Imitation is NOT a Dirty Word (it isn’t even four letters)

This is the Day 11 Prompt of the #Trust30 challenge.

Day 1 Challenge | Fabian Kruse | Divine Idea

Imitation is Suicide. Insist on yourself; never imitate. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Write down in which areas of your life you have to overcome these suicidal tendencies of imitation, and how you can transform them into a newborn you – one that doesn’t hide its uniqueness, but thrives on it. There is a “divine idea which each of us represents” – which is yours?

Ok. I am trying really hard to pull the positive intention out of today’s thought. With all due respect to Fabian, I am just over this whole idea. Sometimes hyperbole can be taken too far. This, in my opinion, is one of those times.

Suicidal tendencies…never imitate…really? Sounds a bit…much to me.

Understand, while I do not have the pleasure of knowing him, I can tell by Fabian’s work at The Friendly Anarchist that there are many things we would agree on, some we would not, and some that would just have to be sorted out due to semantics. I think this one may be semantics, but I cannot be sure. So, I will do my best to articulate my point of view.

First, the word “unique” is a can of worms all by itself. According to Merriam Webster, the history of the word “unique” has been a challenged one. It contains in its various meanings both the properties of being sole and without like to distinctively characteristic and unusual. The original definition was found to be “affected and useless.” The word did not come back into popular usage until the latter definition allowed for a greater appropriateness of use.

Therefore being “unique” does not require that you be “sole.” (I feel the urge to now draw a comparison with the word “soul,” but I will spare you the self-indulgence.) “Unique” is simply “distinctive.” And I can assure you, thankfully, there are other pots out there just as cracked as you or I.

Imitation, in and of itself, is not a terrible thing. It is how we teach our children, learn different abilities, get comfortable with new tasks – we imitate those before us. Even when we are breaking out of the box, we are employing tactics of box breaking that have been used before. Since we were a minute and a half old, we cease to ever be able to operate on a wholly blank slate. We are a product of those things we know to have gone before us. Whether we operate in support of or in rebellion against a previous example, we cannot deny the influence of that example.

Representing that divine idea in my authentic self does not require that I push off the positive influences and examples provided by others. I am appreciative of the model to follow, the lessons learned thereby avoiding mistakes already made for a host of new ones I will make myself.

So, I will continue imitating where I feel it is useful and appropriated without fear or guilt of others believing that I am suicidal or in some other way deficient on my own two feet. I am, in actuality, confident enough to appreciate the wealth of ability in both myself and you. Teach me a better way and I will imitate it – and buy you lunch for your ingenuity and willingness to share.

**Photo credit by  David M. Goehring

Yeah, We Got It – You Can Get Belligerent : #trust30 Challenge

This is the Day 10 Prompt of the #Trust30 challenge.

This is the second #trust30 post at MLWFY. You can find an explanation for Day 7 and the post for Day 8 over at My Beautiful Chaos. Day 9 was Tweeted.

Day 10 Challenge | Eric Handler | Your Personal Message

To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men, that is genius. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

What is burning deep inside of you? If you could spread your personal message RIGHT NOW to 1 million people, what would you say?

I understand that being a media junkie can have a negative effect on one’s personal outlook. Oh well – I will just have to remain vigilant. I am an information junkie. I am always on the lookout for a new story, a new view, a new blog, new method, whatever – well, at least new to me.

Living with immediate access to internet and a 24 hour news cycle, this is an easy monkey to feed. But the personal outlook assault is a very real danger. I am not going to name drop those who I feel to be the first offenders – you already know who they are. They never show up to promote anything. But man, they are always looking to tear something down – bashing, fighting, condescending, insulting, slandering, disrespecting, offending. Never mind that they do more to fuel separation, constrain ideas and stunt progress – they just continue to rip away. Nice – that works, we should keep doing that (sarcasm intentional).

