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Getting Serious about Owning Your Life

January 4, 2017

“Often when you think you are at the end of something, you are at the beginning of something else.” ~ Fred Rogers

New year! Yes!

New dreams? Maybe. Maybe not.

How many of our “resolutions” seem to repeat themselves?

And they repeat themselves, a lot of the time, because we’ve not made any progress.

So the first thing we’re going to do is to take a moment to ponder why. Sometimes we don’t accomplish things we set out simply because they really aren’t that important to us. Oh maybe they are in the abstract, but when you get right down to it, they aren’t a priority in the overall scheme of our lives. And that’s okay. It’s time to be honest with ourselves and jettison those goals, at least for now. I have a checklist of things to do and if I don’t get some done after a period of time, I ask myself why. And if the answer is, well, they aren’t as important as most everything else, I take them off my list. It’s okay. This is a part of growth.

Also, take time to ask yourself if these are really YOUR goals, or if you believe they should be your goals. Do they arise from your own passion or from your desire to please others? If it’s the former, keep reading. If they are the latter, jettison them and let’s move on to getting you closer to being truly you. It’s okay. You’re receiving full absolution here.

Sometimes, we want certain goals to be a priority but they just can’t be right now. Life is happening all around us and we’ve got to deal with that. So maybe we didn’t accomplish last year because life blew us out of the water. Maybe we’re ready now. Maybe it will be later. Don’t compare yourself with others. Understand your life stage and what you can do now. We’ll do the other stuff later. Remember that “not now” is totally different than “no.”

Another reason we don’t accomplish is because we’re just not set up to. We want to. It’s a passion of ours but we’re not sure how to start, we’re fearful of starting, we’re fearful of failing, whatever. In other words, we know it’s a priority, that it comes from a place of passion and desire, but we’re at a loss. Those goals hurt the most because at the beginning of a new year, we know we are called to do these things but whap ourselves with the guilt bat for not having the wherewithal to move forward.

So today’s homework is to take the last assignment, the area(s) of your life you’ve identified, in which you wish to accomplish something this year and let’s set a goal. If you haven’t identified it/those yet, do that first. Again, begin with one or as many as you feel you can handle depending upon past success rates.

Now, slow down.

Think about the goal and reflect upon it. Is it something new or is it something you’ve tried before but haven’t made it?

If it’s new, then there will be pure passion surrounding it. That’s just the nature of newness. That passion will be like kindling. It will get the flame started but will not sustain the goal. That’s why so many fail. More on this in Friday’s post.

If it’s an older, unaccomplished goal, that’s fine. But before we start, in light of the above, ask yourself how important it really is. If it’s not really that important to you, then let it go. Just let it go and be proud you are brave enough to realize this and to take action. If, however, the goal is really important and you really want to accomplish it, the passion will come, once you forgive yourself for all failed attempts.

Yep. That’s right. I said forgive yourself. Fully. Totally. Unconditionally. Practice the same lovingkindness you extend to others to yourself. Total forgiveness. We’re beginning anew.
Do you have more than one goal for this area? Fine, name all of them. But again, only be as aggressive as you feel comfortable and follow the same guidelines as above.

So, now we’ve identified a life area or areas we want to move forward in in 2017. And now we’ve identified a goal or goals important to us.


Well, I just want you to use the next couple of days to visualize. Visualize what it feels like to be moving forward with this specific goal. Visualize what it will be like when you accomplish it. Visualize how the work will be integrated into your current life and, perhaps, how your current life might have to be adjusted to accommodate this new goal.

Do that for the next couple of days. On Friday, we’re going to get serious and begin to make a plan to make it happen. Are you with me?

Let’s do this. Own this day. Own this week. Own this year. Own your life.

Namaste, y’all,

Welcome to 2017! Now what?

January 2, 2017

“The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.” ~ Alan Watts

Welcome to 2017!

If you believe the consensus of those on social media, good riddance to 2016 and here’s to a new and different 2017.

But how will it be different?

As we have quoted, many times, an age-old adage…there are things you can control and those you can’t. A secret to life is to control those within your control and let go of those you can’t.

So while a lot of the bad in 2016 was outside of our control, I believe some of our wishing away of the year deals with the external, uncontrollable, sucking the life energy from us such that we couldn’t effectively move forward with the things we could control.

Now, a new year….

So what is it you’d like to do this year? I’m not a big believer in resolutions, as least in how they normally operate but I’m a huge believer in goal setting. I sit down each year and make goals in different areas of life. Now remember, I’m a coach and I’m not telling you what you should do. I’m just telling you what I do and might take some ideas and find the ways that work best for you. Here is the way I do it.

