Saturday, December 28, 2013

Books Are My Crack

I probably shouldn't use the hashtag "booksaremycrack" because I've never been a crack whore. (<---THAT was a joke, people.) 

I mean, yes, I've been addicted to ecstasy and mushrooms in the past but saying "books are my ecstasy" implies a sexual innuendo while "books are my mushroom" doesn't impart the intensity of my abject addiction to books.

How else can I convey my gluttony and ravenous hunger for books in all shapes, sizes, and forms? 

My friends constantly contemplate the cool factor of time travel but I couldn't imagine living in the 1600s reading books by candlelight. With today's technology my gluttonous self gorges on three books simultaneously: Jesus Feminist on my Nook app, Love Does on my Kindle app, and 12 Years of Slave in book form. I'll read a few chapters from each in one sitting. (Tell me I don't need intervention.) 

When Jon Acuff's Empty Shelf Challenge popped up on my Facebook feed I was immediately captivated. Last week, I was disappointed to find out I read only 27 books according to my Goodreads Year In Books. I could have sworn I read more so I'm rising up to Jon's challenge in 2014. 

How many of my fellow bibliophiles will join me?



Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Celebrating The Reason


This year I prepared to do battle against the annual funk that commandeers my heart in December. But for the first time in 16 years it never made its appearance.

Maybe it did but focusing on serving those in need stole the limelight from my holiday doldrums. It took four weeks of teamwork to organize the Kababayan Unite fundraiser that helped raise funds for Typhoon Haiyan victims in the Philippines.

Those four weeks taught me that serving others is the weaponry I needed to keep the suffocating funk at bay. Nothing in my annual routine changed other than that because my vows to stash money in a Christmas fund were never fulfilled.

Despite my lack of saving Christmas money, my dad’s hospitalization a week before Christmas, and my granddaughter’s absence during Christmas and her New Year’s Day birthday, I haven’t forgotten the reason for the holiday season.

My faith in Jesus has sustained me this month especially during times of overwhelming stress. His presence was the solid ground I walked on when my dad’s condition worsened and we didn’t think he’d leave the hospital in time for Christmas. It’s my trust in Christ that is helping me with the excruciating pain of missing Rylee who, for the first time in five years, is spending Christmas Day and her New Year’s birthday with her daddy in Arizona.

It’s knowing that God will provide which stops the worrying over bills threatening to drown me this month. Surrendering my life to him, leaves my heart open to my granddaughter's demands for keeping Kost 103.5 on my car radio until after Christmas “because they play Christmas music all the time.” (Please note: Kost 103.5 + Christmas music equaled an outbreak of hives on my body.)

Although I will never understand the injustice of human trafficking, homelessness, disease, wars, infertility, and genocide, I hold onto the faith that God is in the midst of this fallen world. 

This Christmas Eve, I celebrate with gratitude my savior's birth, because Jesus freed me from my self-imposed mental prison. 

Just like the Grinch I realized Christmas is much more than the frenetic, angst-ridden, last minute shopping I'm guilty of every year. 
“And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.”

The pictures above and below contain the meaning for my Christmas. From my family to yours, may you all have a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! 













Friday, December 6, 2013

Birthday Wishes from Mother to Daughter

My daughter, Maricelle, turns 26 today and I sit here writing my traditional birthday blog. This one is special as she just returned from a pilgrimage in Spain last month. 

It was a trip she almost kept from me knowing I'd be worried about her backpacking solo in Spain. I've never heard of the Camino de Santiago or the movie, The Way, until my daughter embarked on this trip. 

Not many people have the courage to go on a pilgrimage in a foreign country alone and as worried as I was for her safety, I knew she was living her life. What more could this mom, who put her dreams on hold, ask for? 


Dear Maricelle,

While you were on your life-changing trip I had a discussion with Auntie Lu. One of her co-workers mentioned how an ultrasound is indicative of a baby's personality. 

