5 a.m. What?

5 a.m. Some people view that time….literally, because that’s when they wake up or are already awake. Most people I know….see 5 a.m. and cringe!

No one wants to wake at 5 a.m!

No one wants to wake at 5 a.m!

I used to think I was not a morning person. But knew I was definitely not a night owl. I liked to say I was an afternoon person….whatever that means.

Anyway, the past several days my husband and I have been attempting to create the habit of waking up at 5 a.m. I mentioned in a previous post (Purposeful, Intentional, Productive) that I had spent the last week of NaNoWriMo getting up that early. It’s easier to rise when you have a very specific goal in the morning. Also, December being a hectic, holiday-filled month, getting up that early was sporadic at best. We have progressed to rising earlier than 5:30, so still in the middle of transitioning into the habit of a 5 a.m. rise and shine. But we’re getting there!

Why?? Why are we attempting something so crazy, when we don’t have to? ….you may ask.

Because all the people we want to be like… The leaders. The achievers. The people who make a big impact on the world around them…. All those people we look up to, and want to be like, were self-disciplined enough to be early risers. At 5 a.m. you don’t have the interruptions that you have the rest of the day. That first hour in the day, you can do whatever you like. Every day. Consistently. Which in turn, enables you to achieve your dreams!

What habits help you to achieve your dreams? Are your dreams important enough to you, to alter your lifestyle?

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Is Your’s a Wonderful Life?

This Christmas we started a new tradition–watching the movie It’s a Wonderful Life. A classic.

I cried throughout. Despite the positive title, it revolves around situations, people, and events that keep George Bailey from the life he’s always dreamed of. And to top it off, a seemingly impossible crisis finds George a very desperate man.

Many people have been there, or will be some day. What makes life worth living? And how can we follow our dreams?

Here are two key factors:  God and being intentional.

I believe God makes life worth living because he gives me unconditional love, forgiveness, true freedom, purpose, and a hope for the future. And in turn, I can share those with others. Do we really have those things without God?

We can’t always plan how our lives are going to go. Look at George Bailey:  Nothing seemed to be turning out the way he wished, but he was a happy man in the end. At the same time, the dreams we have for our lives won’t happen unless we are intentional with how we live. For example, say you want to be a famous painter, but you spend every spare minute watching TV. A few years later, those hours watching TV haven’t brought you a single step closer to being that famous painter. (You might be able to tell I’ve been reading Quitter, by Jon Acuff)

So. New Year’s Day, I will be working my way through Michael Hyatt‘s Creating Your Personal Life Plan. That is my first step toward being intentional with my life.

What’s your plan for New Year’s Day….or your life?

Purposeful, Intentional, Productive

Okay, wow.

I did it! I reached over 50,000 words in the month of November. For those of you wondering what I’m talking about, it’s NaNoWriMo.

NaNoWriMo Winner 2012-180x180

The month was a crazy one:  Moving everything we own one weekend, working on a church project every night another week, and of course, the Thanksgiving holiday with family. On top of having a full-time job. I spent the last week getting up at 5:00 a.m. to catch up on my word count. And strangely enough, it turned me into a morning person. Which I now love!

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to write about this last Thursday–I was sick for an entire week. Which brings me closer to the point of this post…

After training for and running a marathon (see Here We Go Again… and Good vs. Crappy Runs and My First Marathon:  The Wonderful in the Horrible), after trudging through NaNoWriMo (see NaNoWriMo!!!!!!!!!!!!), and after a week of being sick, I decided to take an evening “off” from everything by watching TV and surfing the net. Of course, I did a few productive things like eat supper, play with the dog, and put laundry away/organize my closet (it’s still a little crazy after moving). I expected to feel relaxed.

Nope.

I felt like the evening was a complete waste. And I was frustrated because I had no idea why. Well….. Having spent every spare minute in the last six months working productively and intentionally toward huge goals, I have reprogrammed myself. Just like a person can “become” a morning person (see Michael Hyatt‘s post, How to Become a Morning Person), a person can become other things. I am becoming purposeful, intentional, and productive.

So now I’m struggling with conflicting feelings about the “new me”. I’m excited because being purposeful, intentional, and productive will propel me toward my future goals, life dreams, and crossing things off my bucket list. But I’m also a little saddened because I wonder if I will never feel relaxed again. But my husband reminded me, relaxation could just be redefined.

All in all, even if I have lost the ability to feel relaxed doing “nothing”, I am beyond excited at the future accomplishments and realization of dreams before me!

NaNoWriMo!!!!!!!!!!!!

