Thursday, November 6, 2008

Tumblers Shifting, to Unlock Life's Safe

About... Well, let's see. Oh I know! It was in the spring of 2004 I started a book called Wildflower, and I made a book jacket for the book I had not yet written.

I had done this before, actually. And I always got a kick out of it when my sons would show my "book" to their friends. I would always come in and interject, "It's not a real book yet! This is a motivational tool...! See, open it up and you'll see it's about something else."

The boy would open the book and see that it was an out of date dictionary or something like that. I had simply printed out what would be a cool book jacket and glued it to the paperback. Like I said, it was a motivational tool. I would set it in front of my computer as I wrote.

The idea to "make" my book (with a new cover) was not my idea. I read somewhere that the visual of seeing your name in print is very powerful.

If you can see it, it will happen.

Today, I looked at the clock at 4:48 am, a whole 12 minutes before my favorite radio show clicks on my alarm. I was already pouring my coffee by the time I heard their chipper morning voices at 5:am. Since then I have been working on the cover for my book, which is soon to be on

It has an ISBN and an EAN-13 and everything... Want to know them?

ISBN: 1440459576
EAN-13: 9781440459573

Yeah, probably not much you are going to be able to do with that information. I'm just bragging. Cut me some slack! ;)

See, an ISBN is an industry standard book number that can be referenced anywhere. The EAN-13 is another industry standard number which is tied to the barcode on the back of the books you buy. The EAN references information necessary when the book is purchased at a bookstore. (Like current price, for instance.)

What does this mean? It means I'm officially a "real" writer.

Oh, sure, I always have been a writer... It's pretty much the only thing I have ever "always" done, and more than anything else, it's what I make money doing now. But isn't it interesting how we assign meaning to things, based on our belief system? I have always been a writer, but now that my book will be available (ahem... are you listening??) on and Barnes & Noble (cue the oohs and aahs), I feel like a "real" writer. Like I've arrived.

Or, more specifically, I am arriving.

I am thinking book signings, book donations to schools, and then there is my ultimate "dream"... Reading to kids. That is what I have always wanted to do. Get paid for reading (ideally my own books!) to kids. I love that stuff.

It's not like I haven't sold books before. I've sold a bunch, actually. But to walk into a store and see my book on the shelf? That's a whole new experience. And hey... I'm ready for that!

Here's the really wild thing. (Are you ready?)

If you had asked me a week ago where my life was headed, I would not have known what to say. I can tell you what I would have thought, though...

Well, let's see... I need a steady income, and quick. As much as I love to write, it's not getting all the bills paid. Oh my gosh, this house... What a mess! What am I going to do with it?? And I am so stressed out. I just can't think about what I need to get done. Wait... Is tomorrow Halloween?

That is exactly what I was thinking a week ago. (And then some!) Today I am waiting to hear back on a paycheck job that pays great, doing something I would love that is super easy for me and I am perfectly qualified for, and I'm the #1 candidate; I have a sparkling new ISBN and EAN for a book I wrote over a year ago; I'm designing my own book cover for my first "real" published book ("my own" because I can and want to, not because I have no choice); and I know that my house is going to get fixed, my kids are feeling strong and happy, my love live is on the road to recovery, and I have a perfectly bright future ahead of me.

So, what has changed since last week? Not much.

No, I'm not being sarcastic! I'm serious. Not much has changed.

(And yet, everything is different.)

The thing that changed is my intent. I took a look at my wants and desires.

I read that it doesn't matter that you don't know how to get what you want. It doesn't matter why you might be afraid to get what you want. (Sound crazy? Imagine this: If I get a job, how will I be around to get my house fixed? ...If I publish a book, what if it doesn't sell? ...If I fix my relationship, will I lose my freedom and independence? ...If I become wealthy, how will I know people like me for me? ...If I tell him I love him, what if I scare him off? ...If I can take care of my own life, does that mean no one will show their love for me by trying to take care of me? Being afraid to get what you want doesn't sound so crazy now, does it?)

