A Creative Reboot

“We are never too old to be young at heart. Being young at heart means simply being willing to be a beginner.” ~ Julia Cameron.

On September 15, 2011, exactly seven years ago to the date, I picked up the book “Walking in This World” by Julia Cameron and began my creative journey in earnest. It was and still is a non-linear path of both self discovery and exploration.

Yesterday, I had the good fortune to attend an all-day intensive workshop led by Julia, one of the most inspirational authors in the creative world. The opportunity found its way to me as a part of a three day Creative Reboot workshop held in Santa Fe, NM.

Downtown Santa Fe NM

What an amazing and energizing day it was!! The time in Julia Cameron’s workshop absolutely flew by. It was worth every penny. Not only was she wonderful, the attendees were as well. The positive energy in the room was contagious and uplifting.

It’s hard to describe what it feels like to be surrounded by at least 200 creative, compassionate, caring souls. It’s safe, it’s comforting, it’s affirming and it’s rejuvenating. It’s just what the doctor ordered to help me break through the creative slump I’ve been experiencing for the past several months.

Every teacher has had a powerful message for all of the artists in attendance, each one of us connecting with the teachings in our own personal ways.

The final workshop on Friday night concluded with a Firewalk, yep, a Firewalk. Approximately 200 brave and more than slightly skeptical individuals, including your’s truly, walked over a bed of hot coals after chanting to the beat of a drum to raise the overall vibration and set individual intentions.

It took more than a few long moments for the first person to be brave enough to take the walk, but once she did it took mere seconds for the rest of us to follow suit and take our turn walking barefoot across the red embers.

It was empowering and thought shifting. From the time we are little, we’re told that fire burns. There’s no part of our rational mind that would say “walking across hot burning coals is a great idea.” But somehow being there, being caught up in the pulsing energy of the crowd, watching each novice firewalker be enveloped in hugs at the end of their walk made it feel like a very good idea.

We were all exhilarated afterwards. Each of us had been courageous enough to face and overcome a long held limiting personal belief, and not about the dangers of fire – the fire was the teacher.

Now, I’m not advocating for people to go out and try something like this on their own. It’s kind of one of those things that should be supervised by professionals. :). However, I am advocating, and recommitting myself to take a look at my own limiting beliefs – the “things” that are getting the way, to get back to creating powerfully and trusting in Divine timing.

The workshop is only half-way over. There’s another session led by Julia Cameron, entertainment this evening (I wonder what that will bring…) and more sessions tomorrow, but I had to take a few moments over my lunch break to celebrate my creative reboot.

I find it fascinating to know that this event coincides with the exact anniversary of my first creative reboot guided in part by the words of Julia Cameron; this time in person.

I’m back!

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The “Heart” of Journaling

It was a good and productive weekend. I even managed to take some time off Friday night to attend the drum circle and yesterday morning I curled up with a cup of coffee and my neglected journal.

Ever since discovering the teachings of Julia Cameron a few years ago, I’ve been fairly faithful to writing my morning pages. Three pages (or so) of peace and quiet, a safe haven in which one can be as petty or prophetic as they want to be while taking refuge between the covers of the journal.

It’s a place to clear out the bad thoughts and make room for the good ones, a place to express fears, make dreams, and ponder. I’m not a morning person in any way shape or form, so sometimes my morning pages are written after midnight – it still counts as morning, right? I do try and avoid the late night writing because it usually gets my mind going rather than relaxing it, which is why I’ve taken to sometimes drawing instead of expressing my feelings through words.

Yesterday I filled 10 pages of my journal with words. I guess I had more on my mind and in my heart than I realized. So much is changing lately, and in so many good ways. Strange thing is that I tend to reflect on what I’ve come through as a part of being thankful for where I am now; it’s seems to be a part of my process.

For me journaling is different from keeping a diary. I remember keeping a diary as a teenager; confiding to the pages kept private by a slender lock, but never really revealing the truth. A diary is a record of events sprinkled with glimpses into the heart.

A journal is a record of the journey as experienced from the heart. It’s a place to express your thoughts, clear your mind, doubt your doubts, and dream your dreams.

The majority of my journals are spiral bound notebooks; I prefer that they have a pretty and colorful cover. Lately I’ve been writing in a bound journal, something about it feels a bit more permanent which is interesting.

My most recent journal also contains more drawing interspersed throughout the words than any before it. In an odd way I think it’s led me to my current art exploration and the creation of an art only journal – a different way to record feelings rather than dates and times.

