Gratitude and an Instagram-Perfect Life

A couple of days ago I was walking across the lawn in my front yard, and noticing the pretty purple Jacaranda blossoms that litter the sidewalk this time of year. My feet were bare, the grass was soft and damp, the sky was brilliant blue, and the sun was warm. And I was filled with such gratitude.

My life may not be perfect, but I have so much of what I always wanted! I may not own the little old house I live in, but hey it’s a Victorian from 1910, and that’s been my dream home since I was a little girl, so I’m happy. I have a convertible again – a cute one! I am healing and feeling better, and I got through my first year of law school. It’s true that I have a less-than-stellar grade point average–C+ Baby!–but I’m not in danger of getting kicked out, and I’ve now proven I can handle it, so I’m happy with that as well. Things are good! Life is good!

Instagram-Perfect LifeInstagram-Perfect Life

So when I left the house a short time later, I pulled out my iPhone and shot a couple of photos of the house and the jacaranda tree, and posted them on Instagram, which then fed them through to Facebook. I was feeling grateful, and so I shot some happy shiny pretty images and uploaded them, and went on my way. Both images generated a few comments and the photo of the house got over 40 Likes on Facebook. And I had to admit that it looked pretty good on my iPhone! But later it hit me that I hadn’t mentioned that I was only renting half the house – the left half – the half without the great front porch. And then today, looking at the image again, I realized that it actually looked a little better than reality. And that bothered me.

I shoot beautiful things all the time, and I’m always attracted toward the beauty in everything. Obviously I’m going to shoot from the best angle possible, and try to make whatever it is look as attractive as possible – even if it’s just a cell phone photo, meant to show where I live.

But this felt different. If felt like I had accidentally deceived everyone who clicked Like. Would they have still clicked Like and left such nice comments if they saw the house in person? Or if I had thought to mention that it was divided into two apartments in the 1950s, and I’m only renting the left half?

Instagram-Perfect Life

So I decided to shoot the house again today. Instead of an iPhone, I used my new little Canon that I bought to shoot video – just because I wanted to play with it. I tried to shoot the house, as it really is, and not disguise the not-so-great parts. Where the Instagram version sort of hid the satellite dish in the tree branches, this time I didn’t try to disguise it. Where the Instagram version deemphasized the junk on the front porch and the multiple mailboxes, this time all that clutter is more visible. Where on Instagram the yard looked large, with a big lawn, today’s version shows just how small the front yard is – which is typical for downtown Riverside, and nothing to be ashamed of, but it is different than the impression the other image gave… The biggest change is that the Instagram version was shot in the middle of the day, so the sky is bright blue and everything looks lush and verdant – and the image today was shot at sunset, so it’s got a much softer feel.

Oh, and the neighborhood cats decided to pose for me today, so that was an added bonus!

I don’t think either image makes the house look unattractive. And I like them both. And the Instagram version is not a lie – that’s how the house actually looked at that moment in time, in that light. But even so, it gave the impression that the house was just a bit grander than it really is, and by association, that my life was maybe a little grander than it actually is. But guess what? My life is grand to me! The house I live in may not belong to me, I may only be renting half, and it may be a little less than Instagram-perfect – but it’s my favorite kind of house, and I love it. I may not have the great front porch, but I have ten-foot tall ceilings and vintage woodwork – I’m happy!

Jacaranda blossomsfriendly neighborhood cat

big orange male catVW Convertible

I also love my cute little convertible with one missing hubcap, and and the scruffy neighborhood cats that follow me around the yard, and beg for love and affection.

My life may not be Instagram-perfect, but I am very grateful for everything that I have!

You just discovered you have fifteen minutes to live…

If I found out I only had fifteen minutes to live? Right now?

I’d get up from the computer and run outside and lift my face up and soak up the sun. I’d listen to the birds singing, and arguing and gossiping. I’d smell the grass, and the dirt, and the honeysuckle blossoms that are hanging on, just a little past their prime. Then I’d open my eyes and LOVE the bright blue sky and everything around me – the shaky fence, the rambling roses, the rock chimney on the back of the house.

