Just Start

I heard these words last night when I checked out a link my sister, Jennifer, sent me.   It was for a writing job with inspirational life coach Dani Johnson.  I’d never heard of the woman, but I was interested about the job (which I am in no way qualified for — this woman is looking for a 20-something-year-old who apparently requires no sleep and can be in ten places at once — sorry Jen) so I went and googled her.

I stayed long enough to listen to a few testimonials, read a little about how she got her start — it’s the standard rags to riches story — saw all the ads urging me to sign up, to attend a workshop THAT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE!  and then I started watching a video of Dani in action.

Of course she’s dynamic.  And gorgeous.  Aren’t all inspirational speakers?  I know my tone sounds skeptical, but honestly, I was reserving judgement, and still am.  Who am I to say whether this is someone who’s figured out how to become rich by preying on people’s fears and desires, or whether she truly can help people change their miserable lives?

All I know is she said two words that got me thinking:  just start.  She bellowed these words at the crowd.  And I sat up and listened.  The crowd  applauded.  What they were applauding exactly, I don’t know, but I do know that if she can have a galvanizing effect on someone watching a video, her message must have ten times the effect in person.

Just start.  Such simple words, such a simple concept.  Listening to speakers like Dani Johnson, and there are hundreds of them spouting the same words, it would appear that the overwhelming majority of us are just a bunch of dummies who have failed to grasp the simplest lesson life has to offer — just start.

Just start being successful, dammit!  Just start being rich.  Just start being happy.  Just start being a better wife, husband, mother, friend, coworker, employee, pet owner, house cleaner, citizen, daughter, son, grandmother, — whatever it is, just start being a better it.

But, starting is hard.  Even Dani knows that.  Her personal history tells you so.  Therefore, she’s speaking from experience and that makes her advice credible.  Oh, and she was on Oprah, so, really, that’s about all the endorsement you need.  Again, I’m sounding facetious, but all I’m doing is imparting knowledge.  That I got off the internet.  From sites owned and endorsed by Dani Johnson.

I am serious, though, about taking notice of those two small words.  The truth is, Dani, and all those like her, are speaking the truth.  If you want a better life, if you want to be debt free and happy, if you want the made-for-tv lifestyle that’s been spoon-fed to us from the moment we could stare at a television screen, then all you have to do is start.

Even if all you want is a simple, happy life, with meaningful relationships with those closest to you, if tending a garden and sitting in the sunshine with a book in your lap and a faithful dog at your feet is what you imagine when you close your eyes at night and open them each morning, then start working towards that.

I read Tao of Scrumble’s blog last night and this is what she and her partner, the Artist, did.  And they sound blissfully happy.  They sound like they’ve found their success, their richness.  It took them awhile, it didn’t happen overnight, but they got where they wanted to be because they started.

I’m doubting that they had any advice from a Dani Johnson, but, who knows, maybe they did.  And would it matter if they did?  No.  It shouldn’t matter where a person gets their inspiration from, all that matters is that they get inspired.  To start. Living.  Dreaming.  Hoping.

I wish I could turn back time so that I could have linked this post to Soul Dipper’s Occupy Blogosphere page on Thursday.  I think it would have been a good fit.  She has started something that can have an immense, positive impact on our lives.

There are examples all around us, every day of people who have decided to ‘just start’.  I look at my own life, often to the point of obsession, trying to figure out if I’m happy, if I’m content, if I’m successful.  The biggest problem is that I fall prey to playing the comparison game.  And when I was watching that Dani Johnson video that’s what I started doing.

If those people can change their lives, if those people can start businesses and become debt-free and have six figures in the bank, if those people can have everything they’ve ever dreamed of, well then, why can’t I?  Those people are the kind of people I should be.

It was late.  I’m sorry.

I woke up this morning and smiled when I remembered how I had reacted to that silly promotional video.  Because I have a good life.  Could I be happier?  Yes, but then, who couldn’t be?  Could I have more money in the bank?  Damn straight!  But I don’t, I have what I have and I’m okay with it.  Could I be a better wife, mother, grandmother, daughter, sister, friend, coworker, citizen?  Very likely, yes, but I do my best and I feel blessed that I am all those things.  I have an abundance of love and support and happiness in my life, and for that I am grateful each and every day.

