Monday, November 30, 2009

Becca - Living My Five

Hey, Fivers!

For those of you living in the US, I hope you had a fantastic Thanksgiving and were able to take a few minutes out of your holiday to reflect on all the blessings in your life! I am so thankful for wonderful, charitable friends and a healthy, happy family. I don't think I could ask for better blessings this holiday season!

For my Living My Five post this week, I wanted to share one Five in particular that has been keeping me busy (in the very best of ways).

Pay it Forward

One of my New Years Resolutions for 2010 is to clean out my house, working through it room by room, and donate anything that I no longer need, or never really needed in the first place. I got a jump-start on this resolution during the month of November, have been busy going through my personal belongings and finding items to donate. This past weekend, my family and I made a trip to Goodwill and donated handbags, toys, clothes, coats and bedding. My youngest son had a hard time saying goodbye to a few of his long lost baby toys, but all in all, my family and I felt good about knowing we're doing our part to help our community, especially as winter approaches. I really do live in a wonderful community, a place I feel safe and happy raising my kids, and it feels wonderful to give back.

Charity, gratitude and the spirit of giving are things I've worked hard to instill in my children, but I often wonder if they hear me, or even notice the example I'm trying to set. Today in my son's Sunday School class, his teacher was teaching the children about the power of giving. In her object lesson, she gave each child the choice between using a pretend dollar bill to buy candy, or to buy food to give to needy families. Some of the children in the class said, "But it's only a dollar. It's better to buy the candy, because the amount of food we could buy with a dollar wouldn't be enough to make a difference."

How many times have I said those same words to myself - I'm only one person. How can I make a difference? Or - It's better to buy something now that will instantly reward my family, since I can't change the world. When I found out that my son was the one boy in the class who opted to donate food and forgo candy, I can't tell you how my heart sang. I know the example we're setting can motivate people all over the globe to make our world a better place.

I'm so thankful to be a part of Living Your Five. I'm grateful I'm changing who I am and how I think. Small and simple acts can have extraordinary results.

What about you? Are you Living Your Five?

Happy World Changing!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Friday FiveSpot presents... Three Things ala Becca

Happy Friday!

We're continuing our series this week about the simple but important question we asked ourselves when we first got Living Your Five rolling.

If you could encourage everyone on the planet to do three specific things, what would they be?

Here's what Becca had to say:

1. Love your neighbors

2. Take time every day for self-evaluation and make goals where improvement is needed

3. Find your purpose

Short, sweet and definitely food for thought! Now, what about you? If you could encourage everyone in the world to do something positive, what would yours be?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Alyson -- Living My Five

The days between my last post and this one have been crazy/busy to say the least. Amongst all the usual day to day stuff, I released a new book (Shadowland), and was just about to add the final finishing touches to the nearly completed, manuscript in the Riley series when my computer died . . .

Just heaved its last breath and . . .


A recipe for a major case of high anxiety for sure, but instead of a melt down, I decided to take a deep breath (okay, maybe a whole series of deep breaths!) and remind myself of all the things I had to be grateful for--among them that I had a generous husband who gladly loaned me his computer to work on, and the fact that I'd recently gotten serious about backing up my work, which enabled me to get right back to it without missing a beat.

But of course there's far more than that to be grateful for, and with tomorrow being Thanksgiving and all, giving thanks is pretty much at the forefront of my mind. So, in addition to all the usual things that make my gratitude list, this Thanksgiving I'd like to add YOU.

Yep, YOU.

Thank YOU for taking the time out of your busy days to stop by this blog, read about our Fives, share your own Fives, and make the commitment to leave the world a better place--your participation is greatly appreciated!

And, as it turn out, gratitude really is a gift that just keeps on giving, as research shows that giving thanks promotes health and happiness in both the giver and receiver (and it works even better when practiced more than once a year!)

So, Thank YOU for taking the Five journey along with us-- I wish you all a Very Happy Thanksgiving!!


Monday, November 23, 2009

Kay - Living My Five

Happy Monday!

With the Thanksgiving holiday approaching, I've been giving a lot of thought to gratitude lately. This year, I want to create a family tradition for Thanksgiving that makes sharing our gratitude fun and really helps us focus on what we are thankful for.

I have a wonderful book called The Book of New Family Traditions: How to Create Great Rituals for Holidays and Everydays by Meg Cox. She gives so many great ideas for creating special family traditions that it's a wonderful thing just to browse through when you want a neat new way for your family to refocus and reconnect.

