#my500words

Getting off track in working towards my goal

My goal this month was to write 25,000 words. Part of the process in getting towards that goal was to write a minimum of 500 words per day. 

So far, of the 28 days of the month, I’ve only successfully written 500+ words on 13 days. There were another 7 days that I wrote words but didn’t hit the 500 word goal. There were 7 days that I didn’t do any writing at all. 

I did a horrible job this month of “sitting in the chair”. 

I think I’ve produced some good work this month across all three blogs, plus some writing for other projects. 

That good work just wasn’t consistent. 

Add to it that I did a really horrible job writing while I was visiting Maryland for work. 

I plan on participating in Jon Acuff’s 30 days challenge next month, and again my goal will be all about writing. 

Being patient with the process

When I wake up in the middle of the night or early in the morning with a migraine, especially one caused by my neck being subluxed, there is a very specific process that I have to go through to get “better”.

  • I have to find Advil. This morning, that involved walking from my hotel to the gas station next door to get Advil.
  • I have to eat something. It can really be anything, but I have to eat something. Eating something with a migraine is pretty difficult, especially when the nausea is bad.
  • I have to wait until the food settles a little bit in my stomach.
  • I have to drink a bunch of fluid.
  • I have to wait until the advil settles a bit.
  • I can rest a little.

This is the process. Rushing any step in the process can cause more problems than the migraine.

I am not patient. There are days when I just want to grab the Advil as quickly as possible and get the migraine to go away.

I am not patient about a lot of other things in my life as well.

I want a quick fix to my pain.

I want a quick fix on my religious path.

I want a quick relationship fix.

I want a quick fix on my weight loss journey.

But none of these fixes are quick. All involve a process and a journey. And, some of them, like a quick fix to the chronic pain, may never happen. It’s my attitude about the pain that needs to be fixed.

On each one of these, I’m working through a process and trying not to jump ahead on any of the steps.

Thoughts on the Parable of the Rich Fool

I’ve been thinking quite a bit since I got back from Utah about the Parable of the Rich Fool from Luke 12, specifically Luke 12:19-21 …

19 And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’

20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’

21 “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”

There’s also an LDS version of this from the Book of Mormon which I grew up hearing. From 2nd Nephi 28 …

7 Yea, and there shall be many which shall say: Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die; and it shall be well with us.

8 And there shall also be many which shall say: Eat, drink, and be merry; nevertheless, fear God—he will justify in committing a little sin; yea, lie a little, take the advantage of one because of his words, dig a pit for thy neighbor; there is no harm in this; and do all these things, for tomorrow we die; and if it so be that we are guilty, God will beat us with a few stripes, and at last we shall be saved in the kingdom of God.

Right now, in many ways, I feel like I’m living the life of the Rich Fool. I’m choosing to live my life a certain way and to worship a certain way. It’s easier. I don’t feel conflicted all the time. I don’t walk around feeling like I have this cloud of guilt hanging over my head because I’m not “good enough”.

I had a conversation in Utah with someone whose opinion I respect a lot. She said some things about this life being short and eternity being long, but how important the choices we make in this life are for eternity. She also reminded me about certain promises and covenants I’ve made that I do take seriously.

I’ve struggled for several years with trying to reconcile my feelings and feel like I belonged where I was, and all it seemed to do is move me further and further away from God. For the first time in a very long time, I feel like my spiritual path is taking me closer to God. I’ve felt closer to God in prayer than I possibly ever have. I feel like I’m getting the knowledge from the Word that I’ve never received.

But, being on this path is taking me further away from the covenants that I made as part of my relationship with the LDS Church and that’s hard for me to acknowledge. I’m struggling so much with the idea that the path that seems to be taking me closer to God is taking me further away from the LDS Church.

My plan is to continue on the path I’m on and see where it leads. I hope that I will have acceptance from those in my life that I care about and love.

My choices tonight

As my afternoon progressed today, I was trying to decide what to do with my evening.

