50th Plans…And Then Came COVID

Celebrating My 50 While 50 – Update #1

Nearly two months ago, in mid-January, I celebrated the Big 5-0. Like many people do as a milestone birthday approaches, I’d begun pondering months earlier just how I would celebrate.

I was super excited about this birthday, because 2011 – the year I turned 40 – had also been a big year of a big change in my family dynamics. I spent the decade between then and now leaning into my new role as single, co-parenting mom of two adolescents, making sure they had the nurturing, the education and the extracurriculars (including some global travel) that would help them thrive and be prepared to discover their purpose. The choices and sacrifices I made during that season were more than worth it; but I was looking forward to launching this new decade with a special trip somewhere in that world that would serve as a kick off for more opportunities to explore never-visited American cities and states, and places around the globe.  

Then came COVID. The world stopped, and along with having to help my son celebrate his high school graduation virtually and my daughter celebrate her college graduation without a formal ceremony, I had to abandon my 50th looming birthday plans. 

Trust me, I know how minor these and a few other very disappointing setbacks were, given the tumult and loss unfolding every single day. I couldn’t complain (then or now), and I continue to seek ways to offer help and encouragement to friends and many others who are in need.

My past 12 months of pandemic living have been graced with many blessings, including a new job filled with meaningful work; an opportunity to telework from the comfort of my home; settling my son into a college of his choice where he gets to run Division I track, watching my daughter practicing “adulting” in a way that has made me proud(er) to be her mom, and everyone in my immediate family remaining healthy.

I know this hasn’t been the case for many people, including some of my closest friends and loved ones, and I don’t take it for granted. So, being the optimistic person I am, I turned my attention to creating a Plan B. For me that is my 50 While 50 List – i.e., a list of 50 things to do while I’m enjoying my 50th year. 

I asked readers of my author newsletter to chime in with suggestions, and boy, did they answer. Between the 30 or so ideas I already had on the list and their wonderful ideas, I’ve now got a lineup of 67 things to do! Lol And if you know me, you know I’ll fit at least 50 things in during 2021 and “carryover” the other 17 into 2022, if necessary.

I promised my newsletter readers that I’d be sharing periodic updates on my progress in this space and this is my first 50 While 50 installment. 

I’ve spent January, February and some of March keeping promises that are fun, practical, fulfilling and maybe a bit uncomfortable enough to stretch me, including:

  • Treating myself to a few favorite “non-everyday” foods whenever the whim hits me, including calamari and German chocolate cake. I haven’t gone overboard, but I’ve enjoyed leaning into those “why not today?” urges when they’ve randomly occurred.
  • Getting a colonoscopy. Not a fun task, but not a necessary one! It was uneventful, and it gave me peace of mind to check this off my list of responsible things to do.
  • Sitting in silence more than usual. As a writer, I often ponder and create in silence; but these particular quiet times have been filled with more intentional journaling, meditating, letting my thoughts roam free, praying, and envisioning some of my goals and dreams as reality. The process has helped me refine my goals and know myself even better.
  • Buying two instead of one. I’ve bought myself a bouquet of fresh flowers every two weeks, just because, for years. Since January, I’ve sometimes made it two – one bouquet graces a vase on my dining room table and the other is placed where I choose – my living room or family room or bedroom.
  • Taking time away. I spent a few days on the Chesapeake Bay, leaning into long walks, prayer time and socially distant meals and laughter with two of my closest sisterfriends. The experience was fun and gave me the clarity and courage to say yes to a few new things. 
  • Spa-ing. I treated myself to a mid-week facial with a fun millennial esthetician, whose chatty style and excellent work left me refreshed and renewed.
  • I sat in on a virtual masterclass about the book-to-movie process, with goals of learning how to someday see my novels on the big screen.
  • I secured three sessions with a life coach to help me refine my short-term goals and to create an accountability plan. This has been a worthwhile investment!

These are just a few things, and it’s only mid-March. I’m enjoying this process and along the way asking myself a question that a professional acquaintance posed to me in a recent conversation: What will you do differently? 

I’ve been leaning into that query in every area of my life, to ensure that I’m not just going through the motions or simply checking things off the list to say I’ve gotten them done. Either I am leaning into doing things the same as always because there’s a reason this way is best, or doing them differently because making slight changes will get me closer to the joy, the journey and the results that I want to be most impactful and lasting.

What about you? How’s your start to 2021? What are you leaning into? What are you willing to do differently? Regardless of whether this is a milestone birthday year for you, this can be a year that you set and reach new milestones, just because you’re worth it.

Share your plans in the comment section, and thanks for reading and cheering me on. As we all move forward and evolve as best we can, may we also remember our simple and significant blessings and pay them forward as best we can.

How Not to Give Up on Your God-Led Dreams

Recently I was invited by multi-published author, speaker and podcaster Suzanne Eller to join her in an online chat about what it means to live “Life Untapped” and remain steadfast in pursuing your dreams.

Listen in, then share your goals, desires and hopes – for the New Year and beyond. For our dreams are usually intertwined with our purpose, and when we lean into purpose and heed the calling in our soul, we are on the path to fulfilling some part of our destiny.

Be encouraged and either stay the course or start anew!

How’s Your New Year “New You” Doing?

We often make resolutions at the dawn of a new year, believing that with a fresh date and fresh start, we can jumpstart what fell by the wayside weeks, months or even years earlier. Sometimes this works and sometimes it doesn’t – a reality that all of us can own.

In my case? I haven’t started exercising regularly yet in 2019, although my gym is awaiting me. And I’m still trying to convince myself to give up refined sugar.

