Sunday, July 15, 2007

Learning to Hear Your Own Voice

Learning to Hear Your Own Voice

  • Have you ever wondered where your thoughts and words come from?
  • Do words that spill from your mouth belong to your parents, teachers, or mentors?
  • What would it sound like if you could find your own voice?
Although I'm getting better, there are times I wonder what my own voice sounds like. I'm not talking about the tone, pitch, or timbre. I'm talking about the meaning, the quality of thought, the value of experience. Sometimes I can't hear me unless someone else is listening. Often, words and sounds roll around in my head like marbles in a cardboard box. They clank together or make their way to separate corners. They don't connect into cohesive thoughts and phrases. The concepts and definitions don't gel. I don't know who I am or who I'm trying to be. But when I can bounce thoughts and words off someone else and hear them hang in the open air, suddenly all makes sense and I understand.
  • Who is the person in your life who helps you make sense of it all?
  • Maybe you have many. Choose one and describe a time when you felt heard and how that helped you recognize your own voice.
  • Take 30 minutes and show in the details of your writing what your experience was like.

"Words are the voice of the heart."

Teacher, Philosopher



When You Listen, I Hear Me Better

by Lissa Ann Forbes

Occasionally I choose to change names and minor details in my stories. I've taken a bit of literary license creating fictionalized truth. At times it is easier to find the essence of the story if I write it from a different perspective.

Knock, knock, knock.

She turns the knob on his apartment door and lets herself in.

“Hiya, Sam,” the voice from the other room calls. She noticed the jagged skyline etched by the Rocky Mountains as the sun set behind them through the sliding glass door.

She joins Bryan in his office, the computer screen bright. He sits—his cane propped again the desk.

Samantha opens her arms for their usual greeting. Bryan slowly grabs his cane and gets up so he can put his arms around her, then invites her to pull up a chair.

“Hey, I want to show you a couple things.” Sam always begins her visits this way. She’s always finding neat stories and video clips on the Internet—that’s her business after all—writing about the extraordinary ordinary people she meets. Her last story was about a West Point Cadet who celebrated his 90th birthday.

“You love to show me your finds, don’t you?” Bryan, an always willing audience, teased.

“Yep. It’s what I do.”

And what Bryan does best is brainstorm ideas for finding new business, connections, and places to speak or capture a story.

As they surfed, they found a group of writers Samantha should join since she hadn’t been in Scottsdale but six months, the SWA—Scottsdale Writer’s Alliance—120 other writer/journalists. A great networking opportunity. They exchanged thoughts about the group and what they found about speaking ops, then Bryan picked up the phone.

“What are you doing?” Sam queried.

“I’m calling this gal to see if there are any speaking slots left for the fall conference.”
Bryan got going with his usual questions and 15 minutes later had learned that there were several opportunities left for round table discussions, had sold the conference coordinator on his talk “How to eat for free 52 weeks a year,” and learned about the monthly meetings, dues, and the benefits of being a member. Sam was ready to kick back and rest. Bryan’s ability to turn anything into a business opportunity wore on her sometimes although she always found it beneficial.

“Shall we go watch that movie you brought?” Bryan began to get up in his deliberate way. He had to be extra careful since the accident when he lost his leg.

“Yes, we’ve let time get away from us already.” Sam went into the living room, picked up the remote from the rough tweedy upholstered couch while Bryan dragged his injured leg as he shuffled into the room.

“This is a great movie, but you’ll want to make sure you have an extra box of Kleenex.”

“Sam, did you bring another tear-jerker chick flick?”

“No, it’s just so touching and I know you—you’ll cry. You keep telling me to include Kleenex, so I’m warning you.”

He lowered himself down onto the couch as he bent his good leg and allowed the other to stretch out since the prosthesis wasn’t as flexible as his good leg.

The Ron Clark Story began. They watched the entire movie with only the sound of sniffles and nose-blowing periodically throughout. Sam looked at Bryan frequently wondering what really prompted his tears—those he so easily shed. Ninety minutes later he exhaled a deep sigh.

“Whew, what a powerful movie.”

“Hold that thought while I go to the bathroom.” Sam wandered down the hall and closed the door.

When she returned they talked for another hour. Sam shared her fears about whether she could find enough writing assignments in this town, if the book she had in mind would ever get written and published, the recurring discord in their relationship and what that meant. He offered consolation that there would always be a connection, they’d been through too much, and he continued to share some ideas of how she could find more material for the magazine articles she’d be writing. It was clear he cared, even though at times that was not what her interpretation.

