this. Sometimes I dread the standard introductory questions when first meeting new people because I don’t have a standard introductory answer that’s comfortable. And since I work with the public, it happens a lot. “Are you married?” seems to surface almost every time. My standard answer usually falls somewhere along the lines of, “Not that I know of,” complete with a smile and a giggle to match theirs. Often times I can see it run across their face even if they don’t say the words. “Why not?” I can see them sizing me up, internally asking themselves “I wonder what’s wrong with her. She looks normal. Seems like a good catch. Pity.” This is not in my head. I’ve actually had a gentlman in a coffee shop sit down next to me and say that very thing after less than three minutes of conversation. No joke. I’ve also had a perfect stranger ask me if I’m gay right after asking me if I was married. People need to put me in a box, they need a label. I can’t blame them, they just don’t understand. I’ve become quite excellent at changing subjects.

Leaving that off the 30×30 list was intentional. Putting “a marriage more beautiful than the wedding” on the next list was too. God blessed me with the inspiration of the 30×30 list and then equipped me to accomplish 29 of the 30 items. (For more on the one thing that didn’t happen, see my previous post.) He’s even more involved with this Next List, because I’ve asked Him to be. As I create the Next List, I have a new trust and faith that I didn’t have before.

Will there be items on this Next List that are unanswered prayers? Maybe. But that’s a risk I’m going to need to be willing to take. Timing is everything and I trust that my steps are ordered and that God will keep me moving in the right direction. He’s got this whole thing covered. Eventually that direction will be down an aisle and into a happy, healthy relationship, but until that day comes I have a lot of other fabulous goals and adventures to keep me engaged until then. When it comes to the man in my life, I know he’s worth the wait. Extraordinary takes time. And if somehow he’s reading these words right now, he’s probably smiling. Cheers to the next list and all that comes with it!

Day 23: You are what you eat….and I ate Reese’s Pieces.

While sitting at the drive-in movie theater noshing on candy and vanilla soda, I started thinking about intake. I loved slurping my oversized Sonic soda while curled up in the car, munching on a few Reese’s pieces while tuning into 88.1FM to watch the movie through the bug-splattered windshield. (Mini lesson–make a trip through the car wash if going to the drive-in. It’s worth it.) There’s just something about movies and overpriced theater snacks that are fantastic guilty pleasures and a fun way to enjoy the summer. I don’t go to the movies very often–let alone the drive-in theater–so for me, it’s a treat and usually a good night out.

Intake. Over the course of the evening I started taking note of everything I was ingesting, from the shrimp tacos at dinner to the copious amounts of sugar that goes along with the silver screen. But I didn’t just consume food that night, I also digested multiple media messages through an art show earlier in the evening, movie previews, three hours of Hollywood, several songs on the ride home, and some interesting conversation to boot. All in one evening I consumed food, words, music, media, movies and more. I fed my mouth, my body, my mind and my brain.

The question needs to be asked, what are we feeding ourselves? With the consumption of so many messages coming from all different directions, what is it that we’re consuming? Are the words and the lyrics and the messages I let enter my world shifting me in a positive or a negative direction? This isn’t just a one time thing, these are daily choices. Just like my choice to load up on junk food came with the post-sugar crash (and boy did it), my choices in what and how I consume other things come with their own consequences, for better or worse. They can affect my attitude, my perspective, how productive I am, and the way I treat others.

I don’t need a whole lot to test this theory, just a few songs from different playlists in my I-pod ingested on a roadtrip can set the tone for an entire afternoon. Dance party or tears–all it takes is a tune to set the mood.  Just like when I feed my body junk food and I feel junkie afterwards, when I feed my mind junk I will feel equally so. When setting goals–especially big hairy audacious 30×30 type of goals–it’s important to pay attention to what messages you’re feeding yourself. This will play a big part in motivating you as you focus on your goals, whatever they may be. If we are what we eat when it comes to food, what does that mean when it comes to filling our minds?

Now that’s some food for thought.

