What If You Fly?

I've started a collection of inspirational quotes I find on Facebook. Lately the ones that have caught my attention relate to overcoming fear and stepping out in faith toward accomplishing my dreams.

IMG_0486As I've written before (for example, here), most of my life I've been afraid to try new things for fear of failing, and even more, fear of looking foolish in front of other people. I've missed so many opportunities because of fear.

IMG_0485The older I've gotten, though, the more I've realized life is too short to sit on the sidelines, watching everybody else have all the fun. So although I'm still afraid a lot of the time, I've been trying to drag myself out of my comfort zone, swallow hard, and try things instead of just dreaming. Like the podcast I launched earlier this month.

IMG_0506It sort of comes down to this question: Am I more afraid of failing, or more afraid of reaching the end of my life, looking back, and saying, “If only . . .”?

IMG_0509For now, it's the latter.

It's still easy for me to think about the things that could go wrong, about the ways I could embarrass myself, especially when I choose to attempt something new in a public arena. But I'm trying to remind myself to focus on the positive–the wonderful things that could result, the joy I could experience (and maybe bring to other people).

IMG_0773Yes, when we dream big and step out in the direction of our dreams, failure is a possibility. But oh . . . what if we succeed?

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What about you? Is there something you've dreamed about but been afraid to try? What amazing things could happen if you try and succeed? What could I do to help you take a step toward giving it a shot?

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Greenville, Texas
I Was Just Thinking . . .
Legal Blog: Real Estate Law Blog
Twitter: @LauraMcMom

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**Honor and credit are due to the unknown artists created the beautiful graphics in this post. I only wish I could be that artistic.**

The Productive Woman 002 – The Big Picture: Priorities & Guiding Principles [podcast]

_podcastTemplateWhen people think about productivity, they often think about calendars and to-do lists and project management, and all of those things are a big part of what we will discuss in coming episodes. But there's a big difference between being busy and being productive. True productivity requires a purpose to guide the activity. In this episode we talk about a process for coming up with principles to guide our decisions in such a way that our activity is consistent with our true values.

A brief summary of the basic steps:

  1. Set aside a time when you can be quiet and undisturbed. Gather your calendar, your to-do lists, paper and pen, and your favorite beverage.
  2. List/describe the roles you play in life, and the relationships that are part of your life.
  3. Taking into account your personal values, prioritize these areas of your life. Don't forget to make your physical, mental, and emotional health a priority.
  4. For each role, answer this question: “What kind of ______ do I want to be?” For each relationship, ask yourself, “How do I want this person/these people to remember me when I'm gone?” Spend some time journaling your thoughts about what each role/relationship would look like if it was all you want it to be (your part, not theirs!).
  5. Honestly evaluate where you are today in each of these areas. Write it down.
  6. What will it take to get you from where you are to where you want to be? Write down two or three specific steps you could take in each area to move in the direction you want to go.

Tip of the Week: Back up your digital data.

For more info, check out this article from the University of Pittsburgh's IT Department on Backing Up Your Data

Tool of the Week: Some great options for online backup services.

Resources:

Next week's episode will be a discussion of my “Top Ten Tips for Managing Your Day,” and another upcoming episode will talk about setting achievable goals. If you have questions about either topic, please leave a voicemail message by clicking the pink tab at the right-hand side of my website, or email your questions or suggestions to feedback@theproductivewoman.com. You can also join the conversation at The Productive Woman's Facebook page.

I look forward to hearing from you, and welcome your comments, questions, and suggestions.

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Greenville, Texas
I Was Just Thinking . . .
Legal Blog: Real Estate Law Blog
Twitter: @LauraMcMom
Email me

Nerdy McNerdnik Goes to the Big City

I realized this week that I will never be sophisticated or cool.

Yes, I’m sure if you know me you are thinking, “No kidding.”

But after 15-plus years practicing law at a big-city law firm, I was still holding out hope. I mean, my colleagues and clients are a lot of well educated, smart, sophisticated, cool people, and I thought perhaps someday some of it would rub off on this small town girl.

But no.

