Tag Archives: achieving goals

Of Weeds and Roses

Life has a strange way of burying you when you least expect it and, maybe not so strangely, this often follows on the heels of your commitment to a big new goal. Sometimes this a bad thing, snowing you under with one disaster after the other until you’re sure you’re on some dark sitcom and the audience is laughing their patooties off at your misfortune. Sometimes this is a good thing and the ideas and opportunities roll in at blinding speed. And sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference because any change can be a challenge and all failure/misfortune is an opportunity.

Here’s a post I wrote in my early days of the Life List Club. It’s truer now than it was then. These days, changes are flying at me almost faster than I can keep up but I’m learning to be thankful for every minute.

The Wild Green Yonder
originally posted at Diana Ligaya’s blog 8/13/12 

This may sound somewhat familiar to you.

You commit to a big change in your life such as losing weight or becoming a published author. And, as soon as you set the goal and begin laying out your plan, the interruptions start rolling in. Likely, before the goal is even made public, your friends, family and strangers on the street are offering you goodies and distractions. A thousand ways to keep your goals postponed, the weight on or the words off the page.

It’s like the universe is conspiring against you and you have no idea how to stop it.

But it’s not really the universe conspiring against you. You’ve simply become an open patch of earth, waiting to be filled with wild green life.

Close Up of Raised Beds

You’re like a garden of freshly turned earth. Perhaps your goals are tomato plants or zucchini or a young apple tree. The moment you clear space for the new plants, you open a place for all the other wild green things to grow. They will fill in the garden if you let them, choking out the seedlings and saplings you’ve so carefully planted.

So, you have to tear the weeds out the moment they begin to invade. Right?

Not exactly.

Sometimes the dreaded weeds have their uses. My mother-in-law gets very excited about some of the weeds that pop up. She insists on harvesting them to make Korean delicacies before those weeds end up in the compost pile. For me, it’s the dandelions that thrill. The children and I love to blow the dandelion fluff off the spent flowers. One of these days, I mean to make something out of the dandelions. Tea and wine and salad.

 Dandelion clock

And, sometimes, there are treasures among the weeds. Nearly every year, we have a volunteer plant surprise in our garden. One year it was two sunflowers. They grew tall and nodded at the sun, delighting the children who pretended to be tiny fairies beneath the giant flowers. Another year we had a volunteer tomato, a lovely stripey green tomato. This year we have volunteer potatoes and I cannot even begin to guess how a potato ended up in the garden (perhaps it was one of those swallows that likes to carry coconuts around). If I’d have pulled every unsanctioned green thing out of the garden, I would have missed those volunteers.

If we tear out every tiny weed that rears its leafy head, we’ll miss the unexpected delights that come along with them. But, if we let them go, the wild growth will strangle those plants we put into the ground on purpose.

Just so with our goals. We must nurture those goals, watering them, clearing space around them and mulching them to protect from encroaching weeds. But we must also leave room for all the unexpected things, on guard against the weedy deluge but ready to see those things that enrich our gardens and protect them too.

For me, the wild green things are all the household surprises like clogged toilets and clutter that piles up, arguments between the children, phone calls and emails, and a thousand minor excitements and crises. But among those things are opportunities to play with my children, time out with my husband, calls from friends and family, and tidbits of knowledge that further my goals. The trick is knowing when to pull the wild green things and when to let them grow.

  Seedling

What are your wild green things and how do balance it so that your goals don’t get lost under the leafy tide?

Image Attribution (In Order of Appearance):
Close Up of Raised Beds by BrotherMagneto, on Flickr CC BY-NC 2.0
Dandelion clock by rachelandrew, on Flickr CC BY-NC 2.0
Seedling by _sjg_, on Flickr CC BY-NC 2.0

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We Have a Winner!

Happy July 6th!

Today’s the day we promised to announce the winner of a $50 Amazon or Barnes and noble gift card just for being an awesome supporter of the Life List Club and a fellow life lister!

Our winner is ….

Emma Burcart

Congratulations, Emma!

Please contact Marcia Richards at:

Marcia dot A dot Richards at gmail dot com

Send me your email address with your choice of eGiftCards and I’ll send your prize along right away!

A big THANK YOU goes out to all of our commenters. we hope to see you see regularly here at the Life List Club!