Last night I created this card to accompany a Christmas gift of a journal for my niece. It’s fun for me to combine art and words in a meaningful way.

journal card

My hope is that she finds writing to be a way to express herself that she comes to know that A Journal is….a safe pace to bring your dreams to life and to put your fears to sleep.

I know she’s going to love the notebook. I also included some fun pens for her to experiment with.

garden flower notebook

Lying Dormant Under the Layers of Self-Doubt are the Seeds of Our True Beauty

Tuesday was a strange day. I started the morning with a plan of action in mind, one which quickly unraveled.

The plan included taking my youngest son to the train station for his morning commute to Drexel, it did not include a phone call, “Mom I forgot my wallet at home.”

No wallet = no train ticket = an unplanned drive into Philly.

Although the unexpected trip disrupted my plans it also presented an opportunity to spend some time listening to music and chatting with my son, which for me is always a treat. He’s always introducing me to music that I enjoy and never would have found on my own and we both enjoy talking about weird things.

He often surprises me with food for thought and yesterday was no exception.

“Mom, I saw a proverb this morning that I think you would really like,” he said.

“Oh yeah, what is it?”

“Well, the quote says it’s a Mexican proverb but I’m not really sure about that, but the saying is this: They tried to bury us. They didn’t know we were seeds.”

Wow

That immediately conjured up an image in my mind, one that I carried with me throughout the rest of the day and into the night. What I saw in my mind had to do with overcoming the power of self-doubt and flourishing as an individual.

Unsure about how to draw what I felt, I turned to my writing journal instead. After three pages of writing,  reflecting,  and thinking, a full grown tree and flowers in bloom accompanied by the words my son had shared with me emerged in a rough form on 4th page. (sometimes my pen does take on a mind of its own)

they tried to bury us_they didn't know we were seeds

Of all the ironies, I misspelled one of the words. I crossed it out, wrote it correctly, and kept on drawing. Truth to be told, when I first started journaling I never considered drawing in it and I couldn’t complete an entry if I misspelled something. Rather than crossing out the word and continuing on I ripped out the page and started over.

Over the past few years I’ve learned that perfectionism is the enemy of creativity and self-doubt is the fuel for limitation. I’ve come to believe that no one limits our growth more than we do ourselves.

I chose to share this entry, not because it’s a beautiful drawing but because I hope it illustrates a point.

No one is perfect and we all have doubts, we just owe it to ourselves to not let feelings of self-doubt keep us from becoming who we are meant to be.

From “Doodles” to “Drawings” and more…

Mixed Media Tree

More and more often I find myself doodling in my journals in addition to writing. My mind starts to wander and all of the sudden my pen lands on the page opposite of my words and a form that must have been hiding in my sub-conscious starts to emerge.

sunflower emerging on journal page

Sometimes the entries turn out to be very detailed and take a couple of sessions to finish.

Sunflower Journal Entry

Other times they happen in one sitting.

Tulip Journal Entry

Don’t ask me how long they take, because when I start to write or draw I lose track of time. I doodle until I can’t draw any more and if it’s not finished, I return to it the next time I feel like it.

I never would have guessed that drawing would become such an important part of my life, let a lone a way to unwind. It seems like just yesterday that I mustered up the courage to attend a drawing class and spent months completing my first sunflower.

sunflower_first drawing in over 20 years

It’s a little deceiving to post these images together because the drawings are completely different in scale. The sunflower from my class is easily 9 times larger than the individual journal entries. It’s also in pencil, not ink and was inspired by a picture in a lesson book not solely from my imagination.

I also never would have guessed an online “doodle and lettering” class would help me gain confidence in my abilities and get in touch with my second-grade art girl.

i am me - Doodle Art Dress

The thing that’s interesting to me is that I clearly have a “style.” I know that probably sounds strange to say, but it’s not something I ever would have imagined myself saying out loud.

Sometimes I wonder if I should challenge myself more and move beyond sunflowers, trees and butterflies. They seem to dominate my art, but maybe that’s ok.

There are Always Options

I’m enjoying the casual and non-stressful exploration of my creativity and some really interesting pieces of art are emerging. My recent affirmation art journaling project has resulted in two additional pieces of work that are completely different from anything I’ve done before (other than the fact that trees are the main subject 😉 ).

This “affirmation Forrest” grew organically as a result of the project. It began as a sheet of paper that I used to try the lettering of a phrase on for size and as a place to clean off the extra ink from a gel pen and doodle tree trunks.

Forest drawn in Ink

My latest project is a “rainbow tree,” for lack of a better description.

