Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween! Merry Samhain! And Happy "Be Brave"!

It is Halloween tonight and I can feel the energy in the air. Being what I thought would be the end of the Be Brave Project, this feels like a very important night for me. Samhain, in the Gaelic tradition, is the night that we celebrate the harvest. For me, it is the night that I celebrate all of the hard work that myself and all of you have accomplished through each and every act of bravery that's been committed in the past month. Tonight I celebrate the ability to move past fear. I celebrate courage. I celebrate Eleanor Roosevelt. I celebrate community. I celebrate darkness. And I celebrate moving past it.

I celebrate you.
I celebrate us.

I celebrate the belief that anything is possible
when we simply get out of our own way!

Tonight I celebrate the fact that
this is not the end of this project,
but only the very baby beginning.

On Thursday, September 27th I started the Be Brave Project and dared myself to do one thing every day that scares me. I don't know what I expected from it. All I know is that I was starting to feel a very deep need for change in my life. For thirty-five days I've been watching myself transform into someone that I can love. Does that sound cheesy? Well, yes, I'm cheesy then. This challenge has taken more time, energy, and concentration than anything I've ever done before. Yes, even more concentration and energy than hiking the Himalayas!! It has required me to be focused. It has required me to be confident. It has required me to stand up for myself and to push myself further than I would have otherwise.

It has taught me to listen to my heart. It has also taught me that I have a lot to let go of before I can truly move on. It has taught me that I have it in me to be anything and anyone that I want to be. It has taught me to believe in myself and in my dreams. I have come to the conclusion that, what I want more than anything, is to be myself--fully and completely me. And what I've come to understand is that is what the universe also wants most from me. The closer I move towards my heart's desires, the more everything else seems to start falling into place. It is truly, for lack of a better word, weird.

In the past 35 days I have (in no particular order):
  1. Applied for a portrait artist job. I never heard back from them--doesn't matter though, because it got the ball rolling.
  2. Applied for a retail manager position. I was offered a job, but turned it down because it didn't pay well enough to justify it. Upon reflection I was glad that it worked out the way it did because, if I were to be honest with myself, it is not the kind of work I want to do anyway.
  3. Worked on my thesis.
  4. Worked on my thesis.
  5. Worked on my thesis.
  6. Worked on my thesis.
  7. Worked on my thesis.
  8. Worked on my thesis.
  9. Worked on my thesis. (Yes, this is important to me! Can you tell?)
  10. Worked on my thesis. (I'm almost done!) :) :) :)
  11. Encountered wild animals up close, including two bears and an entire pack of wolves in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night. Now that was (wonderfully) scary!
  12. Went on a solo writing retreat (see #3-6, and #11).
  13. Got my bangs cut extra short.
  14. Went shopping for a nice outfit that made me feel good, wore high heels, and went out to a restaurant that sported more silverware than I knew what to do with!
  15. Walked out into the deep, black, night through mist and crashing waves. Such darkness. I was terrified!
  16. Started eating smaller portions for meals and traded crackers and chips for apples--and have, since then, lost a few pounds.
  17. Posted a video of myself on my blog. Yow! Did I really do that?!
  18. Built a website banner for someone inspired by a dream image. I was intimidated by it at first, but ended up having so much fun creating it!
  19. Learned how to use my new pen tablet that I had been avoiding for weeks.
  20. Made great strides in learning new Photoshop techniques. This has already been so incredibly helpful in terms of my web design projects and fun, too!
  21. Started pulling together the inklings of a new book.
  22. Looked into getting fine art prints of my paintings. I realized that my search for lower prices will need to continue. :)-
  23. Applied for a advising/counseling position. It is the kind of job that I would love!
  24. Shared my blog address with my mom.
  25. Had my tarot read by the ever fabulous Jamie. Serious stuff. Wonderful, amazing, life-changing.
  26. Learned how to solve computer challenges without asking for help.
  27. Went shopping for jeans even though I was afraid that they would all look horrible on me and that I would go home feeling bad about my body. However, I surprised myself by finding a pair that fit perfect and that I feel great in! Now that's amazing.
  28. Lined up an art show for spring.
  29. Cleaned, organized, and cleared out the negative energy in my office. It feels great and is so much more conducive to getting things done and feeling comforted.
  30. Made lasagna from scratch for the first time ever.
  31. Started really and truly believing in myself and my dreams.
  32. Inquired about 2 more web design projects--and got them both!
  33. Bought a new domain for our web design business that better reflects me. We're in the process of revamping the whole site in a way that better reflects both of us. This felt very important to me. I'm so excited about it!
  34. Started wearing jewelery and clothes that feel more like me and noticed how much brighter my energy shines when I am simply me.
  35. Was honest with myself and stuck to my guns when confronted with an "opportunity" that would undermine my personal goals.
  36. Made a list of priorities...then got real with myself. I have a tendency to stretch myself always too thin and always too far. So I shifted things around so that there are only two ranked under "#1 Priority." They are: finish thesis and find a new job. The rest will happen soon enough.
  37. As soon as I am done writing this post I have promised myself time to do a "letting go" ritual. I hope to tell you more about it tomorrow.
I was thinking that it would be really, really cool to compile a list of ALL our "Be Brave" actions. Even if the "Be Brave" project has inspired you to do just one thing, I would love to hear about it. I actually got this idea after reading Kristine's list (is she amazing, or what?!). Whether you did things that were tiny, small, big, or huge, just imagine how incredible our list would be TOGETHER! Whew! Now that would be a lot of bravery. There is powerful energy in our actions and so here's my idea...

