Controlling Your Own Climate

Better to learn how to adapt and overcome and to face ordeals head on, while watching carefully, what conditions shape your heart.  Madeline Johnson

Warning, this is not another conspiracy theory on climate control. This is about navigating the storms that can soak your soul with sorrow, harden your heart in a hailstorm of hatred and parch your mind until it’s baked and fried.

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What interests me here is understanding what we can control in ourselves as we face our daily struggles. Like the weather, we can control some things.

Nothing new, cloud seeding is the process of adding particles to clouds to force them to rain or snow.  The goal is to increase precipitation in places with water shortages. Snow to pack the slopes of Colorado, rain to grow the crops in Texas and water to fill the damns of Idaho. While a helpful advancement, cloud seeding doesn’t give us the ability to control all weather.

The Weather (like life) is Unpredictable

Most days, the winter weather conditions here in Delray Beach are really unpredictable. Visitors think Southeast Florida is always warm and sunny. Not the case, the weather is also quite localized.  Depending on where you are change can come on quite suddenly.  All in a single day – one can experience strong, blustery gusts of wind, then momentary clear, blue skies. Within minutes a sudden warm sun shower followed by a soft breeze and puffy passing clouds, until. . .thunderheads in the distance – a threat of a down pour.

Now, life normally doesn’t move along this quickly, but just like the weather life is always changing. The conditions, whether good or bad, come and go.

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Life brings on all types of conditions. Some we can control like cloud seeding and some we might have predicted if we paid closer attention. Then, there are the conditions that take us completely by surprise.

Life. Half the time we spend time doing stuff and the other half cleaning up our own messes. Sometimes we create our own storms. 

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I wake up sometimes wondering- what kind of dramatic weather will I be subjected to today? How will I be prepared to prevail -to move forward in the face of anything?

Who knows what today might bring?

There’s no such thing as being completely ready for whatever life throws you. You are never going to feel that you’ve got everything sorted and all figured out. If you get to the place where you’re just a little bit more excited than afraid, that’s when you go for it. That’s when you go all in. To hell with playing safe.

Better to learn how to adapt and overcome and to face ordeals head on, while watching carefully, what conditions shape your heart. 

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Read

The Obstacle is The Way by Ryan Holiday

When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron

Featured Artist

David Altmejd

 

 

The Messy Process of Loving Yourself

Learning to love and respect yourself isn’t something that you decide to do one day. It’s a daily practice. By Madeline Johnson

Learning to love and respect yourself isn’t something that you decide to do one day. It’s a daily practice. Self-acceptance requires patience and practice and maybe even managing those great expectations you have for yourself while holding onto your standards.

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Expectations can sometimes get in the way of lessons and joy found in unexpected experiences.

-George Leonard, Poet/Philosopher and the granddaddy of the consciousness movement.

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To be unaware of our irrationality and

derangement of our own thoughts

is what keeps us stuck.

Read More: The Three Levels of Self-Awareness by Mark Manson

An argument for loving and accepting yourself . . .

When we refuse to accept ourselves as we are, then we return to the constant need for numbing and distraction. And we will similarly be unable to accept others the way they are, so we will look for ways to manipulate them, change them, or convince them to be a person they are not. Our relationships will become transactional, conditional, and ultimately toxic and fail.

Go deeper into learning about how to better handle adversity in your life. Read his book The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck.

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Featured Art

Leif is an artist and Creative Director. His work explores themes of connectedness, the relevance of nature and the psychedelic experience. By utilizing these subjects he attempts to inspire the viewer into a realignment with themselves and their surroundings.

Blazing A Trail

Clarity + patience + humility = victory by Madeline Johnson

“Where you are headed is more important than how fast you are going”

~ Stephen Covey

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Single-minded focus + patience + humility =

victory

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Clarity gives you energy, a direction, a plan and courage. Before you begin get very, very, very clear on what you need and what you want first. Then hit the peddle.

