Category Archives: Life

Vacation Inspiration

A common question asked of writers is where we get our ideas for our stories. Some will say it’s the ‘Muse”. Others might say ideas are born from snapshots of characters who speak to us or a seed of inspiration that drops in from the aethers. Both are probably true, but as for me, I believe ideas are born from life experiences.

PJ Sharon here, coming to you fresh (or a little less than fresh) off a twelve day road trip up the West Coast. Call it a much needed and long overdue vacation, a visit to celebrate with my eldest son who just turned 33 (Holy cow! How did that happen? I turned 33 only yesterday!), or call it what it was…research. Since my last big vacation–a Mediterranean cruise with my mother-in-law back in 2011 that led me to write PIECES of LOVE, hubby and I were happy to splurge on some time away from our daily rat race.

Despite suffering the usual vacation mishaps, such as a missed flight, the dreaded airplane flu three days in with a side trip to the ER in San Rafael, and a questionable hotel stay or two, we had loads of fun and saw some amazing sights! And yes, I took copious notes and tons of pictures. I’d like to share some of my experiences and how they might serve to inspire me and my books.

The trip started in San Francisco with a lovely four day visit with my son who lives in wine country out there–the perfect backdrop for a romance novel. We did the usual touristy things like wine tasting in Napa Valley and a ride out to Bodega Bay to cruise the coast. In the city, we took a  trolley up to the cable car museum, then ate at Neptune’s on Fisherman’s Wharf, and watched street performers on the Embarcadero. GhirardelliAnd I couldn’t visit San Francisco without stopping by Ghirardelli’s.doing time in alcatraz

When a tour of Alcatraz landed me behind bars, I imagined the desperate souls who were once imprisoned behind those walls, looking out at the world beyond, the distant voices from the city by the bay a  constant reminder of an untouchable freedom.

After a sad farewell to my boy, we headed up the coast, through the rolling green and gold hills of wine country, and beyond to the Redwood Forests. I hugged some magnificent trees, connecting to their ancient life energy. Trees that have stood since the time of Christ and seen generations pass their way. I imagined a native hugging this same tree some five hundred years ago and felt the spirits deep in my soul. Massive creatures 300 feet tall and 30 feet around, whose roots interconnect with one another in a web of underground life. It sounds crazy to people who aren’t sensitive to such things (or creative enough to imagine), but in my minds eye, I see limbs that come alive and faces in every knot and outgrowth. Elementals perhaps? I can totally see this being the setting for a paranormal series, fey romance or historical Native American romance…oooh…maybe a time travel story.Hugging the grandfather treecrater lake oregon

We said goodbye to the giant Redwoods and continued our journey. Next came a detour inland to Crater Lake, Oregon–a sight not to be missed! Formed from a volcanic eruption 7,700 years ago, the collapse created a crater almost 2,000 feet deep. Over time, the bed filled with crystal clear rain water and centuries of ice cold snow melt. Through checks and balances of seepage and evaporation, the lake has found its way. The story possibilities boggle the mind!

Winding our way back to the coast led us to the quaint town of Florence, up through the seal caves, and along the twists and turns of route 101 until we reached Cannon Beach in norther Oregon. This was on my darling husband’s bucket list, so we splurged on a beautiful hotel room right on the Pacific coastline with Haystack Rock outside our door. Every romance includes long walks on a beach and golden sunsets, a glass of good wine, and two people who would lay down their lives for one another. I’m not sure if I could write romance if i didn’t have that in my life.

Not to be underestimated, the power of alone time is also necessary. haystack rock cannon beach. oregonWaking to the mammoth rock, a cool, dry breeze, and the sound of the Puffins nesting high up on the “haystack” shaped stone, I enjoyed my morning meditation and a much needed yoga practice before we walked around the touristy little town, admiring the glass blown art and lovely beachfront properties.

Then it was up through the small fishing village of Astoria, site of fun and famous movies such as Kindergarten Cop and The Goonies. We ate yummy seafood and visited the Maritime Museum–another of hubby’s “must do’s”.

