Friday, May 31, 2013

365 Inspirations—151: Interview with Torre DeRoche, Author of Love with a Chance of Drowning, and FREE book giveaway

"To the adventurer: put one foot in front of the other and don’t stop until you get there. To the writer: put one word in front of the other and don’t stop until you get there."—Torre DeRoche

Do you blog about your adventures? Are you dreaming of writing and publishing a book?

I'm thrilled to have author Torre DeRoche here today to talk about her new book, Love with a Chance of Drowning and to talk about her journey from blogger to published author in three countries (USA, Australia and the UK). She also has a movie offer on the table. Does it get any better than that? I can't remember exactly where I first *met* Torre out there in the blogging world, but I knew we had a lot in common. I also have my own journey from blogger to published author and LOVE a good adventure. 

I devoured Torre's book in two days and I've been dreaming of taking up sailing lessons ever since. Here's my short synopsis of this fabulous book:

Australian native Torre unexpectedly meets handsome, Argentinian sailor in bar in San Francisco. He sweeps her off her feet, but there is ONE BIG PROBLEM. He is about to sail around the world in his small sailboat and Torre is terrified of deep water. 

And that's where the adventure begins and it's a page turner. Today I'm giving away one free copy of Torre's book on this blog. Just leave a comment here with a mention that you'd like to enter in the drawing and I'll announce the winner here on my blog a week from today.

Now for my interview with Torre:

When did you first start writing this book? Was it on the boat? In San Francisco when you met Ivan? When did the idea of a book about your experiences first take shape in your mind?

While sailing through the South Pacific, I kept a blog for family and friends to recount the crazy adventure that I’d accidentally found myself on. My parents hadn’t yet met the man I’d entrusted my life to on the Pacific Ocean, so I figured the least I could do was update my mother on my whereabouts, perhaps comfort her with some funny stories. 

When life aboard got challenging, I immersed myself in writing the blog as a means of ‘visiting’ home. I was desperately homesick at times. My words became my bridge between utter isolation and home. 

The blog audience expanded beyond my family, and the positive feedback I received inspired me to consider writing a book. When I returned back to land for good, I began writing after work, on weekends, and late at night. I repurposed some of the material from the blog. At 50,000 words, I finally admitted to myself that I was writing a book. 

What did you hope to show through telling your story?

When I tell people about my adventure across the Pacific on a leaky boat, so many of them say, “Oh my god, I could never do that! I’m too scared!” Yeah, well, me too. I wouldn’t even swim at the beach before I got on that boat. Through my story, I hope to show readers that fear doesn’t have to be a reason to stay at home, under the covers. 

But my number one reason for writing was simple: I wanted to take readers on a vicarious adventure and give them a good time. I want to make them laugh, cry, and cringe. 

Did you originally plan to self publish your book or did you first pursue a traditional route (agents and publishing houses) and then choose to self publish?

I queried agents for six months and, after having no luck with that, I decided to self-publish. A couple of weeks after launching, I received a Twitter message from a Hollywood producer who had chanced upon an excerpt of my book. He wanted to know if the option was available. 

I, of course, thought I was being fooled by a sad loser from small town America, but I sent him a book just in case it was legit. At approximately the same time, a UK publisher also scouted my book through social media. A month after self-publishing, I received two offers: one from the UK publisher and one from the Hollywood producer for the film option. 

Armed with two offers, it took me about four days to sign with a top New York agent. She immediately pitched to the US, and three publishers wanted to take it to auction. Hyperion came in with a great pre-emptive offer and we decided to take it. Shortly after, it went to auction in Australia and sold to Penguin. The rights have also sold in Brazil, and Brilliance Audio bought the worldwide audiobook rights. 

 For those who are debating about whether or not to seek traditional publishing or self publishing, what would you tell them? 

It’s incredibly thrilling to launch a book traditionally, whereas a self-published book launch is like throwing your cat a birthday party: it feels silly and indulgent, and it’s hard to get others excited about the party. But the royalties are higher, and you have greater control and fewer frustrations. 

I’m on the fence on this one. I think both routes have incredible advantages and disadvantages, so it comes down to personal choice. If it’s really important to you to have a traditional publisher, I suggest that you exhaust all of your options with that route first. Otherwise, if you’re an aggressive marketer and you feel ready to take on the tremendous workload required to self-publish a book well, then go straight for that option. 

How did you market your book after you self published?

I sent out a lot of free copies to bloggers and influencers to get people talking about it online. I pitched to Amazon’s top reviewers to get reviews, and I was quite successful with that. I wrote to magazine editors and asked for reviews, and some big mags came back with “Yes.” I did some guest posting, and I reached out to bloggers for reviews. I ran a series on a big blog called ‘Love and Travel Week,’ and I plugged my book at the bottom of each travel/love related piece. I also did quite a bit of online networking through Twitter, Facebook groups, and sailing or travel related forums.  

I know, after reading your story, that Seismic Pictures discovered you on Twitter. This is a dream come true for many writers and it set things up for your book to be published in Australia and abroad. How did this exciting chain of events happen exactly? 

It all began with Twitter… Two weeks after I self-published, I got a Twitter message from a Hollywood producer asking if the rights had been optioned yet. Two weeks after that, he emailed me an offer to buy the film option. At about the same time, I was contacted by a UK indie publisher, who also sent through an offer to buy the book.

With two deals on the table, I emailed the agent at the top of my Dream Agents list. She read the book over a weekend and offered me representation on the Monday. We began pitching immediately, and we received interest from several US publishers. We were about to go into auction when Hyperion came in with a preemptive deal too handsome to refuse. My rock star agent negotiated it up another 50% and we signed.

Then my foreign rights agent pitched to Australian publishers. Four big publishers went to auction and the book sold to Penguin. We also sold to Brazil and to Brilliance Audio. (My head is still spinning.)

Have you heard any news from Seismic Pictures? When can we expect the movie to be out on the big screen?

The script is currently underway! However—

My dad’s a scriptwriter by profession, and time and time again I’ve seen how tough it is to get a script turned into a movie. The possibility of a film is enormously exciting, but I won’t pop the cork out of the Cristal until filming commences. 

