On Self-Reliance

A new update:
Well, a few years have gone by.  It is now December 2017.. time to check in on these pages.  I haven't posted since the one below, but I've been busy...

1.) I am co-authoring a book...can't say more than that...yet
2.) Received my Doctorate in Leadership for Educational Equity in May
3.) Time to turn more attention to getting good at Ukulele - and Guitar.  (my lead guitarist and duet partner says adequate is just not good enough!) And to be honest, it simply has remained on the back burner for a long long time.  
4.) The school I helped to found continues without me.  I moved on & now I teach future teachers at Metropolitan State University of Denver.  

New goals: 
hmmmmm..... I'll get back to you when I've met the rest of these!

An Update:

I took this challenge for the month of June 2011.  It is now February 2013, and I thought I would check in and see how I was doing on my promises to myself.  As I read through this page, I found a handfull of things to reflect on...

1.) Writing a book - no, I haven't done it.  But I do have a monthly column in a local news magazine - and that's something. Look for "The Nest Matters" in the Denver Urban Spectrum
2.) Masters Degree - yes, I am registered for graduation in May.  Completing the last class and capstone now at the University of Denver...and I'm looking at Doctoral programs!  
3.) Music - yes, I play ukulele with the band - mostly on blues tunes - because it is unexpected, odd, and it makes people smile in a way the blues hardly ever does.  A fun addition to singing and playing guitar!
4.) My own school -  yes, I'm starting a school!  I couldn't get myself past the financial challenges, so I jumped in and became the educational expertise for someone who had done the business and financial leg work to get a school started.  She founded the school, and I'm in charge of what to teach, who teaches it, and how it is taught.  Pretty scary and exciting stuff to start from the ground up! We open in August... come check out Academy 360

I wonder what directions I will head next!


The Inspiration:

To celebrate Emerson's 208th birthday, The Domino Project is republishing a work of art that's especially relevant today. Self-Reliance by Ralph Waldo Emerson urges readers to trust their intuition rather than conforming to the will of the majority.

#Trust30 is an online initiative and 30-day writing challenge that encourages you to look within and trust yourself. Use this as an opportunity to reflect on your now, and to create direction for your future. 30 prompts from inspiring thought-leaders will guide you on your writing journey.

The First Challenge - May 31st

Gwen Bell – 15 Minutes to Live

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

You just discovered you have fifteen minutes to live.

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

Joy In the Journey

Everything you need to know, you already know. You've always known. Everything you need to do, you've already done. Stop hurrying. Stop worrying. Breathe, enjoy, delight, wonder. It's all good, and nothing you do will change that. Perfection is. You are. Even when you don't believe it, I do. I always did.

It used to frighten me. Knowing everything was perfect. I used to try and ruffle that. I don't know why fear made me try and mess with perfection, but it did. Let go of your fear so you can see the perfection and enjoy the perfection. No matter how you judge it, no matter what anyone else says, it is already perfect. Isn't that wonderful? No need to fear that!

Go, be and do what makes you joyful. That thing that brings out your joy. You know what I mean. When you feel that giggle inside, like you are getting away with something? That's the joy you will want to follow. It will teach you. Better than I, or anyone else ever could.

Because you already know. And the rest is just about enjoying the journey.

The Second Challenge - June 1st

Today by Liz Danzico

Your genuine action will explain itself, and will explain your other genuine actions. Your conformity explains nothing. The force of character is cumulative. – Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self-Reliance

If ‘the voyage of the best ship is a zigzag line of a hundred tacks,’ then it is more genuine to be present today than to recount yesterdays. How would you describe today using only one sentence? Tell today’s sentence to one other person. Repeat each day.


Today is possibility.

The Third Challenge - June 2nd

One Strong Belief by Buster Benson

It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude. - Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self-Reliance
The world is powered by passionate people, powerful ideas, and fearless action. What’s one strong belief you possess that isn’t shared by your closest friends or family? What inspires this belief, and what have you done to actively live it?

I Believe in Learners

Everyone is born desperate to learn, experiment, create and feel joy. These four drive everything we do - until they are corrupted. Once we are convinced that learning is a chore, that experimenting is too great a risk, that there is nothing new to devise, or that joy is associated only with the expense of another, we are fallen.

I am affirmed in this belief every time I watch a child.  Infant laughter increases when adults respond positively. Babies mimic sounds and movements in an effort to acquire new skills. Young children explore and devise new ways to interact with one another and the world in order to understand how things work, invent new things and extract all manner of joy from living. And teens and adults who are most joyous in their lives are invariably those who have found their way back to these fundamental drives.

I spend every day of my career supporting active learning, exploration, creation and joyfulness by fighting off the "systems" that seek to restrain and corral these vital human impulses. I teach kindergarten children to be themselves & to cling to their innate drives. I fight for space in curriculum and for the kinds of learning opportunities that will inspire and inflame the passions of our children. And I act as a model of what a joyful - writer, singer, actor, scientist, musician, mathematician, artist, historian and learner is like.