Our final stay was in my new favorite city, Seattle! An entertaining duck boat tour gave us great views of the sky line and a city tour that helped orient us for the short stay so we could decide what we wanted to see most.seattle skyline Pike Street Market Place and the famous Space Needle were highlights as was the people watching in Westlake Center.Pike street market

space needle 2

Mount St. Helens made for a fabulous day trip despite the deep bowl being shrouded in clouds the day we visited. We didn’t have to imagine what the 1981 eruption might have looked like since there were dozens of pictures taken that fateful day in May over thirty years ago. The twenty minute movie that takes you up close and personal with the destructive force of the event was surreal. Nearly every sign of life in over 200 square miles was destroyed that day, leaving a path of destruction and magma that turned the surface of the Earth to a moonlike desolation.mt. St. helens lava flow Acres of trees were flattened or swept away, the nearby Spirit Lake filling with lumber and wiping out much of the water life below. But as with all stories, there came a happy ending when life began to emerge from beneath the ground and under the snow covered mountainside. The current state of new life, growth, and natural beauty give hope for a bright future, made possible by the conservationists committed to preserving the land–a labor of true love if I’ve ever seen it.

Our final adventure occurred on our return trip home. It seemed silly to spend a three hour lay-over in the Las Vegas airport when we could take a shuttle over to the Vegas strip and have breakfast while checking out the scene.mgm 2 I’ve never been to Vegas before but did a ton of research for WESTERN DESERT, book two  in the Chronicles of Lily Carmichael trilogy. I wished I’d been able to take this trip BEFORE I wrote the second book. It was fun to see the MGM Grand,  but somehow, I imagined the whole strip to be bigger. All the same, Google didn’t do it justice.

Sometimes, the best way to get inspired is to take a road trip.

Have you ever written about a place you’ve traveled to? Where do you find your inspiration?

Pot smoking teens and other family dramas

Hey readers,

PJ Sharon here on a lovely autumn day in the Berkshires. I’ve actually seen a few patches of yellowed leaves on the trees and the star-filled nights here are getting cool.Crane This crane will likely be taking flight to warmer climes soon enough.

It’s also the time of year for the spreading of colds and such.*sniffle…sniffle*

I guess I can’t complain. It’s the first time I’ve been sick in a few years and it gives me some needed downtime to rest and reflect…and write.

As I swim through the murky middle of my current work in progress, PIECES OF LOVE, I’m reminded of my own teen dramas and those of my many siblings. You see, I grew up in a pretty crazy, dysfunctional family. Lots of alcohol, a dash of mental illness, secrets, lies, some seriously scary and frequent catastrophes, and lots of drama! Yes, we all loved each other in our own way, but each person in that house of seven children and three adults, was flawed. As we all are. It’s what makes us human. It’s also what makes us interesting to paint into the canvas of a story.

There’s a reason that I write YA dramas that touch on  taboo topics that encompass everything from grief and loss of a loved one, to teen pregnancy, bulimia, the effects of war, and even sexual abuse. I draw as much as possible from personal experience and from all that I have seen to be true in the human condition.

So when I began PIECES OF LOVE, I wanted to make sure to give Ali’s plight its due. Not that I’ve ever lost someone to an alcohol overdose or been arrested for marijuana possession, but I’ve certainly seen my share of these kinds of family dramas to draw real emotion and conflict from them. Understanding the motivation behind why people do what they do is a key element in making your fiction believable. As is sharing accurate and interesting detail to utilize your setting to enhance your character’s journey. Since I’ve been on a Mediterranean cruise, I have lots of insights into how Ali sees the world anew with each port she visits. It’s been fun and interesting to revisit the places I went and relive it all through her eyes, watching her transformation from self-centered, immature teen trying desperately to avoid dealing with the painful realities of life, to a young woman who learns to appreciate the people in her life who love her.

Here’s the blurb for PIECES OF LOVE:

Sixteen year-old Alexis Hartman wants nothing more than to smoke pot and play guitar. What’s the point in planning for the future? Her world is shattered by her sister’s accidental alcohol overdose at college, and she is arrested for marijuana possession a second time. Her mother’s breakdown is the final straw that forces Ali to spend the summer with her Grandmother in Malibu.

But problems aren’t so easily dismissed. After Ali steps over the line one too many times, she’s certain her life is over and that she’s destined for juvenile detention. Her ‘Malibu Barbie’ grandmother, Maddie, takes desperate measures…a Mediterranean cruise…for seniors. If overwhelmed and motion sick Ali needs further torment, Maddie has decided that her granddaughter’s childish name could use an upgrade and renames her Lexi. Can a new name and a French haircut fix everything that’s wrong with Ali’s life? Maybe when Ethan Kaswell says the name.