I will be the first to admit that there are things that I don’t like I have no problem naming them – The sexualization of today’s children (namely girls) being on top of the list. Ask most people who know me if I can be a snarky smart…well you know…and they will laugh and say, “duh!” I am opinionated and passionate. I believe in a right and a wrong and understand that the gray has to be muddled through. I understand that injustices must be named in order to be righted.

I get it – you can be belligerent. But can you be benevolent?

It makes me nervous when I realize I am dealing with a person about whom I am not sure of the answer. I tend to disassociate when I realize the answer is “no.”

Now, I will name drop. The wrongs of the world are a fact of life. Wasting time and energy raging against their existence is futile – not to mention soul sucking. These folks know that things can be better. They have decided to spend time and energy doing that. The wrongs of the world stir the belligerent in their soul. The goodness of their hearts harnesses that energy into positive creation. And isn’t that the highest and best use of our energy – not to mention soul filling?

Mothers Fighting for Others – Yes, I will mention them as often as I can. This group of fighters saw the injustice. They chose to focus on creating an environment of love, support and empowerment.  Can we rage against the injustice that brought these children to this place? Sure. But what about these children? They need light now – and that’s what MFFO provides. A light, a love, a hope.

What I want for them is simple. I want them to feel loved. I want them to feel safe and secure. I want them to go to school and grow up to be great women. What I want for them is what their Mothers would have wanted. That is it. It’s that simple.

Creative Coast – Those who don’t know Savannah wouldn’t believe half of it if we told you. Like any family, we have our issues – we are working on that. Creative Coast has done amazing things in feeding the diversity and beauty of our beautiful city. The mission statement reads:

To nurture the members of the Savannah community engaged in creative or innovative endeavors and to cultivate an environment in which they can thrive.

Nurture, cultivate, thrive – seriously? How can that NOT be exponentially more effective that continually attempting to condescend and destroy?

Dinner: A Love Story – I love to cook. I have a big family, a big job and little unscheduled time. Some days, getting dinner on the table from something other than a bag or a box might as well be as challenging as milking the cow, churning the butter, killing the chicken and picking the vegetables. But I want to. Lots of us want to.

Meet Jenny Rosenstrach. This chick gets it

DALS is a website devoted (mostly) to helping parents figure out how to get family dinner on the table. You can assume I know how busy you are and how many other things are ahead of “thaw chicken for dinner” on today’s to-do list. I will never fault you for firing up a frozen pizza when you can’t bear to turn on the stove. I will never judge you for not coughing up the extra bucks for the organic broccoli. And I will never promise you that family dinner is something that can be figured out in five easy steps!

Yeah, she could belittle parents like me as parasites attempting to kill the children we secretly loathe. Curse us working moms who put career ahead of family. That would mostly certainly encourage me to listen to anything she has to say, right! Yeah, right after I daydreamed about punching her in neck, I would go find some other cooking momma to appreciate.

TED – Hands down, this group is the best example of building up instead of tearing down. Will TED call out wrongs? You bet they will. Do all the TED folks agree with each other? Nope. Do I agree with every TED idea? Haha – for certain not. But agreement is not necessary for meaningful discussion of ideas. Sharing a value of mutual respect is. And these folks have that crafted to an art. From the website and repeated on their facebook page:

TED believes passionately in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and ultimately, the world. So TED is building a clearinghouse of knowledge and inspiration from the world’s most inspired thinkers, and also a community of curious souls to engage with ideas and each other.

Want to get belligerent – fantastic. Can’t wait to hear how that works out for you.

Want to do the really work of benevolence – fantastic. There is certain to be some effectual influence you are going to be proud of.

**Photo credit by Nancy McClure

5 Years, Give or Take : #trust30 Challenge

This is the Day 8 Prompt of the #Trust30 challenge. You didn’t miss Day 6…you can find it on MLWFY. And Day 7…well, I just decided not to do that one. You can see some of my reasoning here. Now on to Day 8…even if it is a tad bit late…

Day 8 Challenge | Corbett Barr | Five Years

There will be an agreement in whatever variety of actions, so they be each honest and natural in their hour. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

What would you say to the person you were five years ago? What will you say to the person you’ll be in five years?

