Monday, July 30, 2012

Start Your Day By Filling Your Soul Cup

How do you start your day? Do you have a routine?

I don't have much of a routine. I usually try to shower before The Little One wakes up. Most of the time I succeed.

Other than that, sometimes I go outside and water the garden or just sit on a blanket. Sometimes I write. Sometimes I read. Sometimes I turn on the news or America's Next Top Model if it happens to be a marathon day. Sometimes I help my husband get out the door for work. Sometimes I just sleep until the baby wakes.

Some of these days turn out better than others. The days where I go outside or write first thing in the morning often turn out to be better. Starting with television is almost always a mistake for me. Those tend to be my least fulfilling days.

I've heard people say to start the day with what is important to you. It's called setting an intention. Some say how you start the day signals to the universe what you want.


I think it's simpler than that. I think we are like cups and we can share what we have with others. If our cup is low, we have less to give. If our cup is full, we have more to give.

When I take a few minutes to myself, either outside or writing, I have done something that makes my soul happy. My cup is filled, which means I have more love to offer my family, more energy for my errands. Overall, I'm more productive and feel better about my day.

It's about starting from a place of contentment rather than starting from a place of rushing or frustration. If we start from that bad place, it's hard to get through the day. If we start from a place of contentment, we are better able to do what needs to be done (and maybe even do so with a smile).

So, how can you start your day in a way that will fill your cup?

Share your thoughts in the comments or on my Facebook page at While you're there, consider clicking that "Like" button to keep the wonderstruck discussions going all week long.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Interview: Veronica Valli

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 our interviewee is addiction expert and writer Veronica Valli. Veronica is currently working on a book called “Why we drink and how to stop” that she hopes to have out as an ebook in the next couple of months.

What have you been wonderstruck by recently?

Watching my husband with our son. I know it’s an unoriginal answer but becoming a parent has been magical. He is my first child and my husbands 3rd (his eldest are 28 and 25). I never thought he would be as, well, wonderstruck as I am. But he is, and I love watching him, he is such a great father.

What part of your day are you grateful for?

Holding my son on my chest as he falls asleep. Its usually been a long day and my son still needs to fall asleep on me before he goes in his crib. He snuggles and I can smell his hair and feel him breathing. I know this is going to go so quickly and I just breath him in and savour him, inprinting the moment on my memory so I can treasure it forever. He is a miracle baby and my gratiude knows no bounds.

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

Ha! That’s easy. My beautiful boy is not such a great sleeper. The worst is when his diaper leaks (usually around 4am) and I have to change it, which wakes him up and he thinks it’s time to party. It can take up to an hour and a half to get him back down again by which time I am too exhausted to sleep. I get through this by telling myself if I didn’t have this exhaustion and sleep interruption I wouldn’t have my son and he is everything. I also remind myself this is just a phase and it will pass soon.

What do you wish your were more conscious of?

Hmmmm. I honestly don’t know how to answer that, I feel very consious, very alive, very present, very awake (sometimes a little more awake than I would like, admittedly!)

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

I take regular inventory. I look at what’s going on in my life and what needs my attention, what I need to work on and where I need to take action. I find this allows me to keep focussed on what really matters and not get caught up in the details of life that were never really important anyway.

About Veronica Valli:

I’m orginally from the UK where I worked as a therapist and Life Coach. I specialise in treating people with addicitions. I have overcome alcoholism and addiction and am 12 years clean and sober.

Learn more about Veronica here...

Monday, July 23, 2012


Summer is half over. At least as far as school vacation is concerned. I can't believe how fast it's going.

Theoretically, summer should be a slower, lazier time of year. It's a time for friends, barbecues, swimming, lounging. Actually, my teenage stepson has embraced the summer lifestyle (between baseball tournaments, anyhow).

But it's been a busy summer for us adults and now July is nearing its end. It's hard to fathom.

Soon enough we'll be back in the throes of schoolwork, business building up as the end of the year approaches, and holiday planning.

Okay, I didn't mean to make anyone panic. Don't worry. It's still summer. If you're anywhere near me, a step out your front door into the heat will confirm that.

