A Change Is Gonna Come.

The act of regularly opening yourself up in full view of an army of strangers is choosing to be exposed; to consent to have one’s unprotected innards trespassed upon and rooted through. This vulnerability comes at a great personal price, one that is never really ever repaid. The writer is always in the red.” — John Pavlovitz

This quote comes from a great piece titled: Thank You For Bleeding: A Love Letter To Writers

For the past six months or so (maybe probably longer) I’ve really struggled with what to do with this space. This question has been banging about as so much has changed for me since I started writing here, nearly four years ago. Having recently transformed the space around me, I realized that in a sense, doing so, has transformed me personally. Or vice versa. What came first, the chicken, or the egg… it appears the jury is still out on that one.

Originally, when I started blogging in 2008 (anonymously and in a different space) I wrote about the trials and tribulations (and the fun!) of raising a large family. But then that family grew up (and really deserved their privacy in the process) and thus that blog evolved into this one, a space about the trials and tribulations (and the fun) of me growing up.

The main challenge in this has always been that my life is not a one woman show. Thankfully. And I’m very protective of the supporting cast. Which means that whenever I’ve written about my family and I’ve put it out there…well, there’s always been a bit of ickiness associated with doing so. The line with what feels right and what feels wrong has always been a bit too thin for my liking. I’m fine with being judged. I’m even fine with a certain lack of privacy. But I’m not fine with the people I love most in the world not having theirs— and it being my fault.

Secondly, not only have I evolved… so has the audience. I see the search terms. The shift is in part due to the fact that when I started writing here I hadn’t yet published works of fiction—works which may or may not be congruent with my personal life— and/or the things I write about in this space. The two, at least for me, (fic and non-fic, real life and make believe) are very different animals— and it can be dangerous when those lines become blurred. It can also make it a tad bit difficult to be brave and truthful in your storytelling. Which is one reason I love writing fiction so much. There are fewer people to protect when sharing your brand of crazy. For the most part, it isn’t personal.

And the truth of the matter is that writing fiction (messy, messy fiction;) has always been the path I’ve intended to take. I like making things up. Which means that I need to be a little more careful about the (non-fic) stories I tell (on the interwebs) and whom I tell them about. It’s time I separate the two to a degree.

As for what that means for this space… I don’t yet know.

I only know that a change is coming… and that I’m beyond grateful for the lessons I’ve learned, for the ability to share those lessons, and for the changes that doing so has brought.

The Answer To All Life’s Questions.

“Everything takes time. Bees have to move very fast to stay still.” ― David Foster WallaceBrief Interviews with Hideous Men

I’ll be putting the finishing touches on my upcoming novel, Around The Bend by this time next week, if not sooner, and I’m pretty pleased with where this story is leading me.

It’s been both a teacher and a lesson, that’s for sure. :) There were places I didn’t think that I could go, that I went. And there’s still a little ways to go…so, who knows, I might just surprise myself. ;)

In the meantime, in breaks between writing the hard stuff and having fun, I’ve been playing around with poetry and really not caring how bad or how good it is. :)

The latest, below…

The Answer To All Life’s Questions.

There’s beauty in the silence,

Wisdom in stillness,

When there’s no audience to please, nothing to be said, no one, and no where to be—

You’ll find yourself there.

Hanging On. Letting Go. And the bitter taste of eaten words.

“Anyone who has lost something they thought was theirs forever finally comes to realise that nothing really belongs to them.” ― Paulo Coelho

“Mom. Don’t write about me,” he says.

Ok, so I won’t.

But what I will write about is this. There comes a certain time and place and point in life where you have to practice what you preach. And sometimes those things taste a little more bitter than you might’ve thought. Words are easy to say, sometimes they are even easy to write or to type–but they aren’t always easy to live.