Feed your brain
Feed your brain

QUOTABLE QUOTES FROM PEOPLE MUCH SMARTER THAN I:

“Much more surprising things can happen to anyone who, when a disagreeable or discouraged thought comes into his mind, just has the sense to remember in time and push it out by putting in an agreeable, determinedly courageous one. Two things cannot be in one place.” ― Frances Hodgson BurnettThe Secret Garden

“We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.” ― Gautama BuddhaThe Dhammapada: The Sayings of the Buddha

The only way to keep your health is to eat what you don’t want, drink what you don’t like, and do what you’d rather not. – Mark Twain

The only way to keep your health is to eat what you don’t want, drink what you don’t like, and do what you’d rather not. – Mark Twain

The way you think, the way you behave, the way you eat, can influence your life by 30 to 50 years. – Deepak Chopra

Day 20: Slap a number on it and call it good…

I like this concept of 30. The 30×30 list in and of itself was challenging and rewarding, but even in applying the number to this blog challenge has been quite entertaining. I have a very different feeling about this blog challenge sitting on day 20 than I did while writing on day 3. At some point during a goal there is a shift from “I wonder if I have what it takes to do this?” or “Is this ever really going to happen?” to “We’re not there yet, but this is really going to happen!”

I’ve noticed a change in my attitude and perspective from the old 30×30 list and the next list. After seeing the blessings and the accomplishments through the experiences of the 30×30 list, the next list seems a lot less intimidating for some reason. What’s different about this list than my last one? Do I have less demanding goals on this next list? Am I not challenging myself enough or taking the easy way out? Actually, those are all the wrong questions.  

I’m a numbers girl, I like being able to set goals and track something. Numbers allow you to do that. Saying, “I want to get healthier” is a far different goal than saying, “I want to reduce my cholesterol by 30 points,” or “I want to drink 80 ounces of water every day for the next twenty days.”  Or another example, saying, “I want to be rich” is harder to define than saying, “I would like $XXX,XXX in the bank by the time I’m age XX.” Defining what rich looks like to you is far more important than just using a generic term to set a goal. (Personally, the term “rich” to me is far more than a dollar sign and includes healthy relationships, peace of mind, fulfilling accomplishments or callings and more. But enough on that.)

I noticed on my next list that I left some items general and some are quite specific. That was on purpose. For example, some travel destinations I just want to check out, fulfill a curiosity, and be able to say I’ve been there–like Lake City or Telluride. Other destinations I have a specific activity in mind that I want to do while I’m there, like photographing Niagara Falls or scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef. For me, it’s not enough to just go and get the postcard, but I want to feel the mist, capture the beauty on camera, and experience the sea life of that part of the world. I did this on the 30×30 list too. I didn’t just want to see the Statue of Liberty, I wanted a picture with her. (I owe an apology to my girlfriends–we took 2 ferries and battled fog for half a day in order to check this one off the list. Thanks ladies.)

I have found that while creating this next list the questions that have helped me are more along the lines of  the following:

  • In ten years, what would I look back and regret not doing if given the opportunity to do so?
  • What specifically in my situation do I want to change?
  • What specifically do I want to experience?
  • What am I called to do?
  • How do I fulfill what I’m called to do?
  • What is scary to me?
  • What do I think will never happen?
  • What do I want to tackle right away and what is part of the long-term vision?
  • What am I going to look back and smile about?

The thing is, my list is mine. It’s not going to look like anybody else’s list. Sure, I have similar desires and dreams as a lot of other people, as human beings we’re wired that way. But the specifics are unique to me. And that’s why it’s important to be detailed on some items and to leave other items vague. Some goals I am focused on the “how” where other items need to have flexibility and room to breathe. All have faith involved. Years from now will the final list with dates and checkmarks look anything like the list today? No. But that’s half the fun.

One of the largest lessons I learned from my 30×30 list is what life looks like when we’re drifting vs what life looks like when there are goals and a plan. I don’t like drifting. I don’t mind relaxing or changing course, but I want to know there’s a destination. And what better way to put down on paper (or on a blog) what that destination looks like to you. The biggest lesson learned is that no matter what, learn to enjoy the journey…every step and detour along the way. Cheers to the goals attained, goals already in place, and the goals that are yet to be.

QUOTABLE QUOTES FROM PEOPLE MUCH SMARTER THAN I:

Day 18: Privacy, my friends, is out the window.

Google Privacy

With all that’s been going on in the news regarding the CIA, NSA, Snowden, and companies like Verizon raising eyebrows, it’s hard not to think about today’s notion of privacy. Technology alone has made it easier than ever to be able to get our voices heard and communicate with one another, but few probably stop to think about the cost and that the concept of privacy is not what it used to be.

