Even if you're not a word geek, you'll still find this amusing. It goes fast, and you have to pay attention to get the clever asides (like Dan Brown, John Grisham, gin and tonics, and clitoris).
Even if you're not a word geek, you'll still find this amusing. It goes fast, and you have to pay attention to get the clever asides (like Dan Brown, John Grisham, gin and tonics, and clitoris).
I've attended two concerts in one week for my teenage daughter who plays clarinet. She volunteered to play in the full orchestra concert (because they needed a few wind instruments), and her Symphonic Band concert is tonight. (At her high school, Symphonic Band is an audition-only band.)
These kids spend a lot of their time practicing and playing. At this level, they do it because they love music.
Now, some of these concerts can be long. Last week's was two hours long as it was two different orchestras and two different choirs (and all the combinations).
AND my job as an audience member is to give them my attention. To listen. To appreciate them. To support them.
Now, one could argue that perhaps she had a huge work deadline, and she was unfortunately caught with this deadline the same night as the concert.
Nope. Most of what she was doing was playing a game. And searching for other apps (my other daughter who also has an iPhone recognized what she was doing).
The world was not depending upon whatever she was doing on the phone.
My younger daughter was annoyed, too. Especially since she has never (even at 4 or 5 years old) been allowed to bring a book, GameBoy, or anything to do.
I was honored to be gifted with a night of music, especially from the audition-only choir and orchestra. They deserved to be heard.
I use the Sacred Journey journal system as one way to keep inspired and motivated. Every month, I draw a card (from the Sacred Journey deck) as my theme for the month.
I wrote this as a result:
Here is what this brings up for me: Believe in love. Believe in the goodness of the Universe, life, and people. Come from a place of love. All you need is love. Love is all around. [Sorry - I've been influenced by a few songs and movies.] Love is what makes life worth living. Love your partner, love your work, love your children, love your friends, love your clients. Love yourself.
It's that last piece that drew me to share this with you... We need to love ourselves, truly love ourselves. Not from a selfish, greedy place, but with same nurturing care we show and feel for others. Imagine what our lives would be if we just loved ourselves - got rid of the hateful, hurtful interior voices, the ones who shame us and criticize us. Imagine if we were kinder and gentler to ourselves, and didn't constantly deride ourselves for not doing enough, not being enough, not being pretty enough, not being thin enough, not cooking enough, not cleaning enough...
Love yourself. And I'll do the same.
I don't know that this is specific to me, but it's of utmost importance to me. I do not function well if I feel I'm untethered, adrift, and dependent upon factors beyond my control.
Ungrounded happens when I'm unsettled, scared, full of "What if..." scenarios (not the fun kind), bitchiness wiht no reason, resisting...
Specifically, that means:
I'd love to hear your thoughts on this... about grounding and what you do to ground yourself.
In today's earlier article, 8 Strategies to Get in Touch with Your Soul, I wanted to give a little more information on Strategy #1: Get rid of distractions.
We all have the surface mind clutter. Hence, the getting rid of a few of the distractions - clearing the deck, so to speak. The danger is when you think you're going to get the deck completely clean before you go deeper. Hint: the deck will NEVER be completely clean.
Then, there's the next level. A little deeper, but still not your soul. This is where journaling comes in handy. Something will pop out, some little message from your soul that says, "This is where we want to go. Let's go here." And so you go there.
For example, as I was doing my inspirational reading and journaling, the idea of Designing My Day came into play. That was where my soul wanted to go - that idea that *I* design my day. My day can look the way I want.
So, I finished my journaling, and then switched to what Designing My Day might look like. Sure, I have obligations, piano lessons and drama class to take the girls to, client calls... but in those and around those, I can choose how I want to be in my day.
It's a lot of following your energy, but it's also about listening to what your soul has to say.
Be the best you can be.
It all comes back to Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs and the pyramid of needs. Basic needs are on the bottom; higher level needs are at the top.
It's so easy for us to get caught up in the lower levels of the pyramid, especially in our daily lives where we can easily lose sight of the bigger picture. What we're really trying to do, though, is climb up the pyramid.
Here is the best definition of that climb, in Maslow's very own words,"I think of the self-actualization man not as an ordinary man with something added, but rather as the ordinary man with nothing taken away. The average man is a full human being with dampened and inhibited powers and capacities."
The thing about the climb is that we can't try to take 10 different paths to the top of the pyramid to try to rid ourselves of the things that don't work. You have to focus on one path at a time. Finish that path, and then start the next.
What is your path to the top of your pyramid?
In "An Obect At Rest..." I talked about how there's the spark, that external force that moves us from rest to motion or from motion to rest.
For those of us who do the courageous thing, the unusual thing, sometimes against the advice of friends and loved ones, it's usually because there's a spark.
Sometimes the spark can be fueld by fear, like when a woman needs to leave her abusive husband after the seventh trip to the emergency room with broken bones.
Better, though, is when the spark is combined with no fear. The result is inspired, positive action.
It's doing the work our higher selves want us to do + some reason to do it NOW --> results in cool, scary, amazing options.
This can look like a woman making a career change in mid-life. She has a nest egg, so she's not in fear/lack mode, but she knows she wants to do something fulfiling.
So, the above equation looks like this for her:
No fear + a spark = inspired, positive action
Wanting to do work she loves + time to get moving on making $ before the nest egg runs out = cool ideas.
What is your spark?
Who knew that physics would figure so prominently in life issues?
An object at rest will remain at rest unless acted upon by an external force.
An object in motion will remain in motion unless acted upon by an external force.
Another way to put it... there was a spark, the thing that has caused you to do what you do. If there was no spark, there would be no reason to change. You would remain at rest - or in motion along the same path you were before.
Why did 15-year-old Jack Andraka work so hard to find a cure for pancreatic cancer? Because his uncle died. THAT was the spark, the external force, that set him in motion.
In every movie, there's a spark, or as one of my favorite writing authors states, the door of no return, that sets the stage for what happens next.
If you change paths, or the one you were on no longer exists, THAT is the definition of an external force.
You have to choose what path is in front of you.
A few weeks ago, I wrote about how most people don't want change, even though they say they do. I've observed it over and over in the professional world as well as in the personal one.
I've been reading Seth Godin's brilliant Linchpin, and he has this to say about it:
How was it possible to brainwash billions of people to bury their genius, to give up their dreams, and to buy into the idea of being merely an employee in a factory, following instructions?
Part of it was economic, no doubt about it. Factory work offered average people with small dreams a chance to make a significant change in their standard of living. As a bonus, this new wealth came with a pension, job security, and even health insurance.
But I don't believe that this was enough to explain the massive embrace of a different way of life. The key piece of leverage was this promise: follow these instructions and you don't have to think. Do your job and you don't have to be responsible for decisions. Most of all, you don't have to bring your genius to work.
In every corporation in every country in the world, people are waiting to be told what to do. Sure, many of us pretend that we'd love to have control and authority and to bring our humanity to work. But given half a chance, we give it up, in a heartbeat.
Like scared civilians eager to do whatever a despot tells them, we give up our freedoms and responsibilities in exchange for the certainty that comes from being told what to do.
These are pretty harsh words, but I belive them wholeheartedly. A lot of times, I'm shocked when I come face to face with them in action. Partly, that's because I don't live that way. I want to use my genius. I don't think this way works any more. I believe potential is HUGE, and we're not living up to it. It's also partly because I've surrounded myself deliberately with people who believe that as well. They don't just want to be automatons, told what to do. They want to make a difference.
