One Little Word 2017: SHINE

I’m ready. I am READY for 2017. This last weekend I spent a lot of time reflecting on the last year, reflecting on where I am in my life and what I want to do going forward.

I am doing something different this year. Or, rather, I am NOT doing something.

I’ve decided that I am NOT setting specific goals for 2017. I have set big concrete goals every year for the last half-dozen at least. I’ve even helped create a goal-setting memory keeping project.

But I’m not feeling that this year. I have a couple ideas of why, but I have no regrets or hesitations about that. I sent an email to my list a few weeks ago about how I still feel like I’m a transition chapter of my life. I know the direction I’m going but I still need more of a foundation for this new life. This next year is going to be more about being ME and owning more of who I am and not holding back.

shineSo I chose my One Little Word with that intention in mind. …. SHINE

I love this annual practice … I love having a theme and a focus for the year. A filter through which I make choices. I love having Ali’s guidance throughout the year and creative projects to help bring the word more into my life.

I am looking forward to my year to SHINE.

I wish I could remember how the word found me … all I know is I’ve been thinking about this word since, like, August? Several months.

Sometime in 2016, I realized that enthusiasm is my superpower. Being a cheerleader is a gift that I bring to the world. Those Five Love Languages that Gary Chapman talks about? I can provide words of affirmation all day every day.

That’s about when I started my SHINE pinterest board (this one is my favorite, I think. Language warning). That’s about when I got my SHINE journal.

For me, this year to SHINE means a few different things …

I want to figure out what I am really good at and what I can offer the world.

I want to be unapologetically enthusiastic. I want to love without reserve.

I want to reflect back to the people in my life their own value and worth. I’m a cheerleader and an encourager and I can’t help it. Might as well own it.

I want to be a beacon for what is possible. I want to give hope to people who may be going through the same thing I have, or are struggling with the same things I did.

I don’t know yet exactly what this will all look like. What ACTIONS I need to take. … but it’s a mindset that I intend to hold on to all year.

I am very much looking forward to 2017. I haven’t the slightest idea what my life will look like at the end of it … that’s part of what this word is for. To help me make sure I’m staying on course, even without specific goals.

What is your One Little Word? Any BIG plans for 2017??

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One Little Word 2016: MAGIC

I love love love the practice of choosing a word to focus on every year.

After the last couple years … I need some fun in my life. I need something special. I need something larger than life. I need to be with people who care about me. I need to go on adventures and create things and hit my goals and feel good about myself.

I need magic in my life.

My One Little Word for 2016 is MAGIC

I’m taking Ali’s OLW course again! You can sign up on her site here. It’s a great price for a year-long reminder and prompts to help you stay focused on your word. Not an affiliate. I just love her.

A short list of some of the things I find magical:

  • travel
  • fiction
  • musicals
  • Muppets
  • hitting goals
  • storytelling
  • American History
  • laughter
  • singing and singers (like Adele and Freddy Mercury)
  • fresh starts
  • love
  • scrapbooking and memory keeping
  • being independent and strong
  • Harry Potter

So far my plans for 2016 include …

…. Moving to Austin, to be near my writer friends and to live in a place that is inexpensive enough that I can afford to travel more often. A truly fresh start.

…. Travel to Richmond on my own to spend a week taking in all the Civil War history and battlefields around.

…. Traveling to New York City, to see the musical Hamilton (it’s about American History, yo. It’s like it was written for me)

…. Tentative trip to Chicago to see friends, see Hamilton AND Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them with said friends

…. Publish 4 novels. Write first drafts of 3 novels. Read all the how-to-write and creativity books I can find (Big Magic is already on my kindle).

…. Revel in fiction. Be more deliberate about the fiction I choose to read. Return to my M.A. in Literature roots by putting the priority on reading classic literary fiction that I love, rather than whatever new trendy Y.A. fantasy books just to see what the masses are reading.

Seems like a lot in a list like that …. I seriously cannot wait!!