And then I would tell God thank you. Thank you for everything I’ve experienced in this life. The triumphs, and the near triumphs, and the trips and falls. I’d say thank you for my art, and for making me not just a girl with potential, but a full blown artist. An artist who may have wanted to achieve more, but who achieved enough to feel fully expressed. That’s rare and wonderful, and I’ve been lucky, and I know it.

I’d say thank you for everyone I’ve loved, and everyone I should have loved, but didn’t quite – because they all made a difference in my life. A big difference. A profound difference.

And I would say thank you for giving me these final fifteen minutes, so that I could soak up the sun one last time, and feel grateful one last time, and go out of this world exactly like I came in – happy!


I just found out about an interesting project, starting today.

#Trust30 is an online initiative and 30-day writing challenge that encourages you to look within and trust yourself. Use this as an opportunity to reflect on your now, and to create direction for your future. 30 prompts from inspiring thought-leaders will guide you on your writing journey. http://RalphWaldoEmerson.me

And the first prompt was so interesting, I signed up…

We are afraid of truth, afraid of fortune, afraid of death, and afraid of each other. Our age yields no great and perfect persons. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

You just discovered you have fifteen minutes to live.

1. Set a timer for fifteen minutes.
2. Write the story that has to be written.

http://ralphwaldoemerson.me/prompts

I don’t know that I’ll go beyond this first day, but the first prompt made me want to write, so here I am, fifteen minutes later… What would you do if you only had fifteen minutes to live?

I think I need to go outside and enjoy the sun a little. I may have more than fifteen minutes left, but that’s no reason to waste anymore time inside!

Why is a unique name important for an artist?

If I could give new, or even not-so-new artists, one piece of advice, it would be that you’ve got to have a totally unique name.

If you want to blend in, and not stick out, and not be found, then a name that is fairly common and shared among multiple people is fine. And many many people fit that scenario – I know that! But if you’re an artist, and you want a career, then doesn’t it make sense to make yourself easy to find? When someone Googles you, don’t you want them to find YOU – and NOT the guy a few towns over who shares your same name? And don’t you want your domain name to be the same as your name? Isn’t that easier, simpler, and more elegant? Somehow, RobertSmithArt.com or RobertSmithPhoto.com don’t pack the same elegant punch as just RobertSmith.com, do they?

I’m lucky – I was born with a unique name. I didn’t ever have to think about changing it or adding to it, and I didn’t have to deal with all the repercussions of changing my name. So lucky!

Spelts flourSpelts, used as a last name, is not at all common. It’s of English origin, and comes from a kind of wheat – merriam-webster.com calls it an ancient wheat, dating back to the 12th century, but I have some in my kitchen pantry right now – so it may be ancient, but it still exists today. And it’s healthy! Wikipedia, which spells it as Spelt, says… “Spelt (Triticum spelta) is a hexaploid species of wheat. Spelt was an important staple in parts of Europe from the Bronze Age to medieval times; it now survives as a relict crop in Central Europe and has found a new market as a health food.” I then had to look up “relict crop” and Wikipedia defines it as “a crop which was previously grown extensively, but is now only used in one limited region, or a small number of isolated regions.”

So the crop is rare, but not as rare of those of us with the last name.

When I was growing up we used to joke that there were only about fifty people named Spelts in the entire United States – and we were related to all of them. I have a Spelts family tree from before I was born, and most of them lived in Nebraska – which is where my Grandfather was born – and then our small branch in San Diego, which included my Grandfather and his brother, and both of their families.

When I first got online in 1996, I remember searching for Spelts, and discovering that our joke about being related to the all fifty of the other people in the world with the same last name, wasn’t that far off from reality. In fact, in the 2000 census, there were only 304 of us counted. It’s a very rare name.

The most common misspelling is to put a Z on the end, and get Speltz, which is actually the Germanic version. Similar, but not the same – and not quite as rare.

When I was ready to register a domain name for my photography business, part of me wanted to register spelts.com, but I ended going with my full name, cherylspelts.com and then my brother registered spelts.com – which was good because it kept it in the family! And for years those two domains dominated the top of the listings if you searched for Spelts – we both beat out any pages on the grain! The grain now beats us both, but for years, my brother and I traded off on the top position.

