Fake it till YOU Make it

Let me start with this, taking a vacation for a week and staying home- better known as the “staycation”- is a dangerous thing. All it does is make you realize how great life can be if you didn’t have to work. Sure, going on a real vacation is great- duh -, and of course you have a great time because the theory is you left your worries and real life at home to do something new and interesting or relaxing and fun. But if you can have a staycation that is awesome, then clearly your worries have nothing to do with being home and have everything to do with working. :) Hence, my desire to write for a living. It would never feel like work and it could be done from anywhere. I have a passion for writing fiction- true story.

So this week my goal has been to once again get back to writing like I AM getting paid for it. Bottom line is sometimes you have to fake it till you make it. Actually, that is one of my mother’s favorite sayings and I think maybe one of her wisest. I hear this from people all the time; they faked their dream until it became real. Not necessarily full on lying to get there, but definitely just fudging of the truth until the reality matched the dream. Many successful people have employed this method, so why not me?

So how does one fake  being a writer without actually being a writer? Or, for your dream, how do you fake your dream until you make it? The simple answer is, you do it. Like Nike says “Just do it.” Do what you want to do, until it becomes the thing you hope for.

When I was 18 and a lost high school graduate I knew I wanted to work with animals and I had a strong feeling for dogs. When I got out of college with a degree in Biology, I wasn’t sure if I was ready for vet school as I had planned, so I went out into the world and started my own business. I became a petsitter, which in 1998 was not something people did or people used. Everyone told me it would fail, I would fail. Even my own mother asked what kind of people would pay a stranger to come to their house? It turns out lots of people would, and I made a profit in the first 4 months of business. By the end of year one, I was turning people away because I had no more time. But the funny thing is, I had NO experience running a business or taking care of people’s pets in their home. What I had was a drive to do it, and a 4 chapter book from the library that supposedly told me how. I can still remember my first client interview. I put on a show like I had been doing this for years! I said things like “Well most people do this…” or “Many of my clients want multiple visits a day…” um, I had no clients. Was it lying? Yes, was it a damaging lie? No. I was smart, I had worked with animals in a vet setting, and I owned pets, it wasn’t like I told someone I could build their home when all I’d ever built before was out of Legos or Lincoln Logs.

By the time my 6 years as a sitter were drawing to a close, so I could chase another dream, I was then calling myself a dog trainer. Was I a dog trainer? Sure, I had a dog and  he was trained. Ta Da! I didn’t once tell people I had done more than I had or had certificates I didn’t, but I did say yes when people asked if I could train their dogs when I did my pet sitting. Then six years later, when I was done sitting,  I was a certified trainer and had lots of education under my belt and a few apprenticeships too. I started training full time shortly thereafter and with all my experience with aggressive dogs during pet sitting, I become known as the aggressive dog worker. I didn’t really care for it, but I did capitalize on it. People figured if I could work with dangerous dogs, then clearly I could teach sit and down.

In essence, I have never outright lied, but I have misled folks or allowed them to mislead themselves. I have been honest about my abilities, though possibly exaggerated my actual history, and I have never had someone dissatisfied with my work because I only fibbed within the realm of possibility, not in the realm of fantasy. And that is the key secret to  faking it until you make it.

So back to being a writer. I do get paid to write and edit boring government documents. So I suppose that counts as experience. When people ask what I do, I tell them I am a writer knowing they assume that I write books or articles for magazines or the newspaper. I don’t elaborate and say “of boring government documents” they don’t want to know that, and I don’t want to tell them. So I am bending the truth or possibly omitting the truth. However, I soothe my conscience with the very real fact that I do write fiction, almost daily. I have yet to be published, but I can feel that day coming and I know I will get there. Why? Because if I fake it long enough, people are bound to believe me and an agent will, at some point, say “Man I have to represent this woman and this book”. So far I have written three books and numerous short stories (aka books I just couldn’t stretch to full book length). I have submitted two of these books to agents. The first got nothing positive, clearly I needed more work. The second got mixed reviews from “I love your writing and voice” to “I think your idea is really cool” and the ever popular, “you clearly have talent” why thank you- *blush*.

