#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: Resolution

Resolution: Did you stick to your 2011 resolution(s)? What’s your resolution(s) for 2012?

I intended to never need a day job again at the onset of 2011. I had hopes for a bright future and days filled with students and clients who bring me joy. As the year comes to a close, I regret to inform you that I didn’t try hard enough. I didn’t put enough energy and time into myself and my business. My energy and time got spent on other people and their needs. At this very moment, I’m resolving to quit wasting what little time and energy I have. I’m resolving to give myself more credit and spend more time developing myself and my business. I’m resolving to nurture my soul and cultivate my dreams. In 2012, I’m not going to let the fears — or naysayers — hold me back anymore. There’s no excuse why I can’t make things work. All I need to do is go out there and do it.

In 2012, I intend to turn Electrate Editorials into a viable business that will earn me at least $45,000 in 2013.


November In Review

Let’s all assume we’re on the same page. As you can see, I didn’t post very much this month — including promised scheduled posts that never even got written, let alone went live. I had dedicated myself to rebuilding and focusing on discipline during November, and unfortunately I didn’t quite succeed in my endeavors. Different issues arose such that my attention was drawn away from my intentions. I began the month with the intention of writing a novel, and I backed out about 3 or 4 days into the challenge. I have an idea in my head of how I want this novel to read, and I have notes written — notes that are packed away in a box somewhere, waiting for me to find our own place. So, I decided to put that novel back on the shelf until a time in which I’m better able to write it. And do you know what? It’s all okay.

During November I’ve realized that there’s no reason to feel so much guilt over so many things. I have a lot of ideas in the air, and I’ve got a lot of responsibilities that I’ve taken on. So while I may not have shared as much discipline with regards to my writing as I wish I would have, I know that I applied discipline to the areas in which it mattered most. I’m a very family-oriented woman, and I want to enjoy my family life most of all. Most of my work focuses on making life easier so that I can spend more time with my family. I want to be an English consultant because I know it will make that goal much more attainable. For some people it’s about traveling to exotic locations. For others, it’s about fancy, shiny cars, the latest fashions, and all the newest gadgets. For me, it’s about the freedom to sip wine as I write. It’s about the freedom to operate out of a cafe that offers me hospitality and delicious fare. It’s about the freedom to build snowmen with the kids. To blow bubbles. To bake cookies. To laugh. To be a family. So while I may not have been as disciplined as I’d like, I definitely continued with my intention to focus on what matters most.


[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 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 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.


#Trust30 Come Alive

Come Alive by Jonathan Mead: “Life wastes itself while we are preparing to live.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

If you had one week left to live, would you still be doing what you’re doing now? In what areas of your life are you preparing to live? Take them off your To Do list and add them to a To Stop list. Resolve to only do what makes you come alive.

Bonus: How can your goals improve the present and not keep you in a perpetual “always something better” spiral?

If I had one week left to live, I certainly wouldn’t be tearing my hair out searching for jobs that might not fulfill me. I’d much rather spend that last week having picnics and playing board games with my family. I’ve been preparing to re-enter the workforce, preparing to be a business owner/ freelancer, preparing to get back to life as I once knew it. Obviously, I can’t just stop the former two items, but it’s time to stop expecting a “return” to normalcy. Things can’t go back to the way they used to be. That’s an etched mark on the timeline now. It’s time to stop waiting for the life I planned and start living the life I have. (Loosely paraphased from an Honest Tea bottle cap via an old friend.)

This past week, I began writing manageable to-do lists — items I knew weren’t contingent upon variables like illnesses, family issues, and the like. I resolved to do everything in my power to eat healthy breakfasts and lunches, mind my snacking, and get moving. The sense of accomplishment alone made up for any unexpected dilemmas that I faced this week. These simple goals can help me to feel a sense of accomplishment on a daily basis, rather than stressing over the long range planning. It’s all about baby steps. As Marla Cilley would say, it didn’t get this way overnight, and it won’t get fixed overnight.