We are not meant to be programmed, but to be trusted. 

The Fourth Challenge - June 3rd

Post-it Question by Jenny Blake

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

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

Bonus: tweet or blog a photo of your post-it.

How do I make time to practice my music?

Music First

Do it first.  There is my reflection.  It can't be the last thing, the thing I don't get to.  It can't come after the rest of the things I want or need to do for the day.  I just need to do it first.  Music first. 

Of course tomorrow my question will be "how do I make time to..." and I'm not sure how many things I can do first before something else gets bumped off the list.  

For now I will start with Music first.  

The fifth challenge - June 4th

Travel by Chris Guillebeau

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

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


There are only a handful of states we haven't visited, and somehow North Dakota doesn't feel like a priority in the same way that Alaska does.  

We are car travelers and campers, my family and I, so this will be a driving trip in one way or another. The big decisions seem to be - before, or after our son's graduation? With or without him? Since he is finishing his Sophomore year of college in Washington State, we have two years to make this happen.  

Perhaps next summer, or the summer after.  But it's happening. Thanks for the spark!

The Sixth Challenge - June 5th

Come Alive by Jonathan Mead

Life wastes itself while we are preparing to live. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
If you had one week left to live, would you still be doing what you’re doing now? In what areas of your life are you preparing to live? Take them off your To Do list and add them to a To Stop list. Resolve to only do what makes you come alive.
Bonus: How can your goals improve the present and not keep you in a perpetual “always something better” spiral?


Ah. Not much I'd change.  I learned through loss what it means to miss opportunities, and I avoid preparing to live as much as I can.  

I start a fellowship program later this summer, and it is the one area of my life where I am spending time preparing.  I've spent time shopping for text books,  registering for classes, and making schedules for the reading I'll have to do.  

What's funny is that I have no idea what this degree will mean, nor what I'll do with it.  I believe that the act of studying will be another way to bring me alive.  It isn't about the something better.

Meanwhile, I play music with friends, and every rehearsal has my full energy. I spend time with friends in person, or in conversation on line.  I read.  I learn. I encourage. I challenge. I prod. 

ha ha. I like that... there is my title for this. 

Perhaps that is what I do best, and what brings me most alive. Provoking others to live fully and cherish NOW. 

Yes. iprod.

The Seventh Challenge - June 6th

Dare to be bold by Matt Cheuvront

Our arts, our occupations, our marriages, our religion, we have not chosen, but society has chosen for us. We are parlour soldiers. We shun the rugged battle of fate, where strength is born. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Next to Resistance, rational thought is the artist or entrepreneurs worst enemy. Bad things happen when we employ rational thought, because rational thought comes from the ego. Instead, we want to work from the Self, that is, from instinct and intuition, from the unconscious.

A child has no trouble believing the unbelievable, nor does the genius or the madman. Its only you and I, with our big brains and our tiny hearts, who doubt and overthink and hesitate.” - Steven Pressfield, Do the Work

The idea of “being realistic” holds all of us back. From starting a business or quitting a job to dating someone who may not be our type or moving to a new place – getting “real” often means putting your dreams on hold.

Today, let’s take a step away from rational thought and dare to be bold. What’s one thing you’ve always wanted to accomplish but have been afraid to pursue? Write it down. Also write down the obstacles in your way of reaching your goal. Finally, write down a tangible plan to overcome each obstacle.

The only thing left is to, you know, actually go make it happen. What are you waiting for?

Time to write.

Writing my book.  I've wanted to.  I've started to.  My obstacles? Well, resistance of course.  Lots of time excuses.  So much else to do.  

My plan to overcome my own lizard brain? Wow. Just get going and refuse to stop.

So, actually making it happen is the only thing left to do.  What am I waiting for? What am I waiting for? What am I waiting for?!

I guess it's time to write!

The Eighth Challenge - June 7th

Five Years by Corbett Barr

There will be an agreement in whatever variety of actions, so they be each honest and natural in their hour. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
What would you say to the person you were five years ago? What will you say to the person you’ll be in five years?

Five Years Ago?

Start now.

Five Years From Now?

Don't Stop.

The Ninth Challenge - June 8th

Afraid to Do by Mary Jaksch

The other terror that scares us from self-trust is our consistency; a reverence for our past act or word, because the eyes of others have no other data for computing our orbit than our past acts, and we are loath to disappoint them. - Ralph Waldo Emerson
Emerson says: “Always do what you are afraid to do.” What is ‘too scary’ to write about? Try doing it now.

Am I Brave Enough?

I just finished writing a brief bio for publication in a "meet the fellows" brochure.  It was hard to write - I went back and forth between writing it in third person and writing it more personally.  

I found that saying "I" and then listing citations, certifications, and accomplishments was very hard.  

So I did just that. 

And then I clicked "save" instead of "send" so that I could think about it a bit longer. 

And now this challenge.  Seems like a timely reminder, so I'm off to do what is too scary and send that bio.  

