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YOU WENT WHERE?! THE STAR MOVIE PREMIERE (without kids)

The magic of films, the power of storytelling and the glitter of Hollywood remain a few of the reasons I choose to live near Los Angeles. Films entertain and educate us, they change our perspectives, and expand our views of our world – or what exists beyond. My favorite trend right now revolves around telling historic or well-known stories from a different perspective – whether showcasing a lesser known person who had a significant role in history, telling a side of history that we’re not familiar with, or telling historic stories through fictionally-enhanced side-stories. My new fascination with history lies not with people’s outcomes, but with their journeys.

When invited to the world premiere of Sony Pictures The Star, the twin angels on my shoulders, Oprah and Shonda, eagerly responded: Year of adventure! Year of Yes! Despite working at a film studio for many years, I rarely participated in a project’s release. What a fun opportunity to see a film first and a festive way to ease into the holiday season! Plus this was another amazing destination on my journey this year. With two of my #OMagInsiders blogging pals – Camesha [MamaMotivator] and Rachel [RachelSimmondsFitness] – we set out to support Oprah in her film project, and hopefully thank her in-person for inspiring my Year of Adventure in person.

Approaching the Westwood movie theatre, crowds of fans outlined the streets huddling to catch a glimpse of their favorites from this star-studded cast. The snowy white carpet glistened as elegantly decorated Christmas trees reflected the flash of paparazzi bulbs.

Glimpsing the well-choreographed dance between the celebrities and the press fascinated me – especially the young media with a larger camera and staff than ours.

To our surprise, we effortlessly walked past the will-call line and crowds to the back of the festival set up along the white carpet for the guests and their families! Stocked with comfort finger-foods and carnival games, smiles shone bright from all who lingered in this carved out Winter Wonderland before heading into the screening.

This film exceeded my expectations in so many ways because of the balance in the film. While it’s a familiar story, this film presents the stories of many less-visible characters, little obstacles we hadn’t thought of before and the shock of experiencing it first-hand. While it’s a story of great magnitude, it’s presented in a sweet, simple way that people of all ages can follow with a great balance of good, evil, struggle, humor, skepticism and faith. While it’s a religious story, the amount of religion infused in the story isn’t too much, or too little – it’s just right. I highly recommend this film for families this holiday season. I can’t wait to take my mom, children and my niece!

Seeing The Star film in this huge theatre filled with the magic-makers – who took months, even years to complete this film – escalated my excitement for this project. I always try to sit through credits but in this moment we could applaud the creators as they closed this chapter in their amazing journey! Plus this amazing soundtrack had us dancing in the aisles!

There were a few messages from the film that resonated with me, especially reflecting on my personal journey this year, yet will benefit all ages. Whether your destiny remains unclear to you so far or it shines like a beacon as obvious as the star in the sky, it’s not just reaching the point of achieving your goal that defines you as successful. Equally as valuable are how well you stay your course, face fears or evolve when unexpected things happen or undesirable situations are put in your way. If your faith in your journey and in your goals persevere you rise above the naysayers and reach your goals.

No, we did not congratulate Oprah this time, but I left the afternoon with amazing memories, new life experiences tucked under my belt – shared with my newest best friends, and a new holiday family film tradition (to balance out our tradition of watching Christmas Vacation)!

For more shots of who I met on the white carpet check out my Instagram!

What about you?

  • Have you seen The Star?
  • who was your favorite character?
  • Who is your favorite celebrity voicing a character in this film?
  • What was your favorite holiday song/performer from the film
  • What holiday film do you traditionally watch?
  • What is your favorite holiday tradition?
  • What is your favorite role that Oprah has played?
  • What was your last new experience that you were excited about saying yes to?
  • Are you ready for the holidays?

#thestarmovie #sonypictures #Oprah #OprahWinfrey #TylerPerry #TracyMorgan #Sony #AnimatedFilm #Animation #HolidayFilm #ChristmasMovie #ChristmasMusic #ChristmasCarols #Soundtrack #MerryChristmas #FirstChristmas #Mary #Joseph #Bethlehem #Thestar #film #movie #premiere #makesmewander

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WARM FUZZY FIX: FAMILY PET EXPO

One of my daily highlights involves squealing with my kids over any cute animal video from my social media feed. No matter how good or crazy our day turned out or what different planes we’re existing upon, animals bring us together for a warm, fuzzy moment.