I was reminded of my first ulrasound when I first saw you on a gray screen, a tiny alien looking creature doing somersaults in the womb. While the lab tech moved the ultrasound wand over my bulging belly you didn't stop turning around and around. 

I should have known then that you were going to be the adventurous travelista you are now. Your "camino" also helped me learn a few things about life and relationships and courage. When you came to visit and shared your travel photos, we talked about how the camino doesn't end when you return home, because life mimics the camino. 

This year my only prayer for you is that you maintain the spirit of the camino in your daily life. I know how it is to travel abroad, finding yourself and coming to terms with the turmoil inside of you, only to come home feeling dissatisfied with the status quo. 

Remember when you met your friends along the camino and all of them spoke a different language but somehow you all fell into a comfortable rhythm? Don't forget that when you're dealing with difficult people in your life because they too speak a different language in silence. 

Or, how about when certain people would accompany you on your walk for a while, go your separate ways, only to join you later in the walk? Well, get used to it because life has a way of bringing people in, out, then back in again. Each person holds a lesson for you to discover and learn from. 

I hope you remember to give yourself the same grace you allowed yourself when you got lost in a foreign country and on your walk. Isn't it funny how God places those same yellow arrows in our path, yet, sometimes we fail to see them? I believe we are meant to lose ourselves sometimes because finding the truth in us will make more of an impact. 

Just like you did on the camino, lead from your heart. Remember that one moment when you were dying with thirst, hunger, and fatigue, doubting whether you'd make it to the top of the hill? Yet, you persevered and found yourself in the most peaceful, breathtaking, mountaintop, singing and dancing like Maria in the Sound of Music. There will be some days like that but your heart will always lead you to the top of whatever mountain you face. 

You developed a positive outlook on your pilgrimage and found ways of turning a negative situation into something good. Keep that up in your own life and you will become adept at handling adversity and roadblocks. 

Adventure and enlightenment don't end when you complete your camino. I guarantee that you'll be learning truths about yourself until your last day on earth. 

Thank you for writing my word "eternity" on the rock for me and leaving it on the camino. One day I plan on traversing the same path and finding that rock. If not, it's okay. I know where eternity awaits my presence. 

May your 26th year be a full one. Accept that the bad always comes with the good. Give yourself permission to feel your emotions and acknowledge them. Embrace your growth, hone your self-awareness, practice mindfulness, discipline yourself in meditation, saturate your life in prayer. 

Happy Birthday! 

Love, 

Mom











Monday, December 2, 2013

Kababayan Unite Fundraiser For Typhoon Haiyan Victims in the Philippines


Don't cook dinner on Thursday, December 12, 2013, and join us for a fun night of delicious Chinese food, awesome entertainment, and a chance to win great raffle prizes! Kababayan Unite Fundraising Dinner will be held at Great Seafood Harbor Restaurant at 18329 Pioneer Blvd., Artesia, CA, 90701. 

We have partnered with My Refuge House who've begun organizing  and delivering care packages of food to typhoon victims in the surrounding area of Cebu. You can read about the inspiring story of "When The Rescued Rescue" here. I assure you the funds we raise will be used appropriately and donations have already helped hundreds of families. 

The fun begins at 7:00 p.m. and you can purchase pre-sale tickets for $20 each by contacting me at info@nannettericaforte.com or sending an e-mail to kababayanunite@gmail.com. Tickets will be $25 at the door. There will be many raffle prizes available for you to win. Raffle tickets are $5 each or 5 for $20

If you can't make it to our event you can still help by purchasing a t-shirt for $20 by clicking here

Help us help those in dire need of food and basic necessities! So come and join me and my friends for a night of fun toward a good cause! 

Thursday, November 28, 2013

The State of Gratitude

It's the time of year when everyone across America intentionally acknowledges who and what they're thankful for. Today, at the end of my work meeting, we were asked to do a round table reflection on what we were thankful for this year. Since I've been walking around like a hunchback this week, my answer went something like, "I'm thankful I can walk into work..." 

