MY MANY MOAI

I feel like an enigma as the introvert that loves joining groups. Growing up, groups served my desire to disappear in the pile of, and yet identify with, my peers. I wore the labels from showing up for just enough meetings to get in the yearbook picture and partake in the free snacks. I knew the truth I aimed to occupy, I just balked at my own value not believing I offered anything new. I feel like teenage angst boiled over then reduced down to a thick syrup of Imposter syndrome.  

Thank goodness that my heart knew what it needed and where I wanted to wind up, although my feet kept kicking myself in the ass. My heart backed myself into some amazing groups that I still can’t believe include me in their membership. These groups not only broadcast my soul to the world but, in turn, give me clarification and confidence about who I am. Each group feels a little bit like home. 

These lovely Red Hat Society ladies grew by word-of-mouth but are nation-wide!

 

High School Girlfriends – Friends who have known the many evolutions of me (since before I knew who I was) and still stay close anyway!

OMagInsiders – Group of hearts on a similar wavelength who expanded my horizons and helped redefine the second season of my life. 

Eat My Way Around The World – Flavorful foodie friends introduced to me by work who remind me to season our work life with social meals. They know what I’m saying even if words evade me. 

Redondo Rocks – Kind, creative and generous people aiming to embellish people’s days and  strengthen the positive connections in our community. 

Mom Tribe – I have a flourishing and eager-to-help network of moms who have driven carpools, fed my kids, kept them if I have to be somewhere at an off hour, taken them on fun adventures, and helped me keep my eyes on the ground – so much so that my children believe that I really do see everything everywhere. While I love them all for helping make me a successful mom, I love them as people and look forward to the times when the kids are scarce too.  

Korean Adoptees – We’re so spread out around the globe, but we’re reuniting online through a wide variety of groups where we help carry the history we share together and mentor each other to find the answers we hope for or the path we are meant for.

I’m so fortunate because these groups offer:

  • A security blanket – Non-judgemental support when needed
  • Level-headed perspective – They speak truthfully and directly to help steer me
  • Calming agent – They listen and give great hugs which dissipate the feeling of being alone in any storm
  • Strong support – They totally jump on my crazy train when I’m roaring down the tracks
  • Sweeten my life – They surprise me with special treats of kind gestures and rituals
  • Bonus: Did you know that by participating in regular moais, your life could increase by 8 years (Blue Zones)?

WHAT ABOUT YOU?
Do you belong to any moais, groups or clubs?

What kind?
What is your longest-lasting Moai?
Do you prefer online or in-person groups?

How many people are in your Moai?
Do you know how to say Moai?   Mo•ai (/mo,eye/) Japan
Tell me the top three things your Moai give you!

WWP: WRITE AN “ABOUT ME…” ABOUT YOU

Once I hit job-searching age, I received instruction on writing effective elevator speeches. These conversation starters explained myself and my goals – blurted out in the time needed to ride a few floors when momentarily trapped with someone possibly capable of changing my life’s trajectory. For me, creating a quick tagline to communicate about a company, product or service came far more naturally than talking about myself. What about you?

So, here I sit working on re-branding my website for the second time – but now considering what I believe and what I want to offer in that arena. I carefully consider each method of delivery and my messaging. I’m squeezing my brain and wringing my heart to find words to explain it in a way that embraces readers and convinces them to sit a while longer and see what happens.  Part of my resistance comes from the fact that I’m entering a new frontier and still trying to define exactly what space I will occupy. You too?

 

From my Twitter profile, my shortest “About me!”

WRITING EXERCISE 1: Elevator Speech about you – 1 liner – Who are you and what are you doing?

I recently completed the Brand You! Executive-education course working to gain a full 360 degree/3-D perspective of who I am and what I offer. Truthfully, this course benefits anyone trying to navigate this changing job landscape to remind you of your brand, your passion, vision, and core values that may translate better than specific skills being rendered unnecessary thanks to technology and automation.  

