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.

 

**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.

 

Read More

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

 **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.

Read More

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

 

 **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.

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!

Read More

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.

Read More

Photography Inspiration: The World is Full of Magic

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

tree rabin square_opt

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.

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

Have a great week!

Read More

Chasing Inspiration with Scissors

Posted by on Sep 10, 2012 in Inspiration | 75 comments

 

 jack london quote inspiration_opt

Or go after it with scissors, shredder and glue.

That was me yesterday when it came time to write what is my 100th post.  I had ideas, a few pages of notes and pictures, but I think I psyched myself out over the idea that I needed some kind of sparkly masterpiece.

Worse I knew that without a solid plan, I would be spending hours working on a post that I wasn’t even sure would turn out the way I intended.

So I scrapped it all and decided to work on a craft project. :)

I have a few bulletin boards that I wanted to change in order to use them for inspirational story boards (as much as I LOVE Pinterest, I can’t be online while I’m writing).

So I started with a plain cork board.  Then I picked out some paper.

I used leftover scrapbook paper, books with torn pages and a couple of greeting cards.  I decided on a neutral color scheme and picked pages that were black, white or gray.

Then it was time to cut the paper into strips.  I have a Scrapbook paper-cutter, but suddenly I had a light bulb moment.

Well, a light bulb on its last filament moment, because I tried my office paper shredder, thinking I would have a pile of strips ready to lay on the cork board.

I forget about the whole cross shredder thing.

 Woops.

(And this is the same brain I was planning on using to write my 100th post masterpiece.)

 picasso quote creation_opt

 

Anyway, I cut the paper again, this time into strips and then glued them down.

 Until I ended up with this, the finished project:

 bulletin board paper strips_opt

 All ready for tacking on inspiring things–I started with a heart.

 

Do you like to play with scissors and glue?  What are your creative outlets?  

I love it when you comment!

Have a GREAT week.

 

 

 

Read More

There is No One Right Answer, but Decision Determines Everything

Posted by on Aug 27, 2012 in Inspiration, Life | 70 comments

 

It does not take much strength to do things, but it requires a great deal of strength to decide what to do.
― Elbert Hubbard

decision boggle _opt

It’s called BOGGLE for a reason.

 

Have you ever played the game WOULD YOU RATHER?

Would you rather drive a moped across a tight rope OR go over Niagara Falls in a barrel?

Would you rather drink black coffee OR eat dry cereal?

It’s almost always funny or absurd scenarios, for which there is no right answer.

Because it’s just a game.  Real life however, requires decisions all the time. Some of course, require little effort.

Paper or plastic?  Do you want butter on your popcorn? Would you like to try the smoothie of the week?

But some decisions feel HUGE and require research and thought.

 brochures mail college decisions_opt

Some of the mail my kids have been getting from colleges. 

 

It’s easy to feel buried under the brochures of possibilities and decisions.  I feel like that when it comes to my writing–the decisions that need to be made in editing and publishing.

Or what about the tricky decisions that impact family or friends?  Or decisions about health?

Recently I’ve been grappling with the issue of a new medication.  Do I want to deal with the crappy side effects or the crappy symptoms for which I’m on it in the first place?

It feels like someone is asking me if I want to eat squid or  snails.

Honestly, I don’t want to eat either.

 

 Decisions, decisions. 

When it comes to decision-making, we hear go with your gut, but then are advised to be careful of emotion.  Some say take your time and others say make the leap.  We need to check our history, but stay in the present and oh wait, don’t forget the future!

What do you do?

 

I guess it’s a little of everything–our gut, our emotion, revisiting the past, thinking it through (a pros and cons list can help here) and even taking the leap, because eventually we have to decide.

 

It doesn’t matter which side of the fence you get off on sometimes. What matters most is getting off. You cannot make progress without making decisions.

~Jim Rohn

Progress is good  (even baby steps).  

But, okay, not ALL decision-making turns out stellar.  Like the time my husband decided, yes, he DID want to try the smoothie of the week.  The flavor?  Peanut butter and jelly.

My hubby now has strong opinions about PB & J belonging between two slices of bread.

Progress, right?

bad decisions funny story

How do you make decisions?  Playing the game–if you had to choose, would you rather be PARANOID for the rest of your life or NAIVE?

I love it when you comment!

Have a GREAT week.

**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.

Read More

The Freedom to Express Our Frolicking Energy

Posted by on Aug 13, 2012 in Inspiration | 60 comments

 

I want freedom for the full expression of my personality.

