Category Archives: writing

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Happy New Year!

Happy New Year everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful entrance into the new year. I actually wanted to go to sleep, but Jack stayed up, so I didn’t really have a choice. But we had a very enjoyable evening with the family.

I used to hate new year’s eve. It always reminded me that I wasn’t with anyone, which was always very lonely at the time. It reminded me I wasn’t where I wanted to be in terms of figuring out/following my career. I was really, really good at looking at all of the things that I didn’t do or didn’t happen for me in the past year, and assuming that the next year would be just the same.

It’s funny, because as I look back on it now, some of my favorite memories come from those new year’s eves that at the time I felt so lonely and frustrated in. I really did have good times with people I still love and have as friends today, though it didn’t always seem that way. But, I have had the fortune of having some really amazing new year’s memories since having Jack. But even moreso the past few years I have had a great new year’s because I was happy. Because even though I didn’t get to all the places I wanted to get to, and even though everything didn’t go the way I wanted, I was trying. I was trying to become the person I want to be. I was putting effort (flawed as it may be) and that made the difference. I failed, but I also succeeded. Even if the successes were small, they were real. And small steps when added together turn into giant strides. And looking back over the past few years, I have actually made much more progress than I thought I had. I’ve chased a few dreams, made a few improvements, made a few mistakes, and worked really hard. And it turns out that is a recipe for a good year. A year that has ups and downs, highlights and low, but certainly more good than bad.

So I hope everyone has the chance to do just that this year. Make some plans, chase some dreams, work hard, let the failures drive you harder, let the successes lead you forward and find your way closer to whomever it is you want to be. The you that makes you proud, the you that gives you hope that your future will truly be bright. That’s how you light the way for all who will follow you. And someone is always looking to you.

Happy new year everyone! Thank you all for your kind words and support, and I hope you feel the happiness and love I’m sending to you all!

“I don’t know if you know who you are until you lose who you are.” Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift “I Knew You Were Trouble” via MTV.com

So I’m sitting on my porch right now determining if I should brave the cold to go outside and look for meteors. Who doesn’t like shooting stars, as long as they aren’t headed towards you? And I’ve only seen a few in my lifetime thus far. And it feels like something nice to do tonight. So if you guys sit outside right after I post this we can sit out together and watch for shooting stars. But I’m probably going to be a little mad when you see them and I don’t.

The quote in the title is at the end of the video for Taylor Swift’s new song, “I Knew You Were Trouble.” I like this song. I like this concept a lot. In life we tend to learn a lot by making mistakes. Taking the wrong roads is one of the ways we learn the most about ourselves. We learn about how we react, how far we will go in situations we often thought we’d never see ourselves in to begin with. Not getting lost takes an active effort to constantly be finding your way out. Ironically enough I think it was a shooting star that helped get me lost on a journey one night that lasted far longer than it ever should have. But on that night, he walked in the doorway, and in my head my only thought was, “God I hope he’s the reason we’re here tonight.” And it turned out he was. So we went for a walk along the beach, which at that time was still unlit, because a year prior the hurricane had knocked out the road, the power lines and the majority of the houses and businesses in the area. It started out cloudy, and as we got down by the water, the clouds opened up, and like magic I looked up and there was this stupid shooting star that I made a stupid wish on. And I spent nearly 4 years trying to figure out why and how to walk away for good. But I did know he was trouble when he walked in. I just didn’t know how to walk back out back then.

It’s strange to talk about , because it’s been about two years since I’ve felt much of any way about him, but as I look back,  I was singing along to a different song the other night wondering what it was that made me care so much for so long, or what it was that had made me so sad before (the song was “Sad”  by Maroon 5, so these were very appropriate thoughts) and it turned out the reason I was sad was because he chose not to love me. It’s not that he didn’t, or that he couldn’t, it’s that he made the choice not to. And that’s the choice that everyone gets to make. That’s what makes everything such a gamble. That’s why the stakes are so high. Because at any point at any time someone can choose to walk away. Family, friends, relationships have a habit of changing, and we have a habit of leaving people behind. But it’s when the stakes are high that we feel most alive. There’s something in there when you go all in that makes you want to believe. It lights you up. It’s explosive. It’s life-changing. And sometimes we really don’t know how to get back to who we were, because we never really knew who we were before. And maybe we can never really know who we are, because we are constantly changing and life is constantly pushing and pulling. But it’s those battles that in getting past everything so there’s a clearing out there and we can look back and see who we are at that moment in that time, and that’s how we can see who we want to be. Because if we don’t know where we are starting from, we have no way to know where to go. And sometimes the stars lead us astray because until we’re lost, we can’t be found.

