Authentic Success

Authentic Success

To laugh often and much;
To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children;
To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends;
To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others;
To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition;
To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.
This is to have succeeded.

~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Gem on the Steps - CoffeeJitters.Net

Ralph Waldo Emerson is one of my favorite thinkers, and that quote really spoke to me this morning.

I tend to be hard on myself – comparing myself to others, and the outward expressions of their success: prestigious job with matching paycheck, or even just the ability to pay the rent. I especially have to be careful about checking my envy of those who are so adept and prolific in outward expressions of creativity.

I think back on my life and want to change decisions made in the past, but I know those changes would sever my connection to those who love me for who I really am.  I am so blessed to have finally found people who value integrity and not only accept, but expect, authenticity from me. It’s a new kind of challenge, after a lifetime of trying to force myself into a box I was never meant to fit.

There is another quote that is making its rounds of the internet this morning. It showed up just as I needed it:

‎”Developing self-esteem requires an act of revolution, or several mini-revolutions, in which we begin to separate from group thought and establish our own sense of authority.”

~ Caroline Myss

It took me a long time to learn that decisions made to impress a specific group of people, such as a bag or shoes far out of my price range, or political party membership, is not a healthy way to build a relationship. Putting myself in debt for designer duds to impress someone moves me away from independence rather than towards it. I’m not acting on my own authority when I’m beholden to the opinions of others. When my self-esteem is healthy, and my relationships are healthy, then those relationships are secure, regardless of who designed my bag, or whether I voted the same way as the rest of my family. That is a freeing realization.

confidence - CoffeeJitters.Net

When I think of the effort it took to extract myself from group-think and learn to evaluate all the information available to me, rather than only considering that which reinforced the group’s position, I consider my daughter and her development.  How do I teach her that she does not have to feel guilty for thoroughly pondering information available to her, and coming to a different conclusion from me? How do I teach her that the value of a position lies not in how it compares to my own, but in the integrity with which it is contemplated, and her willingness to reconsider with new understanding when new information is made available? How do I teach her that everything must be questioned, including me? How do I help her  work around/through this stumbling block that consumed such a large percentage of my life? Do I help her? Or is that one of those things we need to work through on our own?

Gem - CoffeeJitters.Net

So much to ponder…. How do you define authentic success?

The Guarded Beauty of New Orleans

The Guarded Beauty of New Orleans

One of the most precious and valuable benefits of travel is that it takes you out of your comfort zone, and if you’re open to the experience, it provides perspective. Travel teaches us about other cultures, but it also gives us the opportunity to learn about ourselves.

The Guarded Beauty of New Orleans

It is hard to forget the devastation of Hurricane Katrina when thinking of New Orleans. The city and the people are still recovering from that natural and man-made disaster. But they are recovering, and New Orleans showed my friends and me a grand time while we were there last month.

The Guarded Beauty of New Orleans

But as we strolled outside the welcoming, touristy areas of the French Quarter, I was reminded that there is a hard-earned need to be a bit self-protective here.

The Guarded Beauty of New Orleans

It also made me think about how guarded I can be in my own life, sometimes sharing information in one area to draw attention away from another.

The Guarded Beauty of New Orleans

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

The Guarded Beauty of New Orleans


The Guarded Beauty of New Orleans

The Guarded Beauty of New Orleans

The streets were lonely, but for my friend and I. No signs of life. No movement aside from the occasional breeze. The picture below was different just because there was another person on the street. The quiet was eerie. There was no question we had wandered outside of the tourist area.

The Guarded Beauty of New Orleans

The Guarded Beauty of New Orleans

This sidewalk seating area looked like a page from a catalog to me. Different in that there were signs of life with the chairs and tree, and yet, I wonder how often anyone actually sits there.

The Guarded Beauty of New Orleans

The Guarded Beauty of New Orleans

The shutters faced outward, to the world, to the environment, but we learned that most of these homes surrounded courtyards that were the gathering places of friends and family.