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Being humble does not, in any way, equate to being a pushover or a doormat. One can be kind and still be immensely effective and powerful.  To be humble is to lay your ego to rest and to become comfortable in your humanness.

“To live fully is to always be in “no-man’s land”, to experience each moment as completely new and fresh. To live is to be willing to die over and over again.” Read Pema Chodron’s When Thing’s Fall Apart

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Having patience means being able to wait calmly in the face of frustration or adversity, so anywhere there is frustration or adversity—i.e., nearly everywhere—we have the opportunity to practice it. Read MoreThe Benefits of Being a Patient Person

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Featured Artwork

Nicole Watt is an internationally exhibited self-taught mixed media sculpture artist living and creating in the wilderness of Southern Tasmania, Australia.  Her exquisitely simplistic and emotionally driven characters blossom from a world long forgotten; a world hidden in the shadows of imagination where the wind blows wild, the trees groan with ancient secrets born from the whispers of the ancestors.

Who Knows How Strong You Really Are

Strength comes with facing what you have to contend with as a living adult on this planet.

God only knows what the limit is of you. You will only find out by pushing yourself against the world. By ploughing through life, observing and making adjustments along the way, knowing that you can make a difference, but that you can never play God.

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Strength comes with facing what you have to contend with as a living adult on this planet.

Lucky and blessed, facing the world with a heart that is ready for anything, most days the game of life seems/feels like the object is how to stay grateful.

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In the words of Tara Brach. . .

If our hearts are ready for anything, we can open to our inevitable losses, and to the depths of our sorrow. We can grieve our lost loves, our lost youth, our lost health, our lost capacities. This is part of our humanness, part of the expression of our love for life. As we bring a courageous presence to the truth of loss, we stay available to the immeasurable ways that love springs forth in our life.

 

Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.

Confucius

To be honorable under conditions that cause us suffering, situations that are extremely challenging, is a testament to the human spirit.

Life is really hard and can be brutal at times.  The fact that we can still remain honest, generous and loving under unbelievably difficult circumstances.

Those I admire, under the worst threats imaginable, never sacrificed their character.

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How about starting with getting comfortable with your feelings. Sad, angry, furious, happy, joyful, The only way to get through uncomfortable emotions is to go through them.

 

The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places.

Ernest Hemingway

 

Resilience is very different than being numb. Resilience means you experience, you feel, you fail, you hurt. You fall. But, you keep going.     

Yasmin Mogahed

 

 

Things don’t go wrong and break your heart so you can become bitter and give up. They happen to break you down and build you up so you can be all you were intended to be.     

Charles Jones

Read Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach

Read The Obstacle is The Way by Ryan Holiday

 

Featured Artwork

Alexandra Levasseur

Alexandra Levasseur was born in 1982 in Shawinigan, a city located on the Saint-Maurice River in the Mauricie area in Quebec, Canada. Aged 18, she left Canada and moved to Costa Rica to do a one-year student exchange. She eventually decided to stay there to pursue her studies in Fine Arts and Graphic Design at the University of Costa Rica. Additionally, Levasseur went to Spain to specialize her career by completing a postgraduate in Creative Illustration and Visual Communication at EINA – School of Art and Design in Barcelona. From 2007 to 2010, she worked as an illustrator and art director for several advertising agencies in Costa Rica. In 2010, Levasseur moved to Montreal, where she started working as a freelance illustrator and on her personal projects. From 2012 to 2014, the talented creative studied Film Animation at the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema of Concordia University.

Resiliency Quotes from Wise Old Sayings

Trust the Process

Trusting the process and reaching your goals. by Madeline Johnson

Goals can be so absolutely frustrating. Some days they seem to be so out of reach. Setbacks require creativity and a successful process. Read: Movement & Creativity.

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Trust the process.

Trust the Process has become a catchphrase in sports. It means sticking to a long-term plan even in the face of bad short-term outcomes. … Trust the Process means sticking to a well-grounded methodology to accomplish a long-term goal.