How has your life changed since meeting Ivan and setting foot on a sailboat? 

I have a lot more adventures. I take a lot more risks. I let my intuition guide me, and I believe in myself in a way that I didn’t before. I’m drawn to nature these days. I’ve become skilled at telling my fears to shut up. I don’t read the news anymore…

These are just a few changes that come to mind, but there are many. 

How has your life changed since being published in Australia and abroad?

Everything is much the same, to be honest! My book is on the shelves, I have a vague understanding that people are reading my words right now, I get a lot of emails, I check Amazon and Goodreads for reviews on a somewhat-obsessive basis… But other than that, everything is as it was before. 

Have you had any desire to get on a sailboat again? I know it wasn't one of your passions, but has it become a passion for you now?

There is no better way to see the world than by sailboat. Once you’ve arrived to a new country by the power of the wind, it’s incredibly hard to return to any kind of regular travel. However, after two years at sea I never managed to overcome seasickness! I have a sensitive inner ear, which means I get nauseous in cars, planes, buses, and boats. It sucks. If I could cure this problem, I would sail again. 

Now that you've somewhat conquered your fear of water and sailing, what is your biggest fear today? How will you conquer it? 

Standing within 20 feet of a cliff edge makes the back of my legs crawl. I have no immediate plans to face this fear. 

With the launch of my book, I had to face my fear of public speaking. This was perhaps worse than my fear of heights, so I’m going to sit back and revel in that accomplishment for a while before taking anything else on. My adrenalin glands need a break.

What would you say to all the other "fearful" adventurers out there or the struggling writers who are about ready to throw in the towel?

To the adventurer: put one foot in front of the other and don’t stop until you get there. To the writer: put one word in front of the other and don’t stop until you get there. “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

Torre DeRoche is an Australian native and a self-proclained fearful adventurer. When she's not at home in Melbourne, Australia, DeRoche is at large in the world, exploring, writing, painting pictures and snapping photos as she faces her fears one terrified step at a time. She blogs at

Thursday, May 30, 2013

365 Inspirations—150: Going Out

"Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time."—Marthe Troly-Curtin. 

I don't normally work on Thursday night, but I was subbing for a friend at work. I just got in, ate a salad, had a Kombucha and I'm about to go out to a movie with Yoon as soon as he gets back from teaching his yoga class.

My weekend begins today! However, it's going to be a BUSY weekend because it's test time at the college and I have a bag full of tests to grade.

I had planned to make a dent in those tests today, but I think I need to give myself at least one day of rest.

I hope you all enjoy your weekend and tomorrow there will be a very special guest on this blog, so please stop by! I'm doing a Q & A with author Torre DeRoche and she has some very good advice for all you writers, bloggers and/or adventurers out there. Stay tuned!

Do you have any special plans for the weekend?

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

365 Inspirations—149: I'm About to Launch Off

“The mind that opens to a new idea never returns to its original size.”—Albert Einstein

Can't explain, but lately I feel like I'm just about to launch off, but I'm still here. In another realm, I've launched. It's just taking longer for my physically reality to catch up with my metaphysical or spiritual reality. I feel expansive. I feel direction. I feel a force that I can't fully describe.

Something is moving through me. I'm ready to go, but I'm not entirely sure where that is yet nor do I know what I'll be doing once I get there. I'm moving into the unknown and I feel that's the only place to be.

My batteries are charged, it's all systems GO! I'm so excited about this next phase that is coming. I'm ready for it to take me wherever I need to go.

I'm listening.

I'm paying attention.

I'm giving myself space to be.

I am starting to get clues and pieces. Dreams are coming. I see signs everywhere and the pieces are starting to fit together.

I can tell you one thing for sure. There will most certainly be one, if not two, books coming down the pipeline in the not-so-distant future. I think you are going to like them. I already do and I haven't written them completely yet. All the material is done for one and the other is developing. It is taking shape in my subconscious and also in my waking reality. They are coming and I'm not completely sure what these new babies are going to look like, but I can't wait to see them and share them with you!

Have you ever felt a very strong force within you that has guided you to the next phase, step or direction in your life?

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

365 Inspirations—148: Chinese Translation/Publication of My Book!

Signing the Chinese (complex) contracts for my book
"All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them."—Walt Disney

I don't if it was a coincidence that today I went out to eat Chinese food with Yoon for lunch AND I received the Chinese (complex) contracts in the mail for my book to be translated and published in Chinese. I am sending the contracts to my foreign agent in London tomorrow and the book will soon be available in Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, for starters!

I've been to Hong Kong and loved it. I can just picture a commuter reading it on the subway or someone sucking down a bowl of noodles on the street with their nose in the book. The bummer is that I can't read Chinese, so I'll have to ask my Chinese speaking friends to read it to make sure it's accurate! I'm wondering what they'll do to the cover and what the title will look like.

I just checked out a website that translates any words to any language and here's what it came up with for the title Lessons from the Monk I Married:


Isn't that cool? I have no idea if it's accurate.

My husband can read some Chinese characters because he was a monk in Korea for 10 years and they studied Buddhist texts that were written in Chinese. He's forgotten a lot, but can generally make out most characters.

Anyway, I was so excited to sign these today. It was one thing to get my book published in North America, but it's quite another to start having international sales. It will also be translated to Croatian and that is already in the works!

This is all beyond my wildest dreams and that just goes to show that even your wildest dreams can come true!

Have you ever accomplished anything that was beyond your wildest dreams? Is there a wild dream you want to accomplish?

Monday, May 27, 2013

365 Inspirations—147: A Really GOOD Book

Love with a Chance of Drowning at Barnes and Noble in Seattle
"A funny, irresistibly offbeat tale about the risks and rewards of living, and loving, with an open heart."—Kirkus Reviews

I don't usually sit down and read a book from cover to cover in two days. Especially a 337 page book. But I just did that. It was the only thing I really wanted to do for most of my Memorial Day weekend. What's even better is, I know this writer from the blogging world! I've meant to go get her book and on Saturday, I just got in my car, headed out to Barnes and Noble and bought it.