But in addition to all of this …. I need to remind myself that I AM MAGIC.

I’m also going to use the word MAGIC to remind myself how awesome I am. 2015 destroyed me and my self-confidence. Which is ridiculous, because I’m awesome.

I am MAGIC.

2016 is going to be amazing!

P.S. I’ll be emailing more about my year of MAGIC, so be sure you’re on the list here to get those missives.

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A year of PRACTICE: Working for writers

This year I am working on PRACTICE. My One Little Word. My focus and foundation for the year. I haven’t been doing a ton exactly, but the idea has been percolating in the back of my brain all year. Like when I chose the word BRAVE, I think PRACTICE will remain long-term as an anchor for me.

Part of my year of PRACTICE is building up my daily writing practice. So I have been so lucky this year to surround myself with writers on all sides. Not only do I work for 3 full-time writers, but I have been embraced into the whole community of writers that surround them and their podcasts.

It was all kind of a stroke of luck. Last November (before I had even started thinking about my 2015 OLW) I emailed one of the writer guys I *kind of* knew and basically said, “Look. I’m awesome. You should hire me.”

And he did.

(for the record, the email said more than that, but that is the gist)

So for 10 months now I have been working very very part-time for 3 full-time self-published authors. It really is only 10 or fewer hours per week, but I have learned SO MUCH. I have more or less built my job into being their COO+Team Mom. I get to see behind-the-scenes as they build out their assets, decide how to market and leverage them, spend their resources, and so much more.

I get to see what a business looks like when you write 5000+ words/day. I get to see what consistency can do for you practically.

Every day these guys produce more before I’m done with my coffee than I will all week.

It’s amazing and so inspiring.

I’m still working on making my own fiction writing a daily practice, but the example I see in working for these writers is a huge inspiration. My plan for the rest of the year is to publish 2 novels and write the 1st draft of a third. Not too shabby (especially compared to what I produced the first part of the year).

What is your One Little Word this year, and how can you surround yourself with the people that can help you with it?

P.S. A few books I can recommend on building a writing habit are The 8-Minute Writing Habit by Monica Leonelle, 30-Day Author by Kevin Tumlinson and Writing Habit Mastery by S.J. Scott

P.P.S. I also know all 3 of those authors mentioned in the P.S. I’m telling you… surrounding yourself with the right people pays off SO MUCH.

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Am I Failing with my One Little Word?

So…. It is now the middle of September and I JUST did my first One Little Word project from Ali Edwards’s course. Oooops. Totally ok, though. “Keeping up” is not a requirement to be able to get something out of the practice.

Oh, hey. See what I did there? “Practice” …. My One Little Word is PRACTICE and it seems like everything can come back to it.

[On the off chance that you are reading this and not familiar with the project, One Little Word was created by Ali Edwards. It is the practice of choosing 1 word to meditate and focus on over the course of a year. Go here for more info.]

Back on the very first day of the year — big plans, big intentions — I failed to write 1000 words of fiction, and I failed to hit my 10,000 steps. That’s ok. It was January 1 and I still had 364 days to get it right. And then other things happened and more life problems occurred, and all of a sudden several months had gone by without me even opening my novel file to work on.

I was clearly a big ol’ fat failure. Not even able to walk 10,000 steps in a day. Not coming anywhere near publishing the 4 books in 2015 like I had planned. What a loser.

Or not.

To be honest, when I began this year and chose my word I didn’t even *think* about the fact that PRACTICE can also be associated with the being-ok-it’s-not-perfect part of making. It didn’t even occur to me that the very definition of PRACTICE includes some kind of failure. That’s why you need to practice in the first place, right?

I wish I could remember what I was reading or what podcast I was listening to that reminded me of this part of the definition of PRACTICE — because it completely changed my entire view on how I was doing with my One Little Word this year.

I simply can’t fail at something that is meant to be an ongoing attempt. It’s just not possible. It is literally impossible to fail at practicing. That is the whole point of practicing.

