Saturday, August 31, 2013

special blog mention

I’ve mentioned a lot of people in this blog over the years – some of them in passing, some who were the focal point of a particular story, sometimes to honor the memory of those who passed on. There’s been talk of celebrities, assorted public figures, and politicians. But this blog is a special one, daring to name names and point fingers – at those who have championed a dream of mine in such a way that they are making its reality possible.

I have previously talked about the struggles and growth that crowd funding provided me. But now I get to celebrate those who volunteered to take this journey with me, cheer me on, and invest in the merits of The Gratitude Project.

When I looked at the list of who, solely based on the designated perk level, garnered the special mention, I was utterly delighted, but not entirely surprised.

They say “you gotta have friends,” and mine have completely overwhelmed me with their love and support.

When I was in high school, I sang in an All-City Chorus gathered from all the high schools in my town. It was there I was paired with another singer to do a duet from Showboat. His name is Anthony Barone. I don’t think we could have conceived of then, in our wildest imaginations, that our singing would turn into a friendship that would see us through countless miles and adventures, and years, and shows, miscellaneous jobs, shared Christmases, family dinners, birthdays, the loss of parents, you name it – we’ve gone through it together. I even got ordained to officiate at his wedding…which brings me to Renato Rufino.

It is not often that you share the same depth of friendship with the spouse of a friend as you do with your original friend, but then again, most people are not Renato. Sure, we’ve been known to share a love of perusing touristy knickknacks that defies most people’s logic as well as stamina, but this alone does not a friendship make. And sure, he can cook better than five TV chefs combined, but that’s nothing compared to knowing that you can count on someone when you really need them.

So yes, it’s my pleasure to publicly thank Anthony and Renato for, among many, many things, supporting this project and me. (I’d also like to thank them for helping dig and push the car out of the snow that time in the city when dad was in the hospital. There was no acknowledgement box to check for that one, but it really does deserve a mention.)

There are moments indelibly etched in our memories, and such was the first time I met Alisa Swerdlove. We lived in dorm rooms across from each other my freshman year at Northwestern, and we would later become roommates and lifelong friends. Alisa has the dubious distinction of knowing way too much about me and using that to tease me mercilessly in the hopes that I will take myself less seriously. (You’d think she’d learn after 30 years that this hasn’t worked, but you gotta love her for trying.) Plus, she’s tasked with the almost daily chore of talking me down from the ledge. So when there’s a completed CD at the end of this project, you can all send her a lovely bouquet of flowers.

And just to prove that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree in the kind and generous department, I get to thank Carole Swerdlove, Alisa’s mom, also a big supporter of mine. The multitude of roles Carole has played in my life spans a wide spectrum. I’ve been the recipient of sound dating advice, a lovely bejeweled sweater and cardigan set, a hilarious clarifying definition of the difference between “funny” and “humorous,” and a career pep talk not that long ago that went something like this – “Ilene, you’re not chopped liver, you know.” Needless to say, my affection for Carole Swerdlove is immense, and I’m glad I get to say so here.

Some people come into our lives without much fanfare. They are friendships cultivated over time, deepening with age and life paths, until it is hard to remember before they existed. Such is the case with my friendship with Tanya Leah and Arnie Roman.

And before I go any further, it was when I was having a hard day, that my friend Tanya uttered the most pivotal sentiment to this project. It went something like this: “Do you really want to be on your deathbed saying, ‘I should’ve made that fucking album?’” And so here we are, boys and girls, because the answer to that was, um, no.

I could extol, both individually and combined, the geniuses that are Tanya and Arnie, but aside from their ridiculous multitude of talents, both musical and otherwise, who they are to me is by far the greater gift – the refuge with heat and water during hurricane Sandy, the company keepers and bringers of dinner and a movie after surgery, fellow travelers who just can’t let that damn dream go while there’s still an ounce of life left in us, the people with whom there is never a superficial conversation, and yet, who share my delight at humor that involves saying the most absurd thing with a straight face. You will undoubtedly be hearing about them more as the project progresses and I post updates.

And now we move into the territory of family, starting with my beloved father, Marvin, the mild mannered accountant by trade, who tries to convince me almost daily that my songwriting skills somehow emanated from him. Shhh, I don’t want to burst his bubble, but I think I hear my mother cackling from the great beyond.

Having the support of my father for this project is not something I look at as an entitlement, but rather as a privilege and an honor not to be taken lightly. He has gotten a ringside seat these past few years to just what it is I do, and I think that, more than anything, has made him a champion of this cause. And for that I am profoundly grateful.

