Sophia – Part Five

Okey dokey, friends….we are on the last day of our version of the Sophia project! Yaaa! :) One last overview of what we’re up to (just in case you’ve been hiding under a rock all week! ;) ):

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Think of someone you admire — a talented artist or scientist, entrepreneur or adventurer.

Do you know what their great regret in life is? What advice would they share about parenting, or aging, or finding fulfillment? What book has had the greatest impact on their life?

Chances are you don’t know. Which is why we’ve created Sophia, a project to collect life lessons from fascinating people.

Here’s how it works. We’re conducting hundreds of long-form interviews with accomplished individuals, asking them to share stories and advice about topics that are central to a well-lived life — happiness, relationships, aging, work, parenting, habits and routines, to name a few.

We’ll publish these personal conversations on HuffPost, and we’ll also use the lessons our guests share to build a special platform (think of it as ‘Yelp for wisdom’) that organizes their collective insights by topic.

In the coming weeks we’ll feature life lessons from Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winners, successful executives, engineers, authors and athletes, dynamic thinkers and doers of all stripes. If you want their practical wisdom delivered straight to you, follow Sophia on Facebook or subscribe to our email newsletter.

The heart of this project is the set of questions we pose to each guest. Some of the questions elicit weighty responses, i.e., Have you had any recent realizations about living a rewarding life?

Other questions are more practical, i.e., What’s the greatest travel journey you’ve taken that you’d recommend to others? What’s the most meaningful gift you’ve received?

Each individual’s answers are personal and unique, but they are all also broadly useful. So follow or subscribe for lessons, ideas and insights you can apply to your own life. Get in touch with us at sophia [at] huffingtonpost.com; we read every note. Also, we’re always on the lookout for new guests. If you have suggestions, including someone wise and insightful in your own life, let us know.

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Today’s topic is one that is very near and dear to my heart….

Education and intellectual development, career, money:

  • Tell us about a book (or books) that had a profound impact on your life or intellectual development. Crikey….this is tough. I love books like nobody’s business, and I always seem to have one favorite or another. Some that I have loved over the years are: Catcher in the Rye, The Great Gatsby (I love this book SO much), The Stone Angel (Margaret Laurence completes me), the Marisa de los Santos book Love Walked In is one of the most gorgeous things you’ll ever sink your teeth in to (fun fact: I emailed her after I read her book to gush over how much I loved it – and she answered! What a rock star!!!)…I love most of what I read, and I find that finishing a book leaves me changed somehow, as if the words themselves have left the page and imprinted on my mind and my heart. I love that. :) The books that I like tend to be those that are well written, that feature characters that are people I would actually like to be friends with, and teach me something about the world and life that perhaps I didn’t know before. I used to read pretty much whatever is around, but that has stopped – I don’t have a lot of time to read anymore, so if I’m going to spend the time, it’s going to be for something worthwhile. :) I read a lot of non-fiction now – bios/autobiographies are currently leading the hit parade. :)
  • What advice would you give people so they get the most out of college? Go to your classes.  Be present. Make friends with those around you – and get to know your professors. Go to your classes. Become involved. Enjoy the experience – it’s a gift to get the chance to go….soak up every second of it. I did none of these things, and subsequently had a miserable friggin’ time in university. I hated it with every ounce of my being, and I still marvel that I made it through at all – it was ROUGH. I hope that when it’s time for the Wee One to pursue higher education, she jumps in with both feet and makes the best of it! :)
  • How would you have handled your own education differently? I would have gone to class. I would have finished going as far as I wanted to go with my education before I became a parent, as trying to be a student and a mama at the same time (while holding down a very demanding full-time job) is no easy task. I would have pursued things that I was interested in, instead of doing only what I had to do to get finished. I would have chased a few dreams, followed a few passions, and perhaps unlocked some magical hidden potential. I’d have tried everything so that I would never have to utter the words…’what if’.
  • What advice would you give to young adults who are choosing a career path? It’s pretty simple: do what you love and love what you do…and you’ll never work a day in your life! :) Find a way to balance following your dreams with making realistic choices that are going to allow you to support yourself in life. Don’t ever make a career decision based on somebody else – you do you, and what’s best for you, ALWAYS. :)
  • Who is the best teacher you had? What did they do that made such an impact? I loved my Grade 3 teacher – she always made me feel good about myself and the odd little chicken that I was, and she understood my unusual learning style and accommodated it wonderfully. :) I loved my high school English teacher – nutty though she was, I learned SO MUCH from her. :) I had a lot of good teachers in my youth, and I look back on the education that I received in my little school with such fondness – that place did a magnificent job of preparing me for the world with nothing but books, pens, paper – and great teachers. Amazing what you can do with good people. :)
  • In the course of your life, have you changed your mind about anything substantial? Loads of times! Thank goodness that I did – who wants to be stuck with the decisions that they make when they are young, impressionable, and – in my case – probably drunk? ;-)  When you know better, you do better – I’m constantly changing my mind, constantly evolving, and I hope that this never stops.
  • What distinguishes the periods in your career when you felt most satisfied with your work from the times when you felt least satisfied? I have felt satisfied when I have been busy, engaged in helping with a greater goal than just what I am doing, surrounded by like-minded people, and given the freedom and opportunity to do my thing. I’m not much for conformity, and I loathe having to do the same things as those around me. I like to march to the beat of my own drum, do my own thing, and forge my own path. I like working in a smaller environment, and I like being able to know all of the people around me. Building relationships is very important, and that’s tough to do when you’re on a comprehensive campus of 3000+ students and 250+ faculty and staff. I’ve not been satisfied when I’ve worked with people who mistreat their staff, who are condescending and rude, and when I’ve felt like there was no place for me. I’ve felt unhappy when I’ve not had much to do, and I’ve felt like the meager contributions that I did make were insignificant.
  • Do you have any career-related regrets that would be educational for others? I moved around from job to job, because I thought that a wide variety of experiences and assignments would serve me well and help me to be more marketable. This was NOT the case – instead, I looked like an idiot flake who couldn’t hold a job. Thankfully I have overcome these misconceptions about me, and I’ve used all of my experiences to land in this wonderful job that I’m in now. I frequently joke that I’m so happy here that people will need to roll my rotting carcass out when I die because I’m not going anywhere. News Flash – I’m not really joking. ;)
  • Have you had a personal mentor and what did you learn from them? I’ve had a few, actually – I’ve had the pleasure of working with some seriously wonderful women in the past few years, and I have learned SO MUCH from them. I think that I actually learned more from the string of seriously shitty bosses that I had earlier in my career – they were a big HOW NOT TO lesson for me: how not to treat people, how not to over-delegate, how not to do your work and take care of business, etc.
  • Provide a snapshot of your industry/area of expertise. Explain the work that you do in lay terms. What about your work do you find most satisfying? Most challenging? I’m the Vice Principal of a Magnet High School – we are ranked in the top 100 schools in the country. We have just over 500 students, and a teaching faculty of 20. I manage the discipline, attendance, academic life, and pretty much everything else for our campus. Every single day is different, and my work is NEVER boring. I love working with students – they are always easy to manage….the adults are a whole other situation, but I’m trying to work on those skills. I have really improved when it comes to dealing with parents – thank goodness, because they are a strong presence on our campus. One of the most challenging parts of my job is the supervision of the teachers – especially those whose educational philosophy is starkly different to my own. However, I’m  hanging in there and I’m learning – and so are they. :)
  • Tell us something about your profession that would otherwise take months or years to learn. The key to success in my job is to effectively multitask, remain calm, and remember that nothing that transpires is personal. So much of what I do is smoothing things over, talking to people, diffusing tough situations – if I was hyperactive and over-reactive, things would go very badly very quickly. Thankfully I don’t get outwardly ruffled very easily, which has served me well. I do my best work when I have 316 irons in the fire, and I am happiest when I am busy. I think I’m a really good fit for my job, because I get to do SO many different things in a day – but I still see students, I still deal in hands-on academic issues, and I still get to have fun (case in point: yesterday I hid under my desk and put on a puppet show for some students to film for their Advanced Video Production class). My job is AWESOME! :)
  • Do you have any overarching tips or unorthodox practical advice regarding money? N/A
  • In your life, what has been the relationship between wealth and personal fulfillment? I’ve never had wealth, so this is a hard one to answer. Teachers aren’t paid terribly well in this country (not like my contemporaries in other countries), so I’m not in an industry that will ever see me pulling in the big bucks. However, I have always known that while money can’t buy happiness, it sure as hell does buy convenience – which makes me happy. :) Do I wish I had more money? Absolutely. Do I fret like a friggin’ mo’fo about my retirement and how on earth I am going to be able to support myself without anything to fall back on? It keeps me up at night. However, I can take solace in the fact that I am doing the best that I can – and that’s really all that I can do. I don’t put a price tag on people or relationships – I will always choose love and friendship first. :)
  • Roughly speaking, what do you do with your money? Spend too much. :( I like pretty clothes/shoes/makeup, travel, eating out, the finer things in life – which I need to get over, because the student loans will be upon me before I know it. :( I always take care of my bills and responsibilities – and I try to be generous with those around me. I spend a lot of my money on my Wee One (and doing stuff with her) – she’s the best way to spend money EVER! :)

