Archives for February 2012

To Get Better at Something…Keep Doing It!

Don't Break the Chain

My goal to push myself to write something every single day definitely jumpstarted something in my brain. Of course, it didn’t work entirely. I missed ONE DAY! I didn’t blog yesterday! Actually, in all fairness, I did write a blog post but I wasn’t 100% happy with it so I didn’t publish it. So does that count? I’m not sure. The perfectionist in me says “NO!” If I can’t scroll through 7 consecutive days of posts, then I failed. But what’s great about failing is that it gives you a change in perspective. It gives you another chance to do it again, this time seeing what worked and what didn’t.

I got a little lost in my message. What was my overall purpose for the site? Did I want it to be a design-related blog where I can show off the cute things I find online? Did I want it to be a personal journey blog where I explore things I do and what I learn from them? Did I want it to feel like a self-help blog where I help others? Yes! All of the above! But really, what it all boils down to is that this blog, this Daily Moxie adventure, is getting me in the habit of writing something creative every single day. So once again, I’m going to give it a go. 7 days, 7 blog posts (or more, if I feel like posting more than one in a day). Tuesday to Tuesday.

Jerry Seinfeld once said that his key to success and to become a better comedian was to write something every single day. Seinfeld used (and possibly still uses) a calendar system to hold himself accountable. Every day that he would write, he would put a big red X on that day in the calendar. As the days added up, the chain of red X’s grew. He could literally see his accomplishments physically in front of him and he didn’t want to break the chain. So his advice on becoming better at something is Don’t Break the Chain! You can use this for anything, fitness, family, reading, organizing, cooking. Making sure you do something every single day that is moving you closer to your goal is better than waiting around for inspiration to hit or waiting until you feel “in the mood.” Start now. Do it now! …and don’t break the chain.

Stationery Love

Yes, yes, Valentines Day is a few weeks past but isn’t a nice idea to still send cards to the ones you love? I found these cards on my new *favorite* site, Oh So Beautiful Paper. I’m obsessed! I love letterpress cards. They are always so elegant and creative.

Wishbone Letterpress

Studio Olivine

Studio Olivine

Studio Olivine



Today is Sunday. It is also Academy Awards Day! I am a huge, huge fan of the Oscars. I sit, riveted to the screen, from the minute the arrivals start to the final closing comments from the Oscar host. I have watched Ryan Seacrest and Giuliana Rancic interview celebrities on the red carpet for so many years that I feel like I know them. I love everything about Oscar day. I love the prepping. I love all of the filler interviews they do all day long on E! I love the dresses, the interviews, the actual awards themselves. It’s just a super fun day all around.

Last night M and I went out to dinner. Our table was up against a floor to ceiling window and I noticed a young man walking around outside the restaurant, talking on his cell phone. Nothing unusual about that. What was unusual was that he was holding a dozen roses. Immediately my mind started running through probable stories regarding this young man. Was it a first date? Was it an impending engagement? Was it an anniversary? He kept pacing in front of the restaurant, nervously shuffling the roses from one hand to the other as he checked his phone. Who was he talking to?  Was he being stood up? It’s funny how this stranger became a central focus for M and me. We couldn’t stop analyzing him. M suggested that this man was using the flowers as a ploy, an act to attract women. The story he tells at bars to gain sympathy. “I’ve been stood up,” he’ll say, as he lays the flowers beside his beer at the bar, getting ready to drown his sorrows in alcohol. The women would flock to him. There’s something about a man carrying roses that makes the female heart melt.

As M and I were preparing to go, M ducked into the bathroom and I headed for the front door. I came face-to-face with the man and his roses…and his date! They were speaking with the hostess and she was directing them towards their table. Success! I felt a surge of excitement and happiness for these strangers. As they turned the corner and disappeared into the restaurant, M appeared from the bathroom. “You just missed it,” I said. “She came!” M immediately knew what I was talking about and was immediately frustrated by his bad timing. “I missed her!  What did she look like?”  I described what I had seen and we walked out of the restaurant discussing the strangers. After spending the night dissecting a strangers life, I felt like I knew him…and maybe her, as well. Just like the celebrities on the red carpet. The truth of the matter is that none of us are really strangers. We’re all sharing the same time and space with similar stories, struggles and successes.

Best Traveler

Best Traveler

When I was growing up, my parents devised a tactic for getting my brother and sister and I to behave on a trip. At the beginning of every excursion, my parents would announce that whoever behaved the best would win the “Best Traveler Award.” I don’t know how this affected my brother and sister’s attitudes during the trip, as I recall, they were often pretty difficult travelers, but I took this award seriously. Very seriously. I wanted to get my hands on that prize (editorial note: there was never an actual “prize” associated with best traveler, it was just the honor of being labeled best traveler). Martha Beck wrote an article a few years ago for Oprah Magazine about her need for praise and I can’t help but feel this may have been the start of my own unrequited love for those proverbial gold stars.

This hedonistic desire for appreciation, gratitude, and praise can stem from any number of factors. Being a straight-A student, a teacher’s pet, a parent’s favorite, a star athlete. Any way in which you can receive unadulterated praise can cause you to strive for it even more.  Being “the best” becomes part of your identity. It makes you who you are and without it you feel you have failed. It also makes you competitive, controlling and prone to comparing your life to others (which we already know is a bad idea).

