Why You Should Work on Your Own Terms: A Book Review

Work on Your Own Terms in Midlife & Beyond

A Book Written by Janine L. Moore

I was Wrong:

When I first came across the book, Work on Your Own Terms in Midlife & Beyond, I had already mapped out my exit strategy from the corporate world. In my mind, I didn’t need any more help to retool for my post-corporate life. The trouble was that I bought the book–it was an impulse buy–, and I couldn’t let a purchase go to waste. So I decided to read it.

I opened it on my tablet during my outbound flight to Portugal where a blissful week of sightseeing and socializing with friends awaited. From the first chapter, Janine Moore hooked me with her engaging style. The first quote I read, “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” ~ Anais Nin, drew me in. Then as I read more, I felt more and more connected to Ms. Moore. She spoke to me even though I thought I didn’t need to hear anymore. She made a lot of sense, so I listened.

Every night at the hotel that week in Portugal, exhausted from the day’s activities I’d read the book before going to bed. Ms. Moore advises the reader to read the entire book once, and then re-read one chapter each day, doing the exercises shown after each one. The idea is to rewire your brain by the end of thirty days when you finish reading the book. She wants you “to view the world through a different lens so you can create life on your own terms.”

The Book

Work On Your Own Terms in Midlife & Beyond: Change Your Mind, Change Your Life
Each chapter begins with one or more powerful quotes from the likes of Martin Luther King, Jr., Dale Carnegie, the Dalai Lama, and others, and ends with some action steps where Ms. Moore also lists some suggested reading materials. She cleverly groups most of the chapters under six of our main fears: 1) Poverty, 2) Criticism, 3) Poor Health, 4) Loss of Love, 5) Old Age, and 6) Death. She addresses these fears and how to work with them.

Our fears cripple us if we let them. The author uses examples and quotes to help you tame them. For instance, the fear of poverty drives us to work hard and to amass more wealth than we need, thus cuffing us to our jobs longer than necessary. She uses the parable of the businessman and the fisherman to illustrate how one can chase monetary gains blindly in the name of financial freedom that will allow you to spend quality time with family and friends. However, all this while, that dream is already within the businessman’s reach except he doesn’t know it.

Death finds everyone without exception. The author quotes Norman Cousins, “The tragedy of life is not death, but what we let die inside us while we live.” Food for thought. She also believes that the people who ponder their own mortality lead more fulfilling lives. She uses Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple Inc. as an example. He said, “Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life.”

The Message

While I haven’t gone back to re-read the book as recommended by the author–time constraints being my excuse–I plan to do it as soon as I can. I believe in Ms. Moore’s message about working on your own terms. It doesn’t even have to begin at midlife; it can apply to anyone with the right mindset.

Publish Your Short Story

workstation-336369_640 (1)Do you want to publish a story on the web? Wondering if you’ve got what it takes to tell a story?

My goal is to assist people who are dabbling with words for the first time. Perhaps I can plant a seed in your head, and then help you find your voice for at least, one short story. After that you can decide whether you want to continue to write or not. Experience tells me that once you see your story posted on-line, you’ll get hooked. Most of the writers on my site have never written seriously before I invited them to try.

So how do you get started? Pick a writing prompt (click here) on my site to fire up your imagination. Write a story between 300 – 500 words long. Embed the selected prompt anywhere in your narrative. You may change the tense, but you cannot change anything else in the sentence. When you’re ready, copy and paste the entire text into the message part of the “Contact Me” page, and send it to me. I will edit your work and then return it to you. If you accept my changes, then I will post your story on my site, no strings attached. It may take a few weeks to make it to my blog. I’ll email you when it’s posted.

Why do I do this? Because until recently I was a new writer myself. Because it’s hugely gratifying when I can bring a complete novice along the writing journey and then see them grow as a writer. I want to encourage you to go even further. Stoke the fire in your author belly by downloading my resource-packed free e-book. As a bonus you’ll also get an Excel template to track the timelines of your characters and events for when you’re ready to write a novel.

