Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Blame Sandy for the Lack of Post

No post today. That's a weird thing to say in what is technically a post. Nonetheless, that's what I'm here to say.

We are still without power after Hurricane Sandy. I'm typing this from my cell phone. Rest assured my family is safe. But for the power outage, consequent lack of running water, and a few lost trees, our home is in tact.

There are still plenty of people here in New Jersey with bigger problems than mine. Please keep those families in your thoughts and prayers.

Live Wonderstruck will return to regular posting when my power has been restored.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Waiting for the Storm

Here in New Jersey (northeast United States for those readers in other countries), we are bracing for Hurricane Sandy. The media has tossed around terms like "a storm for the history books."

Stores were packed as early as Friday morning as people tried to load up on water, batteries, bread, and other supplies. For some reason people also seem to go for milk and eggs which doesn't make much sense to me because (at least at my house) we often lose power, so anything that requires refrigeration isn't going to survive anyway.

We moved our patio furniture to the shed and strapped our grill down. We've placed all the flashlights, candles, and lighters where we can easily find them. We have non-perishable food and water. We are as ready as we are going to be.

Waiting for the storm is a weird feeling. Last night we sat around the house looking out the window every so often. The rain was supposed to start at 4:00 p.m. yesterday, yet there wasn't a single drop of rain before we went to bed.

It's weird the things you think about while waiting for a storm. Like...

  • Why hasn't the rain started yet? It's too calm.

  • Can I get to the flashlight if I have to feel my way through the dark?

  • What will I do with the whole family at home and no power?

  • Should the kids sleep in our room?

  • Should I wear a bra to bed in case we have to leave suddenly? (Does anyone else worry about this?)

  • Good thing we have food leftover from the Halloween party.


The schools announced they would be closed Monday and Tuesday, as did the municipality and many businesses. If they were preemptively doing closing, we figured things would get bad before morning. In fact, looking at The Weather Channel app on the iPad this morning, you would have thought we were already in serious trouble:



"Terrifying Megastorm Cripples East Coast." Yikes! Did I miss something? I looked out my window. There was a slight breeze and drizzle falling slowly from the sky.



Yucky, maybe. Crippling, no.

I texted my friend in Virginia. Surely with a headline like that, she was in trouble. Her reply? "We have some strong winds and decent rain." Then she said she was out running an errand.

Hmmm.

As I've written this, gusts have picked up to a level I can comfortably call wind. According to the radar, Sandy is still out over the ocean. It's coming.

So, we wait.

If you are in Sandy's path, too, my thoughts are with you. Stay safe and dry!

 

 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Interview: Alina Weldon

Each Wednesday is Wonderstruck Interview day. Hearing other people’s stories is a great way to see things from a different perspective and perhaps find something new to apply to our own lives.

Today is a treat for me because I got to interview my best friend of... ahem... well... as she told me earlier this year, "our friendship is now old enough to drink." Phew. That's a lot of years. We've been friends since high school despite living miles and states apart. Meet Alina Weldon: a defense contractor in Washington, D.C., mother to a fierce (in the awesome way) daughter, and a heck of a dancer.

Oh, and for the record, I chose this photograph because I love the pure happiness that shows all over her face when she laughs. So much joy!

What have you been wonderstruck by recently?

My Wonderstruck moment recently was during a morning walk. I had to kill about an hour before I could pick up my loaner laptop. I was given the gift of having a quiet moment to walk along and watch people running around. Rarely am I able to step out of my hustle bustle life and to be an observer, was a gift. I strolled, listened to music, looked at all the colors, stopped to chat with a lady and her dog, and most of all find that rare stillness inside of myself.

What part of your day are you grateful for?

The part of my day I am most grateful for are the quiet moments with my daughter, Samantha. Chatting about her day, the issues of the 10 year old world. Her gymnastics, school, hopes, no boys - luckily. Time moves so quickly that moments like that are what helps me see her at each stage of her life, and not blur. It's a hard juggle to shape and guide her to be a well rounded person with still really listening to what she is saying and wants. Those quiet moments help her words become clearer.

