LIFE IS A JOURNEY

16 Feb

“Life is a Journey with problems to solve, lessons to learn, but most of all, experience to enjoy.”

My dad passed away in a horrific car accident on November 2002 in which he caused.

That’s when my life changed!

I  knew very young that life was not going to be easy, and that I was going to have my challenges along the way.  I was not a great student, was not overly smart, did not have a creative talent.  Knew that if I wanted anything in life I would have to work hard for it.

journeyBy November 2002 I had a wonderful husband and a beautiful little girl.  That day when the phone rang and I got the message that my father passed away it was the worst day of my life.  It wasn’t that I did not expect it.  He was an alcoholic and I knew that death was just a step away for him.  What hit me so hard was how he died.   Not only did he pass away he also caused someone’s death because of his addiction.

The effects of this incident have stayed with me for many years and made me evaluate my own life.  It’s made me think how precious life really is and how short it can be.  When we are young we think that we have our whole lives to do anything we want, that we have time.   We let fear and  insecurities stop us from pursuing what we have always dreamed of doing.  We talk about our dreams, but we never make that first step toward them.  We make excuses why we can’t pursue them.

November 2002 changed all that for me.  Yes it took a few years for me to get all my ducks in a row.  When I turned 40,  I focused in and made personal changes.  The funny thing was that I was thinking of a whole different journey for myself, a more creative journey. That is how 4 chicks started.  But life had different plans for me.  I went back to school, I knew that I wanted to study Holistic Nutrition but with my husband traveling for work so much and having 2 small girls at home, I knew it was impossible for me to go to a campus-based university.  So I researched the best Holistic Nutrition distance learning college to help me achieve my educational goal.   Some disagreed with my choice of school.  But I believe in trusting one’s intuition and going with the flow of life and seeing where it will lead.  Many were asking what are your plans for life after college.  Truthfully, I did not have a plan at all.  I knew I wanted to help people get healthy.  I really enjoyed the learning process without all the stress of  what specific job this was leading too.  I have great faith in life and know that I’m the only one that can change my future.  I knew I was going to have obstacles along the way and was prepared to face them.  In January 2014 I finished! Where will this all lead me?  I don’t know but I’m excited to find out :-).

It still makes me very sad to think about my father.  More because he did not value his life or the consequences to others of his actions.  He did not understand that life had great plans for him (as it does for each of us).  He lived his life with the notion that ‘if you have lost it all, why even try’.

I believe that everyone is put on this earth for a reason and YES life is hard but it’s up to us to make a difference within ourselves, family, community and world.  If we stop blaming others for our challenges in our life and focus more on how to move forward in a positive and uplifting way, we really then begin to enjoy the journey.

And life is a journey, and we must learn to enjoy it and not focus so much on the final destination.

So what happens now at mile marker 2014?  I can’t wait to find out!!!!

2014 Muse Challenge: What Now?

30 Jan

 Join the 4 Chicks this year to stay focused on the next SMALL thing!

Now that it’s one month into the new year, are you moving closer to your creative goals? Perhaps, like the recording artist Rihanna, you may be asking yourself “What Now?”

If you “just can’t figure it out,” you’re not alone. For 2014 I’m challenging my 4 Chicksand youto ask yourself this same question as often as possible: What now?

But instead of screaming it in reaction to events happening around you, stay calm and query yourself for an answer. Something very specific and very small. What’s the next immediate, tangible action you can take?

Here’s one: Join my 2014 What Now? Challenge. To celebrate and share your beautiful little victories, feel free to check in with the Chicks one of the following ways:

What Inspires Me

23 Jan

At a writing conference this weekend, I realized the speakers that always inspire me the most are the illustrators. It makes sense because I think in pictures when I’m writing. If only my hands could create what I see in my head. *sigh*

Anyway, I also realized the need to use visuals more in my writing process simply for the inspiration they provide. Here are a few that are inspiring me this morning.

Making 2014 SPARKLE!

7 Jan

Okay, yes I know that SPARKLE! was our December power word.  And, yes I know it is now January.  And, no, I didn’t write a post in December. That’s because, frankly, I didn’t feel very sparkly in December. I felt chaotic, thankful, busy, relieved, and a lot of other mixed emotions but not really sparkly.  In the last week of the year, when most of the hosting and feasting was over, I was simply happy to feel and be lazy.  Because I’ll admit – I was exhausted from 2013.

