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What I learned in the pause of 2017

2017 started on a difficult note for many of us, and so it ends that way for many people, too. 2017 has been a series of near constant ups and downs. Month-to-month, day-to-day, and sometimes hour-to-hour. A lot of unexpected change came my way—I moved back to New York from D.C., I started a new job, and I published my book. I said a tearful goodbye to several people whom I dearly loved as their souls crossed over to continue onto the next leg of their journey. I kept many friends close, reconnected with people whom I haven’t seen in years, and welcomed brand new people into my life. I tried to be mindful and grateful every day, and to make the best of the good and the bad.

I thought long and hard about my life—what I love and what needs to change. Explored new ideas, passions, and interests. I’m most proud of the fact that I didn’t give up, even in the face of extreme difficulty and adversity, and that I continued to stand up and speak out for myself and for others. I kept showing up, listening, and doing my best, and in 2017 that often felt like a vertical climb. I found that if I could pause and breathe, then I could steady myself and continue.

There were absolutely times that I wanted to crawl under the covers and hide, and for a few days out of the year I did just that. But never being one to rest easy, I found a way to quickly get my feet under me again so that I could keep inching forward even if I didn’t always know where I was going nor what I was doing. I continued to tell my story, and that in and of itself is often the bravest thing we can do. To not be silenced, to not let someone else shape our narrative, to take our days in our own hands and mold them as best we can. That is a win, even if it doesn’t always feel like one.

Some days I created what felt like strong, solid work, and some days I just crashed and burned. Those crashes were painful, and necessary. And in all those days, I learned something. It wasn’t always the lesson I wanted; it was always the one I needed.

So now as we round the corner to 2018, I feel a sense of urgency, a sense that I have licked my wounds and healed and grown in leaps and bounds in 2017 so that 2018 could be the turning point it needs to be. I can’t think of a year when I’ve felt this much anticipation and excitement, this much responsibility to keep reaching and climbing and helping and appreciating and giving. I’m under no illusion that 2018 will be easy; I do know in my gut that it will be far different from any of my previous years. I’m prepared to be surprised, and to meet those surprises with openness, grace, and courage.

I wish you a monumental year in 2018, a year in which you live exactly the life you want on your own terms. I’ll see you there. Happy new year.

In the pause: Interview about my book on Cheddar

A wonderful way to close the last week of 2017: a live on-screen interview on Cheddar about my book, Emerson Page and Where the Light Enters. Thanks so much for to the team there, especially hosts Baker Machado and Jill Wagner, and to expert publicist, Dan Fortune. Happy to give thanks and shout-outs to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, my inspiring home city of New York, and National Novel Writing Month. Watch the interview here: https://cheddar.com/videos/what-it-takes-to-get-a-novel-published

In the pause: My live on-screen interview on Cheddar

Screen Shot 2017-12-27 at 5.34.04 PMI’m so excited to share that I’ll be doing a live on-screen interview about my young adult fantasy book, Emerson Page and Where the Light Enters, on Friday at 1:30pm Eastern on Cheddar. You can tune in at Cheddar.com, cheddar.twitter.com, and www.facebook.com/cheddarlive/. I’ll post the link to the interview on Friday afternoon once I have it. Thanks for all your support on this journey with special thanks to publicist extraordinaire, Dan Fortune.

More about Cheddar:
Cheddar focuses on covering the most innovative products, technologies, and services transforming our lives. The programming is available on Sling TV, Amazon, Vimeo, Twitter, Xumo, Pluto TV, and 60 percent of smart TVs in the U.S. They also stream live on Facebook and on Twitter’s homepage during certain hours. Certain Cheddar hours also air on Fusion, the cable news network available in over 60 million homes.

Other past guests include Ford CEO Mark Fields, CBS CEO Les Moonves, Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson, Thrive Global Founder Arianna Huffington, T-Mobile CEO John Legere, New York Stock Exchange President Tom Farley, Hearst Magazine CMO Joanna Coles, Twitch founder Justin Kan, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Tory Burch, Tony Robbins, Kareem Abdul-Jabaar, DJ Khaled and more.

