Your Secret Bucket List

 

IMG_0655I bet you have two bucket lists.

I used to.

They’re usually labeled, “It Could Happen,” and “Only if I Can Find Where My Dog was Burried in the Backyard On the First Try.” Otherwise known as, “Not On Your Life.”

In the “It Could Happen” bucket, you have things like,

Ride in a hot air balloon

Get a promotion

Live long enough to see Episode IV

Make out with someone by graduation

Read ten books this year

These are things well within our grasp. Well, my high school self had a hard time finding people to make out with, but chances are, if you’re not me, you can make it happen.

These are things most people around you have accomplished and, as long as you don’t mistake an active volcano for a swimming pool, you’ll live long enough to carry out as well.

Now let’s peel the lid off that second bucket, shall we? It’s much darker inside than the first bucket-bucket-bucket. It’s also emptier-emptier-emptier. (See what I’m doing there? With my awesome demonstrative skills, I’m illustrating with lyrically-placed echoes that this bucket is also much larger.)

You shine your phone around (because no one uses flashlights anymore, and if you do, you should add getting an iPhone to your first bucket list), and here’s what we find:

Publish your songs on iTunes

Write a bestseller

Start a blog and get 20,000 followers

Win a gold medal

Start a business

The difference between this list and the first is pretty obvious. It’s likely you don’t know anyone who’s accomplished anything in your “Not On Your Life” bucket. Which means you’re on your own.

Do you think that stopped Cam Newton from putting his dreams in one smaller, more manageable, public bucket?

Do you honestly think J.K. Rowling kept her biggest hopes isolated from her more ‘achievable’ goals?

Did Adele attempt to hide her much bigger bucket list from everyone she knew?

I doubt it, too.

Stop separating your bigger dreams  from your smaller dreams (which are basically items on a to-to list). Because then you’re only focusing on what you think you can accomplish and those bigger dreams only get visited once in a purple moon. I’ve never seen a purple moon, so…

Don’t be ashamed of your dreams, either. There’s nothing wrong with having high hopes. Tell everyone you know. Who knows – they might be tremendous sources of encouragement. Or, they might ask you really difficult questions like my wife did when I told her I wanted to start my own publishing company.

In a way, that’s better than a blanket encourager. Her questions forced me to evaluate whether I can really do this or not.

So combine your to-do-list dreams with your larger dreams. Earning your airplane license should be in the same bucket as dying your hair blue.

No more secret goals. Make them real, make them public, make them happen.

Have you entered the Endever Writing Contest yet? Add that to your bucket list and win $150! Deadline is February 25th.

Happy Birthday Pixar!!

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February 3rd is better than Christmas.

It’s the day Pixar was born and thus, the world, and millions of lives were better for it. Today, Pixar Animation Studios is thirty years old.

Without further adieu, I present you thirty reasons I absolutely love Pixar:

1. The shorts. It’s their “Thank you” for coming to watch their movies. They make no profit off of these gems. (You’re welcome, Pixar!)

2. Their influence on (and, ultimately salvation of) Disney.

3. Their courage to be honest with everyone – even kids (Monsters, University anyone?). 

4. Toy Story. Toy Story 2. Toy Story 3. And probably Toy Story 4. 

5. Bob Parr and I would be best friends. We get each other. 

6. The Art Of books that accompany each feature film. 

7. The way Woody runs.

8. The hundreds of rewrites the entire Pixar staff endures in order to bring us the best movies possible. 

9. The crazy-intense originality of Ratatouille. 

10. Everything about Joy. 

11. The final playtime scene from Toy Story 3

12. The two Pixar books: The Pixar Touch by David A. Price and Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull.

13. The eye candy in Finding Nemo.

14. Pete Docter. 

15. Cowboys + Dinosaurs = very brave move. (Well done!) 

16. They’re not cartoons. Heck, oftentimes they’re the most mature movies out in theaters. 

17. Pixar movies tend to get better and better with each viewing. 

18. All the theories that haven’t been disproved. 

19. Julie Fowlis’ songs in Brave. 

20. Name more than five predictable moments in the entire Pixar canon; I dare you. 

21. The shock of who the bad guys turn out to be.

22. Every score by Michael Giacchino.

23. Presto!

24. I love crying. 

25. Bing Bong’s dolphin imitation. 

26. The commentary on every Pixar DVD. 

27. The fact that Pixar is my one reason to dress up and spend the money for a full-priced ticket for a night out (unless it’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens). 

