Friday, February 9, 2018

Thank You, Julia Marwick

Thank you, Julia Marwick, for welcoming me into your little neighborhood bookstore, when you knew I wasn't there to buy anything. Thank you for allowing the dirty, summer shoes of an ten-year-old, or the snowy, wet winter boots, to trod across your floor, knowing I wouldn't clean up after myself. Thank you for providing a safe, quiet place, away from the bullying and the constant, cruel pressure of growing up less than wealthy in an affluent suburb. Thank you for the respite from the stress and loneliness of an alcoholic home, where the only way to survive was knowing how to walk on eggshells and shape-shift.

But mostly...thank you for creating a place where my mind could escape, where my thoughts could fly, and morph, and swim in the stories on the pages of the books you sold. I would sit on the floor of your little shop for hours, immersed in a fantasy, or a future world, or connecting with a child not unlike myself. I sunk into the depths of a hero's story, while I didn't even know I was beginning my own. I would see you look up from your front desk every once in a while, and peer around a bookshelf at me. You didn't speak to me. You didn't expect anything of me. You knew. You knew what it meant to me to be there, safe and engaged, without me ever needing to tell you a word.

In those pages, alone in that little book store with you, I learned that people--mere mortals like me--could create worlds. And that those worlds could mean the whole world to someone else. Like they did to me. Fiction saved my least, that's how it felt then. Still does. I knew way back then that I wanted to create worlds, too. I didn't know it like I knew my name, at the front of my brain, at the top of my conscious thoughts. It was still deep down. It would take a long, long time, while the seeds I had planted were growing, to know like I know now. 

That little book store was my own private oasis. And what I have come to create out of it, after all these years, is a world that is uniquely mine. It feels so intimately connected to that dark, private, protected place inside of me...a place like Julia Marwick's book store felt. It has taken me a long, long time to bring my creation to life and to trust the outside world with it. But what I want more than to share this place of creation, of escape, of adventure, and hope, and intrigue, and mystery, and love. I want others to fall inside my stories and get lost in the forget they are reading and to feel like they've stepped into an alternate world--one that nobody else has ever known before. 

I want to give to others what that little bookstore gave to me. From this story, and all the stories to come. Because there are more...many more. This writing grows inside of you. And once one story is out, the next must come. Must. And the next, and the next. Thank you, Julia Marwick. Wherever the Universe finds are an integral part of who I have become.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

If You Could...

According to Wikipedia...

The term human–animal hybrid or animal–human hybrid refers to an entity that incorporates elements from both humans and non-human animals. For thousands of years, these hybrids have been one of the most common themes in story-telling about animals throughout the world. The lack of a strong divide between humanity and animal nature in multiple traditional and ancient cultures has provided the underlying historical context for the popularity of tales where humans and animals have mingling relationships, such as in which one turns into the other or in which some mixed being goes through a journey....

So I'm a writer and a thinker and a dreamer of worlds yet to exist...if you could create ANY living hybrid, whether human-animal or animal-animal...what would it be and why? 

I have dreamed up many an interesting hybrid in my writing world. In my imagination, my hybrids would be both useful and have great novelty. They'd be cute and cuddly when I wanted a furry friend to snuggle with...and they'd be fierce, obedient and loyal when I needed protection and reassurance. Of course, companionship and even true affection come into question...what will our future hold? Will designer friends, made-to-order, custom-children or even fantasy lovers be ours with a simple "one-click payment" option? 

Who or what would you create? And although I'd like you to think beyond the possible consequences...what, if any, would those consequences be?

Peace and creativity...

Monday, September 16, 2013

What are you holding onto?

Is there anything in your life that you are holding onto even though it no longer brings you joy or serves you in any way? I am. And just admitting that brings a sense of relief. I believe I may do so partly out of obligation, partly out of responsibility, but really, if I'm being the end of the day...I hold onto it out of fear. But what could make someone so fearful that they would go against their inner knowing, go against their alignment and hold on to something so as not to face that fear? Maybe the question must first we even realize we're holding onto something unnecessarily? Maybe I have so thoroughly convinced myself that I need that item, or behavior, or action, or belief, or feeling, or ...person...that I don't even recognize the wool I've pulled over my own eyes. True, it is easier to keep some of our real feelings in check, or swept under the rug. But in the long run, that extra baggage is always vying for our attention somewhere deep in our (sub)conscious.Things that no longer serve us, bring us true joy, or worse yet, create heartache in any way, are like an annoying presence constantly tapping on our shoulder, whispering in our ear..."I'm still here, I'm still here. Pay attention to me, even if you don't want to. I'm not going anywhere..." This message repeats over and over and over again,, whether we are aware of it or not. Unless we drown it out with other things. But even if we do, it's still there, chipping away....until we pay attention to it. And make no mistake. It's not just the big things that steal our time and attention. Everything...everything...has an energy and a life of its own.