We only look and self-evaluate ourselves based on our reflections in the mirror. In this course, we receive evaluations and quick insights from others who see the “real us.” They know our faces straight on.  We also took a variety of third-party evaluations, some confirming information I knew about myself, some clarifying characteristics about me that now suddenly made sense.

My 150-ish word “About Me” from my Facebook Page

WRITING EXERCISE 2: Brief about you – 150 words – Who, what, where, when, and why are you doing this?

So what other questions do you ask yourself to help get to the core of who you are? Here are a few I’ve learned from a few conferences and podcasts. Share yours in the comments!

  • What would you do if you knew you could not fail?
  • What do you like to do in your spare time?
  • What would you do if money was no object?
  • What are three things that bring you joy?
  • What would you write in your obituary?

Another reason why I have difficulty with this task is, again, imposter syndrome. I don’t always understand the “how,” I just know that I get stuff done. Sometimes it feels wickedly smart and other times extremely messy. But I get there.

This mantra quickly helped me transition from my year of vulnerability to a year of striving, confidence, reinvention:  Why Not Me?!

This is the first paragraph of a way too long profile from my blog!

WRITING EXERCISE 3: About you – as long as you need – Who, what, where, when, and why are you doing this? Then start revising by cutting half out… See what happens.

EXTRA CREDIT:
So while I did refer you to my various sites and my old “About Me” examples, I am working on redoing my site and will share new info “About Me” shortly! Feel free to let me know what caught your eye or what made you look away. While I finish re-working my various “About Me” please consider asking one more question for me:

What do you need right now?

Leave your comments or DM me if you wish to let me know privately. I want to know what you are working on, what is challenging you, what steals your time? I can’t wait to learn more about YOU!

#WednesdayWritingPrompt #WWP #Autobiography #MiniMemoir #Bio #Writing #AboutMe #AboutYou #OMagInsiders #MakesMeWander

WWP: WHAT IS A HEALTHY HABIT I DEVELOPED (AND ONE I RELEASED)?

With each passing year, the changes in the seasons – especially as summer cools and turns to fall – become more noticeable to me! Perhaps because I feel how fast they blow through now that my kids are older. Perhaps because I’m aware of how fast life is passing overall.  

A fellow blogger Jessica Gustafson inspired me this week by explaining how one masters living seasonally! I also relate to where she stands with making revisions to her blog, newsletter and such (while I’m just starting to design revisions and a newsletter).  Her example will pull me through to the finish line with revamping my blog!

But first, I’m responding to her prompts – I smashed 3 into 1. I look forward to checking back in with her blog at the end of this season too.  

Ready? Pens up!

  • What is a healthy habit you developed for yourself physically, mentally and spiritually. What is one you can release in each area?  

Recently, I recognized that my daily routine followed the same path every weekday. Work, drive to the grocery store, sit in the parking lot for at least 10 minutes listening to the radio while playing some distracting game on my phone, wandering the aisles of the grocery store looking for dinner inspiration, then driving home to cook, clean up and crash until bedtime.  Sprinkle in daily debates with teenagers and I felt tapped out by the end of the day. Fortunately, while I recovered from surgery recently, I picked up a habit that improved my physical, mental and spiritual well-being. Walking. 

While still in recovery, walking helped my body function properly and increased my endurance. The endorphins helped me feel better and lifted my mood.  Secondary benefits included the freedom it provided me (when restricted from driving) and my daily outings helped keep my curiosity healthy and my moods sunny. As my strength increased, I challenged myself with distance or speed records. I knew that I needed to reassess my workday routine to ensure I could keep my new practice up. While I used to tell myself to get up from my desk every hour and walk or walk 30 minutes at lunch, my consistency stunk. 