Eighteen year-old Ethan, the poster child for being a good son, who is stranded on the cruise when his famous heart surgeon father is kept away by an important consultation, finds Lexi irresistible. Although he’s smart enough to see that there is no future in falling for a “vacation crush,” Lexi’s edgy dark side and soulfully sad eyes draw him like an anchor to the bottom of the sea. As she spirals out of control, will she bring him down too, or was he already drowning? Maybe by saving her, he can save himself. 

Greece2011 224 (2013_02_16 18_14_38 UTC)Visiting such ports as Portofino, Italy; Palermo, Sicily; and Rome. From the Greek Islands to Tunisia, North Africa; and Barcelona, Spain to Dubrovnik, Croatia; you’ll see the sights and walk on sacred ground with Ali as she learns about herself, her family, and what it means to love someone–even when you have to let them go.

Infusing our own experiences, we can create flawed but redeemable characters who are on a journey of self-discovery. The more vividly we can paint that portrait, the more we bring the story to life with their color, depth, and the rich texture of emotional reactionary drama that makes us connect to them in an intimate way. When the character’s fatal flaw forces them to face the consequences of their actions and choices, and we see them grow, it’s satisfying and uplifting. Readers heart’s are touched. It’s what all writers strive for and is so challenging to do, and do well.

One thing I’m sure of is that we can’t shy away from addressing tough issues when writing for teens, but we have to be willing to step fully into their shoes to get it right. Knowing that “pot” is now mostly referred to as “weed” and other such specifics, are important for authenticity, and can only be known if you hang around teenagers and ask questions. It’s been my experience that they are most willing to share their opinions and ideas when I tell them why I’m asking. They seem to appreciate that I’m willing to have an open dialogue and that I’m not interested in judging them. I don’t think any of my teen library group kids are “potheads,” or “stoners” as they call them, but they are fully engaged in the youth culture in a way that I am not.

I’m hoping for the book to be ready for release in the first part of 2014. A cover reveal and the ability to pre-order the book through Smashwords should be coming up at the end of November. I’m also working on recording a theme song for the book–possibly two, written by yours truly!

So if you’re a writer, write what you know, ‘they’ say. I agree. Either draw from your own experiences, or find a way to walk in someone else’s moccasins for a mile or two. Your characters will be so much richer for it! Just be real, and let your characters take the story where it needs to go. You might even experience some healing as you create/or re-create a painful real-life event that still holds you back from being the best you can be–just like your characters.

I often have to remind myself that ‘do-overs and make-believe are not only allowed in fiction writing, but encouraged.’

Today’s unlocked secret: Infuse your personal experiences into your writing to create vivid, authentic, and memorable characters. Don’t be afraid to tackle the tough problems, and keep it real.

I’m heading back to bed for more rest. I have to be better for my trip to Nashville and New Orleans later this week, where I’ll be at my step-son’s wedding and doing some research for book three in the Chronicles of Lily Carmichael trilogy. I hate getting on a plane and being THAT person who gets everyone else sick. I’m also thinking my sinuses aren’t going to appreciate the flight…uggh!

To happier thoughts and my original statement in this post, I really do love it here in the hills. Our town has the cleanest air on record in Massachusetts, and has one of the healthiest ecosystems. I routinely see lots of wildlife, including a host of various birds here. Although with hunting season commencing, and flight of the migratory bird populations, that will likely be less now. Blue heronI am so grateful to live where I live and feel blessed to be part of my small community.

As such, I’m participating once again at the Granville Harvest Fair coming up Columbus Day weekend (October 12-14). I’ll be hanging out in front of the library signing books with a few other authors. If you’re in North Central CT or Western MA, I hope you’ll stop by and say hello. There’s tons to see and do. I swear, we have one of the BEST harvest fairs in New England!

Do you write what you know, or rely on a mix of research, empathy, and experience? I’d love to hear from you about your process and how you make your characters authentic.

The End of an Era by Vivienne Lynge

Good Morning Scribblehoardersrs!  Vivienne Lynge, here.  Today is a weird day for me.  I’ll be spending the day cleaning house.  Now if you’ve seen my house, you know that I’m just a few giant steps away from being a hoarder, or so it seems with Minx and Jester strewing their toys everywhere.  Cleaning just isn’t my bag.  But today, I’ll be spending the day cleaning someone else’s house.

