#Cultivate2012 March Prompt and Outlook

Where I live, spring has come early. Spring is the perfect season for cultivation — the ground is thawing, rainstorms come to water the ground, and the sun stays out longer to shine down love and happiness. Gardeners head outside to weed, till the soil, and plant seeds. Here’s the March Cultivate 2012 prompt:

What would you like to weed out of your life? How can you till the soil of your life? What seeds would you like to plant this month?

I’d like to weed out some clutter that I don’t feel like packing and unpacking. Yes, I still have that decluttering project that I keep putting off in true procrastinator fashion. I’m digging through the dirt, turning everything over, in hopes of finding a good place to plant some seeds of serenity, sanctuary, and comfort. I’ve set an April 1st moving date in the hopes that local landlords will cooperate with regards to a new home that fits my needs and budget.

I have a lot of things planned for March. I’ll be crossing some items off of my List throughout this month. I’m looking forward to spring and all the new opportunities and freshness that comes with it.


#Cultivate2012 Outlook

What is your personal outlook for 2012? What do you hope to accomplish this year? What do you need to nurture in order to cultivate your intentions? Write, sketch, color, photograph, create a vision board — do what feels right. 2012 is yours for cultivation!

Between the 509 unique page views and this glorious idea I decided to call Cultivate, I’ve got a bright and cheery outlook for 2012. I welcomed the new year in last night, promising my husband — and myself — that this year would be different. This year will be better. It will be much more fruitful. Why do I believe this? Because this year is different. This year I’ve got ideas that I’m following through with. This year, I’m going to take hold of opportunities instead of letting them pass me by. It’s a chance to start over — a chance to start living the dream instead of pining after it.

This year I hope to accomplish a list of achievements. Yesterday we sat down and made our lists for the Live the List Challenge, and our family is going to spend plenty of time trying to cross off all the items, within reason of course. I plan to step it up and becoming a thriving freelancer. I realized that in addition to my current services, I can offer virtual assistantship to clients. I’ve got plenty of experience as a secretary, but there doesn’t seem to be plenty of locations nearby looking for one. My skills don’t need to stay within commuting distance — I’ve got Skype, Gmail, and tons of web-spunk. I’m not bound by spacial constraints, and neither should my clients. I’m sure it’s awesome to have someone sitting at a desk in an office during business hours, but business doesn’t always occur during business hours. I agree with Kelly Gurnett that more people should go the ROWE route (results-only work environment). In addition to expanding my services, I’m absolutely going to write until my fingers cramp. I’m going to aggravate that carpal tunnels. I’ve been encouraged to keep writing, and I’m finding more and more that even I love my words. I also love helping others find their voices and perfect their words. I want to do a whole lot more of that during 2012. I have a goal to earn $45k during 2013 as my own boss, after all. I also intend to take better care of myself. There are no do-overs in life. I’m only going to be a 20-something for a little bit longer — now is the time to prevent and nurture my health so I can enjoy a better quality life for a longer quantity of time.

In order to nurture my intentions, I need to start by nurturing myself. I need at least eight hours of sleep each night, I need to drink at least 64 ounces of water each day, I need to eat a healthy, filling breakfast each morning, I need to take my vitamins, I need to get some exercise on a regular basis, and I need to take time to feed my passions. Anything less, and I’m feeling lousy. I don’t function well as a malnourished, dehydrated, exhausted, out-of-shape ball of nerves. It’s not a good state of being for anyone, and it also isn’t a very good look for me. When I feel good, I function better. I’m more productive. I’m nicer and friendlier. I’m also much more willing to function as an ISFJ, nurturing those around me. I wake up ready and willing to make a nice breakfast. I’m energized to partake in family fun. Moreover, I catch mistakes a lot faster. I’m quicker-witted. So it goes without saying that I need to nurture myself and my family first. I must nurture my passions by giving into them — writing to improve my writing, dancing when the mood strikes, and enjoying my life. I won’t get another shot at this life I’m living right now, so it’s better off that I nurture it. Feed it, water it, give it plenty of sunlight, and watch it thrive. I’m going to cultivate the kind of life I want to live — the kind of life where I’m thriving.


#Reverb11: What Matters Now

What Matters Now (Inspired by Seth Godin): Think about the here and now. What matters most to you right now? How are you going to nurture what matters in during 2012?

Right now my family matters most to me. The kids are growing up much too quickly, and before long another 16 years will pass, leaving me with an empty nest. I don’t just aspire to greater things simply because that’s what people are supposed to do. I dream big because I want to provide something better for the kids. I want to enjoy my life, and I want to breed that same virtue into my children. It isn’t about traveling or making the most amount of money — it’s about being secure and growing roots. My health also matters a lot to me, and I doubt toiling for a mere pittance will nurture my health in any manner whatsoever. I’m quite aware of the fact that I’ve likely lived about one third of my life already, and I’m also fully aware of all the risks that coming with aging. In keeping with my love of family, I need to be in the best health in order to make my big dreams come true. Being healthy means doing things right now. There is no rewind button on life, after all.