We all want to make a difference. It's just when it comes down to it, we'd have to think in order to do so.
Fear is part of most of us. Fear of speaking, of letting others down, of debt, of problems in a relationship, of death, of taxes, of succes, of failure. You name it; someone fears it.
The thing about fear is that it's usually for the future.
That fear of speaking... once you get up to the podium and start, you've started. The fear is usually what you feel BEFORE you have to speak, and you imagine all the awful things that are going to happen when you get up there.
Fear of letting others down... It's rarely as bad as we think. Sure, we do let others down sometimes; we're only human. Rarely, though, does it result in the complete and total exile we imagine. And if it does, then we usually figure out that it was for the better.
Fear of problems in relationships.... we're sure that this problem here and now is going to lead to irrevocable actions, and when it comes down to it, we usually work it out. And, like above, if it doesn't, then it's probably better that the relationship is gone anyway.
Fear of debt.... yes, you might have creditors calling you, but in most cases, they're not taking your house or your car, although your fear tells you that's exactly what will happen.
Look around you right now. You have food. You have shelter. You have a computer or smartphone with Internet access. You're probably wearing clothes and not a burlap sack. When you went to the grocery store this morning, you didn't have to dodge bullets because you don't live in a war-torn nation. Nazis aren't breaking down your door and taking you away to hell.
It doesn't mean that bad things don't happen. When they do, we stand up and do what's needed.
So, fear is really just a fear of what might happen (and rarely does).
Focus on what's around you right this minute, and tell the fear to take a hike.
Happy Thanksgiving to everyone who is celebrating and/or believes in the power of gratitude.
I, for one, have much to be grateful for: my significant other being here in Maryland and NOT long distance, amazing daughters, great relationships, an adorable house that is our sanctuary, the best clients in the ENTIRE world, being healthy, life getting better all the time, martinis, and so much more that I'll probably feel bad not noting in the spur of the moment.
Of course, along with Thanksgiving, it's become a tradition in the United States that as soon as the turkey coma wears off, people start planning their holiday shopping. (I've even been to family Thanksgiving dinners where people go home at about 8:00pm to get some sleep before they get up at 3:00am to go stand in line. Crazy!)
Along with the traditional Black Friday and recent Cyber Monday, we're now adding Small Business Saturday. (That's actually where I'll be spending my time and my dollars - in local downtown Frederick, which is filled to the brim with the neatest, locally-owned small businesses.)
A quick note about Small Business Saturday: why not try to compete with Black Friday since people are willing to be out spending money and trying to complete their Christmas shopping? Because small businesses are smart enough not to try to take on big national chains and their millions of advertising dollars. No matter how much one might support the idea of local and online small businesses, it's awfully hard to battle with a box store giving away the newest techno gadget if you're one of the first ten blah blah blah.
No matter how much I might support Small Business Saturday (or try to stay away from the madhouse shopping on Friday), I'm not completely immune. During a local trip to Home Depot, I saw pallets filling the aisles, covered in black pastic tarps. The covered pallets were enticing enough, but the sign is what did it...
What is under wraps? Come to The Home Depot Black Friday to find out!
I have to say... I'm VERY tempted to visit Home Depot on Friday to see what's under that plastic wrapping. It's probably appliances or cabinets or tools.... nothing that you can't always get at Home Depot. But the suspense is marketable.
Happy Thanksgiving, and think about marketing during all that shopping!
As a virtual assistant and online business manager, I have amazing clients, and even more amazing relationships with them. We do great things in their businesses, and one way we do that is to spend time on the big picture, not just the day-to-day stuff.
Of course, it's hard to focus on the big picture in weekly one-hour calls when you also have to handle questions that come up, tasks, short-term plans, and the like. The best way to handle THAT problem, then, is to set aside a big block of time to do that big picture visioning and planning.
So, off to Oklahoma I go to work with my awesome client Kristin for two full days. I get there Wednesday night, and we stay up until 3:00am talking about all sorts of stuff, including, yes, work. As it got later and later, Kristin would say, "We don't have to start until 12:00 tomorrow." At 3:00am when we finally went to bed, she said, "We don't have to work at all tomorrow!"
But work we did, and we got a ton done: planning a new huge project that will change her business completely (in a very good way), expense and revenue planning, pricing outlines, time management.... Then, dinner with Kristin and sister (who is also involved in the business), and to bed slightly earlier than the night before.
Friday morning: Woo-hoo! We're going to get so much done!!!!
Until about noon when I start feeling queasy and dizzy. We think that something bubbly might help, so off we go to get a Diet Coke. Almost all the way there, I ask Kristin to turn around and take me back to her house. I don't make it.
We finally get home, and I go to bed for an hour and a half and wake up feeling better. I decide to eat a toasted bagel since I haven't eaten anything all day (bad idea as it turned out). We get some more work done, and I talk with another of my clients while Kristin has a coaching call. I end my phone call, and ten minutes later, my entire world is upside down.
I spend the next several hours in the bathroom, and I become so severely dehydrated that I'm slightly delirious. Mark calls Kristin, and they decide I really need to go to the emergency room.
(What convinced them? When I said, "I don't know what to do," they both panicked and decided I needed medical intervention.)
An IV of fluids and anti-nausea medication later, I'm coherent and better. However, my flight is supposed to leave at 8am on Saturday morning, and Kristin, Mark, and the PA in the emergency room don't think I should leave that early.
I'm devastated because I just want to go home. (It sucks being sick anyway, but being sick and not home is worse.)
We go back to Kristin's house, and she gets me a later flight home for Saturday, which we're assumng I'll be better for, and we go to bed.
I wake up the next morning, feeling much better. I try to convince Kristin that we should get some work done before she takes me to the airport, but she won't let me. Instead, she fixes me tea and toast.
Now, this is after 24 hours of her taking great care of me.... checking on me when I'm sick, taking me to the ER, filling out all the forms, going back to the examining room with me, getting me all sorts of fluids and medicine, and just being so genuinely concerned.
That's where the client love part comes in.... when you work closely with a client, you should have a good relationship with her, one that's based on trust and connection. It's vital to a good working relationship. But we don't ever think about it in terms of "Well, if I get sick, then I hope I really trust my client to take care of me." Literally, my life was in Kristin's hands, and I trusted her completely.
What about the anti-naughty medicine? When Kristin was texting Mark to keep him in the loop of what was going on, she was trying to type that they were giving me anti-nausea medicine. Her auto-correct changed it to anti-naughty medicine. She showed me, and let's just say that laughing when you're nauseous and weak is not fun.
So, it's Saturday morning, and it's time to leave for my later, 12:10pm flight. Kristin drives me to the airport, we say a tearful, love-filled good-bye (and promise to do this next time without getting sick), and off into the Tulsa airport I go. By the way, it's the Tulsa International Airport, and I asked Kristin how in the world it could be an international airport when I can't get a direct flight from any of the three major airports in the DC-Baltimore area to Tulsa. She says, "Oh, it's international all right. It's the Tulsa-to-Dallas airport."
Into Tulsa International Airport I go to check in. There are two ticket agents, and one is helping a tall, thin man with reddish brown hair and a beard. I hear his ticket agent say, "It's such an honor to meet you. My husband will be jealous."
I take a look at his luggage, and he has a beat-up trunk and an old, worn, soft leather briefcase. I'm thinking musician based on the trunk.
