Is It Good Luck, Bad Luck or Both?

endings-are-beginnings

Every time a boyfriend would break up with me I’d think, this is it. There’s no one else out there for me. I’ll be alone forever.
 
I’d be sad and lonely for a time, only to wake up one morning and realize I was grateful that he’d broken up with me. That we weren’t a good fit—he’d just figured it out before I had.
 
I mourned the loss of my music career for two years. But finally letting go of being a pop star allowed me to embrace the writer in me. To acknowledge that my home was in the children’s literary world, not in clubs or on the road.
 
The bottom line is that we want to label everything that happens to us as good or bad. But in reality, ‘Good’ things can have unintended ‘bad’ consequences and vice versa. The Ugly One, by Leanne Statland Ellis, explores this notion.

theulgyone-r

When we meet Micay, she needs us to know that a horrible scar runs down the side of her face. She does her best to hide her disfigurement, but still suffers taunts from the boys in her village. An apprentice to a shaman, she fears that most of her people are too disgusted by her hideousness to allow her to heal them.
 
A series of unpredictable and fascinating events transform Micay’s attitude towards her scar. Resentment morphs into gratitude.
 
The Ugly One reminds us that it’s our perception of things that determines their value to us, and perceptions can change.
 
“Learning to live in such a way that nothing is experienced as either an advantage or a disadvantage is the source of enormous empowerment and liberation.”

Do you have a story about an event in your life that seemed like a curse, but then changed into a blessing? Tell me your story by replying to this letter, or posting it on my Facebook page, or tweet me. 

FYI: Please share this letter with others you think would enjoy it.

Purple Passion of the Fortnight:
Fun Peru Facts (The Ugly One is set in Peru)

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What Do You Expect?

when-i-let-go

In my case letting go of myself meant releasing my huge aspirations. Aspirations that I thought were my way in…into connection, into being loved. They were my lifelines. How would I survive without them?

But once I saw what my aspirations had become, I knew I had to let them go. They’d morphed into paralyzing expectations that seemed to move me further from my dream rather than closer to it. And in addition, they prevented me from enjoying the journey.

Letting go also means I have to float in the present, and allow the future to unfold on its own. To accept that I might not become a best-selling author who starts a foundation to serve kids’ needs. That I may give on a smaller scale like George Bailey (It’s A Wonderful Life) rather than on a J. K. Rowling scale. And that that’s okay.

I’m still struggling with this, but I can acknowledge that there’s a certain freedom and relief in casting off expectations in all areas, not just my career.

Lack of expectation makes room for acceptance, for amazing surprises to happen, and removes the possibility of resentment. For we all fall short of our own, as well as others’, expectations at times.

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Deenie, the heroine of Judy Blume’s book by the same name, knows all about failing to meet another’s expectations. The popular girl in school, whose mother expects her to become a model, falls from grace when she’s forced to wear a body brace due to her severe scoliosis. Freed from the expectations of her classmates as well as her mother, Deenie eventually discovers who she can become.

I loved the book when I read it as a kid. Perhaps it’s time to read it again.

Have you let go of a dream, or expectation recently? How has it changed your life? Where/how did you find the courage to let go? Please share your stories in the comments section below, or on my Facebook page.

FYI: PLEASE SHARE THIS POST WITH ANYONE YOU THINK WOULD ENJOY IT.

Purple Passion of the Fortnight:
Floating in the purple present

floating-in-purple-sea

 

 

 

 


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Listening To My Internal GPS

One day while working in the State Department I had a vision. I say vision because I was wide awake.

An old woman in a gorgeous canopy bed just appeared.  She was sobbing. When I approached her, she pleaded with me to not let fear, or anything else stop me from pursuing my goals. That I would succeed if only I jumped in with both feet. When I asked why she cared, she told me she was giving me a second chance to rewrite my past. (Turns out she was me.) The experience gave me the courage to go to LA and pursue acting and music.

At the time it seemed like what I needed to hear.

But now I think my older self was misguided.

unaimed arrow

Maybe using our internal GPS is the best way to approach life goals. You have destinations in mind, and are open to getting re-routed along the way. In addition, if the weather at a certain spot makes it impossible to get there, you change your destination altogether.

Flexibility allows you to swerve around the potholes, while softening the blow if you have to drive over them.

If I have a chance to go back to my younger self again, this is the advice I’d share.

As I embark upon a new journey to published writerland, I’m asking myself to stay open to detours, or new destinations, along the way.

