In this podcast episode, Zander Sprague and Aurora Winter discuss various captivating stories, including a 3 a.m. adventure, a risky suggestion at an adult store, and a thrilling encounter with an anaconda in Venezuela. The hosts share amusing anecdotes about peculiar highway signs, particularly in Oklahoma and Maine. The conversation leads to reflections on the importance of taking small steps, especially during challenging times, and the power of resilience and overcoming obstacles.

Listen to the podcast here


Taking One Step Forward, Part 1

It’s December 16th, 2020. We are heading into Christmas weirdness. I loved your videos. I especially like the 3:00 AM one.

The 3:00 AM is a good story.

That is a great story. We got to say that on one of the episodes. That’s like nylon or hemp.

Exactly, and I know I shouldn’t have said it.

I love it. It’s so you and it’s such a great story. You were on your edges like pins and needles. Did you ever see him slink out to the adult toy store?

No. We didn’t even know what room was calling so I couldn’t even say that was 1501 or whatever. Again, I am trying to be a helpful person. I suggested that they go to this adult store that was right behind, but it was dodgy during the day and never mind at 2:00 in the morning.

You are always helpful behind the desk.

That’s what the front desk does.

That was a great story. Also, your story about going to Venezuela. I sent you that video of an Anaconda.

I know. I didn’t get to see the whole thing yet.

It looks like that movie Alien where it’s opening its mouth. That’s pretty scary but the funniest part I thought was you were afraid when there was nothing to fear, but you were not afraid when you were in the river with the piranhas. That’s a great story especially since you’re only twelve.

I’m sorry I didn’t make more of them. I didn’t, but I thought about it. I thought, “What else would I do?”

You’re a good storyteller. What else would you do? Did you think of some more?

The one I was going to do was talk about a twofer. It’s talking about highway signs that I’ve seen because I’ve driven across the country a few times and there are some signs that end up there because there’s a problem but they seem obvious. I’ll tell you. Driving through Oklahoma, there are two signs that you see on I-40 repeatedly. The first one says, “Keep off the median.” Clearly, the sign is there because there’s a problem with people driving down the median, even though there are two perfectly nice paved lanes.

Also, there’s another one that says, “Don’t drive through smoke.” I could see from 10 miles, “Okay. Thank you.” I’m not sure why that’s up there. In Maine, just as you get into the state of Maine, you go through York, Maine. You go through the tolls and then there are two signs. First of all, there’s one that says, “Are your brakes safe?” People in Maine aren’t noted as necessarily being the sharpest tacks in the bunk. I’m thinking there’s this guy going, “I better check it out.”

There’s another one that says, “Drive alert.” The only person that applies to is the dad from New Jersey, who’s been driving for six hours with eight kids in the car and it’s in the driver’s seat like that. It’s because frankly, if you could read the sign, then you’re alert enough to be driving and reading, which means it doesn’t apply to you.

It’s true. That’s funny right there.

However, going back to Oklahoma for a second, the first time I drove across the country with Lucy, we did a five-day wonder tour. We saw these signs in Oklahoma that said, “Keep off the median.” We stopped in Oklahoma City to see a friend of hers from college, and then we were driving through the night to Gallup, New Mexico because I had to be in California for school. At about 12:30 in the morning, we were going through the panhandle of Texas. For some reason, I wasn’t driving. Lucy was driving. We ended up on the median at 80 miles an hour.

Lucy instinctively pulls on the wheel. The car comes back onto I-40. Luckily, there was no truck or anything coming. We shoot across I-40 down the ditch and it’s dark. I’m like, “Holy crap.” We’re sliding sideways. Externally, Lucy told me I was very calm. I was like, “Put on the brake. Don’t slam the brake on,” and then the car started to slide sideways. I was literally trying to relax waiting for impact to roll.

