[Trust 30] Ordinary Things

Ordinary Things by Ana Guardia

“Every artist was first an amateur.”

To be an artist one has to find beauty in ordinary things. Find 10 things of great beauty in the landscape that surrounds you. For example, crumple sheets on your bed in the morning, the smell of coffee making its way around a busy office.

1. Golden rod blowing through the crisp autumn breeze.
2. Leaves changing color as the days become shorter and the weather becomes cooler.
3. My children playing happily outside.
4. My autumn centerpiece placed beautifully on the table.
5. Cool, fresh, filtered water.
6. A round, red apple.
7. Afternoon sunshine bathing shedding trees.
8. Books slanting on the shelf, missing books that my children have taken to read.
9. Clean, fresh laundry loaded into a basket, awaiting folding.
10. An adorable, over-grown kitten curled up on the futon.



[Trust 30] Dare to be Bold

Dare to be bold by Matt Cheuvront

Our arts, our occupations, our marriages, our religion, we have not chosen, but society has chosen for us. We are parlour soldiers. We shun the rugged battle of fate, where strength is born. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Next to Resistance, rational thought is the artist or entrepreneurs worst enemy. Bad things happen when we employ rational thought, because rational thought comes from the ego. Instead, we want to work from the Self, that is, from instinct and intuition, from the unconscious.

A child has no trouble believing the unbelievable, nor does the genius or the madman. Its only you and I, with our big brains and our tiny hearts, who doubt and overthink and hesitate.” – Steven Pressfield, Do the Work

The idea of “being realistic” holds all of us back. From starting a business or quitting a job to dating someone who may not be our type or moving to a new place – getting “real” often means putting your dreams on hold.

Today, let’s take a step away from rational thought and dare to be bold. What’s one thing you’ve always wanted to accomplish but have been afraid to pursue? Write it down. Also write down the obstacles in your way of reaching your goal. Finally, write down a tangible plan to overcome each obstacle.

The only thing left is to, you know, actually go make it happen. What are you waiting for?

I considered creating a video. Really, I couldn’t think of any bolder expression to make — I’m about the mousiest person you’d meet face-to-face. I kept trying to find the ideal location to film my video, but obstacles kept presenting themselves: a neighbor arriving home across the street; a neighborhood girl riding her bike down the street; my kids catching me sneaking to the side of the house and mistaking me for their cousin; a bumble bee smacking into the side of my head. And so I took the hint that I needed to write my response in order to actually make it happen. Such is life.

Let me repeat myself for the who-knows-how-many-eth time. I want to be an English consultant. I want the backyard, the couch, and my new favorite cafe (of which I’ve decided to is my not-so-best kept secret) to be my offices. I want to change lives by helping others write better. I’ve been so terrified of pursuing this dream because too many people have fooled me into believing that working a job outside the home is the only way to make a living without living in a cardboard box on the street corner. It’s that whole “starving artist” complex — but I’m not so much an artist. My writing may be an expression of art to me, but I’d rather focus on helping others. There are differences between “there,” “their,” and “they’re,” and not enough people seem to understand this. Just the other day, my son came home from school with a printed recipe book — and apparently one of his teachers forgot to spell check the title page before printing. It’s a “receipe” book. Really? And this is where I start to remember that people need me just as much as I need them.

As far as overcoming this obstacle — this fear — I feel confident that I’ve moved beyond it. Right now it’s a matter of creating content, offering my services, and marketing. I don’t exactly need anything else to propel my business forward. I simply need courage, confidence, and creativity.


[Trust 30] Facing (and Fearing)

Facing (and Fearing) by Dan Andrews

Greatness appeals to the future. If I can be firm enough to-day to do right, and scorn eyes, I must have done so much right before as to defend me now. Be it how it will, do right now. Always scorn appearances, and you always may. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Trusting intuition and making decisions based on it is the most important activity of the creative artist and entrepreneur. If you are facing (and fearing) a difficult life decision, ask yourself these three questions:

1) “What are the costs of inaction?” I find it can be helpful to fight fear with fear. Fears of acting are easily and immediately articulated by our “lizard brains” (thanks Seth) e.g. what if I fail? what if I look stupid? If you systematically and clearly list the main costs of inaction, they will generally overshadow your immediate fears.

