Inspiration

What Happens in the Outhouse Doesn’t Always Stay in the Outhouse

Posted by on Mar 31, 2013 in Inspiration | 30 comments

 

I’m hanging out with family this week, but wanted to leave you all with a little family inspiration from the archives.

So here’s the post where I inspire you from the mucky trenches of an outhouse. Enjoy!

 

george bernard shaw quotes

 

Several years ago my dad gave me his old Torts book from law school. He said there was a case in it involving my great-grandmother Mary Fitzpatrick Rush, and that I might want to hang onto it because it was a bit of our family history.  The story was a curious one, but still I put the book away for safe keeping.

But recently I got a little more curious after watching the TV show Who Do You Think You Are.  Every week a different celebrity is taken on a journey of personal discovery into his or her family history.  Rob Lowe discovered that his five times great-grandfather fought in the Revolutionary War and Ashley Judd traced her family line back to the Mayflower.

The process typically starts with looking up census records and court documents and then they follow the twists and turns back in time, stumbling upon hardship, perseverance, triumph and even secrets and intrigue.  Above all, they always seem to come away with some sort of inspiration from their lineage.

So I decided to Google my great-grandmother’s case.

 

My grandmother, great-grandmother and great Aunt

 

Let me first say that this is not a story of Pilgrims and Patriots, but rather the New Jersey Supreme Court, tenant rights and an outhouse.  In its own unique way it goes deep (so deep I imagine my great-grandmother might’ve wished she’d been wearing waders).

 

Here’s the gist of the case:

Rush v. Commercial Realty Co., 145 A. 476 (N.J. Sup. Ct. 1929)

The case for the plaintiffs was that they were tenants of the defendant, which controlled the house wherein they lived and also the adjoining house, and provided a detached privy for the use of both houses; that Mrs. Rush having occasion to use this privy, went into it and fell through the floor, or through some sort of trap door therein, descended about nine feet into the accumulation at the bottom, and had to be extricated by use of a ladder. The defendant denied that there was any pit at all, and claimed the floor was only about nine inches above solid ground.

The story as told by my Great Aunt Kitty to my dad was that my great-grandmother fell through the outhouse floor when the rotted portion of the floor in front of the toilet seat collapsed.

My great-grandmother was 5’2″ (and pregnant with my Great Aunt Anna) and the hole was nine feet deep.  So 14-year-old Kitty ran to the neighbor for a ladder so she could help her mother climb out of the um, accumulation.

It took years to finalize the case, but she won.  The judge blamed the property owner.

 

 In dealing with these, it should be observed that Mrs. Rush had no choice, when impelled by the calls of nature, but to use the facilities placed at her disposal by the landlord, to wit, a privy with a trap door in the floor, poorly maintained.

Now I imagine this had to be a humiliating experience, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned from my dad’s side of the family, it’s that we all thoroughly enjoy a good laugh.

And FUNNY is what I found when I researched this case on the internet.  It seems that the case of Mrs. Rush was a bit of a comic relief in Torts class.

On one of the blogs, a law student said he laughed until he cried.  When I asked my dad about it, he said his grandmother’s case has been the subject of limericks and poems in law school for decades.

But my favorite find was reading about law students showing up for their Torts final wearing t-shirts that said:

 

“Whenever you feel like you’re drowning in shit, remember Mrs. Rush.” 

 

Ah, sweet inspiration.

But there is something universal in this story, because in some way we ‘ve all experienced the crap dunk tank.  And we all know it’s not always easy to get out.  Sometimes we have to holler for help and sometimes we have to wait for a ladder.  But hopefully, like my tiny, great grandmother, we find a way to climb out of the accumulation.

Although, if you can, I recommend boots.

old outhouses

 

Tell me, have you done any family research?  What have you found in your history?

Have a great week!

Coleen Patrick

 

random comment love

 Check out Jennette Marie Powell She’s the author of several time travel and paranormal romance novels–and she has a Harley.

 

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How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying

Posted by on Mar 18, 2013 in Inspiration | 54 comments

 

lily tomlin quotes

 

This weekend I watched the play, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, THREE times.

Three times? Was I studying the play for easy peasy book marketing tips?