But having a unique name isn’t just about the last name. You can have a fairly common last name, and as long as it’s paired with an unusual first name, or vice versa, you’re good! Or you can take two not-so-unusual names, and pair them, and come up with something unique. It doesn’t really matter how common or uncommon your individual names are, what matters is that the combination – your full name – is unique.

In my case my first name is fairly common. Cheryl is of French origin – it comes from the French term of endearment, Chérie, which means dear one, or beloved. There’s no record of it being used in the current form and spelling before 1920, but it made the top 100 names for girls between 1944 and 1979. And paired with my unusual last name, I have a full name that’s almost totally unique. I know from that old family tree, that at one time I had a relative by marriage somewhere in Nebraska who is older, also named Cheryl – but I’ve never found any sign of her on the Internet – maybe she remarried and changed her name? Or maybe she just lives a very private life? Or maybe she never changed her last name to Spelts in the first place – just because you marry a Spelts doesn’t mean you have to adopt the name? Or maybe she’s no longer living – that family tree was created a long time ago! So for all intents and purposes, at least online, I have a totally unique name. If you want to find me, it’s very easy!

Which brings me to a little story – about someone trying to trade on my unique name…

I used to own over 50 domain names – and while I did sell one of those domains, I never bought them for that purpose. I used or planned to use every domain I ever registered. But over time the number of domains I owned grew, and it was time to let some of them go. About that same time I decided to pull my fine art photography under the same domain as my other work – it had been under it’s own domain, since fine art and other kinds of photography don’t tend to have much overlap – and at one time I thought it was best to keep them separate – but things change, and I was ready to combine it all here, on cherylspelts.com. So I let that other domain go. And I did it with very little thought, because seriously, who else but me would want it? It was a variation of my name, and since I’m the only one with my name online, I felt totally safe abandoning it.

Ha! I was not safe at all! Turns out there are idiots out there, eager to make a profit in totally unethical ways.

I regularly Google my own name – I did Search Engine Optimization professionally at one time, and I still love to watch how I rank for different search terms, including my own name. So it didn’t take long for me to discover that someone had bought my old domain, and put up a site about photography on it.

Seriously? A site about photography? On a domain that included my first and last names with a dash in between? It was one of those ugly template sites, with 160 pages! Clearly created to capitalize on any traffic that might come from the use of my name, in the hope that those visitors would click on the ads, and generate revenue for the new owner. It had a contact form, which of course didn’t go to me, and it had links to “new work” which wasn’t my work at all, and actually flirted with the edges of porn.

I tracked down the new owner through WHOIS and wrote a polite email, assuming she just didn’t know better, and explained how it was not legal for her to trade on my name. She wrote back that she had randomly chosen my name and randomly decided to put a photography site on it, and wasn’t it funny that I actually had that name, and was actually a photographer, and maybe the universe was trying to tell us something? Random? Really? She really thought that I’d believe she randomly registered and built a photography site, on a domain using my name? But it gets better! She then proceeded to school me on how I’d had multiple chances to keep my domain, and I must have ignored the notices, and so it was my own fault I’d lost it – but she’d sell it back to me, if I’d reimburse her for her time and effort. It’s a fairly common scammy practice… pick up expired domains and then “sell” them back to the previous owners, who are desperate to get them back and are willing to pay hundreds of dollars to get their sites back. But me? I didn’t want the domain back – I purposely let it expire, and I didn’t care if she owned it – I just didn’t want her trading on my name. She could own it – no problem there – but she absolutely could not use it for a photography site.

Once she realized that I wasn’t going to go for buying the domain back, she switched tactics and wanted me to pay her just to take it down – she wanted $300-$500 or possibly more, she’d have to think about it. Her exact words… “If You want the site down, its is fair to expect you to purchase it from me. If not, then I do not HAVE TO take the site down.” Punctuation hers, not mine.

I let her know that what she was doing was extortion, and was illegal, and she came back with “There are many other people with the same name throughout the world” so she figured, I wasn’t the ‘sole owner’ of the name even though I was given it at birth. Guess she didn’t do quite enough research! I wrote back that I am indeed the sole owner of the name, since it’s an unusual name, so that argument doesn’t fly.

