Tag Archives: Life List

Living Without a Backup Plan: Guest Posting at Ingrid Schaffenburg’s Blog

Life of a Writer

Happy November everyone!

Today I’m so excited to say that I’m guest posting at the fabulous Ingrid Schaffenburg’s Blog today!

Ingrid blogs about creativity and mindfulness, and going after your dreams. She is a spiritual globetrotter who knows it’s never too late to learn a lesson.

Ingrid asked me to share my story about how I made the bold decision to quit my job in retail management with NO BACKUP PLAN!

This time of year, with holidays looming ahead, can be so stressful. (I know that better than most.) I think this post is timely for all of us to remember to take risks, stay positive, and believe in ourselves.

I hope you’ll hang out with us today! CLICK HERE TO VISIT THE POST PLEASE. 🙂

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TEASER ~ Living Without a Backup Plan

“For six years I worked in retail for a large department store. It’s identity shall not be named in order to protect the damned. I started working there in college, and after graduation, I freaked about becoming an “adult.” So I took a full time position at the store and bragged to my dad that I finally had health insurance.

I was good at my job. I just wasn’t happy.”

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See you at Ingrid’s place!
Tell us about your dreams and big plans.

Twentysomethings: The Defining Decade?

*This post was originally published through the Life List Club Blog on April 27, 2012.  Thought it was time for another discussion.

I was driving home one night listening to my guilty pleasure, Wisconsin Public Radio, and the topic for the evening really stunned me.  The radio host, Joy Cardin, was speaking with Dr. Meg Jay, a clinical psychologist who specializes in adult development especially twentysomethings.

Dr. Jay is the author of The Defining Decade:  Why Your Twenties Matter and How to Make the Most of Them Now.  Dr. Jay works as an assistant clinical professor at the University of Virginia and keeps a private practice as well.  Interacting with so many college students and recent graduates, she noticed the hits and misses my generation was making time and time again.

When asked why she wrote the book, Dr. Jay said she’s trying to make an impact on the 50 million twentysomethings who are looking for guidance in their lives while still being treated like an adult.

So why are the twenties so defining? 

  • 80% of life’s most defining moments take place before the age of 35.
  • 70% of lifetime wage growth happens in the first 10 years of a career.
  • More than half of us are married or living with our longterm partners.
  • Our fertility rates peak in our twenties.
  • And our brains do their last growth spurt in our twenties.

If you had the same reaction I did, you’re probably thinking, “Sweet God, it’s all over!  I may as well start digging my grave, drop down in it, along with my unfinished book, my birth control pills, and any other unfulfilled dreams while we’re funeralizing!”

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Fear not!  Dr. Jay says Never Give Up. 

She does emphasize that my generation is in the midst of some crucial crossroads and the decisions we make now CAN AND DO impact the rest of our lives.

She talks about “identity capital” which she defines as the collateral you build up so when you go in for an interview the person looks at your resume and says “Oh that’s interesting, tell me more about that!” We know we’re in an economic crisis right now.  The job market is not ideal.  The Veteran Generation is staying employed longer in need of more stability, and yet year after year more college graduates are flooding the market.  We’ve got all four generations competing and cohabiting the workforce.  Ages 20 – 70+.

Many of us twentysomethings opted for an alternative route.  I’m sure all of you know someone who decided to take time off, travel the world, date around, etc.  Dr. Jay’s concern with some of these routes is that for those individuals they’re having a harder time trying to get back on track whether it’s the job field or family planning.  Employers start to look at your resume and think “hmm, you really haven’t done too much” and the person that stands out is the twentysomething who jumped right in and planned their career path just like an adult, setting goals or achieving higher degrees, whatever it might be.

In regards to family planning, she wants twentysomethings to be aware of fertility information.  Women’s fertility peaks at 28.  What she tends to hear from the twentysomethings she counsels, is so many of them spend time in cohabitation with a partner or spouse for 4-5 years before they realize that maybe that relationship should have only lasted a year.

Now, I will totally say that family planning is a personal choice!  And Dr. Jay agreed.  What she wants is for us to have the facts about fertility so we are thoughtful in planning who our partners are as well as when we want to start having children because the health risks are increased the later into the 30′s you are.

That being said, I may have ran in from the car, found Joe, and screamed something like, “We have to start having babies now, my fertility is peaking!!! What are we doing with our lives??!”

