author moments, perspective

The Story Within a Story

Every story has a hidden story within. The why or the why not of the subject. Maybe the storyteller shared the hints, maybe they didn’t.

For example, I may write a blog post or story that shares a fun adventure but within the story is another story of personal triumph for a person on the journey with me. Maybe it’s even highlight a memory that is meaningful to me yet just a unique story to another. That is the beauty of storytelling.

In our last book we invited children to be authors with us. We did this intentionally. We wanted to provoke learning without telling them they were learning. We wanted to promote creativity. We wanted to share our love for writing. You wouldn’t know that from the book cover, but we left hints all around the book. It’s one of the coolest author notes we share with kids when we read and engage at book signings. Talk about a wow factor. It’s the story within the story.

Often times online we invite our readers to join us on the adventures we write about. We invite, provoke, engage others to do more with what they have. Be a better version of themselves. That’s a story of inspiration from within the bigger story.

Maybe my co-author is writing about something she wants to share and it includes her vantage point. Could there possibly be another vantage point within? Maybe you have to find the hidden door to find the message. Maybe that is her hook within her story. Of course there can be a story within a story, maybe even more than one story.

For each post we write we have many who like, some who don’t like and others who just breeze through the content. Whatever the reason or the season for the read, whatever the outcome is, we enjoy sharing our stories as authors. It’s what we choose to do.

We write our way. We leave clues in one post that may link to another or maybe not at all. We may write about the same topic yet it seems so different based on the voice we use or the vantage point. We may provide a visual or maybe we don’t. No real rhyme nor reason to our madness rather we just create what feels natural much like any other artist.

Our blog is a glimpse or a snapshot of us, not a biography or novel. For a tell-all you will most likely need to purchase our upcoming publications. Our blog space is a tool. A tool to motivate and share who we are with others. Today, tomorrow, and in the future.

Our interests will change over time as will our appearance and influences. This is another reason to check in with our site often. We change like the wind. We bend and flex with life. We share the ebbs and flows of life, even the tough stuff.

Since we are talking about a story within a story, I will share the inner secret of this post: bravery.

We are brave enough to share to the level we do. We are exposed. We have readers from Serbia to Japan and beyond. We are forever thankful for all of our readers (see our reader map below). We have friends and family who read our posts. We may even have business and professional colleagues who see us in a different light on this site.

To visualize the magnitude of our bravery: We could be on a plane and somebody notice us but we not notice them. This is a level of fearlessness that many will never encounter. For that, we share our story of boldness, bravery and unwavering sense of self with the wild and tangled web called the internet. The super highway of today.

We invite readers into our world. We are depositing a piece of us for our future grandchildren to read and learn about. There may be secret clues or passages within but you don’t get the full Monty online. We save the juicy stuff for the books and unfortunately we charge for those.

Until next time.

perspective

Giving is Not the Same as Expecting

There are so many givers in this world. Those who give their time to others. Those who give care to those in need. Those who offer love and hope to others. The list could go on and on. If you fall into the giver category, thank you. The world needs more of you.

Giving isn’t always a gift that is tangible. One can give love. One can give inspiration. One can give a shoulder to lean on. One can give hope. Whatever one gives, it is a choice. A desire to serve others in some way.

Life isn’t fair. I can’t catch a break. Poor me. If you fall into this category, suck it up. Find resources to help you get over the hump you are in. Start to pay your way little by little. Set a budget and work hard for what you need / want. Do not expect others to do for you and don’t be a mooch. Not much in life is free these days and if you take advantage of kindness in any form you will soon find yourself abandoned and alone. Eventually the givers lose interest in takers.

Expecting is different. Expecting mom and dad to pay for a cell phone until the you turn 30. Expecting the latest and greatest iPhone vs the one that works fine but is a model year behind the latest release. Expecting a brand new car as a teen. Expecting to have access to unlimited funds when one is capable of working. Expecting a car or car service to promote your independence without any contributions to gas. These are just some common teenage / young adult expectations I see over and over.

Expecting is annoying to say the least. One should never expect anything. One should expect to put forth work or effort to earn things that matter. There is definitely a benefit to learning this early on in life. If your teen expects things on the home front, they turn into employees that expect things. They turn into spouses who contribute less. They turn into lazy adults.