“It’s 11 o’clock. It’s past your bedtime and I still have a 40 minute drive home.”

“Yes, it was well worth staying up to visit. I’m glad you came down.” Bryan held out his arms for a hug, but didn’t move to get up.

Sam leaned over, gave Bryan a friendly kiss on the cheek, which he returned. “G’night … until next time.”


She cordially said hello to one of the residents in the hall as she left Bryan’s apartment building and walked to her car in the glow of the parking lot lights.

The drive home was not uneventful. Samantha had a breakthrough. For all the challenges this man had caused her, she spilled into a puddle as she rounded the bend on the highway. “When you listen, I hear me better,” she heard the voice in her head.


Off the Shelf

Movie Resource:
The Ron Clark Story
Echo Bridge Home Entertainment
DVD Released December 2006

The Ron Clark Story is real. It's about a young man from North Carolina who is making a difference in this world. A white man from the south goes to the inner city in New York because he loves to teach and wants to make his big dreams come true. He jumps the hurdles of disrespect, disinterest, and disregard and teaches a classroom of underprivileged students what it is to accomplish something. He made a promise to help these kids who believed they were losers because the administration and other teachers set the bar so low there was nothing to reach for.

The movie, based on this true story, was riveting, but even more engaging was the section of special bonus features highlighting the accomplishments of the real Ron Clark. He has gone on to open a school in Atlanta, Georgia called the Ron Clark Academy. It's such a special place that other educators want to go there to learn his secrets and students will "want to learn, to dream big, and to realize their own potential."

Don't miss personal interviews by/with Ron Clark

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Be the Presence of Amazing Grace

Be the Presence of Amazing Grace
  • What makes you want to rise above mediocrity?
  • Where do you go to find inspiration? Who supports you to achieve your best?
  • What is your amazing grace? What is the gift that you came into this world to share?

Boy, these are tough questions, but questions I have been asking myself nevertheless. I have been challenged in my lifetime to have the motivation and tenacity to be great. I mean really great. Oh, I’ve learned a lot … in fact, I am a perpetual student of life learning. I don’t like not knowing things so I spend hours delving into the whys and wherefores. I’ve learned how to create my own website, develop blogs and forums, set up and utilize PayPal accounts, make hand bound books, turn simple photographs into dynamic video presentations with effective transitions, background music, and voiceover. With that said, I am still searching for my amazing grace.

  • What have you taken time to push the envelope to learn?
  • Take some time to reflect and really pay attention to what you bring to this world that no one else can bring. This is not an easy exercise.
  • Write your list: The Things that Make Me the Most Amazing Me!
  • Elaborate on at least one item on your list. Don’t stop until the pen is dry.


Work like you don't need the money,
dance like no one is looking,
and love like you've never been hurt.

—Satchel Paige


Awestruck In the Presence of Amazing Grace

by Lissa Ann Forbes

Have you ever been in the presence of someone who captured your heart? Who threatened to change your life forever? Who made you feel so comfortable in his or her presence that any awkwardness just melted away?

It was Saturday, 8:15 in morning. I arrived at the National Speakers Association (NSA) meeting right on time. People were mingling in pockets of two, three, four. A buffet of exquisite breakfast foods was set up. Different than the usual fare of croissants, fruit, cheeses, coffee, and juice. That day, in addition to the usual coffee and juice, there was quiche, bacon, fruit & yogurt parfaits.

I saw a familiar face. Karen asked if I’d like to find a seat next to her as she walked to the back of the room. Without intending to be rude, I said I’d love to, but I preferred to sit at the front of the room because I knew, I just knew, that the feature speaker was going to be something special. I ambled to the front of the room and found a spot that hadn’t been spoken for already. My “table-mates” were engaged in their own conversations, so I went to get some breakfast before I settled in at my table of eight, all facing the stage.

Upon returning I took my seat next to a gentleman with a kindly face, a bright smile, and tiny gold hoop earring in his left ear. He was wearing a black and brown houndstooth jacket with the sleeves tucked into the pockets, black pants, and loafers. He introduced himself as Alvin Law. As I introduced myself, I registered that he was the keynote speaker for the day. How providential that I should sit next to him. For a fleeting moment I thought … handshake. Having already read and now seeing that Alvin had no arms, I immediately, without losing a beat, asked for a hug. Warmly, he said, “oh, I love hugs.” We hugged. I smiled and said it was a real pleasure to meet him.