So what are you waiting for? Start writing now. Claim your free e-book and Excel workbook from the sidebar.

Short Shorts: Dreaming

Dreaming

DREAMING

Guest writer: DIANE CORMIER

Writing Prompt: He glances at his leg when something warm and moist trickles down from his knee.

Sitting here, day dreaming.

Nikki is in the kitchen making dinner. Maybe she’ll make something better than mac and cheese tonight. “I know, I know, I shouldn’t complain.” It’s just that sometimes he wishes for more.

He can see himself lying on a beach, drinking margaritas with all his friends around him. All those women in their bikinis, parading around him and vying for his attention. Oh this is the life. No responsibilities, no family, no worries.

“Waahhh!” What is Jake crying about now? Not now, not when it’s getting good. Can’t he get some alone-time without all this noise? Jake stops crying.

“Good, now where was I?” Oh yes the beach, the fine women, the bachelor‘s carefree life. Sigh…how he misses that life when everyone gathered at his beach house, and they all talked about nothing. All they were interested in was which girl they wanted to spend the night with.

Who is that blonde one over there who keeps looking his way or that sexy brunette who won’t look his way? Interesting… “I wonder why she’s avoiding me. Who is this mysterious woman?” She looks familiar but he can’t quite place her. All legs and a body he’d love to hold onto. Wait…she’s turning around. He can almost see her face. “Honey, honey, where are you?”

She turns…a gorgeous goddess!

He reaches out to touch her hand, but there’s an object in the way. He glances at his leg when something warm and moist trickles down from his knee. He glances up, and there’s Nikki holding their grandson, Jake and a cup half filled with warm milk.

With a start he realizes that the dream is over. He groans. Honey, where did you go this time?

Then he looks up at his beautiful Nikki, “Honey I was thinking about the first time we met. Back then you spilled something on me too.”

Nikki just smiles, hands Jake to him and says, “Dinner’s almost ready, and it’s Jake’s favorite, mac and cheese.”

As she walks away he sees a distant look in her eyes. Oh yes, she remembers. He has a feeling tonight is going to be special just like it was when he first met her. But first things first, let’s cuddle with Jake, and yes, eat mac and cheese.

The End

Short Shorts Number 1

Writing Prompt: “She knocked down a glass spilling the contents over his cellphone.”

SOUL MATES

by C.Fong Hsiung

Soul Mates

Soul Mates

He tapped restless fingers on the glass table. He wondered why, earlier that day, Tracy had said, “I don’t want to talk about this over the phone. Let’s meet tonight.”

With a sense of foreboding he watched Chelsea eat her dinner. Her golden mane gleamed as the evening sun kissed the soft waves. His heart twisted at the thought of giving her up. He had a feeling Tracy would demand that from him when they met that night.

He sighed. Chelsea continued eating oblivious to the turmoil raging in his head. Mentally he braced himself for the meeting with Tracy. He rehearsed what he’d say to her. “Chelsea and I have a special bond that cannot be broken, but I promise it won’t come between you and me.”

That sounded lame. He tried again. “You and I are soul mates. Nothing can come between us, not even Chelsea.”

The phone rang. Something swished past him. With a crash, she knocked down a glass spilling the contents over his cellphone. Quick as lightning, his hand shot across the table and lifted it from the puddle. “Chelsea, look what you’ve done.”

The ringing ceased. As he strode across the kitchen floor for the paper towel, he said, “You need to watch where you’re going. My phone’s probably ruined.”

He wiped the face plate until it shone, and then he tapped an icon. The phone dinged. He released a low whistle. “Whew, close call.” He flipped through the missed calls’ list and groaned. That was Tracy.

Chelsea whimpered. He looked into the soulful eyes that followed him. “I’m sorry for yelling at you. Come here, give me a hug.”

Tail wagging, she bounded towards him. “The hell with Tracy,” he thought as Chelsea licked his face. “If she thinks I’m giving up my dog for her, she’s in for a shock.”