So what would happen...worst case scenario, if you let go of that one thing that you just can't seem to part with? Would you feel pain? Guilt? Mourn the loss of a precious memory? Be ridiculed or judged by someone...or yourself? Go bankrupt? Die? Chances are, the projected outcomes are far worse than what would truly happen. 

It is true I  have gotten better and made a real habit over the last few years to let go of as much as I can, both physically and emotionally. I have learned to say to over-scheduling myself. No to over-committing my services and time. No to even my children, my husband, my friends. And I have learned to say yes to myself. I have given much greater importance to the things I want to see, learn and experience. I have also thoroughly enjoyed letting go of as much material possession as possible (for now). I do not keep anything that does not bring me a true sense of joy. If I don't love something, it goes to Goodwill, someone I know who will take joy in it, or hits the trash. Period. There is no longer an obligatory sense about keeping an article of clothing that I may have spent a lot of money on or that holds a memory of an event or a time in my life that I will never be able to recreate. The things I display in my home are not items that I showcase simply because Great Aunt Matilda gave them to us at our wedding or they were inherited and must be kept in the family. Best yet, are the ways in which the company I keep has been sculpted down to those that best reflect who I am and how I want to surround myself. All of this creates more time and space to breathe and to be with myself. Which is something we all need to do more of...just be with ourselves. Don't you think?

However, within all of this paring down, I still hold on to some things. I am afraid to let go of certain things, because within that letting go, there is expansion and the unknown. This is where we can broaden this idea of letting go. Most of the things I still hold onto aren't really things at all. They are ideas, or habits, or outdated beliefs about myself and others and the big wide world we live in. I have said it before and undoubtedly I will say it again...everything we think we know, we don't. At least not in its entirety. There is great evolution in letting go. Less really is more. Less makes space for an expanded experience. And who doesn't want that?

So I'd like to challenge you...and to further challenge myself this week. Lets each let go of one physical thing, one item that we have grappled with for far too long. Give it away or throw it away. Take a picture of it if you must or if you can't bear the thought of living 100% without it. Then lets each take one thing from the inside...a belief, a feeling, a recurring thought, a resentment...anything that no longer serves us...and let it go. At the very least, lets agree to sit in the understanding that perhaps we don't need to give it quite as much importance...or that we can change it to suit our needs more specifically. And finally...lets each let go of one behavior or regular action that we know deep down inside our core, no longer brings us joy or serves our best and highest good. It could be anything...simple or complex, small or large...chances are you already have something in mind. Let us take these things, both physical and non-physical, thank them for their purpose in our lives (even if we don't know what their purpose was) and release them into the world to serve elsewhere or to end with us.

Below are two great links to help you with the letting go process of both physical and non-physical attachments. I have read/used each at various times and have found them quite helpful.

Monday, September 9, 2013

What do you attract?"

Do you believe in the Law Of Attraction? I do. Without getting too detailed or technical or philosophical, let's just say that I believe that that which you bring attention to grows. You get back what you put out. You reap what you sow. Like attracts like...etc, etc.

I have made a very conscious effort to surround myself with and expose myself to the things and people and experiences I want in my life NOW. I am not waiting. I am thinking about all the things I want to do, see, feel, become, experience....and I'm acting "as if" they are in my reality right NOW!

So what do you surround yourself with? What do you read, for example? Who do you hang out with in your free time? How do you make your living? How do you dress and present yourself to the world. These are obviously all our choices. So what do each of these things attract back to you? How about your thoughts? Your beliefs? Your feelings? Those are ours to shape as well. If we don't like them, we can change them. Yes...we can. Think about it.

Have you ever been somewhere and a total stranger starts laughing hysterically? How do you react? Nine times out of ten, if the laughter persists, you start laughing too. At the very least, you can barely contain a smile. That person put something out there and look what they got back. I know that's a really simplified example. But maybe its just that simple...

If you desire something, start acting, thinking, feeling and believing as if its already a part of your life. After all, it truly is a piece of you if it came from inside. Surround yourself with like minded people and they'll start showing up more and more. Begin to expose yourself to your desires and let the Universe know what you're after...dress the part, so to speak...or for that matter, quite literally. Read books, go to websites and watch TV shows pertaining to your interests. Use your social media to attract the life you want. Dare to step outside of your current comfort zone and make that call or text, take that trip, start writing that book, train for that marathon...Put yourself in the middle of the life you desire, whatever it is, at whatever level you can at the moment, and see how it starts to snowball. Watch the seeds you have planted begin to grow and flourish. 

