Words of Wonder

Keepin’ the dream alive

Posted by on Aug 9, 2015 in Challenges, Inspiration, Liveaboard, Sailing, Virtual Assistance, Wholehearted | 1 comment

dream

A decade ago my hubby and I envisioned a different life. A life that represented freedom and as off the grid as we could imagine: we wanted to live on a boat and travel. I solved the income challenge almost immediately. I discovered the ideal mobile business and have successfully worked from different states and Canada, even from a sailboat for a short period, as a Virtual Assistant—and I love what I do!

So why hasn’t the dream become a reality I ask myself? Life happened. Unexpected major events that we’ve handled surprisingly well and bounced back from—wiser but not deterred from our dream. And that’s okay. I get that we’ve only hit the snooze button. But some days I feel unmoored. Are we on the right course? Do we need to adjust the sails? Doubt for our North Star seeps in.

We recently found a fixer upper sailboat that met 90% of our must-have-list on the hard (out of the water) in a marina near Tarpon Springs (a doable two hours away instead of in Oregon!) It had been the owner’s dad’s project boat but his dad had died before seeing it complete (sadly this is a common tale). Fixed up this boat would sell for five times the asking price. We enthusiastically set out the next day with our cash deposit in hand.

I climbed a wobbly aluminum ladder (my faith in hubby’s hold on said ladder complete) to step on board into almost shin deep rain water in the cockpit! I waded to the companion way and braced myself as I slid the hatch cover back and pulled the slats out. I could hear water running inside like a faucet in a bathtub— she was full to the bottom of the galley cabinet doors. Oh, NO!

I was able to clear the cockpit drain obstructions and get the water flowing out. From the algae and gunk build up it was apparent this had not happened recently. The boat was already a big project for our experience but we were game—but this—this changed everything! Fresh water rots and mildews wood faster and more effectively than saltwater—any water inside a boat is undesirable but long standing fresh water is a deal breaker.

I snapped photos for the unsuspecting owner and for Jeff, my heart sinking. Once again—this was not our boat. And I was saddened from the high spirits of expecting to have found and made an offer on a boat—finally! But also for the boat herself.  I grieved for her, for the loving work undone, for her obvious neglect, that I couldn’t help her beyond alerting the owner and marina staff. Sad. That.

How do you determine if the obstacles between you and your dream are the Universe’s way of steering you clear of a rocky shore or only mighty storms to be weathered to prove your passion and commitment to your dream?  We brainstormed to see if there was something else we’d rather do—a third option we’d overlooked. Or was it only our ideal boat was still waiting for us to ready for her? What do we need to let go of to make room for her? For me I think its attachment to an extremely comfortable and privileged life: I’m deeply attached to electricity, hot water, indoor plumbing, and air-conditioning!

Detaching from these comforts seems a small price for the freedom and adventure inherent in the live-aboard lifestyle! It took a few days but we buoyed ourselves up and we’ve reached out to a sailboat seller again on the Gulf coast and he offered us the opportunity to stay on the boat for a night while he was on land. Now that’s the way to test drive a lifestyle! Thoreau wrote: If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.

sailWe continue to advance and our dream may be bruised but its heart is strong and steady and beats on! I have the utmost faith in serendipity and the law of attraction and will keep my positivity flowing; the windows and doors to my soul open; and envision her out there—our ideal boat—fair winds carrying her into our lives and hearts.

 

A decade of wonder

Posted by on Jul 13, 2015 in Authenticity, Connections, Virtual Assistance | 2 comments

Ten years ago this summer I took a leap of faith. For me at that time it felt like I was standing on a precipice with no bottom in sight. What could be so scary you might ask? Meeting people; People who were important to me; People I’d been the real me with; People who were supporting me in creating a brand new business. I was halfway through the virtual assistance training program offered by AssistU—I hadn’t even graduated and become a Virtual Assistant but I was planning to attend a face-to-face event hosted by AssistU’s local chapter in Maryland. Yes, I flew from Florida to meet people I’d only met virtually in order to connect and take our relationships to—to whatever was next! Hence, the leap of faith.

Anastacia Brice founder of AssistU happened to be my course trainer and had already changed my life forever by creating the possibility for me to become a successful business owner doing work I loved. She’s impacted my life personally and professionally in a gazillion ways and I am thankful every day for the work she does and the difference she makes in lives. I met her in person that weekend and have loved her every day since. Thank you, Anastacia. 