She was located in Australia, and obviously felt safe in playing this scammy little game, since the distance was so great. But guess what? Extortion is illegal in Australia too. And I fully intended to contact the authorities in her area – which may sound like a hollow threat – what can I, all the way in Southern California really do about a problem in Australia? And would the Australian authorities take it seriously enough to do anything? But did she really want to test it? Evidently not, because once she fully understood that I was serious, and I wasn’t going to bend, her photography tips site with 160 pages, and links to borderline porn, morphed overnight into an equally scammy site on beading.

I can live with that. It’s not a perfect solution – you can still find her site when you Google my name – but it’s not a photography site. And no more links to borderline porn! Not even close to perfect, but definitely livable.

Moral of the story?

First, if you have registered variations of your domain name, even if you don’t need them anymore, think twice before letting them expire!

And second, if you have an unusual or unique name it’s a lot easier to fight this kind of thing. If I had a common name, I wouldn’t have been able to fight this without the use of lawyers. And even with a lawyer it’s unlikely I would have won. But because I have a unique name, it was simple!

Thanks Dad and Mom for giving me a unique name! The Internet and online marketing wasn’t a consideration back when they named me, so I’m grateful I got so lucky!

But if you didn’t get so lucky, and if your name isn’t all that unique, and if you’re an artist? I’d seriously consider changing your name – or adding to it – or anything – just make it unique.

Just as your art should be unique, so should your name be!

And me? If you scroll to the bottom of this page, you’ll see the TM mark next to my name in the copyright line. Yes, I am trademarking my own name. I never imagined it would be necessary, but getting burned once is definitely enough.

What I dream of…

Old houses in Riverside, CaliforniaDreams. You hear the word and some of you immediately think of goals and plans and making your dreams come true. And others will hear the word and immediately think of sleeping, and fantasy and the part of your life that happens subconsciously, deep in the night. The two definitions are so different, but sometimes I think, intimately entwined.

I dream about houses – in all senses of the word. I definitely dream and plan and have a goal to buy a house – absolutely! And I also dream about houses while sleeping. I think the overlap happens because it’s one of my deepest and purest desires – a little old house of my very own…

When I was a little girl I remember being attracted to old houses – if there was a Victorian house on a street, my eyes would immediately be glued to it, and I’d turn around in the back seat of the car, to look as long as I possibly could. It was a huge attraction. And I could tell the difference between truly old houses, and new houses that had been built to look old – and had big disdain for the latter. My parents built three different brand-new custom houses while I was growing up – houses in the best neighborhoods – with tile roofs and huge yards – but there I was lusting after the little old Victorian cottages we only saw when we went to Downtown San Diego. Even so, I’m definitely my father’s daughter – he may have liked brand new construction and perfect newness and I liked worn wood and wavy vintage glass windows – but deep down, our passion for houses was very similar – just different in the details.

My first apartment was the bottom story of an old house in San Diego, and since then I’ve lived in lots of rented old houses – but I’ve never owned one.

About a year-and-a-half ago I had a dream – I woke up thinking about this little old yellow house with a dusty yard. It was run down and needed work, but in the dream it was mine – my house – my home. And I was going to get to paint and repair and restore it, and make it look like it did in it’s heyday. It was such a vivid dream! And when I woke up I couldn’t shake it. At the time I was still thinking I wanted to live in LA – for business reasons – and this house just did not fit with the plan. But the dream and this dream house kept pulling at me…

I’ve always heard that when you dream about a house, the house represents you – and the different rooms represent different aspects of your personality. So if you find new rooms in your house while dreaming, you’re discovering new parts of your personality or new things you’d like to try. So I wasn’t quite sure what it meant when I was dreaming about a run down little old house in another city, when I thought I wanted to be in LA? How could I reconcile that?

But there was something about the dream that stuck with me. The house just felt like home. It felt like me. Even if I wasn’t sure I liked that.

This week, on a whim I did a search on realtor.com and the house in my dream popped up – and I was instantly drawn to it. Built in 1893, a Victorian cottage with a front porch on a dusty, weed-filled lot. Then I saw the photo of the kitchen – two-tone 1930’s tile work and 1930’s cabinets. Yes, it’s definitely the personification of the house in my dream.

