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No TrespassingThe key to failure is trying to please everybody. — Bill Cosby

My beloved little red Toyota catches on fire, burning to a molten blob. A week later, I land in the emergency room with a ruptured disc after lifting a child out of her wheelchair.  While recuperating, I try a do-it-yourself hair highlighting kit that leaves me looking, well, think Phyllis Diller.

I feel confused. I have tried so hard to do all the right things. How could my life have gotten so off track?

I am in the grip of a disorder some people might call manic compression – trying to do everything perfectly in an attempt to please everyone around me. Some of my friends seem to be enjoying life, but I’m definitely not.

I flounder, looking for answers to this dilemma, without the vaguest inkling that I have created the situation. Why are these bad things happening?  Will I ever sleep again?

You know how sometimes little presents arrive just when we need them? I was having lunch with a friend who was excited to share a story she had just read. She reached into her purse and pulled out a copy of Autobiography in 5 Short Chapters by Portia Nelson:

I

I walk down the street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I fall in.

I am lost.  I am helpless.

It isn’t my fault.

It takes me forever to find a way out.

II

I walk down the same street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I pretend I don’t see it.

I fall in again.

I can’t believe I am in the same place.

But it isn’t my fault.

It still takes a long time to get out.

III

I walk down the same street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I see it is there,

I still fall in; it’s a habit.

My eyes are open.

I know where I am.

It is my fault.

I get out immediately.

IV

I walk down the same street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I walk around it.

V

I walk down another street.

As I read this concise story, I spotted my own  deep hole in the sidewalkthe habit of putting everyone else’s needs ahead of mine.

Because I had been so busy taking care of the real and imagined needs of the people in my life I didn’t take time to do the proper maintenance on my Toyota. I injured my back because I felt overwhelmed, rushing to get to my next meeting, and didn’t stop to ask for help lifting the student.

I realized I was living in Chapter II. I had ignored the warning signs and fallen into my deep hole again.

Can I get out of the hole? Stay tuned…

girl in sunglasses standing in pool MorgueFileWowza! I’m over the moon today. My (first) book came out on Amazon a few days ago and the feedback has been, well,  positively Amazon-azing.

Play for Life: A Feel-Good Guide to Boost Your Brain Power, Spark Your Creativity and Inspire More Fun

If you’ve ever wanted to accomplish something important to you (but you didn’t know where to start) let me say 3 things about this book-writing adventure that may help you.

1) Ask for help. I have a habit of not asking for other people’s help. I take a “put on your big-girl pants and get it done yourself” approach to most everything. But pretty quickly into the book project I realized I was going to have to suck it up and ask for lots of help.

First, a writing buddy for accountability — Coco Rosenblatt-Farrell, my playful, wise friend. Next, a graphics designer for the layout (enter Kari Whitaker at Launchpad Creatives, who made it all look beautiful and fun). Having someone read a draft seemed like a good idea,  so Nancy signed on,  sharing constructive comments. Over lunch, Dori Decamillis fed me helpful tips on publishing and marketing. Jane (gotta love it — she’s a best-selling author) gave me stellar advice on the title. Gee whiz! I didn’t know I needed (or had) so much help.

2) Let it take the time it takes. Give the project some air and room to grow.  Wander through book stores looking for ideas. Get out your colored markers and doodle words and images. Don’t keep your dream a secret – listen to the way it evolves as you tell other people about it. Keep an index card in your pocket to jot down thoughts that come to you when you’re walking or digging in the dirt or filling your car with gas.

Of course, given too much time, the thing won’t ever get done. That’s why you also need #3…

3) Set up a structure for making progress. You don’t need a 40-page planner. What you really need is a framework that works for YOU, so you’ll take steps toward your goal. For the book, we wrote chapter headings and a list of the features we wanted to include. Coco and I live in different states, so we scheduled phone sessions when we shared what we had written and edited it on-the-spot with Google Docs  .

Two quotes to keep in mind:

Progress is better than perfection.

All life asks of us is measurable progress in reasonable time.  ~Jim Rohn

4) Okay, just one more tip. Inspire yourself with something tangible. When I first realized I wanted to write a book,  I took a paperback from my bookshelf, printed Lee Irwin, author  in a pretty font, pasted it on the front cover and placed the book on my desk where I saw it every day.

Play for Life: A Feel-Good Guide to Boost Your Brain Power, Spark Your Creativity and Inspire More Fun

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