What part of the day is tough? How do you move through it?

The toughest part of my day is having to drop Samantha off at her Before School Care so early, 6:15am, in order to make it to work on time. We start so early and end so late. I would love to work closer to home to allow the day to start a little later.

What do you wish you were more conscious of?

I would love to be more aware of my moods. I know how they affect others around me. I can pull into myself easily and I see, once it's too late, how Samantha is mimicking my moods. It also changes how others at my work interact with me. In order to make positive changes is to start within myself.

How do you stay focused on what is truly important to you?

Staying focused on what's important is an easy one for me. When I'm feeling that work "burn out" and I start feeling like hiding, all I have to do is look at my Samantha and my focus comes back. She gets up so early, handles the rough waters of school and tween girls, gets her homework done in time to go to gymnastics practice for 3 hours at night - all while maintaining all A's and B's. Maybe her room isn't as clean as I'd like, but then neither is mine. There is always room for improvement!!

About Alina:

I am a mother with an amazing daughter. I am writing my future story everyday, hoping to find out who I am, and becoming.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Bobby McFerrin Shows the Beauty in Working Together

A few years ago I took my husband and stepson to see Bobby McFerrin in concert. I had a feeling it would be a fun show even if I didn't know fully what to expect. Their only familiarity with McFerrin was as the "Don't Worry, Be Happy" guy, so they knew even less about what to expect.

What transpired was a mesmerizing exhibit of vocals as McFerrin performed a one man show using only his voice, the tapping of his feet, and patting his hand on his chest to create fully developed music.

Things got really fun as he started encouraging audience participation. At one point, he slid his chair to the side of the stage and invited anyone who wanted to join him on stage and dance. One at a time, audience members and McFerrin did some improv together- them through dance, he through sound.

Later he invited audience members up to sing with him. They would sing any song they wanted and he would embellish it with his own personal style.

At other times he got the entire audience involved, including during a haunting rendition of Ave Maria. I found a video of him doing just such a performance at another venue and thought I'd share it here.

Bobby McFerrin's vision and ability to be a true leader are inspiring. It restored my faith that people have so much good in them and can work together if only they take a chance.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PgvJg7D6Qck

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Interview: Janice Heck

Each Wednesday is Wonderstruck Interview day. Hearing other people’s stories is a great way to see things from a different perspective and perhaps find something new to apply to our own lives.

This week's interviewee is Janice Heck. Jan is a retired educator who enjoys blogging about travel, food, writing, grammar, cats, and events in her current home state, New Jersey.

What have you been wonderstruck by recently?

Over the past few months, I have been impressed by the vast numbers of committed volunteers who contribute their time, energy, and money to church events, community events, and special fundraising events for catastrophes or major illnesses. Whatever their causes, volunteers log many hours of work, and in the process, they touch many lives. It is humbling to be involved with these caring people.

What part of your day are you grateful for?

Evenings. The day has calmed down and all the distractions have fluttered away. I finally have time to think and write. I am a night owl, and I get my second wind during these late hours.

What part of the day is tough? How do you move through it?

The toughest part of my day is the early morning. (You can’t be an early bird and a night owl at the same time!) But I am retired, so sleeping a little later is my reward. Once I am up in the morning, I am ready to go.

What do you wish you were more conscious of?

Some people seem to have a knack for keeping track of friends and neighbors and their current personal problems, health issues, or other struggles. I sometimes get so involved in my own doings, that I lose track of other people and their needs. Several friends are very good at encouraging others, and I admire this quality. I want to make a more conscious effort to do the same.

How do you stay focused on what is truly important to you?

Even though I am retired, I still find myself pulled in many directions: church activities, community activities, family responsibilities, health issues, and more. I honestly don’t know how I managed to get everything done when I worked full time. I keep my calendar handy and my notebook front and center on my desk to help to keep me organized and focused. Taking time to write every day is an important goal. Even as a senior citizen, I still have things I want to accomplish.