So then he said, “You’re not allowed to listen to the radio anymore…”

Our generation is at its peak for adaptation.  If there is something you are unhappy about in life, or you’re wanting to make changes, then do it!  We have the capability to transform and rise to the occasion.

When I graduated from college, I started having anxiety attacks.  I panicked about “what I wanted to do with the rest of my life!”  I fell in suit and took the first full time job that came my way.  I worked all the time, and was too exhausted to pursue my writing or hang out with friends.  You know what, I got really sad and really bored real fast!  It’s been an ongoing process to change.  While I’ve done well for myself career-wise, I quickly learned that what makes me happy is writing and travel, and if I was going to get that back in my life that meant change!

So, three years ago I started blogging!  And I met amazing writers and readers online!  Through them, I got involved with some writing contests and critique groups.  I also saved up my money and used my vacation time to attend writing conferences and travel around the world.

There is hope!  And it’s never too late!  All of us can define the decade we’re living in!

So what are you waiting for?!  What’s on your life list?

What do you think about Dr. Jay’s theory and your 20′s being the Defining Decade?  Are you currently in your 20′s?  Would you do anything differently if you could go back?  What advice do you have for a new adult in their 20’s, or for parents raising a 20-somthing?

Milestone Party: How to Survive Fast Draft and Dance Like No One’s Watching

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Helloooo Out There!  Come one, come all; we’re having a party today!  Most of you know that about a year ago Marcia Richards and I founded the organization called The Life List Club.

What is the Life List Club?

A bunch of us writers got together to create our life lists – those things you want to do in life and never manage to complete.  We spent many months touring around each others’ blogs guest posting and getting to know our readers.  As the group adapted, we created our own blogsite, The Life List Club!  If you haven’t followed us, what are you waiting for?!  Click on over and sign up!

In short, you can get involved in the Life List Club in two ways:  as a Reader or as a Writer.  Anyone and everyone should be a reader.  As readers we encourage you to create your own life list of those “to do’s” that are lingering around or big dreams you’ve put on hold too long.  Your goals are anything that is right for you.  Post your life list on your blog, and share with us via comments and tweets how you’re doing!  You can cyber hang with us at the hashtag #LifeListClub.  Enjoy weekly posts filled with true stories, inspiration, and humor to boot to keep you motivated on your goals.

Hey Writers out there!  You can get involved by becoming a contributing writer for the LLC blog!  We’re currently accepting new writers to our rotation of posting and would love to hear from you!  E-mail me at jessi(DOT)witkins(AT)gmail(DOT)com if interested!  You don’t have to blog about writing.  We’re looking for a variety of goals to be covered so our readers can find multiple avenues of inspiration.

Here’s What We’re Celebrating Today!

Since launching the LLC blog, 3 months have gone by and we always have a Milestone party to celebrate the learning lessons and achievements along the way.  You can check out how all the Life Listers did by reading and entering our sweet giveaway for a $50 Amazon Gift Card

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Cue the Party Music!  

This is my new favorite song!  Why?  Because it involves splices of Love is Strange by Mickey and Sylvia from Dirty Dancing!  Duh!!!

My Goals:

  • Write Everyday.
  • Read 2 books a month.
  • Save money.
  • Work out at least once a week.

The Recap:

Write Everyday.

There were definitely days where only my minimum 5 things in the gratitude journal got written down.  Examples from the past few months include:  reading a good book, meeting bloggers I follow at the DFW Writers Conference, Joe cooking dinner, Bellavitano cheese, iced tea, leaving work on time, hammocks.  What really kicked my butt into gear on this goal was attending the DFW Writers Conference.  I decided to give Candace Havens’ Fast Draft a try.  Fast Draft is the idea that you complete your first draft of a novel in 2 weeks by writing 20 pages/day.

Now before your eyes bug out of your head, know thatI hadto adapt this goal.  On day 1, I did get 20 pages written.  But once I was back at work, it was too difficult to get to 20.  I set a minimum of 10.  Ten pages was exactly ten pages more than I’d been writing everyday.  And this process takes a lot of planning!  I spent the whole week before blogging ahead, reading books, and getting emails sent out so I could focus on my writing.

Then week 2 of Fast Draft came around and I had a really difficult time.  I was having arguments with my boyfriend.  I was trying to assist planning 2 weddings/bachelorette parties/getting dress fittings for the upcoming marriages of my two best friends.  My sister underwent surgery for her third recurrence of cancer and was recovering.  We had company stay at our house.  The cupboards were getting bare.  And I was up until somewhere between 1 – 4 a.m. every night?  morning?  I’ve lost track.