Yet somehow in our minds we think it should be. We keep our smart-phones glued to our hip, connecting us to the world beyond. That one piece of technology is able to give in detail who we talk to, how, how often, when, where we are when we do, and what our interests are through apps and internet usage.  And then we naively think that no one would want or should have access to that data. We willingly post pictures and details of our daily lives on social websites–what we’re eating, who we’re with, why we’re bored, etc–but yet seem to want to maintain the notion that our lives are our own and should still be private. The Facebook generation has no problems posting inner dialogue and risky outer moments on the internet for all to see, but then is surprised when employers frown or even invoke consequences on that same behavior.

Facebook privacy settings...time to check 'em.

As public as we make ourselves, there is still the thought of a “right to privacy.” Every time Facebook changes their parameters and settings, there is a following uproar to the loss of privacy, and yet many of us fail to change our own settings to maintain even the littlest of privacy allotted. If you haven’t yet, Google yourself. It’s not a bad thing to know just what is out there and what others are seeing. (It’s a scary, yet thoroughly entertaining excercise. I highly recommend it.) And just for giggles, Google your parents, some of your friends, and even some collegues too.

Have you Googled yourself lately?

Even with this blog, as a fairly private person I find myself struggling with the fact that my words are out there for anyone to see at any given point–and I’m the one that chose to put them out there! That is extremely intimidating. Once words are out, they cannot be taken back. That’s part of the beauty in what makes them so powerful. Our words shape our future and the future of others. Whether we choose to admit it or not, we are living the lives our long-ago words created.

When I first took on this 30 day self-imposed blog challenge, it was initially for me to tackle my book slump and get the creative juices flowing again so that one day the 30,000 word book monster sitting on my computer wouldn’t just be sitting on my computer. I even had the blog settings locked, set on private, and blocked the engines from crawling it. I meant business. What a strange dichotemy though–I had chosen to publish to the internet and yet didn’t want “the public” to see it. I was a walking talking hypocrisy. So with a big breath I changed the settings and opened myself up to the world…or at least to wordpress.

If I were truly honest with myself, I would admit that the notion of privacy is probably one of the road blocks on moving forward and finishing the book. I want to stay private. I like it. But how on earth am I to publish a book on the 30×30 project if 1) I am not completely honest and open and include details on that particular journey, 2) get over whatever fears I have in sharing the highs and lows of my current journey and situation, 3) don’t tell anyone I’m doing this, and 4) change the dang privacy settings on my blog! There is no way my life is going to be able to help anyone else’s if I stay locked away for my own personal security reasons. The whole point of this journey, this book, this blog, is to help someone else in their own. And when I don’t have good answers on “the how,” I tend to shy away. I’m human, I want to know the plan, the dirty details, the next steps…”the how.”

That is where faith comes in. When we know what to do and have the direction or instructions, it’s time to just step forward and do it. This is me doing it. At day 18 on the blog challenge we’re over halfway done. High five. The settings have been changed and this is a completely open blog, linked to Facebook and everything. Another high five. The 30,000 word monster is currently with an editor for round one editing. That’s the biggest high five of them all.

More than anything, thank  you to all who have been along on this journey so far, who are just joining, and to all those who are a part of the future stages. And when the 30,000 word book monster finally does come to fruition…I hope Google finds it.

Day 14: The days that leave scars…

Today the plan was to tackle the ugly and confront my procrastination. I always have good intentions to do that but always seem to find a reason to postpone it another time. *smiling* But today was the day. For reals this time.

This last April I was sideswiped by an unexpected loss through suicide which shattered my world and broke my heart in too many ways to count. For anyone who has gone through this kind of loss, you’ll understand me when I say that I went numb. Completely and absolutely numb. This of course is a part of the body’s emotional protection–and thank goodness for it, because if we were allowed to feel the depth and the entirety of the loss all at once it would be absolutely crushing beyond repair. In time, different forms of pain come through and emerge in layers later on as the shock starts to wear off, but the initial trauma just made everything freeze and stand still in my world. This particular pain will always leave a mark and a scar, forever leaving you changed.

