Creative Seeds: The Stuff That Makes Me Curious

office space inspiration

 This is my office. The clean side. 

 Thank you to my friend Karen McFarland for tagging me in her post about Inspiring Spaces!

So, I write in my office. My office has books, pictures, quotes, and so many writing utensils you might believe I’m preparing for some kind of apocalypse. Well, the kind of apocalypse where one is not SO preoccupied with survival that they may like to sit and write, or doodle, for a bit. (Perhaps, a creative apocalypse?)

Oh and there’s some ladybug stuff in my office. Because ladybugs inspire me too.

But then there’s the creative inspiration outside of the office.

The stuff that makes me curious.

creative seed grows tree quote

A tree grows in Vermont.

 

And maybe plants a creative seed.

Tulip Poplar Monticello_opt

 

Centuries old Tulip Poplar log on Saunders-Monticello Trail in Charlottesville, VA

 

I love the kind of curiosity that leads to the funny

poop curiosity appalachian trail _opt

That’s dear hub checking out the poop on the Sawmill Run portion of the Appalachian Trail

 

I told him it was poop (aka wild animal scat) but he didn’t believe me. 🙂

 But I understand wanting to take a closer look at nature.

bee yellow flower_opt

An Appalachian Trail bee

 

praying mantis on porch

A praying mantis on my porch

 

Oh and I got a curious kick out of the kids at the park who were fascinated by my hub The Fisherman

fishing curiosity_opt

They had A LOT of questions about fishing.

 

Oh and there was some brain sprouting at my son’s school.

It was Family Weekend and I attended a geology class and while I’m sure that the subject is fascinating I couldn’t get over how note taking has changed in twenty years.

college classroom_opt

There were more electronics than paper and pen. Trees will be happy, but how will people survive the creative apocalypse?

 

Family. I find a lot of inspiration with my family.

mom son and fro yo

And sometimes in a little Fro Yo. Why not?

 

What’s inspiring your work this week?

Happy Monday!

Strength: It’s In There

strength and sprit

finish strong

finish strong

strength of spirit

jump into ocean spirit

spirit determination run

Strength. It’s in there.

 

Family. Friends. The pretty cool inspiration in the world around me. Coffee. 🙂 These are just a few of the things that keep me going strong.

How do you tap into your inner strength? 

 Happy Monday!

 

 

 

Guat’s up? Building a Library, Friendship, & Community

MLWGS guatemala

 

Today’s post is brought to you by my son and his Relevance Rising seminar classmates.

For the past year they’ve been raising money and awareness towards their international service project Biblioteca Comunitaria Tzununa in Guatemala.

And last month they traveled there to lend a hand.

 

guatemala volcano

Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

 

Fruits of labor

Santa Catarina

 

Panajachel Guatemala

Panajachel Nature Reserve

 

tzununa lake atitlan dock

Boat ride from Panajachel to Tzununa

Lake Atitlan

 

tzununa guatemala journey

The path to Tzununa

 

clearing tzununa library site

Clearing rocks and weeds for the site of the future Tzununa library.

 

guatemala library site

tzununa children guatemalaTzununa village children

 

 

These last two pictures were captured by the children–they loved playing with my son’s camera. 🙂

 

Tzununa school

relevance rising MLWGS

 

If you’d like to read some more words from the students, check out their Tumblr page HERE.

 

What’s inspiring you this week?

Happy Monday!

On Crushes, Rejection, and Daring Greatly

 vulnerability_opt

Last week one of my kids asked me how they could get the courage to talk to someone they have a crush on.

Now I only have one high school Crush Story where I exhibited bravery. It was at a high school graduation party and I approached the boy I’d been crushing on for two years and asked him to dance.

He said no.

On the surface, it’s not such a great story.

Except for the part where I actually asked the boy I’d been crushing on to dance.

That was huge. Major bravery. And yeah, while I know all my kid wants right now is for this other kid to like them back, there is value in vulnerability.

Being vulnerable is how we open ourselves to the good stuff.

Okay so the good stuff doesn’t always show up, and risking emotional exposure can be terrifying. It’s not easy to be ALL IN.

But I know that the times I’ve risked rejection, disappointment, and embarrassment, it’s because I’ve been listening to my heart. Being me. And I don’t know, my arms get tired holding up those walls of protection.

Sure, there are days (lots of them) when all I want to do is hide, but eventually what I end up wanting to remember, is that it’s not the win or the loss that counts, but how we listen to our hearts, and allow ourselves the opportunity for joy.

 Roosevelt daring greatly_opt

 

How do you muster courage? Do you have any crush advice?

HAPPY MONDAY. 🙂

 

 

Fear Less: Ten Things You Can Control Today (Plus, Some Flying Aversion Therapy)

 

I am not fearless.

But I’d love to fear less. I dream of the day I can hang out–anxiety free– in a tiny (locked) airplane bathroom, buffeted by turbulence, while holding a tarantula.

Um, okay, not really.

One of my biggest fears is flyingbut I don’t have to deal with that regularly. However, I can brew up a complex worry and fear stew made up of poisonous, self-defeating thoughts at any moment. Last week, when I was sick, drifting in and out of sleep on the couch, I managed to criticize myself for my lack of productivity. And more.

Turns out there’s no need for me to fear criticism from others (although that happens too), because I know all my insecurities and secrets. I have the ability to obliterate my self-esteem all on my own. Some days I am my own worst enemy.

But I understand WHY I sometimes make these noxious fear stews.

Control. I’m pretty sure ALL of my fears are based on my control freakery.

I had really no control over the dizzy spells and nausea, much the same way I can’t do anything to stop anyone else’s thoughts, judgments, or words (oh, but sometimes I try via self-editing–essentially censoring ME).

 

 

I also have no idea how to fly a plane (and no matter how many times my husband the engineer explains the Bernoulli effect I still tend to see aviation science as pure luck.

And there was apparently no control to be had over the door handle mechanism breaking in a JC Penney fitting room last month. However I could’ve taken a moment to breathe before panicking and dropping to my knees and shimmying under the small gap at the bottom of the door.

Yeah, I haven’t figured out how to deal with my fears, not all the way. Like flying, I take this fear thing one trip (and one Army crawl under a dressing room door) at a time.

But recently I tried something that might be considered fear aversion therapy. A couple of weeks ago I got up close with those “lucky” flying machines.

 

A lovely, unsuspecting beach in the Caribbean.

 

But this beach (Maho beach) backs up to the airport.

 

Happy pilot waves at beach goers making happy plane associations.

 

Beach goers find a spot on the fence to hang on. Wait…what???

 

Then this happens. 

Jet wash.

Sand pelting.

But wait, there’s more…

 

jet landing maho beach

What’s that coming in over the horizon?

A jet. 

You can’t tell by this photo, but it’s a big one.

And even though I’m scared of flying, I was pretty excited to see a plane landing right above me (it’s that fear/fascination thing). 

Yes, that’s me in the blue pants running away. But hey, I did it!

 

And if you suffer from daily control freakery, here’s a little something that might help. Maybe being a little more mindful of the things we can control, might lessen the load of those we can’t.

 

 

What are your thoughts on fear?

Happy Monday!!

 

Sunset over Maho Beach

 

 

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How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying

road to success lily tomlin quote

 

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 MLWGS

How to Succeed in Business Mr. Bratt MLWGS

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 joy of finishing

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?

 

 

Have a great week!

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Be Yourself: Let Life Tap Its Toes to Your Beat

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.

 

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.

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!

 

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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!

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

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.

 

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.

 

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!

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Photography Inspiration: The World is Full of Magic

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!