Send me your list in an email OR leave your list in the comment section of my blog by Sunday, November 4th. On Monday, November 5th, I will create a new post with ALL of our "Be Brave" actions combined. For the sake of readability, please try to keep any explanations relatively short (at least for the purpose of the compiled list). You all have been doing some AMAZING stuff! And I would really like to take a moment to celebrate it.

As for the "Be Brave" project...this is only the beginning!

Monday, October 29, 2007

video bravery

Since the beginning of this "Be Brave" project, Olivia has been posting videos of herself and because I have absolutely loved every single one of them, I decided to post a video of my own. Yep, so here I am...completely unedited.
Good morning, everyone! :)-

that second photo from the video? not flattering. gah. can't get rid of it. please just try to ignore it. :)-

Sunday, October 28, 2007

meditative time

Have I really not been here to post since Thursday? My god, I don't even know where to begin.
Well, I completely emptied my office at 9pm last night. I got a bug up my bum and the next thing I knew the entire contents of the room had been moved to the dining room. Then I filled up a bucket with some warm, soapy water and sage oil and did a thorough cleansing of the windows, walls, and floors. My desire for a change of perspective and mental refurbishing has been satisfied--even if the closet is still a mess (I guess you could say that I'm saving that for a different day).

At the moment I am drinking a cup of "Meditative Time" tea (check out Yogi Tea's great website--yum!). I'm enjoying a clean room with soft lamps and burning candles. The door is shut and music is playing. Ok, actually, that is all a lie. I am just trying to write myself into a peaceful place. I have, however, put the water on to boil and *hold on a minute*... have just now lit candles, incense, and turned on the music. The tea is now sitting by my side. The lamps are turned down low. There. I have hereby turned a wonderful fiction into reality. *deep breath* Tonight I am attempting to enjoy my own private and much needed sanctuary. It has been an incredibly emotional last couple of days.

Doing this "Be Brave" project ranks up there as one of the most intense things I have ever done. It is psychological, emotional, spiritual, physical. Seriously? Yes, seriously. And if you're doing this "Be Brave" project along with me, then you probably know exactly what I'm talking about. I knew it had the potential to be life changing. I just never realized that such deeply internal transformations would occur.

Yesterday I received the very incredible gift of a tarot reading from Jamie. To be honest, I am still processing much of it. She truly has a gift and I will forever be grateful for the insights that she has shared with me. Perhaps one of these days I will write in more detail about this experience. But, for now, it is deeply personal and deeply appreciated. I have spent much of the day in tears. Not necessarily sad tears, but the kind made up of everything all mixed together. What I feel today is: release. Huge amounts of emotional release. Jamie's reading caused a lot of intense emotions to rise to the surface. She was so right on with everything that she said and well...I have a lot of thinking to do. You know, it takes a lot of courage to follow one's heart. These days, my heart is only whispering. In so many ways I am only starting from scratch.

And right now...well, right now I just want to say thank you to everyone who is on this Be Brave journey along with me and to all of you who have been leaving comments, emails of support, and putting your positive energy out into the universe. I'm serious, people. This is big time. And I am truly thankful for this community of friends and fellow adventurers. I can feel your presence, I think about your words, your experiences, your acts of bravery and it is empowering in ways that cannot even be described.

One of these days soon I'm going to rewrite the post that "Be Brave" links to. Because, you see, this is not just an October thing. It has no ending. It won't end October 31st. It won't end ever. It just doesn't work like that--and if you should decide to join in on this project, then you'll see for yourself what I mean. I want everyone to know that you (yes, you!) should feel welcome to join in anytime you want. May we find bravery within ourselves every day. Every single day. All of us.

I love you, friends.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

glass (more than) half full

(click on image to read)

It seems I've gotten out of the habit of writing about the scary things that I'm doing every day. A funny thing is happening--that is, I'm doing all sorts of things that at one time or another I've considered scary. I usually don't even notice it until after the fact when the thought dawns on me: "oh hey, I actually did that without being intimidated by it!"

Today it was the little things that made a difference:
  • Made homemade lasagna for the very first time ever (always seemed like too many steps. lasagna? daunting? nope, guess not!)
  • Created mock up for a new website (without hesitation)
  • Drove downtown in the middle of the work day for information and price quotes on art prints
  • Worked on thesis
  • Hung out talking to my neighbor even though I had a horrendous case of bedhead
  • Figured out problems with my computer on my own.
The best part of my day though was the non-accomplishing task of taking the dogs for an extra long walk in the woods. Last year I dubbed it "Sherwood Forest." Now I remember why.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

zen and the art of decluttering:

Today I took the first step towards simplifying my life...and I'm starting in the closet. I bought some inexpensive boxes (in black) and magazine files (in wine/medallion). Next I'm going to go through every inch of my closet and am either going throw it, file it, or organize it. I have a serious mess starting to spill out of the confines of my little office closet and it's starting to seep into the rest of my life as well. In terms of clearing the mind, my closet is a good place to start. From there, I might very well take on the rest of my office as well. That's my goal, anyhow! And in the end, I'll award myself to some long awaited color (have you guessed that the boxes are a form of self-bribery as well?). These walls are white, white, white and have been getting on my nerves for too long. Since I'm renting, I can't paint...but I CAN get creative! I'll let you know what I come up with when I get there.