WTF: What Tiny Faces!

With every video, we dream of someday owning a property large enough to house every species we’re fawning over.  It’s no wonder, then, that we look forward to going to get a real warm fuzzy fix at the America’s Family Pet Expo.  In just a few weeks, the Expo will be flocking to OC Fair & Event Center Apr. 22 – 24, 2016.

May need to get a bigger dog house!

Here’s what I know about the Expo:

MOST OF US UNDERESTIMATE/UNDERUTILIZE OUR PETS:  With the exception of my high school horse, most of my pets simply eat, poop, sleep, drool, shed, bark/meow, run away, hide, play dead, play fight and ignore me until they beg for something they can’t live without right NOW. At the Expo, you’ll find animals showcasing skills and expertise – including Police dog demos, free-flight bird show and cat agility courses?!

Yay! Kids love a splash zone !

IF IT FOLLOWS YOU HOME, YOU CAN KEEP IT: Growing up, my friends owned cats, dogs, hamsters or fish. When we moved to California, I immediately met someone in our rural neighborhood whose goat maintained their perfectly manicured lawn and another family whose mallard controlled their snail population.  I love that at the expo you get to meet a wide variety of birds, exotic reptiles, and other pets. Plus, you may adopt them onsite – and learn proper care for your new family member. Over 600 pets were adopted last year. 
MINI MULTIPLIES ADORABLENESS: Everything becomes hugely adorable when tiny!  Come lay down in a field of mini donkeys, goats, sheep, and even mini cattle!  They’ll also have full-sized fowl, pot-bellied pigs and rabbits competing for your affection!

Enter the aquarium design contest!

SOMETHING FOR ALL*: Your kids will love the expo, your current pets will not. New pets would much rather meet your pets in a less stressful environment than in a crowded expo hall.  *PLEASE leave your pets at home.

To purchase tickets, click here.

 

 

WORK FIELD TRIP: Ran off to the circus!

Julia Cameron calls this an Artist Date, I prefer Work Field Trip.  

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I’ve already mentioned how the invitation to attend the Premiere Event for Cavalia’s Odysseo in Irvine this weekend already fulfilled my dreams!  This show, and this assignment, took me on a creative journey magically stirring something awake in my soul. When I received another invitation to attend press preview day, I immediately accepted this gift.

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As with many favorite childhood trips, my experience started from the freeway once I spotted the flags atop the tent.  The idea that the largest touring show in the world sat on land where nothing existed a week before astounded me.

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I mingled with other bloggers, press, and VIP guests. Though many were there for an assignment, most bubbled over with passion for horses, music or art.  

2-5-16 blog gear

Hah! My gear vs. their gear – I need an upgrade!

The show itself was more spectacular and high-energy than expected. The beauty of the show overwhelmed me and invigorated all of my senses.  Each act flowed into the next gracefully – even the 18-ton merry-go-round!.

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Even more amazing, we received behind-the-scenes access from Odysseo’s Founder, Normand Latourelle.

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Odysseo’s Creator: Odyssey = Journey with O = “eau” (water) at the end of the journey

He explained that computers traditionally direct musical cues for a show of this caliber. Because this show features live animals with individual temperaments, this show’s cues come from a live director. With the timing of so many seemingly death-defying acts, timing was crucial.

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The live music added a delicate veil of beauty to our experience.

1-25-16 Odysseo stand up excited 1 wk left

Conversations with performers brave enough to leap from their career paths to follow their passion truly inspired me.  One performer studied marine biology before attending circus school, another hoped to earn money while studying for the Bar exam. Some turned their professional riding into performance careers.

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Most people I know dreamed of joining the circus at least once in their lives. The nomadic family lifestyle mixed with the artistic beauty and danger of a circus mystify and entrance us.  

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WTF: Way too fast – can’t wait to see the full-length show!

Normand pointed out what I feel represents the true beauty of the show:  With the many different breeds and cultures represented here, everyone gets along. They believe that peace is best for a beautiful show. It’s been thrilling spending my hours on a “job” submersed in such creativity and such beauty.

 

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Lea Riviere Mixed Media on Canvas

 #OdysseoOC

SET SAIL FOR THE LA BOAT SHOW!

