On Gratitude

It feels very cliche to be writing a blog post about gratitude on Thanksgiving. But nonetheless, I’ve been wanting to do this blog post since the beginning of October so I’m taking advantage of an enforced day off to finally do this.

Yesterday I posted an exercise to Facebook and Instagram asking my friends to comment on what they thought my superpower was. (I took the exercise from Pat Flynn’s book, Will It Fly) One response I got struck me and stuck with me throughout the day. One friend commented that they thought my superpower was the ability to keep myself centered.

I think that struck me most because it is something I have consciously worked on for the past ten years of my life. As a natural worrier, falling off the cliff into anxiety and despair requires a very short runway. And as anyone who’s battled their own demons knows, you never really win. Rather, you fight the same battles over and over again, but you get better at fighting them through repetition.

In the months since I’ve started my business, I’ve become obsessed with mindset. James Wedmore’s Mind Your Business podcast is my favorite and it’s a good thing he puts out three episodes a week because I really can’t get enough of it! But my obsession with mindset isn’t a new thing. I got introduced to the concepts of mindset and manifestation several years before, I just didn’t realize how influential those discussions has been in my life.

The thing about mindset and the thing about gratitude, is you don’t get “there” and stay “there”. It requires constant work and realignment to pull yourself back to center. Staying positive, staying grateful, staying open, believing in abundance…all of these things are under constant attack in daily life. Whether produced in the mind, encountered in the words of a trusted friend, or affirmed by the less-than-pleasant stuff we all face everyday, we find ourselves having to choose gratitude, choose positivity, choose abundance over and over again. And exhausting as it all is to constantly be fighting the same battles, I think it’s the best and most worthwhile fight there is.

All that is to say, that as I sit here on Thanksgiving morning, I wrote this as a reminder to you that gratitude isn’t a daylong affair. It’s not a month or even a season. Gratitude is a 365-days-a-year knock-down, drag-out fight to stay centered and keep focused on what truly matters.

Of course I can’t close this post out without writing my own list of things I’m grateful for today (and every day). So without further adieu and in no particular order,  I am grateful for:

-My boyfriend who has continued to come with me on every journey I’ve taken in the last five and a half years though most of the time he’s had NO idea what’s he’s in for. No idea. Case in point, he recently spent over three hours with me wandering around downtown Puerto Vallarta as I searched for un caballo huichol. Three hours in high humidity. That’s love folks.

-My parents who have always supported me in whatever obsession or fancy has currently diverted my attention. Always supported me.

-My boyfriend’s family who I’m spending Thanksgiving with – my first Thanksgiving without my own family! I’m looking forward to an out-of-the-ordinary day to round out my out-of-the-ordinary year. #ReadyfortheGenRave

-My friends who are somehow still my friends even though I take more than a day to text them back or sometimes forget to respond at all. Love you guys, you’re the real MVPs.

-My lovely menagerie of animals. There’s no love like theirs. And as I am a magnet for difficult creatures, I am grateful for all the lessons I learn in loving and caring for them. Everything I know about working with people I learned from loving the animals that others would give up on. Elliot. Ham. Cheese. Escobar. Pia. #SquadGoals

-A business that has grown so much over the last six months and keeps me so busy I hardly have time to keep up with this blog. (But don’t worry, I’m not giving up on this blog. No way, no how.) I’m eternally grateful for the endless support I’ve received and all of the people who have appeared or reappeared in my life exactly when they needed to. It honestly feels a little like seeing my life flash before my eyes in reverse except I’m not dying. This journey of starting and managing a business has really reaffirmed for me that one of the best pieces of advice I could ever give is to be kind to everyone you meet and always do your best to do right by them. When you need it most, you’ll see those efforts repaid tenfold. Twentyfold. One hundredfold.

-The new faces and friends I’ve met over the past six months. Before starting my business, it felt like my circle had grown to capacity and stabilized. People would leave, people would join, but it was stable. Little did I know that a circle actually has the endless potential to grow and expand, to include new connections, new friends, and new partners. I’ve been blessed beyond measure to have already found so many wonderful, wonderful people to add to my circle.