Here are a few of the ideas I'm considering:

1) The Gratitude Tree - You create a large tree on a sheet of paper and put it up on the wall. Each person gets a bunch of construction paper leaves and writes down things that they are thankful for. Then, taking turns, each person gets to share their leaves and explain why they are thankful for that thing before attaching it to the tree. I love how this focuses everyone on a single activity so our gratitude sharing isn't overwhelmed by food (or football). :-)

2) The Thankful Box - This one takes place during the meal, but it sounds like such fun! Each person writes the things they're thankful for on a sheet of paper and puts them into a shoebox. During the meal, the papers are read aloud and everyone tries to guess who wrote what.

These are just two possible ideas, so I would love to hear about other Thanksgiving traditions! How do you show gratitude on Thanksgiving in your family? And for those of you abroad who don't celebrate the US Thanksgiving holiday, what traditions do you have for showing gratitude in your family?

Friday, November 20, 2009

Friday FiveSpot presents... "Three Things" ala Alyson

Happy Friday and congratulations to our fair Alyson on the release of Shadowland, the third book in her Immortals YA series that has taken the world by storm!

For the next few Fridays (except for Honorary Fiver Friday, of course!), I'm going to be posting each of our answers to the simple but important question we asked ourselves when we first got Living Your Five rolling.

If you could encourage everyone on the planet to do three specific things, what would they be?

Here's what Alyson had to say:

1. If you have a choice to be either right or kind, choose kind. We waste so much time defending our egos at the expense of each other, and if we put that energy into getting along, treating each other with a little more kindness and compassion and respect, the world would be a much friendlier place to live in.

2. Cut the snark. Seriously. The Internet is not anonymous—it just feels that way—and your words have the power to either harm or heal. Why waste your time going negative when you could be positive instead? Whenever I’m tempted to fall into this trap, I remember this quote by Deepak Chopra: “The cheapest way to feel good about yourself is by feeling superior to others,” and it always stops me right in my tracks. Rise above the tide and choose to be a positive force in the world, not a negative one.

3. When in doubt, follow the Golden Rule—you can never go wrong!

And now, our question for you! If you could encourage everyone in the world to do something positive, what would yours be?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Tera -- Living My Five

This has crazy couple of weeks in TLCville. I'm under deadline (still) and have been swamped with family business stuff. (Also, I got a little distracted by some news that I can't quite share yet, but I'm back now.)

Anyway, the point is that I haven't had much time to think about anything related to my Five, let alone actually do anything about them. Other than carrying my eco-friendly reusable cup to Starbucks every day I've been pretty singularly focused on ... stuff. So, last night, as I was pre-posting this blog and decided what to report I decided to do something free and easy about one of my more neglected Five. What did I do?

Writing Mentorship

I posted a blog. Two, actually, but the second part won't post until tomorrow. I thought about what kind of advice I would like to give to aspiring writers out in the world and decided that it would be best to start at the beginning.

Before You Write a Word

The first part talks about the importance of reading in the development of your writing skills, about how reading opens your mind to ways of expressing yourself. The second part will talk about research--the how-to-write-a-book kind, not the what-brand-of-sneaks-does-my-character-wear kind--and how to educate yourself in both the craft and the career of writing.

I hope these two articles are helpful to aspiring writers out there and I promise to answer any commented questions in a follow-up blog.

Are you ready to Live Your Five?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Becca - Living My Five

Hi, Fivers!

Wow - it's November already. I have to admit, November is one of my favorite months. It's a good time to reflect on all the things I have to be thankful for. I remember being a teen, probably around fourteen years old, and every night during the month of November, I listed fifteen things in my journal that I had to be thankful for. It's a tradition I've carried on every year since then. I have so many blessings in my life, and this month, I've been working hard to pay those blessings forward.

A couple weeks ago, I made the commitment to not pass up a single opportunity to give back to my community. In fact, I made a commitment to double my efforts. As a few examples, I've gone to Barnes & Noble a couple times this month, and every time the cashier asks if I'd like to buy and donate a book to needy children in the community, I offer to buy two. And when the woman at the grocery store asked if I'd donate a dollar to St. Jude, I offered two. This past week, I found myself able to donate two turkeys to our local food bank during the annual school drive. As the Christmas season approaches, I've already made up my mind to be as generous as I possibly can. I truly believe there's nothing love and generosity can't overcome. I'm thankful I have the opportunity to Pay It Forward.

What about you?

Are you Living Your Five?

Friday, November 13, 2009

Friday FiveSpot presents... education wins!

Happy Friday, Fivers!