I read that the only thing that really initially matters is that we want.

For so long, most of us have been disappointed with life. Let down. When we were kids we asked for things and our parents told us we were anywhere from selfish to want something, to just unrealistic. We grew up and wanted to do something interesting with our lives, and we heard "Oh, you are such a dreamer! Do something practical with your life or you will starve." When we get a job, we ask for a raise. When we have a friend we ask for a wing-man or -woman. When we have a spouse we ask for more sex. (Or different sex!) When we are parents we ask for peace and quiet. Is it any wonder that most of us have stopped asking for what we want?

In many cases, we have even stopped wanting, so we won't feel bad about feeling like we can't ask, because we think we won't receive. But asking for something and not getting it in that specific situation is not the same as asking yourself what you want for your life.

We don't know what we want anymore. We are out of practice with how to want. We don't know what we want anymore.

I can hear some of you thinking as I type it: "I'm not an idiot. Of course I know what I want." Well, then, why have I had such a hard time going for it? Well, lots of reasons. Fear, mainly.

Then there are others of you who are thinking: "You are right. My hopes and dreams are wrapped up in my children" or " my job." or " survival. I don't even know what I want anymore."

(See I was right.)

Before you can get what you really want, first you need to know what you want. Once you know what you want, you can see your life that way. Think of it as fantasy, if you want. Once you see and feel that fantasy, the "how" finds a way.

Now I have seen it. I have seen what I want, I have seen what my life can be, and I have seen the first step to get there. And I have to say I am excited.

(By the way, the whole path isn't important! Just the first step. Makes it easier, doesn't it?)

Here's what happened. I read that the first thing is to write down a list of 101 things I want. To some, that sounds easy, to some that sounds challenging. I can tell you that I did it fairly quickly. It took me a few hours. (Fortunately I was stuck somewhere, so I had the spare time.)

I found that in my case, there were three phases to my list. First came the typical things I usually think about, when I think about "what I want". To have a job I love making a great living. For my home to be fixed. For my kids to feel comfortable with the changes they are going through. To have a loving romantic relationship.

The second phase was when the list began to change into a list of dream stuff. Things that just came to mind if I could have whatever, in any and every way. This part was actually easy, because it was mostly trivial stuff. I didn't feel restrictions on my wants anymore, so I just put the things that I want. To have a ranch with horses. To have a housekeeper. To have a PT Cruizer. To take a vacation twice a year. You know, fantasy stuff in a cool life.

The third phase was really exciting, not to mention unexpected. Looking back, it seems like I had begun to make decisions. The whole list was of things I wanted, but this last phase was of things that really really would make my life complete. I later realized that of the whole list, it was the stuff in here that were the things I really want in my life the most. I didn't even notice that I began starting the sentences with "I want..." I want to make a lifelong impact of parents and kids. I want to see smiling faces when I read my books to kids. I want my kids to feel safe and secure. I want to provide a financial future for some loved ones. I want a loved one to have a job that pays well and helps me. I want to provide once-in-a-lifetime experiences for my kids and spouse. I want to travel frequently with the one I love. I wasn't listing things anymore. I had begun to make decisions. My perspective shifted from listing the things I want to listing that I want the things. (If that makes sense.) It was a powerful experience...

In the book that I read, which said to do this, it said to make the last want, Number 101, the biggie. Make it one with no limitations whatsoever. No limits of time, space, gravity, money, or any other limits you could imagine. This is a special want. (I'll tell you why it's special another time, but I will tell you that in my case, my Number 101 summed up my entire list. I don't know what your Number 101 will be, or if it will sum up your list, but it is more special that then rest on your list, and I will tell you why another time.)

After I completed my list, I reviewed my list of wants, and I was pleased.

