To Honor the Failing Darkness

Vincent Van Gogh – Landscape in Stormy Weather

Trying new things is hard. Returning to old things is hard. Doing anything worth doing is probably hard. ūüėČ

But as the darkness of ignorance falls away we become more comfortable, less afraid, less annoyed.¬† The new is always challenging, which is why we rush past it — getting to know that new boyfriend, wanting to ace that class, mastering that new exercise routine. Basically, we want to light up the new landscape and turn it into a comfortable old one as fast as possible.

I know. I’ve been trying a lot of new things (and new old things) these last couple of years — dating for the first time in over a decade, taking a screenwriting class after almost¬†two decades away from that medium, trying a whole foods diet, wanting to start camping around Georgia, giving away 90% of my possessions, making secret BIG plans for 2019 (coming soon!)…every week I’m out of my comfort zone. It’s a challenge. I sometimes do want to wave a magic wand and be better — be great — at all this new stuff.

But honoring the darkness of¬†not knowing even as it falls away, is important. The more comfortable I can be in this state of pre-knowing, the more I’m willing the return here. To try unusual things. To be willing to laugh at myself — when I fail, when I fall, even just when I have no freakin’ idea what I’m doing (Podcasting: “Hello, hello? Is this thing even on?”).

According to Wikipedia¬†Shoshin¬†is a word from¬†Zen Buddhism¬†which means “beginner’s mind“. It refers to having an attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions when studying a subject, even when studying at an advanced level, just as a beginner in that subject would.

I would argue that when starting something new, you should also have a ‘master’s calm’. You want to be open and learn but you also want to be in a place of joy and play and have faith in yourself. We often judge ourselves far more than other people do, and we’re embarrassed or ashamed when we make mistakes, when we fail. It seems hard-wired into our brains to look at a single failure as a reason to give up — “Oh well, I guess I’m just not good at that.” But the truth is that everyone really good at “that” practiced to get there. And even if you don’t want to become a master, you’ll be surprised how a few months could make you much more proficient.


When you can stand in the place of not knowing, not yet achieving, you honor your worth outside of your accomplishments. And then you feel less confined to what you already do well. I’m very good at my retail job, but it has nothing to do with who I want to be, or what I want to do in the long run. And so while it’s addictive to stand where you’re already lauded, is it ultimately fruitless if it is not your true home.

Better to step into the darkness, lost, the tiniest flame in your hands and the widest, wildest landscape before you. Better to fail at what you love. Better to succeed along the margins of your destiny. Better to honor yourself before others honor you. And to find peace in the nudging hours of the growing dawn instead of waiting for the riotous applause of the noonday sun.

Better to dance in the darkness and stumble and rise again. Better to join the stars in their magnificent twirl across the heavens.


Always better.



To the Young, Broke, Lost, and Extraordinary: Part Two

A young man named Karl wrote me asking for advice. In Part One, I talked about Jobs vs. Careers and how to be the kind of person anyone would love to know. Here, in Part Two, I answer the rest of Karl’s questions.

from Best Joel Osteen Quotes

Will I be able to pay my own bills?

Like I said in the ‘Jobs’ section, employers always want good people who WORK HARD. So hopefully, you can get and keep a job. Remember to be flexible about where you live: a lot of people around here pay a lot to live in town when they could save money living out in the country and driving in each day. Also, remember that we live in a consumer society (whatever you live, it’s becoming more like the USA in that way, I’m sure) and there’ll be companies trying to sell you things your whole life. I’m not saying to buy nothing; just buy the things you care about most. Movie buff? Buy that new DVD but not that album. Buying less is equal to earning more in some cases.

Many areas and countries also have programs or assistance to help students (and former students) figure out how to manage their finances. Online also has more help than you’d imagine. Just by ‘Googling’ your question I found a lot of good articles. There is help out there — and people who care.


I feel lost. I have no courage at all in facing the reality I am living on. 

First of all, know that fear is normal and healthy. We are all afraid when we are attempting something new, scary, or momentous. Being age 20 heading for 21 is assuredly all these things. You’re doing great. In fact, you’re rockin’ it out! Because you’re reading this, you’re looking for answers, and you sense there’s something better or more out there. That’s WAYYYY ahead of a lot of people your age.

I know feeling lost sucks. One of the things that’s been great about aging to 37 is that I still feel lost sometimes, but I now have the faith and the insight that being lost is sometimes the first step to being found. At age 20 I’d written two screenplays but then just lost all interest in writing more. I wondered what was wrong. For six months I thought I might not be a writer anymore and the idea saddened me. I was lost. Then I got a new story idea, and tried it as a novel — and BAM! I loved it, and found my true calling. But I never would have started it if I hadn’t ‘lost’ screenwriting. Just trust that this feeling is important and will take you to the amazing place you are supposed to go.

Another thing I’ve learned is ‘Fake it until you make it’. Which means basically that you just start¬†acting like the person you want to be — the courageous, excited graduate that can’t wait to take life by the horns and charge off to their grand destiny. I know, it feels fake. It feels hard. Everyone will know you’re a fraud. Except, they won’t. Because we’re ALL doing this, especially us more mature adults — we’re all faking our way through being parents and teachers and mentors and self improvement blog writers — we’re all lying… and we’re not. That’s kind of what being an adult is, a lot of on-the-job learning, and lot of saying ‘yes’ when it scares us, and a lot of doing our best and letting the rest go.

I know this doesn’t sound helpful, but now you are like the rest of us. And while that may be scary, know that every one you love and admire has been in the same place you are now.