So what happens in April for everyone else that didn’t happen in my world? Taxes. Thankfully I was able to file for an extension and push that onto the back burner to be dealt with later. But sooner or later, “later” comes and today it came for me. Technically I have until this October to file, but I do not like having stuff like that hang over my head. I am an excellent procrastinator, but even I will only allow certain things to go so far. Things like that are a nagging to-do that tend to hang in the shadows and zap the enjoyment of any type of free time or pleasant activities. I want to be thought of as a good little law abiding tax-paying citizen. (We will not get into a political discussion on taxes, but no matter where you personally lie on the matter, I have chosen to take the perspective to be very grateful to live in this country and enjoy the freedoms that come with calling America home. Freedom isn’t free. Although not enjoyable, I will be grateful. Ok, enough on that.)

I would have tackled this task a wee bit sooner, but while I had everything laid out in my home office as I was getting it all organized, the fire evacuation happened and every bit of paper ended up in one big pile in a gym bag as I rushed to pack my car. (See day 2 blog posting for more on that experience.) So today was “tackle taxes” day. And guess what? I did! That in and of itself was a big win. Although not on the official “next list”, it still was one of the bigger to-do items on my personal daily list that required a bit of celebration.

To celebrate today’s victory over procrastination, I went to Clement’s Park in Littleton, Colorado (where I grew up) for a walk around the lake and to enjoy the fresh air. The 1.4 mile pathway around the lake just called my name and begged me to come play. I haven’t lived in Littleton since I was eighteen and I hadn’t been to visit this area in years. It was fun to see how things had changed and how strangely they seemed the same. What I did not expect was to trade one heartbreak for another.

As I was walking along the path I found myself taking a detour up toward’s familiar territory and old stomping grounds from my past, Columbine High School, and soon found myself at the edge of something I was unprepared to handle today. As my flip flops flopped closer I could already feel the tears welling up under my sunglasses. I was at the edge of the Columbine Memorial commemorating the 13 lives loved and lost during the shooting at the high school on April 20, 1999. Senior year. The memories flooded back–there was no numbness this time.

I stood by the stone memorial that seemed so peaceful and in such stark contrast to the hatred and violence that created it. Knowing this was going to sting, I just stood there, taking deep breaths as I read the quotes and commemorative comments etched in stone under each name. Touching each name, I remembered being shattered then too. Families were torn apart, the quiet community rocked, and innocence was lost that day. Over a dozen of us were crammed in a room glued to the television with a list of names being checked off in the “safe” column as we saw them on the newsfeed or heard word through the teenage grapevine. Not everyone was accounted for. Thankfully, the water feature at the entrance broke the silence, keeping a continual background ambiance that otherwise would have been eerily silent.

http://www.brentpix.com/Colorado/Columbine-Memorial/22659878_FZ2p5x/1815725820_LphtQr8#!i=1815725820&k=LphtQr8

It’s in moments like these that reflection on life and the briefness of it invade reality in the most unexpected and uninvited way. Whether we choose to recognize it or not, life is a gift…and it is short. Very very short. Some are shorter than others and some are cut short in ways that will never ever make sense this side of heaven. I have learned that it is okay to ask our Maker the tough questions and take our heartbreak and tears to Him, but He  lovingly doesn’t always answer those questions in the way we expect. He promises healing, but the pieces very rarely get put back together the way they were before or the way we think they should. And some questions will never have answers to them at all. I believe that sometimes that is part of a protection mechanism too, much like numbness. In time, some answers do come–and in time, some answers don’t need to come anymore. That’s part of the beauty of the healing process. Either way, time seems to be involved.

I think that is partly why I have clung so tightly to the concept of the 30×30 list and the importance of goals and setting plans in place. The time we have here on earth is limited and valuable and I want to be a good steward of that precious resource. Time is one of the most valuable resources we have. Even when tragedy tears through our world, there is a hope that in time there will eventually be healing. And no matter the type of wound or how big and ugly the scar, it is a reminder that we are still alive.

And as long as I am still alive, I have been given the opportunity to cross one more thing off the list…and I’m going to take it.

Image
ImageImage

Photo by David Keyzer
“Never Forgotten” – Photo by David Keyzer

http://www.brentpix.com/Colorado/Columbine-Memorial/22659878_FZ2p5x/1815725820_LphtQr8#!i=1815725820&k=LphtQr8

Day 13: When you don’t know what you’re doing, do something.


Image

Yesterday was an interesting day. I had the opportunity to meet with an editor regarding the next steps on this 30×30 book. Have I ever published a book? No. Do I have any clue what I’m doing? No. But there I was sitting across from her at the coffee shop trying to answer questions on what I was doing and where we needed to go with this. Thankfully, she knows what she’s doing even if I don’t. (Mini lesson: when you don’t know what you’re doing, don’t be afraid to bring in reinforcements that do.)

