Saturday, January 30, 2016

Inspired Regardless of What Trials We Face

Valerie J. Steimle

Starting off the new year with a bang, we can motivate ourselves to keep our goals through out the year.  Some might use trials or difficult situations to tell themselves they cannot do it. They quit or just intend to do it later.... Enter inspiration. These two stories give us a surprising end.  One that most people would not expect. Because of the surprising end, we are inspired and motivated to keep our dreams alive.  We think to ourselves, if he can do it, so can I.  These are true stories and I love those kinds. There is always someone worse off than you and reading about them helps to make us better people.


Many years ago, Al Capone virtually owned Chicago. Capone wasn't famous for anything heroic. He was notorious for enmeshing the windy city in everything from bootlegged booze and prostitution to murder.
Capone had a lawyer nicknamed "Easy Eddie." He was Capone's lawyer for a good  reason. Eddie was very good! In fact, Eddie's skill at legal maneuvering kept Big Al out of jail for a long time..
To show his appreciation, Capone paid him very well. Not only was the money big, but Eddie got special dividends, as well. For instance, he and his family occupied a fenced-in mansion with live-in help and all of the conveniences of the day. The estate was so large that it filled an entire Chicago City block.
Eddie lived the high life of the Chicago mob and gave little consideration to the atrocity that went on around him.
Eddie did have one soft spot, however. He had a son that he loved dearly. Eddie saw to it that his young son had clothes, cars, and a good education. Nothing was withheld. Price was no object..
And, despite his involvement with organized crime, Eddie even tried to teach him right from wrong. Eddie wanted his son to be a better man than he was.
Yet, with all his wealth and influence, there were two things he couldn't give his son; he couldn't pass on a good name or a good example.
One day, Easy Eddie reached a difficult decision. Easy Eddie wanted to rectify wrongs he had done.
He decided he would go to the authorities and tell the truth about Al "Scarface" Capone, clean up his tarnished name, and offer his son some semblance of integrity. To do this, he would have to testify against The Mob, and he knew that the cost would be great. So, he testified.
Within the year, Easy Eddie's life ended in a blaze of gunfire on a lonely Chicago Street ... But in his eyes, he had given his son the greatest gift he had to offer, at the greatest price he could ever pay. Police removed from his pockets a rosary, a crucifix, a religious medallion, and a poem clipped from a magazine.
The poem read:
"The clock of life is wound but once, and no man has the power to tell just when the hands will stop, at late or early hour. Now is the only time you own. Live, love, toil with a will. Place no faith in time. For the clock may soon be still."

World War II produced many heroes. One such man was Lieutenant Commander Butch O'Hare.
He was a fighter pilot assigned to the aircraft carrier Lexington in the South Pacific.
One day his entire squadron was sent on a mission. After he was airborne, he looked at his fuel gauge and realized that someone had forgotten to top off his fuel tank.
He would not have enough fuel to complete his mission and get back to his ship.
His flight leader told him to return to the carrier. Reluctantly, he dropped out of formation and headed back to the fleet.
As he was returning to the mother ship, he saw something that turned his blood cold; a squadron of Japanese aircraft was speeding its way toward the American fleet.
The American fighters were gone on a sortie, and the fleet was all but defenseless. He couldn't reach his squadron and bring them back in time to save the fleet. Nor could he warn the fleet of the approaching danger. There was only one thing to do. He must somehow divert them from the fleet.
Laying aside all thoughts of personal safety, he dove into the formation of Japanese planes. Wing-mounted 50 caliber's blazed as he charged in, attacking one surprised enemy plane and then another. Butch wove in and out of the now broken formation and fired at as many planes as possible until all his ammunition was finally spent.
Undaunted, he continued the assault. He dove at the planes, trying to clip a wing or tail in hopes of damaging as many enemy planes as possible, rendering them unfit to fly.
Finally, the exasperated Japanese squadron took off in another direction
Deeply relieved, Butch O'Hare and his tattered fighter limped back to the carrier.
Upon arrival, he reported in and related the event surrounding his return. The film from the gun-camera mounted on his plane told the tale. It showed the extent of Butch's daring attempt to protect his fleet. He had, in fact, destroyed five enemy aircraft
This took place on February 20, 1942 , and for that action Butch became the Navy's first Ace of W.W.II, and the first Naval Aviator to win the Medal of Honor.
A year later Butch was killed in aerial combat at the age of 29. His home town would not allow the memory of this WW II hero to fade, and today, O'Hare Airport in Chicago is named in tribute to the courage of this great man.
So, the next time you find yourself at O'Hare International, give some thought to visiting Butch's memorial displaying his statue and his Medal of Honor. It's located between Terminals 1 and 2.
Butch O'Hare was "Easy Eddie's" son.
(Pretty cool, eh?)

