Friday, February 28, 2014

Demystifying Creativity

"I wish I was creative," is the all-too-common response when I explain that my boyfriend is an artist. The problem with this statement is not the individual's desire for increased creativity, but rather the unstudied mentality of what's realistically involved in doing so. 

Malcolm Gladwell author of The Tipping Point and Blink, explains in his most recent book Outliers, "The closer psychologists looked at the gifted, the bigger role preparation seemed to play." 
He concludes, "Anyone with guided practice, for an extended amount of time, could reach a level of proficiency that would rival that of a professional." 

How long is an extended amount of time? Generally speaking, it takes 10,000 hours or 10 years, whichever comes first, to master a skill. Although genes increase one's propensity towards a certain areas, without adequate time and dedication, the skill wanes.  

Jack Kerouac, an American novelist and poet notes, "Therefore I dedicate to myself, to my art, my sleep, my dreams, my labors, my sufferance, my loneliness, my unique madness, my endless absorption and hunger because I cannot dedicate myself to any fellow being." The art within beckons to be let out; how will you answer its call?   

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Give Up the Bottle...

When technology gets bogged down - as with phones, DVR's and digital cameras - sometimes the easiest fix is to hit the reset button or to take the battery out and put it back in again. The same can be said for the mind. When the carefree spirit is weighed down with the muck of anxiety and worry, it may just be time for a reboot. Here's how:

Find a place to be alone, e.g., a chair, the shower, or other places of solitude. Use this space to focus on concerns (e.g. appointments, loved ones, bills, etc.) The point is to worry, worry, and then worry some more. Observe the link between a thought and its emotional response. This is the first step towards awareness.

Next, focus on what's right in front of you. Our mind makes believe that if we don't stress we must not care and that's simply not the case. If something is important it becomes a priority and success or failure will happen regardless of stress, doubt or worry. Learn to enjoy life's more difficult moments from this perspective.     

Lastly, practice, practice, practice. Quitting worry is just like quitting any other addiction; it takes time, patience and perseverance. If worry rears its little head, as it most likely will, remember there is a time and place for it, and it's no longer allowed to run wild in your consciousness.

"What will be left of all the fearing and wanting associated with your problematic life situation that every day takes up most of your attention? A dash, one or two inches long, between the date of birth and date of death on your gravestone." - Eckhart Tolle 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Silence is Golden...

What do you want to write about today, I asked myself. Silence. Not even a cricket chirp. Wait for it...still nothing. On days like today it's to the archives we go! Here are two poems I wrote ten years ago that helped make a difficult time easier. Enjoy.

Rocket Ship
It's leaving soon don't know if I'll be on it,
Everyone wants me to go, but right here I'll sit.
I don't know if it's safe, if I'll come out alive,
The last time I went, it went into a dive.
I had control but lost it with one wrong move, 
The spirit inside me had something to prove.
I know this time will be different, it won't be the same,
If it crashes this time, we'll know who's to blame.
Not the pilot or crew could have save this ship,
Nor the mechanics and engineers that made it tick.
The greatest existence ever known disagreed with its course,
It seems impossible that this could be the source.
If it happens it happens, I will not disagree,
But how will we know if we don't even see?

Spirit of the Tiger
The tiger in the cage endlessly paces,
Looking in the distance past all the faces.
He knows what they don't, for he's on a different path,
Soon they will be gone, will have received the wrath.
A smirk reaches his countenance but not one will see,
Too busy in their routine for the spirit of he.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Nobody Else But You...

The only person you can ever be is you; nothing more and nothing less. Trying to change who you are is like plunging a ball under water; the harder you push it down, the harder it wants to come back up.

We need to make peace with our weaknesses, while giving permission for others to be themselves. No one should act or behave the way you want them to because indubitably, there is no one way to act or behave. Letting ourselves and others off the hook opens up our capacity for acceptance. And, when there's acceptance, of not only our similarities but differences as well, what a wonderful world this will be.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Concert For One...

The best part of being on the road, if I had to choose, were the unplanned moments. It was these serendipitous moments that made my experience truly special. If you've ever read the Chicken Soup For the Soul books you know what I'm talking about. Each narrator shares their unique story, of victory or defeat, that adds a piece of fabric to the book's quilt.

The following is one of those moments that occurred unexpectedly to my friend Peter while camping at Anzo Borrego State Park. This family wanted "simply to bring joy to people through music." Here is the concert the four sisters played for him and only him. Enjoy.

