Best Rejection Letter Ever

Yes, I'm smiling.  Partly because I took this ski lift selfie a couple of weeks ago while Miss O skied adult-free with a pack of teenager friends & cousins.  But, more so because I received the best rejection letter ever.

Ski lift selfie Jen Lara

As you know, I am writing a book.  As much as I'd like to think it will be published anytime soon, it won't be.  Writing a book is hard work.  It's like a roller coaster of emotion and perseverance.  Having a sabbatical to research and write is totally awesome.  Not having a sabbatical to research and write and working full-time is messy.  Very, very messy.

Since I don't have time to research and write at the moment, I sent my book proposal, which includes one sample chapter, to an assortment of agents and publishing companies of different sizes to obtain initial feedback.  Most feedback I've received has been extremely short - like 2-3 sentences short - or the feedback has been so vague that it is unhelpful.

That all changed when I received the best rejection letter ever!  I'm not kidding.  This letter is frame worthy.  I could kiss this literary agent for his honest, laser-focused feedback. He didn't just say, your book sucks.  Instead, he asked curious questions about its content, styling, and examples.  He pointed out places where he felt short-changed and wanted more.  After reading his two-page, double-spaced letter (it was written in an email to me), I completely agreed with him!  I thought his questions and areas of concern were dead on, which I hadn't considered before.  Using his feedback will 100% grow my project.  Since I'm calling the book, Grow: 8 Skills to Champion the Growth of Others, I am grateful for the best rejection letter of my lifetime.  He grew me.

What's next?  When mid-May rolls around and I have time to focus on writing again, I plan to do a few things with the feedback he provided:

  1. Edit.  Oh, man, do I need to edit.  I'm trying to include too many concepts within a chapter. Less is going to be more.  I need to be pickier.
  2. Provide more examples and lessen the "what would you do?" questions.  He pointed out that people are coming to my book for "how to" champion the growth of others not coaching questions about "what does this look like in your environment?" (though I certainly can have a few of those coachy questions in the activities section I plan to provide).
  3. Be the expert.  Own it.  In my current drafts, I tend to not voice what I think is the solution, but instead rely on proven experts to make the case.  After 25 years of working with kids, teens and adults in amazing environments, it's time for me to speak up about what really has worked for me and connect those ideas to other experts and research when appropriate.
I'm certain there is even more I will glean from his rejection letter.

Being rejected has never felt so good.

Jen

PS - In case you are thinking, who celebrates rejection letters?  Let me just say there have been a few rejections I've received lately that are not celebratory and I soon felt like a complete loser.  However, the sun rises the next day and the world keeps turning.  This quote keeps me company in the best way.

Resilience quote






Graduation Subway Art 2015 {Free Printable}



Back by readers' request, Graduation Subway Art for 2015.  Just click on the art above, right click and save image.  I like the art framed, but you can make cards with it, gift tags, mini-posters, etc.

Enjoy and tell your favorite graduates congratulations!

Jen

Things to Do List UPDATED {Free Printable}

Jen's Things to Do List

A few weeks ago, I shared a "Things to Do" printable list I liked here.  I still like that list, but I needed to tweak it just a touch to meet my current needs.

SO....

I added a "Mantra" box at the top of the list.  A weekly mantra will help me stay focused and intentional that week.  I also wanted the days of the week to begin with Monday (and not Sunday), so I retyped the to-do list and started with Monday, which allowed for Saturday and Sunday to be right next to each other at the bottom.  Lastly, I wanted just a little more space to write since my handwriting is slightly chubby.

If you'd like to use this updated to-do list (pictured above) or share it with a friend, please find it here. It is ready to print on standard 8.5 x 11 paper.

Happy to-doing until you're to-done,

Jen

Lessons From a Ski Bum

Ski Bumming It

When I graduated from Michigan State University with my undergraduate degree, I did exactly the opposite of what my parents wanted me to do.  I moved to Aspen, Colorado and became a ski bum. Yep. I made my parents un-proud and awakened their expletive vocabulary.   They had just spent thousands of dollars on my college education and I chose to forego a real job to follow my dream - living the life of a ski bum.

I moved to Aspen.  Worked the typical 2-4 jobs at a time.  Skied and snowboarded my winters away. And three and a half years later, I re-entered the real world by way of graduate school.

Now, before you weigh in, let me share the best lessons I took away from ski bumming.  In fact, maybe you will read this post and plan your ski bum experience (or encourage someone else to take one themselves).  Either way, email me.  I'll come ski with you.  Pinky swear.

Lessons From a Ski Bum

Lesson #1:  When you ski bum, you become a master at balancing work and play - a lesson that most of US America could stand to learn.  As a ski bum, you work your tail off doing whatever jobs you can to support your addiction - skiing (and/or snowboarding). You always make time for both - work and play - as you understand their symbiotic, essential relationship.

Lesson #2:  You understand the value of a dollar and how to stretch it.  When you ski bum, your thrifty-side awakens (if it hadn't already from undergraduate school).  You learn to live with so much less and know it's totally doable.  You live in a 150-square foot studio apartment with a roommate?  No problem!  At least you have a futon to share.  You consider a bowl of Stove Top stuffing a meal?  No problem!  Who knows, you might be eligible for a free employee meal when you arrive to your third job of the day.  This thriftiness translates well into the real world where you discover you don't need a slew of material items to be happy.

Lesson #3:  You meet the most interesting people from all over the world and all different industries. Most of the people who can afford to vacation in ski towns have money.  They have interesting jobs and lifestyles, which they often take for granted - sadly.  Getting to rub elbows with such a diverse, privileged crowd is a great way to jump start your entry into the real world when you decide to leave the ski bum womb.  Ski bumming is a great opportunity to network and meet influential people.

Lesson #4:  Life is people.  People are stories.  Living as a ski bum gives you thousands of stories to tell.  Being a storyteller is a gift.  For example, I once worked as the personal assistant to the personal assistant for a very wealthy family from Chicago.  A sheik from Saudi Arabia would call me weekly to see if anyone from said family needed a ride to LA or NY on his private jet.  "Oh, no...but, thank you.  The family is already on their private jet to London for the week."  Or the time Gary Busey wanted to be seated immediately in the very busy restaurant where I hosted.  "I'm sorry, we don't have a table available.  What did you say your name was again?  Could you spell it for me?  I'll add you to the waiting list."  My very favorite stories, though, involved seeing John Denver daily in his white, one-piece ski suit using my work's pay phone (JD, may you rest in peace).  I guess pay phones should rest in peace, too.

Now, trust me.  Go!  Be a ski bum.  Encourage others to do the same.  The real world will be waiting for you whenever you return.  Quite frankly, the real world would be a better place if more people had ski bum on their resume.

Go,

Jen


Thursday is Brought to You by Jedi

Jedi the dog collage

Today is brought to you by Jedi.  This dog is responsible for bringing immense joy to our family, getting me outside to hike (or run) on days where I have zero interest, and for making the start of my day meditative.  Petting him for 5-10 minutes when I wake up is the best way to start the day - peaceful, calm, and loving.

I am contemplating trying real meditation again.  Just about every public-figure-person I admire meditates on a daily basis.  Are you like me?  I'm so not good at meditation; my mind goes 101 places.  I hear Tara Brach has a great collection of guided mediations, so I'm going to give her a try. I'm starting with her Smile Mediation.

Smile + Mediation?!  Sounds like my kind of combo.

If you have any meditation tips, please share.

Jen