Pile of old books with reading glasses on desk

So….this concludes Sophia! I’ve had an amazing time sharing my thoughts and ideas with you – and man alive have I loved reading what you guys have had to say! :) Loooove! Thank you to the fine people at The Huffington Post for coming up with this idea in the first place (and giving me something to piggy back on)…it’s been fun! :) Je t’aime, mes amis!!!! :)

xxx

Sophia – Part Four

Hi friends! Welcome to Sophia – Part Four! :-) I hope that you’ve been reading along with us this week – if you’re new to the party, let me give you an overview of what we’ve been working on:

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Think of someone you admire — a talented artist or scientist, entrepreneur or adventurer.

Do you know what their great regret in life is? What advice would they share about parenting, or aging, or finding fulfillment? What book has had the greatest impact on their life?

Chances are you don’t know. Which is why we’ve created Sophia, a project to collect life lessons from fascinating people.

Here’s how it works. We’re conducting hundreds of long-form interviews with accomplished individuals, asking them to share stories and advice about topics that are central to a well-lived life — happiness, relationships, aging, work, parenting, habits and routines, to name a few.

We’ll publish these personal conversations on HuffPost, and we’ll also use the lessons our guests share to build a special platform (think of it as ‘Yelp for wisdom’) that organizes their collective insights by topic.

In the coming weeks we’ll feature life lessons from Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winners, successful executives, engineers, authors and athletes, dynamic thinkers and doers of all stripes. If you want their practical wisdom delivered straight to you, follow Sophia on Facebook or subscribe to our email newsletter.

The heart of this project is the set of questions we pose to each guest. Some of the questions elicit weighty responses, i.e., Have you had any recent realizations about living a rewarding life?

Other questions are more practical, i.e., What’s the greatest travel journey you’ve taken that you’d recommend to others? What’s the most meaningful gift you’ve received?

Each individual’s answers are personal and unique, but they are all also broadly useful. So follow or subscribe for lessons, ideas and insights you can apply to your own life. Get in touch with us at sophia [at] huffingtonpost.com; we read every note. Also, we’re always on the lookout for new guests. If you have suggestions, including someone wise and insightful in your own life, let us know.

 

Today’s topic / loaded gun is…..

Parenting:

  • What kinds of advice do you have for people raising young children? Be there. Be present. I wish that I had spent more time with my Muppet when she was small, but I did what I had to do. However, I’m fairly certain that I could have been with her full time, every day….and it still wouldn’t have felt like it was enough. Those years go by way too quickly – take time to enjoy them. Do the laundry later – have a teddy bear tea party NOW. Hold hands as much as you can. Cuddle. Be their number one fan, and their favorite person. Understand that your days of being their favorite are limited – enjoy them while you can. Be silly. Wear underpants on your head. Make them giggle – and giggle along with them. Try everything. Be happy. :-) (and sleep when you can – the dishes will wait, I promise)
  • What kinds of advice do you have for people raising teenagers? Be strong. Be brave. Say NO all the time, as needed. Be the parent – your kid will have enough friends. Speaking of them, know those friends – and know their parents, too. Listen to your kid – minimize your yelling. For the love of all that’s good and holy, DO NOT SAY ‘I told you so’….nothing good comes from smugness. Be honest with your kid, keep it real whenever possible. Laugh with them. Keep a social life that revolves around the two of you. Be there for them. Answer the phone when they call in the middle of the night for a ride – go get them, and praise them for calling. Never give up – always keep trying. Tell them you love them. Wear underpants on your head and try to make them laugh – if it worked before, it may work again. :-)
  • Do you have any regrets regarding your own parenting? Sure do…I wish I hadn’t worked so much when my Wee One was small – but I had to do what I had to do. Thankfully she understands that. I feel badly that she’s had the health struggles that she’s had, but…there’s not a lot that I can do about that. Sadly. I wish I could. However, my greatest regrets revolve around time – but, like I tell her….quality is just as important as quantity. I believe. :-)
  • What do you feel is the most helpful thing your parents did for you that many parents don’t do? They let me move away from home at the ripe old age of 15 – to this day, I can’t figure out how I talked them in to it, but….I’m really glad that I did. I’m better for the experience. :-)
  • What did your parents get wrong that others can learn from? Holy hell….where do I start? There were a lot of mistakes, sadly. One of the biggest mistakes was not being terribly encouraging, but stifling – which is a losing battle with me, because I’m a bit of a force of nature…and I’m not exactly meant to be stifled. I don’t believe they ever did anything with bad intent, but when I look back and think about how I was raised, there’s simply SO much that I wish was different. There wasn’t a lot of happiness in my home – there was always WAY too much stress and strife, and I can’t really recall my mother ever being happy or joyful. Isn’t that sad? Oh well…C’est la vie. :-)
  • Do you have any unique advice regarding disciplining children? Consistency, fairness, a sense of humor, consistency, swiftness (don’t make a kid sweat waiting to see what will happen – that’s just mean, and nobody likes that), consistency, patience, clarity – be clear about what you expect. Remind them often.
  • What are some parenting practices you tried with your kids that didn’t have the effect you intended? Time outs were useless at my house – nothing good came from them. Thankfully, my Muppet has not presented many disciplinary challenges (yet) – so we’ve not tested this part of our relationship much yet. All of our brouhahas blow over quickly, and we always talk a lot about what is going on. That’s our greatest blessing, I think – being able to talk to each other. I so hope it continues. :-)
  • Has parenthood changed you in any unexpected ways? Absolutely!!!!! I’ve learned (some) patience, I’m more compassionate, and I think that I’m a much MUCH better person because of her. I am nowhere near as selfish as I used to be (thankfully), and I’m more compassionate. Being a mama is the very VERY best thing that I’ve ever experienced – I’m grateful for her every day. :-)
  • Do you have any advice about balancing parenthood with the demands of your career and your own personal development? You’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do. You’re only one person, and you’ve only got 24 hours in a day. Do the best you can, try to balance all of your obligations, and spread the wealth around – don’t let any one area get all of the attention all of the time. Just do your best – you’re going to do great. :-)
  • Are you content with the number of children that you had? I badly wanted to have a second child, but it wasn’t in the cards, so….I’m really thrilled/over the moon with the amazing kidlet I’ve got. Lucky me!!! :-)
  • (If no children) Was that a deliberate choice? Are you happy with how that part of your life has unfolded? N/A