In the's just me and the closet.

"Be Brave" tip o' the day: You gotta start somewhere!

Check out last week's office:

a la writing retreat!


Monday, October 22, 2007

paying homage to the creative forces that be.

Oy vey! It's been a few days since I last posted, but I've been busy trying to stay on track. It seems that one thing every day that scares me has been centered around completing my thesis--and this has required a fair bit o' daily devotion. Devotion, I dare say, that has even cut into my oh-so-sacred blogging time.

I haven't accomplished anything major in the past couple of days, but the important thing is that I've at least sat down with my project and have made progress on a daily basis.

There's a quote I recently came across by Kent Nerburn from Letters to my Son that I absolutely love:
If we don't offer ourselves to the unknown, our senses dull. Our world becomes small and we lose our sense of wonder. Our eyes don't lift to the horizon; our ears don't hear the sounds around us. The edge is off our experience, and we pass our days in a routine that is both comfortable and limiting. We wake up one day and find that we have lost our dreams in order to protect our days."
I found these words while traveling with Vinny up to the North Shore and thought about them again while on my writing retreat. Since I work and live in the same neighborhood and because time and money always seem to be a commodity that I don't have enough of, my world sometimes has a tendency to get much too small. I want to find the small and wondrous details in every day places. I look, but when everything becomes monotonous and tiresome...well, then I know I have a problem. A serious problem.

Getting out of my regular routine was helpful for my writing beyond measure. It has been helpful to not only my writing, but my entire sense of well being. Now that I've once again tasted worlds outside of my own, I find my dreams, once again, stretching further outward in dangerous degrees.

Vinny's been daydreaming about France. I've been daydreaming about India. We've both been daydreaming--and, my god, it feels so good! A whole new realm of images have begun to show up on my "vision board" (that is, the cork board next to my desk covered in a collage of things I want to fill my life with).

By doing one thing every day that scares me I've noticed my life beginning to crack open in directions that I never really anticipated. And, although I'm not yet able to find the language for my visions, I feel a more complete self rising to the surface. In my mind, I get glimpses of things. The more honest I am about what I want for my life, the more vivid those images become. I don't have words for a lot of it, but I strongly feel that all of it will happen if I just keep walking towards it. As I write this, I feel very much like bursting into tears. Not sad tears, but the kind that let me know when something is true.

And I know, without a doubt, that this project will continue well beyond October 31st. These changes are molecular--and backwards is not an option I feel like entertaining.

*image credit: "Hommage" by Leopoldo M. Maler 1974

Friday, October 19, 2007

elements of bravery:

(click image to enlarge)

I spent some time this evening making friends with my pen tablet. I love this thing! Have I mentioned that I've accomplished TWENTY more pages of my thesis this week?! There's no going back now. These past several days I've felt a mental shift taking place inside of me. Kind of like taking on a strenuous physical activity, I've somehow managed to turn monkey mind off and just climb the mountain--with words, that is. The trick, I've found, is not to question myself--just keep moving forward. Just do it. Don't stop. Keep going. Trust it. Every page is nearly polished (well, hopefully), but there will be no looking back until I've made it safely through the danger zone.

“Bravery is believing in yourself,
and that thing nobody can teach you.”

~El Cordobes

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


At the moment I am sitting in a coffee shop with the intention of bringing this week's "writing retreat" to a proper close. I took a photo with my laptop's web cam a minute ago and then applied a bit o' Photoshop to capture the night's urban mood. Outside is all traffic, road construction, and sidewalk people. So much different than the world I left behind and yet, together, they strike such a perfect balance.

I came home a little bit early because, I'm embarrassed to admit, I started to miss my pup and husband. I accomplished more in the past 3 days than I have in the last 3 months. I got excited and couldn't sit still any longer--so I drove through a foggy, deer-infested night just so that I could get home before the alarm clock went off. It was a wonderful homecoming. And it was a productive retreat. Not only productive, but refreshing as well. Right now, I feel an incredible sense of balance.

And so I have stolen myself away to write one last essay in order to cap this retreat off with a nice rounded number. Music is in my ears, art is on the walls, a large cup of coffee is in front of me. I want to tell you about the blackness of the northern sky; I want to tell you about a lot of things.

But right now...I am committed to staying focused on this one last essay of the day. This writing retreat ain't over yet.

Cheers. ;)

Sunday, October 14, 2007

dream come true: self-created writing retreat

When I decided to do one thing every day that scares me, one of the things I quickly decided I would do within the course of the month is make some serious headway on my thesis. This is an extremely important step for me because of the very great need I feel to tie up this particular loose end. Finishing my thesis would open up a whole new space in my life--mentally, emotionally, and probably even spiritually. Every single day this thing looms over me, it nags at the back of my mind, creates little nigglings of stress, incessantly tap-tap-taps at my chamber door. In short, it won't leave me alone. No matter what I'm doing, it causes me to always feel like I should be doing something else (read: working on my thesis). And (quite obviously) working on my thesis is something I have not been doing often enough of.