― Mahatma Gandhi

first amendment freedom of expression wall_opt

The First Amendment Monument in Charlottesville, Virginia

 

What would you write on this monument?

Me?  I got creative and wrote my name.

And continuing the theme of relaying the obvious, I wrote:

 freedom slate monument_opt

 

Maybe it wasn’t as colorful (or cathartic) as the citizen who wrote RYAN IS A TOOL, but that’s okay.  The 108 feet of slate writing space exists to express our views on well, whatever.

 

I may not agree with you, but I will defend to the death your right to make an ass of yourself.

― Oscar Wilde

 

 Because freedom of expression is one of our rights in America.

art on first amendment monument_opt

This one makes me smile.

 

Whether we doodle on slate, express our political or religious views or write best-selling books, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall said that part of the significance of our freedom of expression is to “assure self-fulfillment for each individual.”

Expression = Self-fulfillment

Maybe not right away, but having the ability to express yourself can help you find purpose, passion and meaning in your life.  And there are so many ways to do it.

For example,I express myself in this blog, in my fiction writing and by wearing sparkly shoes.

 converse sequin

 

Maybe I color my hair blue, paint, or do DIY projects. .

 

 

Even my lunch tells a story about me and what I want for myself.

grilled tofu salad_opt

This is a very delicious grilled tofu salad. Not that I’m trying to convince anyone (because of freedom and all that).

 

Plus I like to bake and experiment with recipes.  I planned on showing you a picture of the gluten-free spice cupcakes I made for this weekend.  But sadly, they are all gone.

 

empty platter_opt

 

But cupcake or no cupcake, every day is another opportunity to show the world an expression that is uniquely our own.  Because each of us have a JOY looking for a voice.

 

You are joy, looking for a way to express.  

It’s not just that your purpose is joy, it is that you are joy. You are love and joy and freedom and clarity expressing. Energy-frolicking and eager.

That’s who you are.

― Esther Hicks

 

So, here’s to FROLICKING ENERGY and the unfettered freedom to find meaning.

What would you write on the Freedom of Expression monument?  How do you express yourself?  

I love it when you comment :)

Have an awesome week!

Read More

Looking for Signs of Life vs. Road Kill Theory

Posted by on May 29, 2012 in Inspiration | 64 comments

 

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” 
―Albert Einstein

Back in college I met a guy who I ended up talking to for hours on the subject of what happens after you die.  I have no idea how we got on the subject.  Sure I always enjoyed a good DMC (deep meaningful conversation), but I’m sure death and the afterlife were not typically on my rotating list of topics.

But he may have been cute, so there was that.

Anyway, his arguments got me curious.  He insisted that the end of life was akin to a flame blowing out, that once we die we no longer exist in any form.

And he believed that there was no use assigning any true meaning to signs (miracles) because in the end we were all “road kill.”

Whack. Game over.

I’m thinking he probably did not go on to make a career writing greeting cards.

Me?  I was adamant that there’s more to the afterlife then nothing.  Where was the hope?  It was just too depressing for me to think otherwise.

And roadkill?  On some level, I think animals must possess a spark of soul. Have you ever looked into the eyes of a cat? It’s like thousands of years of wisdom wrapped into a fur covered hipster attitude.

Cattitude Charlie the cat _opt

Meet my feline nephew Charlie.  He’s seen it all I’m sure.

 

But everything I knew at the point of that argument was from what I learned when I was a kid.  Heaven was firmly centered in a cloud filled land of angels and quite possibly a Willy Wonka factory (um, it was called everlasting Gobstopper, right?).

Part of those images in my head were drawn from Sunday school, but some I think I got from the movie The Blue Bird, with Shirley Temple.

heaven and signs of life

 In this movie, there was a “Before Life” scene where children danced bare footed while waiting to be born.

 

For a kid, eating candy and not having to wear shoes were an easy sell, but even as a teenager I wanted to believe in something positive, something to look forward to. Road kill theory did not work for me.

Instead when I was lost in school, my relationships and life in general, I relied on hope, faith and occasionally the Magic 8 ball. And I believed in the power of signs.

power of signs ireland _opt

 Signs guide us, point us in the right direction.

 

And signs took on a whole new meaning a few years ago when my brother died.  Mostly because I struggled with how he once fit in my life and how he still could.