I read Love with A Chance of Drowning from cover to cover. I related to everything the author, Aussie Torre DeRoche, wrote about. I found myself laughing, crying, nodding my head YES, saying "No WAY!" out loud, and a little sad when it was all over and I had to wake up from my book reading world and come back to the reality of the fact that I haven't cleaned house, washed dishes or done anything on my weekend list.

But it was so worth it.

The book was such an inspiration and that's the point of my blog this year. I am here to find the inspirational in my life, in others lives, in the places and the things all around me. Lately I've been finding too much to write about and I can't quite keep up with all the promised interviews and amazing people, places and things I am finding all around me. I'm tuned in to the inspirational.

I don't want to spill the beans too much about Torre's book because she's going to be on my blog here for a Q & A at the end of this month and I can't wait, but if you have a chance, go out and get it.

The book is about facing risks, it's about overcoming fears, it's about living life to the fullest and realizing there really isn't a limit to what we can do except in our own minds.

Here's what Kirkus Reviews had to say about the book:

"A funny, irresistibly offbeat tale about the risks and rewards of living, and loving, with an open heart."

More soon from Torre DeRoche on my blog here. If you are looking for something inspirational and uplifting, this is the book!

Have you read an inspirational book lately?

Sunday, May 26, 2013

365 Inspirations—146: Just Write

“The only good writing is intuitive writing. It would be a big bore if you knew where it was going. It has to be exciting, instantaneous and it has to be a surprise. Then it all comes blurting out and it’s beautiful."—Ray Bradbury

I'm reading a very good book that I can't put down by my Aussie friend Torre DeRoche called Love with a Chance of Drowning, so I decided to dig this post up from my archives. It was actually post 146 of my 365 Lessons I wrote in 2010. I think it's fitting for today. How I felt about writing in 2010 still holds true today. Here's the post:

 I've heard people say that they only write when inspiration comes to them. In a past post I mentioned that inspiration is always there, but our thoughts and emotions block access to this. Instead of waiting for a big wave of inspiration to fall from the sky, I just write.

I write everyday, to be exact. I write just to write. When I let go of trying to control what will come from writing, things come out that I never expected. I never plan what I will say here.

I think life is like that. A lot of thinking gets in the way of doing. We make plans and try to figure out a time schedule for writing, or exercising, or art, or anything really. I think it's good to make a plan and schedule it into your day. But some of my best writing has come spontaneously at any given hour of the day or night. Sometimes it comes to me at 2am or in the middle of the afternoon. I never know exactly. And sometimes I feel I have nothing to say, but I keep writing, just as I keep living even when life isn't "amazing."

Writing has become me. I don't really know who "I" am, but writing moves through me. I don't consider myself a "great" writer, but I have something to say. I think we can lose the essence of writing when we try to be too crafty or make it good. I let words fall out on the page anyway they want to here on this blog.

There were times, while writing my book, that I wanted to hide certain parts of my life. I found myself only wanting to tell the "good" stories. But life is not like that. To arrive at anything worthwhile, we have to go through the "not so good" times. O.K...the "bad" times. So I let it all out, I didn't hold back.

I had a conflict with that when I was editing my book. I thought, "Do I really want to expose this much of my life?" But what is "my life" anyway? If you read my previous post, you will see that whatever is "mine" is really just part of the ego that wants to survive. There's the fear of what others might think of this "me" or how I might be judged by what I write.

So why share my story at all? Because I feel that there is something universal about the human condition; that we all share a similar set of feelings. We all go through certain experiences and reading about others who have gone through certain struggles, challenges and revelations in life often times shed light on our own experiences.

Everyone's journey is unique, but we are all in this together. If we are all in this together, what do we have to fear or hide? There's nothing in life that hasn't been experienced by one human or another. There isn't a single emotion that hasn't been felt by one human or another.

What do I have to protect, actually. I am a mortal being. I will end like everyone else. There's not a single person who does not experience birth and death, so how different are we really?

So I don't hold back anymore. I let it all out. I let it loose...I let "me" free. Through writing I share my experience of this life. I write how it is. I write the truth. I just write.

Do you spend a lot of time thinking about what you want to write, or do you just write?

Saturday, May 25, 2013

365 Inspirations—145: Make New Friends, But Keep The Old

Tonight at Monsoon Restaurant in Bellevue
"Each friend represents a world in us, a world not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born."—Anais Nin

Okay, I've seemed to have bounced back into life quite nicely. I'm back to my old self (see last two posts if you are wondering) and was able to go out and celebrate a BIG transition for a good friend. She's not only leaving her job, but she's about to embark on a journey to foreign lands, perhaps even a journey around the world. She's starting in Europe and has several hikes lined up in Norway, Switzerland, France and later in Iceland, but after that she's just going with the wind.

I remember those days. In fact, I still feel like I'm living that life. Aren't we all really? Do we all really even know what will happen tomorrow?

Since we don't know, why not live like that? Why not stretch out of our comfort zones and go somewhere and do something we might not normally do? Why not meet some new people?

Anyway, our dinner was at a lovely restaurant called Monsoon on Main Street in Bellevue. I grew up in Bellevue and haven't been back for years, so it was interesting meeting NEW people in my old stomping grounds.

This was a celebration for my friend Katerina, so I knew some of the people there tonight, but I also met some new people. In fact, two of the people I met tonight are now my friends on Facebook and one even works at Facebook in Seattle. I didn't even know there was a Facebook branch in Seattle. You learn something new everyday!

The food was delicious and the conversation was lively. I felt inspired to be with people who are all doing interesting things. I think we can receive so much if we just step out of our own boxes and connect with others. That's why I write and blog! Tonight I was reminded of how important it is to actually do this in person too. There's something about the energy of people when they get together and start to share in an interesting, creative and positive way.

I hope to interview my friend Katerina soon on this blog about her upcoming trip.

Katerina and I at Monsoon Restaurant in Bellevue
 I have been meeting so many inspiring people these days and want them all to be here on this blog as part of my inspirations for this year. Lots of great interviews and stories coming up! Stay tuned.

Have you stretched out of your comfort zone and met anyone new and inspiring lately?

