How to Follow Through and Finish (What I’m Learning)

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Do you have one of those creative brains that goes at the speed of light? Are you constantly coming up with new ideas for yourself and everyone around you? A business idea, an exercise plan, a new hobby to start, an online course to take, a skill to learn, a project to tackle, another book to read, and on and on.

The books on my nightstand are a good example. I have at least a dozen started, plus a few on my Kindle. And I don’t just have books on my nightstand, they’re inside my nightstand and on top of my dresser in stacks. I’m never sure which is the right one to start or if I’ll wish I had that certain one right at my fingertips. Heaven forbid I have to actually go downstairs to the library to search for a book I’m thinking about; better to have all the books in my room and be able to start it the minute I think about it.

Because of my love of starting things, I have about three different courses started on Lynda.com (to be fair to myself I have finished about five this year) and a watercolor course from an Australian artist that I started in January and haven’t returned to since February.

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I am so close to finishing up my aromatherapy certification, but have a few loose ends to tie up and a bit more to study for the exam. Now would be a good time to sign up for a free four-day Aromatherapy summit next week, right? Um, no, but I did anyway.

Yeah, I love starting things, brainstorming new ideas, trying something new. I love dreaming about the possibility of whatever it is and the excitement that comes with starting. But I don’t admire other people who don’t follow through and I don’t admire myself for dragging my heels about finishing or dropping the ball on a project altogether.

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Follow through, follow through. These two words have been following me around for over month now, like a toddler at my heels, whining for attention. I took a good look at my life and wrote down all the places I need to finish something. Things I need to and actually want to finish! And I asked myself what was my problem? Why don’t I finish things?

Since I’d heard about John Acuff’s book Finish: Give Yourself the Gift of Done, I decided to purchase the Finish: Give Yourself the Gift of Done and find out what he had to say on the topic. I wanted to learn about the causes and the solutions to this huge and common problem.

Here’s what he had to say: perfection causes most of us to quit before we start. If we can’t do it perfectly, we won’t even try. Sounds dumb, right? But it’s true! Like, if I can’t blog every single day of the week, with beautiful pictures and amazing content, I should just give up. But you know that sets us up for failure. Acuff recommends cutting your goal in half. This way the feeling of success of meeting a goal will spur you on to something else.

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Also, we get it into our heads that we have to do all the things. The truth is, if we are going to really focus on finishing one thing, something else might have to take a backseat for a while. Maybe I have to not vacuum as often, or get together with friends less often or miss watching the latest Netflix series if I want to finish up my aromatherapy certification soon.

He also talks about how the lie of having to do everything ourselves instead of asking for help delays the finish. Perhaps I would get the labels printed sooner for the new natural body care products I’m selling if I would accept Alan’s help rather than learning Photoshop now and doing it myself.

Learning what is holding me back and figuring out how to move forward is what I need to follow through and finish. The message and tips within this book were super helpful: I am already making progress on the stuff I was procrastinating over. In the past week, I was able to cross off three items off my Bullet Journal To-Do list. Finish is a short, funny, and super helpful read, so if you’re like me and have a tough time finishing, go get this book!

* This post contains Amazon affiliate links. If you choose to make a purchase through one of the links here, it benefits me in a very small way at no extra cost to you!

Links I Love

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Here is where I will share a few links of podcast episodes, blog posts, websites, TED talks, new books, etc. that I favorite each week. Refresh your imagination and fill up your inspiration tank.

What can I say about these past two weeks except “I NEED A VACATION!!!” OK, deep breath and moving on…Happy Mother’s Day to all the mamas! I plan to enjoy the day out away from kids and chores, and not being a taxi service. Alan and I are going to take a picnic lunch (he’s making me sushi!) with us and stop at a few wineries for tastings and to enjoy the views of whatever lakes we end up at.

So, what have I found interesting and inspiring this week? Several great podcast episodes, plus one new-to-me podcast.

