Twinkle Lights

twinkle-treeIt’s what Christmas lights do for me, they twinkle.  I especially like the small, white lights on my tree or front porch, or in the wreaths that hang on our windows and doors.  My husband, on the other hand, likes colored lights but tolerates my need for the holidays to be filled with all that twinkles. (Today’s thank you to him!)

I think white lights show off the tree and the ornaments better than anything else.  Just take a look at this picture!  Too much color would just compete with the many shapes and shades of what hangs on the branches or gets tucked further into the branch as a hidden treasure.  Even after the tree is decorated, I like to go back and take a close look at what I’ve previously placed—moving things if necessary or because the mood has changed since it was first hung.  I try to make sure that special ornaments have at least one of the twinkling whites nearby to draw attention to it.

My favorite thing about the Christmas season, twinkle lights!  (By the way, as of today, there are 108 days until Christmas!)

Bloggers Who Twinkle

I Got Skills!

keep-calm-i-got-skillsMad skills. Crazy good skills. Skills that help other people. Skills that I’ve really enjoyed developing over the course of my life so far. Am I a master at any one of them? I’m not sure I’d call myself a master of any of them; although there are a few that I so thoroughly enjoy, that maybe one day I’ll be referred to as an expert.

If I could choose to be a master of any skill in the world, and one I do so enjoy, it’s public speaking. I know that for most people having to get up in front of a group causes nausea, sweating, memory lapses, hyperventilation; all kinds of reactions! Regardless of the size of the group or whether or not the group members are known to the speaker, it is documented as one of the biggest fears of a human being.

After I make any sort of presentation I’m asked, “How do you do that?” “Were you nervous?” “You make it look so easy!”

I learned very early on, in fifth grade actually (thanks, Mrs. Fontana), that the key to speaking in public is to be prepared! That means, know your “lines” and practice, practice, practice. It helps too, if you’re somewhat passionate and excited about what you’re doing. There are any number of life hacks (tips for how to do something difficult, more easily) on-line for how to speak in public. Just Google and you’ll have pages of ideas and suggestions for overcoming your fear, some of them are quite good. But I’ll go back to the advice from my fifth grade teacher every time: know our lines and practice, practice, practice.

Today’s thanks goes out not only to Mrs. Fontana, but to everyone who has given me the opportunity to practice!

Other Bloggers With Skills:

Jack of All Trades, Master of None

If you could choose to be a master (or mistress) of any skill in the world, which skill would you pick?

I tend to think of myself as a jack of all trades and master of none, as the saying goes; often calling myself a “generalist” in my work life.  I know a little bit about a lot of things, making me an ideal candidate for Jeopardy, but I haven’t taken the test yet (although I often know more than the players I watch on the show every night).

expertBeing an expert in any one skill is not appealing to me.  The focus and dedication it takes to become THE go-to person in the world is remarkable, but can you imagine living with that kind of pressure?  I’m not interested.   I enjoy the fact that I know how to do a variety of things:  to cook and sew and write and use a particular computer program and speak in public without peeing myself.  Somewhere very early in my career I recall someone telling me, “The more you know how to do, the more opportunity you’ll find.”  I’ve taken that to heart.

triviaI also enjoy knowing the bunch of fun facts and tidbits that make for a rousing game of Trivial Pursuit.  I imagine though, being the master of a skill could come with extreme expectations and rewards.  So, for the masters of skill in science and technology and education and culinary arts and the myriad others in the world, thank you.  Without you our lives would be, and have been, dramatically different.

“Master” Bloggers:

This One is Definitely Inspired

My friend Betsy is most certainly living an inspired life!  When I first met her in 1989, I knew she was amazing  when she came running into my office to show me her new tattoo.  I’m not sure she knew just how amazing her life would become as a mom, wife, business owner, entrepreneur.  I love when her posts show up in my Facebook newsfeed!  Rarely is there a negative word or complaint, it’s so refreshing!

Here’s her Facebook post from the other day, and a link to her blog she totally rocks!  My hope for my blog this year is to be as inspiring as Betsy!

betsy inspired

Posts I Liked Today:

My Purpose

To Change a Life

Mission Statement – Or What The Hell Is This Blog About?

