Random Neural Firings

the inner workings of a restless creative brain

You Look GOOD Future Self! Writing Challenge Day 7

June8

Day 7’s Challenge is:

There will be an agreement in whatever variety of actions, so they be each honest and natural in their hour. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

What would you say to the person you were five years ago? What will you say to the person you’ll be in five years?

(Author: Corbett Barr)

Hello Sherean Five Years Ago – I would tell that bride-to-be that being married is in most ways, easier than dating. It’s an exhalation, a relief, a joy. The so-called “work” of marriage is worthwhile and sure beats the work involved with being single. I’d tell her not to fear pregnancy and motherhood. She’ll do better than she thought.

I’d suggest she buy Google and Amazon stock, bank all her profits to weather the Great Recession (which I mostly did, but sure could have done some more), and keep working out with her trainer. I should have never stopped that! In fact, that is my biggest regret of the last 5 years. Between the pregnancies and miscarriages, the moves (two of them), the house building, the birth, my son’s therapy and my resulting malaise, I quit working out and I have the extra pounds to show for it.

And to the person in five years, I say: Good job! You did what you had to do, what you needed to do, and what you wanted to do. Keep it up. And holy crap, you look good for 51! :-)

Here’s the back story on the 30-day challenge.

 

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What’s Holding Me Back? Ha! Writing Challenge Day 6

June8

I’m still catching up on the writing challenge. Here’s Day 6:

The idea of “being realistic” holds all of us back. From starting a business or quitting a job to dating someone who may not be our type or moving to a new place – getting “real” often means putting your dreams on hold.

Today, let’s take a step away from rational thought and dare to be bold. What’s one thing you’ve always wanted to accomplish but have been afraid to pursue? Write it down. Also write down the obstacles in your way of reaching your goal. Finally, write down a tangible plan to overcome each obstacle.

The only thing left is to, you know, actually go make it happen. What are you waiting for?

(Author: Matt Cheuvront)

N/A, as in Not Applicable. It’s not that I’m fearless, per se, but my fears run more towards extreme heights, bungee jumping, and bugs. Not the kind of fears that hold me back in life. The challenge asks of something you’ve always wanted to accomplish but have been afraid to. I can think of literally nothing. This does not make me special, or especially unique. It’s a character trait (some would call it a “flaw”) of a serial entrepreneur.

I used to keep that Goethe* quote around:

“Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.”

And I believed it. Want to start a business but don’t have money? Write a strong business plan, make a compelling case, and raise the money. Don’t know how to raise the money? Ask everyone you know. Somebody else does. Don’t know how to set up a company? Buy the “For Dummies” books. That’s how I figured out what type of corporation I needed to be. Have an idea you’d like to patent but don’t know where to start? Google it. In fact, these days, you can pretty much Google anything you need to know.

So I’ve done this a few times and am embarking on another business venture, right now, as we speak (so to speak). I have some ideas for mobile apps. I knew nothing about developing mobile apps so I started emailing tech folks I know and had a chance to meet with or talk to 4 different programmers and/or companies. I’ve never marketed a mobile app before but plenty of people have, so I Googled it, took notes, and wrote a marketing plan. I couldn’t afford the initial development out of pocket so I considered two options: 1) revenue share with the developers or 2) increase credit card limit and pay on credit. For a myriad of reasons, I chose #2. I figure my odds of actually breaking even are 1 in 10. Making money even less.

But you know what? The only way I’m going to learn and understand the app market is to dive in. I might fail with this first one, but I’ll bet you I’ll succeed somewhere.

If you want to know how it goes, follow me on Facebook. We should be launching this first one in a few weeks!

*I put an asterisk here because there is some debate as to whether or not Goethe actually wrote this.

Here’s the back story on the 30-day challenge.

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Emerson Writing Challenge Days 4 and 5

June8

Day 4’s Challenge:

If we live truly, we shall see truly. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Not everyone wants to travel the world, but most people can identify at least one place in the world they’d like to visit before they die. Where is that place for you, and what will you do to make sure you get there?

(Author: Chris Guillebeau)

Impossible to pick just one so I’ll give you two:

1) Barcelona, for many reasons: art, architecture, and food being some of the primary ones. And since my son is learning Spanish in an immersion program, my dream is to spend a month there next summer (or the one after) so he can REALLY get immersed. What am I doing to make this happen? Meeting as many people from Spain as I can, hoping that someone knows someone who can rent (or swap) houses with us.

2) Iran. I’ve been here before, so it’s not that I “need” to see it before I die, but it was many years ago, before the Revolution. I’d like to take my husband and son there to experience the ancient culture (would love to see the ruins at Persepolis) and to visit the relatives I have that still live there. There’s not a whole lot I can do on this one as much of it is dependent on the political climate and whether or not we feel it’s safe enough to travel there.

Day 5’s Challenge:

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?

I thought this challenge was poorly worded. If I had one week to live, I’d do what everyone else would do: quit working, tell everyone who matters how much I love them, and spend every waking moment with my son and husband. It’s not a practical or instructive lesson because I can’t quit working now, and I already tell everyone who matters I love them and spend as much time as possible with my husband and son. Truly. I plan meetings around my son’s naps just so I can see him during my work day.

