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.
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.
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.
I don’t think it had anything to do with my once upon a time literary connections.
Hobnobbing with Babar in the 80s.
The opportunity presented itself because I put myself 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?
Or, perhaps someone more inspired, more representative of Life and the Great Quest . . .
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.
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!
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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!
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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:
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.
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.
But breathe easy, because it’s a little easier to find the awesome at snack time.
So here’s to finding the amazing in every day.
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.
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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.
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!
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 this:
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.
Can you find Waldo in there?
(And this is the same brain I was planning on using to write my 100th post masterpiece.)
Anyway, I cut the paper into strips and then glued them down.
Until I ended up with this, the finished project:
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.
It does not take much strength to do things, but it requires a great deal of strength to decide what to do.
― Elbert Hubbard
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.
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. Wear your shoes or plant something in them?
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?
If only it were this easy.
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.
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.
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.
I want freedom for the full expression of my personality.
― Mahatma Gandhi
The First Amendment Monument in Charlottesville, Virginia
What would you write on this monument?
Me? I got creative and wrote my name.
And then, “G + Ice Cream.”
No surprise that G wrote about troll faces.
And continuing the theme of relaying the obvious, I wrote:
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.
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.
Maybe I color my hair blue, paint, or do DIY projects. I have also been known to sew.
Even my lunch tells a story about me and what I want for myself.
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.
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!
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The Olympics–they bring to mind big dreams, athletes making history and well, spa treatments and fancy chocolates.
At least it did this weekend. My husband and I stayed at a hotel that offered that pretty chocolate platter and resort credit every time the U.S. won gold. I was already having fun watching gymnastics, swimming and track and field, but eight gold medals during our stay equaled not only patriotic excitement but free stuff, like a spa pedicure:
Thanks also to Missy Franklin and Katie Ladecky!
Spa services aside, I’ve always found the Olympics exciting, inspiring and highly motivating. When I was a teenager, I wrote in my diary that I was going to find a way to participate in the 24th Olympiad after watching the Los Angeles games.
Synchronized swimming was going to be my sport.
Now I got an A in swimming during my freshman year of high school, but I’d never, ever tried synchronized swimming, let alone played any sport in tandem (except maybe some Marco Polo bobbing). And while I loved gymnastics (and could rock the elementary round off dismount off the balance beam), I was not even remotely equipped for what was essentially a gymnastics floor program underwater.
I guess watching those Olympics, I found myself connected to that determination I saw in the athletes and I became motivated to do something. I wanted to experience that sense of accomplishment too.
But instead of funneling that motivation into one of my own dreams (I was very specific about my writing dreams according to my diary), I picked something random to shoot for.
It was a misguided attempt. One I’m not entirely sure about. I don’t think it was due to fear (that would come later). It was probably more about not knowing what to do about them (other than send out poetry to Seventeen magazine). Or maybe my dreams were so embedded, so much a part of me, that I almost forgot about them as a goal to practice and plan for.
I’m sick of following my dreams. I’m just going to ask them where they’re going and hook up with them later.
~ Mitch Hedberg
So my writing dreams mostly faded into the background of high school and college–and if you believe my diary, BOYS.
Although it’s interesting to note now that I continued to fill journals and write stories (filing them away in a big Rubbermaid container). I worked at libraries and I took writing classes in college, grad school and at night when my kids were younger.
Writing stayed close whether or not I acknowledged it.
Synchronized swimming on the other hand, became just an odd and out-of-place wish sitting in one of my diaries.
I did however win a gold (ish) medal in 2007. Not exactly the Olympics–for these purposes, let’s call it the Royal Caribbean games.
I placed first in a ship wide dart competition.
No cool team uniforms. I think it was against international maritime law or something.
For whatever reason, dreams fade or get pushed aside for other things. Sometimes we pick something else because it’s expected, or it’s easier or maybe more acceptable.
But it’s important to remember that life happens whether or not you plan.
Planning helps, because motivation can fade.
People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.
I love hearing stories about people realizing their dreams–or accomplishing another step toward them. It’s exciting and inspiring, and everywhere, not only at the Olympics. I’ve seen that excitement in my kids’ faces and heard it in my sister’s voice each time she moves closer to her nursing degree. Finding inspiration, whatever gets you fired up, is a significant part of going for your own dreams.