Which, frankly, is a huge relief.

“If it doesn’t work out, it’s just an experiment.” — Elizabeth Gilbert in a recent episode of her new podcast

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Stamp from Kellie Stamps

So right now my One Little Word binder looks like this. Projects from 2013 and 2014 …. and this 1 envelope for all of 2015 so far. The letter written to myself for September’s project.

I might go back and do some of the monthly projects I missed. Or I might not. The projects are not the point. It’s the trying again and not beating myself up and starting up the practice that is the important part.

I’ve still got three and a half months left to PRACTICE.

How is your One Little Word going this year?

P.S. I’m sending out an email tomorrow morning about all the writing practice books I’ve been reading this year, if you want to be sure you’re on that list.

P.P.S. I’ve already chosen my OLW for 2016 and it’s going to be perfect and epic and I can’t wait.

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One Little Word 2015: PRACTICE

One Little Word | Ali EdwardsChoosing BRAVE as my One Little Word in 2013 changed my life.

Choosing NURTURE in 2014 ended up being exactly what I needed for a rough year.

I had chosen One Little Words before 2013, but it wasn’t until that year — the first time I signed up for Ali Edwards’s class — that I actually got anything out of it. I don’t even remember the words I chose in 2011 and 12. I am not even an affiliate, but I just love it so much. Sign up for 2015 here.

(I know if you have done the class once or twice, you might feel like you don’t need it. You *get* what kind of projects to fill your year with. But I need the accountability, so I am happy to give Ali money every January)

My word for 2015 actually came to me about … two or three years ago or so, and I knew I wasn’t ready for it. But I wrote it down (in this very same draft post) and thought about it. Around November of 2014, I revisited this word and description and knew it had claimed me.

Screen Shot 2014-12-30 at 1.09.36 PM

An online entrepreneur I follow — Chris Brogan — chooses 3 words every year. For 2012, he chose Practice as one of his words and described the meaning far better than I can:

Practice is the building block of all habits. But I just realized something. You might think I mean “practice” as if that’s separate from doing.

Practice is the path. Practice is what you do every time, not just before the “real” thing. Practice is the choice to adopt the lifestyle, the way, the path of what you intend to be.

Because the secret is that there are those who “do” and those who “are.” If you “train for a marathon,” you might complete a marathon. If you “become a runner,” you will run as many marathons as you’d like.

When you go beyond “do” and into “be,” that’s because you’ve chosen a practice and not a destination.

The practice is the reward. The practice is the reward. Practice means that I will remember to do DAILY what needs doing. I will look at all of my larger efforts in life as the results of the work I accomplish through practice. I can’t be a sharp sword if I stay in the scabbard all the time. My days will be geared around practice. I refuse to just “wing it” in any aspects of my life any longer. And when I say that, I don’t mean that I’ll not allow for serendipity or leisure, but instead, that I will be much more mindful of how I can accomplish what needs doing, and that I will work towards those goals and interests in a way that affords me more success.

 I love it. That is exactly what I need right now. That’s what I mean when I say I wasn’t ready January 1, 2012 when I first heard it (I was still at the day-job then), but I *totally* am now.

Now — 2015 — I feel like I have finally shaken off all the baggage and crud from having a full-time day job that made me miserable. I feel like I am ready to start again with a new foundation and build my work and income (and practice) from the bottom up. Taking 2014 ‘off’ from launching new L&R products is a big part of that and now I have a clean slate.

I’m ready to actually identify myself as a writer and publish finished novels. Move beyond ‘do’ into ‘be’ … I love how much this word means DO. Look at the synonyms in the image up there: execution, use, implementation. All focus on doing. Actually doing it, and not just planning to do it.

The word PRACTICE ties in with my 2 biggest goals for the year — write fiction every day (and publish it regularly) and get into shape.

I have everything I need to write (just gotta get my head in the right space), and I bought myself a Fitbit a couple weeks ago to track my steps and be the constant reminder that I have been sitting for too long.