And while I’m not ready to buy right now, Riverside has lots of similar homes, and when I am ready, there will be one for me. I know that. I dreamed it!

The image on top is the house as I saw it in my dream – sort of blurry and happy and soft. And the image below is how the rest of the world sees such a house – run down, and needing work. I’m honestly in love with both views. I’m easy when it comes to my dream house…

Victorian cottage in Riverside, California

Um, artists are different…

Everywhere you go this time of year, the talk is all about resolutions and goals. Some of it has been reminding me, once again, how fundamentally different artists can be from non-artists. Not always, but sometimes…

Over the holidays I overheard a conversation between two non-artist friends, about one of my artist friends – someone they admire – and they were saying how hard the last year must have been on him, since “X” project didn’t work out quite as hoped, and “Y” project was on hold, and who knew about project “Z” – since he hadn’t talked about it in months? Such a rough year, hopefully the coming year would be better!

Honestly, I was baffled – they never even mentioned projects A, B, and C – which were all wildly successful – and if you’re going to measure someone else’s year, shouldn’t you consider the really big successes too? That seems sort of basic – right?

But the part that really got me was the way they wrote off X,Y, and Z as disappointments, when in reality, my friend produced some damn fine work – work he’s proud of – and just because it somehow didn’t connect commercially, or the project is on hold, that means it’s a disappointment? No! Absolutely not.

Damn fine work is damn fine work. If you stretch and grow and create something new and wonderful, and evolve as an artist that counts. Not all projects connect in the same way with the public. Or end up financial successes. Sometimes brilliant work never even gets completed – it gets stalled for some reason. But does that make it less brilliant? Shouldn’t you still be proud of brilliance, even if it’s in an unfinished state at present?

It’s called artistic fulfillment – and it’s a driving force for some of us – more so than money, or status.

But here’s the thing, measuring worth based on something other than money or status isn’t limited to artists. I’m sure if you talked to real estate agents, some of them would be irritated if they were judged solely on the number of houses they’d sold that year – what about their impact on the families they helped in finding that perfect new home? Doesn’t that count? Or what about teachers? It’s not the number of students they taught. There’s more to it – right? What about software engineers? Isn’t it better for them to write fewer lines of code that do more, and fight bloat? Bottom line, it’s ridiculously difficult to evaluate the “goodness” of someone else’s year, if you don’t really understand their world.

These two non-artist friends are good people, and they care about our artist friend – they just have no clue what’s important to him, and how he evaluates success. He actually had a phenomenal year in 2009 – and more of that kind of “goodness” is lined up for 2010. If only they could see that…

What am I magnetically attracted to?

One of my favorite blogs recently has been Danielle LaPorte’s White Hot Truth. I’m always attracted to passion, and she dials it up to eleven every time she posts. Today I read her post about figuring out what you’re magnetically attracted to – and what that says about you – and thought it was fascinating.

What am I magnetically attracted to?

1. Black nail polish
2. Orange blossoms
3. Hot sun and hot nights
4. Skin – tanned or pale
5. Great bone structure and pretty lips and wide open eyes
6. Hair that swings and blows and shines
7. Old houses
8. Wood floors and windows and doors
9. Great shoes
10. Silver gelatin prints
11. Silver jewelry
12. BIG colorful canvases of my images or paintings by contemporary artists
13. A soft cool breeze on a hot summer night
14. Old trees
15. Sand, and surf, and the ocean
16. Expensive leather purses
17. Water, in all it’s forms
18. Convertibles
19. Portraits shot at a wide open aperture
20. People who are smarter than me
21. Men just out of the shower, who smell like soap
22. White teeth
23. Wrap-around skirts
24. People who dance well
25. Dark chocolate
26. Concerts
27. Passion in other people

What does it all say about me? Not quite sure yet, but since most of those things are in my life, on a regular basis, I definitely think I’m headed in the right direction. What is that old saying? Follow your bliss… Okay!

Biggest Dreams and Worst Nightmares

I think it’s interesting how often love and fear collide. And I guess it makes sense, since if nothing is at stake, then what would there be to fear? And truly, what is the absence of love? It’s fear. And if love and fear are connected, then obviously so are our biggest dreams and worst nightmares. Unfortunately dreams and nightmares go hand in hand, far too often.