2) “What kind of person do I want to be?” I’ve found this question to be extremely useful. I admire people who act bravely and decisively. I know the only way to join their ranks is to face decisions that scare me. By seeing my actions as a path to becoming something I admire, I am more likely to act and make the tough calls.

3) “In the event of failure, could I generate an alterative positive outcome?” Imagine yourself failing to an extreme. What could you learn or do in that situation to make it a positive experience? We are generally so committed to the results we seek at the outset of a task or project that we forget about all the incredible value and experience that comes from engaging the world proactively, learning, and improving our circumstances as we go along.

1. The costs of inaction are:

  • spending my days working for someone else on their terms
  • spending at least 40 hours away from my family and my home
  • never realizing my dream of becoming a published author
  • never realizing my dream of working for myself
  • wasting the best years of my life, only to retire when I’m too old to enjoy myself

2. I want to be a loving wife and mother. I want to change and touch lives by helping others use their words to the best of their abilities. I want to achieve that zen-like quality that some of my favorite people seem to exude so easily.

3. To be totally honest, I’m not sure at this juncture. I do realize that it was my barrier to affordable tutoring that prevented me from becoming a veterinarian, and at the time I was so paralyzed by the fear of failure and the lack of backup planning that I couldn’t imagine what else to do with my career. I took a career class to help me determine what else I could and would like to do with my life and discovered that I was “suited” to become a technical writer. I latched onto the idea of becoming a writer and pursued a degree in English. After graduating, I’ve mostly worked in an administrative capacity, so I know I’ll always have that backup plan waiting for me. However, I know I can learn a lot from my students and clients, and I’m very open to their stories and experiences. I know I have an advocate in me, and I’m sure I could potentially do something related to advocacy — and I’m sure I could do that for myself, as in being my own boss.


[Trust30] Nothing to Lose

Nothing to Lose by Tanner Christensen

“Self-censorship is not just self-betrayal and self-abandonment (which would be bad enough), but soul-betrayal and betrayal of our Muse, out inner voice, our highest self.”

Too often we censor ourselves, our actions, and our work in hope or fear of what might happen if we otherwise don’t. What words would you write today, and what actions would you take, if you had nothing to fear, nothing to lose?

For too long I’ve been censoring myself because I don’t have fancy CSS layout designs to present. I’ve been censoring myself because I was terrified that plain black-and-white html coding would look unprofessional. Then last week I got an email requesting my English expertise — after being linked my way through a comment on a blog I frequent. I received a large confidence boost as a result, and I was inspired to create new blank slate pages. Some availability issues also inspired me to create a public availability calendar. It doesn’t show the public viewers the details, but it shows when I’m busy and when I’m free to provide my English consulting services. I’m not entirely sure about pricing for each individual service just yet, so I’m simply requesting that potential clients ask about pricing when requesting my services. I’m leaving behind fear and putting myself out there, ready and waiting to be hired.

And so with that being said, I will again shamelessly self-promote myself. Visit ElectrateEditorials.com and MeredithShadwill.com to learn more about English consulting and all that it entails. Let me help you with your English skills.


#Trust30 Overcoming Uncertainty

Overcoming Uncertainty by Sean Ogle

Nothing can bring you peace but yourself. Nothing can bring you peace but the triumph of principles. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Write down a major life goal you have yet to achieve or even begin to take action on. For each goal, write down three uncertainties (read: fears) you have relating to each goal. Break it down further, and write down three reasons for each uncertainty. When you have three reasons for your fear, you’ll be able to start processing the change because you know where the fear stems from. Now you’ll be able to make a smaller changes that push you towards your larger goal. So begins the process of “trusting yourself.”

I have yet to achieve my major life goal of becoming my own boss, never having to work for someone else ever again — although I have begun to take action to achieve it. My fears revolving around this goal include: the inability to predict how much I can reasonably expect to earn through my services; the potential to be turned down for comfortable housing because I don’t have an employer to list on a lease or mortgage application; and not knowing if people will see my services as useful.