Mixed Media Tree

The tree is made up of tiny pieces of paper. They are actually “rejects” from backgrounds I created while working on the affirmation journal.

Initially if something didn’t work, I tossed it – then one night as I was tearing one into little pieces it occurred to me that there might be a creation hiding in them, so I started saving them, and voila! It’s still a work in progress and I can’t wait to see how it turns out.

Occasionally I wonder if I’d be “further along” with my art if I’d continued taking more formal classes on the other hand I can’t help but think that some of my more recent efforts never would have happened if I had. It seems my definition of being an artist is evolving and I’m learning what it means to me.

Some day I may return to the classroom setting, but for now I’m going to explore my creative side in my own way and in my own time.

Treat Yourself Like You would Treat Your Best Friend

A couple of months ago I was asked to speak about Google Plus (Google’s social networking platform) at a conference for Freelance Medial Writers. I was really flattered about the opportunity and last Saturday was the day.

I took the train even though the hotel is a mile away from the airport. I like to avoid the stress that comes with driving on I95. It seems I almost always learn something new and I now know that the cabbies at the airport won’t give up their spot in line to take someone to any of the nearby hotels. It also turns out that calling the hotel to arrange for a shuttle works better than running down the sidewalk trying to catch the one that passed right by.

I was both excited and nervous when I stood up to speak; I teach workshops on a regular basis, but it’s entirely different to stand in front of a room of people holding a microphone. It went well overall and people enjoyed learning about the platform and my experience with it.

By the end of the afternoon I was tired and anxious to get home. My plan was to catch the 5:15 train back to Yardley. I missed the first shuttle and the next one was late, which meant I had to take the 5:43 train into Center City and catch the 6:40 train home.

Because of the delays I ended up with a traveling companion, a woman who had attended the conference. She was headed to Trenton and I helped her maneuver the airport logistics and read the train schedule. I convinced her to get off at Market Street instead of 30th Street because it’s a much nicer train station and she’d still be able to catch the right train.

I was right about the first part, it is a nicer station. As for the second part, I knew that the Trenton Line has departures from the Market East Station because I took it once by accident. What I didn’t think about was that even though the trains leave from different platforms it was impossible for both of them to leave at the same time.

Thankfully my new friend turned out to be a plan B sort of person and chose to laugh about the situation and make the best of it. It’s funny how sometimes you meet a complete stranger and within minutes feel like you’ve known them for years.

I shared some of my recent artwork with her, and my Embrace Your Second Grade Art Girlsparked a conversation about the importance of being kind to yourself. When we parted she left me with a hug and this thought, “Treat yourself like you would treat your best friend.”

I woke up Monday morning feeling positive about the weekend and looking forward to the week. My first self-assigned task was to delete my extra profile on Google Plus so the next time I wrote or spoke about the platform, my presence would be “perfect.”

Long story short, I deleted my active profile instead of my abandoned/duplicate one. This may not seem like a big deal, but I was devastated. Google Plus has become an important part of how I share content I write for my business blog and it’s been an amazing place to network and generate opportunities.

I can’t repeat what I said, but there was nothing kind about how I described myself after I realized what I’d done. Words like stupid, idiot, and failure followed me around all day. “How could I,” “why didn’t I,” and “I should have,” started nearly every thought that went through my mind.

I spent the day doing as much damage control as possible and accepted the fact that I was going to have to start over and make the best of the bad circumstances. I couldn’t help but think about the irony of the situation. Less than 48 hours after speaking about Google Plus as an “expert,” I did the unthinkable and deleted my account. I see the humor in it now, but I can’t say I did that day.

As I often do when something happens, I took out my journal  to write about it. I find writing cathartic and it helps me work through the emotions and move on. That night the negative self-talk continued until I thought back to my traveling companion’s parting words.

I stopped and asked myself, “is this how you would treat your best friend?”

The answer was clearly no. If my best friend had done the same thing, I would have given her a hug, let her cry, and reminded her that she is smart, beautiful, and lovable. I’d have taken her hand, helped her put things in perspective, and come up with a plan.

The phrase, “Treat yourself like you would treat your best friend,” replaced the negative self-talk. It should come as no surprise to me that when the negative thoughts were replaced with kind ones things didn’t seem nearly as bleak.

The real point of this post is this – we all make mistakes and they are recoverable. Remember to be kind to yourself and sometimes you need to be your own best friend.

treat yourself like you would treat your best friend

 

treat yourself like you would treat your best friend_the back

 

 

Has it really been a month?

baby geese along the towpath

I can’t believe it’s been almost a month since I have written here.   I knew starting my own business was going to be hard work, but I didn’t quite comprehend how consuming it would be.