I do my thing with my ticket agent, and I hear the other one say, "Have a good flight, Mr. Molly. We'll just call you that..."
I hear his voice, and it's familiar. I don't think it can be the person I think the voice belongs to... Tulsa International Airport. No entourage. No security. Crappy luggage. And did I say Tulsa International Ariport?
I finish up and go off to security, and guess who gets in line behind me? (It's a very small airport.)
I turn to him and say, "Are you who I think you are?"
He responds, "Maybe. Who do you think I am?"
Holy shit! Really?! (No, I did NOT say that, but I thought it.)
I say that it's a pleasure to meet him, and he shakes my hand and asks my name.
I then say, "I have to ask... what are you doing in Tulsa?"
He tells me that he just spend 9 weeks making a movie (August: Osage County), and they just finished the night before. I asked him if we was pleased with the work he did, and he said yes.
I tell him that I loved him as Obi Wan Kenobi and that he did an amazing job channeling Alec Guinness. He thanked me. Then, typical Dawn, I say, "I don't mean to do the typical, gushing whole 'Omigosh! You're amazing" thing but.... Omigosh, you're amazing!"
He was so gracious and kind, and I was just blown away by meeting one of my favorite actors in one of the most un-assuming places.
I couldn't help but think that if I hadn't gotten sick and had to leave later the next day, I would never have had that moment.
Find your moments.
(To get up-to-date, Thrive is my theme for 2012, and Teen Child created a 2012 calendar to honor and inspire that theme. This is June and July.)
So why am I doing June on July 1? Because I moved! And as much as I kept my business going while I was moving, I had to let some things go, and one of those was blog posts.
Funny enough, though, June's theme was Environment (and this was what Teen Child drafted way back in December, before we knew we would be moving. (And that one of the main reasons we were moving was because environment, external and internal, was crucial.)
Here's what she wrote, "Your environment influences your entire life. It decides your happiness and sadness. So make it completely yours. Fill it with the perfect combination of love, compassion, and happiness to feed your soul energy to its highest capacity."
Now for July!
Theme: Giving Back. Here's what she wrote, "Here's one I'm sure I'll completely murder if I try to write anything encouraging or smart or clever. So here's this lovely white blank space where you can write all of the things that will help you thrive to giving back. What are you giving back? To whom are you giving it?"
Doesn't sound bad to me - what she came up with, that is.
I've been wanting to do this for years. I love movies, and I'll always say, "That one is on my top 20 list!"
But no list really existed. And I have to say that actually making that top 20 list wasn't easy to create. Too many great movies! (Disclaimer: these are DAWN'S Top 20 Movies - I don't expect anyone to agree. I have my own wacked criteria.)
After #1 and #2, they aren't really in any order, but it's hard to do a list without it being in a linear order. (Hence, the image above.)
1. Stardust - for completely sentimental reasons. It's fantasy, and it has deep meaning for me and my beloved.
2. Shawshank Redemption - the only perfect movie that exists. Amazing acting, great characters, good writing, fantastic music...
3. A Few Good Men - it comes close to being perfect, except that Jack Nicholson is a little over the top at the end.
4. Aliens - gotta love a woman who kicks ass.
5. Ferris Bueller's Day Off - yeah, it's fun, but it has deep messages too.
6. Philadelphia Story - Cary Grant is one of my favorite actors, and the dialogue is witty and fast.
7. Guess Who's Coming to Dinner - the ending scene is one of my favorite ever. Katherine Hepburn never watched the movie as Tracy died within 3 weeks of finishing the movie. Her tears at Tracy's speech are real.
8. The Thin Man - silly or not, the connection between Nick and Nora is fabulous, and she is not a doormat, even in the 1930s.
9. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof - Both Newman and Taylor are so delicious looking. And there's some good acting, too. ;->
10. Princess Bride - Perfect characters, and I love the grandfather-narrator breaking into the story. Great storytelling. (And it's an amazing book, too.)
11. Casablanca - How can this not be on the list?
12. All About Eve - Great lines, good acting, and quick wit.
13. Charade - Another Cary Grant movie, and I love the connection between Audrey Hepburn and Grant.
14. Die Hard - I watch it every Christmas. Great hero and even better villain.
15. Oceans 11 - Another great dialogue movie, as well as such subtle acting.
16. Sound of Music - so sue me.
17. Laura - Intense love story, and Gene Tierney is breathtakingly beautiful.
18. Braveheart - best non-lyric soundtrack ever. I get choked up hearing "Murron's Theme" every time.
19. Galaxy Quest - Adore how it lovingly makes fun of Star Trek, and it's a great buddy movie
20. Operation Petticoat - Yes, another Cary Grant movie, and a great example of his subtle acting (and a model for George Clooney.)
Sidenote: The following are, in my opinion, absolutely excellent movies that I don't watch over and over. Filmmaking, screenplay, acting, dialogue... and they're just not my favorites: Godfather and Schindler's List.
Two paths lie before me,
And I stand before them,
And they wait for me,
But the decision about which path
Is not mine.
Both paths are clear,
Each turn easily visible.
No hidden twists or turns.
Each path equally viable.
But the decision about which path
Is not mine.
Finally, a decision.
I take a step.
Onto the next crossroads.
(To get up-to-date, Thrive is my theme for 2012, and Teen Child created a 2012 calendar to honor and inspire that theme. This is May.)
May's theme: Creativity
"Find time every day for Dawn Creative Time.
Unleash your inner creativity with no reluctance, second thoughts, or skepticism.
Just GO! Do whatever your soul is telling you to do."
You know, Teen Child is pretty smart. I should follow her advice. :)
And, instead of just saying I should follow her advice, I should actually do it. So, here's to Dawn Creative Time at Starbucks today!
When I did Part 2 of the Setting Yourself Up for Easy Experiment, it made sense to apply what I had learned from Part 1 with my cross-stitch project to writing: leave out the computer with my short story up, and I'll be reminded and motivated to write on my short story all throughout the week.
I didn't write on my short story once.
Now, this is also the week that I suffered from a migraine, had my hopes dashed about a house I was hoping to rent, saw three other houses, and made arrangements to see five more.
As my significant other remarked, "Perhaps this wasn't the week to do an experiment on writing."
Perhaps, but I also know that there will always be stuff. Granted, it might not be as big, important, and heavy as finding the ideal place to live for your family, but there's still stuff.
Here's what I learned from Setting Yourself For Easy Experiment Part 2:
Setting up one project for easy and what that means differs from thing to thing, so I have to figure out what I can do to set up my short story for easy. Some thoughts...
Stay tuned for Part 3 coming.... who knows when. :)
And I'd still love to hear in the comments below how you set yourself up for easy when it comes to writing.
(To get up-to-date, Thrive is my theme for 2012, and Teen Child created a 2012 calendar to honor and inspire that theme. This is April.)
Yeah, yeah... it's April 26. At least it's still April.
April's theme: Health.
These are 6 elements of wellness. No matter how much one expands by itself, it needs the help of the others to fill the health circle.
Physical: The most obvious and self-explanatory. A perception and expectation of physical health.
Spiritual: What is your meaning in life? Your understanding and acknowledgement and familiarity of your spirit.
Social: How close are you to the people you love? Do you have strong support available when needed?
Emotional: Know who you are and love it. Do you have the ability to cope with "bad" days and "bad" moods?
Intellectual: Simply being internally energized by an optimal amount of intellectually stimulating activity.
Environmental: A POSITIVE perception of the environment in which you live and work.