No, although I’d do that for a play called How to Clean Your House Without Really Trying. :)

I watched because my son played the role of personnel manager, Mr. Bratt,  in his high school’s performance of How to Succeed.

This was his first play. From auditions, to the last night of the play’s run, my son seemed to experience every emotion, from self-doubt to walking on sunshine excitement.

And every minute of it I was so proud (even the moments where I had to break out my “Just Keep Swimming” speech).

How to  Succeed in Business Without Really Trying

Mr. Bratt personnel manager

His experience reminded me that no matter how difficult the road is, we can’t forget to allow ourselves to experience the joys along the way.

how to succeed in business without really trying

Savoring the Joy of the Accomplishment

 

Here’s a snippet of his character’s song, A Secretary is Not a Toy.

What joys are you savoring this week?

 

There’s a giveaway of my new book, Come Back to Me, happening over at Emily’s Crammed Bookshelf through this week.

And my book is now available on NOOK and the Apple iBookstore.

Have a great week!

Coleen Patrick

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Be Yourself: Let Life Tap Its Toes to Your Beat

Posted by on Mar 4, 2013 in Inspiration | 49 comments

dance to your own rhythm

A couple of weeks ago, I heard a dean of admissions from the University of Virginia speak on the dreaded subject of the college essay.

The gist of his speech?  Be the best YOU.

He said, every year he reads countless essays from prospective applicants trying to be who they think UVA wants them to be.

Topics like,

Thomas Jefferson is my role model.

The Louisiana Purchase and me.

Why I Believe the Declaration of Independence Rocks!

And countless other themes that manage to mention the lawn, the academical village, or the rotunda.

 

uva lawn

The lawn at the University of Virginia.

 

These essays are not endearing to the admissions staff.

Because Thomas Jefferson founded the University of Virginia, and writing about him is a warning that student X is trying to push his or her unique, but angular self into the UVA circle.

And losing an opportunity to be themselves.

It got me thinking how this applies to so many things. How many times are you filling something out and you see:

Tell us a little something about yourself.

Or what about those bio fields in social media? Or if you’re a writer, what about the author blurb, or About Me page?

Like the college essay, these descriptions could be your one shot to sum up YOU.

Maybe you’re thinking they’ll eventually see who you are, but what if that first impression is your only opportunity to go from person X, to the eXtra special, unique you?

For instance, UVA gets twenty-nine thousand applicants a year.  Pinterest currently has forty million users. Twitter even more. And hundreds of thousands of books are published in the U.S. every year.

There’s bound to be A LOT of circles.  And when you’ve seen one circle, well…they all blur into one massive blob. They become like white noise.

If you’re trying to make an impact, looking for connections, or just trying to be seen, then you don’t want to be the white noise.

Be unique you

If you want to be found, then you kind of have to let your INNER WALDO shine. 

 

Not that it’s easy. I struggle with filling out those short bios.  Here’s the latest author bio I’ve written.

Coleen Patrick grew up in New Jersey, Virginia, Michigan, Louisiana, and Indiana. Always being the new kid, she learned that books and friends are precious—and dessert. She never met a dessert she didn’t like (except for flan). 

When she’s not writing, reading (or avoiding flan), she enjoys TV, arts and crafts, quoting movies, and trying to take cool photos.

She lives in Virginia with her husband and two kids.

 

Now this is short, but it seemed to take me forever. Because I wanted to be me (well me, in a few sentences), but at the same time it was cringing to be real.

It’s not easy to allow a part of yourself to be vulnerable. In this particular case, I was afraid to be a little funny. Except funny is important to me.

So how can you get started telling a little about yourself?

It might help to ask yourself some questions:

 What do I like best about myself?  What are my talents, interests?  What do I believe in? What would my perfect day look like? What would  I do if I had unlimited time or energy?

Find a way to be true to yourself.

Because somewhere out there, whether it’s a university, an employer, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, a bookshelf…someone is looking for YOU.

Why not make it easy for them to see you?

 

Do you have any advice on how to sum up you?  What would you do if you had unlimited energy?

Have a spectacular week!

Coleen Patrick

 

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link love

Stop by and say HI to Patricia Tilton at Children’s Books Heal.  I think book reviews are VERY hard to write, but Patricia does an amazing job!