And then there was a band of Angels – literally – Don and Joanne Angel, Dan and Cindy Angel, and Jill and Michelle Angel, whose support truly overwhelms me and leaves me speechless…which, as you can tell from this blog, I seldom am.

There’s a saying that we choose our friends, not our relatives. But if I did have a choice, I’d pick this particular bunch of California Angels 250 times over. So if I haven’t said it enough, I treasure the joy-filled and far-too-infrequent time together, the conversations, the laughs, the shared sense of excitement about all of our new projects, the ways in which you’ve already been instrumental in my past successes and have stepped up to see that this, too, will thrive. There aren’t words or hugs huge enough.

It is not a far leap to imagine that family and friends will support a project like The Gratitude Project, but strangers? Complete strangers donating beyond generously? Well, that just takes a certain kind of soul.

Enter Doug and Lynne Morgan, people whom I’ve never met, don’t know, who don’t know me, don’t even know my music, by the way, but who nonetheless said yes in a huge way to The Gratitude Project.

Two members of the California Highway Patrol, Doug and Lynne have singlehandedly become the embodiment of faith realized for me. It is one thing to want to believe that this is a loving universe, that forces are conspiring for our good, that our noblest efforts will be supported if we but put ourselves out there, but it is quite another thing to see all that evidenced.

So Doug and Lynne, I hope I get to meet you one day soon and thank you in person, but for now, please know that the levels on which you’ve contributed go way beyond the monetary and are all very much appreciated.

Lastly, I want to thank my anonymous donors. Yes, there are one or more people who donated a nice chunk of change and didn’t want to be known or acknowledged for it. And to you I say, “Thank you…for making me eight kinds of crazy with that.” Really, no name? Why? What would be the harm in my knowing, I ask you. So I decided to give my anonymous donors my own pet name, which is…nope. Not gonna tell you. Two can dance this dance. But rest assured, it makes me smile and giggle ever so slightly.

No, really lastly, to all of you who donated any amount whatsoever to The Gratitude Project, thank you. And thanks for stopping by today. Please tell your friends.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

a Saturday night gig with too much caffeine

So last night, I had the chance to play the Storefront Acoustic concert series again with my buddy, Garry Novikoff and the lovely Beth Zucker, whom I’d never met before.

Truth be told, I like playing intimate settings like this coffee and tea boutique. And I’ve done it so many times that I don’t stress about it and I have a really good time…so the audience usually does, too. The thing is last night, though no one knew it, a few other things were going on for me. And I, who feel it my duty to share with you, my beloved blog readers, the behind the scenes scoop, will relive it for you now.

I had a brutal migraine all day and I was trying out a new medication that wasn’t really working all that well, so I took over the counter stuff in addition to the prescription medication, because I had a show to do, darn it. (That’s me, always thinking of the audience.) So I got there in time as opposed to on time. And the first obvious thing was the air conditioning wasn’t working. I won’t even talk about the fact that I remembered to change my t-shirt to a performance top but forgot to change out of the flip flops. Fortunately, they had rhinestones, so I decided to call it a fashion statement.

A word about my hair. I’ve spent all kinds of money buying all kinds of goop and apparatuses in order to get it to look straight and smooth and nicely coiffed. But when I’m sweating from head to toe in high humidity, there is nothing that will stop it from turning into a wild, curly, frizzy mess before your very eyes. It was a fantastic look with the flip flops.

So I went to sit behind Garry’s keyboard, nicely set up where it always is, and I forgot that at this particular venue, the floor is slanted where we play, so even though the audience doesn’t know it, I’m very aware that I’m lopsided and my equilibrium is challenged, because did I mention that I had a migraine and was medicated? No worries, though, because I’m a pro. I’m sure I won’t fall off the stool.

Being at a coffee shop with no AC, I ordered myself a large black iced coffee, figuring the caffeine might help the headache. At this point, really, could anything hurt? So I sat sipping in between numbers, not really giving forethought to the possibility of regretting that decision at, say, 2:30 a.m. when I’m still awake.

I get to what should be my next to last song, and the play list that is conveniently located inside my head for this particular gig is telling me the title of my closing song and my closing song only. Crap. What was the other song I was gonna sing here? Don’t know. Practiced it mere hours ago. Have played it three million times in my life. What was it, again? No idea. So I go with my closing song and decide that I will just have to think of another one to do on the fly after Garry and Beth have each played. No worries.

