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Hibernation and Boosts

1 Apr

You know, when bears awake from hibernation it takes them a minute to get situated. I mean they just don’t jump out of their cave and be like Yogi where are you at?! They have a sleepwalking period where they kind of ease out of it.

And this is where I’ve been … hibernating writer hiatus. I hadn’t planned it of course, I hadn’t planned any of them. Certain life events hit you harder than others and it takes you a minute to rebound from certain setbacks or bouts of depression. Just they way it is sometimes.

But life keeps moving even if you’re standing still.

After catching my breath, and as I was revving up to make my comeback, this unexpected series of unfortunate life events of blockbuster proportions landed on us all and we found ourselves in different roles with added workloads and no MacGyver-like gadgets to help save the day.

And I was okay. I mean I had concerns, just like everyone else. But because of the rough patch, a different perspective provides the specs for me on this. The Resilience. I was able to find that special place when community connection seemed to have been put on pause.

There’s comfort in knowing that many selfless people like doctors, nurses, janitors, educators, farm workers, grocery clerks and other community members stepped up to bat for a lot of people. Humanity found in the little crevasses of the cities brings hope to a profoundly troubled time, like when you hear of the college student down the street buying groceries for the elderly lady in the pink apartment building, or the teachers in a small caravan of cars driving through the neighborhood to say hello to their students, whom they hadn’t seen in a couple weeks, or to the multiple chalk artists taking to sidewalks across town trying to brighten someone’s day, or the Italian restaurant owner 15 minutes away giving away free spaghetti and meatballs with breadsticks because he felt the need of his community when there wasn’t much left at the markets.

It’s the small things that can create cataclysmic shifts. And so I find that practicing gratitude creates the little boosts needed for the big take-off.

Boosts.

That’s where I found myself. Returning to my Word of the Year and finding that I had picked the one that was right for the moment … Boost!

Everyone could use one, especially now. A physiological, psychological, spiritual, and intellectual uplifting And you can always get that from the good spirit of people, the grace they show for others, as well as for themselves, and these you can find in the tiny cracks and crevasses of communities. The feel-good stories that don’t always make the front page, but should definitely highlighted.

So keep your eyes open and when you find the feel-goods share them. Their impact could be what someone needs to come out of hibernation.

Buen Camino my friends!

The Stumbler … That’s Me … But I Laced-Up My Shoes Anyway

1 Jan

A setback is nothing but a comeback in disguise … that gave me a little umph to push it over the hill. Even with a crappy 60 days close to the end of my 365-day tour around the sun  I still managed to have at least one positive moment each month.

It’s difficult to see the positive when the current existence seems so crappy, but in the moments between your breaths you find something that pulls you out. A good-time-noodle-salad moment, an Andy Dufresne moment, a silver-linings playbook moment, a Zen-moment, or a Gatorade-moment.

Looking back on it I was 12 for 12. 12 months 12 new experiences. I was grateful to have tried new adventures. It helped me step out of the box and create new perspectives for growth, change, and hope. But more importantly it didn’t feel forced. It was opportunity. And at the end of it, I was different each time. Not a dramatic shift, because making cake pops for the first time isn’t mind-blowing, but it does give you a better understanding of the show Nailed It and how I too can do that at home.

Trying new adventures created a shift. As I stumbled through life and weaved through the cracks of this cobble-stoned yellow-brick road, which I thought would be smoother, I learned that these new adventures pushed me along the path. Sometimes when you’re at the bottom learning a new skill gives you a sense of pride that’s waning. Now I’m not saying these new adventures were easy and I was picking up all kinds of new skills. Taking a coding class and learning to speak Italian was extremely challenging, still is, but it added stock to my life.

It pushed me to keep taking it one step at a time.

And sometimes that’s what you need because when you feel like you’re failing digging deep helps you stand up again. And what I was reminded of throughout this journey was that I am a Stumbler. And the stumbler doesn’t build her life by being better than everybody else, she does it by being better than she used to be. That’s me.

” … courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm … “

Churchill coined that one and I was glad to have heard it on a podcast because I was beginning to lose my giddy-up.