Surprisification

A Milestone was coming, a Life List Milestone Party, A Life List Club Celebration.

WOOT!

I’m new to this club we call Life List, so I asked a question of my Life List Mates:

“What goal on your Life List surprised you most or brought about the most unforeseen changes?”

With any luck, those surprises or changes would be of the WOO HOO persuasion.

‘Who’d have thought from an online class would come a perfect circle of  friends?’ Self-proclaimed ‘procrastinator of major proportions’, our Marcia Richards has been knocking the goals off her Life List at a satisfying rate, but it is Goal # 6, finding a critique group, that is the winner of major proportion.

Last summer Marcia joined an online class, subject: blogging. Real friendships were formed, a tight-knit group who support and encourage, discuss and share writing, publishing and marketing tips and brand development.

But books and writing and promotion aren’t the only subjects the group tackles. Personal issues, fears, proud moments and bouts with the flu–anything is up for discussion. Writes Marcia, ‘This band of men and women are the most generous and supportive group of people I could ever hope to have found. I was certain I would never find a group that was a good fit… We are each other’s inspiration, motivation and lifeline in so many ways every single day.’

Lara’s goals are on target!

No one particular goal has made a huge impact for Lara Schiffbauer. Rather, Lara has learned to identify how many excuses she mastered when not achieving past goals. Better, ‘I have learned I am capable of much more than I ever thought.‘  Lara also learned ‘that it’s all right to let some goals slide while I work like a fiend to achieve a goal that has gained importance. Now I know I have no excuses!’

When Sonia Medeiros started with LLC, she assumed that it would be a fairly straight path to the end of her fantasy novel.

For those of us who have taken a ride on the revision train more times than we can count, that there is a big ole Ka-snort!

Says Sonia, “I was well into it and I (mostly) knew where I wanted to go. I thought it was just a matter of committing to the goal and seeing it through. As it turned out, I wasn’t ready to complete that story yet. I put it on the back burner to focus on expanding another work, Postcards from Hell.”

When she started out, Sonia thought she had to complete the goal she set, but has since learned that, “sometimes, life takes us in another direction. I learned that it’s okay to follow those twists and turns. In fact, sometimes the most interesting places are only found if we go with the flow.” 

Jess Witkins claimed the title Perseverance Expert not long after she began blogging.  But those words were put to the test when she took on the goal that was giving her most trouble square in the face!  After a grueling 2 weeks that caused relationship problems, friendship concerns, family phone calls, a terrible diet, and less sleep than anyone should be operating vehicles under, Jess Witkins completed Fast Draft.

“My Life List Goal to write everyday was never stronger.  Week 1 of Fast Draft was fabulous!  I averaged about 10 pages a day on my book and I’d prepared well both in plotting and blogging ahead the week before.  When week 2 came crashing forward, there were troubles in Coupledom, a friend’s wedding plans to attend to, my sister was recovering from cancer, the shelves in the fridge were empty, and I was having more than one night of only 3 hours of sleep.” 

You know what, gang?  “I’m grateful for all of it!”  She may not have kept up with the impressive page count during that tough time, but she still kept writing and she learned about what’s truly important to her and how to balance it in her crazy busy life.  “That’s priceless.”

Gary GauthierGary Gauthier says he was “aiming for the stars” and we shouldn’t be disappointed if he doesn’t accomplish all his goals.

“Two of my Life List goals were a little lofty because I wanted to motivate myself and see how far it would get me. The plan worked. What I didn’t foresee was how much I would learn along the way. The good news is, I’m still on track.”

And now, the time has come to answer the question myself.  Compiling my Life List was easier than I thought, and helped me streamline and compartmentalize my goals. Not sure if that’s a surprise or a relief! Having the list helped me see where I was, where I wanted to be, how to prioritize, and most notable of all, identify the goals on my list that weren’t taking me where I wanted to go. As a result, I exercised an Executive Prerogative, and dropped 3 items from my list, an entire category, within a month of becoming a Life Lister.

You may not be an official member of The Life List Club, but if you follow this blog, even if you read the odd post, then you likely have a list of your own, in your head, if not on paper or in cyberspace. If any goals have surprised you, inspired you, changed how you do things, we hope you’ll share with us in a comment.