I had no idea what was going to happen. I’m like, “It’s okay.” Luckily, it was a stick shift or a standard so she stalled the car out and that helped to stop the car. However, internally I’d had the car for three weeks. I’m like, “You’re going to ruin my car. I’ve only had it three weeks.” The car comes to a stop with all kinds of dust and stuff like that. I’m like, “Are you okay?” “Yes. I’m so sorry.” “Don’t worry about it.”

I’m like, “Let me get in the car.” I’m expecting the wheels to be bent off, etc. I drive the car back down onto the road. There is nothing wrong. It’s not out of alignment. There is nothing. The only damage was there was a little piece of plastic on the front that was a mudguard or something. Some of that came off. I stopped at a rest stop and a trucker gave me his knife and I cut it off. That’s it. It was amazing.

I like the story about highway signs because some of them are so dumb. Also, how many people know what the median is?

However, signs end up there because there’s a problem. You get a no parking or whatever but there are those signs all around that seem to defy common logic.

I like the one that says, “$1,000 fine for littering.” I’m like, “As long as it’s a $1,000 bill, you can litter.” Let me churn this pot down. That would make a good story. You’re a good storyteller. You have a way of holding attention throughout a story because it’s like, “Where is he going to go with this?”

I try hard. Sometimes the stories, I put too many details. Over the years, I’ve worked hard to make the stories as informative, but as concise as possible.

You are quite tight. The main thing to consider with these stories is how do you stop? You want as best you can have a clear ending. It’s like the cat story. I thought it was a good story, but then I wasn’t quite sure like, “When do you stop it?” That’s very irritating and it could be as simple as at the beginning you say, “I’m not a cat person.” At the end, you could say, “That’s why I’m not a cat person,” or something like that. I wanted to check in with you and see how things are coming along and how it can help you. Also, what are the sticking points for you so I can help?

I’ve reached out. I took one of the links you gave me for an editor. They wanted 2,500 words so I gave them 2,500 words. I’m waiting to see if I match up with an editor there. I’ve got some other possible sources, but I thought, “I’ll give this a try.” It was like the New York editor. There was a link that you gave me to the website to find an editor and stuff.

I haven’t used any of those people. I was looking at it again, and depending on the editor and on how smart they are, there are quite a few things that could still be done. Was there a reason that part 1 and part 2 of EPIC is not after each other. There’s something in the middle. Is that on purpose?

No, that was probably the way that I ended up editing stuff and then pasted it in.

However, the editors will ask you. Also, there was the one I was looking at and I recorded the beginning again at the end because I wasn’t satisfied with the beginning. You could, I could, or somebody could give it to the editor with a bit more clarity but if they are great, then maybe that’s not necessary.

Once I start to work with someone, I will explain more of what’s going on. I did put an explanation. I said, “Here’s what I’m doing. I’m writing this book. It’s coming from a transcription of what will be a YouTube episode and a podcast. We’re turning it into a book. The major issue that I’m trying to solve is readability. If you’re listening, it makes a lot of sense, but it doesn’t always transcribe to read as clearly. I’m asking for a line edit where they’re going in, tightening it up, and fixing it. It’s a full edit.

That might be the way to go.

You don’t sound convinced, Aurora.

It depends on who the editor is. Also, if your relationship is good and if the price is good because if it was me, I would put the pieces in the right order more or less, and then I would ask them to do an edit.

I haven’t sent them the whole transcript. I only sent a little so they had an idea. I may not match up with an editor who feels like they can do it and that’s fair. I haven’t paid any money yet. I said, “I’m interested. Give me a proposal.”

That sounds sensible. I want to let you know I’m on your team so if you want me to edit a bit more as a sample. I’m checking what the sticking points are.

I wonder if there is one more chapter that we need to record because we had talked about that.

I think there are a couple of more chapters that we need to record. We need to record the beginning and the ending. I was thinking about the one-step thing and I think there’s quite a bit of juice in that. I’m thinking we need to do three more that would go in the book and then we can do more that don’t go in this particular book. What are you thinking?

