Happy, Happy, Happy: The Gospel of Phil Robertson

Full-camo Phil

Full-camo Phil

 “I may be only one man reading scripture and quotes, carrying his Bible, and blowing duck calls to crowds, but hey, it has to start somewhere. It’s what makes me happy, happy, happy.” – Phil Robertson

He’s a controversial figure – considered by some to be little better than an uneducated hick, by others, a redneck bigot. He’s plain-spoken, duck-hunting, techno-phobic and rugged; raised in poverty with guns and multiple siblings in a four-room cabin with no indoor plumbing or electricity and a single fireplace for heat. His bed was shared with three of four brothers and baths were cold-water only (heated water was for cooking and dishes). Whatever grew in the garden or could be hunted was what went on the table.

As Phil Robertson says, “Where I grew up, you practically went straight from diapers to manhood.”

He’s a low-tech man in a high-tech world, so it’s hardly surprising that the first chapter of the book contains  an admonition to “Throw Away Your Cell Phones and Computers, Yuppies.” Frankly, I’m in awe of anyone who manages to live without either nowadays, as Phil does. And a tad envious. Just a tad. Because I’m also a computer-reliant animal-lover, raised in four-bedroom middle-class comfort, who dislikes hunting for sport, has held a gun only once in her life, and is fond of ducks. So it seemed rather odd even to me that the autobiography of Phil “Duck Commander” Robertson landed on my reading list. But I wanted to hear from Phil in his own words, and, as I’d rather expected, I found Happy, Happy, Happy enormously entertaining.

Happy, Happy, Happy BookGranted, Phil and I have little in common aside from our Christian faith, but his innate penchant for doing nothing halfway earned my respect. This is a man who has always followed his passions, whether for his wife, “Miss Kay,” the land from which he has drawn his living since boyhood, or the Lord. The appeal of his story is not just that of a dream come true through years of struggle and uncertainty – and what American doesn’t love such a story? It’s in our DNA – but its undercurrent of love and full-frontal commitment.

Phil holds nothing back, from his mother’s manic depression and electroshock therapy to the oil drilling rig accident that left his father in a neck to hip cast for two years . . . the “outlaw” years that nearly cost him his family when he threw Kay and their three sons out of the house . . . the drinking, the prodigal son, the times of leanness followed by a plenty that occasionally befuddles him and led, among other things, to a popular A&E network television series. The voice is homespun but this is a man with a Master’s degree who could have played pro football but followed the deepest call of his heart, even when “100% convinced Duck Dynasty would never work.”

If the narrative occasionally slows in its detail of ducks and hunting techniques, that same call will resonate in the heart of anyone longing to pursue a dream or a purpose, or simply a less “connected” lifestyle. Phil’s story may be deeply American in its rags to riches, boot-strap self-reliance, but its greatest truths are universal.  

Yes, there was a Phil before the beard

Phil before the beard





Charter Member of the 4:00 AM Worry Club



Months ago, not long after my job ended, reality set in with a vengeance at about 4:00 a.m. one morning. Or what frequently likes to pose as reality: anxiety.

It’s not unusual for me to wake up around that time. Nor is it necessarily a bad thing. My first year away at college, my roommate and I occasionally joked that we had our best conversations at that hour. (Remember, Carol?)

These days, early morning wakefulness is more likely to be motivated by a call of nature rather than a call to unburden my soul (or counsel someone else who is unburdening theirs). But that wasn’t the case on the morning I’m thinking of. No, what I remember is the two hours of voices coming like poisoned arrows from seemingly every direction. I don’t recall the exact words, but the gist of their message was clear:

You’re an idiot.

For thinking that you can launch a midlife freelance business . . . from your bedroom. For thinking you have what it takes. You’re not smart enough or talented enough. You don’t know anything about the business end of running your own business and can barely do math.

Since, as I mentioned, this went on for two hours, I’m pretty sure there was a lot more, but time has mercifully blotted out most of it. Essentially it all boiled down to six little words: Who do you think you are?

* * *

Well,  I can give you part of the answer: I’m a person who tends to anxiety. A charter member, if you will, of the 4:00 a.m. Worry Club.