I’ve had the majority of the book written for awhile, but then like all writers I hit the slump. Actually, it was a little more than just writer’s block. I was at full on war with it. So there the file sat on the computer, all sad and lonely and unopened for over a year. My friends knew better than to ask me about it. Without realizing it, I had just come to the point where I had done my part and it was time to turn it over to someone else. That’s probably the part I was having a hard time with…letting someone else read the entire enchilada all at once knowing that it’s not anywhere close to peak condition. As a fairly private person, it’s been interesting taking on a project that requires me to be not so private. When I was working on it I shared bits and pieces here and there with close friends, but it never felt done and I didn’t think it was ready to be read in its entirety. It’s a rough draft, not meant to be perfect–but I just couldn’t bring myself to let anyone see it with all its flaws. Ewwwww. But since I didn’t know what to do with it to make it ready, I just set it down and ignored it. And ignored it. And ignored it.

Until now. I am now proud to say that I have not only opened up the file, but I am sending it on to be reviewed, chewed up, and spit back out…and that is a very good thing. Progress doesn’t have to be big in order to be positive. I’ll take the little wins! So after a year of procrastination there is finally movement on pushing this book down the pipeline, red pen and all. Yay me. So although I don’t have all the answers or what this whole book publishing thing looks like, I look forward to more meetings with more people who know what they’re doing. And when I finally see it in print, I’m throwing a party.

TABLE QUOTES FROM PEOPLE MUCH SMARTER THAN I:

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” ― Maya Angelou

“I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.” ― Douglas AdamsThe Salmon of Doubt

“And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” ― Sylvia Plath

“How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.” ― Henry David Thoreau

Day 12: If you plan it, they will come.

Image

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from this Dirty Thirty experience it’s that people will come along for the ride. They will. I learned early on that if I took the initiative and planned something, no matter what it was, there was always someone else who would join in on the fun–but nothing, absolutely nothing would ever have been checked off if I didn’t first initiate the plans. Very rarely will people have the drive to make the effort and do something on their own, so stop expecting someone or something else to make arrangements for you.

I was, however, pleasantly surprised in how many people joined me on my journey. Yosemite National Park was one of those pleasant surprises. I have always wanted to go and see this outdoor wonder and found out that reservations needed to be made about 4-6 months in advance. I don’t know about you, but getting people to commit to something next week is difficult enough, let alone six months from now.

I asked around to see who was interested on a road trip to Northern California and didn’t quite get the huge response I was looking for. But knowing that campsites fill up quickly I made the reservations and put down the deposit to hold a tent cabin at Curry Village. (And yes, it is actually a tent-cabin. I didn’t even know they existed, but they have them at Curry Village in Yosemite National Park.) I decided I would rather make reservations and take the risk that the trip might not happen then wait and find out later on that there’s no availability and not be able to go at all.

I told myself that if I had to go alone in order to cross this off my list, then so be it. Obviously I would rather have friends come with me, but I was not about to let a lack of support stop me from accomplishing #25 on my list. I figured I was a big girl, I could handle a weekend by myself. It might even be good for me. I had come too far already to be thwarted by someone else’s lack of enthusiasm. Turns out, three girlfriends were game for a road trip, so we all piled in a car for a girl’s getaway to go camping in Yosemite National Park. I think we giggled the whole five hour drive up there.

This is not the only item on my list where I had to make the first initial plans to do something whether anyone else would do it with me or not, but it was the one that I realized that other people were counting on me for their own adventures. In the car ride on the way home they asked me what the next thing was on the list—they wanted to know where we were going next. “This was fun Ash, where are we going next?” These girls had helped me cross off New York, seeing a Broadway play, wine tasting in Temecula to celebrate graduation, and skydiving. But sitting in that back seat on the way home from Yosemite was the first time I realized that my list was not my own, I was not the only one looking forward to crossing things off my list.

I have since discovered that if I am willing to organize and take the first steps to plan and put things in motion, there is always someone who will tag along and join in on the fun. I like to call these people tag-alongs. (They won’t put in the effort or ever start their own projects, but they’ll always hitch on to someone else.) And that is okay. The world needs leaders and followers. Be the leader in your own life and invite others to follow you in your journey.