And know that it does get better. So, SO much better. I enjoyed my teens. I liked my 20s. But I’ve freakin’¬†love¬†my 30s. Your best years are just starting: you’re going to discover so many things you love, things you didn’t existed. You’re going to become an expert in subjects, in important things that change people lives and in trivial things that most people think are stupid but a few people will revere. You’ll see sights more beautiful than you thought existed, and meet people you feel lucky to be on the same planet as. You’ll start to see life as a game and you’ll start getting that cocky, king-of-the-hill feeling because you¬†know how to play and play well. You’ll build mountains out of molehills.


But I do remember that at your age I wanted clear, straight answers, not a lot of details and ‘feelings’. As a young writer, if I had a problem, I wanted a solution. Right there. Right then. Obviously, I don’t know your life (though I’m happy to hear more) but here’s the short and sweet version of my advice to you–

Katherine Cerulean’s Guide to Getting From 20 to 37 With a Minimum of Heartache and a Maximum of Superhero Awesomeness:

  1. Take care of yourself. Learn to cook. Learn healthy foods you love. Go easy on the sports that ruin your body, but exercise in positive ways that will keep you trim, healthy, and happy. Use protection during sex, every time.  Make time for the activities you enjoy.
  2. Be the person you’d want to know.¬†The ‘Golden Rule’ really helps. Treat your girlfriend how you’d want to be treated. And your family. Be the employee and coworker you’d wish to have. Be kinder than you have to be. Basically, you can ‘get away’ with acting like a selfish, lazy jerk — but in the end you always lose something — your lover, your friend, your chance at a promotion. Forget that crap and be the person¬†everyone wants to know. Be a hero.
  3. Work hard. I’ve emphasized this again and again because I think it really is the key to my success. When you’re willing to work hard, you don’t mind doing the dishes, helping out your coworker, and submitting that resume for the 40th time. Do it with a smile if you can.
  4. Figure out what you want most and go get it. Discover what you really love and keep learning, working, and fighting for it.
  5. Trust the universe. Whether you pray to a god, gods, or just feel that something larger and more important than us is out there, know that you are just where you’re supposed to be to end up where you’re supposed to go. When you desire anything, remember that you are really asking for ‘This, or something better’, and keep an open mind if your first wish isn’t answered.
  6. Never spend time with people who belittle, hurt, or upset you.¬†I know it’s hard when you’re young, but you need to know that you are strong and awesome and you rock. When you are heading out to spend time¬†with someone, do you feel excited, happy, and peaceful? If not —¬†cut them out of your life. Find people who believe in you and share your hopes and dreams. And remember that¬†Jim Rohn said, ‘You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.’
  7. Enjoy life — say yes to adventure. As long as it’s not life-threatening, say yes to new things, weird ideas, awesome projects, and once-in-a-lifetime moments. Life actually does pass pretty fast and you’ll want to look back on your 20s with a lot of great memories.
  8. Become a master at life. This is a phrase of Jack Canfield’s and it means to me that you should use everything, every day, as a feedback loop. Hated feeling hungover? Don’t do that again! Love watching a sunset? Remember to do that more. Write down healthy meals you like, fun exercises, and hobbies that make you feel alive. You’d be surprised how great life can be if you just string together a million little things that you love to do.
  9. Beware the BIG things. Children. Drugs. Jail. Home ownership. Some of the best and worse things about life can turn your world upside down. It can make work harder, moving around and adventures more difficult, and even can kill you. So, like the places on old maps that read ‘Here be dragons’, just remember to slow down and be¬†very careful¬†when you approach these things. Just say no to that dumb friend who offers you drugs or a smoke. Use your birth control. If something seems like a dumb idea, just don’t do it, go home, and maybe get some new friends. When you’re ready for the big, good things, you’ll enjoy them far more than adding something big now on top of all your other worries.
  10. Find your people. Join classes, websites, walk around museums, start a website — but most of all keep looking for people you really like, who share your interests, and make your world a better, more beautiful place.
  11. Find out what you were put on this planet to do.  And then go do it.


Lastly, an itemized list of¬†what I would do in if I was in your shoes —

  • Buy your girlfriend flowers today (or write her a handwritten note about how much she means to you).
  • Google for resources to help you get confident about your finances.
  • Google to find mental help resources for graduates stressed out about money and being ‘new adults’.
  • Get a local job right away.
  • Work hard.
  • Spend little.
  • Feel like a great and valuable worker.
  • Make a budget and stick to it.
  • Spend a weekend really questioning how excited you are about your degree.
  • If you’re excited, work on it in all your spare time like it’s a magnet pulling you toward your perfect job.
  • Email people who have your dream job, asking politely how they got started.
  • Train, learn, and improve to make yourself the best candidate.
  • Look for jobs and internships online.
  • Keep saving money if possible — even a tiny cushion helps.
  • Talk to your girlfriend about her hopes and dreams for the future and tell her you want to help her and be a part of that future, if possible.
  • Help those less fortunate. It will make you feel capable and grateful.
  • Buy or rent self improvement books and read them (or listen to books on CD). If that’s not possible, search the web for self improvement sites and free podcasts.
  • Get more fit — especially take walks in nature, because it will calm and center you.
  • Keep looking for the right job or opportunity in your field. Or look at going back to school if some other field is more exciting to you.
  • Trust yourself. Write down lists of goals for each week (even small things), and for each month.
  • Look back in a few months and be proud of your successes.


In the end, it’s a little like the game ‘Minecraft’. Childhood was a world. And so is high school and college. Those worlds were once scary and unknown. Unmapped. You started with nothing but maybe a stick. You knocked down a tree, built an ax, then built a little, ¬†sad-ass house to keep the biggest spiders away. But by graduation, no matter how many hardships you’d endured and how hard you’d had to work — you knew that world. You’d visited every nook and corner of the map. You had armor and knew which monsters you could best and which ones to avoid. You’d built a chest, and a forge and your house was sweet and awesome. But then you start a new world after college and are shocked to be back with one little stick and a giant, dark, unknown world covered in spiders (and Eldermen!).

