Who Moved My Cheese

What Would You Do If You Weren’t Afraid

 

My department at work was challenged this week to read the great little book, Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson.   Chances are you’ve seen this or read it.  I’ve read it before, but read it again as part of the challenge.  If you’re not familiar with the book, it’s a short parable of 4 characters in a maze and how they react when their cheese moves.  The cheese is metaphorical for whatever we may be pursuing, money, success, happiness, etc.  The cheese moving represents change.  How do we deal with change, both before and after it happens.  The author uses the story to highlight lessons we can apply to our own life.

One of the comments the writer makes is that what we get out of the story changes depending on what may be going on in our own lives, so each reading will most likely be seen from the perspective of our current situation. 

I am in the process of changing jobs, in the same company and essentially in the same department, but there will quite a bit of new changes.  My cheese is definitely moving.  I read this story with my situation in mind.  I thought of which characters I was most like, and also about some of the people I know and which character they are most like.  One character sniffs out cheese – always looking for change.  One character scurries after new cheese – actively deals with change.  One character hems about, resistant to change.  The last character is resistant at first but then learns to laugh about how change is inevitable and then sees himself getting to the new cheese he needs and makes it happen. 

After the story, there’s a section of the book that creates a little fictionalized discussion where people who had heard the story applied it to their own lives.  I seem to remember last time I read this that I skipped this section for the most part as it does seem a litle forced.  I read it all through this time and there was one part that really stood out to me. 

The fictionalized conversation has the 6 or 7 people talking about whether they are afraid of change.  Most say no, they’re not afraid of change, but one of the people reframes the question, “So tell me do you think other people may be afraid of change?” and they all say yes.  This section spoke to me this time because it is always comforting to think about how we are not alone.  Sure I am making a big change at work, moving away from cheese that was working out okay, but I am stepping out into the maze in search of new cheese.  It’s nice to know I’m not the only one who may be afraid of change.  And as the author points out, the result of change is not necessarily anything to be afraid of and may even lead to something that makes us happier than we realized previously was possible. 

For my situation I also thought about how great it would be to be the character who ventures out in the maze first, leaving behind a path of suggestions for the character who resisted change and stayed behind.  I like the idea of being someone who ventures out in a new direction and may possibly set an example for others to take a risk and make a change, too, instead of being the character who ties him/herself to what may be a bad situation just because it’s comfortable or the idea of change is too scary. 

I’ll remind myself of this when I get scared or have moments of struggle with my “new cheese” and like Haw, the character who ventures out into the maze for new cheese, I’ll visualize myself being successful. 

I hope everyone has a great week – see y’all next Sunday when I will be on vacation – Yay!  🙂

Pure Imagination

I recently overheard my oldest son singing the song, Pure Imagination, from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.  He didn’t know much of the lyrics so we went to that glorious resource for research, YouTube, and found this clip of the original Willy Wonka, Gene Wilder, singing Pure Imagination in the movie.  How great is that song?

Come with me
and you’ll see
a world of pure imagination…

One of the great things about being a writer is you can’t lose that connection with worlds of imagination, and they are usually worlds we create. But even if those worlds are largely our own creation, we draw inspiration from the world around us.  

I went to the really spectacular Perot Museum this weekend with my husband and three boys as part of a really cool event my husband’s company hosted for employees.  We had the whole museum to ourselves from 7pm-11pm Saturday night.  No crowds, no lines, no rush.  Can I just tell you what a great way to experience this very hands on museum that was? It was especially so for my little boys, who I had initially told to be polite and not touch things. Funny thing is that this museum of science has much that is very hands on, so then it became, “Okay, you can touch everything!”

I saw this great quote on one of the walls of the museum:

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I loved this quote because I think it captures beautifully the way we are called to see things. Maybe what we see isn’t pretty, but harsh as the quote mentions, but still, all we need to stir us from the everyday is out there. All around, there is so much to spark our imagination and our creative selves.

If we allow ourselves to look.

To see.

To hear.

And to imagine.

What speaks to you to spark your imagination? Where do you go to let your imagination run free? Drop me a line in the comments – I’d love to hear.

Top 10 Ways Having a Writing Goal Has Helped Me

I’m over halfway through my year long commitment to write daily.  365 days of writing every day was the goal I set for myself at the end of 2013 and here we are in June already! Halfway seems like a great place to throw in an update and a rundown on why I’m glad I made the commitment.

