Follow Your Dreams

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I believe in always keeping an eye out for signs. And this one showed up right in front of my face just yesterday – Follow Your Dreams:

Follow Your Dreams

{This isn’t an actual photo of the sign. I made this graphic using a photo I took on vacation. But, I still wanted to pass the message on to you guys.}

I’m at the beach taking my first vacation of the year. I’ve been hoarding my vacation days, and I’m so ready to cash some in. The plan: spend a few glorious days at the beach with my family. On the agenda: eat good food, relax, sleep, think, rest, read books, veg out, chill, cook, and dream. I also brought along a couple books to get my wheels spinning on some analysis (on the blog and myself, mostly). Times like this where my mind isn’t so cluttered with work problems and what not from the daily grind are great for planning and soul-searching.

Anywho, this quote is something that I currently find both highly motivating and frustrating at the same time. I love hearing success stories of people who have followed their dreams, and I hope to have a success story of my own to share one day. My current dilemma is that in order to follow your dreams, you have to know what they are, and many of mine aren’t fully defined at the moment. I’ve always been a very goal-driven person, especially growing up. There were many levels of goals to work towards when I was training as a figure skater, and I was also very driven in school. But, my goals have gotten a little hazy since then.

What do you want to be when you grow up? I haven’t figured this out, though I do know at a high level that I want to live this: “Do what you love, love what you do.” Some other high level guidelines that motivate me are: to help others, make the world a better place than I found it, and lift those around me.

And though I may not have the big picture fully figured out, I have some small goals in mind.

One thing I’ve been wanting to do for awhile is create a web site to help people like me (and maybe you!?) find local restaurants that may have any or all of the following: support local farmers, use organic ingredients, are eco-friendly, use non-GMO ingredients, etc. I believe this site would help not just the locavores or organic eaters, but small business owners and farmers, too. I think about this site all the time when I’m looking for a new restaurant to check out in town or when I’m on vacation. In fact, this site/app would have been extremely useful on my current vacation. Why doesn’t this site exist yet so I can use it? Oh right, because I haven’t made it yet. Slacker.

Seriously, I blame much of my progress on lack of time, but if I’m being honest, I think I have a common problem that many of us face – fear of failure. I’ve done so much (educated myself, networked, attended conferences, and more), and yet something holds me back. I thought it was time for awhile, but the fear of failing makes a lot of sense.

So, what’s next? Get over the fear and get going. It’s easier said than done, but taking small steps will help.

Whoever wants to reach a distant goal must take small steps.

~Saul Bellow

It’s time to get over the fear. To think positively. To take steps, no matter how small, towards the end goal. It’s time to heed the sign: Follow Your Dreams.

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Do you think you’d be interested in using a web site/app to find local restaurants in your home town or when you’re traveling? I’d love to chat more! Leave me a comment or shoot me an email at thechiclife at gmail dot com.

Thanks for stopping by!

How to Succeed – Keep Trying {Motivation Monday}

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I’ve been reading a lot of self-improvement books lately, and I’ve been learning some great stuff as I go. Many of the teachings remind me of the Project Think Positive challenge I hosted a couple years ago here on The Chic Life. I tend to get a little negative at times, so I’m working on injecting more positivity into my everyday life. One thing I’d like to do is start the week on a positive note by sharing a quote that inspires me.

This week, the quote I’m sharing is about How to Succeed – Keep Trying {Motivation Monday}:

How to Succeed - Keep Trying {Motivation Monday}

In case you can’t see the image, the quote reads:

Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time. ~Thomas A.. Edison

I’ve felt like many things I’m working on in recent months just aren’t going my way. It’s like no matter how hard I try to make something work, it just doesn’t go as planned. It’s easy to keep going at first. Or when it’s only one or two things going wrong. But when things start piling up, the outlook starts getting more bleak. The easy out is to quit. It’s simple to not try new and interesting things. But, if you want to live an exceptional life and the best you that you can be, you have to keep going. And when hope is low, you have to pull from your will to try one more time. And then one more time again.

I developed a strong sense of determination from my years training in figure skating. When you’re working on a new jump, spin, or other move, it may be months or even years before you finally nail it. If you quit the first time (or even first hundred times) you tried something new and it didn’t work, you’d never learn how to do any moves. You’d never be great.

I remember when I almost gave up on my dreams of being a dance fitness instructor with the company I’d danced with for over two years. I auditioned in 2009 and didn’t make the cut. Luckily, the auditions were held privately, so although most people knew, it was somewhat easy to move on from that failure. Over the next year, I worked with a couple of my instructor friends to learn about how to be an instructor. By the next year, I felt pretty prepared but also extremely apprehensive about auditioning again. Not only could I not imagine how I’d deal with not making it two years in a row, but the last round of auditions was public. Like one of the biggest classes you’d ever teach, with almost a hundred people in the room public. Once the application process opened, I waffled. I was scared of failing again. But, my resolve to become an instructor was greater than my fear of failing. I knew I had to try at least one more time. I pulled out all the courage I had and just went for it. And this time, I made the team! I’ll actually be celebrating my four year dance-versary (anniversary of teaching my first full class solo) this month, and I can’t really imagine it any other way.