For me, the challenge is maintaining a daily state of gratitude in the mundane and ordinary. A few years ago my New Year's resolution was to hunt for the blessings in my life every day. I'm a naturally negative person; always focusing on what's going wrong, what I didn't have, what I haven't accomplished, and what prayer wasn't answered. I've blamed it on my upbringing but I didn't have to remain in a victim mindset. My brain needed a drastic reprogramming. 

They say it takes 30 days to break a habit so I challenged myself to look for the daily blessings---big and small---until it came naturally. The first few days I felt as if I walked around cross-eyed from jumbling my thought patterns out of their comfort zone. 

It wasn't until I added mindfulness and meditation to my prayers that I eventually reached a constant state of gratitude. This Thanksgiving I'm not going to enumerate the things and people I'm thankful for because it's become my daily habit. But I can sit and reflect on the richness that makes life interesting. 

My life doesn't look how I envisioned it and I'm sure several members of my family believe I've royally screwed up. But that's okay. I'm alive, healthy, and surrounded by parents, siblings, children, grandchild, nieces and nephews. Talk about a treasure trove of love. 

Every day I'm propelled by purpose and motivated by the calling that fuels me---fighting against human trafficking. How can I complain and grumble about the lack in my life when I'm busy defending the voiceless? 

Although I'm buried in debt I still have a full-time job that pays my bills, feeds me, clothes me, and entertains me. And despite the full-time job, I manage to do the things I'm passionate about: writing, photography, and fitness. 

I live with the stigma of a divorcee, judged and criticized by people because I don't fit their mold of what's acceptable. Yet, for the past five years, I've been in a relationship with the boy I fell in love with when I was 15 years old. He's shown me that I could be loved through my mess and craziness. His love cancels the vitriol of unhappy people. 

The older I get the smaller my circle of friends become but I'm down with that. The caliber of people in that small circle sustains me through my tough times and moments when I lose my sanity. 

When things don't go my way or the wait for answered prayers seems interminable I tweak my thoughts to remind me that gratitude isn't reserved just for good times. To maintain a state of gratitude I must remember that difficult times strengthen and enlighten me. 

While you savor your Thanksgiving dinner today think about the first Thanksgiving and how it lasted three days. May I challenge you to give thanks 365 days? 





Sunday, November 3, 2013

A Family Affair At The OC Lymphomathon 5K Walk



Left to right: Sally (my mom), Mama Fe, Chloe,
Tristan, Becca, Me
Bottom: Mariclle and Rylee
Now that my kids are adults living their own lives it's been difficult to get our family together. 

Last Saturday my daughter, Chloe, managed to get all of us together at the OC Lymphomathon 5K Walk which is no easy feat. She organized our team that consisted of my three kids, my granddaughter, both of my kids' grandmothers, and my son's girlfriend, Becca. 


My kids' and Becca's grandfathers were victims of Lymphoma, the dreaded cancer that attacks lymphocytes, and we honored both of them on this walk.



I've always desired that my kids looked beyond their own world to be a part of something bigger than themselves. For someone like me it warmed my activist's heart when Chloe took the initiative to sign up for this event. 

The 5k walk is organized by the Lymphoma Research Foundation to raise money for research and a cure. Before the walk we listened to a survivor's story of her own battle and subsequent remission which gave meaning to the work I do every day. 

In my day job I review high cost chemotherapy regimens for cancer patients and one of the drugs the survivor spoke of was Rituxan. Because of her treatment she was able to go into remission. 


I've read the many comments on LRF's facebook page from people (including survivors) expressing gratitude for their work and the people who volunteer to raise awareness. I"m glad we were part of this event not only to honor the grandfathers, Eusebio Flores and Tim DeFiesta, but to help raise money for the research. 

My kids and I might not be together again until the holidays but I'm grateful we joined together as a family for such a cause as this. 




