Tag Archives: goals

Project Dreamcatcher: The Wrap Up

I’ve been late posting this conclusion to Project Dreamcatcher. I didn’t know how to close it up, strong. Finally, I discovered the missing link. Literally. See below for that.

My own personal goal was forced to shift shortly after I picked my project and I’ve been working on it, hard. The problem is I can’t talk about it until it’s done, so to speak. And I hate vagueblogging, so it’s been this whole weird thing that I can’t talk about.

I promise to clear the confusion up as soon as I can.

In the meantime, I want to provide you with parting inspiration to keep moving with your goal, whatever it is.

If you participated, please feel free to link in the comments, wrapping up your project and sharing what next steps are if any.

I LOVE THIS SO MUCH. Go out there and Just Do It friends! C’mon. You got this.



Filed under Project Dreamcatcher

Project Dreamcatcher: A RANT and Motivation


Before I get started with this week, I want to address a criticism one of my Project Dreamcatchers received on her blog. It made me REALLY mad. Like, hopping stinging angry.

One of the biggest reasons I started this project was because of what I was seeing in our culture. So many of us put ourselves dead last, whether because of the demands of caregiving, our careers or whatever the case may be. It seems to be what is expected of us, as mothers, as wives, as professionals. But: this is not good for our relationships, our professional lives, our marriages or our families. When we are more balanced and more fulfilled, we are more productive, happier and refreshed. But don’t take my word for this: many have found this to be true.

What drives me nuts is when women finally decide to pursue an activity or hobby or goal and they get feedback about how this activity is preventing them from spending time with their child or marriage or whatever. THIS IS BS! These women are not running off and chasing a band or whatever self-destructive behavior we can imagine. They are simply taking a little time out of their day, whether it is a few minutes or a few hours, to pursue something that makes them happy. They then return, refreshed and recharged, to their duties and responsibilities. Chances are, they return to these activities with renewed vigor and increased productivity as well.


Onto the Ted Talk for this week. It’s by Greg McEvilly and it’s about motivation. Greg has done something I think we all think about doing from time to time. He started his own business doing something he is passionate about, in this case trying to create products that will end Malaria-related deaths in Africa and create sustainable products throughout the world. He used Kickstarter to raise money for his company and way exceeded his fundraising expectations. His talk is really inspirational and moving, because he talks about how each of us are worked on by two motivators: fear and love.

Fear is that we won’t be able to keep up with the Jones, that we are afraid of the “other,” that we need to stay in our own world with our blinders on. Love allows us to connect with others, open our minds to the possibilities of helping others and helps us combine our lives with service for others.

I could really relate to this, because my book is a way to make others dealing with infertility feel less alone, less marginalized, less, well, “other.” It seems just when I lose motivation, someone or something comes through to help me keep going. Last night, as I was feeling kind of not very motivated, I received an email from someone whose acquaintance was going through a third miscarriage. Her acquaintance found “Faces of ALI” through a Google search.

The email said:

“She was so thankful for the message because no one in her life has understood what it’s like…and she has felt so alone. It wasn’t until she read Courtney’s profile and blog that she felt like someone else knew what it was like. So even though you know these profiles are helping women everywhere I thought I’d tell you of yet another instance where – because of your choice to create this amazing thing and feature these profiles on your blog – you just helped another woman to not feel alone.”

I want to clarify that it is the words of the women I am profiling that have led to this project. All of you have made this change, this difference.

And every goal on the Project Dreamcatcher list is making a change for good in this world, whether through a better life-balance, creating a better family and professional environment, creating better health through improved physical fitness, etc.

Rock on, ladies. Rock on.

Does it chap your hide when people accuse women with hobbies or goals of not being engaged enough in their family life? Are you motivated by fear or love, or a combination of both?

{What’s Project Dreamcatcher? Click here to find out.


Filed under getting published, Miscarriage, Project Dreamcatcher, writing

Project Dreamcatcher: The Value of Hard Work


I am behind on Project Dreamcatcher, forgive me. What’s Project Dreamcatcher? Click here. And you can join in at any time: it’s not too late 🙂

I liked the Ted Talk about hard work. It’s given by an Olympic athlete, who kayaks 5,000 km a year for one good km race. This concept of spending many hours doing something to increase your level of excellence ties into Malcolm Gladwell’s theory that you don’t become truly skilled at something until you’ve spent 10,000 hours at it. (From his book Outliers.)

Yesterday I was listening to Trey Anastasio (of the band Phish) being interviewed by NPR and he was asked what advice he would give to aspiring musicians. He said they should know that being a musician is extremely hard work. Just because you love it doesn’t mean you can coast and cruise into a recording contract or become a famous pop star. On the contrary, actually. He noted that The Beatles famously honed their skills and became a super tight band because they had a regular, frequent, long-term and demanding gig schedule at a nightclub in Germany.