Heck, I was given my first tranquilizer prescription (Librium) at age eleven, or possibly twelve. I think they helped somewhat. A couple of years later I was given a couple more prescriptions, for Haldol and then Stelazine II. The former, at least, has a long list of possible side effects, most of which I believe I experienced on the two occasions I took it. The latter I don’t recall feeling any effect from whatsoever, so I secretly increased the dosage at least a few times as a result.

Perhaps it was by the grace of God that I still didn’t experience any effects, especially of the unfortunate variety, because I later learned both drugs were “high-potency anti-psychotics.” Just the thing you want to be prescribing for a fourteen-to-fifteen-year old after spending literally five minutes with her, asking questions such as, “How did you feel when your daddy died?”

Will you blame me if I say that I do not, as an adult, consider this doctor’s death some years ago as a loss to his profession?

But that is water under the bridge, and my purpose in this post is not to vilify Dr. M., alive or dead, nor is it to debate the merits vs. dangers of such medications. Dr. M.’s  prescription of Prozac, fifteen years later, may well have saved my life at one point. In spite of that, I’ve happily been off all such medications for four years.

“Be anxious for nothing,” the Bible says.

Hey, I’ve tried! Really. And a lot of the time I do succeed. 

But I can’t deny that 4:00 a.m. is a weak spot.

* * *

If I’d been sensible, I would have quit trying to go back to sleep that morning, because it was an entirely futile exercise. I would not have lain there and listened to those poison arrow thoughts. But I’m stubborn,  so I stubbornly insisted on trying to go back to sleep instead of listening to music, reading a book, even cleaning the bathroom, for pete’s sake. In another hour, I could have gotten up and taken a walk like a good member of the 5:00 a.m. club, a sub-set of my 30 Days of Hustle Facebook group. As you might guess, they believe in Getting Up and Doing Things at 5:00 a.m. (Being a chronic night owl, I didn’t last too long in this group, although part of me continues to aspire to membership.)


I’m no expert on handling anxiety. I  prefer not to have to handle it. In fact, for the past four months, I’ve been quite happy to have relatively little of it.

That changed somewhat when I discovered, through some miscalculation on my part (did I mention that I’m lousy at math?), that my unemployment compensation was running out about a month earlier than I’d thought it would.

It didn’t matter that I was still in good financial shape. It didn’t matter that I was not unconscious of my many blessings. (Like most people, I just have to be reminded of them on occasion.) It didn’t matter that I could sign up with an employment agency, or even multiple employment agencies, at the drop of a hat.

Nope. I still felt those old twinges.

But this time I decided to handle it a bit differently. This time I decided to do the next thing.

That’s it, folks. That is the next thing. Just DO the next thing.

You thought I had some kind of 30-second formula, didn’t you?

Well, I don’t. What I do have are those four words from author/missionary Elisabeth Elliott that I read long ago and have never forgotten, ’cause they made so much damn sense:

Elisabeth Elliott

Elisabeth Elliott

“When I went back to my jungle station after the death of my first husband, Jim Elliot, I was faced with many confusions and uncertainties. I had a good many new roles, besides that of being a single parent and a widow. I was alone on a jungle station that Jim and I had manned together. I had to learn to do all kinds of things, which I was not trained or prepared in any way to do. It was a great help to me simply to do the next thing.

“. . . I go back over and over again to an old Saxon legend, which I’m told is carved in an old English parson somewhere by the sea. I don’t know where this is. But this is a poem which was written about that legend. The legend is ‘Do the next thing.’ “

And so, when those old thoughts of, “Will the money run out before I find enough customers? Will I have enough money in my savings – or a job – when I need to buy a new car? Will a part-time job be enough while I try out this new venture? Will I be good enough? Can I learn enough? What if I don’t have the knack?” arise, whether at 4:00 a.m. or any other time, I’ve decided to just do the next thing.

The thing that’s right in front of me. Washing the dishes, cleaning the bathroom, taking my daily walk, typing up a new blog post, going to the grocery store, or studying my new craft: One thing I’ve learned is that fear hates activity.