We settled in as we listened to the first speaker. Alvin rustled a bit next to me, taking papers out of his leather briefcase on the floor … with his feet. He’d taken off his shoes. He reached for his cup of coffee on the table top … with his foot. I wanted to observe, but didn’t want to stare. I looked his way briefly a couple of times to catch a glimpse. I was simply curious to watch this man function completely independently in unconventional ways. But I didn’t want to be a “gawker,” not that he hadn’t experienced that many times in his life, I was certain.
Then it was time. It was his turn to grace the stage.

He talked about thalidomide and the birth defects it caused. He talked about his birth parents who gave him up at only a week old because they couldn’t cope. He talked about the angels, Hilda and Jack Law, who took him in as their foster child at three weeks … for a temporary stay that lasted the rest of their lives. He referenced them as his only parents, the one’s who nurtured him back to health, who had an awakening that everyone was looking at the wrong thing. They were looking at what he didn’t have, couldn’t do, rather than at what he did have and could do. They were his hope and his light.

Everything this vibrant soul had to say hit a chord for me. I was surprised when he said, “I was an ugly baby.” He was an adorable baby. I listened as he told the story of starting school across the street from his home, when he was told he couldn’t go there, that he had to go to the school for crippled kids. I laughed at his mother’s response to the principal’s retort, “He has no arms, what do you call that?” when she said very matter-of-factly, “Alvin!” I cried as he gave his parents so much credit for his accomplishments, not letting him off the hook just because he had to improvise to do a task including mowing the grass and shoveling snow. I laughed some more when he said the speaker who changed his life was “too happy,” reminding me of Patch Adams' nemesis superior who noted in his student medical file that he was “excessively happy.” I cried when I thought of what I hadn’t done in my life because I didn’t know how or thought I couldn’t do it.

He closed his program by playing a piece he wrote on the grand piano that had been wheeled into the room. He talked about the importance of what’s on the inside, not what’s on the outside. He ended with a signature story about the piano teacher who said he'd never play piano because his toes were too short.

Applause filled the room, a room filled with more than a 100 people. This man had touched the hearts and souls of everyone there. He touched my heart and inspired me to exclaim, I have no excuses, absolutely no excuses, for not doing everything I can dream of! This man has inspired me to think differently.

How could you ever doubt what you were capable of after being in the presence of amazing grace? After being in the presence of one who puts you at ease with his differences?
What are your obstacles? How can you adapt in order to accomplish more?


Alvin’s Laws of Life: 5 Steps To Successfully Overcome Anything
by Alvin Law

Alvin Law’s book is a reflection of his talks, or maybe vice versa. Nevertheless, reading his book after hearing him speak reinforced his message. Anyone can do anything if he wants to badly enough. The secret is in using what you have, not focusing on what you don’t have. Alvin has first-hand experience. Having been born without arms, over time he learned to do everything with his feet: Walk, of course, but in addition he writes, eats, throws a Frisbee®, plays basketball, types, drives, and plays not one, but at least three musical instruments: piano, trombone, and drums, and much more.

I was as captivated by Law’s book as I was his talk. I could hear his voice all over again as I read. Two weeks after hearing him speak, one week after finishing his book, I can't stop talking about him and how he's inspired me, how I was in the presence of amazing grace, and I suggest that you too can learn something from this man.

Book available on Alvin's website
** Don't miss the video**

Monday, June 4, 2007

The Brain: Engine or Caboose?

The Brain: Engine or Caboose?

  • Is your brain the engine or caboose?
  • When you think you're in charge do you find you're really following?
  • How might you learn to play both roles?

Just when I thought I had everything in order; bought a new iMac, climbed the steep learning curve getting closer to the summit, become well versed in the different native software programs, and developed a new product with ease using what I'd learned, I was ready to add one more thing to the mix and suddenly found myself following the lead of some sort of glitch. I went to install a new program, Filemaker Pro, because it came so highly recommended. I couldn't install it. I spent the next two-plus days at the Apple doctor. These folks are fabulous. With a smile, they greeted me three days in a row, and took the steps to get me back up and running which entailed wiping my hard drive clean and starting anew. I was in the process of moving my backed-up files onto the fresh drive and I did something that took me back to square one. Don't ask ... all I can say is I found myself once again at the Apple doctor just when I had deadlines to meet. On the fourth visit, all was resolved successfully and I was back on track. Hallelujah! Trust me I will be doing system backups on a REGULAR basis from now on!!
  • Consider a time when you thought you had everything under control, but each step along the way felt like a setback.
  • Did you totally lose it and find things spiraling? Or did you take it all in stride knowing the right person with the right answer would appear?
  • Go to a quiet place and write down the steps you took. If you spiraled, consider another way and re-write the script so you can do it differently the next time. Celebrate the solution.