On the road trip of life, you can pack the car, pick the destination, and turn on the ignition long before and without the help of anybody else. Once all the preparation and menial tasks are done, don’t be surprised when other passengers want to get in beside you and tag along for the ride. Let them. 

QUOTABLE QUOTES FROM PEOPLE MUCH SMARTER THAN I:

Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down.” – Oprah Winfrey 

“If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.” ― Yogi Berra

Day 9: Don’t judge me by my golf game

Girlie goofy golf...my kind of game
Girlie goofy golf…my kind of game

Let’s talk about golf…and how I can’t. I was reminded of this recently when out on the range at the local golf club and found myself explaining to my golf partner why he was suddenly and unexpectedly playing best ball. (For all you non-golfers out there, best ball is when you play off of whoever’s ball is in the best location for the next shot. I kind of like to call it “free for all” golf. My favorite.)

Part of what has been so enjoyable about this 30 day blog challenge is going back through the old list and recounting the steps taken on each item. Ahhhhh, memories. I have to laugh when I come across “learn to golf” on the list because, really, at what point do you consider yourself “learned”? Golf is a lot like math or a foreign language–if you don’t use it you lose it. And since I pretty much now only go out for the annual Father’s day round with my dad, any skills I did have I have pretty much kissed goodbye. So how can I claim to have crossed “learn to golf” off of my list when obviously the only way I play is goofy golf? That’s simple. It was never about golf to begin with.

Golf, like photography, is one of those things that is a constant work in progress. The more you do it, the better you become. When I slapped that particular item on the list I was working in an industry where a lot of business is done out on the golf course. Being that I was one of the few women in a heavily dominated male industry–and I wasn’t a golfer–I was at a slight disadvantage. Golf intimidated me. I am totally ok with business meetings being held out on the green, I just don’t like not being invited to them.

On one of my business trips, some of my fabulous co-workers signed me up for a golf tournament as a joke, fully knowing that the only kind of golf I had ever played was putt-putt. A wise and kind soul took pity on me and gave me a heads up, secretly setting me up with two lessons at his country club. Friends, you cannot learn how to golf in two lessons.

I seriously thought about calling in sick, because quite honestly, I felt sick. The last thing I wanted to do was be the butt of all golf jokes with a bunch of executives. I was prepared to be mortified and dreaded the embarrassment I knew was to come. What I did learn and was not expecting at all, was that the joke was on them.

Although my two lessons did not make me a golf superstar, what they did do is impress the boys that I even made an effort to learn their game at all. Apparently they liked the fact that I even made the attempt and that I wanted to get out and play with them. And that day, in that particular tournament, I got a whole 18 rounds of golf lessons with some very intelligent and likable businessmen. Instead of making me feel like the annoying little sister tagging along on the course, they made golf fun for me and officially introduced me to the game. (And they even taught me how to cheat. Yesssssss!)

Over the next couple years I played in many many golf tournaments, learning the art of shmoozing on the course, and I now know the difference between an iron, driver, and pitching wedge. I can see why guys like the sport so much. There is nothing not to like about getting out and enjoying the outdoors for a few hours, partaking in a little smack talk, losing a bet or two, and of course, making skid marks in a golf cart.

Although my golf game will never probably look like a “real” golf game, I have to say I do like to make the attempt every now and then. The whole point of putting it on the 30×30 list was to not be intimidated by the game any more. Golf, and the fact that I knew nothing about it, intimidated me. I hate being intimidated. Especially by something as silly as a little white golf ball. Although I will never be the next Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson, I can cross “learn to golf” off my list in good conscience because I am no longer intimidated to throw on my golf shoes, hit the green, or be bossed around by a little ball. Much. I do not need to have mastered the game to be the master of my list. (Although I need to make sure that those I play with know that we’re more than likely going to be playing goofy golf. I’ve even had a game of golf turn into croquet. Be forewarned.)