Lucky me — Elise’s Make29 product for December was perfect for these goals! I logged on too late to get a letterpress one, but I bought the digital download and promptly printed myself off one (and then my printer ran out of ink).

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That’s where I’m going to start. 1000 words written (and I’ll print up another for 10,000 steps taken). Considering I don’t yet do either of these every day it’s enough to start with, but I’m hoping by the end of the year I will have a higher word count and other daily/weekly practices.

I also want to work on improving my chosen PRACTICE (read: career) and read at least one writing-craft book each month.

Results are the external proof of practice. If I can write at least 1000 words every day, that’s probably 2 books a year. If I can walk 10,000 steps each day, that will burn about 4x more calories than I am doing now. I want to get into the practice of taking care of my backyard (I forget to water vegetables) so we have a lovely place to hang out. I want to get into the practice of a better-structured promotional calendar for L&R, so new readers can easily find my old offerings.

There are lots of ways to take this, and I love the long stretch of 365 to feel my way through this word.

I’m ready to PRACTICE.

 What is your word for 2015?

P.S. One Little Word word choice and discussions from my friends Megan, Elise, and Ali. I hope you find your word!

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Last One Little Word NURTURE update

I’m spending this week saying good-bye to 2014 …. and so good-bye to my One Little Word: NURTURE.

I took Ali Edwards’ class last year, and updated my One Little Word album periodically. Not every month. But I still love the class. Later today I’ll post about my new word for the new year. (in case you missed it … earlier glimpses at my One Little Word album here in January and here in May)

I *still* have a bit of gaps to fill in. It’s on my to-do for later in January. I’ll probably take a full day to finish up NURTURE for 2014 and start the OLW album for 2015.

I’m not sure which month this project is from, but it is supposed to be a letter to yourself. I love the journaling projects so much. I like taking the time to write this all out to really see what I think about things.

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In the photo above you can see a bunch of blank pockets on the right. That will be filled with the November project, each pocket will hold a photo.

Not necessarily in this organization (but maybe), but here’s a look at the photos I am ordering. I’ll add a *tiny* bit of journaling to each one. For example, right side middle will say “I’m thankful for Sterling and Stone” … left side middle will say “I’m thankful for the week with Grandma”

Nurture November project

Backside of those pockets will be this …

These are all various ‘categories’ I wanted to nurture at the beginning of the year. I had these cards taped up on my wall for most of the year as a reminder.

The journaling of each card is more or less how I did (not great).

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The next page is this … another year-long journaling project but broken down by month instead of topic. As you can see there are blank spaces. I’m not 100% sure what I want to put in there. I’m *bad* at using ‘filler cards’ or other scrapbooky stuff strictly for decoration. I want to *try* but that’s why the pockets are still empty.

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December  006

That’s probably it. I think there was another December journaling project in the class, but I am just not feeling it. 2014 needs to be behind me, so the next page in this album will likely be the first OLW project for 2015! I’ll share soon!

What do you do for your One Little Word?

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Nurture: One Little Word update

2014 is my year to NURTURE. I need to slow down, cut back, get to know my new life without a cubicle job and so much more.

It’s been lovely and relaxing. And (no surprise) makes me feel lazy. After years of working a full-time+ job AND running L&R AND launching new products on a regular basis, pulling WAY back like this has provided me so much more free time reading time than ever before.

This is my vision board for the year – although, can you really call it a vision board when it’s really just 8.5×11″? I wanted it to fit into my One Little Word binder AND I don’t have a ton of magazines that are cut-up-able so I went with the smaller size:

nurture

I think all of these images are from Sunset Magazine (I love that mag). You can see lots of images of green and the outdoors. I have been so excited about starting my garden this year! And getting out with Kam and plans to do some fun outdoorsy trips with Andrew later. It has been great making that a priority.

You can also see a lovely luxurious bed – unapologetic about naps this year. Also, an art museum and a reading bench. Because lord knows I want to just learn and absorb everything I can.