I’ve had some funny experiences that someday I will have to write about.  Everything from my computer crashing an hour before my students arrived to the dogs barking hysterically in the final minutes of a webinar I was recording.  It’s been a crazy learning experience and for the most part it’s also been a lot of fun.

I’ve been very fortunate and have accomplished a great deal in a short amount of time and the future looks promising. I’ve realized it’s time that I put some balance back into my life – all of the hard work I did last year discovering that I am an artist and how important it is to have balance needs to come back into play.

To that end, the first thing I have done is put exercise back in my life.  It’s been great to get out on my bike and travel along the towpath.  I’ve also been making it a point to try and rekindle my creativity and ‘artsy’ nature.  I’m still struggling with what to draw.  After finishing all of the abstract ink pieces on handmade paper, nothing has really inspired me.  Maybe it’s time to consider taking another class, although that will have to wait until fall for a variety of reasons.

My camera is back in action and I’ve captured some great shots along the towpath.  As much as I can’t stand geese, I have to admit these little ones are cute.  They were so kind as to line up in a little row for me so I could take a picture.

baby geese along the towpath

Yesterday they were learning to swim.  I felt much safer taking pictures of them swimming than on the ground; somehow the hissing from the grown ups wasn’t quite as scary coming from further away.

baby geese learning to swim in the Delaware Canal

There are many people who live along the canal that have canoes. I took pictures of every canoe along a six mile stretch of the towpath.  Perhaps that’s an idea for another blog post.

silver canoe along the towpath

 

I never get tired of the breathtaking, brilliance of spring.  The pinks seem to be extra pink this year.

brilliant pink spring blooms

It’s only when you pause for a moment and actually take things in that you realize that there must be a million different shades of green.

Spring Framing the Delaware Canal

 

It feels good to be back to exercising and taking pictures again.  I think it’s time to get back to making the time to do some personal writing as well.

The Loss of Art in Education

I’m a “one thing leads to another” kind of person, which can be interesting when it comes to explaining my train of thought sometimes.  It might be hard to explain how an online class through a community college called Romance Writing Secrets would lead to drawing, making handmade paper, and not last or least to a workshop on making books.  There is a connection, but it would take a book to describe it – so instead I’ll stick to my most recent adventure.

Last Saturday I roped my friend Christine into taking a workshop at the Janney house through the Artists of Yardley.  My friend and instructor Kathy and her fellow artist Mindy offered an all day workshop that was split into two parts; the art of making paper and of making books.

I arrived 5 minutes late, but with coffee from WaWa in hand – an important tradeoff.  I have to admit it was fun to show some of my paper and the drawings I’ve done.  It’s such a thrill for me when people say “wow, I really like that.”  I don’t think I’ll ever get over it, I hope I never do.

Because I’ve had the opportunity to make quite a bit of paper lately, I asked if I could spend the day with Mindy making books.  As always, the atmosphere in the studio was conducive to learning, laughing, and creating.  We learned how to make two styles of book, accordion and flag.  The accordion is easier to describe; paper folded in a “mountain, valley, mountain” pattern ready for pictures or drawings and secured between two covers.  The flag book is much like a pop-up book and I think the possibilities are endless (once I wrap my head around how to approach creating the finishing touches).

Mindy is an amazing teacher and it’s easy to understand why she and Kathy are friends.  The dynamics of the morning and afternoon sessions were as different as night and day and Mindy never missed a beat.  I watched in amazement as she adapted her style to the needs and pace of the students.

I usually try and describe the process at least in a general sense, but  book making has a lot more steps and detail than what I’ve been doing lately and I’m sure I wouldn’t do it justice.  I was a little intimidated by the need for measuring and precision, but Mindy put me at ease and I was pretty sure she would find a way to fix almost any mistake I might make.

What I think is interesting is how everything I’m attracted to has to do with paper.  Writing, photography, and drawing are all done on paper.  Somehow everything I’m learning is weaving its way together.  It’s really quite fascinating when I take a step back and connect the dots.

I have no idea how I’ll put this all together. What I do know is it will be a lot of fun to figure it out.  The books I made last weekend are wonderful experiments. There are supplies on the way to create pieces that match my style and taste.

The entire process has made me stop and think.

The thought that keeps popping up in my brain is how we are depriving today’s youth.  Our education system is focused on activities that require the ability to memorize and calculate, not on the ability to perceive and create.  How can one exist without the other?

