Trail Runner Magazine Publishes My Article


Great news everyone, my guest article has been published by Trail Runner magazine! I really appreciate the opportunity to contribute to the leading trail running publication, and would be honored if you would go check it out! If you like it, please share on Facebook, Twitter, or leave a comment.

Read the post here

Visiting my site from TrailRunner?

First of all, thank you for clicking through! I appreciate your visit. Please look around and check out some of my earlier posts. My writing covers a lot of great topics, including outdoor adventure, simplicity, running, spirituality, and business productivity.

If you are interested mainly in running, here are a couple posts I’m really proud of. 

Running in the Rain

Running an Ultra Marathon: Technical Aspects of Training, Gear, and Nutrition

At the very least, here’s an awesome video of Ultra Superman Kilian Jornet!

Thanks again for reading, let me know if I can help you with any of your running questions!

You Are A Writer – A Look at Jeff Goins Newest Ebook


Did Jeff write me a personal letter on becoming a writer? The voice he writes in rings with the experience of someone who has been through the fire, and come out with pages of knowledge he wants to share! For all the aspiring writers, bloggers, creatives in the building, let me tell you this is worth the price of admission. A short book, granted, but packed full of useful steps towards being a writer.

The most important message Jeff wants to convey is YOU ARE A WRITER (hence the title). I know have done this before, hesitated in describing myself as a writer and going public. Once you have made a commitment, everything simply comes one step at a time, and Jeff does a great job of laying those steps out.

What I appreciate most about Jeff’s writing is his honesty. I see many of my struggles in his writing, and he’s not afraid to tell the ugly parts of his story, of the self-doubt, distractions, and pain involved in being a writer. But he doesn’t stay there, laying out the steps to being successful. He admits the hard work, long hours, and a chance you may never reach the mountain top you have sighted for yourself.

The trick is though, if you love writing, if you can’t do anything else, each piece, each connection, each opportunity to share with others is your mountain top. Pursuing your passion, treating people with respect, and simply writing is what you were made to do.

Oh you want to know details? Of course, how silly of me…

5 Vitally Important Lessons from You Are A Writer

  1. The Process of Turning Pro
  2. The Secrets of Successful Writing
  3. The 3 Tools Every Writer Needs
  4. The 3 Important Relationships of a Writer
  5. Preparing & Pitching Your Writing (w/ bonus form letters!)

In keeping with his honesty, Jeff wraps up by sharing the pitfalls of success, and to remember your love for the craft. It’s all that will keep you true.

So what are you waiting for? If you are a writer, it’s money well spent.

Buy the book here and start shipping!

Get the Kindle edition

Motivated by Love


John 14:15 says: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”

Okay- now what? Should I learn every law in the Bible, write them down, paste it up on my wall and make sure I do my best to follow them every day?

  • Sometimes the focus will become lack of obedience, leading to a negative outcome.

-You may look at that list and think well I didn’t do this, this, this or that today and be left in a state of guilt and despair.

-Next, you may think well I can do better and push yourself into obedience out of obligation. You may wind up having an obligation to obey the law based on some notion that your obedience will justify blessings. Obedience to justify the blessings of God doesn’t seem like it would be pleasing to Him.

  • The way I see it- the cross has already justified my blessing.

Ultimately- God’s desire is to pour out his blessing on you, and the desire is based on nothing you do but out of unwavering love for you. We are only able to live in the fullness of God’s blessing by embracing a journey of recognizing His love for us. You might look at it as a journey of full-on acceptance of grace.

Elyse Fitzpatrick writes, “the plain truth is that my love for God (and hence, my obedience) will grow as I cultivate my comprehension of his vast love for me. If we neglect this key by focusing too narrowly on ourselves, our success or failure, then we’ll become mired down in guilt or pride, neither of which will stimulate loving obedience.”

It’s not that I think I can do whatever I want because I am already covered by grace. This is true to some extent- I am covered; my past, present and future sins were bought at the price of the cross. But if I were to do whatever I wanted and essentially live in sin that would cheapen the cross. My recognition of God’s love for me brings me into the greatest love story of all time, therefore motivating me to obey. I am not out to obey because of fear, guilt, or a mindset that my obedience will somehow bless me. Of course, I will continue to struggle- because my love is imperfect.