Author/blogger Jon Acuff helped cement that lesson for me last July:

. . . I developed a very simple iPhone (or Android) trick to beat fear. It’s the simplest thing on the planet, I promise. Here’s what you do: 

Jon Acuff

Jon Acuff

       1. Open the clock on your smartphone.
       2. Choose timer.
       3. Pick one hour.
      4. Hit start.
      5. Do your thing until the timer sounds.

That’s it. Sound too simple to work? Try it first. Part of our fear is that we think we have to do everything all at once. . . . I can’t write an entire book in one afternoon. But I can do just about anything for 60 minutes. That’s not too scary. I can handle that. And what often happens is that by the time the alarm goes off I’m in the flow and have a little momentum. I can steal another 30 minutes from fear. How have I written five  books in five years? In 60-minute segments. That’s how.”

Sometimes I feel a little overwhelmed, thinking of how I’m going to finish this article and do this homework and read this lesson and write that blog post and keep up with this group and encourage that group and make that appointment and cancel that appointment and do that grocery shopping and start that laundry and, oh, yes, get back to that abandoned novel and abandoned writing course from a whole two years ago . . .

When others deal with so much more every day.

But “comparisons are odious,” as one of my favorite novelists said through the mouth of one of my favorite characters. So I try not to give in to them, choosing instead, tomorrow and the day after, to Do The Next Thing, even if just for an hour at a time. 

Even if that hour strikes at 4:00 a.m.

* * *

Now I want to hear from YOU. How do you handle anxiety? Are you a charter member of the 4:00 a.m. club as well? What’s your next thing? Write me and let me know.

In Which I Enter a Fitness Contest Although I Am Not Really “In It to Win It”

A dumbbell (Hantel)

I’m a weight-loss-wonder-wannabe, and I have the programs to prove it.

Lots of ‘em. CDs, books, videocassettes, DVDs. Elastic bands, exercise mats, medicine balls, stability balls. Dumbbells. Old Curves memberships. A still-not-put-together exercise bench that I bought last December.

Give me a minute and I’ll probably think of something else. Oh, yeah, a stationary bike.

Show me a program that promises to Deliver Results and my wallet all but snaps open of its own accord. Unfortunately, I’m just as good at ending programs as I am starting them.

Tiny Rivers. Matt Furey. Chantel Hobbs. Eddie Baran. Tony Horton. Tony Robbins. One I can’t remember the name of. With each one I swore that This Was It.

It happened again last year, when I discovered the Venus Index system via an Internet ad. Designed just for the unique fitness needs of women! And I was a woman!

This one, I never even started.

Until today.

* * *

I was doing my own thing and it was working: walking up to five miles a day, not eating sugar or fast food or after 7:00 p.m. or in between meals. My tops were getting too big and my bottoms needed pulling up . . . all without a program, though I was chewing enough gum to train my jaws for a marathon.

Then I was felled by a birthday cake. The one I made for my mom when I wasn’t eating sweets and couldn’t even lick the beaters, the Blue Velvet concoction with homemade icing that required two full bottles of food coloring to achieve just the right shade of orange . . . a “Gator Cake” that wouldn’t have placed in the most lenient of contests, but which enchanted my hormonally sugar-starved eyes and palate.

Not even a crumb! You’ve held out this long, it’s only a piece of damn cake, you’re surely not going to blow it now, are you?

One, two, three slices later, Lucie was officially off the No Sugar Wagon.

Then the daily walks became steadily shorter. Five miles at five in the morning gave way to a grudging ’round the block or so in the evening. The pants that I’d been repeatedly, almost gleefully pulling up, gradually stopped needing to be pulled up.

And I started remembering that Venus Index purchase . . . especially when the emails advertising its latest contest began to hit my mailbox.

* * *

Measurements and current weight are one thing, but photos? Yep, eight of them! Four at the beginning of the contest, and four at the end. Front, back, and sideways.