First, here is a podcast that I love because it gives me ideas and inspiration for my self-care and home decor Etsy shop and local business, Delicata House. Etsy Success Podcast features a different successful Etsy shop owner each episode who presents solutions and ideas and shares her or his own story.

One of my favorite episodes from a few months back featured the owner of Betsy Farmer Designs, a jewelry shop, sharing her tips on excellent customer service. Check it out on SoundCloud or iTunes, Stitcher or wherever you listen to podcasts.

Second, Anne Bogel had a super fun episode of What Should I Read Next where she interviewed a young woman from New Zealand who now lives in Bath in the UK. Since I want to visit both New Zealand and the UK, I was thoroughly absorbed in their conversation. And the books they discussed had me breaking my “read ten, buy one” rule and adding to my TBR list.

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Third, also through Anne Bogel’s podcast, I was introduced to another podcast which I am thrilled to have connected to. It’s called Reading Women and the two young women who host it are committed to interviewing authors who are women and discussing books written by women. One of the latest episodes is an interview with Chibundu Onuzo, author of Welcome to Lagos: A Novel. This was a fascinating, intelligent, and upbeat conversation that left me wondering why I haven’t already read this novel and the others she’s written. (Sad fact: I hadn’t heard of her until now. Happy fact: the whole reason this podcast exists.) I’m now in the middle of the episode with Maggie O’ Farrell, author of I Am, I Am, I Am: Seventeen Brushes with Death and This Must Be the Place: A novel which I’m loving as well.

And, finally, since my last post focused on inspiration, it’s a subject that is staying with me this week, so here is a post on living inspired on Medium. Look for the great Jack London quote about not waiting to be inspired.

OK, cheers to the weekend and to all the mothers in our world!

 

Input Equals Inspiration

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Last week I felt like my brain had abandoned me, taking all ideas for writing along with it. Each day blurred into the next and consisted of appointments, meetings, and short car drives to pick up or drop off kids. (If you happen to have school-age kids then you know what I’m talking about.)

To deal with the stress and frustration of not getting any significant amount of work done, whenever I was driving or cooking or doing chores, I just listened to a mystery on Audible. It’s a book from a favorite mystery author and I’m loving it.

Nothing whatsoever is wrong with listening to audiobooks for entertainment! The only problem was, I allowed it to chew up time that I could’ve been receiving food for thought, a challenge, or a kick in the pants through reading books and blog posts or listening to podcasts. When the ideas stop flowing in, I stagnate mentally.

As an introvert, I thrive on this style of learning, as opposed to learning in a group setting. Absorbing the advice and wisdom of smart, successful, innovative, and creative people through reading and listening sets my own wheels turning creatively and gets me thinking from different viewpoints. Suddenly I can approach a problem from another angle and consider another possibility that I didn’t see previously.

That said, on occasion I will take a class and push myself to learn in a group setting. It is completely unnerving–terrifying even–but can be a positive way to make new connections and learn. Like the Cob Therapy workshop I participated in back in June 2016 at Hawk Meadow Farm. That was definitely super scary to begin with, being an introvert and knowing nothing about building anything. But by the end of the four days, I made new friends, had a basic understanding of cob oven building and the satisfaction of having helped to build a beautiful and useful oven with twelve other people.

 

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Next week, I signed up for a Sustainability Forum in our village. I’ll probably feel nervous beforehand, but I’m pushing through because I’m hoping to learn a lot and connect with people in our community. If you live in Seneca County, you should sign up too!

So, how do you learn best? On your own or in a group? How long does it take you to realize you’re stagnating mentally and get back on the learning track? I’d love to hear how you learn and are inspired.

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Engineering A Life (Book Reviews)

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As you head off to work or to your home office this Monday morning, you may feel the need of some motivation. The following is a short book review of a highly inspirational true story. 

Krishan Bedi is someone I admire. He came, as a young man, to the Southern U.S. during the early 1960s with the purpose of obtaining a degree in engineering. He had little money, didn’t speak English very well, and had no experience with American culture or the American educational system.