  • My love is weak and wavering

I am only capable of a dim understanding of the love displayed by Jesus on the cross. I am still vulnerable to Satan’s lies and I will be until the day I die. It is only at the moment of entrance into the heavenly presence of God that we are perfected for all time. But God, who goes beyond all of that- all of my mistakes and persona’s, God who knows my innermost thoughts looks at me with perfection and calls me His beloved. “He patiently and gently draws us back into His loving arms and reassures us of His overwhelming compassion, mercy, and grace.” –Fitzpatrick.

When I recognize the depth of my depravity and realize my complete inability to do anything on my own; I don’t feel guilt or failure anymore. But I am able to look at my Savior with such awe because he chose someone like me to be broken, to be a little lost for a while but then be rescued. He redeemed me. The blessings in my life leave me in awe of the obedience of Christ on the cross and motivate me to pursue God out of love.

“If we intently focus on how we’ve been loved, irrevocably, eternally, freely, and without merit, if we contemplate how our obedience (or lack of it) doesn’t faze his love one whit, then we’ll find within our hearts a growing desire to obey. Why? Because love like that changes people.” –Fitzpatrick

Thank you for reading, Laura Ragland

If you’d like to continue the conversation post in the comments or tweet me here, you can also find me on my site Confessions of an everyday, ordinary sinner.

Find Elyse Fitzpatrick’s book Comforts from the Cross on Amazon.

Off the Grid


Hey Everyone,

I’ll be away from my blog from April 25-30, attending a Men’s retreat in Arizona. In my absence, my sister Laura will be guest posting, so be on the lookout for that! Laura is a talented young writer, majoring in English and Creative Writing. I know you will enjoy her essay.

As for me, I’m looking forwar to a few days unplugged. It will be nice to dwell in the desert canyons, living simply and focusing on the little things that matter. I do believe I will come away with good writing, whether or not it’s worth sharing is still to be seen. Maybe another handwritten post?

Anyway, I hope everyone enjoys their weekend. Look for ways to bless others and help, whether in your face-to-face interactions, or online. You have knowledge and love to share, don’t miss it!

Power to the People: 9 Extra Tools to Help You Organize the Internet


I want to thank everyone that has been checking out the guest post I wrote at Buffer, it has done really well! One of the cool side effects from writing a limited list is that I left products and applications out by necessity, and it started a conversation about tools I didn’t even know about yet!

So here is a list of 9 tools that readers brought to my attention in the comments and on twitter. Thanks for helping us all be more productive and organized on the web!

HootSuite – A social media dashboard that includes basic analytics, search options, and organization. Tip o’ the hat to Dorian Patterson.

Bit.ly – The standard in link-shortening software. I’ve been using it for a couple years, offers custom urls and analytics. Tip o’ the hat to ME.

RockMelt – Another browser on the market? Sure there are plenty, but Rockmelt offers complete social media integration! Tip o’ the hat to Valon Canhasi.

Symbaloo – great custom news and update site. Tip o’ the hat to Daniela Bolzmann.

Dropbox – Great cloud storage solution for keeping your stuff together online, especially large files. 2gb free storage to start. Use this code to sign up (Disclaimer: This code is a referral that just gives me some extra storage, no money). Tip o’ the hat to Shawn.

CamelCamelCamel – Web store price trackers and alerts, great for using with Amazon. Tip o’ the hat to BJMT.

Wunderlist – Powerful web based list making and to-do app. Tip o’ the hat to Robert Clay.

SpringPad– Cool web organization app that looks like a fusion between Evernote and Pinterest. I haven’t used it yet but it looks beautifully designed. Tip o’ the hat to James Schwabacher.

Clipix– Another cool looking web clipping app, not as fully featured as Evernote, but simplicity could be its best feature. I look forward to trying it out! Tip o’ the hat to Dmoser34 on the Buffer comment thread.

So there you go, 9 more great apps and services to try out! Do you use any of these? Anything else we can share with each other? I would love to hear your comments.

Have a great day!