But I found it before it was too late. I had my Andy Dufresne moment. I found gratitude in new adventures. I hung on by finding gratitude in undiscovered talents. I was able to take a step again because I found gratitude in comeback stories.

So turning the corner before starting the new year was a blessing. I laced-up my running shoes after falling off the hurdle again, and again, and again, which incidentally happened in real life back in my youth, but currently unfolding metaphorically in life now.

But my point? I finished strong both times. Out of breath, with my hands on my head, looking at the skies above and a smile on my face. I reached up with my right hand, and there they were, my Dad and Uncle Erick high-fived me from the heavens on finishing the race.

Thank you Beth, Cayman, and Susie for checking in during the fall.

Happy New Year my friends!

And of course Buen Camino …

My Andy Dufresne Moment

26 Dec

I didn’t think someone from Shawshank Prison would help me turn the corner, but he did.

Andy Dufresne.

“… who crawled through a river of shit and came out clean on the other side …”

Usually a moment triggers a memory and the sadness of missing him becomes so strong that I need a couple of minutes to get myself together. But this time it was different. The emotion was so overwhelming that I stopped in the middle of the track and began to cry.

It came with no warning and I just missed him. Right there on the bridge, after the big hill. I hadn’t sobbed like that since the year he passed away. But it happened and there I was … I couldn’t get a hold of it.

The feeling lasted a while … all month long. Usually sadness hits during Thanksgiving because it’s the holiday I remember my Dad the most. But this episode cast a shadow on the entire month of November, even December. I couldn’t shake it.

Life felt heavier. Things were slipping. The bottom was coming up and I was trying to hang on by looking for gratitude in moments where it was hard to find.

Family life was stressful as people kept revealing who they really were in times of normalcy and crises. But I always knew who they were, I just kept giving them chances. I was all out. Rejections felt uglier, the it’s-not-you-it’s-me letters were no longer coming in, it was just silence, like they weren’t even going to be bothered with notices. I had been moved over to the don’t-even-bother pile, and I was feeling the strain in every capacity, which incidentally increased my stress levels and decreased my tolerance and patience. Parenthood was kicking my ass and the weight of it effecting me. The year was in the homestretch and I was running out of gas.

While a lot of people I knew were busy getting projects, or writing thousands of words for NaNoWriMo, I stopped. It been the longest writing dry spell in 10 years. There were things happening, life was happening. But I stood there thinking about a future that wasn’t here and wondering whether it would ever show up.

And then I had my Andy Dufresne moment and I found my way back …

I had continued going to the track throughout all this, it was my one constant, if anything I’d at least walk in my hidden forest within the city. But that morning for the first time in a while, I picked up the pace. The storm clouds were hanging over head, and I wanted to beat the rain.

It didn’t work. The light mist turned into drizzle, then fat heavy rain drops found their way through the giant pine trees.

The few people walking through the park ran to their cars. But I didn’t.

I kept going, sloshing through mud puddles in the making, keeping pace while my baseball cap dripped with rain and sweatshirt drenched. I ran about three miles, and when I sprinted to my imaginary finish line I looked up to the sky and let the raindrops hit my face. I closed my eyes took a deep breath.

I found my moment.

I used to loathe running when I was a younger, but it’s become necessary to help me move passed all the crap and come out clean on the other side.

Buen Camino, my friends …

Recovery Mode

17 Dec

I knew exactly what he meant … it clicked without having to wait that moment that thoughts need to take in order to register.

It was instant.

I had it.

“We recover the person we were intended to be … ” Russel Brand.

Nuggets of enlightenment just headed my way through the airwaves of a random podcast and knowledge being dropped by an unexpected dude. I’m not a huge fan but I thought Forgetting Sarah Marshall was pretty funny. Other than that I didn’t really  know much. I don’t pay much attention to celebrity gossip. That kind of useless stuff irritates me. So when I heard this life quote I stopped and had to listen to the rest. This was going to be about substance, not fluff.

The topic was addiction but the information was about life.

I was glad to have found it.

I needed that little push.