Find Janice Heck here:

Monday, October 15, 2012

Going For It

I applied for a job this morning. A blogging job. How cool is that?

It's nothing major - 3 posts per week (okay, that could get major) - but it intrigued me, so I went for it.

The chances of me getting this job are probably slim. While I meet the qualifications, I'm sure the competition is great, and I met none of the "preference given to..." bonus points. Wrong locale, new reader of their blog. Strike and strike.

I could have stopped reading and let it go, but something about their request resonated with me. It inspired me. It spurred a slew of writing ideas and a new perspective. I feel confident I can bring a good, and somewhat unique, perspective to their readers.

It's now in their hands to decide if we're a good match. Maybe they'll agree, maybe they won't.

Here's the thing... if they don't choose me, I'll be in exactly the same place I am now. There is nothing to lose by going for it. In fact, I may be able to use those sample posts I wrote here. Even more, the application made me think about my writing in a new way. It's hard to see a downside (aside from rejection which is always painful).

Of course, I'm hoping they'll pick me. Fingers crossed!

Have you taken a shot at something even if you weren't sure it would work out? What happened in the end? Did you learn something about yourself in the process?

Friday, October 12, 2012

Wonderstruck Fall

The leaves started turning this week where I live. Greens are giving way to golds and reds in a beautiful display of nature's wonder. So, how about a little Fall inspiration as you seek wonderstruckness right where you are today...


“Autumn...the year's last, loveliest smile.”
― William Cullen Bryant


“Love the trees until their leaves fall off, then encourage them to try again next year.”
― Chad Sugg


“That time of year thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruin'd choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.”
― William Shakespeare, excerpt from Shakespeare's Sonnets

How is Fall showing itself where you live?

Be sure to join the wonderstruck conversation on my Facebook page. Click the "like" button if you... um... like it. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Interview: You - What About Fall Has You Wonderstruck?



There is no wonderstruck interview today. Instead, I'm breaking from routine this week to interview you.

Yes, you.

Don't worry. This will be painless. There is only one question.

What about Fall has you wonderstruck?


Is it the crisp air? Colorful leaves? Apple cider? Pumpkin picking? Something else?

Share your answer in the comments, then come back and see what others are saying. Maybe you'll find more things to be wonderstruck about.

Have you visited my Facebook page yet? If not, you’re missing out on wonderstruck inspiration throughout the week. Come check it out and click the “Like” button.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Frustrated to Wonderstruck... You Can Make the Shift

It's the third time this week he hasn't napped and yet he stayed up as late tonight as he normally would. You put him in his crib and he plays quietly until drifting to sleep. Peace is yours.

You can work on that thing- that project you've been meaning to work on. You're making progress. Finally.

Then he cries.

It's been less than an hour since you put him down. Now he's crying.

You wait because maybe he'll go back to sleep. Then you wait just one more minute to be sure.

Yes, he needs you.

You go to him slightly agitated because you can't seem to get a break today. You remind yourself he doesn't mean to mess up your day. He needs... something. Maybe to know it's okay.

So you hold him. Rock him back and forth, back and forth. Sing "lullaby and goodnight, in the sky stars are bright."

You think about this time where you could be finishing your project. You could be doing any one of the hundred things on your to do list. There are so many things to be done.

Then you realize this is the important stuff. All that other stuff... you can do that later. You can't do this later. You can't get this back.

You breathe in deep. Relax your grip while holding him snug. You sing quieter, closer to his face.

You trace the back curve of his ear, so soft that, like a flower petal, you can barely feel it at all.

These days it's so rare you get to hold him while he's sleeps. Remember what it was like. Remember what it is like. Right now.

You get to have this moment. Drink it in. Because some day he'll be too big, too smart, too independent for this.

But right now he is calm and so are you.

This is living wonderstruck. Soaking up the present. Moving from frustration to contentment. Having the power to choose how you feel. Choosing to be present, fully present in the glory and grace of this moment.

What moment will you transform today?