The brain is a wonderful organ.
It starts working the moment you get up in the morning
and does not stop until you get into the office.

—Robert Frost
(1874 - 1963)


My Mind as an Unruly Child

by Lissa Ann Forbes

My mind can be an unruly child. Sometimes it wants to shut down and take a perpetual vacation, lounge beside gurgling water with songbirds playing their tunes, or just nap. Then sometimes it simply won't stop chattering and it wants to get into everyone's business, be the fix-it lady, and actually go out and find the solutions for everyone except me. Being helpful mixed with "look at me, look at me." Yes, I'm truly aware of what's going on.

It rarely finds an even pace: work—rest—work—rest. When resting, it's angelic, like a small child napping, eyes tracking slowly from side to side beneath translucent eyelids, limp with flaccid limbs, and slow rhythmic breathing. Thoughts float like big puffy cumulus clouds blowing across a clear blue sky. Then the breeze stops and a gentle thought cradles itself against the skull wall.

Occasionally the unruly mind wakes with a start and a critical voice, "Where have you been? You should be working. You must write. You must market. You must ... you must.

She wants to run away and focus on the endless sky with possibilities yet dreamt. New friends, new stories, new angles, new landscape.

There is a different aspect of the unruly brain child as well—the one that is so full of energy and so full of questions. The one that wants to drink up all the learning the world has to offer. Running in circles, twirling, jumping with raucous laughter.

Oh yes, this unruly child often runs rampant in my head. With the slightest suggestion of an idea she gallops off in all directions to gather seeds, and flowers, and leaves. To put together the puzzle pieces of life.

My favorite time of all is when she goes on a creative jaunt collecting the bits and pieces of a project. Often what she comes back with are things I never would have thought of--ways of saying things, ideas to make a presentation pretty or captivating, and bringing in an unusual, unique aspect that makes folks stand up and notice.

Lastly, there are occasions my mind has temper tantrums. Requests are made and my brain stands with hands on hips and either suggests nothing at all refusing to answer questions, or screams "no" relentlessly, "I don't want to do that, no ... no .... no." Sometimes I try to coax her, sometimes I tell her to stop being so stubborn, but mostly I find that if I allow her the tantrum or the time to dream, we get back to work, on track, more quickly.

Is your mind an unruly child too? I'd love to hear your successes and solutions.


Off the Shelf
Reading Resource:

Priestess Entrepreneur: Simple Truths for Creating Success in Your Business
by Cindy Morris, MSW

Cindy Morris' book is just what I needed to make sense of the entrepreneurial life. It can be exhilarating, adventurous, frustrating, challenging, and downright crazy-making. Reading Priestess Entrepreneur was like having a good friend take me by the hand, listen to my own story, and tell me it's all going to be okay. Cindy helps you understand not only the glories, but the pitfalls for running your own business and in the end shares why it's a journey worth traveling.

Whenever I feel discouraged, I open Cindy's book and find just what I'm looking for to spur me on. Encouragement, empathy, strength, and sheer joy and love of the process. This book is a companion worth holding hands with.

Available directly from Cindy Morris at or


To view DVD montage projects by Sacred Heartfelt Moments,
go to

From Write from the Inside: The Ezine, Issue #59, ISSN 1937-2574

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Who is That Woman You Call Mom?

Who is That Woman You Call Mom?

  • What do you really know about your mother?
  • Was she private or did she share openly?
  • Would you like to know more? How might you go about learning who she really is or was?
If your mother is still living, the answer to the last question is easy—go ask her. Or maybe it's not so easy—maybe she is a bit aloof and it's difficult to get past the "Oh, it's so good to see you," or "What would you like to drink with your dinner?" Regardless of the ease you may have in your relationship with your mother, I'm guessing there is always more to learn. If she's still living, don't miss a beat—go ask a new question every day. You may discover something new. You may be surprised that with a little water and curiosity, she will open up like a spring flower. If she's not still living, I dare say it's not too late, just a bit more difficult.
  • Make a date to visit your Mom—at a coffee shop or a quiet special place to ponder.
  • Take a notebook or a recorder and catch every word. At least listen carefully. Even if communing spiritually, I believe one can get answers. I can't say how they come, but I do believe that they come.
  • Don't presume to know what she's going to say. Allow her spirit to bloom.