The Guarded Beauty of New Orleans

Just a glimpse here and there, and we could see that once past that tough shell, the interior was a friendly and welcoming place to those invited.



ww linkup is on page 2



It was a grey, blustery day, perfectly suited to my grey, blustery mood. I was dragging my cranky toddler and cantankerous husband through that most soul-suckingly dreadful chore: grocery shopping.


All the while I was complaining about the fatigue I’m still battling, and my ever growing list of things I STILL haven’t gotten done yet.


What happened to my inspiration, I wondered. What happened to that drive that kept me up all night, not because I had to do something, but because I was so passionate about that project that I couldn’t not work on it?

Inspired | Judy Schwartz Haley | CoffeeJitters

“You used to find inspiration everywhere,” my husband said – rather insensitively, I thought.


That comment pissed me off a little bit, mostly because he was right. (Is there anything quite so infuriating as a spouse who is right?)


I used to be able to look around wherever I was and find something, some little something, that lit something in me.


I looked around at the displays of produce. Those peppers are really orange. Look how the water beads up and sparkles on the broccoli.


It started coming back. Not the up all night because I’m so driven type of inspiration, but enough for me to come back to the store then next day with my camera.


Not a thing changed in that store to bring about that change in me, not the lighting, not the moods of my companions, just a little shift in what I was noticing.


Also: dinner tonight is rainbow chard, black beans, mushrooms, and quinoa. No recipe, I just felt inspired to put those things together. We’ll see how that turns out.


What inspired you lately? And, what’s for dinner?


My favorite photos of 2011

I’m still learning to use my new camera, but I sure got a lot of practice with all our adventure this year. Here are some of my favorite photos.


We learned that bears like to eat dandelions



My daughter discovered the most fascinating animal at the zoo



I spent a little time in our back yard capturing ducks and lily pads



my daughter showed off her fashion sense



I trespassed in a beaver family’s back yard



I listed my 10 favorite places to be 



I got up close with some Poppies – I had no idea they were so hairy



I tried out the macro lens chasing down raindrops



My daughter and I explored Turnagain Pass in Alaska



I went tourist at Pike Place Market



I got all deep and philosophical about a Foggy Day



and I can’t finish this post without including another picture of the sweetest little girl in the world


The joy of giving

She still has the Christmas spirit.


Her favorite toys laid out on a piece of pretty wrapping paper


Carefully wrapped


and topped with a pretty bow…


Berry Christmas, Mommy!


presented with both hands and a proud, beaming smile


It’s not just her toys. She’s used this one piece of paper to gift me with a book, a deck of cards, a shoe, my cell phone, the remote, and a dirty fork. But she has discovered the joy of giving.

Adventure makes me happy, and I have my shoes on

Adventure makes me happy, and I have my shoes on

Every once in a while, my daughter says something that makes me look at her in a whole new light.

The other day, she started our day at 6 am, by saying “adventure makes me happy, and I have my shoes on.”

adventure makes me happy

I’ve always known she was adaptable, and maybe even adventurous, and she’s happily rolled with the punches of every upheaval we’ve thrown at her, family illness, new home, road trip, frequent changes in routines…

But this time I saw another dimension. Not only is she adventurous, she’s a go-getter, she doesn’t wait for adventure. She’s got her shoes on, and she finds adventure everywhere we go.

The park is full of adventure, leaves, things to climb on, trails, squirrels to chase, and even in winter we can usually find a flower. The grocery story is full of colors, and signs with letters and numbers, balloons, magazines, apples, brownies, and the greeting card aisle can entertain us for hours.

Even the commute on those days we drive Aaron in to work is full of adventure, cars, trucks, signs, buildings, sometimes we can see an airplane take off or land as we drive by Boeing, and some of the trucks have letters and pictures on them!!!!

Life is just so full of adventure.  It’s wonderful to go somewhere new, but if you’re willing, you might even find a little adventure in your own back yard.