Our hostess was Dawn Goldberg (now Schuler) who opened her lovely home to virtual strangers (pun intended) and shared her delightful daughters. Many of us sat at her kitchen table into the wee hours and played a card game called Bullshit which my novice status and friendly innocent face made me quite good at! Later my connection with Dawn and her love of language and writing combined with her gift for teaching would help me polish and hone my writing skills dramatically. I’m forever grateful, Dawn! 

Antonette was already a successful VA and her small packaging (five foot one) did not keep her from BIG things! She had a live wire running through her and a contagious laugh that attracted people from way across the room! Over the years she has become my sister from another mother and along with my family we have been adopted by her entire family.  I cannot imagine this past decade without your love and laughter AA!

I connected with many other VAs that weekend and have continued to learn and grow from our connections. If a fortune teller had predicted I’d be here in ten years with a thriving VA practice, unveiling a new website and blogging about a decade of doing what I love, with people I love to work with—I’d have smiled politely and thanked her. But I wouldn’t have believed her! Yet, here I am doing exactly those things due to the serendipities and connections that were created at that picnic ten years ago. Because I took a leap of faith. Because I practiced the life lesson I was handed: feel the fear and do it anyway. Because I was willing to be authentic and vulnerable.  Because I believed in possibility.

wowvalogoI am thrilled and proud to unveil a new new website after almost ten years in business and I have two talented women to thank for making it a reality. Terri Moore created WOWVA’s wondrous new logo. I wanted a tree theme to play on the idea of nature and wonder; a client being rooted with a VA partner; and branching out as an entrepreneur to include a VA. You may see more of Terri’s work and connect with her at  Graphic Ventures

My Digital Marketing Maven, Aletha McManama is responsible for the personalized design of my WordPress theme and it all came together beautifully.  And the acronym WOW has been expanded beyond Works of Wonder for my VA biz to include Words of Wonder for my blog and Waves of Wonder for realizing the dream of living and working remotely: living and traveling aboard a sailboat. Please visit Aletha and see  more of her work here

20150530_161416One last connection that was made that day was with one of Antonette’s nieces; three year old Nya stole my heart. Here’s my favorite pen pal a decade later—I love you Nya Papaya!

 

I love library books!

Posted by on Sep 9, 2012 in Books, Inspiration, Travel | 1 comment

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I can't take them all on the plane!

best thing

Ruthie's dream of becoming a successful screenwriter captivated me. This is Jennifer's tenth book and I've loved her writing since her debut with 'Good in Bed'.

I’m in print!

Posted by on Sep 3, 2012 in Books, Celebration, Connections, Inspiration, Web/Tech, Weblogs, Wholehearted, Writing | 2 comments

When you post something on any type of social media you never know who might read it or where it might end up. In April I shared this review on Hungry for Life and I was contacted in May by Jennifer an Assistant Senior Managing Editor at Artful Blogging asking if they might quote part of my post in their upcoming autumn issue. Heck yeah!

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I BIG shout out to Honoré for sending me a copy when she heard my bookstore didn't carry it!

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waaaay more than a nod

Posted by on Aug 30, 2012 in Celebration, Community, Connections, Virtual Assistance | 0 comments

I'm not on the ballot but still thrilled at the nominations, thank you my friends! The AssitU community is an incredible resource for support, encouragement, and knoweldgeable insightful answers.I am honored to be a member!

2012_nominee_vayear_h                    
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losing AND winning

Posted by on Aug 27, 2012 in Celebration, Community, Connections, Conscious eating, Food and Drink, Intention, Weight Watchers, Wholehearted | 1 comment

When I began my weight loss journey I never envisioned myself as a Weight Watchers employee. I was focused on me and it never occurred to me that my leaders and receptionist had once walked in my shoes. I began as a substitute receptionist at the end of 2009 and I was thrilled to be able to give back to others ready to step boldly into health and fitness. Working on a team was good for me; adapting to working for a coorporation was challenging after being an entrprenuer for more than the past decade. The passionate people I work with and the members I support made the difference and created a smooth transition and a worthwhile endeavor for me.

Last year I began as a part time receptionist and was responsible for several meetings each week. Our members say I inspire them but truly they keep me accountable and on track and motivate me to excel at staying on plan and active. Working for Weight Watchers is more than a job—its a calling. A call to action I am proud to step up for.