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Surface Chic vs. Soul Deep: The Beauty of a Woman Blogfest

Posted by on Feb 21, 2013 in Inspiration | 86 comments

boaw-2013

 

It’s time for August McLaughlin’s second Beauty of a Woman blogfest!

In case you missed it last year, it’s an event designed to celebrate beauty, however you define it.

I like to think of beauty as something sparkly within us, an inner beauty kind of thing.

But we live in a society where the media often portrays beauty as a surface thing, something based on a scientific balance of pleasing eye symmetries, body measurement ratios, color palettes  and potions.  Anything that doesn’t fit into that is ignored, discarded or carefully airbrushed into compliance.

Even if you don’t subscribe to that, it’s hard to argue that appearance doesn’t matter.

I watched a social experiment on TV a couple of weeks ago. Katie Couric sent a woman out on the street to ask for directions. The first time she went out, she was in full makeup and all dressed up.

 

beauty skin deep

This beauty had no problem getting where she needed to go.

 

She received a lot of attention. One passerby even said, I’m buying whatever you’re selling.

Then, the same woman went out a second time to ask for directions. Only this time, she dressed down in comfy clothes, without makeup.

 

attitude

This beauty didn’t get very far.

 

She didn’t get much help. In fact, she was mostly ignored.

So if surface chic gets immediate acceptance and preferential treatment, how do you NOT obsess over looks? How do you reconcile the inner definition of beauty with the outer standard?

I’m not sure. But I do think it’s important to take care of the inner beauty–our attitude, emotions, feelings, and spirituality.  Make time for a little heart and soul primping.

 

inner beauty quotes

 

Because what we focus on grows.

What do you think?

Be sure to check out more BOAW blogfest posts this Friday, February 22nd, at August’s site (and if you haven’t yet, be sure to check out August’s debut thriller, In Her Shadow).

All participants and commenters will be entered into the prize drawing to win win a Kindle Fire or equivalent Amazon gift card. The more blogs you visit, the greater your chances become.

Have a happy weekend!

Coleen Patrick

 **If you enjoyed this post, you can subscribe to my mailing list to receive my new posts straight to your inbox.  Just add your email in the space at the top of the right sidebar under my photo.

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Jump at the Sun and Reach for the (Pie in the) Sky

Posted by on Nov 26, 2012 in Inspiration, Photography, Travel | 70 comments

zora neale hurston inspiration

 

For the most part, I am a feet-on-the-ground and Thanksgiving-at-home kind of girl, but I have to admit that opportunities can arise that call for some “jumping at the sun” time.

 

 

stretching comfort zone

This is a little too close to the sun if you ask me.

That’s some of my family at the Grand Canyon.  We broke from our routines and typical Thanksgiving traditions and flew with my husband’s family to Las Vegas.

From there we took a day trip to the canyon.

 

jump for joy vacation

 Jumping at the sun.

uplifting moment

 

We all had a fun, and very uplifting time.

 

vegas flight linez

Expanding comfort zones on the Las Vegas zip line.

 

Yeah, that’s me up there.  Totally exhilarating.

Okay, so I have to admit that as I stepped on that platform, I considered the expertise of the kids trussing me up like a turkey and hooking me to that line, but I put that fear aside.  And I’d do it again.

Comfort zone . . . what’s that?  Waistbands weren’t the only things stretched this Thanksgiving holiday.

Although there was plenty of that too.

las vegas skylofts

Finding pie in the sky is a tasty bonus.

 

Okay so I missed my usual Thanksgiving festivities like the parade and my mom’s turnip mashed potatoes.  And leaping from a platform that’s almost 7o feet in the air?  Well, that was a stretch for me (if you don’t believe me, check out my post on flying).

But, new experiences offer growth, confidence and in the case of a writer, research!  Plus, new stuff can offer a deeper appreciation for your regular routine and traditions.

Of course, some new things aren’t difficult at all . . .

vegas luxury

That’s a TV and a bath tub.  Together.  What?

I hope you get the chance to try something new and awesome this week!

 

karen ravn motivation

 

What new opportunities are within your reach?  Do you struggle with stretching your comfort zone?  Have you ever been to the Grand Canyon, or on a zip line?  

Tell me, I love it when you comment!

Have a great week!

