change, creativity, determination

This just in: Lose yourself. Be daring.

Life is a daring adventure or nothing.
Life is a daring adventure or nothing.

“To dare is to lose one’s footing momentarily. To not dare is to lose oneself.” ~Soren Kierkegaard

To dare, to try something that may not work, especially if it’s highly unlikely to work, is a brave and powerful act. In the best case scenario, you gain everything you’re hoping to find. In the worst case scenario, you get knocked off-balance for a bit and realize something new and exciting about yourself in the process.

Putting ourselves in the role of student, risking looking like a fool for the sake of learning, is the most daring act there is. We admit we don’t know something. We admit that we don’t know what we don’t know, and then we go on a quest – sometimes a short jaunt and sometimes a long journey – with discovery as the only goal.

Go ahead and dare yourself. Lose yourself. Allow yourself to fall into the experience and emerge from the other side. That’s always a good way to go.

action, courage, decision-making, determination

This just in: Getting things done Amelia Earhart style

Don’t quit. Just do it.

“The best way to do it, is to do it.” ~Amelia Earhart

I’m a planner by nature. I love nothing better than a good decision tree with many intricate branches accompanied by an extensive pro/con list and supplemented with a healthy dose of if-then statements. However, if I’m really honest with myself, 99.9% of the time I know exactly what I need to do. My head, heart, and gut operate in lock-step most of the time. The decision tree, pro/con list, and if-then statements are usually just reassurance. To do something, I need to just do it. I’ll learn from my mistakes. I’ll get up if I fall down. I’ll manage through the bumps, bruises, and disappointments. I’ll keep going.

In recent months, I’ve done a much better job of letting go. I’ve stopped second guessing myself. I’ve reminded myself, very often on an hourly basis, that I really am going to be fine no matter what. I’ve learned how to ask for and accept help and support. And perhaps the most amazing discovery is that if we bet on ourselves, really put all our faith in our abilities, the Universe comes through with a pair of aces. Every. Damn. Time. Once we decide to commit, once we really decide to go after something with everything we’ve got, the world rises up with us.

Trust—in ourselves, in others, and in the greater forces that have a hand in good fortune—is hard. The older I get, the more I realize that every once of the difficulty to cultivate it is more than worth it. And once we have trust, action naturally follows.

change, creative process, creativity, determination, work

This just in: The way forward

“I know you’re tired but come, this is the way.” ~Rumi

“I know you’re tired but come, this is the way.” ~Rumi

Invention, reinvention, and creation is a difficult, messy process. Change is tiring. Transformation wears us down. I’ve remade my life so many times, in so many places, through so many career paths, that I’ve almost lost count. I create a life, and then either it’s ripped away from me or I toss it away when I realize there’s no way to make it work going forward. And yes, it is tiring. Yes, sometimes I want to give up. Yes, it’s always hard to try again.

Luckily, I just can’t help myself. I like hard work and I have a real aversion to remaining stuck. I don’t wear hopeless or helpless well. I roll up my sleeves and get down in the weeds and make, again and again and again. That tenacity, that ambition, has been my savior all my life. It’s made my life, literally and figuratively. I want what I want, and honestly, nothing else is good enough unless of course, I stumble upon something that was better than what I imagined. And that happens a lot.

Rumi puts it perfectly. Yes, we do get tired but we can’t give in or give up. We have to keep going. Our way is right in front of us, and we are the only ones who can take it. When we feel depleted, we can find strength in others. We can ask for help. We can remind ourselves that on the other side of tired, there is a whole world waiting for us, and it’s exactly what’s meant for us.

courage, creativity, determination

This just in: What it really means to be humble

Let your light shine
Let your light shine

“True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.”C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

So often we think that humility means self-deprecation or waving our hand when someone says that they appreciate something we’ve done or accomplished. I prefer C.S. Lewis’s definition. Let’s take it upon ourselves to use our many gifts and talents, not discredit them, to make the world better for all its inhabitants. Don’t spend any effort to dim your light. Spread it around. The world needs you at your best so serve it up.

action, choices, commitment, creativity, determination

This just in: Today is your lucky day

Make things happen.
Make things happen.

“Forget mistakes, forget failures, forget everything, except what you’re going to do now and do it. Today is your lucky day.” ~Will Durant

The biggest roadblock to our own success is us. We doubt ourselves. We spend time and energy reviewing when we didn’t do something right or when something didn’t work out the way we wanted. We beat ourselves up. We take ourselves out of the running before we’ve even entered the race.