I talk (write) a lot about following your heart. Doing the thing. Making the call. Writing the letter. Saying yes. Saying no. Saying what you need to say. But to pretend that it’s always as easy as that isn’t the whole truth. I have a kid leaving for college in 30 or so days. TO ANOTHER STATE. :) And oh my gosh, let me just tell you that I’m not coping very well with it. At. All. I know this isn’t healthy. I know that you’re supposed to pretend that letting go is easy. That you’re happy to see them off. I also know that I probably look like a crazy mother (pun intended) by hanging on to someone/something that’s mostly already gone. Stay here I say. There are so many great schools here, I plead. Deep down I know it’s wrong. But that doesn’t stop me. The truth is no matter how you try and package it this is just one more slap upside the head in the long string of things lately reminding me of the transient nature of life. People leave. Kids grow up. Your loved ones die. And so on, you go.

So yeah, letting go isn’t easy. Just as holding on isn’t, when you’re meant to let go. My neighbor (hi Greg.) once gave me some really great advice, saying (in regards to parenting but can really be used for most things) “If you let go too soon, there’s a problem. Just as there will be if you hang on too long.”

But damn it if that ever elusive middle ground isn’t hard to find.

What I do know is this: the way that you live your life is the way that your children will, too. It doesn’t matter what you say. It matters what you do. Even if those things are ultimately good things–they are watching. So, if you follow your heart, pursue your dreams, refuse to conform, and so on and so forth–you should probably be prepared for them to do the same. The problem with that being, I find, is that you can’t spare them the heartache of doing so, as much as you might want to.

It’s a dance, this parenting gig. Sometimes it’s a waltz, sometimes the cha-cha, but mostly, I find it’s a two-step. It’s hanging on and letting go. And the timing of it all, as it turns out, is ever so important. Otherwise, you’re just a really bad dancer.

P.S. I love this video so hard. It’s everything I’m trying to say, only said better. ;) It’s visual poetry. It’s philosophy. It’s beautiful. Two minutes. Shots of Awe. I can’t get enough. You really should watch it. I don’t think you’ll be sorry. :)


Thoughts In A Coffee Shop.

“Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.” ― Dr. Seuss

It’s Friday evening and I’m sitting in Starbucks–well into the final chapter of my upcoming novel. From here a final proofread and final edits on my part and then it’s off to the editor so she can work her magic. Victory is so close– I can almost taste it.

I’d like to mention that despite what the cover might suggest (with all its warmth and beauty) that Somewhere With You is not exactly a light and fluffy, feel-good read. It’s fun and charming in places, yes, but that’s not the whole of it. I’m just not sure I’ve mastered the art of light and fluffy–yet.  :)

In the meantime…below, is a little insight into the way a writers my mind works. It’s probably proof that it can be a scary and yet a thrilling place–always down the rabbit hole, so to speak. :)

As I sit here pondering my characters and the issues they face and how to wrap it up and tie it all together a van from an adult rehabilitation hospital pulls up and ten or so patients and their caretakers file out. I observe from a distance as they enter the coffee shop, place their orders; and suddenly I’m struck by the beauty of this life and all we take for granted. I’m struck by how self-centered we can be as human race, how we complain about anything and everything, not stopping often enough to be thankful for all that’s worth being thankful for. I type a sentence about this very thing and look up as one of the patient’s stops in front of me. He asks me what I’m working on, about the specifications of my computer, and we spend a few minutes chatting. He wishes me a good night and I think about chance conversations and how much they add to our lives. I think about the man who is walking away and all of the adversity he must have faced in his life–yet here he is finding pleasure in such small things, coffee and a conversation with a stranger. And I hope the conversation brightened his day as much as it did mine. I think about the aunt who helped raise me (she had muscular dystrophy) and how much her adversity has shaped my life. I recall the time she picked me up from kindergarten and fell as we were walking back to my house. I think about what it felt like to watch someone struggle to do something I considered so basic and yet feel so helpless, unable to do anything about it. I think about how she managed to get back up and how she still kept showing up day after day. Then, I consider my lack of tolerance for people who make excuses about why they “can’t” or “haven’t” and consider for the first time in a long time that maybe it’s ok to feel that way.