Beth is up next and she says, “I wish I could just sit here and listen to you play all night, Ilene.” So sweet. Very complimentary. Except I can’t even remember the titles of the songs I’m supposed to be playing.

So Garry and Beth continue on in the round, during which time a childhood friend of mine who has never heard me perform comes in with her daughter. I’ve got one song left – a closing number. I finally remember the song I forgot to play earlier. It’s possibly the saddest thing I’ve written. You can’t close with a sad ballad. That would be performance suicide. I momentarily weigh whether I care or not about committing professional suicide, and I decide I do.

I ask Garry if I could possibly do two more songs, since my friend wandered in and she’s never heard me. He’s totally fine with it. I did the sad one, followed by an uplifting, leave-‘em-on-a-positive note closing song. Crisis averted.

The show ends. It was a resounding success, as determined by the sale of two CD’s. No one knows my pained expression all night was anything other than expressive emoting.

I visit with my childhood friend afterwards, who is Orthodox, by the way, and has decided that she must fix me up with the Orthodox Jewish guy who lives down the street from me, because we have this wonderful and unique thing in common – we’re both single. I do not have the heart or the strength to tell her that I eat BLT’s, have no intention of wearing a wig, and have expanded my spiritual beliefs and practices to include things that would surely make her sit shiva for me. Her heart’s in the right place, so this is a discussion that will have to wait for another day…unless she happens to read this blog….in which case the cat’s out of the bag and there’s really nothing I can do about it.

I hope you are having a great weekend. Thanks for stopping by. And please tell your friends.

Friday, August 23, 2013

as the finish line approaches...

Well, boys and girls, we are finally in the home stretch of The Gratitude Project funding campaign. No, really, this time we are!!!

Though it seems like I can barely remember life before this thing began, we are a matter of hours away and the end is in sight. Rest assured that whatever the outcome with USA Projects is, this CD is moving forward, because in order to even begin a funding campaign of this kind, that was the decision that had to be made. It kind of reminds me of the pilot episode of The Newsroom, the title of which was “We Just Decided To.”

It is said that every journey begins with a single step, and this has been my first step in making the recording happen. I’m sure there will be many more to come, but the difference is I now take every step from here on out knowing that many, many people are accompanying me on the journey, cheering me on, and celebrating both the adventure as well as the end result of that adventure, which will be something very real and special.

I can’t wait to begin recording and to bring to fruition not only a dream, but something that can have the opportunity to make a positive impact.

To those of you who have supported The Gratitude Project, thank you does not even begin to encompass my level of appreciation. It is a humbling affirmation that this is indeed the right thing for me to be doing.

The clock is ticking, the hour is drawing near, and I can see the finish line…

Peace & blessings to you all,

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

a fond farewell to Sid Bernstein

There are pivotal moments and pivotal people in everyone’s lives, people who leave indelible impressions, sometimes knowingly, sometimes not, and our lives are forever altered because of them. So when someone like that passes, we are momentarily stopped in our tracks, forced to take a moment out of our otherwise too-busy day to pause and reflect.

Music business legend Sid Bernstein died today at the age of 95. Most accounts of his life and death will make mention of the things for which he was most well known – bringing the Beatles to this country, and breaking new ground both by booking the first rock band in Carnegie Hall and the first stadium concert of its kind with the Liverpool lads in Shea Stadium.

There might also be mention of his working with Jimi Hendrix, Judy Garland, the Rolling Stones, and a host of other huge names. And that’s impressive – the stuff legend is made of, in fact. But the truth is I’m not writing this because Sid Bernstein worked with them. I’m writing it because he worked with me…and scores of other young writers and artists over the years.

The first time I met Sid was in the late 1980’s. I played and sang a few of my songs for him in a small studio on the Upper West Side. He was kind with his words and generous with his time. And he must have liked something about what I played for him, because he immediately offered to set up a co-write for me with none other than Marvin Hamlisch.

I will tell you that though my co-write with Marvin Hamlisch never took place, the stamp of approval and vote of confidence given me by Sid Bernstein lasted, well, maybe to this day.

In the years that followed my first meeting with Sid, I would take a class he taught with music business manager, Bert Padell at The New School. It was simply called The Pop Music Business. I can tell you that the most useful nuggets of advice I’ve ever gotten about the music business came from both Sid and Bert’s personal experiences shared in that classroom.

Sid and I would meet for coffee sometimes before class, where we would talk shop, well, that is after he extolled the virtues of whatever pastry he happened to be eating at the bakery around the corner from the school. It wasn’t long before he invited me to be on his local New York City cable TV show, Sid Bernstein Presents, which I appeared on again and again.