Blogging and Peace

Motivation vs. Inspiration

When I was in graduate school one of my advisors would drop little gems into his lectures, some of which have stuck with me twenty-plus yrs later.  One of my favorites, and I can’t recall who he had cited when he mentioned it, was “there’s a big difference between motivation and inspiration.”  Motivation, he said, is something that you have to find or do every day; to lose weight, start or finish a project, clean out the bedrooms that the grandchildren lived in when they were with us…the list could go on.

iInspiration on the other hand, well, that’s something that’s been far more elusive for me in 2014. As my college professor put it, inspiration comes from a very different place.  You don’t need to find it over and over again from somewhere else.  It comes from that still small voice inside; the one we hear when we’re looking at art, or listening to fantastic music or kids laughing, or when we’re sitting alone quietly.

Sometimes we’re inspired by something outside of ourselves, but really, it is that inner voice that is giving us the kick in the pants.  Starting today, the first day of this year, I’ve decided to try my hand at living a more inspired life.  I will take the time to sit and listen and then, to act on what I hear.

In my daily thank you’s this year you’ll see a focus on Inspiration, let me know what you think.

Happy New Year!

Inspired Bloggers

Back to Work on Monday

I love when I find something on in my news feed on Facebook that speaks to the thoughts running through my head.  I’m headed back to my workplace tomorrow after being out for a month.  I enjoy my work and am looking forward to returning and doing those parts of it that a I really love–helping people!


Sunday Night Blues, Monday Morning Motivation:

The Post That Started It ALL!

I originally posted this as the first entry of my year-long crusade to thank someone every day.  Tomorrow will be my last post, and I’m still working on it!  Please enjoy this one today; I can hardly believe how quickly this year has gone by!


The idea for this blog has rumbled in my head even since before blogs existed. I’ve often thought of the many people who come in and out of my life. I’ve been taught to sing, read, cook, teach, type, see, care, love, risk, fear, and many other things along the way. About 4 years ago I had the chance to thank one of those people in person. My 5th grade teacher!

Mrs. Fontana

She was awesome and we, her small class of about 20 students, were awestruck. Strict? Yes! Caring? Yes! She wanted what was best for each of us. Pushed us to try harder, to do things that made us each believe we could do more!

My husband and I were out to dinner at our favorite restaurant, D. Carlo’s, a nice, low-key place where you could sit for hours and eat and drink some of the best Italian food I’ve ever had–which is a story for another day. There I sat with my husband, celebrating our anniversary, when in walked a party of four. An older and younger couple, clearly related to one another, and sitting just a few tables away. The older couple, regal and striking, heads held high and an air of deliberateness in their stride. I said to my husband, “I think that’s my fifth grade teacher.” He didn’t believe me at first, how could I possibly remember who I had in the fifth grade. Well, I remember all of my teachers from elementary school, I told him.

But how did I know it was her? Well, Mrs. Fontana played the piano for us, mostly it was a Friday afternoon treat, but sometimes we could talk her into a command performance if we were particularly well-behaved that day. The year I was lucky enough to be in her class she decided that we would do a school play. Lots of music, terrific songs from well know shows and movies like the Flower Drum Song, Mame and Meet Me in St. Louis.

Mrs. Fontana played the piano that stood in the classroom. We’d stand near, as each of us jockeyed to get a good view of her and to be as close as we could to the music. Her long fingers breezed over the keys and would only come down hard on them when she was trying to get our attention. It was her fingers that I remembered most. She had two rings on them. One, her wedding ring; the other, one that looked like a paint brush stroke around her finger. I don’t entirely remember if it was gold or silver.

I said to my husband, I’m sure: it’s her! Look, her fingers. There’s the ring I remember. I excused myself from my husband and told him I had to speak to her, to say “thank you”.

I approached the table, asking pardon for my interruption, but was she, in fact, Mrs. Fontana. Before I even had the entire question completed, she said, “Kelly?” Can you imagine! Five of the eight kids in my family had her for a teacher and she remembered me!

She made me sing a solo that year; more than one I think. I told her that, had I not been pushed to do something as uncomfortable as singing “I Enjoy Being a Girl, I probably would not be able to do the public speaking I do today. I told her that I had to thank her, that without having her as a teacher I’m not sure I’d be where I am today!

As we left the restaurant, I was thrilled I had the chance to have said “Thank you” to my teacher. It is a moment, that without sounding to cliché, I don’t think I will ever forget!