Tag Archives: burn out

Part 2 in the 3-part series to Stop the Chaos

Have you completed your Top 5 Priorities for Life? Heavy stuff, right? Good! It should be! Now, armed with our Top 5 Priorities list, let’s set some measurable, realistic goals that will help us achieve that dream lifestyle. Remember, these goals must align with our Priorities, otherwise we may end up with 10 ways to make more money, but forget that we also wanted to build intimacy in our relationships or learn to laugh at ourselves.

State your Priority

Let’s take an easy one from my list yesterday, which happens to be my #1 priority:

Reach and maintain a healthy size 4, while toning and defining all-over.

Find Your “Why”

Why is this priority important to me? Because losing weight, toning up and gaining energy will help me achieve the long-term goals I have and give me the added confidence I need to make some big life changes.

Your WHY is very important – it would benefit you to Write. This. Down. And refer to it often.

Make it Measurable

Well, it’s nice to have a goal weight – but I need to give it a deadline. A reasonable weight loss is about 2lbs per week. So, let’s say I want to lose 10 lbs by Aug 7 and fit a size 6. That would be my goal, it states the “what”  and the “by when.”

Now I need 9 more that align with my *Priorities.

Drop and give me 10!

Currently, these are my Top 10 Goals (NOTE: These will be reviewed and renewed every 4 weeks, so don’t stress about what to include on your list):

  1. By August 7, I want to have lost 10 lbs and be a size 6. {Life Priority #1}
  2. Earn $______ by Feb 28, 2012 through teaching writing workshops. {Life Priority #3}
  3. Earn $_______by April 1, 2012 through teacher workshops and speaking engagements. {Life Priority #3}
  4. Have Half Moon Bay Resort novel ready to query to agents by January 1, 2012. {Life Priority #3}
  5. By November 1, have our bedroom de-cluttered, repainted and my office area streamlined to promote focus and creativity. {Life Priority #2}
  6. Save $____ per month, so we can take a family beach vacation in December. {Life Priority #5}
  7. Stay true to my weekly planning and prepping nutrition. {Life Priority #1}
  8. Train to walk in the JDRF 5k on Oct 2, 2011. {Life Priority #4}
  9. By July 15, have hall and front closets cleaned out and repurposed. {Life Priority #2}
  10. By August 1, have the boys’ bedroom de-cluttered and organized into “zones” they can maintain to simplify their space and promote creativity and peace. {Life Priority #2}

I’m curious to see what you guys have on your Top 10 List of Goals – and your Top 5 Priorities. Please share with us!

*What happens when something on your Priority list is so far-off, you don’t know where to begin to reach it? Come back tomorrow when we’ll  talk about all the baby steps that lead up to the Big Goals. It’s the Motherlode List…


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Filed under Advice, Believe, Commit to 3, goals, Inspiration, Perseverance, writers

Commit to 3

I started this weekly series a few months back, with the intention of motivating myself and others. The purpose was to have that One Big Goal in mind and chip away at all the necessary steps in reaching that Goal, while maintaining the other “necessities of life.”  Commit to 3, i.e. baby steps.

Well, I’ve been slacking in the commitment department, at least in the posting and focusing of those commitments.  I apologize if I let my readers down.  Going forward, my promise to you (and myself) is to post my Top 3 Commitments each Monday. You can help me, by posting your goals, too. And if you don’t see the “Commit to 3”  post every Monday(by dinner time), I give you permission to email me and ask “What’s up, Mary Jo? What are you committing to this week?!” mjcwriter”at”comcast”dot”com

So, from my list, I’m going to choose only 3 items that MUST be completed this week. I challenge you to do the same! Oh, and don’t forget your “Salary.”  

*BONUS CHALLENGE: Make 2 of the 3  goals for YOU only(not your kids, spouse, friends, etc.)

This week I commit to 3:

  1. Bake cookies for teachers of KidsClub (deliver Wednesday)
  2. Complete Exercises from Ch 1 of Beginnings, Middles & Ends by Nancy Kress (use as Reader Wednesdays post in the future.)
  3. Phone call with (possible) new personal trainer – learn about her plan and rates – make decision (excited, scared!)

Salary:  2 hrs of uninterrupted reading time on Sunday (to catch up on FREE ebooks & workbooks  by Jonathon Mead)

As you’re creating your Commit to 3 list, keep this in mind:

“One hour per day of study will put you at the top of your field within three years. Within five years you’ll be a national authority. In seven years, you can be one of the best people in the world at what you do.”

Earl Nightingale
1921-1989, Author and Speaker

So, how are you pushing yourself towards your goals? Make your list, commit to it, post it in the comments so we can keep each other accountable! Go!


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Filed under Commit to 3, goals, Perseverance, procrastination

Commit to 3: Do-Over!