Will I be brave enough to do it without re-reading? Probably not.  I mean, certainly I have to check for errors, right? 

But I commit, here and now, to send it in first person, and to send it today. Cause that is too scary.

The tenth challenge - June 9th

Your Personal Message by Eric Handler

To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men, that is genius. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
What is burning deep inside of you? If you could spread your personal message RIGHT NOW to 1 million people, what would you say?

Point your compass toward JOY!

Why would you spend another minute living in anger, frustration, hurt, or fear? Let go of your focus on the negative.  Give up what makes you unhappy.  Go where your joy is. Follow your bliss.  If you don't know what your passion is, simply point your compass toward JOY and follow it home!  We can live beautiful and fulfilled lives.  If we choose to.  

The eleventh challenge - June 10th

Divine Idea by Fabian Kruse

Imitation is Suicide. Insist on yourself; never imitate. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Write down in which areas of your life you have to overcome these suicidal tendencies of imitation, and how you can transform them into a newborn you – one that doesn’t hide its uniqueness, but thrives on it. There is a “divine idea which each of us represents” – which is yours?


Being comfortable with my uniqueness has never been a road block of mine. I don't have any interest in compromising who I am in order to be like someone else, and certainly not to live up to someone else's idea of who I should be. I never have.  It has been a challenge to fight those who wish to bend me to a norm, but not a battle I've ever shied from.  I thrive on my uniqueness, and avoid those who would wish to change me or see me as one of the crowd. 

The divine idea I represent?  Non-conformity.

The twelfth challenge - June 11th

Fear by Lachlan Cotter

These are the voices which we hear in solitude, but they grow faint and inaudible as we enter into the world. Society everywhere is in conspiracy against the manhood of every one of its members. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Is fear holding you back from living your fullest life and being truly self expressed? Put yourself in the shoes of the you who’s already lived your dream and write out the answers to the following:
Is the insecurity you’re defending worth the dream you’ll never realize? or the love you’ll never venture? or the joy you’ll never feel?
Will the blunder matter in 10 years? Or 10 weeks? Or 10 days? Or 10 minutes?
Can you be happy being anything less than who you really are?
Now Do. The Thing. You Fear.

Today I'm Fearless.

Every morning I put my feet into the shoes of the me who has already lived my dream.  I wear those shoes to the job I would do even if they stopped paying me. I take those shoes out with the people I choose to be around. I get on stage in those shoes and do what brings me joy.  I come home to rooms full of love I've never hesitated to invite in. And at night, I tuck those shoes under the bed of the greatest love my heart can imagine. 

Are there still things I'd love to do? Of course!  But I know that continuing to put one shoe in front of the other, I will do them.  And dream new dreams.  And chase new ventures. And feel new joys.  

For today, I think I'll take my shoes to a park, play some music, and work on my book.

The thirteenth challenge - June 12th

Surprise by Ashley Ambirge

I will not hide my tastes or aversions. I will so trust that what is deep is holy, if we follow the truth, it will bring us out safe at last. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Think of a time when you didn’t think you were capable of doing something, but then surprised yourself. How will you surprise yourself this week?

My Giant Ego

There are things I shy away from doing. There are things I resist doing. There are even things I refuse to do.  But there is very little I feel incapable of. 

I know that I can do just about anything I set my mind to. 

Perhaps I just have that big an ego. 
Or perhaps 27 years of telling young children that they can do anything has worn off on me. But I don't doubt myself anywhere near as often as I fall short of my own expectations!

I frequently surprise myself with failed attempts.  

Last Summer I decided to get a group of young people to start blogging with me.  I set up a community of networked blogs and got 6 or 7 kids started on their blogs.  All of them wrote at least once.  Some wrote two or three times.  I myself wrote a half dozen posts, and then it faded. I was shocked that I didn't make that fly.

I decided that I needed to focus on what I wanted to say, not on what 'we' were going to do with this site. I took what I learned about site design and traffic and so forth, and I started a new blog. (If you are reading this, you've found it)  

My enormous ego fears nothing, but it also takes nothing personally.  A failure is less a reflection on my capabilities than it is an opportunity to learn and grow.

This week I will write a full chapter for my book.  I will learn to play a new song. I will provoke a stuck friend to action. I will support a friend in her battle with addiction.  I will make someone laugh long and hard.  I will delight a child. I will please someone's ears and lift their spirits with my singing. I will host the most enjoyable bbq and game night of the year. 

And I'll be surprised if I fail at any of them!

