Open for Business

September 14, 2015

Photo courtesy Dustin Lee

Today’s post is more of an announcement than a true post, but it’s definitely an everyday adventure and I want to share it with you. Over the past few weeks, I’ve mentioned revitalizing my freelance writing career, steep learning curves, etc. I’m still learning—I suspect I always will be—but finally, I’m officially open for business at

My first love is writing articles, both print and online, and I plan to continue to pursue those opportunities, but I’m also branching out into writing guest blog posts (bylined or ghost written), web content, and other types of writing as needed. Need a blog post for your business website? I can write it. Need copy for your email newsletter? Let me help. Need a flyer or brochure for your business? I can write that, too. I also offer copyediting and proofreading services. If you know of anyone who needs the kind of writing and editing services I offer, please pass along my name and contact info.

I want to thank Carol Tice ( for my new mantra: “Stop waiting. You’re a writer, not a waiter.” Her matter-of-fact attitude and encouraging blog posts, as well as the support of the Freelance Writer’s Den, have helped enormously. I’ve taken advantage of the huge amounts of information and instruction both she and Linda Formichelli (of The Renegade Writer) offer (much of it free), and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

I owe another thank you to Laure Ferlita, who as my friend and partner in adventure, has encouraged me at every step to believe in myself and just do it, already. (Laure is beginning a new chapter in her own business, independent learning classes, and if you’re interested in go-at-your-own-pace watercolor instruction, I encourage you to give her classes a try. She’s an awesome teacher. Check out her post introducing her new classes here.) 

I could keep thanking people all day—my husband, the rest of my friends, and even those of you I only know through this blog. Your kindness and encouragement keep me going when I don’t feel like writing and the words won’t come.

Here’s to a new everyday adventure!



Three Habits That Trap Us in Our Comfort Zones

September 11, 2015

Photo courtesy Martin Wessley

So many times we’re tempted to procrastinate, to quit, or, worse, not to try at all, because something we want to do is complicated or doesn’t come easily. Just once, I’d like to try something new and find it immediately easy, but this has not been my experience with even my favorite activities: horseback riding, sketching, yoga, writing. These activities often push me well outside my comfort zone, but they have given me hours of happiness. I still don’t find them “easy,”—easier, yes, but not easy. Maybe easy is not the point?

Worthwhile pursuits—the ones that give us lasting happiness—often don’t come easy. We have to practice, to put in the time and effort to improve, or else we’ll be frustrated. And how many times do we opt for the easier choice: the TV program, the mindless internet surfing, and so on? What other factors keep us safe in our comfort zones instead of pursuing the very things we say we want to pursue? In my experience, there are three things that contribute to the inertia keeping us from enjoying challenging and happy-making pastimes: comparing ourselves to others; worrying about what others think; and not stopping to appreciate how far we’ve come.

Comparing ourselves with others. When we see someone perform effortlessly (or even just better than we do), we compare ourselves to them. Problem is, we compare our “inside” to their “outside.” We don’t know their lives and experience. We don’t know what’s going on in their heads and hearts, how easy or hard things are for them, how long it has taken for them to make it look effortless. It may feel just as hard to them as it does to us, only we can’t see that. “Comparison is the thief of joy,” according to Theodore Roosevelt. If we must compare, we should compare ourselves to ourselves. (See below.)

Worrying about what others think. If we’ve been comparing ourselves to others and feel we’re falling short, we probably also feel others are looking down on us. If we are new to a pastime or putting our work out there for everyone to see, it’s only natural that we feel worried about others’ responses. The truth? Most people don’t care what we do, or what we look like while doing it. They are too busy worrying about themselves. While they’re otherwise occupied, we can do what we want without fear of what others think.

Not appreciating how far we’ve come. The first time I took a horseback riding lesson, I was scared. Thrilled, but scared. My school horse was big and, to my mind, unpredictable. My body was confused about pretty much everything it was expected to do. Now, many years later, I’ve learned a great deal about horses and riding, and many of my actions on horseback are automatic. But since I’m still learning new things, I do have times when I perform awkwardly, or just plain badly. I could get frustrated by this, but because of my past experiences, I know not to give up if my first attempts are awkward or embarrassing. Compared with how I rode as beginner (sorry, Tank), I’ve come a long way.

Most things, if we keep at them, will become easier. We won’t always feel awkward and embarrassed, we won’t always have to think so hard about every action. Even if we’re trying something for the first time and we’re awful, by stepping outside our comfort zones, we’re miles ahead of all the people who haven’t been brave enough to try in the first place.

What challenging pursuit would you like to begin? What’s holding you back?

Lola Haskins

To Play Pianissimo

September 09, 2015

Introduction by Ted Kooser: Lola Haskins, who lives in Florida, has written a number of poems about musical terms, entitled “Adagio,”  “Allegrissimo,” “Staccato,”  and so on. Here is just one of those, presenting the gentleness of pianissimo playing through a series of comparisons.

To Play Pianissimo

Does not mean silence.
The absence of moon in the day sky
for example.

Does not mean barely to speak,
the way a child's whisper
makes only warm air
on his mother's right ear.

To play pianissimo
is to carry sweet words
to the old woman in the last dark row
who cannot hear anything else,
and to lay them across her lap like a shawl.

From “Desire Lines: New and Selected Poems,” BOA Editions, Rochester, NY. Copyright © 2004 by Lola Haskins and reprinted by permission of the author and the publisher. This weekly column is supported by The Poetry Foundation, The Library of Congress, and the Department of English at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. The column does not accept unsolicited manuscripts.


Baseball, Birthdays, and The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

September 04, 2015

Some weeks fly by faster than others. Some are more filled with simple pleasures and everyday adventures. I just experienced one of those weeks when my mom came to visit for a week. She lives in California, so we’re lucky to see each other once a year.

We started by anticipating the pleasure for several months leading up to her visit. Anticipation is a great simple pleasure, don’t you think? After we made airline reservations, I started making lists of things I wanted to do while she was here. Mostly what we wanted to do was talk and be together, so we didn’t plan activities for every day. We spontaneously chose to do what we felt like doing, whether that was taking a swim in the pool, shopping, or going out to lunch. I put aside my usual chores and activities so that I could sit and talk. And watch movies in the afternoon—decadence!

Some other highlights:

We had a family gathering so she could reconnect with my husband’s family who live locally. We used this get-together to celebrate two milestone birthdays: my son’s 21st and my father-in-law’s 80th. They share the same birthday!

We headed over to St. Petersburg for a Tampa Bay Rays baseball game. My mom loves to go as much as I do, and Nick joined us. The Rays have been having an up and down season, but they won the day we went—go Rays! (Maybe we should go more often?)

Entrance to Tropicana Field

Nathan Karns pitching

We all went to Cinebistro for dinner and a movie on my son’s actual 21st birthday (Cinebistro is a 21-and-older establishment), one of our favorite outings. (We saw The Man From U.N.C.L.E.—a fun movie we all enjoyed.)

Now Mom is safely home, and I will be playing catch up on household chores and writing tasks. I feel refreshed from slowing down and enjoying the moments we spent together. It’s September, so I’ll be thinking about how this year has gone, and what I still would like to accomplish in 2015. (After all, September is the New January.)  And trying not to think about how long it will be before I see my mom again.

Mom getting ready to go home. Isn't she cute?

Henry Rollins

Summer's Ghost

September 02, 2015

Photo courtesy Aaron Burden

“We know that in September, we will wander through the warm winds of summer’s wreckage. We will welcome summer’s ghost.”
—Henry Rollins