It is interesting that I am asked at this time to reflect back and have a conversation with 2006 April. June 2006 – I was getting ready to turn 30. I was enjoying my final days as a United States Sailor. I had just delivered my third daughter. Change was coming and I was excited.

I had spent so much time away from my family during my last sea duty tour, that I was certain that a stay at home mom gig was in my near future. Once the paydays stopped, the cherrios got sticky and my adult conversation went to nil…I realized I had misjudged my calling (God Bless those moms…I just can’t imagine). I needed a job outside of the home.

So, it was time to job hunt…with a four month old baby, two other children who needed my attention, limited experience outside of the military and a strong desire for a flexible schedule…and did I mention, I had just found out that I was pregnant – again.

In those moments, it is hard to keep your bearings. Imagined pitfalls lurk around every comer. Every mistake or tough choice you ever made comes back to reintroduce themselves. The warrior takes a vacation and the witch voice clocks in some overtime. Oh yeah – and there are the preggo hormones…great cocktail.

I look back at that girl now. I would love to be able to tell her 30 is awesome, babies are resilient, you are way cooler than you think you are, nothing is as scary as you perceive it to be, life is good, failures aren’t forever, your figure will not be shot, you will not starve, your electric will not get turned off, your warrior will return and kick the tar out of the witch – as soon as you decide it is time.

But I know there isn’t a whole lot I could have told that girl. She needed her own choices, her own lessons…but maybe it would have been nice for her to learn them a bit sooner – then again maybe not. Guess that’s why it is so important to love each day for what it is on its own merit. It brings and creates in its own special way. Without it just the way it is, something is lost, something is gained and nothing is the same.

Fast forward 5 years, I am turning 40…I would like to leave a post it that says simply

Other than that, I think she is gonna have it covered 🙂

The Warrior and The Butterfly : #trust30 Challenge

This is the Day 6 Prompt of the #Trust30 challenge.

While I believe the original idea was to have most of the posts in one location, I am tweaking. This is the first one here at MLWFY. There are quite a few over at My Beautiful Chaos, and they all get Tweeted.

I haven’t seen all the challenge prompts so I may not even publish all of them depending on the content. But, so far, it looks like fun and I appreciate Glad Doggett for turning me on to it.

Day 6 Challenge | Jonathan Mead | Come Alive

Life wastes itself while we are preparing to live. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

If you had one week left to live, would you still be doing what you’re doing now? In what areas of your life are you preparing to live? Take them off your To Do list and add them to a To Stop list. Resolve to only do what makes you come alive.

Bonus: How can your goals improve the present and not keep you in a perpetual “always something better” spiral?

I have made it a personal challenge to find balance between my inner butterfly and my inner warrior. Oh come on, you know what I am talking about. Those two sides of the personality – one all positive thinking, meditative and granola, the other boot straps, sweat, rolled sleeves and damning the torpedos.

While these two character attributes like each other fine, they initially had no interest in working together. They just didn’t see the benefit. The approaches were just too different and it seemed like one had to be wrong for any situation the other was right for. They just took turns and left me with the added anxiety of choosing which was better suited for a particular task.

It was a joyous day when all parties involved learned the beautiful ways in which the warrior and the butterfly could work together to make my life easier.

It is true that some things just “gotta get done.” I have responsibilities that I have offered to others, bills to pay, children to feed, needs to fill – the warrior is required to “handle it” when it needs to be handle – regardless of whether it makes the butterfly dance in the sun. The butterfly, however, can remind the warrior of the beauty in all things – even when it is’t fun or downright unfortunate. She can encourage and strengthen and remind the warrior that the work of the strong is good – if it was easy, everybody would do it and this makes us special.

