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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

ISO: Excitement

What excites you? Really excites you? Are you doing that thing/those things as often as you can? Are you allowing people to see what truly excites you? Are you inspired by your excitement? Are others inspired by your excitement?

I watched a video the other night on this subject: A 26 year old millionaire bounced around on stage talking about what gets her excited and how to find out what gets each of us excited. When it was over, I couldn't think of a thing that got me THAT excited. Then, as I went to bed and as I woke up in the morning  – I couldn't stop listing the things that get me excited. Jeez no wonder I couldn't find that one thing that makes me passionate – too many things make me passionate! 

I googled it. There are millions of pages on figuring out what excites you most and finding your passion. Why is it that, as I am pushing forty, I am just now trying to discover this?! Where have I been for the last 30-some years?

Am I the only one? Do you know what excites you? Are you doing it?

Some of what excites me seems so far off, so far-fetched, that I think I've just always gone along doing the small little things that make me and, hopefully, those around me fairly content… But excited? I’m not sure. Scary thought as middle-age is knocking on the door! What am I waiting for? Retirement?

In the video I watched the other night, "Establishing your 'Why'," Peta Kelly talks about finding that big thing that excites you but also the little excitements to help inspire you and pull you toward that big goal.

I thought about listing some of the things that excite me – but the list seemed too long for this blog (maybe next week). But, how do I take my “excitement list” and use that to live?

In his TEDx lecture, "How to find and do work you love," Scott Dinsmore asks “What is the work you can’t not do?” For me, it’s always been writing. And, even though I take tiny little steps towards that goal – the big goal, the idea of being a successfully published writer, seems so far-off, so impossible, that I get stuck. I never make my way towards that goal. But maybe it’s because I never allow myself any excitement, any reward, any passion to pull me forward.  There is no fire behind it. There’s no momentum. I need to find little stepping stones of excitement to pull me forward. Otherwise, I am just paralyzed.

Another great article I found in my Google search is: Guide to Finding Your Passion. A guide to narrow those things that excite me down. How to find the thing that I am most passionate about, make goals, identify obstacles, push away the fears and excuses...  (Maybe that’s for another blog too)

What about you? Do you know what excites you and are you doing it?

Monday, March 9, 2015

No Parking In The Comfort Zone

There is something to be said for the comfort zone – it is, umm, comfortable. I suppose we could all live our lives comfortable in it. Not that we would be lazy, the comfort zone can be pretty busy, hectic at times – with the cleaning, the laundry, the errands, work, volunteering, family, vacations, etc. A life inside the comfort zone could be a full and happy one. But, is that the life we are meant to live?

If there was a “No Parking” sign posted on our comfort zone, could we have reached a higher potential? Is there a life we are meant to live outside the comfort zone?

I recently came across this quote (on a friend’s fridge):

“Life Begins At The End of Your Comfort Zone”
~ Neale Donald Walsch

This friend recently left her own comfort zone – her job, her apartment, her life – and moved to another part of the state to begin a physical therapy program. She took a leap of faith and left her comfort zone to answer a calling rather than sit back and ignore it.

Is there a calling that we are afraid to answer whilst sitting comfortable in the zone?

I would like to say that I am finally answering the call to be a writer. But, my writing life is going along happily in its own comfort zone right now. Being a comfortable drawer writer eliminates all stress and obligation from the process (writing something and hiding it in my drawer). Writing something, revising it, submitting it somewhere – that is way out of the comfort zone I am currently parked in. The draft for my NaNoWriMo novel, for example, I have picked up a half a dozen times since November but never really accomplish anything noteworthy. What’s the rush, really, when you are in a comfort zone and no one is threatening to tow you?

And this inability to reach beyond the comfort zone stretches into many areas of life – relationships, physical activity, and diet. We can allow ourselves to get into cycles that keep us from ever really experiencing life to its capacity.

As a married woman with three children approaching 40, I was OK with the way I look, my physical activity, my diet. Sure, I kinda wish I looked a little better in a two piece bathing suit. I kinda wish I could run any amount of distance without wanting to pass out. Maybe it would be nice to have a little more energy without relying on coffee loaded with cream and sugar.

