Inspiration for Action

typewriter Image via WeHeartIt


I am a blog surfer. One of my favorite things to do in my down time is find a blog, a writer, a voice that speaks to me and scroll through the archives. I have a list of favorites that I check pretty regulary (Hi Elise, Ali, Joanna, Aidan, Lindsay, Jordan!) and what I have found with these women and their writing is that I am so often inspired and motivated by their ideas, their words, their creations, but then I click off and go back to my regular life; to work, to responsibilities, to daily routine. I’m not doing anything with all of that inspiration. I don’t want to say it’s wasted because I honestly believe nothing we learn is ever wasted, but it’s just not used. It’s a lot of consumption with no creation. But today was different. Today, as I was scrolling through Elise’s list of her 29 Favorite Things (to correspond with her upcoming 29th birthday), I decided to take action.  I have recently committed myself to this online home and I am now constantly on the lookout for possible topics. What a great outlet for this dose of inspiration! I decided to write – and will soon post – my 36 things (turning 36 on March 2, yikes!) and what this year has brought me. I made a list of the 36 things that made my year great (although I feel like Grayson would be #1-36) and it got me thinking in really positive, creative, fun ways. It also made me really think. Not just a passing “cool idea!” but a dig deep and really try to understand and capture my year. Whenever you are going to make anything public, it changes and evolves into something real and tangible, clean and crisp. You take your ideas and your words more seriously when you are putting them out there for public consumption…and that’s a really good thing. You are paying attention to the details and you are bringing them to light. You are changing your own perception of your “regular” life.

This is why I think the online world is so beautiful and inspiring and fun. There is so much negativity about the internet and the decline of social interaction, but if anything, I think it’s improved our social lives. We are “meeting” people we never would have connected with if not for this online world. We are getting ideas and thoughts and dreams and inspiration. Our world is so much bigger because of this online world. So stay tuned for my 36 Things (thanks, Elise!) and keep searching for your own inspiration. It’s out there, it’s everywhere, you just have to decide what to do with it.

Slow and Study


No, that is not a typo in the subject line. Yes, the line is traditionally “slow and steady” and is usually followed by “wins the race” but this post is not about being slow and steady. It is not about winning (or losing for that matter). It is actually taken from a comment in author Aidan Donnelley Rowley’s blog, Ivy League Insecurities. She writes that she started her blog because she needed something that would force her to slow and study the moments of her life – the good, the bad, the middle.

How perfectly Aidan’s simple comment captures the sentiment behind most of our blogging endeavors. I have kept a diary throughout my entire life, a private one. The style I have adopted has varied, sometimes my entries look like a grocery list of key moments; the grades, the jobs, the fights with my sister. Other times it has been a long and detailed essay about the way I was feeling at the time. I’m still not sure which method or approach I like better. Sometimes I want to look back into a diary and know exactly who I spent Thanksgiving with, who was missing, who was fighting, who forgot the pumpkin pie. Other times I want to know how I felt. Either way, I love having a record. So why take something as personal as a diary into a public forum? Why expose ourselves? I have certainly had this debate with myself over the years and here is the conclusion I have come to. First of all, it is wonderful to be able to open up your thoughts and questions to a public audience, to create a dialogue with people you would have never met or connected with otherwise. It is also a great writing exercise to put yourself to the task of writing a coherent, concise piece that is ready for public consumption. My diary entries look nothing like the posts I write for my blog. I am not as exposed in a blog post as I am in a diary entry. I am not as vulnerable and my emotions are not as raw. I try to organize my thoughts in a more professional way. I try to see all sides of a situation, I try to be logical and fair. In a diary entry I am on one side only, my side. Usually I am ranting about something that has bothered me or rubbed me the wrong way. It is very specific with little room for interpretation. However, with the blog, I can explore the bigger issue, the more universal problem, whether it be difficult relationships or facing responsibilities, it is approached with a clearer head and a more even keeled tone. My diary is a rant, my blog is an exploration, a course in the intricacies in life, the nuances that so often get overlooked or ignored. My blog is a way to slow down and study the life I am living. It is a way to be more appreciative and grateful for the blessings, the tiny details that make an ordinary day a great day. Because when you are writing an essay for public consumption, exploring the meaning of life, you need to have a reason for writing. This forces the writer to stretch their mind, to see beyond the annoyances and search for the hidden gems of meaning and happiness. Blogging (and writing, in general) is a blessing because it forces you to rise above the mundane details of life and find the beauty in the ordinary. My goal for 2011 (because what is a New Year without a resolution) is to follow in the steps of Rowley and blog every single day. I am not doing this for a larger audience, good publicity, a book deal, I am doing this for my own personal story, to give myself the blessing of clarity, to slow down and study life.

Flawed and Fearless


Last night my sister M called from a hotel in Maine. She’s there for a photo shoot for a profile in Glamour. After detailing the less than glamorous journey she experienced in getting to this tiny town in Maine, she told me about her fascinating travel companion, a famous makeup artist. When my sister started asking the makeup artist questions about the application of makeup and how best to cover up a few imperfections on her face, the makeup artist looked at my sisters’ face and immediately said, “Why did you point them out to me? I would have never noticed them if you hadn’t pointed them out. Never draw people’s attention to your flaws, only accentuate the areas you love.”

Talk about a life lesson when you least expect it?! How many of us point out our flaws, hoping to beat people to the punch. Let others know that we are aware of the areas we need to work on. But why? What does this do for us except accentuate the things we dislike and, as the makeup artist explained, draw others’ eyes immediately to our flaws.