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Much of this calls for redefining, or refining, one’s relationship with time, and all the qualities and skills that will only come from engaging time more creatively and effectively. 

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The Difference Between Goals and Processes or Systems

  • If you’re an entrepreneur, your goal is to build a successful business. Your process (system ) is your processes for sales, marketing, fulfillment, operations, etc.
  • If you’re a coach, your goal is to win a championship. Your (process) system is what your team does at practice each day.
  • If you’re a writer, your goal is to write a book. Your (process) system is the writing schedule you follow each week.
  • If you’re a runner, your goal is to run a marathon. Your (process) system is your training schedule for the month

The repetitive process, the habit, the ritual, the daily “doing” is what gets you to the goal. If you focus on the goal, you will get frustrated. Basically, you give up the need for immediate results. Transformation doesn’t happen in a moment, it happens over time.

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Better to Iterate

Think of repetition as doing the same thing with the same data over and over. Think of iteration as doing the same thing with different or refined data.

& Measure your success with feedback loops.

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Remember

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Books to Read to help you develop your creative process.

Steal Like An Artist

You don’t need to be a genius, you just need to be yourself. That’s the message from Austin Kleon, a young writer and artist who knows that creativity is everywhere, creativity is for everyone. A manifesto for the digital age, Steal Like an Artist is a guide whose positive message, graphic look and illustrations, exercises, and examples will put readers directly in touch with their artistic side.

Big Magic

Elizabeth Gilbert digs deep into her own generative process to share her wisdom and unique perspective about creativity. With profound empathy and radiant generosity, she offers potent insights into the mysterious nature of inspiration. She asks us to embrace our curiosity and let go of needless suffering. She shows us how to tackle what we most love, and how to face down what we most fear. She discusses the attitudes, approaches, and habits we need in order to live our most creative lives.

Featured Art

Kiki Smith Woven Tapestries

Kiki Smith works at the scale of the tapestry, creating large collages on paper from cutout drawings, photolithographs, and various textural elements. The collages are sent to Magnolia Editions, photographed, printed at scale and sent back to Smith for more handwork and collaging; this cycle continues (often for months) until the design is ready to be translated into a digital weave file and sent to an electronic, double-headed Jacquard loom for proofing as a textile.

“It’s the way that I work,” she told me from her studio in New York last summer, “making sculptures, too, I do the exact same thing: I make drawings, and from the drawings I make rubber stamps; from the rubber stamps I make impressions in clay, then waxes, and then sculptures. It’s a transformation, moving from one way of generating an image to another, which makes a hybrid.” Smith’s choice to compose her tapestries at scale rather than enlarging smaller images is crucial to their impact. To work large is “to emphasize the holiness of it,” she explains: “historically, these things were made to blanket walls… They’re blanketing space. In mosques you have the kilims that are hundreds of years old sitting on top of each other for prayer, and there’s that relationship between cloth and life and protection.” …

Kiki Smith’s critically acclaimed tapestries depict “a mythical world wherein human and animal forms entwine with natural phenomena” (Artforum); they have been exhibited internationally at venues including Pace Editions (New York), Timothy Taylor (London), Haus der Kunst (Munich) and Lorcan O’Neill (Rome). This 2018 survey of Smith’s tapestry editions to date features an interview with the artist and an essay by Nick Stone.

Running Down A Dream

Between you and me, I feel your frustrations. It’s a new year and you are on to new things. Secretly, you may not actually tell anyone but you might have promised/sworn to yourself that this is THE year (finally dammit) that you are going to start doing that thing or maybe the things you’ve always wanted to do. The big things. The important things.

