Monday, December 21, 2015

Finding Your Bliss

"If you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. When you can see that, you begin to meet people who are in the field of your bliss, and they open the doors to you. I say, follow your bliss and don't be afraid, and doors will open where you didn't know they were going to be" (pg 150).

Am reading: The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell


Yeah, that sounds great, Katie, but what is my bliss?

I don't know.

Only you know the answer to that, but there are little clues in your life, and if you'll just pay attention they might tell you something.

What excites you?
What bothers you?
What problems do you run into regularly that need to be fixed?
What is that constant in your life--the idea or talent or activity you always come back to?
What makes you come alive? 

"Any life career that you choose in following your bliss should be chosen with that sense--that nobody can frighten me off from this thing. And no matter what happens, this is the validation of my life and action" (Campbell pg. 237).

I tell my students they will find the most fulfillment in life when they combine their passion with service to others. 

What makes me come alive, and how can I use this to help someone?

There's your bliss.

Be Brilliant!


Thursday, December 17, 2015

On Quitting

Sometimes it's not the smartest or most talented people who make it. It's the ones who persisted--who didn't let anything stand in their way.

And sometimes, when we feel like quitting, we have to reconnect with our "why."

Why am I doing this? And why does it matter?

I think we're all capable of more than we give ourselves credit for. :D

Be Brilliant!


Monday, December 14, 2015

Focusing on the Whale

"As the Polynesian saying goes, you are then 'standing on a whale fishing for minnows.' We are standing on a whale. The ground of being is the ground of our being, and when we simply turn outward, we see all of these little problems here and there. But, if we look inward, we see that we are the source of them all" (pgs. 46-47).

Am reading: The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell


Truth: we shouldn't spend more time worrying about the minnows swimming nearby than the giant whale we're standing on. It's so easy to focus on the things going wrong with everyone else--to pick apart what others are doing.

It takes more strength to turn inward. To focus on the whale in our own lives.

It's worth thinking about, at any rate. 

Be Brilliant! ;)


Thursday, December 10, 2015

Holiday Book-Gifting Guide

Hi Guys! 

I read some really great books this year, so I thought I'd compile a list of my favorites. I love getting and gifting books for the holiday. They're thoughtful and don't take up much space. If not books, then Amazon cards to buy them (my "wish list" is pretty long).

So, without further ado: my "five star" books of the year.

Kid Edition

Sugar and Ice by Kate Messner

Princess Academy by Shannon Hale

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin 

Teen Edition

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson 

Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams

Fiction Edition

Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult

Non-Fiction Edition

Clutterfree with Kids by Joshua Becker

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo 

Writer Edition

The War of Art by Steven Pressfield

Wired for Story by Lisa Cron

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott 

Bonus Edition

And I haven't had a chance to read these yet, but I've heard wonderful things. They're on my list and I'm gifting them to others.

The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert 



Monday, December 7, 2015

The Power of Stories

"When the story is in your mind, then you see its relevance to something happening in your own life. It gives you perspective on what's happening to you. . . . These bits of information from ancient times, which have to do with the themes that have supported human life, built civilizations, and informed religions over the millennia, have to do with deep inner problems, inner mysteries, inner thresholds of passage, and if you don't know what the guide-signs are along the way, you have to work it out yourself" (pg 2).

Am reading: The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell


This is why stories are so powerful, I think. Young adult literature was just starting to gain traction in the marketplace when I was in college (getting its own section in the bookstore, etc.). I didn't "meet" Sarah Dessen until my junior year of college, and The Truth About Forever (one of my favorite books, ever) didn't come along until a few years after that.

I always say TTAF was my book. That's the book I needed when I was a senior in high school, dealing with the death of my grandfather. I don't want to call my family "emotionally bankrupt" because that seems harsh, but I definitely learned early on that showing sadness is a sign of weakness.

I was Macy, that year: "Fine. Just Fine."

I like to think I would've handled that year much better had the story been available to me sooner. I might've grieved like I was supposed to and moved on instead of bottling things up. I might've skipped that bad relationship had I read Dreamland.

I love that stories give us a frame of reference--that they take experiences and make them real for us. We find ourselves in them, and they become our guide-posts.

Stories are powerful.

If you have a story inside you that deals with life's problems and inner mysteries which could be a road map for others, I don't know why you would ever want to keep that inside you.

We need your stories. :)


Friday, December 4, 2015

Holiday Reading

Since the holidays are upon us, I just want to remind you of this:

Once Upon a Christmas Eve: A Novella 

A chance meeting on Christmas Eve 

will change Jonathan and Olivia’s lives forever.

Available as an ebook on:


Saturday, November 14, 2015

On Initiating

You know how much I love Seth Godin, right?

Well, I love his post from yesterday, because it directly relates to what we--as writers--do. He's talking about the ones who create. Those who are brave enough to make something then send that creation out into the world.

Forget the critics. Forget the naysayers. The world needs us. It would miss us if we were gone.

The full post is short and sweet and can be read here. It's called The Initiator. 

Now go forth and create.

(i.e. Initiate)


Friday, October 30, 2015

On Passion

Love Message

"Passion that goes beyond the natural measure of love ultimately aims at the mystery of becoming whole, and this is why one feels, when one has fallen passionately in love, that becoming one with the other person is the only worthwhile goal of one's life." 

"The Process of Individuation"
M. L. von Franz
Man and his Symbols
Carl Jung et al

Sunday, October 18, 2015


I am learning there are as many sides to a story as there are people involved.

My daughter is studying the American Revolution, and a few of her assignments have been to read various accounts of events that unfold.

It's kind of amazing to me how two people can perceive the same event in entirely different ways.

I mentioned in a previous post that I'm dealing with a family issue (we're all dealing with those, I'm sure). Of course, I have an opinion. However, because it doesn't directly involve me, I'm choosing to stay as neutral as possible. As "Switzerland," I get many sides to the same story.

This has been eye-opening for me as a writer. Because I got it--I just didn't get it (if that makes any sense at all).

No two people can ever tell the same story.

Something worth thinking about. :)


Friday, October 2, 2015


So sorry for the radio silence!

There's actually some family member drama that's eating away at my spare time (what little I have). You know how that is, right? :)

I do want to pass this blog post from Seth Godin on, though (love him!). It's all about failure.

The key takeaway:

"Stop engaging with the false theory that the best way to stop feeling like a failure is to succeed. Thinking of one's self as a failure is not the same as failing. And thus, succeeding (on this particular task) is not the antidote." 

Be Brilliant!


Friday, September 18, 2015

On Being Mom to a Toddler

I think 95% of being a mom to a toddler is:

     1) keeping him from hurting himself

     2) keeping him from destroying the house

     3) throwing away wet paper towels from the messes he makes

The other 5%? 

     1) hugs

     2) kisses

     3) nap time 

It's the 5% we hang on to, folks. Am I right? 


Tuesday, September 15, 2015

What Should I Do with the Rest of my Life?

On two separate occasions last week I was asked about life plans and the future (once from a writer friend and the other from a student), and I thought I would share some of the thoughts I offered to them publicly.

The question was:

What do I do with the rest of my life? Or . . . how do I know what I should be when I "grow up"? 

First of all, when my parents were coming along (Baby Boomers), they watched their parents enter one career field and stay with it their whole lives. Many of them tried to do the same, to varying degrees of success. We are not living in a Baby Boomer world, and I've read that, on average, the student coming of age right now will change careers about three times in his/her lifetime.

And yes, this sounds scary, but I also think it can be a good thing--that it's a sign of growth and development. I am not the same person at thirty-three that I was at eighteen (thank goodness!). I've grown. I have new ideas and beliefs. The core is still there. I'm still very much me, just Me 2.0 (or even 3 or 4.0). I definitely feel like improvements have been made in those new versions. Upgrades, if you will.

So it goes without saying that what was right for me at eighteen might not be right for me at this point in my life

But that doesn't mean everything I did at eighteen was a waste. No. I needed to pass through that stage to get where I am now. It was a crucial part of the process.

So . . . how do you know what to do with the rest of your life?

First, don't think of it as the "rest of your life." Think of it as today. Right now. In this moment.

And what I've learned is that the most fulfilled people I know are using their gifts, in this moment, in service to others.

They're taking their talents and using them to give back to the world. The same is true for the artists and writers I know, and the accountants and administrative assistants. They're creating those images and writing stories that speak to others. They're handling paperwork so that the customer's lives will be a little easier. They're crunching numbers so that the business owner can concentrate on what he/she is good at: making and selling the product.

As you learn and grow, you may develop new talents and find other interests. That's when you adapt. Try new things. Make mistakes.

So if you're in a flux and you're not sure where you want to be or what you need to do, think about your talents. Think about what makes you happy. Think about a gift you have that only YOU can offer the world. Look for areas in your life and community to use these talents. And, if something isn't working, know that it's okay to re-evaluate your situation and goals and make changes. 

It's okay to "fail."

It's okay to start over.

At the end of the day, you are responsible for your own happiness and well-being. The idea of "what do I want to do with my life?" is ever-evolving, and this is a really, really great thing.

Be Brilliant!


Saturday, August 29, 2015

On Sale!


Okay, so to be perfectly honest, I was only going to keep CMH on sale for the weekend. 

But then the school week happened, and I kept forgetting to change the price back. 

No one's loss, really. ;)

So I'm going to leave the book on sale for a little while longer.

Also, if you have time, stop by the Indelibles' blog and check out the Hot New Releases!


To make up for my radio silence these past few weeks:

On Sale!

This weekend only!

Grab a copy and tell a friend.

And thanks for hanging out with me. 

Always. :D

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

On . . . Tidying?

I'm reading a LOT of non-fiction this year. I'm actually working my way through Marie Kondo's The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing

I'm loving the idea that we should only keep things that "spark joy," and that, once an item serves its purpose (even if that purpose was to show you that you didn't like/want/need it after all), it's good to let it go. It wants to be let go.

Sounds crazy to our Western ears, but it's making perfect sense.

And I actually organized our underwear and t-shirt drawers yesterday, so . . . progress. And then the 10yo saw and wanted to organize HER socks and underwear, and now she wants to read the book behind me (I'm halfway through).

This just might be the best eleven bucks I've ever spent. 

*fingers crossed*

Five stars, and it's not even over.


Friday, July 31, 2015

On Forgiveness

My mom was a latchkey kid of the late sixties/early seventies. A Navy brat. She practically raised her younger sister.

I still think they're bitter about this.

Because a comment was made the other day--about the narcissism of my grandmother--how it was always about her. And, if it wasn't, she would find a way to make it about her. Family always came second (or third, or fourth).

She passed away a couple of years ago. Cancer, ultimately. But my mom was there. All the way to the end.

So her tone and the narcissism comment surprised me. And I was reminded of the saying:

Not forgiving is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.

Forgiveness isn't condoning the behavior or the actions, but choosing to let go. 

I think we're all doing the best we can with the information we have and who we are at the time. And we are each a product of the generation before us. 

I communicate with my daughter (probably to a fault). Explain and discuss and explore because I never felt comfortable enough to talk to my own mother about things.

My mother watched her mom work and work and work--put family second--for a mediocre job. Limited resources. If family is going to come second, the job should be worth it. Education became super-important to her.

My grandmother grew up in a world where women had few choices. She would never depend solely on a man. She ran away from my great grandmother, would take that job, make it her life.

I wonder what my great grandmother was running from. 

And her mother. 

Doing the best she could with the information she had and who she was at the time, I guess.

I wonder what my daughter will over-compensate for in her own life.

Whatever it is, I'm not drinking the poison, and I hope she doesn't, either.


Monday, July 20, 2015

On Peace

Our landscaping in the backyard was looking pretty pathetic. Not a priority at all, really, as grasses and tiny trees and thick, hollow weed-stalks took over the spaces between shrubbery.

So on Saturday as a thunderstorm rolled in--skies gray and wind gusting--I stepped outside, donned a pair of gloves, found hands and knees, and started pulling. 

It was hot and humid, but the breeze was glorious--ruffling leaves. So was the thunder in the distance.

And the first raindrop felt cool against my skin.

So I kept working.

Until the lightning was too close for comfort and my shirt was drenched, I worked. Then I watched the storm from the porch--the wind and the rain and the trees....

It's no coincidence that rain is often a symbol in literature.

A symbol of cleansing--of washing away.

Starting over.

It felt like the culmination of everything I've worked for this past year--to understand the world a little better, to understand myself better, to be a better me.

I've been thinking about something a student of mine recently said, about not searching the world for that thing that "completes" you. Because, outside of you, there is nothing that can complete you.

Only YOU can complete you.

We are both Yin AND Yang.

And I'm okay with this. At least, I'm learning to be.

Be Brilliant!


Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Pressfield On Fear

"Resistance feeds on fear. We experience Resistance as fear. But fear of what? 

"Fear of the consequences of following our heart. Fear of bankruptcy, fear of poverty, fear of insolvency. Fear of groveling when we try to make it on our own, and of groveling when we give up and come crawling back to where we started. Fear of being selfish, of being rotten wives or disloyal husbands; fear of failing to support our families, of sacrificing their dreams for ours. Fear of betraying our race, our 'hood, our homies. Fear of failure. Fear of being ridiculous. Fear of throwing away the education, the training, the preparation that those we love have sacrificed so much for, that we ourselves have worked our butts off for. Fear of launching into the void, of hurtling too far out there; fear of passing some point of no return, beyond which we cannot recant, cannot rescind, but must live with this cocked-up choice for the rest of our lives. Fear of madness. Fear of insanity. Fear of death. 

"These are serious fears. But they're not the real fear. Not the Master Fear, the Mother of all Fears that's so close to us that even when we verbalize it we don't believe it.

"Fear That We Will Succeed....

"....We know that if we embrace our ideals, we must prove worthy of them. And that scares the hell out of us." 

More wise words from Steven Pressfield.

Go Forth and Read.


Friday, July 3, 2015

Highly Recommended

I just finished reading Steven Pressfield's THE WAR OF ART.

So, SO good for anyone fighting against the grain: writer, artist, entrepreneur, etc. 

I love how he develops the idea of (captital R) Resistance, and all its many forms. 

"Resistance's goal is not to wound or disable," he says. 
"Resistance aims to kill. Its target is the epicenter of our being: 
our genius, our soul, the unique and priceless gift we were put on earth 
to give and that no one else has but us."

It was a quick read, with A LOT of highlighting going on. 

For all you creative types waiting for your call to action (to write that novel, to snap that photograph, to paint that masterpiece)--this one's for you


Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Summer So Far . . .

Summer so far looks like. . . . 

Am Reading
Am Editing
Am Researching
Am Movie-Watching
Am Editing
Am Reading
Am Museum-Visiting
Am Movie-Watching
Am Reading
Am Editing
Am Reading
Am Reading
Am Reading

Am loving it. :D


Wednesday, June 10, 2015

More on Failure

I talked about failure not too long ago, but stumbled across this great quote the other day, which really puts things in perspective for me:

"Everything looks like failure in the middle."

(Rosabeth Moss Canter)

It's so easy for someone standing on the outside to judge us. Our actions. Where we are. What we're doing. 

I liken this to someone walking into the room as I'm working on a 10,000 piece puzzle. I have some of the borders, some of the middle--maybe I'm about three thousand pieces in. With pieces scattered all over the table--no rhyme or reason--it's easy for someone else to see a mess. To think: "Wow. She's getting nowhere."

But I'm making progress. Bit by bit. Slow and steady.

And, when the puzzle is complete, everything will have come together and it will all make sense.

Life is that puzzle.

We pick up pieces, try to connect them to something else. Maybe they fit. Maybe they don't.

To the outsider, we are failing all over the place. Or maybe we can't even see the bigger picture. We feel like we're not making connections, everything is falling through, nothing has worked according to plan, and we wrap ourselves in the idea that we're failures.

Not finishing that book on time.
Losing a book deal.
Going out of print.
Low sales rankings. 
Not getting into the college of our choice.
Closing the doors of that family business.
Career changes.
Canceling the trip.
Wayward kids.
Having to push back retirement.

EVERYTHING looks like failure in the middle.

Keep pushing forward. Push with the end in mind--that tomorrow can be better than today, no matter the circumstances. 

That incomplete puzzle tells only half the story. 

Because everything looks like failure in the middle.

Now go Be Brilliant.


Friday, June 5, 2015

Friday . . . One?

So I'm really enjoying THIS gem lately:

It may or may not have anything to do with my work in progress. ;)

Happy Friday!


Friday, May 29, 2015

On Failure

On Thursday I woke up craving cupcakes (don't worry, it's not that kind of craving).

I tweeted this:

By 10:30, the daughter and I were in the kitchen, trying out a new recipe for cupcakes.

We didn't have eggs, so I decided to use applesauce as an alternative (which can be done, yo, and is a legit option when there's an egg allergy in the family).

(No egg allergy here, though--just no eggs, period.)

You saw the title of this post, right? Do you get where I'm going with this?

So we mix our ingredients, pop the pan in the oven and wait. And wait. And wait. And when the timer dings our cupcakes are still flat. 

Like . . . pancakes.

Round 1: 

I keep my cool, grab the cookbook, and reread the instructions.

SELF-RISING flour. Not All-Purpose.

Crap. It. All.

At this point, I had a choice. Freak out and moan and groan, or take the high road. It was my mistake, after all.

So I smiled. And I said: "Well, that happened. Let's try again."

The daughter and I washed all of our pans and measuring spoons and started over. This time, we used the right kind of flour.

Still no egg.

Turns out, substitute or not, that egg was pretty freaking important. 

Round 2:


So here's what I know about failure:

Failing is an important part of life and living.

If you aren't failing, you aren't trying 
(or you're not trying hard enough, 
or you're not trying the right things).

Every failure contains its own lesson. 
You will learn more from your failures than your successes.

Yeah, I could've gotten angry, tossed it all in the trash and spent the rest of the day sulking because things didn't go like I planned. (Because that's what "perfectionist" me wants to do.)

But I embraced the failure. Called it what it was.

Then I buttercream iced my failure and ate it.

The lesson I want my daughter to learn from this day: Mom didn't give up. Even when things didn't go the way she expected, she kept trying. And she kept her good attitude while she did it.

So when Mr. Klein came home and asked "What the $%&* happened?," I turned to him and smiled and said:

I taught our daughter how to fail today.

Now it's your turn. Go find failure. 

And Be Brilliant while doing it.


Wednesday, May 27, 2015

On the Duggars. Yep. I'm Going There.

I've been so torn about posting this, because I'm not really a fan of jumping on the hot topic bandwagon or dipping my toes into the controversy of the week--but over the past few days I have seen ALL THE PERSPECTIVES floating around the internet, from the "Crucify Him!" to the "God forgives and will make whole," and I just want to say a few things.

(Yeah, I'm talking Josh Duggar. Sorry)


You know the story, so I'm not going to link. If not, Google it. Read a few articles--there are a million different opinions on what happened and what should (or shouldn't) be done about it.

I just want to get my thoughts out into the world, and the most important is this:

I want the girls Josh assaulted to Be. Okay.
I want them to have a fighting chance to overcome this.

Because the Duggars, as a family, put "purity" on an impossibly high pedestal, preaching boys and girls who engage in pre-marital sexual behaviors of any sort are unholy and defiled. They are a family that equates these behaviors with a roomful of people spitting into a glass and then asking the last to drink from it. 

[Not kidding--apparently it's in one of their books. Personally? I only know the "chewed gum" analogy-- that no "good" boy wants a piece of pre-chewed gum on his wedding night. (The girls are the chewed gum, in case you didn't catch that.)]

Because it's not the boys who bear the brunt of this attitude, it's the GIRLS. The girls must dress modestly so that boys don't look at them or want them in "that way." Because girls who dress inappropriately or flirt or find themselves alone with boys are "asking for it." They're Jezebels and Bathshebas. Temptresses.

So . . . if you dress appropriately and behave and stay away from boys then everything will be okay.

Unless it's not.

Or unless you're a Duggar, and your older brother wants to molest you while you sleep.

I know the "modesty" and "purity" lingo. I grew up in this world. Thankfully, my world wasn't as strict as the Duggars, but I heard the preaching and the comparisons and the anecdotes. I was pulled aside one night with a friend by a "preacher-wife type," who took it upon herself to tell us that what we were wearing at the time was a "danger" to the men around us. We were stumbling blocks. We (with our harlot-wear--which, I'm pretty sure did not exist, because I know our parents at the time, and it wouldn't have been allowed) were capable of single-handedly destroying the male population--setting eyes on fire with lust and want. And, if they succumbed, it would be All. Our. Fault.

This is the world of the Duggar girls.

They are taught to believe their worth is tied to how "pure" they are. They are a shiny present wrapped in white satin--a gift to their future husbands.

And now some have been "defiled"--repeatedly, apparently--by someone they thought they could trust.

And my heart aches for them.

Because the family picked Josh. Everything I've read from the family focuses on Josh. Josh's forgiveness. His repentance. The horrible "path" he was on. The "counseling" he received (which I also question, but that's another post entirely). How grateful he is for everyone's "support."

And all the while I'm screaming: What about the GIRLS?

I don't watch the show. I don't pretend to know everything about them or all the details. But I'm familiar with them, and their beliefs and culture, and, while we absolutely do NOT need to know the girls' names, nor should we try to speculate who was affected by this, I'm not a fan of the way this situation was handled. The "cover-up." I don't think anyone benefited from the "counseling" and the "hush hush."

And I don't think the girls were provided the therapy they need to come to terms and move past this--and there are multiple layers which need to be addressed, with the "purity" stigma so deeply attached to it all. And I don't think they will, because the psychology behind it goes against everything this family "values."

And it's sad. Because, if not dealt with, there's no way to know how this experience will manifest itself in the future.

Josh's behavior was NOT NORMAL. It's deviant. It's inexcusable. And if it's not addressed professionally--by people who are trained to deal with this behavior--it could happen again.

I'm not saying that I don't believe in repentance and will-power and the power of forgiveness--if the Duggars want "God forgives and makes whole" to be part of the recovery process, that is absolutely okay with me. But it CAN'T BE THE ONLY PROCESS. Do not leave these girls to founder.

As a parent, I can't even imagine what a dark time this must have been (and still be) for them. But I know I would do everything in my power to get each child the help he or she needed--to whatever degree necessary--even if it meant stepping outside of my personal comfort zone, religious or otherwise.

Because "image" and "saving face" should never trump humanity, especially where our daughters are concerned.  

That is all.


Thursday, May 21, 2015

The "Why"

I'm super-excited to be working with a Cross My Heart fan right now who wants to be a writer, because her story is a lot like mine.

I first began to take writing seriously--as something I could do forever--in college. (I blame Dreamland by Sarah Dessen--a book I needed SO MUCH in high school but didn't have access to at the time.) But . . . I didn't think I had it in me to sit down and write an entire novel. Because, when you think about everything that goes into creating a full-length work, it can be paralyzing. Character development. Plot. Dialogue. Scene development. Story arcs.

What. The. Heck.

I did the reading and I did the outlining, and I realized NONE of it mattered if I couldn't get 50,000 words onto paper. It seemed like such a huge task. I didn't believe I had what it takes, because every time I sat down to write, I just couldn't get to "the end."

I feel like our story is similar to a lot of other writers' stories. Maybe it's your story.

But then, just before my last semester of college, I realized I had to scrap the details. Characters and scenes and description could be fixed later. I needed words. I had to prove to myself that I could do this.

That summer, I wrote my very first book. It was pretty bad. I'm sure it will never see the light of day. But I wrote it, and it was all mine, and I realized that I could tell a story in 50,000 coherent words. It was possible. After that, I never had trouble with word count again (characters, arcs, description--those still frustrate the hell out of me), but never word count. I've got that covered. I beat that block as soon as I wrote that first "the end."

But what I've learned along the way is this:

If you want to do this--if you REALLY want to be a writer--you have to find the "why."

Why do you want to do this? Why is this important? Why do you feel this pull? Why do you think it matters?

You're going to need to know the answer, because it's not going to be easy. You're going to start all determined, and then you're going to hit the "messy middle" and you're not going to know where to go. You're going to want to give up. 

If you don't want this to happen, it's going to come down to the "why." 

Why do you need to tell this story? Why do you need to write it right now?

Why do I write?

I write because I have stories in my head that need to get out. I write because I want to make a difference. I want to create characters that speak to readers--characters they can relate to. I want to take readers away from the world for a little while. Make them squeal with joy. Make them cry.

I write because I don't see the world in black and white. This annoys some of the people around me, but I see gray--things that aren't so easily defined. No one, simple answer. I like playing devil's advocate. I can find the humanity in anyone--remember that we ALL have stories, no matter who we are or what we've done. I believe anyone can change. I believe anyone can make a difference.

I write to offer a new perspective--to try to make sense of the world we live in and who we are as people.

The "why" is one of the most important parts of my writing.

If you want to be a writer, if you're already a writer and struggling--if you're not a writer but there's something else you feel compelled to do--sit down with a sheet of paper or a new computer document and spend some time working on the "why."

You'll need this.

Your "why" is your motivation.  

And knowing this is just as important as getting that story out of your head and onto paper.

I'm so excited for this new writer I'm working with, because now we know the "why," and we're going to get her to "the end," too. :D 

Be Brilliant! Always.


Monday, May 18, 2015

On the Mad Men Finale

I just want to pop in (late) and say: 

If you don't watch Mad Men, I'm sorry. 

It should be required viewing for any writer.

Great characters, great storytelling--everything done RIGHT.

That is all. :D


----Editing on Monday to add----

THIS had to be one of my favorite scenes of Peggy from the final season:

It was so well done, I didn't think we would see her anymore. But I was glad because:

Peggy + Stan Forever!!!

I might have squealed. 

I was also happy to see Joan kicking butt in her new venture, that Roger seemed to finally settle down with someone who could keep him in line, and Don Draper finally found peace.

I'm reading summaries and reviews this morning. Despite what anyone feels about the conclusion, I think this will remain one of the best series of EVER.

That is all (no, really.) :D

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Comfort Zones

So I've already mentioned I'm in the midst of a crisis.

And don't worry--thanks to a Polish psychologist named Dabrowski and his theory of "Positive Disintegration" I've totally come to realize that crisis is a GOOD thing. It's the catalyst for change. And, trust me, this change has been a long time coming.

It's not easy, adjusting a whole mindset, but I know the person I am today is not the person I was six months ago. I've completely crash landed outside my comfort zone--reading new authors and considering ideas I never would have touched before.

Trying new things.

Learning, I guess.

One thing I'm trying to be more mindful of is how much kindness I'm putting out into the world--not that I am a horrible person to be around. I just have a snarky side--one that most often comes out with those I'm comfortable with. Or, ironically, when I'm uncomfortable. Snark and sarcasm are funny--but maybe not as a permanent lifestyle.

When I'm down to my final days, I'd much rather be remembered for kindness over "caustic wit."

I guess I'm just over the whole "tearing down of others" thing. Might as well toss "conformity" and "the competition" in the mix, too.

But what I'm learning through all of this is that comfort zones are easy.

Even though I am failing all over the place, stumbling through this "crisis of being," there's progress. On my best days I can see it--feel it.

Because the "discomfort zone"--that's where the magic happens.  

Be Brilliant!


Thursday, May 7, 2015

Three Good Things

I'm not sure when, exactly, we started doing this together, but we must have been going through a stressful time--when the "bad" or the "negative" seemed to fill our days. I'm sure I read about this somewhere--the idea seems too good for it to have been my own.

Of course, now you can find articles about this everywhere. . . .

But my daughter and I, as part of her bedtime routine, practice "Three Good Things About Today." We both have to play, and the rules are simple: you have to think back on your day and come up with three things that were good about it.

You can't pick something that's going to happen, or something that happened earlier in the week; the "things" have to come from that day--from the time you wake up until you play.

Sometimes life happens, bad days are had, and it feels like everything is going wrong. What I've discovered is that, even on the hardest of days, I can usually go back and find at least three things that were good about it.  

