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It’s That Time Again …

25 Jul

I look forward to this every year. Not just for the excitement and stories but because it reminds me of promises I made to myself in January …

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SHARK WEEK!

I love it. I totally geek out about the Hammerheads, Makos, and Great Whites. I honestly start contemplating life as a marine biologist and imagining the safest way to swim with sharks, you know the small ones.

We get jazzed up the entire week, mark it on the calendar and anticipate the close calls in tagging and tracking the sharks in order to collect data. We find out about their hunting patterns, migrating patterns, eating patterns, any and all kinds of patterns we search for them, just like the rest of America. We love to revisit stories from last year and can’t wait to compare them to this year. Megaladon was one of my favorites. This year they had Michael Phelps racing a shark! Sort of …

Discovery Channel had their X-Factor this week. There’s no other week like it for them. They go all out with the programming and I am one of the many, glued to her television set waiting to see what will happen next. We make shark pancakes, shark tostadas and shark cake.

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😉

We do it all in order to celebrate SHARK WEEK!

You see because that’s where they get me … the dangers of the shark. I’m waiting to see what will happen next, the excitement of the stories and the enthusiasm of these researchers is contagious. I want to know what’s next because nothing says living on the edge more than sharks.

So here I am mid-July, during one of the best weeks of television and I’m reminded that I should be living my best week regardless of the month. I should be emptying out the tank, remembering the Bucket List additions I wrote down at the beginning of the year and doing a self-check on the New Year’s Eve promises. I should be living every week like it’s Shark Week.

I like to make a big deal of the whole thing. I like to build up momentum and spread it out to my son and daughter. If there’s no build up, or excitement leading up to this week what’s the point? Shark Week is the week for all of that. My kids, they love the series of adventures and imagine themselves on excursions just like these, on being adventurous, on following your passions, and on celebrating the little victories, just the way researchers do when they tag a shark.

Shark Week brings it all.

So with all these positive energy, I remembered the good vibes from January 1st. I remember the everyday balloons scenario that allows for appreciating the little things. I remembered the promises I made to myself and so I checked, have I been on track?

For the most part … yes … yes I have, although there have been some serious wipe-outs. But I still persist. I wake up with purpose, tired, but with purpose. I wake up and think it’s Shark Week! Go all out. No excuses … and so I try.

Happy SHARK WEEK!

Buen Camino my friends!

 

I Don’t Wear A CatWoman Suit But I Was Inspired

5 Jun

When you see a friend reaching for it, you really hope they hit their mark.

You’ve seen their hard work and witnessed their dedication and you know they deserve it, so as one of their fans you’re pulling for them. You’re hoping that opportunity meets luck and the universe rewards them.

Sometimes it ends up being a learning experience, other times it’s a stepping stone closer to the bigger dream, and sometimes it’s a homerun and you leave feeling inspired. One of my friends received an award for her awesome duties as principal, another for providing medical services to young children, and another for her volunteer work with kids and bringing arts programs to school. They got their plaque and sort of reached a peak, or mini-milestone, in their career, and I was happy for them. High-five happy.

But something recently happened that not only left me high-five happy but also inspired. As a creative person I constantly root for other artists to make it out there. I love the underdog stories of how luck and hard work meet and then the universe sprinkles out an opportunity that changes lives.

I root for artists in a different way just because I know the struggle first hand, so when there was an opening on the road to success and dreams coming true, I was happy to have been in the audience witnessing it happen.

You see, I recently attended one of my friend’s debuts at a small venue, where she filled the place with her magnitude and rockstar attitude. She had a presence about her, so I knew she had it in her, but I was still wowed by her performance.

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My buddy Lo Thompson setting up for the next song

It was a well-deserved night out, but more than that, it was an opportunity to be inspired by a buddy chasing her dreams and leaving it all out on the stage. We were all consumed with her energy and left feeling … who wassssssssssss that?! We all knew her … she was one of the moms at school, picking up her kid and just running around trying to keep it together, just like the rest of us.

But she wasn’t like the rest of us … She was Lo Thompson and she was rocking the stage that night I saw her in her element and it felt good to see someone I knew get a win.

She definitely came out there and made her mark. And as I was seeing her dream unfold I wanted to bottle up that emotion of pride and happiness I felt for her. She was doing it and bringing down the house while it was happening and it felt great to share that experience with her.