To force my plan, I gave up my parking spot on campus. I now walk about 15 minutes each way to my office and back.  On a physical level, it contributes a lot to my 12,000 daily step goal. It raises my heart-rate and gets me to breathe deeper (especially on the stairs up to my third floor office). On a mental level, sometimes it allows me extra time to finish a podcast I’m totally into, or it accommodates my physical meditation while I count steps or my breaths against the squares in the pavement. Spiritually, it gives me space to be present, be more mindful. Sure, I’ll admit this also keeps me safe from tripping on a crack in the sidewalk while looking at my phone. I clear a space within my cerebral clutter to talk to myself, evaluate what works and what does not. My chats with myself are kinder, more supportive, not just nagging myself or cursing – ok, maybe I still sometimes sound like a sailor in my head. I take the time to consider what I might work on or what I need to let go and let the universe take over. 

One new mantra that made sense to me the moment I heard it is “Why not me?” These three little words are helping me shed the habits I need to release: a) Crashing on the couch then wondering why I’m not hitting my marks b) Giving too much power to the “What ifs?” and c) Feeling like I can’t enjoy the Successes for fear that a Loss will be right behind it – to bring me back to level ground.

I still find it hard to believe that a little action as simple as putting one foot in front of the other releases all of this magic!  I also sometimes find it hard to keep up the routine on the weekends, but that’s my next goal!

What about you?
How do you check in with yourself at the seasons’ transitions?
What habits did you pick up during this last season?
Have you let any go?
Do you have a mantra? Or many mantras?
What do you do when you need to work through an idea?
What does the voice in your head sound like?
Do you journal? Do you want to know how to live seasonally?
Did you check out her other journal prompts?
Have you done other #WednesdayWritingPrompts ?
If you do – share the links in the comments below!

#JournalPrompt #WWP #selfreflection #Seasons #ChangingSeasons #Blogtober #Blogtober2019 #LiveSeasonally #Inspired #WritingPrompt #MakesMeWander

WWP: WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE SEASON?

What’s your favorite season? Yesterday I would have answered, without a doubt: summer! Summer permeates my being in such delicate yet curious ways. I’m drawn to the water, the hypnotic rhythm of the waves and the journey that they travelled. Beach sunsets wrap any day up in a colorful package, gifting me satisfaction and recharged cells to start again the next day. The relationship of sand and water fascinates me – the millions of tiny pieces that support our weight as we walk upon them and the texture and temperature changes as I dig deeper with my toes or Flashdance until sand becomes quicksand. The smell of the ocean pulls me from any moment I’m walking through, instantly muffling out any city sounds and bringing peace and the image of endless horizons to my mind. I worship the sun (more responsibly as an adult) and feel the lightest when the days are bright and sunny!

Used Courtesy of SprayedOut.com

But, after opening my windows this morning, ready to stare down my computer and face the blog post I wanted to write by today (this isn’t the one), a cool breeze came in through the windows – the winds of change!  They tickle me to move, they itch me to forge a new direction! After daydreaming through summertime, I feel the strength of fall! The loud crunch of leaves after falling from the trees thrill me. I revel in the mystery of each day wondering if the sun or clouds will win. I crave natural textures of cotton cable-knit sweaters, the bark of trees, the ironic strength of squash skins, and I’ve already filled my nose and home with cinnamon pinecones! I want to stretch during fall to get ready for this whirlwind winter season that ends each year and ushers in the new year.

I used to think this restlessness originated from my Gemini birth sign – which happens to be an air sign. I don’t put a ton of emphasis on zodiac and personality tests BUT as an adoptee it does put a fun spin on Nature vs. Nurture. Since I don’t have relationships with biological relatives, besides my kids, it’s hard for me to tell which craziness I created myself or inherited. These Gemini and INFJ definitions also remind me that I’m not the only one in the world wired this way.

Used Courtesy of SprayedOut.com

This fall we’re preparing for more change than I prefer, starting with my son moving to college at the start of the new year. He’s a spring admit and I feel so fortunate relishing a few extra months with him while everyone else already dropped their kids off. I’m also stressing about that first college tuition bill. Although it makes sense on paper, until we get past the first one, I’m really stressed. However, the stress fuels my fire and I’m focusing it towards something that I can impact – my website.  Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, my new site will soon feature a) More consistent posts; b) More organized topics to make it a better resource; c) Better features and more levels to provide more for those who visit. Now that I yearn to share more of my personal journey and help others plan theirs, I’m creating and planning! It’s exhilarating!