And you’ll want to leave a comment, trust me. One random reader who leaves a Life List comment on any of our posts between June 29, 2012 (Holy Calendar, Batman! That’s today!) and July 6, 2012, will receive a $50 gift card. Amazon or Barnes & Noble: Winner’s Choice!

Be sure to visit us for the announcement on July 6. The Surprisification may belong to you!

For more Milestone festivities, please visit our individual blogs. You can find each and every one of us on the blogroll to your right. Party on!

Albert Einstein’s Secret To a Creative Life

Do you think of Albert Einstein as a creative? He was.Albert Einstein during a lecture in Vienna in 1921

His left brain was hard at work in the fields of physics and mathematics. His right brain assisted the left in developing his theories.

He was exposed to music early in life and learned to play the violin. He fell in love with Mozart’s Sonatas and is quoted as saying, “Love is a better teacher than a sense of duty.”

A love of art in any form allows creativity to flow in the interpretation of the medium.

Einstein, himself, can explain his secret better via this  summary of a story I read about him.

In 1955, Jerome Weidman, a novelist, screenwriter and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright who died in 1998, met Albert Einstein at a dinner party hosted by a New York philanthropist.

After dinner,  the guests were led to a room lined with gilded chairs and a setup for musicians. Jerome was immediately uncomfortable realizing he was about to be entertained with chamber music.

It wasn’t that Jerome didn’t want to enjoy music; he just couldn’t. He closed his ears from the inside as the music played and turned his thoughts to anything but music.

After a while he realized people were clapping. He decided it was safe to unplug his ears and he joined them in their applause. A voice next to him said, “Are you fond of Bach?”

Jerome turned to his neighbor and looked into this man’s extraordinary eyes.  He knew he couldn’t lie to this man…Albert Einstein. Jerome explained that he had never heard Bach’s music and didn’t know anything about him. Besides, all music sounded like just a lot of arranged noise.

“It isn’t that I don’t want to like Bach, it’s just that I’m tone deaf and I’ve never really heard anybody’s music.”

At that, Einstein’s face took on a look of serious concern. He took Jerome by the arm, led him upstairs to a book-lined study and closed the door.

Einstein began to question Jerome about his feelings toward music.  “Tell me, please, is there any kind of music that you do like?”

“Well, I like songs with words and the kind of music where I can follow the tune. I like almost anything by Bing Crosby”

Einstein smiled and nodded, “Good!”
Einstein went to the phonograph and put on a record of Bing Crosby. After a few phrases, he lifted the needle and said, “Now, will you tell me, please, what you just heard?”

For Jerome the simplest answer was to sing the words back to Einstein. He sang it the best he could and the look on Einstein’s face ‘was like the sunrise’. “You see? You do have an ear!”

Jerome thought that was nonsense. Einstein used an analogy to explain it for Jerome. “Do you remember your first arithmetic lesson in school? Suppose at your very first contact with numbers, your teacher had ordered you to work out a problem in, say, long division or fractions. Could you have done so?”

Jerome answered, “No, of course not.”

“Precisely!” Einstein made a triumphant wave with his arm. “It would have been impossible and you would have reacted in panic. You would have closed your mind to long division and fractions. As a result, your whole life would be devoid of the beauty of long division.”

Einstein continued to explain that a teacher would normally begin with something more elementary and increase the difficulty as the boy gained skills.
He likened the Bing Crosby music to simple addition and told Jerome they would go on to something more complicated.

With each more difficult set of musical phrases, Jerome sang them all back to Einstein. Einstein was thrilled with Jerome’s progress. “Now you are ready for Bach!”

Back in the music room with the other guests, Einstein whispered to Jerome,

“Just allow yourself to listen. That is all.”

When the concert was over, Jerome was genuinely applauding his praise. The hostess came over to chastise Einstein for missing so much of the performance.

Einstein and Jerome jumped to the feet to apologize. Einstein said, “I am sorry. My young friend here and I were engaged in the greatest activity of which man is capable.” Einstein put arm around Jerome’s shoulders and said,

“Opening up yet another fragment of the frontier of beauty.