My kids: Maricelle, Chloe, Tristan, my granddaughter, Rylee
and Becca











Sunday, October 20, 2013

My Middle Child Turns 25 and I'm In Denial

Chloe & Rylee, Santa Monica, 2013
Turning twenty-five years old is like waking up from a blissful dream and finding yourself on the precipice of emotional turmoil. Falling into the chasm of being a quarter of a century old, your life flashes before your eyes, and you run down the list of what ifs, how comes, haven't dones, and still-have-to-dos.

You celebrate your accomplishments and wonder, what next? The lingering cockiness of youth battles with the impending maturity of adulthood. 

At 25, you're finally going to understand that trying to make everyone happy, living the life THEY want you to have, fulfilling THEIR expectations of you, is the direct path to misery. 

I hope you know that I've never been the type of mom to impose these constraints on you and encourage my kids to be themselves. I don't believe that going through a formulated process of X, Y, and Z is the only solution to a fulfilling life. I guarantee that life won't be what you expect and the loneliness you'll feel is agonizing. Just know it's only temporary. 

All I ask is for you to be responsible in every aspect of your life. You chose to take on the responsibility of being Rylee's mommy and it's evident how hard you try. For that, I commend you. Don't let anyone tell you that you ruined your life in making that choice because it's YOUR life to live. 

As the middle child, you may believe that you're compared to your siblings, especially your sister. Although that might be true for some people, it's not true for me. You can be accountable for the choices you make in your life and accept your imperfections. Doing this will save you the angst of growing older. 

For your quarter of a century birthday I simply pray that you find the courage to be honest with yourself, truthful with others, and most of all, sincere with Rylee. (I've never seen a child love her mommy with so much depth.)

I promise you this: you have the best years ahead of you. They won't be the best because life was golden every day but because you learned to face your challenges with grace and courage. Trust me, the rewards for overcoming obstacles and learning to handle conflicts are immeasurable. 

Each one of us has a grand story to tell and it's not in the milestones of turning 25. Make sure you live, truly live, in the mess and beauty of the present moment because it's in the mundane when our stories come alive. 


Happy 25th Birthday, Chloe! 
Love, 
Mom 








Friday, September 13, 2013

DISNEY 10K

"Grandma, why do you have to exercise so much? You can wear whatever you want!" 

These backseat interrogations from my granddaughter always unhinge me. 

After cackling loudly I almost pulled over to tell her face-to-face that my exercising has less to do with vanity and more for my longevity. Instead I craned my neck to catch a glimpse of her in the rear-view mirror. 

"Grandma wants to be healthy to see you grow up, watch you graduate high school, drive your first car, go to your first dance, go to college." 

A few months ago I read an article, Sitting Is The New Smoking, that torched my butt into action. How arrogant of me to believe that running and lifting weights after work 2-3 days out of the week were giving me health points? While I was patting myself on the back all these years I was slowly killing myself. 

I'm one of thousands sitting in the corporate cube farm spending 8 hours a day in sedentary mode. Let's not count the hours after work when I'm hunched over my computer editing photos or writing. Slitting my wrists would've been a better alternative at accelerating the suicidal route I chose. It sounds melodramatic but when I delved into the study it opened my eyes to the error of my ways.

So I made drastic lifestyle changes with my diet and workout regimen. I set up an alarm on my calendar that reminds me to "Stretch, biatch!" every ten minutes. I do single leg squats, yoga stretches, and upper body exercises with a resistance band. My half hour lunch isn't wasted with work but walking or running down the hill, sometimes to the beach. (I work one mile away from the beach, hello?) 

Not one day goes by that I'm not moving--running, walking, kickboxing, interval training, weight lifting, yoga, etc. 

When my cousin, who had sciatica, asked me to run in his place for the Disney 10K I didn't think twice. The last time I ran the Disney race course was 2 years ago when I ran the Disney Half Marathon. Running this 10K was what I needed to put all my recent lifestyle changes to the test. 