I do look forward to the winter and the many reasons to reconnect with friends and families to reflect on our highlights while wrapping up this year. I anxiously anticipate spring — sending my son across town to college and a new beginning!  While his campus is only 18.2 miles away, that’s just a hair past my reach and .2 miles outside of my comfort zone but I look forward to watching him embrace the opportunities to learn and come into his own. Thankfully, he’s just an uber or metrolink ride away. My daughter deserves a new level of relaxation at home as an only child (which hopefully overrides the fact that her chores just doubled)! With each year older that my kids grow, I cautiously sample a schedule with more freedoms and learn to appreciate my kids in new ways.

So while this season’s winds of change pick up, I plant my feet firmly on the ground, lean into the winds, and breathe deeply! I am ready for the next season. 

 

What is your favorite season?
Do you feel different with different seasons?
When is the last time the winds of change ushered in something big for you?
What defines the fall season for you?
Can you believe it’s nearing the end of the year already?

#wwp #WednesdayWritingPrompt #Blogtober #Day2 #Seasons #WindsOfChange #Changes #WeatherTheStorms #WritingPrompt #SparksOfInspiration #OMagInsiders #MakesMeWander

MY 2018 WORD OF THE YEAR

Every year and every day offers a new opportunity to start over, to learn, to grow, and to be kind – to ourselves and to others. After reading the title of Shonda Rhimes’ book, 2017 became my Year of Yes! [I hope to actually read the full book in 2018 because if the title alone launched one of the most amazing years of my life so far, the possibilities seem powerful]! Spending a year living outside my comfort zone, and at the same time, very much inside my head and heart, helped me contemplate and focus my goals, get in touch with my history and plot new paths for my future. [Cue the confetti and the marching band!] What word would be worthy to follow the Year of YES?!

Truth be told, at the end of the year, I felt like the inside of a spaghetti squash in that every time one scraped the internal surface, a whole new pile of stringy things spilled out all over the place giving a whole lot of goodness, but at the same time, making an even bigger mess. You can dress it up and fool the world into believing it’s as good as pasta, but truth be told, it’s still spaghetti squash. [I think I just nominated a mascot to accompany the Word of the Year!]

My 2018 Word of the Year:

Since I already felt a bit raw after everything that happened in my life and in the country during the last year [Who can relate?! Woo!], I yearned to bring things back to a level that I could control by forming deeper connections with people while also helping others strengthen their connections! To truly connect, one must be willing to be vulnerable.

Honestly, it just felt like the right year to bust everything open for inspection. I’ve always ended my job interviews by bragging about my ability to compartmentalize to ensure employers that my crazy busy home life won’t spill over into the workplace. This skill also helped me cope with yucky situations [aka: loss of control when knocked off track] like my divorce, times where I know I didn’t stand up for my goals, or the literal shit show – the flood of 2015, and put them away in a shoe box in my closet to return some normalcy to my life. By constantly rushing to stay ahead of the discomfort to prove “I’m fine!” I was not present in my life, nor was I living an authentic life. [#FineIsFake]