You see, these multiple sabbaticals during the last couple of months bring about different perspectives on creativity. I mean after a crazy number of rejections in such a short amount of time a moment of unintended pause takes place. Weariness begins to sit heavy on my mind when thinking about pushing forward on this yellow-brick road and wondering about the journey.

But when I wake up in the morning I think … I have another day, another chance. I just have to find strength to push passed the tiredness. Everyone stumbles, Just have to hit that reset button and remember that I woke up with purpose, and not on accident as Mr. Thomas once said. And then I wake up knowing I’ll recover. I’ll recover.

And so remembering that conversation with Brand and his story about the seed stuck with me the entire day. You see, the seed has an intention and destiny to grow into a tree but it may be impeded by constraints or bad circumstances, whatever they may be, preventing it from becoming what it was intended to be … but that doesn’t have to happen to you.

That reminder came at a most needed time.

And so I held onto it and thought I’d spread the information just in case there was someone else out there stuck in a moment they couldn’t get out of … just stuck.

There’s a way to recover.

There’s a way to return to the person we intended to be … one step at a time.

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🙂

 

Buen Camino my friends!

 

 

Mixed Tape Moments

6 Jul

I’m getting the hang of these moments … you know the ones you want to capture … like an awesome mixed tape. I found me some this week, just hanging out with my kids and going on our little day adventures.

I’ve made it a habit to stop time and just appreciate the little moment on the couch during movie night, or reading the newest title from the library, or laying in bed in the dark and just feeling the cool side of the pillow on my face and being thankful for the comfort it brings me.

With everyone I know having so much success in their life, and having all the dots connect, I’ve learned not to pay attention to their race or their place in it. I’m happy for them, but I’ve finally learned that I’m running on a different course, so I shouldn’t feel less because my I’m still walking the trail, while they’re at the finish line. I learned to pick up the moments. And I learned that everyday has some, I just have to remember to catch them. That’s what’s gonna mess me up. Paying attention to others and not catching my own moments can spiral into a crappy day.

But I think I’m getting the hang of it.

Just this week I caught one. Hanging out in the Great Outdoors and I just looked up and caught it. I snapped the shot and thought … yeah … this moment deserves it’s own mixed tape.

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I looked up from the cave and it just stood there.

The possibility.

The twists and turns of the day. The moment where everything can get sidetracked or move a step in the right direction. It stood there. The possibility.

The someday.

That someday was caught, and I caught it. Someday thoughts are what make memorable moments. Someday thoughts are the springboards of dreams. Someday moments light a fire under you so that you can start chasing it, and then it no longer becomes someday because you catch up to it and it becomes today.

The someday I found. I captured it.

I marked it with a picture on my broken down iPhone 0 and remembered. I may not have the house. I may not have the corner office with an assistant outside my door. I may not have pictures posted on a Facebook feed detailing the awesomeness of my universe and all its adventures. But I got the substance of a good life, the kind that deserves a mixed tape.

Buen Camino, my friends …

 

 

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Alternate Universes

7 May

It’s interesting, once you get older you realize the standards you set way back in your younger years may have softened, and sometimes circumstances of life set them in stone. Standards of what kind of life you wanted, what you would tolerate in relationships, what you would do once you had that corner office, what kind of parent you would be, what your Plan A would be, all these expectations of yourself sit on your shoulders.

I thought about all these expectations and standards recently, after hearing an interview with former Duke basketball player Jay Williams. Now I was a big Duke fan and I remember seeing him play ball back in the day, but sort of lost track of him after the NBA and then saw him pop out as a commentator. I didn’t realize what had happened in between.

You see his life didn’t turn out the way he imagined it would, circumstances changed the standards in his life. A motorcycle accident, on a motorcycle he wasn’t supposed to be riding in the first place, changed everything. An alternate future existed. Plan A was no longer in effect and there never was a Plan B. There was no plan for something like this.

But he found one.

It was a long road I imagine, having everything taken away from you. A choice you made contributed to that and now you were faced with picking up your life and starting over again.

In the interview Williams began talking about expectations and life and how angry and embarrassed he was that it had all been taken away. He’s in a better place now and has come to peace with where he is and feels that this was where he’s supposed to because had it not turned out that way, he would have just been another ball player that succumbs to the temptations of most professional players careers.