Each month, I'm still amazed at Teen Child's insight. Wow.
Wednesday, 8:30am eastern. I get a phone call from my significant other, Mark, who lives in California. (In case you don't do that math, that would be 5:30am pacific. And in case you don't know Mark, he is NOT a morning person.)
"I have a plan," he exclaimed. (Not a hint of a sleepy voice.)
"Uh, you've been up for a while, haven't you?" I ask.
"Yep! And here's the plan. You fly out on Friday for a week and help me get this situation under control. With you spearheading it, we'll make progress and fend off the dogs. I'll pay for your plane ticket, a dumpster, and a storage unit."
(I'm pretty thrilled that I got top billing out of the three.)
See, his landlord and long-time friend is a hoarder. Not a hoarder like you might say you and I are. I kept all my college notes for 20 years before I downsized to an apartment about a 1/3 the size of my big-ass house. That so doesn't compare to this.
His landlord, whom we'll call N, had been this way for all of his life, and his house, which is pretty sizeable, was crammed to the gills with stuff. Imagine 30-40 years of accumulating everything, from suit coats to drill bit sets to VCRs to plastic grocery bags. (And a whole lot of stuff in between, a lot of it not pleasant.) Poor N's health was starting to go downhill, which, after seeing the condition in which he had been living, was not surprising.
In his efforts to get his health under control, he called just about every doctor and nurse in Carmel, finally reaching someone who decided to call 911. The fire department and an ambulance came out. Since the front door couldn't open because of all the stuff, the firemen had to take the front door off the hinges, climb over piles of stuff, debris, rotten food to get to N.
N had been fending off the local government, who had been trying to get him to clean up his act, literally, for decades. Now, since he had voluntarily let them into his home, they took pictures and notes of the living conditions.
Verdict: he can't come back into his home until it is no longer a health hazard.
Now, since Mark lives on the property in an attached studio apartment, he could be kicked out of his home if the entire property gets red-tagged. Hence, the need for a plan.
So, I go out to California thinking that I'll do for the N Project what I do for my clients: create a big-picture plan made up of the individual tasks and then dive in. Yes and no. What I realized from the very beginning was that Mark and I could in no way clear out the clutter (and debris and rotten food and dead animals. Yes, dead animals) in the entire house.
(Stuff piled way above the windows)
But Mark wanted to try, and I knew that he would have to try in order to appease his conscience.
After 96 hours, we made it about 20 feet into the house, probably about a 1/15 of what would need to be done, and that's just in the main house. That doesn't include the basement, the carport, or the deck. And then there's the drywall repair (bad mold), carpet and wood floor replaced (deterioration beyond recognition - "That's carpet?"), appliances replaced (no working refrigerator, and we don't know if the stove works), plumbing repaired (no working toilet or sink in either the kitchen or the bathroom).
(This is before we "cleaned" out the kitchen.)
(This is after we "cleaned" out the kitchen.)
What does that mean? It means we filled up a large dumpster, took stuff to storage (including 7 brand-new VCRs and 10 new drill bit sets), filled up 10 very large recyclying containers - twice (the paper alone was staggering), dumped the equivalent of two household's food pantries in the garbage, and probably so many other things that I just can't recall.
Oh, and we did all this wearing coveralls and breathing masks because the stench was almost unbearable (and I'm sure dangerous to our health). I ran out of the house twice, very close to retching.
It was a sobering, unreal, intense, unfathomable experience that will be with me for a long time.
The lost opportunities - what N dreamed about when he bought those things.
The money spent - just in 20 feet: 7 brand-new VCRs, 10 new drill bit sets (unopened!), the Dean Martin variety show on DVD set (the ENTIRE set, again, unopened).
The need - N felt safe cocooned in his stuff. What pain was he trying to hide from.
The denial - even now, N doesn't understand why we just didn't put the soiled clothes in a box (just one!) and clean them. They were unsalvageable. He also asked us to put newspapers on the carpet to protect it from damage. 1) Already damaged beyond repair, and 2) we couldn't even find the carpet until we removed 96 hours' worth of debris.
The sadness - we found pictures of the house when it was new. N actually had built it himself, and there are some stunning elements. When we found the pictures, I burst into tears. The way it was vs. the way it is now... I can't even find the words to explain.
(The bedroom as new.)
(The living room as new.)
Here's what I learned personally:
(To get up-to-date, Thrive is my theme for 2012, and Teen Child created a 2012 calendar to honor and inspire that theme. This is February.)
According to Teen Child, February's subtheme is Universe (I had originally had 10 areas in which I wanted to thrive, so TC had to come up with two additional areas. Universe is one of those two that SHE thought up. Brilliant, she is.)
Universe: "Every single person, place, and thing contributes something unique to the universe. YOU happen to contribute many. The universe is grateful for your overwhelming warmth and fuzziness, your undying ability to empathize, and your never-ending stream of love and creativity."
Gotta love the "fuzziness." :)
Sucking you up into the maelstrom.
Spinning you around.
Spitting you out...
If you're lucky.
The head aches.
The mind tumbles.
The heart hides.
The whirlwind is inside...
Sucking, spinning, spitting.
You try to grab it.
To stop it.
To hold it.
To contain it.
A hole waiting to be filled.
My soul cries out.
The only hope is to forget.
To go forward.
It's a cold, late December night, probably in the 20s. Suddenly, there's a knock at the door. "No one ever knocks on my door at 8:30 at night," I say.
We open the door, and it's teenage girl with several piercings, holding a laminated piece of paper, shivering and basically looking pathetic.
"Hi, I've entered in this communications challenge where I have to knock on 100 doors. It's to help get rid of speaking-in-public phobia."
"You have a phobia of speaking in public?"
"No, it's just part of my marketing communications class. See, I'm trying to raise money for a scholarship."
Because it's so freaking cold, I invite her in (which, by the way, I wouldn't have if Mark weren't here with me).
And she hands me the laminated piece of paper that has the title "Double Points" on one side and "Triple Points" on the other, along with a list of magazines on each side. That's it. No sponsoring organization. Nothing other than the title and the magazine list.
"Oh, so you're selling magazines?"
"Well, not really. See, you don't have to buy anything."
"Isn't this a magazine subscription?"
"Well, yes, but you don't have to buy a magazine subscription; you can donate money. See, it's sponsored by Girl Scouts, but we're too old to sell cookies. So we're selling magazine subscriptions."
Her attempt at being funny and approachable.
"Oh, and this goes to my basketball scholarship."
Uh-huh. (By the way, she REEKS of cigarette smoke. I almost say, "Wow, it must be really hard to play basketball - and be good enough to get a basketball scholarship - smoking like you do." I resisted.)
"No, thank you," I say, and I lead her to the door.
She starts to cry. "This is my last door. They're picking me up in five minutes. This means I've lost. Now, there's no way I'll get my basketball scholarship."
She would have been so much more believable if she had thought through her scam and made it believable.
So, to all scam artists out there... the more authentic you and your materials are, the better a chance you'll have of pulling off a successful scam.
Almost every year I have a theme for the year. Sometimes, I don't figure it out until the end, but every so often, I actually come up with the theme ahead of time. What a concept.
This year, beyond being just the Year of Hell, has been a tough one in many different areas. Changes have abounded all over the place, all of them good (I have to believe that - that I'm stretching more into the person I'm meant to be, and that those changes are necessary for that process to complete).
However, in some cases, 2011 has been a year of struggle.