Now, More than Ever:
a) I’ve stepped into some new circles of amazing people:
Connecting with my tribe of Insiders, my family of Korean adoptees and working to deepen connections with my large circle of family by friendship, I’ve noticed that part of me loves to drop a joke, create a diversion and flee when people get what I deem “too close.” I’m calling my bluff.
b) I’m fixing to celebrate my 50th (in 2020) with an epic mid-life Personal Journey: …As opposed to a mid-life crisis [unless Elon Musk wants to throw a convertible red Tesla at me – even if it has 70 million miles on it]. Since a journey of that size takes time and I’ve already started the ball rolling – why NOT now?
c) I don’t want my quirks to spill over to the next 50 years, or to my kids: I want to contain the crazy to my first 50 years so that my kids can find their own colorful ways to go a little nuts. Plus it’s a great lesson to them that I can identify things in myself that I want to improve then find a way to do it.
d) I’m tired of putting myself last: My health depends on it. So easy for us to say, so hard for us to do, to say we’ll stop putting ourselves last. If you do this, just STOP! No, I have no idea what you and I will do with our scant free time, but let’s start by grabbing a green juice [I meant caramel latte with whip] and we’ll figure something out.
e) I’ve never been one to fight to keep up with the Jones’: That’s served me well, especially as a single parent, because it’s just not going to happen – and I’m fine with it. We want for nothing. …OK, maybe I tried to keep up for a hot second while in college. My son can tell you verbatim [rolling his eyes] about the time I bought myself an expensive watch. After wearing it for a day, becoming totally paranoid and squirmy in my own skin [rather than totally over-the-moon higher than “Fine”], I returned it.

So what does this mean?
Does this mean that as of NOW I’ll be wearing my spaghetti squash heart on my sleeve?… Corner you at the grocery store demanding to know your 5-year plan?… Buck any trends and purposefully go in an opposite direction?… No! I still would love to check out catchy new exercise trends [dance craze], hang out at relaxing travel destinations, or try the newest age-fighting lotions. I’ll admit though, without the help of my #OMagInsider role, I’m usually a late adapter. So, maybe don’t look for the latest trends here, but I’ll tell you what I’m loving right now! You’ll get my in-depth reviews boasting about the obvious fun and the secondary benefits!

The Sparks of Inspiration:
My kids – I don’t think my kids feel I’m any crazier than their friends think their parents are crazy [sorry if that is news to you]. But, before I send the kids into the world, I want to teach them the value of human connections and being connected with your inner self.
Other’s truths – So many of the amazing people that I connected with this year trusted me with their truths and gave me the strength to follow suit.
Brené Brown – Having just dived into Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday podcasts [since Summer 2017 – told you, late adapter…], Brené was the first one I listened to – hoping for a cliff notes of her books since I look forward to hearing her speak in May! Call it a bandwagon or call it a message from the universe. She’s got my ear now, so I will listen.

What about you?

  • Do you have a word or mantra for this year? #OneWord
  • What are your favorite podcasts for personal growth?
  • How do you take Super Soul Sunday? Watch it? Podcasts? Read the Book?
  • Do you have a better answer than “Fine” when someone asks you how you are?
  • Is this me subliminally whining about needing to wean myself off flour carbs?!
  • Do you have a favorite Spaghetti Squash recipes so SS & I can be on good terms?
  • Should I commit to this word and hammer my into a necklace?
    I’m thinking myintent.org

    myintent.jpg

    Click thru for $5 off your necklace or bracelet! It’s meant to be!

19. IF YOU HAD TO MOVE TO A STATE OR COUNTRY BESIDES THE ONE YOU CURRENTLY LIVE IN, WHERE WOULD YOU MOVE AND WHY?

This question fits well into the conversations being held about the results of tomorrow’s United States Presidential election. While everyone else who threatened to move to Canada packs their bags, I’ll be heading to a different region. Right now it’s a two-way tie between 2 locations where it’s a gift to be able to take up residence in either town.

PROVENCE, FRANCE

prov-home

Click on photo to book a room to stay here. I don’t earn commission but I might beat you to it!

To me, this charming yet sturdy medieval area offers a romantic lifestyle filled with rolling lavender fields, weekend mornings spent walking through narrow streets to wide-open markets only to return with a basket filled with fresh flowers, produce and meat. One’s country home truly may be a castle, as sturdy as the medieval ones sprinkled throughout the valleys.  Walking into the ruins of any castle sends you back in time in history.  

Life feels simpler, yet more luxurious when starting the day rising slowly from your cloud of down beds and comforters. Vibrant purple lavender covers the countryside, bright yellow sunflowers populate the fields, and lemon yellow, blue, green and red cover many tables in town.  At the same time, one may wander from their farmhouse into a Michelin starred restaurant that serves the region’s best vintage wines and unforgettable food.