My grandparents built a house in 1950 when my mom was a toddler.  Mom was an “oops”, as in her 3 siblings were 15, 17 and 18 years older than she.  My mom was really the only one of them to grow up in 1950 House.  Mom married young and divorced young, too.  Just a few years after leaving 1950 House, she was back, with two babies in tow.  The more adorable of the two was me.  :)  So I grew up in 1950 House, too. 

When I was in high school, Mom remarried and we moved out leaving a 75 year old widowed G-Mom at 1950 House.  Mom’s oldest brother had divorced about that time (seriously, who divorces after 30 years of marriage?!) and he moved in to look after her.  Now thirty years later, G-Mom is long gone and Oldest Brother is 85.  He’s moving in with his son and it’s time to clean out 1950 House. 

Mom’s got a lot on her plate these days; a lot of change is coming her way at once.  To be helpful (and further cement my place as top daughter) I organized a family picnic for Labor Day at 1950 House and gave my Dad the number to call for a dumpster.  The cousins and I will be in attendance, our own kids in tow, to whip this place into shape. 

I have no idea what kind of treasures we’ll find.  My last peek into darkened 1950 corners was a decade ago when I uncovered a drawer full of phone bills from…wait for itbugs bunny glassware…the 1950′s.  I’m pretty sure Grandfather’s baseball card collection is long gone, as well as mom’s bicentennial quarter collection.  But I bet the bar still houses the 1973 Bugs Bunny and Friends glass collection from Burger King and I know my G-Mom’s record “collection” is still sitting on the floor of the Dining Room.  These are perhaps the worst sound recordings ever conferred upon vinyl.  And there are about 30 of ‘em.  Sigh.  No Antiques’ Roadshow treasures there.  We’d have to pay someone to take them away.  Can you say “dumpster”?

But no matter what we find, it’s the end of an era.  That house was my first home.  I know that address, phone number and neighborhood better than I know my own.  We’ll be renting the house to family for a while, but still, the time has come to purge 1950 House of the Grandfather I never knew and the G-Mom who was (for good and bad) important to my formative years. 

Today’s Secret: I’m pretty sure that this is one of those life moments that writers are supposed to pay attention to so that we can write them authentically.  It’s a rite of passage for many people, whether it’s a parent’s house or another family member.

Today’s Question: I’ll be spending the holiday weekend on a trip down memory lane.  What are your plans?

Oh, tumblr, how I love thee!

PJ here, and I’ve finally found a form of social media I love! Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy checking in with friends and readers on Facebook, but many of those folks are writers, friends, family, high school alumni, and adults who enjoy reading YA fiction, and it can often take up a lot of time getting caught up on everyone’s happenings. I engage in twitter on a regular basis, but as with FB, most of my twitter followers are other writers. After taking a Publicity 101 workshop with Heather Riccio recently, I was prompted to reach out more directly to my audience (namely teens), through tumblr. It turns out, tumblr is easy and really fun!tumblr icon 2 (2013_06_02 00_59_02 UTC)

I’ve been giving a lot of thought as to how I can reach readers and looking at where I’ve had my focus in terms of marketing and social media. Recognizing that I have to expand that all-important sphere of influence and try to connect with readers wherever they may be, tumblr was on the no-brainer list. It was highly recommended by my YA writing peers that tumblr and Instagram are the go-to locations for teens. For sanity’s sake, I chose only one.

I’m just getting started and I still have to work out a few kinks, but I really like tumblr. You can check out my new page here: http://pjsharonbooks.tumblr.com/ I will have to add my books to my page so readers will know where to find them, but I’ll add a little at a time as I figure out how to find teen followers. As with FB and twitter, it’s a slow build.

Tumblr is where I can post a cool pic right from my phone or computer, with a short blurb about the photo, about life, or about any number of things I think are awesome.

Basically, I’ll share snapshots of life as I see it—another way to share my message of hope with teens. I’ll post about my books as well, but 80% of my communication here is going to be about sharing pieces of me with teen readers.  You can add  a custom background, change fonts, and even connect your posts to FB and twitter, a great way for me to contribute to my brand on my FB PJSharonBooks page.

I realized a long time ago that blogging every day on a static website page was nearly impossible, despite the encouragement of publicity specialists who insist that consistent, frequent posts will garner attention and gain you an audience. Frankly, I don’t have the time or enough interesting, informative, or entertaining things to talk about every day. As it is, I currently use my web site’s home page as a way to keep readers updated monthly about sales, contests, and news about appearances. Keeping your content fresh and making your posts “value added” for readers is a challenge.  Blogs such as the one you’re reading now take significant time and effort and weekly blog posting is more than enough for most of us.

