So Long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen!

The Life List Club has been a wonderful experience of achieving goals, working with some excellent writers who are sure to be successful authors, and making many new friends.

After thirteen months of encouraging others to make life lists and find their own paths to their dreams, we feel we’ve accomplished what we set out to do.

We helped you and ourselves set out with the tools to reach your current and future goals. Now it’s time to take those tools and pave the road to those goals on your own with determination, perseverance, hope and a plan.

Jess and I hope you’ve found something valuable among the posts of the Life List Club and we wish you well on your journey. We’ll be setting out on our own journeys to enjoy those dreams we are so close to reaching.

Rainbow Lorikeet

This is Lucy Lorikeet, our representative, squawking at you, “Don’t give up. Don’t EVER give up!”
Photo courtesy of Karin Cox

Marcia and I would like to thank all the writers and bloggers who helped make Life List Club the inspirational place you all found it to be.  Some of you have been with us since the beginning, and others are just joining.  If you found motivation through these quirky and sincere individuals, then please take some time to check out their individual blogs where more of the same can be found!

The Full Line of Life List Club Bloggers:

 

MarciaRichards

JessWitkins

SoniaMedeiros

GaryGauthier

LaraSchiffbauer

SherryIsaac

DavidWalker

JennyHansen

GeneLempp

PamelaHawley

MhairiSimpson

CarrieMumford

CatieRhodes

EmilyMoir

Diana Ligaya

Thank you to everyone who read and shared their own life list with us over the past year!  You brought a joy and sense of accomplishment to our hearts more than you can imagine.  Wishing you all well!  Now take that goal list/bucket list/dream list, and go get ‘em!

Hugs,

Marcia and Jess

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You Say Tomato…

Photo by benoit_d at Flickr

“What we see depends mainly on what we look for.” John Lubbock

Sometimes success seems elusive.  Before we get to where we want to be, we burn out, or lose interest in what we are striving for.  We become frustrated with where we are, and the results of our hard work.

It’s at these moments that perspective makes all the difference.

We begin writing goals and objectives with a certain destination in mind.  That destination is the best guess at what we want to achieve.  It may not be a measurable destination. It may not be a realistic destination.  It might be a destination filled with all the emotion of our hopes and dreams, and it might not ever be achievable.

But what happens when we are miserable and stressed out?  What do we do when our dreams don’t seem to be coming along as well as we’d hoped?  If we’re like most people, we say “Don’t give up.  You can do it.”  And maybe we can.  We never know unless we try, right?

There seems to be an embarrassment about changing our destinations, our goals.  If we say we are going to do “X”, then we can’t deviate from it.  If we do deviate from the plan, then we are weak and unsuccessful.

Is it a cop out to modify our goals?  I don’t think so.  At any given time we do what we can do, with the information we have.  Life changes, people change, and priorities change.  Why can’t our goals change?

What I appreciate about the John Lubbock quote above is the freedom to look at other pathways.  When we get to that point where our goals seem farther away than ever, and the motivation to continue on is fading, we can look at other options without being a failure.

Have you modified any goals lately?  Did you feel better or worse after you did so?

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

How Do You Handle a Setback?

The short answer to that, for me, is not well…at first.

In fact, ‘not well’ is a gross understatement. Depending on the particulars of the setback, on one end of the spectrum, I may get angry and loud or on the other end, I may get positively hysterical, screaming and crying and pounding my fist on the closest hard surface, be it a table or someone’s noggin.

The latter was a recent reaction to losing an entire manuscript just as I was about to begin editing. Doesn’t matter how it happened, but my reaction was over the top, just a little. (I pounded my desk and not Hubby’s head, by the way.)

Woman Pounding fist on computer

Naturally, all I could think about was how much time, blood, sweat and tears went into that story. How would I ever retrieve the whole of it from my less than stellar memory? Did I even have any more blood, sweat and tears to shed? And time? Well, I had beta readers and a pro editor waiting on me. The rest of the day is a blur of padding around the house with my head down, staring into space, while alternately indulging in fits of sobbing.

My mood had brightened by the time I woke the next morning. Oh I was still reeling from the shock of it all, but I could see clearly now what I had to do.

There was only one thing I could allow myself to do…begin again.

On the path to your own dreams and goals, all sorts of obstacles can block the path. The small stones that can litter the path are easy to kick out of your way. Then, there is the monstrous boulder. When it falls onto your path, you need some help moving an obstacle of that size.

Boulder blocking the road

In my case, I had my Hubs, kids and a few friends telling me “Things happen for a reason” and “The book will be better than before”.

Yes, it might be better. Or, it might not.

And that’s the rub.

Whatever you choose to believe is what you can expect to happen.

A covey of dark angels swoop down on you and ask questions like:

“Are you sure you want to do this all over again?”

“Wouldn’t you rather sit back, binge on chocolate and read all day?”

“You don’t really think a second book can possibly be better than your first masterpiece, do you?”

“Hahahaha! Sucker! This was meant to be. Don’t waste your time rewriting!”

Yes, my dark angels really did say all those things. But not immediately.

At first, I was pumped up to write my “better” story. I knew I could accomplish it in a matter of a few weeks, too! My fingers flew over the keys…the first 3 days!

They waited for my weakest moment. The moment my burst of excitement, drive and confidence wore thin. I was easy prey.

The most evil dark angel appeared with all of his needling and prodding to get me to quit. I could have listened. I was certainly tempted. I even took time to think it through.

“Should I drop this book? Maybe losing it was a sign that I shouldn’t be writing it.”