It wasn’t my week.  Still, I always got some writing done!  The least amount was one page, and the most on those awful days was eight.  But that’s one more page or eight more pages closer to the “The End.”  Despite all that happened, I’m proud and relieved I’ve completed this challenge.  It taught me what’s important to me.  What I’m willing and not willing to give up, and it showed me who truly supports me in this journey and who doesn’t.  I would like to give Fast Draft another go for the next round of LLC goals.

Read 2 books a month.

(gettingbetteratthings.com)

Right now I think I have 7 books going at once.  I’ve had to postpone a few in order to complete others.  Books read just this month:  Back to Madeline Island by Jay Gilbertson, Fifty Shades Darker by E.L. James, and Red by Kait Nolan.  I also coordinated an author interview with Jay, and have one next week with Kait!

I’m currently on track to complete my TBR Pile Challenge book Blessings by Anna Quindlen this month, as well as my first Janet Evanovich book, Three to Get Deadly, and the final book in the Fifty Shades series, Fifty Shades Freed.

Looking for more book reviews?  Check out my Bookshelf!

Save money.

Believe it or not, folks, I made myself a sticker chart to save!  And it helped!  I was able to budget better and reward myself for not buying more clothes or jewelry, etc. and had enough funds to travel to South Korea and to Texas for the writers conference.  Next trip I’m saving for is Joe’s and my road trip out west in August!

I still need to visit with a personal banker yet and look into some better savings options at the bank and read Suze Orman’s Women and Money book.

Work out at least once a week. 

This goal was a bit hit or miss.  I dove back into working out and did so many weighted lunges around the gym floor that I spent a good 3 days walking around like an old pregnant woman!  I was literally hobbling and could barely get in and out of my car.  I did start up at the gym again, weight training, using the elliptical and stationary bike.  Even if I didn’t make it to the gym, I would have a dance party in my room – just to move around!

I did improve my diet.  For several weeks I limited the amounts of red meat and cheese in my diet (mostly cause my boyfriend is doing that on his diet), but I also tried several great recipes from Self magazine.  I found 2 awesome breakfasts, and made two different chicken curry dishes.  I’ve been better about packing my lunches again and eating salads or peanut butter and jelly.  For breakfast on the go, I invested in some nut mixes to get protein in my system.  I cannot agree to switch to Almond Milk.  I still prefer cow’s milk!  LOL.

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There’s my Life List recap!  Be sure to enter for all the great Life List Club milestone prizes by visiting our blogs!  You can find us all in the blogroll on the right.  And to enter for the $50 Amazon Gift Card, you’ve gotta get to the Life List Club blog!

But first, enter here!  Win an additional $10 I-Tunes Gift Card by subscribing to the Happiness Project and leaving me a comment about a learning moment or success story from your own life list!  I’d love to hear what you’re up to!

#ROW80: My Writers Clock is Ticking

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So all I do now is work, write, eat veggie chips, and feign a few hours of sleep each night.   I am immersed in Fast Draft and it’s all I have time for.  But, it’s for 2 weeks!  And I can do anything for 2 weeks!

I’m also two weeks into ROW80.  Seems to be my lucky number!  Here are my ROW Goals.

  • Blessings vs. Gratitude Challenge  For the month of June, I want to journal about the blessings in my life rather than just things I’m grateful for.  I’ve been blessed by some great experiences and introductions lately, so I’m hoping by focusing on the positive in my life I can learn to better handle the negative.
  • Fast Draft!  Fast Draft is a process I learned about from Candace Havens at the DFW Conference, and it is set about to help you write a first draft in 2 weeks by writing 20 pages/day.
  • Still blog ahead.  Blogging ahead helps me to focus on my WIP now.  I was able to get some posts prepped in my first week, and now I’m busy connecting and completing several guest posts for my new Tuesday Featured Writers series.
  • Read 2 books a month.  I have too many books going at once right now!  I’m currently focusing on the Fifty Shades series (stay tuned for an upcoming blog post) and on These Things Hidden, which is a selection for my book club.

So what have I accomplished?

I’ve definitely been thinking about blessings and I’ve shared some of them with my book club and my parents, but I haven’t been journaling about them yet.  I do want to get back into that.  I know I’m thinking differently, but I want to record that because I think it’s important to know when you’re learning something new.