Prior to leaving for Utah, I was spending most my Mondays training at the gym. But, the gym workout for tonight was “Lower” and that’s not how I wanted to kickstart my week. I signed up for Tuesday’s upper class, and I’m excited about that choice.

My other option was to attend my small Lifegroup.

But, as the afternoon wore on all I really wanted to do was crawl into bed and read my book. I know when I get these thoughts, it’s important to listen to them. Since moving to Clarksville, I have been pushing myself to ignore them and “be social”, “go out and do things” … but, I’ve also paid for that with my autoimmune issues kicking my butt on more than one occasion. I’ve had the flu twice this winter. I really don’t want to get the flu again or push myself too hard that my muscles start reacting negatively.

I scoff a bit at the phrase “self-care”, but as an Introvert I’m conscious of when I do need downtime.

Starting on Friday, my life is going to be full of very little downtime for 8 days. I’m going to be on an airplane — never a great experience for me. And then I have plans with a friend in Baltimore once I arrive in Maryland. Saturday is our big holiday party with all of my coworkers. Sunday will be a day of rest in more ways than one. Monday & Tuesday, I’ll be working from our Maryland office. That always involves a lot of interaction. It’s really great to be in the office, but also draining. On Wednesday, I’m spending my day with one of my clients — followed by a dinner that night with the same client. Thursday, we’re doing a big happy hour for our clients and friends. And, on Friday, I get to get back on an airplane. Oh, and I’m also sleeping in two different hotels, driving a car that’s not mine, and having to deal with DC traffic on at least two of the days I’m in town. It’s going to be a great week, but it’s going to be a long week.

Also playing into all of this was that I had a pretty blah week last week. It wasn’t really horrible. Nothing bad happened. But, it was a great week either. Client work was slow, which I hate. I billed more time to “admin” / nonbillable time than I like. Because of the weather, I wasn’t able to see my chiropractor early in the week, so my pain levels were really high — including a headache that was constantly aggravating all week long. Because my pain levels were high and also partially due to the weather, I didn’t make it to the gym, which was disappointing. And, I was feeling the blah feeling I get anytime I leave Utah after an extended stay.

So, tonight, when my body and my brain said “rest” & “read a good book”. I listened.

Travel Adventures Part II #my500words

In the fall of 1997, my grandfather was kind enough to loan me the money to buy a car. I bought a used, black Civic hatchback. This car was barely off the ground, but it was the perfect car for getting around DC and Maryland.

My first road trip in the car was to visit a friend for Thanksgiving in Columbus, Ohio. That trip added Pennsylvania and Ohio to my list of states.

I also can’t remember when the trip was, but I decided to visit a friend in Mississippi and also see my friend Chan Goshorn in Louisiana. That added another two states.

One trip that I didn’t mention in my first post is that before I got my car I had gone to Delaware and to the shore while living in Maryland. We had gone to stay at the beach with a group of friends.

In the spring of 1998, I decided to move back to California. I drove my car with a trailer attached to the back. In addition to Maryland, Pennsylvania and Ohio, that trip also included Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa (briefly), Wyoming, Utah, Nevada and California.

In 1998, I also decided to take a trip to meet a friend up near Seattle. That added Oregon and Washington to the my growing lists of visited states.

In 1999, I went to visit my friend Duncan in Denver. That added Colorado.

In 2000, I drove to Utah to visit the Checketts. That didn’t add any states, but my trips between California and Utah would become a regular thing.

In November of 2002, I upgraded my car from the Honda Civic to a Honda CR-V.

I took several trips between the Bay Area and Utah (at least once a year), and I also took a trip up to Portland, Oregon and another one to Hermiston, Oregon.

I also flew to Jersey for my friend Duncan’s wedding.

In May of 2012, I decided to make another cross-country move. As part of that trip I drove through California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Tennessee.

Since I’ve been in Tennessee, I’ve been on trips through Kentucky, Virginia, Georgia, West Virginia, Maryland and North Carolina.

I also took a train from Tennessee to Chicago to Fargo, North Dakota. I took one business trip and flew to Minnesota.