And this is where faith and hope and signs came into play.  I’ve heard many stories of how people see signs that remind them that their loved ones still play a role in their life–dimes, feathers, music, animals.  But no matter what it is that gets us to remember, it’s the power behind it that puts hope back in our grasp.

Because sometimes in this shoe wearing place called Earth, we need a little something tangible.

For me that was the day of my brother’s funeral.  A few hours before the service, I was in a hotel room, on the third floor, with no windows that could open–and there was a ladybug in the room with me.

 

 ladybug sign_opt

One of my nephews with the ladybugs that like to follow us around.

 

I can’t remember if I thought too much about it at the time. Other than it was a little strange to see the ladybug there.

But since then, I’ve noticed more ladybugs. Sometimes I see them where they should be, and sometimes it feels far from coincidental. Like the time I went to visit one of my sisters and we were drinking coffee outside of a busy shopping center and a ladybug landed right between us, next to the brownie we were sharing.

Sure there may be other explanations for this. Maybe ladybugs love chocolate.  Maybe I see them because in some way I am looking for them.

Or maybe it’s more.  Like when the Elton John song Daniel comes on the radio, I feel like he is with me. Mostly it’s because that’s his name, but also because my sisters and I once joked with him that we were going to sing that song for him. It was a humorous threat—something he got very used to growing up with 3 sisters.

 

annoying sisters dan little brother_opt

 Annoying older sisters dressing their little brother like a doll.

So I like to hold onto the ladybug–and anything that reminds me of my brother–as a sign.  Even though I carry my memories of him with me, it feels like a reminder that on some level he is still here, that there is more to our existence.

signs of life

 

More than just Wile E. Coyote flattened on the ground after an incident with an Acme Anvil, right?

Because there will be days when we question our work, our relationships–the overall meaning of our lives.  It might help to have a little sign.

 

“There are days when I think I don’t believe anymore. When I think I’ve grown too old for miracles. And that’s right when another seems to happen.”

~Dana Reinhardt, The Summer I Learned to Fly

 

And signs have the power to remind us to keep moving forward–and that we are not alone.

 

“Life loves to be taken by the lapel and told:  “I am with you kid.  Let’s go.” 

~Maya Angelou

I am with you.  Let’s go.  

Maybe instead of the flame blowing out, it lights your way.

 

What signs have offered you hope?  

Read More

Looking for a Sign That He Loves You

Posted by on Apr 26, 2012 in Inspiration | 40 comments

 

Have you ever found yourself looking for a sign?

 

Sometimes we look for signs anywhere– horoscopes, the weather, dreams.  When I was younger I remember consulting the Magic 8 ball when it came to matters of boys great import.

Did you know that Google is also on that list?  I realized that last week when I looked at the list of search engine words that led internet surfers to my site.

High on that list was one of the great philosophical questions, Where’s Waldo? (because of this post), but a very close second was Liam Payne, member of the crazy popular British boy band One Direction.  Thanks to my YA reader friend Lydia, fans have been stopping by after Google searching for All Things Liam.

 

sign one direction

 

But by far the most interesting search phrase that landed one of those fans on my blog (and got me seeing Google as this generation’s Magic 8 ball), was this:

 

A sign that Liam Payne loves me.

 

Now I don’t believe I have any sort of psychic powers, BUT I do believe in the power of hope.

Hope got me through many crushes in high school.

Oh and believe me, I looked for signs that me and my crush were meant to be EVERYWHERE.

Like seeing his initials.

Or looking at the clock just when it showed his birthday.

Or turning on the car to hear his song on the radio.

My BF and I even hung out outside of Chrysler Hall simply because our boy band crush sang there once upon a time.  I think we thought we could still breathe some of his air there.

Hope had us open for any sort of sign.

So I get the massive internet searches.  And who knows?  Maybe landing here on my blog is all kinds of meant to be–and I don’t want to disappoint.

In fact I love to make people smile, so I went on a search of all the things Google listed that people were looking for here (but couldn’t find).

liam payne freckle

Is that Liam’s mole/freckle?

 

 

liam payne lips

Are these the lovely teeth you were looking for?

 

liam payne feet

 And the shoes only Liam could fill?

 

liam payne hat

Oh and is this the hat you were looking for???

 

 

Nowadays I might see signs of love a little differently (like bringing me a cup of tea or washing the dishes), but my favorite part of looking for a sign?

Being open to hope.

 

Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at it destination full of hope.

~Maya Angelou

 

When it comes to love, have you ever looked for signs?

Read More
%d bloggers like this: