Monday, May 27, 2019

The Goodbye Makes the Journey Harder Still

My sister Holly passed away last week. I’ve been grieving hard since I heard the news. Words elude me, hiding in a thick fog.

When I was around ten or eleven she told me she always thought of me whenever she heard this song. . .

Songs are especially poignant for me in this time of grief. Much of the soundtrack of my youth revolved around music Holly admired. I miss her. I miss who she was and who she could have been. I miss all of it.

Still, I cling to hope as I simultaneously learn how to let go.

*I hope you have a peaceful Memorial Day. Make memories and be kind to loved ones. Life is fragile.

Monday, May 20, 2019

How to Become an Anything Girl 101

A few weeks ago I told you about Cadence, a little girl of maybe three or four who confidently introduced herself outside of a mall bathroom, “Hi, I’m Cadence, and I can do anything.” In ways she could never imagine, this child and her gotcha-world stance stuck in my head.

I aspire to adopt Cadence’s attitude toward life every day.

Then there are days I end up sending my daughter texts suggesting the life of a prairie dog could suit me just fine. Whenever the world starts to royally freak me out (I get flipped off by a road ragey driver, or I make the mistake of watching the news for too long) I begin to fall seriously in love with the idea of never stepping foot outside my home again. Prairie dog living sounds ideal. Hide out, then pop up from time to time just so everyone knows I still exist. That pretty much defines how I’ve handled social media lately. After my confessional text to my kid about wanting to be a prairie dog, within seconds we both shot each other an identical GIFs. #wildfun

Here’s the truth: I’m not merely an Anything Girl wannabe. She’s inside me, and like the prairie dog analogy, how I remind the world I haven’t petered out in some hole somewhere, the Anything Girl pops her head up from time to time. It’s a welcome surprise. I like her. She’s ballsy, uninhibited, and
her voice matters. (I’m enjoying addressing myself in 3rd person a little too much. Stopping now.) In time I’ve learned how to coax the Anything Girl out of me on a whim. If you’re intrigued and tempted to show the world the Anything Girl in you—pay attention.

The following are all things I’ve learned to create the best environment for the Anything Girl in me to thrive

  • The sooner you embrace life is a tangled knot of pain and joy, the better off you’ll be.
  • Learn how to not take rejection too personally.
  • Establish a circle of trust (nod to Robert De Niro in Meet the Parents). Stick close with the people who encourage you through hard times, celebrate your accomplishments, and those who’ll remain loyal to you through all things. At all times.
  • Laugh at yourself as frequently as possible.
  • Don’t stuff your emotions.
  • Don’t embarrass easily.
  • Be willing to try new things and adventures even when they (not if because they will) scare you or you’re afraid.
  • Do not—by any means—ever—compare your life and losses and insecurities and dreams and wants and hurts and chin hair or knobby knees or cellulite to anyone else. We are all supposed to be different. And only you can do you (feel free to make a T-shirt with that on it…giving you full permission here).
  • Try hard not to control or judge others. Reflect upon and seek to improve your own sloppy ass life first before you rattle on about someone else’s mess. Even better, don’t entertain yourself with rumors or gossip at all.
  • Swear occasionally. (See don’t stuff emotions above.)
  • Get with your spouse often (you’re welcome, SGM).
  • Don’t let the past or your idea of what the future is supposed to look like have more power than your present.
  • Find something to be grateful for every day, even if it’s just that you didn’t have to clean toothpaste art off the granite countertop in the kids’ bathroom for once.
  • Practice kindness with strangers. And loved ones.
  • Seek to understand. All people. All things. And consider staying quiet until you reach a point of deeper understanding.
  • Do not consider anyone of a higher or lower worth. Treat everyone with an equal measure of compassion and love.
  • Admit faults readily, but use discretion online. Trolls will slay you. Even people who are otherwise reasonably cordial have a tendency to grow claws when their fingers reach the keyboard. Guard your heart. And your head space.
  • When your thought life gets exceptionally ugly remind yourself of the limited time you have on earth. I often hear Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman in my head telling me it comes down to a simple choice. Get busy living or get busy dying.
  • Don’t be content with who you were yesterday. Every day strive to improve.
  • Understand—I mean really understand that your worth does not come from others’ impressions of you or how tidy or messy your life is.
  • Know you will be tempted more times than you could possibly conceive to give up on a dream—that thing inside you sense you’re on earth for. Don’t give up. 

