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12 Words for 2013

So last year I did a little experiment, and it worked so well I’m not only doing it again, but I decided to share it with all of you.

Over the last few years, I’ve been trying to get better connected with the goals that will actually make me happy. One of the happiness practices that I’ve picked up over the years of studying happiness has been the tried and true “gratitude journal”.

A gratitude journal is simply a small book you carry around with you, and every day or whenever you like you make a list of everything you’re thankful for. Simple, easy, and will lift you up out of a funk pretty quickly.

more-of-less-of-listsBut in 2011, I started to do something new with my gratitude journal. I have heard from several sources that it’s good to track how you’re feeling in the moment… so I started adding two more lists on the back of each page full of gratitude on the other side. These two lists were simply titled:

  • I would like more of…
  • I would like less of…

At the end of 2011 I sat down as usual to start my list of things I would like to “resolve” in my life for the next year, but this time I had something new in my arsenal. A quick list of every day I checked in, telling myself in the future exactly what I would like more of.

So I took stock of what I had written in my little gratitude journal, counting exactly how many times over the course of the last year I would ask for a particular feeling or need.

12 Words for 2012

Then I made a list of the top 12, calling them the “12 Words for 2012”.

These would be the concepts I would focus on in the coming year. For each concept, I would come up with ways I could implement in the coming year. So what made the list in 2012?

  1. 12-words-in-2012Love
    • Send reminders to people you love.
    • Date people who interest you.
    • Review relationships, spend time with people you love, actively spend less time with people you don’t like as much.
  2. Hope
    • Positive forward outlook.
    • What is wanted can be had.
  3. Relaxation
    • Allow for time to recharge.
  4. Play
    • Have fun, don’t be so serious.
    • Find the fun in work.
  5. Comfort
    • Within my body.
    • Connectedness to spirit.
    • Knowing sense you are taken care of.
  6. Intimacy
    • Find someone to connect with and be close to.
  7. Peace
    • Meditate.
    • Let go of the inner critic.
  8. Craft
    • Create pretty things for your nest.
    • Creation, building with intention and flair.
  9. Flow
    • Try to notice when this occurs.
    • Full involvement, energized focus, rewarding success in progress.
  10. Free Time
    • Establish boundries for work.
    • Make personal time just as important.
  11. Joy
    • Express gratitude for good fortune.
  12. Action
    • Yoga, exercise, dancing.
    • Moving forward with things that interest me.

I also kept keeping track of my more of/less of lists in my gratitude journal for 2012, to look back as if I wanted to make another list in 2013.

So what were my results?

Each week as I did my planning of what to do, I would actively pull my 12 Words sheet out (the same one pictured above) and I would actively plan tasks, activities and meetings that had to do with my 12 Words. So each week I would start with this list first, baking in all these good things I wanted more of in my life. I would plan activities into my quarters, months and weeks that supported these 12 Words, things like:

  • take a yoga class (action + flow + peace + relaxation)
  • go to a pub crawl with friends (love + play + joy)
  • take time out to create custom hand-made thank you gifts for clients (craft + love + intimacy)
  • write my first book (action + craft + hope)

This worked out really, really well and it was based in fact and EXACTLY what I wanted from last year – which shifted the dynamic from “eh I’ll get to it someday” to “I want this in my life because I asked for it all last year, this comes first”. I started actively focusing on what I really wanted out of life rather than measuring my happiness against someone else’s ruler of “what happiness contains”. I started finding ways to bake in or see these things in many of my daily activities. This active attention let me know these things got the attention they deserved instead of “dreaming” about doing something to bring in more of these great things into my life.