I watch the barista, how patient and kind she is and how she knows the patrons orders by heart and I’m suddenly a mess thinking about all the good there is to seen in this world—if only one looks for it.  I think about how sometimes we focus so much on the big things that we loose sight of the joy that can be found the seemingly insignificant.

I put my head down and go back to work. Three hundred or so words later I glance up and see a man coming up the street walking past the coffee shop towards the strip center. I realize then that this man is my father. And I wonder how it could be possible that the person responsible for putting me on this earth could be so close–and yet so far away. I do not leave the coffee shop to speak to him. I simply observe and get back to it. I type this and I contemplate the confluence of joy and pain. The paradox of beauty and heartache. I think about how it can be that a stranger can suddenly not be (a stranger) and one that shouldn’t be is…

On The Importance of Truth-Tellers and Booking It.

“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing
and rightdoing there is a field.
I’ll meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass
the world is too full to talk about.”
― Rumi

Excuses. I can make them with the best of ’em. Being a writer–and by that I mean using my imagination on a daily basis to make stuff up, seeing things as I want them to be, well, I’ve always been pretty good at believing the stories I tell. Even the stuff I know doesn’t serve me well. I am the queen of buying my own bullshit.

Thankfully, I’ve gotten really good at surrounding myself with people who are willing to tell me the truth. Especially, when they know (and I know) it needs to be heard. Case in point: “Change isn’t supposed to be easy, Britney,” he tells me. “If it were easy, if accomplishing this came easily– don’t you think everyone else be doing it? Don’t you think you would’ve succeeded already? You want what you want. So, quit making excuses about it. You know what it is you need to do…do it. Start by putting the energy you’re expending now…whining to me to better use by just getting to it. YOU have to believe you can do it. Not me. Not anyone else. You’re right that it takes seeing what isn’t there. But you know how to do that.”

Hmmm. Hard to argue with that. ;)

It would’ve been pretty easy to call up someone who I knew would let me play small. Someone who would pacify me, tell me that it’s all right, that there’s always next time, next year…sometime in the future. But these days, I know better. And that has been the greatest gift. My hope is that you also have truth-tellers in your life. It’s liberating, that’s for sure.

Now, on to book news… I’m really pleased with how things are going since the release of Breaking Bedrock last month. It was a little nerve-wracking to write a sequel, seeing that many sequels aren’t received well. It was also different knowing that there was an expectation, something I had to live up to. But thus far, both books are selling well and the reviews have been favorable. Thank you all for making it what it is.

Next week the blog tour kicks off. I’m excited to see what folks have to say as many of the bloggers are reading Bedrock for the first time. Also, I’m told there will be giveaways. Keep an eye out for those via FB and Twitter.

Speaking of giveaways…I’m starting a new “Friday thing” called BGIF (Be Glad It’s Friday or Britney’s Glad It’s Friday, whatever ;) where I’m giving away my books as well as spreading the love by giving away books I’ve read and enjoyed. The first one is Me Before You by Jojo Moyes. I think this book may be one of my all-time favorites. I read it in a day and it caused a (book) hangover for weeks. I still think about it. More on that, here.

As for what I’m working on now, a third novel, (perhaps a series, I’m still deciding) well…I’m not going give too much away just yet…but the photographer and cover designer have been booked…so, more details soon.

Note to self.

“Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won’t either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could.” ― Louise ErdrichThe Painted Drum LP

I find it’s always a pleasant surprise when life offers up something that makes you realize that perhaps you’ve grown more into what it is that you are meant to be. Funny though, how it has a special way of making sure it’s special ordered just to suit your needs. A few situations over the past week and a half have shown up and brought with them the realization it’s nice to finally come to a place where you can clearly discern what is and what isn’t worthy of your time, worry etc… The road goes on. And the party never ends. ;)

Anyway, so I happened upon a not so nice, at least ten paragraph review the other day, and you guys, I actually laughed about it. Which says a lot…I’ll never forget reading my first review of the sort and how it made me feel. I was at the beach on vacation with my family and I stupidly let it ruin nearly an entire day. Don’t get me wrong; I clearly expected that bad reviews would come. But admittedly, and to my detriment, I never expected the outright mean ones. In my naiveté, I didn’t foresee people not only picking my work apart but being so cut throat while doing it. So when I stumped upon the latest nasty review the other day and found that it didn’t bother me in the least what this person thought of me or the book… I realized I’d turned a corner. Instead of being upset about it, I was simply grateful that she’d read the book. And while most of what she had to say wasn’t productive, I was able to take a few tidbits and use them in book two. :) Because here’s the thing… I didn’t write a “safe” book. I wrote about hot button topics and, so, yeah, I should’ve probably prepared myself a little better that those topics might not sit well with some people. I should’ve expected the extreme polarity in either loving or hating the book…and I didn’t. I just kind of assumed that people would understand that novels are fiction and more importantly that I am not my characters. But those assumptions were dead wrong.

All that said, the process has been a learning experience for sure. For starters, I’ve learned that it’s best not to assume anything. People are going to have an opinion of you one way or another- and usually it has more to do with themselves and their beliefs, than it does you or yours. It’s more important to embrace the people who love you and spend your time there than it is to try to change the opinions of those that don’t. Sure, it would’ve been nice to “get” this all beforehand…but life assures me there’s no fun in that. ;)

Lastly, some housekeeping stuff:

  1. Word has it that Bedrock is going to be featured in the November issue of Austin Woman Magazine so, if you’re local, keep an eye out.
  2. Bedrock will be making its way around via a blog tour from 10/21-10/25. I’m told there will be giveaways and I’ll be posting updates over on Facebook & Twitter that week.
  3. I’ll be signing at The Texas Book Festival on 10/27/13 from 3-4 pm in the Writer’s League of Texas booth. Come say hello. But, please, only if you’re nice.
  4. There’s also an author event planned at BookPeople on January 10th at 7pm, which I’ll be a part of… so save the date. Rumor has it champagne will be involved…

P.S. Here’s what I’ve written to this week. Please note it’s likely to be highly offensive for some people. You’ve been warned. For me though…it did the job. :)

How Trying To Land An Agent is A LOT Like Finding A Lover…

Please note, this post is meant to be pretty tongue and cheek so don’t take it all literally. Unless of course you want to, well.. in that case, do.  And, yes, I realize that I’ve only been querying for a little less than a month and that it takes some people years to land an agent. I do know these things and so lets just say that patience isn’t my strong suit. I also hear those of you who are wondering why in the world I’d trade being indie in order to go the trad route. I hear you. Trust me. :) This isn’t meant to be a debate about one or the other. I’m pro both ways. Or any which way, actually. I’m sharing this because I know many of you are going through something similar. Whether it’s a job, a lover…or like me an agent that you’re trying to land, sometimes it does help to know you’re not alone. And that there’s an upside to waiting, hard though it may be. 

I’m on deadline so I’ll have to keep this short and sweet. Also, I just moved the said deadline up by three weeks so it’s looking as though Breaking Bedrock will be released around mid December or so.

There’s big news and no news on the agent front. My manuscript is in the hands of a handful of agents at the moment. That said, I’ve also received a handful of rejections in the past week or so. Just a quick statistic I’ve heard on landing an agent. Most NYC agents receive somewhere around 400-600 queries a month, of which they request (maybe) 25 manuscripts, usually offering to represent only 2-3 of those. To say the odds are tough would be a little bit of an understatement. That said, I’ve had requests for 10 fulls thus far from some of the most well respected agents in the industry. So, I know based on statistics that something in my query must be pretty good. That said, still no offers of representation. Yet. Which brings me to tell you how trying to land an agent is really pretty similar to finding a lover….