Coleen Patrick

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NaNoWriMo Inspiration: Life is for Enjoying

Posted by on Nov 5, 2012 in Inspiration, Writing | 60 comments

 

enjoy the little things

 

It’s National Novel Writing Month and I’m participating again.  It’s so exciting starting a brand new project.

Although, I have to admit, I’ve never juggled this many writing projects at one time.  I’m thinking about buying brand new outfits–one for each story.  Then I could just change wardrobe when I open a different Word document (I assume my brain will make the transition as well).

Totally makes sense, right?

Even without the new outfits, I’m having fun.  This NaNoWriMo quote sums it up for me:

 

“Thirty days and nights of literary abandon”

national novel writing month

November 1st-30th

Literary abandon.  For me that means locking my inner editor in the tool shed outside–and really enjoying the fun of just making something up.

Last year I blogged about my NaNoWriMo inspiration–about how my brother inspired me to not only pursue my writing, but really enjoy my life.  The information still applies. :)  So here’s that post.

Life is for Enjoying

I first heard about NaNoWriMo five years ago, and used the general principles to write my first middle grade story.  I’d been filling notebooks with stories for years, but I did it strictly for the fun of it.  But I wanted to do more, and NaNo seemed like the perfect way to launch that spark.  So I started writing with more of a purpose.  The only person I told at the time (other than my husband) was my brother.  I remember him being fascinated by the idea of writing a thousand plus words a day.  He was a creative type–he drew, wrote, cooked (even went to culinary school), so he was the perfect person to understand the need to do a writing marathon in a month.

When I finished that first draft, I put it away to read it at a later date with fresh eyes.  Then, when the time came to go back to it, I decided I didn’t really want to write.  So I went out and got a job, leaving the story behind.

I was afraid.  Afraid to read the rough draft.  Afraid of what it would mean to move forward with my writing.  So I went about life and work without it.

And then a couple of months later, my brother died.

It was sudden–a brain aneurysm.  He was 31.

My brother was so funny.  He did the best Chewbacca impression ever.  He was also incredibly kind.  Maybe it’s the sharp finality of death that smooths away the rough edges of a life, but I truly can’t remember him ever being anything but nice to me.

But I think he was hard on himself.  He had unrealized dreams.  He had physical obstacles, like when he stopped working in restaurants because he couldn’t be on his feet for that many hours (he battled Type 1 diabetes starting from the age of 11).  But I think maybe some of his biggest struggles were more internal.  He got bogged down by dark moments, the kind that show up to shadow your plans and leave you filled with self-doubt and fear.

I know that fear.  I think we all do.

I have one of my brother’s journals.  In it there’s the beginnings of a story, some sketches, and some personal notes he wrote to himself.  One of those notes stays with me:

“Write damn you! Write! Anything, something, Please!”

My first instinct is to feel sad at that personal plea to his self, but then I realize that goes against what he wrote.  Because he didn’t want to get stuck in those paralyzing fears.

In fact the first line in the journal he wrote is: “Life is for enjoying.”

I remember my aunt said at his funeral that she was sad because she couldn’t learn anything more from him and I get that because I would love to know what he would have thought of the LOST finale (our last conversation happened to be about the beginning episodes of season three and the oh so random subject of peanut butter).  I also am curious what his thoughts would be regarding Twitter, the Kindle or his take on the whole new world of publishing.  I would love to hear his opinion on all of this crazy writing stuff I’ve been pursuing. Plus I wonder if he too would be blogging, putting his writing and drawings out there. Tweeting.

 

go for your dreams

My brother Daniel 

But then again I know now, five years later, that I am still learning from him.

I am learning not to be afraid.  I am learning not to worry about regret.

And I am learning to enjoy my life, from random peanut butter moments to marathon writing months.

What are you enjoying this week?  Are you participating in any of the creative marathons this month?  Do you think I need to go shopping to keep my writing projects straight?

Have a great week!

Coleen Patrick

 

 

 

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Literary Hobnobbing: Let Yourself (and Your Dreams) be Seen

Posted by on Oct 15, 2012 in Inspiration, Writing | 52 comments

vulnerability quotation

I used to say I wanted to be a writer when I was a kid.  Out loud.