I guess a far shorter way to say this would have been something my 4th grade Nun used to tell us. “Stop walking around with your eyes and ears closed!” In other words, be open to everything beautiful around you. Don’t be afraid to experience or try new things. Creativity will come.

But I like Albert Einstein’s story better.

Creativity

As writers, painters, singers, quilters, woodworkers, cooks or any other creative you can think of, we often told ourselves untruths when we were novices.

Our inner critics would say, “You’ll never be any good at this. Why keep trying? Look at So-and-so over there and how well she’s doing. You should just give up.”

Some take those lies to heart and do give up. Others press on toward success.

The most important advice I read as I was learning the craft of writing a book was this (I’d love to credit the person who said, but I can’t remember who it was):

“Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle.”

When just finishing my 1st draft, comparing myself to the likes of James Rollins, Stephen King or Christina Dodd is self-defeating.

My most important goals are to be the best I can be, never stop learning, and always be open to discovering new ideas, noticing the beauty of nature and cheering on others who do the same.

What will you do to open up yet another fragment of the frontier of beauty?

What are your most important goals? What lies have you told yourself?

Come back on Friday when Sonia Medeiros will be here!

And don’t forget that June 29th is the One – Year Anniversary of The Life List Club AND it’s Milestone Party time!! Woohoo! 

We Life Listers would like our readers to answer the same question all of us writers will answer: What goal on your Life List has held the most surprise or invoked the most unforeseen benefits/changes?

Post your answer in the comment section of our Milestone Friday post between June 29th and July 6th. The BIG WINNER will be announced on July 6th.

What sort of prize would mean the most to all of you?

A Million Miles of Fun

1999. The year the artist formerly known as Prince asked that we party like.

That summer, chauffeur to soccer games, school dances and babysitting jobs, a familiar beat reverberated in this mother’s minivan. ‘Steal My Sunshine’, a one-hit wonder released by Toronto-based band, Len.

‘Steal My Sunshine’ is one of those songs that, should it strike a chord with you, you may never grow tired of. One of those songs that will transport you back in time. ‘Steal My Sunshine’ brings me back to summer.

A Million Miles of Fun!

In 1999, I still toyed with the idea of being a writer. I mean, only a select few special, talented, rare individuals could actually be writers. Ordinary people, like me, were moms, in minivans, driving kids to karate lessons.

In 1999, I was mother to a 16-year-old male. You know the type, uttering neanderthal grunts we struggle to distinguish as either Yes, No, or I dunno. My little neanderthal wanted his own money, truly wanted a summer job with which to make said money, but wasn’t keen on the actual seeking of job. Had we lived in the Stone Age, my little neanderthal’s reluctance to leave the cave would have meant no hunting, and no hunting would have meant my little neanderthal would have gone hungry.

We did not live in the Stone Age, but the Technological Age, and so my neanderthal was jobless yet well-fed.

I shared with him advice I’d heard somewhere, sometime, said by someone I can not credit here because the memory fails, just know this wisdom did not originate with me:

‘You can’t build a reputation on what you say you’re going to do.’

Silly minivan mother. I thought this wisdom would light a fire under my neanderthal’s couch-potato bum. Apparently, fire had not yet been discovered in his world.

Enter Len. Enter the lyrics to ‘Steal My Sunshine’:

And of course you can’t become if you only say what you would have done.

And then, the consequence:

So I missed a million miles of fun.

Fast forward 2012.

Trying the Cooper on for size. Toronto Auto Show, 2011

Minivan is now a Mini Cooper, and all of my neanderthals have learned to enunciate, found gainful employment and left the nest. Summer is on the rise, I exercise my 2-60 air-conditioning (2 windows down, 60 miles an hour) and crank the radio.

‘Steal My Sunshine’ blasts from Cooper’s speakers.

The last six months have been met with challenges. Nothing catastrophic, just life–with  a few extra ounces of complication. I have embraced the writer title, but the writerly tasks have floundered this year.

In my ongoing effort to be thankful in all things, I am thankful I am not yet under contract, for this year, I’d have failed. Deadlines would have come and gone.

And still, I am bothered that I have accomplished so little on the writing front.

Yes, allowances had to be made, time had to be taken for family and home and life. Yet I wonder, could I have been more disciplined in my professional life?

Good angel says, Yes.

Bad angel says, Hell, yes.