The shortest distance between two people is a story.

—Unknown author



She Was More Than I Ever Knew

by Lissa Ann Forbes

Not only did my mother not share her feelings readily, but I was guilty of being self-absorbed—maybe for most of my 41 years we had together. My mother has been gone for almost 11 years now and I seem to miss her and appreciate her more each year. I miss that I didn't spend time being more attentive to who she was, learning how she ticked, rather than being reactive and wanting her to understand me.

In the last six months I have learned a new technology --creating DVD photo montages (a fancy slide show). I acquired some photographs from my brother that I had never seen before in my almost 52 years. As I put together this project I saw a woman I had not known.

She was young once. Why is it difficult to see our parents as children? As someone who had to learn all the things we have had to learn: walk, talk, dress ourselves, function in the world of work, handle finances, and parent our own children.

What I saw in those old pictures was a young woman (there were no pictures of her before the age of 17 or 18) who had fun traveling, square dancing, holding her first baby. I saw a light in those pictures of her that was different than the woman I remember growing up with. It's not that my mom didn't have fun during my growing up years, but as her daughter, I saw her as a guide, a disciplinarian, a teacher, a woman who wanted her daughter to have opportunities she didn't have.

During my lifetime, I never saw her as a carefree young girl who played with dolls, or colored in coloring books, or swung on a swing hoping to touch the sky. But there was something, something intangible in the photographs of her as a young adult that sparkled. Maybe it was the young love she had for my father. Maybe it was an innocence.

What I hope to convey here is that it is never too late to learn something about our mothers and be grateful for who they are or were and what they brought to our lives.

My mother gave me opportunities to play with my creativity. She taught me to sew and cook and host parties. She was there to support my efforts in school plays, swim meets, choral recitals, and dance showcases.

We did not have the perfect mother-daughter relationship. In fact, it was fraught with challenges, but as I get older and learn more about me from my own children, I am learning how much she really gave me. I am more grateful now than I ever was while she was living, and realize she was more than I ever knew.

Don't miss your chance. I hope you've had a chance to spend at least a bit of time with your mother for Mother's Day—in person or in spirit. Learn a bit about her that you never knew.


Off the Shelf
Reading Resource:

For One More Day
by Mitch Albom

Mitch Albom has a knack for bringing meaning to loss. In For One More Day he takes us through one more day that his character, Charley Benetto, would have liked to spend with his mother. Charley travels through "ordinary" experiences and along the way makes amends while learning a new appreciation for the special woman she was.

I found I wanted to not only drink in the printed words in this book, but the meaning I found between the lines. The meaning of rethinking how I wished I had done things differently with my mother. It made me ponder, do we really ever know another? Are we ever really capable of doing it differently? What I do know is they play a special role in our lives.

To view the DVD montage featuring my mother, A Woman of Substance, go to

From Write from the Inside: The Ezine, Issue #58, ISSN 1937-2574

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

You Got Questions, I Got Answers

I realized recently that people are constantly asking me questions and I like to find the answers. Given the fact that I know a bit about a lot of things, I think I have a knack for helping folks with the stuff they don’t have time to research.

So, if you need resources for your business, need the how-to’s for your life, let me know and I’ll see what I can find out for you.

My main focus is helping folks preserve their life stories in book form or DVD photo legacies. I’ve been doing this for 6 years and my clients love me. Just ask ‘em.