In alphabetical order:

  1. Alabama (no)
  2. Alaska (no)
  3. Arizona (yes)
  4. Arkansas (yes)
  5. California (yes)
  6. Colorado (yes)
  7. Connecticut (yes)
  8. Delaware (yes)
  9. Florida (no)
  10. Georgia (yes)
  11. Hawaii (yes)
  12. Idaho (yes)
  13. Illinois (yes)
  14. Indiana (yes)
  15. Iowa (yes)
  16. Kansas (yes)
  17. Kentucky (yes)
  18. Louisiana (yes)
  19. Maine (no)
  20. Maryland (yes)
  21. Massachusetts (yes)
  22. Michigan (yes)
  23. Minnesota (yes)
  24. Mississippi (yes)
  25. Missouri (yes)
  26. Montana (no)
  27. Nebraska (yes)
  28. Nevada (yes)
  29. New Hampshire (no)
  30. New Jersey (yes)
  31. New Mexico (yes)
  32. New York (yes)
  33. North Carolina (yes)
  34. North Dakota (yes)
  35. Ohio (yes)
  36. Oklahoma (yes)
  37. Oregon (yes)
  38. Pennsylvania (yes)
  39. Rhode Island (no)
  40. South Carolina (yes)
  41. South Dakota (no)
  42. Tennessee (yes)
  43. Texas (yes)
  44. Utah (yes)
  45. Vermont (no)
  46. Virginia (yes)
  47. Washington (yes)
  48. West Virginia (yes)
  49. Wisconsin (yes)
  50. Wyoming (yes)

So, the big states I’m missing are Florida and almost all the states in the northeast north of New York. I’m hoping to take a trip to Florida this spring to see Morgan and Adam Checketts, which would take care of Florida and another trip through Georgia.

Travel Adventures Part 1 #my500words

Today’s writing challenge from Jeff was to create a list.

One of the things that I haven’t talked about much on this blog are some of my travelling adventures.

My travelling started in adulthood. When I was a child, I went on only a few memorable trips.

When I was 8, I went to Disneyland with my grandparents and an aunt and uncle. When I was either 17 or 18, I went down to Los Angeles with our Key Club high school group. We went to a Key Club convention and also went to Disneyland. We also took a couple of trips to Carson City, Nevada after my aunt, uncle and cousins moved there.

Literally, the furthest from California I moved to before I was 18 was Carson City, Nevada. If you’ve never been to Carson City, you might not realize that it’s very close to the California border.

My real travelling began after I left for college.

In the fall of 1991, I traveled from Sacramento to Minneapolis, Minnesota and then to Duluth, Minnesota on my first two airplane flights. Once in Duluth, I loaded into a van and traveled to Ashland, Wisconsin. I was physically in three states in 1 day. That was a record for me.

In January of 1992, I made my first visit to Utah. I flew from Sacramento to Salt Lake City and then spent a few days in Ogden, Utah. I flew back to Minnesota and spent the next couple of months in Wisconsin.

In the Spring of 1992, I took a trip with the other communications committee folks to New York City. To get there, we had to board a plane in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. I can’t remember which airport we changed planes in. It might have been Detroit. That trip to New York was really fantastic.

The summer of 1992 involved another round trip from Wisconsin to California and back but not much other travelling.

The end of 1992, 1993 and the spring of 1994 didn’t involve much travel except for trips from California to Wisconsin for school. I did travel to Southern Wisconsin and that was a fun trip.

At the end of the summer, 1994 I moved back from Wisconsin to California. I spent most of that fall in Marin County, California. I got to explore the county a lot.

In the winter of 1995, I moved from California to the Washington, DC Metro area. I lived in Virginia and spent a good deal of time exploring DC and Virginia. Unfortunately, I was without a car so any exploring was via Metro. In February of 1995, I took a little trip down to North Carolina to meet a guy. I had been talking to him online for a bit and we started dating for a few months. The trip to North Carolina on Amtrak was great. Amtrak on the east coast is so great compared to the rest of the country.