With everything in my life ---races, goals, dreams---the euphoria of crossing the finish line is better than any drug I was addicted to. Whatever you're struggling with today don't give up. The finish line is just around the corner. 

(Sidenote: Forgive my blatant use of the "hang loose" sign. I get carried away...)









2 TIMOTHY 4:7 
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

WHY I SERVE IN THE FIGHT AGAINST HUMAN TRAFFICKING | GUEST POST ON MY REFUGE HOUSE


There’s a common misconception people express when they find out I volunteer my time, donate my finances, and devote my life to fight against human trafficking with My Refuge House. I often receive the same response, “That’s so awesome! I wish I had a cause to fight for. You must feel really good about yourself.”

I’m still at a loss for words when I’m in this situation. How do I tell people that fighting against human trafficking isn’t about feeling good and getting the “warm fuzzies?”  

Continue reading on the original post: www.myrefugehouse.org

Friday, August 30, 2013

SLOW DOWN CHALLENGE : DAY 5: GIVE THANKS

Giving thanks wasn't a challenge today because last year it was one of my resolutions to make it a daily habit. 

Wait, I take that back. While I do make it a habit to be grateful every day I realized that I fail to vocalize it to certain people who need to hear it. Typically, my prayers of gratitude are done in silence on my commute to and from work, or during my prayer times. 

I don't know when my Fridays evolved into stressful anxiety-ridden days at work. While most people in the office are thankful for Fridays I'm beginning to dread them. I try to walk into the building with a positive attitude and mindset believing things will be different. 

Today, I planned on breaking away during my lunch break to walk outside in the sunshine and find something I'm grateful for. It didn't happen. 

Hence, the photo above. My caption on Instagram read: Giving thanks for whatever it takes to get me through this hellacious day at the cube farm: coffee, prayers, essential oils, and my super "friends."

Stress, which leads to anxiety, which causes fatigue, clouds my lenses of gratitude. In this state it almost feels good to wallow in the muck of my distress. But I pull myself out of it fast because I know it is only causing me long-term harm. It's akin to binging on a box of Krispy Kreme donuts after eating clean for months. You're left with a cramping gut, nausea, and bile rising from your throat. 

And no, I've never binged on a box of Krispy Kreme donuts but after eating one and feeling horrible afterwards I could only imagine what 11 more would do. 

Now that I've completed Jeff Goins' 5-day Slow Down Challenge, what next? 

It's up to me to remember to slow down, take time to notice my world, savor my days, let go of control, focus on one task instead of manic multi-tasking, and give thanks to my loved ones. 




Thursday, August 29, 2013

SLOW DOWN CHALLENGE | DAY 4: LET GO

Interruptions are pesky nuisances. I hold my schedule close with an overprotectiveness rivaling a mama bear. Anything that threatens to disturb the flow of my time causes me to roar with ferocity. 

Let's take the month of August. On August 1st I let everyone close to me know that I had three articles to write, a portrait session, and a wedding I'm second shooting so please leave me the F alone. 

I wrote, planned, and organized my daily schedule to the millisecond. I think I was cruising along for a few days until I heard the screech of brakes and smelled burnt rubber. 

My oldest daughter was paying us an impromptu visit for four days and although it was a welcome interruption, I knew it was going to be difficult to get my groove back. She was going through a break up and Mom was needed. 

That wasn't the only interruption this month but I won't bore you with the details. 

Jeff Goins says interruptions need to be welcomed into our lives because: 
  • They teach us to let go of control.
  • They remind us life is not just about "me."
  • They help us become more patient.
If that's true then I'm still a selfish, impatient, control freak. 

In the past year since I've learned the discipline of meditation I noticed I hold my breath for long periods of time when I'm stressed. I should be brain dead for the lack of oxygen I cause myself. 

Today's challenge was to let go  and allow interruptions to help us grow. 