So when we think our life is miserable and we have nothing to celebrate or be proud of, think of this story and you will  snap right into action.

Monday, January 25, 2016

How Do You Eat Your Elephant?

by Suzanne Warr

We're getting to that time of the year when the goals of New Years are starting to feel like the elephant you're supposed to eat, but you can't because who can realistically sit down and eat an elephant?  The fact that I love elephants aside--

>insert highly inspiring obligatory elephant pic<

--eating an elephant one bite at a time sounds easier than it often is.  Yes, you just need to break it down into, ahem, bite-sized pieces, but what if your mouth is already full?  And what if you're getting sick of elephant, and need to eat something else for awhile?

These might be the challenges that you--like I--are facing with your New Years Goals.  However, rather than abandon the goals with a grumble and a sigh, I believe this is the perfect time to fine-tune the plan, and give the goals the extra motivation that will see them become a solid part of our lives.  Here's my plan for how we can do that.

  • Step One: evaluate how you feel about the goal.  I'll use an example from my writing life.  I decided to accept a writing friend's challenge to make this the year I write 366k words.  Or, since it's a leap year, to average one thousand years per day.  For me, this has been a good goal and I'm pleased to say that so far I'm making my goal with a pretty deep cushion.  I've found that aiming to open up whatever project I'm working on--revising counts as writing but at a 50% exchange rate--every day except my day off, of Sunday, seems to keep me in the flow.  Several days I've only hit 500 words, or less, but I've had plenty of days that were upward of 5k, too.  So, this is working well for me and I want to keep this goal.
  • Step Two: evaluate what's getting in the way of the goal, or what needs to change.  While I'm ahead on my word count and loving this goal, I can see the need for adjustment if I want this goal to be something I can do all year.  For one thing, I need to take a deep breath sometimes and let a train wreck day go.  I also need to trust myself--and my 'banked' words--on those days when I can't seem to get more than a few words on paper.  And finally, I need to take a hard look at my other life priorities to make sure I'm not sacrificing things I value to the goal.
  • Step Three: adjust the other parameters of life, including lower priority goals, to help the pieces all fit together.  In my case, there were other goals I made that have been getting the squeeze.  Some I know will continue to suffer neglect.  But, there are others that need to be addressed in order for me to justify the writing time--essential to my goal--without my guilt getting in the way of my reaching that goal.  For example, I have fitness goals, and planned to add a (very basic) muscle-building routine to my daily walk.  Ask me how many times I've managed that goal, and the answer will be a big uno.  One time.  That's it.  Now, I could scrap the fitness plan, recognizing that I can't push on all fronts and sometimes prioritizing means giving things up.  But, I had good reasons for setting it in the first place.  So, instead, I've decided to shift some of my mother-daughter time with my lovely teen to fitness-together time, and adjust my day so she and I can do our exercises together.  She has fitness goals too, and because of her work with a physical therapist they're non-negotiable and high priority.  And we chat anyway, right?  I always take time for her.  So, what's needed is for me to push myself to interrupt whatever I'm doing and take time to do my own exercises while she's doing hers, instead of thinking I'll get to mine later.  A win-win, and something I plan to try.
  • Step Four: remind yourself why this goal matters.  My final suggestion is to take time now to put up some pics, or maybe a quote, reaffirming why this goal is worth fighting for.  You might decide to rotate the motivational note on a monthly basis, if you think that will help.  In the past I've had years where I typed out a bit of text onto an inspiring picture, and made that my background wallpaper on my computer.  It was a nice way to remind myself of what I was working on, each time I logged on.  There's no doubt it will be easier for you to press on if you've reminded yourself what the big win in the end will be, and now is the time to do that!
As I'm sure you've guessed by now, I'm kind of a big believer in goals.  I've had the opportunity to accomplish some pretty cool things in my life, and have also had the chance to reevaluate things I thought were a priority but have turned to be getting in the way of my real dreams, and that's happened because I set goals and then thought through why I wanted those things.  How would you like to change your life?  What would you wish, for yourself, and how can you go about eating that elephant?

Here's a final, huzzah and hurrah thought for you: if you pick only one thing that you'd like to do differently this year, and then do that with only 50% the output you want, you'll still be better off than you were when the year started.  Isn't that a comforting thought?  Here's to goals, and the dreams that fuel them!