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Blog ahead.  I have some reviews backlogged for rainy writing days, but I’m so excited about my new Tuesday series featuring writers!  Thriller writer CJ West kicked us off, and in case you missed her, women’s writer Patricia Sands joined me yesterday!  Next week I’m thrilled to host a WISCONSIN writer!  And the series will finale with a New York Times Bestselling Author!  But I’m not saying who.  😉  You’ll just have to wait and see.

I’m getting back into gear with my reading which is another reason I’m not sleeping.  The other night I was up until 4 am reading the Fifty Shades series!

Don’t tell mom what I’m reading!!! (goldenbookwyrm.wordpress.com)

I’ve now fallen asleep and woken up with my kindle still in hand 3 out of 4 nights.  And once I woke up after dropping the kindle on my face!  I’ve been audio booking it in the mornings while I get ready for work.

And that brings me to Fast Draft.  My biological writers clock is ticking!  While attending my second writers conference, I knew I needed a change so I could finish a first draft already.  And that’s when Candace Havens walked into my life!

You can learn all about Fast Draft today in my contributing post at The Life List Club!  I shared #FastDraft:  How To Do It Successfully and What You Learn Along the Way.

How are your ROW goals going for you?  Does your writers clock need a new schedule?

I Met Kait Nolan, and Now I’m Joining ROW80

In truth, I had contemplated joining ROW80 before, but after meeting the WONDERFUL Kait Nolan in person at the DFW Writers Conference, I just had to sign up!

Kait is one of those people you meet and instantly love.  She is outgoing, funny, and genuine.  She takes time to get to know people and I watched her do this so well, that twice she met someone who worked or lived something one of her current characters does.  Now, she’s in contact with them for character research.

I think that says something about Kait.  She’s interested in people’s stories, and she recognizes that everyone’s is different.  Kait is the founder of A Round of Words in 80 Days, a goal setting system with weekly progress updates and a community of people who support you on your journey.

Besides being the ROW80 founder, she’s also a blogger, and self-published author extraordinaire.  I’m reading her newest book, Red, right now and it’s amazing!

Kait and I at the DFW Conference!

Needless to say, after listening to my goals and what had been my setbacks, Kait invited me to jump into ROW80 and get started.  I am so very grateful that she did.

My ROW Goals for This Week are:

  • (image courtesy amazon.com)

    Blog Ahead!  I’d like to have at least 5 blog posts written ahead to get me through the time I’ll be working on Fast Draft.

  • Clean my room.  As part of the preparation process for writing, I need to unearth the mound of transitional season clothing and other lost and found objects taking over my desk.
  • Plot my novel.  This doesn’t seem like a small feat, but I got some good workshopping done at DFW Con.  Need this done before I can write the book.
  • Finish reading Moon Over Madeline Island and Back to Madeline Island for my Book Club getaway to Madeline Island next week!

My Longterm ROW80 Goals:

  • Blessings over Gratitude.  I read this post by Ollin Morales and he got me thinking that my life could stand to use a little more positivity.  I’m going to spend time over the next month journaling about blessings rather than just things I’m grateful for.  Read Ollin’s post and you’ll see the difference.  I hope by doing this, I can empower my inner writer and tell my inner editor to go drink a bottle of herself!

(image courtesy: skaggymaggie.tumblr.com)

  • Fast Draft!  To get my butt in gear, I’m participating in Fast Draft.  It’s a workshop where you write 20 pages/day for 2 weeks.  I will attempt to get my first draft written during this time.
  • Still Prepare for Blog Posts.  I’m fortunate to have several writers interested in doing interviews with me, but that means I need to stay on track with their works, and prepare thought provoking questions for them.  CJ West is featured this week!  Stay tuned to see who’s next!
  • Read.  I’ve been reading a ton, but I’ve got about 7 books going at once now.  *crosses eyes* I want to get back to my TBR Pile Challenge list and add a craft book in there as well.  Thinking of starting with Story Engineering.

That’s my plan!  I’m sure it’ll evolve as I get started, but I’m getting excited as the date draws closer for Fast Draft to begin.  

How are your goals going this week?

We’re Taking Over WordPress: Life List Club – New Blog, New Prizes!

Big news!  Huge!  Spectacular!  Extra, Extra! 

The Life List Club Launches Own Blog!