It has to. It is the Law.

Within the seed of your desire is everything necessary for it to blossom to fulfillment. And Law of Attraction is the engine that does the work. Your work is just to give it a fertile growing place in order to expand --- Abraham
Excerpted from the workshop in Albuquerque, NM on Sunday, May 9th, 1999

Thursday, September 5, 2013

If you were brave...

If you were brave, what would you do? 

The first time I heard that question, I was attending a women's wellness retreat in Kohler, Wisconsin. The question seemed strange to me, as it may to you as well. Although not exactly insulting, it certainly felt a bit off-putting at the very least. I had yet to put my finger on why...

The woman posing the question was Jana Stanfield. She is a singer, songwriter and guitarist who describes her style of music as "heavy mental". Before posing such a grand inquiry, she first spent some time asking other questions. She asked the packed room of maybe two hundred or more women to recall things about ourselves and our lives. What was our story and how had it been shaped? What had we been through that brought us to that moment? What things had we been afraid to do, or at the very least, were uncomfortable with, but did them anyway? No matter what obstacles had been in our path, what had we accomplished against all odds, either because we had to, or simply wanted to?

After really examining our own journeys through these poignant questions, the light of acknowledgement filled the room. Hadn't we all, in some way, at some point, already been brave? Even if we didn't realize it at the time, hadn't something we'd been through required our own unique brand of courage and fortitude? Weren't we already equipped with everything we need to take the next step, wherever it may lead? Once we all sat in the truth that each of us in our own way, is already brave, something shifted and the world opened up a bit more. 

Jana picked up her guitar and through her music, delivered each of us the gift of appreciation of ourselves. Her song blew the lid off the perceived limitations in that room. Faces began to change. Expressions came to life with yearning and remembered understanding. You could practically see the wheels of thought turning. You could certainly feel it. The room had become an energy warehouse, pulsing with the raw emotion of self-discovery. We were bursting at the seams, yet settled into a profound sense of peace. Eyes welled up. It was beautiful. 

The question originally felt strange because we already knew the answer. We are brave. I AM brave.

This is MY life. And I choose to start living with the intent to reach whatever potential I decide. I choose not to be bogged down by thoughts of what I CANNOT do. I choose to remember how brave I actually am! Whatever I wish to do, I matter what. So I ask you...if you were brave...what would you do? Oh already are. So go ahead.... be unsure, feel uncomfortable, scared even...and do it anyway, because you can. 

I found this version of Jana Stanfield's If I Were Brave on Youtube. It gave me chills. Please invest the five minutes to listen and watch to the end. You are worth it.


Thursday, August 29, 2013

How open is your mind?

Do you consider yourself an open minded person? Do you celebrate different ways of seeing, thinking of or believing in the same thing? Within the truths you believe, do you see yourself as flexible? Willing to expand your current beliefs? Yet do you also insist the life ideals and standards you have effectively and strategically put into place for yourself, be upheld in a non-negotiable fashion?  I would venture to say that the answer to these questions, for the vast majority of us, is yes! It certainly is for me. However things aren't always as they appear. What I have come to realize, is that within the solid framework, as well as within the open-mindedness of our own truth, knowing and reality, there is always room for more growth. And in some cases, a total re-write. 

When meeting a new client, I often say to them..."There are many ways of arriving at the same destination...", both literally and figuratively. And in my ironic righteousness and solid truth, I believed that I truly lived that philosophy. I would learn that I most definitely did not.

This past spring break, our family traveled to Costa Rica for the first time. Things are different there...very different. Let me make one thing very clear...although Costa Rica is in Central America, when you set out on an adventure there, check your American at the door. For people like me who had never experienced such a place, I had a lot to learn.The given things in America, like street signs, safety codes, air conditioning, reliable directions, convenience stores, even time, are loosely translated to fit into "current standards". Mixed in with having to manage and navigate the extreme natural elements, not to mention some of the worst roads and driving conditions I have ever experienced, I was annoyed. At first, this lack of things I simply take for granted made me feel imposed upon. Why should I, a valuable tourist, be so inconvenienced and put out of my comfort zone? I know I was visiting a foreign country, and looking forward to the new adventure, however I do not compromise my non-negotiable standards and ideals. Even though I am so open-minded...hhhmmm? How dare the Universe ask me to be so flexible? It was my hard earned vacation after all!