Close your eyes, imagine yourself at the helm, captaining your ship. Wind blowing your hair, sun warming your face with the course set for the horizon!  For once, I’m not speaking hypothetically, I’m talking about real boats!  What’d your boat look like? A sailboat, a motorboat? A yacht with champagne?

Boating whisks us away, instantly freeing us from our land-dwelling ways, promising adventure, relaxation, nature, and romance. This form of travel rebuffs the usual constraint of staying within the lines and muffles the visual and auditory clutter of our neighborhoods.  The tension melts away with each wave. Realizing how small we are resting on the water’s surface resets our center.

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I’m blessed with a marina view from my office. Every now and then we’ll see the tall masts of some super-huge luxury vessel, wonder who owns it and wish we could see it up close.

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Now is our chance!  The west coast’s premier boating event, the 2016 Progressive Insurance Los Angeles Boat Show cruises to town in a few weeks!  Whether you are looking to upgrade or just get your feet wet, it will offer hundreds of boats for sale: entry-level family cruisers, pontoons, wakesport boats, personal watercraft, inflatables, sailboats, catamarans, cruisers, to million-dollar yachts!  Plus, GEAR – it’s all about the gear!

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I’m so excited that Progressive offered me tickets to the show. I LOVE shows like this so I can submerse myself in all things nautical!

This show lasts four days (February 25-28), in two locations: The Los Angeles Convention Center and Burton W. Chace Park in Marina del Rey! The Marina will be a sailor’s delight with on-water lessons, sailing seminars and simulators!   There will be tons of Boat Smart activities and a high-energy kids zone where kids build their own sailing fantasy! Personally, I can’t wait to check out the Float-In Theatre!

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Buy tickets now: $15 for adults; Youth 15 and younger, with an adult, and active military are FREE. Save time, purchase tickets in advance at losangelesboatshow.com (Day-of-event tix sold at the box office).

Congratulations to our winner Christina Faulkner! She receives 4 tickets good for any day of the show, good for both show locations. Hope you enjoy your boating adventure! Thank you for wandering by! 

Check back every day (until the show starts) to see new boating songs you’ll be humming!
SAILING Christopher Cross
IF I HAD A BOAT Lyle Lovett

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CONGRATULATIONS TO OUR RAFFLE WINNER:  Christina Faulkner!

DREAM COME TRUE: CAVALIA ODYSSEO

Think back to the days when we were read magical tales that filled our hearts with hope and adventure.  Swift, elegant horses, dashing, brave heroes and heroines were the ingredients mixed into myriads of stories.  These stories extended our world beyond our backyard. With our eyes closed, our creative imagination transported us to other worlds! Now, my kids, my niece and I have the opportunity to travel to a mystical world with our eyes open!  My family and I are so excited to attend the premiere event of Cavalia Odysseo on February 6th!

1-16-16 Odysseo head shot

You don’t have to wait – shows are open now through Feb. 26!

From the very first glimpse, this show promises to hold something unforgettably magical for everyone in my family.  I grew up with horses, wholeheartedly believe in fairy tales and am the last person on this Earth who has never seen a Cirque du Soleil show.  This newest and largest $30 million production of Cavalia Odysseo, created by Cirque co-founder, Normand Latourelle, promises to stimulate our senses on so many levels.

1-16-16 Odysseo death-defying

I predict that my son will be blown away by the death-defying acrobats, my niece will want to take all 65 horses home with her and my daughter will hum the tunes for weeks. I look forward to hearing their excitement over unexpected surprises that they’ll never forget.

1-16-16 Odysseo Merrygoround

This show is double the size of the 2007 tour boasting 48 riders, acrobats, aerialists, dancers and musicians in a soulful and touching journey around the globe, showcasing at its heart, the mysterious relationship between men and horses.  I’m trying to imagine the sheer size of the production as the video clearly shows a lake and mountains – all under the big white tent!

1-16-16 Odysseo grand scope stage

For me, it’s also dream come true to be able to share this news with you before it happens rather than say “Look what we did, wish you were there!”  Wander along with us on this magical escape from our everyday lives!  Visit www.cavalia.net and book your tickets now!  The show premieres February 3rd with matinee and evening shows running through Valentine’s Day (what a great gift idea!). Some special pricing available.

See you in Irvine under the big white tent! What are you looking forward to the most?!

