Inspiration of the Self-Reliance 30-Day Writing Challenge

To celebrate Ralph Waldo Emerson's 208th birthday (May 25th, 1803), Self-Reliance urges us to trust our intuition rather than conforming to the will of the majority.

Beginning on May 31st, 2011, The Ralph Waldo Emerson Self-Reliance website*** will post a daily prompt. This will continue for 30 days.

This is my unique creation of personal reflection and responses, based on those prompts.

***See link below for the site.

Thursday, June 30, 2011


DAY 22

How can you bring MORE enthusiasm into your work?
What do you have to think or believe about your work to be totally excited about it?
Answer it now.

At the risk of sounding repetitious, I will answer this by discussing mindfulness ---- focusing on each NOW present moment, as it is happening.

By being fully present in the NOW, reaping the rewards of enthusiasm is destined to materialize.

Here’s just one example from last week: 
 I made a big pot of homemade spaghetti sauce.  With each onion, bell pepper and garlic clove I cut and chopped, I was entirely immersed in the process, feeling each ingredient.  Never before did I notice such wonderful scents.  Periodically I’d stir the sauce as it cooked, and I actually felt the movement.  Then I cut up French bread into pieces, added melted butter, garlic and parmesan cheese, all the while savoring each intimacy with each ingredient.  The aroma filled the kitchen as the croutons baked.  And, finally, as I washed the dishes and cleaned the stove, I became absorbed in everything I was doing, as I did it.  The warm soapy water pampered and soothed my tired hands.  This is one of the benefits of mindfully being present in each NOW moment.  I highly recommend it.  If it can make kitchen chores pleasurable, just imagine how gratifying other results will be!

In addition to being immersed in each NOW present moment, maintaining balance in life is another essential ingredient to help bring MORE enthusiasm into our work, and into our life. 

For me, enthusiasm is:   a result of living mindfully in each NOW moment, while maintaining balance.  This combination also aids in preventing stagnation.  Stepping too far away from the present may zap our energy, taking enthusiasm with it.  This also causes imbalance.  The farther we move away from this one NOW moment, we provide the risk of losing our balance.

So, to answer the first question in the prompt, I try to remain mindful and fully present in each moment, focusing on exactly whatever I’m doing, to bring MORE enthusiasm into my work.

And, to answer the question, What do you have to think or believe about your work to be totally excited about it? ~~~

Thoughts become things.  (Choose them wisely.)


Therefore to maintain enthusiasm about our work, it would be beneficial to fill our minds with thoughts of excitement.  By doing so, our minds will be stimulated, providing us with inspiration to motivate us to excel in our work.  Approaching our work with positive energy in our brains helps to support an optimistic and harmonious relationship with our work. 

And, by keeping within the confines of each NOW moment, it lightens the weight of the load.  This load is the baggage that comes along with stepping beyond the boundaries of the present, bringing worries of the future and anxiety over the past.

“You can't change the past,
but you can ruin the present
by worrying about the future.”

You Know

DAY 21

"Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind. Absolve you to yourself, and you shall have the suffrage of the world."   - Ralph Waldo Emerson

We live in a society of advice columns, experts and make-over shows. Without even knowing it, you can begin to believe someone knows better than you how to live your life. Someone might know a particular something better – like how to bake a three-layer molten coconut chocolate cake or how to build a website – but nobody else on the planet knows how to live your life better than you. (Although one or two people may think they do.) For today, trying asking yourself often, especially before you make a choice, “What do I know about this?”

My perception of this prompt is slightly different than the question asked.  For me, this has prompted me to write about people who try to control others by dictating what they “should” do.  For example, “Jane should break up with Fred, because he’s not good for her”, or “George should buy a new car, because the one he drives now isn’t safe”, or “Sheila should lose weight, because she isn’t healthy”, or “Mickey should discipline his kids better, because they’re out of control”, or “Pamela should call her mother more often”, or ………….. well, you get the idea.

Why is it that some people really believe they know what’s best for someone else, better than that someone else knows for himself or herself?  I don’t think that people do this maliciously or even consciously.  Some people sincerely and honestly believe they know best, and are trying to prevent others from making mistakes.
I’ve wondered if those who are consistently trying to control others are avoiding their own issues.  Maybe if they spent more time and energy on their own life, they wouldn’t have time to control others.