It's time to enjoy the journey
It’s time to enjoy the journey

QUOTABLE QUOTES FROM PEOPLE MUCH SMARTER THAN I:

Day 8: Good intentions mean squat

Image

Ever missed a deadline or been late meeting someone? I hate being late, and yet somehow it happens more often than I would like. I’m the squeeze-in-just-in-the-nick-of-time, or more often the five minutes late girl. I have a friend who is always on time. I don’t know if I’ve ever gone out to meet her and I was the one waiting for her. Even when I’m early, she’s earlier. I can’t win. That’s kind of annoying when you’re trying to improve your timely habits. She makes me look bad. *nose crinkle*

I never intend to be late. Who really does? I don’t think my estimation of how long it takes to get somewhere is way off, I think I just have a personal problem of actually getting out the door by the time I intended to get out the door. There’s always the last minute to-do’s that I think don’t take much time but apparently take more time than I think–like filling the water bottle, grabbing  the right jacket or shoes, finding the phone…and of course, the pre-trip potty. See, about five minutes worth. Why don’t I account for this? Don’t worry, this is not a mystery I am going to try and solve today.

After creating my 30×30 list at the coffee shop while playing hookie from work that day, I walked away inspired and with a plan. I quickly realized that without any action behind it, all I had was a list of good intentions. Boo. That will get me nowhere–no one is inspired by a list of good intentions. It wasn’t until I had checked off several items on the list that friends started realizing that I really meant to do what was on the list. It wasn’t just a wish-list, this was really happening. After awhile, things clicked and people really started getting on board with it. The 30×30 list started gaining a lot of momentum.

There was roughly a two year period of time where quite a bit of the 30×30  items were checked off. The list seemed to gain momentum–the more I did the more I wanted to do, and the more others wanted to help me. I’m usually on the more the merrier program, so that was really fun! I remember coming back from our girls camping trip in Yosemite and one friend yelled out over the music to me in the back seat, “What else is on the list? So what are we doing next?!” Unfortunately, there were only two things left on the list at that point and one of them was buying a house. Don’t think she’d be much help on that one. I was kind of surprised at the disappointed look on her face. Just because my list was almost done didn’t mean the good times would end. (I think some of my friends lived vicariously through my list–it was kind of funny to watch. I really don’t mind sharing, but get your own list!)

It’s a rare thing to find people who do what they say they’re going to do. Most people have a believe-it-when-they-see-it mentality. And can you blame them? We live in a society where it’s completely normal to have empty promises flying around. We almost expect to be let down. It doesn’t take much to announce you’re going to do something. Not a whole lot of effort involved in that. Until it’s actually in process or done, words don’t mean much. But when you actually do the things you say you’re going to do, it’s amazing how refreshing and uplifting it is for everyone involved.  See it. Say it. Do it. (And then really do it.) I’m definitely a work in progress on this subject, but I want to be the kind of person who is known for doing what I say I’m going to do. I don’t want to be known for being unreliable. Or always being late. Yuck. I don’t just want to have good intentions…I want to have great actions behind them.

And on that note, I’m going to be late meeting my friend if I don’t leave right now. I know she’s waiting–gotta go!

QUOTABLE QUOTES FROM PEOPLE MUCH SMARTER THAN I:

Day 3: Re-hashing the good times

Celebrating Crossing off #29 on the list
Celebrating crossing off the last of the last of the list…

I found a video I created awhile back, highlighting some of the good times in the 30×30 journey. Admittedly, I had to watch it through my fingers (the amateur status is that painful, really), but it was really fun to revisit certain things that I hadn’t thought about in years. Some things even got a nervous giggle and an eye roll or two. Cooking lessons? Really? I almost completely forgot that getting a fuzzy friend was on my list–I live and love on Mojo every day, yet somehow I forgot that he was ever on the list in the first place. Sorry Mojis! After watching the video and reviewing the list itself, I decided to post the list in its entirety–something I haven’t really shared with the “public.”

So here you are–the official list and all the dates that go with it right here on this very blog. (Check out the tab labeled “The List” for the big reveal.)  It’s been really fun to look back and remember the progression and the momentum that built up surrounding this personal challenge, and all the people involved in making it come to life. When asked about my list, some of the 30×30 items just naturally float to the top of the list–like skydiving and completing that master’s degree. But there are certain things that fall through the memory cracks and seem to get buried under what I call the “sexy conversation items.” Everyone wants to talk about skydiving and swimming with dolphins. Eyes light up when they hear of the 10 day raft trip down the Grand Canyon, cruising the Med, or camping in Yosemite. But somehow it just doesn’t seem as engaging to talk about the “unsexy items,” like drafting a will, setting up a 401K, or organizing photos. Boring, I know. But those snoozer items are still items that were important enough to make the list. They’re important to me.