   If you enjoyed this, here is the link to the other two videos of the concert.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

How to Catch the Big One...

Hitting on a woman is like fishing; once you get one on, you hold on and pray to god the line doesn't break. That being said, here are some tips to catching the big one :

1. Know what you’re up against. More often than not, the big fish, or the ones that are really worth catching, have already been caught a time or two. This means they are strong, smart, and quick.  Respect this majestic creature because if you don’t, they will snap your line in half.

2. Sometimes less is more. Skilled anglers know overpowering and forcing a fish in can lead to a broken line; therefore backing off and easing tension helps the process. Be aware of your expectations and how you approach the situation. Sometimes a positive outlook and enjoying what is right in front of you is all that's required.

3. Try and try again. The best fishermen in the world did not get that way from watching it on television; they packed their gear, rain or shine, and put their line in the water. Getting turned down by the opposite sex does not mean you’re a failure or that something’s wrong with you; it’s simply part of the process that leads you to becoming the best angler you can be.

Now get out there and do some fishing!

Saturday, February 22, 2014


I hate time and I hate commitments. I hate obligations and things I should or ought do. Today I hate this blog. I hate it because I have an obligation to write despite not knowing what to write about. Damn you 365 day commitment. Woosah...

Friday, February 21, 2014

Die Empty...

Die empty. When you are at the last moments of your life, whenever that is, will you regret not having been someone or done something? I'm thankful, at this moment anyway, not to have many regrets. The regrets I do have, I've vowed, if possible, not to repeat again. Over a year ago, as most of you know, I lived 11 months on the road. During that time I was surprised how often my level of comfort was challenged; washing my hair in a public restroom sink, hopping on the back of a complete stranger's motorcycle, or sleeping in people's homes that I'd just met that day. Looking back, the moments I wish could have again, are the ones where I feared looking stupid. How many people walk around with the same fear, head down and full of should'ves and next times, neglecting the call from within? 

"Alas for those that sing,
But die with all their music in them!"
 -Oliver Wendell Holmes, "Voiceless"

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Take Pause...

There are times we get be so caught up in where we are going, we forget where we are.  In Iceland, traffic 
lights halt cars for five seconds, in every direction, before turning green. Think about that. Five seconds to pause..before continuing onto your destination. Even now, you may be halfway reading this, halfway planning on what to do next; living in a perpetual state of coming and going. 

"Just as one spoils the stomach by overfeeding and thereby impairs the whole body, so can one overload and choke the mind by giving it too much nourishment. For the more one reads the fewer are the traces left of what one has read; the mind is like a tablet that has been written over and over. Hence it is impossible to reflect; and it only by reflection that one can assimilate what one has said. If one reads straight ahead without pondering over it later, what has been read does not take root, but is for the most part lost." -Arthur Schopenhauer

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

How To Decide...

Time moves quickly and if we don't strike while the iron's hot, opportunities pass us by...or do they? Although decisions do have to be made, unforeseen problems can arise when decisions are made in haste. Unfortunately for us, there is no app to signify when it's time to break up with a significant other or for when to quit a job, which means we're left to our own devices, making pro/con lists and getting advice from friends.

If you're feeling angst about a decision, hemming and hawing about what to do, daydreaming about it or losing sleep, it might be time to try something new. Ask yourself this question: what if I gave myself permission NOT to think about this decision? Don't get me wrong, if your house is burning down or you're in an abusive relationship then by all means get out NOW. However, there are times decisions require more information; a lesson to be learned, a different perspective - something that may only be revealed if you free your mind.

"If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you are at peace you are living in the present." -Laozi.

Therefore, may we all be in peace.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Leggo My Ego...

Last night Jimmy Fallon hosted The Tonight Show and his first guest, as the show's new host, was Will Smith. Will's celebrity status, income, and presumably ego, are the most notable around, however, upon hearing the advice Will gave to his children, I respectfully had to scratch my ego assertion, "Keep loving people. Your art is a gift to make people's lives better and brighter. When people fail, it's because they're doing it for their ego and they're doing it for them."

How do we know if we're acting out of love, out of the ego, or whether we're being selfish, or simply acting from the goodness of our hearts? When you act from the ego more successful people are intimidating, they serve as competition and you treat them like road blocks getting in the way of your path. If, however, you act from love, you willingly share your strengths and talents, welcome feedback, listen to other's ideas, and understand the importance of working together towards a common goal.