For me, just start means:  Just start being present in your own life.  Just start paying attention to what is important immediately.  Just start being accountable to yourself and to those you love, and to those who support you.  Just start recognizing your personal worth.  Just start believing that your dreams, your hopes, your desires are attainable.  And then, just start making it happen.

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April 11th — Spring has sprung

The road to . . . everywhere

I think, Amy, that you sent me a very strong message today.  Thank you.

I had sought some advice from Amy, aka SoulDipper, about why meditation was so difficult for me.  In her answer she replied that it was hard and then offered this:   “The reason it’s hard? You need to practice it and do it faithfully. It is so worth it!”

I heard something else in her answer, something I desperately needed to hear.

Lately, well, actually it’s been for a long while now, I’ve been struggling with what it is I’m actually doing with my life.  I’ve been doing a lot of running away —  from myself, my goals, my dreams, my expectations.  It’s like I got to this point where I said I can’t do this anymore, I just want to do nothing.  And that is exactly what I’ve been doing.

I’ve had some tear-filled moments of desperate self-pity and soul-wracking self-doubt; nothing I’m proud of, believe me.  It got me nowhere.  Only more confused, really.

So, I picked up a few books and read.  I dabbled in my personal journal, cleaned my house, started cooking again, and planned a vacation.  All of it about running away.  Avoidance.

Last night I decided to check in on some friends and see what was up in their lives (their blog-lives, anyway) and I was wonderfully surprised at how everything was pretty much the same as when I last checked in nearly a month ago.  They’ve been living their lives, posting their posts and sharing their pictures, thoughts, humour and wisdom.  I felt immediately comforted.  And sorry that I had let myself slip away.

Then, while reading Amy’s post I felt moved by what she had written about loving and forgiveness.  As I read on I was struck by her words about the importance of meditation and the peace it can bring to one’s life.  I wondered why it was that I couldn’t meditate.  And the next thought I had was about how this was just one more thing I had failed at.

So, feeling sorry for myself — again — I added ‘can’t meditate’ to my list of things tried but not accomplished.  Then I posted a reply and asked Amy if it was my own fear preventing me from being successful at meditation.  My answer was right there in my question, but I failed to heed it, if I had I probably would have hit delete.  Thankfully, Amy said exactly what needed saying.

I fail because I don’t practice and am not faithful.  It’s got nothing to do with anything but me and my efforts.  For years I’ve been saying how I’m going to achieve success as a writer, and for years I’ve been failing.  But, instead of doing something about it, I hid behind excuses.

I know I get overwhelmed with other problems, with the expectations I have of myself and others (those can be SOOO unrealistic, believe you me!), with my job, my Union responsibilities, my family, my yard, my house, my spare time or lack of it, with impending retirement (HA!), and the list goes on, and on, and on. . .  but the truth is if that I want to be the success I wish to be then it is all up to me.  I must practice daily and do it faithfully.

Thank you, Amy, for your wisdom and your kindness.  I’m so glad I chose last night to ‘visit’.

Good morning! It’s revelation time.

Hello all!  I took a small break from everything — and I mean EVERYTHING — but I’m back now.  My apologies if I caused any concern.

All of a sudden, blogging and writing and messaging and Facebooking started to become more of a chore than it was a joy.  I’d get up every day and think:  I need to blog,write, etc., but I’ve got to do this, this, this.  If I write now, that will take up the first two hours of my day, but I need to get outside and work in the yard, then I need to clean the house, then I need to find time to see my grandkids, then I need to find time to connect with friends, then I need to figure out what we’re having for supper, then I need. . .

If I put off the writing until later then I felt guilty or put upon because I had something else to do in the middle of my day that was taking me away from other things I wanted/needed to do.

Somewhere along the line my life has become one great big long to-do list.  And I don’t want writing to be on that list.

Writing has always been something that I love to do, it’s the thing that has taken me away from the to-do list.  So, you can imagine (maybe) how unsettling it was for me to realize that writing was becoming an obligation.   It shocked me, set me back on my heels a bit.

So, I decided to take a step back, to think about writing, and try to figure out how and where it fits in my life.   Well, I can’t say I’ve actually answered this, other than to say that I know, in my bones, that writing is a need for me.  It’s my best form of communication, it’s where I feel free from everything in my ‘normal’ life.

Like many who write, I’ve entertained the fantasy of writing full-time, of earning a substantial living from writing, of being recognized on some social level for my writing.  But, like most who write, I’ve sacrificed the fantasy for the reality — life, after all, requires attendance.  Choosing family and all the inherent obligations that comes with it does not allow for entire days spent at a desk or computer, it also does not allow for many free evenings or weekends devoted solely to the craft.   And yet. . .