My 10 ‘Men’tors: #10 – Jon Gordon


Over the next several weeks, I’m going to be writing about men in my life who have been mentors to me. It’s a diverse group, and I did make a stipulation that I needed to have me them in person before. Today we’re kicking off with author & speaker Jon Gordon

I first met Jon over the phone. I was interviewing him for Florida Lacrosse magazine, talking about his memories of playing Cornell, advice for young lacrosse players, and his current work. Before and after the interview, we spoke about varying topics, the most memorable for me being how he started as a writer. Jon had several different jobs and lead roles in companies, including owning Moe’s Southwest Grill franchises in Northeast Florida.

But he felt he wanted to write, despite success in other fields, and told me about his beginnings.

He talked about his first book, The Energy Addict, and then his breakthrough book, The Energy Bus. Jon was the first person outside of my family who I told about my passion for writing, and he genuinely encouraged me to follow that passion.

That was in 2008. Since then, Jon and I speak semi-regularly, whether on the phone, through email, or even twitter, he has continued to be an encouragement to me and my work. I remember a conversation we had about writing, and he asked how mine was going. I confessed I hadn’t done much of it lately, too much of this or that.

“Well, do you still want to write?”

I said I did.

“Start small then, just write 20-30 minutes a day, whatever comes out, just get it on the paper. The rest will come.” 

Months later, I put together an ebook of short essays I had written, and sent it off to Jon. He was generous to read it through, and offer some comments, suggestions, and praise for the piece. His willingness to give me feedback was humbling.

Jon returned the favor, and sent me an advance copy of his book Soup, asking me to read it over and offer feedback before it went to a final draft. It was really cool to feel he trusted me with a piece of his work, and valued my feedback. Sure enough, when I sent in my notes, he thanked me, and a couple made it in to the final draft.

I haven’t spoken with Jon in a while, life for both of us has been quite busy, his more so than me. Jon is a sought-after speaker and continues to write, while spending time with his wife and 2 kids. But I know that if I reach out to him, he’ll check in when he can and answer my questions.

What I learned mostly from Jon is the value of connections, relationships, kindness, and how much an interaction can mean to someone.

Maybe the dozen times we’ve talked over the years hasn’t been a burden to him, but he didn’t have to return my calls and emails, or initiate praise, or offer advice on writing. But he did.

As I continue to write, and even more importantly as I prepare for the summer at Rockmont, I realize even more the value of these connections we make with each other. You may not feel like you’re doing much, but your attention and kindness can mean the world to someone else.

Don’t miss that opportunity.

You can learn more about Jon at his website, then follow him on Twitter.

Saturday Shakedown: Music, Film, and Reading


I hope everyone is having a good weekend, we’ve had a great start here in NC. To prove it to you, here’s a great shot from our community dinner last night, and one of my favorite pictures in a while.

Click to embiggen, and check out the dogs!

What am I listening to this weekend? Great question, thinking about the beats that drive my writing today…

  • Public Enemy – Harder than You Think
  • Barr Brothers – Beggar in the Morning
  • Blind Pilot – Half Moon
  • Alabama Shakes – Hang Loose
  • Of Monsters & Men – Mountain Sound

Friends, I don’t know about you, but there is so much to enjoy these days! Spring is in full effect, so get outside and enjoy the beauty of this earth, wherever you are. Swim, paddle, run, surf, hike, play, just do something and use that body!

If you do find yourself looking for some new material to listen/read/watch, consider the following:

Make It Count“Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing at all”

 

My Favorite Articles:

The 8 Habits of Highly Effective Bloggers – Great read on CopyBlogger, which includes some of the most helpful blogging advice on the internet.

Top 20 Motivation Hacks – If you haven’t read about Leo’s personal transformation, do so here, and the check out the post on how he motivated himself to do it.

The Secret to Your Next Creative Breakthrough – I’m going through this in some ways, making the choices and prioritizing what I want to do. Jeff puts it all together nicely.

Applying the Nature Principle to Your Life – A guest article by Richard Louv on the North Face blog. Richard talks about the future of jobs in green business.

Let’s Bring Back Repair – A guest post by Story of Stuff author Annie Leonard. We live in a society of replacing, rather than repairing, our possessions. Annie talks about the impact on the earth of this mindset, and offers resources to help us do a little repair of our own.

Get Inspired!

Inspiration Squared

I hope everyone has a great weekend, whether it’s work, play or relaxation you’re engaged in. Be present in the moment and take it for all it’s worth!
See you Monday morning.