Begin writing that blog, outlining the book, building that business, start your volunteering project, working on your tree house, planning that vacation, etc.  Yes, you have told yourself you are going to start working on the dreams you’ve had for quite some time that keep getting placed on the back burner while you are taking care of everyone and everything else. You’re not actually sharing it with anyone because you know there is a strong probability that you won’t get around to beginning, that your secret “resolutions” will be broken before you even have a chance to start.

You already know that this New Year New You thing is all a bunch of hype created by marketers who want to sell you detox juice cleanses and gym memberships. Today’s post is about turning your New Year’s Resolutions into a daily practice of self reflection and ongoing development. Yes, we all probably need a spark of something like ambition and self-motivation to begin building our dreams, the actual transformation happens with small steps taken each day and with a disciplined commitment to continuous iteration.

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 You can’t do it all today, but you can start.

I know this because I have had the same issues. I am too busy. I have to make money, pay the bills, cook the food, maintain the house and I have many different people in my life that depend on me for guidance, support and love.

I’m just spread so thin.

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So, like any day of the year, you start out with a list of things that need to get done today. It might be a mental list, or if you are like me, you might have written or typed your list somewhere.  The thing is, if you want to truly start working on some of those dreams, all of that stuff that you are checking off your list must be prioritized or it will be 3:00 in the afternoon before you know it and you will be kicking yourself for not having started anything that really matters most to you.

What’s Important Vs. Urgent

Knowing the difference between what is urgent and what is important in your life is the ticket to winning the day. So much seems “urgent”, but you must identify what is most important and do what is important first. For me, it is getting out a post a day here, so I got up early and made it the thing I had to do. The most important. Sure it has taken three times as long to write it, but I will make more improvements tomorrow.

So many things in life can feel urgent, but they are not. Up close, things feel so much bigger. Checking emails, answering texts, posting on social media all seem urgent and important, but they usually are not. Not to that future thing you are trying to build.

Try today to understand what you need to do to begin that dream and do those things first.

Make your to do list and type an “I” for important next to the things you need to do today to get you closer to where you need to be and a “U” next to those urgent things that you will get done after you’ve done the most important. 

Seems so simple right? Just because it’s simple, doesn’t mean it’s easy.

Don’t Let Your Ambition Overwhelm You

Ambition is the fire, the desire, but when it takes over it can consume you and your time. If you struggle with living a life of overwhelming busyness that you know you can’t sustain, I urger you to stop what you are doing and listen to Rob Bell’s “What to do with your ambition podcast” right now.

Ambition has a place in your life, but it shouldn’t drive you crazy with busyness. Left unbridled, it will.

How do you know if your ambition has got the best of you? Rob explains it as a haunting exhaustion. You are pushing too hard and you don’t know why. It’s when you have over committed and you say yes to everything – and you don’t remember why you did.

Speaking of curbing that overwhelming feeling, it is also important to stay hyper-realistic about what you can do vs what you wish you could do right now. Of course you are not going to write the whole book today, but what is one step you can take to get closer to beginning? You may start out with great intentions, but those long lists of everything that must get done in order to create your masterpiece – you know “the plan” can only be accomplished one task at a time.

Break Those Goals Down To Small Wins

“Too much ambition … can be a problem,” explains Tim Ferris. “not for the world, but for someone individually if it is manifested as a pure focus on self-achievement without any counter-balancing practice that allows you to appreciate [life].”

Collecting a Jar of Awesome

jar of awesome

Ambition must be counter balanced with appreciation. I am going to start today by creating my own jar of awesome. Once a day, I am going to jot down the good moments on my journey. I am going to stop for a moment to jot down something I’ve accomplished towards my goals and celebrate what makes me feel happy, grateful — the small wins.

Inspiration

Books

Stephen Pressfield’s The War of Art

The War of Art emphasizes the resolve needed to recognize and overcome the obstacles of ambition and then effectively shows how to reach the highest level of creative discipline.

Tim Ferriss Tribe of Mentors

A compilation of tools, tactics, and habits from 130+ of the world’s top performers. From iconic entrepreneurs to elite athletes, from artists to billionaire investors, their short profiles can help you answer life’s most challenging questions, achieve extraordinary results, and transform your life.