In short, he took a huge risk to leave everything and everyone familiar behind and live an adventure. Because that’s what it was. He had a very courageous, impulsive and fun-loving spirit, which, I’m sure, helped him to face and overcome the numerous challenges that presented themselves. Sudden disaster, foolish decisions, and working menial jobs to earn enough to survive kept his life quite interesting in the early years.

But even finding a measure of success doesn’t mean that circumstances stay at an even keel the rest of one’s life. He faced hardship and unanticipated difficulties, but he kept going, kept trying, kept looking for the next step, for a better path. You will laugh at some of the hilarious situations he finds himself in, you will gasp at some of the unwise decisions he makes, you will share in his grief as he goes through loss and disaster, and you will cheer when he comes through it.

The book is called Engineering a Life: A Memoir by Krishan K. Bedi. I highly recommend this one. First, as a book to motivate and inspire you. Second, to see life through the eyes of another.

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion and review.

Leaning Toward the Light

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I stood at the kitchen sink one cold morning a couple of weeks ago, washing out my coffee cup, when I focused on the tulip in the mini Mason jar on the window sill. It was decidedly leaning toward the sunshine sparkling our way.  Just the night before, its slender stem had rested upright in the jar’s water, its petals pulled close together and it hadn’t been leaning in any particular direction. Immediately, I grabbed my phone and googled this phenomenon.

I knew that tulips open and close in response to variable light throughout the day, (photonastic), but I guess I’d never realized they followed the sun, (heliotropic), even after they were cut. According to this article, tulips are both heliotropic and photonastic. They twist and stretch toward the light, continue to grow after they’re in a vase, which is why they tend to droop after a few days.

This little flower, whose days were numbered, was orienting itself toward the light: spending its time in the most life-giving activity possible. Tulips need light to survive, to thrive, to live the life that it was designed to live. Even after being cut! That’s what got me. It’s not sitting in the vase waiting to die, it’s living fully–moving, growing, twisting, and cheering everyone whose eyes alight on it. If tulips had hearts, I’d say it lived wholeheartedly.

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Of course, I made the connection to my own life and asked myself: in what ways am I following the light, leaning toward it, growing and moving with grace and beauty within the constraints of my particular “vase” or circumstances? Where are sources of light and life for me?

Believing in God’s love and care for me and the rest of humanity is probably at the top of my list. Reading poetry, books on spirituality, quality fiction and biographical stories of people who have overcome major obstacles to reach their goals is also important for me. Maintaining healthy relationships with loved ones, family and friends, is vital for all of us. Travel–seeing new places–is extremely uplifting and fills me with appreciation both for where I live and for the beauty of the earth. Finally, writing, singing, and making things–creative endeavors–bring me much joy and satisfaction. If I had no creative outlets, it would be like only seeing in black and white instead of full color. Creating keeps me sane.

Tulips will always thrill me with their stunning colors and elegant shapes, but now that I know that they are lovely little miracles following light, growing and twisting and stretching toward the sun, I will revere them and be ever grateful for their presence in the world, in my garden and on my window sill.

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What Is Saving My Life Right Now

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Here is a list of things that are saving my life right now. Anne Bogel from Modern Mrs Darcy shares how she took this idea from author Barbara Brown Taylor in this post. It’s a great idea and I will share it periodically here.

Natural Vitality Natural Calm Plus Calcium Magnesium Anti Stress, Original I’ve mentioned this product before. Put it in water and drink for nearly instant stress relief. If  I am getting anxious for whatever reason, I drink some of this and it helps.

Young Living Thieves Essential Oil Blend in my diffuserAlthough I do not sell YL oils as of right now, I love all the products I’ve tried and Thieves is no exception. My diffuser is on and sending Thieves love my way right now.

Traditional Medicinals Tea Throat Coat Tea has been a faithful friend for years. The past week, I’ve had a sore throat and this tea is a constant companion. It’s made of slippery elm bark which really does coat your throat and calm the irritation.