When I look back now at the grainy images of those shows, I realize that Sid gave scores of young artists the opportunity to be heard. And we, in turn, gave Sid the thing that lit him up most – the chance to discover new talent and hear new music. His enthusiasm was palpable on the show, and he created a warm, welcoming environment for his guests.

As life progresses, people are bound to go their separate ways, perhaps never to reconnect again. Such was the case with Sid Bernstein and me. And as I received the news of his death today, I was saddened that I never got to tell him that, though it took me twenty years, I did ultimately have a #1 song that I penned on the charts, and now, so many years after having first met him, I’m finally making the record, The Gratitude Project, that I wanted to as a singer/songwriter.

I wish I had gotten the chance to tell Sid that I stayed on the roller coaster ride known as the music business, in no small part, because of the encouragement he gave me when I was young and it mattered most. I wish I had gotten the chance to say “thank you” to him one more time.

I’m sure there is a helluva concert going on in heaven tonight, and I’m certain that Sid is promoting it. Rest in peace, Sid Bernstein.


Me on Sid's show circa 1990


Saturday, August 17, 2013

My Birthday Blog!!!

It’s my birthday today, and birthdays always find me a bit reflective. But this year feels different, almost as if I’ve actually done some of what I said I’d do last year. Go figure. Well, it was bound to happen sooner or later.

So as I sift through the memories that comprise this past year, I am oh-so-thankful for so much. And since I believe we get more of what we focus on…

I am grateful for a year of good health.
I am grateful for family I love, both near and far.
I am grateful to have friends who know me, love me, and occasionally have to remind me who I am when I forget. (Not literally. Well, maybe once, after a few margaritas, but I’m mainly talking bigger picture here.)
I am grateful for times when I laughed until I cried.  
I am grateful for new friends.
I am grateful for all the ways in which I’ve grown.
I am grateful for all the times I’ve gotten to perform my songs for people this year and for all the new songs I’ve written.
I am grateful for waterproof eyeliner…cause I’m a crier. There, I said it. I’m also a hugger – a crier and a hugger. Sometimes at the same time. But only if I know you. (This is not to be confused with John Boehner, who is just a crier…and orange. But that’s neither here nor there.)
I am grateful for passion.
I am grateful for Aaron Sorkin and Jon Stewart. (Really, I am!)
I am grateful for all the goodness I’ve witnessed, for the kindness I’ve been shown, for the infinite array of possibilities that are there when I allow.
I am grateful for the amazing talents I get to work with, for the beautiful souls I encounter, for unexpected twists in the plotline of my life that turn out to be a better gift than I could have conjured on my own.
I am grateful for words and music that move and inspire me.
I am grateful for dreams that are coming to fruition.
I am grateful for Maui.
I am grateful for the chance to live another day, to make it count for something.
I am grateful for every person who has graced my life, touched my life, and enriched my life.
I am grateful for every person who has ever read this blog.
I am grateful for any impact I may have had on someone’s life for the better.
I am grateful for the chance each moment holds within it to start anew.
I am grateful for right now.
I am grateful to have reached this birthday and to have spent at least this piece of it with you.

With love and gratitude...

Thursday, August 15, 2013

1 more day to go!!!!

Well, tomorrow is the deadline for The Gratitude Project funding and I’m starting to sprint toward the finish line. So if you haven’t yet given, please do!! It would mean the world to me.

I have had so much support from so many wonderful people that it’s hard to wrap my brain around the immense love I’m feeling. With donation amounts starting at a dollar, this is a way of having everyone participate in the creation of something that will hopefully be larger than the sum of its parts.

On one level, it is affording me the opportunity to make a dream come true. And I do not take that lightly. But that dream is also about using whatever gifts I may have been given to be of service to others. I know firsthand that what I reach for when I am at my absolute lowest or highest is music – to keep me going, to comfort, to uplift, to motivate, and to inspire. And if anything I do on this project does that for someone else, then all the effort involved will have been worth it.

I know I’ve said it before in this blog, but we are not meant to go through this world and life alone. Every interaction is a chance to bless someone’s life. Every exchange is a chance to impact either positively or negatively. Who we choose to be and how we choose to show up is a decision made by us moment by moment. And no matter how badly we’ve screwed up in the past, every moment provides a new opportunity to show up differently now.