Zig Ziglar once said, “If you aim for nothing, you will hit it every time.” So, let’s aim for something. Some areas I want to accomplish things in this year are – family/home/relationships, spirituality and growth, writing, photography, health and fitness, professional development. It’s likely some of my list might overlap with yours but then again, that’s not important.

For my next few posts I’m going to take you, a step at a time, in setting a goal and then putting a plan into place.

For today’s homework, name one or more areas in which you’d like to accomplish things this year. If you are an experienced planner and goal setter, I’d recommend naming up to six and, as I did above, you can combine some with similar objectives.

However, if the idea of goal setting gives you the heebie-jeebies, then just name one. Find one area of your life you’d like to get something done for 2017.

Remember…we’re not setting the goal today. We’re just identifying the area(s) of your life for which you’d like to get something accomplished, okay? Make it fun. Make it easy on yourself. If you’re a little intimidated, start small. You can always add more later.

Okay, Happy Monday, all. We’re going to make this year better by working in the areas over which we have control. We’re going to get some important things done. And you get to decide what those important things are.

Namaste, y’all,

Building a social media platform

August 30, 2016

Are you horrified to learn that a huge part of being a successful author is by growing your social media? It’s your my role to advertise, promote and sell books. It’s down to you to cre…

Source: Building a social media platform


February 13, 2016

Source: About

I Am a Writer

April 3, 2013

If you ask, I will tell you that I am a writer. Intellectually, I know that I am. I am comfortable saying it now, embracing it. I am a writer. That is part of my essence.

What about from a practical standpoint?

I am learning much from my faith that resonates throughout the rest of my life. Imagine that.

In my faith, I have discovered the necessity to “die” to oneself on a daily basis, maybe even an hourly basis. Some days a minute by minute basis. I must turn away from that which constrains me, that which binds me to this temporal existence in order to transcend, to elevate, to fly.

I am discovering that this applies to my creativity as well. I can call myself a Christian but what am I doing this morning other than claiming a name? I can call myself a writer but what am I doing right now that earns that distinction?

I wake up with my mind full of ideas and thoughts wanting to be expressed, needing to be committed to a more permanent form. But I also wake up knowing my responsibilities, the “what must be dones,” that escort me from my bed, through my day, back to my bed, and, on occasion, wake me here and there throughout my nights, to remind me of my failures and to point out the futility of my attempts.

If left to their own devices, they will lull me with promises that I can do better if I just give them more time. If I just make more checklists. If I just…

There is an exquisite balance that must be reached for things must be done. People must be cared for. Houses and lawns must be kept up and maintained. Dogs must be fed and groomed. Babies must be held.

But the Responsibilities are never ending and are ever unyielding. When the fact is grasped that one could literally work on Responsibilities from sun up to midnight, seven days a week, and never finish, that “things” shall always be left undone or worse, continue to “undo” themselves even as you work, one begins to understand the need for this balance.

And so, at least for this day, I have decided to die to myself, to the pride that says I can do it all, that if it were not for me, my little part of the world could not function. I am deciding for this minute on this day to stretch to find the balance that gives me room to breathe, to transcend, to create. I shall take counsel from the Responsibilities and make my decisions rather than being governed by them.

This is my commitment for this day. This is how I shall be a more spiritual person for the next few hours. This is how I will claim my life as a writer on this Wednesday.

And tomorrow I shall be required to do it again. And the next day. And if on succession of my remaining days I am successful, I shall have had a most wonderful life.

Guest Post: Charlotte Rains Dixon, author of Emma Jean’s Bad Behavior

February 18, 2013

Terry’s note – I am very excited to be hosting a guest blog post by my good friend and colleague, Charlotte Rains Dixon. I have known Charlotte for a decade now as a mentor, a fellow Spalding MFA in Writing alum, a Co-Program Director of The Writer’s Loft at Middle Tennessee State University, an author, a co-writer for literary magazine 2nd & Church, and most importantly, a friend. She and I both are currently mentors in The Writer’s Loft creative writing program and are planning literary events for 2013 and 2014 for the middle Tennessee area. She writes an essential newsletter for creatives that you can sign up for at her website and regularly conducts workshops, retreats and virtual classes.

Her latest novel, Emma Jean’s Bad Behavior is being released this month and I couldn’t be happier for her. So without further ado…Here’s Charlotte!

Finding My Own True North

By Charlotte Rains Dixon (

One of the things I love about Terry’s site is his tag line: finding true north.  To me, this conjures up a romantic image of celestial navigation—standing on the deck of a ship at night, looking up at millions of sparkling stars.   While I’ve been a writer for years, it took me a while to navigate through the stars to find my own current true north of novelist, blogger and teacher.