I even brought my stories to school for my fourth grade teacher to critique.  I proudly wore, then displayed the button she gave me.  I still have it.

put your dreams out there

My kid badge of courage.

 

Sometime after high school, that courage deflated a bit.  I still wrote, but I filed it all away in a large Rubbermaid container.

Part of it was a lack of direction.  Part of it was fear.

edgar allan poe dreams

Because it takes courage to put yourself out there–whether you are making new friends, trying something new, or setting goals toward your dreams.  Maybe you hesitate, fill in all the unknown factors with worry, or maybe you paralyze yourself with fear, imagining your hopes floating unattached, like the fluffy bits from a dandelion.

What happens when you put it all out there?

Sure, there are scary things, like rejection.

But, you also leave room for opportunity.

This past week I got the chance to be a literary judge for a local elementary school’s PTA Reflections program.  They were looking for a writer.  My dandelion bits made their rounds (thank you Andrea!), and they asked me.

The writer.

I don’t think it had anything to do with my once upon a time literary connections.

literary connections

Hobnobbing with Babar in the 80s.

 

The opportunity presented itself because I put myself out there.

put your dreams out there

Ask the barista at Starbucks to write your dream on your next cup.  I dare you. :)

 

It’s not always easy to be open, but YAY for new opportunities!

But wait–what does a children’s literary judge wear?

Something classic, maybe Suess-ian or Potter-esque?

children's literary characters

 

Or, perhaps someone more inspired, more representative of Life and the Great Quest . . .

 

finding courage and wally

I found Waldo.  In my own backyard. 

 

Then I settled down to read the reflections of future artists.  The theme this year is Magic of a Moment.

creativity and courage of childhood

Reading the stories and poems reminded me how much courage abounds in the young.

So, of course, I carefully swept the “magic of a moment” essence off those papers with my unicorn tail hair brush.  That sort of pixie dust is akin to the Fountain of Youth.

So if you’re looking to reclaim some of that gutsy kid attitude, I’ve left some on a dandelion in the Jungle of Nool.

Waldo will lead the way.

What are you mustering courage for this week?  Are you more of a TRUTH, or DARE person?  If you could dress up as any literary character, who would you be?

Let me know in the comments! :)

Coleen Patrick

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Photography Inspiration: The World is Full of Magic

Posted by on Oct 3, 2012 in Inspiration, Photography | 67 comments

 

tel aviv tree israel

Nighttime at Rabin Square

Tel Aviv, Israel

 

I get inspired looking at photography.  However, I wilt at the thought of shutter speeds, exposure, and focal lengths.  I haven’t allocated brain space to understand the technical aspects of photography.  Yet.

For now, I am content to stick with my point and shoot camera and look at other people’s oh so pretty pictures.

My husband took this photograph in Israel–at night.  I love the contrast between the dark sky and the red tree.

It makes me think how often there are times in life when the darkness can seem overwhelming or scary–when our worries cloak hope and possibility.

And this photo reminds me that the color and light are still there . . .

whether or not we see it.

perception quote

Are you handy with a camera?  What does this photograph make you think about?

Have a great week!

Coleen Patrick

 **If you enjoyed this post, you can subscribe to my mailing list to receive my new posts straight to your inbox.  Just add your email in the space at the top of the right sidebar under my photo.

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Finding the Amazing in Your Extreme Routine

Posted by on Sep 24, 2012 in Inspiration, Life | 54 comments

quote adventure habit

 

A couple of weeks ago I went to a concert with my daughter.  We sang, we danced and then came the deep thoughts.

I know, uh oh.  But this time it wasn’t me and my tendency to over think and ruminate.  It was this guy:

 

lead singer the fray

Meet Isaac Slade, lead singer of The Fray, or well, his ear (and his deep thinking brain).

 

So Mr. Deep Thinker mentioned something that got me reaching for my phone to text myself.  He talked about how he used to work in a coffee shop and how his life became a series of two-minute coffee-making intervals.  Every day he did the same things over and over.

Extreme routine.  We all know it.

And routines can be detrimental to not only enjoying life, but inspiration and creativity.  Except he forced himself to look between those espresso and latte intervals.  He searched for meaning and wrote songs about that space, because no matter how extreme our routine, no matter how identical each day may seem . . .