Things I know about (and this is just a start):

  • Publishing a book, I took self-publishing to a new level … writing, garnering permissions, layout & design, ISBNs, LCCNs, barcodes, copyright application, working with printers. I even hand-bind softcover books, but I’m not crazy enough to do 500 copies.
  • Public speaking, how to start making money as a newbie and build your contact list after Toastmasters has taught you all they know.
  • Designing webpages, ezines, and blogs … I do my own and get changes made when I want them made, not when a web designer can get around to it. I do it now.
  • Teleconferencing … I just love to get folks together to learn new stuff that can enhance their lives and their business.
  • Organizing other people’s stuff … I do a great job with other people’s stuff, but can’t seem to get rid of any of my own stuff. Just ask my Mom. Well, you can’t do that since she died in 1996, but I am a lovesick packrat …
  • How to transform from wall flower to super star … learning to find confidence in the little things one step at a time.
  • How to search the internet and find just about anything … I can sit for hours watching the little gear go ’round and ’round. But I learn lots of new bits of trivia that most folks don’t have time to learn.
  • Traveling to Europe and how to find the best B & B in each town.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

I Can't Help Myself

As you can see, I just love to watch movies. I "study" them on some subliminal level to capture the story line, and transitions, how scene and dialogue play together, and the underlying message.

Peaceful Warrior has many layers to it. This movie will make you think about how you go through your days. As Socrates say, "Many people live their wholes lives without being awake." Based on Dan Millman's life and his book, The Way of the Peaceful Warrior, originally published in 1980.

I've read the book twice and have now seen the movie. It's a journey well worth studying.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

The Ultimate Gift: a "must see" movie

This movie is in the league of The Secret. If we all lived by these precepts the world would be the most incredible place to live. The twelve gifts are of Friends, Giving, Family, Dreams, Work, Laughter, Money, Learning, A Day, and Love.

Watch the movie, live this way, watch you life change! I have experienced a few of these already ... things I've done on my own. But, I know I can do more. You can too.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

A movie to see: Freedom Writers

I just loved this movie, Freedom Writers. It's an "underdog makes good" film where inner city high school students find their own stories with the help of a sensitive, persistent, dedicated teacher who showed them the value of capturing their stories in journals. The movie is based on a true story, also available in printed form. The book is entitled The Freedom Writers Diary : How a Teacher and 150 Teens Used Writing to Change Themselves and the World Around Them. The DVD will be available on 4/17/07.

Take a look:

It's movies and books like this that re-enforce my reasons for helping people write their life stories. The creation of a book or video of one's life is a process of discovery. Discovering one's own value. Seeing beyond the limitations. Moving into a greater awareness of one's divine gifts. Ultimate realization that one's life is not simply "normal" or "ordinary," but exquisite and extraordinary. Every life.

Check out Dangerous Minds with Michelle Pfeiffer and The Ron Clark Story with Matthew Perry. Check Amazon for used copies at low prices.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

How I Learned to Make Books

My Journey--Learning to Make Books

Thirteen dead. Twenty-three more injured. All between the ages of 15 and 19, except three teachers. A city in mourning. A river of tears and a field of memorial mementos. It was a day we remember just as vividly as Kennedy’s assassination. A day simply known as Columbine.

I learned of it at 11:30 that morning while on my lunch hour. A friend’s daughter called on her cell phone to notify of the news. The news that spread like a brush fire. Although not proud of my first reaction, “oh, not again” as I flashed back to such events as Waco and the Oklahoma City bombing, it didn’t take long to become intimately attached, realizing that my 14 and 16 year old boys could easily have been the victims. As I saw those young faces splashed across the TV screen, my heart extended the breadth of the city wanting to connect to the mothers of the dead and injured. I live only 30 miles away from Columbine High School.

Before long a website garnering thoughts and prayers was linking people around the world to this horrible event that was happening so close to home. I added my prayer to the ever-growing length of cyberthought extending itself to wrap around these people—both the victims and the accused. But it took some time for it really to sink in and for me to determine a way I could contribute.

It happened one morning at work as I was drawn to revisit the website that I signed. A divine hand had taken mine returning me two weeks later to see how the site had grown.
At the top of the page, in bold red letters, was a call for a printer or publisher to compile the thoughts and prayers on those cybernet pages in a hard copy book. I raised my hand so quickly, “I wanna do it, I wanna do it.” And the next day I had drafted a simple book cover and submitted it to the asker. Three days later I was in charge of a project whose direction I had no idea its destination.

The logical beginning was to “lift” the thoughts and prayers from the website first. That accounted for 190 pages of heartfelt outpourings on 7” x 9.5” landscape pages. Then I endeavored to create meaningful front and back matter: title page, credits, a recap of the heart-wrenching, thought-provoking song, Friend of Mine, that two young Columbine students wrote to honor those affected in this egregious event. On to the dedication, note from the creator of the website, preface, and photos garnered from 9News for which I received permission to print, and a single page at the end about the creators of the book; there were three of us.