“You’re not as big as you were,”my mother said in what I can only consider an attempt at consolation when I enlisted her as photographer. Of course, I don’t know what I was worried about; it’s not like these were the hacked nude photos of Jennifer Lawrence or Rhianna currently making the news. There wasn’t much chance of anyone wanting to keep or publish these.

So I tugged on my swimsuit and headed with Mom for the back yard to get sufficient light. “Don’t hold anything in,” she said.

No worries, Mom. That would defeat the purpose. Geez, when did I get so swaybacked?

Then it was back to the website to submit all my information, in the hope I’d be officially chosen as a contestant . . . even though I really had no hope of winning and had already decided that if for some reason I didn’t “pass” (bad photos, I’m guessing), I was still forging ahead.

 * * *

“I need an accountability partner!” I told one of my Facebook groups last night.

“So do we!” several members chimed back. And as the number of replies slowly increased, “You should start a group!” said one.

So I did.

But why? Because twelve weeks is nowhere near long enough to get my body to looking like those previous contest winners. Because age and genetics are not on my side. Because I’m not really “in it to win it.” When November 24 rolls around, I won’t be sporting a bikini and a six-pack no matter how hard I work out or how many desserts I give up.

Why did I enter? Tell my Facebook pals? Form a group? Post a photo of my pale, swimsuit-clad lumpiness to said group? 

Keepin' it real, folks

Because deep in my introverted spirit lies a spark of competition fired by the thought of striving and winning, of “doing something drastic” to achieve a result. A spark of leadership to guide and encourage by example.

Because on January 1 of this year I set goals for this year, goals I’ve nearly forgotten, and the year is nearly over, and I want to finish it “well,” or as nearly well as I can in what’s left of it.

Because of the still, small voice that quietly nudges me that I’m meant to do and be better. That I’ve let myself down.

Mostly because, in spite of the wonderful, seemingly overnight freedom that comes with crossing the threshold of fifty, when you realize you’ve stopped caring so much about what other people think since they’re all far more concerned with their own affairs than yours, I’m still, deep down, a weight-loss-wonder-wannabe.

I guess I really am “in it to win it,” after all.

* * *

How about you? Have you ever entered a fitness contest? If so, how did you do? As always, I’d love to hear your story.



In Which I Never Thought I Would Write About Pantyhose

woman in pantyhose

About a month ago, I had a job interview.

Anyone who has ever endured one of these will testify that, no matter the amount of preparation beforehand, they are generally nerve-wracking experiences. Adding to the stress was the question of wardrobe. Everything I might have worn was either not quite suitable, too heavy for the season, or unlikely to fit after a recent weight loss.

So a-shopping I did go, only to discover that clothing designers seemed blissfully unaware that professional women my age existed. Thirteen trips to a dozen stores finally yielded an ensemble that wasn’t more appropriate for someone three decades my junior on her way to an outdoor summer party.

But that wasn’t the end of it . . .

* * *

I don’t wear pantyhose anymore, except on the rarest occasions. I don’t think most women do, especially in my native south. However, I’m rather old-school and conservative; this was an interview with a Catholic university law school; and did I mention that I’m from a generation that still does wear the dang things on occasion? Especially if you’re so fair-skinned that a coworker calls you “the whitest white person” he’s ever seen, even though you’ve lived nearly five decades in one of the sunniest states in the Union?

There was a time when I wore hose pretty much around the clock. This was back in the eighties, when I worked for a company with a dress code requiring same, especially on the “corporate” floor, where female employees were not even allowed to wear slacks. (To any young fry who may be reading this and have been known to go to work in flip-flops, I am not making this up. Things were different back then.) Plus, three decades ago my legs didn’t look much better than they do now. They may have had less cellulite, but even that is debatable.

So I wore pantyhose. In fact, I wore them like a second skin: under dresses, skirts, nice slacks, even jeans. When I belatedly discovered the blessing of knee highs, my world changed forever.

Not just for old ladies...

Not just for old ladies…

But those wouldn’t cut it for the interview, so, mentally cursing myself for throwing out the last pair of full stockings in my sock drawer, at which time I’d sworn I would never buy another because I was tired of dodging into office supply rooms to pull them up, I headed for Walgreens. They had their own brand in convenient single-serving packages for a relatively low price.