Friday, May 24, 2013

365 Inspirations—144: Asking for Your Good Wishes

"The healthy and strong individual is the one who asks for help when he needs it. Whether he's got an abscess on his knee or in his soul."—Rona Barrett

I hope you've enjoyed my daily posts for nearly 5 months! I don't ask for much here, but today I'm asking for your good thoughts and wishes.

 Today, at 2pm I have to go in for a colonoscopy. Nothing major, just a check up, so don't worry. However, my fasting experience I wrote about yesterday went from good to worse. The fasting part was fine, but the solution they give you to drink that is used to "clean" the colon, was not a pleasant experience. And there is A LOT of it to drink. Have you ever done anything like this?

I haven't and I'm kind of scared.

For the procedure they have to put me out. I've never been put out in my life! It's only for about an hour. Apparently I'll be awake, but will have little memory of the experience. That sounds a bit like hypnosis! ^_^

Anyway, I'm writing about it here for support because right now I need a little. I know it sounds kind of funny. It a common procedure, but I hardly ever visit the doctor, so for me it's pretty big.

My husband is going to drive me to the hospital at 1pm today and he'll remain there until I'm finished at around 3:30pm and drive me home.

I have to sign a consent form in case something happens. I know I will be fine, but I said to my husband this morning, "If I don't make it out, you can have all my clothes and my bicycle."

I was joking of course. He smiled and said, "You'll be fine and I love you."

And then he added, "And I'll enjoy riding your bicycle."

"Hey! Wait! What do you mean?" I asked, surprised.

"Just kidding!" he said.

I feel lucky to have a partner who makes me laugh and who I also know is there for me no matter what.

Thanks for being here, for commenting, for reading my posts and for all your support. I really appreciate it.

Have you ever undergone a medical procedure that required you to stay in the hospital? How did you feel?

Thursday, May 23, 2013

365 Inspirations—143: Fasting

"The best of all medicines are resting and fasting."—Benjamin Franklin

I love to eat and never skip meals. In fact, breakfast is the most important meal of the day and it's also an important ritual my husband and I take part in. We always sit down and eat slowly. We listen to peaceful music, eat fruit, eggs, toast, coffee and/or tea. Sometimes Yoon walks up the street to get a paper. It's a very relaxing part of our day and it's never rushed.

But right now I'm fasting.

It's not really by choice. I have to have a medical procedure tomorrow that requires me to fast (I can only have clear liquids like broth, apple juice, tea, etc.). I don't think I've ever done it for more than a day, but it will be almost two days with no solid food by the time I'm done.

However, it doesn't seem like a chore to me. In fact, I am noticing some of the benefits of fasting and am thinking of trying it again in June just for an experiment.

Here are the benefits I've noticed:
  • I feel alert and clear-headed
  • I don't feel heavy, weighed down or tired
  • I have noticed that digestion is quicker
  • I feel a tingling sensation throughout the body
  • I am listening more to my body and am tuning in
  • Suprisingly, I do not feel hungry
  • I feel peaceful
  • I feel that my body is getting more time to rest rather than digest!
For this procedure, I'm also required to drink a lot of liquid (quarts of it). It's hard to get that much liquid down. It's making me realize that I probably don't drink enough water/liquids on a daily basis.

In ancient cultures, fasting was part of life. Many of my ESL students fast on a regular basis as part of their religion or culture. They always tell me that they feel very good when they take a break from food. It gives the body a time to rest and it's often a nurturing, introspective time.

During a silent meditation course I attended for 45-days, I did not eat anything after 12 noon. We could have tea or lemon water, but no solid food. However, there were exceptions for people who need it for health or medical reasons. 

For me, it is very helpful to my meditation practice to not eat after 12 noon on courses. The body is not moving much in deep meditation and I feel that it requires much less food. I have never felt hungry during a course.

I'm near the end of a quarter at school and I feel a very introspective time is coming up for me. I'll be going on a personal/writing retreat to my family's lake house in June where I plan to write, cleanse, do a little fasting, exercise, practice yoga and meditate. I so look forward to this time that is coming up soon. I will, however, continue to blog here!

Have you ever fasted? Have you ever done a cleanse or any other program specifically designed to nurture your body?

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

365 Inspirations–142: There's That Word "Inspiring" Again....

On a yoga retreat led by my husband in Sedona, AZ
"Somebody should tell us, right at the start of our lives, that we are dying. Then we might live life to the limit, every minute of every day."—Pope Paul VI 

 What do you focus on everyday? Your problems or worries, you relationships, cleaning the house, finances? Love and peace?

Whatever you choose to focus on actually becomes your life! I'm a testimony to that. I decided to focus on inspiration this year and it has shown up everywhere in my life.

Just today I watched this video about a teenager who passed away on May 20, 2013, but his message was not about dying, it was all about LIVING!

It was such an inspirational video. I want to live my life like that. I want sow the seeds of love, happiness, peace and inspiration as if this were my last day on earth.

Because truth be told, we don't know how many days we have left. 

So why wait?

Why hesitate?

Why hold off on things that could make a difference RIGHT NOW?

So that little word "inspiration" snuck into my life again today. I received a new review on Amazon and here's what it said:

"Inspiring" (Hartford, CT ) May 15, 2013
Thank you, Katherine,  for sharing your lovely story with all of us. I hope more women find her story inspiring, and more men can be partners like Seong Yoon Lee." 

Here's the link to that review. 

None of us own this inspiration. It flows in and out of  everything. Whether or not we choose to recognize it in ourselves and others really depends on what we choose to focus on. For this year, I have chosen to focus on "inspiration".

  What have you chosen to focus on this year?

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

365 Inspirations—141: Do you have the time to rhyme?

"History doesn't repeat itself—at best it sometimes rhymes."—Mark Twain 

 I'm on a rhyming streak and I can't seem to stop! Do you know that there is a guy who ONLY rhymes on his blog.  His name is Pat Hatt and he blogs here. Check him out and try your hand at a rhyme.

Dr. Seuss inspired my poem yesterday, but it reminded me of this guy too, so I had to pay him a visit.

Now this blogger has got me hooked. It's kind of fun to read his blog and the comments. Sometimes  all you really want at the end of the day is something light and fun.

