Showing up Powerfully

Showing up Powerfully

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It has taken a week to process, but on June 10, I earned my third degree black belt in Kenpo karate. It has been a two year endeavor, which included self-improvement, getting certified as a Baptiste-inspired yoga teacher, and training in Jiu Jitsu. I had to develop and present self-defenses based on my experiences with these external styles. Mine were close quarter attacks where someone has invaded my space against the wall or on the ground.

It went phenomenally, and I am very excited about this accomplishment. But it was so much more than that. My goal was to come onto the mat powerfully and elevate the energy of those around me. I did that and it has opened doors that I often didn’t believe were even there.

If I were a character in a book, I would say that one of my fatal flaws is not believing in myself. I have this underlying doubt about whether I can achieve what I set out to do. It happened with my yoga training. At one point I was so emotionally and physically drained, I was ready to pack it up. But with the support of my fellow trainees, I dug deep and pulled through.

My third degree training was challenging in that I had to be patient and think outside the box. I often became frustrated with myself, not because I didn’t know the techniques, but because I doubted myself. Who was I to show up courageously? The doubt tainted everything I did. Again I was supported by my instructors who believed in me, but I had to find it in myself to have the confidence to show up powerfully.

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I was ready the day of the test. I walked onto my karate mat like I stood on my yoga mat. I was present and took it moment by moment, knowing I had so much to offer.

When it was time to do my kata and present my self-defenses, I knew I could do anything. It was like the layers were finally peeled away and there I was.  I showed up enthusiastically, confidently, and I succeeded.

So yes, I will treasure the moment and am honored by the degree, but I passed my true test. I stood in my power and without a doubt, let my light shine.

Thank you to everyone who has helped me on this journey.

janineandkathykarate
Kathy also shone on the mat earning her third degree.

Crafty Kids Creating Characters

Crafty Kids Creating Characters

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Last week I ventured into Stephen’s fourth grade teacher’s class to teach character development. It’s been over 10 years since Stephen has been in Mrs. Philo’s class, but she has always been open to empowering children’s creativity.

I showed the above photo, and we started with the basic physical characteristics of this German Shepherd (realized I misspelled it on the screen! Oops!) who was eventually named Rocky. Starting simple warms up your creative juices and states the obvious when there is a photo.

Then we ventured to what was going on around him and what he was feeling based on his expressions. The kids were incredible and decided that his family was baking a special meal and had to leave. They left everything out. Did they leave in a hurry? Had they done this before and Rocky never bothered the food? Was Rocky hungry? These are questions that need to be asked to find out the story. What is Rocky’s fear? Right now it was getting caught especially since he ran around the house with flour all over his paws, and he was sick on the family room rug.

What is going to happen?

catcharacterprompt

Enter Charles Aiden. This answers the question as to where the family ventured off to. The family is adopting a kitten so maybe they received a call that it was time to pick up Smokey, which the kids named the cat.

Did Rocky overhear the conversation and act out from fear? Is he terrified now that the family won’t love him anymore and replace him with a cat? Will he get so hungry one day that he will try to eat the kitten? Perhaps developing Rocky’s character as a dog who is always hungry could add some comedy to the story and also provide a realistic reason as to why Rocky is shaking salt and pepper on Smokey in the living room.

How will Rocky react when the family comes home? What will he think of Smokey? What are the major problems that will hopefully be resolved in this story?

Only the writers know! Anything goes.

After all they can’t be wrong if they’re write!

When your Book is Done

When your Book is Done

Start Another!

The most important task a writer can do upon completion of a book or story is start another. When we finish a project it’s a good idea to take a break, especially if edits still need to be made. But when that book is complete and off to production, you have to jump right in and start the next.

Why?

Writing is like swimming, lifting weights, yoga or any other sport. If you don’t exercise those muscles you lose them quickly. Plus, if you’re like me, you have a myriad of other ideas you’ve been itching to begin.

The Puzzle Quests: Shimmer’s Eggs is getting closer to print. Carol Coogan, my fabulous graphic designer, is working on the cover and a couple illustrations that will be inside the book. There’s still so much to do to, but I have started the third book in my Fianna Cycle.

ShimmerEggs
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It has been a long time since my second book in the series, Eyes of the Goddess, came out. Life sidetracks us and I wrote my non-fiction book, What Makes Them Amazing, and then tried many times to write what I thought was the third book in my series about Maecha’s daughter Eibhlin. But with the help of my Super Cool Writer’s Group, I realized that Natalie Fischer’s story still isn’t down. She has to meet her biological mother, time travel to 3rd century Celtic Ireland, free her druid father, fall in love with the knife-wielding warrior, Caoilte, all while being threatened by those who resent her.

That’s a lot for a young adult, but she is up to the challenge and so am I.

I’m excited to start this venture along with the first session of my 6-week writing workshop about creating characters to propel plot. We met last night and there are some fabulous ideas!

So if you are ready to write your story, get to know your character. Writing a story without knowing your character is like getting married after a one-night stand. Yes, there may be something thrilling about that person, but you do not know who you are marrying! Last night was the first date with our characters, and I believe there will be a second!

Keep exploring and writing!

Great Night with Echo Heron

Last night I went with my mom and Julie to the Clifton Park-Halfmoon Public Library to listen to Echo Heron speak about her book Noon at Tiffany’s. 

She currently lives in California, but was born in Troy, NY. The book is about Clara Woolcott, a daring young artist who designed glass for Louis Tiffany. She was responsible for the design of his famous lamps and through Heron’s book got the praise she deserved. 

Echo Heron

Her talk was interesting, but I love the synchronicities that brought her to this project. Heron is a trauma nurse and wrote many books about being a critical care nurse. 