So the first generated nothing but rejections. The second got a we want to see more because you are good, but this particular work wasn’t for us kind of responses. IMAGINE what my third book will get when I send that out to the people who liked the second one? These people believe I am a writer because I keep sending them things I have written! My writing gets better because as a writer, I keep writing and practicing my craft. I am faking this baby until I make it. Sure, it may not be the first book I wrote went number 1 with a bullet like Jennifer Meyers who wrote The Twilight Series, but if it took JK Rowling a million rejections to get Harry Potter published, I think I am still in good company.

I won’t lie, rejection is hard to take, but with each rejection I knew I  could do better, if for no other reason than not liking people telling me I am wrong or I can’t do something. They have said that about me before, and somehow I still keep proving them wrong. In the spirit of intentional living I am making the boldest move I can (while still being a responsible adult with children), I am vowing to write daily and submit everything I write until I get paid to do it. That is the goal, that is the dream. And if I fake this long enough, I know I will get there. I trained dogs for almost 20 years, and it all started with a small fib, just an exaggeration really of what I had already done, and it opened one of the most amazing doors for me. It gave me the opportunity to do what I loved for years. Now I want to do something new. I am a writer, I write. Notice I didn’t say “I want to be a writer” Or “I want to write”.

What do you want to do? How do you want to live? What is your dream? And what can you do to make that dream happen? How can you fake it till you make it? Please share!

 

What I’m Reading: Bridget Jones- Mad About the Boy by Helen Fielding. Once you have read the first two, how do you not read the third??

What Else I’m Reading: Still working on The Power of Now. It is so thought provoking I find I have to read each sentence twice to make sure I am really grasping the concepts. I like the premise, but I am not sure how I feel about the execution just yet.

What I’m Listening to: Randy Newman’s Land of Dreams Album, but specifically Falling in Love so lovely.

Now Moment of the Week: Getting artistic and painting my son a Pirate theme mural in his room. It isn’t done, but it has felt so wonderful just focusing on the project, just being in the moment of creating this vision for him. I haven’t done anything artistic in decades.

photo 1 photo 2

 

Inspirations from the Ether: Getting viral

How You Are Wasting Your Time at the Gym

I go to the gym at least 4 times a week. Before I had children it was more. This week, while I am on vacation, I am trying to go everyday. I love the gym. I admit it freely and without fear of persecution. I know lots of people don’t get this or they think of the gym as a terrible evil place where demons live, but I love it. I will make no apologies or pretend otherwise. If it makes you uncomfortable that is your problem- note to yourself maybe you should look at why you care if I love the gym.

I see lots of regulars at the gym working out hard and just as often as myself, but they never seem to make any progress. They lift the same weights day in and out, their body never changes and they never seem to get that high I love so much. It makes me sad to see so many people who obviously want to reach a goal, who are putting in the time and probably the effort, but who go home everyday exactly as they were the day before. If it bothers me, I can only assume it bothers them even more. I would NEVER go to the gym on a daily basis if I didn’t experience results. Even I’m not that dedicated.

These people are wasting their time. I watch it and it is painful. Here are the top 8 ways people waste their time at the gym; don’t be one of these people.