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Paper Thin and Perfectly Imperfect

Although there were some who predicted that personal computers, email and the internet would make the use of paper obsolete – that hasn’t been the case; at least not in my life.  True, I get less and less paper mail but it still seems to be everywhere.

Prior to yesterday I considered paper to be utilitarian and an instrument of my art only as it relates to printing out a page for an old-fashioned review or something to sketch on.  I may have stopped to admire pretty notepaper or enjoy the texture of pages within a leather-bound journal, but I never gave a second thought to the process.

I never wondered…

Where does paper come from?

How is it made?

What exactly is pulp?

Why does some paper ‘feel’ different than others?

Where did the flecks of color come from?

Could paper be art?

Over the weekend I received an email from my friend and artist Kathy.

Hi, 

Due to a surplus of various kinds of pulp, I am holding a couple of papermaking open studio sessions and papermaking classes at my studio.  I have Japanese pulp, casting pulp, high shrink flax, abaca and pigmented pulp for painting. 

I jumped on the opportunity.  I didn’t know much, but based on my breakfast conversation with Kathy a few weeks ago, I knew I wanted to learn more.

I joined two other lovely ladies in Kathy’s studio for preliminary instructions and introductions. We helped carry out buckets of pulp while learning about the qualities of the material we’d be working with.

Kathy showed us beautiful examples of her work and how a single piece of paper can stand on its own as a work of art as well as how it can be used to create sculptures and paintings.  The possibilities are endless.

I took pictures and listened intently as she described the process of beating the plant fiber and immersing it in water in preparation for the process of making paper.  It was hard to imagine how the tan spongy substance floating in a yellow bucket would transform into anything beautiful.

bucket of pulp for paper making

She walked us through the steps of adding the thick, gloppy pulp from the bucket to a tub of water and mixing it into a smooth and soft sea of fibers that would become a sheet of paper.

Instructions on Mixing Pulp and water for paper making

“How do you know when you’ve added enough pulp?” I asked.

Kathy swirled her hand in the water, “You learn how to feel it.  After you work with it a while, you know.”

A year ago that would have made no sense to me.  Now it’s completely logical.  Art, like life, is about learning, observing, and experiencing.  And as we live, we somehow “just know.”

I slipped my hand into the cloudy water and let the feathery pieces of fiber sift through my fingers.  I don’t know how to describe it, but the water felt soft and alive.

Kathy demonstrated how to put the mosquito netting over the screened frame and the best way to hold it in place with a second frame.

Step by step she walked us through the process.

“Put the side in the water first and then pull and scoop up the pulp, just like you’re panning for gold.  After that you shake the mold and let the pulp settle, let the extra water drain out, and then you’re ready for the next step.”

She removed the top frame, lined the screen up with the edge of a wet shammy, and hinged it forward to release the fragile sheet of wet paper.  Little by little she rolled the mosquito netting back and revealed a form that, when dry, would be a beautiful piece of paper.

I was surprised, but it didn’t take me long to catch on and before I knew it I had two sheets of future paper and couldn’t wait to do more.

first sheets of paper  - pape rmaking

We took a break halfway through the morning to enjoy fruit and chit chat.  We gobbled up blueberries and a refreshing organic and beautifully orange watermelon.

organic watermelon

After the break, Kathy added blended pieces of marigolds to one of the vats and added pigmented pulp to three open tubs to create pools of orange, blue, and green.  She showed us how to make a base sheet and then add a layer of color.

I couldn’t decide which part was my favorite.  It was a toss-up between trying to scoop up the pieces of petal from the marigolds and spreading water drops with my fingers to make a design.

So of course I found a way to combine them both and created beautiful orange and blue designs to accentuate the natural beauty of the pulp and bits of flower petals.

paper making - pigmented pulp over marigold and pulp paper

The morning flew by and our time was up before I knew it.

It hadn’t occurred to me, but paper requires time to dry.  Kathy showed us what to do and sent us home with detailed instructions.  Of course, me being me, I had to try the quick method of drying on at least one sheet of paper.  I was way too impatient to wait a whole week to experiment.

I picked one of the less than perfect pieces out of the bunch and laid it on my kitchen counter.

paper still drying

I knew it was thin and fragile and had more than a few flaws.  I selected a paint brush with soft bristles and carefully stroked the moisture out of the paper.

It came to life before my eyes.