That’s right guys and gals!  The Life List Club has decided to launch their own blog site and make things easier ON YOU!  Instead of trying to bounce around between 8 or more blogs on one day, we’ll be able to space out our plethora of viewpoints and encouraging ideas over the course of a month at our site.  We’re posting on Wednesdays and Fridays all about achieving goals, and using Mondays for any announcements or guest posts that may occur (hint, hint – Who’s interested?)  Please give a round of applause to my co-founder, Marcia Richards who worked doggedly on setting up our site.  You can visit us at our new blog, and we’ll officially transfer there the first wednesday of April!  Don’t forget, we hang out at the hashtag #LifeListClub too, so you can always give a shout out there!

And Now a Word from our Sponsors:

Ok well not sponsors, I don’t currently have any of those, but if companies like Bath and Body Works, Lush, Target, Barnes and Noble would care to make a contribution, I’m sure it would only do wonders for the ol’ Witkins’ Happiness Project.  😉

It’s time for our Milestone Party!

You can’t have a party without dancing!  Previously you’ve raved to Ce Ce Penniston’s Finally, you’ve jammed to Ke$ha’s Tik Tok and here to teach you how to boogie is the Bingo Boys featuring Princessa singing ‘How to Dance!’

The point of a Milestone party is to celebrate the strides you’ve made on your life list.  A few months ago I condensed my list to the core necessities, and here’s where I’m at with my progress:

1.  Write Everyday – My minimum goal was to write at least 5 things in my gratitude journal each day, with a long term goal of scheduling time each week to get writing done on my book.  However, in the last month, I changed projects.  Instead of the paranormal young adult novel I was working on, I switched to memoir.  Pretty drastic switch there!  I got some good tips from my Warrior Writers Boot Camp gang and will be starting to piece together this project in the next weeks.  I’m also attending the DFW Writers Conference in May, featuring guest author James Rollins.

(My favorite items to have made the Gratitude Journal lately)

  •  Writing a letter home
  • Crossing paths with 7 young deer while hiking in Hixon Forest
  • Reading the fun comments on my Musicalpalooza blog
  • Watching the finale of Season 2 The Walking DeadOMG! What is about to happen??!
  • Feeding the ducks down at Riverside Park
  • Discovering Joe Lando (Yes!  As in Joe Lando who played Sully on Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman) is playing Cassie’s father on The Secret Circle

2.  Read Two Books a Month – I’ve excelled at this goal!  In February I read four books, and hope to complete that same number by the end of March.  My upscale in reading led to two author interviews for Shifting by Bethany Wiggins and The Doctor’s Lady by Jody Hedlund!  It was an absolute treat to get to chat with these phenomenal women!  I also felt a big push to get to that “To Be Read” Pile and cut out costs of buying more and more books before getting to the ones on my shelf, so I joined the 2012 TBR Pile Challenge.  I’ve completed 5 out of my 12 books so far, two more in progress, so I just need to finish writing the reviews.

3.  Save Money – I was amazed at how much money I could add to my savings after using my ridiculous star stickered chart to track when I didn’t spend money frivolously!  I was able to save up funds to ensure my trip to South Korea is a go!  (I leave in a week and a half!)  I have yet to meet with a personal banker to find a better savings account and finish Suze Orman’s book, Women and Money. 

4.  Work out at least once a week – I’m probably most behind in this goal, but I have stepped it up nutritionally.  I started keeping a food journal along with my gratitude journal so everything’s in one place.  I track what I eat each day, and just writing it down keeps me accountable enough to make sure more fruits and veggies find their way onto the plate.  I’ve made some new recipes including CM Stewart’s Green Smoothie!  And I’ve definitely been buying more produce instead of junk snacks at the grocery store.  On days off, I’ve been good about doing some hiking or walks because I read an article about how even 10 minutes/day  in nature can do wonders for anxiety and fatigue  issues (which I’ve been battling as of late).  The next step is to go full swing with some consistent workouts!

That’s what I’m up to!  How ’bout you?  Do the Bingo Boys inspire you to take dance lessons?  How’s your writing going?  Your workouts?  What dream vacations are coming up?

AND…any time the Life List Club has a Milestone Party we give away prizes!  Drop me a comment below sharing your goals and you’re entered to win a blog swap and I-Tunes Gift Card!