Whatever challenges you’re going through now, consider this quote to help motivate you and remember to try just one more time (again and again). Keep going and work towards reaching your fullest potential in all your endeavors. Maybe print the graphic above and post it on your mirror or put it on your desk at work. I’m working to surround myself with positive and motivational words and images, and I’m loving it so far! It definitely puts me in the right frame of mind for success!

What’s your One More Time success story?

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How to Be a Champion (A Story from the Sochi Olympics)

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The key to being a champion is simple:

Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Or, another way of putting it:

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{Photo from my Instagram feed – taken last November}

Never give up!

I wanted to take a moment to share a story from the Olympics because it really resonated with me. For those newer to TCL, part of the reason I really related to it is because I trained for ten years as a figure skater. I wanted to share my perspective on the story and how I think it is a good example for a real life lesson.

You may have heard about or watched US figure skater Jeremy Abbott’s short program in the 2014 Olympics in Sochi. If you haven’t, you can click here to watch it. Jeremy opened his program with one of the most difficult moves currently done in skating competitions – a quadruple toe loop. Unfortunately, he hesitated going into the jump causing the rotation to be short. His toe picks hit the ice and launched him into the air face-forward, throwing him onto his hip, and straight into the wall behind him. I couldn’t help but gasp as I watched everything happen. Falls like that are not normal – not in practice and especially not in competition. As he laid on the ice for over 10 seconds, I feared he was seriously injured and not only wouldn’t finish his program but would need help getting off the ice. As a former figure skater, even though I never reached the same level of competition and jumping ability, I couldn’t help but feel like I was right there on the ice with him. But, just as I was wondering what would happen next, something miraculous happened.

Jeremy began pulling himself up the wall and stood up. And as he did so, the crowd cheered behind him, encouraging him to keep going. And keep going he did. He found his place back in the music, and roared down the ice to complete a beautiful triple lutz – triple toe loop combination. And he didn’t stop there. He completed a triple axel (the hardest of all the triples) and went on to finish to the loudest ovation from the crowd. What a wonderful and supportive crowd they had in Sochi that night!

Were I in his skates, I’m not sure if I could have done the same thing. After you have a rough fall, it shakes all your confidence from you. As you speed down the ice for your next jump, you have to fight the demons in your head telling you that the fall you just experienced is going to happen again and that maybe you just shouldn’t try it. You have to keep your composure because to execute the jumps, spins, and footwork, you need precision and self-assurance. Those are two things that are sometimes hard to have on a good day, let alone after you just busted your rear in one of the biggest competitions of your life.

I once had a bad fall when I was working on my double flip jump, and it was nowhere close to as bad as Jeremy’s fall. I made both rotations, but when my foot hit the ice, it somehow slipped right out from under me, and I hit the ice (WHAM!) on the full side of my right leg with a giant SMACK! The fall was so hard, it literally stunned me. After taking a minute to shake it off, I tried to go for the double flip again. I skated speedily down the ice, and as I approached the take-off, I couldn’t get the fall out of my head. I popped jump after jump after jump. The fear got to me. I was finally able to land the double flip jump again, but I never forgot that fall. In skating, and in life, things are more than just physical – they’re so mental, too.

And that’s why Jeremy’s performance was so spectacular. He got up, shook off the fall, and skated the rest of the program like a champ. He dusted himself off and got up and went for it. And he skated beautifully.

You know, I think my personal story has always been about perseverance and always getting up when you fall. So maybe I’m not Olympic champion, but if nothing else I can teach the world that. ~Jeremy Abbott

What happened in Sochi was an amazing show of what it means to be a champion. But, it’s also a wonderful metaphor for life. If you fall down, you have to get back up. You have to remember to never give up.

Thank you, Jeremy, for showing us how to be a true champion!

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Oh, and one more thing. If you heard Jeremy’s interview following his short program, he said that the crowd really cheered him on to keep going, and that he felt very motivated by them to finish. It helps to have your own little supportive crowd in life, too. Remember to surround yourself with people who will help life you up when you fall down.

Lift Others {Quote}

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A thought to start your week…

We Rise Quote

{re-posting from @cleaneatingmama – get more great quotes by yourbeautifullife.org}

Everyone is going through something. What if we spread happiness and positive words to help counteract the negativity out there? Share a smile. Help make someone’s day better. Lift those around you. Choose happy.

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