Tag Archives: life planning

confusion and clarity


Nearing the end of this year’s story and I’m wondering if I’m in a state of confusion or a state of clarity? I’m beginning to believe that the two states of being are more equal than separate. I feel that they can be  one in the same depending on how I decide to present myself and react in any given moment.

In the past 11 months, I learned that I needed to be aware of but let go fully of who I thought I was in order to truly become the person that I am meant to be.  This is a much harder task than I anticipated.

I learned that being lost was the first step in finding myself. I found that detaching possession from objects, people, and places helped me feel free fluid and alive. I also found creating and nourishing connections with people places and objects helped me feel free fluid and alive. I now know I love to be heard and read as much as I love to listen and read. I do dread aerobic exercise but can dance in bliss until I drop. I crave structure and routine but resist it vehemently when it is forced upon me. I thrive around and thirst for people’s company but insist on time alone. I have found answers in feeling more than thinking and yet have spent more time reflecting than doing.   In a nutshell, I have learned that I am simply a walking contradiction.

I can see how this month’s chapter writer and confidant Elizabeth Brady would ask me to consider the tools of logic and/or order once again as I now ask, “What is next?” I have to confess, though that I am less concerned now with that question of “What is next?” then when I began the project a year ago. I am more concerned about the question of “What can I do, feel, and resonate now?” I am more interested in preparing now for a possible future rather than deciding and planning for it to happen accordingly.

Last July in chapter two I found the lessons of logic to be extremely helpful during a difficult time dealing with personal relationships, family and living challenges. The lessons of logic and order brought me a particular focus I needed to balance out the overly emotional environment and circumstances I encountered then. Eleven months and chapters later and I am once again dealing with life’s dose of difficult challenges.

I have been playing this game for 37 years now and admittedly, I have not mastered the rules of logic, maybe because I never found life to be logical? There are not always explanations for the events and occurrences we experience.   There is no one equation that brings me quick fix answers or solutions, it’s a constant process of learning how to catch curve balls. In this chaotic day to day, with or without chapter writers or wild card guidance, there is no winning or losing. There is only the practice of learning the right balance for staying in the game. Statistically planning the outcome has never and will most likely never be my focus. Instead I have chosen to continue to better my playing tactics through preparation and mindful practice. I continue to hope for the best and strive to create learning opportunities in what may look like losing circumstances.

In last year’s reflections on logic I learned that I do possess a great deal of order in my life. It just has come from an internal guidance. I simply present in a vastly different way than some are used to seeing or experiencing in this externally logic based society.  My order in things rolls out in more of a flow pattern rather than a linear time constrained path.

Can practicing Chapter writer Brady’s logical exercises and using her tools help me find the focus I need to balance out the external guidance, we are all given on how to live life, with the internal guidance I can not deny? If practicing tools of logic and order can help me feel more grounded and present in my day-to-day goals than I am all for trying this linear system out. Thanks for the challenge!


The beautiful book photographs in this post are by Emily Wheat.

Just finding this blog today? Read the prologue for more details on what Living Chapters is all about. Check out the Chapter Summaries Page to get caught up to date.

Chapter 12




Over the past 12 months you have tested, trusted, learned, expanded and contracted your mind and tested your limitations.You have followed and bent rules, heard guidance, and created new paths for exploration within yourself.

You have listed reflections of your learnings from the past 12 months. You have found personal strengths and limitations you didn’t know you had. My challenge to you, for your 12th month, is this: stop looking back. Look and plan for your future. These plans may evolve and they may change, but consider this a starting point. You know more, trust more, are more prepared than you have ever been to make a plan. I want to encourage you to push yourself to make actionable decisions. Encourage means literally to “put courage into someone”. Take the courage your friends have literally put into you these 12 months. Take the influences they have put into you. Create your own action steps towards a future goal by examining these influences and who you are. Define your next 12 books, not just the next 12 chapters.

You have 4 weeks, and 4 major tasks.

  • Step 1, week 1. Reflect. In the form a child’s questionnaire, you will reflect on who you have been and who you are, not only on the past year, but in the past and far into the future. Doing this should be childlike, enjoyable, nostalgic, and non-intellectual. What were the literal items you wore, things you did, review your past self, and define your future self. Enjoy the nostalgia of it. When you were 5, these things were defined in many ways by others. How has that changed? How many of these answers are still defined by others? Should they be?
  • Step 2, week 2. Look Inward. Create a mind map of this past 12 months. Who you are in the present and what flows out of you. Think of this as a creative model of you – what you have taken in, what you have put out.
  • Step 3, week 3. Create life goals. Identify 12 things you would like to accomplish or become in the next 12 years. Maybe these are career goals, maybe these are life goals or improvements. Maybe these goals will change. Take the inputs that you received from your journey this year, into these goals.
  • Step 4, week 4. Check the logic. You will now create a logic model for your goals. What will you put into it? What will come out of it? What outcomes did you expect, what do you want to strive for?

Step 1, week 1. 

First. Reflect.

Starting at your 5-year-old self, fill in your blanks to the italicized sentences below.

BB (5 years old)

BB (10 years old)

BB (15 years old)

BB (20 years old)

BB (25 years old)

BB (30-40 years old, each year. Some of these will be forecasts)
I live:

My occupation is:

My 3 favorite hobbies are:

My favorite food is:

My favorite clothes are:

I consider my home to be:

The most interesting thing I have been invited to is:

3 things I like about myself are:

3 things I want to improve about myself are:

The single most interesting thing I have done this year is:

My friends helped me:

(add to this if you feel useful)

(Adapted/ Inspired by designer, Dana Tanamchi)


Step 2. week 2.