Setting Goals is step one. Completing those goals is step two. But what happens if you never make it to step two? Chuck your plans out the window? Weep into a bowl of cookie dough ice cream? Pull your blinds down, unplug your phone/internet and become a mole?

No, you get back up, set new goals or trace back your steps –  how did you veer off course? Was it someone or some event that sideswiped your plans? Perhaps that someone was you.

Well, last week, that someone was me. I had a crazy-busy week of overtime at the office, shopping, cooking, blogging, emailing and yes, Tweeting on Twitter. But I’m not going postal and I’m not burying myself in a bowl of ice cream or darkness. I know I was in a sour mood most of last week, too overwhelmed and distracted, then full of excuses on why I couldn’t or didn’t get any of my 3 goals completed.

It’s OK. The world didn’t spin off its orbit (surprisingly!) and no kids or animals were hurt in the wake of my foul attitude.

I declare a Do-Over!

This week:

  1. Follow up on guest blog opportunity for my local news paper : )
  2. Email my students asking for fiction/poetry/essay submissions
  3. Revise Ch 1 and send to my crit partners
  4. Get up and do Ripped in 30 DVD every morning: Mon-Fri

Salary:  buy a pretty hanging plant for my patio

Got goals? Share them with us. If you write them down, you’re that much closer to accompishing them!


I LOVE when I see that new peeps have subscribed! There may be a random drawing of my subscribers to receive a prize  in the future…hint – hint

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Filed under Commit to 3, goals

Thankful Thursday

Maybe it’s the cold, gloomy weather we’ve been having or the overflowing plate of responsibilities, or just my low-grade depression rising to the surface, but I’ve been in a dark place. I’m working on seeing the positive, letting the glimpse of light in.

So , today, I offer you someone else’s words…

“Once you replace negative thoughts with positive ones, you’ll start having positive results.”
Willie Nelson

Find the positive. Grab it and hold tight.


Filed under Uncategorized

Sometimes life just gets in the way

{photo courtesy of The Work Organizer.com}

{photo courtesy of The Work Organizer.com}

So sorry, readers, for not posting my series “what I learned this week” on Friday.  I actually have about a word doc page and a half of links and other juicy tidbits to share, but I’ll make this Friday (July 24) a double-feature!

What prevents you from posting, or from writing in general? Last week was quite hellish on the day job. Reports due to the big boss, which needed data from several field associates, who were being less than cooperative in getting said data to me on time. And so it goes… Watching travel and entertainment expenses, researching the best long distance phone plans and inexpensive shipping options. Ugh! You don’t want to hear about this monotony, right? Such is the muck that gets my creativity stuck.

domo_screams_150My weekend, however uneventful, was pleasant in that I had a lot of time outdoors. With my two sons. Up and down a hill on bikes, spinning in a grassy field, staring at clouds. Even some indoor activities like creating animations on a Domo website. These are the things that refuel my creativity. What non-writing related activities fill your writing well?


Filed under Believe, Little Things, procrastination, Rest, writers block

Feeling doubtful?

And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.

~Sylvia Plath

Do you believe that everything in life is writable?

Our days and nights go by in a blur of appointments, errands and mundane conversations. So, how do we write about that?

Enter the creative mind.  When overwhelmed by “blah,” my favorite idea generator is to ask “What if?”

Depending on the monotony of the day, it may take a few rounds of “what if” to lure out the juicy ideas. Also, having a portable recorder comes in handy when I’m thinking angry thoughts while stuck in traffic (good time to bring out and verbally record  the twisted scenes for a novel.)

What do you do to break through the cluttering thoughts that stump your creativity?


Filed under Advice, writers block, Writing prompts

Food for Thought…

I’ve been feeling quite overwhelmed lately, taking on too much, deadlines seeping in from every corner and that good old “working mom guilt” to top it all off.

And then this quote greeted me in my in-box today:

“You cannot be really first-rate at your work if your work is all you are.”

Anna Quindlen, Essayist and Novelist

So, my goal for today (at least) is to PLAY!  

I invite you to play as well, then we’ll talk about how much fun we had…in tomorrow’s post ; )

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Filed under Advice, Believe, emotion, Fun Stuff, Little Things, Rest, writers block, writing inspiration

Summer lovin’

Happy Summer!

Coppertone - 1953 ad

Coppertone - 1953 ad

OK, Summer doesn’t “officially” begin until June 21, which is also Father’s Day this year (and my mother-in-law’s birthday – Love ya, Rose!) But flipping the calendar page to June just sets my warm-weather clock a-tickin’.

School will be out, my work hours will shorten and hopefully the “lazy days” will be relaxing but productive for my writing.  A plan of action needs to be in place, not just for the next few months, but leading into fall and the new school year, as well.  Geez, Mary Jo, you’re saying, isn’t it bad enough that school supplies will be on sale soon? Can’t we just relax and enjoy this slower paced time of year?  