So that’s my imperfect analogy. Of course you feel lost. And a little afraid. We all do when we start something new and vast and exciting and unknown. But you’ve got what it takes; you’re the hero of your own story. And just like in ‘Minecraft’, you have to work hard to build your perfect life, one piece a a time.

But remember, life’s also a game and a fun one. Things will get better, easier. You’ll find or make the tools you need. You’ll discover amazing new vistas. You’ll win. And you’ll learn.

And when you reach age 37, you’ll probably come across something from this time and smile, and wonder what you were so worried about. Your older self will wish he could have reassured you that it was all going to work out great. He’ll probably whisper under his breath, ‘Don’t worry — you’ve¬†got this kid.’

And he’ll be right.


Ten Quotes to Lift Your Spirit

According to a lot of people, 2016 has been a tough year (myself included). Hopefully the holiday season will be especially cheery and bright this year and here’s an early gift of ten of my favorite quotes to improve your day —



Hamilton the Musical

Hamilton the Musical





— Ira Glass






etsy -- BlushBoulevard

etsy — BlushBoulevard

And one to grow on…

Matt Adrian / The Mincing Mockingbird

Matt Adrian / The Mincing Mockingbird

Moment: A Poem


We, by nature, are creatures of want, creatures of need.  We need shelter, food, and even, I would argue, we need love.

Our wants of course, are endless.¬† From the noblest desire for world peace to the hope of people ‚Äėliking‚Äô and ‚Äėsharing‚Äô our latest online pic, there is no limit to our wants.

‚ÄėMore‚Äô is one of our greatest wants. There‚Äôs nothing a small child loves more than a cookie ‚ÄĒ unless it‚Äôs TWO cookies. It is a natural desire, not necessarily born from selfishness or greed in my opinion, but in the best circumstances born from love.

We’ve enjoyed something so much, it’s bettered our life in ways un-imagined, and honestly we simply never want to do without it again.

When I find certain people ‚ÄĒ just a few times in my life, I want more. To paraphrase F.Scott Fitzerald, I want to do everything in the world with them.

But, in another way, just getting to meet someone IS the world. Time quite likely is an abstraction of our own making, and so I like to believe this meeting will continue and exist somewhere, forever.

I don‚Äôt have to be everywhere they are, involved in every conversation.¬† We were connected once ‚ÄĒ through a good conversation or a good laugh ‚ÄĒ and that moment will echo in a sacred glade where all the clocks have broken.

I probably think such things to lessen the pain of releasing friends and lovers into the world, to leave them to their wiles. I can only hope fate is kind, their loved ones steadfast, and that they sense, somewhere in their hearts, how very much they are loved.  Even if I only shared in a few minutes of their glory.

A few minutes.¬† For the ‚Äėmore‚Äô crowd, that‚Äôs nothing, that‚Äôs pointless.¬† What‚Äôs an egg-timer-length conversation in a life? What‚Äôs one exchange, one joke? Surely that can‚Äôt change my life, or theirs?

And how can there be meaningful connection with someone who chooses not to be connected? Whether distance or work or love drives someone from your sphere ‚ÄĒ then they and you are nothing to each other and share nothing, right?

Not in my mind. A connection can only be the meeting of the eyes, a fleeting understanding between souls on a crowded street ‚ÄĒ lines running from infinity to infinity and only crossing once. On this day, in this moment.

In this moment.

If we always want more, and believe only quantity matters ‚ÄĒ if years and joint mortgages and fifty year friendships are the only measure of worth, of connection, of love ‚ÄĒ then we are doomed to always desire more. We simply cannot have everything, all the time, with everyone. And like the child wanting that extra cookie, we may discover that more is not better.¬† Would your life really have space for forty best friends, six dream jobs, or three soul mates?

Perhaps life instead, gives us moments. Best friends for a day. That summer we thought we would become fashion designers. A few bright fall days when we felt we’d met a soul mate.

As a human, I desperately want more of everything I love. More beautiful walks in nature. More gourmet meals with my sister. More times of looking into someone’s eyes and understanding exactly what their words cannot say. More moments with you.

But there’s someone out there who has taken their last walk, and eaten their last meal, and they still are blessed and gifted by all they have seen and done. Memories is a dead term, I prefer to dwell in moment.

I have experienced so much and so joyfully that I can never be sorry for the brevity when the berth has been so great. I speak of longing but I sing of gratitude.

The day we release ‚Äėmore‚Äô ironically is the day we are given everything. Perfect satisfaction. Perfect experience. True friendship. True love.

Because when you don‚Äôt need to possess anything, the whole world belongs to you. The length of a connection is no more meaningful than length of a sunrise ‚ÄĒ you either experience it¬†or you don‚Äôt. You‚Äôre best friends for the length of a laugh, lovers for the batting of an eye, family for the duration of a meal.

Still, we are human and we want. I do not require a lifelong ally, or a lifetime of friendship. All I desire now is a million more seconds of connection with you.

And yet, in this moment, I find everything I seek.

What’s Your ’10’ Career?

Just a couple of days ago I sat down to make a business plan while waiting¬†in a Chinese restaurant for my takeout order to cook (tip: if you can’t figure out a surefire plan for your business in ten minutes, then why bother? ūüėČ ¬†The only thing I had time to do was make a list of 11 money-making ideas related to writing, and then rate each idea on a interest/excitement level of 1-10 (ten being screaming-at-the-ceiling-excited [so what, I scared a few¬†patrons]). ¬†I put down the numbers as fast as I could, with a minimum of thought. ¬†The idea here was to get an almost subconscious feeling for how much I wanted to pursue these options. ¬†That¬†idea may sound touchy-feely, but I believe¬†that what draws you in is also¬†where you have your greatest potential.

from AhteesDesigns on Etsy

from AhteesDesigns on Etsy

As I wrote down the numbers, I was surprised — there were strong feelings, and no hesitancy, in my actions. ¬†When I looked back at the list, the path — usually¬†so muddied by my indifference as to HOW I earned a living writing — was suddenly crystal clear.