Rob Bell

What to Do With Your Ambition

You are not here to settle. You are crammed full of greatness. Giving your life to something that means something to you.

How to Be here

How to Be Here lays out concrete steps you can use to define and follow your dreams, interweaving engaging stories, lessons from biblical figures, insights gleaned from Rob’s personal experience, and practical advice. Rob gives you the support and insight you need to silence your critics, move from idea to action, take the first step, find joy in the work, persevere through hard times, and surrender to the outcome.

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Featured Art 

Kate Macdowell, Sculpture

We do not want merely to see beauty, though, God knows, even that is bounty enough.  We want something else which can hardly be put into words–to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it. – C.S. Lewis.

Kate MacDowell’s hand-built porcelain sculptures respond to environmental threats and their consequences, revealing the rifts and frictions between man and nature. Based out of Portland, Oregon, her work has been shown throughout the US, Japan and Europe and at Scope Miami and New York, ArtAmsterdam, ArtHamptons, Art London, London Art Fair, Showoff Paris , Solo Project Basel, NEXT and Art Chicago fairs. She was recently an artist in residence at the Kohler Arts and Industry Program and will have work in group exhibits at JMKAC (Wisconsin), and MAD (NY) this year.

Be Who You Are, Not Who You Wish You Were

How to be authentic with Madeline Johnson, writer, thinker and strategist.

I am helping this genuinely lovely couple build their wellness empire. They own a mine, a mine with liquid gold. Lucky them. So blessed. I consult them about business, marketing and growth plans. I help them build actionable strategies and tactics. We have weekly FaceTime conversations and tonight after yet another long call they blew my mind with something they said to me.

They said, “Madeline, We are so happy we met you. You are so positive and you make us believe we can do anything. You make us feel so strong. You open our minds and you have made us understand that being around positive people is very important.”

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They didn’t know it but I was melting inside. My heart filled with a lightness, a brightness I haven’t felt in a very long time. I know that what I need is to feel valued.  Yes it is true, we all need to feel deeply appreciated. Tonight I felt recognized, respected and prized.  I also felt happy, light and free.

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I use to think feeling happy was practically impossible.

Now, honestly, between you and I well, I abhor the word “happy” and it’s my father’s fault.

So, Why The Hell am I So Happy?

I’ll never forget what my father, a depressing kind of dude at times, said to me when I was about 15.  You see I am a smiler. I smile through everything. I smile when I am sad, when I am angry, by myself, with others. It doesn’t matter what I am doing, I just feel a sort of smile in my heart.  So Mr. moody swinger, daddy O passes me in the hall and asks me –

Why are you so “happy”?

Nice thing to hear from father dear during my formative years.

My automatic response  because I am. I am happy.  Genuinely happy.

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Doesn’t matter what’s going down, I am always going to be happy. It’s just my nature. Sure I feel grief, sadness, anger, rage – yup, even rage, but for some reason, I always swing back to happy.  This is where the good vibes grow.

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P.S. If you want to be happy, be aware of manipulative ass hats with selfish agendas.

Every Level of Life Demands A Different You

So why did I start this blog in the first place? I started because I knew I had to grow. I knew I had to grow emotionally, spiritually, professionally and physically. I knew that if I didn’t grow and change and adapt, I would be stuck.

I don’t want to be stuck and I don’t want to stay the same. It’s not serving me well.

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At each level of your life, the world demands a different you. A better you. The more (healthy) risks you take in life, the more life asks of you. Life asks for an improved version of you. What does that look like? It looks like YOU with more skills, more love, more patience and more self-awareness.  Not just a new wardrobe.

Growing and moving in this positive direction requires that you adopt a proactive mindset.  Stephen Covey’s Proactive vs. Reactive language choices. From “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People“.

proactive vs reactive

There is something remarkable about growing better each day and discovering parts of yourself you never knew existed. This won’t happen if you aren’t willing to try new things, meet new people and put yourself out there.