 

Being a parent is really hard, and being a single parent (like me) is no picnic. I rarely hear from somebody (anybody) that I’m doing a good job at it….and that’s hard. Everybody likes praise – especially me. I would love to hear that I’m kicking butt and taking names – even if I’m not. I try so bloody hard – which has to count for something, right? It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Thankfully every moment with my girl is just the best – I really am so lucky to have her. :-) She gave me a Best Mom of the Year Award last fall….Love love LOVE. :-)

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xxx

 

Dream On

I subscribe to the daily newsletter from the website Lifehacker, and I kinda love it. There’s usually something in it that speaks to me – but today’s newsletter was more of a holler than a whisper. Behold the post ‘9 Steps To Stop Dreaming And Start Doing’ – I LOVE it!!! :-)

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Having a dream and being a dreamer are two different mindsets. Dreamers are drifters just floating through life with no real plans. One who has a dream, is a doer on the path towards achieving their goal.

Once you decide to remove your head from the clouds, tackle the obstacles that face you, and organize a plan of attack, you become a doer. If you are ready to put in the work, here are 9 steps to stop dreaming and start doing.

1. Accept responsibility for your own actions

“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” -Arthur Ashe

It is the most unattractive thing to hear someone constantly whine and complain about their life. Especially when they blame the world for their problems. The whole universe is probably against you, does not care about you, and will deceive you. This does not make any actions, or lack there of, on your behalf their fault. Say this statement out loud, “I am in control of my behavior and choose how to react to circumstances.” Say it everyday. Nothing is more true than that statement.

You can, and need, to start actively controlling your thoughts and emotions. Learn to control your rage when you are angry. When a negative thought slips in, push it right back out. This takes practice because we have been programmed by our environment to behave and think in certain ways. Fight to change your negativity, or you will remain a bitter and miserable person. Use your aggression in a positive way by working out, or put it into your work.

2. Give and receive love and forgiveness

“Learn how to fill your day with POSITIVITY. Think of how your ideas CAN work, not how it won’t work.” -Steve Harvey

Once you harness your inner power of controlling your thoughts and emotions, it is time to start focusing on positivity. The best way to start is by accepting others and forgiving the people who have caused you pain. Giving love and forgiveness really isn’t about giving at all. It is about you healing by letting go of negative relationships. If these people really love and care about you, they will fight for you. If you walk away and never hear from them again, you know they never cared, so why should you? Your grudges make you focus on people who do not deserve your time or attention. Anger leaves you feeling irrational, depressed, deceived, sad, regretful, and lonely. Learning to truly forgive those who hurt you will lift a thousand pounds of burden off your shoulders. You will free your mind and be able to start working on your dream.

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3. Accept yourself

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” -Eleanor Roosevelt

Now that you are focusing on living a positive life, it is time to look in the mirror and love what you see. Physically and mentally. No one is perfect. It is time to accept that you will never be what society expects you to be. Follow your intuitions. Do not let someone else dictate your life. That only leads to a boring, predictable, miserable, and mediocre life. Do what makes you happy instead of just dreaming about it. Love yourself flaws and all.

4. Choose who you surround yourself with wisely

“We met for a reason, either you’re a blessing or a lesson.” -LoveQuotesPlus.com

This journey will end many relationships in your life. The people who are not supportive, who are negative, and who use you need to go! At first you may feel lonely and insecure. If you focus on you instead of them, these feelings will go away. It is time to move on. It is time to let go. The ones who truly care about you, respect you, and accept you for who you really are will stay. They will support you throughout your journey. These relationships will become more valuable to you than ever before. If you have given your all to a relationship, and they do not give back, stop chasing after them the next time they leave. You will thank yourself in the long run.

5. Learn to ignore the negativity from others

“I don’t know what the key to success is, but the key to failure is trying to please everyone.” -Bill Cosby

Now that you are starting on your journey, you will have people who will try their best to pull you down. That’s why the steps above are necessary to complete before starting. If you have prepared yourself for the haters, you will be able to rise above. It is easier to criticize others than work on yourself. Knowing this gives you peace about where you are in life and where they are. You are obviously ahead, even if it doesn’t look like it to others. Keep moving on and let them talk.

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6. Carefully lay out your plans

“Failure is not the opposite of success, inaction is.” -Rois Liano

Freeing your mind from your emotional baggage gives you room to focus on your dreams. Now that you have a clear picture, it is time to take action. To be a doer, you need a game plan. Write your end goal at the top of a sheet of paper. Below, write out the steps you plan to take to get there in an organized, realistic fashion. Say your goal is to become a nurse. Your first step should probably be volunteering at your local hospital to see if you would really enjoy it. Next maybe list the schools you are interested in applying to. The third step could be to gather your necessary paperwork to apply to colleges. See what I am doing here? The sum of all the little tasks you do equals your goal. Lay it out in daily, weekly, monthly tasks that will get you closer to your dream.

7. Do SOMETHING, ANYTHING

“Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it.” -Henry David Thoreau

Many people will get to step 6 and stop. Your plan does not come to fruition magically. You have to now take action to get yourself there. So start researching, traveling, volunteering, writing, calling, interviewing, working out, or whatever opportunity you can find to get you moving forward. You may have to take on many different hats to get you there. Start where you can, do whatever you can, this is where the physical work begins.

8. Embrace failures and detours along the way

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” -Thomas Edison

We all have epic failures in life. It is time to stop viewing these failures as an end all. Failure is an inevitable part of success. Ask any highly successful person if they’ve ever failed, and they will tell you they have 100 times. Failure only means to try a different way. Start viewing failures as a positive experience. How can we learn without failing? Failures result from trying. People who avoid failures at all costs are content with a mediocre life. We are not these people. We want true happiness and inner peace. I remember going to work in a past career and absolutely dreading it. I now think about work and feel peaceful and happy. It’s still hard work, it’s just work that I am passionate about.

As you begin the journey of pursuing your dream, it may change a little, or a lot, along the way. Your passion is already programmed inside you. Uncover your God-given gift through this process and keep moving forward no matter what may come.