There are so many different kinds of bloggers and writers out there. So many different kinds of people too. Discovering new people and blogs is one of the best things about blogging.

With that,
I'll let you go check out Pat Hatt,
I'm sure he'll make you smile,
And visit for a while,
He's very welcoming on his page,
And he cares very little about your age....

Tonight I will end my rhyming session,
Cause I've got other things to post that are worth a mention.
But one small request before I go:

Would you take the time to write a rhyme?

Monday, May 20, 2013

365 Inspirations—140: It's in the Air, It's Everywhere

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose."—Dr. Seuss

 If you ever decide to write on any single topic every single day,—be it love, stress, money, or say, INSPIRATION—soon you will find that THAT very thing is EVERYWHERE. It's amazing. It really works.

I'm seeing inspiration all around me.

I see it in the air, I see it everywhere. (Doesn't that sound like the start of a really awesome Dr. Seuss Book?)

Here's a spontaneous, Dr. Seuss-inspired poem for you:

Inspiration is all around,
It's in the air,
It's in my green eggs with ham,
It's even in a clam,
I can find it on the street,
And in the faces of the people I meet,
I found it in my fortune cookie,
I am not an inspiration rookie.

I got this fortune in my cookie at a Taiwanese restaurant yesterday!

Okay, okay, take it easy. It's 11:32PM and I just finished a long night of teaching. I am quite impressed with this little poem I came up with on the fly so late on a weeknight.

But really, it's true. I do in fact find it everywhere these days. I hear about someone or read about something and say, "That is inspirational!"

Or I may be gazing up at the stars or clouds in awe and think, "Look at THAT!"

Or I may even be doing something that is normally quite boring, but I will suddenly see it in a new light. I'll suddenly see possibilities where before there was just the same old, same old.

Situations that would usually seem stressful now have me humming a tune.

I don't even mind the fast-approaching, sure-to-be rainy month of June. (Okay, had to throw that one in there for kicks!)

How about you? What's your inspiration TODAY? I'd love to hear it (Or a Dr. Suess-inspired poem!)

Sunday, May 19, 2013

365 Inspirations—139: Feeling Blessed

Our view of Puget Sound this evening
“Gratitude bestows reverence.....changing forever how we experience life and the world.”—John Milton 

My husband and I often house sit down on Puget Sound for 4 lovely cats. We feel lucky to spend time with them and blessed to be in this place. Tonight we ate dinner in the dining room and this was our view. I made a tossed salad and baked a fish and we ate very slowly staring off in the distance at all the ships passing by as the sun slowly set. We cleaned up the dishes and went for a lovely stroll around the neighborhood.

Last night my husband took me to a concert in Seattle. He took me to see Snatnam Kaur. It was an Indian kirtan-style concert. Snatnam's voice is so beautiful and the tabla and guitar player were out of this world. You could not help but feel blessed just hearing the sounds.

At Snatnam Kaur Concert

I think every single moment of our lives is so important and I'm trying to remember to stop and feel appreciation for the wonderful things that are already in my life.

It's easy, in the hustle and bustle of life, to forget to really to be fully present to what is right in front of us.

There's always something more that we are waiting for.

I'm a firm believer in the fact that if you make this moment an important one and make it count, all the other moments will follow suit and that will become your life. Make this moment really good!

Did you make your moments count today? Are you making them count right now?

Saturday, May 18, 2013

365 Inspirations—138: In Memory of Daisy, An Inspiring Cat

"We all want to love and be loved, and Daisy and I were a love match."—Sarah Lawrence

Do you have a cat? I don't, so I live vicariously through my friends' kitties. Right now we are house sitting for four wonderful cats. I always look forward to the opportunity. Spending time with these cats reminds me of a very special cat.

When I first went to visit my friend Sarah's apartment, she let me pet Daisy. Daisy was the softest kitty I've ever touched. Daisy was such a sweet cat, but I noticed right away that she couldn't walk very well. She would take a few steps and then fall down and had to be propped back up on occasion. My friend let me know that her cat had what's called Cerebellar Hypoplasia, a neurological disorder that develops while a kitten is in the womb of a mother who has been exposed to the Distemper Virus. Cats with CH are born with an underdeveloped cerebellum, the part of the brain that controls motor skills. CH cats have a lack of balance and coordination. However, the cats are not in pain and can live very functional, loving lives like all other cats.

Sarah first saw Daisy in May 2009 at the Average Joe Cat Show, a fundraiser for Purrfect Pals, in which people enter their family cats for a variety of categories. Various other cat organizations are often present too. Jessica, the foster mom of Daisy, brought her to the show to give Daisy a better chance of being adopted. 

Sarah stopped by Jessica's table and had an opportunity to see Daisy walk. Daisy took a couple of steps with wobbly legs and fell over on her side. After learning a bit about Daisy, Sarah thanked Jessica and walked on with misty eyes.

But since that very first meeting, Sarah couldn't stop thinking about Daisy. Through a bit of effort, she tracked Daisy down and eventually adopted her.

Hearing how Sarah came to adopt Daisy made me feel quite moved. Most of us want to adopt a cat in perfect health and without any problems. How many people could truly adopt and love a kitty that has special needs? 

Not many.

The way Sarah loved this cat, just like her fully-functioning cat Catalina, was just so touching. She spent so much time training and giving attention to these animals equally. It was very impressive and inspiring. 

I was so inspired by Sarah's love for her cats, particularly Daisy, that I planned to interview her for this blog. The day before I planned to come for the interview, Sarah had to put her precious Daisy to sleep due to liver failure. The cat had been suffering and it was time. Fortunately, Sarah had had four wonderful years with Daisy who was about 13 when she adopted her.

I was one of the people who attended a very special memorial service for Daisy on March 3, 2013, one month after her passing, and was surprised to see how many people had also been touched by Sarah's love for Daisy and Daisy herself. People sang songs, created and read haikus, created works of art and someone even sewed a lovely pillow.