While she was living her dream one night at a time, getting closer to the Bigger Picture, and enjoying the moment, I found myself inspired. Creatives inspiring other creatives, that makes me happy, feeling like it can happen. Big or small, it can happen. Now I won’t be wearing an awesome Catwoman type of suit when I hit my mark, but I was inspired and I’ll probably be feeling as badass as Catwoman.

 

Buen Camino my friends. And incidentally if you enjoy rock music you should check her out.

 

 

 

All Kinds of Messengers …

19 Apr

Things eventually work out … somehow.

I never used to think that … like ever. I’d be like if they don’t work out the way I want them to or planned them to, then that’s not really working out for me.

That’s what I used to think.

But as kids came into the picture and gray hair followed, I realized that’s the perfect philosophy, and I was recently reminded of this through one of my meditation sessions … and a text message.

During my recent meditation session, with Deepak, we focused on hope during uncertain times. And as he was talking about people’s reactions to different scenarios it clicked. That used to be me. Somehow during this journey, this moving on up to the East Side to a deluxe apartment in the sky to finally get a piece of THE pie journey, a switch happened. It happens to everyone. You’re not in the same place you were last year. You’re either better or worse, but you’re not in the same spot.

Over 20 years ago, the semester before I graduated college I was so worried about what my life would look like, I mean I had a plan, but the steps on the yellow-brick road weren’t quite lining up. Everyone I knew had a gig waiting for them after turning in their cap and gown but me. That uncertainty freaked me out. I worked hard my entire 18-year old life at the time and felt like … where’s my reward? When is success gonna come rain down on me?

The uncertainty made me feel uneasy and stressed out. I wondered with all my suit-and-tie friends getting their foot in the door, whether I’d even make it out of the parking lot. But eventually I met Matt, the guy who gave me my first break, and it happened. It just took a different route and eventually it worked out … somehow.

And with last week’s meditation sessions, I was reminded of the lesson. I thought about all that wasted time, freaking out and stressed out and worried everyone would be a success except me. I didn’t approach uncertainty through a positive lens, as I thought uncertainty to be a negative thing. Now I realize I should have looked upon it as an opportunity, a chance for something great to happen, or for a learning experience that would have led to personal growth. Either way it would have been a win, short term or long term, but a win nonetheless.

I trip out how the universe sends me these reminders through various messengers, just to put an exclamation point on that message.

During uncertain times, unemployment, broken relationships, new jobs, new city, first-time-stay-at-home parent, when you’re in the thick of it … just pause. I don’t remember pausing to turn my thoughts around 20 years ago, so I learned things the hard way. But now I have all kinds of pauses, and I remember that eventually things will work out, that Hope is in my corner, sometimes hiding, but it’s there. I just have to remember it’s there. That’s what I’ve come to learn through the years, and with Deepak’s help.

But I was also reminded of this with the help of a text  …

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The universe is funny sometimes. It has all kinds of messengers.

 

 

Grabbing The Mic

22 Mar

It involved getting bailed out of county jail, stepping in a pool of vomit on the subway, riding in the trunk of a car in a zebra bathing suit, playing with a lighter and can of hair spray, and a dead cat in the wall of an apartment.

It was only an hour, but it was the most inspirational sixty minutes of the week.

Hanging out with a bunch of storytellers and a glass of wine proved to be a memorable evening. I came away feeling motivated to finish my own stories after hearing about these adventures. Something about hanging out with a bunch of creatives and listening to them craft their epic misfortunes into Silver Lining Playbook stories centered on friendship was contagious.

I came home ready to dig deep, although with my life I didn’t have to go far to capture moments. Although the one thing about these artists was that the stories were free flowing. No script. They had it in their head. They performed their stories. They were animated and I felt like I was part of the circle. I was there when he was making the call from county jail and no one came to bail him out. I was there watching the woman slip in a pool of vomit on her way to steal the elderly woman’s seat on the subway. I was there when the zebra bathing suit got pulled over by the CHP. I was there when the curtains caught on fire from the can of hairspray. And I was there when the girl had to break her lease because she kept getting fleas from a dead cat in the wall.