I don’t make New Year’s resolutions, but I do choose an overall “theme” for each year.  For the past few years it’s been: to be uncomfortable as much as possible. In other words, to constantly say “yes” to new things, to push myself, to make possibilities realities. Because the more uncomfortable you are, the more you grow.DSCN0049

And, it’s worked quite well. To name just a few results, I’ve gotten my own business running on all cylinders, developed some wonderful clients, taught at my former college, become a public speaker of sorts, started a new networking group, learned to paddleboard, learned to surf (barely), learned to play the piano (sort of), kayaked for the first time, made a music video with my Chicks, and written a LOT.  However, I still feel like a beginner at many of these things.

Mario Sarto CCA-SA 3.0

Mario Sarto CCA-SA 3.0

So this year, I’m changing things up a bit.  Always doing new things is great, but now I want to focus on doing things better. I’m going to focus on polishing my craft, whether professionally or personally.

In particular, in my writing, I am in the final stages of completing an approx 35,000 word Middle Grade manuscript.  I’ve started an awful lot of stories before, and finished very few.  This is the one I’m most proud of so far. And, to give myself the chance to make it bloom into something bigger, I have to stick with it, polish it and give it a chance to SPARKLE!  So, our power word for December has become my Word to Live By in 2014.  I’m gonna make it SPARKLE!

HAPPY NEW YEAR – My 2014 Goals!

4 Jan

Happy New Year!

I don’t know about you all, but it felt like the holiday’s just flew by.  Usually I’m able to sit down and write my goals for the new year.  It helps me be accountable on the things that I want to accomplish before it gets lost with my hectic life.  There are years that I’m able to accomplish many things and there are years that I don’t even accomplish one thing on my list.  But that is Ok, I just add it to the next year.

But for some reason, this year I could  not think of what I want to accomplish or do for 2014.  Don’t get me wrong there are many things I still want to do but I was trying to think of things that was not time consuming or much effort from my part.

Have you ever had those moments that you are thinking of something and you are about to disregard it for whatever reason and something you read or heard convinces you to not give up, do not disregard or ignore it.   Well I just had that moment.

skydiving

This was challenging for me!

I’ve been reading a book called Succeed: How we can reach our goals by Heidi Grant.  She writes:

“Setting and achieving challenging goals has added benefits besides great performance. Think of a time in your life when your accomplished something really difficult, and compare that to how you felt when you pulled off something relatively easy.  Which feels better? Succeeding at something hard is more pleasurable, gives greater satisfaction and happiness, and increases your overall sense of well being.”

As I contemplating what she wrote, I started looking at what gave me great happiness and it was those goals that I set for myself that were not easy and had me doubting myself but when I was able to accomplish them, gave me such an amazing feeling.

daily mileExample: I have never run before and at 40 years old decided that I was not just going to do a 5K, I was going to do a triathlon.  Call it stupid on my part to try something harder, than doing something like a 5K first (like if that was not hard enough for someone that had never run before).   But it was the best decision for me.  I knew if I trained for a 5K, I would be able to do it, if I stuck with it.  But a Triathlon seem so much harder and had me thinking “can I really do this?”  Can I push myself out of my comfort zone? YES! As I look back I always did better on things that took me out of my comfort zone.   Am I scared to death? YES!!!!   I always knew that we are here on this earth for a very short time and I always wanted to make my life count for something for someone.  I wanted to be an inspiration to may girls, that even in the hardest time you are able to get through it and keep pursuing your dreams.  But finding a balance is very hard, I never want my children to feel neglected because of my own dreams.  So I try to choose carefully what I want to do and what is really important to me.

There is a motivational video that I love to listen to and he said

“The wealthiest place in the planet is the graveyard, because in the graveyard we will fine the inventions that we never were exposed to, ideas, dreams that never became reality, hopes and aspirations that was never acted upon. THE QUESTION IS WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO WITH YOUR TIME?”

So, here it is my 2014 Bucket List!  (few of these goals I know that I will be focusing on and the others might happen or not, but I’m not so worried about them if it doesn’t).
1. Find an activity that we all can do as a family together (bike, volleyball etc) (MUST)
2. Take time to focus on my spiritual journey (MUST)
3. Start working on my Documentary (This is the reason why we started the 4chicks and a Muse)
4. Continue my education in Holistic Sports Nutrition (MUST)
5. Compete in Spartan Races (Already signed up)
6. Bungee Jump (scared to death)
7. Take a paddle board class (Dream)
8. Learn to sail (Dream)
9. Go to Greece (I don’t expect this to happen but I’m still putting it out there just in case LOL).
10.  Make time for my chicks and our amazing blog!   (MUST)

What are your goals for 2014?

Let Your Little Light SPARKLE

24 Dec
This creative family e-card conceived by hostingthemuse inspired me to do something fun.

This creative family e-card conceived by hostingthemuse inspired me to do something fun.