Well, they had.

Staring in disbelief at the choices before me, I wanted to shriek that on principle I refused to pay Five Dollars! for something that could be ruined in a second, but time was short, so I gritted my teeth and opened my purse, only to find that, thanks to accumulated points on my rewards card, my bill was a grand total of twenty-nine cents.

Considerably appeased, I headed for home and soon forgot the matter . . . until the day before my appointment, when I realized I had managed to exit the store with a package labeled Size A.

(For those who are fortunate enough to know little about hosiery and care even less, all I will say is that “A” is the near polar opposite of what my middle-aged body will squeeze into, weight loss notwithstanding.)

In desperation, I pulled them out of the package and began tugging them on, praying that by some miracle I could stretch them to the point necessary for an interview, if nothing more. They did their valiant best, but gave up the ghost at my hips.

Think this was a best-seller?

Not just for wearing…

Into the trash they went. Off to Walmart I went. Yep, give me good old cheap-o Walmart pantyhose, four pairs for the price of one at Walgreens. I don’t care what brand they are; they ALL run eventually.

* * *

Allison Freer addressed the subject of the once ubiquitous legwear in a recent column for XO Jane, noting that the two occasions in her life on which she donned a pair were for an uncle’s wedding and a grandfather’s funeral:

“I’ve never worn a pair of pantyhose since, and I can’t really think of a single reason to wear them in this day and age. Maybe if you are a lady lawyer trying a landmark case against the tobacco industry and you’re pretty sure they will end up making a major motion picture about you, so you want to give the costume designer a quirky character trait to work with later on?”

Ms. Freer had obviously never met someone like me.

“I don’t really remember anything about it except that the pantyhose I wore were made by L’Eggs and came in that awesome plastic egg I remember my mother having tons of around the house, as she worked in an office that required her to wear hosiery. As children, my brother and I did a lot of hilarious arts and crafts with those leftover ‘eggs.'”

I was sorry she didn’t include a photo of those crafts, but she did share a picture of her funereal stockings:

Alison Freer Stockings

Which I thought were pretty cool. In fact, I almost wanted such a pair myself.
If only I could have been sure they were suitable for job interviews . . . .

* * *

What do you think? Are pantyhose an invention of the devil, an occasional unfortunate necessity, or something in between? And if they can put a man on the moon, why can’t they invent a brand that doesn’t run?*

*Actually, those who are, like me, of a certain age may recall an early seventies brand called “Turtles,” because “Turtles never run” – get it? Even a scissors blade failed to penetrate them, at least according to the TV commercial. What ever happened to them? Did the marketers realize they could potentially put themselves out of business because their product would never become obsolete, or was it all just smoke and mirrors? Sadly, I’ll probably never know . . . .

A New View of Success for a New World: John Robbins and “The New Good Life”

“He who dies with the most toys wins.” – Malcolm Forbes

“I have no desire to replace conspicuous consumption with conspicuous frugality.” - John Robbins

* * * * *

“More than forty years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. described one of the foremost problems with the old good life.  ‘We are prone,’ he said, ‘to judge success by the index of our salaries or the size of our automobile rather than by the quality of our service and relationship to mankind.’ “

So quotes the man I’ve called “a gift to humanity”:  bestselling author, former heir to the Baskin-Robbins ice cream fortune, recipient of the Rachel Carson Award and the Albert Schweitzer Humanitarian Award, founder of EarthSave International…and the guy who, at least temporarily, pretty much converted me to vegetarianism after reading his Diet for a New America years ago.  For those of you not familiar with him, John Robbins grew up in wealth and privilege but decided at a young age that he wanted to pursue a different path than the one he’d inherit from his father – head of the Baskin-Robbins empire and a continued life of wealth and privilege.  Without giving too much away, he ended up with his wife, Deo, off the coast of British Columbia in a one-room log cabin they built themselves and lived in for the next ten years, during which time their son, Ocean, was born.  As the years went by, Robbins became committed to animal welfare and vegetarianism, as well as other environmental concerns, and the Robbins family expanded to include Ocean’s wife Michelle and the couple’s twin boys, born three months prematurely and suffering repeated bouts of oxygen deprivation that led to their autism.  The New Good Life: Living Better Than Ever in an Age of Less reveals enough of this background to give insight into Robbins’ character and values, but the real point for readers is something most of us already know:  “We have now entered an entirely new phase in our nation’s and our world’s economic existence.  We have come to the end of the financial world as we have known it.”