The stories came to life. These storytellers were the writers, actors, and directors themselves. They placed full confidence in their stories and their ability to tell it. They stepped on stage, grabbed the microphone, and began. Fear or no fear. They grabbed the mic.

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I left away with that feeling … the one with butterflies. They took creative control of their story and it was empowering to see. No one changed their timeline. No one added unnecessary  dialog. No one changed the integrity of their characters. No one changed their soundtrack. No one changed their stories.

It was great to see how their bravery helped maintain their creative control.

I watched. I listened. I learned.

I might be grabbing the mic soon myself, as I was invited to come back “try it out”.

And I just might.

After my experience with the play director, creative control seemed to matter more in my next endeavor. But I’m not rigid, I welcome constructive criticism, and collaborations. I like input that makes the story better. With every creative, story and characters matter. Every writer has this intention.

But not every project ends that way.

So my lesson learned during this inspirational outing?

Be brave enough to grab the mic and hold onto your creative control, but be willing to work with others, just choose people you trust when sharing your visions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

40 Days And The Jar of Awesome

8 Mar

When he said it … I thought … dude. Yes! Why hadn’t I thought about that before.

So last Wednesday I revamped my search for appreciation in the little things, in addition to the big ones, during this 40-Day Fish-Stick-Friday Lenten Season. People are always giving stuff up, stuff that’s bad for you, but you can also give something to yourself or others, something that might be lacking or something you know you need.

I’m big on gratitude as it’s a daily practice of mine, because I’ve learned if you don’t appreciate the little things the big ones might lose their fluff after a couple of days.

But I learned this lesson as an adult.

I thought it would be great to get my kids to be mindful of moments and practice gratitude with me. I thought maybe I’d step it up as a parent.

So I got the idea from Mr. Tim Ferriss, and if you haven’t met or heard of Tim Ferriss, I stronggggggggggggggggggggly suggest you check out his podcast. He’s right on the mark, discovering strategies, routines, and stories that can affect change and help improve your life.  From Navy SEALs to Tony Robbins, to storytellers, to scholars, to actors like Jamie Foxx he covers it all and I’ve definitely picked up some good tips. Over 200 episodes and I found the one, well several actually, that gave me a moment … a pause … a shift that added something. This one in particular helped in parenting, helped with kids, could help with anything really, but thought kids would learn from this lesson.

The Jar of Awesome.

Just a regular mason jar with the word AWESOME written across it and any time a moment of awesome, big or small, took place, we’d write it down and put it in the jar so that we could remember. We’d write it down, so that when things happen, we can be grateful for them, mindful, we can remember things that were made to be Kodak moments of the heart, even when you don’t have a camera.

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So we’re off on the mason-jar journey, and I’ve realized the kids enjoy being reminded of their awesomeness. They forget the little moments, but smile the feel-good smile when they’re reminded. And I know we’ve only just started, but I’ll be sure to take a picture of it once we’re at the end of our 40-day journey. Who knows? We might actually keep it for 365 days.

The Jar of Awesome … here we go.

Writer Wednesdays: The Voice

1 Mar

They’ve got 90 seconds to do it.

There they are sitting with their backs turned, waiting to hear the voice that moves them enough to turn around. Blake, Adam, Alicia, Gwen. Ready to give a somebody a chance. That somebody is there, waiting in line to be discovered. Some people put it out there, giving it all they got, vulnerability, pain, strength, happiness. Emotion. They leave it all out there and they get a chair to turn.

They’ve got 90 seconds to do it.

That’s the writer’s life.

We’ve got about 90 seconds to pull it off … maybe even less. 90 seconds for someone to care enough about a character, a journey, a story, a voice to keep reading, to keep turning the page.  Writer’s don’t have reality TV shows giving them a break, because our life tends to be a reality show with its on plot twists and dramatic downfalls, although if Project Greenlight came back I’d have no problem with that. I often wished we’d get a competition show for writers and wrote about that once. But the writing process is not all that exciting. Pajamas, bad ideas, taking over the Starbucks tables. Don’t know if people would tune in.

But regardless if we’re on air or not, writers do have about 90 seconds to connect with someone, connect enough that they read the next paragraph. 90 seconds for someone to hear our voice.