Once again this year I failed to take a decent family picture and send out holiday cards in the snail mail. So last weekend, inspired by Chick Eva, I realized that my last hope was to do something electronic. Eva is the source of much of the creative mischief in my life, so feel free to blame her for what followed.

Last Friday I got this idea for a song in my head and started fooling around at the piano. As a Florida native, I’ve never seen a white Christmas. Nor have my kids, who listen with wide-eyed amazement as my husband regales vivid tales of playing in snow during his childhood in Chicago. Why not have fun with the juxtaposition of wishing for snow in Florida when we literally were in even the 80′s over the weekend? How cool would that be?

My husband shook his head at me the way he does when he knows I’m taking on something I shouldn’t and he’ll be forced to help me. He covered me with that look that says, “Really? Again? Why?” He pretends I’m forcing him to play along with me, but I know that secretly he likes it.

Grumbling that the chord progression was too hard to remember and that he’d never be able to play it all together, he sat down next to me. We’re two music hacks trying to arrange a song, and it’s a frustrating process. But he kept working, making music from my clunking notes. “This is all I want for Christmas,” I pleaded.

Later that day, while driving my daughter to her roller skating class, I tossed my notebook to the back seat so we could brainstorm ideas for the video. She sighed loudly, as only an almost-thirteen-year-old girl can do, reluctantly scratching pencil to paper as I suggested possible visual shots we might take. She rejected thought after thought I suggested. “That’s a stupid idea,” she hissed after one. “I just don’t see the point of doing it all.”

I clawed the wheel. This was her inner critic lashing out at me, even herself. I felt adrenaline surge in my chest as if a dark hunter were trying to steal my precious bear cub. If we weren’t already late for skating, I might have pulled over.

“Don’t say stupid,” I rebuffed her before proceeding. “And don’t ever…ever call an idea stupid. You have a long time to become fearful and bitter and cynical. You’re only 12. You have a lifetime ahead of the world and experience telling you not to try, that things are too hard, that your creative ideas are stupid, pointless, worthless. Don’t start blocking yourself now, or I promise you, you’ll never feel fully fulfilled. It’s taken me a long time to stop listening to that voice in my head telling me not to be bothered, not to risk being laughed at, or worse yet, ignored. I’m 41; if you can learn from my painful journey, you’ll be ahead of the curve.

“I believe that the God who created the universe gave us the gift of creating, too. It’s a healing gift, maybe the only hope for the world you’ll grow up in, a world that often seems like it’s better suited to hating, tearing down and destroying–even killing–than to loving, building up and creating. Maybe that’s why God came to earth as a baby; maybe it’s the most beautiful literary metaphor of all time. I don’t know. I don’t pretend to know everything, and sometimes I question everything. It’s okay to question, to not know. But please don’t kill your artist now. I love you too much to see it happen to you, too… ” I drifted from my emotional diatribe back into silence.

“Fine,” my daughter finally said. “What if we had our big nutcracker lip sync one of the refrains?”

My five-year-old son was enthusiastic from the start, especially when I promised him he’d get to sing into the “mike-a-phone.” We spent the weekend working as a family, even roping in some of our awesome neighbors. Below is the result of our shared efforts. From our family and community to yours, Merry Christmas!

December Power Word: SPARKLE!

9 Dec

The Muse loves the holidays! Parties and gifts and lots and lots of cooking provide endless outlets for creative ideas. Let your creative inspiration shine and sparkle all around you this month. Are you waiting for inspiration? It’s here!

FLAVOR! Experiencing the different flavors of life

25 Nov

On facebook there was a game that if you commented or liked someone’s post about “what you might not know about me”, they will give you a number and ask for you to write something about yourself that people might not know.

Here is what I wrote:

Here are 11 things about me, in case you didn’t know.
1. I’m a level 2 Reiki practitioner
2. Lived in the projects in Queens, NY for the first 12 years of my life
3. Love Disco
4. When I was 10 years old I send John Travolta $1.00 for his birthday LOL.
5. Was an aerobic instructor in my late teens.
6. My first car was a Suzuki jeep.
7. Did a commercial for a Puertorican magazine.
8. Lived in Minnesota for 1 year
9. Owned a small business with a friend doing personalized books for children in Los Angeles.
10. I’m into genealogy! I researched my Grandmother’s family history from France to Spain and than to Puerto Rico.
11. Love to cross stitch

I found it interesting that many were surprised that I lived in Minnesota, or that I was into Reiki or enjoyed cross stitching.   They couldn’t see me doing those things or being interested in them.

