Project Finish Line: The Definition of Success

Welcome back, friends and few readers I have remaining! I am a neglectful blogger as of late, but rest assured this is the one time you’ll hear the words “It’s not you, it’s me” and have them be 100% fact.

My life, like yours, is very full at the moment. Full of challenge and tragedy, fear and frustation, new friends, great joy, travel adventures, new pursuits, old habits, a bit of wine, and lots and lots of coffee. I have no idea what the purpose of all this beautiful madness is, but I keep doing it and am learning to have fun with it where I can. 

First let me share some joy (coupled with frustration!): I am a size 8 (at Express; F those other designers). In six months I lost 20 pounds (and put 5 back on), 2 sizes, and gained health, strength, a teeny tiny bit of speed, a dash of motivation, and the ability to simultaneously breathe and run. 

My book is in it’s final editing stages, and my finances are still a nightmare. Ha! But the beat goes on, and I consider my accomplishments, though requiring of consistent and ongoing dedication and effort, a success. It’s all about the continuation of the process, the journey. Keeping taking those steps forward, and you will continue to meet small victories. Or at least maintain those you’ve achieved. As an overachiever and perfectioniast of sorts, it’s often difficult for me to truly celebrate my succcess, because until recently i’ve measured success only in terms of that which can truly be metricized (not a word, but should’t it be??) – what can be counted, compared, weighed, etc. 

But then I went to Saint Louis at the end of February and sat in my Harvard National Preparedness Leadership Institute training session and was introduced to a different and, I think, much more healthy definition of success. 

The doctor facilitating the session asked us all how we would define success in our own words. Across the room I and some of my colleagues immediately went to career, income, accomplishments. Others cited family, love, the successes of their children. And why wouldn’tw we? We have people who depend on us, adventures to take, and bills to pay. Success is ensuring all of those things can happen without straining resources too much yes?


Or perhaps not.

The doctor relayed the greatest definition he’d every heard from one of his class participants, and I’ve stolen it and am sharing it here today. If I knew the man’s name, I would happily credit him with his genius. Alas, I do not, so if you’re out there and reading this, kind sir, my hat is off to you and I welcome you to leave a comment and claim your (limited on this blog) fame. 

I’m going to share this exceptional peace of wisdom with you now. No, no – don’t dive right in. Stop for a moment to prepare yourselves to have your mind utterly and irrevocably blown. Stretch a bit, take a few deep breaths, get a glass of water if you like. I’ll waith. This is important. 

Okay. Are you ready? Here it comes. 

The definition of success is that no matter where you are going, you can’t wait to get there. 

Did you get that? Simple, right? 

And yet how profound. 

Think for a moment about the last three places (phsyical or not) that you’ve been today. Work? Home? Grocery store? On a date? To the gym? To a movie?

Were you excited to go to those places? Why or why not? If you were, great! I’m so happy for you! 

But if not – IF NOT – then why did you go there? Well, groceries are required to live. Fair enough. But did you buy wonderful, healthy food to make a fantastic and cost effective meal? Did you engage your kiddos in cooking with your, or did you revel in exporing necessary culinary arts on your own like a closeted Emergil Legasse? Did you say “BAM!!” when you added a dash of spice or a pinch of flavor? Did you  laugh at your own ridiculousness or listen to music you loved while you did it? Did you use a recipe or a kitchen tool handed down by a relative or call up your mom/dad/grandma/best friend to ask about their recipe or reminisce about the time you did the thing at that place while you at the one dish?

Or what about your job? Do you spring out of bed in the morning and rush to get to work because you were excited about soe project or person? To be honest, I don’t springs anwhere before 10:00 AM and at least 16 ounces of coffee, so no worries if not.  But did you at least not have to pull yourself out of bed by your own hair before getting to work and sitting in the parking lot breathing just to force yourself to walk in the door? Come on – we’ve ALL had THAT job. And perhaps there’s just no getting out of it because of adult responsibilities and obligations – I get that. I get that in the most painful way. Are you doing anything to make it better? Do you at least enjoy the peolpe you work with? Hell, do you even get off a little on pushing your boss’s buttons if nothing else? I love my boss, and even I enjoy getting him gassed up – just cuz I can. ūüėČ

What about home? Do you love, love, love your single life? Thre freedom and independence to do what you want to do when and how you want to do it? Or are you jazzed to go home to your family?  