First off, just like with a lover…I don’t want just any agent. Obviously, I want someone with similar goals who believes in me and my work. But first it takes getting the right person to notice me in the slush pile…and that is a feat. Just like with dating you have to hope what you’re offering up is music to their ears. And DAMN IT if that music isn’t SO subjective. You have to be generous when describing why you’re querying any particular agent. And you guys, I’ve found myself saying things like “your writing/blog/twitter feed just spoke to me” but, of course, only when it was true. So…then when they notice, the next step is laying it all out there. Which is a bit like being naked and saying “This is me. And THIS is what I’ve got. Take it or leave it.” And having them leave it. ;)

Just like with lovers…there’s the waiting. Is he gonna call? Is he not gonna call? He loves me. He loves me not. Then comes the dreaded rejection. With agents it can come in a few forms. There’s the form letter, which means: we’re really not a good fit and saying anything more is a waste of both our time. There’s also the more specific, but sucky nonetheless, and perhaps even worse, the: “it’s not you it’s me” kind of stuff which you know almost always means it IS about you. And my personal favorite…”I’ve made mistakes before and this could be another one of them.”

But all that said, rejection is just the beginning. Par for the course. What happens when you put yourself out there. It’s business. I get it.

And I’m guessing that finding an agent who offers representation is a little like being lovers AND married to one another. It’s kind of a big deal. Which makes me appreciate each and every experience, every rejection, every no that I’ve received. For everything that didn’t work out the way I’d hoped it would, I’m grateful, it makes me just that much more thankful for all that I have been given in life.  As it is with love, waiting sucks and rejection hurts…but finding a good match, someone who not only wants what you’re offering but is worth having…well, I believe that is the sweet reward of persistence. And just as it has been with love, I’m banking on guessing and hoping…that it can happen with agents, too.

P.S. Here’s a little something silly about fitting in and finding your kind. Dance party, anyone?

I’m pretty sure I used to be funny…

“Insane people are always sure that they are fine. It is only the sane people who are willing to admit that they are crazy.” — Nora Ephron


You guys, I swear, once upon a time I used to be funny. I don’t know whats happened but it seems I’ve “lost my funny.” Somewhere along the way it’s like it just got sucked right out of me. These days I’m more “in my head” and I feel things too much. It’s sort of like I’ve become more sensitive, less able to laugh stuff off. But I’m still looking for that girl, the funny one. The one I used to be. She’s here somewhere, I know it.

Most recently, I can’t quite decide if I’ve lost my mind or if half of the world has lost theirs. I’m really leaning towards the latter.

Seriously, what is wrong with people these days? Where did kindness and compassion go? When did we start treating people like numbers, instead of, well, people? If I took the time to share with you all of the insane requests and comments I’ve gotten recently it would either be the funniest or the saddest post in the history of posts. It’s so funny, it’s not funny… and it makes me wonder what has happened to humanity. EDITED: After receiving several concerned emails I decided to let you guys know that I have in fact NOT lost my faith in humanity…I have come to realize, instead (and on the bright side) that my ability to (still!) be shocked is alive, well, and kickin’. ;)

Now, please, if you aren’t the good kind of crazy…go away. My attention span is limited and I’m over it.

“THE EDGE, there is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over.” ― Hunter S. Thompson

P.S. In case you’ve got a case of the crazies too, here’s a little Ben Howard for you. Everything he says, just everything. Oh and keep your head up. ;)

The Gift of 32.