-My writing group who is helping me whip Shadow of the Magician into fighting shape. It’s going to be done guys. Done soon and for real this time. This is the last time around and I couldn’t be prouder, even though half the time I feel like giving up and throwing in the towel because this book has been so damn hard and has taken so many years of my life. But what keeps me going is that one day I hope to point to it and say, This was the book that made me. This was the book that taught me to write and to write well. This was the book that changed everything.

-Being alive at this moment in time. (You can read this in Gary Vee’s voice) Seriously, we are so blessed to be alive right now. For all the terrible stuff that happens, for all that we feel that social media and the internet are ruining our lives, there has never been another time where we have had so much control over our own futures and had so much ability to shape our own destiny. It is absolutely magical that I can turn on my phone, select a podcast, and have the wisdom of the world’s best teachers delivered to me on-demand. I can learn about any subject I want to, any subject at all, and all I need is a wifi connection. Our potential for growth and development are limitless and it’s because we are lucky enough to be alive right now. Not one hundred years ago. Not a thousand. Right now. And if that doesn’t give you perspective and make you fucking grateful, I don’t know what will.

To close out, I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving and use this day as an opportunity to make gratitude a lifestyle choice, not a momentary celebration.

Oh and one more thing: Be Safe, Skip the Salad, Eat the Damn Pie.

Cover Reveal: Cursed Collectibles

Hi.

Still alive. Just busy. Will get back to regular updates eventually and will share some of what’s been occupying my time soon. (Hint: it’s the business)

Still writing. I think I’m on track (hope I’m on track) to have all my edits done for Shadow of the Magician done by the end of the year. And I wrote and submitted another short story to a contest, so cross your fingers and toes for me!

Still reading. I actually have three (!!) book reviews on deck.

Still riding. Escobar and Pia are great, they are both starting to get fuzzy for (SoCal) winter and are incredibly cute.

But just dropping by this weekend to share the cover of the Cursed Collectibles anthology which I have a story in. Can’t wait to share the actual release date and more details about purchasing! This will be a physical book, which is SO exciting!! Let me know what you think about the cover in the comments below!

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New Publication Forthcoming!

August was just…a blur.

I had hoped for better this month, but September seems to be more of the same.

But I found out this afternoon a short story I had submitted will be published in a forthcoming anthology called Cursed Collectibles!

I don’t think I’ve written any short fiction the last few years as I’ve been focused on working on my books, but when I saw the topic of the anthology, I knew I had the perfect story to submit. It’s a story I had written for a class in college that’s been collecting dust on my hard drive. Of course, I ended up re-writing the whole thing anyway prior to submitting (at the suggestion of my writer’s group). But it was worth it because that story, now called “The Garden Party”, has a home! Yay!

Week in Review: June 16th-June 22nd

Last week I mentioned I was pondering two thoughts that I wanted to share.

Well. Now I’ve added one more. Lots of competing thoughts in my brain this week, but what else is new.

The first is that work doesn’t have to be stressful. Unless you’re a police officer or an emergency room doctor, there is very little that is life or death. And everything is fixable in the end.

The second is that the goals you set for yourself should be things you can control, not things you can’t control. For example, one of my goals used to be, “Sell Shadow of the Magician to a Big Five publisher”. But that goal isn’t up to me. So I revised it to be, “Finish Shadow of the Magician and make it the best book I can”.

The third: You’ve got three choices. Give up. Give in. Or give it all you’ve got.

While I’ve been adjusting to my new life, I don’t pretend to have this all figured out. Or to have any kind of balance. This week was filled with some really great moments and some really crappy moments. Moments where I was really proud of myself and other moments where I was terrified because there is no GPS, no roadmap for this. Not even a post-it note drawing.

I’m still binging on as many podcasts as ever, which seems to inspire me and frighten me in equal parts. I think the inspiration part is kind of obvious. But what scares me is that most people who become ultra-successful also experience big, soul-crushing failures.

And I’ve never failed like that.

And it scares me that my greatest failure may still lie ahead of me.

That it’s lurking somewhere on the horizon.

Which makes the no-roadmap-for-this thing kind of hard to swallow some days. I’m hoping I’m making good choices. The right choices. Choices that don’t lead down a bad road.

But. I have no idea.

On that cheery note, I’ll breeze through my week in review!