Sharing is Good

ShareYourStoryDo you think you have some latent desire to be a writer? Would you like to explore your inner author? Let me help you stoke the embers.

Here’s the deal:

I will provide you with a writing-prompt—one sentence—every week to get you started. You embed the sentence anywhere in your 300 to 500 word narrative. If you feel like sharing your work, I’ll publish it on the “Short Stories” section of my website. Pretty cool, huh? I reserve the right to edit your work before I post it. You keep the rights to your story always.

Writing Tips:

When you write your “shorts”, you should have a character, conflict and resolution. Use dialogues as much as possible to drive your fiction.

Ready to Share?

Send me your story via the “Contact Me” tab on my website. Enter the writing prompt in the subject line. Then paste your story in the message box.

This Week’s Prompt:

She knocked down a glass spilling the contents over his cellphone.

And Finally:

Have some fun and release your creative juices. Go ahead and share this with anyone who has a hidden writer inside them.

That’s it!

 

Picture attribution:

sw_PenOnManuscript_ncp9648.jpgBy jpp
Image URI: http://mrg.bz/IqvX3o
JPEG URI: http://mrg.bz/g4ANNA

Make Minor Adjustments in Your Life to Create a Major Impact

Waterfall

 

Start with a Vacation

Every time I return home from a vacation, I have an urge to make some adjustments—something small to change things up in my life. The down-time away from home allows me to think about what’s happening to me and around me.

A Change in My Routine

In 2010, my mother checked into the hospital for a surgery. What was supposed to be a one-week stay turned into a five-month nightmare. While I had been driving to work for many years, commuting 35 kilometres each way every day, I found myself driving even more. I detoured to the hospital almost daily and also drove there on the weekends. Then when I took my first trip to China around the time my mother finally went home, I spent two weeks almost worry-free. After lots of naval-gazing, I decided that when I returned home, I would stop driving to work. I began to ride the train instead, and I used the commute time to read, write or chat. I’ll bet these rides now provide more therapeutic relief than any psycho-analytic couch.

A Significant Step

During the past few years, I had been toying with the idea of winding down from the corporate world to spend more time doing what I love. After much soul searching and number crunching, and after another vacation late last year, I decided to drop one day from my full-time job in March. I’m now writing another book…make that two. I started writing the sequel to Picture Bride a few months ago, and I’m one quarter of the way into an e-book that I will give away on my website. I might even write a series of Kindle books…maybe I need another vacation to give me the impetus to take that on.

A Word of Advice if I May

Use your vacation time to relax and let your mind take you in any and every direction. When you let yourself go, you just never know where you’ll end up. I highly recommend bringing home one little tweak to your routine to spice things up a bit. You don’t need to shift gears as much as I did in my examples above. I’ve tried to adopt a minor change each time I came home from a holiday. Some lasted and some got lost in the sea of tasks that greeted me as soon as I stepped inside the office. Just add or subtract something that makes you feel good.

And Finally…

The key is to aim for those little adjustments; they might accumulate into a big and rewarding lifestyle shift.

Get Serious About Retooling

Somewhere in Barbados

Harping on Retoolment

A few weeks ago, I thought I had created a new word, retoolment. Imagine my chagrin, when I googled it and found it already used, albeit sparingly. Lesson learned: google first before claiming something for your own.

Still, retoolment is a good word to describe that phase in your life when you’ve decided to leave the corporate world to pursue your own interests, for profit or for pleasure. For some this may mean turning into entrepreneurs. For others, money may not be the motivator; you focus on what you love to do.

Reorganize or rearrange your life.

What brings a sparkle to your eyes? What’s holding you back? Stop talking and start doing. Make room in your day now for your passion. Wouldn’t it tickle you to turn your passion into a money-making scheme?

I met a woman who retired recently, but finds herself with too much time and not enough to do. She doesn’t have a hobby or anything to fill the void that her job did. You see, we all need to retool. Whether we learn new skills or sharpen existing ones, it doesn’t matter. Take up a hobby. We want to wake up each morning looking forward to the day. You need to know that you have to accomplish certain tasks. Each new day is a gift; it must have a purpose. Without a purpose, you drift.