 I never thought I could feel so much, but I did. I felt a lot of love. Guests also made $3-$5 contributions to the Daisy Memorial Fund to help with the care of Edward, another CH cat way across the country in New Jersey at Tabby’s Place, a shelter that helps a lot of special needs cats. Here's a picture of Edward:

What I was inspired by was the fact that true LOVE comes in ALL forms. Some have children, others have animals and some people have a loving mate, family members or friends. There is no ONE way to LOVE or create a loving home or environment. Maybe you live in a community or on a farm with many people or maybe you live alone, but get your love from your life or work. Maybe you tend to plants or your garden. Maybe you teach or write or paint. There really are many ways to show and share your love.

Here's a little of what Sarah had to say about Daisy and a video of Daisy:

"All day long and all night long, her trust, devotion, love, and companionship were a treasure.  We took comfort in the familiarity of our routine together but never took each other for granted.  Now I’m sad that my little sweetheart is gone.  There will never be another Daisy.  But I’m glad we could share our lives, connect so deeply and genuinely, and just love each other, which is what it’s all about."—Sarah Lawrence

Do you have a pet? Do you consider your pet part of the family? Could you ever adopt a special needs animal?

Friday, May 17, 2013

365 Inspirations—137: Going Electric

"When you use a manual push mower, you're "cutting" down on pollution and the only thing in danger of running out of gas is you!"—Grey Livingston

We have a push mower. I tried to use it once and it took me three hours to do a four by four patch of grass. That simply is not going to work. So I bought the next best thing today—An ELECTRIC mower!

Right before we left for our 10th year anniversary to Las Vegas, we had two defunct gas mowers in the garage (hand-me-downs circa 1970s probably) and an old weed wacker. My husband tried to weed wack our  entire back yard, which is no easy feat, since our back yard in Seattle is quite large. He got half-way through the project and the thing caught fire, sputtered and died right there on the lawn. I could barely see his face through the white cloud of smoke that was between us. At that point I thought about tearing out the lawn completely. Actually, half of our front yard has now been converted to a stone Zen garden and it's not too shabby.

Anyway, we left the rest of the yard half finished and went off on our trip. Then life took over and before we knew it, the grass was practically up to our knees and we were becoming those neighbors that people whisper about. We were the eyesore of the block.

I couldn't take it anymore, so I bit the bullet and drove down to Sears today to look at mowers. My goodness, Sears had a lot of mowers. There were riders, side blowers, ones with Honda motors, mowers with attached catchers, mowers with gears, self-prepelled mowers—you name it.

All of these mowers the sales clerk showed me required gas with a special kind of gas stabilizer. Suddenly I recalled the fumes and white smoke from our weed wacker that exploded not too long ago and found myself saying, "Can you show me the electric ones?"

Off in a corner sat a rather large battery operated mower and one smaller one that required an extension cord. The price was right, but our sales clerk was surprised we were even looking at it. It was like we had entered a Harley shop and all we really wanted was the electric bicycle in the corner.

I didn't care. I was tired of white smoke, gas, yanking my arm out of the socket practically to start the darn thing. I wanted something simple, environmentally friendly, smooth and easy.

The best things about this new little mower are:

1. It's good for the environment
2. It is quiet, yet powerful
3. No need to pull any cord to start it, just plug it in and push the lever
4.  It's inexpensive
5. It did a pretty good job on our knee-deep lawn

I ended up buying an electric weed wacker too, but ran out of zap at the end, so my husband said he'd try and weed wack later. He has really bad allergies, so I'm doing most of the mowing these days. Good thing this little machine is a snap to use! Here's a photo of our spruced up house. I love that it is in the city, but has so much foliage and trees around it:

Do you do your part for the environment? Have you worked in your yard or garden lately?

Thursday, May 16, 2013

365 Inspirations—136: Channeling Pele, The Goddess of Volcanoes

Pele, Goddess of Volcanoes, by Herb Kane
"At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us."—Albert Schweitzer

Never in my wildest dreams did I think I'd feel a connection to a goddess. I'm not really even sure what that means. However, since visiting the big island of Hawaii, I've had many dreams and thoughts about Pele, the goddess of volcanoes.

I feel like she is with me daily. Even though she is depicted in human form, I'm not really sure she can be considered human. She is a force of nature.

I walked on the her lava late at night and in the distance I saw fire spewing out on the edge of a cliff high above the sea.

This volcano, Kilauea, is still very active.

I feel a strong urge to return to this land.

I don't know why.

I feel I have more to learn there. Something is calling me to make a bold move and just go.

Pele is thought to be the goddess of creativity and change, two things that are quite dominant in my life right now. I don't really know if I'm channeling Pele, or she is channeling me. I don't know why I keep having dreams and thoughts about this place.

The Big Island of Hawaii, particularly the Hilo side where I spent quite a bit of time on my trip, feels very sacred. This part of the island, near Kapoho, feels untouched and very pure to me. In this area, I swam with dolphins, sat in a natural pool that was heated by the volcanic rocks beneath it and sank my feet into a black sand beach.

There, I felt I was finally waking up to a very deep part of myself. A part I had forgotten or dismissed. Perhaps there is a whole side to me that I've yet to get to know.

Me at La Push, Washington

I'm ready to know that part of myself. I'm ready to let the flame within me grow.

Do you feel a connection to any particular place or even to a God, goddess or deity? How have these things appeared in your life? Have you made changes in your life because of your experiences with these things?

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

365 Inspirations—135: Inspiration is Always There

"Cease trying to work everything out with your minds. It will get you nowhere. Live by intuition and inspiration and let your whole life be Revelation."—Eileen Caddy

 In 2010 I wrote 365 Lessons on my blog and those lessons will become my next book. Here's Lesson 131 titled Inspiration is Always There:

I've heard people say, "I'm waiting for inspiration to come to me." or "I'm waiting to be hit with inspiration." You may be waiting a lifetime. Inspire means to breathe in. You don't wait to breathe in, you just do it. Inspiration can also mean to be "in spirit." For each person that will mean a different thing. For me, it means tuning in to the divine within. Or more simply, "tuning in." Inspiration is always there. The space within you is always there. But it is clouded by thoughts, emotions, and activities. Because the human mind is so cluttered with thoughts, it's very hard to see the inspiration.