During 2011, I’ve learned how to nurture what matters, and I’ve learned what doesn’t nurture what matters. In 2012, I’m going to try going without gluten for about seven week’s time (yes, I’ve selected my Lenten vows already). During that period I’m going to pay attention to my body, and I’m especially going to pay attention when I reintroduce gluten into my diet. I’ve had a suspicious for most of this year that perhaps my body’s losing its ability to tolerate my beloved pasta and bread, and it’s time to experiment for the sake of health. I’m also going to make sure that my time is balanced properly as I work towards my goal of becoming 100% self-employed. Family should come first always, and the best way to ensure family comes first is to become the boss. If I’m the boss, I choose the hours, I choose the location, and I choose when to drop everything else for my family.


#Reverb11: Map

Map: Imagine a map existed, guiding you towards your dreams. Try to envision the route. How are you going to map out your dreams for 2012?

I’m picturing a map — but not just any ordinary map. I’m envisioning a map to my dreams. You see, I got lost somewhere during 2011, and I’m not quite sure where I should be going in order to achieve my dreams for 2012 and beyond. I simply know the destination, and I know I want to end 2012 as a full time freelancer. I know I want to make at least $45k in 2013, and I’m even thinking about shooting for $90k in 2014. But where are the points in between? What lodging resides along my path? What establishments will provide proper nourishment for my journey? This is why I created this prompt — because I’m trying to help myself, and perhaps some others, find the way to those dreams.

February is moving month. I don’t know when or where we’ll move to in February, but I do know that’s my set date to move into our own place. I have two options to ensure this plan comes to fruition (and I’m holding those cards flat against my chest). Upon making that step, I’ll have the solitude and relief to concentrate on my business’ weaknesses. I thrive when I have a quiet place to hide, write, think, and plan. Between March and December, everything’s a bit blurry, but I’ve come to realize that variables always present themselves along the way. In the realm of cartoons, anime, and video games, these variables manifest as enemies and lackeys that you need to battle. Luckily, my alter-ego carries a rather large, scary stick to do battle with.

Ultimately, I’ve realized that the near vicinity isn’t going to yield much business, so I know I have to focus my efforts on Internet advertising. I will still flier local areas for my tutoring services, but I’m taking some of the eggs out of that basket and dispersing them amongst my other baskets. I think I need to put more time and effort into my writing because I don’t need to wait around for clients or students to write — I simply need to listen to the muses and let the words flow. And perhaps I also need to sit down with paper and colored pencils to allow my mind to literally create a map to my dreams. Some times life’s problems can be solved with some old-fashioned coloring time.


[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 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 Speak Less

Speak Less by Laura Kimball

What I must do is all that concerns me, not what the people think. This rule, equally arduous in actual and in intellectual life, may serve for the whole distinction between greatness and meanness. It is the harder, because you will always find those who think they know what is your duty better than you know I. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

I once received a fortune cookie that read: “Speak less of your plans, you’ll get more done.” What’s one project that you’ve been sitting on and thinking about but haven’t made progress on? What’s stopping you? What would happen if you actually went for it and did it?

On Sunday I discussed that I’m facing challenges with regards to becoming an English consultant. I began working on this project over a year ago, having first purchased ElectrateEditorials.com on July 20, 2010. I’ve been overanalyzing and brainstorming my business for far too long. I had been blocked by the need to search for a job outside the home, a move, more job hunting, and attempting to balance living with elderly parents and young children. In Gainesville, I would have simply hopped onto the bus and ridden up to campus to spend time working on my projects. Here, we need a vehicle to get to and from practically anything. A very big obstacle? I don’t have a driver’s license. There, I said it. I’m a 27-year-old wife and mother of 3 with a Bachelor of Arts in English, and I don’t have my driver’s license. It’s very complicated, but I just don’t have much driving experience. For most of my adulthood, we lived in a city with a public transportation system. Brian only just got his license last October. My message to all of you: NEVER let your child move out without first obtaining his or her driver’s license. It’s a lot harder to get driving experience as an adult.

Anyhow, I’ve identified that I need to speak up, set aside more time to work on this endeavor, and earn some money to cover my overhead. If I actually get this business running and succeed, I’ll achieve a goal — I’ll live my dream to become an English consultant and work for myself, from my home. I’ll spend my days doing what I love — writing, editing copy and documents, and tutoring students from various backgrounds. It brings me great joy to see a student improve his or her writing and receiving glowing remarks from teachers and professors. I love putting ink to paper, typing letters to screen. It pleases me to see errors corrected. My enjoyment of my work would take the “work” aspect out of it.

“Choose a job you love, and you will never work a day in your life.” Confucious


#Trust30 Dreams

Dreams by Michael Rad

Abide in the simple and noble regions of thy life, obey thy heart. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Write down your top three dreams. Now write down what’s holding you back from them.

Here are my top three dreams, in no particular order: 1) buy a house with at least 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a pool, and enough land for a fruit and vegetable garden, a private picnic area, and room for the kids and pets to run around; 2) become a successful English consultant, spending my days tutoring, writing, and editing, all while paying the bills in full and living comfortably — NOT paycheck to paycheck, barely making ends meet; and 3) maintain good health. Above all else in the world, these are the top three dreams I’d like to live.

