Journeys Begin With a Single Step

 

It seems that I’ve spent my entire life wishing I was somewhere else, that I was on a journey to somewhere exotic and foreign. While I’ve traveled a bit and to incredible places, I’ve always come home to a seemingly ordinary life. I’ve read quotes recently that say something to the effect ‘create the life you don’t have to get away from’ and now I’m thinking:

Journeys aren’t all about going somewhere else.

However, journeys are about change.

“The journey of 1000 miles begin with one step.” Lao Tzu

Each of us is on a journey. Some are longer and some are shorter than others but they all have one thing in common: each one begins with that single step. The journey to a life you don’t have to get away from begins the same way.

I’ve also discovered that it is always something that starts that journey. A catalyst, if you will. Sometimes this beginning is simply the end of something else. Other times life leaves you no choice but to begin that journey again. When I am working with clients I sometimes call this ‘the full belly syndrome’.

I’m sure we’ve all been at a place when we’ve had enough. When life simply isn’t working and you need to find a different journey. It takes courage to change midstream, for us to overcome our fears for where the journey may take us. It takes courage to walk away from relationships that don’t work or a job that you hate. We want to know where things will go but life seldom gives us guarantees.

It’s all up to you.

You don’t have to know where you are going to take that first step. That step is the hardest one to take simply because it requires faith in yourself.

You always have a choice because nothing happens until you begin to move. It is much easier to keep moving than to start moving. It is not impossible.

Speed is irrelevant on your journey. Sometimes things move fast and sometimes things move slow but since it is your journey, it is generally timely. Besides, you can’t compare your journey to another person’s. You have no idea what has brought them to this place.

Every journey has a rest stop and that is okay. Sometimes we need to take a breather to gather the strength for the next leg of our journey. Rest can be a good thing.

Sometimes I feel as if I am always looking for the next big thing but I am beginning to realize that none of the side trips I take on my journey are wasted. Everything I do, see, or experience becomes part of my journey.

Beginning a new journey is exhilarating and, at times, downright scary.

Take a deep breath and make that first step.

I dare you!

Tips to Thrive During the #365 Project

#365 Project Difficulties

Why is it that every time I start an ambitious project with great excitement and enthusiasm, it doesn’t take long to slow down or even quit? Setting goals and keeping them is one of the most difficult things in my life, even ones that seem small. I’m sure I am not alone.

Normally, this post would be all of the pictures I’ve taken for my #365 Projects in the previous week. However, as you will see, there are fewer photos posted here.

Why?

I want to say ‘because’ and leave it at that. But that isn’t the answer. I don’t necessarily have one, at least not one that is good. I did manage to post a few photos this week but not every day. I’m not even sure this week counts because I took so few.

Do I begin again?

Is there a secret to completing a project like the #365 Project?

What can I do to achieve success?

The following are a few tips that I am going to use to thrive during my #365 Project:

Carry a camera everywhere and take it out of the bag. Although carrying my camera every day is something I’ve done since this project began, as you can see, that doesn’t mean I took it out of the bag. Thriving during this project means the camera has to come out and aimed, focused and the shot taken.

Post the photo as soon as you can after you press the shutter. If you are editing every photo, then this won’t happen, but my goal is to get in the habit of looking for photo opportunities not editing. Editing will come later. But for now, working on my #365 Project means taking the photo and posting it on Instagram is all one task, not two different tasks.

Look for the mundane. There is a little voice inside my head that says that my photos have to be about spectacular moments. If I believed that little voice, I wouldn’t take many pictures. Life is made up of many small moments, most of them quite ordinary, and all of them deserve to be recognized. So if that means pictures of my cat or my writing space, so be it. The magic is in the mundane.

Take pictures early in the day. I have found that if I wait to find an opportunity to shoot, I am more likely to either forget about it or make a choice to not take my camera out of the bag. I find that I am most creative earlier in the day and I am ready to be done by dinner time. Guilt is problematic when I am trying to relax, and I do feel guilty for not accomplishing the things I’ve set out to do. Completing the #365 Project early in the day means I don’t have to worry about it and I can relax.