A couple weeks ago I was a bit irritated when I found out that I wasn't scheduled for as many hours as usual this coming week. But then I thought...Ok, I can either be mad about losing hours OR I can use the extra time to my advantage. I decided on the second option and, from there, immediately resolved that I would take this unexpected expanse of time and head to the woods for some uninterrupted writing time. Yes, DEEP into the woods. Just my wolfie and me.

I'm leaving directly after work today and I won't be back until Thursday.
2 days for travel.
3 days for writing.

Writing, woods walking, writing, woods walking, writing, woods walking, writing, woods walking, writing, woods walking, writing, woods walking, writing, woods walking, writing, woods walking, writing, woods walking, writing, woods walking, writing, woods walking, writing, woods walking, writing, woods walking.

Nothing more. Nothing less.

I've packed my notebooks and pens and enough books to last me a lifetime. You see, with the book packing I allowed myself the luxury to bring books that have even the remote possibility of being useful. I'm planning on working on the critical section of my thesis and I don't want to find myself in the middle of the woods wishing I had remembered to bring ___*potential book title goes here*___. Never mind that I have an entire liquor box PLUS a book bag FULL to the brim with books that are (even loosely) associated with the topic of memoir, essay, creative nonfiction, or sense of place. There are some that have absolutely nothing to do with anything, but are coming along for no other reason than sheer inspiration--which, if you ask me, is as good a reason as any.

Of course, if I find myself inspired to work on the creative portion of the thesis, there's the possibility that I won't use any of the books--but that's ok, too. The best part about a self-created writing retreat is that there are NO rules. :)

The last time I felt so perfectly excited and focused about taking on a writing endeavor was when I was in India and decided to rent a room for several weeks to do nothing else but write. Unfortunately, I only have 3 days, not 3 weeks--but, hey, I'll take what I can get.

Things I will NOT have: phone, electricity, running water, a bathroom, noise pollution, light pollution, needy (but oh-so-loving) puppy, needy (but oh-so-loving) husband, love from said husband and puppy, television, internet, hot showers, loud traffic, sirens, drug dealers, nosy neighbors, disruptions of any kind, humming refrigerator, humming freeway...

Things I WILL have: peace and quiet (enough to make my ears ring), stars (enough to take my breath away), Anu love, yellow legal tablets and pens, books, fresh air, food that tastes better than ever because it's cooked outside on an open fire, very cold swim in a nearby lake if I'm brave enough, sleeping bag (good up to -20f), French press coffee (never leave home without good coffee), hobo dinners (I'll share my "recipe" upon my return), miles and miles of trails, chai, bright orange sweatshirt to protect me from hunters, fall colors, snow (??--oh, could I be so lucky?!), a bonfire, candles, writing by lantern light, the sound of howling wolves, wild flower bouquets, a stack of my favorite books, words that bring me one step closer to accomplishing a major goal...

I know...this sounds way too enjoyable to be an act of bravery. Right? Well, for me, working on my thesis is possibly the most extreme act of bravery out there. The travel, the woods, the time to myself...well, that's just padding to make the experience more pleasurable. Hey--no one said bravery had to be torturous. ;)

Going out of town twice with only a couple days in between has left me far behind with reading blogs and writing emails. Please forgive me. I look forward to catching up with all of you soon!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

a post to bury the last post.

I woke up this morning with the desire to delete last night's blog entry. Why? Well, mostly because it's slightly pathetic and also because I know that the only way to get a better job is to just do the work. There is also the very possible possibility (mmm...I like that phrase: "possible possibility" ;)) of something extraordinary happening. You know, like I just happen to be at the right place at the right time....but, until then, there's only one way to go about this and that is to continue moving forward with patience and perseverance.

Perseverance--yep, there's that Julia Cameron word again. Whenever I think of that word, I think of her book, Finding Water. Granted, many of us had a hard time getting through the book. Nevertheless, it is a word that I've become strangely fond of. Don't get me wrong, perseverance isn't all things should be. I want a certain amount of spark and charm and magic to be included in my days as well.

And speaking of books...there's another book that I have been enjoying immensely lately which is Sabrina Ward Harrison's The True and the Questions: A Journal. If you're doing the Be Brave project, or even if you're not, there's a greatly inspiring section, "Leaving Ripples," (page 24-49) that I highly suggests visiting. Well, actually, the entire book is worth visiting, but that chapter is especially centered around the notion of bravery.

One thing that amazes me the most about doing one thing that scares me every day is how each little action creates a ripple effect in all other aspects of my life. I am finding this project to be a very big lesson in the connectivity of all things. I start thinking about how I want one thing to turn out and realize that it has a lot to do how this other thing turns out has a lot to do with this has a lot to do with that. It is quite mind boggling, to be honest. And if I didn't have to get ready to go to work in the next 5 minutes, I would love to try and write more about this. Alas, I do not have time.

Instead I am going to perform an experiment today to see how many people I can get to smile. And, in turn, I'm going to see how many times their smiles make me smile. And if my smile makes someone else smile....well, see where I'm going with this?... :)

Friday, October 12, 2007

job search 101.

Now that I've returned from vacation...I've also returned to the job hunt. This is my act of bravery for the day. 3 hours of shuffling through websites and more website and a few want ads. This seems small, but it was the necessary step that I needed to take today because the whole process can seem endless and I sometimes become irrationally disappointed in myself that I'm not able to make something happen overnight. Then I remind myself that, however long it might take, I promise not to give up because, let's face it, big changes rarely happen instantaneously.

Now I'm going to do my second scary thing for the day and humble myself by asking you, dear readers, to offer up your advice. I feel stupid for not being genetically preprogrammed with this information, but...

How does one go about finding a job that is both fulfilling AND pays well??? A job that both satisfies the heart AND pays the bills??? These jobs are out there. But how do I find them? How do I narrow my search into something even remotely manageable?

I'm serious. I want to hear your suggestions--the real, down to earth sort of suggestions.

There. I've made myself look like a bumbling idiot. Now let's see what becomes of it...

Thank you.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

returning home...

I've come to the conclusion that my poor quality scanner does not like copying images done in oil pastel (or more like anything at all). However, five days without internet and posting these pages from my journal is the best I have to offer.

I keep a journal on a regular basis, but I must say, I especially enjoyed drawing and writing the musings of my mind these past several days. Besides drinking my morning cup of coffee, it was the one thing that I did religiously and with great anticipation every day. I missed blogs and blogging, but the Be Brave project never left my mind, not even once. {click the image on the left if you want to read the condensed version of what I did every day.}

The cabin we stayed in was built by an artist in the 1950's. It began as his studio and later grew into a home for his wife and two daughters. His paintings still grace each and every wall. Actually, there was not one element of that cabin that didn't, in some way, reflect the creative mind that built it. How could I help but be endlessly inspired? I spent much of my time alternating between drawing, writing, reading, hiking, and generally just breathing it all in.

...and let me just say:
It was hard to come back.
Very hard.

I learned something about myself this week--much more than I can verbalize in this quick little homecoming post. What I can say is that I've found something worth working towards. I realized this past week that, although there are many things that I love about the city, I am not, ultimately, meant to live in one. I love noting the changing colors in a constantly changing sky, walking under the cover of trees, in the wind, under the sun, in the rain, taking in the smells of leaves and moss, the sounds of birds and chipmunks, the unexpected colors of a mushroom or wildflower--this is when I feel truly alive. Under these conditions, I feel myself smile; I feel the blood beneath my skin; I am more aware of the muscles that hold my body together and the flow of thoughts that come from feeling connected to my body and the world I walk through.

{Click on images to read the larger than life version.}

Day 1:
Day 2:

Day 3:

Day 4:
(yes, sorry, i felt the need to crop the dark musings
of my mind--nonetheless, it is a path into a dark forest.
you can make up the rest from there.)

Day 5:

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Spirit Haven.

At the moment, I am sitting on a stool in a garden shop, melting in this unseasonably hot and humid October weather. I’m trying to think positive thoughts like: sultry, tropical, __(?)__. But it’s not working. Instead, I am daydreaming of the Arctic Circle and wondering how far north I’ll have to move in order to enjoy the coolness that autumns once were. hmmph. Oh, cool crisp autumnal air—where are you?!

Since the weather is not cooperating with my seasonal expectations, I am happy to say that, early tomorrow morning, V. and I will be packing up the car with dogs and books and warm sweaters and heading for the cooler weather of Northern Minnesota. Five whole days of nothing but relaxing in a rented little cabin along the shores of Lake Superior—our own private sanctuary to nestle ourselves in front of the fireplace, cook elaborate meals, snuggle our four-legged babies, go for long hikes along trails carpeted with the golden leaves of aspen, read, write, paint, dream, cat nap, watch sunrises, and sunsets, canoe out into the crystal expanse of a lake that feels as big as an ocean, sip wine, and generally just leave it all behind.

For the past several days I’ve been thinking about how I might continue this “Be Brave” project while away on a vacation and (gasp!) away from the internet! I love all the small changes that are taking place within me and, despite this eagerly awaited vacation, I feel the desire to stay connected to the experience of bravery on a daily basis.

So my plan is to bring my journal—to muse, contemplate, and generally write my happy little head off. Perhaps I’ll go rock climbing or take a dive into hypothermic waters or walk in the woods dressed only in stars. Who knows? ;) Or maybe I’ll ask myself a few difficult questions and expect from myself only honest answers. We’ll see. This is, after all, a vacation and adventures are always easier to find when one is removed from life’s daily-ness

The only unfortunate detail of going so very far far away into the magical woods of a world without internet, is that I won’t be able to keep up with YOUR brave experiences. However, know that I am thinking of you, that I’m sending you well-wishes, and that I am looking forward to catching up with all of you as soon as I return!

Adios, my friends! :)

Friday, October 05, 2007

little bits and pieces gathering to make the whole...

Today is the 8th day of bravery. Already 8 days? The first week was especially intense--tense muscles, restless sleep, tight jaw--it was truly, truly intense. Mostly I think it was the realization that, holy shit, things might actually CHANGE! I mean, I've been wanting change for a long, long time, but wanting it and making it happen are two completely different things now, aren't they.

I will say, however, that I think I really needed the break I took last night to celebrate with Vinny. I've been pushing myself forward every day and feeling wonderful about all of it. Last night the world looked different to me. I mean, in a really big way I felt like a whole new person, as though, if I really, really wanted to, I could make ANYTHING happen just be doing it. Everything felt slightly surreal and... possible!

