Three and a half years of practice

On Saturday, I saw the results of nearly three and a half years of practice. It was an almost every day practice. And admittedly, it was an imperfect practice.

Yet, I stuck to it.

Here’s the magic:

Nelson and I were taking our dogs, Marley and Rex, out hiking with us. We were headed for a five mile loop called Pink Beds in Pisgah National Forest. We were almost there when we passed the Cradle of Foresty and their giant sign proclaiming, “Free Admittance Today Only.”

I slowed the car and looked at Nelson. “Haven’t you been wanting to visit?” I asked. Indeed. And no entry fee was very tempting. We looked in the back seat at two very eager doggies. The ranger at the entrance assured us dogs were allowed as long as they were leashed.

We arrived just in time for a guided tour. As we wandered through replica buildings and learned the history of the Biltmore, foresty, and the school, the dogs wandered with us.

After the official tour was over, we continued down a nature trail. I looked at Nelson and said, “You know,three years ago we couldn’t have done this.”

See, when I first met Nelson, his dogs were…ummm…lacking manners that I expect all dogs to have. And although Nelson wasn’t bothered by the dogs’ lack of…ummm…manners, he agreed that for relational harmony, the dogs could probably learn a thing or two.

Over the course of the last three years, I made it my mission to train Rex and Marley (and at the time, Nelson’s foster dog Tyson) to be quality canine companions.

We worked on:

  • Teaching the dogs to sit before eating. No more bum-rushing for food OR dog biscuits.
  • Asking the dogs to wait before heading out the door. No more escaping wildly!
  • Requesting the dogs wait before jumping out of the truck. More control is good plus it’s safer, especially when there are cars nearby.
  • Not letting the dogs in the kitchen while we’re doing anything – cooking, cleaning, etc. This rule developed after an incident where my pizza was pulled off the stove top and eaten. And Nelson wasn’t the one who did it.
  • Reinforcing the “no jumping on people” rule. This has not been successful in our house and I apologize to anyone, ever, who has visited our house. The excitement, the slobber. Oh dear.
  • Exercise and leash walking. The Dog Whisperer Cesar Milan says, “Exercise, Discipline, Affection” in that order. The more exercise the dogs get, the more energy they dissipate and the calmer (and more trainable) they become.
  • Exercise and off-leash behavior. Rex, the black lab, used to bolt and run crazy away when he was off-leash. We simply couldn’t trust him. Over time, he started to understand. Now, Nelson is working on a “stay close” command: no leashes, with the dogs walking behind him at his knees. Awesome.

So on Saturday, after we calmly spent an hour or so on this walking tour with other people…and seeing how incredibly well-behaved Rex and Marley were…I was overcome with gratitude.

Three and a half years of diligent training. Reinforcing. Failing. Trying again. Being tired and frustrated. Seeing Nelson step up to reinforce the training. Watching the dogs respond. Seeing them get it.

And finally, as we were walking along Saturday, we passed someone and she said, “What nice dogs!” I thought my heart would burst with pride.

Success comes slowly. With practice. With patience. With diligent reinforcement. With frustration. Admittedly with anger sometimes.

Yet, if you stick to it, it does come.

Gentle reader, where are trying to succeed? Are you practicing every single day? Or most every day? Have you let go of the idea of perfection?

Good. Because often all you need to do is persist consistently. That’s the real secret to success.

Don’t give up.

Afterall, if I can teach two unruly dogs to walk quietly on leashes for an hour-long tour, surrounded by people, screaming kids, and the occasional other dog, then surely you can succeed at whatever you’re trying, too.

Make some room,

Angie

Angie

P.S. My clients thrive with practice, accountability and consistency. I’m creating a summer series to help you: teleclasses, videos, and personal Q&A calls. The goal of the summer series is to get you out of overwhelm and making room for things that matter, all in 30 days or less. Are you in? Details soooooon.

Don’t just do something…stand there!

chemex

Consistency and patience make great coffee (and a great life).

Last year I wrote a blogpost about what a coffee snob I am. I used this lovely device called a Chemex to make my coffee in. I hand grind my beans with a fancy burr grinder.

Sometime in the fall, I broke my Chemex when I accidentally hit it against the faucet in the sink. It was a sad, sad day.

And I didn’t replace my Chemex (they’re kind of expensive). I bought a little French press instead. And I accidentally broke that the same way earlier this year. Which was okay because it made yucky coffee. Then I tried a small, simple device for a pour-over. The result was even ickier coffee.

So, after getting a gift certificate to Amazon.com, I bought myself a new Chemex! Yay and hooray for exceptionally great coffee again!