. . . when I say that I feel chagrined.  Because the message is that if you want it bad enough, you will make it happen.  There are abundant  examples of people who have made the fantasy a reality — they have put it all on the line and made their passion their success.  So, then, that leaves me feeling like I must not want it bad enough, I lack that special ingredient in my makeup that could have driven me to be more successful.  Then I start the argument with myself that says that for me family was more important — putting my husband and my son first had to be the priority.   Although I actively pursued writing and even had some minor success, eventually, the demands of family and the need to contribute financially — on a steady, regular basis — caused me to put writing on the back burner.

Still, I didn’t completely abandon it.  I continued to write and actually decided to go to university and get my BA, majoring in English, of course.  After ten years I’m still working on it.  I’ve allowed myself to become sidetracked by other obligations, stuff I don’t even feel all that passionate about, but somehow feel I should do, because others expect it.  Which, of course, is utter nonsense.  No one expects anything from me that I don’t feel compelled to give.  The truth is I want to please, and in wanting to please everyone else, I’m failing to please myself.

This is what my little hiatus has done for me.  It’s forced my to recognize that any lack of personal writing success I feel is because of my own choices.  And that those choices have brought other successes into my life.

And that that was where my sense of writing as obligation was coming from:  personal dissatisfaction with myself and my shoddy efforts at creating excuses for not doing the thing that makes me, me.

This was followed by the thought that It’s not too late; it is never too late.

Oddly enough, I realized that while watching Gordon Ramsay’s Master Chef reality show last week.  One of the contestants is a 60-year-old housewife who always dreamed of being a chef.  The look on her face when she was selected as a contestant said it all — sheer joy and undeniable determination.  If she could let go of her fear and reach for her dream, then so could I.   I don’t have a clue how I’m going to make it happen, I just know it’s time to stop making excuses and get on with it.

I am so grateful that I have this space to write in, it felt wonderful today to sit down and write out what has been in my head for the past couple of weeks.  I know this entry is more personal journal than it is entertaining blog, but it feels safe here, it feels right.

KLarson©2010

Setting Goals

At the beginning of every new year I sit down and write out some goals for myself — things I want to accomplish, things I think I need to do.  Most of the time they get forgotten, but a couple of years ago I came up with this list of writing goals.  I keep a copy of it taped to the wall beside my desk as a daily reminder of what I hope to accomplish as a writer. 

Have I managed yet to double my income as a writer?  No.  In fact, I’ve made no income as a writer, but I don’t let it get me down.  I have, however, stuck to my goal to write for at least one hour everyday (most days) and I have written quite a bit of work that if I would develop a back bone I could submit. 

No matter how much I write, though, there’s still this nasty little voice inside me that says:  they won’t like it, they won’t buy it, they won’t read it — why would anyone want to read THAT?  I tell it to shut-up and leave me alone, but like all bullies, it’s pretty persistent. 

Still, though, I keep trying.  I’ve had successes in the past, and I’ll have successes again – it’s just about developing my confidence and refusing to give up. 

More than anything I use this list of goals to remind myself that I have to keep trying in order to keep growing.  It’s also helpful whenever I start listening to that little voice as though it’s telling the truth, to weigh what I have accomplished against what it’s telling me I haven’t.  Pursuing goals is tough, hard work and it’s tempting sometimes to want to give in to that little voice that’s telling you you’re wasting time.  Having a visual reminder of what’s important and why has been a huge help to me. 

This little list could be adapted for any goal.  Feel free to ‘borrow’ it and make it your own if it’s something you feel can help you achieve yours. 

Wishing you much success in whatever you pursue.

 

 Writing Goals for 2010

  • I am going to become a successful writer this year.
  • I am going to be making enough money writing that I will double my income.
  • I am going to do what I’ve always wanted to do, and what I was born to do – write. 
  • My focus will be short stories and personal essays.
  • I will target magazines and on-line publications that publish these forms of writing.
  • I will publish my children’s book and write another one.
  • I will spend at least one hour every day writing, but more when I can manage it. 
  • I will make whatever personal sacrifices I must to achieve the above goal.
  • I will make writing my main priority, second only to family, in my life.  Work and school will become third and fourth.
  • I am a writer and I am successful.