My point is this. We still have half of summer to go. What are you going to do to make the most out of it? Have you taken that family vacation? Did you do that thing (whatever it is) that you said you would do this summer?

If not, the time is now. Hop to it! As for me, I have a pool day planned for Wednesday. With friends. Check, and check.


Friday, July 20, 2012

Blueberry Crisp, Kind Words, Pretty Toes, and Zac Brown Band

This week has been wild. A little up and down. That hasn't stopped me from finding wonderstruckness, though. Here are the moments that stood out for me:

As you may recall from last week our freezer lost power. Earlier this summer I had gone blueberry picking twice and I refused to throw out all that work (even if it was fun work). There I was with about 6 pounds of thawed blueberries and no idea how to go through them quickly enough.

A couple days later writer Janice Heck came to my rescue with a post called Got Blueberries? Be sure to check it out. She talked about how good blueberries are in New Jersey (and you thought all we had was Snookie...) and she gave 4 recipes for enjoying those blueberries. Thank you, Janice! I made blueberry crisp, which may just have been heaven in a bowl. YUM!

While eating that blueberry crisp, I had to get back on track with wonderstruck interviews. Don't worry. There are lots of amazing people coming up and their answers have already started rolling in. Even from a few friends who came to the rescue at the last minute in case I found myself without content again. I didn't, so now I have even more people in the queue. Hooray!

In one of the harder parts of life, Sir Whiny Pants has improved overall with his whining this week, but has had a mini-meltdown every morning (or any time during the day) we go into his playroom. Go figure. Yesterday, when we started the day that way yet again, I had a mini-meltdown of my own while on the phone with my husband. I kind of expected him to tell me to get over it, be the bigger person, blah, blah, but to my surprise, he came back with the absolute most perfect thing I needed to hear: "You are doing a great job as a mom and he is a good baby."

Talk about wonderstruck. (By the way, to any dads or children out there... every mom wants to hear she is doing a good job. This gig is a lot harder than it looks! Go. Tell them. Hug them. Thank you.)

The rest of yesterday improved greatly thanks to those magic words. I even took a little me time. When my mother-in-law came over to watch Sir Whiny Pants for a bit, instead of using that time to get stuff done like I usually do, I ran one errand then went for a pedicure. I haven't had a pedicure in over a year (something I used to treat myself to all summer long pre-baby). Heaven found me once again sitting in a big massage chair having my toes prettified.

Finally, there's one more thing that had me wonderstruck this week. On Saturday night, I went to the Zac Brown Band concert. Holy smokes! If you ever have the chance to see them, go. Seriously. Not only do they have a lot of fun songs, there is not a weak link in that band. Everyone is a great musician and everyone is a great singer.

The first time I'd ever heard of the Zac Brown Band was on a CMA Awards show in 2009 when they performed The Devil Went Down to Georgia. Not an easy song, but they did it really well and even a little faster (yes, faster!) than Charlie Daniels. How is that possible?

Anyhow, I saw Zac Brown Band in concert at the CMA Festival last year and was really hoping to catch a live version of that performance. Unfortunately, their set was short (lots of artists to pack into one night) and, while they did some other great songs, Devil didn't make the cut.

Last weekend, they finished their show with it. Woohoo! Live it's even better than what I saw on TV. They are extraordinary.

I can't show you what I saw in concert, but here is the TV performance from a few years ago. Happy Friday!

What had you wonderstruck this week? Share here or on my Facebook page. (While you're there, consider "Liking" it. Thank you!)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Interview: Kyeli Smith

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 Kyeli Smith from Connection Revolution, also known has half of the awesome World Changing Writer leaders, Pace & Kyeli.

KyeliWhat have you been wonderstruck by recently?

lately, I have been wonderstruck by the magic of connection. when we open our hearts, wholy and fully allowing ourselves to be open, we are in the flow with the universe - and magic happens. connection happens. and I'm finding myself open and in awe.

What part of your day are you grateful for?