Here are links to recent interviews with Will.i.am, SNL’s Kenan Thompson and Lea DeLaria. Check out their sizzle reel, too.

In the pause: Dreaming and planning for 2018

I use December 26th as a day to dream and plan for the year ahead. I’d love to hear about your dreams from 2018. Here’s what I came up with:

International travel to Iceland, Dublin in Ireland, and the Alhambra in Spain to do research for Emerson’s second book while continuing to promote the first book in the young adult fantasy series that came out in November.

Emerson’s series is filled with science and art, two of my personal passions. I’ll be doing quite a bit of research on astronomy through the program at the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History and the Amateur Astronomers Association of New York. Excited to connect with lots of other star-gazers in the new year.

2018 already has a few speaking engagements for me including being a featured speaker at the Virginia Festival of the Book in March where I’ll be visiting a number of schools and M-W C.A.R.E.S. in October. I’m looking forward to doing more work in schools and centers of community to help empower young people and encourage creativity.

In January, I’ll be hosting my first live storytelling event. Produced by Caveat, New York City’s Secrets and Lies features six phenomenal storytellers weaving tall tales about this wonderful and turbulent place we call home. Five of them are true and one’s a lie. Can you figure out the one that really is too far-fetched to be true? Secrets are hidden all over this town. I’m looking forward to learning even more about them and bringing them to life for audiences.

For my own storytelling practice, I’m excited to take Adam Wade’s classes at Magnet Theater and to get more involved with the storytelling community as an audience member, fan, and active participant.

In 2017 I was fortunate to be a critique advisor for students at Cornell Tech on Roosevelt Island. I learned so much and it felt wonderful to be able to help the students in the program. I’m looking forward to getting even more involved in the work there in 2018.

I have a job where I spend all day working to help arts organizations use technology to grow engagement among their guests and visitors. I’m excited to continue that work by learning more about Salesforce and the needs of our partners in the performing arts, museum, and film festival spaces.
And speaking of art, I’ll be doing more of my own paper collages and looking for inspiration in the wonderful museums we have in New York City. In addition to the amazing upcoming exhibitions at the Met, the Museum of the City of New York, and the New-York Historical Society, I’m going to make more of an effort to get to museums I haven’t yet visited including The Frick Collection and the New York Transit Museum.

Reading about the work at The Edelman Fossil Park in New Jersey inspires me. Dr. Kenneth Lacovara and his team are doing an incredible job, and I hope to get down there at some point for a roll-up-my-sleeves community dig.

In the health arena, I’m going to recommit to running and will throw my hat in the lottery ring for the New York City marathon. (Thanks to Jen A Miller and my friend, Cara, for their inspiring posts on running.) I’m also very excited to attend and promote my dear friend and yoga sister, Marita‘s, work with The Mindful Rebels. She’ll be running yoga classes through the Yoga NYC Meetup group starting in January. We’re also taking a fantastic yoga and meditation class at the Rubin Museum in January and planning a jump rope revolution event around New York City when the weather gets a touch warmer. B.Y.O.R. (Bring Your Own Rope) and join us!

For a while I’ve wanted to do a therapy dog training with Phineas because he loves people. I recently learned about the R.E.A.D. program with the New York Public Library that gives kids a chance to read to dogs. The program promotes literacy among kids while supporting kindness to animals all at one of my favorite New York organizations. A win-win-win-win for all.

In 2018, I’m going to continue my quest to buy a little piece of New York City real estate. It’s a long-term goal and I’ve got some work to do. My fantastic friend and agent, Mindy Feldman, is helping me plan and explore, and several neighborhoods in Queens are looking more and more like the right choice for the diversity, culture, convenience, and possibility that they afford to residents. Now if only Queens had a Central Park of its own. Surely that has to be something we can make happen, right?

2017 showed us that despite our best efforts the world can be a cruel place. I’m going to do my part in 2018 to promote more kindness every day. This recent news story about small everyday kindnesses inspired me. I hope it inspires you, too. The world needs more kindness.