Saturday I woke up late after hanging out with my friends on Friday night and watching American Vandal with the boyfriend after I got home. Threw off my whole day. I was pretty unfocused and unmotivated. I did manage to force myself to do some stuff, but it was not pretty. Really not pretty.

After a day that is not much to write home about, I ended up checking out our new neighborhood Sprouts and then watching the rest of American Vandal with the boyfriend. It was good. I really liked that show. I also liked that the season was self-contained and short. I can really only handle TV that’s mini-series length these days – the only way I can even finish something without feeling guilty about it.

Sunday, I got up early and worked on Shadow of the Magician for a little while. Got some good work in, was pretty proud of myself. Looked at what I have left to do, decided I could maybe finish my edits by the beginning of August.

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The boyfriend and I then went to the fair. We didn’t go last year so I was excited to go. It’s kind of the same thing every year so it was nice that we took a break. This year’s theme was basically candy and also unicorns. Was digging the unicorns. Really like the unicorn trend.

We met up with a few friends while we were at the Fair, ate some ridiculous and also over-priced food, and checked out the speakeasy which makes some strong drinks. Word to the wise. Was super disappointed that I could only have half my drink because I drove.

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Monday I went to the barn and had a good ride on Miss Pia. Which was great because my day started off stressful trying to juggle some last-minute client appointments and reschedule things. I’m glad Pia was the easy part of the day. Also got her saddle adjusted so checked that off the list.

Spent some time working at Starbucks in their blessed air conditioning and met a client for lunch at Bushfire. I am obsessed with their short rib bowl. Not like I’ve ever had anything else there, but it is damn good.

After lunch, I picked up my new desk chair – hallelujah! Took advantage of Office Depot’s chair assembly service so my chair was ready to roll (get it?) as soon as I got it home. Tried to make the most of the rest of the day before writer’s group. Launched a client’s website and got a referral for a new client.

At writer’s group, I had chapters again. Got some GREAT feedback, which made me really excited. And also sad that now I doubt I’m going to make the August deadline for my edits. It was a great 24 hours while it lasted.

Tuesday morning I started off a roll before I had to head to the dentist. Fun times. I broke my mouth guard recently (better than my teeth I guess, been there, done that) so my next visit to the dentist in July will be super expensive because I have to get my mouth guard replaced and I also have to get a filling. Fun factoid: I have super weird back molars which is great for games of two truths and a lie and not so great for my wallet. Those suckers are hard to take care of.

Tuesday night I had dinner with friends and clients in Encinitas at Blue Ribbon Pizza. I haven’t been there in years and it was super yummy.

Wednesday I had another good ride with Pia. She got her back shoes put on while I ran home to get on a prospective client call. Went well except for the mini heart attack I had when the client called me two hours earlier than planned because they mixed up what time the meeting was because of the time change. Not the thing you want to be sorting out before you’ve had your daily caffeine.

I was in SUCH a great work groove after the meeting UNTIL…migraine. Ugh. I was hopeful that I would take my Excedrin like always, wait half an hour for my vision to go back to normal, and then get back to my work. No such luck. This is the first time a migraine has made me feel sick in a long time. Which was super inconvenient because not only did I have stuff to do, I was supposed to meet my friend, C, for dinner.

I decided to go to dinner anyway, hopeful that if I drank enough water and got super hydrated I would feel better. She was late meeting me at the new True Foods at UTC and while I waited I ordered a (non-alcoholic) drink called the Medicine Man. And wouldn’t you know it, I actually felt better after that. Maybe it was just the name. So dinner went as planned and we had a good time catching up and celebrating her birthday.

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Thursday I was determined to do some damage to my to-do list. This was one of my better work days though I had a client call and went to see my chiropractor towards the end of the day. When I’m not in good working order, I tend to get headaches and if I ignore the situation for too long, I usually will get a migraine. Plus my back had been hurting all week because Pia is learning flying changes. And doing them at all the wrong times and with a buck, too.

Friday I rode Pia who was not good. Yikes. Hopefully she’ll be better after the weekend. Maybe too many changes in one week with her saddle and the new shoes. After that, it was off to another client appointment in Carlsbad. Never been to that part of Carlsbad before. On the way back, I forgot there was fair traffic so I ended up going through San Marcos and Vista to the 78 to get home. And I saw even more new-to-me parts of San Diego.