I have genuinely loved giving myself a break for the last 4.5 months, not feeling guilty about spending the afternoon reading or not setting aggressive deadlines.

This is totally the word I needed this year.

How is your 2014 One Little Word going?

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Nurturing my to-do list: Tackling unfinished projects

This post was blatantly inspired by Ali Edwards. In fact, I bumped the original post scheduled for today because I really wanted to talk about the subject of FINISHING. And tackling projects that have been on my to do list and hanging over me for years.

Finishing and prioritizing and being honest about my choices is really important to me. It’s how I structure all of my days, so refocusing on finishing these particular projects is simply about reaffirming what I want to accomplish this year.

This falls under the category of NURTURE (my One Little Word for this year) because dear lord it would be nice to get my office more organized and these files off of my computer. All of these (and a couple others) fall under the Memory Keeping goals I mentioned here.

Here are the projects I would like to finish in 2014:

  • Project Life 2014 (technically not exactly started)
  • Yosemite minialbum (2013)
  • Day in the Life Blurb book (2013)
  • Colorado Blurb book (2013)
  • Scotland Blurb book (2011)
  • Week in the Life Blurb book (2011)
  • Italy Blurb book (2009)
  • England Blurb book (2009)

I have several smaller Blurb books and albums I have wanted to make as well, but I think this is enough to go on with. Obviously, I love Blurb.

I’ve started blocking off time. A few hours tonight to finish typing up journaling. A few hours over the weekend to organize photos and import them into Blurb.

You’ll notice most of these are travel albums. My travel scrapbooking method (developed over the years) is pretty simple. Make a small travel journal to collect all the journaling and memorabilia while traveling (here’s the Scotland one and the Alaska one for examples). Then I take all that journaling and type it up and put together a Blurb book of the journaling + my digital photos (Alaska cruise example).

So the good news is, I have everything for all of these travel books already collected. The bad news is they are GIANT projects. Each trip is at least a week long and of course I took a TON of photos.

I’m about a third of the way done with my Scotland book, so that is where I’ll start (I recently realized if I want to include everything I will have to break it up into 2 books). Some of the journaling for older albums I can pull from my family blog. Plus I’m deciding right now that if we go on a vacation this year I will NOT try to get the album done immediately afterward. And I don’t plan on participating in any Day in the Life or Week in Life projects this year.

But memory keeping AND travel are very important to me, so these are all projects I definitely want to finish. The smaller ones (like about our cats or our house or some of our minitravels) I may end up letting go of.

Now what? Here’s the plan:

  1. Prioritize. I’ve got the most finished on the Scotland album. Next is probably the Yosemite minialbum, and then pieces from there. I subscribe to the get-one-done method of productivity rather than assembly-line a bunch at once.
  2. Schedule. I use Google Calendar to make sure I book the time to work on them. I don’t have any idea how long each will take, so I’ve just set up a recurring several-hour date every week to power through. And add more time in as I have it.
  3. Organize. Not all of my journaling is typed up. Not all of my travel details are collected. I have a bag of pamphlets and memorabilia from England. Somewhere. I plan to do this on a project-by-project basis.
  4. Share. I’m really proud of these. At least what I have done so far. And I want to share them with you all. So feel free to nag me.

What projects do you need to finish this year?

What plans have you made to get them done?

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One Little Word: January

The beginning of any year is always my favorite. I’m a planner, so I love love love just researching and day dreaming and lining up to-dos of how I want the rest of my year to look. So, of course, I am 100% all-in with the January prompt for Ali Edwards’ One Little Word® workshop.

For this first month, Ali provides a few handouts to help us establish our word, our intentions and a little inspiration to start the year off right. I’ll be simply adding these pages to the same 8.5×11 binder that last year’s BRAVE exercises are in.

First page:

One Little Word - NurtureNote: The loose cards on the right will go in the back side of the page protector on the left.