Incidentally... Making a list of things you want is not selfish. Chances are things you want aren't only for you. Not many of us only want things that are good for only us. Another beauty of this list is that we can list so MANY things that there are more than enough wants to satisfy you and your loved ones. I have things on my list like building a strong investment portfolio for my kids, as well as some other people who are important to me. (People who probably wouldn't expect it.) Other things on my list are for certain family members to become more healthy. Other wants are for loved ones to get better jobs. One want is for a troubled friend, wanting her to find love. Another is wanting a different troubled friend to live life more carefully.

So now I ask... Is making a list of wants selfish? What if I told you that if you make a list of 101 very specific wants that you have, wants for yourself and others, many or most of your wants can come true?

If you want your child to find a spouse that loves him for who he is, one who take good care of him as his wife, and you know that you could have that by simply making a list of 101 wants, then why not? Taking one day, and spending each spare moment, and maybe your lunch break, writing your list of 101 wants, could very well change your life.

It certainly won't make it worse.

When I was done reviewing my list, I noticed something else. What would have otherwise seemed like wants that were scattered, were actually very focused. The things that will bring more joy into my life could be supported by securing other wants, too. So I can see here that the key is not to just think about the things that make you happy (although that is a great thing to do), but the key is to go after what you want.

Here's what I mean about that...

I've had some great "payroll" jobs, but ultimately, I have been saying I really just wish someone would come to me and say "I want to pay you to do what you are good at, and love to do. Just keep doing what you love, and we'll pay you what it's worth, and it happens to be a lot."

I mentioned I am up for a great "payroll" job, and my hope is that they will see that I'm as qualified for it as I already know I am. (Although I might not mention how easy it is for me, or they might consider lowering the pay scale!) But remember how I started this blog?

My book.

Something on my list is that I want to build a couple of investment portfolios for some loved ones.

I also want certain other loved ones to have jobs they love, and get paid well.

I want to have a lot of family around me at the holidays.

I want to help a lot of people, to make an impact which would affect them positively throughout their lifespan.

I want certain family members to realize their impact on others.

I want a certain type of car (no, it's not a luxury car!), horses, and frequent travel.

There are a lot of other things, too (there were 101, remember?) but something I saw was that when I get what I ultimately want, the other things which would bring me joy are natural by-products. (And when you review your list, it all comes into focus!)

Let's say that my book is published, and let's imagine that it sells well. Extrapolate that out, and let's say I write a few more which also sell well.

Now take a look at the list above. Now the stuff ties together, doesn't it?

And now you can see what I see...

I see myself reading my books to kids who don't know who the heck I am, but love my story. I see the looks on their faces, their reactions, and I feel the feeling I have, knowing that their giggles are because of something I wrote. When they say "Wait! Go back!" it's because they want another look at the drawing that I did. And at the end of the story, they have learned something that will help them, their parents have a new way to handle a problem that was confusing before, and the kids can't wait to read the book (or have it read to them) once more. And this is what I get paid to do.

And that, my friend, is my reward for getting what I want.

(Well, maybe there are a few other rewards as well.)

Here's more beauty in all of this. When I get what I want, I can give to those I love.

I give my sons a ranch and horses to ride. I give someone I love a job as my manager. I give my father a daughter he is proud enough to call his daughter. I give my mother a reason to make a positive impact in her life. I give my ex-husband the comfort of knowing that I am ok. I give my sons the comfort of a mom who makes a great living, and still able to pick them up from school. I give a financial foundation to some loved ones who might not have another option. And that's only the beginning.

What do you want? Do you have bills to pay? Do you have dreams that you pretend don't exist? Do you want to learn a new language, do you want a different home, do you want a new vacation spot? Do you want to volunteer more? Donate more? Do you have family struggling? Do you have kids who hate to see you trudge through your day and life? Who can you give to if you get what you want? Have you really thought about it?

