What will YOU dare to do? A guide, from A to Z….

I took the girls to the craft store yesterday. I needed to get supplies for Ellie’s First Communion banner, and knew the others would like to tag along (we love craft stores!). Mitzi used a gift card to buy some new watercolors, brushes and paper — and she got this poster. She didn’t show me until she’d hung it on her closet door last night. I love it! I’ve decided that every day I need to go in her room and read it, to remind myself that every day is filled with chances to dare.

Turns out, both of us liked letter F the best. What about you? What letter is your favorite? What will YOU dare to do today?


inspirational poster -- Dare to...


The pressure of January 1st

I’m very glad January 1st is almost over. It’s a lot of pressure, this one little day out of so many, pressure to make resolutions and plan life changes and carpe diem and all that stuff.


I don’t like to make resolutions any more. I used to — I’m a huge fan of lists, and crafting a Things To Do or Accomplish in the New Year List used to make me happy. But then I’d always get to December and realize that I hardly did any of the things on my list, and the failure make me depressed. I mean, what’s the point of making a list if you can’t check things off? So I stopped making the darned list.

Lately, what I do, ’round about this time of the year, is think about how I’m going to live better. Just little things. Remember that I don’t need to save all the vegetables for the kids — I need them too. Get some more fresh air. Stretch. Laugh. Possibly come up with a system of organization that once and for all relieves me of all the clutter.

My sister, who’s a health coach and possibly the biggest cheerleader anyone could ask for, recently wrote about New Year’s and talked about the idea of “do overs”:

I like to think of the new year as a do-over! Did something you tried not go so well?  What if you yelled “do over” like we did when we were kids and tried again?  What would your life be like if you gave yourself permission to let go of your disappointment and try again?  Why don’t you take this year to find out?

Isn’t that a great way to look at it?

This year I’d like a do-over. To try every day to just be a slightly better version of the last-year me.

I’m also going to challenge myself to blog more. My cousin did a great project last year — a picture that captured a moment of inspiration or beauty or challenge — and she posted one a day. I’d love to try that, but, frankly, I don’t go to that many places which would make for a boring 365 pictures. But could I do a blog post a day? Hmm….perhaps.

The other thing I’d like to accomplish is to finish my novel’s revisions and start submitting it — AND work on a new one.

That’s it. Humble goals. Live better. More vegetables. Fresh air. Stretch. Laugh. Write more. *

Happy New Year!

*Notice that none of this mentions my husband or children. That’s just because, really, a better me is good for them, too. It’s an all-around win!

Do you have any change to spare?

On Christmas morning, Mom and I took the kids to mass at her church, the parish in which I grew up. The kids and I don’t get to church very much these days, for a lot of reasons (which may or may not be the topic of some future post here in A Mom’s World), but one reason is that I’ve never found another Catholic church that comes close to being like St. Jerome.

So I do look forward to going to church whenever I’m back home. Aside from the recent changes to the prayers (darn it), the place never changes and I find that comforting, even if I’m not a fan of the organist or the vocalist who sings in that annoying impossible-to-understand churchy warble. (During the responsorial psalm, Cooper leaned across his sister and stage-whispered: “What is she saying?” I just shrugged and pretended to mouth the right words.) The interior of St. Jerome is warm and welcoming, soft woods and easy lights, open and unfussy, a throwback to the 1970s. There is nothing cold or imperious about it. It’s the kind of place you’d imagine a pair of guitar-playing folk singers might lead the congregation in singing “The Prayer of St. Francis” — which is exactly what they did when I was a child in those peace-seeking 1970s.

So, while it’s different today in some ways, it’s still part of homecoming, my return to the church where I was married and in which all of my children were baptized, all events long after I’d moved away from the town.

This year’s Christmas mass had an interesting twist. Father David, the pastor, who is pretty forward-thinking in a lot of ways, decided to not give a homily. Instead, he shared, on a big screen, this video:

The 10-minute movie is compelling and beautiful, following a homeless man as he begs for change, which he then gives to others in need. I watched it with Joanna on my lap, whispering in her ear when she didn’t understand what was going on. At points I got teary and hugged Joanna tighter. Though unorthodox in nature (showing a video at church!!), the message was clear: this was the meaning of Christmas.