My List:

  • Novels: Self Published ¬† ¬† ¬†— 3
  • Novels:¬†Traditional ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†— 10
  • Screenplays ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† — 9
  • Self Improvement Books ¬† — 7
  • Articles ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† — 1
  • Teaching ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†— 2
  • Teleplays ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† — 1o
  • Greeting Cards ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† — 1
  • Editing ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† — -1
  • Web Site Design ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† — 3-5

The truth, however scary, was right before my eyes. ¬†I might enjoy writing articles (like this one!) and teaching for free, but my soul blanched at the idea of doing that as a job. ¬†The problem with this ‘revelation’ was that I already was making plans to¬†push it this fall and write for¬†Huffingtonpost, set up paid classes, etc. etc. ¬†But my list said (since I already have a ‘day job’ that pays the bills) that I should only really be working on four things — novels, screenplays, teleplays, and self improvement books.

Woah.  That IS what I want to be doing, but is it also what I SHOULD be doing?  To answer that, I need to go back and introduce you to a book that absolutely changed my life.



What are your strengths?

The online Strengthfinder test (which you get a code to take when you buy a NEW copy of the book ‘Now, Discover Your Strengths), has 34 themes or ‘talents’ that a person can have, like Includer, Intellection, Input, Positivity, ¬†or Responsibility (those are actually my themes). ¬†You get your top five revealed and for me, it was a life changer.

Like never before, I was able to see my positive qualities¬†laid out before me. ¬†These talents are so integral to who I am¬†and come¬†so easily to me that I took them for granted. They are the traits that, when praised,¬†make us¬†say with a dismissive wave of the hand, ‘Oh, everyone thinks like that’, but other people are drawn in and in awe of your abilities. ¬†And we ALL have talents, but often we can’t see them without help — we’re just too close to their source.

Talents like ‘Intellection’ (the ability to think deeply about things), when combined with knowledge (like how to build a story) and skills (hours upon hours spent writing) equals a strength (fiction writer). ¬†It’s soul-level compulsion meeting a thing you love to learn about and do on a regular basis.

from Huffington Post

Huffington Post

How does this fit into your life (and mine)? ¬†Well, I highly (HIGHLY) recommend buying the book, just in case it gives you a fraction of the joy it’s given me. ¬†But for now, look at the list of talents and see if any jump out at you —

Now, any talent can help any job — ‘Self-Assurance’, say, is helpful everywhere. ¬†But, when combined with your personality and passion — your talents can push you in certain directions. ¬†If you look back at my list of money-making writing ideas, you’ll notice that teaching rated quite low. ¬†I’ve done it¬†from time to time, and even enjoyed parts of the experience, but it’s also nerve-wracking, exhausting, draining. ¬†I love the results — happy students and a chance to think more about a topic (that ‘Intellection’ again) — but the idea of doing it all the time for money sounds tiring. ¬†Also, none of my talents involve people except ‘Includer’, so a ‘Maximizer’ or ‘Developer’ might be more at home in a teaching setting.

On the other hand, take novel writing. ¬†I’m as happy as a pig in slop. ¬†Oh, the work is still hard, but I want to be doing it all the time. ¬†And it makes sense when you look at my talents:

  • Includer — I love to look at the misunderstood, broken, forgotten characters and try to understand them and pull them into the story
  • Intellection — Thinkin’ about stuff 24/7/365
  • Input — Learning about Victorian England, old-fashion carriages, the experences of orphans, the periodic table –everything’s interesting!
  • Positivity — Novels take a long time, but faith that I can finish and finish well keeps me going
  • Responsibility — Doesn’t tie in exactly, but it helps me manage myself and get the work done (sometimes)



Now, doing what you love and enjoy can sound like an overly simple answer. ¬†But if you think about it, even now, at whatever job you’re doing, there are facets of your job that draw you in and others that repel you. ¬†Try doing what you love a little more and the things you dislike less. ¬†Seriously. ¬†Stop doing the junk you hate and see if anyone notices. ¬†I did this at my ‘day job’ and now our department has risen to be ranked in the top ten out of over 1,000 stores. ¬†I didn’t do it alone, but I’m sure spending time on the things I was more passionate about helped.

The risk in not following your talents and passions is that you can work very hard and not¬†really get ahead or have anything to show for it. ¬†You can give your life away to the ‘supposed-to’s and¬†only end up with the ‘oughta-haves’.

But if instead you make your own list, and write down — real quick — your own 1-10s, you may discover what you should be doing with your life. ¬†And if you find a way to use your universe-given talents in service of your passion? ¬†Well then, we should all get out of your way, because you might just be about to take off like a rocket.

from Etsy

from Etsy

And now, I’ve got to get back to that screenplay. ¬†And that novel. ¬†ūüėČ

Back — and Better Than Ever

Hi there.¬† Remember me? ¬†Sorry for the long absence since my last post, but I hope once you hear what I’ve been up to, ¬†you’ll approve.

Found on

First ¬†of all, I want to say thank you to each and every person who follows this blog.¬† When I¬†started writing here, I was imaging you all — you wonderful, creative, and inspiring individuals who¬†I’m honored to write to — but I had no idea how fast this would come together or what fun¬†I would have.
And I feel like this is a big moment of change for a lot of us.¬† My life is changing more than it¬†ever has and in wonderful ways (more on that in my next post), and I feel like our journey¬†together is also beginning an exciting new phase . . . if you’re willing to continue adventuring with me that is, and I hope you are.¬† It’s going to be very¬†exciting.