What I thought was the one step was the beginning and the end. The question is, “Before we hand it to an editor, do we get those done?” It’s because the idea is to hand them a completed manuscript and not, “Hold on. There’s an additional chapter,” which could change.

I don’t see any reason why we shouldn’t go ahead and record those three. We could do the one step first, the ending second, and then the beginning.

I do have to say and I guess I’m relying on the editor to help me with this and maybe you which is, “How do all these pieces fit together to be cogent?”

That’s one of the other things I wanted to check in with you. Tell me more about your concern.

I have to say I haven’t looked too much at it but when I looked at it, I was like, “By themselves, they’re all great, but how does all of this become interesting?

I don’t see it. There’s an overall theme. It’s all around the same topic-ish. Also, the beginning is key because the beginning is, “Why should you read this book? What’s in it for you?” Also, the cover. “Here’s the range of what we’re going to be covering.” You name some of the chapters and some of the benefits. “Here’s what happens if you get stuck or stalled. Here are the consequences. This is why this is a good book to read.”

The beginning of a book is key because it shows why you should read it and what’s in it for you.

Also, who is Zander Sprague? Why does he care about this? Maybe who is Aurora, if necessary? That sets up the glue that holds the book together. In each chapter, it’s quite likely that the chapters can be tightened quite a bit. We might chop out all of the welcome again because it’s not necessary and makes you and me sound more to the point. There can be quite a bit of editing. I see it as a messy first draft. Can you see that?

I definitely do. I haven’t honestly sat down and said, “What chapters are going in what order?” I’m only trying to get everything into it.

What I would suggest, and I’m glad to spend more time on this with you. You can proceed with that editor, give them 2,500 words, and see how they edit it because that’ll be a test. However, in the meantime, maybe you could look at it again and see if that’s the right order or I can look at it again for another little bit and send you what I did before, but a bit more so that it’s more easy for you to work with.

Here’s my question in Scrivener, shouldn’t we be able to move stuff around easily?

Wouldn’t that be good? Can I access yours?

I don’t know. I’ve paid for it. I’m going to put you down on Scrivener. There is a way where I think all of these will show up as note cards. You can do that.

Have you already changed the order and put the two EPIC Unexpected after each other?

I did. Technically, you are able to move. For example, if we wanted to do something like that where we go, “Epic begins. Boldly proclaim. Failure’s part of it. EPIC Unexpected 1 and 2, not yet lean into.” This is how you can move your chapters around. I think you can export it, but it wouldn’t have all of those edits that you did.

It’s because I’ve made those in Word.

The whole idea here is that you’re able to take your different chapters and move them around.

Didn’t we record more than seven chapters?

I think so.

It would be on that Google Sheet.

2, 3, 4, 6. Nope, it’s seven. You have to keep in mind we had weeks where we were not recorded. We were talking about stuff. We were strategizing but in terms of, “Can you come in and do stuff?”

I know most people who edit export it to Word to send to their editor. You gave me your login.

The one thing I can say that I didn’t figure out in Scrivener is it didn’t seem to have all of the grammar and stuff like that but there has got to be a way that you can let someone have.

“To share the contents of your Scrivener project, you need to zip up the entire folder and send it to your writing partner. Sharing the .scrivx is like sharing the executable part of the program. It’s not set up for real-time collaboration.” What I like about Word is it redlines so it shows what I’ve changed. This must have that same capability.

Again, you would think that it would, but I haven’t figured out how. I haven’t spent a lot of time but the fact is that here’s a writing program and there’s no grammar. You can’t turn on grammar. In the tools, you could look up the Thesaurus or whatever, but it didn’t seem to have Grammarly or whatever. I’ve got Grammarly.

We have one clear thing. We want to record three more episodes that will go into the book. It’s the beginning, the ending, and the one step. I was thinking about the one step. There could almost be two episodes, but let’s see what you have to say about it. Thinking that your expertise is a lot in the shadow, although your energy is very light and bright. People can get stuck in the bottom of a well. Even if they can only take a tiny step forward, it can change their life but if they can’t, if they somehow are paralyzed or too depressed or whatever, the difference between a tiny baby step and no step is almost the difference between life and death. Also, between hope and hopelessness.