Robbins has known both wealth and what some would call poverty.  In 2001, he and his family had what he believed were sufficient income and savings prior to the twins’ birth, but the boys’ special needs, expected to be lifelong, led him to invest his money in a fund controlled by an attorney friend whom they greatly trusted.  For seven years the investment yielded respectable returns…until December 2008, when the friend called John with “excruciating news”:  The money had been invested with Bernard Madoff.

* * * * *

John Robbins

John Robbins

Robbins and his family made it through the most devastating crisis of their lives, thanks to hard choices, hard work, and the kindness of many friends who supported them.  And only two years later, he published The New Good Life, in the same calm, reasoned, sane tone that I’ve admired for years.  While the book is devoted in part to “Getting to Know Your Money Type” (disclosure:  I’m a Saver and a Vigilant) and “Four Steps to Financial Freedom,” there’s much more to saving ourselves and our planet.  Backed by the extensive research that underlies his other published works, Robbins tackles housing, vehicle purchases, public transportation, family size, green cleaning alternatives, and, of course, food, even including recipes for favorite family dishes such as split pea cabbage soup and tangy lentil-barley stew.  Using real life examples from friends as well as family, he guides the reader through a myriad of ways to make gradual changes in every part of life, that can lead to a new vision of hope as well as economic and physical health.

This is a book to read, and read again – thoughtfully, carefully, and to share with friends.  Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy as soon as you can.  Then “Go forth and be fruitful, go forth and be creative, passionate, and fully alive.  Go forth and bring the wisdom of your soul to bear on every choice, every experience, every breath, and every moment.”

Sound like a tall order?  It won’t by the time you get to the end.  And I bet you’ll find yourself numbered among the many like me who are thankful men like John Robbins are alive in this world.

* * * * *

For more information on John Robbins, his family, and his work, be sure to visit his website at http://johnrobbins.info/ and his Amazon.com page at http://www.amazon.com/John-Robbins/e/B000APQ3YC/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1398124297&sr=1-2-ent.

The New Good Life



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Because Dreaming and Doing Go Hand in Hand: Meet the Guys Who Want to Help You “Live Your List”

Live Your List

How many of you have a “bucket list”?  You know, that tally of life goals you’d love to achieve before you kick the bucket, as the popular saying goes.  Does it occasionally seem like  a mere catalog of wishful thinking, or have you set your list in motion but need a little help to finish it?

In this month’s installment of “Tell Me About It,” I asked authors, bloggers and speakers Jerrod Murr and Ryan Eller – two men who are the best kind of dreamers and doers, i.e., GIVERS – to talk about a cool project they call “Live Your List” – and why they’ve set out to help people just like you.

* * * * *

LW:  Jerrod, your website describes you as “not your average, shoot for the stars dreamer…Murr is a dreamer of dreamers.” Okay, that caught my attention…just what does that mean?

JM:  I find it difficult to describe yourself, so Ryan wrote this sentence for me. This is his description in his own words:

“When Jerrod and I were in college, one of our classmates described Jerrod as a dreamer of dreams, and it always stuck with me.  I try to surround myself with dreamers, and most people limit themselves to the preconceived notions of those around them.  Jerrod has no limitations on his dreams.  If he told me he was going to be the next person on the moon, I would believe him.” 

Jerrod Murr

Jerrod Murr

LW:  Ryan, on your website, Jerrod says: “Ryan gives hope to the dreamers and challenges leaders to step up and live a life of intention.”  Have you always felt it was your mission to lead and encourage others?