“This is an important lesson to remember when you’re having a bad day, a bad month, or a shitty year. Things will change: you won’t feel this way forever. And anyway, sometimes the hardest lessons to learn are the ones your soul needs most. I believe you can’t feel real joy unless you’ve felt heartache. You can’t have a sense of victory unless you know what it means to fail. You can’t know what it’s like to feel holy until you know what it’s like to feel really fucking evil. And you can’t be birthed again until you’ve died.” ― Kelly Cutrone, If You Have to Cry, Go Outside: And Other Things Your Mother Never Told You

Last week I turned 32. Thirty-two isn’t exactly considered a milestone birthday (even though I happen to think every birthday we’re lucky enough to celebrate should be considered a milestone:) so I’m not sure why I felt compelled to write a list of lessons I’ve learned or why they’re swirling around in my head begging to be let out. But here we are nonetheless…

I wrote this list with my children in mind…these are things I’d want them to know if I weren’t around to tell them myself. While it is my belief that we each learn lessons in our own time, as we experience life (otherwise what’s the point of the journey?!?) and not so much from a list or what someone else has experienced, I do hope this provides an avenue, or at the very least, serves as a conversation starter, in which to discuss the bigger, more important questions in life.

32 lessons I’ve learned in my 32 years:

  1. Every relationship in your life is a mirror reflecting how you feel about yourself. Chew on that for a moment. This one is BIG. And if you learn NOTHING else from these lessons know THIS: There is nothing that you have to do, or be, or achieve to be worthy of love. You are already infinitely precious and truly loved exactly as you are.
  2. Become a master at disobeying. But, of course, only after you’re out of your parents house. The world and those around you will often expect you to conform to their ideal of who you are. Older doesn’t always mean wiser. And others best intentions will not be always be in your favor. Ask the hard questions and live on terms that make sense to you.
  3. Love has a heart of its own. What else is there to say, really? ;) It just is, what it is. It almost never happens like (or when) we think it should. And it rarely makes any sense. Also, it is mostly true, especially in the beginning, what they say about love being blind. Your family and your friends do not need to be in love with the person you’re involved with, you do. While it will hopefully all mesh well, just know it is likely those same friends and family who will clearly see whether or not the person you love brings out the best in you. You know, while you’re too busy being happily blind. All kidding aside, I’ve found that love is almost always worth the risk. Just trust your intuition. It will rarely lead you astray.
  4. Expiration dates on friendships/relationships are ok. The question isn’t always how can you keep them intact, instead you should be asking how alive the two people in the situation are. Are you growing or stagnating? How can this experience bring more to the both of you? Sometimes growth as individuals necessitates moving on.
  5. Make sure to ask yourself if you’re truly emotionally and spiritually alive on a regular basis. You’re breathing, you’re alive! That’s great news. But how alive? Do you wake up excited…or are you “just trying to get through the day?” Getting through the day and surviving is ok, sometimes, but go on like this for too many days and there’s a problem. So many of us are unwilling to ask ourselves these questions because the answers can be scary. Checking in with yourself frequently will lead to fewer problems down the road. A rut can last a lifetime, if you let it.
  6. To understand what love is, you have to understand what love isn’t. Enough said. It is my greatest hope that you learn this lesson as quickly and as painlessly as possible.
  7. Get down to the root of self-love. Ohh, that sounds kind of dirty. Seriously though, most of us think we love ourselves but fail to pay attention to the thoughts running around in our head. Figure out as soon as you can what it means to truly love yourself.
  8. Allow receiving to be as gratifying as giving. There are two sides of the coin. Enjoy both. Admittedly, this is one I haven’t always been so great at. But the ability to allow yourself to be on the receiving end of anything (without feeling guilty about it) is an important quality to have.
  9. Grief and heartache work on their own timetable. And it never seems to work with yours. Let yourself sink into the emotions you’re feeling. It’ll be uncomfortable…but necessary for healing. As cliché as it sounds you’ll need to get comfortable being uncomfortable. It’s easy to mask the discomfort with other things (food, shopping, pick your poison) but don’t. Doing so will only prolong the process. There is no such thing as a quick fix.
  10. Relationships are perfectly imperfect. They are supposed to be containers for growth. For some reason we expect that it’s normal for our jobs, children, friends, etc. to let us down…but not our lovers. In expecting our love stories to unfold perfectly, we set ourselves up for unhappy endings. No one is going to “complete” you. In the best relationships, it is ideal when both people want (and keep wanting) to bring their very best to the table. Don’t wait or depend on the other person to do it first. Relationships are not tit for tat. Communicate what it is you need. Word hard at love. Love fiercely. Like anything worth having, don’t be too quick to give up on it. Aim to please. And forgive fast. Continually, check to make sure you’re still on the same page. But if you find that you aren’t, and one or both of you no longer want to be…if one day you find that it cannot be fixed, understand that’s ok, too. Be courageous in letting go, and know that lesson 11 was meant to be read at this time.
  11. Trust that what’s waiting for you is worth moving towards. Be willing to let go and steadfast in discerning when the time has come. This invaluable advice in business, love, and life in general. It likely will not be easy, in fact it will probably hurt like hell, but I’ve met very few people who say they wished they had stayed in “that job” or in “that relationship.”