#OdysseoOC

 

Wander back soon and check my Wanderful Events page regularly for more exciting events!

 

PRICELESS COLLECTION!

With two children being promoted to new schools (one starting Middle School, one moving to High School) I spent the whole last semester lamenting how quickly years pass. My teenage son fans those fears stating “I’ll only be living with you for 4 more years!” He’ll already be eligible for a learner’s permit two months into his freshman year! Just. Not. Ready. Breathe! THEN my baby left the Elementary School that anchored us into our new normal when I got a divorce. Time marches on!

You ever notice just how much crap you accumulate in that time? Or is it just me? Before, during, after and in between moving I go through stuff streamlining and purging so my family will stop watching Hoarders waiting for me to star in an episode. While my collection of books extends past their bookshelves, overall I am not a huge collector because a) I get distracted easily and b) the minute I miss one, I stop since I won’t have a perfect set, plus I waver on getting 1 or 2 of everything (only to wind up at zero) so if they become valuable, neither child will feel slighted (the thrifty side of OCD).

So color me crazy, but I return with renewed energy to collecting rituals, adventures, or favorites that we can do together. “Experts agree” that we should collect experiences, not things!  The most logical argument pointed out that iThings are exciting at first until the next version comes out or you see your neighbor with the latest innovation. Then you are less excited til you get the next “best” thing. Experiences, on the other hand, grow fonder in our minds the more time passes. With time, the small issues (such as a snoring roommate you hope to leave in international waters) dissipate leaving you either able to laugh about mishaps or forgetting it overall since you were in an exotic locale when it happened.

The clock is ticking! When the kids leave I can only hope they have bags overflowing with amazing childhood adventures and the desire to return home for new ones.

Fortunately for me, social media keeps better records than my travel diaries did.

Vegas Road Trip!

VIRGIN HANDBOOK

His radiant smile attracts one’s gaze as the wind flutters through his hair. His British accent draws one in rendering people far less willing to resist. His irresistible confidence, magnetic energy and passion for everything he touches keeps us unable to avert our gaze! In a minute, I would turn myself completely over to him. I want to live inside his mind and see things through his eyes.  Richard Branson fearlessly leads the Virgin Empire with 400 company conquests worldwide. His experience and philosophy makes people yearn to be Virgin.

From Richard’s mouth to your heart, here’s how he stays on top:

BreakRecords

1.    Don’t be afraid to try anything at least once
Live life to its fullest – do what is fun! Test the boundaries so long as you won’t be embarrassed or imprisoned. Forge new paths where previously none existed! Don’t be afraid to take to the air!  Set your eyes on the most apparently impossible challenges then you’ll be forced

Here is how Branson waterskiis

Here is how Branson water skiis

2.    Let others watch: Restricting someone excites them more!
When people tell you something isn’t possible, become more enthusiastic and determined to show them they’re wrong.  Don’t let failure dissuade you: Identify the flaw, find a solution, and try again… and again.

The most attractive point - an open mind!

3.    It’s what’s inside that matters
Trust your gut.  Consider your customer’s first time – planning how to make a good first impression and keep them coming back for more could be far better than complicated, impersonal analysis.

Don't be afraid to redefine what's possible!

WTF: Wave to Fishies
Don’t be afraid to redefine what’s doable!

4.    Know who’s at your backside
Businesses are like busses, there’s always another one coming. Take the competition seriously (but not yourself).  If someone isn’t sure how to do it – or not doing it well – take control, make him or her over as your new pet project

ValueofRisk

5.    Don’t pay money for love
Follow your passion in a way that serves the world and you. If it’s just about the money, you probably shouldn’t be doing it. Don’t separate work and play – it’s all living. Don’t do anything with the feeling that one must do it – enjoy every minute!

As a child, someone labeled Branson as a future prisoner or millionaire. Branson blew past both predictions and never looked back.

“Screw it, let’s do it!”

Bucket List: Go to Necker Island!  Bonus: When Richard is hanging out!

Bucket List: Go to Necker Island!
Bonus: When Richard is hanging out!

NATURALLY, KIDS: HUNT FOR FOSSILS AND BONES

Our neighbors always inspire us with their outdoor adventures. Where I overflow with curiosity, I lack in outdoor survival skills. Thankfully when we set out on this adventure, our neighbors gave us a few tips – wear tennies and watch the tide.