So much of life is about "doing" and very little of life is about "being." There is an emphasis in Western culture to do. You can't forget the Nike ads which said, "Just do it." While I do believe action is also part of being, alot of the "do it" that gets us stuck happens in our thoughts. We have "to do" lists and those lists are LONG. Sometimes too long and humanly impossible. We have plans, we want this and that and need to go here or there.

Inspiration is hard to see if the our vessel is full....full of information, full of plans, full of worries, full of ideas, full of ________.

When you empty your vessel, when you start to let go of all those things that are clouding the clarity or emptiness or spirit that exists in you, you will start to feel inspiration again. If you keep your vessel or your inner space clear, you will find that inspiration is always there and it doesn't come from you specifically.

When you are empty, inspiration is able to move through you. Many writers talk about how they have no idea where the words came from. They just sat down and let go and this is what came out. The very act of "trying" to write something inspiring doesn't work. Inspiration comes from space within. If there is no space within you, if you are tired, stressed, overworked and underpaid, unhappy, worried or sick, it will be very hard for you to see the inspiration that is always there.

Keep your vessel clear, leave an empty space within you, clear your calendar, keep a regular walking schedule, pray, do yoga or practice meditation. Find a way to create space for yourself everyday and you will find, if you practice keeping yourself clear, that inspiration is always there. Inspiration doesn't come to you, YOU are IT. Don't try to look for it, just let go, clear a space and "be."

Is inspiration a daily part of your life?

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

365 Inspirations—134: The VOICE Within

"Do not follow where the path may lead.  Go, instead, where there is no path and leave a trail."—Ralph Waldo Emerson

Can you hear it?

 Do you pay attention to that little voice inside you, or do you quickly dismiss it and follow along with what is comfortable and known?

Recently that voice within me is becoming louder and louder and ever more distinct. The more I follow its guidance, the more I'm led to exactly where I'm supposed to be.

It isn't always easy. Sometimes I have to let go of things and move away from people, organizations, habits, routines, schedules, places, home, familiarity and even comfort.

Following your inner voice can be scary. It can be downright terrifying!

But what is the alternative?

To do something that no longer makes you happy? To live a life that no longer fits you?

I'm listening to that voice within. It's leading me to places I never thought I'd go. I trust that voice. I am willing to go through the uneasiness and even the suffering to live the life I am meant to live.

Today I honor that voice that is distinctly my own. It is my inspiration this evening.

Do you trust and follow the voice within you?

Monday, May 13, 2013

365 Inspirations—133: Soup of Love....

"Only the pure in heart can make a good soup."—Ludwig van Beethoven

Soup. Can it be an inspiration?  I was out of town over the weekend and am still catching my breath. Tonight was rather loooonnnng. Remind me that it's not such a great idea to write blog posts AFTER a 5-hour teaching gig late at night!

I stopped off at the grocery store to pick up miso and tofu because my stomach hurts a little, but I'm hungry. I teach from 4:50pm-9:40pm and don't get home until after 10pm, so I'm often starving.

I walked in the door with all the ingredients to make a hot, soothing bowl of miso soup, but no energy to make it.

My husband agreed to make it while I write this post.

He just walked in my office and handed me the bowl of soup and said, "Here's your soup of LOOOVVVEEEE!"

I can taste the love in the soup! Seriously.

I feel very lucky to have a husband who will make me soup after a long day at the office (he, he!)

It's the little things that really count and I'm so appreciative this evening of this hot bowl of deliciousness sitting next to me that was lovingly prepared by a very kind man.

What are some little things that have made your day? Has anyone done something kind for you lately? Have you done anything kind for someone else?

Sunday, May 12, 2013

365 Inspirations—132: There's No Place Like Home....

"No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow."—Lin Yutang

I know I've written about home before, but it deserves another mention. We had such a great trip, but it's always good to come home and sleep in your own bed. We had to wake up at 4:00 in the morning because we had a flight out of Las Vegas at 7:00 and the shuttle was going to pick us up at 4:50.

As soon as we got home, we hit all our favorite haunts. We had sushi for lunch and while my husband was teaching a yoga class, I went to the Korean supermarket and made him his favorite Korean soup. After dinner, we actually walked around the neighborhood and admired everyone's yard.

Sadly, our yard needs a bit of help. We have two lawnmowers in the garage that are defunct and a weed wacker that blew up right before we left. Yoon got half way done with the backyard when it started smoking and then just stopped.

This weekend, rain or shine, I want to go buy a new mower and get our yard back to the shape it should be in this time of year. My husband Yoon used to LOVE to garden. He did it constantly when we first moved into our house. Now he has such terrible allergies that he doesn't dare try, so I'm going to take a crack at it this coming weekend.

It's a little overcast right now in Seattle and there's a bit of rain. All the plants and flowers are growing wildly, so things need to be pruned or cut, otherwise it gets out of control.

So good to be back and now I'm going to click my heels together like Dorothy and perhaps I'll be transported to my bed! So tired...good night all. More soon!

Did you have a nice weekend? Do you like to spend time at home and in your yard or garden?

Saturday, May 11, 2013

365 Inspirations—131: Cirque du Soleil's 'O' Show

“ ‘O’ is liquid magic…”—
Los Angeles Times
I'm posting this early because I won't have internet access tomorrow. We are heading out on the town to see Cirque du Soleil's 'O' show. I've been anticipating this show for a long time. I'll add to this post later and let you know how it was. But for now I'll leave you with a video sneak peek of the show....

Have you ever seen a show that you would recommend? What was inspirational about it?

Friday, May 10, 2013

365 Inspirations—130: You Can Do Yoga Anywhere

"Vegas is purposefully constructed as a self-enclosed and isolated biosphere, sort of what a recreational colony built on the moon might be like."—Marc Cooper

For those of you who haven't guessed yet, we are in Las Vegas. Last Christmas we came here to celebrate Yoon's 40th birthday with some friends and we were so impressed by the Cirque du Soleil shows here (we saw Beatles Love and Zumanity), that we promised each other that we'd come back for our 10th year wedding anniversary to see 'O,' which is the masterpiece of Cirque du Soleil shows!

Tickets are not cheap to see 'O' and they are rarely discounted. People who have seen this show have told me that you will never see anything like it. The level of showmanship and choreography of this show is, apparently, unbeatable.

