Round 1

Disney, Potential, and Nothing Too Small by Lucy Ball

Even those of us who have never visited Disney Land or Disney World have still likely experienced the contagious joy and playfulness of our inner child, the spirited nature of dreams Walt Disney spent his life celebrating. Walt, himself was famous not only for his creativity and legendary imagination, but for his words of wisdom about the power of dreams, determination, and about setting and following through with goals.

Today, my family and I are fortunate to be visiting one of the Disney complexes, a magical land filled with hope and optimism. And sadly, my six year old is too sick to leave our room to join in on the festivities that go on without us. As she sleeps, I find myself thinking about the hundreds of quotes and memes I have seen stream across social media that are intended to inspire and uplift. Of those, Walt’s quotes are some of the most meaningful of all.

And so I find myself contemplating Walt’s legacy and lessons he objectified, as my six year old daughter rests quietly. I could consider the fact that she is too ill to go to one of the theme parks as a disappointment. I could be discouraged or even irritated that we aren’t joining her sister and her father today at Epcot. Instead, I’m feeling it’s a gift that we are staying here at the resort for the day instead. Don’t get me wrong, I could have done without waking up seventy-five times with her throughout the night to help hold the waste basket while she wretched repeatedly. I know she would rather be greeting her favorite characters and seeing the incredible attractions while her father and I do absolutely everything necessary to avert inevitable mid-day meltdowns. And yet, she’s resting peacefully.

She will likely wake up happy and chipper as can be. She’s probably even dreaming about the magic of the stories and their characters, the rides and the shows she’s experienced, and the wonder of seeing her imagination materialize in real life before her very eyes.

Some people don’t know that Walt was actually a co-founder of what we now know as the Walt Disney Company. His partner and original Disney CEO was, businessman and brother Roy Disney. In fact, Walt sadly died before his dream of a “Disney World” came to fruition. It was his brother Roy who would oversee construction and follow his brother’s dream through with the opening of Walt Disney World in Florida.

So what does this all have to do with goals and writing and #ROW80? Obviously, I could share quote upon quote by Walt Disney about setting goals and following your dreams and so on. Instead, I sit here watching my child sleep as I consider how incredibly simple the original inspiration for this magical celebration of art and imagination was.

While the Disney Company is an unrivaled entertainment and media empire, it is also a reminder to us all about the incredible potential in the simplicity of seeing the world through eyes of a child. Even Walt Disney himself, often reminded loyal fans of how this magical celebration of imagination began.

Sometimes we hesitate to attempt, we refuse to consider possibilities because our dreams seem overly simple. Or perhaps we feel too small in comparison to the enormity of the world to follow through with any idea that is less than epic.

To believe that no idea is too simple, no goal is too small, and no idea is too insignificant is to entertain an ideology our world is in desperate need of. It is within the minds of those of us who share these beliefs that the potential for magic in its purest form can be discovered. We are all slight in comparison to something or another.

“I only hope that we don’t lose sight of one thing – that it was all started by a mouse.” ~Walt Disney


Lucy Ball

Sunday #ROW80 Check-In

March.  Geez.  We’re in the final weeks of the round, and it feels like the year is FLYING by.  Maybe that means spring is actually around the corner.  Whether you’ve kept to your goals or changed them, I encourage you to focus as much on the process (or more) than you focus on the end result.  If you get the process down, the results will follow.

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Sunday #ROW80 Check-In

Today is my birthday.  In a perfect world, I’d have the WHOOOOOOLE day to myself to write but…we don’t live in a perfect world (social obligations and all that).  So I’m scraping together time around various and sundry birthday festivities (we’re going to see The Kingsmen).  I’m determined to FIND MY GROOVE AGAIN!

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Midweek #ROW80 Check-In

We are hurtling toward the end of February (seriously, where did the first 6 weeks of the year go?).  I’m still working on finding my footing and some kind of routine.  How are y’all doing with your goals?

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What Makes Us Tick? And Why Does It Matter? by Shan Jeniah Burton

It seems like a simple enough question, doesn’t it? Maybe even a little pointless?   

Or maybe not. 

ROW80 is, after all, the writing challenge that knows you have a life. And the thing about lives is that no two look just the same. That’s exactly what makes the act of setting personalized goals so empowering. Each of us can decide what we want to accomplish, based on our own vision, our own reality, and our own nature. We can have one goal, or many. We can have goals that, on the surface, have nothing to do with writing. Our goals can be short term, or take an extraordinarily long view, or anywhere in between.

It’s all up to us – each of us. Every time we check in, we have the chance to evaluate those goals, and to decide if they still work for us, if they fit with our vision, our reality, and our nature.

And that’s why knowing how we tick matters.

Take me, for instance. I’ve got a wide-angle mind; I do better with a sweeping variety of projects I can flit between. I’m OK with things taking longer than they would if I did doing one thing at a time. Every thing I’m engaged with feeds others in a symbiotic relationship, forming new connections encouraging plot tribbles and new projects. 

That might be torture to those of you who have laser-focus minds, or just like a more minimalistic, tidy approach that allows you to see big gains, fairly quickly, in return for your effort.

Lots of projects keep me energized, like carrots that luring me to say, “Good enough; let’s get on with other things now,” rather than, “It’ll never ever be good enough, so why do I even bother?”

That’s just part of the way I tick.

Like many of you, I’m a parent, in addition to being a writer. That, of course, puts wrinkles in my plans and my life that wouldn’t be there if I didn’t live with children. Having a spouse and a house adds others, and so do the companion animals who share our lives.

We homeschool, so while we aren’t tied to school schedules, I have paperwork to contend with several times a year. I spend most of my waking hours in close proximity to my kids. I might need to interrupt my writing anytime, because I’m their mom, and that’s part of my job.

For me, with this parenting and educational reality, my many diverse goals mean that there’s always something I can be doing to move me closer to my long-range vision. Shorter, easily stopped, less focus-intensive projects when the kids might need me, or I’ve got things to do or places to go, and longer, more challenging goals for when they’re doing their own thing, and I’m free to devote a stretch of time to my own.

For those who aren’t parents with children at home, or who have older or younger kids, or who pursue other educational paths, there might be a definite schedule that brackets when you can write, and what type of writing projects you can manage. One thing at a time might work best, in those situations, or just a few things that can be cleared from the to-do list fairly quickly.

With many goals, I can adapt to the changeable and free-flowing nature of my life. I need that, to keep ticking along.

Many of my fellow ROWers combine work and writing. I can decide when to write, and for how long, and I don’t have a schedule as much as I do a certain rhythm to my days. When they were little, writing was hit-or-miss, and it may be again, when we enter the ‘old enough to have a job, but not old enough to get a license phase’ next year. 

I’ll need to adapt, then – and that’s part of keeping my writing ticking along, too – the knowledge that life is change.

Each of our lives has a list of particulars far more complex than I’ve touched upon here. No one else can tell you what will make you more or less likely to achieve your goals, or what goals will suit you best, or even how to define whether you’ve succeeded at them. All of these things will depend on your unique situation. If what you’re trying to achieve, and the way you choose to pursue it, matches the way you tick, you’ll be free to focus on your goals, rather than struggling to fight your life or your nature.

So, what makes you tick? How do you like to write, and how does that fit with the rest of your life? How does your mind approach goals and challenges? Learning in general? If you haven’t given it much thought, adding that to your goals might do wonders for your progress, this round and beyond.


Shan Jeniah Burton