In Ali’s personal example, she uses a transparency for that top 8×5″ pocket. I don’t have any transparencies, so I went with simple paper layering. The back side of that pocket is currently just white, but since one of my goals this year is to do something with our backyard, I’m hoping to have a decent garden-y, growing, backyard photo to add sometime later in the year.

You’ll also notice the bottom left pocket is empty … I don’t really have any recent photos of *just* me that I like. No one ever takes them of me. So I need to either think about a self-portrait, or get Andrew to take one. We’ll see. Still thinking about it.

The remaining 3 4×6 cards are all from the handout. Defining my word, a short essay on why I chose it, and a related quote.

I *love* the quote I found: “Everybody needs beauty, as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.” – John Muir. It doesn’t actually use my word NURTURE, but it expresses my overall intention with choosing this word.

Second page:

One Little Word - Nurture intentions

These will just go back-to-back in a single page protector.

These prompts are more about being specific in your intentions and goals for the year. Thinking about what you want to add to your life with this word. Thinking about the direction you want this word to take you. Thinking about what you are hoping for.

A lot of this is a combination of what I wrote about here and what I had in mind when I created these.

One random takeaway from looking at these pages: I’m starting to like my handwriting more and more.

Supplies:

For more about my 2014 One Little Word, check out my NURTURE posts

What are you hoping for this year?

P.S. My fellow Americans, happy Martin Luther King, Jr Day!

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2014 One Little Word: NURTURE

Choosing BRAVE as my One Little Word in 2013 changed my life.

Actually, to be honest, it was probably more the paying money for Ali’s class that really held me accountable to focusing on the word that really changed my life.

But I am at least 15x* happier than I was at this time last year …. all because I was BRAVE. I had chosen OLWs before, but I didn’t really know what to do with them or what they meant to me, so they didn’t do much. But now I know. Now I can keep the word as a mantra and go through Ali’s exercises and keep a book that reflects how I am letting the word speak to me throughout the year. There was never a question that I wouldn’t participate in this challenge in 2014.

If you have watched my consulting call with Kristin, you know that over the next year my intention is to basically just work with what I have. I don’t have plans to take any big brave steps (like launching a giant blogging ecourse), but instead I just want to make what I am doing now work better.

I started thinking about this back in …. July? Right about the time I launched BUILD, as a matter of fact.

I was thinking about how much work I put into BUILD, about how statistically most sales come ON launch day, and about what I needed to do to change that. I had been thinking about my email list for awhile, wanting to refocus on that …. and frankly I was just feeling mentally exhausted from the cycle of creating new products every few months. I knew there was a better way to do this.

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I wanted to grow where I was already planted, instead of trying to advance advance advance. But more than just grow …. I needed to NURTURE what I already have. What I know is working for me. What I don’t want to lose, but I want to take care of and encourage.

NURTURE: to care for and encourage the growth or development of

This year I will NURTURE:

My relationships. I work a lot and I’m bad at email and I want to be better at keeping and nurturing the love in my life.

My business. I have a lot going on under the L&R brand and I could be leveraging it all to reach more readers, help more people build their platform, help more women tell their stories, or find their great work. I want to grow what I have and nurture those who read me.

My home. I love our house and we’ve finally gotten to the point where all the work that *needs* to be done is done. It’s just fixing and polishing and nurturing now. Related: I want to start a garden in 2014. Nurturing in my own backyard.

My brain. I read a lot, yes, but I want to read more. Read deeper. Read things that influence my life directly. Part of this will be doing research for the novel I’m working on. Part of this will be nurturing my understanding of certain topics that fascinate me and I want to learn more about.

My health. I have been … not hating my #mileadays in December. I didn’t love them – I don’t know if I will every love working out – but I did manage to find half an hour to do it nearly every day. I’d like to continue being active, continuing to cut back on sugar and in other ways nurture my health.

… and more ….

What is your ONE LITTLE WORD this year?

*rough estimate

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