It is true that connection with our inner self, our center, our core, is so very important. My butterfly is instrumental in keeping my compass pointed at my true north, reaching in and listening to the still, small voice, slowing me down to evaluate whether choices are in line with my personal mission – even if the warrior is loaded for bear insisting that an okay plan today is better than a great plan tomorrow. The warrior does stand at the ready. The strength and determination allows the butterfly to feel free to fly as high as she would like, dream big, jump high, take risks – all the while knowing that the warrior is prepared to lend her strength to any task that may arise.

I have today, it honors my yesterday and prepares my tomorrow while giving me purpose in the present. I can meet whatever it brings. There is nothing better.

**Photo Credit to Pan

Mother’s Fighting for Others : #trust30 Challenge

Day 5 Challenge | Chris Guillebeau | Travel

If we live truly, we shall see truly. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Not everyone wants to travel the world, but most people can identify at least one place in the world they’d like to visit before they die. Where is that place for you, and what will you do to make sure you get there?

Here is the background, in case there are things about me you don’t know

  • I do not believe in coincidences
  • Children are my passion
  • I will do what I can with what I have – even if it doesn’t feel like enough
  • “Go big or go home” seems like an understatement to me

The prompting for me to tell the following story seems to be coming up with increasing regularity over the past 2 months. Where that is heading, I don’t know. But, the purpose is strong and good – so allow me to tell it again.

I had the amazing fortune of meeting Jeff Turner some years ago. First online, then at a conference. I would hope that he would agree that the relationship is a good one. I admire Jeff and find his brain quirky  fascinating.

Between my family and Jeff’s, there are 10 children. That gives two people a good bit to talk about. Jeff began to tell me about his wife, Rocky. I was instantly intrigued. This beautifully strong woman has a purpose on this planet and it resonated in my heart.

As if wifing one man and mothering six children weren’t enough, Rocky decided no child should be left to fend for themselves, motherless. After a volunteer trip to Kenya, Rocky envisioned Mother’s Fighting for Others.

The mission statement is direct

Mothers Fighting For Others provides orphaned girls with a loving and nurturing environment and a quality education, so they can learn, thrive and achieve their highest potential.

And this thought from Rocky brings tears to my eyes every time

What I want for them is simple. I want them to feel loved. I want them to feel safe and secure. I want them to go to school and grow up to be great women. What I want for them is what their Mothers would have wanted. That is it. It’s that simple.

It is impossible for me to give Rocky all the support she needs, but I know I can do something – even if it is just a small thing. I can tell you. I don’t know if this mission resonates with you. But I do know, if it does, no thing you do in support of it is too small. A prayer, a donation, telling others, encouragement, support – there are lots of things we can do even when we feel like we can do nothing.

It is my goal to travel to meet Rocky’s girls and introduce them to my girls. As a sister and as a mother of sisters, that bond is amazing. I hope to give that type of support to Rocky, help her Mother her girls, teach my children the beauty of relationship outside the normal ideals, that we are all family.

I am also hopeful that I have reached one person – or 20! – that has been moved to do that one thing, whatever that one thing may be. No one person can do all things – but each can do something.

This is the Day 5 Prompt of the #Trust30 challenge

Get Outta My Way : #trust30 Challenge

Day 4 Challenge | Jenny Blake | Post-it Question

That which each can do best, none but his Maker can teach him. Where is the master who could have taught Shakespeare? Where is the master who could have instructed Franklin, or Washington, or Bacon, or Newton? . . . Shakespeare will never be made by the study of Shakespeare. Do that which is assigned you, and you cannot hope too much or dare too much. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Identify one of your biggest challenges at the moment (ie I don’t feel passionate about my work) and turn it into a question (ie How can I do work I’m passionate about?) Write it on a post-it and put it up on your bathroom mirror or the back of your front door. After 48-hours, journal what answers came up for you and be sure to evaluate them.

Forget a question – I have a statement to make (hahaha ~ I heard you say “What else is new?” You guys just think you are soooo funny.)