More fabulous prizes to be had!  Visit each contributing writer of the LLC for a chance to win:

Marcia Richards Guest post swap and Amazon gift card

Sonia Medeiros A guest post from Sonia or the winner’s work featured on Sonia’s blog

Jenny Hansen A Margie Lawson lecture packet and a $10 Starbuck’s gift card

David Walker A free download of his “Web Wisdom: Inspiration from the Inbox”

Gary Gauthier A choice of 3 eBooks

Lara Schiffbauer A $25 Gift card

Happy Friday Everyone!

A Guest Post on Positivity by Lara Schiffbauer

Hello Ladies and Gents!  I’ve got some mood boosting tips to share with you courtesy our Life List Club guest today, Lara Schiffbauer!  Get your happy on by reading her post and then, if you miss me, blog hop on over to my fellow founder’s place, Marcia Richards, where you’ll find me telling you why sleep is a good thing!  Zzzzzzzz  *Oops, nodded off there for a minute!  Back to Lara!

Stop me if you’ve heard this one.

A husband and wife are getting ready for bed. The wife is standing in front of a full-length mirror taking a hard look at herself.

“You know, dear,” she says, “I look in the mirror, and I see an old woman. My face is all wrinkled, my hair is grey, my shoulders are hunched over, I’ve got fat legs, and my arms are all flabby.” She turns to her husband and says, “Tell me something positive to make me feel better about myself.”

He studies hard for a moment, thinking about it and then says in a soft, thoughtful voice, “Well, there’s nothing wrong with your eyesight.”

I don’t think she got what she was wanting, do you?

The problem?  She is looking for affirmation outside of herself.

“Self-confidence gives you the freedom to make mistakes and cope with failure without feeling that your world has come to an end or that you are a worthless person.” -Anonymous

How many times do we set goals and then, when we attain them, we aren’t satisfied?

Or, the satisfaction is short lived, and we begin to doubt ourselves again once the heady rush of success passes.

Or, we receive a compliment that, in the moment, seems to be the justification we need to feel confident about the path we are treading, only to return to insecurity within moments, hours, days, etc… of being given the compliment.

It seems crazy, and maybe we feel a little crazy when we are blown about by our emotions like this.  I sure do!

Self-confidence must be grown, most usually by experiencing success in the areas that you wish to have achievement.

(source: google images)

Positivity, the quality of being encouraging or promising of a successful outcome, is a personality trait that can be developed.

We can change how we think, and thereby change how we feel.  Instead of waiting for others to encourage us, we can encourage ourselves, if we follow the simple steps below.

  • Recognize when we have unhelpful thoughts.  The words ‘what if’, ‘why me’, ‘if only’, ‘I should have’, or any time we look for other people to give us value or worth are indications that we are not being positive.
  • Stop! Interrupt the negative little voice in the middle of your mind.  You may have heard about people snapping their wrists with a rubberband to break a habit.  The idea is the same, but you don’t have to hurt yourself.  When you hear the negativity start, all you have to do is firmly say to yourself “STOP.”
  • Replace the thought with a positive one.  Talk kindly to yourself.

Let’s use the opening joke as an example.

The woman was criticizing herself.  When she first thought “Look at me, I’m an old woman,” she would recognize that perception of herself as unhelpful.  She would have told herself “Stop.  I am no longer a youngster, but I still can walk, I am good at hang-gliding, and I have a lot of fun when I play in the park with my grandkids.”

She wouldn’t lie to herself.  That’s not helpful, and neither is dwelling on what she cannot control.  But instead of dwelling on what she is not, she would focus on what she is.

(source: google images)

And that’s the key to positivity.

We don’t ask others to support us, with platitudes or compliments.

By focusing on who we are and/or what we do well, we encourage ourselves through the process of goal achievement.

Once we’ve attained our goals, we increase our self-confidence, and the positivity loop continues on and on and on!

Lara Schiffbauer writes contemporary fantasy and general fiction, and has been lucky enough to see some of her short stories published.  By day she works as a school social worker in an elementary school and at night juggles writing, playing with her two adorable little boys, and doing everything else that has to get done in a day. You can find her on Twitter at @LASbauer or blogging at Motivation for Creation.

You Can Do Anything for 30 Seconds: A Guest Blog by Marcy Kennedy

Recently the Life List Club held their second Milestone Party recapping where we’re at on our goals.  And a party isn’t a party without prizes!  One of the prizes was a blog swap with one of my commenters, so I’m very very pleased to introduce Marcy Kennedy from Life at Warp 10.  Marcy is awesome in every way possible, and those of you who’ve been reading here for awhile will immediately know why I feel such a kinship with her!  And you can find me reveling her readers with some the story of how I met my honey bunny, so please drop by and say hi!  Here’s Marcy!