Maybe it was all the rain and the unseasonably tropical weather or last night's champagne or..., but today felt softer in comparison to all the other days of this project. I felt more grateful, more beautiful, more generous, more voluptuous, more grounded, more blessed, more earthy, more sacred, more of everything. But today the notion settled in that it is not just about taking the first step. It's also about following through.

One of the biggest reasons for starting this project is that I really, really want a house of our own. I want to be able to paint the walls all the wild, saturated colors of the rainbow. I want to create gardens. I want to hang a hundred pieces of art on the walls. I want to do a lot of things that you just can't do in a place that you rent. Most especially, I want to grow roots. Beyond that, there are many layers and intricacies underlying my desire to move on.

What if we all did one thing every day that scares us? I'm reading your blogs and am thinking: Just imagine how much we could do! But it's a process, isn't it. We might work up the courage to get started...but it doesn't end there. Step one is connected to step two, requires step three and then, one day, wallah! We've manifested a dream!

Today, in all honesty, I'm not sure what I did. But if I were to be kind to myself, I suppose this might be considered a pretty good start:
  • I ate about 50% LESS food than I normally would in the course of a day. I was afraid that I would get really hungry and uncomfortable. It turns out that I'm only a little bit hungry and not uncomfortable at all. Actually, I'm instead finding unexpected reserves of energy.
  • I judged someone by the way she looked (high heels, expensive dress, manicured nails, British accent, expensive smelling perfume) and took her to be something of a snob...but decided to give her a chance and once we started talking it turned out she was just dressed up for a wedding and was totally weirded out by the heels she was wearing. In the end, I realized that she was wonderful and interesting. But, you know, it can be scary to open yourself up to someone who might possibly look down on you.
  • Thanks to a friend, I emailed an editor and included a link to my blog. Silly, but true. ;)
  • I "cut a deal" to exchange artwork for web design--and I am feeling wonderfully happy about this because I love her work and am already planning to hang a display of her incredible India photos on the walls of our someday-new-home.
  • I started reading Women Who Run With the Wolves. I thought I had a copy, but couldn't find it so I bought another one. I spent a large part of the day thinking about the word WILD. WILDNESS. WILDERNESS. and about what it means to me. I realized that, to me, it means EVERYTHING.
  • I took some time to mentally "re-group." I thought about what direction I actually want to take all of this in. I don't want to commit blindless acts of bravery just for the sake of doing something "scary," rather for the more important sake of moving forward from the center of my heart. This is especially true in my hunt for a new job. It's not just about getting a new job, a "real" job, any job that pays more than my current job. It's about finding a job that truly suits me, challenges me, and satisfies me. Today I thought about where and when to draw the line between being scary because its thrilling and the nervousness that warns us when something just isn't right.
  • I started thinking about wild ideas and my wildest dreams....and realized that it's all possible....every single last bit of it.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

aniversario numero cuatro!

Let's face it, marriage is a commitment that requires a certain amount of fearlessness.

This is a photo from the day that Vinny and I were married four years ago (omg, look how much younger we were!). It was, one might say, a leap of faith. At the time, I knew that I was irreparably in love with him...but, I had no idea how deeply that love would grow with the passing of time.

We've been through a lot of very big changes in the short time we've been together, but through these changes we've always had each other.

I never thought that I would find a love like this. I really, honestly never thought I would. But the universe works in mysterious ways.

I love this man with all of my heart.

And so I want to say...
Thank you, Universe--for being so kind to me.

This guy is the best and most unexpected thing that has ever happened to me (and he makes good waffles too!).

Happy Anniversary, Vinny. You are better than anything I ever could have dreamed of.

Scary thing for the day:
Dress up and go out to eat at a restaurant that requires the use of more silverware than I know what to do with! Oh, it was divine!! :)

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Lessons from my wolfie...

I was nearly late for work today because my wolfie, Anu, caught a squirrel in the back yard. I don't mean to appall any of my dear readers, but, oh, she was so proud of it! Anu didn't want to leave it behind and she definitely didn't want to share her prize with Louis, the pup...and so going for a quick morning walk became much more complicated than it needed to be. Finally, I convinced her that I wouldn't let Louis have it and that it would be okay to leave it behind. She abandoned her fat urban catch with a rather large dose of reluctance. But, the entire walk, she carried herself with such dignity and satisfaction that I couldn't help but smile and be a little proud of her too.

You see, Anu spent the first 7 years of her life out in the country. We had 40 acres connected to a couple more thousand acres of state land. She was never chained up and very rarely kenneled. Although she was always good about staying home, she was free to play and roam and do as she pleased. There was nothing that I loved more than watching her in her element--such incredible beauty she possesses!

Two years ago we left our place in the country, first for a medium sized town, and then for a full-fledged city. We've done our best to replace her countryside freedoms with long and frequent walks and she has adjusted well.

But today...oh, I sensed a wild and natural part of her spirit return and it made me wish so badly that we could live out in the country once again. Her stride was more confident and her eyes more lively. Such a profound shift occurred within her because of just one quick action--and, I must say, Anu's renewed sense of instinctual wildness really sparked something deep inside of me as well.

As we walked, I thought about the book Women Who Run With the Wolves and decided that I would like to dig it out from the dusty confines of my bookshelf and read it once again. It's been years since I've done anything with it except pack and unpack it, and pack and unpack it, yet again.