I did purge my closet, and that felt oh so great. Yet I’m still in the process of mapping out a quarterly To Do list, to make sure that by the time I reach April, I can actually mark as completed most of the 90-day goals I set out to achieve.  (That list will be finalized before this month is over!)

Tackling goals like these year after year is refreshing in a way, because they are reminders that we always start again; that we should never stop living, learning and growing.

Yet, the first step, in one sense, is the easiest: We’ve talked ourselves into doing what we know is right and good for us in both the short- and long term.  On Jan. 1 of (whatever year) we’re psyched and excited.

However, then comes Day 2 and Week 3, and before you know it, Month 10. Taking step after step, day after day, in moment after moment is where we must keep talking and walking and envisioning that for which we long.  For it is after taking step after step, day after day, in moment by moment the magic, the movement and the new reality await us.

Are you up to the challenge and the change required to actually shift into this new space? I think I am, even if I have to recalibrate and restart on Day 15 and then again on Day 30 and Day 225. For, when we really decide we’re ready and we choose to really dig in, we’ll be able to appreciate the small transformations along our journey that make it as worthwhile a process as achieving our ultimate goals. Even if the process takes longer than we want (which it often does), we can stay on course by remembering that delays aren’t denials and “not now” doesn’t mean not ever. life_spiritual_breathing_sea_world_corunna_it_vibrates_beauty-1188436.jpg!d

I’ve done it before, and I’m aiming it to experience those mountain moments again, for both my big and small dreams. Are you with me?

If so, remind yourself throughout the process – on the days when sticking to your goals isn’t fun or when it seems easier to say you’ll get to it  “tomorrow” – that the change you long for – the change I long for – requires that we change our minds today.

Throughout your process, remind yourself…

When you’re open to consistently learning and growing;
to seeing life from another person’s point of view;
to stepping outside your comfort zone;
to helping someone else just because;
to opening your heart to new adventures at any age;
to living in peace and ensuring others that same opportunity,
the sky is not your limit and your joy can’t be contained.
It’s the true definition of changing for the better; of transforming into more of you.

–  Stacy Hawkins Adams

Why We Must Surrender to Wonder

Sometimes our dreams are so big that we tiptoe to the edge of them, then shrink away.

But what if we had the courage to actually follow where they lead?

To consider how leaning into them and falling forward allows the wind to buoy us and keep us afloat? 

To trust the lessons we’ll learn, the people we’ll form bonds with and the experiences that will shape us as our divine birthright?

What if we loved ourselves- and those in our care – enough to surrender to this way of being?

Wow…just wow. Wouldn’t our lives be a wonder?

Cookies and Dreams: Why You Should Leap

By Stacy Hawkins Adams

Last week I decided to bake homemade oatmeal cookies for my son, but it was cold and dark outside and I didn’t feel like driving to the store to buy the brown sugar and raisins that the recipe called for and my pantry lacked.

Rather than give up, I pulled an “old school” cook’s move and substituted with what was on hand.

The all-purpose sugar and pure vanilla extract worked wonderfully, and though the cookies weren’t as “tan” as usual, the way they quickly vanished were proof that they were a hit. (He asked for more this weekend.)

So what’s the moral of this Monday Morning Musing? This right here:

Conditions won’t always be perfect. Everything you think you must have to succeed won’t be on hand.  But leap anyway.

Make trial-and-error tweaks as needed. Operate in excellence.

Embrace imperfections that arise as your unique offering to the process.

Believe. Press on. Enjoy the journey.

Birth that vision. Give hope to others who are watching you.

If you’ll just get started, the rest will unfold when needed – or turn out better than you could have imagined.

Write Your Way Whole

By Stacy Hawkins Adams

How is your week, your month, your year going so far?

Note to Readers: I penned this post earlier this week for members of the private writers community I curate, Focused Writers Membership Group. I rarely (if ever) share publicly the messages and encouragement I reserve for group members; but today I felt compelled to cast a wider net, and ask you to take a step back or two steps forward, and look at your life from a “big picture” perspective.  This post focuses on writing because I mentor writers; but you can change my references to writing to whatever best fits your goal or dream, and do the same self-examination.

Take the first step and honestly answer these questions. Then take the next step and make adjustments that will yield the responses you long to manifest.

Regardless of whether you see yourself as a writer, the process of writing your vision – in a notebook or journal, on your computer screen or in the notes section of your smartphone – will help make it real. Perhaps writing down your plans and the path you’re taking to pursue those plans, will make them more official, for  you and others. So here we go….

Take some time to reflect on where you started on Monday of this week, in early May or even at the dawn of 2017, and measure your progress. Are you satisfied that you’re still on track to where you want to be by this time next year?

Now, imagine yourself 20 years from today, looking back over your life. What would you like to have accomplished?

Writing-wise, in particular:
– How many books written? Or
– How many followers for your blog? Or
– How many audiences impacted by your speeches? Or
– How many readers touched by your essays and articles?

What does writing success look like to you, and what are you doing today to bring that vision to life, so that in the year 2037, you’ll be holding those finished products in your hands, and in multiple ways sharing them with a younger generation? (Remember, quantifying the number of books, followers, audiences and readers you reach is simply quantifying the number of lives you’re touching.)

Let’s get busy, my friend. Why not take the few days left in the month of May to write the vision, so that you can begin executing it, in June and beyond? You are your own master storyteller. Decide today in which direction your next chapters will go.

 

Want to join Focused Writers Membership Community? Learn more here.