Friday, May 04, 2007

You Didn't Think It Would Be Effortless, Did You?

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People who travel between my small town and the city closest to us have two roads they can follow. One is the highway. A straight shot, smooth pavement, lots of company along the way. The other is through the country. Sometimes smooth pavement, sometimes more potholes than pavement, some gravel and always a winding, curving path pocked with the stop signs and turn signals of dozens of small towns.
It takes the same amount of time to get from my house to the my friend's house in the city, regardless of which road you choose to take. How can that be, you ask? Simple - the highway was constructed to suit the highway, not the people that use it. It skirts around towns, by-passes some towns in favor of others which causes you to back track and its cluttered with all the folks trying to get the same place you are. The country road, on the other hand, is a straight shot.
The path to success is much like these two roads. Some will hop on the highway and get there. Very few road hazards, bumps or delays - but white knuckle navigation along the way, racing to keep up with everyone else headed to that final destination: success. Some will be like me, sticking to the country road. Getting there over potholes, stop signs and traffic signals, usually all alone, but getting there nonetheless. Getting there with a lovely view along the way.

Friday, February 02, 2007

How Do You Measure Success?

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I think we can all agree that a successful life is comprised of balance in five areas: finance, spirit, intellect, relationships and health. Visualizing what determines a balance in those areas is an individual choice, but what is most important is remembering to enjoy the exhilerating, exciting, worthwhile journey. To feel what its like to already be there, while still clamboring up the mountain.

Having watched Oprah and her coverage of The Secret, I know I'm not the first or the only person who sat down and didn't have a clear picture of just exactly what it is I want. What would comprise Kat's definition of balance and success. "Happy" isn't clear enough. Its like asking for a joke that will make everyone in the entire universe laugh. There just isn't such a thing, because people are unique and wonderful each in their own way.

I'm refining exactly what it is that I want, what I could look back at and say "I suceeded, my life is in balance". But I'm quite good at knowing what I don't want, and that's where you start, with the opposite of all those things you don't want in your life.

Monday, January 29, 2007

A Beautiful Day

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Has there ever been a day as magnificent as this one? The air so crisp and cold your cheeks pink up just thinking of going outside. A thin layer of snow covering the winter browned grass, making the roads look like black ribbons carelessly dropped from a young girl's hand. This weather portends a great upcoming summer. Fewer mosquitos, fewer bugs of any kind.

Philip's story is one third told. He's tapping on my shoulder now, anxious for me to finish the writing.

"Tell them..." he whispers in my ear. "Tell them of my school in the bayou, my teacher from Chicago..."

This character is as excited about meeting the world as I. His story, and that of the boys and girls, men and women like him, has been ignored too long. I am so grateful that I was the one chosen to bring them all into the light.

The Doctor called me today, as he always does. "Where can we go? What do you see?" He asks me.

I tell him that I see auditoriums filled with children, their laughter ringing in my ears. I see book stores, the people lined out the door and down the block. I see the kids once relegated to the sidelines of life rolling and limping to stand shoulder to shoulder with their peers, claiming their right to acceptance and happiness. I see it and I feel it. Its waiting for us.

"Thank you." The doctor says quietly before hanging up the phone.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Setting the Goal

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The Law of Attraction uses visualization as a tool for achieving what you want. Much like the advice to "dress for success", it makes sense to see and feel what life will be like once you get there. In order to visualize anything, as Aaron suggested in a comment, the goal has to be clear.
Uncannily, I have seen this principle work in my life before I knew it had a name.

I have always been a writer. From stories as a kid, to my diary as a teenager, straight through the things I scribbled on napkins and the back of receipts all through my twenties and thirties. I talked frequently of writing once I retired. I talked about writing all the time, but always with this feeling that I wasn't good enough to ever succeed at it.

Two years ago in a random conversation with the director of our local arts council, I mentioned that I wished there was a writers group in our town. She said "Excellent idea, you're in charge. I'll support you 100%". She'd called my bluff, so I had no choice but to start a writers group, complete with the research necessary to lead a group of writers specializing in everything from poetry to journalism to children's and adult fiction. I shared my short stories with the group along with everyone else to resounding praise. With each meeting, my confidence grew. In November I encouraged the group to participate in the "write a novel in a month" challenge. As their leader, I had no choice but to write the book that had been living in my head for more than fifteen years. I didn't finish the book, but ended the month with it substantially written except for the last chapter. A friend from the group finally asked me what the problem was, the real problem. I realized that my resistance to finishing it had to do with the next step...submitting it to a publisher, rejection and what I perceived as the end of a dream. Once I'd voiced it, I had to put it away. It was in that moment that I decided I would finish up my term at my day job (I'm in an elected position) and chase my dream to be a writer. Even if that meant I had to live in a box. I stopped thinking about failing, and focused entirely on succeeding.

My book was rejected by that small publisher, but he said he liked my style and offered me a partnership, editing the books he had already signed for publication. I accepted and with my new title gained the attention of a national magazine, with just one small problem. They needed tear sheets to actually hire me. I kept writing, and working with my group. A few months later one of my members handed me an ad. A small local newspaper was looking for human interest stories. I applied and was hired. I wrote three stories a week for six months, met some amazing people and just when I had a file drawer full of tear sheets, and was burning out from holding down three jobs, the newspaper went out of business.

Through my work at the newspaper, a Doctor in the town next door contacted me about ghost writing his children's book. The concept is one that has never been addressed to date. That brings us to today, and the specific goal that I am visualizing and counting on the Law of Attraction to help me manifest.

The Philip books are going to take the world by storm. They are fun, innovative and serve a segment of our society that needs to be spotlighted. I can hear the audience applause as we walk on stage, past the big blow up of our bookcover, and settle into seats next to... Oprah.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Gratitude and Wanting More

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Dr. John, one of my favorite bloggers, made this comment on my last post:

I hope this works for you. But is seems to me you have most of what one could want. You have a job you like, wonderful grandchildren that make you feel alive and a great husband.

Gratitude for what you already have is one of the cornerstones of this philosophy, and why it feels so logical to me. I have so very much I'm grateful for, and if I gain not one more thing in my life, I'll still go to my grave feeling like I was blessed at every turn.

But there burns in me a desire to do and serve more.

I do like my job with the publishing company, but it pays nothing right now. We spend what we make on one book, promoting it and publishing the next. If visualizing our little company as a big successful company helps attract opportunities to make just that happen, it helps so many people besides me. My children and grandchildren are the reason my heart sings every day. I want to have the means to insure they have every opportunity to achieve their dreams through education. My husband has worked himself to the bone taking care of all of us. He's battling heart disease and diabetes, he doesn't have many more years to work and he's deserving of more happiness than a poverty riddled retirement. All of these things take more money than we currently make.

I have been a volunteer for several causes for most of my life. Alzheimer's took my father and brother. Cancer has attacked all of my sisters and mother. There are children in my little town with two working parents and still they can't afford to go to the dentist, much less own their own bicycle. Young women who've gone astray and are trying to find their way back into the light need more than just encouraging words. They need education, transportation, an interview suit and money for a babysitter. There are programs to help with these things, but they're always insufficiently funded. I want to help, but I need more money to do that.

I have no need or desire for mansions or expensive cars. The reality Neil and I have created for ourselves right now presents a grim picture for our future. Neither of us has worked at one job long enough to provide a decent retirement income and while we are young enough to turn our fortunes around, I must. Ask and you will receive. So it was written, so it will be. If you believe it.