12 Words for 2013

So what are my 12 Words for this coming year? Here they are…

  1. 12-words-in-2013Love
    • Forgive and let go – anger does not serve you.
    • Allow love to guide your thoughts and actions.
  2. Appreciation
    • Compliment 5 people every week.
    • Take care of the things you have.
    • Appreciate where you are now.
  3. Travel
    • Washington, DC
    • Save for Amsterdam
    • Gerome? Grand Canyon? Pacific Northwest?
  4. Hope
    • Cherish desires with anticipation.
    • Always believe that something wonderful is about to happen.
  5. Compassion
    • Start with yourself and be compassionate outwards.
    • Deep awareness of suffering and a wish to relieve it.
  6. Time with Friends
    • Face to face, 1 on 1
    • Listening, caring
    • Who’s in my Posse? Love them!
  7. Downtime
    • Give yourself time to play, relax, and have fun.
    • Take time to ponder and do things simply because they interest you.
  8. Health
    • Take the time, it’s worth it.
    • Make it fun and enjoyable.
    • Move! Move the energy, stay aware of your body.
  9. Being of Service
    • Joyfully giving according to my ability and willingness to give from the heart.
    • Be mindful when tasks become unenjoyable and not from the heart.
  10. Finance
    • Track finances each day (5-10 min)
    • Bake fun stuff into the budget.
    • Check in bi-weekly on budget.
  11. Joy
    • Feeling of great pleasure and happiness.
    • Focus on celebrations and the next fun thing.
    • Smile at yourself in the mirror for a minute every time you look into a mirror.
  12. Creation
    • Moving forward with things that interest me, sharing.
    • Building with intention and flair.
    • Play, finding the fun and flow in work.

Some words are still coming up from last year, some words have changed out for more specific orientation, but I’m really looking forward to putting more of all of them in my life in 2013.

So what do you think would show up on your list if you would have asked your last-year-self what your next-year-self wants more of in the coming year? Feel free to share your lists in the comments below.


Words of Wisdom from Steve Jobs

I watch this video sometimes when I’m getting ready to make some heart-guided changes in my life, particularly with work stuff. Thought I would share it with you. 🙂

I find Steve Jobs and his life work inspiring. It’s really great to have these wonderful words of advice from someone like him to lead by example. 🙂

On leading with your heart

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. Because believing that the dots will connect down the road, will give you the confidence to lead with your heart, and that will make all the difference.”

“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything – all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”

On doing work you love

“You’ve got to find what you love. That is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.”



Finding life’s purpose…

Before you dedicate your life
to a person, a marriage, a family;
to a corporation, a political party,
a peace campaign;
to a religion, a revolution, a
spiritual path;
make one other dedication first.
First dedicate yourself to LOVE.
Decide to let Love be your
intention, your purpose and
your point.
And then let Love inspire you,
support you, and guide you
in every other dedication
you make thereafter.

– Dr. Robert Holden, director of the Happiness Project


Rise Up Phoenix

A soapbox about Phoenix community, but first, a video about ants.

Last night I was talking to my father about the Climategate, Cap and Trade and other world issues all of which are way way bigger than either of us, and all I had was one question, how can I help? Then dad mentioned a lesson he had shown me many years ago, “Remember the ants we used to watch when you were a kid? We need to be more like them, instead of fighting and trying to move in all different directions, we should group together and work to solve the problem.” If ants can do it, why can’t we?

Lately I’ve been hearing the rumblings of a revolution, and I love it. I hear empowered passionate voices of community members looking for value, acceptance and critique, and I embrace it. And I ask of you, get behind it, because it’s YOUR community we’re creating, you simply have to be a part of the creation. We don’t all have to “start” something to be a part, but show your support for ideas, movements, businesses and groups that share your vision in for the Phoenix community and the world. Here are some examples:

  • Eat local, try Liberty Market or La Grande Orange
  • Pitch in and volunteer your time/services, if you hear of someone working on something you want to be a part of or have ideas for don’t be afraid to commit to helping that group
  • Donate to local start-up sanctuaries trying to make a difference like the Toys for Tots drive at Gangplank or donating items and services to Fractal/Dojo Collective
  • Ask for help,  are you working on an idea or have a movement you would like support with? Don’t be afraid to ask for help, there are so many people in our community that want to make a difference you just have to connect with the right ones
  • Buy your books locally (and perhaps even used), try Changing Hands Bookstore or Bookmans next time
  • Thank them, if nothing else, find something you support, go up to that person/organization/business and thank them for what they do for your community and your way of life
  • Share your ideas and your actions on how you support your community here and elsewhere

With all that I’ve said here, I want to thank all of you, you make up such a wonderfully rich diversity of community for me. I will continue to support the Phoenix community and I hope you’ll join me. I’m not asking you to change the way you live or how you live it, but to be thankful and support those who provide you with the that way and those means. Appreciate what you do have and support the change you want to see where ever you are.

With All My Love,



Pulp Browsers > Browser Wars

Found this little gem the other day on Twitter. For all of us who enjoy Pulp Fiction as much as we hate broswer testing, I bring you… Pulp Browsers.


Band of Brothers: Building Offline Community

While there’s a lot to be said about online community and how much value it creates in the web industry, I’d like to focus on offline community for a second.