An image of myself ‘walking down the street, shoulders hunched forward, tattered clothes, messy hair, carrying a bottle of gin’ flashed in front of my mind’s eye…that would be me as a quitter.

I’M NO QUITTER!

So I got right back to writing my story. My fingers aren’t flying as fast and I’ll need to replot the majority of the book but, it’s a fabulous feeling.

When you have a setback – when a big ol’boulder jumps in your way – take another path or find a way to scoot around that boulder and continue on your way to reach your goals.

Whatever you do, don’t listen to those dark angels partying on your shoulder.

DON’T QUIT. READJUST, INSTEAD.

You may have reacted differently that I in a similar situation.

Care to share your reaction to a setback in goals or plans?

What Are the Fun Goals on Your To Do List?

(dipity.com)

It’s a holiday week, so that means it’s time to break away from the rules, bend the structure, and wear that naughty underwear no one knows you’re wearing but you!  😉

I’ve been thinking about my to do list a lot lately.  With Fast Draft over I couldn’t wait to have some peace and quiet for a few days, but now I feel like I’m moving too slow.  I went from hyper drive surviving off of cheese and crackers and caffeine, and now I feel like my goals are moving slowly but summer is flying by!

You know how when summer begins, and you have all these great plans about trips to the beach, lazing away in a hammock, vacations to tropical places, cookouts full of junk food, and a margarita in each hand!

Well, this morning I took Julie Glover’s quiz, What Kind of Summer Person Are You?  And you know what, I was a Summer Scrooge!  Me???  I’m not a summer scrooge am I?

Ok, so I’m still working 50+ hours/week, coming home and putting in a movie that came out several years ago and falling asleep on the couch.  It’s hot out!  Wisconsin is in the middle of an unholy heat wave!  100+°s and humid!  And the mayflies and mosquitos are at their worst.  Every time I’m out for more than 10 minutes I have 8 new bites on my legs and the vision of a lone mosquito pickin’ his teeth with the remaining bones of his last victim!

But I still made that summer to do list!  And I want to fulfill it.  Here are some of the things I wanted to do this summer, and I’ve got just under 2 months to make it happen.

  1. Take a road trip vacation with Joe out west to Yellowstone National Park.  – This one is happening, we’ve booked our campsite!
  2. Make it to the beach at least 3x.
  3. Watch a live baseball game.
  4. Visit Niagara Cave in Harmony, MN
  5. Tour La Crosse’s Historic Points
  6. Complete the Library’s Adult Summer Reading Program
  7. Have a Party in our Backyard- And you’re all invited!!!
  8. Lay in the Hammock as much as possible!
  9. Eat lunch at the Guadalupe Shrine.
  10. Maybe Get Another Tattoo.

So what are the fun things on your to do list?  Don’t forget to take time for the fun parts of life just as much as the serious ones! 

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!

Four Reasons Why I’m Proud to Be an American

Photo courtesy freedigitalphotos.net

At first glance, you might not think I’m a patriotic type person.  I tend to lean toward the more liberal points of views on things like civil rights, gay marriage, and social programs.  While I live in the west, I’m not “country.”  When I grew up, I was a rebel looking for a cause.

But patriotism runs deep in my family, and has a pretty good hold in me, as well.  My maternal grandfather and great-uncle were decorated pilots in the Korean War and World War II, respectively.  My paternal great-grandparents immigrated from Italy, and most of their male children served in some war or another for the United States. The female children (including my grandmother) were part of the woman’s military auxillary groups.

My father served in the Army, and the country school I attended taught me to respect our flag.  I know how to fold one up into a nice triangle, and to never let the edges droop onto the ground.

Growing up I was indoctrinated with a healthy respect for our servicemen and women and our country.  It grieves me to hear American’s talk smack about the United States.  I have to wonder if they have ever been outside of our borders.

We have poverty here, but some of our poor people would be considered pretty well off in many countries.  When I visited Peru, I learned that in Cusco there are entire neighborhoods without running water.  This isn’t a situational problem, it’s a chronic problem.  They don’t have plumbing that runs into the hills where the poor people live.  In other countries, families live in the trash dumps.  And let’s not even get started talking about the violent and abysmal living conditions in some African countries.

We are able to choose our own careers.  We don’t have someone dictate to us based on test scores what career field we should study.  I was shocked when I learned from a German friend that he wanted to study to be a brewer, but he didn’t score high enough on the tests, so he was directed into a different food-oriented career path.  We are still the land of opportunity.  We can have our dreams and strive to reach them, too.

Photo Courtesy freedigitalphotos.net

In the United States we have a hugely diverse environment.  Travel a couple of hours in any direction and the surroundings are completely different.  There is so much to see, all within our borders.  One year I traveled from Wyoming to Astoria, Oregon.  Over two days I saw soft-brown prairies, verdant grasslands, dormant volcanoes, gigantic redwoods, and sandy beaches.

But most of all, I’m proud to be an American because of the people.  Yes, there are the hateful, aggressive political people who annoy me greatly (and I mean people on both sides of the political fence), but I believe overall the people of the United States are concerned and compassionate, sturdy and hard-working.

Our history is full of persevering, focused figures.  Without the ability to dream, persevere, and achieve the goals set before them, the United States would not be  what it is today.

I am proud to be an American.  I know things here aren’t perfect, but since I’ve always been a glass-half-full kind of person, I’ll focus on the positives, while we continue to work out the negatives.

Have a happy Fourth of July, and I send out a special “Thank You” to all our servicemen and women, past and present.

What else makes the United States a great place to live?

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!