One reason I’ve been MIA recently is that I made you a present.¬† Oh, I know, I shouldn’t have. ¬†But you guys are too awesome and I just want to share everything helpful I can with you.
So, without further ado, I present my 2013 self improvement book, How to Come Alive: A¬†Guidebook to Living Your Dreams — now available as a FREE WEBSITE with fun links and awesome¬†quote/pictures.
Cover by Sarah Cerulean

Cover by Sarah Cerulean

My book will still be available on Amazon as a paperback or an ebook (and it’s a charmer), but I¬†want everyone to be able to dig in, see how they like it, and share it without the awkwardness that¬†comes from trying to turn a work of love into a dollar sign — and I do love you all and want to see you¬†succeed beyond even your wildest dreams.¬† And if my book can help you in even a tiny way, then it¬†will have succeeded in its purpose.
In a nutshell, How to Come Alive is the twenty-five ideas that have helped me most in living the life of my¬†dreams.¬† Even though I have big goals I’m working on right now, I’m already tremendously¬†happy in my life and it’s not just luck — it’s moving continuously toward those very things that¬†make me feel most alive.
A word about consumerism: I love buying things from people and companies that I love and¬†that do great work, and I do think it’s a shame if we start to believe that everything should be¬†free.¬† That said, I hate the fearful, mercenary attitude that I see in some creative self promoters. ¬†They are afraid they can’t make a living at this, so they get ‘tough-minded’, and¬†you¬†feel¬†as if they are asking to turn out your pockets to¬†pay for their coffee habit. ¬†Nobody wins.

Found on

For myself, I reject the status quo. ¬†I’ve worked hard on my craft for 16 years.¬† I love writing.¬† And you know what? ¬†I’m going to be¬†just fine.¬† In fact, I’m going to be awesome.¬† This is what I was put on Earth to do, and one day¬†you’ll say you knew me when — and none of that awesome success is dependent on me¬†tweeting ‘AVAIL ON AMAZON 99CENTS NOW!’, asking a few hundred nice strangers to buy my¬†book, or trying to guilt people into helping me mainline caffeine.
What I want, much more than money, more even than to make this calling my vocation — what I¬†want most is to share the magic, joy, beauty, and perfection of life with you. ¬†This world is amazing, you are amazing, I am amazing. ¬†So if you get a chance, visit my ‘Come Alive‘ site, look for something that moves you, and start¬†living the life of your dreams. ¬†Cause if I can do it, flippin’ believe you can do it.
I will ask one thing — if you enjoy what I do and know of someone else who might enjoy it, share¬†it.¬† And I promise to keep sharing on this website the awesome, magical things I find that inspire me, and¬†together, we’ll keep moving forward toward a future so bright it burns our eyes.
Thanks again for making the first two years so enjoyable.  I look forward to many more.
Now go enjoy your present —¬†

Follow Your Excitement


When you decide to change your life, improve your world, or reclaim your dreams you will come to a time when you get really excited about something you consider ‘silly’ or ‘trivial’ — and in that moment, you have discovered magic.

Think about it — how often do you get excited in the day-to-day? ¬†Not pleased, not happy — little kid excited. ¬†Won a trip excited. ¬†Finished the race excited. ¬†And more importantly, what do you do with that information?

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Hopefully, you are already feeling happy pretty often, and doing fulfilling things sometimes. ¬†But excitement — telling strangers, breathless squealing excitement — true, rousing joy, how often does that happen?

But don’t tell me it¬†doesn’t happen. ¬†You may just have ignored your passions for so long that they can only whisper to you. ¬†More likely, you think the things you love are silly, pointless, or a waste of time.

For myself, television writing is like that right now. ¬†I love, love LOVE watching great shows, and the¬†bit of teleplay writing I’ve done has been very scary and exciting. ¬†But I love novel writing too (and blogging!) and maybe do see prose writing as more serious or legit. ¬†And teleplay writing scares me, it scares me to death. ¬†I wrote half of a pilot, reread it, and it terrified me — because it was good.

Fear doesn’t necessarily accompany this excitement, but the voice of ‘reason’ often does. ¬†What moves you is probably something there’s not enough of in the world, at least in your mind, but if you start telling a friend how you spent eight solid hours decorating one cupcake, you may get a lot of push back. ¬†Or a look of incredulity.

That’s okay. ¬†What you love isn’t for everyone, but if you¬†love it passionately enough, you will transcend ridicule and find admiration. ¬†Maybe not from everyone, but if you’re madly into something, there has never been been a better time to find and connect to all the people worldwide that share your passion.


Because, while you don’t have to transmute your excitement to anyone else, many passions (and most of our great art, writing, invention, etc) plus lots of great careers, begin with a desire to share, to inspire (the root word of enthusiasm). ¬†So when something excites you more than other people, know that means that you would be willing to work longer, keep perfecting, and dream about this thing¬†more than the average person. ¬†And as you know, there’s no traffic jams on the extra mile — there’s only people doing what excites them every day and living out their dreams.

So don’t worry about if your passion could be your paycheck — if it contains any kind of true magic and genius at all, it will probably look like the opposite for quite a long time.

That’s all right, because when you follow the things you love, you’ll be grinning like an idiot and having the time of your life.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a teleplay to write.

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5 Ways to Love Yourself and Reveal Your Awesome

WARNING: A little extra language in the pictures of this post — because I was feeling passionate!

In life there are two pulls — the urge to become more and the necessity of loving yourself as is. ¬†I don’t believe these forces are incompatible but we too often tell our story as ‘I’m broken and I must fix myself.’

But we’re not broken. ¬†We are spiritual beings having a physical experience and our bodies can shatter, we can grow tired, we may even get lost. ¬†And we can definitely make mistakes. ¬†But we can’t break. ¬†And at our soul level there is something so fundamentally strong and beautiful and full of glorious purpose that it burns brightly our whole lives and we cannot lessen its glow one iota — we can only hide it from the world and even ourselves.