Find a way to be accountable to someone. For me, I’ve decided to make this post each week which is my accountability. I didn’t think of accountability earlier in the week but, truly, sharing my creativity is important to me, and I will use that from now on.

Hopefully, if you are tackling bigger and longer projects, some of these hints will come in helpful. I know I need all the help I can get when I am looking at more ambitious projects. I am looking forward to sharing these small moments with you in the next week.

Here are the photo’s I managed to shoot and post in the last week:

 

Last Week’s #365 Project Post

Encountering Speed Bumps in Life

Speed BumpsHave you ever been driving through a parking lot and didn’t realize there were speed bumps in your path?

If you were lucky, the only thing that would happen is a scraping sound on the bottom of your car.

The same thing can happen in life too.

You will be going along and all of a sudden some kind of bump appears out of nowhere and you are getting banged up.

It’s a speed pump.

Life is bumpy. We never know what is lying ahead. I first spoke about speed bumps in this post.

How to handle the speed bumps in your life:

First, you have to see and accept that it is there. When you are driving this happens pretty automatically. In life, acceptance is often the first step in dealing with anything.

Next, you must slow down. There are consequences if you don’t. Scraping the bottom of your car as you cringe just knowing that you’ve damaged something when you go too fast over one. When a speed bump happens to you in life, slowing down is important too. If you go too fast, you can forget to feel which can lead to a damaging crash later.

Third, in slowing down for a speed pump, you must get your car all the way through before you can accelerate again. The same is true in real life. It takes time to deal with the event. Even though it can seem like you are on the road to recovery, derailment can still happen if you go too fast.

Finally, you are through and you begin to pick up speed. Life seems to happen a million miles an hour. Even though we would like it to slow down, as we settle into our new routine and life goes back to normal and the speed picks up.

We must make the conscious decision to take in the lessons learned in the speed bump. We must take the time to see and enjoy the life that we have before something happens and it changes.

Project 365: Days 5-11

Project 365 continues and I am already learning lessons. This week I’ve learned that it is okay to create opportunities and to take advantage of the ones that appear before me. The following pictures represent the opportunities that came my way this week:

Writing Shed in Snow
Project 365: Day 5
A Cold Winter's sunset
Project 365: Day 6
Old School Candlemaking
Project 365: Day 7
Project 365: Day 8
Project 365: Day 8
Coffee Shop Planning
Project 365: Day 9
Cousins!
365 Project: Day 10
Cousins!
365 Project: Day 10
Be The Light!
Project 365: Day 11

 

So far, I am enjoying this journey and I hope that you are too.

The 5 Stages of Change: Keys to Creating Change

time for a changeHave you ever wanted to make changes or begin a new habit only to give up before you even get started?

Or, told yourself you are lazy or worthless because you were unable to motivate yourself?

When looking at making a change in your life, you are neither lazy nor worthless.

 

 

For example, we are all told that we should move our bodies for 30-40 minutes every day. Walking in the morning or after dinner would fulfill this goal. Simple, right?

 

We all know how difficult this can be.

 

We know we “should” do something, and yet we stay sitting in front of the television mindlessly watching another boring show or with an electronic device perusing Facebook or playing a game, all the while beating ourselves up about not getting up and walking.

The truth is we simply aren’t ready to make the change.

The stage of change model is a transtheoretical model of change developed by James O. Procheska and Carlo DiClementa in 1977. This model states that there is a process to change that progresses through a series of stages.

Stages of Change

 

1. Precontemplation – In this stage, you aren’t ready to make any changes and may not even know that there is a problem requiring change.

2. Contemplation – Now, you realize there is a problem, and you may even know how to change, but you are still in the getting ready mode. In the contemplation stage, thoughts are often about the problem, and you are looking at solutions.

3. Preparation – At this moment, you are making plans to make the change. In some cases, you may even be taking small steps in preparation for making this change.

4. Action – Finally, you have implemented the plan you created during the preparation. This stage can last six months or more depending on the change you are working on, but this is the working stage.

5. Maintenance – During the maintenance stage, you’ve built the habit, and have little concern about not sticking with the change.