  1. Changing music or checking their phones. I’ve blasted through whole workouts in the amount of time it took one guy to find the right song on his iPod. Seriously, create a play list for working out and leave your phone in the locker. Unless someone is about to die or your baby is alone with a sitter for the first time you don’t need your phone, whoever is calling can wait.
  2. Standing around talking. Sorry folks, this isn’t social hour or even happy hour. This is a workout, if you can talk you aren’t working out hard enough. If someone you know wants to chat just tell them politely that you really need to finish up with no distractions can they call you later? Smile and put your ear phones back in.
  3. Resting between sets. What the hell are you resting for? You “rest” about 22 hours in the day. Trust me, your body doesn’t need a rest; be it 30 seconds or 2 minutes, you do not need to rest. If you are between sets then do a set for an alternate body part while you “rest” the first muscle. But for god’s sake do not stop and sit. If you’ve got time to lean, you’ve got time to pick something heavy up.
  4. Lifting 5-10 pounds. Seriously, women stop doing this. They should just take 5 pound weights out of the gym. Unless you are old or doing rehab you should never be caught holding a 5 pound dumbbell. Waste of time. Go home, sit on your couch and lift your pocket dog up and down. Same thing and just as useless for getting in shape.
  5. Avoiding cardio or weight training.  To get fit fast and see results you need both. Sorry, but you really do. Nothing can take the place of lifting weights and nothing works your heart or burns calories the way cardio does. So don’t tell me you are trying to bulk up so you can’t run or you are trying to “lean out” so you can’t lift. It just makes you sound ignorant.
  6. Going home and eating ice cream. Or whatever your thing may be. Bottom line is the rest of your day, including what you eat, has more impact on your overall health and ability to lose weight than what you do at the gym. Don’t negate your hard work with over indulgence. Might as well not go to the gym, or you can lift the gallon of ice cream for 10 reps before indulging. I just saved you time and the money for a gym membership. You’re welcome.
  7. Waiting on a machine. You have to be flexible at the gym, especially if it is a peak hour. You don’t have time to wait for a specific machine to clear up. Bottom line, for every body part you want to work there are about 20 ways minimum that you can work it. So if your favorite machine is busy, take this opportunity to break a rut and find something new to do. If you don’t know what other exercises work that particular muscle then ask someone. Everyone was new once. Everyone knows what it was like to feel stupid in the gym.
  8. Leaning on cardio equipment. Get your hands off the cardio machine! Now! Unless you need it to balance yourself, or it is an elliptical machine (though I do these hands free too), your hand should ever touch a piece of cardio equipment again. If you are leaning, clutching, pulling, or vice gripping a machine then you are not working out hard enough. Let go!

Now that you know what not to do, let’s talk about what you should do. Here is a quick outline of what you should be doing with your gym time. This will get you the results you’ve been looking for and it takes about the same amount of time you are probably already spending in the gym. Now that you aren’t doing the 8 deadly sins of the gym you should have plenty of free time to get it right.

  1. Lift weights first. It helps to burn the glucose in your blood and the glycogen in your muscles which forces your body to burn more fat for energy when you get to cardio. Don’t argue, just do it.
  2. Lift as heavy as you can. Seriously. If you don’t know how heavy you can lift just start picking things up. I lift pretty heavy, for an out of shape girl, and I don’t think anyone would ever call me bulky. So if your fear is bulking up, I suggest you avoid the ‘roids and lift something heavy. Lift for at least 8 reps and 3 sets. If you can lift whatever it is for more than 8 times, it isn’t heavy enough.
  3. Learn the major muscle groups and work out at least 2 groups a day with at least a 2 day break before working them again. Try Chest/Triceps one day, Back/Biceps the next day, Legs/shoulders the third day. Then repeat or take a day off. I do abs everyday I go to the gym. Everyday. After 6 weeks or so of this schedule switch the order up or do new exercises to avoid hitting a plateau. Right now I am doing 1 exercise per body part everyday. Everyday it is a different set of exercises than the day before. No day is the same. I am doing this this week because I finally get to go to the gym every day, I finally put down the ice cream spoon, and I am looking to blast through a plateau I’m stuck on. Its going to suck because I’m not doing a lot of down time, but that is why I will only do this for a week.
  4. Do abs between sets. This way you are staying active but letting the muscles have a break. So do 8 squat reps, then do something for abs, then 8 squats reps, abs etc.
  5. Do fast, high intensity cardio for 2-4 minutes between exercises. So when your 3 sets are done, do cardio at a super high intensity for 2-4 minutes. I mean, you can barely breathe, you certainly can’t talk, and you are actually sweating intensity level cardio. Studies show that high intensity interval training burns loads of fat and is actually better for your cardiovascular health than long duration cardio. Plus, by the time you are done lifting you will have done about 30 min of cardio without really trying or getting bored.
  6. Work your way up to at least 3 exercises per body part every day you work them. So for example, if it is chest day, you could do chest press, incline chest press, and flys. This works the muscles from slightly different angles and it ensures that the muscles work to their fullest extent.
  7. Once weight lifting is over, do at least 20 min of cardio. If you did the cardio intervals while lifting, then you already have about 30 min give or take under your belt. So now you just need about 20-40 min more depending on your energy level and time allowance. I hate cardio. I think it is boring and it makes my lungs hurt, but it is a necessary evil. To spice it up avoid sitting on one machine, move around to stay motivated. Do 5 minutes per machine or a different machine each day. Or you can do interval training on 1 machine. I hate to run but I have found that if I do the treadmill and vary my speed between running fast on a low incline and walking fast on a high incline that I get a great calorie burning workout without the burning lungs and vomit.
  8. Don’t forget to stretch and warm up. It prevents injury and helps your body move easier through the exercises and real life. You can never stretch too often or too much.