Operating from love is a challenging task, especially when we encounter pain. In moments such as these our egos have the fuel they need to justify increasing emotional distance and separateness from the people around us. We are now off the path of love. No matter how distressful our situation may be, it is our choice to remain in fear, self-judgment and judgment of others, thereby adding more fuel to the ego. It is up to each and every one of us to squelch the ego's destructive path, fill our heart and minds with love, which in turn increases our ability to fill the hearts and minds of others.

Monday, February 17, 2014

In Love I Walk...

Thank you for this moment

It's the sweetest yet I've taste

And the moments yet to come

Lest they too be gone in haste

May my words be filled with wisdom

My actions with the innocence of youth

May my eyes see through a veil of love 

To the inner source truth

May I tune my mind to silence

Allowing my sensations to flow

Seeing, feeling, breathing, being,

Healing each moment as I go.


Saturday, February 15, 2014

Love Is...

"But I got a great deal else from the experience. I learned to pitch a tent and sleep beneath the stars. For a brief, proud period I was slender and fit. I gained a profound respect for the wilderness and nature and a benign dark power of woods. I understand now, in a way I never did before, the colossal scale of the world. I found patience and fortitude I didn't know I had. I discovered an America that millions of people scarcely know exists. I made a friend. I came home."
-Bill Bryson. A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail

I followed him up a mountain on a bitterly cold day in October. Snow had recently fallen, making the path before us slippery and unstable. With socks for gloves and t-shirt used as a makeshift scarf, I silently trudged behind him. At one point, from the sideways blowing wind, the side of my face went numb and a knife-like sensation shot through my forehead. I didn't care, not in the slightest because I was in love and love makes you do crazy things.

After hiking Mount Katahdin together, we traveled to over 40 states in eight months, a testament to the connection we share. He is my catch partner, handyman, shoulder to cry on, editor-in-chief, sounding board, dinner date, greatest support and lover of my pantaloons. His creativity inspires me, his singing makes me smile, and his honesty is refreshing. He accepts me, all of me, and for this I am grateful. To my love and best friend on his birthday: "Two roads diverged in a wood, and I - I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference."

P.S. I lured him to go with me to Sears because I was picking up a table saw his dad and I bought for his birthday. He thought I bought clothes myself, which only added to the fun of the surprise.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Oh Captain! My Captain..

Yesterday we discussed how unmet needs leads to miscommunication and by changing your perspective about communication - to a dance of learning, growing, and connecting - an internal shift takes place. An internal shift that involves questioning why you think the way you do, how these thoughts help or hurt you and how to let go of that which does not serve your life's purpose.

Are you afraid of me...
how about me...
It is natural for anxiety to increase when you try something new or step outside your comfort zone. It is unnatural, however, for anxieties or insecurities to get in the way of living your life in an unrestricted and free manner. If you find fear is dictating your decisions or standing in the way of where you want to be, I encourage you to participate in this exercise:

Take a moment to locate your fear. Where is it coming from and what does it look like? Once you've found it, place it in front of you and explain to the fear how much you've appreciated its
I'll be there for you.
protection in times past. Although it's been there for you, its being a part of your life is keeping you from the empowered existence you deserve and want. Pick up the fear in your hand, give it a pat on its head, then blow it back to the nothingness from which it came. You are now free.

Navigating the rough waters of your inner self is not easy and, at times, it is downright torture. Similarly, as strength replaces weakness, empowerment builds, allowing the clouds to part which reveals the sky above and the endless possibilities in front of you. Now, onto the next storm...

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Communication is a Dance...

When watching professionals dance the tango, I am impressed by the balancing of energies - the pushing and pulling, slacking and tensing, dominating and submitting - that goes into their performance. Despite the great deal of effort to appear seamless, no dance routine is ever perfect, but the goal is to be as close as possible. In the same vein, primary relationships perform a dance using words, emotions, and body language to facilitate effective communication and connection.

In order to perform the dance successfully, we must first define communication. Communication is not just the words we say or how we say them, it is clearly expressing the emotional need via words and non verbal communication, too.

When we are upset we fail to communicate what we really need or want and instead react out of frustration, anger, or some sort of defense mechanism, keeping us from effective communication.

For tomorrow, take a look at these basic human emotional needs and bring your dancin' shoes because we're going to get our groove on!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Do Me a Favor...

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey , the world's leading questionnaire tool.

Monday, February 10, 2014

What You See Is What You Get...