We humans don’t do well when we go through life without a purpose. When we are busy working at a job, raising our children, or looking after a loved one, we feel useful. We wake up each day with a purpose.

Find something…anything that fires you up.

Do you enjoy teaching or coaching? Did you ever dream of playing the harp? Do you love to sing? Dance? How about ballroom dancing? No partner or your spouse won’t dance? Try line dancing. The point is this: just do it. Join a class or learn on your own. The internet offers unlimited opportunities. Today you may be a novice, tomorrow you could turn into an expert…okay, maybe not quite the expert, but skilled enough to teach.

I took a creative writing course a few years ago; my first step toward retoolment. Last year I bought a couple of bikes to ride outdoors; more new tools. I plan to write for as long as I can and ride for as long as my body will allow me. Writing may or may not bring a new stream of income—it doesn’t matter—and riding fits nicely into my stay-fit routine.

So what would you like to do for your retoolment?

Story Engineering – Pearls of Wisdom

The most worthwhile $10 that I spent on a writing book recently was for Larry Brooks’ book, Story Engineering. Not only has he suddenly brought structure to my novel, but he’s infused it with new life.

Last November I started my novel-writing journey. I bought a number of books for technical guidance. I’m reading many novelists’ work with a voracious appetite in the hopes of gleaning some nuggets of wisdom. I’m also poring over numerous writing blogs, magazines, and anything that remotely resembles writerly pearls. And now there’s Story Engineering, a book I stumbled upon when I was browsing some of the recommended websites by Writers Digest. Until then, I’d say I was probably wandering in the pantser’s forest. Yes, there’s actually a word for my “fly by the seat of the pants” writing style. Mr. Brooks refers to people like me as pantsers.

Well, I took his advice and started to plan my book. That’s not to say I didn’t have a plan before – it was somewhat unstructured with a loose outline. My left brain kicked into high gear as I read Mr. Brooks’ methodology. I’m not suggesting that writing is left-brained, but I like the structured process. I can overlay my creativity freely over my “beat sheet”. Knowing my destination ahead of time is actually liberating. I know it almost sounds oxymoronish (dictionary says no such word exists)…structured creativity. Hey, if it gets me excited about my writing, that’s what matters.

I have completed the road map for my novel. Thankfully I was only at the halfway point in the book when I realized that I should stop my organic writing. I can now start to navigate my way on this journey with a defined route. While I’m prepared and expect to deviate somewhat during the creative process, I know that the basic path will keep me on course. For any budding novelist out there, if you’re finding yourself doing many re-writes and drafts, I’d recommend trying Larry Brooks’ Story Engineering.

The Positive Effects of Sharing Your Passion

My writing and my gym workout go hand in hand. Both are lifestyle changes that I’ve adopted. I write and I work out in the same way that my career is a way of life.

When I first decided to make exercise a part of my daily routine, I made some adjustments to my schedule. Five years later, I’m still waking up at 5 every morning to go to the gym. On weekends and holidays, I’m there as well, albeit a few hours later. Likewise, when I started to take my writing seriously during the last couple of years, I changed the way I use my commute time, lunch time and television time. See my blog dated December 4, 2012.

These lifestyle changes have lasted so long due to various factors. I believe that when you start sharing your passion with others, something wonderful happens. I am committed to my exercise regime not just because I feel refreshed after working out. More importantly, I interact with other members some of who are now also friends. I am missed when I don’t show up. We exchange ideas, encourage each other, and feed off on each other’s energy. These positive effects would be missing if I exercised by myself at home instead.

In the same way, when I went public with my writing, my motivation level went up. I let friends and colleagues read my work and I look forward to hearing their feedback, good or bad. I believe that one reason that my writing has grown is due to my having overcome the fear of letting others critique my work.

So if anyone reading this blog is still keeping their passion for something a secret, try including others in that circle. It could stoke your enthusiasm.