Wonder: Be always blooming

be-always-bloomingSunday was a pretty spectacular day. I did most of my must-do items on Saturday so Sunday was a day to do whatever I wanted. It warmed up into the 60s, and Phin and I took a 2+ hour walk around our neighborhood. We enjoyed the sun, the warmth, and the many people and pups who stopped us to say hello. Every restaurant had its outdoor seating open. You could see the warmth seeping into people’s faces and opening up their smiles.

It’s supposed to snow on Friday. Though I do like the chilly weather, I’m looking forward to more than a taste of spring. It will be here in just a few short weeks. For me, the seasons are just the right length here in Washington, D.C. Just when I’m ready for a change, it arrives. No matter what the season, something’s always blooming.


Wonder: It’s time to be planted

Be planted
Be planted

“Sometimes when you’re in a dark place you think you’ve been buried, but you’ve actually been planted.” ~Christine Caine

Some of my friends are in a tough spot right now. They’re having a tough time seeing a way forward. They feel knocked down and dragged out into situations that they didn’t see coming and wouldn’t have chosen for themselves. This is a tough place to be. It’s uncomfortable. It feels hopeless. It’s disappointing.

In moments like this, I find that this quote by Christine Caine is most powerful. Take what you can learn from these awful experiences, even if they are lessons you had no interest in learning. Let them strengthen your resolve, refine your talents, and sharpen your skills of observation. Watch for actions and outcomes. Step back and clearly identify what you would do differently, and why, and how that might change things.

This is your time of incubation. This is a time of growth and evolution that can lead you to a personal revolution if you take the opportunity as it comes. Be planted so that when the light returns, you can shine.


Wonder: Swimming in Dark Waters with Rhiannon Giddens, Leyla McCalla, and Bhi Bhiman

(From left to right): Leyla McCalla, Rhiannon Giddens, and Bhi Bhiman at Lisner Auditorium

“If you want to understand what’s happening today, find out what happened 150 years ago. If people had the courage to live that history, the least I can do is read about it.” ~Rhiannon Giddens

Last night I went to see and hear Rhiannon Giddens, Layla McCalla, and Bhi Bhiman perform at Lisner Auditorium in a performance they called Swimming in Dark Waters: Other Voices of the American Experience. While work songs and spirituals have been songs of protest and freedom, Rhiannon explained that they wanted to travel a different musical road last night. They wanted to use a mashup of folk, classical, and pop to tell a story of struggle, personal power, love, change, and hope. It was an incredibly powerful performance. Their voices, music, and message were so concentrated that they pierced the hearts and minds of the packed house.

All of the songs were rooted in culture, history, and art, and for me that was the message I needed. History is a potent tool. It can help us make sense of what’s happening around us now, and inform the decisions we make going forward. I left the concert feeling both whole and heartbroken, sad and joyful, determined and dreamy. And that’s the magic of music – it can make us feel so much all at once and then help us to reconcile the internal and external difference.


Wonder: Remake your space for your future self

Who will you be?

“The space in which we live should be for the person we are becoming now, not for the person we were in the past.” ~Marie Kondo

So often we define ourselves by where we’ve been and what we’ve accomplished, not where we’re going nor what we’re working on. We let our past determine our future. What if we decided to craft ourselves in the image of our dreams? How much further would we go and how much more would we do if we exchanged our anchors for wings? I’d like to find out. Are you in?


Wonder: Just bloom

photo by Robert Mapplethorpe

“A flower does not think of competing with the flower next to it. It just blooms.” ~Zen Shen

Imagine if we could take this cue from flowers – just let ourselves grow and glow without caring how we measure up to others. The truth is we won’t ever measure up to others and they won’t measure up to us. We all have such unique gifts and talents to offer. The way we experience life is unlike the experience of anyone else, and that makes our perspective special in every way. Revel in that and just bloom.




Wonder: Josh Ritter and Elephant Revival make me happy

My favorite shot of Josh Ritter at the 9:30 Club. A musical watercolor.

Last night I had the supreme pleasure of seeing and hearing Josh Ritter and Elephant Revival live at the 9:30 Club. I danced until my feet hurt and smiled until my cheeks ached. It was a fantastic display of the power of music to make us whole and connect us to others. Music makes the good times better and the tough times manageable. It helps us celebrate and it helps us grieve. It’s a constant companion, and for that I’m very grateful.


Wonder: You can build the door to your own future

door-to-heavenSometimes, you happen upon a door that leads you down a path you never knew existed. And sometimes you have to build a door for yourself and then pave the path you intend to walk. Yesterday, the latter happened to me. I built a door to my future and then walked through it. On the other side of the door was Notion Theory.

I’ve been kicking around my idea for Project Rubeus, a history-based ed tech product, for about two weeks and I met with Notion Theory, a development team who could actually build a small working prototype for me. The guys at Notion Theory are kind, whip-smart, and passionate about their work. They get the purpose of the project and its many applications. In under an hour, we all walked away over-the-moon excited about its potential. It involves heavy lifting in algorithm development, computational math, and machine learning, and it can be done in about 3 months for approximately $50,000. Those are very rough estimates, and now I’m working to find a way to piece together that money.

Sometimes we’re lucky enough to have our future find us. And if that’s not happening, then we have to go out there and build our future the way we want it to be. I’m rolling up my sleeves. This is going to get interesting.


Wonder: 2Cellos

Last night I saw 2Cellos at DAR thanks to my music-loving pals, Gary and Jessica. I’ve been a fan of 2Cellos for a long time and love how they use the cello in such innovative ways to re-create rock and pop hits. At one point, Josh turned to me and said, “Look at him. He’s completely in the zone.” It was as if their cellos just became extensions of who they are. They were so in sync with one another, their instruments, and the audience. We could literally feel their love for music.

And isn’t that exactly the way it should be for all of us? To find what fills us up with joy and share that with others is the way to a happy life. And that should be as true at work as it is in any other part of our lives. The lessons you can learn from a cello. Who knew?


Wonder: What if + why not = let’s go!

what-if-and-why-not“Knowledge emerges only through invention and reinvention, through the restless, impatient, continuing, hopeful inquiry human beings pursue in the world, with the world, and with each other.” ~ Paulo Freire

I was talking with someone on Friday about the boxes we put ourselves in and the boxes other people put us in. Those boxes are unnecessary limits that stifle creativity and imagination. The only way to break out of them is to try something new, take ourselves out of the comfort zone, and explore. We’ll discover that we have new talents, interests, and ideas. We’ll realize hidden strengths and capabilities. Our lives are made richer through reinvention. The world is made better every time we look at the world and ask “what if” followed by “why not?” And in that intersection, we find the magic.


Wonder: Your growth is a gift to everyone


“The greatest gift you have to give is that of your own self-transformation.” ~Lao Tzu

Try something new. Take a class. Go somewhere you’ve never gone before. Stretch your limits in ways you never thought possible. Invest in you. Because when you grow and evolve, a ripple begins that resonates with your community and moves outward into the world. What makes you better, makes everything better. And that’s a beautiful thing.