The difference between one step and no step is the difference between life and death and between hope and hopelessness.

As I think about it, I think of how I can easily become intractable simply because there are so many things that I need to do all at once. Part of what I want to say is choose one thing to do and you will find that one thing isn’t nearly as difficult as it was in your mind. You can do this. Let me do this one thing and then you have those victories.

Talk about focusing on the victory when you get stuck, when something doesn’t work out, or when for whatever reason you intend to work on this in the next week and it doesn’t happen. There’s no reason for it other than you just didn’t do it. The motivation wasn’t there. You go, “That’s okay being gentle with yourself.” Also, looking at the steps that you have done and the things that you did do, I was thinking coming up to the call, I’m like, “You should have had ten videos that I had done and I only gave you three.”

However, I looked and I said, “I did an awesome EPIC Unexpected episode yesterday with a woman named Uzette Salazar who used to be the producer on the Sarah ad Vinnie Show. That was a good episode. When I’m ready to publish it, she’s got a huge following. She’ll be helping me promo it. She wrote me afterward and said, “Here’s my cell phone. That was a lot of fun.” She lost her brother on December 7th, 34 years ago or ten years before.

How I found out about it is she mentioned it once or twice on the air, but she doesn’t talk about it a lot. It was quite moving. I gave her the option. I said, “We don’t have to talk about this,” but she goes, “No. It was great.” I’m excited because I was like, “I got a good interview, and when it comes time to promo, I’ve got someone who’s got a crap ton of followers.”

Also, you’ve only just begun interviewing other people.

I was being gentle with myself to say, “I didn’t get that done, but I did get this other thing,” I had reached out to Uzette and she goes, “Sure,” but then I didn’t hear back from her. I thought, “Maybe this isn’t going to work,” but then I was able to get it all set and it was cool.

That’s so great. It’s so easy to be hard on ourselves.

I mentioned it and it is one of those things that I will definitely, as I’m talking about EPIC Begins the 97/3 rule. Ninety-seven percent of my day is great and up to 3% isn’t. Am I choosing to focus on all the more of the things that went right versus the 3% that didn’t go right during my week? “I didn’t get that done, but I got this and this done.” I got my office. I got an interview done. I started to look for an editor. There’s success there. There’s movement.

Choose to focus more on the things that went right versus those that didn’t go right.

Also, as you keep showing up, it’s like taking a bite out of the elephant, but eventually, you get the elephant turned into an elephant soup or whatever. People are so hard on themselves. It always seems like a default setting. “You didn’t do enough. It wasn’t good enough. It wasn’t fast enough.”

EPIC Begins With 1 Step Forward | Taking One Step Forward

EPIC Begins With 1 Step Forward: How To Plan, Achieve, and Enjoy The Journey

We are the meanest person in our life.

I think this book is meaningful and important. It’s a whole chapter about taking that one step and even talking about the shadow part of it. Most of the time we were talking about taking one step, but what happens when people don’t take that?

What happens when you feel absolutely stuck and scared? Also, it seems hopeless and stuff. What can you do to find that sunlight?

How many people might be feeling like that right now with the coronavirus? Maybe they’ve been laid off or maybe they’re even sick. Maybe it just seems hopeless. I’m working with Mario on the interior layout design. He’s fantastic. He emailed me to say, “Sorry. I’ve been delayed getting back to you, but I got the coronavirus so I’m sick.” What would you say to somebody like that?

Again, let’s acknowledge that you have Corona and that’s not good. Also, it’s potentially scary, but where are the good things? Identify that little itsy-bity, teeny-tiny step that you can take. People think everything has to be big, bold, and whatever. I keep trying to emphasize that your epic journey may be something that overall doesn’t seem as epic but for you in that moment, that epicness is huge. Maybe it’s asking for help. You are someone who doesn’t know how to ask for help.

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