When I was younger my biggest dream was to be on the silver screen – in a movie. I also wanted to do TV, but movies were the pinnacle for me – the biggest dream I had! But then I discovered photography, and my passions turned toward art, and my dreams evolved – and it happened long before I even got close to seeing myself on a movie screen. I got on TV in a couple of VERY minor ways – once as an extra in a crowd scene in 1989 on Simon and Simon, a cop show on CBS set in San Diego. And then in 1992 I was on the local San Diego NBC News on election day – dressed in royal blue, making phone calls for my candidate of choice, I got the full treatment with the microphone cord under my shirt, and I was instructed when to start and what to do – it was more “making” news than anything else, but I thought it was great!

But I never made it to the big screen, until this year. It started with an interview for a local cable program called Life in California. I had shot a photo documentary of the Fallbrook Film Festival, and this TV show was doing a segment on the festival, and somehow it ended up that they wanted to interview me. Cool! So I show up for the interview dressed in my most flattering best, with my hair as fabulous as is possible, and I tried hard to forget how I looked, and focus on what I had to say. I mean who cares what I look like? It’s my images that count – right? Not my looks. But for anyone who has ever been an actress, that’s hard. It’s hard for anyone, but for an actress, even harder. And just because I’m now an ex-actress, doesn’t mean that the old fears don’t still exist. And when I saw where they wanted to do the interview, I cringed inside, but didn’t let it show. What could I do? They planned to have the camera placed below me and the interviewer, pointing up, which is the best way to make me look fatter. Oh, and I was to be in profile, which is the second best way to make me look fatter. And to top it off, we were to be seated – which is of course, the third quickest way to make me look fatter. It was my nightmare scenario. Truly! But I had two things going for me. One, deep inside of me, the actress part of me who had the big dreams still exists, and two, I have great passion for the subject matter – my art – so I just plunged right in and did it. And it was fun!

The interview ended up lasting close to thirty minutes – it was really in-depth, and it’s fun to talk about art, especially your own art. I did panic a little the next day, and called the producer to make sure I’d done okay – that I wasn’t too gushy, or too dorky, or too over-the-top enthusiastic. He told me I’d been “great” but that didn’t reassure me much, since I’m sure they tell every trainwreck/hot mess/loser who appears on every reality show just how “great” they were – good TV doesn’t always mean yes, you came across as classy, talented and hot. Sometimes it means you were a total mess, but hey, it was entertaining!

But even with all the worry about how I looked and how I sounded and how I came across, I was still actually looking forward to seeing it on TV someday. On TV.

Then I found out they were going to have a premiere of that particular episode at the local movie theater. And that’s when the fear really stuck me down. Appearing on a little TV screen was one thing, on the big silver screen was just another thing all together. The idea of me, looking ugly and fat, on a HUGE screen? It terrified me. At that point I didn’t even care what I said. I could have been spouting off pure nonsense and I would not have cared. All I could focus on was ugly, fat, and thirty feet high on a movie screen.

I came so close to not going. I wouldn’t let my family go, and none of them could understand why? Who could understand? But it was my worst nightmare – I just knew it!

But…. somewhere deep inside, I was still aware that it was also one of my biggest dreams about to come true. And if I missed it, I might be missing the only time I would ever see myself on a movie screen. Did I really want to miss that? Yeah, it might be awful, but still, it was a dream come true…

So on the big day I went with my mother, who would not be dissuaded, and the theater was much bigger and much fuller than I would have liked. We took seats near the front – I figured that if this was IT for me, the big dream come true, then I wanted to be really close and get the full experience. Even if it killed me! But surprisingly it didn’t kill me. They showed lots of my images from the Film Festival, I sounded fairly smart and what I said made sense, and while I did look fat, it was okay. I started to breathe again, and to actually enjoy it. The segment on me went on much longer than I expected, and my mom kept squeezing my arm, she was so happy. Experiencing that with my mother was very very cool, and it made me sad that I’d denied the rest of my family. What was I thinking? It was a fun and cool thing, and they only wanted to share that with me. I kept the little ticket stub from that day as a memento, and I came away feeling really glad that I’d made myself go, and made myself face that huge horrible nightmare, because honestly it wasn’t so bad, and seeing myself on a movie screen, talking about art? That really was a dream come true!

