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Joy today: My camera arrived

20190529_221842Let the filming begin! I’m so excited that my camera kit arrived and I can start getting a feel for filmmaking with my hands, heart, and mind. Let’s tell some stories that matter, shall we? Take one…

Joy today: 2 pages a day gets a book written

Writers, are you ever overwhelmed by the enormity of your work. Hi, that’s my natural state of being all the time. I love being a writer. I love writing. And sometimes I feel the weight of my responsibility to do justice to a story to the point that I feel paralyzed.

My friend, Laurie, posted about this advice she got years ago from a writing group: write two pages every day. That’s it. Just two small pages. You don’t need whole days to write. You need tiny, focused windows on a consistent basis. One word, one sentence, one paragraph, one page at a time. In a year you’ve got a book, and a pretty big one at that.

Two pages. I can do that any day. So can you. And we will.

Joy today: My new film project

“One thorn of experience is worth a whole wilderness of warning.” ~James Russell Lowell

After reading Adam Savage’s book, Every Tool’s a Hammer: Life is What You Make It, and watching Werner Herzog’s Masterclass on filmmaking, I decided to buy a camera kit to start shooting and editing some short-form film. My topic for this project is joy (no surprise there if you know me AT ALL!) Essentially, what I want to do is film you showing me and talking to me about something, anything, that gives you a supreme amount of joy. In exchange, I’ll share the raw footage with you as well as the edit. And, with your permission, I’ll share the edit on Vimeo and YouTube with any kind of attribution you’d like. If you’d be willing to have me film you, let me know and I’ll share more about the project.

Joy today: You can do this

Someone said, “I don’t know how you do it.”

I said, “I wasn’t given a choice.”

I read this online this week and it ran true for me in so many ways. When we need to do something, we find a way. For all of your are being asked to rise to the circumstances in front of you today, and every day, know I’m with you. I believe in you. I know you can do difficult things. I am rooting for you.

Joy today: Not getting what we want is what we need

Sometimes not getting what you want is exactly what you need. This has been a huge learning for me over the past week. I’m feeling so grateful that life often doesn’t work out according to my plans. Here’s a recent example of this:

This summer, I wanted to talk more than one class for my graduate program in biomimicry. Unfortunately, no other classes are being offered this term for which I meet the pre-requisites. (I’m still working my way through the core classes that are pre-reqs for all the other classes that follow.) I was quite frustrated by this because I took two classes last term and found it to be more-than-manageable. (And I got A’s in both classes.) Disappointed, I resigned myself to the idea that I would just take one class this summer.

And then something really amazing and unexpected happened…

Within the hour, I had been offered a new consulting opportunity for an education / communications project that I’m extremely excited about. (More details on that in a few weeks.)

Within a day, I had solved a major plot challenge in my second novel and could proceed writing at a much quicker speed than I thought possible. (To be honest, I thought I was going to have to chuck the entire first draft. Thankfully, I don’t need to now. Whew!)

Within three days, I confirmed that I had the latitude in my job to work on a few passion projects that I thought were out-of-play at the moment. Turns out, they’re in play if I want them to be.

So here’s the lesson: the universe knows how to make room in our lives for opportunities that have yet to step into the light. You can bet that when you’re down to nothing (or at least less than you thought you’d have), the universe is up to something. Sometimes, it’s up to a lot of somethings. When things don’t work out, despite my meticulous plotting and planning, I’m learning to take a deep breath, look around, and see what’s next because there’s ALWAYS a next. And many times, next is much better than what we (thought we) had lined up. Make room, and accept when room is made for you. It’ll be filled in soon enough.

Joy today: Use your anger

“Stay angry, little Meg. You will need your anger now.”

These words written by Madeleine L’Engle & spoken in Ava DuVernay ‘s beautiful movie, A Wrinkle in Time, are maddeningly appropriate now, especially this week. Stay angry, friends, and use your anger to make this world better for all beings.