I'm always on the lookout for inspiring stories and, since education is a particular passion of mine, this story really captured my attention. It's about Tohatchi Elementary School in New Mexico, a school where 83% of its students qualify as poor by state standards. Determined not to be held back by economic status, Tohatchi went from one of the worst academically performing schools in the state to one of the best in just three short years. If this doesn't inspire you to believe in the power of caring teachers and administrators--and the power of kids to rise to any challenge--then I'll eat my hat.

(Disclaimer: This is a figure of speech. I won't actually eat my hat unless said hat is made of chocolate. But I still think this is a fabulous story.)


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Alyson --Living My Five

Well, the last two weeks have been crazy/busy, what with preparing for the Shadowland release next week, and wrapping up the first book in the new, Immortals series spin-off, I've been seriously home bound and pretty much chained to my computer (figuratively speaking).

But, since I knew when I committed to my Five that that would pretty much be the case, that a lot of my Five would take place right here at home, I wasn't daunted, and I soon found a way to commit a random act of charity right from my desk.

And it just so happens to involve, appropriately enough, Thanksgiving. A holiday, which, I'm going to be completely honest here and say, has never been one of my faves.

And it's not the giving thanks part--because I love that.

It's also not the getting together part either--because I love that too.

It's more, well, the food part.

I'm just not a fan of the bird. And pumpkin pie has never been my desert of choice. And please, don't even get me started on stuffing and gravy. (And no, this has absolutely nothing to do with my mom's cooking, because if anyone can make a tasty meal it's her!)

It's just me.

And as far as I can remember, that's just the way it's always been. In fact, it actually stems back even farther than I can remember, all the way back to my due date, which, all those eons ago was set for Thanksgiving Day. But nope, I was so not having that. So I dug in my heels (so to speak), and hung in there for an extra week, til I was sure the last traces of leftover turkey sandwiches would be gone, and it was safe to come out and greet the world within the warm confines of December.

That said, I am very well aware that my choosing to not particularly care for certain meals, is an absolute luxury when so many people are going hungry. And so, this Thanksgiving, I've donated enough money to provide 50 meals to those who would otherwise go without.

And you know what? It not only made me feel thankful that I was in a position to do it, but it also made me vow to revisit my position on pumpkin pie . . .

I'll let you know how that goes!

What about YOU?

Are you Living Your Five?

Monday, November 9, 2009

Kay - Living My Five

Wow, these last two weeks have gone by FAST! I've been under the weather, but here's what I've been doing to live my Five:

Commit to a life of gratitude

Like many people, I've been sick the last week. And since part of that has meant not having a voice (literally), I've spent more time online catching up in places like Facebook. It made me remember how many wonderful people are in my life and how unfortunate it is that many of them don't live nearby. Such is the life of transient America, I know.

So I've taken some time this week to connect with old friends... finding out how they're doing, trying to set up a chance to get together, and just generally letting them know I'm thinking about them. My friend, Dawn, has a lovely expression she uses when she's been thinking about you. "You were on my heart," she'll say, "so I thought I'd call to see how you were doing." A lot of people have been on my heart lately, and I'm glad I've taken the time to let them know. I want to do that more often.

I also spent a lot of time on the phone with my agent last week (prior to the voice problem), which reminded me how incredibly lucky I am to have her for a business partner. She really is the perfect compliment to me, personality-wise and business-wise. We're a good match, and I'm very grateful for that. I also got a wonderful bit of help from my editor--quite unexpectedly--which gave me even more to be thankful for. They're both getting a little special something from me today as my way of saying thanks. (Shhh... don't tell!) :-)

So that's what I've been up to. What about you? What have you been doing to make a difference in your world? How have you been Living Your Five?

Friday, November 6, 2009

Friday FiveSpot presents... Honorary Fiver Day!

Welcome to Honorary Fiver Day!

We'll be hosting this event on the first Friday of every month. Honorary Fiver Day is your chance to become a bonafide Honorary Fiver member of the Living Your Five community.

To become an Honorary Fiver, all you have to do is share your Five in the comments on this special Honorary Fiver post. Let us know the five areas you want to make a difference in!

Once you've shared your Five on this post, you are officially an Honorary Fiver and have our permission to nab this cute logo (designed by our own fab Tera!) to place on your blog or web site. Cool, right?

What does being an Honorary Fiver mean?

Being an Honorary Fiver means you're ready to join us in our quest to change our world... one person and one Five at a time. But posting your Five in the comments area of an official Honorary Fiver Day post is just the beginning. We want you to keep us posted on how you're doing on your Five! Any time one of us posts about our progress, please chime in and share your Five news too. Tell us what great things you're up to. All Fiver progress is worth celebrating, big steps and baby steps alike!