Honestly, I’d like to earn a certain amount of money through my business before I quit any day job because I need financial security to raise my family. I don’t have the luxury of simply living in a tent eating ramen noodles over a camp fire — my kids depend on me to feed them nutritious meals and provide a weather-proof form of shelter. Additionally, I have goals for a certain standard of living of which I’d love for my family and me to which to become accustomed. I can get on board with decluttering and minimizing, but I refuse to compromise for certain standards, such as having comfortable furnishings.

Moreover, I’m going to need to obtain comfortable housing. I refuse to live with my in-laws for much longer, and quitting the job I just started to completely devote my time to building my business seems irresponsible and illogical to me. Again, I need comfortable housing to shelter my family because I have growing children who require a stable, secure environment in which to develop physically, mentally, and emotionally. And they’re not the only ones who need that stability and security — I do, too. I need my own living space in order to thrive. I need a positive, comfortable living place that I’m happy to call home. I have a place to live right now, but it isn’t my home. It just doesn’t feel like home to me, and returning here doesn’t necessarily inspire feelings of comfort and security. That’s no way to live.

Finally, I’m worried that people may not see my services as useful. Perhaps I’m seeing a need for something that others might not care as much about. Our society focuses so heavily upon mathematics and the sciences, but English is relegated to the humanities — the inferior subjects. I see that we need good reading and writing skills in order to succeed in any subject area, but I don’t know how many other people out there agree with me. I fear that I’m placing too much stock into my expertise. I believe in the value of comma placement and subject-verb agreement, but do you? However, this uncertainty worries me less than the uncertainties that revolve around my family’s security.

I’m not sure what small changes I would need to instate in order to get passed these fears — honestly, it would seem to me that I merely need to push through this difficult situation. I have the employer, and I just need to find a place to live. Once I’ve got our own living space and steady self-earned income, I shouldn’t need to fear retaliation. Rent/ mortgage payments are good regardless of who writes your paychecks. If I save enough for a down payment and have good records of my business earnings, I can still buy a house. Also, I know better than to fear a lack of demand for my services as I’ve had clients figuratively beating down my door. The clients are finding me, the money will come, and the fears will be squashed.


#Trust30 Fault and Change

Fault and Change by Carlos Miceli

I must be myself. I cannot break myself any longer for you, or you. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Think of all the things that are not working in your life. That job you don’t like, that relationship that’s not working, those friends that annoy you. Now turn them all on you. Imagine that everything that’s not working in your life, is your fault. How would you approach it? What would you work on to change your life to the state that you want it to be?

Thinking more along those terms, it’s true — it IS my fault. Everything. I’ve made decisions to be where I am right now, so I only have myself to blame for anything and everything that’s not working in my life. In fact, I’m going to go a step farther and admit something right here and now: I’m depressed. It’s this situation. Who would enjoy something like this? I certainly don’t. When I go out somewhere, I smell like I’m the one sitting there, puffing away on cigarettes all day long. My hair, my clothes — everything. It’s permeated through everything I own. I knew it would, too. I knew the smoking wouldn’t stop just because we were going to be moving here. Oh, but that’s only one facet of my circumstances. To make a very long story short, I have been wallowing much more than doing over the past several months. I could have and should have been able to make my business a viable option earlier this year. I should have been working hard — what else did I have to do? I certainly wasn’t busy working for someone else. And so you see, it really is all my fault. I haven’t fought hard enough, and it shows.

I’m supposed to be a pillar of strength, but there are many deep cracks in my foundation. If I’m going to change anything at all, I’m going to have to change myself first. I know that I have been doing well enough to change the situation for the past few weeks, but I’m still feeling like I haven’t given myself enough attention. It was through Gwen Bell today that I realized it all boils down to one very important guideline: love yourself. I don’t think I do that nearly as much as I should. If nothing else, I must approach my dilemma with love for myself and encourage myself to continue doing so. Nothing gets accomplished when you simply throw yourself onto the nearest piece of furniture, pondering misery, and merely wallowing in negative self-talk. And just because my laundry’s getting washed, dryed, folded, and put away doesn’t mean I’m ending the day on a high note — my to-do can’t just be about the day-to-day anymore. I’ve got to include tasks that involve recovery. After all, my theme for September has been balance and recovery. As I adjust to my new job, I notice that each subsequent day I’m feeling less worn out and less achy.