My mom called me last night – she’d been flipping through the channels on TV and came across the episode with my interview, except that it was different than the version we’d seen in the movie theater. This version featured some of my images of rock stars and musicians and models, instead of just images from the film festival. And she said they showed different parts of the interview, and matched what I said up to particular images. We saw the premiere back in October, so I’m surprised her memory of it was that detailed – for me it went by in a big blur of stress and love and fear and happiness – I don’t remember the specifics of what I said! But she’s my mom, and she did!

It’s blows me away to think about how close I came to giving up something that had been one of my biggest dreams, just because it collided with what could be my worst nightmare. And I certainly haven’t kicked that particular nightmare – I’m still fearful of looking ugly and fat and all the rest. I fear that on a daily basis! But I don’t want that fear, or any other fear to stand in between me and my dreams – even an old dream that I’d nearly forgotten. It may have been an old dream, but seeing it come true was pretty sweet…

Ambition Exactly Proportional to Your Powers

“Every man has his own vocation. The talent is the call. There is one direction in which all space is open to him. He has faculties silently inviting him thither to endless exertion. He is like a ship in a river; he runs against obstructions on every side but one; on that side all obstruction is taken away, and he sweeps serenely over God’s depths into an infinite sea. This talent and this call depend on his organization, or the mode in which a general soul incarnates in him. He inclines to do something which is easy to him, and good when it is done, but which no other man can do. He has no rival. For the more truly he consults his own powers, the more difference will his work exhibit from the work of any other. When he is true and faithful, his ambition is exactly proportional to his powers. By doing his work he makes the need felt which he can supply.”

 

- Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

Downtown Fallbrook

Change and Growth

My horoscope for today, according to Yahoo

One of your friends keeps going on and on about how they are changing and growing, but you’ve yet to see any real evidence of this transformation. Before you call them on their baloney or tell them that they are fooling themselves, think about what they really need right now — your support, not your criticism. So be patient and understand that sometimes real change takes real time — it doesn’t always happen dramatically. Encourage them to keep going, and they’ll be able to.

Now first let me say that I would never in a million years tell a friend that I didn’t see any real evidence that they were changing and growing! How can we ever know what is going on inside another person, no matter how close we are? I would just never never never do that.

But reading that paragraph did make me think about visible change versus the tumultuous kind of change that happens inside and can drive you nuts, but may not show on the outside until way after it’s completed and done, and you’ve moved on to new growth. Sometimes we know we’re in a period of serious growth, and it can be delightful or difficult, but we know we’re changing big time. But do others see it in us? Not always. You don’t always get credit for all the growing you’re doing. Then other times you do something minor like cut your hair, or start wearing more of one particular color, or anything else that really didn’t require much thought on your part, and suddenly everyone around you starts to comment on all the changes you’re making, and how much you’re growing – and you want to say “Really?”

Personally I embrace change with one arm, and push it away with the other. I love change that I choose, and hate change that is forced upon me. And I almost always feel like exciting things are on the horizon, and like I’m chasing after change and growth as fast as I can go. I hate feeling stuck! And right now, I have to admit I do feel a little stuck. It’s hard not to feel stuck in this economy. But I know the cure for feeing stuck – it’s embracing change with both arms – and I can do that. It may not always be visible from the outside, but that’s okay. No one I know would dare tell me they didn’t see any real evidence of change or growth. My friends are much too polite for that…

Idyllwild Snow

Get Hot!

Get Hot / Photo: Cheryl SpeltsGet Hot! Don’t you just love it? All the possibilities…

I was in Vegas at the WPPI tradeshow earlier this week, and picked up this red hot pin at the Kiss Albums booth. Something about it just speaks to me. Physically, as in let the hot babe inside all of us show a little more often. Professionally, as in heat up your career, your work, your path – show off a little! Emotionally, as in let your red hot passion guide you and lead you. And then of course, can’t forget temperature-wise, as in embrace summer, and all that summer represents, year-round. What can I say, I love the heat!

It’s just two little words – but those two little words are saying exactly what I wanted to hear this week. So yeah, get hot! Embrace the heat…