Let’s see how this would look in real life:

A woman in the pre-contemplation stage would go to the doctor with some minor health complaints. The recommendation is to begin an exercise regiment. This person may or may not be surprised at this information, and they either ignore the suggestion, or they accept the suggestion but do nothing about it.

As time goes on, she finds herself struggling to climb stairs and has less stamina than before. Remembering her doctor’s words, she begins to think about walking as her choice of exercise. However, she creates excuses to keep her from starting to exercise.

One day she spots her old walking shoes and decides that if she is ever going to make the change, she is going to have to prepare. She needs to replace her shoes because they are worn out and then begins making plans for when she will start.

Her thoughts may include the time of day, where she will walk and how she will manage this change in her life. She decides on a schedule that includes 20 minutes on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and she will walk first thing in the morning and has marked in on her calendar.

The night before her scheduled start date, she sets our her clothes and new shoes and sets her alarm to wake up earlier. In the morning, she rises and dresses in the clothing she prepared and ties her shoes on. Closing the door behind her, she heads out into the quiet early morning.

Over the next several months she works up to walking six days per week, gaining energy and building stamina. Looking forward to her walks and has begun to walk in races, even taking up hiking. Her life has become fulfilling.

Final Thoughts

Of course, the process of making changes or building habits in your life is seldom as straightforward. Speed bumps can and do appear often.

Give yourself some grace and accept that life happens. There is always tomorrow when you can begin again.

365 Project: Day’s 1-4

As if I need another project, I started the 365 Project Photo a Day this week. I would like to improve my photography and this seemed like a good idea.

However, I need accountability or this will end hardly before it begins as I tend to “forget” about things as soon as my life gets a little busy.

The cool thing about a 365 Photo Project is that you can begin whenever you want to.

Here is my first few day of pictures:

Day 1

365 Project: Day 1

 

Day 2

365 Project: Day 2

Day 3

365 Project: Day 3

Day 4

365 Project: Day 4
365 Project: Day 4

I had a lot of fun with thinking about the pictures I would take each day. The next year should be so much fun.

 

Five Lessons Learned in My First Two Years of Blogging

Happy Anniversary!

Each year, usually around my birthday, I like to look back over the previous year and reflect on the lessons I’ve learned. Recently I’ve passed a birthday, and the 2nd anniversary of my blog, and I’ve decided that it is time for my yearly look back.

The last year has been rough, possibly one of the roughest of my life. I survived and am beginning to thrive again. After all, that which does not kill us makes us stronger. While I may agree with the sentiment, I am not so fond of the trials.

 

I won’t bore you with a retelling of the trials, but I did want to look at some of the thoughts that have come to mind from the past two years of blogging.

Through all the ups and downs, I’ve managed to blog most weeks, keep up with my writing practice (sort of) and have even learned a thing or two.

Here are a few things I’ve learned during this creative journey I’ve been on for a while:

1. Blogging is hard. Writing every day is hard. Even when life is going okay, it is hard to show up day after day at your desk to get the work done.

2. When your tired, rest. Don’t quit. I’ve seen this saying all over social media lately, and I’ve taken it to heart. Even when things aren’t looking good, try giving yourself a break which can be a balm for the soul.

3. Creativity never runs out. Things may feel a little dry at times, but getting a new perspective on things can help breath new life into your work. Julia Cameron writes about artist dates, taking the time to recharge your creative juices by going to a bookstore or museum. I’ve found that rearranging my space can help get things moving again.

4. Though I control what goes onto my blog, I cannot control how it is received. As a person with control issues, this is a particularly challenging lesson to learn. I can’t seem to wrap my mind around the posts that do particularly well are often ones that didn’t seem all that wonderful to me.

And, finally:

5. This creative life is worth all the struggles. Even when things are rough, and my mind is blank, I know that this is temporary and I am right where I am supposed to be. I can’t imagine being anywhere else except right here.

It is good to take a look at the past, sometimes. Lessons are everywhere, and it’s good to learn them.

However, life goes on, and its time to take the lessons we learn and apply them to our future. Without that, we are stuck.

And, no one likes being stuck.

What would it take for you to get unstuck?

Is your life, creative or otherwise, moving forward the way you want?

What would you need to make that happen?