A few weeks back I decided to listen to another friend and try out a nutritional cleansing program she recommends. And I am wondering why in the heck I didn’t try it sooner! It’s like going from Good to Great – I feel great (and 10 days in I lost 6 lbs and over 9 inches)! I didn’t even know it was possible!

I am trying to detoxify my body inside and out – go beyond just OK to the best I can be…

What about you? Are you parked in a comfort zone? Can you do something today to push yourself outside comfortable to the best you possible?

Spring is approaching. It is time to wake up and move out of the comfort zone. Take some chances. Do something differently. Get out of the rut and live to our fullest potential.

Who’s with me?!

(If you want to know more about the nutritional cleansing program I am on, shoot me an email – we can do it together!)

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

I Am (clearly) No Jesus Christ

Today marks the start of Lent and for many Christians it means giving up some vice or making some sort of sacrifice in honor of Jesus' 40 days of fasting in the desert. I have to admit that even as a Catholic Elementary student, I don't think I ever made it the full 40 days of giving up anything.

If I were out fasting in the desert and the devil himself appeared before me and offered me food -- I think I would last about one second before I said, "Hell, yes, I'll take that rock-turned-bread!"

I am (clearly) no Jesus Christ!

I mean, I set a goal and about 10 seconds later I am making an excuse why I couldn't possibly get it done. Jesus let himself get hung on a cross! I think I'd be like: "Ummm, Father, I know I said I'd do this but I don't think this is even going to work. These people don't care if I die and come back again. Heck, half the time they don't even understand what I mean when I say I'm coming back...How about I cure another leper or something... They like when I do that..."

I am an excuse maven!

I put off laundry until the drawers are empty.
I need to have a guest en route before I clean my house thoroughly.
I have to have every surface area covered before I organize my papers.
The bathrooms need to look like rest stop restrooms before I clean them.
The stomach bug must be in full force before I disinfect anything.
The buttons on my pants must burst before I cut calories.
Spring must be around the corner before I'll hit the gym.
I can work on a short story for two solid weeks but when it's time to submit it, I fall asleep.
I write an entire novel, then decide I hate the story because it's too cliche.

And so on.

This year, I decided to give the whole giving something up for Lent thing a try. My biggest vice, of course, is the mindless time I spend on Facebook. So, it's only logical I give up Facebook. Since I know I have the willpower of an ant (assuming an ant has very little willpower), I am deactivating my account for the rest of Lent.

Gasp. But how will I get my news? I am keeping my Twitter account (I am no Jesus after all).

Double gasp. But how will you follow my blog? Follow me on Twitter: @excusesbyjulie 
Be sure to like my author page: www.facebook.com/JAChamberlain 
You can also follow by adding my blog (www.365excusesbyJulie.com) to your Blogger reading list.

I'll see you on Facebook after Easter! In the meantime, I'll be busy revising/rewriting my novel (I said I was going to do that, didn't I?) and jumping on the "nutritional cleanse" bandwagon (spring is right around the corner, isn't it?). I'm sure I will be finding excuses to post here in between.

Until then, my mantra:

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

38 (or so) Reasons Why I NEED To Be A Professional Writer

  1. I have to do something productive with the voices in my head.
  2. Or go insane.
  3. I like to observe human nature.
  4. I’d rather not be a creepy eavesdropper.
  5. I like to work in my pajamas.
  6. And drink lots of coffee.
  7. Nobody wants to hear the things I think.
  8. The things in my head translate way better on paper (well, sometimes).
  9. I’m too practical to be an amateur daydreamer.
  10. I’m too impractical for 9 to 5 work.
  11. I can’t be bothered with keeping track of insignificant things like what time it is.
  12. It’s a more pleasant alternative to housework.
  13. My kids already think I am a writer.
  14. And want to read the things I have written.
  15. I want them to know that if you work hard enough, dreams can come true.
  16. And nothing is impossible.
  17. I am tired of making apologies and excuses for wanting to be a writer.
  18. I have stories to tell.
  19. I want my name on published stories, not half written computer files or bunched up papers in a drawer.
  20. I want someone to read something I’ve written and say “Wow!” 
  21. I want something I’ve written to resonate in someone’s head somewhere.
  22. I don’t want to do anything else ever again.
  23. Otherwise, I will have failed.
  24. Failure is not an option.
  25. The only place I am good at lying, is on paper.
  26. I enjoy being completely honest about something that is 100% fabricated.
  27. Writing is fun (most of the time).
  28. I like to entertain people.
  29. It’s fulfilling and rewarding when I hit a difficult patch and push through it.
  30. Sometimes I can be quite good at it.
  31. Most of the time I suck, but proud for doing it anyway.
  32. It takes way longer to perfect one sentence than I ever imagined possible, but the after-glow of finally writing the perfect sentence can last days (and maybe longer if that sentence were to echo in someone else’s head -- see numbers 20 & 21).
  33. As a writer, I am always learning, growing, evolving.
  34. I can’t possibly DO all the things I dream, but my characters can.
  35. I am sick of being the person that talks about being a writer but has nothing to show for it.
  36. Actually, I don’t talk about it much (just blog about it) – but would like to.
  37. Unless someone pays me, I’ll feel like a fraud.
  38. I need validation.

I'd rather sit at my computer all day wrestling with one sentence while wearing my PJs, coffee cup in hand, than do anything else (like do something with that bucket that's been sitting back there for a couple of days now).

Yay! I found 38 reasons why I need to be a writer, that trumps the 36 reasons why I won't be a writer. You can read those reasons here.

Oh, wait, it doesn't end there! I just thought of bonus reason number 39 -- I would like the excuse "She's a writer" to cover every weird/antisocial/ditsy thing I do. 

Friday, January 30, 2015

Did I Really Just Say That? #Thingsmomssay

As a mom, words come out of my mouth that I never imagined myself saying. Almost daily. And in many cases whom I am saying it to can be surprising (and disturbing). Here are some examples. Feel free to throw in some guesses as to whom I am speaking to – the dog, my son(s), my daughter, or my husband. The answer may surprise (or disturb) you.

  1. Please do not pee on the toilet seat.
  2. Please do not go to the bathroom in the basement.
  3. Please do not go to the bathroom in the trash can.
  4. Please do not go to the bathroom in the heating vent.
  5. Please do not pee on me.
  6. Please do not throw up on the living room carpet.
  7. Please throw up outside.
  8. Please go to the bathroom outside.
  9. Please stop chewing on your toe nails.
  10. Please get your finger out of your nose.
  11. Please get your finger out of the dog’s ear.
  12. Please do not rub your boogers on me.
  13. Please do not flick boogers in my car.
  14. Please stop licking your plate.
  15. Please stop burping at the kitchen table.
  16. Please stop farting at the kitchen table.
  17. Please stop drooling all over my house.
  18. Please do not spit on the floor.
  19. Please do not drool on my pillow.
  20. Please get your butt off my pillow.
  21. Please do not rub your naked butt on my bed.
  22. Please wear underwear (preferably clean).
  23. Please do not re-wear your dirty socks.
  24. Please use your own toothbrush.
  25. Please do not kiss me so passionately.
  26. Please do not touch my boobs.
  27. Please do not rub my butt.
  28. Please stop snoring in my face.
  29. Please do not lick the car.
  30. Please do not lick your sibling.
  31. Please do not lick the dog’s tongue.
  32. Please do not eat off the floor.
  33. Please do not eat random food found in random places.
  34. Please do not drink that, it’s been sitting out all day.
  35. Please do not eat that onion like an apple.
These adorable kids couldn't possibly be responsible for any of the above grossness, could they?

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

New Year, Same Ole Me?