1)  Setting a goal and sticking with it feels good

I know I can’t be the only one who has ever said “I should do…” whatever it is and then just not followed through with it.  I have a couple of other things right now that I talk about doing but am not actually taking any action to do.  But I’ve set this writing goal, I’ve shared this writing goal and because of that I feel good about doing something that I’ve said I wanted to do.  Because … well, see # 2 

2) I would have quit already

If I didn’t have this writing goal there are more than a few nights I absolutely would not have written anything.  I would have said, I’m too busy, too tired, or whatever other excuse I could find.  And I have been tired, busy and otherwise disinclined to write.  But it’s important to me that I follow through with this goal, so I have.  Have I written something really short or counted my blog when I was doing the A to Z Challenge when blog post were not originally in my plan? Absolutely.  But I have written every day.  Something.  Even if it was small and frequently when it was bad.  But I haven’t quit.

3)  This goal has helped lead me to other new & exciting things

Because of my writing goal, I’ve started building this blog and my Twitter presence.  I’ve found many cool new people and groups and resources as a result.  I likely would not have started blogging had I not made this a part of my writing goal.  I’ve really enjoyed the process of writing and also reading other blogs I’ve found because of my own.  I love that I am building an archive of previous posts that I can go back to read or point others to sometimes.  Because of the writing goal and establishing the blog I joined Twitter (and ok because I wanted a certain celeb’s Tweets) to promote my blog and start building connections.  It’s been a fascinating process both blogging and Tweeting.  And I love it!

4)  It’s a great conversation starter with others, writers or otherwise

Meeting new writers on Twitter or in real life, I usually mention this writing goal.  I’ve found it’s been a great way to start talking about what I’m working on, but also just about my journey as a writer.  I’ve been surprised how many others have had similar goals.  Some blog every day in addition to their other writing.  I’ve not made that commitment yet, but that may be part of my next 365 day goal!  We’ll see. 🙂

5) Word count

Of course writing every day has helped add to my word count on my novel, which has brought me almost to the end of the first book – though I am still tweaking.  I need to stop and just edit.  I’m getting close.  But I’ve also started the next book in the series and I’ve worked on a few short stories as well.  Had I not made a commitment to write every day, my current WIP would still be sitting on my computer untouched.  Instead I’ve made serious progress.  It’s fantastic.

6) Experimenting with style

Some days I do not feel like writing on the novel or the short story.  So to stick with the required daily writing, I’ve written quite a few poems. Let me just assure that is not at all my normal style.  But I love it.  I have a couple that I’d even say are relatively decent.  And the others are still an example of me stretching myself and trying something new.  I’ve also played with a few other formats such as flash fiction and an attempt at a humorous essay.  I’m going to write every day anyway, so I feel a bit more freedom to try new things. 

7) Distraction from “real life”

Some days my day to day “real life” of working full time, a long commute, managing the kids and trying to keep a house running gets a bit … crazy.  It’s truly wonderful to have this writing commitment because I have a creative outlet that helps my sometimes weary soul.  Yes, my job may beat me down one day, but I can remind myself that I am not just my job, I’m also writing! The kids may get a little loud and we may be watching another episode of really awful kids television, but I am not just a parent, I’m also writing! I may have just had an overall bad day, but I am also writing. 

8) Helping define myself as a writer

And guess what?  I am a writer.  I am not just another person who wants to write someday.  I am writing.  I can call myself that, not because I am a bestselling author, but because I am doing the work of actually sitting down at the computer, butt in chair, to write.  Actually, sometimes I even write on my iPhone (hey it happens, you gotta do what you gotta do to get in the writing sometimes!)  I both can say I am a writer and I can tell people what I write.  Small steps sometimes can be big ones!

9) If I can do this, why can’t I also …

As I said before I’ve been known to talk about making changes and not always make them, but I can see how I’ve successfully stuck to something after having made it a solid goal with a serious commitment.  I’ve started to look for how to apply this in other areas I need some “stick with it”.  Little successes can lead to other little successes.   

10)  It’s fun

It really is fun.  There is a reason I’ve always wanted to write.  I love it.  And the sheer pleasure of writing and having written is well worth setting this goal.