Now let’s go look at the stars! (Unless it’s daylight where you are… in which case I hope it’s a beautiful day!)

And if you need a book to read while you’re waiting on the stars, or some Christmas shopping to finish up while you’re waiting, you know, buy this. 🙂

Where rises inspiration, rises hope, even if it is from a “silly, little show.”

This is the Beatles’ first appearance on Ed Sullivan via http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WHuRusAlw-Y

So, while watching “The Voice” tonight one of the judges commented that this is a “silly, little show.” Not in a bad way, but in a “in the grand scheme of things this isn’t curing cancer kind of way”. And though the show may not showcase researchers in a medical lab, I’m going to very kindly disagree (sort of) with the notion.

The thing about talent, is that it inspires. And inspiration is an amazing thing. There is power in inspiration. Inspiration rarely happens absent of a connection. We connect with something, and suddenly things make sense. We feel what others are feeling. And that gives rise to hope.

One of the main ways many of us find inspiration is through the arts. Whether it’s drawings, paintings, sculptures, writings, readings, and music to name a few. What exists within these forms of expression are extensions of a person’s soul. We use the arts to tell others what lives inside of us. It tells others how we connect, and gives them that same chance. When we make that connection we feel alive in a way that we don’t normally feel without that inspiration. The talents that we have matter. Sharing the talents that we have matters. I love that there are now forums for people to constantly find sources of inspiration any time we want now. It’s an amazing thing. And the show, silly or not, truly does allow for those types of connections to be made. It has the capacity to inspire millions each week. That is an awesome power. It allows people to see that following our passion truly can lead us to somewhere amazing. Somewhere unthinkable. What exists within us, each of us, can truly change lives. It can give rise to inspiration, and give rise to hope. We can bring one another to higher heights by taking a chance and doing our best.

Music is my vice (one of them, writing is as well). I don’t know how to survive without it. When I need to escape, when I need to think, or when I need to just smile there’s a song for it. There are usually multiple songs for it. Music is diversified and designed to make us feel. Even without words, music can move us. I think the universe is inherently musical. It’s how it communicates with us and how we respond in kind. Every culture on earth has some form of music as a component in it. It’s one of the few universals out there.

When I was little the only shows I would watch on TV were ones that had people singing in them. So as you can imagine growing up in the 80s I watched a lot of Kids Incorporated and Jem (who truly amazed me). Billy Joel was my first concert. I was somewhere around the age of 2. And that was quickly followed by the Beach Boys. The music I remember most from when I was really young comes from that era… It was the Beatles, the Beach Boys, Billy Joel and Motown. People find it funny in conversations when the Temptations come on and my response is always that it brings me back to my childhood, because the songs were popularized 20 years before I was born. But that’s the great thing about great music. It lives on. That connection lives on. Great music touches lives forever. Even if it’s on a silly, little show. I’m sure “The Ed Sullivan Show” could be classified in a similar manner, but it had an unprecedented impact on people around the world simply because a band played a few songs on February 9, 1964. And the impact lasts to this day. So in short, Adam and I actually agree. Everything we do matters. Everything we do has the potential to change lives.

(PS guys I promise I’m going to stop writing about “the voice”…. and you know, buy my book. Seriously, it’s a worthwhile, cost-effective gift for any occasion, and everyone you forgot to put on your list this year!  🙂

A quick trip to the pumpkin patch and other stories…

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Well, hellooooo! It’s been a while!  A long while! But I get to write again some now, and that’s exciting. I hope everyone has been well. I’ve missed you guys! School is in full swing, but hopefully I’ll get to write more often now.

Today we stopped by a pumpkin patch. Jack had fun, but all of the pumpkins that weren’t insanely ginormous had already started to go bad, so we ended up not getting one. Well, Jack got a baby one that he was very excited about. It didn’t seem to matter to him, so we are going to paint that and try to find one to carve elsewhere.

