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Monday Musings ~ May 23

May 23, 2016

Happy Monday!

flowers from sophie

1. First off, I want to thank all of you for your encouragement and comments about our big move to Indiana. It’s been an exciting and emotional roller coaster, so your nice words are greatly appreciated!

2. I may have written that Mary Chapin Carpenter is my absolute favorite singer/songwriter ever. I discovered her while in college and have been a fan ever since. Her words and songs are so hauntingly beautiful and resonate with me so deeply. I was thrilled when she released her latest album a few weeks ago. And it’s just as great – if not better – than her previous work. Check out this NPR article about her and listen to the album.

3. We are currently binging on season three of “The Americans” on Amazon Prime. So of course, I was fascinated by this behind-the-scenes article about how the television show is made. Do you watch “The Americans?”

4. Speaking of television, I agree with this article entitled “If You Want to be a Writer, You Should Be Watching TV.” A lot of the creative inspiration I’ve had recently has been a direct result from watching beautifully scripted stories and rich characters on television. And a well-constructed series is also a great teaching tool for how to pace a story. So if you ever needed inspiration to watch more television, now you have it!

5. Have you ever wondered why iced coffee is more expensive to purchase than hot coffee? I thought I was the only one who noticed this. But then I read this article and realized it’s a phenomenon and I’m not the only one who noticed.

6. Finally, loved this article about the most underrated, must-have items at Trader Joe’s. We’re big fans of those tortilla and mini ice cream cones. Oh, how I love a good trip to Trader Joe’s! What’s your favorite item?

What’s going on in your life? Tell me what you’re thinking about this week.

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Daring to Imagine a Different Life

May 20, 2016

In You’ve Got Mail, Kathleen Kelly makes the difficult decision to close her beloved The Shop Around the Corner children’s bookstore. It’s a decision that, she notes, was not an easy one as the shop was such a large part of her life since she was a young girl. When she tells the older and wiser Birdie of the plan, her friend replies, “Closing the store is the brave thing to do … you are daring to imagine that you could have a different life.”

Never have these words rang so close to home as they do to me now.

Later this summer, I will be leaving the place I’ve known since childhood and moving to a different life in Terre Haute, Indiana. Bryan accepted an amazing leadership role at Indiana State University. So Bryan, Sophie and I (and Casey, Cody and Tess) will become Midwesterners after all these years in San Diego.

In many ways, I feel like Jo March as she leaves her small home of Concord for a new life in New York. Only I’m doing the opposite of Jo, as I’m going from big to small. I don’t mind the small, and I welcome a slower, less crowded pace. I hope I will be as brave as Jo as she embraced her new life and the adventures that lie ahead.

I am sad to leave my family, and the community I’ve come to love. And I’ll miss all that’s familiar to me. But I’m excited to experience a completely different way of life and find new places to explore. We’ll be able to see parts of the country that I’ve never known before. Sophie can perfect her basketball skills and become a Hoosier. And of course, seasons! Finally, trips to the pumpkin patch in autumn when I’m not wearing sleeveless tops and flip flops in 90-degree heat!

I’m fortunate that my business allows me to work virtually with clients from all over the country. Hopefully my writing and marketing skills will help new businesses and entrepreneurs in Indiana and the Midwest. And I can’t wait to share all my new thoughts and moments here with all of you (so much more blogging fodder!).

It’s going to be a crazy summer. So much to think about as we pack up our belongings to move east. I’m still wrapping my head around transporting an 8-year-old, two dogs and a cat across country — that will be a road trip for the books! There will be many more musings about our move and Indiana in the future. But for now, I’m ready to imagine a different life in Indiana.

Thanks for your all your support as Leah’s Thoughts makes a cross-country journey. Moving tips will be appreciated!

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Monday Musings ~ May 2

May 2, 2016

Happy Monday!

beautyis

1. I just returned from a conference designed for moms, media and marketers that was all about empowerment and having a voice through content channels. The conference’s theme was “redefining motherhood.” There were many things I really enjoyed about the conference: I attended some great sessions (heard the producer of “Spotlight” speak!), met new contacts and spent time with great friends. Yet the content and great company was a bit overshadowed by my observations that women continue to perpetuate stereotypes and resort to “othering” each other.

Let me give you an example. I was listening to a panel of super-successful women. And by successful, I’m referring to an executive at Twitter, CEO of a philanthropic foundation, founder of a cross-border investment platform, president of an elite special events company, and an astronaut (yes, an astronaut). I felt honored to be in the presence of these amazing women. Yet the moderator spent quite a bit of time asking them about their relationship with their spouse, and strategies for making time for date night.

Granted, I’m NOT knocking date night. But I couldn’t help but think: If this were a panel of men, would they even be asked these questions?

Further, one of the panelists answered that instead of focusing on date night, what works for her is focusing on spending quality time together as a family. But that answer didn’t fit into the gendered norm and she was shamed for not making time for the traditional date night. I was really bothered by this. Here I sat a conference designed to empower women to have a voice and redefine motherhood. Yet the mom who was honest about her family’s choice was criticized in front of a crowd. I’m not blaming the conference organizers for this. It just reminded me of how far we as women and society still have to go.

Well, that was more of a post than a musing. … If you’re still reading, thank you. And let me continue on with my thoughts.

2. Remember the Barenaked Ladies song, “If I Had a Million Dollars”? I was reminded of that song when I read this article and this one about what people would do with a big tax refund. I did not get a tax refund (quite the opposite!). But I always think about that song and wonder what I’d do if I suddenly had a bunch of cash. First thing I’d do is hire a maid service and buy a new car with functioning air conditioning. What would you buy?