Do you love to work out or read or watch movies or do brunch and happy hour, or even just walk the neighborhood?

I know for many of us these little luxuries are just that – luxuries. And how do you get excited by a life that you feel you’ve somehow just ended up oin? How can you feel jazzed to go to a job you hate to pay bills you can barely afford (or can’t afford at all??) to support a family you can’t stand? Letls be honest – some of us have those. So how is succes achieved, by thie definition here, when you hate your life and feel trapped in it?

Well that is the million dollar question,isn’t it?

Here’s what I’ve come up with: small changes over time. And consistency. 

I’m NOT an expert, and I have no advice. I’m just as fucked up as the next guy. In fact, proabably more so. I can only tell you what I’m doing to acheive this measure of success. Figure out what I want, focus on it, and make small, manageable changes consistently over time. 

Earth shattering? Probably not. But I’m open to suggestions.


Next time we’ll lighten it up a bit and go DIY. I have three completed projects I need to post, so stay tuned…

Evidenciary Support v. Cheesus Quesadilla

Hello again, my friends. Tonight I sit doing one of my favorite “meditations” – propping myself in bed listening to Pandora and writing in the dark.

Today’s inspiration comes from one of my (many) guilty pleasures: Pinterest. Okay, so technically¬†this is from the Bible, but I saw it quoted on Pinterest.

Hebrews 11:1 says “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

In terms of majestic¬†possibilities and enigmatic beauty, this is a gorgeous statement. I love the idea of fate, kismet, magic, and¬†beautiful things¬†that exist unseen – things that are true simply because they are and not because they can be discerned with any of our five senses but instead with that mysterious sixth sense for which we’re all mythically supposed to have some capacity to exercise.

There are rumors of siblings (twins usually, I think) who can feel when the other one is in pain, mothers feel panic from afar when their child is in imminent danger, lovers who will think of their other half and suddenly they call, someone suddenly waking up in the middle of the night at the exact moment a loved one dies, strangers who fall in love at first sight, and Jesus appearing on a tortilla. Well, that last one can be seen with the naked eye (and perhaps tasted?), but it’s just as fantastical to assume a Cheesus quesadilla could have holy power as it is to believe cosmic “true love” is evidenced by a coincidence such as receiving a phone call or text message in the moment that you’re thinking of that person.

I genuinely want these things to be true. Oh, how I want it.

The idea that there is some cosmic force or universal order by which these things happen is, perhaps shamefully, so heartbreakingly lovely that it hurts to believe that they don’t exist. Yet I have no choice but to believe they don’t.

Let’s take the idea of the lovers who magically call each other at the exact moment one thinks of the other.¬†First, isn’t¬†part of love always thinking of the object of said love? It certainly is for me. Perhaps I’m a bit obsessive, but I do think of the one I love in any moment where my mind is not occupied with something else. And don’t you want to talk to the one you love when you can? I think yes. Being in love means you want to be together and communicate with one another. Therefore, the phone call/text would have come at the moment you’re thinking of them no matter what because Lover A wants to talk to Lover B often, and Lover B is consistently thinking of Lover A. There’s no fate in that – there’s not even coincidence in that. That is just natural urges and desires acting out in a logical progression.

As to the twins, the mother, the strangers-turned-soul mates…well…this obviously doesn’t happen to everyone, and for those to whom it does happen, there’s no way to debunk the myths. People want to believe they are connected to others, to the universe, in some way, and so – I believe – they take the opportunity presented by coincidence, or they shape the “facts” they want in such a way that it fits their desired version of the way things unfold in their own minds. Having a sleepless night and checking clock around 1:00 AM becomes, “I suddenly woke at 1:12 AM with a sense of dread. I found out later that it was the moment my ____ to their last breath.”

It’s comforting and exhilarating to believe, to have faith in things. Perhaps I’m too practical. Perhaps I’m boring or broken. Or perhaps I’ve grown tired of giving my faith freely and¬†wholly, loyally¬†holding onto hope only to have the practical, logical, proven world – the world where repeatable results are possible and there exists undeniable link between action and consequence – remind me that either A) a Cheesus quesadilla has no deeper meaning than a cure for midnight munchies, or B) the deeper meaning it has does not exist for me, either because I can’t perceive it or because I don’t deserve it.

I would really love for someone to change my mind. Any takers?