Learn and read and watch inspiring people. Visit inspiring places.  This starts with a wish list. I urge you to write down ten things you wish you were doing right now. Trips you wanted to take, classes you wanted to attend, movies you wanted to see, books, etc. It all starts with a desire.

Learn and read and watch inspiring people. Trust me, if you listen attentively enough, everyone is inspiring in some way, shape or form. Some may inspire you to change your attitude because you don’t like the way they behave. Yup. Even some of the most negative people in your life are teaching you something. 

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mixed emotions

 

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Turning Things Inside Out

Sometimes it is a good idea to take a look at your negative emotions and try to turn them inside out. Ask yourself what’s good about constantly being worried and afraid? Maybe it’s saving you from taking too big of a risk, like living beyond your means right now? The fear is real. Don’t negate that. But remember to find out why.

Ask yourself what’s good about feeling like you may become irrelevant? Maybe that’s you telling you to start learning new skills.

Ask yourself why you are so mad and frustrated that you still haven’t lost those sticky, pudgy 15 pounds? Maybe that’s you really telling you to become more disciplined with your life. To be more proactive rather than reactive about your life. 

Growing With Your Pain

I am learning so much from Pema Chodron (she is a very wise Buddhist nun). I carry this little book with me wherever I go. It fits in my purse and I read her wise advice throughout the day.

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A Fugitive From My Feelings

Oh this whole emotional growth,  this is a big one. A difficult, frustrating and challenging part of my growth. Something that gives me the feeling that I might just start having those frightening panic attacks again. Nooooooooooooo!!!!

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Instinctively I KNOW that the doors to my life are going to bust wide open when I begin to start facing my feelings. I mean actually feeling them for the first time. You see, for most of my life, I was a fugitive from my feelings.

For those of you who are looking for alternative ways to feel fully alive and present in your life, yes 100% radically accepting life as it comes while putting your best vibes forward, I strongly, highly . . . no I URGE you to listen to Tara Brach’s podcast. Listen to any of them, but one of my recent favorites “Sure Heart’s Release

I would love to know “What Are You Unwilling to Feel?” – comment below. 

I am currently studying how to undo my maladaptive processing of emotions. An article I found here.  Also, a smart and easy technique to Pause, Breathe & Reflect into your sadness and pain here.

Until tomorrow  . . . .

 

Bound and Determined

amelia_earhart_1928“Persistence recognizes genius, acknowledges talent and pays rewardingly only after one has refused to quit.” – Napoleon Hill

We will never reach our full potential until we learn to push through the frustration, no matter how difficult our circumstances may be.

Persistence can be fueled by . .

  1. Knowing what you want and shaking the earth to get it.  In other words, you must have a definite purpose backed by a blazing desire for its attainment. Demanding no other result but exactly what you desire.
  2. A definite strategy to achieve your goal expressed in continuous action without fear or apology.
  3. The courage to face criticism. A single-mindedness closed tightly against all negativity and discouraging influences, including negative suggestions of relatives, friends and acquaintances.
  4. True encouragement with one or more enthusiastic partners who will support you to follow through with both your plan and purpose.

A great quote for #2 on taking continuous action.

“First forget inspiration. Habit is more dependable. Habit will sustain you whether you’re inspired or not. Habit will help you finish and polish your stories. Inspiration won’t. Habit is persistence in practice.” 
― Octavia E. ButlerBloodchild and Other Stories

A Message from The Persistent Blue Jay on My Windowsill This Morning

“You are being reminded that to wear the crown of true mastership requires dedication, responsibility, and committed development in all things physical as well as the spiritual.”

Recommended Reading
Think and Grow Rich!: The Original Version, Restored and Revised (TM)

Bird Cards: The Healing Power of the Bird Kingdom

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