As the days went on and I acclimated into my new and foreign surroundings, a quiet and beautiful shift began to gently occur. The clean air took over and relaxation began to envelope me. I began to see that missing all the things that at first I thought I needed, was actually a gift. I felt lighter, less tied down. My stubborn, unbending annoyances started to soften. The beauty and the fragrance and the song of the country began to romance me. It began to seep into my veins and fill my heart with promise. I wouldn't let go completely. I wouldn't allow myself to abandon all of my rigid and unyielding armor entirely. Not yet...but I started to see Costa Rica and everything it contains and everything it represents for what it truly is.

Costa Rica is a rugged, beautiful and unspoiled land. Mother Earth in her greatest glory and all her living creatures, own this place. Not us. We humans are merely visitors. Although I believe that this is technically true for the entire planet, it is more than evident in this tiny yet bountiful country. The water, land and sun all have their own distinct personalities and energies way beyond the obvious...and they each confidently and gratefully command respect. The Costa Rican people (the Ticos) understand and embrace this concept whole-heartedly. It seems as though their given respect transcends them to a place of simplicity, connection and content that can be confused for a lack of sophistication or even intelligence. But to the contrary, this kind of understanding seems to me, to be the most accurate definition of both, the epitome of each really. They are a proud and friendly people. They move slower, are more deliberate, completely genuine. They exude forgiveness and willingness to help someone who doesn't speak a word of their language in their country, or with the otherwise most mundane of requests. I became acutely aware of how intolerant we have become of non-English speaking people in America. And although I know there is more to it than this, I must admit I felt ashamed by the frequent casting of judgement I have too often and too easily partaken in. The Costa Rican people move, work and govern within their country with fluidity, harmony, respect and gratitude for the gifts they have been given. Along with the supreme beauty of their country, simplicity and modesty are their greatest assets. 

As our journey continued, I made a decision to engage myself in as many activities that I had never tried as possible. I put myself way out of my comfort zone, was even quite scared a few times. But as it turns out, everything I thought I knew, about myself especially, everything I held so tightly to, wasn't written in stone after all. And by allowing myself to trust the Universe and not rely on my previous convictions, the world opened up to me... 

Who knew that I, screaming and laughing at the same time could face my fear and zip-line 200 feet above the jungle floor?

Who knew that it is possible to get somewhere without a GPS or street signs or paved roads in the middle of the night? 

I never imagined that I would ride beside a family of wild dolphins while crossing a vast and turbulent bay in the tiny boat of a complete stranger.

I learned that high tide really does mean HIGH tide. 

Active volcanoes actually do spew noxious fumes, and their harsh, beautifully ashen landscape also takes your breath away.

Giant cockroaches, chirping geckos and many a variety of bat decide when and where in your home they will visit. And they always put a smile on your way or another. 

The warning to wear shoes through the jungle grass should not be taken lightly. However, once those shoes are securely in place, a walk through that grass is a must.

Boogie-boarding in the Pacific ocean for the first time does indeed have the potential to fold your body in half, but it's all worth catching the perfect wave.

There are people who consider a one room, dirt floored cottage in the middle of mosquito-infested woods, paradise. They consider it so all for the sake of returning animals back into the wild after rehabilitating them. 

Howler monkeys truly are the loudest and scariest sounding land animals on the planet. Catching a glimpse of a group of them is priceless. And in our case, being "lucky" enough to have a family of them pee on a family of  

Amid the newness, the danger, the unknown...I have never felt more alive, more electrified, more tuned in. I have never so completely understood what it means to metaphorically lay my weapons down. Everything I thought I knew, I didn't. Not entirely. And with that awareness sprung excitement. The realization of the relatively small place I had lived inside my mind birthed something. It was the most magical, welcome and appreciated sense of yearning and wonderment that I have felt since I was a child, young and untainted and  limitless. I had the ultimate sense that where I stood at that moment was just the beginning for me. What other magic did the Universe have in store? What else could I be shown? Through new experiences, how much more flexible, and open minded could I become about myself and the world?

In awe of the contrast to the life I had known up until that point, I sat in bright silence and deep stillness. I rooted my energy deep within that soil and in reward for my shiny new awareness, I was given the gift of freedom. Here in this wild and magnificent land, the last of my rigidity melted away. I gladly allowed the sharp and unpredictable Pacific waves to wash the burden of inflexibility off my skin. I happily turned my worries over to the billions of stars in the black night sky.  Gratefully, I accepted the jungle's offer to free me of my previous limitations. And with the utmost respect and gratitude, I bowed down to the bizarre and beautiful creatures who merged their soul with mine in a joyous dance of connection and pure potential. I allowed the food, all gifts from the sun, to nourish and heal my body and mind, as I tasted things for what seemed like the first time. Aloe and pineapple and sweet, fragrant, fleshy and perfect mango dazzled my senses. My unyielding, non-negotiable ideals floated into the sand and into the water. They rose into the air and were swept away by the breeze and on the wing of a bat at twilight. The armadillo finally relieved me of my armor and the hummingbird of my ironic disconnect. The sharp and painful sting of a jungle insect, as well as the heat of sun scorched skin returned me to the home of my body. And lastly, the smile and kindness of stranger after stranger, and the way in which they very consciously choose to live and conduct themselves, tore down the most carefully and insidiously constructed wall of all. The gentle, patient deconstruction left my heart open and space to breath. Nothing would ever be the same.