I am grateful for mornings: in the morning, I get to wake up thanks to my beloved wife, and spend time with her every day before she heads to her job. I am grateful for afternoons: in the afternoons, she comes home and we begin to work together. I am grateful for evenings: in the evenings, we have dinner together with our son. then we play games, watch movies, and just spend time together as a family. and I am grateful for nights: my wife and I crawl into bed together, and share bits about our day before drifting off to sleep.

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

the hardest part of my day is when I have something I need to talk about, but everyone is too busy for talking. I tend toward communal behavior, so being left to my own devices is often very challenging for me. the best way for me to work through this is to squeeze in five minutes of talking, and then going off to work on my own. if that's not possible, then I will write for five minutes or spend a few minutes on social media to jumpstart my work.

What do you wish your were more conscious of?

I wish I were more conscious of my ability to control my moods. I get swept up in my emotions, and often feel like I am lost to them with no ability to change or control them. rationally, I know that I can change and control my emotions, but I'm not often very rational.

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

I stay focused on what is truly important to me by making notes and taping them up where I can see them. I have long, interesting conversations with my friends about what is important to me. Pace and I make goals that focus on what is important to us. and most importantly, I ask "how about now?"I ask this of myself and of Spirit - and I carefully listen for the answer. this helps me make sure that I stay on track.

About Kyeli:

Kyeli Smith (that’s me!) is co-leader of the Connection Revolution, teaching people to change the world through connection. My wife is also my business partner - which is awesome - and together we work to foster love, tolerance, healing, communication, and personal growth. I’m a writer, a witch, a lesbian, and an unschooling mom. I also sing in the shower, wear fantastic stripy socks, and believe in faeries.

Find Kyeli here...

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Sky

There are times when words don't come. I try, then I wait, then I try some more. I look at notes. Nothing feels right. This has happened for days. Now here it is halfway through Monday and I have nothing.

Instead, I offer a couple photos of the sky. I just finished reading chapter one of The Richest of Fare by Phyllis Strupp. Chapter one focuses on the Cosmos. That's why I am choosing sky.

Happy Monday! Remember to look up throughout the day to see the display the sky is sharing with you.

Friday, July 13, 2012

What Happened While I Was on Vacation

Looking back over the week, I realize I am wonderstruck not so much by things that happened this week, but by things I learned this week that happened while we were on vacation.

Somehow when I go away, I expect things to be the same when I return. After all, it was just under two weeks. What can happen in that amount of time? It turns out quite a bit.

At home (besides all the muck that happened), my garden flourished. The corn is now almost as tall as me. I found zucchini, peas, green beans, and peppers ready to be picked. Cherry tomatoes began to form. Carrot tops pushed out of the ground. Potatoes sprouted. All of my flowers bloomed.

Also at home, I learned The Little One has taken on a new trait and may soon find his name changed to Sir Whiny Pants. I’m skipping by this quickly in hopes he will do the same.

In my neighborhood a pothole was filled and a tree was lost, presumably in a storm.

I found out one of my friends is moving out-of-state. I'm sad to see her go. I was hoping we'd have more time to get to know each other and that our boys could play together for years.

Across the country wildfires have caused a lot of devastation. Across the world flooding has done the same. My prayers go out for all of the affected people.

Then there’s the seemingly insignificant entertainment news that caught me off guard. Andy Griffith died. Ann Curry was fired. Kelly Clarkson has a single on country radio- usually singers make the leap from country to pop, not vice versa.

Earth and the people on it are continuously in motion. We may not realize it when we’re stuck in our own day-to-day, but it’s true.

KT Tunstall has a song that says it best: “Hold on, ‘cause the world will turn if you’re ready or not.”

What changes have you noticed in your own corner of the world?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Restorative Power of the Outdoors

Sorry, folks. No wonderstruck interview today. I messed that up while on blog break. I still have some great people lined up though, so we will return to regularly scheduled programming next week.

As I mentioned on Monday, I just returned from a glorious two week vacation with my husband (no kids!) in Italy. We divided our time between coastal towns, Tuscany, and even an island.