 

Which brings me to the midterm elections. I’m encouraged by the races in Virginia and Alabama, and that has further motivated me to do my part (and then some) in 2018. I’ll be going to the Women’s March on January 20th in New York City, continuing my financial support of the ACLU and the Democratic Party, and volunteering with organizations such as Run for Something and Emily’s List.

With so many wonderful things to do, see, and explore in the world, I’m going to let my never-ending curiosity lead the way in many different directions. I hope you’ll join me on these adventures and tell me about your own.

Wishing you an imaginative 2018!

In the pause: Follow Shirley Chisholm’s example and create your seat at the table

“If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.” ~Shirley Chisholm, first black woman elected to the United States Congress, first black candidate for a major party’s nomination for President, and the first woman to run for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination

In other words, make your own space. Get in there, and create one. An invitation isn’t always offered. And while I would love to tell you that patience is a virtue, I’ve found that patience creates just one thing—waiting. For our turn. To be smart enough, capable enough, and experienced enough. We are constantly waiting to be ready to do something. Stop waiting. The truth is you are enough, right now, just as you are. And if for some reason that doesn’t work, then create the whole damn table and invite people to join you. Make room for yourself and for others. There’s so much more to be gained by all of us if we foster inclusion rather than exclusion. Open up your mind, heart, eyes, and ears. Speak up, rise up, and take others with you. That’s the name of the game in 2018, and we’re all invited to play.

In the pause: Christmas spirit for all

Whether or not we celebrate Christmas and its religious meaning, it does give us a time to slow down and reflect. Many businesses are closed or on reduced hours today. Cities and homes are decked out in lights and decorations. There is a hush that falls over many places as the crowds dissipate, even in New York City. I’ll happily take the R&R with time to see friends and enjoy the peace. Wishing you all a lovely day however you’re spending it, and Merry Christmas to all who celebrate this holiday.

In the pause: Iceland’s beautiful Christmas Eve tradition of books and chocolate

Iceland has the most lovely Christmas Eve tradition. There they give books to each other on Christmas Eve and then spend the night reading, usually curled up under a cozy blanket while eating chocolate. This tradition is the reason for the word Jolabokaflod, or “Christmas Book Flood”. It signifies the time between September and December when the majority of books are sold in Iceland in preparation for Christmas giving. 1:10 Icelanders is an author, and they buy and read more books per capita. What a country!

Now that Emerson Page is out in the world, I’m going to have to figure out how to get her to Iceland, in book two and into Jolabokaflod. I’ll be glad to tag along to see what she finds.

Wishing you a cozy, comfy December 24th filled with books and chocolate.

In the pause: The poetry of New York City

I was on the subway yesterday. The MTA has a set of poems that they’ve commissioned and post as part of their Poetry in Motion project. This one really struck me and I wanted to share it with you. It speaks straight to my heart. These lines capture exactly how I feel about New York. A sense of community, wonder, and individual empowerment line every inch of my beloved city. And let’s face it, nothing beats a Sunday in New York.

“All we want is a metropolis of Sundays, an empire of hand-holding and park benches. She says, ‘Leave it all up to me.'”

In the pause: The beauty of winter

“Let us love winter, for it is the spring of genius.” ~Pietro Aretino

All light is born from the darkness. What if we could think of the start of winter as the beginning of everything? A time of planting and incubation that leads to future growth. While the cold and wind may drive us inside, let’s see it as a time of rest and recuperation. The starkness of nature now has its own kind of beauty. We can see the bones of the trees and the shape of the land. Everything will be dressed up in green again before we know it. Let’s make the most of this time we have now to build a strong base that the rest of the year will make use of.

In the pause: A momentous weekend as a writer

A great big day today: my book, Emerson Page and Where the Light Enters, had nearly 2500 downloads on Kindle this weekend, hit #1 in its Kindle categories, broke into the top 100 Kindle books across all categories on Amazon, and the incredible Dan Fortune landed me a huge interview for the end of this month. I am literally floating. Thank you to everyone for being a part of this wild literary ride. I love you. Keep dreaming.

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