Costa Rica became a totem, forever emblazoned in my mind as the birthplace, or re-birthplace, of my core essence and marked a new beginning for me. So much has changed since returning from this enchanted country. I have truly rewritten many of my truths, many of my ideals. I have challenged every conventional wisdom I held in regard, with scrutiny, examining all credibility and even validity. I took away with me a real sense of wonderment and awe and the knowledge that it just may be possible that everything I think I know...I don't. All the beliefs I hold about myself and the world and my place within it...are so....incomplete. There is nothing more freeing than the sense of not knowing everything, and in turn being limitless. So I choose to open my mind...and to keep it open. Just when I start to believe I KNOW, I will open myself a little more and a little more. I will hold my ideals and my standards with flexibility. I will stand like a mountain and flow like a river...because anything is possible.


Monday, August 26, 2013

How do you express yourself?

**This is an edited version of a previous post that I thought was worth revisting.**

How do you express your joy? What are your passions? Perhaps you don't even know. Does your joy speak through music, painting, with the written word, or through the lens of a camera? Maybe it's through dance or programming, fashion or animation. Could it be that the real you is yet to be discovered? Or do you know EXACTLY who you are, or who you want to be? And if you do, do you allow yourself to express that deepest truth?

I have spent most of my life "doing the right thing". I have grown up, been schooled, gotten married, had children, and maintained a thriving career. I have bought a house and brought home the bacon, been a good and loving wife, a nurturing mother and a caring and giving daughter. I have been the life of the party, the witty and loyal friend. I have paid my taxes, paid the piper...paid my dues. I work hard and I play hard. I have a beautiful life, enviable even. I have no regrets.

Well...maybe just a couple.

Aside from the unthinking, through-the-daze-of-youth-and-inexperience type of rash decisions that always lead to unpleasant consequences, I have two regrets. First and most important, I regret that through it all...through the joy and heartache that a full life promises to deliver, that I did not love myself enough. I did love myself...more or less. But not enough. And because I didn't love myself enough, regret number two was born. I regret, with every fiber of my being, that I did not follow my heart's desire sooner. I did not honor the little voice inside my head (as well as what every teacher I ever had told me) write. Write my truth. Write my feelings, my thoughts, my story. Give voice to the images behind my eyes and the sounds tucked beyond my the beating of my heart and to the earthen soil of my soul....give voice to the little girl who sat alone for hours in the dusty aisles of her neighborhood bookstore, breathing in the secret scent of the stories contained within. 

I've tried. God knows I've tried. I have started and stopped, started and stopped...a dozen worthy projects. I have schemed and dreamed and set up space. But I have never seen any of my ideas into full creation. I stand in my own way. My life, the one I created, keeps stopping me. But really, it's just fear.

I've told myself I am not qualified. I'm not good enough. I've convinced myself that it is too scary to expose the real me. What if people don't like the real me? Well...what if? Will I wither away and die? Will I be abandoned and alone? Judged? Criticized? Ridiculed? Will I be told to stop dreaming and join the "Real World"? What if I fail? What if my best efforts are a flop? What if my artistic endeavors of self expression take away from my responsibilities?


Isn't it also my responsibility to be true to myself? To love myself enough? Isn't it yours as well? And isn't it...time? 

Whatever brings you joy, whatever lights a fire within you, your passion....should at the very least, be of equal if not greater importance to anything, anyone, and everything that your life consists of. Your joy is your essence. Your joy is what makes the world a better place. And there is no-one else on the face of this planet who is more qualified to express your personal sense of joy better than you! So what is it? How do you express your joy?

Give yourself the gift of getting out of your own'll be amazed at what you can become. 

I welcome all comments and contributions. I want us to create this page together and give breathe to the voices within. Here I will take the journey from dreamer to doer, from writer to author. I invite you to walk beside me and I would be honored to do the same with you...wherever you may find your joy.


***UPDATE***I wrote this blog post in 2013...since then, I have indeed followed my own joy, my own voice and loved myself enough to walk forward holding the hand of fear...I wrote and finished my debut novel. I'll keep you posted on its progress.