 

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Weigh in pods

 

This month we closed two meeting room locations in our town and opened a brand new full time Weight Watchers Store—we will be open seven days a week. The store model is gorgeous—filled with bright colors and innovative modern-style private weigh in pods. The corporate team elicited and implemented feedback on design and services from members and staff to make these new facilities meet our present needs fabulously with room to grow into future possibilities. Our staff member's synergy and hard work during the move and set up have been contagious not only for current members but potential or returning members. The buzz is true: we're not your grandma's Weight Watchers! We're innovative,resourceful, educated, and stand behind our slogan: Believe. Because it works.

LoseforgoodMy part-time postion now includes an honored role in the events coordianting team and we're kicking off our first event in only two weeks! The national Lose For Good® campaign runs from September 2 through October 12 as you lose weight you can help Weight Watchers donate up to one million dollars to Share Our Strength® and
Action Against Hunger.

Nationwide Weight Watchers Stores will be hosting an Open House on Saturday, September 15th, noon-2pm to receive donations of non-perishable food items to help fight hunger—our Ocala store donations will support Interfaith Emergency Services.  If you're local I invite you to stop in and see our amazing store! We'll have prizes, a special offer, and free refreshments. Bring a friend and a few cans or boxes from your pantry and meet our awesome staff—which I am privleged to belong to.

Look for a Weight Watchers Store near you and make a difference on September 15th by joining in the possibilities which are win-win for us all when we Lose for Good!

 

on the shelf

Posted by on Aug 7, 2012 in Family, Learning, Wholehearted, Writing | 0 comments

The prompt for this poem was to show sadness

A patina of dust
dulls the lace of my shawl
and fringe of my mob-cap.
My bare feet poke out
from faded yellow
hand sewn cotton.
Where are my shoes!
Doesn’t she think how
cold
my feet must be?
No—she doesn’t.

I stare and see her
pass by my
line of sight.
Let’s play, I cry.
Her grown up ears
no longer register
the pitch of my voice.
She walks by.
Tears well
in my
moss green eyes.
I long to blink
and let them
trail a streak of
grime down my
porcelain cheeks.
Would she notice
then?
Perhaps pick me
up in
once miniature
mother practicing
hands?
Wipe my face
and smile down
at me
with those same
moss green eyes?
Cradle me on her
shoulder
and pat the dust
from my dress?

Months after her
birth
her mother saw
my head—only that,
in a display window.
She told us she froze
in place—
the face on the head,
(my head!)
was the
spitting image
of her baby girl’s.
Her mother said she
waved her
baby’s photo wildly
—the clerk
gasped.
The cost was
steep
and so she chose
a plaster body that
would fit.
My head.
I was whole
wrapped
naked in a box.

I was a gift
she longed to earn.
I yearned for her
touch and watched
her grow from
afar
on a similar shelf.
When pudgy arms
and legs
shot into skinny
coltish limbs
the day came that
I was birthed,
wrapped in swaddling
and laid in the arms
of my newly born
Mother.
She christened me
Tammy
but pretended I was
Baby Jesus.
My lacy bonnet
does not hide
close cropped hair
from a scissor
experiment  gone awry.
My bald china pate sports
a spiderweb
of cracks from
many breaks.
Falls
we took together.
Elmer’s was a
well used tool
and I
bear the scars
of being loved.

Years I waited.
Watching from
on high.
And was rewarded
with
new dresses and
hats and slippers.
Tea parties,
carriage rides, then
twirling
to loud music.
Secrets. Stories.
Shy smiles.
Even lies and
tears.
And some days
yelling
interspersed with
curses.
Peace prevailed
but our time together
dwindled.

Until now.
I sit.
Barefooted.
Measuring the
dust
with unblinking eyes.
Achingly anticipating
the moment her hands
will lift me down
like a broken bird
and swipe a soft
rag over my body.
Erasing my pain.
Her humming will falter,
her voice will
crack like
my head—
Oh baby, look at
you.
Let’s clean you up!
I’ve endured the ache of
being
forgotten
for this moment.
In her hands
I am
reborn.

starting…again

Posted by on Jul 27, 2012 in Conscious eating, Family, Food and Drink, Learning, Moving your body, Wholehearted | 1 comment

A week before my forty-eighth birthday I removed my rose colored glasses and looked myself in the eye. My upbeat and positive attitudes are a natural extension of the way I see the world and choose to live my life. Most of the time. I met my reflection in the mirror with a sigh. My journey to self-love would not have been possible without a conscious effort to release negative habits of self-sabotage or beating up on myself. Yet, as I squinted at myself in the glare of the overhead bathroom light I admitted that some of those old habits had slipped back into my life. Sigh. Once an emotional overeater always an emotional overeater. Releasing pounds and incorporating exercise didn’t magically erase that tendency in me. There’s no cure only free will. It’s a choice I make every day. Every meal. Every hour. Every minute.  And as my commitment to myself slipped so did my decisions. They were apparent in the scale and my lethargy and apathy—I was going through the motions of fitness. That’s all.