SANTORINI, GREECE

santorini

Rent this spot through airbnb by clicking on the photo. Save our spot in the chairs, I’ll grab wine!

A certain confidence comes from living on top of a volcanic eruption, separate from other parts of the world on this island in the Aegean Sea.  One feels closer to God (or the Gods, based on Greek Mythology) based on the altitude and the frequency of beautifully domed churches.  In other parts of the world the layout of the island, with literally so many people living on top of each other, could test even people’s strongest nerves. In Santorini, the proximity means you have others to appreciate nature’s gifts with – as witnessed by how the whole island seems to take a break during the transition from day to night celebrating each sunset.

One feasts like the Gods with fresh Greek salads, feta cheese, phyllo dough drizzled in honey, fresh meats and sea foods nourishing our bodies. Suddenly the sculptures of the Greek Gods seem accurate in their portrayal of health and strength and totally achievable… until the ouzo and baklava comes out.  

Both of these places slow life down unapologetically and remind us that we are fortunate to inhabit this Earth. They’ve both been around for ages so stop and sit, listen and learn a while.

So VOTE in the comments! Where should I go? Where would you go?
Would you stay in your country, but just visit another state/province/territory?
Where have you visited that was the strongest departure from where you live?
What about you?
If you had to move to a state or country other than the one you currently live in, where would you move and why?
If you answer, drop your links in the comments!
This question came from Marc & Angel’s 50 Questions That Will Free Your Mind

 

#Greece #Santorini #Provence #France #SouthofFrance #MedievalFarms #MarcandAngel #HackLife #Vote #Election2016

DAILY PROMPT: SENTIMENTAL – Ridiculous Redirection

 

My divorce happened before the Conscious Uncoupling trend. While it didn’t fall under the category of most congenial divorces, it certainly didn’t qualify as one of the worst. Ridiculous Redirection better described my conscious dissolution – detailing my disdain for the situation, the people involved and my attempts to maintain a sense of humor and forge a fresh, clear perspective for making life-changing decisions. This, immediately after losing my mind and being steamrolled by emotions beyond the range of what I’d previously considered possible on the Richter scale.

Initially, my tribe of devoted supporters rallied, listened, commiserated, reveled in the ridiculous along with me. Though they provided a much-needed crutch I leaned on often while learning to stand again, it suddenly dawned on me that I’d mounted the carousel horse to crazy town. So I leaped for the brass ring while the carousel groaned on.   I bruised my heart a bit more but felt immediately lighter with ridiculousness in pieces at my feet.  I ran to catch up to my kids’ and my new life, that already held a strong head-start.

 

When I stopped to catch my breath I immediately felt that I needed to slow down and be present to properly navigate the future and remember the high-fives along the way.

Does rehashing Sentimental steps of my ridiculous redirection mean I’m stuck in a bitter dead end without a clear path towards my future? I feel that I finally received the streetmap (OK, GPS) showing me I got through Despair, to the border of Desperation, constantly weaving in and out of Unsettled, and that confirms I am passing through Hope finally on the road towards Inner Peace which still just barely seems visible in a distant  horizon (Looks like Oz!)

To me, simmering in the sentiment is necessary on occasion to remind me of growth, evolution, resilience, adaptation, and invention. I now realize that my resentment came more from the unexpected, though maybe not completely unforeseen, changes to my 25-year plan than the things my wasband (was-my-husband) and I did before, during and after that point.

 

 

We three continue forward now watching Ridiculous transition into Reality – a reality that we are present for every day.

RED STARBUCKS CUP (inspired by Toby Keith)

red

RED STARBUCKS CUP

Inspired by Toby Keith’s

“Red Solo Cup”

.

Now Red Starbucks cup is the best receptacle

To fuel me through work-days, ball games and festivals

And their coffee is strong but some say they lack testicles

To Decorate Merry Christmas

.