In 2007, she heard a snippet on NPR about women who deserved credit and didn’t get it. Her books often championed extraordinary women, so this story grabbed her. 

For 5 1/2 years she read all of the 1,300 round robin letters that Clara, her sisters, and her mother wrote and did extensive research. 

When she pulled out a letter, she wondered how her own letter got there as their handwriting was almost the same. Another connection. 

Also when she and her husband went to the cemetery to find Clara’s plot, they walked  directly to it and also met her fourth cousin. The stars aligned and this book became a reality. 

Echo’s husband, Steve, was just as fabulous. I spoke with him beforehand, and he is a huge supporter!


While Echo was signing books, her husband was having trouble with credit card transactions. So of course I went over and said, “Hi! I do this all the time. Can I help you?” Steve readily agreed!


As you can see, he was happy and I enjoyed it! He praised nurses and said how they were so much more important than us doctors. So Julie asked if he was a doctor. Turns out he’s an eye surgeon. Julie got free advice on her eyes!

It was a fabulous night, and I highly recommend her books!

Do It Anyway!

Do It Anyway!

This past Monday was the Boston marathon. I never really thought too much about it, except knowing that it happened and of course when the bombing occurred in 2013, I felt the fear and tragedy that everyone experienced.

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This year one of my best friends had qualified to run. She has had to overcome some very tough personal and physical obstacles, so our tribe ventured out to support her. We made posters and arrived around the 6 mile mark and then the 15 mile mark. As we waited, I watched all the runners and marveled at their tenacity. Some were dressed up like Forrest Gump or Napoleon Dynamite. A man carried the American flag as he ran on a prosthetic leg.

girls and posters

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karen and girls

A man was running close to the sidewalk, and he looked like he was struggling. I yelled encouraging words like, “You can do it! Keep going!” He yelled back, “I’m not running!” My friend, Colleen, and I laughed. We yelled, “Do it anyway!”

Then we saw Kathy. She ran with her friend, Heather, and they were an amazing support system for each other. The emotion we all felt seeing her and coming together to hug was incredible. Kathy’s strength and determination to Do it Anyway, despite her fears or doubts, is beyond inspiring.

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Our tribe of women warriors are strong and will basically do whatever is needed to help one of ours cross the finish line. Kathy thanked us and my angel, Nick, for being there for her. Despite all our group has gone through, the loss, the current illnesses that two of our tribeswomen are dealing with, we Do it Anyway.

We live life, we laugh, and we challenge ourselves to do the very best we can. Sometimes that entails going beyond what we thought we could do. I am in awe of my gals, Kathy and Colleen, for they are examples of living life through adversity in their own way. Two totally different women who have spirit, tenacity, strength, courage, and kick ass attitudes. That doesn’t mean that every day is flowers and sunshine. It takes courage to ask your tribe to hold you up. It takes strength to break down and cry. It takes a kick ass attitude to run a marathon when you feel like shit. But you Do it Anyway, because you are alive and because you can.

To all the ladies in my tribe–I am blessed to have you in my corner, and I will fight for you anytime!

 

Bringing your Shit in with You

Julianne from the Green Monkey yoga studio

I had the pleasure of taking a vinyasa yoga class with Julianne when I was in Miami. She immediately invited us to bring out shit in with us instead of leaving it at the door. Many times we come to our mats and forget about the world outside. 

Yoga isn’t about numbing out and tamping down our feelings. It’s about being in a space where we can work through our feelings and whatever is coming up for us. 

I liked her perspective because yoga isn’t separate from life. What I learn on the mat crosses over into my everyday world. Breathing through difficult and challenging poses teaching me how to breathe through life’s hardships. But it also reminds me to be present to all the joys that life offers. 

I sweated, I rejoiced in Julianne’s motivating words, and I revelled in my warrior spirit that shot forward through my struggles. 

I highly recommend going to the Green Monkey if you are ever in Miami! And say hi to Kiera!

Journaling for Purpose

Journaling for Purpose

 

Last night was the first gathering of my next session of Journaling for Healing and Self-Awareness. This group includes those who have come before and have seen the benefits of journaling for their personal memoirs, life goals, and recording dreams, while others came to develop the practice of journaling for healing and self-discovery.

Every workshop is different, and I love that I often learn as I teach. I always begin with organizing a journal using the Bullet Journal system I have personalized for my own use. (You can go to www.bulletjournal.org) for the exact way to set up your journal for calendar use.

The wonderful part of journaling is that you can personalize it to whatever your goals and interests are. For example, in addition to numbering your pages and listing the titles of your journal entries so you can find them again, one participant indexed what she was going to journal about! She added symbols so if she is training for a 5K perhaps she would index with that symbol. It’s a great way to keep the purpose of your journal in mind.

To me journaling is opening your heart to let out the bad stuff so it isn’t toxic, but it’s also to let in the good stuff to expand your heart and mind. It’s like giving yourself hugs and kisses. Journaling isn’t always about writing all the misgivings, tragedies, and sorrows. It’s also about recording the good times, the successes, and joys in your life, so you can remember when times are hard.

We worked on what I called the Garden of Purpose.

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Sarah’s Creative Purpose!

Everyone wrote down positive characteristics (seeds) about themselves like Sarah did in the center of her page. From there I asked everyone what they wanted to grow, stimulate, and strengthen in their personal lives and how their seeds helped them do that. The idea is to write a statement of purpose to help guide you in life when you are figuring out your goals or need to stay on track. If you are asked to do something and it’s not in line with what you want to cultivate or grow, then maybe the answer should be no.

I clarified my purpose, but also need to make sure that I don’t take on too much. Having this handy, keeps me on the path that is in line with who I am and what I want to do with my life.

gardenofpurpose

Try it and see how you do. With spring approaching, this is the perfect time to grow your purpose!