Look Inward at the past year. Mind Mapping. Creative chaos. What have you taken in, what have you put out, what questions has your Living Chapters journey raised. What is the visual representation of this journey?

This is about you and the past 12 months. mind map is a diagram used to visually organise information. A mind map is often created around a single concept, drawn as an image in the center of a blank landscape page, to which associated representations of ideas such as images, words and parts of words are added. Major ideas are connected directly to the central concept, and other ideas branch out from those.

Here is an example. This can be as simple or complex as you need it to be.


Step 3, week 3. 
12 goals, 12 years

Step 4, week 4.

Develop a life goal logic model. In its simplest form, a logic model has four components: Inputs, Activities, Outputs, Impact or Outcome. Adapt this to work for you.

Create one for each of your 12 life goals. Ideally you have unlimited inputs, activities, outputs and potential outcomes for each goal.

After you complete these, reflect. Does this change your 12 goals? Adapt them if the logic doesn’t feel right. You do not need to share your logic models, but modify your 12 goals accordingly.


Inputs Activities Outputs Outcomes/impacts
what do you have to put in to get to your end goal impact or outcome what activities you need to undertake to get to your end goal impact or outcome what is produced through those activities the changes or benefits that result from the achievement of this goal
For example: Let’s say your goal is “Own a Boat”
What inputs go into this, (e.g., money, research?)
For example: “Own a Boat”
What activities need to happen, (e.g. sailing lessons, trip from Annapolis to St. Croix)
For example: “Own a Boat”
(e.g. sailing culture becomes a part of your life, lifestyle changes, community changes)
For example: “Own a Boat”
(e.g. increased skills/ knowledge/ confidence, leading to…new job, personal non-profit to help youth learn to sail, etc.)


Just finding this blog today? Read the prologue for more details on what Living Chapters is all about. Check out the Chapter Summaries Page to get caught up to date.


past, present, purpose


What am I doing? What have I done? What am I going to do?

And does it matter at all or have meaning? Could one discover such a treasure as a key that would open up the answer to life’s purpose?  Reading and reflecting on others experiences grappling with these questions is helpful. Opening up someone else’s story helps me find grounding in my own time and place. And I do believe that in its essence it is the purpose why I choose to share my own thoughts and words of my own experiences.

Do you think about placing particular purpose behind the actions you make? Or are you, like me, feeling more (and thinking less) your way through life, trying to balance the turning and tumbling from one plot twist to the next?

In all the excessive reflection I’ve put into this Living Chapters choose your own adventure series, I believe I’ve already done much of the intensive thinking on the questions Dena has asked. But now what? I’m about ready to move forward in action but feel as though I am still missing something. How do I pull together all these collected pondered pieces into some kind of structured/cohesive plan of “purpose”? I was lamenting this last night, when Dena (as she does) sent me a quote pulled from the bedtime story she was reading to her son.

 “I thought there was nothing a train could not do”, said Thomas. “But now I know that just is not true. I learned a big lesson from one little crack. A train is only as good as its track.”

– “A Crack in the Track” from the railway series by Reverend Awdry

There are many ways to translate this bit of Thomas the Train wisdom. What I got out of it is this: It reminded me of an earlier lesson from Chapter 2’s Wild Card. It is a logical conclusion to take a peak at where I’ve come from to understand where I’ve landed. And another lesson from Chapter 4, it’s a good idea (no matter how much I resist it) to lay out even a slight plan or a track ahead for plotting the path forward. But the most important lesson is one that was learned just last month.  Attention to the present moment is all that really matters. Just that one crack living under spinning wheels on any track can de-rail any grand plan. So I’m staying focused this month on setting my intentions in the present tense on a day by day basis.  Step by step in a simple way, staying as fluid and flexible (as physically possible) was how I moved through last month. Could I use the same lessons from April to lay my tracks for May?

Below are my initial ideas on how to take some simple action steps in response to Dena’s May challenge.

What will happen this month as you reflect?

I’m going to practice “doing” more in addition to reflecting. Each day for the remaining days  of this month I will set at least one basic purposeful intention and live out the day with it in mind.

Call those you haven’t spoken with in quite some time.

Although I grew up here in central Pennsylvania, it is not a place that I easily connect with but may be a good place to reconnect with old friends I have lost contact with. This may be a good way to re-engage with the place and the purpose it has held in my life.

Send letters. When you think about that person, ask yourself why you are doing it and find meaning, or purpose, or reason for doing it.

I feel that the best way of creating a rich and meaningful connection with a person is through the exchange of written letters. The letters I write this month will be written with the intention of strengthening my relationships and acknowledging the purpose and meaning each connection has brought to my life.  The letters will also have the purpose of becoming the beginning of an outline for creating future self-written chapters.

Dish yourself some of your own advice.

I have been giving myself (and anyone reading) advice for the past 10 months through this blog. I am going to re-read my own “live by example” experiences in the past 10 months. Will I glean any overarching purpose from this project?

What will happen when the Living Chapters Project is concluded?

Well as far as I know it’s still month 11. I am still living my chapters and not writing new ones (yet!) so I am leaving that question unanswered until next month. With the long track I just laid out for May, I’ll be lucky if I make it through without a cracked track!

“I think I can, I think I can”


Just finding this blog today? Read the prologue for more details on what Living Chapters is all about. Check out the Chapter Summaries Page to get caught up to date.