The fourteenth challenge - June 13th
When good is near you, when you have life in yourself, it is not by any known or accustomed way; you shall not discern the foot-prints of any other; you shall not see the face of man; you shall not hear any name; the way, the thought, the good, shall be wholly strange and new. - Ralph Waldo Emerson
The world buzzes about goals and visions. Focus. Create a vivid picture of exactly where you want to go. Dream big, then don’t let anything or anyone stop you. The problem, as Daniel Gilbert wrote in Stumbling Upon Happiness, is that we’re horrible at forecasting how we’ll really feel 10 or 20 years from now – once we’ve gotten what we dreamed of. Often, we get there only to say, “That’s not what I thought it would be,” and ask, “What now?” Ambition is good. Blind ambition is not. It blocks out not only distraction, but the many opportunities that might take you off course but that may also lead you in a new direction. Consistent daily action is only a virtue when bundled with a willingness to remain open to the unknown. In this exercise, look at your current quest and ask, “What alternative opportunities, interpretations and paths am I not seeing?” They’re always there, but you’ve got to choose to see them.


I wrote all about how this 'willingness to remain open to the unknown' is the story of my career transitions.  How making ready for anything and then taking the opportunity that presents itself is how I have always seen my drive and ambition, and how I'm often seen as scattered, or calculating.

And then a bolt of lightening and a crack of thunder, and my power was gone and my writing lost.  

So, I started again - but this time I decided I would write it differently. 

Hermit Crab

When the shell is too small and cramped, it is time to find a new one.  But to enter the new shell, I first must risk exposure by leaving behind the too tight shell that has come to feel like home.  

And so I prepare.  I know that I must find a new shell.  But I'm not exactly sure how large I've grown in this one, or what that new shell will look like.  I know it will be larger. I know this is a move UP.  

So I clear the decks of all those smaller shells, and even some that look "just right" because I know they will not give me room to grow.

I begin collecting other, larger shells.  Not just one - what if it isn't an exact fit? What if someone else is better for that one?  What if the previous inhabitant left it a mess?  No, I need to collect a few options, and arrange them around me.

When I make this move, it must be swift and complete.  I can't move part way and then come back to this home. I can't get back into this old shell once I leave it and stretch myself out fully.  

Besides, all manner of predator await me while I am raw and vulnerable, and there is always someone else, waiting in the shadows, to take on my old abandoned shell.

So I prepare.  I make a space.  I arrange this assortment of possible new shells.  And I keep my eyes peeled for just the right moment.

And suddenly, unexpectedly, someone abandons the perfect shell just there in front of me.  No coincidence that.  It is there because it is right.  

Besides, if it isn't, I've got all these other shells arranged, and I can move again pretty easily. I'll keep those as back up plans, but this is such an unlikely happening...

Best if I simply seize the chance and step into that new shell.  If it doesn't seem exactly right at first, I can maneuver around a bit.  And grow.  Certainly I will grow, and it will become comfortable.  For a time.

And when it isn't, I will move on again. 

The fifteenth challenge - June 14th

One Thing by Colin Wright

Do your work, and I shall know you. Do your work, and you shall reinforce yourself. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Take a moment, step back from your concerns, and focus on one thing: You have one life to achieve everything you’ve ever wanted. Sounds simple, but when you really focus on it, let it seep into your consciousness, you realize you only have about 100 years to get every single thing you’ve ever wanted to do. No second chances. This is your only shot. Suddenly, this means you should have started yesterday. No more waiting for permission or resources to start. Today is the day you make the rest of your life happen. Write down one thing you’ve always wanted to do and how you will achieve that goal. Don’t be afraid to be very specific in how you’ll achieve it: once you start achieving, your goals will get bigger and your capability to meet them will grow.

Masters Degree

I thought I'd have a Masters in Education by now.  I've started on it a few times.  I thought I'd get one in Arts Integration - even attended a few introductory sessions and orientations for schools.  I took some classes toward one in Technology Integration. For a while I considered following up on the courses I'd taken in Gifted Education and getting a degree at that.  Picked out the school and assembled all the materials.  Took some classes to coach Math, Literacy, and Science. Then I decided that Teaching English Language Learners was more connected.  I enrolled and started a program for that, but stopped after getting the Diverse Learner's Certification.  

For a time I thought I just had too many interests in the field of Education to actually limit myself by getting only one Masters, but I could use my coaching work and my certifications in Child Care, and get a Masters in Administration.

I tried to find a program that would accept my assortment of credits from the assortment of universities I've begun coursework though. Finally, 
I realized that I would have to choose something if I was ever going to meet this goal.

So, I chose Early Childhood Educational Leadership.  It includes that Administrative piece that is generally seen as a move upward, and one thing that has stayed true for me is my love for working with young children. So, Arts, Technology, Gifted, Diverse Learners, Literacy, Math, Science, Instructional Leadership - but all focused on working with children under the age of 8.

So, I found a program, applied for and received a Fellowship Grant, and was accepted into a Master's Program.  It will take one year to achieve the Early Childhood Leadership certification, and an additional year to complete the Master of Arts in Educational Administration and Policy Studies. 

So, you've certainly guessed that I fully expect to complete year one and find that my interest has shifted.

But, half of my 100 years has already passed, and if there is 'one thing' that I want to achieve, and that I needed to start yesterday, it is this.

I am going to get a Masters of Arts in Education from the University of Denver. 