Hey Red Starbucks cup is trash, inexpensive

In all my years, ain’t seen folks so offended

And unlike most gripes it’s something NOT printed

Folks seein’ red ‘bout missing holidays

.

CHORUS:

Red Starbucks cup, I fill you up

Order a grande, why not a venti?!

I love you Red Starbucks cup, I lift you up

Why’re they so whiney? Had too much caffeine!

.

Now I’m cracking up how you’re taking a stand

But I don’t relate, these’re First world problems, man

Cause you’re pouring your passion into the wrong plan

Am I wrong, it’s just a cup

.

But the “Merry Christmas” name campaign ain’t that hard-hittin’

All’s lost anyway when barista fouls the name written

On you with a Sharpie when they get real busy

Take a sip, steamed milk hit… relax

.

Chorus

.

Now I’ve seen you in white and I’ve seen you in green

But only you, Red, will do for this coffee queen

Cause you are the palette on which I scribble scenes

To bring the real warmth of the holiday

.

Red Starbucks cup, your season won’t last, it’s

More than a color, you’re contents – fantastic!

And believe me that I’m not the least bit sarcastic

When I look at you and pray:

“Red Starbucks cup, you’re not just Winter (No, no, God no)

Stay all year, yea (Year-long)

Thank you for bringing me cheer”

.

Chorus

.

[repeat]

.

I couldn’t help it, I had this rolling around in my head since the issue started simmering in the press.  Now it’s hit a boiling point with politicians chiming in and competitors taking the chance to do it better.  Without pointing out the obvious – if this is ruining your hoilday, the cup ain’t the problem.  Ellen said it best with a hand-crafted dose of holiday humor.

For real holiday cheer, buy someone who’s not expecting it a warm Starbucks drink and see how THAT makes you feel! Warmer than a Quad Latte in winter!

random

WRITING CHALLENGE: Ellen Mulholland’s Extra Fun with Words

Through a fortunate chain of events, I stumbled upon a delightful author, Ellen Mulholland, with an amazing website sure to inspire budding writers.  I can’t say that I’ve read her books yet, but will report back when Amazon delivers the books to me this week! *(YAY!)*  Still, part of becoming a writer involves writing and she offers a wonderful section on her website called “Extra Fun with Words!”  This month she held a writing contest with a variety of writing prompts.

While I’m not between the ages of 12 – 18, I have a thing for writing prompts and accepted the challenge for my own practice. Since I am at least twice that age, I allowed myself twice the amount of words too. Below you’ll see the writing prompts I chose (In Purple) and the story that filled in the gaps. I welcome your feedback and for sure, share any additional writing challenge websites that I should try!