As I wrote this, I could feel the negative vibe in the post. For those of you who may follow my writing you may know that I am not the Negative Nelly type of writer. However, when the giver and taker scenarios arrive in my real world, I can be frustrated.

The same level of frustration appears when I see entitlement. Scenarios could include my own children acting entitled or it could be just the world around me. It could be an employee feeling entitled to a raise despite minimal efforts on their part. It could be a vendor feeling entitled to contract or a loved one feeling entitled to something. Even the customer who feels entitled to a discount for reasons that would put you below your operational costs.

In life we should think fair and consistent. Is this scenario fair for all parties? Are my actions consistent with my behaviors? Am I doing the right thing?

Earn your keep. Earn your value. In today’s competitive world you need to see what sets you apart from others and springboard off of those strengths. Nobody ever gets anywhere riding the coattails of others.

Make giving part of your motto in 2020 and see how life favors you. Remember giving is free on most accounts. You just may need to get creative.

January can be give smiles month.
February may be give compliments month.
March may be give time month.
April may be give your listening ear month.

With the above samples in hand, you can get creative and find what works for your lifestyle. I do promise you that if you adapt giving into your life you will receive far more in return. I’m not promising money, fame or fortune. I am promising a refreshed look at the world if you give a little.

adventure

Relax Was All She Typed

RELAX!

The one word received by text before I left the country for vacation in the beautiful island of St. Maarten. “Relax”

 How that word sat with me on the plane ride to my destination and beyond. Relax. 

How does a high strung, fast moving girl really relax? Is it possible? The questions that ran through my mind. The soul searching that would happen over the next few days as I figured out if I am capable of relaxing and what relaxing really feels like.

Routine went out the window first thing. No up early to workout. This was a first change of routine in over 4 years. Is this relaxing or was I stressed because I was breaking my routine? I did a shoulder shrug to myself repeatedly when I thought about this change.  Instead of working out hard core, I opted for a casual walk to a quaint little bakery kiosk where I was greeted by a bubbly island girl each morning. A creature of habit, I ordered the same thing each day. A plain but buttery croissant and a jug of orange juice. Both of these are not normal items I would have in the morning or in general but this week was about doing things differently. I was choosing to select differently while on vacation. Maybe not the best choice for balancing carbs / fats / proteins, but for this vacation break I was not worrying about what time I was eating and so on. Just like I wasn’t worried about writing on my blog. I was “checked” out on island time.

Island time is interesting. Everything moves slowly. People are extra bubbly and social. It was easy for me to go to bed early and sleep late each day. I had nowhere to rush to. No deadlines to meet. No bosses to answer to.  I enjoyed the sunsets, the spectacular views, the fresh smells and the people of the island I was on. I had no reason to stress over technology, business or life. There was no rushing to sports practice, no to do list, no deadlines to meet, no bosses to answer to. It seemed there were smiles everywhere. Workers smiled and greeted you at every interaction. Guests were cordial even if there was a language barrier. Island life is definitely slow. It seems to take 2-3 hours for a meal. Food is fresh, service is slow but pleasant, atmosphere is always “happy.”

At last a relaxing time of do something, nothing or whatever strikes my fancy. I snorkeled, enjoyed fish and shipwrecks in the waters below, ate many varieties of food, tasted a new drink called “ting,” rode a horse in the ocean, enjoyed a massage, and met many friendly faces. A few notable friends are described below:

New York – A sweet and sassy woman from NY whom I shared giggles with on my snorkeling trip but then found out she stayed at my resort. We bumped into each other multiple times making us new friends. 

Nix – A bus driver that was a bit quirky. He didn’t smile much and had a long face. He said the word “WOW” a lot. His quirkiness was memorable and his driving skills were interesting to say the least.

The New Zealanders – An older couple I met on a tour. A whole day spent with strangers who had a funny accent but enjoyed learning about our cultures as much as we did theirs. They arrived by cruise ship, us by plane. A chance encounter but one that left many memories. I especially enjoyed eating lunch with these new friends while we learned so much about our different countries. Again, a chance encounter that was very insightful.