Make your list. You don't have to share it with anyone... (I know I was guarded as I made mine!) It's important that you not change your answers for fear that someone may see it and either not like it or ridicule you. Put it in a password protected word document if you are embarrassed at the idea of others knowing your deepest wants. The best and most accurate way to make this list is to not put a lot of thought into each of your responses. If something like "I want to make $500,000 next year" comes to mind, don't stop yourself, thinking That's unrealistic! Why did I think that? I'll just put $100,000. That's a lot more reasonable! Go ahead and write down what comes to mind.

The list is for 101 things you want. Not 100 and not 102 things. One hundred and one.

When you write, be conscious of what you are saying. "I would like a new job" doesn't cut the mustard. You either want it or you don't. You aren't making a commitment, you aren't quitting your job by making the statement, and you wont get fired for saying it and wanting a new job doesn't make you a bad person. "I want a new job."

Same goes for "I wish I had..." and "I hope to..." and anything else besides "I want". To shorten the writing, you can start " have..." or "...for my kids..." or whatever. But if the sentence can't start with "I want" then reword it.

Another note: Be specific! If you say "I want to get a call to talk about money" you might get a phonecall to talk about someone wanting money from you! Specifically, you want someone to call you to talk about giving you some money. (Now, the question is, when do you want them to call?!) If you say you want to be surrounded by people on your birthday, you might want to say you want to be surrounded by friends on your birthday! If you get picked up for Jaywalking, and spend your birthday in a county cell, you are still surrounded by people, right?

All I know is that there are so many things that I have wanted in my life, but I was afraid to let myself want them.

I was afraid that if I wanted something big, I would pin myself down, into being forced to figure out how to get it, when I already knew that I had no clue of how to get it in the first place. If I knew, I would have it already! I was afraid to want something because people told me that certain things were not likely to happen. I didn't go to college for art because my father told me I would starve. So I went for something "practical", was bored, and didn't graduate. I was afraid to want because I have already had a blessed life. Who am I to want more? So many people have so little... But not wanting doesn't help me to help others get more, or help them help themselves, does it? I was afraid

And the first thing I had to overcome was to realize that it is possible to want. The second thing to overcome was my anxiousness about wanting things for my life, including not knowing how to get what I want. What good is wanting something if you don't know how to get it, right? Wrong.

The conundrum is that the path doesn't appear until you can allow yourself to truly want. Don't even think about the how until you get past the barrier of being OK with wanting what you want. Once you can say, to yourself, I WANT THIS. PERIOD. Then the way will come. It's when an idea suddenly comes to you, or you meet someone who "happens" to have a contact that would be perfect for you, or you stumble across a book in a bookstore that you didn't know existed, but has the info you knew you needed. One you say, "Ok, I want this. I don't know how I'll do it, but I want it. Period.", this is when (and why) things "fall into place". This is when things seem to magically work themselves out. You decide you want a different job. Period. And somehow you meet someone socially who says, "Boy, if you weren't already working, I would hire you!"

The way surfaces once you give yourself permission to simply want something. It's not the commitment to "go for it", not even the decision to have it... Quite simply to decide that yes, you want that. Once the want is there, the rest will appear. Like magic. (Quite literally, believe it or not.)

I have seen my future. I won't share it here, because it's not important to me that I do that. But I can tell you this: I have seen with full clarity the direction of my life.

  • It starts with the list: 101 things that start out "I want...".

  • Next, review the list. See the common themes and threads. See where if you get X on your list, then Y and Z will naturally occur.

  • Last, look at Number 101 on the list. Then close your eyes and imagine your day in great detail. What your new life looks like. Feels like. Smells and sounds like. This is what your life will be like.

The "how" will appear, in the way of feelings, thoughts, ideas, excitement, and new things in your life.

When I see my path, I can almost see the tumblers falling into place, a mechanism like life which is complex and locked tight like a safe... But when you have the combination in your hand, the tumblers know where to fall. And when the combination is complete, the safe, and your life, has been unlocked.

Now, make that list.

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