Push

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Dear 2017,

My word this year is ‘Push’.  You will hear this single word when you try to slow me down.  I will push back if you try to trip me up.  I will push to stand up if you try to knock down.  I will push a little harder if I feel I am out of fight.

I.  Will.  Push.

I’ve worked hard the last two years.  2015 was my doorway.  2016 brought me beauty.  I have put so many things in place.  2017 will be when I will push to cross off the big items from my list.  It will be the year I push the boundaries.  It will be the year I push myself to overcome challenges.  It will be my year to push.

My kid brother is a jerk.

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My little brother, when we were young, liked to come up behind me when I was busy with other things, kick me, push me, or just plain bug me, and then skip away giggling.  It was annoying at the time, but hind sight has that thing it does…

The last two weeks were tough for me.  I was completely overwhelmed with everything.  The list of things piling up, piled higher.  Work was more stressful that it should have been.  My personal life was more stressful than it should have been.  My personal demons were clawing at my back.  I felt like I was drowning.  I felt like nothing was going right.  At one point, I stopped in the middle of doing three different things, and for the life me, I just couldn’t remember why I was trying as hard as I was.  What was I trying to accomplish again?  Why was it so important?  What’s the harm in just giving up?

That feeling stayed with me for a few days.  People told me I looked tired, and I was tired.  Tired right down into the very soul of my existence.  My uphill trek had gained me no ground.  I felt like a fraud, spouting off bullshit phrases about working hard, being positive, and progress being progress.
I almost didn’t make it, but I dragged myself to the first yearly meeting of my writing group, and had my battery recharged a bit when I received applause for the upcoming book launch and by being with those wonderful, creative people.  And then had it charged a bit more when I learned I had come in third for the poetry writing contest.
The next day I went to my publishers office, and held the proof copy of my book in hand.  I saw the pictures, the text, and my name on the cover.  It was one of those ‘Holy shit, I did it!’ kind of moments.

Progress is kind of like my little brother.  It arrives quietly without ceremony or a parade. It sneaks up on you when your busy doing other things, kicks your ass, and skips away giggling because of the trick it played on you.   Hindsight being what it is, I still think he’s a jerk.

Over the last two years, I’ve re-written my life.  I’ve bought rental property and renovated it.  I’ve started two businesses.  I’ve gotten a book published, and am working on more.  I’ve done so many new things, learned so many things, and grown in so many ways.  Sometimes we all need a kick in the ass to remind us to look behind us for a moment.

Work hard and don’t be an asshole.
Stay positive.  And if you can’t be positive, smile till you are.
Progress is progress, no matter how small.

A New Adventure

Last year I started a new adventure, which ended up rewriting my entire life.  Sixteen months later and my life barely resembles what it used.  The only mainstay are my girls, and my closest friends who stuck with me through the growing pains.

Part of my adventure was to actually do something with my writing.  I opened up a new site that will feature my novels once they are written.  But in the process, I actually wrote a children’s book as well.  It has been sent to the publisher, edited and translated into French.  The goal is to have it done this summer.

Lucky for me, the publisher allowed me to use my good friend to do the drawings, which I know will mean it takes longer as he is a busy guy, but it also means that it is a complete labour of love for my two lovely ladies who inspired the story and keep me going.  Being that it is a labour of love, I’ve decided to release the children’s books under my own name and not my pen name.

Below are a few rough sketches.  I can’t wait to see the finished copies.  He is so talented, yet so humble.

How To Create a Great Development Plan

Continuing with yesterday’s topic development plans, I did a bit of research on how to make them a more useful and successful tool.

Lifehacker has a great article on how to write a personal development plan.  Read it here and here

Great Leaders by Dan McCarthy has an article on writing one, even if you don’t plan on moving up the ladder just yet.  Check it out here.

And if you aren’t feeling that motivated, Tiny Buddha has an article on how to get there.

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

I actually finished this book last month, but it has stuck with me and inspired me till this day, that I feel I need to honour it with its own review.

I fell upon this book through the Todoist blog and borrowed it from my local library that night.

At first, I’m not going to lie, I thought it was fluff and a silly self-help book.  Gretchen is a full-time writer, has more time, resources, and it would seem money, to throw at her project than I would, but it is still none the less inspiring.  I will not be going full-scale like she did, but I did write my own 10 Commandments list, and feel this book lead to my epiphany to do what I want, and write.   The lesson she learned on earning gold stars is something I myself am working on and can see in others more now.  I will reread again to gain another dose of inspiration and happiness injection and recommend this book to those who feel like they’ve lost something, but can’t quite put their finger on it.

Amanda’s 10 Commandments

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Still feeling inspired by my epiphany last week, I’ve decided its time to analize other aspects of my life, and see what parts make me a bit blue.  I don’t expect anything to be perfect, but everything could use a bit of a tweak now and then.  I’ve decided to call them Commandments to hopefully solidify my resolute to follow them. During my poll of friends, one of them stated that there was no difference between goals and resolutions.  Resolutions is a word reserved for New Years Eve, that people don’t keep either. Its interesting how January, the coldest part of the year in my parts, always seems bright shiney and full of potential, but by February, it’s lost its lustre and failure lurks in the shadows.  
The idea of personal commandments came from The Happiness Project book by Gretchen Rubin.

On to the Commandments…  
1. Be Amanda, and only Amanda
2. Find gratitude in unbefitting situations.  
3. It is easy to be heavy, hard to be light.
4. Be in the moment.
5. Talk to strangers
6. No more than 5 alcoholic drinks in one session, even when you are with the red-head.  Yes, jager shots count as a drink.
7. When you feel you have reached your limit, and are about to seriously loose your shit, sing “If You’re Happy and You Know It” till you can carry on.
8. Get ‘ready for bed’ and go to bed on time.
9. Feed creativity and beware of things that attempt to snuff if out.
10. Make sure it matters.
11. Think big things. Do big things.

My hope is that I will edit and change this list as the year moves on and I learn more about myself and situations I find myself in. I haven’t learned all there is to learn yet and I would expect my list of Commandments to grow amd change as I do.
Anyone else out there with Commandments or life ‘rules’ they live by?