 

Friday, October 5, 2012

Smiles Aplenty

Today is World Smile Day! Did you know there was such a thing? I didn't until just last week, but here it is, World Smile Day 2012.

It started in 1999 as a day to spread smiles and kind acts to one another. Certainly every day is a good day to do that, but maybe today we can pay special attention to share kindness.

The basic idea is this:
On this day we call upon people around the globe to be thoughtful of others and use the power of smile and a kind act to make a small difference in the world in which we live.

That's direct from worldsmileday.com.

What kind act will you do for someone else today? Helping with a task? Lightening a load? Listening?

How about picking up the phone to tell someone you are happy they are in your life. Channel Stevie Wonder... call to say, "I love you."

Give smiles and see how many smiles come right back to you.

Because it's World Smile Day, it also seems appropriate to let you, my fabulous wonderstruck readers, know how happy you make me. I love that you show up, comment, participate in interviews, and share links to my posts. Thank you so much!

Every kind word shared here or on my Facebook page brings a huge smile to my face. I read those words on days when I have trouble remembering why I'm doing this (because some days are like that).

I like this blog. It feels important. I sometimes feel like I'm not doing very well sharing the Live Wonderstruck message. Then one of you swoops in with a note to say you appreciate my posts. It warms my heart.

Maybe you could share that love with another blogger you like today as one of your kind acts.

While we are on the topic, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Elaine Smothers and Joules from Pocketful of Joules. These wonderful women recently bestowed upon me some beautiful blog awards.

Elaine gave me the One Lovely Blog award and Joules presented me with the Sunshine Award (as well as the One Lovely Blog award).

Thank you, Elaine and Joules! I so appreciate you thinking of me and this blog.

Now these awards come with some rules.

  1. I am to publicly thank the people who gave them to me. (Done!)

  2. I am to share some information about myself (coming in a few sentences)

  3. I am to nominate some of my favorite blogs (toward the end of this post)

  4. I am to comment on their blogs to let them know I've awarded them (I'll do this later today)


The One Lovely Blog award asks me to share 7 facts about myself while the Sunshine Award has some specific questions for me to answer. I have decided that the Sunshine Award questions will effectively cover the 7 facts about me, so here we go...

  • Favorite color: I love colors! Lots of colors. I like different colors on different days. But I suppose the color that most sticks is purple (hence the Live Wonderstruck header).

  • Favorite animal: Really? Hmm... I'm not sure. I like elephants because they are so stinking big and wrinkly with goofy ears and a silly nose, yet somehow they are beautiful and graceful. There's a lesson there somewhere.

  • Favorite number: 6

  • Favorite drink: I drink ice water all day. Boring, but water really is refreshing. On the rare occasion I get to go out I generally won't turn down a glass of wine or a coconut rum with pineapple juice.

  • Facebook or Twitter: I'm on both, but I'm more active on Facebook. I feel like it's easier to follow conversations there. (Please take this opportunity to follow me if you haven't already: facebook.com/smhutchinswriter and twitter.com/smhutchins.)

  • Good book or good movie: Good book. Definitely.

  • Giving or getting gifts: The politically correct thing here would be to say giving, but let's be honest, both giving and getting is fun. I love giving gifts, especially when I feel like I've found something perfect for that person. Getting a gift is always nice, too, even something as simple as a smile. (See how I brought World Smile Day back around?)

  • My passion: Ugh. I hate this question. I know some people can answer in a nanosecond, but I don't think I have one passion. I certainly feel strongly about living a wonderstruck life, whether I'm being attentive to my family, spending time outside, or having lunch with a friend.

  • Favorite day: I'm not sure whether this means "...of the week," "...of the year," or "...EVER!" I'm much more fond of Mondays now that I've left corporate America.

  • Favorite flower: Peach roses and pink Gerber daisies.


Now to spread some blog award love. I present each of the following bloggers with both the One Lovely Blog award and the Sunshine Award for inspiring me with wonderstruck moments. In no particular order...