This concept of having to work hard to complete your dream resonated with me. I think often we think that something we love to do is a treat we pursue when we have the time or inspiration hits. But people who make dreams come true: they spend a lot of their time and hard work making it happen.

In the Ted Talk, Adam van Koeverden mentions that professional athletes who work hard and focus narrowly on their pursuit of winning a race or completing their best time tend to be more spiritually full and happy.

“Hard work creates value.” Adam van Koeverden

So pursuing our dreams should be hard work, but it should also lead to us becoming more happy!

This week, I wanted to highlight some Project Dreamcatcherers who are actively making their dreams come true.

First, Esperanza is in the midst of creating a beautiful backyard oasis for her daughter and her son (who will be born in the Fall) to enjoy. She has been literally digging ditches to make this oasis work, digging up long-lost relics of homeowners past. She’s almost halfway done and you can see the tremendous progress she’s made in these photos.

Second, Little Chicken Nugget has been working really hard to stop putting herself last. She’s the very busy mother of two under three, and I find her progress treating herself well to be very inspiring. And a great example to all busy moms out there!

Third, this is so cool. April has turned her “Have Dones” into a beautiful collage. This pretty collage is a physical reminder to her to remember all of the awesome things she does and things she should be very proud of.

Lastly, I am so touched by Pam’s project: creating a suburban farm for her family to enjoy. Pam’s best friend passed away a month ago from breast cancer, and Pam is finding spending time on this project, building beautiful container planters, planting a wide variety of produce and making something beautiful and useful for her whole family to enjoy, is soothing her grief. You should check out her Instagram. She has the most beautiful photos of the progress the whole family is making.

Reading all of your posts makes me teary-eyed. I am so proud of you all for making small or big changes. I really do believe these changes help us become happier people. Y’all rock.

Do you think hard work can lead to a happier state of mind? Do you agree with Trey Anastasio that hard work is essential to making your dream come true and to making it doing something you love?


Filed under Project Dreamcatcher, writing

Project Dreamcatcher: Define Your Steps


So. I’m typing this from the library because my computer has died. I’m taking my poor old beloved iMac to the Genius Bar tomorrow to try to get it fixed. Not having a computer? Not ideal. The computer station I was using got stolen by this rude guy. (Yes, entitled rude man with your headphones in so I don’t confront you: I’m talking about you.) Now I’m in the undesirable computer room with a bunch of teenaged math students who are loudly explaining cosigns. ISN’T THE LIBRARY SUPPOSED TO BE FREAKING QUIET? So basically: First World Problems.

(BTW, the library limits the amount of time you can use on a computer to 60 minutes a day. So this may be rushed and have typos. Apologies!)

The Ted Talk by Jason Fox I chose for this week was about using the video gaming model to achieve a goal. I thought that comparison was very interesting because who hasn’t gotten totally addicted to a video game? Candy Crush or Farmville, anyone? My personal kryptonite was the old school Super Mario Brothers game. Why is the video game model so addictive? Well, it fully engages your brain. You gain new skills at each level, learning to get past the dragon or jump over the brick wall. You achieve: moving on to the next level once you acquire the jumps and bounds needed. And you become fixated on making it to the next level and the next level and beyond.

I would love for us all to become just as fixated on making our goals come true as we are in making it to level 36 of Candy Crush.

How do we apply that model to our dream goals? Well, I think pretty much all of the goals include gaining new skills: whether it’s how to best plant vegetables for optimal growing and harvesting, plotting a plant grid to inspire a backyard for a family to enjoy or plan the best way to achieve your writing goals or learning how to take care of yourself (through clothes, food, self-esteem). The thing about gaining new skills: it can be difficult, but once you master a task (getting to the best mile time, learning to use a light meter) it CAN be addictive and confidence-building.

The other thing that you do in games? As Fox says: “Failure. Failure is really important in games…and it’s good because you learn.” I suck at failure, YET I tend to perserve in a game environment. Dang if I CARE if I fail a level in Angry Birds. I want to keep going!

It’s the CHALLENGE. So visualize your goal as the last level!

Here’s the best tip I learned from the Ted Talk: Make a list of HAVE DONES as you progress toward your goal. Each week, list your HAVE DONES. For Example:

1. Rewrote, polished and sent existing chapters to my editors for grammar check.
2. Sent interviews to be transcribed.
3. Determined length of book and chapters and word count to be done.
4. Set up timeline of profiles to write and editing schedule.

That’s significant progress. It’s easy to focus on what is left to be done, but to think about what HAS been done can make you feel as if you are really on the right path.

So, in closing: keep going, keep trying, keep getting to the next level, keep failing and keep listing your HAVE DONES.