Of course I can’t become if I only say what I would have done.

In April, I joined the Life List Club. I have said what I will do, but all the life list clubs and lists of goals in the world mean little if I only say, or write down, or blog about what I would have done.

A million miles of fun is a lot of fun to miss. I am a thief. I did this to myself.

I stole my sunshine.

But now, I’m taking it back.

I know its up for me, making sure I’m not in too deep, keeping versed and on my feet.

Thanks, Len, and thanks 104.5, for the inspiration!

How about y’all? What song lyrics, movie lines, or verses of poetry light the fire under your keister?

Join us Friday, when Marcia Richards takes the reins! Or visit Marcia today and share in some Dr. Suess wisdom.

10 Personal Commandments for Living Well

Welcome back to the Life List Club! If this is your first time here, check the archives for some amazing posts. If you missed Sherry Isaac’s post on Wednesday, you can read it HERE.

We all have a set of rules we live by, whether we state them or not. They may reflect our values and morals, our thoughts on how to be the best we can be or simply lists of things we carry in our heads and use everyday – ‘I will do this, I won’t do that’.

I definitely won’t do anything illegal. I won’t deliberately hurt anyone. I will love my family. I will take care of my responsibilities. I will be accountable for my behavior. I won’t lie, cheat or betray.These are a given, for me. Let’s go deeper…let’s give these bones some muscle:


(Bet you couldn’t tell I’m a list-maker…hence the Life List Club. Without a list of goals, plans and to-do’s, I’d lose my way.)

1) Eat – Healthy, that is. No diets, no forbidden foods. Just lots of good-for-you-food. Whole grains, fruits, vegetables, eggs, low-sugar-fat-free yogurt, chicken/turkey/fish, olive oil, nuts and a little bit of dark, dark chocolate.

Leslie Sansone, walk at home program

Great walk-at-home program.

2) Move – Reaching for the remote to change the channel does not count as moving. Walking from the couch to the refrigerator and taking a stroll in the park barely counts. What counts most is a brisk walk, a morning run and lifting weights. But you can also count raking leaves, scrubbing floors and digging in the garden. Move enough to break a sweat. Then you’re burning calories and improving your circulation. (Now you can have an extra piece of chocolate.)

3) Love – Love yourself first – love every bulge, gray hair and wacky personality trait. Then love everyone else – your family, your crazy relatives, your nosy next-door neighbor, the bag lady roaming downtown, the grumpy cashier at Wal-Mart, your pet and all the animals outside your  front door…even the raccoon that tips over your garbage can.   

4) Laugh – Giggles are good, but let them grow into roaring belly laughs, the ones that take your breath away, the ones that won’t stop. Those are the healthiest laughs. You’ve probably heard that laughing decreases stress, increases immune cells and releases endorphins. Did you know it also keeps your blood cells healthy and increases blood flow protecting your heart? (You’ve earned another little piece of dark chocolate yumminess.)

5) Live Simply breathing, working, eating and sleeping constitutes one way of living. Another way is to choose to seek out new experiences everyday. A person’s financial circumstances will determine how far afield one can go to challenge yourself and explore, but there’s something valuable to discover even in your own backyard.

6) Learn – Learning new things is one my greatest passions. How about you? There are unlimited resources for learning and unlimited things to learn. How to write, how to fix a faucet and how to take great photographs, historical events, how to use your smartphone and how to grow broccoli. Learning stimulates the brain, fends off diseases of aging, can help you connect with other like-minded people, prevents boredom and encourages creativity. 

7) Give – Helping and supporting others is good for the soul and it comes back to you in unexpected ways. Give money, kindness, love,  time, attention, food or a smile. Send a cheerful card to an elderly person living alone; take a meal to sick friend; babysit for a harried mother; let someone ahead of you in line; send a goody package to a college student or a faraway soldier. We have so much to give, even when you think you have nothing at all anyone would want.

8) Thank – Gratitude is a gift that is always welcome. A simple ‘thank you’ is gracious. Don’t wait long to give your thanks. It will weigh too heavily on your heart.

connecting to each other like a string of paper dolls9) Connect – People need people. Simple as that. People live longer, healthier lives when they have happy relationships with a loved one or a pet. Building a satisfying relationship requires learning, giving, thanking and loving. Reach out…and touch someone – just be careful where you touch. 