What’s holding me back from buying that dream house? Why, money, of course. I’m actually smitten with this house because it meets all the criteria, plus it’s ridiculously inexpensive. I first saw it listed at $289,000 earlier this year. Now, $259,000 is still above my budget, but a girl can dream. In order to purchase a home, we need to save for a down payment and net enough income in order to pay for the mortgage. Saving and netting more income is easier said then done, too. Unexpected expenses keep popping up, and income has been tenuous at best. Finally returning to the workforce should help alleviate some of these issues, but getting passed the following hurdles should increase our chances to fund this dream.

What’s holding me back from becoming an English consultant? At the end of the day, I need to take responsibility for not getting things accomplished. I don’t necessarily have to let other people’s drama come between me and getting work done. I tend to shy away from asking for help, too. I simply need to assert myself more often and go to the library or some equally out-of-sight-out-of-mind location where I can concentrate on the details of my business. To advertise my tutoring services locally, I’ll have better luck with low-tech marketing strategies, which require a certain amount of ink and paper. Ink and paper cost money, so there’s that money obstacle again. Speak up, earn money.

What’s holding me back from being healthier? I’m uninsured, I don’t have enough room to grow my own garden, I don’t have enough money to purchase tons of fresh produce, and I’m not as assertive as I should be with regards to exercise. Insurance and food = money. Asserting myself in order to get exercise = speak up.

While I’d absolutely love to snap my fingers and make money working for myself, I know that I’m not done working outside of the home just yet. I also need to bring out my voice more often. Over my lifetime, I’ve become more assertive in some ways, yet I still need more work in that regard. However, I will again reference the fact that I fought hard for my HBA2C, and my fighting paid off. Some days I’m a stronger fighter than others, but some times I just want to relax and live peacefully. I get tired of fighting. Right now, I can’t afford to stop fighting. I need to fight until everything works out the way I’ve dreamt it should. It’s time to roll up my sleeves, get some work done, make some money, and fight my way to happiness.


#MindfulMonday What Food Network’s Taught Me

Last year I became engrossed in The Next Food Network Star and loved nearly every episode of season six. This year I wasn’t as excited about season seven, based on the advertisements. It seemed to me that the producers took a few too many cues from shows like Jersey Shore and Big Brother. I’m not about watching contestants cause drama, so the clips turned me off. However, Brian encouraged me to watch the season with him. It took several weeks to weed out a very dramatic individual (good food isn’t going to mean star power), but I finally warmed up to this season’s star hopefuls.

Last night was the finale, and I can’t imagine the two runners up not getting at least some air time. The charisma and stories these individuals sent a very clear, valuable message, though — follow your dreams. These are people who dreamt of having their own shows on Food Network and showcasing the dishes they grew up with. I was so profoundly struck by this realization last night that I felt a sense of calmness wash over me. My dream may be different — a cooking show would completely get in the way of my writing career — but I still need to harness that star quality. Both situations require captivating your audience. If you’re not engaging your audience — readers and viewers alike — you’re not going to succeed. It’s also about focus. Of course, if you focus on chasing your dreams, I personally believe the rest should fall into place. Nicki has certainly provided plenty of inspiration and encouragement in that regard.

The biggest take-home message, however, is to be mindful at every moment. You never know what you’ll learn from even the simplest of things.


Reverb 10: 5 Minutes

Prompt: 5 minutes. Imagine you will completely lose your memory of 2010 in five minutes. Set an alarm for five minutes and capture the things you most want to remember about 2010.

Okay, so I may have cheated a bit — 5 minutes to write a post seemed grossly inadequate, though. In the same vein, I also don’t intend to fully share the memories I jotted down in my allotted 5 minute time frame. For the most part, I came up with a lot of family memories that I would like to remember for as long as possible. Birthdays, holidays, family gatherings — the typical. I already discussed my youngest’s first birthday.

This year’s Halloween wasn’t too shabby, actually. For the past few years, we haven’t had really good pickings when taking our kids door-to-door. People are either not home, don’t have candy, or pretend not to be home (yeah, be thankful I’m not teaching my kids about the trick part of “trick-or-treating”). As for our candy dish, we usually get left with a ridiculous amount of candy — and I like handing out candy I enjoy. You can guess what usually happens to our leftover candy stash. This year? We had a boatload of trick-or-treaters. Now mind you, I had quite a few who didn’t even bother to put on a costume, but the novelty of it earned them handfuls of candy. I was overjoyed to hand out most of my candy stash. The kids had a great time, too. Per our usual Halloween celebrations, we ate some “dirt cups” (crushed oreos, chocolate pudding, gummy worms) and other “ghoulish” treats. Our little baby “Yoda” had a blast celebrating his first Halloween, too.

As for the rest of the memories I’ve chosen, know that these are memories that remind me that my life is enriched by wonderful people. Situations might seem dismal, but it’s the people in our lives who make it worth living through. As for my input on the halfway point of Reverb 10? I’m noticing recurring themes of time, family, silver linings, gratitude, opportunity, and dreaming big.