A great deal of time and money has been spent on building online communities and connecting people from one nation to another, but lately the web as a whole is becoming more ‘local’. People want to know who’s been where we are, what our real friends think, and connect on a daily basis and are using the internet to do this. Then once they’ve checked in on their mobile phone, sent out a twit about tonight’s BBQ, or uploaded the photos from last night’s drunken bash, they go back offline to continue those interactions. The internet is now bringing people together locally quicker than any networking event could have. It’s creating a depth to our online interactions that was previously overlooked, and it’s powerful.

Offline community is often overlooked as just “friends hanging out”, but honestly it’s more than that. Through offline interactions you can build respect, work together quickly, share great ideas on a whiteboard, and also enjoy a good laugh or two. Over the past few months I’ve seen a few new offline communities spring up due to online interactions and I’m loveing what they’re bringing together. I’ve been able to learn more, do more, help others find more business, and make great friends with people I really enjoy.

A few years ago I was at the first meeting of Refresh Phoenix, a local group that wanted to bring the web community together to start working together and make a name for Phoenix as a technology center in the United States.  From Refresh Phoenix sprung some offshoot commuities such as Refocus Phoenix (a local photographic community), Refactor Phoenix (local software developers), and Tiny Army (local illustrators).

Earlier this year I started using Twitter, but really didn’t get addicted to it until SXSW, when several Refresh Phoenix community members started using it as our primary device to stay connected during the conference. Once we got back, I started attending local TweetUps, meet ups of twitter users in Phoenix. Many of us were into social media, but just didn’t know of eachother because we were just different *enough* not to meet up through other means. Once I tapped into the social media crowd I found out about Social Media Club in Phoenix, which is a meetup of people who enjoy discussing social media, how it effects our lives, and how technology is becoming more ingrained in regular social activities.

Over the last year I’ve become part of Drawbackwards, which is one of the companies that Integrum Technologies shares it’s offices with, that includes the likes of Forty Agency and obuweb. Intergrum has since opened up the offices as a co-working space called GangPlank, where anyone can come and work. GangPlank has open house events as well, one of them being Hackmania every Wednesday night where you can come and connect with other webbies to create great applications and work on other side work that you may not have a chance to focus on normally during the week. This time has allowed new ideas to spring up all over the Phoenix valley, and I’ll be sure to show case some of them here in the future.

I’m really enjoying all the friends and real connections I’ve made through the past few years, and it’s always getting better. I really hope that you can connect with you own local community and build a niche for you to grow in within your own backyard.  Bringing people together can help the comunity as a whole and really bring strength to your ideas and interests. Good luck! 🙂


Stronger, Fitter, Happier

I could write some lame excuse post about why I haven’t been writing, like “oh I bought a house, I celebrated my 25th birthday, etc” but I’ll spare you the bits and if you’re interested let me know and I’ll fill you in.

In the meantime, I’m starting to wonder about what to do next. I’m 25, I just bought my first house, due to get marred in Sept., financially sound and have everything I ever dreamed of having when I was a little girl. So…. what’s next?

My entire life I’ve had a goal, that next stepping stone to leap for without looking. Now, I’m standing at the green pasture I was traveling to and looking around to wonder where I go from here.

Upon further evaluation of my current situation, the only thing I see I want to change is my… weight.  Oh yea, you know it, it’s that time for my self image to come rearing its ugly head. I’m not obese by any means, you won’t ever hear me talk about “OMG I am SOOO fat!” but there are some lumps and bumps that weren’t attached to me before that I definitely wouldn’t mind loosing. So course of action?

Well we’re going to attack this beast from two flanks. I’m going to eat right and exercise, because I hear… all of one and none of the other doesn’t really do it. 😉 So lets break down the plan here a bit further.

Eating Right

We all tell ourselves we’re going to eat better, we may end up crash salading for a while and then give up and dive head first into the chocolate cake. I have tried cooking at home and eating out less, cutting soda out of my lifestyle, etc. But, I began to wonder, am I really eating right or just torturing myself and filling up somewhere else? Weight Watchers has these commercials on right now, showcasing a free week of their online tool that helps you measure your progress, so I looked up the cost. I was pleased to see that my monthly subscription to Weight Watchers isn’t any more expensive than a monthly subscription to World of Warcraft, and perhaps much better for myself. So here’s where the fun begins, because I started to think of it like a GAME! 😀

I log in, fill out my little height, weight, age and find out that I’m ten pounds over the “healthy maximum” for my height and age. What a shocker! I knew I wasn’t “fit” but really? I’m overwieght? So come to find out my range is 115-135, I’m sitting at 145lbs. Yes, I did, I broadcast my weight online for everyone to see, but you can track my progress too!  The next step you get to set your “goal”, so I kept it easy, 130lbs.