28. The feeling of extreme anticipation for The Incredibles 2, to the point that I literally want to throw up and run naked around my high school track covered in petroleum jelly if it means getting to June 21, 2019 much quicker.  

29. The fact that my name is Andy Toy; I like to think I am the original owner of Woody and Buzz. 

30. That when you write posts like this, Pixar writes you back and thanks you. 

(This picture was taken several minutes after I received a letter from Pixar. See number 24 to know what I did for twenty minutes after receiving it and before this picture was taken.) 

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Have you submitted your short story for our writing contest yet? You can win $150. Give it a shot. Click here for the rules and guidelines and the link to submit. (Deadline is February 25) Any questions, email me at endeverpublishing@gmail.com or ask in the comments below.

Follow my publishing company’s new blog and find out in subsequent posts how Pixar has inspired me to start a business! Click here! 

 

Why I’ve Decided to Stop Hating My Day Job

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If you’re reading this you probably feel trapped in the monotonous hell of a 9-5.

And every day is the worst day of your life.

Saturdays are bad because you’re still trying to unwind from the stress of Monday-Friday and Sundays are worse because you’re dreading the next Monday-Friday steamroller.

I know this feeling well. But I’m not there anymore.

Not because I quit. No, I’m still punching a clock like you.

I’m not there anymore because I’ve changed my outlook.

I’ve decided not to see my job as a hinderance to my dream job as a book publisher and author, but rather as an enabler (and I do mean that in a good way).

It’s because of my day job that I have money to pay for my mocha frappuccios (fancy shakes) while conference calling with my business partners. Of course, I’ll need that income later to pay for a personal trainer to lose all those carbs.

My day job pays for my food and my gas and my internet. I couldn’t pursue my dream without those things.

But it’s more than that.

My day job is my platform to put my best self forward. While there, I can practice pulling my colleagues together and encourage them to work their best. After all, those traits will be required of me as CEO of Endever Publishing Studios.

So, even though it’s Monday, and I’m dealing with difficult people on the phone all day, I want to say, “Thank you, Day Job, for providing sustenance so I can pursue my dream.”

I challenge you to thank your boss for the job you have. And work at it as though you’re the CEO.

Have you submitted your short story for our writing contest yet? Why not? You can win $150. Give it a shot. Click here for the rules and guidelines and the link to submit.

Click here to submit! (deadline is February 25th)

Follow Endever on Facebook and Twitter to watch us grow!

Any questions, email us at endeverpublishing@gmail.com or ask below.

 

Is the Foster Care System Perfect?

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Sarabeth and I were extremely lucky with our daughter when she was our foster daughter. (The picture is her at the zoo a few months ago.) Other than the tedious waiting, everything went smoothly from the day we brought her home from the hospital to the day we brought her to the courthouse to sign the official adoption papers, one of the happiest days of my life (even happier than the day Pixar Animation Studios wrote me a personal email).

Stupidly (and luckily for us), no friends or relatives sought her out. She had no visitations whatsoever.

But what about the people who have their foster kids taken away from them because the states deem it best to return them to their parents who had their kids taken away from them in the first place? (Whether it be for abuse, financial loss, drugs, etc.)

One thing that floors me is the states’ insistence on reunifying these broken children and babies with their (often) undeserving parents.

The state values reunification over anything else, and, often above the child’s own safety and wellbeing.

Think about it. Foster parents go through rigorous background checks, take many hours of classes and training programs, they’ve proven that they’re financially and mentally stable, yet the state insists, “We will do EVERYTHING in our power to reunify the kids with their parents if they show even just a sliver of change in their habits and behavior.”