I have always love experiencing new things and I’m willing to take a chance and give it a try before I say “No thanks, this is not for me”.   I want to taste, smell (well I don’t have sense of smell, so this is a hard one :-)), and see new things.  In a way I want to experience life like a toddler does.  I think we have lost that in our society.  We look at the world with eyes of distrust, judging it’s every move, and always trying to rush through it, till one day we stop and see that life has just flown by, and all the dreams and hope that we had once when we were younger are gone.   We then say I’m to old, don’t have enough money, I might as well give up on my dreams.

I’ve had those moments, that years pass by and I say “where did time go”.  But I also have had those moments that I try to cherish every second, every moment.  Because I know that today and NOW is all we have.  Life does not guarantee me that I will be here tomorrow.   So if TODAY is all I have than what am I willing to do, to savor, to experience right now!  What is my life purpose? What can I do to contribute to the world that I live in? How will my children remember me, when I’m gone?  These are the questions that I ask of myself.

cross stitchYes! I cross stitch, I practice Reiki, I love doing mud races and getting muddy, and jumping out of airplanes.  But I also love baking cookies with my girls, and watching movies on the floor when it’s raining, and playing board games.  I love making Christmas magical for them, because I too want to believe in Santa Claus!

So, I ask you, what are you choosing to experience in your life TODAY?

Nancy – Inspired by Giving Back

22 Nov

I have been a follower and supporter of the Four Chicks for a long time now.  While I enjoy reading the stories they post and have even dabbled in creative works of my own, only recently have I been inspired to share this creativity with others.

Not too long ago, I had the opportunity to volunteer for a few hours at a local food bank, America’s Second Harvest of the Big Bend (www.fightinghunger.org/).  While we were there, the volunteer coordinator gave us a tour of their facilities, which are amazing, and told us a little about what their organization does.  I was saddened to hear that she herself, a United States Military veteran, had been a recipient of their services.

This group, with the help of their parent organization – Feeding America, the USDA, and generous donations from and area businesses distributed over 5 million pounds of food last year, and served 44,000 people in one month alone.  Their service area includes 11 counties in the Big Bend area of North Florida.  The statistics are staggering.

  • 1 in 6 people do not know where their next meal will come from.
  • Of those, 1 in 4 is a child. 
  • For many of these children, the free or reduced breakfast or lunch they get at school on Monday is the first meal they have had since the same free lunch the previous Friday.  

I can only imagine the terror and desperation that a child who is hungry feels.  I hope I never know the hopelessness a parent must feel seeing their child go hungry or, possibly worse, depending on that child to provide food for the family.  The sad truth is that you never know what circumstances will bring to your life.  All you can do is prepare the best that you can, and hope you never have to rely on those preparations.

You may be asking yourself what all this has to do with a creativity blog.  I actually thought of the Four Chicks and their idea of finding inspiration and creativity all around us while listening to our coordinator talk about all of their different projects.  When you are battling against such overwhelming statistics and serving such a large community, you have to get a little creative.

  • BackPack Program: Children receive backpacks on Fridays with food to feed their family through the weekend.  It’s not five course meals, but it keeps them from going wholly without.
  • Summer Food Program: Children receive meals and snacks at a sponsored site.  Have you ever wondered what those children who need the free and reduced lunches do when school is out?
  • Brown Bags for Seniors: Bags of food supplies and groceries are provided for impoverished seniors.  Elderly in need are often as helpless as children.  When your fixed income doesn’t cover your basic needs, where do you turn?
  • Second Helpings: Excess prepared or perishable foods from local restaurants are distributed to partner agencies who serve prepared meals.  This not only adds to the number of people fed, but also reduces waste!
  • Food Fund Drives: Through the efforts of Feeding America, these food banks can purchase food supplies at significant discounts.  Your dollar goes further when donated directly to the organization than if you buy the food yourself.

These are just a few of the creative ways they battle against hunger.  I imagine few, if any, of their staff and volunteers consider their work to be creative.  All the same, it was a muse to this budding artist.

Inspiration and creativity live everywhere.  You may not be an artist, musician, writer, or any other traditionally “creative” person.  This doesn’t mean that creativity doesn’t exist within you.  Any time you are inspired by something, a little creativity is blossoming somewhere inside of you.  Reach for that creativity and let it guide you to your outlet.

Nancy Williams, Orlando, FL

November Power Word: FLAVOR!

9 Nov

During this kickoff season of notoriously unhealthy eating, focus on FLAVOR in your work as well as your diet. Forgo fatty fillers that add nothing to the content of your creation. Limit the sugary sweetness that in excess dulls the palette and even makes one nauseous. Instead, savor the FLAVOR! Spicy, saucy, tangy or tart; rich, deep, succulent or simmered–that’s the stuff feasts are made of.

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