I’ve been a CrossFit athlete for a year as of April and I gave myself permission to eat more and move less because I had worked so hard and I deserved a break and my muscles were so sore I could hardly squat to sit on the couch without being a drama queen—ooooowwww! And forget getting up and using my quads or glutes until I was direly close to peeing my pants! I never combined my CrossFit workouts with healthy eating and balanced activity the rest of the week. I did the workouts. I did not quit. I am stronger. I did not gain twenty pounds because I was doing CrossFit three times a week. I did gain ten, and no they are not muscles. I’d have to grow Mr. Universe type muscles to account for a weight gain from muscle mass! A pound of muscle and a pound of fat weigh the same but muscles take up less space, a lot less space under your skin. This is why muscles make your body look toned and firm instead of jiggly. I'm stronger but I'm still jiggly!

The decision I made staring at my hopeful face was that I was done with being stuck; stuck in the cycle of feeling negative and eating to feel better and feeling worse and eating some more to feel better. It. Doesn’t. Work. I was done with being stuck and choosing to move forward. Again. Yes, again. And instead of seeing the negative aspects of starting again I chose to celebrate any step forward I was willing to make to get out of the quagmire. Serendipitously the timing of my self-talk coincided with the release a week later of ActiveLink from Weight Watchers. I don’t depend entirely on external motivators to nudge or lead me back on course because internal data is more vital to me: how I feel, my happiness quota, an increased energy level, craving protein instead of carbs! But I was excited by the challenge this tool represented and intrigued to see if it tracked as lauded. (We’ve been employee guinea pigs, reporting our experiences before it becomes available to our members.)

After an eight day assessment Active Link labeled me an ‘occasional athlete’ and encouraged me to move more consistently throughout my day. I don’t earn activity points only for ‘workouts’ but for all my activity combined all day by using a technology similar to that used in a Wii controller to track movement. Cool, eh? The ActiveLink graphs show my activity each hour (and minute if I want that much detail!) and I saw that when I was immersed in work on the computer I could sit for several hours without moving or being in the green (the darker the green the more intense the activity). Fascinating! It took me a week to get the hang of being active consistently instead of long periods of sitting. I was determined to meet the daily challenge of four activity points which would slowly increase to five over the twelve week challenge. Now I’m setting my timer for fifty minutes of work and then I row for five or walk for ten or perform home-caring tasks like vacuuming or sweeping. In the evening if my hubby and I watch a movie I jump on the treadmill for a couple miles while I’m watching and the miles fly by.

After almost a month I’m grinning in the mirror and cheering, I did it! I’m halfway to releasing those extra ten pounds! Woohoo! I am finding balance in CrossFit workouts, swimming, walking, and biking. Summer weather has encouraged us as a family to dive into a friend’s pool to stay active and we are swimming three to four days a week. My husband has a knee injury but found that swimming has helped strengthen his legs so he’s able to walk a little further a little faster each time we walk. My husband and our daughter have been my tireless cheerleaders and I am so blessed to have their love and support and for all of us to be committed to our best health and wellness.

Yes, I started again. I’m happily moving forward again, but it’s still not all downhill and those uphill days are tough but I have tools and accountability in place to help me succeed. Do I think for a nanosecond this will be the last time I start again? No. No way! As long as life keeps gifting me with opportunities I will keep practicing free will and will stop and start again as many times as it takes to continue this journey. Sharing with you dear reader was another start: starting to write again and showing up to the page. Authentically. Consistently. Wholeheartedly. And I have you to thank for the gift of that opportunity—thank you for starting with me each time you read my words.

I’d be honored to hear what you’ve stopped in your life and what or who was a mirror for you to get you started…again.