Most of it was straight-forward, but I needed to figure out the pagination, so the numbers were on the bottom right of the rechts pages and the bottom left of the verso pages. I also added an image of flying doves next to the page numbers on each page.

This book decided it wanted to be spiral bound so it could lie flat while open and the cover would be hard. Adhering the paper on which the cover design was printed to the book board was a bit of a challenge because the spray adhesive made the paper curl and I had to work quickly to attach it, but before I knew it, 19 copies were made, one for the family of each student and the teacher who died, and 2 each for the three of us involved in the project.

This was just the beginning though ... the first step in my journey of making soft-cover handbound life story books. Now that process was a bit more involved. The layout was relatively easy as my creative juices just flow in this arena, but designing the first book cover was literally like reinventing the wheel. I managed to design a front cover, then I did a back cover, and then a spine—all in separate Word files. Once I printed them out and cut the pieces, I glued them onto a piece of poster board. It was only then that I realized I had to figure out how to create all the pieces in one file so that it printed as one continuous image that could be wrapped and glued around the pages of the book. To this day, I laugh about these humble beginnings. Needless to say, I figured it out and have been creating books the way it was done 600 years ago for the past 6 years. It’s one of the grandest accomplishments of my life—teaching myself to make books.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

I'm on YouTube!

It's really exciting to learn new things and when I get an idea that fascinates me, or should I say once I've bought into it, I'm like a dog worrying a bone! My first experience on YouTube threatened to put me off forever. There was so much vulgarity there I wondered if I wanted to expose myself to it, but then I found a few things that were really worth watching. See some of my favorites at:

Well, now I've got my own space out there so why don't you take 4:25 minutes to watch me grow up!

I hope you enjoy learning new things as much as I do ... finding the excitement that gives you a reason to wake up every day.

Keep writing, my friends.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Something about trees and roots

(Photos from my personal travels)

There's something about trees and roots that has always fascinated me. Is it because every tree is like a person ... unique? Is it because roots grow underground and create stability (mostly)? Is it because they have roots and often I feel I have none?

Try this, an exercise in creativity:

Look at the photos, choose one that "speaks" to you, give it a name, and describe its personality. Do it again with each one if you like.

Have fun with this, you may even find characters to put in your stories.

Sunday, January 7, 2007

Beauty after a storm

Although shoveling three times in two and a half weeks has tipped my annual quota for exercise, I am grateful. Not only did I get some exercise, but the view outside my window is exquisite. Just take a moment and pretend that you get to work in a room with this view.

I've tried to sell this house a couple of times in the last 4 years, and today I wonder why. I'm glad I am still here to see this.

May you be grateful for the views in your life.

Friday, January 5, 2007

Another snow day in Denver

Three times in two weeks, we've gotten socked in with inches and inches of wet powdered sugar here in Denver! It's effected mail delivery, Fedx and UPS, and grocery stores. The eerie thing is last week there were bare spots on the grocery shelves. I've never seen that in my lifetime. We live in such an affluent country, we don't expect not to get what we want. We're spoiled and we often don't give thanks that all those shelves are stocked just so we can have milk in our coffee or tea. I'm guilty. I like milk in my coffee. In fact, after the second snow, there was no 2% or whole milk on the shelf at our local grocery store. So ...

What do you do on a snow day?

Some folks try to get out to go to work and get stuck.
Some folks do get out and go to work.
When you work at home, there are no excuses.
So today is a good day to print my book project
And continue to watch those little white flakes fall
that cause us so much havoc when we have productive lives to live.

I think hot cocoa, a warm blanket, and a three hankie movie
sounds like a good idea
Or maybe it's a time we can catch up on our reading
make homemade bread, or have quality time with our family.
Why sweat it? Sometimes the forces of nature are stronger than our will.
Is there a message in there somewhere?

Of course, I feel for those who don't get paid if they don't show up
but I never get paid unless I show up anymore
How can employers expect folks to shovel out, spin their wheels,
and come to work fully present when those little white flakes
threaten to lock them in at work.

Now with that said, I spoke to someone today who said,
"I work at a place where if I get snowed in, at least there's a place to sleep."
She's lucky, she works at a hotel.
Most do not have these kinds of comfy accommodations at their office.

My words of wisdom
Stay home
Stay warm
Enjoy the silence and beauty of the little white flakes.

Do you have a snow storm story?