I stay in my own way. Up in my head, psyching myself out, declaring obvious defeat so I don’t even bother to wage the battle. I swear there are at least 4 of me that live in this one skin…and one of these ladies must be a Yankee cause she is crazy! Oh come on…you know I kid, I kid 🙂 I love all of my lady warriors ~ regardless of geography!

Seriously though, I have a witch of a voice and for whatever reason, she gets way more air time than she deserves.  And I am not asking her anything – there are no discussions to be had, deals to be made, points to ponder. I am telling her…


This is the Day 4 Prompt of the #Trust30 challenge

Beliefs : #trust30 Challenge

This is the Day 3 Prompt of the #Trust30 challenge. You didn’t miss Day 2 ~ that one was on twitter.

Day 3 Challenge | Buster Benson | One Strong Belief

It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude. – Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self-Reliance

The world is powered by passionate people, powerful ideas, and fearless action. What’s one strong belief you possess that isn’t shared by your closest friends or family? What inspires this belief, and what have you done to actively live it?

The hardest part about this beginning is the caveat “that isn’t shared…”

Because my strong belief is that their shared value is irrelevant. I mean, it’s nice to have those who agree and support. But that cannot be the defining reason for holding (or not holding) a belief.

Beliefs, by nature are amazingly personal things. They cannot be dictated or forced. They must be freely held and without coercion. If conformity or rebellion is a factor – it is no longer a belief but a statement.

I believe in

  • children
  • Cheetos
  • children with Cheetos
  • God
  • social liberalism
  • political and fiscal conservatism
  • pool days
  • The Constitution
  • The Cat in the Hat
  • my purposefulness
  • your purposefulness
  • naps in the sun
  • coffee
  • life
  • choices
  • consequences
  • words
  • hugs

I believe that my list is incomplete. I believe it can be different tomorrow. I believe that I am a complex, simple, conflicted, in line, normally different dynamic woman. I believe I am ok with that. I believe I appreciate it if you are too – and ok if you aren’t. We all have our difference – I believe that too.

**Big Thanks to Kristy Darby. Her post on today’s topic was encouraging and beautiful.**

Here and There : #trust30 Challenge

This is the Day 1 Prompt of the #Trust30 challenge. While I believe the original idea was to have most of the posts in one location, I can’t promise that. You may find some here, some at Making Life Work for You, Twitter, who knows. I haven’t seen all the challenge prompts so I may not even publish all of them depending on the content. But, so far, it looks like fun and I appreciate Glad Doggett for turning me on to it.

Day 1 Challenge | Gwen Bell | 15 Minutes to Live

We are afraid of truth, afraid of fortune, afraid of death, and afraid of each other. Our age yields no great and perfect persons. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

You just discovered you have fifteen minutes to live.

1. Set a timer for fifteen minutes.
2. Write the story that has to be written.

I am a happier person than I often allow myself to be. I am grateful that it is, in all probably, not my last 15 minutes on earth. Because it is not, I think it is a good idea to repeat that first sentence.

I am a happier person than I often allow myself to be.

I am a blessed woman. Handsome husband, four beautiful children, mom, pops, sisters, family, comfortable home, great pets, awesome job, productive hobbies. Seriously, where is the despair in that?

Honestly, despair is, among other things, chemical and relative. I believe I am cognitive enough to handle the chemical. It’s the relative that I need to be more mindful of.

Because this is not my last 15 minutes, the story here is pregnant with possibility. However, there is no story, no pregnant, no possibility, without full focus in the now.

The thought attempting to take shape in my mind is, so often we focus on getting “to there” where ever “there” is. In that task, we forget how to live here, in the now. The rub of that is, once we get to “there” we won’t know how to live in that either.

So doesn’t it make sense to live in the now, focus here. Enjoy the things we have created while still continuing to build the dream. Then “there” will always be “here” and we have found the way to consistently live in our integrity and purpose.

Hmmmm…story needs some work. I hope you followed at least some of it. It worked for me on this day…and sometimes that just has to be enough.