I figured a daily blog that literally only takes me two minutes to post would be a great way to start making a shift in the right direction. It’s kind of addictive and oh, so simple, I think I’ll be very happy there and don’t feel the need to explore Instagram at this point. I hope you’ll follow me or share with any teens you think might enjoy some clean, fun entertainment.

What about you? Have you tried tumblr? What’s your favorite mode of social media and why?

Additional announcements:

1.) The winner of last weeks audio book of HEAVEN IS FOR HEROES is Brenda Maxfield! Congratulations, Brenda! I’ll be contacting you to collect your FREE audiobook download.

2.) Readers have until September 11th to enter to win a FREE signed copy of WESTERN DESERT, book two in the Chronicles of Lily Carmichael trilogy as part of a Goodreads giveaway. You can enter to win herehttp://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/61971-western-desert

Curve Balls by Katy Lee

My #1Kid recently suffered an accident that left her with a concussion. Now for those of you who know my daughter, you know she’s got goals. (She blogs about her “Road to Gold” here if you want to trail in her wake.) And when she says “Road to Gold” she’s not kidding. To say she is driven doesn’t come close. She’s a plow with an Olympic torch as her guide.

As a writer I totally understand that drive. I saw my name up there as “Published Author,” and I went after it much in the same way as she does a record-breaking swim time. Because of this I have encouraged her every step of the way. Who am I to tell her she can’t have her goal, even if the stats and competition say otherwise? I’ve cheered her on and shared in her victories. I’ve hugged her and commiserated in her losses. Each and every time telling her it’s all part of the journey whatever the outcome. The losses can even make her stronger than the wins if she uses them as tools. (Every rejection I ever received were the tools I needed to make my writing better. And I tell her to let no rejection take the dream away.)

But then this summer happened.

In an accident in the pool, #1Kid came up against something stronger than a loss or rejection. #1Kid came up against a head injury that benched her. And not only benched her but put her on the couch in sunglasses and earplugs. All goals for the summer screeched to a halt. All dreams darkened like the rooms in my house. (On a side note, my electric bill should be pretty low this month.)

But as her tears flowed, I found myself at a loss for words and encouragement. Saying “life stinks sometimes” wouldn’t cut it. And not only that, I wanted to do more than validate her pain. Instead, I wanted to give her another goal. I wanted to give her something to look forward to. But most importantly, I wanted to make sure knew she wasn’t alone through it all.

I will be honest and say I have always included God on my journey to publication, and with every victory and contract, I thank Him for His favor. On the other side, for every rejection, I thank Him for his protection and guidance. No matter what, though, I take Him along with me.

And so for my daughter, I told her God loves that she is so driven. He made her so. He loves that she has dreams, and the truth is He wants to give them to her. He promises that all things are possible for those who love Him. But, He doesn’t want to be left in her wake. I asked her to be honest with herself. Was she taking Him along with her? Or was she leaving Him behind?

And after some soul searching? I think I can speak for her and say the real curve ball wasn’t only the head injury, but also the realization that she had her sights set on the wrong torch.

The Unlocked Secret and Outcome: I’m so proud of #1. She had her time of tears for a few days, then just as I had wanted, she formed a new goal to strive for. Making sure Jesus became her torch to plow toward instead. And five weeks later, here she is at the state games. Still not able to dive, still struggling with barriers, but knowing full well she’s not alone on her “Road to Gold.” In fact, she’s got the greatest champion before her, beside her and behind her.

SAMSUNG

Question: #Curveballs….we’ve all been thrown them. How do you cope?

My Favorite Melon: Honey Do by Vivienne Lynge

Good Saturday Morning Scribblers!  Vivienne Lynge here.   I went strawberry picking this week with my buds Katie and Suz.  Have you ever picked those little balls of lusciousness?  It’s a back-breaking, hamstring-stretching, over-bending, pain in the butt!  Literally.  My butt is sore.  You have to hunt through rotting, slightly gnawed, unripe fruit blanketed by leaves and shoots to find the goods.  Of course, the goods are very, very good.  Red all the way through, with so much more flavor than you can find at the grocery store, even this time of year.  Yum.  And worth the pain.