I chugged through a good amount of my to-do list in the afternoon before I had to do a bunch of contracts and proposals. Proposals take so long, oh my god. Grateful that I have proposals to do, but yeesh. I actually like doing the market research and planning out the strategy, it’s just that it takes a long time.

Friday night, the boyfriend and I officially broke out our air conditioning unit. It’s a plug-in monstrosity we bought at Home Depot years ago that eats up electricity like no one’s business, but it makes the heat bearable. Summer has officially arrives!

What I’m Reading:

Give and Take by Adam Grant (Finished!)

Rise of the Youpreneuer by Chris Ducker

I’m planning to start War Storm by Victoria Aveyard, but I haven’t been wanting to read before bed. It’s been sitting on my nightstand for over a week. I think I’m also in that weird limbo where my own writing is going good so I don’t want to read anything from author’s I really, really like, because then I’ll feel down about my own writing. It’s hard to practice staying in your own lane when you love reading. It’s not like Instagram where I can just unfollow my competitors.

What I’m Listening To:

Tim Ferriss interviewed Brandon Stanton (the Human of New York guy) on his podcast and I loved every minute of it. Listen to it here.

What I’m Watching:

Check out American Vandal on Netflix.

What I’m Loving:

My new desk chair. It’s every bit as amazing as I imagined it would be. Ergonomics for the win.

June 9th-June 15th: Week in Review

This week I really enjoyed not being sick and also being able to work in shorts. It’s the little things, guys.

On the heels of a productive week, I thought I’d share all of the podcasts that have been keeping me company. It’s weird when you go from sharing an office to being home alone all day. And I don’t mean sharing an office as in there are other people near by…I mean legitimately sharing the same room. It’s a big adjustment to go from never being alone to always being alone.

The boyfriend has a job where he works a school year schedule and a summer schedule. He hasn’t switched to summer schedule yet so he’s been home in the mornings. Which is good because I’m not alone. But bad because I get distracted by him. Imagine all the things you do after you get home from work and that’s what his morning is like.

And then he leaves and I’m alone again.

So, to fill up the space I’ve been listening to podcasts. I started listening to podcasts a few years ago after I got my real estate license. I discovered I really liked spending my time in the car learning something, not listening to music. Since then, I think I’ve really accelerated my personal and career development through the number of hours I’ve put in to listening to podcasts. If I’m driving, I’m probably listening to a podcast. If I’m cleaning, I’m definitely listening to a podcast. Exercising? Podcast. Walking dog? Yep, podcast.

Here’s what I currently enjoy, loosely grouped by topic!

Entrepreneurship, Business, and Mindset:

Gary Vaynerchuk, The Gary Vee Audio Experience

John Lee Dumas, Entreprenuer on Fire

Pat Flynn, Smart Passive Income

Chris Ducker, Youprenuer

Mike Dillard, Self Made Man

Tim Ferriss, The Tim Ferriss Show

And not technically a podcast, but still including:

Darren Hardy, Darren Daily

Marketing, Blogging, and Vlogging:

Amy Porterfield, Online Marketing Made Easy

Sunny Lenarduzzi, The Sunny Show

Social Media Examiner, both the Social Media Marketing podcast and the Social Media Marketing Talk Show

John Jantsch, Duct Tape Marketing

John Jantsch, Consulting Spark

Buffer, The Science of Social Media

Amy Landino, Vlog Boss Radio

Ray Edwards, The Ray Edwards Show

Darren Rowse, ProBlogger

Copyblogger, Copyblogger FM

Writing:

K.M. Weiland, Helping Writers Become Authors

NPR, 10 Minute Writer’s Workshop (now over, but go binge the old episodes!)

Brandon Sanderson et al., Writing Excuses

Various Topics:

TED, TED Talks Daily

NPR and TED, TED Radio Hour

NPR, Hidden Brain

I would LOVE to hear your podcast recommendations so leave me a comment below with some more. I’m especially looking more to go in the “Various Topics” section because sometimes I want to half-listen to something and passively learn or not learn.

Let’s dive into the week!