This leads to the larger issue. Why are we so critical of what we see in the mirror? Why do we have to issue judgments, label things as imperfections, get frustrated by our own appearance? Why can’t we be more accepting and appreciative of the face that stares back at us? The face that has laughed and smiled, cried and comforted. Our scars and lines are maps of our journey, a life fully lived and deeply felt. We need to throw away our ideas of perfection and take a good long look in the mirror…and smile! This is the only life we’ve got and this is the only face/hair/eyes/body we’ve got so I say accentuate the positive and ignore the negative and live your life to the fullest…flaws and all!

On a side note: What I love about blogging and what I have learned from other extraordinary bloggers out there, is that by giving yourself a schedule to adhere to (a post/essay a day) forces you to find the questions, the life lessons, the pearls of wisdom in the common every day occurrences. You really begin looking for the bigger questions in the small details of life.  You truly live the examined life and it makes everything that much sweeter. So thank you to all of the women who inspire me daily!

The Power of the Mind


No, I am not going to go into details about the power of “The Secret.” What I am going to talk about is something that has been haunting my thoughts for a few days. First, I read about The Work of Byron Katie. Katie’s overall process and theory is that you can identify and question the thoughts that cause all of your suffering. Then ask yourself, “Is it true?” Most of the time, we are just haunted and harassed by our own thoughts. The things we fear. The actions we dread. The relationships we fail. The people we question. Everything we see and feel is determined by our thoughts.

I started to get overwhelmed with this thinking and put it out of my mind. But the mind has a way of not letting you put anything “out.” This theory kept coming back to me. Am I a slave to my own thoughts? Are my thoughts my own worst enemy?

Then I visited my favorite blogger, Aidan Donnelley Rowley, and she posted about this very topic today! She was recapping her event with Marie Forleo who said that “You have a mind, but you are not your mind.” Aidan detailed Marie’s talk and quoted a particularly poignant statement by Marie:

You have a mind, but you are not your mind. You are also not the conversation you have with yourself in your mind. You may be thinking, “What conversation? What is she talking about?” That one!

…Your mind … is a past/future fear-based machine that is primarily concerned with survival. It’s always comparing, analyzing, scheming, and talking to you about what you need to do in order to become better, prettier, more successful, or more attractive. The mind is usually not supportive of your irresistibility. It likes to talk about your mistakes and how bad, unattractive, stupid, or unworthy you are. (By the way, none of those things your mind talks to you about are actually true, but unless you become aware that you are not your mind, you believe them to be true.)

Take a look at all of the things that cause you anxiety or stress on a daily basis. Are they actual events, or are they the way you perceive those events?Are people causing you stress or is it the baggage from previous issues with those people that is causing you stress?

Does your mind play tricks on you?

Does most of your stress and anxiety come from your own thoughts?

What would happen if you eliminated these stressful thoughts? And is it possible to eliminate these stressful thoughts?



Do you ever stumble on a blog and just instantly connect? It’s like suddenly seeing a tiny flower sprout up in your front yard. You’ve been looking at that same yard all winter and suddenly, everything changes. This morning while blindly surfing the internet, I discovered a new writer/blogger, Aidan Donnelley Rowley, who brings me immense joy and fully entertains. Reading her beautiful and brilliant writing comes about as close to talking to a good friend as you can get. Without actually talking to a friend. She is introspective and honest and fills her posts with questions about life.

She exemplifies one of the most important exercises we can do as writers and creative thinkers (heck, even stock brokers, real estate agents and dentists should do this on a daily basis). BE CURIOUS! Search for answers. Seek them out. Ask yourself the hard hitting questions. Try to understand something that seems confusing, overwhelming or impossible. You don’t have to find the answers, just ask the questions.

Personally, I am always trying to understand the concept of happiness. To define it.  I want to understand the ebb and flow of our emotions. How we can feel on top of the world at one minute and in the depths of despair the next. Does thinking about our own happiness, looking for it and trying to understand where it comes from, make it sneak back into its’ own shell like a timid mollusk? (Side note: Do NOT google mollusk images…there are some freaky looking things swimming around the ocean.)  Personally, I think it’s important to weigh those areas in your life that bring you happiness and find out where they are coming from.

In an interview for her site, The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin interviewed Amy Wilson. Wilson quotes Julia Cameron, author of The Artists Way, and I think it so beautifully encapsulates what we all are trying and striving to do on a daily basis.

Julia Cameron put it something like this: The only screenplay that definitely won’t get made into a movie — is the one that is never written at all. We are all capable of much more than we give ourselves credit for, and what we can find along the way is that the effort itself — regardless of the outcome — can bring great happiness.

I want to do more than I think I can. I want to write, read, review, work. I want to fill my life with the things that interest me and I want to inspire others to follow their passion, throw caution to the wind and dive in, head first, into this crazy, unpredictable life. Defining happiness is impossible. It is just something we feel. We know it the minute we experience that instant rush of excitement, of pure joy manifesting itself through a wildly beating heart, flushed skin and a quickened breath. But the only way to find this joy is to experience as much of life as possible. You never know where that moment of joy is going to be found. One thing I am learning is that all of your happiness cannot be found in one place. It has to be spread out, disseminated among many different outlets and venues. A large garden of happiness as opposed to one beautiful flower. Give yourself as many opportunities for happiness as you are physically capable of experiencing. And then stop and smell the roses.