I don't want that any more, so 2012 will be my Thrive year.
I figured out the Thrive theme in the new Women Balancing Life and Business group of the Gaithersburg-Germantown Chamber of Commerce. As vice-chair of the group, my committee designed topics for our monthly meetings, and December's topic was creating a theme for 2012. I figured I would use a good theme like Abundance or Prosperity, but then one of the women recounted an NPR show about how women business owners in Montgomery County, Maryland, aren't just surviving; they're thriving.
That clinched it. No other word would do. Abundance and Prosperity seemed limiting in some ways, restricted to areas of finance or business. I wanted a whole-life theme.
Since I've been playing around with my creative, artistic side (and my new easel), I decided to brainstorm what exactly Thrive meant to me. Here's what I came up with:
Now, here's the clincher. My older daughter, Teen Child, came into my office one day and asked me what the diagram meant. I explained each area to her and what it would mean to me to thrive in each area.
I didn't realize there was an ulterior motive.
Come Christmas Day, she gifts me with this amazing 2012 calendar that she made to honor my Thrive theme. Each month takes on one of the areas from my diagram, plus two more that she came up with by herself (love and Universe - Uh, what 15-year-old has that capacity for complex thought?). She then wrote something for each one, along with images or photos to demonstrate the concept.
I could say so much about this: being supported by my daughter, being seen, having a tangible way to consciously work on my theme and my goals, one of the most thoughtful gifts I've every received....
So, here's January....
Leadership - "You are a leader. You lead because people trust you, because YOU are trustworthy. AND remember to take care of yourself."
I love the picture of Big Dawn and the chain of Everyone Else. Not because I feel bigger than everyone else. I just think Teen Child is clever. :)
Lots of changes. Tons of changes. Some of which I've embraced and others where I've had no choice. And my great belief and faith is that all the change, all the Phoenix Rising moments, are exactly what are needed and wanted.
I'll be - I AM - the better for all the change.
I journaled for the first time today since I've been back in Maryland (there's a perfect coffee shop in downtown Carmel, California, where I wrote four days - unheard of! - and I miss it so much). After I did my journaling today,as I do once or twice a year, I went back to journals I wrote in the last four years.
Wow. That was quite a perspective.
If I ever needed the movie of my life to show how different things are now compared to a year ago, two years ago, three years ago...
I'm different. And yet somehow more me.
The biggest thing I've realized is that I've spent the last forty years (sigh, it just SOUNDS old) with many of my relationships have been unequal in power, with me usually on the losing side. As I delve more into chakras and archetypes, I was particularly struck by the archetypes of the third chakra: dysfunctional Victim and functional Warrior.
I've consciously spent the last six or so years taking back my power and being more the Warrior.
All the important relationships in my life are there by choice. No victim status here.
Anyway, the point is really how struck I was by how I go back and review journals, and the insight that brings. Do you read back over journal entries you've written?
While I feel strongly about the idea of beauty as inspiration, I by no means cater to the surface beauty messages that are launched at us from every which way.
Thanks to Laura Biering for sharing this video. It's a powerful statement about beauty and women. Warning: there is one "bad" word toward the end, and it's powerful.
I don't want to write. Whine. Whine. Whine.
Why don't I want to write? Don't I have plenty to say? (Heck, some people will tell me I don't shut up enough.)
Is it that I'm stuck? No. I have ideas and projects-in-progress galore.
It's more that I just don't feel like it.
It's that I'm not FEELING it.
I could pick a topic from the list of the things I would write if no one were watching, but I can't seem to tap, tap, tap deeply into what wants to be said. It would feel as if I were just paying lipservice to those topics, instead of letting my soul speak through me.
And sometimes I just don't feel like it.
Part of the problem is I've been very creative this week and even earlier today, so the creative muscle is a little tired. My MIND wants to play and create, but the next step of putting some of those ideas into succinct and concise sentences just doesn't seem to want to play ball.
Maybe what I'm meant to do now is to dream... let my soul play.... not force whatever *I* think has to come out now.
I would write about my deep desire to write words that touch people's hearts and souls.
I would write about sex.
I would write about pain.
I would write about fear - and oh the places we could go.
I would write about how fucking scared I am that what I write actually sucks.
I would write so that my words sing.
I would write about my deep, soul-wrenching sadness that both my grandparents are gone.
I would write about the hopes and dreams I dare not share in daylight.
I would write about love.
I would write about choices and vodka.
I would write about daddies and little girls.
I would write about how hard it is to be a mother, especially a good mother.
I would write about intensity, and I would write WITH intensity.
I would write.
I love beauty, not the superficial kind, but true beauty in things that takes your breath away. Beauty that makes me glad I'm in the world. Beauty in everyday life that allows me to see the big picture, to know there's more than my to-do list, to truly appreciate life.
Here are a few of the things that, pretty much on a daily basis, bring me joy when I look at them.
I received the 30-minute glass from a friend, and without knowing what I was doing, I rearranged things on my desk and created this mini altar - and a reminder to take time out (no pun intended) and to appreciate the good things in my life.
I recently found the pictures of the girls from when they were young, and I immediately ran out and found a frame that would work. I love the beautiful, smooth faces and the looks of joy or mischeviousness (especially on Small Child on the bottom left picture). I could look at these pictures all day.
We went to Shenandoah National Park a week and a half ago, and I took this amazing picture of the mountains. I added it as my computer desktop wallpaper, and just looking at this picture brings me the same sense of peace and at-one-ness I have when I'm in the mountains. I frequently minimize everything on my desktop so that I can look at this picture. (And, in case you're wondering, I do occasionally get work done in between staring at these pictures.)
I did some long-range planning with my client, and everything went up on these big month calendars. I love the reminder of systems, processes, planning, good business sense, and creativity. And sticky notes!!
I received this skin from a friend as a Christmas present. She thought I might custom design my own with words or whatever might inspire me in a writerly way. However, as soon as I saw this standard design, I didn't want to look at anything else. Even seven months later, this design and combination of colors bring me joy.
When I was still in my old life and planning my new one, I imagined an artificial tree with white lights. I finally realized I didn't have to wait until I moved, so I bought the $17 tree at Michael's and added an old string of Christmas lights. This tree is on every day, even on bright sunny days, and it literally and figuratively lights up the dark corners.
This is my favorite piece of artwork I own. There's something about Flaming June... her napping, the vibrant colors, a sense of not-caring.... This was the first thing to be put up in my apartment, and it hasn't moved since.
I've been having fun experimenting with cocktails with my significant other. Even more, has been looking for (and sometimes finding) beautiful glassware. It's amazing what you can find at thrift shops, and the gleaming glass makes me happy. By the way, if you have a line on old-fashioned, small martini glasses, please let me know. I don't like the huge ones; I like the classic style (and they are nowhere to be found!).
And then when the sun shines on them....
I don't like a lot of clutter, so anything on a surface has an absolute purpose to be there. I love the combination of the crystal, the Cinderella box, and the Faberge-like egg (I can dream).
My decorating style in some cases is heavy baroque (or, as I like to call it - Early French Whorehouse). This lamp is perfect with its little crystal danglies and the fabric shade.
I have these pictures across from my bed, and they're a constant reminder that I get to design my life the way I want. And the color of the walls, a deep, rich copper, reminds me that I can have my life be as rich and vibrant as I can allow.