Sure, if you want to starve. Maybe not starve, but you will fall behind while other freelance writers are working their way up the ranks.  Businesses don’t close down for the summer and neither should you. If you’re taking your writing seriously, as a business, that is.  I’ve already emailed the principal of my son’s middle grade school to discuss the possibility of starting an after school writing club. And began plans for National Novel Writing Month, which isn’t until NOVEMBER!

Adjustments to your regular writing routine may be needed and beneficial to you and your family – but don’t STOP writing!

So, what are your writing plans for the summer?

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Filed under Advice, emotion, goals, Inspiration, Organization, Perseverance, Platform/Marketing, Rest

Rejection Reflection

“Often we allow ourselves to be upset by small things we should despise and forget. We lose many irreplaceable hours brooding over grievances that, in a year’s time, will be forgotten by us and by everybody. No, let us devote our life to worthwhile actions and feelings, to great thoughts, real affections and enduring undertakings.” Andre Maurois ~ 1885-1967, Writer

I found this quote in my inbox this morning, courtesy of insightoftheday.com.  It was the epitome of what I felt yesterday and still, a bit this morning.

Rejection. That sting of not winning a contest, or not getting a reply from an editor or getting a reply that says “you suck.” OK, not exactly those words, but it feels  like that is what they’re saying, right?


Then, yesterday, another blow to my writer’s ego. The “Silent Character Contest” judge should have emailed me to announce that I won the Grand Prize. Alas, after obsessively methodically refreshing my email, there was no winning message. There was no message from this judge at all. My heart sank when I read on their website that the Grand Prize winner was…not me. I worked on this short fiction piece for weeks, editing, rewriting, eliminating unnecessary words, letting it sit and then coming back to bleed on it again. My efforts were not completely unrecognized; my story did make it past the 2nd round of judging.  But it was a rejection, just the same.

What did I do? You’re expecting a ballad to play here as I triumphantly declare, “As God as my witness, I will never go hungry again!” OK, enough of the Gone with the Wind melodrama. I didn’t cry, but felt like I could. I shared the news with my husband who was most sympathetic. I also posted on my writers’ group blog, my support system, the wind beneath my wings…Seriously, though, just typing how I felt, I knew these writer mamas would understand. Family and friends are wonderful, but a fellow writer truly feels your pain in rejection.

These wonderful women sent me virtual Frappachino’s, chocolate and hugs. But most effective were their words of encouragement. The “it’s OK to feel this way, but get back on that bronco and rein in an acceptance, cowgirl!”  Things I knew but needed reminding. I cannot say enough about the positive chi that comes from a writers’ community, whether local or virtual. Go get yourself one!

And, for more words on how to handle rejection, check out the last two posts & comments on Stories of life: one mom’s odyssey. Then come back and share your sorrows of rejection here!



Filed under Advice, Believe, emotion, Perseverance, writers

Happy Place

photo courtesy of fotosa

photo courtesy of fotosa

This weekend, my husband and I escaped to my parents’ cottage in Sister Lakes, MI for our anniversary get away. Just the drive from Chicago through Indiana to the state line of Michigan helps me feel lighter. It is a physical sense of leaving behind the news, the phones, and the email. It is literal, as well, since there is no internet, phone or cable connection at the cottage. (I suffered minor panic and email withdrawals, but recovered quickly.)

 It was dark by the time our tires crunched over the gravel road and backed onto the large front lawn. The air was fresh and cool; the stars twinkled white and bright in the black sky, like the mini pegs on a Lite Brite game. The cottage has a faint musky smell, which itself is a comfort. The cozy enclosed front porch has large windows on each side and a skylight where the sun pours in from rise to set.  An old-fashioned refrigerator buzzes and gurgles in the kitchen, the tap water sputters cold until the fuse for hot water is turned on and a selection of Dad’s favorite movies are spread out on the bed: Into the Wild, Fargo, Lonesome Dove, Jackknife, The Man from Snowy River, to name a few.

 We spent our days talking, taking walks along the winding roads, stopping at still water ponds to look for tadpoles, we’d bring home to raise with our sons.  We never did find any. The few boats that were buzzing on Magician Lake were the backdrop to our weekend soundtrack. That and the different calls of birds and the pecking of woodpeckers. The quiet breeze sifted over our bodies as we curled together on the futon in the porch and napped. We found peace, comfort and quiet.

Recharging my batteries to prepare for a busy few months ahead was just what I needed.  The cottage has always been my place of solace. My happy place.

 Where is yours and how does it help nurture your creativity and your soul?


Filed under Creative Essays, emotion, Inspiration, Little Things, Rest, Writing Space