My point to this whole nostalgia piece is that not everything on the list has to be blow-your-socks-off cool or difficult to the n’th degree. Otherwise you can just create a “places to travel” list. That’s fun, do that too. But as human beings we are multi-faceted and have different degrees and levels of interest, creating things that challenge us in varying ways. So why not have a list that reflects that? Face some fears, put on some dreaded tasks and items of procrastination. Why not throw on a couple “that’ll never happen’s?” I dare you. The thing is, it’s your list. Do with it what you want. But start it. Then maybe years down the road you can look back and laugh at what’s on there…maybe even through a couple of fingers and some eye rolls.

30×30 Montage Video – Proof It Actually Happened

QUOTABLE QUOTES FROM PEOPLE MUCH SMARTER THAN I:

  • “Today we may say aloud before an awe-struck world: We are still masters of our fate. We are still captain of our souls.” – Prime Minister Winston Churchill
  • Creative people are curious, flexible, persistent, and independent with a tremendous spirit of adventure and a love of play.” – Henri Matisse
, French painter
 1869–1954

30×30 Flash Forward: The New Challenge

I feel very fortunate and blessed to have been able to cross off 29 of the 30 things on my 30×30 list (see previous post for more details), and although that particular list is done, it’s been crossing my mind a lot lately. It’s been two years since the “official” 30×30 list had been completed and celebrated with a hot air balloon ride, but some recent events have led me to revisit the concept of writing and opening up about that journey as I’m entering the next one. What does this look like? A blog of course. So here I am.

The new challenge: to write or “blog” over the next 30 days.

That seems like a lot of writing and perhaps a bit of an overkill. I agree. But since I don’t really know what I’m doing, why not just stick with the number 30 and go from there? So, here is day one–a tip toe into the first step of this goal. Tip tip toe.  I don’t know who is going to read this or what they’ll get out of it, but I invite whoever to join me on this journey–whatever twists and turns it may take. So cheers to the next 30 days (whatever that looks like!)

Quotable Quotes from People Much Smarter Than I:
Take the first step, and your mind will mobilize all its forces to your aid. But the first essential is that you begin. Once the battle is startled, all that is within and without you will come to your assistance.
 Robert Collier quotes (American motivational author, 1885-1950)
Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.
 Martin Luther King, Jr. quotes (American Baptist Minister and Civil-Rights Leader. 19291968)

30×30 List – More Than A Bucket

A few years ago I went through what I now call a quarter-life crisis around age 25 and decided to make a list of 30 things I wanted to do before I was 30 years old. To address this funk head on, I played hookie from work and took myself out to coffee to get my attitude in check and a fresh vision of where I wanted to go. And thus my dirty thirty list was born–the 30×30 list, if you will…and so far I have been incredibly blessed to have crossed off 29 of those 30 items! The most recent was celebrating my birthday with friends in a hot air balloon. Not bad, not bad at all.

This wasn’t just a list of lifelong goals, I’ll-do-it-someday, or “bucket list,” but something much much more than that. Bucket lists or lists of goals and dreams are certainly not a new concept, nor are lists with distinct timelines (think New Year’s resolutions), but this 30×30 list of highly defined goals jumped off the page into my every day life and became a reality in the journey of setting goals for the different “buckets” that are important in my life. There’s my education bucket, financial bucket, romance bucket, travel/adventure bucket, fitness bucket, and spiritual bucket. I had lots of buckets that needed to be filled with dreams and ideas, memories and friendships. I quickly realized that I was not the only one out there with empty buckets waiting to be filled, and soon discovered people not only wanted to help me cross off my own 30×30 list, but create and accomplish lists of their own. Game on!

Skydiving, acting in a play, rafting the Grand Canyon, swimming with dolphins, and getting my master’s degree were just a few of the items on the list. I love receiving e-mails and communication updates of 30×30 lists from those I’ve met along the way. I am a firm believer on the importance of setting goals for every season of life, regardless whether you’re 18, 28, or 58. And the list for this decade will probably not look anything like next decade’s dreams. If I can do it, anyone can do it. Really. We all have dreams–it’s whether we have the courage, perseverance, drive, gumption (and stupidity) to go after them. One of my favorite parts of this whole 30×30 experience was meeting others with dreams of their own and helping them fulfill their own buckets…and that is what having a 30×30 list is all about. So the question remains…what’s on your list? What have you done or are in the process of doing? Tell me your list and I’ll tell you mine!