It gets even better…

Nelson sent me a YouTube video on how to best use the Chemex. In this video, they recommend a special kettle to boil water in, a slow…slow…slow…routine of pouring the water over the grounds. And when I say slow I mean FOUR MINUTES of slow.

Four minutes?!?! Are you kidding me? That’s like forever. I could do six different things in those four minutes.

Yet for me, a good cup of coffee is a thing to behold. So, while I still don’t have the fancy kettle (yet), I did the four minute routine.

The result? My coffee is awesome. Freaking awesome. And so worth the patience, attention, and the wait.

And I’ll keep doing it. The results are worth it.

This of course leads me to wonder where in your life you could create a slow, deliberate routine? One that leads to an awesome outcome?

One of the overriding themes of my “Pay What You Can” sessions has been the idea of consistency. Not perfection, not everyday, not without fail.

Just be consistent. Regular action. Regular attention. Regular routine.

What are some ways you can be consistent to improve your business and life?

  • Marketing. There’s a reason I send out two notes a week. It WORKS.
  • Exercise. Your body and brain will thank you.
  • Prospecting. A little each day or each week goes a long way in consistently building your pipeline.
  • Clutter control. Two minutes now saves hours (of filing, frustration, and frantic searching) later.
  • Rest. Getting regular sleep does a body and brain good.
  • Vacation. Not one every five years. I mean several times a year. Good long ones, too. Because a 3-day weekend ain’t a vacation.
  • Connection. Being in relationship with one another is what makes life so sweet.

Slow down. Pay attention. Create routines. Be consistent. Choose the things that matter and will bring results that vastly improve your life and business.

When you need help, that’s where I come in. I’ll help you make some room. Create a schedule that supports consistency (and vacation time). And I’ll hold you accountable in the most loving, consistent way that is me.

Make some room,

Angie

P.S. Where do you want help being more consistent? I’d love to hear!

P.P.S. I’m noodling the idea of a summer series. Videos, worksheets, and Q&A calls. So, I’d seriously love to hear where you could use some support being more consistent. Do share!

I touched a tadpole!

On Sunday this past weekend, Nelson and I went kayaking. It had been quite awhile since we’d sat in our boats. Life sort of got in the way with the move to the mountains and the wedding.

Happily, Sunday was a gorgeous day. Cascade Lake in Pisgah Forest is a little gem. A friend of ours came along and we headed out. Destination: Hooker Falls.

The cool thing about Cascade Lake is you can paddle right up to the base of one of the prettiest waterfalls in the area. Most people hike in and don’t even realize it’s a paddle destination, too!

Hooker Falls is located in Transylvania County, Land of Waterfalls. Seriously, we have some 250 waterfalls here and all of them are gorgeous. Hooker Falls, Triple Falls, and High Falls are all located close together and are big tourist attractions. There were lots of folks swimming and picnicking, riding horses, hiking, and even a few crazy souls who jumped off the top of the falls (not recommended).

On the paddle back, we took our time. Jeremy and Nelson did a bit of fly fishing. I meandered along near the bank and into the shallows. In one particular place, I noticed a lot of movement. I set my paddle on my knees and got very still.

To my surprise, this shallow arm of the lake was full of tadpoles! Now, I have a bit of an obsession with wanting to touch things under the water (as long as I can see them, mind you). So, for the next few minutes it became my goal to touch a tadpole.

I’d push my boat forward gently and immerse my hand without making waves. And then, I’d wait.

It probably took ten minutes for me to touch a tadpole, but I did it! And as soon as we made contact, he skittered off into the cover of the sand and aquatic weeds.

Still, it was a victory! I pumped my fist in the air and let out a primal scream.

No, I’m kidding. I didn’t do that. I just sat quietly and enjoyed the nature.

Our day ended with a final paddle across the lake, a turtle sighting (a really BIG one) and no fish were harmed during our expedition.

Why does all this matter?

It doesn’t really, except that I felt very at peace and relaxed during and after our outing.

My phone was off except to take pictures. I didn’t think about work, didn’t feel any stress, and pretty much lost track of time.

I was in the flow.

Gentle reader, when was the last time you were “in the flow.” Totally absorbed in what you were doing, happy as a clam (what does that expression mean, anyway?), without a care in the world?

If you haven’t been in the flow in awhile, your homework is to go find it.

Read a book. Do some crafts. Restart a long forgotten art project. Go outdoors and hike, paddle, or raft. Fly a kite. Ride your motorcycle somewhere curvy and beautiful. Enjoy the splendor that is LIFE.

And once you do it, write to me and tell me how you felt.

I bet it’ll feel gooooooood.

Make some room,

Angie

P.S. Haven’t gotten your copy of my Make Some Room Manifesto yet? Order one for some inspiration. Then make some room for fun today!

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