Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Week 28-Lesson 28: Don't Stop Believing

Reviewing where you have come from helps you see again where you are going. I've been writing lessons for 28 straight weeks! Last year I wrote 365 lessons, one for every single day in 2010! And last year on this day I celebrated two things: My 200th post for the year and a book deal! It's helpful to have 365 posts to remind myself of how far I've come and how much there is to be thankful for. I can't believe it was a year ago today that I found out my book would be published. Time flies! Here's my 200th post for 2010. It's a repeat, but it's a good lesson to remember when you feel like giving up or you're starting to lose belief in things:

Just a small town girl, living in a lonely world. She took the midnight train going anywhere....Don't stop believing, hold on to that feeling........Journey

I couldn't help but quote Journey here. 200 days of blogging; it's been a journey for sure! I feel like each step in both this blog and book process were so worth it. It truly was and IS a labor of love. I never stopped believing. I believed right through all the people who told me "It's impossible" or "Very few people get book deals" or "That's a pipe dream" or "You'll probably get rejected" or "Yeah, right, sure you are going to write a book, everyone says that!"

If you are afraid of being rejected or failing, you'll never do ANYTHING. If you fall down, get up. If you fall down again, keep getting up. Fall down and get up 1000 times if you have to. Did I tell you that my book was rejected by several publishing houses? Did I let that get me down? Heck no! If anything, it gave me fuel to improve and keep going.

Wasn't it Walt Disney who went bankrupt a number of times before his dream of Disneyland became a reality? Even if it would have been wise to give up, he couldn't. He believed in what he was doing too much.

Believing in what you are doing takes amazing strength. You have to cut through all the naysayers. You have to surround yourself with people who are positive and who cheer you on. Keep those people close to you. The people who say, "Keep going, you can do it, YOU ARE GREAT!" are the people you need around you at all times. Oddly enough, these people may not be your closest friends or family members in the beginning. They may be complete strangers. People you've never even seen before. You have no idea why they are cheering for YOU, someone who they don't even know.

I honestly believe we are all connected. Not just believe, I KNOW. Recently on my Lessons from the Monk I Married Facebook fan page, I wrote, "You can't afford a negative thought. Your life is worth too much." Your life is so important. YOU are so important. What you do affects everyone. We don't live on tiny islands in our houses closed off from the rest of the world with our families. Everything we say and do affects everything and everyone around us. If you are distributing anger or other negative emotions around all the time, then you will tune in to more of the same and you are not doing any favors for anyone. In fact, you are polluting the world around you with this negativity.

Being negative is a choice. Harboring negative thoughts is your habit. Negative things don't just happen to you, you draw them to you with your thoughts. Watch your thoughts.

Being positive is also a choice. Harboring positive thoughts is also a habit. Positive things don't just happen to you, you draw them to you with your thoughts. Watch your thoughts.

How you view your life depends on your thoughts. Negativity feeds on more negativity. It's a vicious cycle. All addictions are vicious cycles. To break them you have to have tremendous strength. You have to BELIEVE anything is possible.

What are the messages you tell yourself daily? What do you believe about yourself?

I believed that I could succeed and that my book, Lessons from the Monk I Married, would become a successful book. I just got news today that, yes, IT WILL HAPPEN. My agent negotiated a very nice book deal for me.

Many of you who have followed along on my blog here let me know that you never doubted it. You told me it was just a matter of time. You are the people I want near me. I'm so glad you've been walking along here with me, it's made a TREMENDOUS difference and I seriously don't think I could have done it without you. Your positivity has added to my positivity. What a tremendous force that is when we all pool it together. Just think of all the amazing things we can do! Don't stop believing, there are so many great things in store for YOU!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Week 15-Lesson 15: Let Go of Your Ego

If someone approaches you with boxing gloves, do you take the first punch? If not, do you put up a defense or duck to protect yourself from the blow heading right towards you? If the ego is attacked or threatened, it will always fight back. But you are not the ego, so why do you fight so hard to protect something which only exists in your mind.

Recently, I've felt a lot of challenges concerning the ego. What I've realized is this:

I'm not completely free from the ego because I still use words like "I," "mine," and "me."

But don't we all?

Today I decided to try and loosen my grip on those three little words that cause so many problems. Instead of saying, "I wrote a book about my life," I've decided to try "I wrote a book about a life." What a difference!