For a good example of flexibility in action, check out The Night Fairy by Laura Amy Schlitz.

NightFAiry

Born a night fairy, Flory’s life takes a drastic turn when she loses her wings. Forced to live on the ground, Flory must learn new skills in order to survive. These include fighting off predators using a thorn sword, and finding food on foot. Ultimately, she decides to change her very nature into that of a day fairy.

Ultimately Flory succeeds because she accepts her new situation, rather than trying to get back to her old life.

Though the book is targeted for younger readers, aged 6-9, I think all of us could learn a thing or two from Flory.

Have you changed course lately? Tell me about it–what you’ve discovered, where you’re headed etc. by replying to this letter, or post your stories on my Facebook page, or tweet me.

Purple Passion of the Fortnight:

purple arrow


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Failing Saved Me

“You don’t know what you are.”
From The Iron Trail by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare.

Iron Trial

Finding my realm hasn’t been easy.

For one thing, I was born into the wrong tribe. Folks who told me that singing and acting were fine as hobbies, but in order to survive, I had to get a real job. BTW, the ‘real job’ was first female President of the United States. (Oh I wish I were kidding about this.)

In addition, my family’s insistence that I’d never make it as a pop star or actress fueled my already strong stubbornness. There was no doubt in my mind that they were wrong. (I’d even planned my Grammy speech. In it I told parents to support their kids’ dreams, instead of imposing their own dreams upon their children.)

So I moved to LA, expecting success to come in short order.

Anny Live

Singing Gonna Get Mine, a ditty I wrote about capital punishment. Just your typical pop song fare. 🙂

I was so busy fighting to make my dream a reality that I refused to see the red flags all around me.

My band told me to stop telling stories on stage, stop trying to provoke conversations or take listeners on an emotional journey and “just sing.”  I never felt comfortable with any of the industry types I met, and don’t get me started on the hideousness of acting auditions.

Sure, I’d traded flat land for mountains, and pines for palm trees, but instead of swimming with birds of a different feather, now I was swimming with sharks. (Great Kevin Spacey flick about the movie biz by the way.)

Ironically, it was failure that allowed me to really see myself for the first time. (Purple swan that I am.) To realize that I had to pick up my bed and leave again.  So I did.

It took a ‘dark night of the soul’ that lasted two years before I accepted that I was a writer. Then a few more years before I found my realm: kidlit.

I’m still stunned at how much I enjoy myself at industry events, or see myself in my fellow writers! Shocked at the encouragement I get to tell intelligent stories with a message. No one wants me to be younger, or dumber. I can just be me!

I learned the hard way that intention works as long as it’s not accompanied by rigid expectation, that you can point your ship towards the shore, but you have to be flexible about how you get there.

Sometimes failing is the best thing that can happen to you.

What has failure taught you? Please share your stories with me by replying to this post, or comment on my Facebook page, or tweet me. 

Purple Passion of the Fortnight:

Purple-Swan


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Do You Keep The Promises You Make To Yourself?

I’ve never been great at the physical plane. Though I’d been blessed with a low-maintenance body, I resented having to take time out to eat or sleep, and avoided sports like the plague. (I managed to come down with a fever every year on Field Day. An all-day track and field competition at my elementary school, and my version of hell.)

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That’s me on the right at 8 yrs old. Stylish wasn’t I?

In 6th grade I read Kurt Vonnegut’s story titled Unready to Wear. That’s where I discovered my hero, Dr. Ellis Konigswasser, the answer to my whines.

Dr. K is sick of having to tend to his body’s needs all the time, so he steps out of it!  His mind spirit just floats in space. When he wants to do something physical, he just rents a body. Brilliant!

Problem was I couldn’t step out of my body, nor could I find the good doctor to help me.

Once my body became higher maintenance, as most bodies do, I got angry. Then I opted for denial.  My ‘old’ body will come back, I insisted.  This is just a phase. NOT!

Once I finally accepted that I’d changed, I made all sorts of promises to myself. . . to eat ‘better,’ to exercise, to do whatever it took to get back to my former glory.

And I broke every one of those promises for a long time.

To put this in context, I’m maniacal about keeping promises to others! I never use the ‘p’ word unless I know, short of an act of God or emergency, that I can keep my promise.  Yet I had no trouble letting myself down time after time. Why?

I’m still not sure, but I think it was due to a lack of self-acceptance. I think I was still channeling Dr. Konigswasser. Still resenting being human because of the needs/frailties that come with it. As the Buddhists say, “What we resist persists.”