The steps to complete this task are: 

1. do the assigned reading for the class that starts at the end of this month.

2. manage the coursework throughout this coming school year while in the Fellowship program.

3. find funding to pay for the second half of the program

4. enroll in the classes needed to complete the Masters

5. use my network of Fellows for motivation, encouragement and support to maintain momentum and complete the program.

6. get an MA.  finally.

7. start looking into PhD programs. (why not, 50 years is a loooong time!)

The sixteenth challenge - June 15th

Wholly Strange and New by Bridget Pilloud

When good is near you, when you have life in yourself, it is not by any known or accustomed way; you shall not discern the foot-prints of any other; you shall not see the face of man; you shall not hear any name;—— the way, the thought, the good, shall be wholly strange and new. - Ralph Waldo Emerson
Can you remember a moment in your life when you had life in yourself and it was wholly strange and new? Can you remember the moment when you stopped walking a path of someone else, and started cutting your own?
Write about that moment. And if you haven’t experienced it yet, let the miracle play out in your mind’s eye and write about that moment in your future.


I decided thirty-some years ago that I wanted to teach young children.  I researched schools and training programs to find a course that would get me there.  I found that to be a Montessori certified teacher, I needed a BA, but not a teaching degree.  I enrolled in college "undecided" and explored the education major thinking I could have a state licence to teach as well as the BA.

The head of the Education department explained to a class full of eager freshmen that teachers are born, and not made, and that she would be deciding which of us were 'meant' to be teachers, and those of us who were not, would not make it through the program.

Far from motivating me, this lecture was the determining factor in my electing to major in Child Psychology instead of Education.  Not because I feared I was not born to teach, nor because I disagreed with her and felt anyone could learn to teach.  But because I knew that if any of us were 'meant' to teach, we would be 'meant' to encourage students that they can achieve anything, regardless of their birth, thus ruling out the head of the department. Not a "born teacher" by any definition I could accept, she would not be determining the fate of my career path.

This was the moment I cut my own path.  

Majoring in Child Psychology, I could elect to take Education classes, I could do field work in school settings, I could study Human Growth and Development rather than Lesson Planning and Curriculum.

I later went on to get a state certification once I had my BA and Montessori Certification and some years in the classroom.  But I believe to this day that I am a better teacher because of this path than I ever could have been otherwise.  

I  have much to thank that professor for!

The seventeenth challenge - June 16th

Invent the Future by Cindy Gallop

A man should learn to detect and watch that gleam of light which flashes across his mind from within, more than the lustre of the firmament of bards and sages. Yet he dismisses without notice his thought, because it is his. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
My favorite quote of all time is Alan Kay: ‘In order to predict the future, you have to invent it.’ I am all about inventing the future. Decide what you want the future to be and make it happen. Because you can. Write about your future now.

Coming Closer 

That gleam of light from within is the steering star for most of what I do.  I doubt myself and my intuition very rarely.  When I notice that flash, I follow it.  I talk about it.  I act on it. And it is a better guide than any compass, map or mystic.

Inventing the future is a practice my family has made rituals of and that we routinely remind one another of.  But the future has many many facets and we create pieces jointly and invent others separately
 and together weave a tapestry and celebrate our handiwork.

So, a part of that future is a home.  A place large enough for all our dreams to fall together.  A school, a theater, a community center, a music venue, a club house, a hang out, a children's house.  This place will have space for families to bring children while they work and know that they are safe and loved and learning.  It will have space for children to come and escape, socialize, create where they can feel safe and loved and they can learn.  It will have music, and costumes, and paint and canvas, and computers and popcorn and juice, and gardens and laughter.

We've been dreaming this place for many years, and taking steps - each of us - toward that vision.  And we know, that when the time is right, that steering star will appear, and we will follow it and land where we imagined.  

It is so close now that we have begun looking at properties...

The eighteenth challenge - June 17th

Dreams by Michael Rad

Abide in the simple and noble regions of thy life, obey thy heart. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Write down your top three dreams. Now write down what’s holding you back from them.

3 Dreams

Own my own school 

Held back by -  nothing, taking the steps now.

Own a clubhouse / youth arts center / theater

Held back by - nothing, taking the steps now.

Write a book

Held back by - nothing, taking the steps now.

The nineteenth challenge - June 18th

Facing (and Fearing) by Dan Andrews

Greatness appeals to the future. If I can be firm enough to-day to do right, and scorn eyes, I must have done so much right before as to defend me now. Be it how it will, do right now. Always scorn appearances, and you always may. - Ralph Waldo Emerson
Trusting intuition and making decisions based on it is the most important activity of the creative artist and entrepreneur. If you are facing (and fearing) a difficult life decision, ask yourself these three questions:
1) “What are the costs of inaction?” I find it can be helpful to fight fear with fear. Fears of acting are easily and immediately articulated by our “lizard brains” (thanks Seth) e.g. what if I fail? what if I look stupid? If you systematically and clearly list the main costs of inaction, they will generally overshadow your immediate fears.
2) “What kind of person do I want to be?” I’ve found this question to be extremely useful. I admire people who act bravely and decisively. I know the only way to join their ranks is to face decisions that scare me. By seeing my actions as a path to becoming something I admire, I am more likely to act and make the tough calls.
3) “In the event of failure, could I generate an alterative positive outcome?” Imagine yourself failing to an extreme. What could you learn or do in that situation to make it a positive experience? We are generally so committed to the results we seek at the outset of a task or project that we forget about all the incredible value and experience that comes from engaging the world proactively, learning, and improving our circumstances as we go along.