It started with a phone call from my editor. It was a good phone call full of great feedback and constructive criticism. Some of this criticism would have been hard to take had I not decided to drop the word "I."

But in the end, I suppose, it was a lost cause because I stood up for my voice. I wanted my voice, which I felt might have been lost a bit in the editing process, to be heard.

It's hard to tell our own stories and not be attached to the story we are telling, especially if it is the story of our lives. Even though I stood up for my voice, I'm learning to see the writing I am doing from different angles and different perspectives. I think this is important and I also think there is validity in much of the criticism we receive if we'd just LISTEN and get beyond this "I."

The irony of it all is that much of the story I am telling in my book is about learning to listen to the "voice" inside of you (and me) and to follow it. I think that this voice inside is very different from the ego. The voice inside knows much more than the ego we try so hard to protect and the images of ourselves that we create in our own minds and the minds of others.

The voice inside of you is very wise. It doesn't care about "how you look" to others. It is not interested in keeping up with appearances. In fact, when you choose to follow your inner voice or inner wisdom, you may feel like your outer world is falling apart. This is because your ego is fighting to survive. It doesn't feel comfortable with the changes going on inside you. It doesn't want to give up or lose its "shininess" or "good standing" on the outside.

But believe me, if you choose to follow that inner voice or inner wisdom and loosen up on the ego or the "I" a bit, you'll find that there's nothing to lose and EVERYTHING to gain.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Week 14-Lesson 14: You Can't Do Everything

It's Sunday. I have so much to do, I don't even know where to begin. It's 9:34pm and I think I'm about to call it quits in a half hour or so because, well, I can't do everything. This is the reality. I am not super human. I don't have 10 arms. As far as I know, there isn't a clone of me wandering around anywhere who could pick up some of the slack.

I received my copy edits back from my publisher. So much was changed and my editor needs my feedback so that they can get the ball rolling on my book. I worked on them a little, but not as much as hoped too. I'm teaching a new class at the college and it eats up a lot of my time and requires a bit more work. And then there's my lovely blog. Do you know what's funny? I think it was easier to keep up daily posts (I wrote 365 blog posts in 2010). With weekly posts, I tell myself, "I can do that later." Before I know it, later is here and the week is over. It's Sunday. There are no more days left. I didn't have that option when I was posting every day.

So here's my solution:

Do what you can and then give yourself a BREAK!

We are not machines. I need time for myself and I'm sure you do too, so take it easy. Lighten up. I'm writing this post for myself, but if you can also relate, then that's a bonus! It will all get done in due time and if it doesn't, maybe it wasn't that important anyway.

Enjoy your week! Even if you have a lot on your list, may you always find time to stop and nurture yourself. Off I go to read, drink a cup of tea, take a bath and then hit the sack. Until next week!!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Week Eight-Lesson Eight: Don't Be Afraid To Finish What You've Started

My book is due to the publisher March 1st and to be honest, I'm scared and dragging my feet.

I've never been good with endings. I'm fantastic with ideas and getting the ball rolling, I slog through the process of seeing the ideas become reality, but when I get to the end or close to the end, I feel like my legs (or my fingers in this case) are heavily leaded. Every step (press of a key) feels weighty. At the end of any BIG project or event, I often go into either panic mode or avoidance mode. Thoughts like, "I don't know if I can finish this" or "I don't know if I can do this" swirl through my mind. Is there a phobia for that? A fear of finishing things? Does anyone know what it's called?

This isn't a new phobia for me. I've written about it before. I wrote about how I trained for a half marathon after college for weeks and weeks and weeks. I was prepared for the task at hand, but once I got close to the finish line I practically had to crawl over it. But the phobia goes back as far as early childhood. I was at a lake swimming in the "kiddie" section. If you wanted to swim out with the big kids, you had to pass a swim test. You had to swim out to a dock and turn around and swim back to the starting dock. I would say that the distance between the two docks was about the length of an average-sized swimming pool. I watched my sister do this with poise and grace. She swam effortlessly through the sparkling lake without a trace of exhaustion, pulled herself up on the starting dock and said, "Your turn!"