It’s a reminder that if you put in A LOT of hard work toward a goal, accomplishment is not only possible, but EXHILARATING.
Of course, baby steps are fine. Just be sure to name your goal and put on your work clothes.
“Motivation is when your dreams put on work clothes.”
Then go after the dreams in your mind and your heart (fancy chocolates optional).
I’m going out there to try to accomplish the things that I have in my mind and in my heart.
Do you have Olympic-sized dreams in your heart? What training are you doing to get closer to them?
Let me know in the comments, I love it when you share!
And if you enjoyed this post, you can subscribe to my mailing list to receive an update straight to your inbox whenever I publish a new one. Just add your email in the space at the top of the right sidebar under my phot0.
Have a great week.
Well, I’m back. Mostly. Maybe not so much mentally (in fact I just asked my husband: What’s the word for when you are here physically but not ____?) Yea, my head still feels a bit stuffed with the cottony bits of jet lag.
6,000 miles + 25 hours of travel time + 7 hour time difference = very little sleep.
Our trip had high points and low points. It was both relaxing (no dinner making! the beach!) and exhausting (plane delays that added up to a 41 hour travel time to get to Israel, coupled with my insane flying jitters). But a bonus of coming back from vacation? (Other than my own, comfy bed.) I am ready to get back to work. I missed writing, reading blog posts and checking in on Twitter and Facebook.
And I hope to jump right back in as soon as possible. That is once I get myself out from under the mail pile (virtual and actual). It’s quite the shock going from thinking, Hmm, I wonder where we should go for dinner tonight? –to bill paying, grocery shopping, laundry and an upcoming wisdom tooth extraction (I’m playing the responsible adult to my son’s soon to be drugged state–here’s hoping I get a good night’s sleep–this is my child who once hallucinated after a dose of cough syrup).
Still I have some uplifting thoughts to pick from between the cottony spaces in my brain!
Because I saw some amazing, beautiful and historical sights from Masada, to the Dead Sea.
This is a view of the Dead Sea from atop Masada.
The Dead Sea is 1,388 feet below sea level and is the lowest place on Earth. It is super salty–over 30% salinity. While in the water, I touched my pinkie finger to my tongue–and it was so salty, it stung for a moment. Note: You do not shave before taking a dip in the Dead Sea!!
This is a little embarrassing to admit, but I kind of thought the Dead Sea would look more like a black lake, but as you can see, the color of the water looks more like a view of the Caribbean than some imagined Bubonic plague-like body of water.
Although we all looked scary after applying the Dead Sea mud.
It was messy and smelled a bit like sulfur, but applying the mud was a fun experience. And apparently healing, due to the mineral content.
But by far the coolest part of the Dead Sea experience?
The floating!! It is effortless. Due to the high salt content, you cannot fully submerge in this water. It is denser than my travel bogged mind.
And treading water is unnecessary–the water holds you upright, even when you wade deeper.
So you just kick back and relax, because even at the lowest point on Earth, YOU CANNOT SINK.
“You know when you’re floating on your back in the lake, the water rises and falls against your ears? So that for half a second you can hear everything around you and then for the other half a second everything’s muted? It almost feels like your suspended between two worlds.”
― Tricia Rayburn, Siren
And floating there, in the very warm waters of the Dead Sea, I realized the hopeful lesson in that experience (yes, I was blogging in my head–I couldn’t help it). I thought, how encouraging is to feel that even at the lowest depths, we simply cannot stay at the bottom?
“Still, what I want in my life is to be willing to be dazzled—to cast aside the weight of facts and maybe even to float a little above this difficult world. ”
― Mary Oliver
Days, vacations, life, they do not always go as we planned. But even when we find ourselves sinking to the lowest points, there are moments of hope to be found.
“When the tides of time turn against you,
And the storms of life sink your boat,
Don’t cry and scream and holler,
Just turn on your back and float.”
Here’s to everyone getting some floating time this week!!
Any travel high points or low points you can share? Or jet lag fighting tips for me to file away?
I love it when you share I missed chatting with you while I was gone!
“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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.”
I am with you. Let’s go.
Maybe instead of the flame blowing out, it lights your way.
What signs have offered you hope?