Over the past few months as life has been changing in very extreme ways both very positive and very negative, it’s been a frustrating and exciting quest towards the future. The thing that I realized the most was that life really is hard. When you don’t know how to make a way for your family to survive, it’s hard. When you can’t see past your bills, it’s hard. When you can’t find things that make you happy, it’s hard. When you look around and it seems everyone has someone but you, it’s hard. Life is hard. The things that we are trying to accomplish in our lives, even the simple things can be hard. And when I was watching one of my favorite movies, “A League of Their Own,” I heard one of my favorite lines, and it goes like this: “It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard… is what makes it great.” It’s hard. Life is, but it’s also great. Every day we have new chances, new opportunities. We have the chance to do something that makes us feel a little more like the person we want to be. And sometimes that involves just getting through the day. But we can work to make sure that we build something into our time, into our days to be able to say to ourselves each night, I am a little closer than I was when I woke up. And as time goes forward, we will have become the person we want to become, and we will be doing the things we want to be doing, because we took the time when it was hard to make sure that the hard was worthwhile.

(As a little side-note, I LOVE this movie. LOVE it. It’s one of the first movies that ever made me cry. That’s weird, I know. And I cried because at 10 I realized that my time playing softball was limited. I would graduate high school and I wouldn’t get to play anymore. And I really loved softball, and sports in general. One of the things I miss most about being young is that comradery that accompanies a group of people with the main goal of working together, getting better and building each other up in order to achieve something great. We wanted to win and we were willing to fight, even when it was hard. In fact, we cheered each other on to work even harder when it was hard, because we wanted to win. We wanted to succeed. And I think if we continued that type of thinking and working together into adulthood the world would be a much better place. And hopefully, even though it’s been a while, hopefully when you come to this site, it’s a place where we build each other up, and inspire one another on our journeys, especially when it’s hard.)

(And as a final side-note for the night, my goal is to get up early with Jack tomorrow and exercise, because I am still using him as an excuse not to, so instead since he’s interested in running and yoga, I’m going to try to do those with him. Because, in all seriousness, I should not be this out of shape.  So, I’m going to start the week off on the right foot, by exercising, cooking something healthy, and writing! I’m in a better mood just having written this! Happy start to the week everyone!!! )

Thoughts

 

It’s interesting the way things from the past have the capacity to hold onto us. The things people said or did that we play in our minds over and over again. Whether it was something good or bad, it remains ingrained. Evolution-wise it’s necessary for us to remember things, and more so for us to have certain impressions that are lasting. There are things that we have to know to carry us through. Whether it’s for safety purposes, for happiness, or whatever the case may be, we have to be able to recall that information so that we know what decisions we make.

Yet, as people say all of the time, our thoughts hold us captive. Our thoughts that we think every day govern how we function. They take up a large portion of our time. They guide us. And this makes understanding what our thoughts are, and why extremely important. Maybe nothing is binding, maybe our thoughts are not concrete, maybe the self is ever moving and changing (someone was arguing this with me recently), but none of those things make it any less real to us. None of those things make it any less important to be aware of the fact that our thoughts, the way we process information have a direct effect on what we do in life and how we contribute to it. And contributing, doing something purposeful in with our lives does matter.

We are a part of something. Maybe no one knows exactly what, maybe some people do. No matter what, we are an extension of a universe that is expansive. And we are probably a part of even more than just that. All of the things in this universe have a role, and so do we. What we have the ability to do as humans is to look both outward and inward at once. We can look at who we are inside and we can look at who we are outside of ourselves. We are here, and we have no choice but to belong. So then we have the question, what can we do? What is the purpose? We exist, but what goes beyond mere existence?

When two people connect, something goes beyond existence. When two people interact, the force between them grows stronger. Whether it’s engaging or repelling, it’s strengthening. With each interaction we have the chance to grow ourselves, grow another, and grow a connection, grow love or grow fear. And what we grow depends largely on what we think, how we process and interpret what’s going on. So this week we have to pay attention to what we grow. Is it love? Is it fear?  Are we encouraging? Or are we condescending? Helpful or disengaged? Do we have proper priorities? Or are we letting it simply pass by? July is now halfway through. Time doesn’t take long. So how are your thoughts holding you?

 

(P.S. I hope you guys have an amazing week! And that this is your week!)

Walking on the wire

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Many people watched a few weeks ago when Nik Wallenda walked across Niagara Falls on a tightrope. Not long after that a man walked across the Beau Rivage, a casino on the coast here on a tightrope, as well. I went with my brother, my son and my nephew to watch the event. You don’t realize just how high up it really is until there is someone walking across it on a rope!