  12. To understand the light you have to know the dark. The good tastes all that much sweeter after you’ve experienced the bitter. Life just works out that way.
  13. Fasting of any kind (particularly juice fasts) will cause you to literally go insane. Spiritual experience, my ass. Don’t try this at home, folks. There is a reason that throughout history people traveled to the desert when fasting. If I had to guess, based on personal experience complied data, I’d say that it was so their loved ones didn’t have to suffer through their insanity.
  14. You actually can eat just one. Buy into their marketing BS and you’ll likely have gained five pounds and a bad mood. Food is energy. And as the saying goes: “you are what you eat.” So choose wisely.
  15. When in doubt, pause, and listen. Unless it’s a life threatening emergency. In that case, act and/or call someone with credentials. Remember how important stillness and mediation is. If you aren’t able to sit in silence and be at peace with the quiet, you won’t be able to hear the answer when it comes.
  16. Have the nerve and self love to go on the journey. Following your heart takes courage. Be courageous. It will be worth it.
  17. Be a student of life. Never stop learning. Be open to considering that your way is not the only way. No one likes a know-it-all. They’re boring.
  18. Speaking of boring, don’t be. Have fun and have it…often. I’ve found that few situations call for complete and total seriousness. Unless you’re my pilot or surgeon, be silly. Laugh often. Play hard. Learn to be okay with being the butt of a joke. Because the plus side is…you’ll excel at comebacks. Comebacks are an essential skill in the game of life. Which could very well be a lesson of its own.
  19. Be the one who looks for the silver lining. Optimism is an incredibly magnetic trait. Almost everything has an upside.
  20. Know when to keep your mouth shut. Like I said, almost everything has an upside. Sometimes though, it will be important not to communicate that said upside…because you’re the only one who sees it. Know the difference between the two. A smile or a nod can do just as well.
  21. Always be empathic. Choose your words wisely and consider the appropriate time to use them. You will face situations where you’re uncomfortable standing in another’s pain. There will be times when there will be no “right” thing to say. Don’t tell them you know how they feel. You can’t. Don’t tell them you know someone who has faced this before and he/she did so and so. Don’t say something for the sake of saying something. Fill the uncomfortable silence by just being. Let them know you are there. There will be times when this is all you can do.
  22. When someone shows you who they are believe them. Pay attention. Like your mama told you: actions always speak louder than words. Second chances are ok but only if you’ve communicated what you will and will not tolerate clearly to begin with.
  23. And then trust. Trust that the right relationships/opportunities will be given to you because you have the wisdom to see them. In order to receive the best life has to offer, live with a sense of wonder. If you’re hurt (and you will be) you must be willing to try again. With an open heart. And an open mind.
  24. The most important relationship you will ever have is with yourself. You’re probably thinking I’ve repeated myself here. A few times. There’s purpose in my repetition. Self awareness is one the best gifts you can give those around you.
  25. Never forget…women have a different level of hormones surging through their bodies each and every day. This is important to know whether you’re female or not. In fact, it’s probably more important to consider if you’re not.
  26. Be on a first name basis with failure. If you never fail, how will you ever learn? Remember, all great innovators were at first failures. They simply kept trying. Behind every big hit or blockbuster movie there are usually at least a handful produced that weren’t. The media is quick to tell you about the success story but rarely will you hear about the blood, sweat, tears and “failed attempts.” This tends to keep a lot of people from trying again once they’ve “failed.” But hopefully not you. If you feel called to accomplish something, want to spend your time doing it, and you’re passionate about it (keep in mind there will be days when you aren’t and you wonder why you even bother, these usually pass) then don’t give up.
  27. Cherish those you love. Tell them often. Show them in a way that is meaningful to them. When in doubt, leave love notes in unexpected places.
  28. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want. No is about as bad as it can get.
  29. Everything will make more sense once you’re a parent. I invite you to question why things are the way they are. I understand it’s a part of your growing up. Just don’t be surprised when this is my answer. And, yes, it is final.
  30. Never trust anyone who is unkind to wait staff. People show you who they are by the way they treat people they feel have nothing to offer them. This personality trait is magnified in restaurants.
  31. You do not need to be fixed. You are YOU for a reason. Most of us have our own moral compass and understand where we need improvement. Trust that you’re well rounded enough to figure out what needs fixing. Then, yes, be willing to change. Adaptability is absolutely necessary for growth. But please consider your values first. I pray that maintaining a sense of individuality is one of them.
  32. Rarely listen to critics. Everyone has an opinion and they’re more than willing to share it. Hell, these days they even give them out for free. Tune them out.
  33. I know I said 32 and hey let’s not get ahead of ourselves with 33. But, I’m an overachiever, what can I say. :) So…here’s one to grow on…I believe that everything comes back around to love. Giving, and loving until it hurts, as it turns out, will most likely not kill you. Just do it. This world seriously needs more of it.