For years, I’ve wanted to explore a sea cave on the sea edge of the Terranea resort in Palos Verdes, CA. Ever since seeing Disney’s Pete’s Dragon.  I instinctually knew that Elliott retired to California.

This summer, our neighbors came home with this…

Big Boned

…proof that large creatures, dragons even, live off our coasts.

After guilt tactics that Mommy always does what the kids want to do and now it’s my turn, promises of adventure, and one of possibly the best pretzels ever at Nelson’s, my kids finally agreed to help me hunt for Elliott.

Arriving at the trailhead, their pace quickened.

Suddenly the jaded teenager leads the pack

Suddenly the jaded teenager leads the pack

The seawalls growing higher around us opened revealing a little cove.

Immediately the kids were submerged in the beauty of nature and the magic of the adventure.

Lauren, my rock collector, hunted for a treasured memento.

Please Mom, may I keep it?

Please Mom, may I keep it?

We opted to look for smaller ones.

What treasures the cove held

What treasures the cove held

Carson found one with a chain link fence in it. Knowing it came from the top of the cliffs chilled us. Lauren found unique rock formations.

Aliens or humans

Aliens or humans

The kids skipped a few.

Skip it

WTF: With True Force – skipping rocks!

The day surpassed Carson’s relaxation goal.

Recalibrating from hectic  Middle School days

Recalibrating from hectic Middle School days

The cave called us up the cliffs.

Wait for me!

Wait for me!

We stood at the open mouth.

Bom bombom bombombom bombombom... We love you too

Bom bombom bombombom bombombom…
We love you too

The tide warned us to stay out – but, Carson leaped in.

A squishy shoe for the hike back is worth this view!

A squishy shoe for the hike back is worth this view!

The tide pushed him into the cave!

Mom, it's open way up in back...

Mom, it’s open way up in back…

We gals vowed to return another time when the tide retreats.

Lauren secretly hoped he was moving in

Lauren secretly hoped he was moving in

After catching their breath in a cave and promising to not resist as hard next time I get a hair-brained idea,

We'll never doubt you again! Mark their words...

We’ll never doubt you again!
Mark their words…

we hiked back to civilization in search of cool refreshments.

Manhattan Beach Creamery:  They custom make magic there!

Manhattan Beach Creamery:
They custom make magic there!

 

With a name like that, curiosity wins, although the kids opted for standard options. While they weren’t thrilled with the flavor, it was all part satisfying our appetite for adventure!

Never met a flavor I didn't like... 'til now.

Never met a flavor I didn’t like…
’til now.

We will return to the cave and explore deeper with head lamps!  Plus we want to wander down another trail to take us closer to the bone yard.

Now, the kids can’t wait to see where we explore next.

SMURF HAPPENS! The Premiere

My kids and I rarely visit the Westside of Los Angeles. Traffic and rampant Bruins make it less-than-desirable for us. Last Sunday, we were noticeably blue because we got invited to Sony Pictures’ blue carpet premiere of The Smurfs 2! My kids didn’t grow up on the Smurfs like I did, but we loved the first movie and were thrilled to see the sequel!

Smurf Happens!

Smurf Happens!

We grabbed Lauren’s friend and set off on an adventure!

Smurfin' Street Scene

Smurfin’ Street Scene

Within a block from the parking lot, you saw Men In Black positioned at key positions along barricaded streets.  According to my friend, with Katy Perry and Britney Spears attending, the security detail was going to be a clusterfoccacia!  The first sign that we’d arrived at a premiere, not an alien invasion, was a huge Smurf melting in reverse positioned for his shining moment at the head of the blue carpet.

Where the Action Is

Where the Action Is

The street was a sea of blue laid with Smurfing custom cars,

Smurfin' Smart Cars

Smurf My Ride!  Smurfed Out Smart Cars!
I finally realize who fits in those cars!

and a Smurfing tiered cake.

My favorite Baltimore Baker - Duff!    Getty Images

My favorite Baltimore Baker – Duff!
(C) Getty Images / Sony

Fans and paparazzi were already lined up warming up their flashes or their voices.

Smurfin' Tour Eiffel

Smurfin’ Tour Eiffel

I yelled to my friend and, after making eye contact, started to move towards her. The security twitched in my direction ready to pounce.  Seriously, do we look like we will body slam people to get pictures with them?