If I could pick the biggest gift of this crowd funding experience, it is that I have gotten to witness firsthand the truth of our interconnectedness. I’ll know as I move forward that I do not do so alone, that many, many people have my back, and that a dream worth having is a dream worth sharing.

Please know that if you are reading this, you are cherished by me, appreciated by me, and most definitely loved by me.

Peace & Blessings to you all,

PS My annual birthday blog is coming up next in 2 days!!So stay tuned!!!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

3 days to go...and what I've learned so far

There are 3 days left to go on The Gratitude Project campaign, and it’s no secret that I’ve been learning a lot through this crowd funding process. Almost minute by minute, it is a continual opportunity for personal growth. And I’ve been wondering just how much of this experience should be shared openly and if doing so would benefit anyone. But hey, there’s only 3 days left to go, so why not throw caution to the wind? Seems as good a time as any. Plus, I can blame it on stress if I say anything too outrageous.

First, let’s just talk about crowd funding itself. I’ll be the first to admit, when I was introduced to Kickstarter and the whole concept of crowd funding, I was appalled. I thought it was a bunch of children with an over inflated sense of entitlement asking for a handout. How is that for blunt?

I was raised to believe that whatever it is you want in life is your responsibility and yours alone to make happen. You use your wits, your energy, your own ingenuity and you do not, God forbid, ask for or accept any help. Well, boys and girls, that is both unrealistic and just plain stupid.

We do not live on an island. Life begets life. No one accomplishes anything monumental without help in some way, shape, or form. No one. Even if that support is merely in the form of encouragement. And the more we transition from an age of separation into one of unity, the more obvious it is becoming that together, we can achieve anything. Separately, not so much.

But let’s just go back a minute to the crowd funding thing, because I never truly appreciated what it took before actually doing it myself.

For the sake of argument, let’s assume you’ve never asked anyone for anything. You are a self sufficient kind of guy or gal. Picture yourself needing to ask. What does that feel like to you? How does it make you feel about yourself? What kind of courage do you need to possess and pride do you have to let go of in order to ask? Do you wonder what it says to the world about who you are? What does it say to you about you? What kind of belief in the merit of what you are trying to accomplish do you have to have in order to reach out to people and ask them to be a part of the creation of it? What kind of belief in your abilities to deliver must you possess? These are some of the things I’ve been struggling with.

So for those of you who might be reading this, thinking that it’s no big deal to ask everyone you know for money, let me correct your misconceptions right now. It’s a big deal. No one wants to take money from people to fund a project that they could fund themselves. At least, I don’t.

Now, let’s look down the road a little bit. What expectations do you have of the people in your life? Can you feel supported or loved by people who are in a position to help but refuse you help when you ask for it? Can you ever feel the same about them? What conditions are tied to what we call “love?” What will you know for sure once you find out that what you were positively certain of is not, in fact, the case? And what will it teach you about the world when people who are complete strangers step forward to support you, and when those whom you know do not have two cents to rub together give to you anyway? What are the lessons in that?

I believe everything is an opportunity for growth if we allow it to be. I believe that we find that we are made of stronger stuff than we thought when we are put to the test. I believe that old hurts rear their ugly heads so that they can be healed and released to make room for our becoming what we are put on this earth to be – a unique expression of divine infinite love.

And lastly, I believe that encouraging people to reach farther, boldly take chances, and believe in themselves is an endeavor worthy of creation and completion, and that there is a much needed place for it in this world. So if you are so inclined, please donate to the The Gratitude Project now!

Peace and blessings to you,

Sunday, August 11, 2013

5 days of gratitude...

Well, there’s five days left on my Gratitude Project fundraising campaign and I’ve started a daily conversation on Facebook, asking people what they are grateful for.

I’ve been thinking a lot about that lately, because I subscribe to the notion that we get more of what we focus on. So rather than focusing on the huge unknowns in life that can easily escalate to overwhelming, today I choose to focus on some other things, like:

Unexpected people who have shown me love -
New ideas that continually pop into my head, reminding me that we are limitless and full of possibility –
Friends old and new who make my life a thing of beauty –
Cheering others on who are stretching beyond what is well advised –
Realizing that no matter how daunting the task is at hand, there is always, always a way to bring to fruition what we are able to envision –

So what are you grateful for today?
Who are you grateful for today?
What experience that seemed like a curse was actually a blessing in hindsight that you’re grateful for?
How do you express your gratitude?

Happy Sunday, everyone. Five days to go on the Gratitude Project. Please visit the site and donate today.  I’ll be extremely grateful that you did. In fact, I already am.