The other day I found the video on YouTube and watched it again. I was still moved by it. However, I read through the comments and was amazed by how many people just didn’t get it. They found it unrealistic (a homeless man would never give away money — he’d buy himself food! Or alcohol! That’s why he’s homeless in the first place!) and unbelievable (no one just gets hired for a job off the street like that!).

I guess those were the people who missed the point. The video is not supposed to be a documentary, a true-to-life rendition of actual events. It’s a narrative presenting a greater message, hopefully inspiring the viewers to do what the homeless man did — give to others in need. Spark a small change in the world.

It’s the butterfly effect. What you do every day has consequences, big and small, positive or negative. You can yell at your child, or speak with kindness, even when you’re angry or frustrated. You can tailgate the slower driver in front of you when you’re in a hurry to make the train to work or you can back off. You can avert your eyes and walk past the bedraggled woman sitting on the street corner or you can drop a penny in her cup. Who knows what your act of kindness will inspire the receiver to do?

Even when you have nothing, you still have something to offer.  What you choose to offer (something or nothing, good or bad) is entirely up to you. But I guarantee that whatever you give — or don’t — has meaning, and effect.

The video starts and ends with a penny dropped into a cup — the bit of change symbolizes the small things we can do that can add up to create a big difference.

So, buddy, can you spare a dime?

Get Your Yoga On

Love yoga?  Love music?  Get your fix of both this Saturday, Feb. 13, at Yoga in the Square.  Yoga instructor Checka Antifonario will join with chant vocalist/musician  Irene Solea Antonellis for a 90-minute vinyasa yoga flow to live music.  All levels are welcome. $15 drop-in ($12 w/ student ID) – Yoga in the Square class cards welcome.   What better way to get your heart (and spirit) ready for Valentine’s Day?  

Yoga in the Square
249 Elm Street
Davis Square, Somerville, MA
Saturday, February 13th, 2010   1:15 – 2:45 pm

This One’s for Pop

After a couple of weeks away, I’ve forced myself to sit my butt in this chair and blog. We were at Mom & Dad’s last week for our annual July trip.  Had a great time, though Mom was under the weather and I did some things alone with the kids that she would normally have done with us.  She was a good sport, though — I mean, four kids under seven isn’t exactly a restful crew when you are convalescing, is it?  She was also trying to have her first full week of retirement.  I assume this week is going much better for her!

But Dad kept asking me when I was going to blog.  Since he is my steadfast reader, I am doing this one for him!  

I don’t have much to say today, or lately.  Have been busy writing, editing manuscripts, submitting here and there, or just wasting time on the SCBWI and blue boards.  I also joined the CBI Clubhouse because I need some more information, inspiration, and intentional time-suckers, since Facebook isn’t doing enough for me lately in the time-sucking category.

Back to vacation.  A wonderful week of busy fun, with enough cousin time to satisfy me, although the kids were disappointed not to have a sleepover this time around.  Gee, too bad!  (Say the weary chaperones)  My favorite part was going with all 9 (poor Aaron couldn’t come, too fidgety) to see the Bridgeport Bluefish play some other team.  We had fun seats on the first base line, the first three rows, and had plenty of room for the gang to be a little wild without bothering anyone.  The 3rd annual Cousin Olympics went well, what with the 400 water balloons I filled and with the addition of new events (3-legged race and water carry).

It is absolutely exhausting, frustrating, annoying, and wonderful getting those 10 kids together.  As they age it becomes both easier and more difficult, but when I step back and forget the stupid stuff, I remember how lucky we are to have 10 healthy, happy, joyful kids to invigorate our lives.  Every day.  

Sometimes, with my writing, I hold these kids out as my inspiration.  I hope that what I write and leave behind, what I put out into the world, can inspire kids to joy or creativity or adventure or wonder, just as these 10 do for me, without me even noticing it.

Pop, that’s for you.  You did a good job with all of us, and continue to do, with the next generation.

Tell that to the man in the mirror.