But what I found amazing was how he changed his perspective on standards. I mean I guess he had no choice, but how is that that you do that? How do you wrap your brain around the fact that you will no longer be able to meet the standards you set for yourself? How do you change the blueprints when the building is already built? People who you thought were your friends abandon you and you found yourself betraying your “I will never allow this to happen to me,” scenario. You fall into the never say never it happened to you club.

Williams talked about all this happening to him and says that he eventually turned the corner. He found acceptance of his new situation through a spiritual journey. He flipped the switch.

Then I wondered, could I do that if I had to?

And then remembered I already had.

You see my future was taken from me, one of my futures and I had to accept something I did not want to because I had no choice. But I wasn’t driving a motorcycle. Just a sports injury that had taken me down my senior year, the year that was supposed to be Big Woman on Campus. I went through this terrible depression at the time. I mean I didn’t even know what it was and I didn’t have a label for it, and no one seemed to understand it, but I felt like the person I was supposed to be was gone. The person I saw myself as, my future, my Plan A was nonexistent. I would have to live by a new set of standards and I didn’t know how to do that. People didn’t seem to understand why I was feeling the way I did. Most of them dismissed me, told me to get over it. But I found it difficult getting over the one outlet that made me feel successful, the one thing that I identified with, the one thing that made me believe in myself, the one outlet where other people saw me the way I saw myself.

It was a long time before I could find the lesson in that one. I don’t think it happened until college and then I found another outlet that made me feel that way I found something intrinsic that helped me flipped the switch. It wasn’t a spiritual journey or relationship that made me turn the corner. It was knowing that so much time had passed and I was still standing, and that somehow on a daily basis I found the 2.0 version of myself.

Time, pain, and humor.

After hearing the Williams interview I was reminded of this struggle and of the standards and of where I thought I would be, and how life was supposed to look. I don’t know if I would have been here at this moment writing this story in the alternate universe, but the experiences along the way made for a roller-coaster journey that I’m still learning from.

Buen Camino my friends.

 

Finding My Storyteller Again.

4 Apr

I’d been inspired to be a better person. I’d been inspired to be a better parent. I’d been inspired to make a difference. Books, movies, documentaries, and shows have all had the power to affect this kind of change. But it’s been a long time since I’ve been inspired to be a better storyteller.

See the last time I felt this way, was when I finished Randy Pausch’s The Last Lecture. That amazing book inspired me to be a better person and  better dreamer. It uncovered the importance of being a good storyteller and passing on those life lessons and anecdotes to the people who mattered most. And of course, it came at the right time … You know, just when I needed it. The universe helping me out, trying to get me on the right track.

That was a long time ago … And then Mitch Albom resurfaced.

You see, I hadn’t felt like a better storyteller in a long time, but this book … this book turned up the gears and found its way onto my path. And it found me just in time.

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The first time I read Mitch Albom, his book Tuesdays with Morrie, changed my trajectory. It helped me look for the lessons and wisdom that were passing me by, helped me listen to the stories and advice that my Dad, my mentor, and other good friends were trying to pass onto me. It helped me appreciate.

The next book I discovered, helped me to chase my own stories, make-believe and true. I was caught up in Frankie Presto’s story and his amazing life. I hadn’t heard of The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto, but I was so glad I went looking for “something,” to read. I found it. Now that I’ve read it, I feel sad that I might not have come across it. It’s one of those amazing things you’re so glad happened that you get a little sad, because it could have almost never happened.

But it did. And I’m glad.

As a storyteller, I can appreciate how it is so beautifully crafted, woven with hints and clues and then everything connecting with the big reveal. I loved the mixing of jazz legends, musicians, and artists that came into Frankie’s life and how Frankie changed their lives. I enjoyed the different points of view and voices. I thought it interesting that Music, itself, was a character, the narrator.

Frankie’s journey across the globe, his musical and love adventure, drew me in right away. I loved this character, his passion, his humble kindness, his quest, his life lessons, his love for his guitar, the magic behind the six strings, and his love for Aurora. I rooted for him. I wished for things to happen for him. I wished for him to find his story, to know about his father, his teacher, his past, and his future. I rooted for his redemption and for his love of Aurora.