I think I've mentioned that I use my lunch breaks to work out. Today was no exception but the difference was I finally listened to Rylee when she interrupted my dumbbell plank rows to draw with her. Fine with me since I think I strained my obliques. 

Had I not stopped my madness I wouldn't have known how quickly she solved the math addition problems I wrote out on her sketchbook. It took her less than 10 minutes which earned her four gold stars. When asked how she figured them out so quickly she grinned, "I used my brain, mind, and fingers!" 

I rose up to today's challenge but it's up to me to make welcoming interruptions a daily habit. 







Wednesday, August 28, 2013

SLOW DOWN CHALLENGE | DAY 3: FOCUS

There’s nothing more amusing than watching myself whirling and twirling in my chair multi-tasking in my smugness to get things done. I laugh at myself because really, who am I kidding?

I used to focus on one task at a time. Mainly, it was reading a book, which was a source of contention for my parents. Growing up they called me lazy because I had a one-track mind geared toward books.

I’ve changed since I was a kid but I can’t say it’s for the better. I can never focus on ONE task anymore. Often distracted by technology I’ll be writing one minute, checking Instagram the next, looking at Twitter soon after, then reading e-mails that just came in, wait, let me just edit five photos while I can, and hey, gotta squeeze in some bicep curls. 

Press repeat.

Oh, and let’s not talk about how I’m reading five books at a time, one chapter at a time. Currently, I have two e-books on my e-reader and three books in my bag.

Who needs intervention?

I had no clue what Jeff Goins’s challenge was going to be today but I giggled when I saw it.

Focus on one task I need to accomplish.

I spent my lunch break making final edits to an article I was working on for My Refuge House: What Human Trafficking Means To Me. With my cell phone clicked off and work computer locked, I revised to my heart’s content.

Except, my attention was solely on editing that I edited on top of the edits. I’m my own worst editor.

I got it done and submitted it earlier tonight. This is pretty freakin’ sweet if you ask me since it’s the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “I Have A Dream Speech.” What a way to honor the man who spoke of freedom and equality with an article on what human trafficking means to me.

Since this has become one of my life quotes, I'd like to focus on it today:

"For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects & enhances the freedom of others." ~Nelson Mandela











Tuesday, August 27, 2013

SLOW DOWN CHALLENGE | DAY 2: SAVOR

In today's challenge Jeff Goins suggested we savor food but for me that's no challenge. I'm a 45-year-old whose wearing braces for the first time in my life so eating food with meticulous care is not an option. 

What's more challenging is savoring moments with my loved ones, especially today when smartphones consume our attention. Compound that with my full-time job, photography business, writing, volunteering, and working out then I'm on constant overdrive. 

The older I get the less efficient I am at multi-tasking. I'm a certified nutcase trying to do too many things at once. 

When I work from home I spend my lunch break either working out, exercising to a DVD, answering phone calls/texts/emails for my photography business, editing photos, scouring the internet for social justice issues, reading emails about human trafficking or trying to work on my current writing project. 

I know it sounds very productive. NOT! 

Today when my granddaughter invited me to play with her in our backyard I acquiesced. I savored her game of freeze, running around in a yard I didn't know was infested with lizards of all shapes and sizes. I'm sorry but anything reptilian transforms me into a squeamish mess. Yet, today, I savored. Man did I SAVOR. 

When Rylee sqealed, "Awww look at the baby lizard on my bike, Gramma! Look! Look! Hey, come back, where are you going!!!! Look at how cute the baby lizard is!" I went back and savored the cuteness of the baby lizard. 

For the rest of the day I made sure I savored other moments and loved ones to permanently erase the image of the baby reptile searing my brain. On this second day of slowing down I've gone from 100mph to 80mph and hopefully I can get to cruising speed soon. 

Monday, August 26, 2013

SLOW DOWN CHALLENGE | DAY 1 : NOTICE

Last Friday I posted a photo on my Facebook page challenging people to pause and look at their world with a childlike reverence. God must have been knocking on the door of my heart to slow the heck down...AGAIN! 