We lose sight of the things that make us beautiful and make us dream.  We sell our days for power and money, and give away the peace of night in exchange for fears and insecurity.

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There was no grand scheme, no master plan to build a society that told us, from birth to death, that we are not good enough.  Companies just sold things, and advertisers discovered that praying on our fears, playing to our vanities, and distorting our dreams sold a lot of soda.  And cars.  And weight loss devices.

An unintentional side effect of this effective advertising is, on a massive level, unconscious self-loathing (oops!). ¬†And before you think I overstate my case, I’ll ask ‘Are you happy with the shape of your body?’ ¬†‘How often do you wish you had more money?’ ¬†‘Do you think other people have more fun, more vibrant social lives than you?’ ¬†Or as my sister put it, she grew up thinking you couldn’t be the hero of the story unless you were ‘the pretty one’.

And having to grow up at school, trapped in a building with a bunch of other confused kids doesn’t help. ¬†So we emerge, blinking, into the strong sunlight of adulthood and look around, lost. ¬†And¬†yet we often still try, still push toward our dreams and our heart’s desires.

But the road is long, and we stumble, then retreat. ¬†And somewhere along the way we can grow cold, or even cruel. ¬†We gain weight and believe ourselves maybe just the ‘sassy friend’ instead of the luminous heroine. ¬†I’ve had pretty good self esteem for a few years now (starting my groups People Who Have Come Alive & the Athens Writers Association was a big turning point for me), but even I was thrown backwards, back to TV show expectations of my youth recently when I fell for someone and wondered ‘Could I even be seen as attractive to him?’ And I’ve worked on this stuff for years!¬†¬†But billions of dollars have been spent in the same time¬†span to tell me I lack something, or many things.

So cover our glow in armor, in hardheartedness, in shrouds. ¬†We develop traits we don’t like, and these become the weak places where we also build up our strongest defenses. ¬†And somewhere along the way, we believe a myth we have helped write, the story of why we don’t deserve success — in business, in love, or in life.

Before I started my groups, my self publishing, or even a lot of my self improvement, I too had a myth. ¬†I was a ‘nice’ girl who was too shy for groups, too boring to have friends, and too ugly (read fat) to have a boyfriend. ¬†It hurts and bewilders me now to write these words, because I never expressed them to anyone back then, but none the less, it was a story — a reason — that I used to explain my life. ¬†The truth was I was¬†quiet and introspective, and curvy (and still am).

So what changed my outlook? ¬†I think I just realized that I had felt and wrestled with these feelings, these ‘lacks’, most of my adult life, so it followed that I could be having exactly the same conversations with myself in 10, or 20, or 30 years. ¬†I didn’t want that and so I decided to take action — bringing the people I wanted to know together, speaking even when my voice shook, and building a body I could love — with or without a man to enjoy it with.

So how do you let go of these brainwashed ideals and layers of armor?  How do you honor how awesome you are and know how far you can go?

5 Ways to Love Yourself and Reveal Your Awesome

  1. Start questioning your authorities. ¬†When you think, ‘I need to lose weight’ — STOP. ¬† Ask yourself where this desire is coming from — love or fear? ¬†Do you love dancing around, and feeling great with tons of energy? ¬†Or do you read magazines and watch shows that take 1% of the human population and then Photoshop and light them to look like 0% naturally do? ¬†If you think you need more success (and money) ask yourself why. ¬†Will that really make something inside you different and happier or have you just been told the validation of life is cha-ching! cash? ¬†After you start questioning your sources, consider cutting the toxic ones out of your life while looking at things from a new perspective (read blogs about people beating anorexia or helping children in disadvantaged countries, watch foreign films, find quotes and people that build you up, read bios of great historical figures). ¬†And when a person you know offers their opinion, always ask yourself, ‘Are they someone I want to emulate, to aspire to be?’
  2. Make time for what makes you awesome. ¬†So often we only work on our weaknesses. ¬†In the book Now, Discover Your Strengths, the authors talk about how you want to shore up your weaknesses, but only enough that they don’t slow you down (they use an example of Tiger Woods improving his short game so it would not detract from his amazing long swings that got him to the green so quickly). ¬†The takeaway was that you are¬†never going to be amazing because of your weaknesses — it’s your unique strengths that will blow people away. ¬†So take pride in the things that come easily to you, delve into the hobbies and sports that you excel at (I once told my sister that I felt like I was ‘made’ for cycling — and that is a powerful feeling, almost like you’re cheating). ¬†In the same way, I didn’t really ‘fix’ my character flaws, I just walked away from them and focused on stuff I rock at — and I’ve never looked back.
  3. ¬†Get healthy. ¬†Seriously, throw out the scale (it’s a horrible measure of health), and forget about diets (these temporary things you hate) while embracing diet (a lifelong way of eating that makes you feel great). ¬†So much self esteem and endorphins lie on the other side of exercise and eating right. ¬†Also — weed, drinking, and excessive sugar can all be enjoyed, but they can also become a crutch that makes us feel powerless and reliant on their mood enhancements. ¬†And I know smokers already feel beat up upon,¬†but I really do feel like that addiction unfairly makes you feel powerless — a slave to nicotine — many times a day, so I hope, if you smoke, you find¬†out how powerful you are and break that habit into a million pieces.
  4. ¬†Become an¬†inspiration¬†to others. ¬†Write a book. ¬†Lead a cause. ¬†Start a group. ¬†Blog about fitness. ¬†Mentor a child. ¬†Follow your dream so hard that others stare in wonder. ¬†When I started my groups, a strange thing happened: people started telling me how awesome I was, and how I was inspiring them. ¬†I felt there must be some mistake, but no — I was just living my life but even what I considered small acts — hosting a meeting, sharing what I knew, encouraging people with a few words — others saw a value to that and spoke up about it. ¬†This inspired me to do more — publish a book, give a public reading — because I realized that we all have fears and insecurities and the more ‘fake it till you make it’ I did, the more bold and brave they would become in their own lives. ¬†Suddenly, being awesome wasn’t about just me.
  5. Speak to yourself with love. ¬†Not get all psychological on you, but there’s only one person watching everything you do and commenting on how you do it. ¬†It’s you. ¬†And it was a real wake-up call the first time I read something like ‘If you wouldn’t speak to a small child like that, why would you speak to your inner child that way?’ ¬†It’s really hard to live an inspiring life if someone is degrading you all the time. ¬†So, give yourself a break. ¬†It’s been shown in studies that being ‘hard line’ or tough with yourself does not improve your willpower or results. ¬†In fact, the opposite is true. ¬†You are already doing great things — give yourself some love.