The bottom line is this, If you are already putting in the time at the gym, but you aren’t seeing the results you wanted, then you are doing something wrong. If you avoid the 8 gym sins listed above and engage in the 8 must do tips then you should start seeing results in a very short period of time. You’re putting in the time, shouldn’t that time count? Good luck and get moving!

This post assumes certain things are true about you, the reader. If these things are not true, please do not follow the suggestions contained within. This post assumes you are relatively healthy with no major medical issues. It further assumes you are capable of moderate level exercise and do not have any pre-existing conditions that would effect your ability to exercise or try new things- laziness and excuses not withstanding. If you have pain, shortness of breath, or dizziness during exercise or you get injured, STOP immediately and seek professional guidance.

In case you question my ability to give advice concerning this topic, please rest assured that I not only have a degree in Biology and have been a certified personal trainer since 2002, but I have owned and operated a body for a significant number of years and can attest to it’s responses to high intensity, frequent exercise. Enjoy!

 

Here is your Zen and the Art of Friends moment about gyms.

Take Action! Epic Fail!

Week 4… wow, it is amazing what you can or can not accomplish in 4 weeks. Hm, this week has more or less been a FAIL for me, but lets see what I wanted to focus on for making my life better this week- right after I sum up the last 3 weeks.

Week 1- Identify what you are already proud of, do well, or consider awesome about yourself. Check!

Week 2- Create a list of what you WANT your intentional identifiers to be that aren’t included in week 1 list. Check!

Week 3- Identify your real friends, use them as champions and cull the rest- nicely of course :) Check!

Week 4- Take action!

This is the week when I had planned to really take action on my personal identifiers and making them a reality. So far I have epically failed. Which while I don’t want to dwell on it, I feel it is important to be just as honest about failures as I am successes, and that often there is more to learn from the failures.

It is only Wednesday, but my initiative to take action on bringing my intentional life to fruition is already gone awry. I will say I have successfully continued this blog for almost a full month, and that certainly qualifies as “being a writer” and “one day getting paid for it”. I have to start somewhere. I can also tell you I had an agent from the publishing world request the first three chapters of a book I queried her about over a month ago; so this was a pleasant surprise and I am giddy that someone found my urban fantasy manuscript story concept interesting enough to read and that perhaps writing 97000 words wasn’t a huge waste of time. Even if nothing comes of this, it is nice to know I am making headway on one of my most important identifiers; being a writer is part of who I am, and I really would love to get paid to do it.

The rest of my goals and identifiers have left me feeling my age in more ways than one. I’m stressed, exhausted, frustrated, and as my three year old son so eloquently put it this morning I’m “not being as nice as I should be”. By the way, there is nothing more humbling and instantly upsetting as having a toddler point out that you really should be nicer. Unless of course, it is a toddler pointing out that you should be nicer and he is not only right but he is showing amazing restraint by not hitting you when you deserve it.

Essentially, I have been set back this week by allowing others to sabotage my bold strides forward. And while I can certainly blame other people for their contribution, it really is my fault and mine alone. I believe we all make the choice of how we will let others impact us. It is a hard skill to master, but in the end we can choose our response, and therefore the impact on us of other people’s actions.