By the summer of 1995, I was living in Maryland. I had lived in four states in 12 months between August of 1994 and July of 1995 — Wisconsin, California, Virginia and Maryland. For the next few years, I did not do a lot of travelling. I did take another trip on Amtrak down to South Carolina to watch my sister graduate from Army basic training.

The real travelling began when I got my car in the fall of 1997.

What are my writing goals?

Over in the #my500words Facebook group, Jeff asked “If you could do anything with your writing, achieve any goal, what would it be?” 

To be honest, I haven’t thought about this question in awhile.

I’ve thought about writing in terms of how many words I want to write, but I haven’t thought about it in terms of longer goals.

I don’t have much interest in writing a book.

I’d like to get more exposure for either this blog or my other personal blog, but those are really a means to an end. Largely, I want to be out there speaking more, and I know that writing on these blogs would open up some opportunities there.

In regards to the work blog, I’d love for it to bring in more clients. It would be great if my company was seen as more of a thought leader in the nonprofit space, especially those doing unique production work.

In regards to my personal blog, one of the reasons why I write about some of the more personal things is because I hope that people will read it and feel some connection to things I’ve been through. This really falls in to two areas: others with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and those who have gone through abuse and other childhood trauma.

Ehlers-Danlos is rare and horribly diagnosed. Most people who have it feel so isolated in what they’re going through — whether its the pain or the instability that plagues us on a daily basis. Maybe me posting about how I get through the rough days and deal with things like being in a wheelchair will help someone else.

When it comes to abuse and childhood trauma, it’s all about keeping secrets. The more light we shine on these abuses, the harder it is for abusers to hide their evil deeds.

That is a long answer to the short question of what goal am I trying to achieve with my writing.

What I’m doing this month to accomplish my goals

Yesterday, I wrote a fairly hefty post outlining some big goals for 2014.

I’m super excited for the year.

Here are a couple of things I’m doing to kick off the year in the right way.

Jon Acuff’s 30 Days of Hustle

I’ve committed to writing 25,000 in the month of January. To hit my goal of 500,000 words by the end of the year, I really should write 38,000 – 40,000 words this month, but 25,000 is a good number.

Jeff Goin’s My 500 Words

Jeff Goins has a program in January encouraging folks to write 500 words a day.

Jon Acuff’s Empty Shelf Challenge 

While not an explicit goal, I truly believe that to be a good writer you have to be a voracious reader and I plan to read as much as I can. I’ll be posting book reviews of each book I finish to this blog, and I’ll also be posting photos to the Pinterest board tracking my progress.

Some other things I’m doing:

  • Starting next week, I’ll be going to Circuit Athletics at least 3 nights a week.
  • My church is doing 21 days of prayer. I’ve missed Lifepoint Church, and I’m looking forward to being back.
  • I’m going to try and complete a 3000 kettleball swing challenge.

Accomplishments for 2013 / Goals for 2014

Yesterday, over on my other blog, I wrote a post about my professional goals and accomplishments for 2013 & 2014. I based the post from a post by Chad Allen.

For this post, I’m going to focus on more personal items. There might be a few crossover items between the two lists.

What made me proud? 

  • Successfully stayed away from diet soda and other artificial sweeteners all year
  • Didn’t let some of the failures of my first year in Tennessee get me down, and decided a bit of a restart was in order in a move to Clarksville
  • Spoke at 3 different conferences
  • Won a MAXI award
  • Didn’t give up on my fitness goals. Joined a gym early in the year and then another one after my move to Clarksville. Finally found a place to workout at Circuit Athletics towards the end of the year.
  • Did not gain any weight during the year, including while rehabbing from breaking my ankle
  • Writing on this blog — especially the #julyproject
  • Helping build a windmill in Africa
  • Helping launch the Help Experiment
  • Finding a new church

My regrets: 