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Well, sometimes things don't work out

As many of you know I was scheduled to be on Nancy Aronie's Writing from the Heart segment on Lime Radio today. The subject was A Time I Wasn't Invited .... Hmmm.

Well, I was invited, but with the constraints of live radio, sometimes they can't get everyone on the air. Now the upside of this is I captured a moment in my life and as the song goes, "no one can take that away from me."

I'm going to work on getting a recording of the story (my own recording) up here, but in the meantime, I thought you might be interested in reading it. Here you go ...

A time I wasn’t invited …

They said they were going out. But what about me? Why couldn’t I go? Where were they going anyway? They said it was an adult party, no children were allowed. They said I would have more fun at the nursery. Yes, nursery. I was only four.

So, Mom and Dad took me to the Army post nursery. My dad was a Lt. Colonel at the time. There were lots of protocol events they attended and I was always shuffled off. For my own good, of course.

This memory is sketchy—a stark building, 6 or 8 other children of all ages, a lady who ran the activities, a linoleum floor, cribs and beds for napping. But I do remember sitting in a circle on the cold floor singing Old MacDonald Had a Farm and playing Duck, Duck, Goose. I also remember finger painting, and why I remember the color green, I don’t know. It was all lots of fun and I didn’t miss my parents at all. In fact, I’m not sure I even realized they were gone until Dad picked me up out of the bed and carried me to the car. I slept in the back seat of lots of cars as a youngster as evening was often a time for travel.

I wonder now, why does time seem non-existent as a young child? Why do we miss our parents in the anticipation of their absence more than their actual absence when we are very young? Why would we want to be by their side while they drink and talk about silly things rather than playing with other children and having fun singing, dancing, coloring, and creating.

Maybe we were worried about what we’d miss. Maybe we wondered if they’d ever come back. Maybe we were afraid of what may happen where we were to be left.

Isn’t this a great lesson in honoring a process? Even as an adult there are times I’m on my way to a speaking engagement or a class or some gathering, and all the way there I’m thinking, “I don’t want to do this, I really don’t want to do this.” And once I’m there I find that I have a grand time. I get to meet new people, share stories, find new connections, see new perspectives—sing, dance, and create. I find that my fear sometimes lies.

Isn’t this what invitations are about? Whether you’re invited or not, it’s all about the experience. You’re experience. My experience. It is what we make it. Too often we think of not being invited as being left out, being shunned, being forgotten, or not being liked. Sometimes not being invited is a better time, a more fun time.

I have found that I am sometimes relieved that I wasn’t invited to an event. I don’t have to find that “black tie” outfit to wear. I don’t have to put on makeup. I don’t have to feel the anxiety of having a less-than-model-shaped figure. I don’t have to shake hands with strangers, put on a smile that I may not feel, drink alcohol, which I rarely do, or watch what I say lest it tarnish my image. Sometimes staying home is the best invitation I could ever ask for.

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

New Beginnings

Traditionally, January 1st is a time to start anew, begin fresh, make new promises, dream big dreams. I believe this can be done at anytime of the year and my creative spark happens at the oddest times. BUT, this year is actually starting out with a bang for me and I am having a flood of new ideas and the desire to implement them. Like this blog thingy I've heard about for quite some time! I think it has something to do with the blizzard of 2006 in Denver that we're still digging out of. What else is there to do when you can't get out of your house ... but create!

I challenge you, when will you begin those life stories you've been meaning to write for your children? When will you get the photographs organized? Are you too busy living your life to record your life? Maybe.

I have a question for you? If you don't take some time to record your life along the way, will you remember it accurately when you get around to creating the legacy to leave for your family? Don't have regrets later. Do it now.

Take the first step. Make a new beginning. Leave the critic at the door. Tears are not to be feared but felt. Spend 10 minutes every day--writing. Even if it's only a list of what you accomplished that day. You can expand from there. In the next 10 minute segment. You really do have the time ... it's all about priorities. It's all about finding what's important in the moment.

Are you ready to be the chief creative in your life? Are you ready to take the first step? Put your socks and shoes on and start walking the path--the writing path.

I look forward to hearing from you along the way--your progress, your challenges, your accomplishments, your great moments! Find joy in this coming year. I have a feeling, that niggling that bubbles up inside, that this is going to be a very good year--not just for me, but for many. Join me and smile!

Now, if they can build a snowman in Tempe, AZ, where I moved to Denver from 9 years ago, you can make your dreams come true!