As we watched him I thought about how difficult it must be to keep so many things in balance all at once. I’ve talked a lot about focus this week, and in this case it truly does take an immense amount of focus. You are standing up higher than anyone around, out over the edge (one of the only people crazy enough to try this) and you have to keep looking forward while remembering what you need to do to keep yourself in check. You have to stay calm, make sure your steps are on track, change them accordingly to ensure the rope you are walking on doesn’t get too loose, and make sure not to look down.

When we are up high and walking across the rope looking down can be hard to avoid. It’s one of the biggest pitfalls we make. When we start looking at just how high up we are and how far we’ve come, it’s easy to get disoriented. Looking down and losing focus is confusing. We become inundated immediately with thoughts that take us off track. We stop paying attention to our walk, we stop paying attention to our goal, we aren’t sure anymore what our next step should be, and it’s all because we looked down.

There are lots of people down there waiting on us to fall. There are lots of reasons that we might actually fall. But we are just as capable of standing on the wire and walking our way across. The choice in the matter is ours. Do we give in and look down? Do we go ahead and give up and take the easy way? It’s a whole lot faster getting to the ground that way, but the ground isn’t really where we want to be. And falling almost always results in injury. It may be fast, and there may be lots of people at the bottom who will be happy we’ve joined them, but is it really worth it? Fighting the urge to look down is hard. We have to know the steps we are taking. And remember that the hard road, (or the tight rope) is the only way to get there. So why not take the time to stay in check while walking on the wire.

Finding focus in the silence – seeing your ideas become reality

Most of the time when we have an idea or a goal, at the beginning there is this wave of excitement and focus. We are able to make the ideas flow, we are able to put a pen to paper, and we’re off. We start on our way. Then all of a sudden it stops. The wave has landed ashore, and we’re stuck out of water. This is one of the most pivotal times when it comes to accomplishing what we’ve set out to accomplish.

It seems like when we look at others, they are on their way and their journey has been nothing but smooth sailing. In reality, it’s extremely unlikely that a tremendous amount of time, frustration and unreturned effort wasn’t put in. We don’t get to most places worth going in life simply by showing up. We have to work to get to where we want to go. If you have something to say, and something worth saying, finding an audience is the most important and most difficult thing you can do. Unfortunately, in life we can only control ourselves. We have no power over others unless they consent. Unless they are willing to show up and say, “Hey, tell me more.” And people aren’t willing to do that until you’ve put in the effort.

Maintaining focus when things are starting to fall, when you realize that the road in front of you is full of hill after hill, mountain after mountain that you have to climb over – when you realize that you are fighting uphill, and there will be times when you feel like you are only losing ground – maintaining focus here is what separates those who achieve their goals from those who let them go. It separates those who become from those who settle. It’s hard. It’s long. It doesn’t go the way we expect it to go or feel that it should go. But it IS the road to success, as long as we choose to stay focused. To find ways when there seem to be none, and to keep working when it feels like nothing is happening. Finding focus when we are hearing nothing at all, when there is only silence is the key to seeing your ideas become a reality.

A view from the top – where the possibilities are endless!

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I went to NYC for the first time in 2006. As a child I had decided since New York was cold and full of people, I wasn’t too interested in going there. I always figured I wouldn’t feel safe, and I would get lost. I decided if I had to pick a big city to live in, I would pick LA. A good portion of this decision was based on the fact that I loved sunny weather, and all of my favorite TV shows were filmed in LA. But, even so, when we were embarking on the trip I was a bit apprehensive.

We were only going to be there for about 48 hours. And my only goal on the trip was to make it to Rockefeller Center to see the tree. I’ve always loved Christmas trees, and when they are all lit up I can sit and look at the lights for hours. It’s calming to me. We drove into New Jersey, and made our way to NYC via the subway, and our train stopped in Grand Central Station. When we got out into the night lights, I found myself feeling unusually comfortable. There were people everywhere. It was three days before Christmas. It was cold and rainy but not freezing out. And the whole time I was there, I was continuously surprised at how at home I felt. There are more people in a two block radius than there are in my entire state. But something about it just fit.