  • Not getting the Nashville 501 Tech Club meetup launched in 2013
  • Not losing any weight in 2013
  • While I kept trying to find the right fitness plan, there were several stretches of weeks (and months) where I could have been doing something but wasn’t
  • Overextending myself a bit and not being as successful on the planning committee for BarCamp Nashville
  • I spent way too much money eating out
  • I didn’t reduce my debt as much as I would have liked
  • Not being as engaged on Twitter as I would have liked. I tweeted quite a bit, but there were large gaps in “engagement”

Goals for 2014: 

  • Write 500,000 words (this includes this blog, sueannereed.com, my posts on engageyourcause.com and other writing)
  • Launch the Nashville 501 Tech Club meetup and hold at least 6 meetups in 2014
  • Get more involved in the Nashville nonprofit community
  • Have at least one speaking engagement that is about my life and not about nonprofits or online marketing
  • Guest blog on at least 2 industry blogs
  • Workout at least 3 times a week
  • Redesign sueannereed.com and rebrand it as NonprofitsFTW.com
  • Send at least one personal snail mail note or card per week
  • Be more productive during work hours and free up
  • Eat out less
  • Go on at least one trip that isn’t for a conference or similarly related activity
  • Deal with the dental issues I’ve been putting off
  • Read from the Bible at least once a week
  • Attend church at least 75% of the Sundays during 2014
  • Find more ways to be involved within the Clarksville community

Crazy ideas: 

  • Get weight down to 200 pounds
  • Be debt free by the end of the year
  • Write 1,000,000 words
  • Write a book

I know that my goal list is kind of long and some aren’t entirely “SMART” goals that are Measurable and Time-bound, but they are all things that are very important to me. I also think that they are all very doable things. Some are things that will only require a small change in behavior. Others will require quite a bit of time to accomplish.

The Symbols that Matter

If you’ve ever been to Kayesville, Fruit Heights, Davis County or driven along 89 between Salt Lake City and Ogden, Utah during Christmas time, you’ve probably seen the large star on the side of the hill. You can read a nice article about its history over on the Standard-Examiner website.

I didn’t grow up in Utah, and so this star doesn’t have a lifelong story for me, but it has come to symbolize almost everything that’s important to me about how I’ve spent a majority of my Christmas holidays since 2000.

Each year, the star has been a bit of a beacon guiding me safely to the Checketts’ home to celebrate the holiday.

A few  years ago, when I was staying with Missy & Kory while Ann & Paul were on their mission to Greece / Cyprus, I missed the star. There was one night where I took the long way driving to Kory’s house because I needed to see the star at least once during that trip.

Last year, when I stayed in Tennessee because Ann & Paul were on another mission to Lubbock, Texas, I thought about the star often throughout the holidays.

These sorts of symbols in our lives are important.

Growing up, the holidays were very stressful. Up until age 12, we generally had a pattern where we would spend Christmas Eve with my step-dad’s family and Christmas day with my mom’s family. Christmas Eve was more relaxed while Christmas Day could be very formal — especially if my grandparents were hosting.

The hardest part about Christmas Eve during those years was how differently my older sister and I were treated from the other grandkids, especially when it came to gift time.

Getting ready for Christmas Day could sometimes be a bit hectic, but generally once we got to my grandparents or my aunts or uncle’s house, it was a lot of fun.

Christmas during my teenage years were very hard. The timing of my step-dad’s arrest on Christmas Eve in 1985 brought back many memories of bad times. We would still go visit with his family at Christmas Eve, but I often faced heavy criticism for my role in having my step-dad arrested. We also didn’t go spend time with my mom’s family much during the holidays any longer.

Starting in my 20s, I started spending a majority of my Christmas Day with the Checketts family. In the same way they had given me a safe haven during my teenage years, they also because a new way for me to enjoy the holidays. When they decided to move to Utah, I wasn’t sure this would continue but then coming to Utah became my yearly tradition.

These Utah Christmas trips have often been a respite in crazy times. They are something I start looking forward to months in advance.

This year, I started the planning for my December trip back in June — talking with my boss and making sure that timing and work would be covered. I’m so grateful that I made the effort, and I am super grateful for that star guiding my way.