Throughout his journey I was inspired to find any lost stories of my own, stories of my father, of his childhood, stories that I never knew that could tell me something more. I was inspired to write something new. I also felt like writing my own stories, so that my kids would know my own adventure, so they could fill in the gaps when I was gone. I wanted to leave them something.

Frankie Presto reminded me how important stories are, and the importance of passing them onto the people that matter. Frankie Presto helped me find my storyteller again. When a book can do that, it’s pretty awesome. I hope he does something magical for you too.

Buen Camino my friends.

 

 

 

Wake-up Stories

23 Mar

Lately I’ve been searching for stories that move me. You know, like a judge on Star Search, looking for talent that inspires me. I’ve been roaming the Netflix, Amazon, cable television for stories that take me away or help me unwind at the end of the day. I’ve found a lot of good stories, definitely. But in this search I’ve also found inspiration in Podcasts.

It’s strange because when I was growing up I used to hate talk radio. I thought it was for older people. I thought why listen to people talk when I can hear music while I’m in the car. But I’ve found that I’m gravitating more to these podcasts than to what’s on the radio. I’m intrigued by people interviewing all kinds of artists and leaders in every field and the inspiration behind it all.

Now granted, there are some people and actors, who go out there and record ridiculous why-waste -your-time-listening-to-this-crap sessions and you have to sift through a massive amounts of crap to get to something good. But when you do it pays off.

It’s like getting exposed to all these autobiographies with insightful tidbits of wisdom for different parts of you life. And for some reason I find something I can takeaway from each session.

For the inspiration-you-can-do-it times I particularly enjoy Tim Ferriss, Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations, Eric Thomas’s Secret to Success Podcast and Tony Robbins. They interview so many people from so many walks of life and I always feel better after listening to their session. I walk away feeling like something is possible as long as I keep working at it, whether it’s my professional life or just life itself. I had never heard of Debbie Millman before, and I probably would never, considering she was a graphic designer and I had no interest in that field. But what she had to say about life made me pause.

I’ve touched bases with spirituality by listening to stuff from The RobCast where some of my favorite guests have been Elizabeth Gilbert, Pete Rollins, and Mike Lewis the 112th Best Squash Player in the World. His interviews and stories help bring a lightness of being and grace into my existence. Something I always need to work on when dealing with difficult people.

The Moment with Brian Koppelman make me think about my future as a writer and I was actually introduced to Brian through Tim Ferriss’s podcasts. As a writer, I find it extremely beneficial to hear about everyone’s process and problems and how they were in such a horrible bad spot, but managed to turn it around emotionally and artistically. It’s something I find inspirational when I’m losing the umph, which I had been as of late.

These stories … all of them, help push something in me. Something that goes missing on random days. But something I can get back after I go running, or boxing, or biking … that feel-good feeling. I get an extra dose of that, a push of encouragement from these stories.

I feel like I can’t start my day with that spring in my step if I don’t hear my feel-good song and a podcast. These stories aren’t like the winding down of the day Netflix at night sessions. These are wake-me-up-in-the-morning-because-this-is-your-life stories. You got one shot. What are doing? Get on it! They’ve become part of my morning routine and have helped me see possibilities when I’ve been emotionally or professionally sidelined.

So it may not be the same as the talk radio I grew up with, or it might be. Maybe I just came around to realizing that songs are not the only way to jump start your morning. Stories. Podcasts. Talk radio … can make it happen too.

 

 

Inspired and Ready For a Comeback Win

24 Feb

It was an inspirational story that unfolded in three periods, the kind of story that pulls at the heart because you’re not really hoping for yourself to succeed, you’re hoping for someone else.

It’s the kind that every parent has when they’re cheering for their kids. I don’t think I ever had that shoot-for-the-win-as-the-clock-winds-down fantasy when I was playing sports. I wanted to win, of course, but I was never the buzzer-beater dreamer. I was more of the playmaker and defensive beast. And I had hope back then, just as I do now. But now with kids it’s different.