10) Teach – In my opinion, we have a responsibility to pass along whatever we have learned through living. Teaching is a form of giving and connecting. All of us has something to teach others…unless you’ve lived in a cave all alone. But even then, you can teach someone the art of living alone and cooking for one.

Okay, now go reward yourself with some dark chocolate for your endless virtuosity.

What’s in your Ten Personal Commandments? Are you a list-maker like me, or are you fortunate to have the power of unlimited recall? Please share. I’d really like to know.

If you enjoyed this post, please visit me anytime at my blog, Sexy. Smart. From The Heart.

Life Really is Too Short (Even When it’s Long)

LilyRecently, my grandmother passed away. And, as is so often the case with the death of a family member, the regrets came along with the sadness. Why didn’t I write and visit anywhere near as often as I should have? Why didn’t I know her better? Why? Why? Why?

I realized that life is really too short not to make sure our friends and family know we love them. It’s too short to put off that visit, call, letter or email. It’s too short not to tell them we love them as much as we can.

Life is too short to create regrets.

It’s too short to put off our dreams. Whatever it is we wish for, no matter howClimbing Silhouette seemingly unreachable, we must strive for it even if it’s only a bit at a time. Whether we succeed or fail or change our minds, we must persevere because life is too short to do otherwise.

And, if life is too short to miss the smallest opportunity to show our loved ones we love them and too short not to seek our dreams, then it is also too short to kick ourselves endlessly in the behind for what we did or didn’t do, should have done, messed up or put off. Each moment is an opportunity to change, to stop taking for granted that there will be time tomorrow. We can seize the here and now.

Life is too short for a lot of things. It’s up to us to decide what and start living it.

I invite you to finish the sentence: Life is too short to…

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Come visit me on my blog or find me on Facebook or Twitter.

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In honor of my grandmother. Daughter, sister, friend, artist, wife, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother.  April 15, 1935 – March 28, 2012.

It’s Spring and I Feel Like…

Today is my first post on our Life List Club blog! It’s all shiny and new.

Oh, just look at that picture of the ocean up there in the header. Don’t you want to be there now? I took that photo on my honeymoon two years ago on Folly Beach, South Carolina.

Every time I look at that ocean, I get tingly and excited! I feel refreshed and ready to begin a new project. Spring has a similar effect on me. I feel the burning desire to clean and organize. I know I’m not alone in feeling this way.

As I was setting myself up on our new blog, I updated and assessed my Life List. The list is comprised of big goals and small, everyday goals. Creating that sort of list prevents you from ever feeling like a slacker, because there is always some small goal you can achieve easily.

Since I’m feeling springy and refreshed, I decided to begin work on one of those goals, a medium-sized one. Painting chairs.

chair planter similar to one by Marcia Richards

This style chair is similar to the one I painted. Mine was a sage green with tiny flowers painted all over.

Several years ago, I came across the idea to paint chairs for a couple of different uses: 1. painting chairs to be used in your home as a clever accent with color and style, and 2. painting chairs in solid colors or funky patterns to be used in your yard as planters.

I loved the ideas and right away searched yard sales for old, mismatched, or tired chairs that needed some love and care to become a unique addition to someone’s home or yard.

Before rushing home with my treasures, I visited my favorite craft store for paints in dozens of colors (so much fun!) and other tools I’d need. Once home, I started right in on sanding, prepping and painting my chair. I just wish I had taken a picture of it.

I gave the chair, complete with plants, to my closest girlfriend. It was lovingly positioned in her garden near her swimming pool.

I began a second one soon after, however life circumstances changed and I never finished it. That’s how this project made it to my Life List.

Marcia Richards' painted chairs for outdoor planters or home use

Shall I make my almost finished chair an outdoor planter or an inside chair?

Creating A Life List with a variety of goals Is The path to making time for the things you love to do, as well as the things that need to get done.

I’m planning to finish this chair before summer. I also plan to paint a third chair before summer is over.

A Life List serves many positive purposes. This time it served as a reminder to make time for my passions…all of them.

How does your Life List serve you?

To find my previous Life List Club posts, click right here.

Visit me at my Sexy. Smart. From The Heart. Blog