So family failing to show support to our sick son and instead kicking us when we were down should have elicited a “so what, completely not surprised by this” and instead I find myself ruminating on why people can’t just be nicer and family can’t just step up and do the right thing. So I have allowed the actions of others to impact my overall mood and my actions, when really their actions are typical, not a surprise, and certainly not worth my time to try to fix, help, or even continue to think about. Why I still feel the need to replay what I’d like to say to them in my head is still a mystery, but it is something I should be able to stop. It isn’t worth my time and certainly they fall under the category of Friendly Saboteur if ever someone did. But I have failed in that I can’t let it go and I still feel the need to defend myself and my family. Maybe that is the mama bear in me coming out, but you hurt my family, I’m all done playing Mrs. Nice, if you know what I mean.

The other fails this week include:

Being upset that those I care about don’t see how they are mistreated; that they think my extra thoughtfulness and care is on par with another person’s controlling nature or disregard for their feelings. This shouldn’t matter to me, that is their life, they will see what they like and feel what they like regardless of reality. I need to let go. I am good to them and I should be able to sleep well at night with that being the end of the story.

Being too controlling. I really want to let go of my controlling nature (it is on my list of identifiers to be more go with the flow) and ironically I wrote an entire post about it for the blog and it was “lost” into the ether of the internet apparently never to be seen again. Talk about smacking a control freak in the face, nothing like losing 2 hours worth of work to bring a control freak to the boiling point or the obvious conclusion that I need to let go. Stop controlling, just take control and stop it! ;) But seriously,  I will write more on this later because control freak hasn’t always been part of who I am and I am eager to explore how it became so, so that I can get rid of it.

I’ve been disconnected from my kids. In my efforts to set our finances in order, get in a regular workout, cook a gluten free dinner, work my 9-5 job, make it on time to all the doctor appointments, and deal with finding housing for my mother/child care provider, I have been disconnected from my boys, and it shows in my patience level and their neediness. Yesterday, I was finally able to play with them outside and no matter how silly the game of roll a tennis ball through the downspout they disconnected from the house might be, I was able to at least stay present in the moment and pretend it was the best time ever. Because honestly to two little boys covered in mud, it was the best time ever.

The world’s dirtiest bathrooms. I am considering calling the Discovery channel and having that guy from Dirty Jobs come to my house to clean my toilets. I wonder if they have ever gotten that letter in the mail. I recently realized that in the 6 years I have known and lived with my better half, he hasn’t once cleaned the bathroom. So while I think the real secret to any good marriage is that both partners have the same tolerance for dirtiness (however great or small that may be) I also think it is important if the man of the house gets up close and personal with his throne so he can at least appreciate his wife’s amazing ability to hold back vomit while cleaning. Men are dirty. They should clean their own bathrooms, so on that note I have been staging a protest and I am very concerned that I will fail at it and give in and clean the darn thing. So yeah, the state of my bathroom is a fail even if I am playing it off as an attempt at being less controlling :) and thereby still attaining one of my identifiers. Oh what a tangled web I weave….

So those are my failures, and a few successes thrown in for good measure, because there is always something to be proud of and something that went right. This week those happen to be fewer than the fails, but I am at least taking action toward my intentional identity and I suppose there will be pitfalls along the way.

If it was easy, everyone would be doing it.

What will you do this week to take action on your intentional identity? Pick one; remember we believe in baby steps around here. Pick one identifier, one thing you want to be true about yourself, that you want to brag about at parties and reunions. Pick the one thing, then take action! Do one thing to make it happen! Want to lose weight? Try diet instead of regular soda. Want to get control of your finances? Take a good hard look at where your money is going. Want to be a sculptor? Join a group of like minded people or take a class. Just take action. At least one thing this week. Or heck, go hog wild do more, just DO something.

High points: Reading books with boys, credit counseling completed, paperwork in order, promotion for my hubby, better blood work for the baby, agent interested in my book, finding a gluten free Rotisserie chicken (thanks Dink) for emergency last minute meals for Celiac kids. I’ll take it, and its only Wednesday!