On Intuition

Trusting intuition is the foundation of all Art.  

Nature speaks to us in the space between  thoughts and sparks of genius appear when we allow our conscious mind to rest.

What we create from intuition is truth, and truth is Art.

When we attempt to create and allow our thoughts, resistance, and the distractions of the world to interfere, we succeed in making an imitation of the truth, but only real Truth is Art.

The cost of fighting intuition and not acting on inspiration is the loss of Art.  Without Art we cannot know Truth in this life.

Who I wish to be? I wish to be an Artist, sharing Truth, surrounded by Truth shared by other Artists.

Should this plan fail, what a beautiful thing the attempt!

The twentieth challenge - June 19th

Speak Less by Laura Kimball
What I must do is all that concerns me, not what the people think. This rule, equally arduous in actual and in intellectual life, may serve for the whole distinction between greatness and meanness. It is the harder, because you will always find those who think they know what is your duty better than you know I. - Ralph Waldo Emerson
I once received a fortune cookie that read: “Speak less of your plans, you’ll get more done.” What’s one project that you’ve been sitting on and thinking about but haven’t made progress on? What’s stopping you? What would happen if you actually went for it and did it?

Speak MORE

I guess the one project I've been sitting on is opening my school/center.  

I've made progress, but I haven't landed the site yet.

What is stopping me is that it isn't time yet.  I'll know when it is because things will come together.  They always do.  The moment will arrive when I will see the ledge and I will need to leap.  And the ledge is coming closer, I can feel it.

I'm just not sure that speaking less will make more action happen.  It isn't the kind of project that requires me to work in secret to complete it.  It is the kind of project that I've been doing my work toward for many many years, and what it will take to reach completion is others.  

Speaking less is the worst thing I could do now.  Now is the time where I need to make my intentions known and gather support.  It will take support to set a ship date, but I can see it on the horizon.  

The twenty-first challenge - June 20th

You Know by Jen Louden

Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind. Absolve you to yourself, and you shall have the suffrage of the world. - Ralph Waldo Emerson
We live in a society of advice columns, experts and make-over shows. Without even knowing it, you can begin to believe someone knows better than you how to live your life. Someone might know a particular something better – like how to bake a three-layer molten coconut chocolate cake or how to build a website – but nobody else on the planet knows how to live your life better than you. (Although one or two people may think they do.) For today, trying asking yourself often, especially before you make a choice, “What do I know about this?”

I Know

I often ask for input, suggestions, thoughts and ideas when making a decision, but in the end, my own intuition will win out.  

Why I feel the need to process with others and try to justify my decisions I  don't know. And so, today, I made decisions independently of others.  I doubt I made any choices I wouldn't have made otherwise, but I found myself questioning my "gut" instincts much more once the choice was made.

Tomorrow I think I will trust my instincts and make my own choices as I always do, but I  think I'll go back to the verbal processing that helps me see my insights clearly.

The twenty-second challenge - June 21st

Enthusiasm by Mars Dorian

Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.” is a great line from Emerson. If there’s no enthusiasm in what you do, it won’t be remarkable and certainly won’t connect with people on an emotional basis. But, if you put that magic energy into all of your work, you can create something that touches people on a deeper level. How can you bring MORE enthusiasm into your work? What do you have to think or believe about your work to be totally excited about it? Answer it now.


I don't know that I could manage to bring more enthusiasm to my work.  I love what I do and I love that I get to do it! I spend my time and my energy on what I love to do and on what I am totally excited about. Having tasted a life of following my passion, I can't imagine going back!

More enthusiasm? I don't think there is more.

The twenty-third challenge - June 22nd

Courage to Connect by David Spinks

Men imagine that they communicate their virtue or vice only by overt actions, and do not see that virtue or vice emit a breath every moment. - Ralph Waldo Emerson
Who is one person that you’ve been dying to connect with, but just haven’t had the courage to reach out to? First, reflect on why you want to get in touch with them. Then, reach out and set up a meeting.

The President?

Well, I sat with this prompt for a while.  I really tried to rack my  brains to find someone that I wanted to connect with but hadn't.  It seems that when I want to meet with someone, I do.  Sometimes it takes going out of  your way.  Sometimes it takes picking up the phone.  Sometimes it takes just showing up. But often, it seems that connecting with that next right person is simply following the impulse and the offers.