  1. Jenn Gibson at Roots of She

  2. Diana Lesire Brandmeyer

  3. Brandi Reynolds

  4. Warm Sunshine Blog

  5. Sara Walpert Foster

  6. Kristin Noelle of Trust Tending

  7. Tami Clayton

  8. Cora Ramos

  9. Kate Conner

  10. Mike Schulenberg


I wish you all a wonderstruck day as you share abundant smiles and small acts of kindness!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Interview: Patricia Caviglia

Each Wednesday is Wonderstruck Interview day. Hearing other people’s stories is a great way to see things from a different perspective and perhaps find something new to apply to our own lives.

This week's interviewee is author Patricia Caviglia whose novella, Masks: A Novella, is now available. She is currently working on a second novel due out early 2013.

What have you been wonderstruck by recently?

Recently, I was wonderstruck by the weather. The sky at sunset on Saturday night was awesome. Above me, there was cloud cover, but, to the west about 30 KM from me, the cloud mass ended and the sky was clear. Between the clouds and the horizon, I could see a sliver of blue and golden light. I had to sit for a while and just soak it up.

What part of your day are you grateful for?

I’m grateful for every part of my day. I wake up to live another day. I get to wake up my daughter and be amazed by how wonderful she is. I get to go to work and make the money I need to live plus a little more. I get to spend the evening with my daughter and be amazed once again. And every night, I work on my novel a little. There may be challenging moments, but they all pass and it’s the good ones that are worth holding on to.

What part of your day is tough? How do you move through it?

During the week, the toughest part of my day is around 2:30 p.m. At that time of the day, I hit the afternoon slump and I have to do a report which is all numbers. Not only am I struggling to stay awake, but my eyes are struggling to keep the numbers straight and my brain is struggling with their meaning. I heard once that fatigue is often due to dehydration so I drink lots of water around that time. It works. Every time I start feeling dozy, I sip some water.

What do you wish your were more conscious of?

I wish I were a more conscientious consumer. I’d like to buy more biodegradable and environmentally friendly products as well as organic foods, local foods and fair trade foods like coffee and chocolate. Unfortunately, I don’t always think about it when I’m shopping. Whole Foods has made it easier, but my grocery bill is so much higher when I shop there that I rarely go there.

How do you stay focused on what is truly important to you?

I stay focused on what is truly important to me by keeping my dreams in mind. If I want to live out my dreams, then I have to do the work. I don’t want to be on my deathbed wishing I would have accomplished this or that. I need to do those things.

Find Patricia Caviglia here:

Blog: http://patriciacaviglia.com/
Twitter: @patriciacavigli

Monday, October 1, 2012

The Benefit of Impromptu Time Off

When I posted the “Magic at Work” photo just over a week ago, I hadn’t the slightest inkling that I’d be taking the week off from blogging. But you know what? Sometimes living wonderstruck means taking time to live.

Sometimes you need to recharge, reconnecting to the good stuff. Sometimes you simply need time to catch up. I did some of both.

It’s hard in this blogging world to come up with fresh ideas. One of my biggest frustrations is feeling like this message needs to be spread (what a grand thing if we could all live wonderstruck), yet feeling like I don’t have anything new to say.

Sometimes all these notions are churning inside and when it comes time to turn them into coherent sentences, I come up blank. Sometimes the household chores and family obligations take over.

Last week was a week to refill my inspiration bucket. I played, I visited with friends, I picked apples and made applesauce.

It was a week to progress. I completed my contribution to an amazing (and-so-secret-for-now) book, laid foundation for some new freelance projects, and paid bills.

It was a week to practice showing joy to my family. A week to clear more space. A week to stretch. A week to prepare for birthdays. (Happy birthday to Mom, Cole, and hubby!)

It was a week to think about this blog. What is Live Wonderstruck? What do I want it to be? What do I want you to get from it?

I guess what I’m trying to say is sometimes life tells you what you need. For me, it was an impromptu get-away-from-the-internet week.

What does life want you to lighten up on this week in order to focus on other things?

Let me know what you think in the comments on this post or on Facebook (if you haven't already, consider clicking that little "Like" button while you're there).