RE:  I come from a family of leaders.  I didn’t come from a wealthy family, a prestigious family, or even a well-educated family, but I came from a family of strong leaders.  Hard workers who have spent decades investing in other people without seeking fame or fortune.  I have been fortunate to be in an “iron-sharpens-iron” world from my youth.

LW:  Jerrod, you started your public speaking career at 14.  What were you talking about at that age?

JM:  At 14, I gave a speech to a huge crowd in Wainwright, OK, town of 300 people.  I was the Valedictorian of my 8th grade class.  I had three major points: 1. Thank you, Mom.  2. I believe in God.  3. Thank you, Mom.

LW:  Now I’ll be honest – I hadn’t heard of you gentlemen before coming across a mention of your bucket list project in a Facebook group – but I was immediately intrigued by this crazy thing you’re spearheading called “Live Your List.”  How did it start?

JM & RE:  “Live Your List” is the mantra we have adopted for our lives, business, and presentations. It’s a short way to describe living a life of intention.  We believe everyone should be proactive in how we live, dream big, set goals, play, love people, do more than you feel capable.  We, as a race, are incredibly strong and tend to underestimate ourselves.  Most of us just need a little encouragement.  The LiveYourList project is our way of practicing what we preach.  We are all about bucket lists and use that as a key concept in our life strategy.  With that in mind, the project helps people check off “buckets” and reach their dreams! 

Ryan Eller

Ryan Eller

LW:  And speaking of bucket lists…that term is familiar to almost everyone now, thanks primarily to the eponymous 2007 movie starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman – but do you think we’re more a nation of dreamers rather than doers these days?

JM & RE:  It completely depends on how you define dreaming.  We discussed this on a recent Live Your List podcast.  We are a nation of many daydreamers, wishers perhaps.  People who simply wish things were better or different.  The lottery winner mentality of dreaming.  But dreaming and doing go hand-in-hand.  Dreaming, for us, is more akin to vision.  You must have a vision for your life, then pursue that vision with reckless abandon.

LW:  Millions of people in this country, millions of dreams…how do you choose whom to help?

JM & RE:  Great question.  First, we can only help dreams we hear.  So go to LiveYourList.org to share your story or nominate a story.  We have a team that helps us decide which dreams to pursue.  From there, it’s a matter of resources.  We are putting up personal funds, as well as teaming up with incredible people who have offered talents and resources for the projects.  For instance, we have pilots who have volunteered to take people in the air, cosmologists who do makeovers, and farmers who let people milk cows.

LW:  Obviously the concept of giving is enormously important to you.  You are also both men of faith.  How does that drive what you do?

JM:  I wrote a book a few years ago called 30 Days to Give.  Shameless plug, would much appreciate you checking it out on Kindle or Nook.  Proceeds help the #LiveYourList project.  This book is an in-depth answer. The short answer is that our faith affects us deeply.  We believe we are called to be givers.  Case closed.  So give.  And we try our best.

LW: Where do you see the Live Your List project heading in the future?

JM & RE:  Definitely Antarctica, because we want to go there!  But truly,  the response has been incredible, and we are very grateful.  In only two months we were completing an overseas trip for someone, setting someone up to barrel race in a rodeo, sending an amazing teen to a professional basketball game, and more (secrets yet to be revealed).  We have literally hundreds of applicants and supporters, so even the sky is not the limit!  Actually, space.  Our answer is space.  That’s where LiveYourList is heading in the future!

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Hmmm…sounds like Jerrod just may be the next person on the moon, as Ryan hinted.  How about you?  What kind of dreams and goals have you put on your bucket list?  What have you done to achieve them so far?  What would it take to bring them to fruition?  Would you be willing to help someone else cross an item off their list?  I’d love to hear from you.

To learn more about Jerrod and Ryan and the great work they’re doing (hint: it’s not just about bucket lists), visit them at http://ryaneller.com/ and http://jerrodmurr.com/ or follow them on Twitter at @Ryan_Eller and @jerrodmurr.  Thanks for your time, guys!

Next week is Book Review Monday…and I’ll be sharing my thoughts on the latest offering from a man I consider a national treasure, John Robbins, author of the bestseller Diet for a New America – and what he has to say about “The New Good Life” in a time of economic and environmental upheaval.  Hope to see you then!