I have no idea what the rest of this challenge means so I – in resolving to do only that which makes me come alive – will not even attempt to answer that which makes me go “huh?”

Here’s the back story on the 30-day challenge.

 

 

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If I Wanted a Life Coach, I Would’ve Asked For One: the Post-It Note Challenge

June3

Today’s Challenge:

Identify one of your biggest challenges at the moment (ie I don’t feel passionate about my work) and turn it into a question (ie How can I do work I’m passionate about?) Write it on a post-it and put it up on your bathroom mirror or the back of your front door. After 48-hours, journal what answers came up for you and be sure to evaluate them.

Bonus: tweet or blog a photo of your post-it. (Author: Jenny Blake

Seriously? This is like Life Coaching 101 and I’m at least at the 200-level. Well, if you must know, the biggest challenge I face now is a lack of motivation about EVERYTHING. You could say I’m in a bit of a funk. I need to: get in shape, organize my closet, pack up my son’s clothes that no longer fit, rewrite my company website, start a new site for my mobile app business, spend more quality time with my husband, TAKE CARE OF A MILLION THINGS FOR MY CURRENT CLIENTS, write some proposals, plan meals for the week, DUST, water plants, pick up the weekly produce from the co-op, go to the grocery, PACK UP MY OLD OFFICE AND MOVE IT TO THE NEW ONE, schedule a much-overdue mammogram, make some food for the neighbor who just had a baby . . . just for starters.

I could have picked any one of those items for this irritating post-it note challenge but truthfully, the “problem” underlying all of them is a lack of motivation. And I’m smart enough to know there is a common denominator in all my problems. Maybe I’m a tad bit depressed. Wouldn’t be the first time, nor, I suspect, the last. Once I crack the code and get moving, I tend to be very productive and balanced. So the question for the stupid sticky note is simply:

Here’s more on the 30-day challenge.

 

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Writing Challenge Day 3: One Strong Belief

June2

Today’s Challenge*:

The world is powered by passionate people, powerful ideas, and fearless action. What’s one strong belief you possess that isn’t shared by your closest friends or family? What inspires this belief, and what have you done to actively live it?

(Author: Buster Benson)

Day 3 and already I’m stumped. Does a non-belief count as a belief? For example, I don’t believe that everything happens for a reason, and almost everyone I know does. In fact, I think it’s just about the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard, at least in the context it’s usually used, which is to imply there is some Big Grand Plan for everyone’s life. Who’s this grand puppet master? Who’s controlling every single car in Atlanta’s rush hour tangle to ensure that THAT red pick-up is at the I-285/400 interchange at EXACTLY the right moment and will decide to RECKLESSLY attempt to pull out of a lane of STOPPED traffic into an oncoming lane of 55 mph traffic just in time to SMASH my car? Really, it was when that happened a few years ago that I gave up on the concept of a grand plan altogether.

Sure, there are various versions on this theory. Some believe God is the invisible hand controlling everything and everybody, or somehow setting a chain of events in motion (over which we have free will?). Others believe it is “the Universe” – another way of saying there is some “thing” (a force? an energy?) that has a supreme intelligence. Still others believe that the individual attracts into their life ALL circumstances and events (I’m talking about devotees of “The Secret.”)

At one time or another, I’ve been all those people. That day on GA-400 when that guy pulled in front of me and smashed my car, I gave up. My first instinct was “don’t forget to love the guy that hit you” and “there’s a REASON this is happening and you’ll learn from it” was quickly replaced by a larger voice shouting: BULLSHIT. Sometimes, things just happen. For no reason. There was no lesson to be learned there, other than perhaps, to drive one lane over when I approach that exchange.

How does this belief drive me? Or how do I actively live it? Well, in a perverse twist – since this writing challenge is about reflection – I would say this belief has led me to be LESS reflective. Instead of twisting myself in a pretzel to figure out “why” all the time, I just experience what I experience, feel what I feel, and move on. Sometimes, I take some time to mull it all over, but often I don’t.

So there you have it: my non-belief belief. Things just happen and there is no grand master plan.

*I’m participating in a blogosphere writing challenge: for 30 days, I will be responding to a provocative question/prompt. It’s all part of a celebration of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s book “Self-Reliance,” which I’m not sure I’ve even read. I ’m not doing this because I’m a big Emerson fan – although I suppose I’ll have to download some of his stuff to the Kindle now – I’m doing this because my friend, Alicia (here’s her blog), tagged me in a Facebook post, which is our generation’s version of a dare. And I’m never one to let a good dare go unchallenged . . .

 

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Today Is . . .