And the weird thing is, even though I hate reality television, The Voice tends to slip under the radar for me. Watching it often inspires me. It reminds me to cut the BS,to empty the tank, to leave it all on the page. I like the fact that I hear one constant theme throughout the seasons. Emotion. These coaches keep emphasizing emotion. If you feel it when you sing it, odds are people feel it too and the connection is made.

I see this in writing all the time.  If you’re honest enough and feeeeeeel what you’re writing, no BS, whether it’s comedy or drama, if you’re genuine about it, you’ll make a connection. You just have to be vulnerable and strong enough to take that chance. And sometimes chances like this pay off. So, when I’m in a rut, or fallen off my writing schedule and discipline was out the window, when I’m trying to get back on track, I remind myself of The Voice, of stories or movies that connected and ask how did they do that?

Emotion. Honesty. 90 seconds.

 

 

Insecure Writers Support Group Badge

 

 

 

Motivation Mondays: The Three-Legged Dog

27 Feb

Putting things in perspective becomes extremely difficult when you’re at rock bottom. You forget to ask the right questions because raw emotions tear into your being. You’ve finished three pints of Ben & Jerry’s and still find that there’s need for more.

I’ve been in these situations more times than I thought possible, as the Universe keeps “building” my character, but it took me until my mid-thirties to be able to find perspective at a faster pace. Before that, the anger, frustration, and hopelessness of the situation would stick with me for a while before I could flip the switch,  learn the lesson, or ask the right question. I have failed on all kinds of levels, multi-faceted levels, in every aspect of my life from writing, parenthood, love, and friendships, to self-discovery. I haven’t met someone who hasn’t failed yet, although I can think of a few who say they haven’t failed at all and just hide it well.

But I don’t point it out to them. No need. Some people just want to keep their lessons to themselves. All good. I don’t necessarily wear a sign and promote things myself, but I don’t really hide from failures, disappointments, betrayals, disasters, or gut-wrenching losses.

And it’s not that I don’t care, or I don’t get embarrassed, I just realized that when something like that happens, I can find my way through the messy truth. The emotions are still there and they’re still painful, whenever I fall on my own, or have been pushed down the most jagged cliff on Earth by someone I know or don’t know, but I stand up a lot faster. Broken bones and all.

I tend not to forget this turnaround lesson, this approach to finding my way back, because I’ve had so much practice, but I was recently reminded about perspective last week.

You see here …

 

This dog was racing through the open field. Jumping around. I swore he was smiling. Totally. Now normally you would think so what, right? Not a big deal.

But Maxie is a three-legged dog. Three-legged. I had only seen that once before and it blew my mind at how carefree and spirited he was sprinting through the grass just enjoying time. Now most dogs don’t really have problems, but this one. Yeah I’d say he has something to complain about, but he wasn’t, at least not when I saw him. He was sprinting like Hussein Bolt.

He was carpe all over that diem. His perspective was different. So I had to introduce myself and the owners were gracious enough to let me snap his picture. Maxie had that good mojo and meeting him was one of the highlights of my week. I got some of that feel-good feeling, that sunshine-in-my-pocket kind of feeling. It was good to get a reminder, even if I didn’t need one.

Buen Camino.

 

 

Finish-Line Friday

10 Feb

Getting to the Finish Line on Friday …

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Priceless.

Definitely a high five moment for everyone. Glad everybody climbed their way through obstacles to make it this week. High five.

 

 

Motivation Mondays: The Upside To The Downside

23 Jan

I started off Saturday morning parking five long blocks away from the Metro station and putting my best parallel parking skills to the test — the kind where you have to turn down the music and high-five yourself when you finally turn the engine off.

As I got to the station the sight of the massive crowd made some people turn back, either changing their travel plans or just changing their plans for the day.

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🙂

 

But I saw an opportunity to move forward. Inch by inch onto the platform, linked arm in arm with women I had just met on my way to meet my Comadres of a lifetime. We started off as strangers on a train and but walked through the sliding doors knowing each other’s names and purpose, and wishing each other luck as we stepped forward into our future.

 

Civic engagement used to come every election, but now the grassroots movement on this side of town continues to be strong, especially around particular issues important to people, whether it be education, women’s rights, health care, or the environment. Everyone was speaking for something that mattered to them.