That being written, I’m a few years into changing the way I eat.  I’m not perfect at it, and I suspect that even if I were, I still couldn’t capture my ‘former’ self. But I can be a healthier version of Anny, and protect against certain future changes.

Turns out acceptance is powerful mojo.  The more I succeed at my realistic goals, the more empowered I feel, which allows me to keep more promises to myself than ever before. This includes getting back in to the gym after decades of avoiding it. Don’t applaud yet, it’s only been a few weeks.  However, I do like water aerobics! Who knew?

WaterAerobics

Do you keep the promises you make to yourself? If so, what’s your secret? If not, what do you think is holding you back?

Let me know by replying to this post, or put your answers in the comments on my Facebook page, or tweet me. 

Feel free to forward this letter on to anyone you think might enjoy it.

Purple Passion of the Fortnight:

PurpleTreadmill

Wish my gym had one of these!


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Coming Out of My Cocoon

Butterflies leaving their cocoons
 
I’m preparing to leave my cocoon. . .my creative cocoon that is.
 
See first photo below.
 
I’m excited and scared.
 
Excited because I want to share my work with you. I want it to strengthen our connection and inspire us to go on a journey together. One that I hope leaves us with a new thought, or feeling, or point of view.
 
Scared because sharing means opening myself up to judgment, including rejection. Sharing means putting my dream of being a published author whose work touches many to the test.
 
Last time I left my creative cocoon as a singer/songwriter, I learned some valuable lessons. Thought it’d be useful for all of us caterpillars, soon-to-be-butterflies, to hear them.
 
1) Once you let your work go, people will put their own spin on it. For example, I wrote a song about a woman dying of lethal injection as a way to condemn capital punishment. (Gonna Get Mine) To my utter shock and horror, some folks decided that my song glorified suicide. WTF, I thought. (If you’re curious, you can find the lyric for the song  here.)
 
At first I wanted to explain my message. “No, you’re wrong. It’s about this.” Then I realized that part of making art is allowing others to do what they will with it. Even if it means their interpretation results in them not liking what you’ve done. (It sucks when this happens, but it’s part of the deal.)
 
2) Commit to ignoring both the positive as well as the negative reviews. You can’t free yourself from others’ opinions unless you let go of ALL of them. (This is once your work is out there and can’t be changed. I encourage you to allow a trusted group of friends/colleagues to critique your work to help ready it for submission, or its launch into the world. I wouldn’t dare leave my cocoon without my peeps feedback!)
 
3) This is the one truth I resisted for quite a while–no matter what you do, if you don’t have luck, you won’t make a living doing what you love. Unfortunately luck can’t be controlled, dammit! Prepare all you can because luck thrives on preparedness, but ultimately your fate is not in your hands.
 
So wish me luck as I spread my wings and fly over to some publishers and agents, to see who will give my graphic novel a home.
 
WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED BY PUTTING A PIECE OF YOURSELF OR YOUR WORK ON THE LINE? SHARE WITH US by posting your story here or on my author Facebook page.
 
PLEASE FORWARD THIS LETTER TO ANYONE YOU THINK WOULD ENJOY IT.
 
Purple Passion of the Fortnight:
Monarch Butterfly wings
PurpleMonarchWings

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There’s Power and $$$ in Numbers

A Slice of AnnyWorld:

Original-9-WTA

Forty-five years ago 9 women were paid $1 to sign on to the renegade Virginia Slims Tennis Tour. (Seven Americans — Rosie Casals, Nancy Richey, Valerie Ziegenfuss, Julie Heldman, Peaches Barkowitz, Kristy Pigeon and Billie Jean KIng. They were joined by two Australians — Kerry Melville Reid and Judy Tegart Dalton.)

The U.S. tennis association threatened to expel them from the sport, possibly ending their careers.  (The two Australians that signed on were told their careers were over.)
What inspired them to put their dream careers on the line?  EQUALITY.

At the time male tennis players could make a living playing professional tennis, but women couldn’t because they were paid significantly less prize money than the men, and not being offered endorsement deals. Part of the reason for this inequality was the prevailing belief that playing sports was unladylike, and therefore girls weren’t supposed to pursue sports as a career.

The Original 9 rejected this idea saying that they wanted any girl born any place in the world, if she was good enough, to have an opportunity to compete, be recognized for her accomplishments and make a living playing professional tennis.”

Because they had the courage of their convictions, our girls not only play sports and get paid for it, but are encouraged to do so.

