In my early twenties, I realized I wanted to be a writer. Not a writer who wrote just for the love of it. A writer — a bestselling author whose books inspire and stay with readers long after they put them down. And even though I’d been honest with myself and acknowledged my dream, I acted like someone who was ashamed of it. Who was I to want to be a writer? What did I have to say? And would people care or listen? That was the doubt speaking. And while I did write, I approached it half-heartedly, still believing that it was nothing but a silly dream. I suffered from the One Day Syndrome. “One day,” became my mantra. “One day I’ll make my dream come true.” [Read more…] about The ‘One Day’ Syndrome
Every day is an opportunity to become the best version of ourselves, to push yourself to go higher. If I’m at home in Toronto, that means getting out for a long run — as long as it’s not -20°C or colder, and I’m not fighting a cold. That means, on the days I don’t ‘feel like’ writing, I show up anyway and do the work. That means that if I’m the recipient of rudeness, intolerance or impatience, I act with love and acceptance towards that person and, still, wish them goodwill.
Every day — with grace, patience and courage — I push myself to go higher.
Don’t Let Fear Stop You
Last summer, I attended a weekly workout group called Move Strong Toronto. The Monday evening sessions began with a warm-up run, followed by a 45-minute bodyweight workout, then a post-workout run. Although I’m a runner, I have no core body strength to speak of, and zero flexibility. So, midway through the sessions, I wanted to cry. I couldn’t do it, couldn’t keep up. I’d failed.
Then one Monday last November, following my crazy morning routine at the time, I was out of bed that morning at 3:30, at my desk writing a few minutes later, then out the door for a run at 5:30. By 9:00, it was decided: I wasn’t going to the Move Strong Toronto workout that evening, which started at 18:45. As a morning person, I’ve always struggled with late-afternoon or evening exercise. Not being able to attend the session regularly either, due to my work schedule, I didn’t know the other participants and felt awkward around them. Why not just stay home and watch TV? The excuses not to go kept piling up.
Maybe it was all the noise the plumber made working to clear the kitchen sink’s blocked drain, but around 16:30 something snapped. I had to go. Why? Sometimes you know you must step out of your comfort zone to push yourself to go higher. For me, this was one of those times.
Arriving at RYU Apparel, Move Strong Toronto’s winter meet-up location, I was the oldest person in the room. As the workout began, it became oh so clear just how much I struggled. It was hard not to be intimidated by the younger, firmer, more flexible athletes in the room. They made it look so easy. I had to rest while everyone else continued, or when my arms and legs felt weak. And yet, when I didn’t think I could do it … I pushed on. There I was a beginner. But if I showed up and kept putting in the time, I’d get better.
That’s how you push yourself to go higher.
Let it be Your Mantra
I’m a writer. Maybe you’re a dancer, an entrepreneur, a social worker. It doesn’t matter. Push yourself to go higher is about being bold enough, daring enough, to do more and to be better. Every day. It gives us an opportunity to hone our skills and develop new ones.
More importantly, it allows us to not miss the present moment and become who we really are.
Do you push yourself to go higher? How has it changed your life? Click Reply or leave a comment in the section below. I’d love to hear from you.
I don’t believe in writer’s block. I think it’s a myth, something invented to stop us from creating, from pursuing our dreams. We say we’re waiting on inspiration to start, but we could be waiting a long time.
‘Inspiration’ comes the moment I sit down and touch my pen to the page, or as my fingers dance across the keyboard. I can say that because I wasn’t sure what I was going to write about this morning. Typing the first three words of this blog post, the idea came to write about writer’s block.
Not writing, or not feeling inspired to write, isn’t writer’s block. It’s fear. You’re afraid to begin, afraid that what you write isn’t good enough, afraid that you’re not good enough.
Don’t worry about how good you think the writing is or isn’t. If you do, next you’ll be worrying about how good or not good you think you are. Just write. Get the words down on the page. Do that, and you’ll feel the magic of creating, of feeling like you’re on the right path.
The best part is afterwards, when the writing is done and you have a story, a poem or an essay before you. Then comes the moment when you dig deep and review what you’ve written. Maybe it’s crap. It may be gold. But whatever it is, it’s time to tweak it, cut the fluff, make every sentence count. You begin to shape it into something beautiful that will resonate with others.
So, just write.
Don’t Wait for Inspiration
Start writing. Now! Write down the first thing that comes to mind. And the rest will flow.
With that very act, you just kicked writer’s block to the curb.
Do you wait for inspiration to write? How much could you accomplish if you showed up to write at the same time every day? Click Reply or leave a comment in the section below. I’d love to hear from you.
I don’t set an alarm. I don’t need to. I’m a light sleeper and wake up a couple of times during the night. But when my back starts to ache, when I’m just rolling from side to side, that’s when I know it’s time. It’s time to get to work. This is how I begin each day.
That’s sometime between 3:30 and 4:00 am. I don’t shower or brush my teeth. I put on my running gear (shorts and a T-shirt), prepare my Amino Energy drink, and sit down at my desk. Then I capture the moment — the sort of haggard, sleepy look — with the camera on my iPhone and post it to Instagram, and sometimes Twitter. Proof that I’m up writing. Proof that I’m sticking to my routine. Already, it’s taken fifteen minutes before my pen finally touches the page.