Despite how terrible I felt on Friday, I woke up feeling lots better on Saturday. I did some work in the morning before and during my dog’s grooming session. He gets groomed to the house, which is really convenient. The groomer has her own bus that she brings and parks outside. It’s actually not that much more expensive to get Elliot groomed at home than to take him somewhere. Like maybe $20-30 more a session. And he gets done in half or a third of the time and isn’t stressed because he’s not stuck in a drying cage for hours and listening to other stressed out dogs. Plus, he’s always groomed by the same person.

I tried to wash Elliot myself a couple times after I adopted him home from Helen Woodward. All were terrible experiences for both of us. The first time I tried to wash him in the backyard. The end result was a wet, not very clean dog, a lot of mud, and a soaked human. Second time, I tried to wash him in the bath tub. Also terrible because I had to lift him over the edge of the tub while he was struggling to get away from me and fit him through the opening of the glass door. Elliot’s currently a little fat, he’s about seventy-seven pounds right now. But he’s pretty much been between seventy and seventy-five pounds the whole time I’ve had him. The third time I washed him I decided to try the walk-in shower. But the shower wasn’t big enough for both of us so I thought I’d put him in the shower and I’d kneel outside and wash him and clean up all the water in the bathroom after. Well, Elliot made a run for it after about a minute of being bathed and pushed me out of the way which caused me to hit my head and neck on the tile wall. Yep, we were done with the home grooming business after that.

But getting him groomed was not much better. He was so stressed about the grooming, I literally had to drag/carry him to the appointment. He would not go into the shop. Any shop. So that was a struggle right from the moment we got to the parking lot. Once you got him inside, he laid down on the floor and refused to walk. And he’s way too big for me to have to work that hard to get him there and then feel like I was torturing him as he trembled from head to toe. So to me, it’s well worth that extra money to get him done at home!!

After Elliot was done with his grooming, I went and got myself groomed. I had made an appointment earlier in the week on a day when I wasn’t feeling so bad to get my hair touched up. I recently started dyeing it because the greys were getting out of control.

Then, I met up with the boyfriend and we drove up to Oceanside to have an early Father’s Day dinner with his dad and family at Texas Roadhouse. This dinner also included some assorted friends so that was fun.

After that, we went back to his family’s house to meet their new dog. They just adopted a German Shepherd after their old dog passed away a few months ago. Their new dog is very nice and hopefully he and Elliot will get along as we like to leave Elliot there when we go on vacation because they have a big piece of property and the dogs can pretty much go in and out as they please.

On Sunday I actually found some time to work on Shadow of the Magician in the morning. I rewrote one chapter that needed it and edited four more that didn’t need an overhaul. I worked some more in the afternoon to try and catch up on some of the things that didn’t get done the week before.

Monday morning I finally made it back to the barn where I had to make some decisions for Pia. She’s still not feeling like herself so we decided to try the progesterone injection (basically Depo-Provera), called the farrier to consider getting shoes put on her back feet (she’s only shod in the front), and added her onto the saddle fitter’s list for the next time they come out. I rode Pia on Monday and left crossing my fingers that one of those things would do it.

I had an afternoon meeting in Clairemont so I decided not to go home. It was nearing lunch time so I decided to go to Panera Bread since I knew they had food, tables, wifi, and electric sockets. Spent about two or so hours there working before going across the street to the Forum Coffee House. If you follow me on Instagram, this is the home of the blue chai! I kid you not, it is truly blue!

Once I got home, I didn’t have that much time to work before Writer’s Group. This day was basically a day of not very much getting done on the work front, but yet being busy doing stuff for the business.

Tuesday I woke up early to get some work done. It was dark and kind of cloudy so I went into the garage to do my Miracle Morning routine at my actual desk. The boyfriend’s been sleeping on the couch since I’ve been sick and I didn’t want to turn on the light in the kitchen so I could see because we have an open floor plan and the living room and kitchen are pretty much the same room, just divided by a half wall.

While I was doing the exercising portion of the Miracle Morning, I looked up at the ceiling and discovered this situation. Apparently the rose bushes in the front yard decided to grow a branch under the exterior wall and up through the interior of the garage wall (there’s kind of a space behind the paneling). I honestly don’t understand how this could have happened. But here we are.