Joy today: Science visually shows how bullying impacts life

New York fifth grader, Samantha Petraglia, demonstrates the impact of bullying in her science project by using an unlikely subject—a plant. The results? In 6 days, the bullied plant began to die. The one that was encouraged thrived. They had the same water, the same sunlight, and the same space on the shelf. Kindness matters; kindness makes all the difference.

Link to the full news story here:
https://newyork.cbslocal.com/2019/05/15/bullied-plants-project-bullying-samantha-petraglia-long-island-coalition-against-bullying/

 

Joy today: How I keep writing with a 2-inch picture frame

Screen Shot 2019-05-14 at 1.13.25 AM

My 2-inch picture frame by Christa Avampato

Whenever I’m overwhelmed by my writing, I tell myself a story I learned from Anne Lamott’s book, Bird by Bird. Right now, in this one small moment, I don’t need to write the whole novel. I just need to write enough words to fill a 2-inch picture frame. That’s it. And then when I finish that, I’ll write another 2-inch picture frame. And that is enough. That’s how every book gets written: one word at a time. This little frame to the left has seen me through every case of writer’s block, every creative panic attack, every lack of inspiration. And I’m so grateful for its wisdom (and Anne’s!)

Joy today: Biomimicry Global Design Challenge

Today I’m very excited to begin as a judge for the Biomimicry Global Design Challenge by the Biomimicry Institute. This year, the theme of the challenge is Climate Change with a special focus on:

  1. Food waste: reduce food waste in lower-income countries by improving infrastructure for storage, processing, and transportation.
  2. Plastic pollution in oceans: decrease the amount of plastic entering the oceans by intervening at the source in highly polluted rivers ~or~ begin to remove the 250,000 tons of plastics already circulating in the oceans.

Each team that enters the Challenge will create a nature-inspired innovation (a product, service, or system) that combats climate change by either:

  1. Helping communities adapt to or mitigate climate change impacts.
  2. Reversing or slowing climate change itself.

I’m really excited to participate as a judge this year and to be inspired by the submissions that have poured in from around the globe. I’ll update you on the progress of the competition as we move along. The winners will be announced in late June.

For more information on the Biomimicry Global Design Challenge, visit https://challenge.biomimicry.org/.

 

Joy today: Masterclass with writer Neil Gaiman and many more inspiring classes

As a gift to myself to spur inspiration, I signed up for Masterclass’s All-Access Pass. I’m obsessed. Masterclass is basically Netflix for online learning. Neil Gaiman, one of my favorite authors, teaches a class on storytelling class and it’s wonderful. I’m about half-way through and I’ve already learned so much that is immediately helping me as a writer and author.

Given my new job for a film production company, I’m so excited to take the film and TV classes with:

  • Jodie Foster
  • Mira Nair
  • Ken Burns
  • Spike Lee
  • Judd Apatow
  • Werner Herzog
  • Ron Howard
  • Martin Scorsese
  • Shonda Rhimes
  • Aaron Sorkin
  • Samuel L. Jackson
  • Helen Mirren
  • Natalie Portman
  • David Lynch

Other classes on my “I need to take this” list:

  • Comedy with Steve Martin
  • Writing classes with Judy Blume, Margaret Atwood, and Dan Brown
  • Cooking with Alice Waters and Thomas Keller
  • Adventure photography with Jimmy Chin
  • Conservation with Jane Goodall
  • Space exploration with Chris Hadfield
  • Tennis with Serena Williams (I don’t even play tennis, but if Serena’s going to teach it, I’m going to take it!)
  • Jazz with Herbie Hancock
  • Fashion with Diane Von Furstenberg

What I can’t believe is that for just $180, I get all of these incredible classes and more for a year. Each class also comes with a downloadable PDF workbook and there is a mini-forum and office hours where you can post your comments and ask questions. Plus there’s a 30-day money-back guarantee so there’s no risk to try it out.

And I’ve got some good news for you! When I bought my 1-year All-Access Pass, they offered me a link to share with others to give you $30 off an All-Access Pass. So you can get all of this for $150 for a year. Just follow this link, and check it out for yourself: https://share.masterclass.com/x/5d9sN3

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