Chelle Summer

goals

Hitting the Reset Button

Michelle Rusk
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This weekend is Memorial Day, the official kickoff for summer. And also the time we plan everything that we're going to do this summer. However, what usually happens come Labor Day– the end of summer and start of fall? Often we find ourselves looking back on summer and wondering, "Wait, I had all these things I was going to do! What happened?"

The end of May is the perfect time to hit the reset button, both on what we had hoped to do this year but also what we want to do this summer.

Have we made headway on those goals we planted the seeds of back in January? If not, it's the perfect time to rethink them and maybe tweak them so that we're more likely to accomplish them. If the goal was too big and we easily felt lost and gave up, how do we break the goal down into smaller pieces to make it more manageable?

And if we have made strides in accomplishing our goal (or goals!), what do we want to accomplish next? How do we keep ourselves interested to keep moving forward? What new goals can we set?

Many people see summer as a time to slow the pace down– and that might be our goal for the summer– reading more, spending more time with our families, doing more creative activities.

Whatever you do this weekend, take a little time to reflect on where you're at and where you want to go this year. The start of summer is the perfect opportunity– and a three-day weekend!– to step back and make sure you don't reach Labor Day wondering where summer went. And everything you wanted to accomplish with it.

Big goals, little goals, keeping them all in check

Michelle Rusk
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I don't talk about it much on social media but I spend part of each of my work days writing. That might be actually writing, revising, reading, researching, or some other aspect that goes into creating a novel. It all ebbs and flows based on what I need to do.

I have given myself this year (2018) to focus on not just Chelle Summer but also the writing part of me. However, writing isn't really something that transforms well into social media photos so most of what you see if related to the visual creative side to me, Chelle Summer.

Last week was a challenging week and I had a really hard time getting much accomplished. Now Greg will tell you that I do more before 7:00 am than most people do in a day but, to me, there is always more I want to do. Part of that stems from the losses in my life and the sense that none of us are promised anything, that life can change in many ways in an instant and we better make the most of the day ahead of us.

While last week I was able to keep up with things, meaning keeping the desk clean, email caught up on, and the house vacuumed, there wasn't much happening on the creative side. By the end of the week I was feeling a little depressed. Until I tried a new recipe for Rice Krispie treats on Thursday.

And when I did that, I was reminded that when you are working on big goals, the kind that might not manifest for a least months if not years, it's important to balance that with smaller goals, giving you a sense of accomplishment in the meantime.

So as I continue to mold manuscripts (yes, there is more than one) like a piece of clay, I sometimes need to remind myself that I also need to do smaller creative endeavors that move quickly and let me stand back and have that sense of accomplishment while I'm working on something bigger.

On Sunday I purposely chose two items that I knew I could finish in a day (a painting I had started and two pillows I was making) so that I could walk into a new week feeling that I was already on my way to a much more productive time.

It worked.

100 Pages for Lent

Michelle Rusk
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I believe that Lent is about finding a way to make yourself better, to do something that challenges you to work on growing closer to God. 

It took me a while to figure out what I wanted to this year. In fact, Lent had already started and I still wasn't sure what I was going to do. But then through a series of thoughts and writing, I realized what I wanted to challenge myself to do was write 100 pages in March.

It meant five pages a day during the week when I typically do three with several days off during the month to accommodate life events and schedule changes. It also meant doubling the 50 pages I usually write in a month.

But I believed that it would draw me closer to God because it would bring me the stories I'm supposed to write.

I won't say it was easy– it wasn't supposed to be– and there were days I had to focus harder than usual, or let go of other things I wanted to do, to make sure I had the time to write. Several days I wrote ten pages to make up for other days when I knew things were coming (or didn't know in the case of getting call to do television extra work– it helped that I'd gotten ahead the day before shooting!). 

There was an incredible amount of accomplishment each day that I forged forward toward my goal and also that the creativity kept coming. I didn't lack for material write which helped. And reaching 100 pages felt like a milestone– probably only the second time I've accomplished this in a month.

Finally, it gave me the sense that I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing and as I said in my blog two weeks ago, there's thought that keeps coming to me–

"Keep writing and you'll get where you want to go."

I'm now 100 pages closer to that goal thanks to Lent. 

A New Year...Where Will We Go?

Michelle Rusk
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Happy 2018, Everyone!

While I believe that we can start fresh at anytime, there is something to be said for the calendar rolling around into January 1. We come off the holidays– when we've most likely been busy– and then we get (I hope you did!) a holiday break. The new year rolls around and suddenly it feels like all the Christmas lights and decorations should be put away until at least Thanksgiving. Personally, I usually want to clean out all of my closets this time of year. I feel as if it's time to let go of the old to invite the new to come in.

This year is starting out a little differently than years past have and I'm embracing the journey of my job going half time to free up a large chunk of my daily time. However, we were in Los Angeles for the new year (and managed to get colds as happens sometimes) so I didn't feel like I could truly start the new year until we came home– and put everything away (although we had taken care of the Christmas decorations before we left).

For me, Los Angeles still remains a very inspirational place. I can't explain it except that it seems that I woke up one day when I was about thirteen and knew it was where I wanted to go. I didn't get there until the summer after I graduated from high school and obviously I never moved there. I joke that I only got as far as Albuquerque. 