How I Begin
I take my latest notebook (I try not to use the same one twice, so I have a diverse collection) and begin with my Morning Pages. Afterwards, I start the first draft of a blog post. By this point, I’ve been up for an hour and a half to two hours. The blog post isn’t done, but it’s time to get out for a run. I run under the veil of darkness, and when I see another runner it does feel like two ships passing in the night. The cool, crisp morning air fills my lungs and, running, I’ve gone into ‘the zone.’ I quiet my mind. I try to hear life speaking to me. Now I’m ready to take on whatever the day throws at me.
Back home, I peel off my sweaty running gear, throw on one of the ratty, fraying yet comfy ringer T-shirts I bought from Old Navy ten years ago and just can’t throw away, and finish the blog post. It’s a draft. Is it any good? Will people find value in it? I don’t know. I’ll come back to it in a few days to tweak it, rewrite it … maybe even chuck it out and start again. All that matters is that I’ve written something without letting procrastination have dominion over me.
Keep it Going
Even though I’m a morning person, getting up early every day isn’t easy. Some mornings, my energy dips low around 8:00 am. As a result, I crawl back into bed for forty-five minutes to an hour. I don’t sleep. I just lay there, let my body rest. Afterwards, I get up, shower, have breakfast, and park myself at my desk. I work on my primary writing project, which is either writing the first draft of a book or rewriting one. When I’m just staring at the spines of the dictionaries and thesauruses on my desk, I know I’m no longer being productive. The writing day is over, usually around 1:30 pm. I step out of my writing world and into another.
I don’t worry any more about how many words I’ve written, how many pages I produced, or how good the writing may or may not be. I’ve shown up and done the work. That’s what counts for me.
This is how I begin. This is how I make it over.
How do you begin each day? At what point do you know that you’re no longer being productive and must step away from the work? Hit Reply or leave a comment in the section below. I’d love to hear from you.
Sometimes in life there are things beyond your control. You have to learn to roll with the punches. And that’s not always easy.
I know. I’m in a kind of precarious situation at the moment when it comes to my health. I’ve been in my doctor’s office three times since 6 August — first to discuss the symptoms that presented, then to follow up on each round of testing and decide the next course of action. There’s still no ‘clear’ indication of what’s happening or why. So, I wait. Wait for the next test, scheduled for next week, and then I’ll wait for those results. Waiting is the worst because, when I’m stuck inside my head, I imagine the worst of all scenarios. What if it’s this? What if it’s that? How will I react to whatever it is? Because maybe, after all is said and done, it’ll be nothing.
Still, I want to know what I’m dealing with, no matter what it is. The first diagnosis and course of treatment seemed to ‘solve’ one issue, then unearth another. What I love about technology is how it’s made accessing my healthcare reports easier. Through the Patient Portal, I can see when my results come in and my doctor’s instructions, like File or Contact Patient. I made the mistake on the weekend of checking to see if the latest round of test results were in. They were, but my doctor was on vacation, so I didn’t know if there was an ‘urgency’ — like the last time — for us to discuss them.
Returning from my doctor’s appointment yesterday, I know that it’s all beyond my control. Knowing that doesn’t stop me from brooding over what’s happening. I try to stay focused, but I know my productivity has taken a hit. Despite everything that’s happening, I’m trying to roll with the punches … take it all day by day.
But there’s a lesson in every situation. My takeaway is this: be sure that, wherever we are on our life journey, that we’re doing what we love. Now is the time to do it, because if we keep putting it off, we’ll never achieve the thing we feel we must do. We’ll never — and I love how Oprah Winfrey puts it — “[…] fulfill the highest, truest expression of ourselves as human beings.”1
Now is the Time
Yes, now is the time, if you haven’t already, to strike out. Don’t wait until tomorrow to start training for that half-marathon. Don’t wait until you retire to write the book you’ve always felt was within you. Don’t wait until the beginning of the month to start that diet you’ve been talking about since 2016. Whatever you want to do, whatever you feel you can do … begin it. Now.
Let me give you an example of what can happen if you decide to wait. My father worked hard to provide for his family. It wasn’t until I was an adult, living on my own, that I understood the cost of raising a family, of living in this world (and that money didn’t grow on trees). We weren’t rich, we weren’t poor, but we never wanted for anything. We had the opportunity to travel — not extensively or luxuriously — but enough to not feel sheltered or uncultured. My father loved to travel and play golf. As his retirement neared, he said that travelling and playing golf would fill his days. A year and a half into his retirement (he was fifty-five when he retired), he was diagnosed with stage 3 pancreatic cancer and given about six months to live. He fought, fought hard to live … to travel, play golf, and do what he loved. My father passed away at age fifty-eight, eighteen months after his diagnosis.
Strike Out Now
Yes, strike out now … just because you can, and that can yield fantastic results. Let me give you an example. At the beginning of 2018, I didn’t make any resolutions. I haven’t done that for over a decade. On 1 January, I woke up sick — sore throat, nasal congestion, and upset stomach. The cold lasted for about two weeks. Tired, feeling crappy and unusually irritable, I decided on 17 January that I was done with alcohol. No more drinking (I didn’t drink much, anyway). No more cooking with alcohol. My goal was to quit cold turkey. And I’ve been sober for more than 223 days. Together with running and paying closer attention to what I eat, I’ve lost twenty pounds. My energy level is up. I’m sleeping better. But I didn’t wait for the beginning of the next week or month to go sober. I started that day, a Wednesday, and didn’t look back.
Yes, I can’t stress it enough. Now is the time to begin. Do it. Now!