I became aware of this about twenty, or so, years ago.  I won’t go into all the details or reason how it became apparent to me, but it had to do with my life and how others attempted to control what I was doing.  A brief explanation is that I was dating a much younger man.  This was before it was cool to be a cougar.    
Ever since then, I’ve developed this radar, which sends a loud signal to my brain, whenever I hear anyone attempting to manipulate the actions of others.  Depending on the situation, often I will speak out. 

Regardless of how a situation appears from the outside, we do not know for sure the exact scenario, where the other person is coming from or what they are feeling inside.  It is not our position to dictate what another should do or say.  We may feel that we know what’s best, but in reality, only the person whose life it is, actually knows for sure.
There’s a possibility we might be able to offer advice that could save another from making a mistake.  But, chances are, if they are deeply involved in a situation that we see only from the exterior, they are not going to follow our advice anyway.
We have good honest intentions in believing we are helping.  But, sometimes it’s necessary for each person to make their own blunders.  Isn’t this how we learn our life’s lessons?  So, the next time you get the urge to “help” another person by giving unwanted advice, think about how you might be preventing them from a life’s lesson to be learned.

On the other hand, if someone invites you to provide some guidance or an opinion about something, it would be acceptable to offer whatever assistance you can.  However, this should be done in a loving unconditional non-controlling manner.  And, understand that, although your advice was requested, it may not be followed.  And, that’s okay.  Sometimes someone just needs to hear some options or another’s idea.  That may give them the spirit they need, in order to confirm an action opposite to that which was offered to them.  Sometimes someone just needs to talk, but not necessarily be soliciting advice.
In any case, we each know what is best for ourselves.  Sometimes our perception may be cloudy or we are confused.  But, in the whole scheme of things, each of us knows our own heart and soul best.
By allowing others the self-confidence to arrive at their own choices, make their own mistakes, and learn, we are being the best friend or acquaintance we can be.
If/when someone asks me for suggestions or advice, I preface my answer with the following:
“This is what I would do, if it was me in this situation.  However, what’s best for me may not be what’s best for you.  So look deep within yourself to find your answers.  It will not offend me, if you choose to do something differently than I would.”

There isn’t always a “right” or “wrong” answer.
          It’s just not that simple.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Speak Less

DAY 20

What’s one project that you’ve been sitting on and thinking about but haven’t made progress on?
What’s stopping you?
What would happen if you actually went for it and did it?

So here we are with another inter-related prompt.  Back to my issue of procrastination. 

What’s one project that you’ve been sitting on and thinking about but haven’t made progress on?

I have several – publishing a book – reviewing, sorting, organizing, scanning old family photos – cleaning out the garage – decluttering two extra bedrooms – painting more pictures

What’s stopping you?

Procrastination and just simply getting in my own way

What would happen if you actually went for it and did it?

To go for it and complete it would be extremely rewarding.
 (That’s what would happen if I went for it and did it.)

P.S.  Does my boredom show with this one?

Facing (and Fearing)

DAY 19

"Greatness appeals to the future. If I can be firm enough to-day to do right, and scorn eyes, I must have done so much right before as to defend me now. Be it how it will, do right now. Always scorn appearances, and you always may."
 - Ralph Waldo Emerson

If you are facing (and fearing) a difficult life decision, ask yourself these three questions:
  1. “What are the costs of inaction?”
  2. “What kind of person do I want to be?”
  3. “In the event of failure, could I generate an alternative positive outcome?”

The difficult life decision I’m facing is in regards to my health issues. 

The costs of inaction would be greater unhealthiness, experiencing more pain, heart attack, stroke, unable to function and potential ultimate loss of life.

The type of person I’d like to be is healthier, able to be more mobile, pain free and live longer with a better quality of life.

In the event of failure (to the extreme), it’s not likely I’d be able to generate an alternative positive outcome.

So, to what does all of this translate?  In this particular scenario, the only solution is to remain proactive in my quest to regain my health.  This specific exercise validates my belief in fully living mindfully in each present moment, while not placing all the focus on the end result goal; but instead taking advantage of every opportunity along the journey.