Thursday, January 21, 2016

My Goals for 2016

It's the first month of a new year, so of course I'm jumping on the band wagon of making goals. 

Goals are best achieved if written down and someone besides yourself holds you accountable. If you post them publicly, then you have to be the kind of person who won't be ashamed if you don't meet them or are okay with not being perfect and failing occasionally along the road of life. I'm both so I'm not afraid to share. 

Now my writing goals: 

Jan: Finish writing Silver Star (my NaNo book from Nov)
Feb: Edit Guy on the Corner
Mar: Send GOC to betas and The Make-out Artist for psych eval
Apr: Edit GOC with beta feedback
May: Format GOC
Jun: Artist makes cover for GOC and recruit for social media release 
Jul: GOC cover reveal & give it to editor
Aug: GOC final edits & recruit for launch
Sep: Launch GOC
Oct: Promote GOC
Nov: NaNo
Dec: Continue writing NaNo book

I also set goals in 6 areas this year that I'm not sharing at this time. In case you want to make your own goals the categories are: 


Remember the key to success is to make them small, measurable, and attainable. 

What are your goals this year?

Monday, January 18, 2016

A New Year of Awesome!

Every so often, life throws you some changes, and you get the chance to decide what you want to do with them. I'm excited because this next year is giving me the opportunity to concentrate on my writing like never before. I've made up a schedule for myself which is actually super doable, and it will allow me to be more productive than ever. I've reached this point by looking at my life and deciding which things are of the most worth to me. Of course, family and God top the list. As I looked over all the rest, I evaluated what my rewards were for each thing that I do. Some of my business ventures weren't as financially beneficial as they once were, so I brought them to a close, which let me give more time to the areas that are making me more money and furthering my career. Some things we continue to do because they feed our souls. Whatever it is we choose to do, we should derive some benefit from it. If it doesn't make us happy or pay our bills, we really need to consider dropping it. Now that I've thinned out some things that weren't filling those needs and I have more time to spend doing the more important things, I'm feeling lighter and more positive. I'm super excited to see where this next year is going to take me. Question: What are some things bogging down your life that you could get rid of? And what are the things that bring you the most joy and fulfillment?

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Simplify - Or in Other Words, Learning to Say 'No'

I have this issue with always wanting to be involved with everything. Will you do a review? Sure. Will you beta read this book? Sure. Will you plan an entire writing workshop and then take on two more? Of course!

Sometime in November, I decided I couldn't do it anymore. My kids are growing up so fast, and I felt like I was missing out on them. My days and nights were filled with all kinds of extra things, and I realized that I do have the power to get rid of some of it.

There are events that come along with having a family of six active kids. Sports, ballet, scouts, and school concerts. Those are a given and something I wouldn't trade for anything. My writing brings in other events like writing conferences, launches, writing, and editing. Church brings our callings as well.

So what happens when those things overlap with the extra things you want to add on? Chaos. Complete and utter chaos.

Chaos is not why we're here on this earth. We're here so that we might have joy. We're here to do service for others and to teach our children to do the same. The last time I asked for a way to simplify my life, the Lord decided it was time to send our family off to Australia. No joke. I asked. He gave me that chance. And it changed me forever. In a way.

When I came back, I started adding more on again. I'm now the Chair Elect for LDStorymakers, the Literary Director for Eagle Mountain Arts Alliance, and I might just take on one more chair position—which will thankfully happen after I'm done with the Storymaker position.

Here's where you tell me that I'm not exactly simplifying my life. But that's where I'm going next. I had a few offers for a few different writing groups, and I was thrilled to be invited. But then I checked my schedule. And then I checked again. And there was just no way. I had to say no to both. Even though I know my writing could be helped this way, and I know I could help them as well, I had to say no. I just can't add more events to my packed life. 

For example, this last weekend I had a soccer game, basketball game, and then in one hour I had two basketball practices and two basketball games. All at once. With one car. My poor husband spent most of that hour driving and dropping off kids before he was able to catch the last ten minutes of our son's game. What would have happened if we'd had to add another event into that mess?

I'm pretty sure the universe would have exploded. 

So, for now, I'm going to take care of the pile of craziness I have on my hands and deal with it. Somehow I'm going to get through this basketball season and laugh. We've always made it happen. But this time, I'm going to do my best not to add more to my life so that I can enjoy my kids while they're still young. Feel free to ask me for help or advice. I'll help where I can. But if I do say no, I hope you understand that while I want to say yes to everything, I just can't do it right now.