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9. Network and use resources to your advantage

“Opportunities don’t happen. You create them.” -Chris Grosser

You will realize, eventually, that you need others to help you get to your goal. Whether it is in absorbing information and experience from them, or getting recognized for your talent. Look online for good informative websites, look for classes or lectures where you can learn and connect with others. Drop the pride and shamelessly promote yourself with your work and/or knowledge. Whatever you can find, whoever will help, take it seriously. Opening one door can lead to many more opportunities.

Start at step one. Do not pass go and do not collect $200. If you commit to these 9 steps to stop dreaming and start doing, you are facing your fears head on and taking a leap of faith. Congratulations, your life will now truly begin. Please note this will be hard and sometimes not fun. Stay focused, but don’t forget to take time to clear your mind and relax along the way. I hope you now feel inspired to step out of your comfort zone, and risk being happy.

“Dreams are like floating down a lazy river. The path to success is like riding a roller coaster. Find the courage to get on the roller coaster, and stay on the ride until you puke.” -Margaux Daughtry

 

Don’t you just LOVE this???! I absolutely do – there are so many good steps there to help guide us along the path. I’m a doer in life, no ifs ands or buts about it. I like to do things, and once I get a notion in me wee noggin, I’m off and running. This usually serves me well – but not always. There have been more than my share of disasters, but I keep on trying. :)  I really love #4, #5, and #6 in particular – let me tell you why. #4 urges you to carefully choose who you surround yourself with…and this is one that I am FINALLY learning. I used to love everybody, see the best in everybody, and be such a bloody Pollyanna that it wasn’t even funny. People would take advantage of me right, left, and center – and you know why? Because I let them. There are people who only know me when they want something (ie: borrow money or ask me to drive them somewhere) – I don’t need that kind of crap and negativity…and neither do you, my dear. Surround yourself with people who think you are the cats pyjamas – it’ll make you feel great! :)

I think #5 is awesome advice, too – and something that I have become REALLY good at lately. I hear all sorts of misery and negativity in a day – and I ignore it. All of it. What other people think of me is NONE of my business – don’t know, don’t care. I seem to find myself surrounded by people who whine and complain all the bloody time about their lives – I’m not interested in hearing it. I know that makes me sound like a real heartless bitch, but I promise that I’m not. When people are having a hard time, I am the first person to show up, casserole in hand, offering to help. However, when people aren’t interested in helping themselves and only want to play the victim – I’m out. I’ve zero interest in that kind of nonsense – life is too damn short!

Finally, #6 is a great idea – write down what you want. Put the words in front of you, on paper – it makes them real, and gives you power to make it happen. I am crazy about creating a list of manageable steps that will help you achieve that dream – I’ve been doing this for a couple of decades now, and this practice has served me verrrrrrrry well. There’ve been times when I’ve had to adjust the steps and make them even smaller and more specific, but I’ve achieved what I was after eventually. SUCH a good strategy! :)

 

I used to work with a lady whose job it was to work with high school seniors and coach them through the college application process – something SUPER important. She had the most amazing gift of walking the line between fostering the wildest dreams of students and keeping their expectations real and manageable. I’ve asked her about that many times, and she says that it’s so important to temper one’s dreams and passions with a bit of reality, but still keep the dream burning and alive because, well….you just never know. Isn’t that magical? You just never know. :) I love it. :)

xxx

Sophia – Part Three

Good morning! Welcome to Sophia – Part Three! :) If you’ve missed the first two installments explaining what the actual H I am doing here, this is it:
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Think of someone you admire — a talented artist or scientist, entrepreneur or adventurer.

Do you know what their great regret in life is? What advice would they share about parenting, or aging, or finding fulfillment? What book has had the greatest impact on their life?

Chances are you don’t know. Which is why we’ve created Sophia, a project to collect life lessons from fascinating people.

Here’s how it works. We’re conducting hundreds of long-form interviews with accomplished individuals, asking them to share stories and advice about topics that are central to a well-lived life — happiness, relationships, aging, work, parenting, habits and routines, to name a few.

We’ll publish these personal conversations on HuffPost, and we’ll also use the lessons our guests share to build a special platform (think of it as ‘Yelp for wisdom’) that organizes their collective insights by topic.

In the coming weeks we’ll feature life lessons from Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winners, successful executives, engineers, authors and athletes, dynamic thinkers and doers of all stripes. If you want their practical wisdom delivered straight to you, follow Sophia on Facebook or subscribe to our email newsletter.

The heart of this project is the set of questions we pose to each guest. Some of the questions elicit weighty responses, i.e., Have you had any recent realizations about living a rewarding life?

Other questions are more practical, i.e., What’s the greatest travel journey you’ve taken that you’d recommend to others? What’s the most meaningful gift you’ve received?

Each individual’s answers are personal and unique, but they are all also broadly useful. So follow or subscribe for lessons, ideas and insights you can apply to your own life. Get in touch with us at sophia [at] huffingtonpost.com; we read every note. Also, we’re always on the lookout for new guests. If you have suggestions, including someone wise and insightful in your own life, let us know.

 

 

Yaaa! Fun!!! That last section on relationships and love was a real arse-kicker for me, so I’m happy to move on to….

Health, habits/routines, hobbies and travel:

  • Do have any helpful habits or daily routines? I wake up really early every day – even on weekends and holidays when I don’t have to. Part of this is because I’m just a natural early riser and a real morning person, but I also do it because it’s a good habit to get in to. I never swear and complain when my alarm goes off because I keep pretty much the same schedule every day. I like being awake in the early morning, with the entire day looming ahead of you, brimming with possibilities. :) It’s awesome. :)
  • Do you have any tips or tricks regarding productivity or health? Sadly I am not the picture of health – I wish I was. My problem is I work too much, don’t exercise enough, and eat take out entirely too often (because I work too much). I do make it a point to ride my bike for 30 minutes every day without fail, and I do yoga at least twice a week. I have completely quit smoking (but not a day goes by that I don’t miss it with every ounce of my being. I friggin’ LOVED smoking);  however, it was finally starting to make me feel crappy, so…I stopped. Unfortunately, I took up eating as a replacement, but I will get that taken care of one of these days soon. :) Otherwise, I’m surprisingly healthy for someone with the stress and workload that I carry. Yaaa me! :)
  • What advice would you give those currently 10 years younger than you about how to make best use of the next decade? Don’t smoke! It ages you! Wear sunscreen all the damn time! Yes, I do look better with a tan and some color, but there are plenty of lotion products out there to help with this. I don’t need to keep burning/blistering/damaging my skin and myself as I’ve done….what a dumbass. I would also advise myself to get a bloody handle on the worrying fast food habit that I’ve got going on (damn you In-n-Out Burger!!), and I would just take better care of myself in general: splurge on massages and facials, go to bed early, quit taking on too much and just take it easy…engage in the act of self-care as much as possible. I am happy that I’m at this point now, but I wish I had picked it up earlier in life!
  • Did you have a negative trait or habit that you overcame in a novel way, and if so, how’d you do it? I’m a weirdo…when I decide to make a change, I just make it. That’s it, no muss no fuss. I wish I had some great story about overcoming adversity through meditation, prayer, and a devoted schedule of vigorous jigging – but no such luck. I’m pretty stubborn…and it serves me well. :-)
  • How is your sleep? What do you do to get your best sleep? I’m a terrible sleeper, sadly. I used to be so great at this, but the years of disordered sleep that I endured when the Muppet was so ill completely ruined me for slumber. I’ve had to resort to taking small bits of Ambien when things get really bad, which thankfully is getting to be less often. I recently bought a new mattress, which is turning out to be friggin’ AWESOME!!!  I got a Casper, which I ordered online – and, as bloody bonkers as that sounds, I highly recommend it. Casper mattresses are FANTASTIC!!! :-) I’ve tried every bedtime ritual under the sun, but have found that this works best for me: shower, jammies, bed, a smidge of mindless TV, then everything off. Yaa!!! Counting sheep = Awesome! :-)
  • Do you have any unique hobbies or ways that you spend your downtime that are out of the ordinary? I do a lot of writing, for Pretty Thing, for work, for school – and for pleasure. I read A LOt, which is great…I’m happiest when I’m in a good book. :-) I do yoga a couple times a week, and I also have been known to bust out my strip-tease exercise videos (not for the exercise as much as for the attempts at not being so bloody clumsy my whole life). I’ve yet to unleash my performance on the world, but….perhaps someday! ;-) I watch movies and TV (although nowhere near as much as I used to watch), and I spend a lot of time with my Wee One – playing Wii Just Dance, singing karaoke, holding hands, and being best friends. I’ve recently got in to painting, which I absolutely LOVE and find magically relaxing…I so want to keep up with the painting. I love it. :-) I used to love to golf,  but it’s too hard on my busted-up arm, so…now I’m a spectator. I still play piano at least twice a week – again, it’s not the best for my arm, but it brings me joy, so….I suck it up, Buttercup. :-)
  • What’s the most memorable travel journey you’ve taken that you’d recommend to others? This question is nearly impossible to answer, because I have made a lot of WONDERFUL trips over the years. Greece will always hold a special place in my heart – especially the island of Crete, which is how I believe heaven looks. The trip that I took to Paris with my little one last year will be forever so important to me because it was something that we did together, and we had an awesome time. :-) I believe that everywhere you go has so much to offer – the people, the food, the sights, the sounds, the smells….it’s all there for you to experience. Get off our couch (and off your arse) and give it a shot! :-)
  • What is the most beautiful place you’ve ever been? Now this is a reallllllly tricky question. I love love LOVE Paris, Greece, Luxembourg, and a ton of other places in Europe. I think Quebec City is a magical, gorgeous place – and New Orleans holds a massive piece of my heart. New York is a magnificent city, and I have loved every single visit I’ve made there (with many more to come, I hope!)…and there’s nothing quite like the beauty of the homeland. Canada is a beautiful country, with so many gorgeous sights to see (and some of the very best people you could ever hope to meet!). There is beauty all around us, even if it takes a bit of looking to find it….it all comes from how you see it. :-)

 

I loved today’s questions….and I can’t wait to hear your responses! Keep sending them in to me – I read every single one. I’m loving this!!! :) As always, I’m loving you, my darlings! :-)

 

xxx

Sophia – Part Deux :)

Welcome to the second installment in the Sophia series – I introduced it last week, but here’s the overview again in case you missed it:

o-SOPHIA-PROJECT-facebook

Think of someone you admire — a talented artist or scientist, entrepreneur or adventurer.

Do you know what their great regret in life is? What advice would they share about parenting, or aging, or finding fulfillment? What book has had the greatest impact on their life?

Chances are you don’t know. Which is why we’ve created Sophia, a project to collect life lessons from fascinating people.

Here’s how it works. We’re conducting hundreds of long-form interviews with accomplished individuals, asking them to share stories and advice about topics that are central to a well-lived life — happiness, relationships, aging, work, parenting, habits and routines, to name a few. We’ll publish these personal conversations on HuffPost, and we’ll also use the lessons our guests share to build a special platform (think of it as ‘Yelp for wisdom’) that organizes their collective insights by topic.

In the coming weeks we’ll feature life lessons from Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winners, successful executives, engineers, authors and athletes, dynamic thinkers and doers of all stripes. If you want their practical wisdom delivered straight to you, follow Sophia on Facebook or subscribe to our email newsletter.

The heart of this project is the set of questions we pose to each guest. Some of the questions elicit weighty responses, i.e., Have you had any recent realizations about living a rewarding life?

Other questions are more practical, i.e., What’s the greatest travel journey you’ve taken that you’d recommend to others? What’s the most meaningful gift you’ve received?

Each individual’s answers are personal and unique, but they are all also broadly useful. So follow or subscribe for lessons, ideas and insights you can apply to your own life. Get in touch with us at sophia [at] huffingtonpost.com; we read every note. Also, we’re always on the lookout for new guests. If you have suggestions, including someone wise and insightful in your own life, let us know.

 

I posted my responses to the first section last week, and now I’m about to tackle the second section…but I’m not sure I have any business whatsoever sharing my ideas on this topic – it’s ‘Love and Relationships’, something I am TERRIBLE at, sadly. I’m not going to be able to answer all of the questions, but I will post them all here for you to think about. Let’s have a go at it, shall we? :-)

 

Love and relationships:

  • What advice would you give your younger self about finding love and building lasting relationships? I would tell my younger self to stop looking for love, to stop feeling like I always had to be in a relationship, and to learn early in life to be comfortable with myself and who I am. I would tell myself that the bullshit lies and propaganda that my mother tried to drill into my head (you must have a man, without a man you’re worthless, you need a man to take care of you, etc etc etc – no lie, this is what I was raised hearing…is it any wonder I’ve been so messed up??!) was just that – bullshit lies and propaganda. I would tell myself to focus on my career, my education, and being happy with myself rather than fretting about the dude du jour. SUCH an idiot. I would also urge myself to be more patient with relationships, to quit rushing through life like I’m running a sprint (and I don’t run)…and just relax a little bit. 
  • Did you learn anything from your earliest relationships? I did learn a lot from those relationships….mainly what I didn’t want! There’s something so sweet and innocent about the person that I was back then, and I miss her….sadly, all of the events that have transpired have changed me from that wide-eyed optimist to the more-than-a-little-jaded sea hag that I am now, and all of it has been my own fault. I would love to be able to blame someone else (and there have been contributors), but ultimately it’s my own fault. This is a hard pill to swallow, but..c’est la vie. All I can do is learn from my mistakes and try to avoid making them again in the future (unless they are a really fun mistake…then I might make sure I’m a slow learner ;-) ).
  • What’s the best gift you’ve ever received from/given to a partner or close friend? This is a tough one…I’ve received a lot of wonderful gifts over the years!! One that’s really memorable was from my first serious boyfriend – after we broke up. My 18th birthday was a few weeks after we decided (very amicably) to go our separate ways, and he showed up to my house on my birthday morning with two presents: a bottle of lemon gin (a running joke between us after he fed lemon gin to my cat on my 17th birthday), and a bottle of Calvin Klein Eternity perfume. To this day, I love the smell of Eternity, and I think of him every single time I smell that fragrance, and the memories are always good. :-) I’ve been given lots and lots of wonderful things by my friends, my family, and my loved ones over the years…so, I’m a lucky girl. :-)
  • Do you have any lessons for best approaching love and relationships when you’re single? Oh, Christ….I have absolutely no business answering this one! I have done pretty much everything wrong, I have made every mistake that I could make (and probably your share of screw ups, too)…but I think I deserve a bit of credit for not giving up. I know that people talk badly about me, they make fun of me for the poor relationship track record that I have (a few have even done it to my face, which I give them credit for)…but whatever. It’s all good. I can take solace in the fact that I’ve made my way through this world with my heart on my sleeve, doing what I thought was best in the moment…and I’ve had one hell of a great time, which has to count for something. :-) I wish I could have made better choices, put me and my needs first instead of always bowing to the needs of whoever I was in a relationship with – I should have dated myself, I think. It’d probably have turned out much differently for me. :-) I think that’s the best advice to a single girl that I can give – date yourself. Focus on yourself first….everything else will come in time. Put yourself out there, try new things, see new places, and say YES as often as possible. Be open, be available, and be ready – you never know what’s waiting for you. :-)
  • What advice would you have given yourself on the day you were married? I’m not touching the next five questions with a ten foot pole….no way. There’s very little insight I have on this part of the puzzle, sadly – but if I ever figure it all out, I will come back and tell you. I promise. :-)
    How did you/your spouse propose? N/A
    When did you decide that you were ready to marry your spouse? N/A
    What advice would you give to couples for keeping their relationship healthy after having children? [How did you adjust your marriage after having children?] N/A
    (If partner has died) Do you have any advice for dealing with the loss of your partner? N/A