Peace & Blessings,

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

the final countdown begins!!!

Well, we’re at the final countdown stage of the Gratitude Project funding, and today I am without a migraine, so life is looking pretty good, all in all.

If I were to make one observation about both the funding and my migraines, it is that they both necessitate the ability to surrender in ways that seem counterintuitive.

Sure, I’m aware that now is the time for the final push on the fundraising effort and my inclination is to beg, plead, grovel or whatever else will get the job done, but really, all I can do is ask. Besides, I heard that you can make thousands of dollars by offering yourself up as a human guinea pig to test drugs not yet approved by the FDA. Or maybe I could sell an organ. How much do you think I could get for a kidney? You gotta think outside the box on these things.

While I’m contemplating more ways of funding, I’d like to tell you, in all seriousness, that this is one hell of a growth experience. I dare say most of us don’t take the opportunity to so publicly declare our heart’s desires, our dreams, and our intentions. It is one thing for those closest to us to know what we truly want, but heck, half the time, I don’t think we even admit it to ourselves, let alone anyone else, because we don’t see a way for it to happen. So to boldly say to everyone you know and everyone you don’t, “This is my vision and what I am doing,” just takes a whole lotta chutzpah. You just can’t walk something like that back once it’s out there. (Insert Anthony Weiner joke here.)

That being said, I had an awesome pre-production meeting last night, which got me ridiculously excited about this project and everyone involved…which means YOU, if you’ve supported it. I am well aware that this is not only a group effort, but a group affirmation of what is possible to create when many people join in.

So here’s the link again. Gratitude Project Please give, if you haven’t, and please share it with everyone you know. Call me crazy, but I really want to keep my kidneys.

Thanks for stopping by. Please tell your friends.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Gratitude...even with a migraine

This blog comes with a warning – when I have a migraine, the first thing to go is my inner sensor, so who knows what will fly out of these fast typing fingers of mine?!!

First things first, though: have you supported The Gratitude Project? If not, stop right there. No, really, stop.

Click here: The Gratitude Project (And here’s a hint: if you didn’t give enough to have me play a concert at your house AND bake you a cake, you might want to go back and rethink. Say what you will about my music, but my baking skills are not to be taken lightly.)

So I’m just past the halfway mark time wise on this crowd funding adventure, and I’m still alive, which I think constitutes success. I had no idea when I naively embarked on this journey, that victory would be defined by seeing just how much stress one human can handle. Nope. Not a clue. But I’m two weeks older and infinitely savvier now. I’m also completely gray and my face is breaking out, but these things can be masked by a good colorist and some foundation, or simple seclusion, which, frankly, is starting to seem more like the option I want to go with.

When you decide to take a stroll on the high wire toward your dreams, you think it’s the first step out that takes all the courage. And in some ways, it does, and that’s why so few people do it. But here’s the part no one talks about: once you’ve made your choice, boldly taken those precarious steps and made it out to the middle, then what?

Once you realize that you’re too far out to go back, it dawns on you, for a split second, that one tiny misstep and you, along with your big dreams, could go crashing to the ground with a loud, unceremonious thud. Game over. 

Or…you realize the only direction is forward, so you teeter and you totter, lose your balance and regain it, and, without nearly the ease and composure you envisioned yourself possessing at the outset, you manage to make your way across the high wire, triumphantly arriving at a place you had once, not so long ago, only imagined. And why I’m likening my journey to an arena activity that also almost always includes clowns and elephants, I’m not quite sure. But that’s a topic for another day. For now, let’s just stick with the dream stuff.

There is no doubt that you have to be willing to let go of how things look in order to accomplish anything. What is worthwhile seldom comes wrapped in a pretty bow. Sometimes, it’s the unlikeliest of places that provide the most growth. It’s the chance to see what you need to let go of in order to lighten the load. Or what qualities you need to embody in order to not only have what you want, but to be who you want. Sometimes taking the walk affords you the opportunity to see who will walk with you. And it also provides the chance to ask: are you willing to commit to your own heart’s desire if no one walks with you?

These are the questions that arise, and these are some of the things I am learning during this process. And I am grateful for all of it.

We are sometimes compelled to do things for a set of reasons we can name. But it is always the unnamed, the unseen, the unexpected, who we become in the wake of our fortunes and misfortunes, and where we are led because of it all, that reveals the bigger picture.

So here’s to the bigger picture for all of us – the one that comes when we allow for more possibilities and greater good than we can presently imagine.

Thanks for stopping by. Please tell your friends.