It  was moving to see so many women come together and peacefully unite for a cause. I was even prouder to be part of a country-wide effort that brought worldwide attention to this cause. Thousands upon thousands of people throughout the country … in New York, Atlanta, Boston, Seattle, Miami, Chicago, multiple cities throughout the world engaged. Everyone is watching.

Those that were apathetic  became more vigilant of their future and the potential dangers out there, and those that are passionate find ways to engage more people and continue inspiring others.

Marching with 750,000 people in favor of women’s rights made me feel certain during uncertain times. I left knowing what Gloria Steinem called “The Upside to the Downside,” and this was just step one.

 

 

Everyday Balloons Rockin’ 2017

1 Jan

I saw that number one on my phone calendar after the clock struck midnight.

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Everyone probably saw it on their phones but the impact was different. It wasn’t a massive tsunami of emotion washing over me, more like a rippled water effect felt by skipping stones on a lake. A quiet peaceful a-ha moment in the midst of fireworks and celebrations.

It was a good revelation.

I entered the New Year with hugs and kisses from kids, music in the background, and fireworks from a distant celebration booming through our windows. Found some Big Magic in that space between our arms.

And then I remembered …

I mastered finding the Big Magic that hides in corners even when toxicity surrounded me  like a bad cold. I found the ninja skills it took to get to “The Juice,” that thing that I feel like bottling up after an awesome Gatorade-worthy moment. I found ways to hit the reset button and find peace when it was missing. I found the funny in 2016.

I’m gonna need me some more of that.

And it’s funny because all of that is what I set out to do and I was glad to be able to have done it. Some people don’t bother with lists, 2.0 Versions, or improvement projects. No resolutions and I get it. Lists suck sometimes. But all I’m trying to do, is do better than I did the year before, and I found that every year something new has helped me reach those goals.

This year Muay Thai Boxing helped me wake up like Clark Kent and leave like Superman …  got out of bed with my super strength and cape … ready to go. New energy. New vibe. New perspective.

I was Flawsome and it was awesome. I never knew my uppercut, left hook, and speed could knock someone’s lights out! I mean watch out if you try anything in the Target parking lot because my Marty McFly  appearance will fool you. And I like that. I like that people underestimate me. It’s amusing to see.  I like that 2016 had that surprise in store for me.

I like that I found a new adventure, that I tried something and it enhanced my life.

I like that I had new writing projects. Two this year, and even though they didn’t pan out, as you all know the downfall of my play,  I still found pages in the Silver Lining Playbook to help me out I still found stories. I still found the lesson and the funny, even though it sucked to do so sometimes.

So what’s in store for 2017?

I’d like to find more balloons.

kramer

🙂 I LOVE Kramer. 

 

I like that Kramer embraces his FLAWSOMENESS. I like that he has everyday balloons.

That’s me … that’s what I want for 2017 … everyday balloons. I want to find reasons for the positive side of things when the day sucks, because I imagine stuff on a National scale will suck, but I’m hoping for hope. I’m hoping for a resurgence … like Rogue One.

I’m hoping that I find the gratitude and grace in things so that I can celebrate with stuff like Everyday Balloons.

As a parent I’ve got to have Everyday Balloons because failure and exhaustion hit hard on Friday nights, or any day of the week for that matter. Gray hairs, Vitamin D Supplements, and anti-aging cream should be celebrated. I’ve earned it.

As a member of a family deserving of their on Telemundo Telenovela, I’m distancing myself and removing all toxicity. I’m not standing for it any longer. If you don’t like my peaches … don’t shake my tree. If you’re not on board with Everyday Balloons then this ride is not for you, I’m pulling over and letting you out. I’m a fighter, I’ve remained unbroken no matter the environment, resilient. But I find it’s better when good-times-noodle-salad vibes surround you. My Big Magic pockets are getting bigger.

As a writer I need Everyday Balloons, for those times when I sit there daydreaming and wonder what I’ve been doing for the past 37 minutes, with only a paragraph on the page … I can give myself an Everyday Balloon for getting something written down and enhancing the outline nestled somewhere in my thoughts.

 

Everyday Balloons shouldn’t take away the glitter and shininess of New Year’s Eve balloons, but they should just serve as a reminder that little victories are still accomplishments and a high-five is deserved. With humor and gratitude I’ll be looking for little victories in 2017, in between a new adventure, I’ll be looking for Everyday Balloon moments.

Buen Camino my friends.