I must work on myself in order to advance myself. If I don’t take care of myself, who will?


#Trust30 Fire Up

Fire Up by Ben von Burg

“Books are the best of things, well used. What is the right use? What is the one end, which all means go to effect? They are for nothing but to inspire.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

As a writer, your only duty is to be original, to inspire, to put something new on paper. Don’t be reasonable – your job is to to fire up people’s imaginations, to give them permission to dream, and to lift their heads up to the incredible sight of the stars. They may forget what you wrote about – but they won’t forget how you made them feel.

It’s your turn now. Dream, be unreasonable and write what comes to you for 15 minutes.

The birds chirped happily in the trees while the kids played together in the soft emerald green grass. Their giggles brought a smile to her face. She laid back in the hammock, scribbling away a story that would surely bring more security into their lives. The words poured onto the paper as though she was merely a vessel overflowing with brilliance. The shade of the strong oaks provided a cool, comfortable sanctuary, and the sounds of merriment enhanced her own happiness. Then her youngest came over, tugging at the hammock’s ropes.

“Mommy, dinner’s ready! Dinner’s ready!” She closed her book, slipped out of the hammock, and clutched his little hand. “Then let’s go eat,” she smiled. They walked over to the patio, joining the rest of her family at the picnic table. A fragrant barbequed meal sat before them, along with a large bowl of salad and a pitcher of lemonade. They ate happily, talking about what lovely weather the day had brought. It was the end of summer, and the heat had finally given way to pleasant temperatures — perfect for dining outdoors. The now setting sun shimmered shades of pink and purple across the sparse clouds. As a cool breeze blew through the trees, they skewered marshmallows to roast over the glowing embers of the barbeque grill. She was about to take a bite of her marshmallow.

She awoke with a gasp. The stench of stale cigarette smoke burned her airways. Coughing, she floundered around for her inhaler. After puffing the life-saving medicine, she sighed discontentedly. It was only a dream.


#Trust30 What Would You Be

What would you be by Ryan Allis

If a year from now you weren’t in the profession you’re currently in, what would you be in your wildest dreams?

In a year from now, I’d be an English consultant — full-time. I would be tutoring students, writing essays and copy, and editing various documents for my clients. The majority of my business would be conducted on my own terms, when it would be most convenient for me and my clients. My work wouldn’t revolve around a time clock, corporate policies, or even the traditional 8AM to 5PM, Monday through Friday business hours. Libraries, coffee shops, wide-open green spaces? My “offices.” Laptop, pens, paper, cell phone, knowledge? My work tools.

I’ve love to set a goal to live my perfect job description a year from now, but I’ve also learned to temper my goals with a good, healthy dose of practicality. A certain amount of variables exist between now and September 2012, and no one can ever really guess what the variables will bring. We can only be certain that we must be open to change and obstacles. Also leave room within your plans to allow for changing circumstances because you never know what life will bring you.


#Trust30 My Personal Message

Your Personal Message by Eric Handler

To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men, that is genius. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

What is burning deep inside of you? If you could spread your personal message RIGHT NOW to 1 million people, what would you say?

Educational success should not be limited to those with wealth. We need to make undergraduate degrees more attainable and less burdensome than they currently are for lower and lower-middle class students. We also need to ensure that each student gets the one-on-one attention that they deserve. We are all individuals with different needs and styles of learning, and we deserve a chance to succeed. Bachelor’s degrees are no longer optional in our society — they are a requirement to achieve financial security. This is exactly why I have decided to become a tutor who offers sliding scale rates. I know from experience and observation that we need to make educational opportunities more affordable to everyone. Only when we uplift poor students with educational success can we begin to break the cycle of poverty.


And today is an extra special day: Nicki of Suddenly Single Journey is getting married! Please join me in congratulating her and her new mister on their wedding and wishing them many years of happiness together. I hope the beautiful landscape and the company make your special day even sweeter.