I’ve wanted to be a novelist since I was a child, but once I grew up, something in my subconscious decided this wasn’t a serious enough goal.  I mean, entertaining people as my life’s work?  Come on.  And yet, writing seemed to be the only thing I could commit to over the long haul, so I turned to more “serious” writing and pursued free-lance journalism.

Later, as my career morphed, I took up ghostwriting for business people, and out of that a natural outgrowth was coaching those who couldn’t afford the ghost writing.   This was good—I was writing, and making a modest living at it.  But I was confused.  I’d earned my MFA in creative writing and rose early nearly every morning to work on a novel.  Plus, I wrote a blog about creative writing.  And taught it at a Tennessee university.

Which was the real me?  Which arena should I focus on?  Should I go for love (creative writing) or money (working with business people)?  I felt like I was sailing for two different worlds, without a star in sight to guide me.   I decided (not all that consciously) that helping business people was what I should do—it was more practical and more lucrative to boot.  And so I signed up for a program that would show me how to do this at a higher level, reaching more people and making lots more money.

And I was immediately miserable.  The thing that made me happiest was that hour in the morning, when I rose early to work on editing my novel.   I was even starting to submit it to agents and publishers.  And I still spent a lot of time on my blog, where I attempted to write about creative writing and writing for business. During the day, I’d go back to my “official” self, striving to be a ghostwriter and coach to small business people.

Here’s the funny thing—I wasn’t very successful at helping business people.  The promised riches and clients didn’t appear.  And one day I sat down and looked hard at what I was doing.   It hit me—I didn’t have to be all things to all people!  I could just be me.  If only I could figure out what me really wanted.

The answer came immediately, as it always does when we slow down enough to listen.  Me wanted to be a novelist, and a blogger, and to help creative writers, not business people.

And so I switched focus back to my own true north, with my inner critic screaming all the way that I’d be broke and never get my novel published.  But I’m happy to report that, though the ride has had a few bumps, it is all working out.  Vagabondage Press published my novel, Emma Jean’s Bad Behavior, on February 12th, and now I can call myself exactly what my heart desires—a novelist, blogger and teacher.

So pay heed to Terry’s call to find your true north, because it will guide you exactly where you need to go.

The Next Big Thing: Not Exactly According to Plan by Cindy L. Corpier

January 28, 2013

Note from Terry:  I am honored to host another talented writer’s responses to The Next Big Thing. I met Cindy Corpier in Paris last summer during the Spalding MFA in Writing summer study abroad program. She is funny, fascinating, intelligent, and talented and I am proud to call her a friend and colleague. I’m no doctor nor do I play one on television but I’m willing to bet that “Not Exactly According to Plan” will be the perfect prescription to those searching for a good read. And now, here’s Cindy!

What is the working title of your book?

Not Exactly According to Plan

 Where did the idea come from for the book? 

From my experience training as a physician in the 1980’s at the Texas Medical Center in Houston and from my life in medicine since.  Also from reading a book known to almost all doctors called The House of God.  This novel was published in 1978 and is still in print.  As funny and heartbreaking and true as the novel is, it was written from a male physician’s perspective.  I wanted to write about the experience from a women’s point of view—from the trauma of watching patients die, to the salvation of friendship, to the numbing exhaustion that gives rise to bad romantic decisions and ultimately, to inner strength and the grace of forgiveness.

 What genre does your book fall under?

Mainstream fiction or Women’s fiction

 What actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

The main character, Courtney Doucet is confident on the outside and constantly second-guessing on the inside.  I like to think Ellen Page or Emma Stone could pull her off beautifully.  Wyatt, her main romantic interest, is handsome and privileged, maybe Ryan Gosling.  Carter Murdock, the dangerous older man, could be Clive Owen or (why not?) George Clooney.

 What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

A young doctor is seeing her professional and romantic dreams come true when she makes a series of choices that sabotage both and she must face losing everything.

 Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I will seek representation this year.

 How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

About nine months for the first draft.

 What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Both Emily Giffin and Anna Quindlen have written books with complex female heroines navigating the demands of career and love.

 Who or what inspired you to write this book? 

I graduated from medical school at the age of twenty-three with the boundless confidence of the truly naïve and took on the awesome responsibility of caring for sick people long before I was fully mature.  This story is part-insider view of the world of medicine, part-tribute to the patients I’ve known, and part-love letter to my younger self.

 What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Not Exactly According to Plan will be attractive to book lovers who want an insider view of medicine and are forced to watch House or reruns of Scrubs and E.R. to get their fix.

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