So start seeing yourself as beautiful.

Fall in love with who you are at your silliest and most sublime.

Forgive the actions and thoughts of your past and know they are not you.

Make choices that reveal your inner glory and magnificent joy.

Say “Screw you!” to any society that hasn’t gotten on board with your level of sexy, awesomeness, or lifestyle.

Heal your body and free your mind.

And lastly, when you feel imperfect, remember the words of Leonard Cohen — “There is crack in everything . . .

Attention: You’re Awesome and You’ve Got This

Recently my sister caught up on reading my last few blog posts and, with a moan, called them ‘challenging’. ¬†She wasn’t against the content or the ideas — I think it just seemed like a lot to take in after a month of busyness and bad eating, and sitting here in our unheated house with¬†intermittent water issues.

The journey can seem long and our goals mighty, but what I don’t probably talk enough about here is how freaking amazing, fantastic, gorgeous you are (all of you, not just my sister ūüėČ ). ¬†You are improving, learning, and growing all the time — and you’re still pursuing your hopes and dreams with amazing tenacity.

So here’s ten fantastic, encouraging things you need to hear¬†right now¬†—

1. Change your life today —

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2. Trust the process —

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3. Stop comparing yourself —

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4. This quote forever —

From my sister


5. You have no idea how amazing you can be —

By The Mincing Mockingbird


6. ¬†Be passionate, Be present, Be you —

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7. Let’s sail beyond the horizon —

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8. You are more beautiful because of what you’ve survived

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9. The time has come to actually see the person in the mirror —

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10. Take a deep breath (you’ve¬†got this) —

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And finally, say to yourself —

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The Things That Make You Scared Are the Things That Make You Dream

‚Äē Ellen Johnson

Quote by Ellen Johnson

Since Black Friday, I have been working hard every day to launch myself forward toward the life of my dreams. ¬†Exercising, yoga, and especially doing a lot of writing (it is my passion and life’s purpose after all!).

What I didn’t plan on, was how freaking scary it was going to be.

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It’s scary. ¬†It’s scary not to know how you’ll look in a year or where you‚Äôll end up living or what job you’ll be doing. ¬†Or who you’ll be with.

As soon as I realized I was creating all this forward momentum, I realized I needed a destination.  Boy, then did it hit the fan.

First a little background. ¬†Ever since our parents broke up and then my Mother died (about ten years ago) by sister and I have sought stability. ¬†Just making things calm, and safe, and comfortable for ourselves and each other. ¬†And we’ve been spectacularly successful. ¬†Now though, it’s a time of change. ¬†And when I started thinking about my future, I realized I wasn’t sure what I really wanted.

Was I still a novelist foremost?  What about my inspirational and self help writing?  What about my unceasing love of TV and intrigue with the idea of writing teleplays?

Did I want to travel most?  Settle down in an amazing new place?  Or stay in Athens, GA?

Was I ready for a big new step if I fall in love?  Or did I just want to run around the world for a while and have adventures?

Clearly, for all I’d dreamed about my life after retail and working as a full time writer, when faced with the idea of it actually coming to pass, I simply had no idea.

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Fear is a natural response to the unknown. ¬†But, we are not living in the wild. ¬†There are no bears and wolves around (for most of us). ¬†Fear should not be a red stop light, a firm ‘No! ¬†Go back, you fool!’ ¬†Instead, it just tells you that you are stepping onto unknown ground. ¬†For me, in the weeks since this started, there have been five main types of fear (see if you too recognize these as you step off the well-worn path toward the life you were destined for) —

Five Fears That Prove You’re Doing Something Right

  1. Fear of Failure. ¬†Right off the bat, I thought “What if I set this big goal, tell people about it, and can’t do it? ¬†What if I belly flop? ¬†And most importantly, how will I stay positive if I’m a failure? ¬†This is probably the fear that stops 90% of cool, amazing, incredible things from being made and stops more discoveries of best friends, soul mates, and mentors than any other. ¬†But the truth is, even big failures don’t really get much traction — my Athens Writers Association had a reading once where almost no one showed up. ¬†It wasn’t fun at the time, but we learned something about how to do it better, and it doesn’t mean much when held up against all our successes. ¬†The best advice for this kind of fear is ‘Feel the fear and do it anyway.’ ¬†The only way to do anything worthwhile is to realize the price of failure is small, no one’s getting eaten, and the rest of the world isn’t really going to pay your one act that much mind. ¬†What they’re responding to is that you’re living a life of action. ¬†I fail in tons of ways all the time (eating habits, not being as perfectly kind as I could be, trying to cheat by counting reading ‘The Hobbit’ as ‘writing time’) and yet many people tell me I inspire them. ¬†People will forget the minute and remember that you did something they were afraid to even try.