You Can Do Anything for 30 Seconds

I’ve broken both my arms (not at the same time) and multiple toes, sprained my right ankle three times, torn the cartilage in my left ankle, and dislocated my shoulder, and if there’s a door I can walk into or something to trip over or slip on, I will. It’s safe to say I could be a founding member of a clumsiness support group.

So when my husband and I needed to lose weight and bought the P90X workout series, I had visions of ending up on a first name basis with the ER staff. If you’ve ever seen the videos, you know that P90X is the scariest workout imaginable.

The people in the 12 videos do airborne clap push-ups. They do an hour and a half of yoga with exercises where you flip your feet back over your head to touch the floor (what kind of a person is that flexible?), and an ab routine that makes you long for normal crunches.

But “the mother of all P90X workouts” is plyometrics. It’s an hour of jump-training cardio exercises. The instructor broke each exercise into 30 seconds to one minute moves because he claimed, “You can do anything for 30 seconds.”

And I thought, “Yuh-huh. Maybe you can, but I can’t do that.”

Until I tried it. What looked impossible when I thought about it as an hour of pain became manageable in those 30 seconds. I could do those crazy hopping lunges for 30 seconds. I could do the wall squats and chair dips.

Normally I’m a planner who has contingency plans for her contingency plans and looks ahead, but sometimes, when you hit the P90X moments of life, those moments that hurt but also end up building character and strength, the way to get through them is to take 30 seconds at a time.

When my husband enlisted in the Marine Corps, a lot of people thought he’d never make it. The Marine Corps’ boot camp is the longest of any branch of the service—14 weeks. For those 14 weeks, you have no contact with your family, and your body is pushed to its physical and emotional limits. The drill instructors scream in your face about how worthless you are, you hike 15 miles carrying 50-60 lbs of gear, and if the DIs don’t give you permission to speak, you can’t ask to go to the washroom. My husband went chow to chow (meal to meal) because going day to day was too hard. That was his 30 seconds.

My neighbor while I was growing up was like an uncle to me. Just before he moved in down the street from us, he’d lost his driver’s license for repeatedly driving drunk. It was the point where he admitted he was an alcoholic and needed help. He once told my mom that he couldn’t think about not drinking for the rest of his life. He had to think about taking it one day, one hour at a time. He could do it for one hour. That was his 30 seconds, and he’s been sober ever since.

It’s the same way with anything in life that seems overwhelming and impossible. When we take it one box at a time, one application at a time, one page at a time, one breath at a time, it’s manageable. Not fun, but manageable. What’s better, doing something for 30 seconds proves we can do what we thought we couldn’t. Maybe we can even do it for longer. And maybe one day we’ll be able to look back and see how much better we are for surviving it.

Like the corny old joke says, “How do you eat an elephant?”

“One bite at a time.”

What’s your 30 seconds? What elephant seemed impossible to eat until you took it one bite at a time?

Marcy Kennedy is a fantasy author who also writes suspense/thriller short stories and works as a freelance writer for magazines, newspapers, and non-profits and a freelance editor for both businesses and individuals. Her current work-in-progress is a co-written historical fantasy about Amazons. When she’s not wrestling unruly commas, she spends her time with her equally nerdy husband, her Great Dane, and more cats than she’s willing to admit to in public. You can visit her at her blog, Life At Warp 10.

What is Love? A Guest Post by Jenny Hansen

Welcome to Life List Friday here at Jess’ Happiness Project. She’s hanging out over at David Walker’s place while we chat it up here.

Every commercial I’ve seen today is about romance. It’s almost Valentine’s Day and love is in the air. And on TV…in magazines…and spreading like wildfire across the internet.

(source: fucsia.hubpages.com)

The yearning for love and connection seems to be built into our DNA. And humans, particularly those in the Western world, place an incredible amount of focus on the subject.

We dream of love. We write songs and novels about it. We chase love. We build shrines to it. We sacrifice for love, work for love, and cry about love, in all its various embodiments.

It’s stunning to see such a wealth of attention paid to a topic with very few clear answers. Is it just me, or have you noticed how difficult love is to define?

  • There’s love between friends
  • The deep connection between parent and child
  • The close community of family
  • Romantic love typically seen during dating
  • The deeply shared life-bond of romance and friendship in long-term couples.