Sunday, June 26, 2011


DAY 18

"Abide in the simple and noble regions of thy life, obey thy heart".
           – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Write down your top three dreams.
Now write down what’s holding you back from them.

My dreams are quite simple, and I enjoy life as much as possible, being grateful for everything.  However, if I had to choose three dreams, they would be as follows:

1.   Become a published author
What’s holding me back? 
Refer to DAY 15 post “One Thing”

2.   Live to be 100 years old
What’s holding me back?  Hmmmmmmm – well, probably my health issues.  However, if I do what I’m able to take care of myself, maybe - ?  Just maybe - ? 

3.   To keep my mind fresh, and brain functioning well, so as not to become stagnant
What’s holding me back?  ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!  I utilize my time wisely, with writing, reading, doing brain puzzles, math puzzles, playing Pinochle, and just simply doing whatever is necessary to keep my brain functioning and my mind sharp.

To add an all-inclusive dream (or maybe this would be called a wish) - to be physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually healthy for the rest of my life – til I reach 100?)

Of course, there is always the “win the lottery” dream.  I guess that could be considered “a given” for everyone.  But, hey, if it happens, that’s great, because I could do more for others than I’m able to do now.  And, if my numbers never come up, that’s okay, too, because I’ll just continue helping wherever and whenever possible.

Invent the Future

DAY 17

"A man should learn to detect and watch that gleam of light which flashes across his mind from within, more than the lustre of the firmament of bards and sages. Yet he dismisses without notice his thought, because it is his."      – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Cindy Gallop's favorite quote of all time is Alan Kay: ‘In order to predict the future, you have to invent it.’ I am all about inventing the future. Decide what you want the future to be and make it happen. Because you can. Write about your future now.

This is sort of a difficult one for me to write about, since I try to remain in each NOW present moment.  I believe that if I take care of my present, my future will take care of itself. 

Am I placing too much emphasis on my “present-moment” mindfulness? 

Could it be possible that my “NOW” belief is causing obstruction to a potentially better future?

This really is a perplexing challenge for me to grasp.  Without a doubt, I do know that when I’m more focused on each present moment, my future (which is the following moment) is more rewarding.

In conclusion, “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it”.  For me, I’ll entertain that idea and continue with that belief.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Wholly Strange and New

DAY 16

"When good is near you, when you have life in yourself, it is not by any known or accustomed way; you shall not discern the foot-prints of any other; you shall not see the face of man; you shall not hear any name;—— the way, the thought, the good, shall be wholly strange and new."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Can you remember a moment in your life when you had life in yourself and it was wholly strange and new? Can you remember the moment when you stopped walking a path of someone else, and started cutting your own?
Write about that moment.

Yes, I’ve experienced more than one moment like this, as I’ve grown into the person I am today.  I cannot remember the exact time or place, but I can remember the feeling.

The very first time I felt as though I was “cutting my own path” was when my ex-husband and I divorced, in the 1980’s.  For several years I had been living his life; not mine.  I didn’t realize this, until the divorce.  He was a sad man, so I tried to do everything I could to help him gain some happiness in his life, to the point of abandoning myself and becoming a clone of him.

The marriage was frustrating and dysfunctional, and I was miserable most of the time.  I realized later it was because I couldn’t help him find happiness.  Only he could do that for himself.  I’m not sure he ever did, but I’d like to hope he did.

But, my life changed forever.  That’s when I discovered ME.  The feeling was liberating, as well as slightly foreign.  The feeling was definitely “wholly strange and new”. 

This was a turning point in my life, and it was then, I began to truly grow.

My next milestone was the discovery of real honest gratitude.  This was life-changing, to say the least.  To explain this, it may help to read my other blogs:  Adventures in Gratitude – My Gift to You –

Although I was already evolving in this new process of development, several years later, I began learning about Buddhism from my youngest son, as well as reading books on the subject.  Learning mindfulness and compassion cut an even deeper level of this path I had begun.  And, so again, that feeling surrounded me as I began to grasp the philosophies of my wholly strange and new life.

By no means am I finished with this journey of enrichment.  I remain exposed and receptive to further growth.  I look forward to my next defining moment, with another wholly strange and new experience. 