Often, I pull a card from Sacred Journey deck. I love these cards. They're round, which immediately makes them different. They use symbols instead of pictures, and I love the idea of symbols. And then there are the words. One main word for each card along with a phrase to give more information.
I frequently pull the "endurance" card. Sigh. Sometimes it feels inevitable.... that I'll pick "endurance" or "perseverance." I wonder how much of those two elements are part of this life's story. Endurance feels hard, that inevitability.
Since I seem to pull this card frequently, I figured I needed to reframe it. I seem to think that endurance is bad. It's more than that, though. It's more about what must be going on that I have to ENDURE? Endurance doesn't say joy to me. It has a hint of despair, of resignation. Maybe that's where I need to reframe.
I'm not enduring because I'm resigned to a certain path or course of action. I've chosen a particular path, and to see that path to its full end requires some endurance.
If I think of runnig, endurance is a good thing. It allows me to run farther and longer. It means I'm strong.
So, endurance allows me to choose a path and know I can see it to the end.
Endurance = Strength = Conviction = Choice.
I'm working on my newest story, "Phoenix Rising," and in it, the main character Phoenix's main problem (the story-worthy problem for you writer types) is that the world doesn't see her - she doesn't feel seen. Of course, the real problem is that she doesn't see herself - and doesn't want to.
It's hard for any of us to truly look at ourselves, at who we really are. What are we afraid of seeig? That we aren't perfect? That we can (and do) cause others pain? That we're flawed? That we sometimes - knowingly - make the wrong decision? But we all deal with that.
What I'm trying to figure out is what is it about Phoenix, her life, her situation that is different from what we regular folks have to deal with?
Yes, this is my story, and I have to figure it out, AND I think this is a question we all deal with. (And a little input from y'all will help me figure out just what's going on with Phoenix.)
So, the question is.... what could it be about herself that she doesn't want to see?
(Thank you for playing "Le'ts help Dawn create more and more pages of notes.") :)
I don't give my girls their newest scavenger hunt until right before showtime. Otherwise, I get criticism and negotiation. :) This way, I give them the scavenger hunt, and they go off and do it. (With excitement, I might add, although they might deny.)
The teacher in me was going to do a very educational scavenger hunt, but since Teen Child is taking a very rigorous online health class, I thought it might be a bit unfair to add onto her four-to-five-hours-a-day workload already. So, I went a little light. :)
Flowers and Trees Scavenger Hunt
1. Find 9 unique types of flowers (different colors of one flower do not count).
2. Take a picture of each kind of flower.
3. Find out, using whatever resources are available to you (Internet, library, librarians), the common name of each kind of flower (tulip, pansy, etc.)
4. Find 6 unique types of trees.
5. Collect leaves from each type of tree. (That's how you will know each kind of tree is different from the other - the leaves will be different.)
6. Find out, using whatever resources are available to you (Internet, library, librarians), the common name of each kind of tree (oak, cherry, etc.)
For each flower and tree documented and identified, each person receives $.50 credit to be used at Michael's or Staples.
I even created a Word document for them to record their findings. (If you want it, comment or email me, and I'll send it.)
(The idea is to keep them busy, you see.)
A few weeks ago I watched a 60 Minutes special on this order of monks in Europe (I think - it's been several weeks). One monk talked about devoting his life to the service of God. He said, "People are searching for a life they can give themselves completely to."
That hit me on such a profound level. I know for me this is true, although it manifests itself much differently. I've found that there are certain dynamics that I've been searching for (and didn't know it) all my life. And now that I've found how I fit in to these relationship dynamics with my life partner and true love, I do feel as if this is a life that I've given myself completely to. I didn't know I was searching for it, at least not actively. I knew I wasn't happy in my previous marriage. I knew I was missing something, but I couldn't have ever named that, and at one point I didn't even know the hole was there.
But once the hole got filled up, fixed, healed, completed, I knew this was the life I was meant for.
Switching gears from personal to business, what about searching for a business life that I can give myself completely to? I want my work to be meaningful, to have impact, to make a difference. Am I going to give myself completely to my work? No. Then I'd be a workaholic, and no one wants that. I guess it's that, within limits, finding my core passion and purpose and business that I can devote my business life to.
So, how does this land for you? Are you searching for a life you can give yourself completely to? What does that look like? Have you found it? What does "completely" look like?
1. It's a need I have
2. I write much more than I think I do
3. It's a way for me to share my gifts with the world
4. It's a way for me to help, nurture, care for people
5. Anyone can write
6. There are few rules about writing, and the rules that ARE there can be broken - if you know why you're breaking them
7. All writers can improve their craft
8. Sometimes the writing process doesn't look like what we think it should look like
9. Eventually, you do have to actually get words down on paper or on screen
10. Words have power
The word that's been coming to me for the past several weeks has been "expansion." What does that mean to me? Possibilities, of course. That something could be out there that I can't see or touch, so I have to expand my reach and my vision to touch and see it. To become bigger. Step into my big self. ee myself as greater, bigger.
What can I do? What can I accomplish It feels as if the possibilities are limitless, expansive if you will.
And then there's this idea of focus and being in alignment with all sorts of things (my purpose, my authentic being, my voice, my dreams). What does that look like in the real world? On a daily basis?
I took my colored Sharpies, noted these on beautiful cards, and posted them all over the house. There's one by my bedside table, one on my bathroom mirror, and one in my office. They're lovely daily reminders to just BE and to expand into whoever I'm becoming.
The girls are home from school, and my goal is to give them a good summer this year. Last year was definitely not the bomb for them. Their father and I had finally sold our house and moved into our separate residences, to my relief but to my children's challenge.
I want this summer to be different. They switch every week from my house to his. He works out of the house full time; I work from my home office. Which means I'm available - sort of. We have camps, babysitting, vacations planned, but not every day is planned. Being the organizational and somewhat anal wonder that I am, I came up with a plan:
I created a scavenger hunt for them last summer based on Laura West's similar attempt to find something for her boys to do. I listed 50 or so things, and the girls had to take pictures of each thing. They got points for certain things - one point for each item, 50 extra points if they were all done in order, that kind of thing. And then there were prizes based on how many points they got. The girls still talk about the scavenger hunt, and I decided to create one each week they're here, each with a different theme.
Today is Scavenger Hunt #1, and the theme is ice cream. :)
In case you're a mom trying to entertain her kids or you just want to have some fun, here is what the Goldberg girls have to do today.
List 20 flavors of ice cream
List at least 7 possible ice cream toppings
Name 3 kinds of white stuff to put on ice cream.
Name 7 desserts that involve ice cream?
How many healthy kinds of toppings can you name?
What is the most unusual topping for ice cream you can think of?
In general, what is the healthiest brand of ice cream? Why?
Which brand of ice cream states that it has only natural ingredients? What are they?
What brand of ice cream is most expensive?
What brand of ice cream is least expensive?
How many brands of ice cream are there?
What different sizes does ice cream come in?
The prize? I think it's going to be a half-gallon of ice cream - in any flavor. Go figure.
I've been wanting to write this post for weeks, but it just hasn't happened yet. And it's a perfect example of this concept - when I choose to say "yes" to something, then that means I've automatically just said "no" to something else.
Let's say you have two hours to get four things done: A, B, C, D. Each of those things is going to take 30 minutes each (making it easy here).
Now, let's say that something happens when you're doing A. The bank manager says, "Well, you can get this done, and it will only take 30 minutes and it's done."
This particular task would be lovely to get off your plate forever (that whole "and it's done" is VERY attractive). So, you say yes.