Through a series of events, I've been given opportunities that take me back there and as we were driving down the 110 after having dinner with friends in North Hollywood, I was thinking how it still inspires me to be there. That's topped with the many signs of both my parents (through songs on the radio and coins) that don't usually happen here in Albuquerque.

Now that I'm home and everything is put away, the lists made to make the most of this opportunity of time I have been given with job going half time just a month ago, the hardest part for me is being patient with myself. There is much I want to do and I know my timeline. My hope is to spend 2018 with my nose to the grindstone and see what kind of opportunities I can create for myself through all my creative means. I want to take advantage of the time placed in front of me– it is a gift– and see where I land a year from now.

I have lists, goals, and dreams. The key is being patient with myself that there will be enough time to do everything, to know that I will land where I'm supposed to be. And to listen to voices which who are guiding me and leading the way.

Be Fearless

Michelle Rusk
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While I don't know why, I have let fear drive much of my life. I can see it when I travel back on my memories of various events. In particular it cost me being a better runner and it was after high school that I vowed I wouldn't ever let fear hold me back again.

But I know that I have still done it and now as I undergo a change in my work situation, I'm finding myself remembering how often I have worried about various things and how I worried endlessly only for them to work out. And then I've wondered why I put so much energy into worrying. 

Why do we worry so much? Is this a life lesson we're supposed to learn? For me, I believe it's more about learning to trust, to have faith, to know that I don't have to soak up my energy into fear. Instead I need to be fearless.

I know that life is short, it's something that drives me daily to make the most of each day. The less the fear we have, the more authentic lives we are living.

Don't wait. Don't let fear hold you back. Be fearless and make whatever it is you want happen. That's exactly what I'm doing.

One Big Goal, A Bunch of Small Steps

Michelle Rusk
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It's easy to set goals, especially big goals. Believe me, I've been the queen of them since I was six years old and knew I wanted to write books. The hard part is that once you set that goal, you realize how long it will take to accomplish the goal– could be an entire lifetime depending on what the goal is– and that's when despair sets in.

However, what we often forget is that in the process somewhere we need to break our big goal down into smaller goals. Those smaller goals are what will keep us going while the accomplishment of the big goal remains in the far-off distance.

As I'm embarking on some forced changed in my life- forced change that hasn't been completely defined yet which leaves me hanging in limbo although trying to remind myself there is nothing to fear, all will work out– I've realized the universe is poking me. There's a list of things I've been putting off doing for no reason other than they just never make it to the top of the list (doesn't it seem like the top of the list is always crowded but there are always items we want to do, mean to do, but they never become priorities?). 

I've also realized something else, how much social media has affected my need to be done now, yesterday, last year, so I can post it. With a new goal ahead of me (one that I'm not quite ready to reveal, mostly because with my writing I seem to never actually do the writing when I share what I'm working on), one that I believe will take me about a year to accomplish, I see that I need smaller goals as I go along otherwise I'll become frustrated and work on something else. 

My hope is there are some things to share in the process, especially some of the smaller goals that I'll be accomplishing on this journey. In this current moment though, I'm not exactly sure what those smaller steps will be. What I do know is that while there is a big chunk of this challenge that's new, some of it isn't. I'm starting something new, I've been here before. Eventually I'll start moving forward on the road and I'll see where the stops are, where the road turns into another one.

For now, however, away I go.

My Iconic Image

Michelle Rusk
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I've been writing recently about what keeps me going and I thought I would try to spend more time exploring that, hoping that by my offering more specific examples, I can help other people find what helps keep them going and brings them hope because many times we don't realize what might be right in front of us. In the coming weeks, I'll continue to write about the many ways that help me find hope in the world, even when everything feels dark around me.

This is one of my favorite photos that Greg took on our last trip to Los Angeles. I planned this specifically because it combines several aspects of my life that are important to who I am. 

One of the most pivotal times of my life was seventh grade. I have written before that at the end of sixth grade, many of the girls in my neighborhood decide to "unfriend" me (not a word anyone was using back in the early 1980s but it's exactly what happened). It forced me to find new friends and find a way to be hopeful in a time that felt really lonely in many ways. 

That summer after sixth grade I somehow got really interested in popular music, then called Top 40 for those of us who remember. Without realizing it, I latched on trivia and I had an extensive knowledge of music in that time. I used babysitting money to buy magazines and would tape up pages of my favorite bands and artists on the walls of my room. 

In the middle 1980s, the Capitol Records Building (there were still records in those days!) was still a hubbub activity and in my world, to see it even today, takes me back to a time that was challenging but led me to new roads that proved to be interesting and inspiring. And help me get where I am now.

I found the Forenza sweater on eBay– by major luck. I had one in yellow in junior high and I loved it. I wore it backward all the time and it drove my grandmother crazy that it hung so low on my shorts at the time, making it sometimes not looking like I had shorts on. I parted with the sweater at some point and I feel lucky I found one in pink that fits. And is in perfect condition. 

To wear that sweater reminds me of junior high into high school and while it was a challenging time as I was trying to find my way in the world, it also reminds me how much hope I had of who I wanted to be. 

Finally, the Chelle Summer handbag made with vintage fabric represent where I'm at today. Chelle Summer takes all aspects of me– the past, the present, and the future– and ties them together into one lifestyle brand.

So standing there in Hollywood reminds me this is who I am. And this is still who I want to be.