Thus violating their own motto (at least this is our state’s): “Moves hurt kids.”

I’m not complaining about the system. Right now, I’m just questioning it. I’m questioning if the whole foster care system is even operating as smoothly as it could be. Are America’s foster children being given the fairness and safety they deserve?

Are foster parents treated fairly when they form a bond and connection with the kids given to their care, provide a safe and loving roof over their head, and then the state rips them apart at a moment’s notice?

Are social workers being treated fair? Overworked, underpaid, overwhelmed.

If you’re a foster parent or know of any, what are your thoughts about the system? Where would you like to see improvement? Or is it as good as it could be? Share your thoughts below.

Follow me on Twitter or Facebook to read the email Pixar wrote me! Also, need an editor for your manuscript? Consider me. 

I’m Remy (This Post May Cause You to Hate Me)

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(Disclaimer: This post may tick you off and cause you to unfollow me. I ask that you don’t.) 

He knows what he wants and he goes for it.

Even though there are no real emotional scenes in Ratatouille, the film makes me tear up quite a bit when I watch it. Because it’s a movie about me.

I wish – like really, really wish – I could be like all the other people around me. I wish I can just be content eating trash and living the status quo. I wish I can just be happy with my day job, my lot in life, and everything else that’s been handed to me.

But I’m not.

I’m Remy.

I may not have aspirations of being the greatest chef in Paris, but I have goals of being the best damn writer in America. Cut me open and I bleed stories – the NEED to tell great, solid, impactful stories that can make the world a better place or change the way people think.

I can’t not write.

Problem is, I’m like Remy in another way.

(This is where the above disclaimer applies)

I’m done pretending to be perfect and awesome. Right now, I’m choosing my writing over my family. I’m not forsaking them. I’m making my highest priority my success.

Because if I’m successful, then they will benefit directly from that.

If I’m not successful, and I lose, then yes, I’ve lost a lot.

But it’s a risk I’m willing to take. I may not be here in five years, and I don’t want my family to know need. I want those royalty checks coming in for them long after I’m gone.

I try to explain it to my wife this way: “Let’s just go through a couple months of crap and grime and sludge to firmly establish myself as a successful writer rather than drag it out for year after endless year after endless year.”

I’m not saying I’m right. I’m probably wrong in this thinking. I’m not asking for advice or reprimands or counsel. I’m sharing this for those of you who also feel like the odd rat in the colony but are too afraid to do what it takes to do what you want.

I’m doing it. Are you?

My upcoming books: 

  1. Profit Over Patients – The true story of a patient advocate doctor who sued Big Insurance and won against all odds.
  2. These Great Affects – An emotionally-driven young adult novel about a girl who falls in love with a boy – after he dies.

Follow my Facebook Page for updates!

My New Year’s “REFUSELUTION”

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We’re all familiar with making New Year’s resolutions, and we’re even more familiar with breaking them by February 3rd. Let’s face it, most of the time New Year’s resolutions don’t work.

But what if you went into the new year with a different mindset?

Instead of making a New Year’s resolution, do what I’m doing and make a refuselution! 

What the heck is that? Glad you asked.

A resolution is the act of resolving to make a change to one’s life, usually targeting a specific goal and/or accomplishment.

Another way to put it is, it’s like pressing the button on a launch missile and hoping the target gets bombed.

My problem with resolutions is that it leaves a lot of room for failure, because targets are easy to miss. You have a much higher chance of not getting the soccer ball in the goal because there’s so much open space around it.

But what if you said, “I refuse to let the ball land on the left side of the goal. Anything else is victory.” Much higher change of success. You’ve just raise the odds of winning from a mere 10% to a whopping 60%.

This year I’m not making the same resolution I’ve been making every year for the last decade and a half. I’ve always said, “I want to be a bestselling author.” Sure, I still want that, but I have to examine why I want that.

Well, I want to be self-employed. I want to make money for me doing what I love to do – not slave away at a mindless job making someone else money they didn’t earn (corporate America).