Keep On, Keepin’ On.

“When someone you love dies, and you’re not expecting it, you don’t lose her all at once; you lose her in pieces over a long time—the way the mail stops coming, and her scent fades from the pillows and even from the clothes in her closet and drawers. Gradually, you accumulate the parts of her that are gone. Just when the day comes—when there’s a particular missing part that overwhelms you with the feeling that she’s gone, forever—there comes another day, and another specifically missing part.” ― John IrvingA Prayer for Owen Meany

It’s been a rough week so far and holy shit you guys it’s only Wednesday. Well, I guess, it can only go up from here. ;) My tough week doesn’t have so much to do with what I’m about to share with you but more to do with timing and other not- so- important- in- the- grande- scheme -of-things- stuff. Oh…and the fact grief is a sneaky little bastard. If I had to describe him to you, I’d tell you that he’s a freeloading son of a bitch who just shows up at his leisure, and hangs around whether you want him there or not. He’s the croissants at the grocery store, the phone number you can’t bring yourself to delete from your contact list, the uninvited guest at your nieces play, the box of unopened mail in your kitchen, and the car that’s sitting in your garage. Grief, he’s everywhere and no where at all. An elusive asshole, a joy stealer, when you see him you’ll know him, try not to get too comfortable, but instead be thankful for the times he disappears just as quickly as he came.

Anyhow, perhaps you’re having a shitty week, too, and the message below will make you smile. Maybe it will give you the inspiration to do something a little crazy, think outside the box, or simply keep on, keepin’ on. Seriously, check out this guy at the 2013 World Domination Summit. He’s pretty awesome and the fact that he lives in Austin, well of course, what else could he be, but awesome?! It might be a fun one to share with the kiddies…a good lesson on knowing what it is you want, going after it, and keeping your sense of humor in the process.

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/70167462″>Jia Jiang</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/aonc”>Chris Guillebeau</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p

P.S. If that doesn’t do it for you, here, have a side of Phillip Phillips. My kids sing this song around the house incessantly. It makes me smile.