Today will never happen again.

You wake up and drink coffee.

Go to work or school.

Shop for groceries.

Hug your loved ones.

Talk to friends.

Watch TV.

Check Facebook.

Exercise.

Maybe it feels a lot like yesterday (and the day before), but it’s TODAY and unless you have a Marty McFly connection, there will never be another today.

Even hugging our loved ones, it can be so easy to forget the significance, the intimacy, the connection.

And I’m inclined to forget about the grocery store.  It might take a little deep thinking to be present there.

 

finding meaning in routine

 

But breathe easy, because it’s a little easier to find the awesome at snack time.

 

enjoy dessert time

So here’s to finding the amazing in every day.

 

break the routine

 

What are you doing to make today AMAZING? 

Tell me, I want to know–even if it doesn’t have anything to do with cookies. :)

Coleen Patrick

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Making Change a Sweet Transformation

Posted by on Sep 19, 2012 in Inspiration, Life | 60 comments

change quotation open mind

 

Two years ago I signed up for weekly emails to train for a 5k.  At the time I was walking 5 miles a day and had just started adding jogging.  I thought it would be motivating, maybe even fun to collect 5k race t-shirts.

Of course, life had other plans and before I could even get a second 5k training email, I was at the doctor for neck pain.  I thought it was just a pinched nerve, but it wasn’t.  My doctor sent me for x-rays and physical therapy, but more symptoms arrived that landed me in a neurologist’s office.

Then came MRIs, a spinal tap and several other poking and prodding sorts of tests.  Life became a series of NEW things, including conversations about possible diseases you never think could be in your future, but were now a MAYBE.

All I wanted was a stupid 5k race t-shirt.

Forget the shirt, I just wanted my OLD things back.

The thing is, I really can’t go back.  I’ve gotten some answers.  One of which is something called small fiber neuropathy, aka the foot and hand terrorist that turns my nerves into zombies (they’re dead, but they can still wreak havoc).  Oh and it’s “idiopathic” which means of course, no one knows why I have it.  Not even Google knows (and we are very close, I’m expecting my internet medical degree in the mail any day now).

All this time I’ve been waiting for answers, but it was just this last week that I realized I’d been under the assumption that once I had the answer I would also have the solution.  But I don’t, not the kind that would make the nerve damage and whatever is causing it, to go away.

It was another reminder that we don’t always get the answers we want, or even answers at all in life.   So yea, it’s my new thing.  Maybe the old things were better.  Maybe.  But this is what I’m moving into my future with, so I have to deal.

And guess what?  I don’t think that 5k t-shirt is so stupid.  I still want it.  Yes, there is an inclination to just forget about it, even forget about the exercise I am still attempting to do (no matter how lame the old me might think it to be).

Except I’m still here and to me that means no giving up allowed.

So how does one go about moving forward after suck-tastic change?

Well, I’m all about baby steps.  You can still cover the distance that way.

And gratitude helps, but don’t beat yourself up by playing the Olympic pain games.  You know, the ones that make you feel like you can’t be mad or sad because someone else’s life sucks more than yours.

Above all, try to be kind to yourself!

Which brings me to the greeting family and friends have been giving each other the last couple of days:  “Have a SWEET new year.”  This week began the Jewish new year.  Like the new year in January, it is a time to take stock of the previous year.  It’s an opportunity for change, renewal and spiritual transformation.

 

rosh hashanah sweet new year

The new year challah is round to symbolize the cycle of the year, the circle of life and the opportunity for spiritual transformation.

 

You see that honey in the background of the photo?  Apples and challah bits got a good dunking in the sweet stuff.  My daughter even doused her corn kugel (pudding) with honey.

A little sweet can go a long way.  Even just the idea of it offers up HOPE.

Like imagining a future post with me in a 5k t-shirt. :)

So be sweet to yourself.

Or focus on the new things that are awesome.  For me that’s thinking about publishing my first book or seeing the Grand Canyon with my husband and kids in a couple of months.

With dangling carrots like those it’s easier to maintain some forward motion.

So, whatever changes you are in the middle of, I wish you a sweet transformation!

How do you deal with change?  What are the dangling carrots that keep you going?

I love it when you comment!

Coleen Patrick

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