It's not always easy, and sometimes those "things" seem pretty mundane, but this gratefulness practice reminds us to focus on the positive. 

Some examples of my "good things":

My workload wasn't bad.
I got everything on my "list" accomplished.
I managed to sneak some writing time in.
I ate a brownie for dessert.
The baby took two really great naps.
I managed to get outside for a few minutes to enjoy the fresh air.

My daughter is more likely to mention playing outside or being with friends, starting a new book (or finishing it!), drawing or making something new, or seeing one of her grandparents. . . .

It seems simple, but the act is proven to make a difference in our attitudes and how we see the world. It's beneficial to our health--both physically and mentally.

It reminds us to be grateful for the little things in life--the "good" that is often overlooked.

A worthy endeavor, I think. :D

Be Brilliant!


Monday, May 4, 2015

On Expectations

Warning: Honesty Ahead

My anniversary is coming up this month, and I've been thinking a lot lately about the culture I grew up in, which was very patriarchal: women were seen and not heard, and, if women needed to be heard, it was only in an "appropriate" way or the right context.

I've been engaged in a lot of soul-searching this year--this massive project I've undertaken to learn everything I can about the world and the people in it so that maybe I can find MYSELF and my place. I'm trying to become the very best ME, and the best ME is not aligning with the ME I was told to be growing up, and it's scary, sometimes.

I've completely torn down my foundation--it's gone, destroyed--and now I'm trying to rebuild, one brick at a time.

I find myself angry a lot, trying to rationalize the expectations that were heaped on me and how hard it was for me (pretty non-traditional and free-spirited to begin with) to cram myself into such a confining box.

And, looking back, how damaging it all was.

So I was doing some reading the other day and my thoughts drifted to my wedding. There was a lot of drama surrounding the whole event--my dad who didn't (still doesn't, really) like the guy I picked, or the date I picked. The age I picked. Drama. Drama. Drama.

Everything was a battle. (My whole life has felt like a battle. Again with the Expectations.)

And when no one liked what I was doing, I changed things up. In the biggest "eff it" I could manage at the time, I tossed out our old date and scrapped part of the guest list so we could get married at our alma mater on our own terms.

In three months.

And one person in particular--a minister relative of the family--had the nerve to ask my mother if we were rushing because I was pregnant. Like I needed some kind of shotgun wedding because there was something I was trying to hide.

Like I had been "defiled."

No white dress for me!!!

*Insert shaming here*

I found myself really, really angry at this guy the other day--because he embodies so many of the men I grew up around.

I was angry at him for assuming an unexpected pregnancy is the only reason I would ever try to pull off a wedding in three months--for assuming things that were none of his business. I was angry at myself for being embarrassed at the time, and going out of my way to assure my poor mom that no, she would not be a grandma, yet (she had two more years to wait for that). ;)

I am still angry for not calling more people out on their bullshit, especially this guy.

So I'm taking deep breaths, and reading these stories and articles and books and looking to the women who grew up in similar environments. And what I'm learning is how NOT OKAY it all was.

And those feelings I've had? I'm learning they're worth exploring. And that I'm not alone.

My anniversary is in a few weeks. Against all odds, we've made it twelve years.

We've almost not made it, so believe me when I tell you I don't take these years for granted. It hasn't always been easy. I haven't been easy.

But I love the quote that went out on my feed a few days ago:

"We fall in love by chance, we stay in love by choice."

I don't know who said it, but they were right. Every day is a choice.

Looking back on my wedding, I kind of regret getting sucked into the whole "perfect day" with the white dress and the crowd and the dinner. . . . I don't think it was ME. I think I was just going along with it because that's what "society" said I should do. What everyone else I know did (or was doing). More EXPECTATIONS.

Since we're being honest, I should've eloped. I should've had a party--danced the night away and not given a shit about what other people thought of the idea. I should've worn black because it's my favorite color. Or gray--a dark gray wedding dress would've been beautiful.  

I would've owned that dress.

So this year I'm trashing expectations. I'm making choices.

I'm learning more about myself. 

I'm building a new foundation. 

And I think I might be better for it.

YOU should just go on being Brilliant. ;)

That is all.