It’s a New Year, and I've brought the same ole me to the party. I, of course, can pretend that I am going to make and keep some New Year’s Resolutions. I can tell myself I am going to eat those grapefruits I bought for breakfast instead of a bagel and cream cheese. I am going to use that free gym membership I won. I am going to finish my novel and get it published. Polish and submit those short stories sitting on my hard drive. I am going to get right to work each morning instead of wasting time on the Internet waiting for my coffee to kick in. (Actually, I am going to drink a NutriBullet smoothie each morning instead of coffee.) But by mid-January the excuses already start to pile up and I am ready for Girl Scout cookie sales to begin…

New Year, same ole me? Or, maybe it’s time to let go of past failures and excuses, stop simply wanting things and start doing?

A recent blog on Writersdigest.com by author Kerrie Flanagan talks about moving beyond want and start doing… As she says, there are so many things we want – to make them possible we need to stop wanting and start doing.

What will you DO in 2015?

This is the year, I will finish the novel and find an agent. I will invest time in my writing, have confidence in my abilities, and push through to the finish line.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

36 (or so) Reasons Why I Will Never Be A Professional Writer

  1. I am a Stay-At-Home mom.
  2. That lives in the suburbs. 
  3. With my husband.
  4. And three kids.
  5. And I like it. 
  6. I like to come home and pull my big SUV into a garage. 
  7. I like square-footage and acreage. 
  8. I like chemically treated lawns with playsets in the back. 
  9. I like a basement full of toys.
  10. I like shopping malls. And Target. Even Wal-Mart. I love Costco. 
  11. I eat at chain restaurants. 
  12. I order pizza from Dominos.
  13. I go to a hair dresser to have my hair dyed blonde.
  14. I've been known to listen to RadioDisney when the kids aren't in the car. 
  15. Once, I even turned on Saturday Night Live to watch One Direction (but fell asleep 10 minutes in and missed their performance).
  16. I love Disney World. Love it. Even though I can see the reasons why one might not love it – the crowds, the expense, the tourist traps, the marketing gimmicks, and the complete and total fakeness of everything -- I still love it. 
  17. I think Disney World is the happiest place on earth.
  18. I can’t describe things in metaphor. If something is good, it’s just “good” not “as good as a hot day at the beach” (see that sucked). And, if something is bad, it’s just “bad” not “as bad as a cup of coffee with no cream or sugar” (again, suck).
  19. I use a thesaurus. A lot. So I can make things slightly better than “good” and come up with “propitious” but since I think I've changed the meaning, I go back to good and resign myself to the fact that I am a suck-a$$ writer.
  20. I do like New York which seems to be some prerequisite for writerly-types. 
  21. I love New York, as a matter of fact – Times Square, Toys R Us, The M&M Store, The Hard Rock Café, FAO Schwartz, The American Girl Doll Store, The Lego Store…
  22. I don’t understand why I used the em-dash above instead of a comma or semicolon. 
  23. I use too many ellipses. Seriously…
  24. I don’t have an MFA but occasionally research it until I see the admissions requirements and then I freak out and close the computer.
  25. I cannot recall ever having read anything by Flannery O'Connor, Raymond Carver, John Cheever, James Joyce, or Gertrude Stein. 
  26. I could never be a cool beatnik. The closest thing I came was my college cross country road trip in which I happened to bring along a tattered copy of On The Road.
  27. I watched On The Road recently and felt anxious. I mean, how could those people live like that – traveling around without an itinerary?!
  28. I write detailed itineraries for vacations. The last time we went to Disney World it was 14 pages long.
  29. That is the longest thing I've written that I actually let anyone read.
  30. I waste too much time on social media.
  31. I will now spend the rest of the day checking for comments on my blog (hint hint hint).
  32. I want to stay married, though, so I will go clean my house and make some dinner.
  33. And check on the kids so Child Protective Services doesn't take them away…
  34. Oh, and maybe I’ll go wash everyone’s underwear for good measure.
  35. I write clichéd things like “for good measure.”
  36. I don’t know whether the period goes inside or outside of the quotation marks above (actually, it should go outside but it didn't look right...)