I fall into these ha-I-got-it-under-control moments when I fool myself into believing everything I'm doing is fine. I'm meditating, exercising, praying, reading the word, finding solitude, and using essential oils to reach my idyllic place. 

Then I'm told I'm a monster when I've got writing deadlines. I admit, I get freakish and stressed. Please tell me I'm not the only writer who turns into a beast while in the midst of writing? 

Last week Rylee's constant lament was "GRAMMA! Why do you always have to write?! You need to quit all of that RIGHT NOW!" 

It's my third month writing for the social justice team for The Good Men Project (you can find my latest article here) and I'll admit the added responsibility has disturbed the semi-chaotic flow of my life. But here's the thing, writing is all I've ever wanted to do since I learned how to read and write. 

Writing words, reading words, and constructing words into coherent sentences gives me an acute sense of existence (and purpose). I was a fool to believe the people closest to me would understand. 

When I write I put my entire being into it---blood, sweat, tears, angst, heart, soul, determination---E V E R Y T H I N G. It's impossible for me to bust out an article the way I do a blog post because there's extensive research and fact checking involved. But those closest to me act like I could just pull an article out of my a$$ and voila, written piece completed! I wish! 

Also, I've learned to be close-lipped about it to others because their attitude is "Hey, you agreed to this it's your fault you're busy and overwhelmed." Or, "Oh, so you got suckered into it." 

Of course I had to make adjustments to my life. To make room for my writing I stepped down from church ministry because I felt it was something I had to do. Now, I only book 2 photography sessions per month as opposed to cramming as many sessions as I can on the weekends. I've also been firm with my friends about not having the extra time for socializing because what little free time I have goes to my family. 

Which brings me to the slowing down part...

I catch myself in this pattern often and I need to press pause long enough to notice, really notice, what's in front of me. I miss so many details of my day because of it and THAT, my friends, is a tragedy. 

Call it serendipity or coincidence but today I noticed on my Twitter feed that Jeff Goins was having a Slow Down Challenge.  I scrolled down quickly hoping to ignore it but my heart beat faster. It was time to press the pause button.  

So here I am. 

For today's challenge I walked to the beach on my lunch break which I haven't done in over a year. Summer is almost over and I regularly run/walk during my lunch break but didn't venture farther to enjoy the beach for 10 minutes like I used to. 

I noticed the warm breeze on my face making my skin tingle as I walked down the hill . I noticed the yellow weed flowers growing in the middle of a heap of dirt causing the dingy sidewalk to burst with color. 

When I walked across the sand toward the jetty noticed people laying out trying to savor the last days of summer. (I used to ignore these people because I was in a hurry to get back to work.) While noticing how blue the sky was my eyes caught the lifeguard escaping the heat in the shadow of the lifeguard station. (Again, I never paid attention to the lifeguard station in my previous lunchtime jaunts to the beach.) 

Most of all I noticed the kids running along the jetty with their buckets and makeshift crab catchers made out of twine and plastic forks. (See photo above.) I even made eye contact with one of the kids and smiled at him whereas before I'd be so overprotective of my lunch hour I'd ignore them. 

Day 1 isn't over yet and I plan on noticing what others are overlooking.




Monday, August 12, 2013

LESSONS FROM MY GRANDDAUGHTER




"Everyone is leaving me what are we going to do tonight?!" 

Her voice reached through my phone and managed to twist my heart into a knot. That ache. Part pain and an abundance of love only a grandparent is privy to. You want to make her feel better, comfort her, make her happy. 

I was on Grandma duty last weekend and Rylee interrupted my morose mood which is the norm on Fridays at the cube farm. Casual Fridays taunt me in their oxymoronic existence because my Fridays are hardly casual. It's the busiest day of the week and I couldn't wait to get home in time to take Rylee to Barnes and Noble before they closed. It was Book Lovers' Day after all and she was stuck with me all weekend. 

