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.


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:


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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.)


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?


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:


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.
Purple Passion of the Fortnight:
Monarch Butterfly wings

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Lyrics For Gonna Get Mine

Gonna Get Mine, By Anny Rusk


They strapped her in

blood drained from her face

She tried to smile

I tried not to faint

Each tick of the clock

sounded like a blast

They put in her I.V.

said she’d go real fast


I saw the poison spread

like ink in a water glass

Before she went cold she said



They say when you die

you’ll find peace of mind

Well I hope they’re right, I hope they’re right

They say when a bell rings

an angel gets wings

and tonight when the last bell chimes

I’m gonna get mine


Used to believe

an eye for an eye

You cut someone down

you become the sacrifice

Not so cut and dried

when before your eyes

You watch her writhe

as death breathes in her life


What point has been made

through this retribution

Any souls saved, anything changed…she prayed




If it could bring back

just one little lamb

I could wash her blood from my hands

She looked like an angel, peace on her lips

She had flown, flown away, gotten her wings…..


The victim’s family

said a swift amen

Thought their hearts would heal

thru an act of revenge


The poison spread

like ink in a water glass

Before she went cold she said




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Asia Kicked My Butt

Turns out my vision of myself as an intrepid traveler is a load of water buffalo sh*&

Water Buffalo

Visiting a place as a kid, then returning three decades later, pushes you to face how you’ve changed in a way that everyday life doesn’t.

When I was a kid I spent 3 weeks in China. I jumped around the Great Wall in 100 degree heat, drinking hot tea and barely broke a sweat. I wore short shorts and sundresses without a lick of deet.  (Back then there was no talk of Dengue Fever and all of the other stuff mosquitoes can give you.) As long as I didn’t drink the water or eat raw food, I was invincible.

This time in Asia the triple-digit wet heat turned me into an exhausted, spacey, puddle. I trudged around covered head to toe, and the little bits of me that poked through my clothing were slathered in Deet. I was anything but invincible.


Me coming out of Chu Chi Tunnels near Ho Chi Minh.  (Didn’t need my hat down there.)

I was disappointed in myself. And sad. Where was this kid who was gonna stay in a yurt and drink yak milk in Mongolia?  Or hike in Bhutan? When had I turned into such a wuss?

To drive home the point, I was shown a true intrepid traveler, my cousin Jen. She shimmered while I sweat buckets, jumped up staircases while I trudged up the steps, and adored the food. She was perfectly at home in Vietnam. I started calling her ‘lotus flower.’  (FYI: my husband has always called me his “Delicate Mountain Orchid.)

lotus flower

On day 13 I just couldn’t face the heat anymore.  I licked my wounds in our air conditioned room while Jen went on a bike ride through the countryside.  I thought about Anny the kid.

Sure she could do more than I could, but she wasn’t really an intrepid traveler either.  She refused to use the hole-in-the-ground public toilets that stunk from 100 yards away.  (Even today there’s no guarantee of a western toilet in Beijing.)  She hated the food too.  So much so that she ran to the McDonald’s in Hong Kong just to get a taste of home. (She never ate at McDonald’s in the U.S.)

She needed less creature comforts than I did, but she would only bend so far.

My husband and some Slack buddies asked me why I was beating myself up. (Jen had already assured me that I was a trooper.  “You came all the way here.  Only two other people have visited me since I moved to Beijing. Most folks just don’t want to deal with the foreignness of Asia.”)  Many of my Slack mates said they didn’t travel much, or at all, because it was too challenging for them.  My husband said there were plenty of places he wouldn’t visit because he didn’t want to deal with the weather, or the bugs, etc.

My first reaction was to feel sorry for them.  Oh, you’ll miss out on so many wonderful adventures, I thought.

And then I realized that was what was fueling my self-loathing. I was gonna miss out on some of those adventures too.  Asia had forced me to see my limits.

Turns out I don’t want to stay in a yurt, they’re called gers in Mongolian, or trek up a mountain in Bhutan.

I’m still a little sad about that.

But writing this letter to you has reminded me that I take adventures everyday. I fight bacteria as Estrogen, the superhero hormone, in my graphic novel. I fly over Dreamspree town while hanging onto the arm of a Rowena in my fantasy novel.  As a writer and reader I visit distant lands constantly. I am an intrepid traveler in my own way!

And I’m grateful for that.

What have you learned about yourself through your real or imagined travels? Let me know by replying to this letter, or post your suggestions on my Facebook page, or tweet me.

Purple Passion of the Fortnight: A SuperTree in Gardens By The Bay, Singapore

Purple Passion of the Fortnight: A SuperTree in Gardens By The Bay, Singapore


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Green Tea Flavored Peace

Amid the chaos and concern about getting ready for my trip to Asia, I realized I needed a refuge. Something that would blow away the worry cloud that was hanging over me. 

Since I had Asia on the brain, I wondered whether an Asian tea ritual might do the trick.

First I looked at Vietnam because that’s where I’ll be spending most of my time.  Vietnam seems to have only one kind of tea ceremony–and it happens during a wedding.

The bride and groom present cups of tea to all four of their parents, one at a time.  In return, each parent offers a tip or two about how to create a happy marriage.  (Wonder what happens if one or both of the couple’s parents are divorced.)

Nice idea, but not what I was looking for.

In Japan,  people study for years to become Way of the Tea masters.  The actual ritual is considered a performance,  lasts for hours, and takes many forms.  The point is to appreciate the beauty of the ceremony itself, the food, the surroundings and the guests.  Contemplation seems encouraged, but not required.

Though I’d love to partake in the Way of the Tea as a guest,  I didn’t want to make performing tea rituals a career.

Then I read about how Thich Nhat Hanh turns drinking tea into a mindfulness meditation.  

Drink your tea slowly and with appreciation, as if nothing else matters.
“Only in the awareness of the present, can your hands feel the pleasant warmth of the cup.
Only in the present, can you savor the aroma, taste the sweetness, appreciate the delicacy.
If you are ruminating about the past, or worrying about the
future, {like mosquito bites and Dengue Fever},you will completely miss the experience of enjoying the cup of
You will look down at the cup, and the tea will be gone. 
Life is like that too.”


I’m off to drink in some green tea flavored peace.

Where do you go to take refuge?  Is it a real spot, or a visualization in your mind, or a memory, or?  I’d love some more suggestions. Let me know by replying to this letter, or post your suggestions on my Facebook page, or tweet me.

Purple Passion of the Fortnight.

Purple Passion of the Fortnight.


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