I’m sure I’ll be writing more posts like this one. I hope the list above inspires you to be an Anything Girl (or Guy). The world needs more thoughtful and purpose-focused people leading others toward effective and healing change.

You ready?

*My prairie dog kid ready to hit the dance floor at prom this past weekend—an Anything Girl in training. And if you look closely, you might spot the shadow of a rare enormous prairie dog on the left.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Kermit Is No Joke

I’m not an artist. However, I love to paint. My mom knows this and she surprised me this Mother’s Day by sending me six canvases to try my hand on. (Isn’t that cool my mom sends me gifts for Mother’s Day?) Immediately one of my daughters came up with something she wanted me to paint.

Kermit the Frog. With a cowboy hat. Wearing a Supreme shirt.

Always up for a challenge, I got to work. I sketched, erased, and sketched some more. I dabbed my brush in greens of this shade and that. I even figured out how to tackle the hat (this is turning into a Dr. Seuss post).

The final product –

 Looks exactly like Kermit, huh? ;-)

The point is that I had a fun creating this. I didn’t hold back out of fear. I simply went for it. And I learned that cartoonists have real talent.

Have you tried something out of your comfort zone lately?

Monday, May 6, 2019

Creativity, Craft & Cadence

Hiatus is over. I’m back. After spending some much needed time in self-reflection and goal-setting, I came to some conclusions about this blog.

I’m here to stay.

And I know what I want to communicate.

From this Monday on, I aim to dissect the many facets of creativity. I’ve been paying attention. In particular to the way I choose to live day-to-day, and I’ve noticed one common theme in my life. An undeniable thread sewn through everything that I deem important—everything that excites me. I’m attracted to (and quite possibly addicted to) all things creative. For this reason, I’m going to be highlighting all aspects of creativity that catch my eye, set me sail, or light my thoughts on fire.

I’m also going to continue to share what I’ve learned when it comes to the craft of writing. Last Friday, I completed the rough draft of my sixteenth (maybe seventeenth?) novel. I’ve lost count. I’ve worked with some fantastic agents and have received hopeful feedback from readers and editors through the years. What’s more, I’ve tucked all kinds of helpful hints in the folds of my brain. And I want to pass along the goods.

Finally, I’ll be writing about girls like Cadence. The other day, while my seventeen-year-old and I were checking out prom dresses, a little girl came up to me outside the store. Boldly, she beamed up at me. “Hi, I’m Cadence, and I can do anything.” It was a random introduction. I’m not sure what it was about me that made this girl want to say hello. And say it with such assured confidence. Nevertheless, her greeting stuck with me. That’s when I realized I want to write about anything girlsfemales who live their lives with the hope of bettering the world—of making a lasting impact on others.

It is with great sadness that I share the world lost an anything girl this past weekend. Rachel Held Evans kindly wrote a guest post for this blog nine years ago. In the years since, I’ve watched her career skyrocket and her voice empower many. She inspired me in ways I could never find the words to communicate. I’ve hidden away a lot in recent years, tucked inside myself. I suppose there are many reasons for why I’ve done this. Rachel led the kind of life that reminds me how beautiful and poignant it is to speak our truth. To stand up for something we believe in. And to leave a legacy of, above all things, love.

“It took me quite a long time to develop a voice, and now that I have it, I’m not going to be silent.”
Madeleine Albright

Taking Time

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