I remember on those family trips long ago, I would work so hard to be best traveler, taking mental notes every time I bit my tongue about an ugly hotel room, a less than stellar meal, or a hogged arm rest. My sister was much more relaxed about the award. In all honesty, she didn’t care one bit about winning. (Probably because she knew there was no actual prize involved). So she would freely complain, roll her eyes, send food back and whine. However, I remember one trip in particular, when our travels were coming to an end and for whatever reason (because I know it wasn’t honestly deserved), my mom decided to award my sister with best traveler. I was flabbergasted! I knew she didn’t earn it. There was no way she had been better than me! I had worked so hard for that award and I was absolutely crushed to find it slipping from my grasp.

Looking back on this crushing defeat as an adult, I can begin to understand how much I was hurting myself. I had put my entire definition of self into the praise I received and when I wasn’t the recipient of that praise, I felt lost and unsure of myself. My sister, on the other hand, put no weight in labels or awards, she just lived her life, freely and with abandon. There wasn’t an unequal balance of weight on one characteristic over another. So she could handle getting yelled at with the same attitude as getting praised. They were all equal parts of who she was, not the sole definition. I learned, at a young age, and am still learning now, that to define ourselves by the praise and acceptance of others is to never really know our true self. Stop defining, stop setting boundaries and start living.

Relax and Enjoy the Trip


Going with the Flow


“Sometimes when we were stuck, we’d stop for a minute to rest, regain our strength and let the waves take us for awhile. Even when we weren’t going anywhere, it was still sailing.” -Addison on Private Practice

Yes, I’m quoting an ABC TV show but I think it is a very important point that the character makes during one of her therapy sessions. She’s in the process of trying to have a baby and after failed IVF treatments,  has opted for using a surrogate. The process seems long and daunting and her fears keep popping up every step of the way. Her instincts are telling her to take a step back, regroup, process the thoughts, feelings and emotions she is going through before making any big decisions. Addison finds comfort in the decision to stop, for now. To put the brakes on and take a deep breath.

We often fear that if we aren’t making a decision, then we are letting life pass us by but in reality, choosing to not make a decision is a decision in itself. To take a moment and let the waves of life carry you still counts as living. Sometimes the desire to make a decision can feel almost paralyzing. Elizabeth Gilbert wrote in her latest book, Committed, “The problem, simply put, is that we cannot choose everything simultaneously. So we live in danger of becoming paralyzed by indecision, terrified that every choice might be the wrong choice.”

So rather than beat ourselves up over our indecision and our fears, isn’t it a much better idea to relinquish the stress, the power, the weight of our perceived failures and just let life happen? Isn’t it better to go with the flow?


“Enjoy your own life without comparing it with that of another.”  ~ Marquis de Condorcet

My brother recently expressed a very profound observation. He said that most of our unhappiness comes from comparing our inside-self to others outside-self. In other words, we are comparing our emotional baggage, our private thoughts, our worries and fears to the pretty face that other people put on for public consumption. Facebook only aggravates this weakness. Facebook exists for the sole purpose of looking at other people’s lives, peaking into their family vacations, weddings, baby showers and parties, and this leads to the inevitable comparisons. But the problem, the destructive issue I have with Facebook is that it gives people the opportunity to present a false and inflated version of themselves. A perfected version. Then we compare our weaknesses with others strengths. They show where they have excelled, be it in business, family, creativity, friendship, and we compare it with where we fear we have failed. It is an unnatural and unhealthy barrage of information and analysis. What would happen if we stopped comparing? If we gave focus and attention to our successes, to our strengths. If we praised our own achievements with the same admiration that we reserve for strangers.

Everyone is putting the best version of themselves on display but the reality is that no one is safe from obstacles, from difficulties, from tragedy, sadness or struggle.  We don’t know the darkness that resides in the lives of others because they don’t know the challenges we are facing. So embrace the blessings in your life, accept the struggles and know in your heart that no one is perfect.

UPDATE: Stanford recently released a study confirming that yes, Facebook makes us sad.


A Challenge

I’m giving myself a challenge. An experiment. An assignment to help me harken back to my school days when a task was set and there was a definitive start and end point. Today is Tuesday. I am going to blog every day on DAILY MOXIE for seven straight days. Tuesday to Tuesday, one solid blog post about whatever topic I see fit. There is no set length but hitting at least 500 words would be nice. This has nothing to do with gaining readers and everything to do with testing the waters, seeing how I feel about posting here regularly. Exercising my creative writing skills on a daily basis and seeing how it feels. I’m looking forward to this little challenge, this course in daily exposition and internal interrogation. The topics may be trivial, they may be heavy, but I can promise you this, they will always be heartfelt. I pour my heart into everything I do and in a way, this gives things more impact and emotional weight than they often deserve, but I wouldn’t want it any other way. So this challenge matters to me and I’m looking forward to embarking on this journey.


February Favorites

Links to my favorites: Ann Marie Loves Paper, Fresh, Rifle Paper, Jet Pens, Parcel Post, Tiffany, David Yurman, Anthropologie.