3. I was laughing out loud as I read this Scary Mommy article about how family road trips have changed since my childhood. My family would spend a week each summer driving to and from Lake Tahoe and San Diego. There were no snacks or bottled water. Entertainment was reading a book and listening to my parents’ favorite cassette tapes. This is perhaps why I refuse to buy a car with a DVD player (much to Sophie’s dismay).

4. Finally, I’m in LOVE with The West Wing Weekly podcast! “The West Wing” is kind of like comfort food for me. Anytime I feel down or need a pick-me-up, I re-watch episodes and I feel better. It’s still one of my favorite shows. Watching television shows in 1999 (when the series debuted) was so different than today. You had to wait every week for a new episode. There was no DVR, binge-watching or spoilers to find on the Internet. So waiting for the next podcast episode is almost like reliving those early days of “The West Wing.”

What’s going on in your life? Tell me what you’re thinking about this week.

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How the Wrong Change Led to a Moment of Childhood Wonder

April 15, 2016

Every Friday, Sophie’s school sells cups of frozen yogurt for $2.50 when the afternoon bell rings. Last Friday (and like every week before), Sophie wanted to buy herself a frozen yogurt. She pulled $3 out of her backpack and ran off to purchase her cookies and cream treat.

She returned from the purchase looking ecstatic as she ran across the playground toward me. Even for frozen yogurt, I was surprised at her level of excitement.

“Mommy, look what I got!” Sophie shouted as she ran toward me. “Instead of getting two quarters in change back from my one dollar bill, I got this really cool Chinese quarter!”

She shows me a silver coin that was the exact size of a quarter, but was a foreign coin and most likely not worth 25 cents.

I immediately started thinking we should return to the yogurt sale booth and ask for a replacement since she was (inadvertently) shorted a quarter. I started to suggest out loud that she go back and get the proper change.

But before I could finish my sentence, Sophie looked at me with shock and asked why on earth would she even consider returning the coin.

So instead of demanding proper change, I shut up and gave in to Sophie’s wonder and curiosity about the coin.

Sophie continued to revel in the coin’s possibility “Isn’t this amazing? I got a coin from China. Or Japan. Or somewhere else. I wonder how much it’s worth. It could be valuable!”

She then talked about sharing the coin with my dad (her granddad), whom she knows takes yearly trips to China for his work.

“Do you think Granddad will know what this coin is worth? I should save it because one day, he may take me to China with him and I can use this coin there.”

The next day, Sophie wrote and mailed him a letter telling him all about the coin and asking for his advice in deciphering its origin.

Finding the right direction to wonder

Finding the path to wonder

This simple, little moment reminded me how incredibly grateful I am that – at 8-years-old – Sophie is still in awe of these little things like a foreign coin.

And here we are, as adults, all grown up; so jaded and focused on reality. When did we lose that wonder? When do we go from curious to cynical? From thinking everything is possible, to thinking things are more impossible than probable? When does that change?

I think about myself at her age and rack my brain, wondering if I ever experienced that type of magical thinking. When did I lose my wonder? I don’t remember.

Seeing Sophie and the curiosity and awe made me smile. I felt a satisfaction that I hadn’t felt for a long time. And this may sound condescending, but I was proud of myself, as a parent, for not crushing that moment of joy by correcting her with accurate information.

So, here’s to finding the wonder — whether it’s a shiny foreign coin or something else!

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Monday Musings ~ April 11

April 11, 2016

Happy Monday! Did you watch the “Billions” finale last night? SO good! I’m going to miss that show.

spring flowers

1. I’ve been following Rivki Silver of the Life in the Married Lane blog for years now. She recently wrote about creating a playlist to help you go from sad to glad. I LOVE this idea (and her song choices)! I agree with Rivki that there’s nothing like music to help express emotion. While I can certainly think about the songs that evoke sadness for me, I’ve never created a playlist to help me feel happier. So thanks to her, I’m committing to creating a “sad to glad” playlist for myself. (Side note: Every time I hear “glad” I think of Pollyanna and the Glad Game. Just me?) The first song on the list: “Beautiful Day” by U2. What one song would be on your playlist?

2. Great post by one of my favorite bloggers, Jessica of How Sweet It Is, about how to prep make-ahead smoothie packets. I love making smoothies, but for some reason it always feels time-consuming to do so. Jessica mentions this same thing in her post – so glad it’s not just me! Her photos are always so gorgeous too. Seriously, she makes frozen fruit look amazing! I’m all over this smoothie pack prepping this week.

3. In this article, a Pixar writer talks about how to write a really great beginning of a story. His advice is super helpful for writers working on fiction. He breaks down the storytelling process into five simple steps, which makes complete sense when you think about the stories we read and watch. Be sure to watch the video contained in this piece because he demonstrates this process using Toy Story, The Incredibles and Finding Nemo.

4. Are you a writer or storyteller? This piece by Writer Unboxed explains the difference between the two (yes, there is a difference). Historically speaking, writers were amongst the clergy and the wealthy elite (the mere one percent of the population). Whereas storytellers existed to amuse and inform. They were the common folk you’d find around campfires and hearth fires, telling tales they’d learned from their others. Fascinating stuff! Love this quote from the article:

To be successful, writers must learn the skills of storytelling and storytellers must learn the skills of writing.

5. Finally, this touching piece on Up Popped a Fox was a beautiful reminder to us parents not to lose sight of the moments in life that really matter. Her words so resonated with me that I found myself in tears. Read it!

What’s going on in your life? Do you see yourself as a writer or storyteller, or both? What one song would be on your “sad to glad” playlist?

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