This week I traveled to New York City to attend a charity function with clients. The gala (dress code “festive cocktail attire”–what in the world does that mean!?) took place in the Grand Ballroom of the venerable and historic Waldorf=Astoria Hotel on Park Avenue, so that’s where my firm’s travel person booked my room for the night (at the corporate discount rate, of course). Waldorf_Astoria_Hotel

I’ve traveled a fair amount since becoming a lawyer, and have had the privilege of staying in some beautiful hotels. I don’t really ever get used to it. I certainly don’t take it for granted. I do, however, try not to gawk or to act like the hick that I am.

But when I walked in to the Waldorf’s ornate, beautiful lobby, I started to cry. It took a few moments for me to compose myself enough to check in. It was more than the elegance, beauty, and imposing size of the place. I simply felt overwhelmed by the fact that this truck driver’s daughter was staying at this grand hotel where kings and presidents and notables from all over the world have stayed. I felt incredibly grateful for all God has done in my life from the time I was that little girl growing up in western Washington’s tiny logging towns. Main Lobby

Add to that my status as an Extreme History Nerd. I kept thinking, “I am walking through the very same lobby where world leaders and celebrities have walked, in a place where people have come to make history.” It almost made me feel giddy to imagine what it was like to be those people in that place. I wandered around enjoying the beauty and the atmosphere, watching people moving through the lobby, gathering in groups to talk, and I imagined their stories. I reveled in the displays, tucked into a corner of the immense lobby, of historic Waldorf furnishings, dishes, menus, and photos, chronicling the hotel’s front-and-center role in the city’s and world’s life. Sigh. (I’m thinking there will be a Waldorf-set scene, or a whole story, in a book I write someday.) waldorfastoria_v5_460x285

Anyway, I’ve accepted the fact that I’m too much of a nerd, and still too awed by places like the Waldorf=Astoria, to ever qualify as cool. But I’m okay with that. I’d rather be awed and grateful than sophisticated and complacent any day. It was a blessing to be part of that world for a day.

By the way, the charity that was benefitted by the gala I attended is Project Sunshine, a program that provides support and services for pediatric patients and their parents. A worthwhile cause if ever I’ve seen one. Check it out here, and consider getting involved. 

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Greenville, Texas
I Was Just Thinking . . .
Legal Blog: Real Estate Law Blog
Twitter: @LauraMcMom

Email me

Is It Ever Too Late?

I've had many conversations with women about the things they wish they had done. And often they lament the fact that it’s too late now.

But when is it really too late to start something you’ve always wanted to do?

Writer and speaker Michael Hyatt offers a response in his book, Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World. He asks these questions: When is the best time to plant a tree? Twenty years ago. When is the second best time to plant a tree? Today.

The same is true of our dreams. Maybe the best time to start was five or ten or twenty years ago, but the second best time to start is now. And really, as long as you’re still alive, it’s never too late to start.

I’ve written elsewhere about how my husband and I married at eighteen and had our first child when we were twenty. By the time I was thirty, we had three children, and I was pregnant with our fourth. I was busy homeschooling our children, teaching childbirth classes, and serving in music ministry with Mike at our church. In my mid-thirties I began thinking again about a longtime dream of going back to college (I had taken a few semesters of college classes in my early twenties). With my husband’s encouragement and support, I went back to school to get my bachelor of arts in political science. I still remember the day I walked across campus to attend my first classes. Looking at all those young people, I distinctly remember thinking, “What in the world am I doing here? I don’t belong. I’m too old to be a college student.” But with a pounding heart and shaking hands, I started anyway, and two years later (one month after the birth of our fifth child) I graduated from the University of Nebraska at Omaha. I might have been one of the oldest students graduating that day, but my degree was just as good as those earned by those youngsters–and my husband and children celebrated the milestone with me!

222659_1032295458668_2757_nAs if that wasn’t enough, a few weeks later, I moved with my family from Nebraska to New York, where I started law school at age 35. This was something I’d dreamed of as a teenager, but life intervened and the dream got put aside for decades. Interestingly, I wasn’t the oldest student in my class. One of my classmates was in his late forties! Maybe because I’d waited so long for this opportunity, maybe because I’d lived in the real world before getting there, but I felt like my age actually was an advantage, both in law school and when I started my legal career at age 38.