Cheyenne Jackson is so hot it's startling - obviously! Really?!

Cheyenne Jackson is so hot it’s startling – obviously! Really?! I couldn’t muster a smile?!

MMmmmKmaybe.

Neil Patrick Harris and family (C) Getty Images/Sony

Neil Patrick Harris and family
(C) Getty Images / Sony

We waited to see celebrities inside the lobby. On the carpet, stars were moved along, but once inside, they had a moment to relax before entering the theatre. For my son and myself, the highlight was seeing various personalities and meeting a super polite kid who stars in one of my kids’ favorite shows!

Dylan Riley Snyder from Kicking It!

Dylan Riley Snyder from Kicking It!

For the girls, tchotchkies, ushers with bottomless boxes of treats, a Smurfing Happy Meal with 2 toys plus chocolate milk was more valuable than free-flowing champagne.  Then came the Staff lanyards!  With the power of executives flowing through them, the youngsters could stand in the lobby where they wanted, ignore the wishes of security, and walk the blue carpet!

WTF: Wave towards Faces The power of the lanyard!

WTF: Wave towards Faces
The power of the lanyard!

Seeing the film before it opened, star-gazing and being thrown in with such a creative crowd was such a fun experience for us all!  Bonus:  Finally knocked a big item off my 101 in 1,001 list!

Grandma Perry's shirt was classic:  I've got the hots for Grandpa Smurf!  Check out the blinged out cane too! (C) Getty Images / Sony

Grandma Perry’s shirt was classic:     I’ve got the hots for Grandpa Smurf!
Check out the blinged out cane too!
(C) Getty Images / Sony

Pop Princesses Britney and Katy! Love them!

Pop Princesses Britney and Katy!
Love them!
(C) Getty Images / Sony

Thanks Pal! We had a blast!

Thanks Pal! We had a blast!

See you next time Katy!  Or in 30 min. when we go home and watch "Part of Me!"

See you next time Katy!
Or in 30 min. when we go home and watch “Part of Me!”

WHO MOVED MY HOVERCHEESE?

Challenges, any changes, energize me.  Call me Grace (under fire), I’m a sucker for deadlines – they’re part of my creative process. When sudden reorgs at work occur, I hunker down and work through tumultuous times. When baseball adds another 2 teams’ practices in one week, I rolled with it. Strengthsfinder 2.0 says I’m a problem solver – I live for solving the family’s carpool problems.  Nothing throws me, until I’m faced with myself.

When first semester of grad school started I spent my first 48 hours fighting non-stop with technology but triumphantly gained a working knowledge for my class.  I beat technology. When first semester ended, I spent my first 48 hours reading books to escape the textbooks. I beat the class!

But then nothing…  Don’t get me wrong, my break rocked! We enjoyed the first holiday with 3 excited cousins (last year only 2 were old enough to anticipate traditions), cruised the Caribbean, caught some movies… But when given the chance, I didn’t do that “thing I would do even if I didn’t get paid”… I didn’t write. (Thank you if you noticed, I appreciate your support)!

I planned to blog, write a book, poetry – even haiku.

IOHaikU: Here, I brought you a gift!

IOHaikU: Here, I brought you a gift!

When I stepped away from my laptop on the last day of class, I turned my back on it.  I didn’t want to touch it, look at it, nothing!  Knowing this, I bought myself a composition book for writing, but, did nothing. I lost the opportunity.

Believe it or not, 6-7 weeks into the break, I craved returning to the rhythm of the master’s program.  I missed my classmates, the weekly feeling of achievement; I anticipated an easier first 48 hours this time, and relished in the slight confidence of being a return Grad Student! The topics this semester thrilled me as I love the problem solving, creative work, and had some experience with strategic corporate and marketing communications. I looked forward to drawing on personal experience.

But, things changed. The blend of students was new, the rhythm of the class feels like a remix, and even the material seems opposite from my true-life experiences.  This time, I recognize the fight-or-flight reaction and am rolling with it. I’m acclimating to the new semester with excessive amount of calendaring, spreadsheets and post-it notes, as well as commiserating with other students.  It’s a change in perspective to see that change doesn’t thrill me, but it will only bring about positive changes in me.

2-10 change

And now, for today’s show-n-tell, I brought Hovercheese!! Can you please check my homework?!

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