When we got down to the tree I remember just thinking to myself, if it weren’t insanely expensive or I were a millionaire, or I figured out a way to get into Columbia to go to school, I could totally live here. People weren’t rude. They were simply on their way to wherever they were going. And we were as well. We didn’t get lost. Far fewer strangers came up to me and asked me for money than did when I lived in Jackson. In fact, I think only one person did, and that was at the train station. But there was nothing scary about it. When we went to the Top of the Rock and looked out over the city, it was a truly beautiful sight. We could see the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building. The bridges were lit. There were red and green lights for the season. You could see life. For miles and miles. You just knew there was life all around. It was lively, and encouraging, and you could feel the energy in the air. You could see all of the different avenues of possibility that were right at your fingertips. They are simply waiting for you to stroll their way.

Sometimes it’s surprising what we find when we go places we never really wanted to go. I never wanted to go to NYC, yet it took one quick trip for me to fall in love (and I WILL be back one day). I never wanted to write a blog, but this has turned out to be one of the most encouraging experiences I’ve had in a long time. I never wanted to pursue my dreams, because there was a chance I would fail, and I didn’t know how to handle that, yet this journey of writing and publishing and reaching people with something I believe in has been the best experience I’ve had despite its frustrations. Sometimes if we change our point of view, and we try new things – even those we really don’t think we want to, it can change our lives in the most wonderful way. Whether it’s writing a different type of story than we had envisioned, taking a job we didn’t think we wanted to have, traveling somewhere we aren’t really interested in going, there may just be something in those experiences that change our lives for the better. So don’t forget to be open, and try to envision what life could be like with a view from the top.

A bit of gratitude!

“Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier” Mother Teresa

I am pretty sure I have quoted this before on this blog, but it’s truly one of my favorite quotes. I just wanted to take a little bit of time tonight to say how thankful I am for all of you who have taken the time to stop by this blog. Your support is truly amazing to me, and I am so thankful that I have had the chance to connect with so many people.

My goal for this blog is to make it so that when people come here they feel uplifted and perhaps find a little bit of insight as well. There are so many things around us that work to easily bring us down, and I think it’s important to have a place of refuge that we can return to lift our spirits up when we want. And I hope that when I write, I write things that do just that. I want the words to be places that can be returned to for moments of encouragement and inspiration.

And when I started out deciding to make a blog like that, I didn’t realize that it would be returned. That I could come here and see such support and such encouragement. It’s overwhelming the community that has formed here sometimes and I am honestly grateful beyond words for it. So I humbly thank you all, for stopping by, and I hope that as you do, you leave happier.

Thank you!

I also wanted to say thank you to the following people for nominating me for awards. Again, it’s incredibly kind of you to take the time to do so!

 

http://notesflow.wordpress.com/2012/06/22/one-lovely-blog-award/

http://hometogo232.wordpress.com/2012/06/23/illuminating/.

http://colourtheday.wordpress.com/awardsinspiration/

 

And a very special thank you for taking the time to read and review my book! It really means a lot to me!! Thank you so much!

http://alastairfk13.wordpress.com/2012/06/24/review-of-between-fear-and-love-self-worth-the-ties-that-bind/

A bit of good news I hope!!

The kindle version of my book is now just $.99! (it started at midnight, I am excessively uncomfortable with self-promotion!) Which is very exciting!! One of the reasons I opted to make a kindle version was to keep prices low. I think that we all have to pay attention to how and what we spend our money on, so I’m really excited that I get the chance to do this!

So, if you are interested in changing your life, following your dreams, understanding your relationships, sharing the difficulties of parenting, feeling inspired, motivated, encouraged, and understanding why you really are worthy of all of the wonderful things life has to offer and learning how to achieve them, it truly is a dollar extremely well spent. It’s a short read (it is 260 pages, but it feels so much faster, honestly!) It’s written in the same format as my blog. It’s like we sat down in my living room to have a conversation about everything worthwhile that I’ve learned in my years studying psychology and in my personal life. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry (except those of you who are manly enough to hold it in, but you’ll want to), It’s a chance worth taking, and it costs next to nothing. Give it to someone as a gift. You don’t need a kindle to read it. So please share it with everyone you know. It’s time and a tiny bit of money well spent.

Between Fear and Love – Kindle

And I want to thank all of you for creating such a wonderful and supportive community here. It really is impressive, this blogging community. Thanks for letting me in, encouraging me, and helping me accomplish my dreams. I hope I help you all do the same!

I also want to thank the following people for nominating me for awards this past week. I appreciate the thought. It means a lot, because I really want people to enjoy this blog and to feel inspired when they read it. So thank you. Check them out:

http://smilesalot1969.wordpress.com/

http://voluntaryfiber.wordpress.com/

http://panichold.wordpress.com/

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