Isn't it amazing how a photo takes on whatever meaning you assign to it? The photo to your left was taken at a fountain in Charleston, South Carolina. At the time, I was borderline miserable, living out of the back of my car with my boyfriend who I disagreed with about the tiniest of details.

More often than not we focus on the image of the life we want, rather than the reality of what goes into actually creating it.

Just because you work hard and play by the rules doesn't mean the perfect life is going to fall into your lap. Regardless how you feel about it, life has its ups and downs. Instead of looking at success as financial, prestige or status related, try looking at success by the amount of times you kiss your child at bed time, the amount of home cooked meals you eat, or the lengthy hugs you get or give to the ones you love. And don't ever forget, perception is everything.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

The Wave of Success...

Have you ever been to a baseball game or sporting event where spectators engage in the 
wave? If you've never experienced it, you are missing out. It starts with a group of people who stand, wave their hands in the air, scream at the top of their lungs, then sit down. The people to the right of that group do the same and if all goes well, it continues around the stadium in a circle back to where it originated.

It isn't an easy task to start a wave. One person - usually a motivated spectator - orchestrates the entire thing, overcoming obstacles -  a new inning, an error, a ground out - to pull off the feat. After many failed attempts something usually gives sending the disorganized fans into a beautifully choreographed movement. Challenges aren't easy and at times they are downright hard, but it's only by pushing through what's possible that we are able to see what we can truly accomplish. Now get out there and start a wave.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Zen Coffee Pot...

This morning's lesson comes from my coffee pot. It's slightly defective by societal standards, but in my mind, it's the ultimate in the moment indicator. When I rush myself, presumably due to thinking about the other million things I need to get done (other than pouring my cup of coffee) it leaks. It's as though my coffee pot has taken on the spirit of a downtown New York traffic cop, accent and all saying, "Hey lady, slow down or else you're in for it." The days I don't listen, seemingly every day, I'm left cleaning up the kitchen counter. Which makes me wonder, if I know the coffee pot is going to leak, why don't I just pour slower?

I think part of the answer lies in an article I read this morning. It suggests that by slowing down and connecting to the moment, whether it's with a complete stranger, a best friend, or in my case, a coffee pot, it allows for appreciation of what's right in front of you. The idea that there's always something more important to get to leaves and is replaced with there is nothing more important than what I'm doing right now. I think I'll try pouring myself another cup. Cheers.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Maybe you do...

Have I mentioned how amazingly thankful I am for my new digital camera? Well, I am..thanks again, Steve. My other camera was snatched away by a thief in the night and for a long while I wasn't the same. (The close up of the paw is of my youngest cat, Little Kitty). Have you ever smelled a cat's or dog's paw or their coat fresh in from playing on a cold winter's day? Try it. You won't be disappointed.
Photography is a passion of mine and I have to wonder if crystallizing moments in time, and immortalizing them for my forever, has something to do with my desire to leaf through old photos and recall times spent with my mother when she was still alive. 

Tomorrow will be the 16th year since my mom died (I know "passed away" is less offensive to people, but, truth be told, she didn't pass away - she died suddenly, without warning). I recently celebrated my 32nd birthday and it occurred to me, in a strange mathematical way, that I have now lived the same amount of time without her as I did with her here. There are times when past memories of her and I, together, come to mind - of us shopping, reading, or playing board games - where I see, smell, and feel her just as if she were here now, then suddenly reality interjects itself and in an instant she is gone again, residing only in the old snapshots. It's times like these it seems as if no one could understand the depths of my pain. Then again, who knows, maybe you do.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Crab Mentality...

Have you heard of crab mentality? It's when crabs are put into a bucket and when one tries to climb to freedom, the others pull it back in. Due to crab's selfish nature they not only doom themselves but every other crab around them. We act similarly to crabs by justifying greedy, self serving nature in order to take care of ourselves, but as you can see with with the crabs, they never get out.
How can you fix this? First, realize you're not a crab and second, that you're not in a bucket. Then go for a walk and give someone a hug. I'll leave you with a quote.
"Self-absorption in all its forms kills empathy, let alone compassion. When we focus on ourselves, our world contracts our problems and preoccupations loom large. But when we focus on others, our world expands. Our own problems drift to the periphery of the mind and so seem smaller, and we increase our capacity for connection - or compassionate action." - Daniel Goleman

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Dream Big or Go Home...