It won’t be a sheet I can draw, paint, or print on. The edges are frayed and uneven, it’s thinner than paper thin, and the webs of fiber barely support the splashes of marigold.

paper thin

In my eyes it’s beautiful and it’s perfect in its imperfection.

The Back Drop – Intro to A Leap of Faith, Part 2

The backdrop continued…

This is my story and it’s one of self-discovery and of the second first three years of my life. It’s the story of my dream.

In its unedited and original form:

I have a dream, and my dream is to become a published author with books in multiple genres. I have three books in mind right now, the first and most important one to me is entitled A Leap of Faith, an Artist’s Journey into the Light. It is a story of discovery, it is my story of self-discovery and coming into my own. It will be inspiring to people who think it is too late for them and for people who have similar feelings about themselves as I do, but don’t have the words with which to express their thoughts. I am driven to write because I want to be of service to others, I want to help young people make good choices and I want to help people at any stage of life realize that they can change, they can recover and soar. I particularly want to help women understand that they can be care-givers without giving up their identity, the importance of being in positive relationships, and we are all stronger than we know. I want to teach and inspire, I want to help, I want to change the world and make it a better place. My dream is to do so through my writing, I will make people laugh, make them cry, help them feel, and make them think. I have experienced and survived things that should be shared in a way that will be helpful to others. I have the talent, I have the drive, and I now have the conviction to pursue my dreams and write my first book and many more.

The seed was planted in a small cafe in Dorset, Minnesota and it lay dormant for years but it didn’t die. It followed me from vacation at Big Sand Lake back to real life in Nebraska, through a new job and a move to Pennsylvania, a divorce, a near foreclosure, and the fight for my life against both my real and imaginary demons, to where and who I am today. I’ve taken a leap of faith and I’m no longer hiding and pretending to be someone else, I’m “Beth, just being me.”

A Leap of Faith was inspired by the novel Walking in This World by Julia Cameron. I received the book as a gift for my fiftieth birthday from my beautiful landlord and friend Jeanne Marie. From the moment I started reading I knew I had to share the experience through writing. What I thought was going to be a book that would make me a better writer I believe was a catalyst that helped me discover myself and become a better person. It may not be correct to say I became a better person, but more accurately that I learned that all I really need to be is to be me. And in being myself I am the best person I can be.

It started out as a separate journal and quickly turned into a weekly post on my blog It’s a Whole New World. Writing the essays not only helped me process what I was feeling it was a way for me to share the experience through my writing.

I thought about submitting them to be published in contests and magazines but I thought of them almost like my children and I couldn’t imagine them being separated. I submitted the first four pieces to Flash Fiction Chronicles along with the idea to publish all twelve plus a summary as a series. I did a happy dance when I got the acceptance email from Gay Degani, editor for Flash Fiction Chronicles (among many other credentials) and I still smile every time I think about it.

I originally thought I’d narrate the epiphanies that occurred during the 4 months that it took me to complete the readings, tasks, and weekly commitments. However I came to realize that, while the book was an important catalyst, it isn’t the whole truth. The book remains true to my original vision in that it contains essays and excerpts from my journal. But instead of telling you about an experience, I’ll be sharing my story. My journey from a time and place of hiding from the world to being the woman I was meant to be, fully engaged and playing the game of life with both feet firmly on the court.

I’m often mistaken for being extroverted and an open book, because I can and do easily strike up conversations with total strangers nearly everywhere I go. I’m known for being the life of the party and can always be counted on to tell a funny story, usually one on myself. The reality is that in my past, I chose to tell funny stories about myself to ensure that people thought they knew who I was and to make it easier to keep people from finding out what was really going on inside me. I thought if they knew me they might not like me. I was sure that there could be nothing worse than letting someone find out that I’m anything less than perfect.

Throughout A Leap of Faith, I will share my experiences and myself, but it’s important for me to articulate what my focus is and what it is not. It is not about how I survived a divorce, a near foreclosure, and made the decision to resign from my position in Corporate America within a five month time frame. Or about how I spent many years hiding from life inside a bottle and behind a curtain of false pretenses. It’s not a book about survival or a story of catastrophe or financial devastation. It’s not about weight issues or alcohol abuse. And it’s certainly not about the challenges of being a single mom.

The reason I am sharing my story isn’t to demonstrate how I came through tough times and survived. I’m compelled to share how I came alive. The reasons that I felt lost and alone are interesting, but irrelevant. I believe that many people feel trapped by circumstances, are controlled by daily drama, and have given up on their dreams. I also believe that within each and every one of us lies the power and the courage to “be” the person they were meant to be.