Here’s the tough love advice I give myself, and I mean it in the best possible way: get over yourself. Literally. You get out there right now, into the world that needs every ounce of your magic and talent, and get to work. The only thing that matters is what you do now.

You don’t need any more permission, advice, training, or ideas. You don’t need to spend any more time or money figuring things out. Just go for it, whatever it is, with everything you’ve got and you’ve got a lot. You’ve got you, and that’s all you need.

determination, dreams, happiness

This just in: Some days we glow and some days we grow

Balancing the head and the heart
Balancing the head and the heart

“A bad day for the ego is a good day for the soul.” ~David Brooks

I think of every day as either a glow or grow day: either I’m glowing with accomplishment or growing into a better person by learning from my mistakes. I try to take my bad days (and there are plenty of them) in stride. I don’t always do a stellar job of that. When things are rough, I want to crawl under the covers and wish it all away. But this glow or grow outlook does help me to try again tomorrow. It helps me to take my punches and use them to make myself stronger, more determined, and hopefully a little bit wiser, too. And in this way, every day is made into a good day.

 

courage, determination, risk

This just in: Take the long shot

Take the long shot
Take the long shot

A few times in our lives, we get the chance to take the long shot, the shot that seems improbable and the one we really want. Often we think about the choice between the short shot, the one that’s fairly easy for us to make and readily available, and the long shot. My advice? Take the long shot. The short shots will be there every day. They’ll even be there if we miss the long shot by a mile. There will be plenty of time for those short shots. When a long shot becomes an option, reach for it. Even if it’s a stretch, especially if it’s a stretch. Don’t think you can do it? Great! Go for it and find out. With the long shots, you’re going to learn. You’ll find out what you’re really made of and how far you can go. And those are very good things to know.

action, determination, writer, writing

This just in: Don’t let rejection stop you from writing and submitting your work

Rise!
Rise!

One of the best things about starting my career in theater is that I got used to rejection very early on in my life. Now every once in a while I get disappointed, but in a few minutes (literally) I always make the choice to channel that energy into something positive. I rise up out of the ashes of rejection, more determined than ever.

This scenario played out recently when I started to submit personal essays for publication in literary journals. One essay in particular, Help in the Ashes, was very important to me. It was about how I came full circle in my healing after my apartment building fire. With a lot of help, time, and support from my therapist and friends, I learned to be grateful for that day, to see it as my own Alive Day. It also helped me come to terms with a lot of other difficult circumstances in my past.

I submitted Help in the Ashes to about 10 publications before it was accepted. It will be published by the literary journal Earl of Plaid on April 1st in their “Blue Collar Royalty” issue. So if you’re in the midst of rejection, particularly as a writer, please don’t give up. Rejection can be hard to take, but don’t let it stop you. The world needs your voice and ideas just as much as it needs anyone else’s. Rise up and keep going.

books, creativity, determination, writer, writing

This Just In: Author Harry Bernstein is my determination hero

imageIf you’re lamenting your age or wish you’d already hit certain milestones (and I’m certainly part of that group!), I’d like you to meet one of my heroes—Harry Bernstein. He famously said, “My 90s were the most productive years of my life.”

At 96, he published his first book, The Invisible Wall, to wide acclaim after it sat on a desk at Random House’s London office for over a year. At 98, he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship to pursue his writing. He wrote over 40 books over his life but destroyed almost all of the manuscripts after they were rejected by multiple publishers. He made a living as a Hollywood script reader and as an editor of a construction trade magazine.

I’m impressed by his tenacity and refusal to give up on his craft. He wrote his first published pieces in the wake of his wife’s passing as a form of therapy. They were married for 7 decades. He embraced his creativity to the very end, passing away at 101.

Harry Bernstein didn’t give up and you shouldn’t either, no matter how old you are and no matter how many obstacles you face. I hope I publish my first book before I’m 96, and if I don’t, that’s okay. I’m in good company with Harry. Keep creating.

creativity, determination, time, work

Inspired: Disney and Handel remind me that I have plenty of time

Disneyland will never be complete. It will continue to grow as long as there is imagination in the world. ~Walt Disney
Disneyland will never be complete. It will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world. ~Walt Disney

Disney directly supervised the construction of the original Disneyland in a single year. Handel wrote Messiah, one of the most beloved and popular pieces of holiday music, in 24 days. Whenever I feel crunched for time, I think about these two examples. They remind me that time isn’t my issue; it’s a matter of focus, discipline, and determination. If Disney and Handel can complete these enormous tasks in such a short amount of time, then certainly I have the time to finish whatever projects I have on my plate. I take a couple deep breaths and get back to work knowing that time is on my side.