So while I am still going to strive with all of my heart to land on the New York Times bestseller list by December 31, 2016, I am open to any other way I can safely quit my day job and have more time to spend at home with my growing kids, make my own schedule, work my own hours, take a day off whenever I want, travel, and be happy doing what I’m doing.

My refuselution is simple: I refuse to be at my day job (or be obligated to any day job) by December 31, 2016.

See how that leaves a much wider area for success? Instead of bombing a certain target, I’m just having to avoid a certain spot. Instead of having to find the needle in the haystack, I just have to avoid the needle.

Instead of resolving to be a certain weight, refuse to reach a certain poundage. (“I refuse to hit 250 pounds all year.”)

Instead of resolving to watch less TV, refuse to allow yourself to be dependent on TV. (“I refuse to say no to activities and life in general because I’d rather watch my stupid shows.”)

Instead of resolving to be a better parent, refuse to yell at your kids so much. (“I refuse to be known as the guy who screams at my children.”)

Or instead of resolving to be happier, refuse to find your happiness and worth in others and chart your own course.

Making a refuselution leaves a lot of room for error and mistakes. But it also is sort of a map of a minefield and tells us where to avoid stepping. Everything else is fair game!

Share with me your refuselutions. What are you going to avoid next year? And refuse to not share this with your friends!

My upcoming books: 

  1. Profit Over Patients – The true story of a patient advocate doctor who sued Big Insurance and won against all odds.
  2. These Great Affects – An emotionally-driven young adult novel about a girl who falls in love with a boy – after he dies.

Follow my Facebook Page for updates!

A Love Letter to Pixar

Okay. This is a total geek-out post that I just can’t hold in any longer.

After Inside Out totally and completely rocked my inner world and forced me to rearrange my mental furniture, I decided that Pixar Animation Studios had reached the peak of perfection. And suddenly, I didn’t care if they had another major success or not, because in my mind, their work was done. 

But the geniuses in Emeryville are just getting started, apparently. With the release of The Good Dinosaur on Thanksgiving, I thought I’d write out a little ode to show my love – and thanks. 

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John, Andrew, Brad, Pete, Ed, Darla, and many many more names that encompass the greatest company ever built: Thank you.

Thank you for your courage to tell the truth in your movies. The format of your stories are kid-friendly, but the themes and messages are largely for the intellectuals, the deep thinkers, the workers, the dreamers.

You inspire the rest of us to take risks. You create role models for our kids to look up to and admire. You change the world by inspiring us to live better; to sacrifice; to explore; to not just survive, but to live!

When will other companies learn? You’ve put out several books on how to do business, how to tell stories, how to make a lasting impression. Where are the followers?

I’m one.

When I write, I constantly ask myself, “Does this live up to Pixar’s standards? … Would this live up to Brad’s or John’s expectations?”

I write to “Wow” you.

I have never visited Pixar Studios, nor met anyone from Pixar (top of my bucket list just below getting plugs), but I imagine I work for Pixar. I imagine that the people at Pixar will read every book I write. And perhaps one day they will and they’ll see talent…or at the very least, potential.

Pixar team, it’s because of each one of you I wake up each morning and dare to not give up on my dreams of becoming a bestselling author (and maybe one day writer for Pixar). To the artists who labor day in and day out on a monster’s hair flow, or the scales on a fish – your job is not to have your work noticed. Well, you are noticed, and appreciated.

You inspire me to grow old with my wife, to focus on creating joyful memories for my kids, to keep my friends close.

You make movies that matter – movies that last – and often, movies that change our perspective or even our lives.

Thank you for the thousand-and-twelf rewrites.

Thank you for changing course at the last minute.

Thank you for not accepting mediocre and always shooting for better. And then even better than that.

Thank you for the shorts that bring no financial gain to you whatsoever.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you. From my family, thank you. From my grown-up corkers whom I will eventually convince that they’re missing out on something great, thank you on their behalf that there’s something great to be found.

Hopefully I’ll get to visit soon and wander the halls and eat your cereal and pose with the Lego Woody and Buzz. Maybe one day my kids will meet one of you and when they do, I’ll tell them, “You just shook hands with a world-changer.”

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