Inspiring Yourself

If you’re reading this, you are a survivor. Yay, you!

An inspiring internet friend of mine runs a Facebook group called Club Moxie: Bouncing Back from Difficult Sh*t. I highly recommend this group if, like Stephanie and me, you’ve been through some of that sh*t yourself. As she says in her “about” section, “Club Moxie is a place where ordinary people have candid conversations about the ins and outs of bouncing back from all kinds of difficult life circumstances. Honesty heals. Being heard heals. Togetherness heals.”

On any given day, you can go to this group for inspiration on how to reframe your situation into one that you can not only survive, but also learn, grow, and thrive from. The group also shows you that you’re not alone. It is an uplifting place, and we all could use one of those every now and then.

I can sometimes be a fly in the ointment in that group, because I am nothing if not cynical. And sometimes I just can’t join the cheerleading squad. Not that day. Not for that meme. And that’s okay. This group doesn’t judge. In fact, it usually makes me see things from perspectives I haven’t encountered before. It gives me fresh eyes, and fresh ways to cope. And it doesn’t hurt that it has inspired many a blog post.

Recently, Stephanie posted the meme below, and also wrote above it: “We don’t have to look outside ourselves for inspiration. WE can inspire OURSELVES. When I’m feeling down or on the verge of defeated, it can be really helpful for me to recall all the times in the past when I kept going and made it through.”

Wow. Insight!

I have often drawn inspiration from others. It’s my gut instinct to do so. I even did it above, when I said I’m inspired by Stephanie’s group. I think this is a great habit to have, but her Facebook post made me realize that I often overlook a very important resource for inspiration. Me. Because here I am. And that means that I am a survivor.

Good news! If you’re reading this, you are a survivor, too! And you know yourself better than anyone else does. Think of the untapped potential for inspiration you’ve got, just sitting there in your own head.

Many of us have been taught that pride is a bad thing. I’ve never believed that. I think it’s perfectly natural to be proud of your achievements, proud of your strengths, proud of your skills, proud of those moments when, against all odds, you brought your best self forward and did what you needed to do.  The right thing. The hard thing. You may have had help along the way. We all have. But in the end, it’s you who got yourself to this point, and that’s impressive as hell. Own it!

We all have our unique life experiences. Think of yours as pearls of wisdom that only you possess. Even those moments that you wish had gone differently can, at the very least, provide very important lessons that you can draw upon moving forward. You have wisdom that you earned all on your own.

I am setting the intention, right now, to stop overlooking the unique treasure within me. Every single one of us has value. Most of us don’t hesitate to share those assets with others. But we need to remember that we deserve to benefit from our own experiential strength as well. Think of it as a gift from the past you.

And oh, what a gift it is!

A big thanks to StoryCorps for inspiring this blog and my first book.


“Old clock. No longer works.”

Recently, someone sent me a postcard with the image of a gorgeous, ornate, antique clock. I love clocks. The caption didn’t include its location. It simply said, “Old clock. No longer works.”

I bet that was written by a young person.

Our society places entirely too much value on functionality these days. Some things, like beautiful old clocks, are still worthy of existence even if they are no longer serving their original purpose. They can still be lovely to behold, they can still teach us about the past, they can remind us of more elegant times.

For example, I miss the cars that were manufactured long before we knew about aerodynamics, before all vehicles started to look generic. I love tail fins. I love running boards. I love hood ornaments. I’m glad these cars still exist, if only in museums. I’ll never forget the last tail fins I saw, as they crested a hill and relegated themselves to the past. Your average Toyota Camry just doesn’t evoke the same emotions in me.

This is true of human beings as well. We tend to warehouse and overlook our elderly. On some level, I know I’ll be devalued by this country if and when I have the opportunity to retire. I’ll no longer be contributing to the gross national product. I’ll have drastically reduced my consumption. I won’t be toting that barge and lifting that bale. I will have no understanding of current pop culture. (Well, that’s pretty much true already, but you get the idea.)

But I love talking to people with life experience. I enjoy hearing what certain periods in history were like from the point of view of someone who has actually been there. I love to hear stories. It’s fun to take a deep dive into the memories of other people. You never know where they will take you.

I’m not suggesting that you should become a hoarder and keep every paperclip you’ve ever owned. But try to see things (and people) for what they are in the here and now. Then, ask yourself if they still bring beauty into the world, in whatever form that beauty may take. Ask yourself if they still have something to teach.

I’ll take something that is unique over something that is functional any day.

Incidentally, the clock shown below is not the clock that sent me down this rabbit hole. Much to my chagrin I can’t find where I put that image. No, this one is the Prague Astronomical Clock, and according to Wikipedia, “The clock was first installed in 1410, making it the third-oldest astronomical clock in the world and the oldest clock still in operation.”

So again with the functionality! Even if this delightful clock ceases to function, I’d still think it was amazing.