John – A taxi cab driver turned tour guide. He picked us up in town at random for a ride back to the resort. He shared his cooler of drinks and gave us his card for his side hustle (tour guide). We booked a tour with the kind gentleman and spent another full day learning about the island from him. His charm, his humor, and his knowledge was a big part of our trip memories.

The cookie man – There is a cookie man and he works in a cheese shop. It may sound weird but he serves the freshest almond paste cookies at the cheese shop when you check out. These cookies were so amazing we went back for more a few days later. He was all out but he offered to make a special batch the next day. We couldn’t wait. We went back out of our way to meet the cookie man at the cheese shop to buy tons of cookies to bring home for our families. Do you think any actually made it home?

AJ – The jeweler, the joker, the hard worker. The friendliest jeweler in town. Oh, how he added to my memories this week. AJ was another chance encounter. I met a wonderful older lady on my plane ride to the island. She had been visiting this island for years and mentioned I should visit AJ should I desire any jewelry this trip. Of course I had to check out AJ and see what all the hype was about.

As you can see from the post above, I relaxed and enjoyed my island vacation, but more importantly I met new people. The kind souls that made my memories will be forever cherished. Some I will never see again, while others I hope to see sometime in the future should I make it back to this island. I never set out to meet new people nor did I have a specific goal in mind for my trip. In the end I had a great time and have an awesome memory book of the time spent on St. Maartin.

My travel time was just right. Enough time to enjoy the relaxing life yet not too long to miss out on all that requires my time on the daily on the home front. I am thankful for many things after this week. Too many to list. As thanksgiving has recently past, I will just say I am thankful for the “relax” text as it set The tone for my week. Thank you, Kim, for the one word text! I appreciate you.

My vacation time was spent on the friendly island of St. Maarten. I spent most of my time on the Dutch side, however I did visit the French side as well as visit Anguilla and Prickly Pear on the British side. I highly recommend travel to St. Maarten and I encourage you to fly a big airline vs. a discount airline. If you make it there be sure to visit the beach by the airport to watch the planes land. It is definitely an experience.

I am leaving you with a few snapshots of my trip. It is my hope that you find some peace in the tranquil pictures. They are meant to spur thought of relaxation and happiness.

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dare to be different

Tat Time, What’s the Number Now?

It’s that time of year when I put some fresh ink on my canvas, aka my body.

My body. My expressions. My designs. My tats tell a story of sorts. They have meaning and normally signify moments in my life path. A triumph. A struggle. A birth. A tribute. The list could go on. I’m often asked about my tats. I’m even sometimes judged for them.

No matter what others think, I still do me. I have one heart, one brain, one body to live in and I’m going to make it as customizable as I envision.

So what’s the new piece? A piece of ass so to speak. Where is it? You will have to see me in person to see that, I suppose. Maybe it’s visible maybe it’s not?!?!

I guess you will just have to ask me about my tats if you are curious.

 

celebrations, friendship

Full-on Festivus Fangirl

One part roadie, one part pit crew, one part media team, one part friend, five parts fangirl.  These were my jobs for the Faded Glory teams at this year’s Festivus Games.

Unlike Chick 1, I didn’t WOD in the sun and fun.  Scheduling and family commitments made competing impossible.  But I still got out and joined in for as long as I could.

My day started at 5am, just like most of the teams.  But, for my first stop I went and got my own workout in first at our home box (burpees over the rower, thrusters, and other fun times). I could have skipped, but even when (especially when!) you’re spending a lot of your time supporting others, you have to keep your own health in line.

Then it was off to the Games, sliding in with my friends to watch them work and support where I could, which led to these moments….

The roadie – Yes, I’ll carry your phone.  I’ll wear your watch. I’ll hold your bracelets.  Of course I’ll keep time for you and count down loud so you know how much you have left to go.

The pit crew – Yup, I’ll charge that dead (phone) battery.  I’ll change your oil (peppermint oil, of course, on sore hamstrings and lower backs).  I’ll drill your muscles with one of those crazy massage guns.  I’m there with your water when your engine overheats.  Creaky joints? Do you prefer Aleve, Advil, or Tylenol?