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  2. Fear of¬†Success. ¬†Now this one may seem silly on the surface, but it’s actually quite reasonable: our whole lives are constructed around things we know how to do, and to handle. ¬†Think about it — you do what works. ¬†You know how to drive but not a stick-shift, so your car’s automatic. ¬†You don’t have to like your job, but you probably could do it with your eyes closed. ¬†Even bad situations, like being in debt, you’re probably¬†comfortable¬†with. ¬†You only change things that fall outside your comfort zone. ¬†House’s drafty? ¬†That’s fine. ¬†Roof fallen in? ¬†You’re gonna call someone (my roof is fine BTW ūüėČ ). ¬†So when the idea of wild, mad success comes around (and that’s the kind that falls into your lap when you start living the life of your dreams), of course it’s scary. ¬†You don’t know how to do that. ¬†How would having a great husband or wife fit into your routine, your relationships with other friends, your alone time? ¬†Would you like working at your dream company? ¬†Would you be good enough? ¬†If it all was going great, would something horrible happen? ¬† I recently was reading part of my new novel¬†Society &¬†Civility¬†to finish up my writing time late one night. ¬†But then I still had a bit of time left and so opened up my teleplay from the summer, called¬†Family Lines¬†and about a family of demon hunters. ¬†I’d only written 20 pages (for an hour long pilot) and had quit, thinking it wasn’t going well and I sucked. ¬†But I reread those 20 pages that night and —¬†they scared the crap out of me. ¬†They were good, very good (in my approximation). ¬†So what does that mean for my future? ¬†The best way to dispel this fear is with feelings of gratitude and excitement: you are in this wonderful, unique spot to change your life and make the world a better place (following your dreams always makes the world a better place). ¬†And the truth is, you can be comfortable in loving relationships, working your dream job, and having a life of adventures, or you can be comfortable with just what you’re doing, right now, for the rest of your life. ¬†Your choice.

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  3. Fear of Looking a Fool /Upsetting People /¬†Inconveniencing¬†People. ¬†I’m not cheating by rolling all of these fears into one, I recently felt them all from a single act. ¬†I wrote to someone who’s an inspiration to me, someone I’d actually like to be friends with — and then I felt really uncomfortable. ¬†I wanted to let them know their work inspired me, but did I go too far, sound over the top? ¬†Did I scare them by being weird (I’m on a journey to be more open and honest and that seems to be a little unfiltered and frightening — at least to me)? ¬†And worst of all did I seem unhingled? ¬†A hanger-on? ¬†A stalker? (I’ve been a stocker for years in big box stores, but that’s spelled a little differently). ¬†In truth though, I am none of those fears, simply someone inspired, and whether or not they respond, they probably don’t think anything bad about me. ¬†This fear is about staying small, nondescript, and not making waves. ¬†Your friends, your family, strangers you accost on the internet — they all have a way they’re most more comfortable with you being¬†and that is just how you are now. ¬†If you get fit, what does that say about their lives? ¬†You move across the country for that dream job, where does that leave Movie Night? ¬†You express your feelings (for any one in any way) and suddenly they have a new issue: how to respond to you (and their day was already full up). ¬†The only thing I can say here is, treat others how you would want to be treated. ¬†Having my friend get fit would be great; having them say ‘You’d look so much better 20 pounds lighter’ would not. ¬†Having someone write that I inspired them would be a boon to me; having a ‘fan’ say we must write a novel together, share a house (and more) would get a quick trip to my banned email list. ¬†So don’t worry, just be daring and send some good into the world.
  4. Fear of Hard Work. ¬†Now, I’ll expound all day and all night on the importance of working hard, but even I have my limits. ¬†And that is what I’m trying to change. ¬†I’ve been hitting this exercise/yoga/writing goal for weeks and that’s going okay, but the thought of digging back into editing my two new novels scares me (and writing for TV, well, we don’t even talk about that…). ¬†This is related to fear #1 but a little different. ¬†It’s knowing you¬†can do something, but being unsure if you want to put into it the Herculean effort required. ¬†I’ll never forget how when I started editing my first novel, I was convinced I was doing something wrong; the editing was making the book much better but¬†it was too hard. ¬†Surely I’d missed a step, or didn’t know a trick? ¬†Truth is,¬†everything you love was created with an inordinate amount of elbow grease. ¬†You want to create something people love and will cherish? ¬†That’s reason enough to work past this fear.

  5. Fear of Leaving People Behind. ¬†As I mentioned in fear #2, this could be moving across the country, but I’m thinking more in an emotional sense. ¬†I like the people I work with at my ‘regular’ job. ¬†I love my friends. ¬†I worship my sister. ¬†And if I change, what happens to them? ¬†Will they like who I become? ¬†Will our paths diverge? ¬†I feel that this period of growth will unsettle a few relationships (just as a child can feel ‘growing pains’ as their legs lengthen), but I also feel strongly that the best thing I can ever do for them, the kindest act I can bestow, is to become as wonderful and amazing and perfect a me as I can be. ¬†I didn’t start this. ¬†My friends and mentors inspired me to greatness, and I hope to inspire others. ¬†Think of yourself as leading the charge into a wonderful new adventure. ¬†I’m reluctant when plans suddenly change and my day is altered by a friend’s suggestion, but I’m always happy (after a bit of grumbling) to leap on board and then I have an amazing day, usually one of the best of the year . ¬†Give your friends the same time to adjust and a chance to join in the fun.

In the end, it all means that, when you get serious about living your dreams, the world gets big and exciting fast. ¬†I’ve only been at this for a few weeks and already it’s getting crazy. ¬†What will a few more months bring?

The most exciting thing, the thing I wish I could transmute to you, is how fast you can start to change your life and that each challenge and fear can be met and mastered.

I don’t have all the answers yet. ¬†Heck, I don’t even know most of the questions. ¬†But I am so scared and so excited.

Because I’m living a life that matters. ¬†And I’m getting braver every day.