What Do You Want? How Post-its Can Help Start the New Story of Your Life

I’ve felt a change brewing in my life, not just physical (although I am at the age for that lovely experience), but emotional and mental and spiritual.

For the past 52 years, I’ve been pushing and pushing myself to do more, be more, accomplish more, and always (always) make the most of my time. But I find I’m craving space and quiet and stillness. Dreaming of it and imagining a life reliant on and responsible for – no one.

It’s become an itch I must scratch, like the sweat trickle down the inside of your helmet. I can’t ignore it any longer.

I’m not in a place to walk away, although, believe me I’ve considered it.

Girls' Weekend coverMy novel, Girls’ Weekend, was perhaps the very first sign, although it was a subconscious sign – a dramatic stab at something I would never do. Those women ran away for very different reasons than I now face but their adventure allowed me to safely explore the idea. I patted down that crazy dream, kept it within a manageable 350 pages with a lovely cover and the perfect excuse – it’s fiction!

But now, now the urge for change is nearly primal. My youngest child will be a senior in high school next year, and I feel very much like a horse, pawing in place in the start box, shivering all over with anticipation, for what’s next.

It won’t be a race. In fact, for the first time in my life, there will be no hurry, no schedule, no urgency beyond the nagging of my own heart to go find it. Find the life I want in the place that makes my soul content.

I have ideas where that will be and I’ve finally begun to allow myself to picture it, even write down ideas, explore Zillow for homes and books like Buddha in Blue Jeans and The Shape of a Life. I’ve been meditating on Kahlil Gibran and running without a playlist. Allowing my mind to circle and wander and refusing to censor my dreams.

Just after Christmas, Nick and I went away for a few days, ostensibly to celebrate his birthday, but also to look at a few dream properties and start trying on possible futures.


Since any future of mine involves him, I brought two packs of post it notes – mine pink and his green. We wrote one wish on each note and tried to fill a wall with what we dream/wish/imagine we need, but also what we want for our future.

Things like “I want to walk out my door and hike for hours, without having to get in a car first,” and “I want a long-haired cat who weighs as much as a dog” and “I want an inspiring, brightly lit writing space” and “I want to be less about me and more about others” and “I want to ride my horse in the woods” and “I want to find a community of writers/readers” and in capital letters, “I WANT TO SLOW DOWN.”

Nick’s list was different and in some ways the same. We both want “to see my family often” and “to stay in shape” and “to have enough money”. I love that he wrote “I want to be involved in my food” and wish I’d thought of it. But he also wants “heated floors” and “a cool tractor” and “to camp in faraway places (but not too far)”.

We brought our sticky notes home and put them up on the wall in our bedroom and plan to continue adding to them.


It feels good to start imagining the life we will build. It makes the mess in my shared office, the noise of the interstate, and the frustration of our icy hill bearable. Maybe we can’t make any of these happen tomorrow, but seeing them there in neon pink and green, fluttering on my wall, is a tiny step towards making them happen.

As a writer, I know that words can bring change. Naming what I want, what we want, is the beginning of starting a new story. Whenever you start a new novel, the first thing you have to figure out is exactly what it is your protagonist wants—what makes her get up each day and press on? It’s the quest for that want that makes the story.

I’m ready to start a new story in my life.

How about you? Can you name what it is you want?

Hey, thanks for reading. I know you’ve got lots of options, so thanks for sharing a few of your minutes with me.



If you’d like to know more about me, my books, and where you might run into me, check out my website, CaraWrites.com. You can shop for signed copies of all my books there, too!

If you’d like to subscribe to my (sometimes) monthly e-newsletter, click here.

If you’re a dog lover, check out my other blog, Another Good Dog.

I’d love to connect with you on Facebook, twitter, or Instagram, and I’m thrilled to get email from readers (and writers), you can reach me at carasueachterberg@gmail.com.

Released Aug 2018 from Pegasus books:


Find out more about the book, how YOU can help shelter dogs and everything you wanted to know about fostering dogs at AnotherGoodDog.org!

Author: Cara Sue Achterberg

I am a writer, blogger, and dog rescuer. I live in the darling town of Woodstock, Virginia in the Shenandoah Valley with my husband and three rescue dogs (who rescue me on a daily basis). Find more information about my books, my dogs, and all my writing adventures at CaraWrites.com.

5 thoughts on “What Do You Want? How Post-its Can Help Start the New Story of Your Life”

  1. What a great idea – putting thoughts into words – makes things clearer. We are thinking of the next phase as well. It is exciting, but scary.


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