    This was written on the wall of a bathroom in my favorite restaurant in New York - and my initials are LY. I'd love to know who wrote it!!! :-)

    This was written on the wall of a bathroom in my favorite restaurant in New York – and my initials are LY. I’d love to know who wrote it!!! :-)

This section was a killer! I am so bad at relationships – not just romantic ones, but platonic ones as well. I don’t think I’m as good a friend as I should be, and I really need to work on that. I need to find a better balance between my work life, my family life with the Wee One, and my friendships. Hopefully someday I will find the magic formula….until then, I’ll just keep trying. Just keep swimming, just keep swimming…. :-)

 

xxx

Sophia

The Huffington Post is putting together a new feature called ‘Sophia: Life Lessons from Fascinating People’ – and it sounds AWESOME! :) Here’s a description:

o-SOPHIA-PROJECT-facebook

Think of someone you admire — a talented artist or scientist, entrepreneur or adventurer.

Do you know what their great regret in life is? What advice would they share about parenting, or aging, or finding fulfillment? What book has had the greatest impact on their life?

Chances are you don’t know. Which is why we’ve created Sophia, a project to collect life lessons from fascinating people.

Here’s how it works. We’re conducting hundreds of long-form interviews with accomplished individuals, asking them to share stories and advice about topics that are central to a well-lived life — happiness, relationships, aging, work, parenting, habits and routines, to name a few.

We’ll publish these personal conversations on HuffPost, and we’ll also use the lessons our guests share to build a special platform (think of it as ‘Yelp for wisdom’) that organizes their collective insights by topic.

In the coming weeks we’ll feature life lessons from Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winners, successful executives, engineers, authors and athletes, dynamic thinkers and doers of all stripes. If you want their practical wisdom delivered straight to you, follow Sophia on Facebook or subscribe to our email newsletter.

The heart of this project is the set of questions we pose to each guest. Some of the questions elicit weighty responses, i.e., Have you had any recent realizations about living a rewarding life?

Other questions are more practical, i.e., What’s the greatest travel journey you’ve taken that you’d recommend to others? What’s the most meaningful gift you’ve received?

Each individual’s answers are personal and unique, but they are all also broadly useful. So follow or subscribe for lessons, ideas and insights you can apply to your own life. Get in touch with us at sophia [at] huffingtonpost.com; we read every note. Also, we’re always on the lookout for new guests. If you have suggestions, including someone wise and insightful in your own life, let us know.

 

 

Sounds cool, eh? I know! I’m SO excited to see who they choose, and the questions themselves are pretty great! :) You can see a complete list here, but I thought we could have some fun and look at a section at a time together – I will put my answers beside each question in bright blue. You in? :)

The first section is…Life lessons, happiness and fulfillment:

  • What are some key beliefs you hold about living a fulfilling and successful life? / Have you had any recent realizations about living a rewarding life? I believe that a fulfilling and successful life is one that is full of laughter and fun, both in the workplace and the home. Being a success means that somehow, somewhere this world is a better place because I’ve been a part of it. I feel fulfilled at the end of the day, when I am lying in bed in the home that I have worked so hard to make for the Muppet and I, I hear her little feet prancing around upstairs, and I feel absolutely content with the world. I have had some realizations about living a rewarding life recently, in fact – the older I get, the less interested I am in measuring my success against that of those around me, or judging my worth in terms of the cost of my latest handbag or the number of jewels on my hands. Personal happiness and fulfillment are mattering more and more to me every day – and I am all about the pursuit of that happiness. It’s kind of liberating – and awesome. :)
  • What is a great regret of your life? I regret that I haven’t always treated people as kindly as I should have. I have been impatient, and judgmental…sometimes downright unkind. That’s unfortunate – shame on me….I’m glad that I know better now. I believe that what Oprah says is true: when you know better, you do better. You should try embracing that phrase as a guiding philosophy for yourself – it’s amazingly freeing, and it makes it easier to forgive those who have done you wrong. Oprah rules! :)
  • How have your efforts to make yourself happy developed and changed? What has worked and what failed? I have only been successful in the area of changing myself and (hopefully) becoming a better person since I quit trying so bloody hard to be all things to all people. I used to continually lose sight of me and who I was because I was so busy becoming who I thought that those around me wanted me to be. Why? What was that all about? I will tell you what it was – a colossal waste of time. There’s nothing at all wrong with me as I am, and anybody who thinks otherwise needs to bugger off, and not let the door catch their arse on the way out. Ridiculous. I’m glad that I turned 40 last year, because, while I had been making strides in this direction for the past 3-5 years or so, it was only when I turned 40 that somehow a magical switch was flipped, and I truly felt free of all that pressure to be someone I’m not. It’s been awesome. :) Yaaa me! :)
  • What is your greatest flaw? Crikey…how much time have you got? I have A LOT of flaws! I think perhaps my greatest flaw is my struggle to believe that I am more than enough as I am. That and my weakness for good food. ;) (check out my considerable arse if you’d like proof of that last one! ;) )
  • As you look at your life so far, were there any turning points, any key events or experiences that changed the course of your life and set you on a different track? What happened and what did you learn? Hmmm….moving out of Grade 7 and in to Grade 8 was extremely impactful on my life (I made new friends that I love with all my heart and I can’t fathom my life without them), my dad being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at such a young age did a lot to change the course of my life (not to mention what it’s done to my outlook on aging and my own mortality), moving to England for awhile was another decision that was an EXTREMELY good idea (I could – and probably should – write volumes about that experience and all that I learned), breaking my left wrist at the age of 12 and having it set wrong has had a massive effect on my life (that I totally could have done without, thankyouverymuch)….there’s been a lot of pivotal moments for me. Not all of them have been good, but each has contributed to making me the kick-ass chick you see before you, so…perhaps they were worth it. :)
  • Memories are an important part of happiness. Do you use any interesting techniques to keep track of your memories? I.e., Do you keep a type of journal or diary? I keep up with a daytimer-type of calendar book – I write in it every day (appointments, things to remember, etc), and I use it as a way to keep track of movies I see, restaurants I try, that type of thing. I also make notes in it about stuff that happens during the day, but I’ve not been keeping a proper journal or diary in recent years…that’s why I have Pretty Thing, y’all! ;) This blog has been an excellent way for me to keep track of my life, to share my thoughts and ideas with all of you – and hearing back from you is pretty much the best stuff EVER! So, thanks! :)
  • Many people have had deeply difficult or stressful experiences but learned valuable lessons from them. Is that true for you? What did you learn? My shitty track record with relationships has been deeply difficult and stressful for me (but apparently my foibles in this department are endlessly amusing to my friends! ;) ), but I have learned a lot of valuable things from them – I think I’ve learned what I want in life, as well as what I don’t want. I’ve had some other life experiences that have run the gamut from difficult to massively traumatic that have been incredible learning experiences as well, so I try to frame them that way when I think about them (which isn’t often – I’m done beating myself up for long ago things….no more digging up bones!). That which hasn’t killed me has made me stronger – I’m about at the point where I could give the Hulk a run for his money! ;)
  • What is something minor or seemingly insignificant in your life that actually contributes greatly to your happiness? Pretty Thing, actually! My wee little blog started in such an innocent way, and it has grown to be a place where I share my thoughts/ideas/feelings/rants/stupid ideas with you…and it fills me with incredible happiness! I love the act of writing – I’ve no idea if I’m any good at it or not, but it makes me happy, so…I guess there’s that. :) I love hearing from each and every one of you, and I treasure and appreciate all of your feedback (even the negative stuff, I promise!). So – thank you. :) You make me happy. :)
  • What characterizes the periods of your life that you felt were most fulfilling, or least fulfilling? Are there any common threads? The most fulfilling period of my life is right now: being a mama to my Wee One is the greatest thing I’ve ever done hands down, and my heart nearly bursts with love and pride when I think of her. She is the most magnificent creature, and I am consistently amazed that she is mine and I get to keep her. She’s glorious! :) I am also exactly where I am meant to be in terms of my career – I have one seriously fabulous job, and I love it more and more each day. I feel like I am making a real difference here, and what is better than that? Not a lot. :)
  • Have you ever been screwed over? What happened and how did you respond? It would probably take less time to tell you how I haven’t been screwed over…the list is far too long to share with you here. What tends to happen is that people mistake my kindness for weakness, and try to take advantage of me…and then I  tend to let them for awhile because I am so bloody polite. Once I’ve had enough (and my threshold for bullshit is higher than most mere mortals, I believe), all hell breaks loose – and then it’s over. I’m not a person that holds a grudge for terribly long (even when I should), so I get mad, I get over it, and I move on. I am sure that I have screwed people over in my time (not usually on purpose – I generally try to be a nice girl), so I guess what goes around comes around, eh?
  • Have you done anything recently for the first time, some unique experience or accomplishment? I don’t know that I’ve had any new experiences recently, but I am looking forward to having some soon! I’m planning to take a road trip with my Muppet this spring, to go and see some new sights, to have some girl time with her. I am hoping that one of these days my girlfriends from home and I can coordinate a trip together somewhere fun – that would be awesome! :) Another big experience that I am working on for myself is that I want to take a major epic trip alone – I think it will be amazing. :)
  • What do you think about when you think about death? The idea of death used to not bother me so much – but then I became a mama, and now it makes me sick. The thought of not seeing my baby girl grow up fills me with such awful dread that I have found myself living so much more carefully these days – it’s kind of comical. I hope that I will live to a ripe old age, but the Alzheimer’s in my family (my Dad) has me frightened. While I know that there is absolutely bugger all that I can do about it, it’s still a fear. I just want to live long enough to see my baby girl find her way in this world – and then every day after that will be a gift. :)
  • Is there anything out of the ordinary you want to accomplish before you die? Hmm. I want to write a book and see it published. I want to do something that is so awesome that somebody somewhere makes a speech about me and how my actions made their life better. :) I want to see Bali, and India, and Thailand, and South America before I am too damn old and can’t enjoy them. I want to do this hike to Machu Picchu VERY SOON (it’s a hike along the Lares Trail to Machu Picchu and the Urubamba Valley, the Sacred Valley of the Incas. I know what you’re thinking…”Since when does that prissy princess want to hike? All she does is wear dresses and pretty shoes every damn day of her life!!!!” However, I think – no, make that I KNOW  – it’ll be an awesome life-changing experience. Who’s in to come with me?!??) Truth be told, there are a MILLION things that I have left to do in this lifetime – and I know that I need to hurry up, as time waits for nobody.

 

This was SO much fun…I hope that you will take a bit of time, review these questions and think about your answers as well…if you want to share them with me, I’ll be happy to read them and/or listen to you talk about them. It’ll be fun! :) Stay tuned for the next section – I can’t wait! :)

 

xxx

 

Brave

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What does it mean to you to be brave? Is it taming a lion with nothing but a feather duster and some Juicy Fruit gum? How about resisting the urge to eat all of the Ben & Jerry’s in one sitting? ( that is brave, if you ask me) I think there are lots of things that people do everyday that are incredibly brave – for some, just getting out of bed and managing to put one foot in front of the other and heading out into the world is an act of tremendous courage. We all have our own battles – some of us struggle more than others, but we all endure things that challenge our faith, our beliefs, and our sense of self. This is something that has come up in my world lately – I feel like things are going on around me (and involving me, inadvertently) that really go against who I am and what I stand for, and I’m left looking for a way to step away, out of the fire, and just get back to what is important to me. I’ve spoken before of my desire to simplify my life as much as possible, and so far this process is going okay. I’m also making a conscious effort to get the hell out of the way when I see stupidity and drama unfolding before me, whereas in the past I would step right into the fray in an attempt to help keep the peace. Stupid. I may be the sister of a peace-keeping Mountie, but I am not one myself. I really need to learn my place in this world. :(

quote-Dalai-Lama-be-kind-whenever-possible-it-is-always-948

 

Anyway, something really awesome landed in my Inbox today – I receive daily emails from super-fab person Danielle LaPorte (if you aren’t familiar with her, do yourself a favor and seek her out – her attitude about stuff is AMAZING!! Plus she’s Canadian, so you know that she’s good people.), and the one today was a whopper! :) Here it is:

Want more and be kind… and 10 other points on success.

 1. Want more*. (Inner peace, greater clarity, outer beauty, awesome stuff — want anything you want.)

 2. Have an idea, or two or three, about how to get more. Act on that idea over and over again.

 3. Hang out with people you can easily adore, or at least respect.

4. Be kind. No matter what. (You can be kind and strong. You will need to be strong.)

5. Stand up for yourself. (Some people will take this personally. It’s okay.) 

6. Tell people what you’re doing that’s working. (This is optional, but it helps.)

7. Keep slaying what’s not working. (“Thank you and goodbye, I’m focused on incredible.”)

8. Have a party when you get what you want. (Kitchen disco. Close your eyes and smile. Throw a global launch extravaganza. Nap. Eat cake.)

9. Let gratitude ooze out of your pores. Be utterly dripping with Thank Yous.

 10. Share what you just got with others.

 11. Keep wanting more.

 * Want it with all your heart.