Because I live and interact, feed and love and walk with Anu every day, I sometimes forget how incredible it is that I have a real live wolf as part of my family. Many people are lucky if they see one in the wild or maybe in the zoo...but I have one sitting right beside me.

A couple of weeks ago I was fortunate enough to meet one of my personal heroes, Tamar Geller. She is a dog trainer whose recent book, The Loved Dog, has been getting a lot of attention (as it should!). If you have a dog or are thinking about getting one or know someone that does, please! Read this book.

Tamar is an incredible woman with an incredible gift. Watching her read and talk and listen nearly brought me to tears--because she is someone who is truly living out her purpose in life. Talk about inspiring! Perhaps one of the most remarkable things about her is that she has traveled a rough road to get to where she is now. I haven't had the words to write about it until now, but meeting her had a profound effect on me. I mean, she is just a regular person, but she is doing such remarkable things--just by living from her heart. She is a voice that speaks for animals who are unable to speak for themselves. I know I'm leaving a lot out, but in order to keep this post from expanding into oblivion... (or is it already too late for that?)

A brief synopsis: Tamar is from Israel where she trained in the military intelligence. But, while assigned to live at a camp in the desert, she began to study wolves in order to pass the time. She later based all of her training techniques on the behaviors of wolves that she observed during that time. And now, no longer in the military, her life is dedicated to training dogs, not through dominance and negative control, but with absolute and unconditional LOVE.

We've trained Louis with these techniques and have been absolutely amazed by how quickly he learned. He felt like such a super star! Of course it goes without saying that, when we found out that Tamar was going to be in Minneapolis, we couldn't wait to meet her!

After her book reading and a wonderfully long Q&A session, we got in line to have our copy of the book signed. When it was our turn, I showed her 2 photos--one of Louis, the pup--and one of Anu. When we told her that Anu was half wolf she stopped, took a gasp of breath, and with her beautiful Israeli accent exclaimed: "You mean she's wolf! Like really FIFTY PERCENT WOLF?!"

She couldn't get over it and it was obvious that she had fallen absolutely and completely in love with her. Through Tamar's reaction I was reminded once again just who lucky I am to have such a wild, loving, and beautiful creature in my life. Sometimes I forget how blessed I am by her wolfishness--but, more often, that is exactly what I love about her the most. Anu is one of the greatest teachers in my life. And this morning was just one more strange reminder of that.

Since I was running late, I felt rushed and couldn't decide what my act of bravery should be for the day (as though picking out something scary were like picking out a sweater! ha!). Everything I thought of felt too easy, as though it would be a cop-out. But then, as I was carrying flowers out to the sidewalk at work, it dawned on my that, something that I've been wanting to do, but have been avoiding because of my own ridiculous insecurities, is to line up an art show at the coffee shop next door.

I promised myself that the next time I saw B., the coffee shop owner, I would make myself ask him about it.

A whole MILLI-SECOND later, there he was!...asking me if I had gotten my coffee yet. DING! I felt the alarm go off inside me as a little voice in my head yelled: "Ask him now! Do it! Now!"

And so I did it.
And he agreed immediately without even a second thought.

I've been putting this off for weeks! Months!
And all I had to do was ask. Simple.

I had all these fears of indifference or rejection or who-knows-what built up around having a show and when I finally surprised myself by putting myself out there... well, it was so easy that it feels like cheating! :)-

So anyway, I have a show lined up for March.

Funny how easy it can be to get what you want...once you get past yourself, that is!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

The "Be Brave" Project.

ORIGINAL POST (October 2, 2007):

Last week I wrote a post here announcing my commitment to doing one thing every day that scares me and asked others to join in. Because of the incredible response that I have received from friends and fellow bloggers, I have decided to create a badge as well as write a post explaining this project to anyone who might want to know more about it.

This project was inspired by the words of Eleanor Roosevelt:


One day, while shopping for art supplies, I found a card with this quote on it and thought of my mom...but then the unexpected happened and the idea just wouldn't leave me alone. Eleanor's words seemed to be exactly what I needed to help me get out the rut I had somehow gotten myself in. I figured, what's to lose? Should it surprise me that amazing things have already started to happen?

I have been a part of creative blogging communities in the past and I am always blown away by the power that emerges when a diverse group of people come together--especially when joined by a common thread. And that is why I asked others to join me in this project--so that we can remind each other to be brave on a regular basis. So that we can offer support. So that we can be each others' believing mirrors.

I have committed to doing one thing that scares me every day for a month. I started on September 27, 2007. However, because Halloween is such a perfect day to celebrate a month worth of adventurous living, I've decided to continue the project until October 31st. And, if I learn anything at all in doing this, I will continue with acts of bravery well beyond any date that I might set for myself.

Here's the rules:
  • (most important:) MAKE YOUR OWN RULES.
  • Do this for yourself.
  • Make a commitment for the length of time that best suites YOUR needs--one day, one month, one year, one's all up to you, and you alone. ;)
  • The "brave" or "scary" things that you choose to do can be as big or little as you want them to be. Sometimes it's the little things that can be the most scary!
  • (not to quote Nike, but...) Just do it.
  • Be on your own schedule. You don't need to make a commitment until YOU are ready.
  • This is your unique journey--make it whatever you want it to be.
Also, per Maddie's suggestion, I've created a badge for the "Be Brave" project (see image at top of post). If you want to participate, I invite you to add it to your blog. In order to get the image to link back to this post, the html code is:

Here's to moving forward. And to living a little bit more adventurously in the process!