The more action we take, the more excitement we spread, the more momentum we build... the more impact we make as a Fiver community!

And yes, we encourage you to post about your Five progress on your own blogs too if you wish. Blog your Honorary Fiver hearts out, we say! Just remember to post your progress on Living Your Five too so you can inspire the rest of our community. :-)

An important note to keep in mind...

One of the tricky things about creating your Five is distinguishing between something that's beneficial to you vs. something that's immediately beneficial to others. Even we had to stop ourselves on occasion and ask "Who is really benefitting from this?"

Your Five must be things that directly impact others in a positive way, not something that is primarily for your own personal benefit.

In addition to our Fives, Alyson, Tera, Becca and I are all actively pursuing our own kinds of personal development. That's just part of being the best we can be. But that's a personal endeavor, not a Fiver endeavor.

Here's an example of what I mean:

Things like regular meditation and spiritual development are for your own personal growth. They're lovely goals, to be sure. And they may very well improve your ability to carry out your Five. But those goals would not be part of your Five themselves because the person who benefits most is you.

Stick to things that directly and obviously impact others first and foremost, whether those others are people, animals, the Earth, or whatever you happen to care about. Don't worry... if you're like us, there will be way more than just five things in your "Impacting Others" column.

NOTE: You must post your Five here to become an Honorary Fiver, even if you've already shared it in the comments of a non-Honorary Fiver Day post. (Having all of the Fives together on these special Honorary Fiver Day posts is the only way we can keep track of our growing Honorary Fivers membership.)

And now, without further ado, I introduce... YOU!

So there you go, dear readers! If you're ready to step up to the plate--Welcome! We're thrilled to have you aboard!--now is your time to shine. Share your Five in the comments below, nab the Honorary Fiver logo for your blog or web site, and go change your world!

Are you ready to Live Your Five?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Tera -- Living My Five

It's been a crazy few weeks for me. You know from my last post that I made it through my move with some decent progress on my Five. Now I'm buckling under the weight of a looming deadline. Let's see if I'm still pulling my weight.

Going Green

Two simple things, which hopefully have a big cumulative impact, that I've been doing are taking my own mug to Starbucks and taking reusable bags to the grocery store. Since, as I said, I'm under deadline, I'm spending a lot of time writing in my favorite office--aka Starbucks. Every time I hand over my mug I feel like I'm making a tiny impact on the environment. (Plus, saving ten cents.)

Now that I'm (temporarily) back home with my parents I'm playing personal chef, which means I'm also playing grocery shopper. My mom has a bazillion reusable grocery bags which are wonderful because, not only do they save oil (we use 12 million gallons of oil every year to make 30 billion plastic bags in the USA*) and money (five cents a bag), they are also way easier to carry when loaded down with stuff.

Writing Mentorship

What I didn't mention in my last post is that I was, maybe even as you read it, speaking at a high school north of Austin, Texas, on my way to Oklahoma. I gave four sessions to a total of nine classes, including the school's creative writing class, about how I became a writer, my writing process, and answering any questions they could come up with. This combined two of my favorite parts of the job: talking to teens and talking about writing. I would like to think I inspired at least one or two of the kids to think about writing as a career.

By the time I write my next post I should be done with the first draft of my next book ... and hopefully I'll soon have time to make some more significant progress to report.

Are you ready to Live Your Five?

PS -- Today is my mom's birthday so HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM!!!

* source: ABC News

Monday, November 2, 2009

Becca - Living My Five

Hi, Fivers!

My oldest son had a birthday this week, and while we'd originally planned on taking him to a haunted corn maze to celebrate, we ended up going sledding instead - blame all the snow Colorado's been getting! Typically, when it comes to my kids' birthdays, I go all out and buy them presents just for the sake of having more things for them to open. I think in our society, it sometimes feels like the number of presents we give our children is an expression of our love. Well, I'm here to say that's not true! :)

This year, to keep with my goal of reducing personal consumption, I decided to give my son one birthday present - the one gift he'd been begging for all summer. At first I was worried he'd ask where all the rest of his presents had gone, but he was so excited to get this particular present, that the dreaded question never came up. Besides, with all the other presents flowing in from aunts, uncles and grandparents, he didn't notice that Mom and Dad gave him only one present. Since I've noticed most of the toys I give him end up going straight into the closet, and later, the garage-sale pile, I feel really good about this decision. It feels great not to be wasteful. And to top things off, I wrapped the birthday present in recycled paper.

How about you? Are you living your Five?