Photo borrowed from www.glamour.com

Photo borrowed from http://www.glamour.com

     She never loved winter, but it was different now since the events of the past summer. After feeling guilty for lying to family and friends, and being protective of the reason for it, she and her husband had announced her pregnancy.
     Due to her family history, her regimented summer and fall monitored everything she did or ate. She embraced the journey, carefully logging everything. Her husband provided unwavering support and, together, their confidence and excitement grew with each doctor appointment.
     Reaching the 36-week “full-term” milestone, on the winter solstice, gave her goose bumps. They found themselves in uncharted territory having never dreamed of making it this far. While hospitals urge parents to create one’s “Birth Plan,” she never put it in writing, so as to not jinx things. She rode this wave of energy like a chariot, pre-washing baby clothes, assembling bouncy seats, and decking the halls for waves potential visitors.
     Though their large family holiday celebration kicked off Christmas morning, they cooked a special multi-course feast together for their own Christmas Eve.
     “Babe, it’s our last Christmas as a couple!” She smiled to her husband, while artistically placing rosemary on the roast. “Will you still dream up meals like this after the baby comes?”
     He proudly held up her special celebratory juice spritzer. “Sleep deprivation may force me to buy a cookbook. An easy one with 3 steps or less.”
     “Delicious plan!”
After a relaxing dinner, and cleaning up together, she sent him to start the fire. She slipped into her nightgown, adding a large red satin bow around her tummy. She tried to massage out the stiffness in her back from the active week. Before leaving the bedroom, she mused at her reflection, draped in the nightie that had gone from short to scandalous as the fabric tried to cover her belly.
     Rejoining him in the warm firelight, one motive drove her. “Have you ever wanted something SOOO badly that if you don’t get it you may die?” She sat with her back to him on the couch, moving her hair aside, inviting a massage.
     “Keep talking.” He put the remote down, now that the screen displayed the warmest crackling flames. Gently, he worked on her shoulders.
     “Lower back, Baby, please.” She fanned herself with one hand while rubbing her belly with the other.
     He blew lightly on the back of her neck, to cool her off and heat her up. “What do you want me to do?”
     Her breath quickened and she leaned forward. As she threw her head back. “I need ice cream,” she exclaimed to the gods.
     “But it’s snowing…” As he wrapped his arms around her, a kick from the bottom of her belly punctuated the urgency.
     A low moan escaped from her lips. “Unh, I think the baby wants out!”
     “No fair ganging up on me!”
     “I mean it, we need to go!”
     “Fine! I’ll go!”
     “Us! To the hospital! Now!”
     He jumped off couch, immediately into upright position. “But what’s our plan?!”
     Between patterned breaths, she briefed him, “You get the car, we drive down Magnolia – there’s a 31 Flavors, and we go have this baby!”
     He raced to the bedroom, grabbed his wife some pants, and scooted her down the snowy path to the car. He ran back, grabbing his shoes, wallet and their suitcase, already packed. Nerves tied his feet together, stopping him at the door. Seeing his wife sitting in the car, still tied with the bow, he knew the gift of a calm husband was better than a plan for any new directions.
“Rocky Road!” She exclaimed from the car!
     He took a deep breath, exhaled, and walked out the door.

47. WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU NOTICED THE SOUND OF YOUR OWN BREATHING?

From the second I opened the office door late last week, the din of heavy traffic welcomed me as my boss headed directly towards me with a smile. I ducked out of his way waving pleasantries as he passed through. I’d deposited my purse in the drawer, unlocked the computer, when suddenly he reappeared.  Quickly, I jumped into the traffic flow to get some answers. Finally, upon returning to my desk, parking myself in the seat, a large cleansing breath escaped my lips startling me! I joked to my co-pilot, that it was far too early for that.

...and repeat.

…and repeat.

Apparently the distress and detox yoga dvd that my daughter and I did the night before couldn’t hold back the combination of work, life and finals. During the video, careful care was taken to feature the gal’s diaphragm demonstrating correct inhaling and exhaling form.  Apparently we weren’t focused enough on breathing because my daughter noticed, before I commented, that the video focused a majority of the time on the girl’s boobies – from every angle.

Finally, for my make-believe half-marathon training – which will come to life when my class work ends next Tuesday – I’ve started climbing the stairs at work when possible.  Even when I trained 6 days a week for a ½ ironman, stairs still always winded me.  So to counter this, I started my marathon breathing to climb the stairs.  Two quick breaths in, two quick breaths out and this results in me restoring the ability to speak faster than usual.

No, I get it, the point is, when did I just sit alone with myself and focus on my breathing? I also am aware that things will leap off the page to you when you need them the most. The tricky part is that one receives and applies the advice in a timely manner.  So today, you have my word, after finishing voiceover for one finals project and before diving into my draft of my finals paper for my other class, I will drop off my kids, retreat to my favorite corner of the world, let the sunshine hit my face, the caffeine course through my veins, and let the breaths come slow and steady.

Unlimited fresh air and perspective to inhale!

Unlimited fresh air and perspective to inhale!

What about you?
When was the last time you noticed the sound of your own breathing?
If you answer, drop your links in the comments!
This question came from Marc & Angel’s 50 Questions That Will Free Your Mind

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