After you set up your target, then you can choose your meal plan, there is the FLEX plan that gives you a certain number of points and you can eat whatever you want as long as you stay within a certain number of points a day/week. Then there’s the core plan that seemed more strict. So for me, just starting, FLEX was the way for me. So using the FLEX plan I get 21 points per day (this is based on how much weight I want to loose, etc), and then I get 35 points to spend however I want through the week (that slice of chocolate cake after dinner out, etc).

Now here’s where the strange stuff starts, now I have to track everything, I mean EVERYTHING I eat or drink. I decided to practice a bit and put in everything I had eaten yesterday (mind you I’m signing up around 5 pm).  After I got done I realized no wonder I’m overwieght, yesterday I consumed 49.5 points! That’s more than DOUBLE what I’m suppose to be eating!

After I found this out, I started really analysing where those points came from, and after looking through my entries, it all made sense. Those little times through out the day, I say.. oh, it’s just a slice of cheese pizza, just a grilled cheese sandwich, its really not doing me any favors at all. All these items come into my life because I don’t know what to make, I just pull something quick and easy out of the fridge and make it happen. So I hit up the recipe area to start doing some meal planing. A quick dash to the grocery store for some new awesome fruit and veggie choices and I’m ready to rock and roll today. I’ll let you know how I’m doing!

Getting Off Your Bum

Thankfully exercise isn’t going to be hard part here. In the recent past I’ve been exercising on a semi-regular basis, so I just need to conjure up a real schedule and stick to it. Going to pull up the LA Fitness (my gym I’m already a member of) and look into some of the classes they have, I love Yoga and Pilates a ton, so going to those classes will be easy for me. The motivation is really good here because I love the feeling I get after I work out, I feel better, I breathe better (ex-smoker ya know) and I actually feel like I have more energy.

The hard part here, is Kaleb. He has a crappy commute from work to home at night, so when he gets home, he’s a lounge bug. I love to just relax after a hard day with him, but once we get into that mode it’s hard for either of us to want to be physically active. He bought a treadmill, but we still haven’t set it up since we moved in, so our chances of really getting on the thing are slim. Perhaps, as I go he’ll start hopping on the band wagon, he doesn’t have to do my classes per say, but he could run or do weights while I’m in class too. 🙂

Anyhow, that’s my new goal, and it will be lifelong once I start getting it together. 🙂 Wish me luck and I’ll keep you updated on my success!


Doing What You Love vs. Having a Job

Doing what you love is the key to career happiness, and when I mean doing what you love, I mean the WHOLE package, not just the industry, not just who you work for, the place you work at etc. You can love who you work for, but not the exact tasks you do for the company. You can love the tasks you do, but not the environment you work in. But there are some tell tale signs that you’re working a job vs. doing what you love, here are some of them from my perspective…

A job pays you to be somewhere for 8 hours and feels like you’re at the dentist.

Doing what you love pays you to do what you’d normally be doing anyways for 8 hours.

If you get off of your 9-5, and you feel relieved or excited for the pure sake of getting off of work, and I mean on a routine basis, not just every once in a while when something horrible blows up, then you’re working a job. If you’re doing what you love to do, sure there are those days where fire drills happen and you save the lives of millions with your super human powers of greatness, but chances are you’re happy about the things you accomplish every day at that thing we call work. If you feel your employer should pay you for “time served” chances are you’re working a job, and not doing what you love.  If you get your paycheck every week and you remember, “oh yea! I get paid for this too!” you’re probably doing what you love.

A job puts you in awkward situations for which you feel unprepared for and doing things you dread to do.

Doing what you love lets you explore avenues that you have always wanted to travel and gives you life lessons you can use later.

There are times a work where we can’t know all the answers, where we have to “work” to really get some where, sometimes we even have to do those tasks which we find mundane or boring. However, if you’re working at a job these moments in time are going to be significantly harder on you. If you don’t consider that rough patch just a challenge or a bump in the road to the next big span of fun, chances are, you’re at a job instead of doing what you love.  When you’re doing what you love, you’re interest in taking on a challenge and learning something new about what you love to do is significantly increased. You step up to the plate instead of sinking back into the crowd. Sure, working means there’s always some part of it that would be described as “work”, but when you’re doing what you love, those periods in time are fun and interesting instead of dreadful and scary.