I could point to any number of people I know who’ve started something new and challenging “later” in life–like my friend who married the summer after she graduated from high school and then many years later went back to school after she’d raised her children. She recently earned her master’s degree with her adult children and their children there to cheer her on. And there's my amazing husband, who just earned his master's in mechanical engineering this spring and started a brand new career–at age 52!

My point, of course, is that it’s never too late to start. If there’s a dream you’ve discarded because you think you’ve missed your chance, please think again. Pull that dream out of the trash, brush it off, and think for moment: what’s one little step you could take today (or tomorrow) to move in the direction of that dream.

What about you? Is there a dream you’ve set aside that maybe deserves a chance? What small step could you take toward making that dream a reality? Perhaps just the small step of saying it out loud? Feel free to share it in the comments below.


**Housekeeping note: I published an “extra” post last Friday, but due to a technical glitch it didn't go out to my subscribers. Bad news, because it included a giveaway of four great novels. If you haven't seen that post, be sure to check it out here (AFTER you leave your comments on this post below) and get your chance to receive a free copy of one of the novels I wrote about.


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Greenville, Texas
I Was Just Thinking . . .
Legal Blog: Real Estate Law Blog
Twitter: @LauraMcMom
Email me

I’m Running Away From Home (and We Have a Winner!)

As this post goes live, I’m packed and ready to run away from home. This weekend I’ll be holed up at a Dallas hotel with a writer friend of mine. She and I were talking a few weeks ago, both of us lamenting how close we are to finishing our respective manuscripts, but our daily lives and writerly insecurities keep getting in the way of typing “The End.”

In The War of Art (a book I recommend highly for people who pursue creative endeavors of any kind), author Stephen Pressfield writes about “resistance” as a force everybody has to overcome when attempting to do anything that matters. He says that resistance increases as you near the end, and boy, has that been true for me!

The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles

So my friend and I decided to run away from home (together) and spend the weekend in a marathon writing/editing session. I don't like being away from home for the weekend, but I’m hoping this focused time will help me get over the hump so I can finish this project in time to meet my goal of sending it off by the end of the month to the agent who asked for it 8 months ago! If you think of it from time to time, I’d appreciate your prayers for a productive time of writing.

Before I disappear for the weekend, though, I wanted to fill you in on a few random things:

  1. The winner of Sharon Srock’s new release (see the post about it by clicking here) is … Zoe McCarthy! Sharon will be in touch with you to work out the arrangements for getting your copy to you.
  2. If you didn’t win this time, take heart. Come back on Tuesday, May 14, to read an inspiring guest post and sign up for a chance to win 16 great novels in CrossReads’s “Spring Cleaning Print Book Giveaway.” Don’t miss it!
  3. As a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, I'm honored to have the opportunity to guest post on the ACFW blog on Wednesday, May 15. I’ll be sharing my thoughts on the question of being “called” to write, and I’d love to have your feedback. Please stop by and check it out, then let me know what you think.
  4. I was surprised and honored to learn last week that Do No Harm was selected as the winner in the women’s fiction category of The Write Stuff, a fiction contest sponsored by the Connecticut Chapter of Romance Writers of America.This contest was particularly worthwhile because the judges gave really helpful, detailed feedback on my 30-page submission.
    Write Stuff list 2013-05-09

One last request: If you’re a pray-er, I’d appreciate prayers for my sons:

  • Benjamin (the newlywed) started Army bootcamp this week, so we'd welcome prayers for both him and his new bride back in San Diego.
  • Sam just finished his freshman year in college and is home for the summer, contemplating big changes for next year.
  • Matthew will be moving his wife and sons from Hawaii to Connecticut this fall as he starts his next post in the US Navy. His new assignment is a big opportunity and an exciting challenge for him, but the move means a huge change for his wife and boys.

So what about you? Are you battling resistance with respect to something you’re trying to accomplish? What do you do to overcome it?

See you next week!

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Greenville, Texas
I Was Just Thinking . . .
Legal Blog: Real Estate Law Blog
Twitter: @LauraMcMom
Email me