Since my husband is a yoga teacher, he is very impressed in these shows to see what the human body can actually do. He finds it inspirational.

Of course, you don't have to flexible or in any special place to do yoga. You can just start where you are and you'd be amazed at the results in only a few days.

I was told I'd never be flexible or be able to bend or touch my toes because of scoliosis. However, yoga has helped me in so many ways and wherever I am, I try and find a way to practice it!

Today at the pool at the Stratosphere Hotel, people were sunbathing, swimming and even sky diving off the top of the Stratosphere Tower.

 It was strange to  be sitting by the pool watching humans free fall off the building every now and then. But this is Vegas and anything goes.

Do you exercise or practice yoga. Do you do it on vacation or wherever you are?

Thursday, May 9, 2013

365 Inspirations—129: Celebrating TEN YEARS

“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.”—Lao Tzu

Internet is spotty here, so these posts may be short! I had to type this post on my iPhone! Not easy!

Yoon and I ran away for our 10th year wedding anniversary...

Here are some photos that may give you an idea of where we are! Can you guess? Don't tell if you already know!

Are you married? Where did you spend your last anniversary?

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

365 Inspirations—128: Leaving on a Jet Plane

"I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move."—Robert Louis Stevenson

That BRIGHT PINK suitcase of mine is heading out on another journey tomorrow. I'm leaving with hubby on a jet plane at the crack of dawn. I'm just getting to my post now. I had to pack and get everything together in the last hour. It's almost midnight!
I'm excited for our upcoming journey.

Can you guess where we are going?

It's probably not where you think.

Should I give you a hint?

Nah, I'll post tomorrow and let you know.

We are going away for a special occasion and we want to see something that we promised each other we'd see at least once in our lives.

I guess you could say it's on our bucket list to see it, but I'm not really a believer in bucket lists. I believe that if you live fully and on purpose, naturally you'll do, see and be everything you need to.

So I'm going to go get some shut eye because we have to get up really eeeaaaarrrrlllly. "Leaving on a jet plane" is my inspiration tonight and my soundtrack this evening.

Tune in tomorrow where I'll be blogging from another world all together.....

Have you ever left on a spontaneous trip? Can you guess where we are going?

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

365 Inspirations—127: Do What You Love....

I was a guest speaker this evening at a non-fiction writing class at the U of W
"Don't aim for success if you want it; just do what you love and believe in, and it will come naturally."—David Frost

Late last night, after writing a post about "struggling," I picked up an old book from a shelf in the living room. Someone gave me that book in 1993 or 1994 at my good-bye party. I had just quit my job.

The book is called Do What You Love and the Money Will Follow. The title says it all.

I needed to revisit that book last night. I needed to remember the circumstances in which I received that book.

I had recently graduated from college and, after an endless job search, I landed my first job at a vocational rehabilitation firm as a job developer. My job was to make cold calls to businesses asking questions about various jobs.

It was good pay, I had my own office with my name on the door, I had great benefits.....but I wasn't happy.

After a meeting one day, I gave my boss my notice. I still remember that day so clearly. I felt so incredibly free. I felt like my car was flying on the way home. At a good-bye party, a co-worker gave me the aforementioned book. She told me that she was proud of me for following my heart. I can't forget that day.

I had no idea what I would do. I lived on ramen for the next few months and got a job as a hostess at Tony Roma's. I moved into the basement of a house because the rent was cheap. I got rid of things. I had a garage sale. I downsized.

I had free time, so I read the book. I volunteered for a literacy program and helped teach a 13-year old boy how to read. Eventually I ended up in Mexico teaching English and later ventured down to South America. My life of teaching ESL and traveling had begun. And I really loved it.

I still love it, but I'm being called to do something else.

Today I was a guest speaker at a non-fiction writing class at the University of Washington. I talked about my journey from blog to book. It was a wonderful group and I felt I had so much to share. I felt I was in my element.

I know this is what I want to do. I want to share my experiences through writing and through classes/workshops/retreats in order to help others fulfill their own dreams, whether it be writing, blogging, knitting, skydiving, unicycling or juggling.

I feel I have a lot to offer and I'm ready to not be afraid of that anymore. I'm ready to move completely into who I am and help others get there too.

This is my calling. This is where I'm headed.

Are you following your passion? Are you living an authentic life that fits who YOU are?

Monday, May 6, 2013

365 Inspirations—126: Struggle

"Opportunity follows struggle. It follows effort. It follows hard work. It doesn't come before."—Shelby Steele 

 Can struggle be an inspiration? Can I learn anything from it? I think so. I'm struggling right now with something and I can't go into details. I'm at the end of something.

End of my rope, perhaps.

I'll get through it, but I don't want to struggle through it anymore.

I want to let go.

I will let go.

Struggle is my inspiration because it is struggle that brings us to that new level of awareness. Afterall, we are really just struggling with ourselves.

The signs are there that things will change.

Today I met a friend for coffee. I only met her once before. The first time was after she read my book and then recognized me on a walking path and said, "Are you Katherine Jenkins?"

I met that person in a coffee shop today for the second time. She had just quit her job and has no plans of what to do next, but she felt this strong pull to completely let go, despite all her fears about it.

Basically, she jumped.

And she met me for coffee after she jumped.

Perhaps I'm the first person she's talked to in-depth since she jumped.

And then a friend called out of the blue....

Something about synchronicity...about the fact that we all are here for a reason...that we all have a purpose. We had talked about it last weekend and the very same subject showed up in her life two more times in one week! She called me to tell me that. She called to tell me that it was important.

And then, in a DAZE driving home from a 5-hour late-night teaching stint tonight, I saw a sign that read:

Your New Home is Closer Than You Think....

I have no idea what that means. Isn't home where the heart is? If it's a new home, does that mean I've had a change of heart?

Not sure what is going on friends, but I'm not much of a struggler. I'd just as soon let go, but I'm facing some fears right now. I don't know how it's going to all work out, but these friends that showed up in my life today assured me that sometimes you have to leave the "how" out of it. You have to ask different questions. Here's my question for you:

Have you ever let go of something despite all your fears of what would happen to you?