The sun is just coming up over the horizon. It looks as though it will be a clear and sunny day for Seahawks parade in downtown Seattle. Today is also the first of my last three days of working a real job. I feel so relieved saying that.

The vision I have for myself - to complete a book - is an exciting prospect, however a most uncomfortable path to walk down. The "I don't know" and "how do I" list is so long it scares me to point of not even wanting try. At the same time I know if I don't give myself wholeheartedly to this vision, I might regret it later (and that is one of the worst feelings of all). Here's to following a dream, wherever that path might lead.

In the words of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, "If your dreams do not scare you, they are not big enough."

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Don't Divorce Just Yet...

An old dog can always learn new tricks, that's what I say. Yet taking the first step outside the ol' comfort zone can be a difficult one to make. At the same time, if the past is any indicator of the positive experiences that are soon to follow by making uncomfortable choices, I'll take them every time. 

In this instance, I signed myself and Chris up for a couple's research study. The study requires us to watch five movies together in a month, answer a few questions about our experience, and then email the answers to the research group. I chose to do this study after hearing about it on NPR and how the exercise was recently found to have the same benefits as couple's counseling as well as decreased the instance of divorce by half in participating couples.  

With that, we watched our first movie tonight,  Move Over, Darling! This 1960's classic is a cute, Castaway-type movie, where a husband presumes his wife to dead after she is lost at sea for five years, and on the day of her return, decides to remarry a new woman. After the movie, Chris and I discussed the questions and although I won't go into details, I will say it was a successful (he thought so too). If you're looking for a fun, somewhat challenging, FREE and reportedly as successful as couple's counseling tool, this may be right up your alley. Here is the link:  Postpone that that breakup or divorce until next month...

Monday, February 3, 2014

Are You Your Best Friend...

You can't get along with everyone. That's not possible. Not everyone is going to care about every little detail of your life and that's OK.  The important thing to realize is no matter what happens, you always have you. The voice in your head that's constantly chatting it up can either be your best friend or your worst enemy.  It may be difficult to know who's who at first, and that's why I made a handy dandy exercise to help you figure it out. 

Start with setting a goal for yourself and list the challenges to reaching it. Divide a piece of paper into two columns labeling the left side "friend" and the right side "enemy." Look at your goal and its challenges, such as: the goal is to lose weight while the challenge to losing weight is eating fatty food. Under the "friend" side write any and all advice someone who cares about you would give, then under the "enemy" side write any and all advice someone who is against you would give. Once completed, read over what you wrote and decide which voice is the best choice to listen to in order to reach your goals. Remember, you always have you, even if you're your own worst enemy.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Dedicated to the 12th Man...

There is nowhere better to be than in Seattle right now. The buzz in the air is palpable, one that's replaced the usual rainy, hibernate-like gloom and doom state of mind with an energized and aroused one. I wore my Seahawks stocking cap to the grocery store last night and immediately felt underdressed, upon seeing the layers upon layers of Seahawks gear around me. Seattle has become a rabid dog, one that has been locked up in a cage for far too long and the only thing on their mind is revenge. Revenge for what, you ask? To all Seahawks fans reading this, you may want to close your eyes during the next part. 

In 2006, the first time in franchise history, the Seattle Seahawks made it to the Superbowl. This moment, a long time in the making, was all the greater because Seattle had a shot at winning. The city confidently turned on their television sets, waiting for the moment when they would be crowned the victor. Despite their outplaying the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Seahawks lost. I say outplayed because if it were not for the mistakes made by the referees (most likely on purpose) the outcome of the game would have been different. Petitions were filed, meetings took place but when it was all said and done, the Seattle Seahawks name was withheld from the record books. Seattle fans, you can open your eyes now. 
Today is the day Seattle's waited for ever since that fateful day eight years ago. Despite our past hardships, I'm proud of our team and what they have ignited in this city. The support from 12th man is an incredible thing to be apart of: whether it's the 12's flag being flown at Mount Everest's base camp, thousands of fans sending off players to New Jersey, or the International Space Station representing 12th man, each moment sends goosebumps through my blue and green veined body. The road to get to where are today has no doubt been a bumpy one, but what challenge isn't exactly that, bumpy. The ups and downs are what makes days like today worth every second of the ride. Go HAWKS!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

For You...

In Memory of:
Some moments are meant to be held,
To be breathed in and savored longer.
They need not be shared
or approved by the
Nor need they weather with time.
The moments of which I speak,
are for you
and for you alone.
Remember them