In addition, this week I am putting together a master timeline if you will of EVERYTHING that needs to be done to get the book on Amazon. I will miss goals, I will fail. But I will keep trying to get to that FINAL LEVEL. I will save the princess. And so will you!

One more thing: I will be featuring more tips, motivational quotes and fun stuff on my Facebook page. Become a fan! NOT just for participants, but for everyone. And don’t forget: it’s never too late to join in.

I will be updating this list as more posts come in.

Do you think listing “have dones” is a good idea to help keep us motivated? Have you ever been addicted to a video game? Do you think the gaming model is a good way to look at achieving a goal?


Filed under Project Dreamcatcher, writing

The Big Reveal

Edited to add new projects below!


Reading through the goals you have set for yourself as part of Project Dreamcatcher was really moving and humbling. I am amazed and inspired by all of you, and I can’t wait to follow your progress.

I guess I’m ready then. Here comes my own big reveal!

But I’d like to first speak about the Matt Cutts/TED lecture I chose for Week One, which was short and sweet. Watching Matt’s talk was the spark that actually inspired me to create this project.

Matt talks about his own experiences with making a goal come true in 30 days. The 30 day time period is significant for a few reasons: research suggests that once you do something for a minimum of 30 days, it starts to become a habit. (Although, for the average person, a habit isn’t fully formed for 66 days.) But: 30 days is also a short, manageable chunk of time. The reason I have chosen 8 weeks for our timeline is because I think it gives us a better chance of achieving our goals and making a habit.

While watching Matt’s video, a few things struck me:

1. Matt claims the time during his 30 day challenges was much more memorable. Instead of the month flying by “forgotten” he savored and remembered moments more.
2. Working on and mastering a new challenge increased Matt’s self-esteem and led him to complete more adventurous goals, like climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.
3. He also notes that if you really want something badly enough, you can do anything for a short period of time. The act of COMPLETING a goal is incredibly inspiring.

He concludes his speech with this rousing invitation:

“So why not think about something you’ve ALWAYS wanted to try, and give it a shot!”

Matt’s point about how empowering it is to complete a goal was the kick in the butt I needed. It forced me to take action.

So. What have I always wanted to try?

Before I even get there, (ARGH!! I hear you thinking, unless you’ve already scrolled to the end. Understandable.) I used to be of the philosophy that it was stupid to reveal a goal or a dream to others. Keep it under your hat, I always thought. That way, no one knows whether you’ve failed.

You know what? Screw that. Kathy said something that really resonated with me: “I am always looking for ways to keep myself accountable to my goals.”

I need to apply the same accountability for this dream that I apply to myself in the workforce. If I have a work deadline, I never, ever miss it. EVER. Yet, I feel so reluctant to put that kind of pressure on myself when it comes to a personal goal.

But that’s exactly what I NEED to do. Because my own dream is just as important to me (and probably even more so) than some arbitrary work project. And I need to treat it as such.


(Sorry, I’m nervous.)


By the end of this summer, I will complete my book. What’s my book? It’s a much longer version of Faces of ALI, and it focuses on little known but inspiring stories of ordinary yet extraordinary people going through infertility and loss and adoption with hope and grace. I think a lot of us are irritated that the infertility books being pushed by the big publishers are books like this. So many people suffering from infertility need to feel they are not alone, that there are other people out there who have gone through the same things and survived and eventually thrived. Leah and her fabulous book have inspired me to get these real stories out there, so others can read them. And take heart and have hope.

I will not only complete my book, but I WILL publish it. It will be available to the public by September 2, 2013.

And that’s my goal!


But I will do it, with your help. And I will help you to make YOUR goals and dreams a reality. Together, we can do it.


Here are links to bloggers participating in Project Dreamcatcher. If we could all help each other along our journeys to our dreams, that would be RAD. Research shows that those who are supported are 33% more likely to achieve their goals.

1. R. Sativus: Feel Better About Myself
2. Cheryl That’s Me: Improve Study Habits
3. Adventures in Writing, Reading and BookCrossing: Establish a Daily Writing Habit
4. Little Chicken Nugget: Take Care of Myself
5. Project Progeny: Make Significant Progress On My Dissertation
6. Stumbling Gracefully: Plant a Garden
7. Too Many Fish To Fry: Finish and Publish My Book
8. Ms. Mom PharmD: Run a 5 k
9. Wordgirl: Project Urban Farm
Link to your post in the comments below and I will add you ASAP.
10. Dipitie: Master Photography

What is Project Dreamcatcher? Click here.

To everyone else, please feel free to join in at any time and/or discuss in the comments below what has helped you meet goals in the past! Was it a supportive community? Deadlines? Did you feel more alive while engaged in making your goal happen?


Filed under Blogging, Fear, getting published, Project Dreamcatcher, writing