My hope sits with them. I hope for them, I want them to experience the win, feel what it’s like to get a victory hug from your teammates, feel what it’s like to have a redemption win, feel what that’s like.

So when my son’s team lost their hockey tournament in a shoot-out, after the score remained the same in sudden death overtime, my heart broke a little because I wanted that so much for him. But I was still proud of his effort, of his heart, and defenseman skills. I wanted to show him that regardless of the score he should be proud of himself too. And the thing is … he was.

He smiled as he got his second place medal for his weekend tournament and I was too … but I still wanted that for him. Just like parents everywhere, you want them to feel that sunshine glow. Just like fans everywhere, you place your hopes on your team and wish them to victory, not because you want something for yourself, but more so because you want that feel-good-feeling for them, the kind of feeling I got from watching the US Women’s Hockey team win the gold.

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It was an intensely stressful and dramatic moment of exuberance. I jumped off the couch, pumped my fist in the air, and said what every hockey fan that had seen Miracle had said … YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!

Late Wednesday night, I witnessed the come-from-behind redemption win that had been in the sights of the women’s hockey team since the Sochi Olympics.

It was the kind of game that had this House of Sports residents fully engaged and putting all her hope on a young goalie, the kind of hope that makes players faster, stronger, and more skilled. You hope that the best version of your player is out there and that you did what you could to support them. And it is this kind of inspirational play that you hope catches the spirit of your kids.

And I’m happy to report that watching the women’s hockey team play Canada for the gold was an inspirational testament that resonated with thousands of people and found a spot in the heart of my kids.

Congrats to the women’s hockey team on a job well done. Earning some medals and inspiring future generations of athletes to give it everything they got. My son is ready for this weekend’s game and he’s ready for his Miracle making a comeback kind of win.

Buen Camino, my friends!

 

 

Princess Leia and Wonder Woman Unite

23 Jan

It was a different kind of powerful that day … a surge of hope and promise among so many attacks and so much destruction felt good.

It was different this time, though.

My kids were with me and the connections to the movement much stronger.

Recently watching some of Martin Luther King Jr.’s speeches and marches, encouraged them to come with me, which was a pleasant surprise. To march along with thousands of others at the Women’s March for the second year in a row this weekend and have them by my side pulled at my heart. I don’t know why I got so emotional marching with them and having them chant alongside me, marching for women’s rights, the environment, Dreamers, healthcare, people of color, education, and the First Amendment.

Everyone marched for different reasons, as every woman, and man, had different priorities. But everyone was there in solidarity because they all wanted one thing: change. Everyone united and willing to share their voices for a better future, and the fact that my kids were sharing their voices made me proud. Proud to the point where my heart felt it, the pit of my stomach felt it, the mom in me felt it. To know that they’ll look back upon it when they’re older and say, as a kid I did something to make my future better. I was part of something bigger than myself, I was part of something that helped register voters and make a difference for the better, I was part of history. That made me proud.

The fact that my daughter was among so many signs encouraging women strength and diversity was promising. Her biggest connection was the Wonder Woman force appearing throughout the march. Beginning to sow the seed of empowerment, self-esteem, and strength at an early age was important. And the wave of Wonder Women provided an eye-opening experience.

 

 

My son’s connection came through the Star Wars theme of course. He was unaware of all the Princess Leia signs he would encounter. He made a point to let me know that she was a general in the Resistance and a good one at that. Seeing Princess Leia’s signs everywhere stating that a woman’s place was in the resistance helped him relate to the strength and importance of a woman’s voice, of his mom’s and his sister’s, as well as his own. He mentioned that Luke Skywalker was also there and played a huge role in taking down Darth Vader.

So in a unification of super heroes and intergalactic leaders from galaxies far, far, away  we cemented our hope for the future through this ever growing grass movement. And I’m happy to say that I saw hundreds of voter registration forms being filled out all morning long.

Everyone there was ready for change, in every avenue of our lives. The time has come to make things better. United we stand for a better future, marching toward equality and justice. Hope is there in 2018.

Buen Camino my friends!