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Step Into Yourself and Raise Your Standard

This month’s installment of “Be My Guest” comes to us from Devani Anjali Alderson – a fellow Tribe Writer as well as author, globetrotter, marketing maven and photographer…not to mention CEO of Marketing4Traffic…with an important message about something so many of us do and so many of us ultimately fail at – setting goals.  As in other years, I wrote up my list in January…and despite intentions to the contrary, haven’t looked at that list since.  I’m convicted…how about you?

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Goal setting. It’s such a mainstream thing to do. New Years, birthdays, five-year markers… So many people wait for a “big” occasion to set a goal. And yet very few people sit down and create a strategy for actually making it happen. You don’t need to wait for a significant event to change your life. As Tony Robbins says, “You need to be sick and tired of being SICK and TIRED.”  That’s when you decide it’s time to stop making excuses and just get things done. The time for procrastination is over. Dead and gone.

Anthony Robbins

Anthony Robbins

Crystallize your goals and have a WHY. Do you know why so many “diets” fail? It’s not necessarily that the “diet” itself doesn’t work. It’s that people jump in without crystallizing the reason behind their desire.

Recently I had a coaching session with my mentor, Jim Sheil, co-founder of Board Meetings International. He explained a process to me for setting goals that would easily get accomplished. Below are the top takeaways I got from him:

1. Write Down Three Highlights from the Previous Year: This is important so you can see the “ups” you had. It will help motivate you for the year ahead. It will also show you the activities you enjoy, so you can incorporate them into the upcoming year.

2.   Write Three Lessons From Last Year: Knowing what you learned helps you feel proud about yourself and reminds you of life’s lessons. And it crystallizes the key points you learned.

3. Write Goals: There is a specific process to writing goals.   

    a. Make them realistic. Everyone’s version of “realities” is different, so when brainstorming what you want to happen, make it doable. But remember that realistic doesn’t mean “dream small”… It just means maybe you should start with baby steps!  

    b. Make them measurable. Add a time limit and date you want each one accomplished by.

    c. Stick with a list of 3-5.  Don’t make some long list of a dozen goals. It’s much better to get a couple of goals accomplished than have a dozen that have been abandoned.

4. Look at the list DAILY!  If you don’t remind yourself each day about what you want…you’ll eventually forget and burn out. You need to ingrain your goals. Put the list everywhere – on the bathroom mirror, in the car, in your wallet, everywhere!

Here is an example of one of my goals: “On August 1st of 2014, the first draft of my marketing workbook is complete and with an editor.” For me, this is realistic; there’s a date I expect to complete this, and it’s not daunting. My original goal was: “I am a published author of a bestselling book/workbook that inspires speakers, authors, and business owners to get back to the core passion of their business.” It was too grand, and I was setting myself up for disappointment. There was no way I could realistically complete this.

You want realistic goals so you don’t get disappointed. That sets you back and makes it that much harder to accomplish what you want. You want to make it EASY to move forward. Once you’ve gone through this process, share it with close and uplifting friends. People whom you KNOW will help and cheer you on when you feel down.

Here’s the thing: goals are awesome. They give clarity and purpose to our lives. But what’s the point if we don’t act on them? We’ll end up depressed, sad, angry, bitter, and with other negative feelings that harm us and the people around us. While it may seem convenient to set goals during major events, there’s no reason to wait. Waiting means you’re letting life happen, you’re giving up your power, and you’re not living up to yourself.  That might sound harsh, but frankly, if you’re not living up to what you know you can do, you’re wasting your beautiful, precious life, and the world will not get to see or be helped by your gifts.

Love yourself enough to step into your skin and raise the standard. There’s no reason to hide, no reason to wait, and no reason for excuses.

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How about you?  Have you set goals you had trouble fulfilling because they were unrealistic or lacked passion – or have you aced them and are moving on to new ones?  Has something stopped you from even setting them?  Devani would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.  And be sure to check out her website at http://marketing4traffic.com/.

Devani Anjali Alderson

Devani Anjali Alderson

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