Well, you still only have two hours to get stuff done, so by saying "yes" to adding 30 minutes to task A, that means you are saying no to one of the tasks left: B, C, or D.
Makes sense, right?
Well, here's the problem. We think in a vacuum. We think we can get it ALL done because we've scheduled these four things, and, by golly, they're going to get done. (And we don't want to have to say no.)
So either something gets dropped out unconsciously (and somehow we're so surprised when the two hours is up and we haven't gotten to D yet) or we expand past those two hours (which means now we're saying no to whatever was going on after the two hours) or we try to quickly shove it all in, and maybe doing a bad job in the process.
Saying yes isn't a bad thing at all. It's just that we have to immediately think, "And so what am I saying no to if I say yes?"
For example, in choosing to write this blog post NOW, I've said no to writing some marketing emails. They'll get done later (which means something else will be said no to).
And one final point.... if you say "no" to something, then you might be saying "yes" to something else that maybe you can't even see right now.
When I moved into my apartment almost a year ago, I delighted in the much smaller space. As weird as that may seem, it's true. It meant that everything had to meet at least one of three criteria: it had to be useful, it had to be beautiful, or I had to love it. If it didn't meet any of those three, out it went.
I donated, sold, gave away the things that wouldn't come with me. (And to put all in perspective, the old, big-ass house was so big, that Chris and I had enough of almost everything to furnish two smaller residences. In the big scheme of things, we had to buy very little once we were out on our own.
So, here I am moving into my first apartment. Everything has a place, and if it doesn't, it gets scrutinized again. How useful is it? How beautiful isi it? How much do I love it?
In the end, everytbing in my new home was there deliberately and intentionally.
Now why, almost a year later, am I in this re-organization frenzy?
Part of it, is that we aren't static human beings. We don't stay the same. Our lives don't stay the same. What worked before might need to be slightly - or majorly - tweaked.
That all makes sense, yes, but there's something more. It didn't just start with one bit of re-organization; it spread and spread and spread. I think I want my environment, which is so important to me in my new life, to keep up with me. I'm constantly evolving and developing, and so my environment has to evolve and develop. (But it doesn't do that on its own - it needs help - which means effort on my part.)
It started with my closet in my office. I have a filing cabinet and a crafts cart in there (the closet serves double duty), and I had unfinished quilts stacked up on the top of the filing cabinet, which meant I couldn't use the flat surface for anything like papers or whatever. Actually, if I think about it, it started before then, when Small Child started scrapbooking, and I unpacked a couple of boxes of my old scrapbooking stuff. I needed to find places for these things, so in the closet they went.
Back to the quilts.... I wanted to use that hard surface of my filing cabinet, so I needed to move the quilts. Now, I've done a pretty good job of maximizing the space already, so it's not like I just happened to have empty space lying around. I cleaned out a drawer in my dresser (by getting rid of some clothes that I knew I wouldn't wear and consolidating contents of other drawers). Now my quilts had their own space, and I had a usable surface in my closet. (Now, if I can just get those unfinished quilts done, but that's another story.)
Looking at my closet, I realized it wasn't being used as efficiently as it could, so I asked M to help me make it more efficient (add shelves, whatever) when he was here (it didn't happen, but there's always a next time).
Next up was re-organizing my cabinet above the toilet that held nail polish, medicine, and band-aids. Nail polish had taken over the place (I do live with two girls), but after my recent surgery and emergency room visit, my medicine section had grown. And then I got a first-aid kit from M (he is a very practical man), and that needed space. So, clean out the nail polish, make the girls store their horrid colors in their own bathroom, get rid of pollish that's old, and I now have a more usable medicine/nail polish cabinet.
Now for the current project, which I decided to take on this weekend.
During this last visit of M's, we explored my cocktail books and started experimenting with different cocktails. While that was fun, it made me look at how my kitchen and dining room are arranged. Some alcohol here (bigger bottles in the bottom cabinet), smaller bottles here (where they'll fit), glasses here, there, and everywhere.
I decided I could clean out one cabinet (it's always cabinets, isn't it?) in the buffet that currently stores vases. I mean, really.... how many vases does one need at one time? I'm thinking I don't need 17 all at once. I'll take them out of the cabinet, move them to an unused shelf in the girls' linen closet, move the taller liquor bottles in there. Then, I'll move the beautiful tea pots to the shelf down below (so they can still be seen), and put the various glasses on that shelf.
While I was planning all this, I had an idea for the food shelves that have never been perfect. I have all my spices jammed into a cabinet, and if you try to get anything out, several fall out. I won't do a spice rack on the counter because of visual clutter, so there they've stayed. Last night, I had the brilliant idea of a spice rack on the inside of the cabinet door, and you've never seen me get to Target so quick.
So, by the end of today, I hope to have a cool, efficient set-up for cocktails, annoying spices moved, better use of my food cabinet.
Will there be sometihng next in the Reorg saga? No clue. But I do know that it's not just making my space more efficient or making it work better or more useful or whatever. It's making it more me.
Just when I thought I could be done with the Year of Hell Part 1.... Much like the actual Voyager episode - things keep getting worse.
Not only did I miss some points that should have been part of the list, but then we've gotten some new ones....
M's brother-in-law, already spiralling down with Parkinson's and paranoia issues, now is in renal failure. That was Wednesday's news.
And then today's news that my grandmother died. While it was expected since she had decided two weeks ago to not live, it was still some of the hardest words I've ever heard. And now the person who was the closest thing I had to a mother is gone. Forever. Yes, I know she'll live forever in my heart and all that blah blah blah that people say to make the surviving feel better, but she's still gone.
While the Year of Hell Part 2 is still valid (you'll understand when I can bear to post it), the Year of Hell Part 1 (or 1 1/2) is still very much in play.
My beloved adores Star Trek, so some of our conversations turn to Star Trek for important and necessary metaphors. The last few months (more on that in Part 1 below) have been just short of (and sometimes right in line with) horrific.
Yet, we go on. We have to; there seems to be no other choice but to go forward in the original direction. (Yes, I realize there *is* a choice, but that's another post for another time.)
In order to go on, we normalize the situation. We make the bed, brush our teeth, cook dinner, work, go to the grocery store.... Occasionally we might try to do "normal," fun things like write, go shopping, go to the movies, read a book.
And then we think life is fine.... "Hey, I just went to the movies!"
But it's not. It's the Year of Hell.
Star Trek Voyager had a two-part episode called "The Year of Hell." Because of life in the last few months, M made sure we watched it last time I visited. While this post doesn't follow the format of the Voyager episodes (sorry, Star Trek fans), it is a great metaphor.
In the episode, the crew of Voyager have to survive - and survive - and survive against seemingly unsurmountable odds (and it doesn't help that time keeps shifting, and they're put in worse situations than before).
Part 1 of my Year of Hell
On a daily basis, I've had some of these items affecting me here and right now or, at the very least, in the background. And it's not over. My grandmother is still hanging on (which is making her mad), and the situation with M's brother-in-law isn't resolved yet.
Part 2 to come.
In Sarah Ban Breathnach's Simple Abundance (January 28), she challenges us to create an illustrated discovery journal. Several years ago, I actually bought the Simple Abundance Discovery Journal notebook.
Nope. Didn't do it.
Then, I read Cheryl Richardson's Take Time For Your Life. In Chapter 5, she talks about creating a treasure map - a visualization of those things that really matter.
Didn't do that either.