Laura at CF

one word…three perspectives

Posted by on Jul 9, 2012 in Creativity, Inspiration, Wholehearted, Writing | 0 comments

If you've been following my writing prompts I've written from the perspective of a bird, a cloud, and a snake. Then I wrote about my neighborhood—a lesson in seeing. This next prompt encorporated all my pieces and seemed daunting at first. We were to choose one word from our neighborhood piece and write from 3 perspectives: bird, cloud, snake. The word I chose was 'dandelions' and the form of a poem surprised me but it literally wrote itself:

Nature Returns

The weeds are tightly
condensed
like a New York City block.
Overhead the Raven
watches intently, wings stretched
but still.
She circles like a kite
sans string.
People with their
dogs and machines
are long gone
she notes.
The once verdant lawn lies abandoned.
Nature returns.
The dandelions sway
next to a few of their more colorful
cousins
who flit and flirt
with the breeze.
The Raven aloft has
no interest
in flowers.
Her gaze seeks other.

The cloud passing
by
recalls the once lush lawn
she happily shared her
bounty with.
Where once was new-shoot-green
now only burnt brown
and grass turned to straw.
The dandelions sway
and smile in her shadow.
She floats on
seeking a hope seeded plot
to receive her precious
gifts.

The serpent cannot navigate
the weed jungle
stealthily.
The withered grass and weed trunks
crackle and whisper
under long belly.
Mice feet freeze while the tiniest
heart accelerates—
Mice feet DASH.
Serpent strikes,
weeds settle.
Nature returns.
The dandelions sway
as she passes.
Only the Raven notes
her trail.

resisting my neighborhood

Posted by on Jul 6, 2012 in Challenges, Inspiration, Wholehearted, Writing | 0 comments

I was pleased with the bird, cloud, snake prompts even though at first glance I didn't see how I could write them. Writing them expanded me as much as my view. The next writing prompt was to walk our neighborhood (a quarter mile radius) and capture what we see. I resisted for weeks. Eventually I got over it by writing about my resistance:

My quarter mile circle expands way beyond our neighborhood. I am glad. I do not wish to lace my sneakers and walk the aged asphalt roads littered with dark patched potholes like a carcinoma on freckled skin. I resist seeing the for sale signs on rickety posts with their hand lettered pleas swaying in the breeze. I ignore the encroaching weedy lawns with dandelions dancing carelessly in a once tended yard.  Either indifference spreads faster than weeds or the hardworking Joes and Janes have despaired of ever having the time to dream of freshly mown grass, children running through a lawn sprinkler, or backyard barbeques.  

Mostly the windows yawn empty in tired walls under tin roofs browning with rust. Lost hope is a wildfire whose flames cannot be contained but must be doused before they ignite the very heart of our community. My neighborhood houses a melting pot of souls from college students to retirees on a limited income. We each eke out a home next to each other and offer a good morning when we wheel our cumbersome lookalike trash containers to the curb. We nod or wave at the postal center under its little A-frame roof—rows of four inch square metal doors concealing the next piece of paper that may be a family’s salvation or surrender. I do not want to see my neighbor’s worn faces in the early evening dusk or the smiles that do not reach their dull eyes as they suck deeply on a cigarette and sip from a brown beer bottle gripped in tired fingers aged well before their time.

The city has encroached on our once hidden community and location is key for those who call my neighborhood home. They may need to bike to work or walk to the corner bus stop but most drive ailing cars which they back out of their driveway in a haze of gray exhaust gunning the barely idling engine and praying it will keep running on fumes one more day. My neighbors may bring you your meal on an oversized china plate and pass you a cloth napkin and inquire if you’d care for more wine. At home they use paper towels and share french-fries with their kids out a greasy white paper bag. My neighbors probably bag your groceries in colorful cloth bags and offer to push your cart to your car even though you are perfectly capable of completing this task yourself. My neighbors sweat in a factory  breathing in chemical solvents so that their neighbors have clean uniforms with a pristine name tag on the breast pocket ready to wear when they change your oil or jack your car up to remove a flat tire.

Yet, look. There’s the cashier from Walmart  sudsing a late model car with soapy water in a blue plastic bucket, her older daughter, barely school age, sprays water from a bright green Kmart hose, her younger sister runs through the arc in a tiny pink bikini. Mini droplets of miracles rain down along with the peals of their laughter. And there—I spy a newly planted flower bed, filled with lilies and mums wearing hope in multi colored petals. Listen. I hear a lawnmower roar to life—the dandelions will dance on another day. See that open window? It invites a breeze where none has been all year. The sunflower yellow cotton lifts and fills like a sail filled with possibility. A sturdy metal post has replaced the wavering hand lettered sign. A thin wooden plaque hangs horizontally from tiny links of chain, connecting them. There’s enough breeze for it to swing rhythmically, soothingly, it’s one word a catalyst for the future: Welcome.