Happy Life List Club Friday! I’m glad you decided to join us for more motivation to stick with working on our goals. In a minute, I’m heading over to More Cowbell to fill in for Jenny Hansen while she’s over at Jennie Bennett’s, A Book, A Girl, A Journey blog, while Jennie’s over at…well, follow the
yellow brick road blogroll in the sidebar to find all of us. Enjoy the hop…it’s great exercise!
( While I’m there, I think I’ll take a peek in her undies drawer. Gotta see if she bought any ‘cheekies‘, yet. Shh, don’t tell Jenny!)
Meanwhile, I’m excited to have Pam Hawley of Hawleyville back here to tell you how a visualization technique helps her stay on track with her goals.
See you all over at More Cowbell, later. Have fun with Pam!
The Pink House
A while back, I attended my employer’s workshop on conflict. At one point, the facilitator had us sit in a circle for an exercise in “visualizing our desired outcomes into being.” We closed our eyes and pictured an encounter with a belligerent customer. She had us hold onto that image until we felt tense, and then imagine that our own calm reaction changed the “difficult person’s” behavior.
I left the workshop feeling just a bit skeptical. Back in the office, I told some colleagues about the exercise, and we shared a laugh.
“Imagine that,” we joked, thinking of the more hostile people in our workplace. “We can just close our eyes and envision X being calm and polite, and he won’t be a jerk anymore.”
It took me a while to realize that the visualization technique wasn’t about changing others’ behavior. It was about steering things towards a positive outcome by using my imagination to maintain control of myself.
I was reminded of that lesson when I saw the pink house.
We recently visited my aunt and uncle who retired to a beach town. We spent two nights drinking wine by their fire pit, talking and gazing at the stars. One night we soaked in their hot tub and laughed at the way the chilly fall air bit our skin when we emerged from the steaming water. During the day, we strolled along the beach, ate lunch at the restaurants that stayed open even in the off-season, and poked around in quirky little shops.
It doesn’t take much to out-shop me, so I’d had my fill of souvenirs and gadgets long before the others. While they purchased trinkets, I wandered outside, taking in the scenery. I was surrounded by beach houses like you’d see in any ocean-side town. But every now and then, a unique one would catch my eye.
Our mini-vacation ended, and I returned home to another busy week. I had to stay late at work to play catch-up after being away, and was exhausted when I came home each evening.
When the alarm went off on my third day back, I rolled over and groaned. My bed was toasty. Cozy slumber was still holding me in its grip.
Get up and write? Really? Skipping that for one morning won’t hurt. I should just snooze a bit longer.
The gym? Why? I spend all day sitting at a desk, staring at a computer. Do I really think an hour workout counteracts all that time sitting on my bum?
I was about to give in to the urge to sleep in when my brain took the reigns. Who knows – maybe I was actually still half-asleep and dreaming. Either way, it worked.
I envisioned the pink house at the beach. I saw myself inside that house, watching the waves crash against the shoreline from one of the upstairs windows as I sat in my writer’s nook, a steaming cup of coffee in hand.
On my budget, I can’t afford a shack at the beach, let alone a grand old house. But in this dream, I had already written my way to success. My days no longer consisted of dragging my butt out of bed to squeeze in a few sentences and then get to the gym before work.
Instead, I shared a leisurely breakfast and coffee with Lee out on our deck. Then he went about his day, which might be spent fishing or working in the basement we’d converted into his music studio. I headed back to my writer’s nook, where my latest work-in-progress waited. Sometime in the afternoon, I took a long, brisk walk on the beach, then stretched, had lunch and wrote some more. As dusk settled, we wandered out to the boardwalk for dinner at a cozy restaurant. While we ate, we talked of the weekend, when my family was coming to enjoy our little haven, just as I had gone years ago to rest and relax at my aunt’s.
As I eased into wakefulness and this dream life ebbed away, I threw off the covers and headed to my coffee pot. Java in one hand, I sat at my computer, sipping and rubbing the sleep from my eyes.
Then I began to write.
That morning, I learned that when you’re struggling to get your motor running, the best jump-start can be envisioning your end destination. We achieve our goals by breaking them down into bite-sized, manageable chunks. But we have to let ourselves dream big so that we keep chewing on those morsels. We have to picture the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
Although it was what sparked my vision, I don’t need a pink beach house for my dream to come true. It was the life I lived in my imagination that dragged me out of bed – the privilege of easing into my day and then writing my heart out rather than heading off to work. It is the gentler pace and the free time that are my dreams – I would just as happily write each day in my own backyard.
To live my writer’s dream life, I must first climb over the hurdles thrown at a working, over-committed writer. So I cling to that vision of a possible future. I remind myself that while trying to get there is no guarantee that I’ll succeed, giving up and sleeping in is a sure sign that I won’t.
Do you have an outcome that you imagine to keep yourself moving when the going gets tough?
In addition to short fiction, Pam Hawley writes humor pieces and is working on her first novel, which blends the creepy and the funny by bringing a brutally murdered “player” back to life as a naked ghost. Her short story “A Wingding and A Prayer” appeared in the July issue of eFiction Magazine (available at http://www.efictionmag.com ). Her short horror fiction, “Peanut Butter and Jelly,” will appear in The Spirit of Poe Anthology available at http://literarylandmarkpress.blogspot.com. When not working, writing or in the gym, Pam can most likely be found curled up on her couch reading, hanging out at her family pub, Hawley’s, in Baltimore, or cheering the Pittsburgh Steelers. She blogs regularly at http://hawleyville.wordpress.com.
Pam on Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/Pamela_Hawley
Pam on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/#!/profile.php?id=584898973