 

Don’t you love that??! I do – massively. We all need to be more kind, we need to let gratitude ooze out of us (I love the way she words that like you wouldn’t believe)…and we need to share our good fortune and celebrate the ever-loving crap out of it. There’s so much misery that’s going on in this world these days (turn on the news if you don’t believe me….it’s heartbreaking the things that go on around us), but there are good things, too. They deserve to be celebrated. :) It’s important to surround yourself with people who make you happy, for life is too short to be miserable because of someone else, don’t you think? :)

I hope that you will take a moment today to think about what you want more of in your life – love, happiness, friendship, Ben & Jerry’s (apparently I’m going to need to hit the grocery store on the way home today….I’m hungry for ice cream!), whatever it is….and start creating a plan on how you can make that happen for you. I can’t wait to hear how it goes! :)

xxx

 

Beautiful

My high school English teacher – Ms Scott – was eccentric as hell. Her methods were unusual, and I had a rather difficult adjustment period to her and her strange ways, but once we got into the swing of things with each other, all was well…and I learned more from that brilliant, batty woman than any other teacher that I had. Not a day goes by that I don’t do something that makes me think of her….her effect on me has been very profound.

image

Ms Scott loved to analyze literature with us, and when she would ask us to interpret something, we’d trot out every big word we could throw at the page in front of us, hoping one metaphor or allegorical onomatopeia would stick (I know that allegorical onomatopeia is not a thing – so please don’t send me messages telling me that I’m stupid – it’s a joke….I’m in on it ;-) ). More often than not,we’d be entirely wrong, and we’d sound like raging idiots…the answer would turn out to be something very simple. Ms Scott would rail at us about the need to stop overcomplicating things, the dire importance of simplicity,and just how very beautiful that can be. Simplicity is beautiful, she’d repeat over and over…and it’s an idea that I keep revisiting in my life. I find that life gets too complicated, that the pace of the world around me just gets too much…and I feel swept away. But how do you simplify in an increasingly complex world?

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I’ve been working really hard at life simplification lately. I’ve been saying no to more and more invitations, only going out when I really want to – and not just going for the sake of going. I’ve made it a practice to turn off my phone sound no later than 10:00pm, because I just need the time to unplug from the rest of the land, and be with myself and my thoughts. I have been reading more, watching TV less, and I’ve even gone so far as to cancel some magazine subscriptions lately, which is a shocker. While I love reading magazines like nobody’s business, I just find that I don’t have the time needed to keep up with all of them, and they clutter up the place. I’ve tossed out countless garbage bags of things I don’t use anymore (by toss I mean donated….I don’t want to be wasteful!), and I’ve even been sorting through the pantry to get rid of outdated food stuff (a job I loathe with every fiber of my being). Every day lately has had at least 15 minutes devoted to declutterization (not a word, but totally should be)…and I still have so far to go. I want to keep simplifying my surroundings, getting rid of things that I don’t truly need – because what’s the point in having them if they aren’t serving a purpose, right? :-) Simplicity is beautiful. :-)

A few months ago, I had a bunch of work done on my house – carpet changed on the stairs, new flooring installed in the play room, and a new paint job…what a difference! I can’t remember if I posted some after pictures or not (and I’m too lazy to go and look)…but here’s what the main living area in my house looks like now: (DISCLAIMER: The light looks totally weird in these…I just took them, and I’m not sure what happened. The living room is super cute – trust me. :-) )

These owl pillows make me SO happy! :-)

These owl pillows make me SO happy! :-)

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Weird lighting in this one...but you can still kinda see what's going on through the fog and mist, I hope? ;-)

Weird lighting in this one…but you can still kinda see what’s going on through the fog and mist, I hope? ;-)

 

It’s not quite where I want it to be, but dammit if we aren’t getting closer! :-) The Wee One and I chose a new chair for the living room recently – it’ll be delivered this week, and we are SO excited!! :-) Here’s a picture:

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I’m so happy with how things are turning out here at home…I remember hearing Oprah talk about the importance of turning your home into your sanctuary from the world – and, I don’t know about you, but when Oprah talks, I bloody well listen. (NOTE: You should as well) I have lived in this house for just over seven years, which is a record for me – I’ve not stayed in one place longer than two years since 1989. For reals. So this whole “staying put and making the house a home” thing is pretty revolutionary for me – and I’m kinda liking it. :-) I feel that this settling in, staying where I am thing is part and parcel of the life simplification stuff I was talking about – instead of doing what I always do, which is run/bolt/move on when things get tough and/or I get bored (and I’m sure as hell not known for my attention span, friends), I’ve planted my feet firmly on the ground, looked around me, taken stock of all that’s there…and chosen to try to live my life as best I can by looking in the face of things that I would rather avoid and hide from (and there’s plenty on that list, let me tell you!). I’ve decided that I’m not going anywhere, my darlings…it’s simply too beautiful around here to miss. :-)

 

xxx

 

 

 

Thinking Out Loud – Repost

I originally posted this last September, but wanted to share it again today. This world desperately needs more love…especially the good kind, like this:

 

This is how people should feel about each other when they are in love:

Click video to hear this song performed live

When your legs don’t work like they used to before
And I can’t sweep you off of your feet
Will your mouth still remember the taste of my love?
Will your eyes still smile from your cheeks?

And, darling, I will be loving you ’til we’re 70
And, baby, my heart could still fall as hard at 23
And I’m thinking ’bout how people fall in love in mysterious ways
Maybe just the touch of a hand
Well, me—I fall in love with you every single day
And I just wanna tell you I am

So honey now
Take me into your loving arms
Kiss me under the light of a thousand stars
Place your head on my beating heart
I’m thinking out loud
That maybe we found love right where we are

When my hair’s all but gone and my memory fades
And the crowds don’t remember my name
When my hands don’t play the strings the same way
I know you will still love me the same

‘Cause honey your soul could never grow old, it’s evergreen
And, baby, your smile’s forever in my mind and memory
I’m thinking ’bout how people fall in love in mysterious ways
Maybe it’s all part of a plan
Well, I’ll just keep on making the same mistakes
Hoping that you’ll understand

But, baby, now
Take me into your loving arms
Kiss me under the light of a thousand stars
Place your head on my beating heart
Thinking out loud
That maybe we found love right where we are

So, baby, now
Take me into your loving arms
Kiss me under the light of a thousand stars
Oh, darling, place your head on my beating heart
I’m thinking out loud
That maybe we found love right where we are
Oh, baby, we found love right where we are
And we found love right where we are 

 

 

Don’t you just love this song? Me, too…”kiss me under the light of a thousand stars / place your head on my beating heart”? Come on…that’s magic, that is. Love. :-)

I hope you’re finding love right where you are. :-)

 

xxx

The Edge of Glory

While driving home just now, I happened across a replay of Lady Gaga singing “Gypsy” live on the Howard Stern show. I damn near had to pull over as I find this performance so bloody touching it’s not even funny….my eyes fill up with moisture, my heart feels all weird and fuzzy, it just kills me. Kills. Me. Here it is – I hope you enjoy it, too :-)

Click on the image to link to the performance:-)

Click on the image to link to the performance:-)

 

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Thought that I would be alone forever
But I won’t be tonight
I’m a man without a home
But I think with you I can spend my life
And you’ll be my little gypsy princess
Pack your bags and we can chase the sunset
Bust the rearview and fire up the jets
‘Cause it’s you and me
Baby, for life

 

Gorgeous, eh? Love.  ❤️❤️❤️

 

Xxx