In 2004, Anastacia talked about how every year she creates a life map on big posterboard. This life map is a collection of images, drawings, stickers, anything that reflects where you are, who you are, where you want to go, your dreams, etc.
In 2004 I created my first life map.
For whatever reason (and it's too long ago for me to remember why), I didn't do a life map in 2005. But in 2006, another one was born.
2007 was another non life map year, and it looked as if I was destined to create a life map in all the even years. Hence, the 2008 life map.
So there was one in 2010, right?
All throughout last year, I thought about how it would be the perfect year to do a life map: lots of changes, ready for a new year, new life, new Dawn.
But it never happened.
Then, one night a couple of weeks ago, I just did one. I had been collecting magazine pages, pictures, old calendars, words, and the like for years. And it all just came together.
Actually, that's how my life maps usually work. It's very much a feeling, intuitive process. I find the images and words that speak to me, and I start placing them on the foam core board. Within what seems like mere minutes, the life map has truly come to life.
This year's was a little different. As always, every image and word has special meaning. But this life map really spoke (and speaks) to my soul. It definitely represents the changes and the phoenix rising moments (note the huge image in the upper left) in the last year. There's hope and love and gratitude and dreams and yearning and creation.
It's a map to my soul.
The last year - and more - have been so life-changing, I can't always catch my breath. As I was journaling about this over the weekend, I wrote something off the cuff:
Who I've been can't always catch up with who I'm becoming.
And that keeps coming up for me as a more-than-true statement; it's a core statement, down to the very essence of my being.
Maybe we never catch up to who we're becoming. And maybe other times that distance isn't quite as great as others.
As I was looking for more than just a statement for this blog post, I thought of one of the very first cross-stitch patterns I completed. (And that has its own bittersweetness - since my recent eye surgery, there's been absolutely no needlework or sewing... and that's driving me a bit nuts.)
Last night the girls and I went to a Louis Landon concert put on by their piano teacher. What struck me most (after his talking about how his goal is to always BE in the moment) was how he improvises just about everything. One of his albums was completely improvised; he walked into the recording studio in Seattle with nothing composed or written. He improvised everything on the spot over three days.
I thought about that as I was listening to the music at the concert. I don't feel I could improvise a word (other than ramblings from my head) to save my life. It's as if there's a dam holding back a flood of words that I know is there--somewhere.
I really am trying to be kind to myself. It's the Year of Writing From My Soul, and I can't write. I know that the last three weeks have been.... (see, this is where words fail me). Watching the mother of a loved one die over a period of two weeks and then dealing with everything that comes after: real world stuff that has to be handled, grief, waves of emotion, calls and emails that don't seem to stop, walking in the house and expecting to see her...
Maybe the dam will break - and that's a scary thought in and of itself. Who knows what's going to come out. I do know that as I listened to Landon's "Siren" last night, it felt like that song might be the dam breaker....
I bought the CD, and I plan on listening to "Siren." I don't know what will come of it. Maybe Phoenix will start to come alive--in words that don't seem to come for her either.
I know what makes me happy: deep connection, beauty, creativity. Probably many other things, but those three top the list.
Last week, I held my first Just Write! workshop, and I, along with the other participants, spent an afternoon writing. It felt like a luxury: focused, structured time where I was supposed to be writing. It wasn't just an afterthought or something to fit in. Writing was my task and action item.
Besides the fact that I wrote a lot (my monthy newsletter, writing prompts for my weekly writing prompt program, several blog posts, and emails to schedule interviews for my latest story), that momentum carried over for several days (and more, let's hope).
Since then, I've started a new book (based on my experience with the Year of Writing From My Soul), wrote several more blog posts, and collaborated on ideas for new classes.
According to Newton, a body remains in a state of rest or uniform motion unless it is acted upon by an external unbalanced force. My creativity is that body, and I need to make sure that there are no external, unbalanced forces acting upon it to bring it to a state of rest.
What that means, in part, is that I really do need to commit to writing every day, not just because it's a to-do item, but because it's necessary to my happiness.
Back in December, Anastacia asked me to write a guest post for Virtual Moxie, which I was happy to do, and it helped me explore what is now my theme for 2011. (I'm now bucking Dawn tradition and coming up with my theme for the year at the beginning as opposed to the end.)
You can find the original post here (as well as other great posts).
What I found, from writing this post, that I have a theme for 2011. Only I can walk the path I've chosen, and the minute I hear, "You should _____" or "You need to _____" or "Do _____," I just need to keep in mind that it's my path, not theirs, and only I can walk it.
A nicer way to put it might be "My Path," but there are instances where the "Not Yours" is necessary. Instead of my getting annoyed or irritated by the "helpful" statements and declarations, I just need to remember that other people's insistence on how I should do things is more about them.
May we all walk our paths - with ease, joy, delight.
I saw someone write on Facebook yesterday about documenting 2010 and celebrating successes and accomplishments. It's one of those duh moments, and I'm excited that it's actually still 2010 for me to be writing it.
2010 has been quite a year. Probably one of the most life-changing and monumental years ever.
Usually (at least past years), by the time the end of December rolls around, I have a good sense of what the past year's theme is. One overriding concept that can sum up the entire year.
This year is no different. While so much has happened in 2010 and about a million dead baby phoenixes littering the ground, the one thing I can say about the year is that it's been all about change. From my residence, to new relationships, to evolutions in other (almost all) relationships, to new business opportunities, to new writings, to new ways of being....
Everything feels different. And those things that aren't different per se are deeper, more intense, more ... something. They've changed in their own way.
Maybe that's not so unusual. Isn't change one of the great constants? :) We're not static beings. Our lives change on a daily basis. But for me, it feels change stepped into the driver seat, punched it, and said, "Whee!!!! Let's go!"
If the Year of Writing From My Soul started in October, why has it taken so long for me to write about it, or even write much on my blog?
Mostly, it's because a lot of my writing has been either on my short stories or in my journal. And with all the changes going on in my life over the last couple of years, a lot of that feels too raw to share publicly.
Just the other day, I went through my blog looking for a particular post I'd written a couple of years ago, and I realized how much I used to write, and write about personal stuff. But for whatever reason, the personal stuff now feels VERY personal.
And I think I got out of the habit. So since through to next October is the Year of Writing From My Soul, I'll be writing more. I have no idea what that will look like. Just that I will be writing.
Because my soul calls out for it.
This started back in October on my birthday during my daily call with Laura West. She was piloting her new Business Goddess card deck, and she did a reading with me. She pulled Inspired Action, and what immediately came up for me was that I want all my actions to be inspired. Even more, I want to write. I want my actions and my words to come from my soul, to be inspired.
I've been saying for so long that I want to commit to writing. That I want to write. That it's important.
So I committed to the Year of Writing from My Soul. I want to let my soul know that I hear her, that I hear how much she wants to write.
The idea is that I write every day. Not because I have to. Because my soul cries out for it. Not to make it another to-do to cross off the list. To let my soul have a voice, to be heard.
Of course, my brain went into overdrive. I could create a blog JUST for the Year of Writing From My Soul! Each day, I'd have an entry: A Year of Writing From My Soul - Day 1, and so on.
Wisely, I decided not to get caught up in maximizing the idea and to just.... write.
Have I written every day? No, but I have documented each day and whether I've written or not. And if not, why not. At least, I'm acknowledging how important writing is each and every day. And, more often than not, I AM writing.
Welcome to the Year of Writing From My Soul.