The media team – The pictures, the videos, the boomerangs. Did I get video of your snatches? Check. Boomerangs of your wall balls? Check. And THE LIFTING FACES!!!  Oh, the lifting faces. Can’t get enough of them.  Capturing the efforts and the agony.  The triumphs and the teamwork.  The small moments, the funny moments, the victories that many people miss – we even miss some of them ourselves!

Send them to each athlete, even send them to their spouses and our friends who couldn’t be there.  Those photos tell amazing stories of a time that will become incredible memories.

 

 

The friend – Just before she starts each event, I’m glancing at my partner, Milagros, and just give her the look.  The “you can do this.  Just breathe and do it” look.  That moment of reassurance between us!

Some of the highlights of the day are listening to pretty much all the competitors talk about their teammate.  In one way or another, each is fighting not to let their partner down.  To do their best, to give their all for that teammate.  This brings back memories of when I competed, and truly is one of the sweetest, most meaningful parts of the experiences.

Finally, the fangirl –  Cheering like crazy for each of them. (And all the videos with my shrill drum major voice!) Clapping from behind the lens.  “Pick it up!” I barked. Encouraging when I saw the looks of exhaustion, of near tears, of hating that stupid box, that idiotic dumbbell, that impossibly irritating kettlebell. And when I saw those fleeting looks of “It’s too hot.”  “It’s so heavy.”  ‘I’m not sure I can do anymore…” I’d get even louder:

YOU GOT THIS! COME ON!  LET’S GO!  And as others finished, they joined in the cheers. Surrounding teammates who had fought through adversity to encourage them to the bitter end.  We are fans of each other.

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What a day and a reason to support and shout for these incredible athletes.

Pushing themselves past the edge of the discomfort zone, some fighting through injuries and illness.  They showed up and WORKED.  All the training, the invisible hours, the practicing, the endless reps, heck even the no reps mattered.  It all adds up to knowing you fought like crazy to compete and give your best that day.

I’ll truly cherish wearing the #Katashi shirt with my honorary (if temporary) tattoo. That takes fangirling to a whole new level.  You’d be hard pressed to find two more fierce or fun competitors. Still gotta work on my booty game, though.

I’ll cherish the hugs and smiles and people laughing and feeling proud as they saw themselves in action. I’ll cherish seeing both first timers and “old” timers get in there to scrap with anyone who dares compete. Better bring your A game. I’ll cherish watching teams work with and for each other, and being on the team for all of them.

 

 

giving

Joy multiplies

Summer heat has arrived in Georgia. It’s zinnia season.

Fun fact about me:  I cannot grow anything.  I have been known to kill “maintenance-free” plants.

Everyone else in my family can grow things, though. So we have gardens in our yard sprouting flowers and food much of the year.

Zinnias are some of my favorite flowers. We’ve had small patches of them in the front and back for a while now. This year, without planting or any effort, a huge patch of them sprouted up in our front yard.

When we first got zinnias growing at home, I mainly wanted to watch them in the yard.  I never picked too many. I’d just enjoy them growing there for as long as I could.

After trying that for a while, here’s the cool thing I learned about zinnias:

The more you cut the blooms, the more blooms will grow.

So I try to cut all the new blooms a few times a week. I cut them just above where the stem splits.  These turn into a flood of endless bouquets that spread to friends from life, work, school, family, the gym, and so on.  And the more I cut them, the more blossoms appear and multiply.

It’s like the zinnias know you appreciate them, so they give you more of what you like.

When I think about it, many people are like that.  If you show appreciation for what they offer, they give you more of it. Gratitude matters.

With the zinnias, I also get to see smiles from friends who get a small gift of beauty and knowing they are treasured. Perhaps they, in turn, pass a bit of beauty or kindness along in their own way.

It really does not take much effort to brighten a day.  Joy multiplies and spreads.  Share some of what you have with others. Flowers, treats, even just a simple note can change a mood, an outlook, or make a challenging road more beautiful.

 

 

 

 

awareness

Are You My Type?

Last week, Chick 1 posted about her Enneagram results.