I hesitantly got into the water. I started off great. Nice even pace, clean strokes--I touched the dock and then pushed off with my feet out into the open water again. I could see my father and sister sitting on the starting dock. My father yelled, "C'mon, you are almost there!" And then everything got blurry. About a meter from the starting dock, I began to sink. I stuck my hand up in the air and the lifeguard dove in to rescue me and bring me safely up on the dock. I was humiliated. I am the older sister. Why couldn't I finish this easy swimming test? I wrote about this in a previous post and my sister commented and let me know that I did that test again and passed with flying colors. I don't remember that part.

So here I am again, a week before the finish line and I'm starting to sink. Or maybe I'm just coasting. Not sure. I woke up late, had a nice meal with my husband, took a walk, goofed around on the internet, read a few books for "research" and now I'm writing to you all on my blog and it's 4:12pm. Where did my day go?

What I've come to realize is that dreams are never quite like reality. It doesn't mean you shouldn't dream. You must dream. Just don't get stuck in the dream. Put a foundation under that dream of yours, otherwise what's the point? Dreaming and coming up with ideas are the easy part. Seeing your dreams through to the very END is the hard part. Why? Because when you dream about becoming an author or an actor or a painter or a musician or starting a business or changing careers or having a baby or getting married, the pictures of what this life looks like in your mind's eye are, well, dream-like. You don't imagine the baby screaming non-stop or the hours of writing with no human contact or the money issues or the lack of work or the economy crashing. Everything in your dream is rosy and cheery and maybe even....perfect!

But nothing is perfect. No one's life is perfect. I'm not a perfect writer. But I continue because I set this dream into motion. I put the foundations down. I asked for it and I got it and now I have to FINISH IT! And to be truthful, it's not as easy as I thought it would be. But I accept the good with the difficult and hard and crazy and uneasy and painful and uncertain. That's part of the whole package. It wouldn't be worth it if all I had to do was wave my magic wand and, BEHOLD! the book appeared. What would be the point of that? What makes a dream worthwhile is not just having a dream become reality, but what one has to go through to realize it.

So here I am at the end. I'm in avoidance mode. I'm afraid to finish. Maybe I'm afraid it's not good enough. I need another tweek here and another tweek there before it's perfect. But it is what it is and to be honest, I think it's pretty darn good. So with that, I'm going to take the bull by its horns and I'm going to face all my fears and I'm going to finish this thing. Yes, that's what I'm going to do. March 1st, I hear you calling and I promise I will deliver...

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Week Six-Lesson Six: Allow Yourself to Fully Procrastinate

Does procrastination=fear? I'm starting to think it must. Tell me what you think. For four days now I can't seem to do any work on my book. Yes, it is finished and that is SOMETHING. But there's editing to finish up, fine tuning to take care of and a deadline of MARCH 1ST to meet. Yikes!

I seem to be perfectly capable of doing everything BUT work on my book. I'm perfectly fine with house cleaning, shopping, visiting with friends, going to my day job, exercising, hiking, doodling, day dreaming, twittering, Facebooking, sleeping and eating.

What happened? Whenever I think of THE BOOK I want to run for the hills. Is this what happens to writers? It reminds me of the time I trained for a half-marathon. I was fine with all the "getting ready for the race" part, but fell apart right before the finish line and had to practically crawl over it.

Maybe I'm frozen with fear. Maybe it's a fear of what others will think of me when it finally hits the bookshelves. Or maybe it's the complete opposite.

Have I been celebrating too much and daydreaming of that day when it finally goes to print? Have I chosen to look at the bigger picture instead of focusing on what is happening right here, right now?

I have no idea. So what am I going to do?

I'm going to accept it. I've decided that I'm going to allow myself to FULLY PROCRASTINATE. I'll doodle and dilly dally until there's no more doodling and dilly dallying left in me.

Don't worry. I have a conscience and I'm not crazy. I will do what needs to be done. I'm just going to take my own sweet time and there's no fighting it. But I WILL keep my deadline because I always keep my promises and stick to my commitments, as you all know from reading my 365 blog posts for 2010.

So if you are procrastinating right now, don't berate yourself. It doesn't help the situation. Let yourself procrastinate FULLY. Enjoy it, accept it, live it, love it.

And then GET BACK TO WORK....

(I'm signing off now! Going to go have a nice hot cup of tea and bubble bath ^_^! he, he!)

NOTE: As long as you continue to move forward in a positive direction and do what needs to be done, nothing wrong with a little procrastination. However, if you are a chronic procrastinator and can't seem to do anything, there are plenty of resources online to help with that! Trust me, I procrastinated and read quite a bit of it ^_^!