We hiked, swam, and boated. We ate and drank wine. We went to a horse race (THE horse race... the Palio in Siena). We sweated. A lot.

We spent a lot of time outdoors. Even when we were eating, it was often at an outdoor table.

One such day, it was a table by the lake where we watched some mama ducks and their ducklings swimming about. Soooo cute.

Since coming home I’ve been making a point to get outside every day. Since I don’t like the heat, I get out first thing in the morning and sometimes go out again in the evening.

For me, being outside is restorative. The fresh air, being in nature (our yard backs up to woods), it calms my mind. It makes to do lists feel a little less pressing. It helps me focus my attention on the truly important things.

It helps me slow down, notice, be in the moment. No matter what I’m thinking, all thoughts dissipate when a hummingbird comes to the feeder.

When I water my garden, I’m not thinking about the mountains of laundry inside waiting to be washed. I’m only thinking about the garden, what’s blooming, what needs weeding.

And since The Little One is often outside with me when I water the garden, I’m also focused on him. What he’s doing, how well he’s walking, what he’s discovering.

Being outside does a lot for my soul. It doesn’t have to be for long expanses of time. Five minutes is enough and often turns to more.

Even though I know the power of time spent outside, I don’t do it. I forget how important it is. Being inside sounds more comfortable.

Vacation reminded me. So I’m taking this lesson and running with it. (Not actually running, because I don’t run. Let’s not get carried away.)

Now, if you’ll excuse me, there’s a deck chair calling my name.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Earning Vacation

Sometimes wonderstruckness looks a little more like dumbfoundedness. This is one of those times.

I have just returned from a two week vacation. 11 days to be precise, but close enough. My husband and I went to Italy and left the children at home with my mother-in-law. This was a true, get-away-from-everything, vacation. I’m not sure I can explain how recharged I feel right now.

I’ll talk more about the trip another day. Today, I need to vent about a weird phenomenon.

It’s been my experience that the week leading up to vacation always makes me earn that vacation.

Prior to leaving for Italy, I came down with a bad cold that drained my attention and sapped my energy. I had trouble doing what needed to be done in a steady time frame throughout the week and, instead, found myself rushing through it all in the last two days during which my stepson was playing in a baseball tournament. Oh, did I mention that my husband was tournament director? And he caught my cold just in time to run himself ragged performing his duties.

Meanwhile, our home started a revolt against us. The front door decided not to latch without significant slamming, meaning the door blew open at will. There isn’t much I ask of a front door, but I do expect it to stay closed.

In other news, a thunderstorm blew a piece of flashing off our garage roof. We’ve yet to get that fixed.

Then, it turns out those hot flashes I felt in the tail end of my cold weren’t from my body. The air conditioner was broken. It broke good, too, requiring a whole new unit.

On the day of our flight we returned from running errands to finish up our packing. A torrential downpour hit, but luck was on our side because it cleared by the time we went to our car. That’s when we saw the side door of our minivan wide open, the baby’s car seat drenched.

We continued to earn our vacation during the drive to the airport where we got stuck in lots of slow traffic. Adding to the fun, our GPS routed us through the touristy theater district of New York City (because clearly that’s a speedy path???). We finally got up to speed on the highway for about two miles and slowed to a crawl once again. The road was flooded.

So yeah, I earn my vacations one snafu at a time. Perhaps, so I will enjoy them more?

The bigger issue this time around is that the snafus have continued since we returned on Friday night. The new air-conditioner isn’t working properly, our in-laws car is broken down in our driveway blocking my car from getting out, grout has chipped out of our kitchen floor (how does that even happen?), and our big freezer defrosted causing me to throw out lots of food and forcing me to try and go through 6 pounds of blueberries I picked at the farm, three packages of English muffins, and a party-size lasagna.

Good times.

I'm dumbfounded at how much can go wrong at once. It's quite impressive, really. (Dumbfounded is kind of like wonderstruck, but less awe-inspiring.)

My question is this... has anyone else experienced this phenomenon where everything breaks at vacation time? Also, if you have a good recipe using blueberries, let me know.