How Now, Mr. Cow?

My primary goal this month is being a more consistent writer. I’ve set a bar that determines my day’s progress: 1000+ words. Writing that much can be tricky, but I’ve figured out a few things that help me get it done.

 1. Write at the right time. I tend to write better — and more — if I write around mid-morning.

 2. Write in the right place. I sit at the dining room table with my laptop when I write. It means I’m out in the open, accessible, while I work. The alternative is sitting on the bed with the laptop, in my room, alone. Which of the two do I think is safest and most likely to be blessed by God? The dining room has worked well so far.

 3. Write. I can sit there for an hour and scratch my head looking for something to write about. It would get me nowhere. So I just write. Maybe I open up a file with a story I’m already working on, or maybe I start a new one to work on a line of thought. The important thing is that I write during the time I’m able to.

 Next on my list is building a healthier me. That’s tricky. I have years of bad eating habits to overcome, plus the double-whammy of bad knees and a shoulder that doesn’t support me well during push-ups or planks. The final kicker is that I can’t afford a gym membership right now, especially not anyplace with a pool.

So what am I going to do?

I’m glad you asked. I turned to Google. Several results came up for people with bad knees. If you’re in the same boat I am, you want to focus on results that have lots of pictures or videos, so you can see the exercises being done. You don’t want to try exercises you don’t know on injured body parts based on one photo. That’s just a bad idea.

Several sites suggested I ride a bike for cardio. Cycling definitely doesn’t have the impact issues, but having raced for a few years, I know you can stress your knees riding. It’s important to place your feet properly on the pedals, adjust the seat height and position yourself properly above the pedals. Correct body position on the bike will help alleviate any potential pain.

I swam in high school and played water polo and swam for Kutztown University before I joined the Marines. I love swimming. Sadly, my shoulders are yet another part of my body that got wrecked while I was serving, and you need them for swimming. Not so much for aqua aerobics, though. It’s not something I can do right now, but I’ll be looking into them if we reach a point when we can join the local Y. Low impact exercise aimed at raising your heart rate and maybe pushing your heart and lungs to work harder is a good thing.

None of this is easy. Nothing worthwhile ever is. It requires discipline and it requires accountability. You need a friend or family member who will keep you on task.

Today has been a strong case-in-point for my writing how. I know what time of day works best for me. I didn’t use it. I let it drift away, making even 500 words a difficult chore. Looking back, though, my distraction led me to write a lot more than I realized on a topic I had not planned. So, sometimes God will make the most of our failures. In this case, I wrote a personal piece to two high school seniors who plan to make a 13-week visit to Parris Island, S.C., after high school, encouraging them for their future endeavors and providing some suggestions for how to make the most of the time they have before boot camp.

I hope that my sharing about the things I am doing in 2014 helps you make a change and stick with it. What are you doing differently this year? You’ve read about my what, why, and how. Tell us about yours.

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The Great and Powerful WHY

Several months ago I checked out a company a friend is fairly successful with. I felt a little like I was checking out an MLM presentation. Great products, but it was nothing like Amway. Great structure for building wealth, and not like an MLM. It’s a real business. What I loved most though, was the lady who did the presentation talked about why she was sitting in my friend’s living room that day. Her son had looked at her one day and said he loved her, but hated that they never saw each other. He was 14 or 15 at the time. He’s ready to graduate high school in a few months now.

My friend Shelly was making great money. It was just the two of them and she had a nice house, nice car, money to do things, but she had no time. Making all that money was taking all her time. She found that something needed to change. She had a good “what” – make lots of money so my son and I can be comfortable and debt free. Her why was fuzzy, though. Until that talk with her son. Her why became to be home with him whenever possible, to be a strong and important part of his life when a teen needs guidance the most.

Since then she started doing this consulting gig and making good on being there for her son. She left her regular job and began doing this part-time. Part-time, because full-time requires you work a certain number of  hours a week and she doesn’t work that many. Recently her previous employer offered her a raise to come back. Shelly didn’t want the raise; she wanted a guarantee of being home, which they couldn’t give. (By the way, she still makes more being a health consultant than she did as an executive for a large nursing home community; let’s talk).

Shelly is successful at this for a few reasons, but the chief one, according to her, is her why. Her “why” is what keeps her going when things get rough. The friend who introduced me to Shelly also does this, but is still working full-time doing something she loves in an organization that’s killing her. She wants to be a part of her daughter’s life and do great things together with her before she’s grown and flown the coop. She wants to do what she’s doing now – nursing —  in other parts of the world where she’s needed. She puts the whole idea together more succinctly, because it’s something she’s passionate about. She’s making headway and building to a point when she can say goodbye to her current job. She’s told me, if it wasn’t for understanding her “why,” she’d probably have been swallowed by all life’s distractions and fallen short of her goal.

So, here we are with 2014 before us and everyone trying to work with a new, clean, slate. We’re making plans and resolutions. We’re setting goals. What do we want to accomplish? We want to lose weight, get faster, get stronger, make more money, finish our education, and more. That’s great. We need to know what we want to do.

For example, I want to do a few things, like write more consistently. I’ve set a standard of a minimum of 1000 words a day. I also want to improve my health and I’ve set a schedule for 30 minutes of exercise daily. These are just two of a handful of things I’m trying to do better and have actually been working toward since before the calendar flipped (there’s no time like now to make a change). The underlying factor of all of these, is my why. Why do I want to accomplish these goals? I want to write consistently in order to earn a paycheck from writing so that I can be at home to take part in the lives of my children. I have a few health issues, so I want to take care of myself so that I can be there for them as they become adults and parents themselves. I can go on, but my “why” is about my family, about leading them, about showing them that life is a vibrant thing that God means for us to enjoy.

But if we’re going to make it through the rough spots, we need to know our “why.” The “why” is what keeps you going when the world fights back. So, as you begin 2014, write down what you want to accomplish. Then, next to that, be sure to include why.