But one Original 9 didn’t stop at tennis. Billie Jean King founded Women’s Sports Magazine and Women’s Sports Foundation to champion all female athletes in their quest to be recognized and paid for their achievements.

Billie Jean’s extra efforts, combined with her historic win against Bobby Riggs in the Battle of the Sexes, made her the poster girl for the gender equality movement.  So much so, that Life magazine named her one of the 100 Most Important Americans of the 20th Century.  She was the only female athlete on the list, and one of only four athletes total. (Babe Ruth, Jackie Robinson and Muhammad Ali were the others).

Her notoriety netted her endorsements, which paid her lots of money for the time, but the other 8 of the Original 9 didn’t receive the same attention or financial reward. 

Billie Jean wants to correct that.  In a recent piece she wrote for the NY Times she points out that successful tennis players like Serena Williams stand not only on her shoulders, but on the 8 other pairs of shoulders as well.

She points out that until others raised their voices with her, change didn’t happen.  That we girls can move mountains, but only when we come together–risk together, help each other.

Too often we girls turn on each other, be it bullying about our appearances, working moms vs stay-at-home moms, or female bosses being threatened by up and coming underlings.  We forget that we’re stronger as a group, not at each others’ throats.  After all, succeeding together is in our DNA.  A lion could take out one or two of us when we were home in the cave defending our children, but it lost when we all banded together to defeat it.

Never give up, Never surrender, and always have each others’ backs.  That’s how we can Empower Girls Of All Ages!

Are you part of a group that’s changed the world around you in some way? Tell me about it either in reply to this letter, or post it on my author FB page.

PurpleTennis Racquet

Purple Passion of the Fortnight

Destination of the Fortnight: Billie Jean King Tennis Center

Destination of the Fortnight: Billie Jean King Tennis Center

Change the story


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EMPOWER YOUR ‘SELF’ TO CREATE A BETTER ADVENTURE THAN YOU CAN IMAGINE

A Slice of AnnyWorld:

I admire my buddy Lorraine Watson.  She walked away from the safe tech world when she realized her life was not of her own making.

Her discomfort pushed her to discover, and then embrace, her own unique light.

Turns out that Lorraine’s being enjoys leading others along a similar path of self-discovery.  In that spirit, she launched a company called FOLLOW YOUR LIGHT.

But years before that, her being leaked out in creative ways that she didn’t always recognize at the time.  Take this example: When she used to regularly babysit her nephew, Lorraine would take him to a local tourist spot called Heritage Park, which depicted early 20th century life.

Every time they went, Lorraine encouraged her nephew to let his intuition, his inner voice, chart their path through the park.  The result was a different adventure, a different story, on every visit. 

I suspect her nephew retained much more of what he learned because his inner compass dictated when and how he picked up the information. As an added bonus, the adventures were much more fun for all of them.

For Lorraine it became a truth that she now shares with others: Following your own inner light guides you to make the best decisions for yourself.

In addition, it reminds her to “Let go of control, and fall into collaboration.”  in this case collaboration with your own being, or the beings of those around you.

Imagine what your next adventure could be like if you let your inner self, or your kids’ intuition, guide you instead of what a guidebook or museum map tells you to do? Perhaps you allow your kids to set the schedule for a Sat or Sun. family day, or allow them to do their homework in whatever order speaks to them that night?

On our next visit to the Art Institute or the Museum of Science and Industry, I’m gonna ask Madu to lead me around.  Can’t wait to see where we go!

Can you suggest other ways we can encourage our kids, and ourselves, to follow our inner compass to create amazing adventures?

Purple Passion of the Fortnight: Maple Leaves

Purple Passion of the Fortnight: Maple Leaves

HeritageParkCalgary

Destination of the Fortnight: Heritage Park, Calgary, Canada

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One Giant Leap For Womankind

A Slice of AnnyWorld:

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My little face was glued to the TV screen during Armstrong’s moon walk.  I told my mother that we’d all be vacationing on the moon by the year 2000–I was sure of it!
Unfortunately due to money, we’re still not vacationing at the Sea of Tranquility Spa.  But thanks to Nancy Grace Roman, The Mother of Hubble, as in telescope, we can visit lands light years away from the moon on our computer screens.

(Orion Nebula as seen through Hubble)
Yes it was a woman, Nancy Roman (b.1925),  who convinced Congress et al that searching the heavens was worth the cost.