Books made her forget that her mommy was gone for the weekend but Ray and I promised her the OC Fair on Saturday morning. She was beyond ecstatic. With the $3.00 admission between 10-11 a.m. we scored big in bringing happiness to my grandchild. 

What I didn't expect was to learn a few life lessons from Rylee while I mentally checked off how quickly our $20 budget dwindled to nothing. While we cooled off in the shaded building of the Fun Zone Rylee was drawn to the excitement happening onstage. 

The Fun Zone was like daycare at the fair where parents could either supervise their children or rest their aching feet while kids explored the different activities set up in the building. On stage a contest was in full swing and that's where Rylee wanted to be. Three young contestants had 30 seconds to fill their paper plate with plastic objects using metal tongs. 

"Gramma! I want to do that!"

Inwardly I cringed. My overprotective granny meter was on overdrive and I wanted to shield her from hurt, disappointment, and failure. Distracting her with the maze behind the stage was futile. 

Determination sparked out of her eyes and knew I was done for when she looked up at me. Powerless to say no I gave her permission to enter the contest. 

As she stood in line I observed the expressions on Rylee's face as the cogs in her brain worked out a strategy to win. Missing from her face were fear, doubt, and apprehension. In that brief moment I envied her fearlessness, asking myself how I lost it in my old age. 

Rylee won 2nd place in the contest but you couldn't tell she didn't take 1st. There was no sadness or disappointment tainting her beloved face and she held up the little rubber ducky prize in a victorious salute. 

"I've always wanted a rubber ducky!" she squealed.

Coming in 2nd place didn't trash her confidence like it would've done to the adult me. It was inconsequential considering the prize she received in the form of the little rubber ducky her heart desired. 

Ray and Rylee walked away to see the next attraction oblivious to my contemplative silence behind them. There, at the OC flippin' Fair, I was reminded of the cowardice, fear, and self-doubt that still plagues me. 

Tonight I'm hovering on the borders of panic land. It's the middle of August and I have nothing in my arsenal of article ideas. There's a vast world of social injustice yet I've got nothing to write about. Zero. 

Cowardice whispers in my ear. "You've been fooling yourself. You're not a writer. Quit while you're ahead. It's too hard." 

Self-doubt nudges me. "Yo! You're not good enough. The last article was your best and that's it. You're done! You can't do better than that." 

Fear taunts me. "You will fail this month and won't submit any articles. You're a fraud!" 

So I sit still, take a deep cleansing breath, and tell my triple threat to shut the F up! There are remnants of an inner child inside of me that isn't enslaved by doubt and fear who faces a challenge with a steadfast determination. She's no stranger to me because I recognized her in my own granddaughter's face at the OC Fair. 

What is it about adulthood that robs us of our mojo? When do we allow the opinion of others to stop us from dreaming the impossible or having the confidence that we excel in our gifts? Why do we hide our childlike bravado behind a false mask of bad ass? 

I'm tired of cowering in terror to move forward with faith in my gifts and talents. I need to give myself permission to fail and learn from it so I can do better. I have to remind myself that there will be off days and right-on days. 

When I submit the three articles I need to write this month I'll hold my fist up high in triumph knowing I got the rubber ducky I've always wanted! 












Wednesday, August 7, 2013

BOOK LOVERS' DAY | AUGUST 9

Attention my fellow bibliophiles! Did you know this Friday, August 9, is Book Lovers' Day?! Why haven't I heard about this until now?! If you're on Instagram let's be friends and tag me (NRica40Photo) in your Book Lovers' Day photos because I want to see how you're celebrating! Happy reading!

Book Lovers Day
Illustration by Ghergich & Co.

Monday, August 5, 2013

I BELIEVE

 
 
Because it's the first Monday of August and I need a kick-in-the-butt reminder that Life is filled with blessings.