Later, I got a good amount of work done while I was waiting for the internet guy to show up. The boyfriend has been after me for years to upgrade or change our internet service provider. But I refused because a) I thought it would be really expensive to get better internet and b) I thought it would be a big hassle to change and c) I didn’t think we really needed it. However, when I started the business he suddenly had a good case for upgrading the internet. He did all on the research and it turns out that by switching to Spectrum, we wouldn’t pay any more money, but we’d get 20x faster internet. I’m serious, it truly is 20x faster. Now that we have it installed, I can say that I see the results of this more on the upload end of things. Last week, it took me well over thirty minutes to load a video longer than five minutes to Facebook. This week, it took me less than five minutes. I am in love.

Wednesday, went back to the barn. Rode Pia who felt soo much better. I am so relieved. The shot is kicking in already. And she seems way happier too. She was very relaxed when I got there. After after I was done, I turned her out into the pen like I usually do. Normally, she gets her cookie and immediately walks away to go do her own thing (#DoinPiaThings). But she actually hung around me and was rubbing her head up against me and just generally being very sweet. Heart. Melt.

We’re still going ahead with all of my other plans from Monday, but I’m so glad that we’re already seeing improvements!

Wednesday just generally ended up being a great day. Got more stuff done. Took Elliot for a walk, ran into one of my neighbors down the street, finished organizing my office in the evening. Solid day.

Thursday though…oh man. So busy. I worked hard this day to try and get through all the new things that had to be done in a hurry. One of the busier work days I’ve had since starting the business.

Still took a break to walk dogs with my neighbor. It was super hot on Thursday and after I got back, it was so hot in the house it was making me tired. Later, my friend, K, called me to see if I was free for dinner because she was nearby. I ended up meeting her at Soup Plantation and it was nice to spend some time with a friend after a busy day. Also the air conditioning was A+.

Friday, I was lazy about getting out of bed so I crammed the Miracle Morning into fifteen minutes before I had to leave for the barn because my lesson was earlier than normal. Rode Miss Pia who still felt great so I am very encouraged about that!

Came home and had another great work day. This week I really felt like I was actually making a difference and getting results. I also had a really exciting idea for the business as I listened to some podcasts. It will definitely take a lot of work and time to get there, but if I could do it, it would be SO cool.

In the afternoon, I drove over to Mostra Coffee in Carmel Mountain to meet my friend who telecommutes on Friday. I have to go somewhere with air conditioning in the afternoons now otherwise I get too sleepy to work. Got the chai tea latte which was pretty good. I didn’t love it, it was sweet in an odd way. But I really liked the vibe at Mostra. The only downside is because it was afternoon, there were a lot of people coming in and for some reason, the people coming in with kids were just letting their kids run wild. So, I was pretty grumpy about that. I’m not sure I would come back to Mostra in the afternoon. Not a quiet place to get some work done.

I met my friend, L, for dinner at a hot pot place on Convoy St. It was…not good. I don’t know if we just went to a place that wasn’t good, picked all the worst things on the menu, or just managed to not make the food taste good. We were both pretty disappointed so we walked over to Iceskimo – now THAT was a good choice. I’d never been to Iceskimo before, but it was tasty. It’s shaved ice, not ice cream so that’s important to know before you go, but I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked it.

After that, we went down to North Park to see my friend, S, before he moves to Orange County. We checked out JuneShine, which is a newly opened Hard Kombucha place. Really good. Cute place. Great music. 10/10 would recommend.

I was still feeling pretty awake so I went with the group to Coin Op Game Room and stayed out much later than planned. When I finally got home, the boyfriend was watching a show on Netflix called American Vandal and I sat and watched multiple episodes of that before finally going to bed.

What I’m Reading:

Tribe of Mentors by Tim Ferris (Finished! Review coming soon!)

The Book That Matters Most by Ann Hood (Finished! Review coming soon!)

Give and Take by Adam Grant (Almost Done!)

What I’m Listening To:

I’ve been on a major Taylor Swift kick lately. My favorite albums are Speak Now, Red, and 1989. Reputation is kind of a hot mess.

What I’m Watching:

Check out American Vandal on Netflix.

What I’m Loving:

Had some really great epiphanies this week – will share more in next week’s blog!