Tag Archives: LLC

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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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!

When is Wasting Time Not a Waste of Time?

surprise kitty cat

Meme me, baby!

We all know how it starts. One innocent little Google search leads to another and then another. Pretty soon we’re on  I Can Has Cheezburger, staring at page after page of cute/silly/stupid/funny animals doing whatever until our butts are numb. Or that one game of solitaire or Bejeweled turns into fifty (give or take a few dozen). Or, that search through the pantry for the candy bar we hid results in a complete reorganization of our food storage system which naturally leads us to finally alphabetize those DVDs and sort the clothes in our closet by color and season.

When we come to our senses, the guilt sets in. We’ve just wasted time.

*gasp* Oh the horror!

We all know how evil it is to waste time. After all, time is precious, time is money and wasting time means we’re throwing away valuable minutes and hours we can never recover. Whatever project we were supposed to be working on will take that much longer. There can be nothing redeeming about wasting time.

Or can there?

According to author and entrepreneur Seth Godin, wasting time well is key to a happy, creative and productive life. It gives us a chance to relax and experiment, to work on a project just for the joy of it. Time well wastes replenishes our creativity and is a boon to our productivity.

But what exactly is time well wasted?

That would be time that we spend freely playing, letting ourselves decompress and explore. When we are done wasting time well, we should feel refreshed, ready to tackle new projects and see challenges in a new light.

Clearly not all wasted time is well wasted, as many last-minute college papers and haphazardly thrown together projects can testify, but neither is all wasted time another form of procrastination.

The trick is to know the difference and to only waste as much time as we need to replenish ourselves.

Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.

Here are a few of my favorite ways to waste time (well, I hope):

  • StumbleUpon: Flipping through web pages based on a particular interest is incredibly relaxing and inspires my biweekly Friday Stumbles.
  • Games on the iPhone or iPad: Currently, I’m playing The Tribez but I’ve also enjoyed many well-wasted hours with Plants vs Zombies. I do have to watch myself with games like these as it’s very easy to go from time well wasted to just plain old wasted time.
  • Rearranging stuff: Yeah, I know. Probably a weird way to waste time. But I sometimes get the urge to overhaul the bookshelves or rearrange the living room furniture.
  • Browsing bookstores and libraries with no real intention of buying/checking out anything.
What do you think about wasted time? Is there a way to waste it well? What are your favorite ways to waste time?
If you haven’t had the chance to check out last week’s posts, you’re really missing out. On Wednesday, Sherry Isaac talked about setting goals that make us strive and, on Friday, Marcia Richards talked about her ten commandments for living well.
Stay tuned, Gary Gauthier will be here Friday.
Photo Credit
Surprise! Another Cat Photo! by Michael Scialdone, on Flickr | CC By 2.0

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.