As one of her business partners, she encouraged me to take the Enneagram test to learn more about myself and how I can grow. (And yes, she had to remind me more than once. I’m scattered. It’s a problem.)

Anyway, to mirror Chick 1’s approach, I thought I would share my top 3 Enneagram type areas with some comments…all three of these were basically tied for me.

Type 4: The Individualist

The Sensitive, Introspective Type:

Expressive, Dramatic, Self-Absorbed, and Temperamental

There are several things about the description of Type 4 that come to mind.  Fours are thinkers and reflect a lot.  I was a philosophy major, and lived “the life of the mind” for many years, well into my PhD. (My Dad used to say I walked around with “a little black cloud over my head” from thinking too much.)

I do love to just sit and ponder things, and I tend to still be reflective in my work at school today.  Fours are also artistic. If you know me, you know I love singing, poetry, and other creative expressions.  Fours try to be distinctive and individual.  No one would believe it now, but I was actually voted Most Original of my senior class!  My crazy Goth-girl-in-Catholic-school is not so pronounced these days…I think some of these traits have actually taken a back seat as I have aged. In my teens and early twenties, I think this would have easily been the dominant type.

Type 2:  The Helper

The Caring, Interpersonal Type:

Demonstrative, Generous, People Pleasing, and Possessive

On my good days and in my heart of hearts, I do really love being generous.  I love writing letters, giving thoughtful gifts, and trying to lift people up. I call these kinds of activities “soul-feeding” for me. I have learned in recent years that time and attention are some of the greatest gifts I can give people I love and care about, even people I hardly know who may be in need.  (And, I do have a bowl of candy in my work space at all times, just like the description states!)  All of these go along with being a Type 2.

But I do know at times in my life I have wandered into unhealthy territory with this tendency.  As I said in a recent conversation with Chick 1, “you can’t pour from an empty cup.”   I’ll write more about this comment in an upcoming post, but for now I’ll just say I have, at times, sacrificed my own health (physical, mental, emotional) to put the needs of others first.  I am still working on how to balance my personal needs with those of others.  I’ll also reluctantly admit to being possessive or jealous at times. I have to adjust my inner soundtrack to keep this tendency in check.

I do think it’s funny that my top two appear to be opposites.  An individualist, but who likes to take care of others.  But then I think, I have a hard time accepting care and help from others.  (I dish it but I often can’t take it!) Go figure.

Type 9: The Peacemaker

The Easygoing, Self-Effacing Type:

Receptive, Reassuring, Agreeable, and Complacent

This is the person I am at work, more than any other place. I aspire to be easygoing.  When I left my last job, my boss described me as “steady.” That I was a calm, reassuring presence.  That I never seemed to get too ruffled.  This was a huge surprise to me, since my busy mind is often racing and worried.  I do strive to be a peaceful presence, while hiding the storm and insecurities inside.  And the Type 9 tendency to be creative, again, isn’t lost on me.

A more negative side of this is my tendency to avoid conflict at all costs.  I often worry about conflicts being the end of a relationship.  Some of the feelings and experiences I fear the most are being disconnected from the people I care about. So, I avoid conflict for long periods of time only to explode “out of the blue.”  Embracing conflict as a natural part of relationship and even as a step to growing to deeper connection and understanding is one of my challenges.

At the end, the description tells me to embrace exercise as a way to work through some aggressions.  Thanks, CrossFit!

This is a very different top 3 than Chick 1.  In fact, I giggled when my absolute-dead-last-barely-registered-on-the-scale Type was, you guessed it, Type 8, The Challenger, which is Chick 1’s dominant type.  The other two on the bottom were the remainder of her top 3, the Enthusiast and the Achiever.  I’ve mentioned before how people say we are an odd pair.  Well, in this regard they are definitely right! Exact polar opposites.

More on what those Enneagrams paired together might teach the Chicks in a future post.  In the mean time, I’ll be over here filling up my cup so it can runneth over for others, lifting heavy stuff so I can deal with others with a lighter hand, and being artsy-craftsy in my original / expressive way.

 

Did you take Chick 1’s Enneagram challenge?  What did you learn about yourself and how you might be the best version of YOU?  Share with us in the comments!