A job feels like a foreign environment.

Doing what you love feels natural and comfortable.

If you get off work, walk out the door, and feel like you can be “you” again, you’re working at a job instead of doing what you love. When you do what you love, you’re simply changing locations for 8 to 10 hours, not changing mental states or forcing yourself to be someone or something you’re not. Sure, sometimes growing pains are hard, it’s natural to feel a strain every now and then when you’re trying something new or traveling down an unworn path. But, when you feel like you completely metamorphize when you leave the office or a meeting, you’re not being your true self and after a while that can really wear you out just keeping up the facade instead of using that extra bit of energy to really do what you love. I know lots of people who LIKE to wear a suit because of how it makes them feel, when the right person is doing what they love to do and wearing that costume, it DOES something for them and they ENJOY it.

Remember, just because you don’t love something about your current job, doesn’t mean you can’t change it just a smidgen and turn it into something you love to do! Maybe it’s small, like the changing your schedule up two hours to get rid of the two hour commute, maybe it big like starting you own company, or maybe it’s you for not making the leap already into that situation you KNOW you’ll enjoy. What ever it is, remember you’re in control of what you do and how much you enjoy doing it as a career, you’re never stuck. 🙂

So how do you know you’re doing what you love?


Refresh Recap: Demo Night

Great Refresh meeting last night over at Inza Coffee. There were about 10 to 15 5 minute demos of new and exciting web projects coming out of Phoenix. Some of the highlights were:

Show in a Box – If you’re interested in starting a video blog, but you’re not technically savvy, check out Show in a Box, a wordpress based starter kit that comes with everything you need to start your very own vlog.

Square Mile Web – Ever want to see a square mile of interesting user generated photographs? Look no further than Square Mile Web, where you can broadcast your images, tag and rate them.

DurtBagz – If you need a new satchel and you have an affinity for street signs check out DurtBagz.

My Community Board – Want to get to know your neighbors, using My Community Board you can. You can also post classifieds to get rid of that old barbecue, post the new HOA regulations documents, and more.

Crowd Box – Ever wish you could revisit that great presentation you saw at that last conference? Crowd box offers conferences the ability to create social networks for their attendees and to make videos of the presentations.

Read Phoenix – Want to know what Phoenix is all about? look no further than the blogs of Phoenix. Showcasing blogs from all over the metro area you can find someone you’re bound to get along with.

XID Card – Wish you knew all the social networking sites your friends are involved in? Now you can get the skinny on where your people are at and what they’re into using XID card.

Neh 🙁 Meh 😐 Yeh 🙂 – Ever wonder if you’re just having a bad day or if your life is perpetually unhappy? Now you can track your moods on Neh Meh Yeh! Each day you can select one of three happiness faces and track whether or not you’re really in a bad mood all the time. Now if only they could track it by hour…

Twitter Sign – Ever twitter when you see an awesome sign? Now start your post with sign: and it will show up on Twitter Sign.

After HalloweenSteam Crow Press is at it again! Amazing illustrator Daniel Davis graces the world with his third book, After Halloween. What’s it about? Why.. it’s about what monsters do for careers… after Halloween! Also, if you’re an illustrator, check out the new illustrators group Daniel Davis is starting called, Tiny Army.


Walking on the Ceiling

I was in a meeting with one of my co-workers today when she mentioned that as a child she would lay on her back with her feet up in the air, as if she could walk on the ceiling. It brought me back to that time in my life, remembering how life would be if you had to step through door ways and your head would bump on bookcases and chairs hanging from the ceiling.

Remember playing that the floor was lava? Jumping from one piece of furniture to the next, trying not to scald your feet on the red hot bubbles below? Your mom screaming at you to get off the entertainment center or the refrigerator?

The days in life, where you could make rabbits and dragons out of clouds, where ants crawling on the ground still made you point and stare.  Those days when rain drops and bubbles made you laugh and when that soft blanket made the worlds troubles go away.

Stop when the 9 to 5 starts to grind on you, when your love life seems not so lovely, or when you have to rush groceries in between the post office and the vet. Then remember, laying on your back, pretending that you’re walking on the ceiling and smile.

What is this?

This little blog happens to be the personal ramblings of one April Holle - I'm female, outspoken, webbie, a community evangelist, and Principal of Made Better Studio. Check out the about section for more info.

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