June1

Today’s challenge:*

If ‘the voyage of the best ship is a zigzag line of a hundred tracks,’ then it is more genuine to be present today than to recount yesterdays. How would you describe today using only one sentence? Tell today’s sentence to one other person. Repeat each day.  (Author: Liz Danzico)

Today is sunshine (too much, really) and toddler smiles, meetings and who-knows-what meals, a pedicure (if I’m lucky) and lots of vroom vroom (if I’m really lucky), finally crashing on the couch with a piece of chocolate and Christopher, who will whisper to me as I’m falling asleep: “sleep well, my Love.”

*I’m participating in a blogosphere writing challenge: for the next 30 days (starting today), I will be responding to a provocative question/prompt. It’s all part of a celebration of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s book “Self-Reliance,” which I’m not sure I’ve even read. I ’m not doing this because I’m a big Emerson fan – although I suppose I’ll have to download some of his stuff to the Kindle now – I’m doing this because my friend, Alicia (here’s her blog), tagged me in a Facebook post, which is our generation’s version of a dare. And I’m never one to let a good dare go unchallenged . . .

 

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15 Minutes to Live

May31

Today’s challenge*:

You just discovered you have fifteen minutes to live.

1. Set a timer for fifteen minutes.
2. Write the story that has to be written.

(Author: Gwen Bell)

It’s about love, after all. If I have only 15 minutes to live, then I want to tell my son that the meaning of life really is love. I’ve seen some amazing things and had an interesting career but in the end, nothing was as interesting or amazing as falling in love with your dad and then, watching as we both fell in love with you. It’s the oldest cliche in the world – “all you need is love” – but cliches are what they are because they’re true.

I had a friend who was once trying to help me get out of a funk. She wanted me to start a business I was passionate about. She had me list things in life that got me excited. I found that the very idea of being totally passionate about something was odd to me. The only thing I was passionate about, I told her, was finding a wonderful husband. That was an embarrassing admission, but true. I think she was disappointed in me. At any rate, it gave me clarity and not long after that, I met your dad and came to know true, deep, meaningful love.

“Go big or go home” is another cliche that I’ve found to be useful. In almost all my worthwhile endeavors, I did them big, I did them hard, I did them deep. When I was sad, I sobbed for years, not minutes. When I was happy, my smile nearly broke my face. I never drank but if I did, I assure you, I would have been a drunk. I remember friends in my early 20s who couldn’t stop talking about college, like it was the best time of their lives and it was all downhill from there. I never missed college. I did college. Big time. Parties, sorority, dates, hook-ups (although we didn’t call them that back then), and yes, I studied and graduated on time. I thoroughly immersed myself in the collegiate experience and so, when I was done, I was done.

I hope when my life is done I feel the same way. No remorse.

In my last 15 minutes, I want you to know that life just happens. People spend so much time being cautious, trying to avoid risk or failure. Don’t do that. Just don’t. You will fail. You will get your heart broken. And here’s the thing: no matter how hard you try to control your life, those “bad” things are still going to happen. So I suggest you get used to that idea now. Things will happen. Some of them good, some of them bad. It’s all part of life. Enjoy the good, rail against the bad, but know that it’s normal. If there’s a lesson to be learned, try and learn it the first time. Life has a way of repeating itself.

And now, an admission:  I lived terrified I would die too young and leave you without a mother. That is one of the hazards of having a baby at an older age. I told myself that the trade-off for you would be worth it: you have parents who are more stable (mentally and financially), who can afford to spend time with you and send you to good schools. But in the end, I probably won’t get to meet my grandchildren and that makes me very, very sad.

You, however, make me very, very happy. You have the brightest smile and best laugh. At just 2.5, I am impressed with how sweet you are. You’re kind and smart and curious and generous and already more than I could have hoped for.

In my last 15 minutes, I want you to know that I suck at math. I tried and had some years where I did OK through sheer hard work, but it’s really not my thing. I am a better writer than this little note would indicate. The timer doesn’t really bother me (I worked in television under crazy deadlines so I’m used to that) but hearing you wake up from your nap, crying out for me, means I’m going to have to stop before the timer goes off.

It’s about love, after all. And I love you and could care less about finishing this assignment properly.

*I’m participating in a blogosphere writing challenge: for the next 30 days (starting today), I will be responding to a provocative question/prompt. It’s all part of a celebration of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s book “Self-Reliance,” which I’m not sure I’ve even read. I ’m not doing this because I’m a big Emerson fan – although I suppose I’ll have to download some of his stuff to the Kindle now – I’m doing this because my friend, Alicia (here’s her blog), tagged me in a Facebook post, which is our generation’s version of a dare. And I’m never one to let a good dare go unchallenged . . .

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Promise or a Threat? I’m Going to Write Once a Day for the Next 30 Days

May31

I’m participating in a blogosphere writing challenge: for the next 30 days (starting today), I will be responding to a provocative question/prompt. It’s all part of a celebration of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s book “Self-Reliance,” which I’m not sure I’ve even read. I’m not doing this because I’m a big Emerson fan – although I suppose I’ll have to download some of his stuff to the Kindle now – I’m doing this because my friend, Alicia (here’s her blog), tagged me in a Facebook post, which is our generation’s version of a dare. And I’m never one to let a good dare go unchallenged . . .

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