Since this is my first update post for my Five, it seems like I should begin by talking about where I am right now. To set a benchmark, so to speak. So I'm going to kick things off by sharing what I've been doing to live my Five since I first created them last fall. My future posts will focus on what I've done in the previous two weeks to continue living my Five in ways large and small.
A quick note about progress: you don't have to make progress on every single one of your Five every two weeks. We all have lives that we're trying to lead as well. But committing to Living Your Five means that you should make meaningful progress on at least one of your Five every two weeks.
1. Commit to a life of gratitude
This one is a bit hard to quantify over a long period because much of it is about the little things we do. Leaving my husband notes in his car or in his wallet. Getting out and riding my bike around our neighborhood, smiling at all the great people we're lucky to have as neighbors. Writing personal notes and emails when people do nice things to let them know they're appreciated. Sending my editor and agent little tokens of my gratitude when they're not expecting it. It's a constant stream of small things that bring this part of my Five to life.
2. Paying it forward in ways that are meaningful for me
One of the biggest things I've done in this respect is creating Living Your Five. I feel so blessed to live in a time and in a place where I can make a real, meaningful difference in the world around me. Someone once said that if you're in the position to be able to help, you have a moral responsibility to do so. While I don't necessarily agree with that in every situation--for instance, safety needs to be considered as well--I do feel like I have the obligation to make changes in my world in ways I'm uniquely able to. I wanted to create a community of people with a shared goal of doing just that. If I can do five things, imagine what all of our Fives together can accomplish!
I also pay it forward by hosting tons of guest features on my You 2.o blog. This includes Author Spotlights, Librarian Spotlights, and the fun Booklover of the Week series where I get to interview agents, editors, booksellers, and book bloggers about why they love the YA and middle grades genres. It gives my blog readers, many of whom are aspiring writers, a chance to know these wonderful people who share their passion for books. Guests in all of these features answer a question about each piece of the You 2.0 philosophy: pursuing your dreams, changing your world, gratitude, and paying it forward. I love that I'm able to host a forum where people from all walks of life can share what they're grateful for, how their pursuing their dreams, and what they're doing to make a difference and pay it forward. I can't tell you how many guests have said, "Wow, your questions were so hard! They really made me think, but I had such a great time coming up with my answers." That makes my day.
3. Encourage people to pursue their dreams with passion and a powerful plan for achieving them
I'll be talking about my motivational workshops for schools and youth organizations in the next item on my Five list, but they definitely apply here as well. In fact, one of the things I love about my Five is that so many of the things I do actually fulfill two or even three pieces of my Five all at the same time. That's the kind of synergy that makes me roll out of bed with a smile (and I'm so not a morning person!).
In addition to my motivational speaking and hands-on empowerment workshops, I'm also hosting a year-long writing program for aspiring writers of teen/tween fiction. The program, called the Teen Author Challenge, can be found every Tuesday on my You 2.0 blog. It takes writers through the entire process of writing a book, from coming up with a wow-worthy idea... to character development and plotting/pantsing strategies... to writing the actual book... to editing and polishing your manuscript until it shines... to understanding how to get your work in front of an agent or editor when it's ready for prime time. The Teen Author Challenge features exclusive inspirational quotes of the week, writing tips, and strategies from successful authors to show participants there's no one right way to write a book. It's all about finding what works for you and creating your own plan for your writing career.
For aspiring writers who genuinely want to make this a career, I want to help them make that dream a reality. This is also part of my Paying It Forward platform because it's my way of giving back after years of being on the receiving end of wonderful authors who have shared their knowledge and support with me.
4. Help people of all ages embrace their full potential
This one has two facets for me. On the personal side, it's about helping the people around me become the best they can be. On the career side, it's the one-two punch of my books and my workshops. There's so much that can be done... and so much work to do!
If you've read an advance reader copy (ARC) of The Cinderella Society, you'll see this right there on the page. The Cinderella Society's motto is "celebrate your strength, embrace your future, be extraordinary". The society exists, at its core, to develop the next generation of movers and shakers. The series is a complete and total blast to write because it's a society I would've loved to have been tapped for when I was a teen--makeovers, empowerment, good vs. evil... I would've been all over that! Plus I get to share this part of my Five with the world by creating an entire society dedicated to empowering girls. It's the series I was born to write.
Drawing on my professional training experience during my corporate days and in the years since, I've also created a series of motivational workshops that I'm able to teach for schools and youth organizations. While I can also talk about the life of an author, my specialty is empowerment workshops for teens and tweens that help them embrace their full potential. Each one of these workshops gives me the opportunity to live this part of my Five in a fun, super fulfilling way.
5. Live a greener life
This is another one that's often a series of small things that make a difference. One of the biggest things I've done was an energy audit of our home this past winter. We cut our energy bill by nearly 20%. I also consolidate my errands and limit my driving as much as possible.
When we built our house, we had high-efficiency furnace and A/C units installed. Each time we get a new major appliance, we look at the energy factors when making our decisions. And when we traded in our nine year old car, my husband actually figured out the gas usage for each car we considered over a five-year period. It's amazing how just one or two extra miles per gallon can make a huge impact over the life of a car.
But there's more to be done. One of my big goals is to become more knowledge about the options we have for greener technology, cleaning supplies, and energy production. For my home and for our world. And there are a hundred little things I probably haven't thought of yet that I can change in my own day to day living to make a positive impact on the environment.
So there's where I am with my Five as of today. Starting in two weeks, I'll be focusing on what I've done in the previous two weeks to live my Five.
And remember... join us this Friday for our first official Honorary Fiver feature. Are you ready to become an Honorary Fiver and Live Your Five?