So, I thought about it and it occurred to me that I'd love to meet the president, but he isn't exactly someone you just reach out and set a meeting with.  And then I remembered a link someone sent me where you make a donation (as little as $5.) and you could be randomly selected to have dinner with the president.  

I donated today.  

The twenty-fourth challenge - June 23rd

Intuition by Susan Piver

The secret of fortune is joy in our hands. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
If you could picture your intuition as a person, what would he or she look like? If you sat down together for dinner, what is the first thing he or she would tell you?

Got it.

I sit down at my favorite table, the one that just seemed right when I walked in.  I scoot my seat in and look up to see myself across the table.  I blink.  She smiles.  I recognize my ideal self instantly and nod.  I immediately know what steps to self actualization I have not taken because I can see our differences.  I smile knowingly.  She says "Thanks for believing in me.  We've got this."  I close my eyes to drink in the moment, and when I open my eyes, she's gone.  

The twenty-fifth challenge - June 24th

Most Ordinary by Patti Digh

Good and bad are but names very readily transferable to that or this; the only right is what is after my constitution, the only wrong what is against it. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
We are our most potent at our most ordinary. And yet most of us discount our “ordinary” because it is, well, ordinary. Or so we believe. But my ordinary is not yours. Three things block us from putting down our clever and picking up our ordinary: false comparisons with others (I’m not as good a writer as _____), false expectations of ourselves (I should be on the NYTimes best seller list or not write at all), and false investments in a story (it’s all been written before, I shouldn’t bother). What are your false comparisons? What are your false expectations? What are your false investments in a story? List them. Each keep you from that internal knowing about which Emerson writes. Each keeps you from making your strong offer to the world. Put down your clever, and pick up your ordinary.


False comparisons
   - I am not credentialed enough to do this.

False expectations
   - I should be able to do this without much effort.

False investments in a story
  - What I have to do can wait till I'm ready.

The twenty-sixth challenge - June 25th

Call to Arms by Sasha Dichter

The secret of fortune is joy in our hands. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
What if today, right now, no jokes at all, you were actually in charge, the boss, the Head Honcho. Write the “call to arms” note you’re sending to everyone (staff, customers, suppliers, Board) charting the path ahead for the next 12 months and the next 5 years. Now take this manifesto, print it out somewhere you can see, preferably in big letters you can read from your chair.
You’re just written your own job description. You know what you have to do. Go!
(bonus: send it to the CEO with the title “The things we absolutely have to get right – nothing else matters.”)

See the Possible

We are on the road to amazing things!  Now it's time to step it up.

Teachers - Follow the lead and imagination of your students!  They know where they need to go, and  you must facilitate their learning in the way they each learn best.  Get some tech training, and spend some time practicing - don't worry,  your students will help you.  Forget the pacing guides, scripted curriculum, and standardized tests.  Remember why you entered this profession!  It is time to see the possible!! 

Students - You are responsible for your learning!  Get to work!   Help your teachers know what works for you, share what you are learning with your families.  It is time to see the possible!

Parents -  Expect greatness!  Celebrate everything!  No more placing blame, no more excuses.  It's time to see the possible!

Administration - It is time to see the possible!!  Here we go!!

The twenty-seventh challenge - June 26th

Personal Recipe by Harley Schreiber
I do not wish to expiate, but to live. My life is for itself and not for a spectacle. I much prefer that it should be of a lower strain, so it be genuine and equal, than that it should be glittering and unsteady. I wish it to be sound and sweet, and not to need diet and bleeding. - Ralph Waldo Emerson
Think about the type of person you’d NEVER want to be 5 years from now. Write out your own personal recipe to prevent this from happening and commit to following it. “Thought is the seed of action.”

Go, Go, Go!

I do not wish to find myself stuck.  Ever.  Forward movement always.  

My recipe then would be to continue to grow, learn and explore.  

To maintain focus on the positive, the possible and the potential.  

To wonder and delight in the unexpected. 

To be grateful always. 

To share my thoughts and feelings without fear. 

And to be ever mindful to take the next right action - even when I'm not sure of the path or the destination - and trust that I will get where I need to go.  

As long as I keep moving forward.

The twenty-eighth challenge - June 27th

Alive-est by Sam Davidson

Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind. If we follow the truth, it will bring us out safe at last. - Ralph Waldo Emerson
When did you feel most alive recently? Where were you? What did you smell? What sights and sounds did you experience? Capture that moment on paper and recall that feeling. Then, when it’s time to create something, read your own words to reclaim a sense of being to motivate you to complete a task at hand.


There are two times/places where I feel most alive.
One is with children in a classroom. When the plan is right, and the reaction is genuine, and the minds light up, and the laughter rings, and I know that trusting their lead is the best curriculum map ever made.

When I feel that I am not in the way, and that truth moves through me, that is when I am most alive!

The other is when I sing with friends. When others feel my joy, and people are moved by emotion while listening, when the notes ring true and the music blends with the feelings of the musicians, and I know that trusting the listener to understand is the best composition I can offer.