Certainly, there’s more but these are the first five that came to my mind. Here’s how Psychology Today answers the question.

What is love?

Three different people will give you three different answers. Heck, I might give different answers on different days. As a psychology major at the University of Missouri, I participated in an experiment where we walked around campus, asking this question.

Here are the five answers to “What is love” that I never forgot:

  1. Love is finding joy in the other person’s happiness.
  2. Love is wanting what’s best for one another, even when it’s not what’s best for you.
  3. Love is not being able to imagine your life without that person in it.
  4. Love is a completeness of being. Where the other person not only fits with you, but becomes a part of you.
  5. Love makes you braver than you ever knew you could be.

Complete strangers gave me food for thought that affected me for the rest of my adult life. So, now I’m asking you: “What is love?”

I can’t wait to hear your answers down in the comments section!

Jenny fills her nights with humor: writing memoir, women’s fiction, chick lit, short stories (and chasing after the newly walking Baby Girl). By day, she provides training and social media marketing for an accounting firm. After 15 years as a corporate software trainer, she’s digging this sit down and write thing.

When she’s not at her blog, More Cowbell, Jenny can be found on Twitter at jhansenwrites and at her group blog, Writers In The Storm. Every Saturday, she writes the Risky Baby Business posts at More Cowbell, a series that focuses on babies, new parents and high-risk pregnancy.

Big Change Ahead

(source: ideachampions.com)

Hello Family and Friends,

Some changes are ahead for the ol’ Happiness Project.  I’ve read many other writer’s blogs and listened as they adapted their schedules to get more writing time.  I held off as long as I possibly could.  I made rules and tried to live by them hoping I could prepare blogs ahead and still work on my book.  But, it wasn’t happening.

So, I’ve decided to make a big change in order to focus on my writing more.  I’m limiting my blogging to twice a week.  Starting in February, I’ll blog on Tuesdays and Fridays.  Tuesday will be my “anything goes” day blogging about all things paranormal, travel-related, book and movie reviews, and any tales from my accident prone life!  Friday will remain on it’s alternate schedule of Guilty Pleasure Fridays and then Life List Club guest posts.  I may on occasion throw in a 3rd post, but only if I have something or someone really awesome to share with you!

This decision was not made easily; I’d been thinking about it for awhile and finally decided it’s time.  The biggest wake up call is the fact that I’m completely starting a new writing project.  I’d been working on one paranormal fiction piece for the last year and started over with that about 6 or 7 times.  I’m getting really good at beginnings!  But after workshopping it with my Warrior Writer’s Boot Camp team, I realized the direction it was going didn’t have my heart in it any longer.  I’d still like to come back to this project, but I need time to really hash it out.

My new endeavor is one that I feel right with and one I know won’t fizzle halfway through.  I’m taking the opportunity to write about my family.  It’s something I’ve always wanted to do and I figure now’s as good a time as any.  All those wacky stories about my dad and those life threatening instances with my siblings are going to get put on page!  That is, provided my siblings don’t tie me to a stop sign again or bury me in the sandbox for revealing these tales. 

I’d also like to take the advice of two wonderful friends and bloggers Pam Hawley and Sonia G. Medeiros and spend time writing short stories and learning about the craft.  Nina Badzin is another great blogger to follow with tips for social media and she really woke me up one day on the importance of submitting your work and building credit to your name.  In order to submit good work, I need to dive in and study more.  Eliminating one day’s blog post will give me another day to work on these projects.

I hope the change doesn’t impact my readership.  I love you guys so much, you have no idea!  You are my motivation for making this change so I can work on the really important thing for a writer to have: a book.  But none of it would be worthwhile if I didn’t have readers.  So I still plan on being a pest in your comment sections and chatting up with all of you here.

Thanks for listening!  Stay tuned!

But wait, there’s more!!!

More Blogs That Ask Questions and Give Great Advice:

Kate Wood blogs about Fear and Change, asking writers the difficult questions and challenging them with smart advice.

August McLaughlin could save your life by reading her post Trusting Your Instincts; this is one you don’t want to miss.

Kristen Lamb gives a holistic approach to writing in 3 Steps to Freedom – Grab Hold of Your Brilliant Future.

Need to remember why you started blogging?  Jenny Hansen writes I’m Having a GREAT Time – What About You?

The hilarious Chuck Wendig gave us 25 Things Writers Should Start Doing, and I really like his list.

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