I don’t plan to have a headstone, but if I did, I think “Old clock. No longer works.” would be a great engraving, if only to make people laugh and think.

Like this quirky little blog? Then you’ll enjoy my book!

What’s in a Name?

I was given the wrong name.

I have always felt as though I was given the wrong name. I don’t feel like a Barbara. I never have.

I think we should all have naming ceremonies as adults, and we should get to pick our own. You should have a birth name and a real name. Mine would be Serenity. But the way the culture is at present, if I tried to change it now, I’d be laughed at by everyone who knows me. I am resigned to my name.

Even better, our names should be our story. They should be added to with each passing year based on our traits and experiences. By the time we are 80, our full names should take hours to recite.

For example, You would have “Mary, who danced before she walked, who loves dogs, who shocked everyone by spelling O U T at age 2, who was Rudolph in her Christmas pageant…”  And so on, and so forth.

In a world like that, if someone said, “Tell me your name,” they would be indicating that they really wanted to know you well, and they’d settle in for the duration with a nice cup of tea. And telling your name would be a gift that you would only bestow upon those who you felt deserved to know the very core of you.

And after telling your story, you could say something like, “But call me Serenity, for short.”


Like this quirky little blog? Then You’ll love my book!


Put down Your Baggage

I genuinely believe that we increase in value over time.

A friend of mine told me recently that it’s really hard to find love later in life because we all accumulate so much baggage. Well, yeah, if you choose to look at it that way.

Personally, I’ve always hated the term “baggage”. It implies that as we go through life, we take on an ever-increasing amount of emotional burden that we can never shed, and it eventually weighs us down to a debilitating degree. Why not call it “life experience” or “lessons learned”? That reframes the whole concept.

Instead of being crushed under an unbearable weight, you are instead strengthened. As opposed to being less than desirable, you come with skills. Rather than being someone to avoid, you become someone with a lot of interesting stories to tell.

I genuinely believe that we increase in value over time. Remember, whatever coping skills you’ve acquired, even if they’re not ideal, have gotten you here. You’ve survived. And that is a fantastic achievement. High five!

It’s amazing what an attitude adjustment can do.

emotional baggage

An attitude of gratitude is what you need to get along. Read my book!


The Laws of Attraction

Just a few minutes ago I saw a gorgeous man, and I thought, “Yummy.” But then came the inevitable realization that I’m old enough to be his mother. I guess I always assumed that as I aged, my taste in men would age, too. Well… yes and no.

In terms of pure physical attraction, is it all that unusual that someone who is healthy and fit would appeal to me? Are you kidding? An athletic 25 year old is pure eye candy, and that feeds my spirit.

But would I ever act on this attraction? Not in a million, billion years. First of all, I wouldn’t enjoy the look of horror when it dawned on the guy that he was being hit on by a fat old 50 year old. Second, and this is the funny thing about the laws of attraction: my desire for the guy would surely pop like a soap bubble the moment he opened his mouth.

That’s because the older you get, the more you discover that attraction goes way beyond the physical. It’s a rare 25 year old who would have enough life experience to mentally stimulate me. Our frames of reference wouldn’t even be hanging in the same building, let alone on the same wall.

So in terms of long-standing chemistry, I’ll take a guy my age any day. Sure, he probably has more scars, but that means he has interesting stories to tell. Yup, he might have a paunch, but that only means I’ll be less self-conscious of my own. And when you can relate on many levels, you can have one high-rise of a relationship!

But that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop thinking, “Yummy” when I see those 25 year olds. I may be old and fat, but I’m not dead.

[Image credit:]
[Image credit:]

The Thing About IQ

I know a boy who despairs because his IQ isn’t as high as he’d like it to be. He thinks he’s doomed to failure. He thinks he’s stupid.

I heard in passing on NPR today (sorry, couldn’t tell you who said it or on which program) that IQ is not as good an indicator of academic success as discipline is. Someone who has a lower IQ and perseveres, gets his or her assignments done on time, and doesn’t put off studying ‘til the last minute is bound to do well. So, boys and girls, don’t let that IQ number get you down.

The reason I feel comfortable even discussing this without an adequate citation is that I’ve seen it with my own eyes. I’ve seen people struggle and plug away at various disciplines and come out on top because they really apply themselves. Their success is hard-won, but it’s still success. I’ve also seen people with genius IQs fail miserably in the working world because they may know their stuff, but they are incapable of communicating with others.

I truly believe that it’s much more important to be well-rounded than it is to be at the top of some arbitrary scale. I’m much more impressed with someone who has a lot of life experience than I am with someone who is so high up in his ivory tower that he cannot see the landscape.

So live your life. Take advantage of any opportunity for a new experience that comes your way. And most of all, don’t let some number dictate who you are or who you can be.


[Image credit:]