My space heater. Although the furnace is working now that we had it repaired, last week when the weather became wintery, there were several very chilly days indoors. I’m a wimp, so I’m glad I had a working space heater that Alan gallantly carried down to the library in the morning and up to the bedroom at night.

My new computer speakers. My son Judah told me about this super cheap and great sounding speaker set. I couldn’t believe my ears when I first played music through it. Highly recommended!

What is saving your life right now?

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Day 30: Find Your Gumption Button

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Did this Monday find you with its cold, windy, cloudy song? I got up later than I wanted to because it was darker than I expected. Then, the sound of the recycling truck whizzing by and honking made me bolt up from slumber, remembering that we forgot to take the recycling bins to the road last night. Sigh. I had such good intentions before I fell asleep last night, too. I planned to wake early, go to the gym, and be at my desk by 9. There’s a little thing called an alarm on my phone that I forgot to set though, so that’s the story.

What I do with the rest of my day will be where the real tale lies.

Last Friday, while eating lunch, Alan and I talked about motivation and how some of us have more than others. People like Seth Godin seem to never run low, but perhaps it’s because he practices daily; he is self-disciplined and drives himself to produce and ship. Whether he feels ready or not. That’s one of Seth’s messages.

There are high-profile people in the music, visual art and writing fields that we know or know of who continually produce and ship. They are on Instagram multiple times per day showing us their quality work. We admire them. We wonder what their secrets are.

As far as I can tell, though, it’s up to each person to find their gumption button, to pull up their boot straps and get to work. You can only talk and think about it for so long and then you need to just do the work.

We have all kinds of excuses–not good enough, lots of people do it better, I’m not creative enough, no one will read, see or hear it–and what you mean is, you’re afraid. That’s ok. We are all afraid. But we have to tell Fear where to sit, as Elizabeth Gilbert says. Fear can’t be in the front of the room or in the driver’s seat. Fear can take a back seat or sit in the corner. You can recognize it and acknowledge it, but you are in charge. You. And nothing is stopping you. Not really.

Here are three yellow books I am reading that are kicking me in the pants, feeding me knowledge, and showing me there is another way of seeing. If you need encouragement to get your priorities back where you want them,  to do work you’ll be proud of, read these books.

Poke the Box: When Was the Last Time You Did Something for the First Time? by Seth Godin. I read this one before, but am reading it again. Short blurbs or passages with on-point messages are presented in Seth’s one-of-a-kind style. You can’t help but wake up and realize your goals are within reach and the time is now. Here’s an excerpt from pages 24-25,

“The relentless brainwashing of our fading industrial economy has created an expensive misunderstanding. Creative people or those with something to say believe that they have to wait to be chosen…’pick me, pick me’ acknowledges the power of the system and passes responsibility to someone else to initiate. Even better, ‘pick me, pick me’ moves the blame from you to them. If you don’t get picked it’s their fault not yours. If you do get picked, well, they said you were good, right? Not your fault anymore. Reject the tyranny of picked. Pick yourself.”

168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think by Laura Vanderkam. I heard about this author and this book on Modern Mrs Darcy. Since I was actually at the library in Ithaca yesterday, I grabbed this and one of her other books. In the introduction and first two chapters, she destroys the common belief that the modern person tells themselves: we don’t have enough time. We do, she insists, and she has science and our own schedules to prove us wrong. What an uplifting and life-giving idea. We can do what we want to do, what we dream of doing. We have all the time we need.

The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life by Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander. I’m only in the third chapter of this one, but can tell it’s going to rock me. This was one of Todd Henry’s recommended reads at the beginning of 2017. They bring up the concept of scarcity-thinking and talk about how it’s shaped our culture to think in terms of limited resources, shrinking reserves and other people as competitors. And how the world of measurement has framed our thinking. Then they use the terms “generative” and “the universe of possibility” and ask us to step outside of those frameworks and consider that anything is possible.

 

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