Dr. Roman obtained a a Ph.D in astronomy from the University of Chicago in 1949, a time when women were raised to get married, have babies, and leave the outside world, not to mention the galaxy,  to men.

She recalls a time in high school when she needed permission to take algebra instead of Latin.  Her guidance counselor, a woman, sneered at her and said: ‘What lady would take mathematics instead of Latin?’ That was the sort of reception that I got most of the way.”

Undeterred, she not only became an astronomer, but she became the first ever, read male or female, Chief of Astronomy in the Office of Space Science at NASA. In her role, she successfully managed numerous astronomy-based projects including the Hubble Space Telescope.

Dr. Roman didn’t just break the glass ceiling, she zoomed out  into galaxies far, far away. She credits her scientist father for answering her questions and never questioning why his little girl loved science, and her mother, who took her out at night and showed her the beauty of the stars.

In addition she says the secret to making it in a male-dominated field was her ability to “remain open to change and new opportunities.” 

Today, Dr. Roman, who retired from NASA in ’79, has a new passion, inspiring girls to set aside their inhibitions and reach for the stars, just as she did. “I like to tell students that the jobs I took after my Ph.D. were not in existence only a few years before. New opportunities can open up for you in this ever changing field.”

And I would add that whatever your trajectory, plotting your destination, but being open to HOW you get there is key!  (I’ve learned the hard way that tunnel vision usually yanks you off course.)
Describe the path you took to reach one of your stars/dreams.  Reply to this email or post it on Anny Writes

PURPLE PASSION OF THE FORTNIGHT: MAGELLANIC CLOUD

PURPLE PASSION OF THE FORTNIGHT: MAGELLANIC CLOUD

DESTINATION OF THE FORTNIGHT: HUBBLE CONTROL ROOM, GREENBELT, MD

DESTINATION OF THE FORTNIGHT: HUBBLE CONTROL ROOM, GREENBELT, MD

fd824de3-94e3-4761-bdb5-f403716b74e2


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YOU’VE COME A LONG WAY BABY, BUT NOT FAR ENOUGH!

A Slice of AnnyWorld:

“You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby.” Virgina Slims ad 1968 praising the success of the Feminist Movement.

But we haven’t come far enough!

Yesterday was #EqualPayDay.  It stuns me that in the 21st century women still aren’t paid the same as men for the same work!  What’s going on?
Is it because girls/women are just as likely to turn on each other as they are to support each other, and as long as we are divided, we can’t conquer?

If we look at our girls, we can see that being mean to each other starts at a pretty young age. Girls hassle each other about all sorts of things like their changing bodies, how they wear their hair, their clothes. 

I wish I could blame puberty for all of the friction between us, but as we get older, many of us still don’t stick together, even when it’s in our best interest. (For ex. Phyllis Schlafly led the successful charge against the Equal Rights Amendment.)

I’ve wondered why we seem to be our own worst enemy.  Here’s my theory: we are steeped in a male-dominated society that consciously or unconsciously devalues us.  You get hit over the head enough times with the message that you aren’t worthy because you’re a female, and self-loathing is born. And if you’re not valuable because you’re a girl, then all the other girls around you aren’t valuable either. So Mothers devalue their own daughters, and the legacy passes from generation to generation like a virus.

I’m not interested in debating how we got here, what matters is how we change this situation asap!

I suggest we focus on passing down new messages to our girls  that not only empower them, but drive them to empower each other. How do we do this? 

In my roles as stepmother, aunt, and daughter here’s some of what I’m doing…embrace my body, faults and all so my girls will embrace theirs, (Hubby and I continue to rave about Madu’s curly hair for ex, which she’s finally loving herself), encourage my girls to pursue their dreams be it as a social worker, E.R. doc, or NASA scientist, tell them marriage and family is a choice not a foregone conclusion, remind them that if a boy isn’t nice to them they should move onto the next, (as opposed to my upbringing where I was told if a boy likes you he hits you, which may be true, but sets you up for bad choices later).

In my quest to empower myself and other women, I vote for female politicians who represent my interests, i.e. women’s issues that men tend to ignore, I support groups that empower girls like Girls, Inc and Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls, and I attempt to view all women with acceptance and compassion, not judgement.

I’m sure I could be doing even more.  What are you doing to empower yourself and your girls?

PURPLE PASSION OF THE FORTNIGHT

PURPLE PASSION OF THE FORTNIGHT

ReykjavikEnlightened

Reykjavik, Iceland Enlightened, (get it?) country that boasts the world’s first democratically elected female President!

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