DAY 15

"Do your work, and I shall know you. Do your work, and you shall reinforce yourself."
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Take a moment, step back from your concerns, and focus on one thing: You have one life to achieve everything you’ve ever wanted. Sounds simple, but when you really focus on it, let it seep into your consciousness, you realize you only have about 100 years to get every single thing you’ve ever wanted to do. No second chances. This is your only shot. Suddenly, this means you should have started yesterday. No more waiting for permission or resources to start. Today is the day you make the rest of your life happen. Write down one thing you’ve always wanted to do and how you will achieve that goal. Don’t be afraid to be very specific in how you’ll achieve it: once you start achieving, your goals will get bigger and your capability to meet them will grow.

I’ll begin by suggesting you refer to the DAY 7 blog post, “Dare to be Bold”, in which I talk about my dream to be a published author. 

As I said before, these daily prompts seem to similarly (yet differently) connect, inspiring my writing to intertwine, weave and blend together in synchronicity.  I wonder if this was the intention, or if it’s only my manner of interpretation and creativity.

That being said, also refer to the DAY 14 blog post, “Alternative Paths”, which touches on goals.

Part A of today’s prompt:
Write down one thing you’ve always wanted to do

One thing I’ve always wanted to do is to be a published author, to have, at least, one book published and in the marketplace. 

Part B of today’s prompt:
and how you will achieve that goal (be very specific in how you’ll achieve it)

This is something I’ve been pursuing and working toward accomplishing for many years.  I became most focused on the goal in 2006, when I completed all of the revisions and editing of the children’s book I’d written.  At that time, I researched and contacted publishers, including self-publishing companies.  I read books on the subject.  I researched information on the internet.  I joined the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.  Publishing my book was the main focus of my life at that time.     

While brainstorming with other writer friends, I learned some of the “ropes”; some of which discouraged me and took the wind out of my sails.  That, combined with that fact I was on overload while placing all my attention on this project, caused me to slow down considerably.

I had mailed a submission to a publisher, and was momentarily thrilled when I received a reply, telling me my manuscript had been accepted for publishing.  Even better, was that I did not need to pay to self-publish.  However, my enthusiasm came to a screeching halt, when I learned from a published writer friend that the publisher who accepted my manuscript, accepts everyone’s manuscripts.  Yes, they would pay me, but it may be only a couple dollars (literally).  They did not help with any printing or marketing of the book.  That responsibility would be entirely mine. 

Just recently, during the past few months, I’ve been writing a lot, and am back to focusing on publishing once again – not only with my children’s book, but also with other book ideas on which I’ve been working.

How will I achieve this goal? 
What will I do differently to channel my energy into accomplishing the goal?

To respond to my own questions, I’ll avoid the overload.  Instead of focusing only on this goal, moving full steam ahead rapidly, instead I will maintain BALANCE between this goal and other areas of my life.  Although this will be a priority, I will take time to choose alternate paths, time to “smell the roses”, time to simply live my life.

Specifics ~~~
1.    Baby steps, slowly, gently, a little at a time – bite-size pieces that are easily swallowed, without becoming overwhelmed and burnt out.
2.    Continue to pursue publishing potential of my children’s book
3.   Gather together my best poetry and create a book to pursue publishing
4.   Investigate alternatives, such as self-publishing
5.   Write at least one piece of work (even if brief) every day
6.   When an idea materializes in my creative mind, take creative action quickly to interpret and develop the fresh unpolluted concept, rather than procrastinate, before it becomes stagnant
7.   Continue adding to this action list, while continuing to take action

While I don’t wish to lose sight of my goal, more than that, I don’t want to neglect living my life mindfully in each present moment.  Since discovering the rewards of the NOW, it is my desire to give myself permission to alter my plans and change paths if/when I arrive at a fork in the road that appears to include a new adventure to travel. 

It's not achieving the end result that

really matters.  What's important is

following my heart and soul, enjoying

the journey along the way.

Sure, completing my goal to become a published author is ONE THING I’d appreciate.  But, the journey I travel along the way might be just as worthwhile, if not more.  It’s the writing that satisfies me, and that’s the journey. 

I’m content to share what I write, whether it’s published or not, especially upon receiving positive feedback, knowing that I’ve given a new perspective on life and living, along with some support to help others.