Be Brave!

* * *

UPDATED POST (July 8, 2008):

Dear Friends,

Back in October of 2007 (oh, that sounds like such a long time ago) I decided to start a new project and invited any one who was interested to join me. Little did I know that it would CHANGE MY LIFE. In proper blogging fashion, people from all over the world decided to live their lives a little bit more bravely. The cumulative energy from so many brave individuals felt as powerful as a tidal wave, a wave that just keeps growing. I will forever be grateful for the success of the Be Brave Project because it has propelled me forward in ways I never even imagined. Maybe you have participated in this project since the beginning. Maybe you've just started. Maybe you've simply been letting the idea incubate inside of you. Or maybe this is the first you've heard of it. Whatever the case, I deeply believe that there is strength in numbers and so I once again invite you to join me in this Be Brave journey.

I began with the intentions of living by Eleanore Roosevelt's quote for one month.
"Do one thing every day that scares you."
~Eleanor Roosevelt

One thing. Just one. Every day. Turns out that it became a habit. I didn't mean for that to happen, but I'm glad that it did. Granted, committing acts of bravery has not gotten any easier--but what DID happen is that I got better at recognizing the signs of evasion. I got better at giving myself those little nudges--like jumping into water, it is never as painful as we imagine. I think it's safe to say that most of us are creatures of comfort. Why cause ourselves discomfort on purpose? Well, the point is not to be uncomfortable. The point is to MOVE FORWARD. The point is to grow and evolve. The point is to manifest your wildest desires--no matter how impossible they might seem. The point is to shine with our whole being.

And sometimes that requires incredible amounts of bravery.

These days I feel as though I have hit a bit of a crossroads, a hump, a rock, a wall...whatever it is, I'm struggling to move past it, and it feels very NECESSARY and important that I do. Over and over this quote has been finding its way back to me. And I have to tell you that it's down right weird how often and blaringly it has been popping up lately. One woman, who has no knowledge of this project, commissioned me to paint this EXACT quote on 5 feet worth of canvas to hang about her bed. Another woman, who also has no knowledge of the project, invited me to her home for a photoshoot in preparation for another commission, for a portrait of her cat and dog. Mind you, the day before I had been on the brink of giving up on myself, but then (the universe stepped in?) I unexpectedly met her on a sidewalk and, for some reason, we started talking. When I arrived at her home, there was a tall gate leading into what I can only describe as a magical place--and on the inside of the gate was, yes, you guessed it, that quote.

Then there have been the emails, the comments, the requests--dozens of them saying: Be Brave, Be Brave, Be Brave...

And so I've come to the conclusion that it is time to revisit the Be Brave Project and to invite you, once again, to join me in doing so.

I, personally, will whole-heartedly return to this project on Monday, July 21st. I've chosen that date because by then I will have finished a major project, thus opening up more time and energy for living extra bravely. And I will have just returned home, refreshed from a small vacation. For me, these are good conditions for starting out on a journey (or, in my case, continuing on a journey).

I want to make it very clear, however, that there is no beginning and no end to this project. If you decide to join in, there are no rules except for the ones you create for yourself.

We each have a different goal. We each have a different reason for calling on bravery. And we each will have a different outcome. The important thing is that you make a commitment to yourself--and then believe that the universe will support you in that commitment. It's safe to say that you will get as much out of it as you put into it. This blogging community is here as a network of cumulative energy to help propel you forward and remind you that you are not alone when the going gets rough--and it will--but I assure you that you will expand in hugely positive ways.

Here's to continued bravery!

today feels like a fresh slate.

V. and I got up early this morning for a deluxe breakfast of homemade waffles with fresh strawberries and whipped cream--on a Tuesday morning before work even! Amazing. At the moment I have a cup of coffee on one side of me and a sleeping puppy on the other. Louis' not sure why we got up so early, but he's decided that he could use a little more sleep and has snuggled in a little closer. I have never met a dog that was such a good snuggler as this little man.

Yesterday, for my act of bravery, I sat down and wrote a cover letter and updated my resume for a prospective job. Writing the cover letter totally and absolutely stressed me out. Never mind that I have a BFA in Creative and Professional Writing. It took me almost ALL day! Note, however, that I did NOT give up. My shoulders and body were so tense by the end of it that V. did the miraculous act of suggesting waffles for breakfast--which brings us back to the first paragraph--yes, we actually did it!

And the brave act for today?... Well, today I will send the cover letter and resume out into the world and see what becomes of it. Then I'm going to tie up a few lose ends that have been floating around the universe while I've been tackling all this scariness.

Doing one thing that scares me every day reminds me of hiking in the Himalayas. Some days I felt so exhilarated. Other days I felt nothing but exhaustion. And then there were all of those beautiful moments in between when I felt such a healthy combination of both!

Right now I can't decide if I want to DO EVERYTHING or if I should just go back to bed. :)- Unfortunately, the latter is not an option. That's ok though...I am well fed, I accomplished something big yesterday, and today is a fresh start. What I have in front of me is a mystery and I look forward to seeing how it will unfold.