It is officially the first day of NaNoWriMo 2012!!

Thus I wrote this post the night before, so all I had to do was hit the “Publish” button tonight. (I should have prepared all my November posts pre-nano…oh well)

A few of you might remember I attempted NaNoWriMo last year. I was not a winner–I reached somewhere between 20,000 and 30,000 words before quitting. For those of you who don’t know, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. The goal is to churn out 50,000 words before the clock strikes midnight November 30th. Fortunately the goal is not quality. Only quantity. Which makes good practice for those of us who have a hard time moving on when our draft doesn’t sound quite right. And that’s the main reason I attempted last year–practice in imperfection. But this year my mindset is completely different!

I finally believe in myself as a writer. I believe God wants me to publish books. So my goal this year is to have at least 50,000 words of a first draft by the end of November!

Just as there was a difference between the first time I started training for a marathon (and didn’t follow through) and the second time (I reached my goal!), there is a definite difference between how I started NaNoWriMo last year, and now. I even came up with a motivational tool:  money in an envelope….enough to cover a Christian Writer’s Guild membership, a NaNoWriMo t-shirt, and a celebratory dinner. If I reach 50,000 words by the end of the month, I get my reward! If I don’t, my husband gets to blow the money. And yes, he did promise not to sabotage my goal!

Wish me luck and hold me to it! And good luck, fellow NaNoWriMo’ers!

Learning Lessons Through Pet Peeves

A couple Sundays ago our pastor had everyone fill out a form. One question was, “What is your pet peeve?” At the time, I couldn’t come up with anything, so I left it blank.

The rest of the week I was reminded, daily, what my pet peeve is:  people not using their turn signal. Maybe you think it’s silly. But it drives me nuts. Too many times I’ve had to slam on my brakes or jump out of the way (while running) because I didn’t know the vehicle would be turning. What seems even more ridiculous to me is when a driver gets mad that I’m in their way, but they have given no indication they plan to change direction. Anyway, enough venting. Time to hit the real reason I’m writing this post.

One of the days I got cut off without warning, the thought popped into my head:  Laura, you don’t know why they did that. Um, okay. Then all the possibilities flooded my mind. Yeah, some people are just rude or don’t care. But what about the person who just received devastating news? What about the person who’s life is in shambles? What about the person who’s hurrying to the emergency room? What about the person who’s trying to make it to an injured or dying friend or family member? What about the person contemplating taking their own life? What about the person who’s just plain miserable? Those people…those people are less aware of their surroundings.

Then I thought about the Sunday after, when pastor shared a list of people’s pet peeves. Two of them stuck in my mind:  when people don’t say hi or when people don’t make eye contact. Most of my life I didn’t do either of those. It wasn’t because I didn’t care about others or thought it was okay to be rude. It was because I believed I was worthless. I was not worthy of others noticing me. I was not good enough for someone to want me as a friend. Those beliefs kept me from interacting.

When I was able to piece together the negative cycle my actions and others’ perceptions created, I realized how devastating our pet peeves can be. How devastating my pet peeves can be.

Since then, I have worked to alter my attitude on the road. I have hung farther behind the car in front of me, to let others in as we pass construction. And I noticed something strange. Even though I opened up an easy opportunity, cars still passed. And because of the construction, I would catch up to them while they’re trying to cut in. It reminded me that sometimes we are so focused on where we think we should be or want to be, we miss the simple opportunities God holds out for us. Don’t miss those opportunities.

How do you view the world?

The Word Is: Wait.

Furniture is Overrated

When we first moved into our apartment, we figured it would be about a month before we moved the rest of our stuff over from storage. As I mentioned in a previous post, we’re using a couple camping chairs, sleeping bags, and a cooler as a coffee table.

Unfortunately, we had to use the money we saved up, to pay for car repairs. Then, we received a “house-warming” monetary gift that would cover moving expenses–Thank you!! Time-wise, moving didn’t work for another month. We enjoy camping….but our backs are starting to complain after sleeping on the floor for two months. So we were really looking forward to getting our stuff this weekend or the next! But. It’s not going to happen.

Something has blocked every effort we have made, every option we have considered. For some reason it feels like God doesn’t want us to get our stuff yet. It feels weird to write that thought out, for everyone to read. It doesn’t seem to make sense that God would care about post-poning our move date.

But for some reason he does. There’s just no other way to explain it.

I was disappointed at first. But realizing something about this has to do with God, makes me okay with it.

What do you do, or how do you feel when something seems unexplainably blocked in your life?