When I feel that I am not in the way, and that truth moves through me, that is when I am most alive!

Sometimes it happens when I speak. Sometimes when I write. Sometimes when I design. Sometimes when I act. Usually when I facilitate learning - but not if I get caught up in my "teaching." And always, always when I sing.

When I know that it is not MINE, that it is through me and not of me...that is when I am certain that life has made me a tool to bring Art and Love to the world.

That is when I come alive.

What a great reminder to rebel against the expected, the required, the harnessed and the rote. Inspiration doesn't come unless the heart is open and the ego is not blocking the way.

The twenty-ninth challenge - June 28th

Overcoming Uncertainty by Sean Ogle

Nothing can bring you peace but yourself. Nothing can bring you peace but the triumph of principles. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Write down a major life goal you have yet to achieve or even begin to take action on. For each goal, write down three uncertainties (read: fears) you have relating to each goal. Break it down further, and write down three reasons for each uncertainty. When you have three reasons for your fear, you’ll be able to start processing the change because you know where the fear stems from. Now you’ll be able to make a smaller changes that push you towards your larger goal. So begins the process of “trusting yourself.”

Trusting myself

Goal - My own school

Uncertainties -

1. location

- if I pick the wrong place I'll be bound to it

- if I pick the wrong place I'll have to make it work

- if I pick the wrong place I'll have regrets

2. financing

- no savings to start from

- no experience getting $ support

- no fall back plan/security

3. clients

- if I choose the wrong age group I limit myself

- if I'm not in the right place will I have long term clients

- if I don't have clients to start, am I ready to start...

Of course I'm ready to start!

The thirtieth challenge - June 29th

10 Year Text by Tia Singh

Speak what you think now in hard words, and tomorrow speak what tomorrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said today. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Imagine your future self, ie, you 10 years from now. If he/she were to send you a tweet or text message, 1) what would it say and 2) how would that transform your life or change something you’re doing, thinking, believing or saying today?
Ten years

1.) Come on in! The water's fine!

2.) Gotta get to work now.  Bye!!

The thirty-first challenge! - June 30th

Image by Matthew Stillman

Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Mess up your hair. If you are wearing makeup – smudge it. If you have a pair of pants that dont really fit you – put them on. Put on a top that doesn’t go with those pants. Go to your sock drawer. Pull out two socks that don’t match. Different lengths, materials, colors, elasticity.
Now two shoes. You know the drill.
Need to add more? Ties? Hair clips? Stick your gut out? I trust you to go further.
Take a picture.
Get ready to post it online.
Are you feeling dread? Excitement? Is this not the image you have of yourself? Write about the fear or the thrill that this raises in you? Who do you need to look good for and what story does it tell about you? Or why don’t you care?

Identity =/= Image

A thirty-first challenge? An unexpected surprise! And the timing is... perfect.

Today I went to the first session of my program at the University. One of the tasks we had to complete today was to get our student IDs and photos for the Fellowship website and brochures etc. I sat down in front of the camera for my photo, and the photographer turned the screen so I could look and approve. After having walked in the wind to the building, I was rather disheveled. I smiled and he asked if I wanted another shot. I said I was pretty sure that it was a picture of me, so it would be fine. He said something about my hair being in my eyes and the glare from my glasses, but shrugged and processed my ID.  

When his assistant handed it to me, I said "yup. That's me. Perfect."  

She explained that students often pay the $20 replacement fee just for the chance to get a photo they think is more perfect, so she was glad I was happy with it.

She misunderstood me. 

The thirty-second challenge - July 1st

Fault and Change by Carlos Miceli

I must be myself. I cannot break myself any longer for you, or you. - Ralph Waldo Emerson
Think of all the things that are not working in your life. That job you don’t like, that relationship that’s not working, those friends that annoy you. Now turn them all on you. Imagine that everything that’s not working in your life, is your fault. How would you approach it? What would you work on to change your life to the state that you want it to be?


No.  I have no interest in placing blame or finding fault.  Not with others nor myself.  Certainly I can own my part in anything that happens, I can take responsibility and change what I don't like, but fault is a judgement that can carry guilt and can oppress or victimize. 

I'd rather change the game, be the board, own my part and alter my actions so that blame is not necessary.  

Roz and Ben Zander's The Art of Possibility is an excellent read if you want to change how you think about fault.  

As for me, I must be myself.


  1. I love what you wrote, I have to confess that I struggle to find pictures of me that I like, but you are right, a picture of me is me ... it is all a matter of perception. Great job pressing past 30 days on the challenge, I better jump aboard again, I really missed writing yesterday.

  2. I was really torn about going on when I saw the 32nd challenge posted. Amazing what a word of encouragement will do! Thanks!!

  3. This is so great. I only saw you on the FB page recently...did you just start or had you been doing it since May? I have not read them all yet...but will try to...a lot of wisdom in these posts!! Take care.

    Peace, Nico
    p.s. thank you for comment on my blog today!