Whilst I was bending, stretching and breaking, I was thinking that there was likely a writing metaphor in there somewhere to be explored here today, but when I got up this morning, thinking about those berries got me thinking about my other favorite fruit: Honey Do.  No, that’s not a typo.  My household has a very long honey-do list. 

Hubby deLuxe works for an insurance company doing some kind of technical computer-y thing that makes my eyes glaze over (love you, babe!) and spends LOTS of time playing with Princess Second Grader, Jester and Minx.  That doesn’t leave much time for things like repairs, yard work and other crap like that. 

About 7 years ago (no joke!) we undertook the crazy notion to rebuild our deck.  It was necessary – the one that came with the house was very faulty.  Rusty nails and screws protruded at all angles and Princess Second Grader had just learned to walk.  Seriously.  I didn’t want her to fall and gauge herself on the rusty sharp things.  And it was improperly build and rotting.

So here we are S. E. V. E. N! years later and the deck, while functional, isn’t yet complete.  At the tippity-top of Hubby deLuxe’s to do list this weekend is to build stairs from the deck to the pool deck.  We have an above ground pool with a small deck attached for cannon-balling etc.  These last SEVEN years, we have accessed the pool via a variety of methods including standing on chairs, and risking death by using a poorly-balanced fold out ladder. 

Why have I drawn a line in the dirt on this?  Why, after seven years, am I demanding that this project be completed today and if absolutely necessary, tomorrow?  (Well – we still won’t have a railing, but the deck is only a foot off the ground.  The railing can wait.  And likely will.)  Because I’ve waited long enough and I’m not willing to wait any longer.  Hopefully by the time he reads this post on Monday, the stairs will be complete.  They’d better be…  Love you, honey!

And just to ensure that the work happens, I have scheduled play dates for Thursday and Friday of next week.  Jester and Minx’s friends have been invited over to play in the pool, along with their moms.  I will not have those mom’s defying gravity on a ladder!  And we’d better get those last couple of chemical into that giant vat of water and slide the solar cover on.  It’s pretty cold in that pool right now.

Today’s secret: My favorite fruit is not actually edible.  Watermelon might be a close second, though.  :) 

Do you have a Honey Do list or are you more of a do-it-yourself-er?  Or, what’s your favorite fruit and why?

Hang up the cape!

Hello Tuesday’s Scribe readers! PJ here, talking about some serious stuff today. Do any of you remember running around as a kid with a bath towel draped over your shoulders and tied around your neck, pretending to be a superhero in a cape? I would even straddle a broom and gallop all over the house and yard acting as if my trusty steed and I could save the world by my sheer desire to have such power. I became Wonder Woman and threw my “javelin” at make-believe bad guys and played Army and GI Joe with my brother and his friends because it seemed so cool to be part of some elite fighting squad that could take on any foe and always “win”.Girl in superhero cape

When I became a teenager and gave up my magical thinking, I was forced to face the harsh realities of life. With my mother’s cancer and ultimately her death when I was sixteen, it became clear that any illusion I had of control or of being a savior of any kind was just that…an illusion. Yet I still clung to my “cape”—that dream of being someone special—someone others could depend on, look up to, and admire. Essentially, I kept trying to be what others needed or wanted me to be. I hoped that by taking control of all the little things in life, like schedules and micromanaging a family, that the big things—like life and death—would somehow bend to my will. Of course that didn’t happen. But instead of hanging up the cape and accepting my imperfection and my mortality, I worked more, tried harder, and sacrificed my own feelings for the benefit of everyone else’s. Over time, that cape became more and more attached to my identity and others expected the same level of perfection that I expected of myself.

As a mother, a wife, a healer, a teacher, and as an athlete, perfectionism was my creed. I was Superwoman! Of course I didn’t know it at the time, and I certainly didn’t consciously believe that I could or should strive for perfection, but my need for control in a life filled with chaos and fear, was as natural as breathing for me. By the time I reached my thirties, the cape had been pretty much tattooed into my skin. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t strive for excellence in all that we do. We are definitely happiest when we are feeling successful in our lives (whatever that means for you). What I am saying is that perfection is unattainable and that learning to accept and love ourselves for who we are is an essential ingredient in finding what we all crave far more than control—peace of mind.

So when you start to come down on yourself about not “measuring up” or feel as if you can’t get out of your own way to save your life because life is—let’s face it—kicking your ass, just remember, you are exactly where you are supposed to be. Learn whatever lessons you can learn in your current circumstance and do yourself a favor; hang up the cape. Maybe you ask for help, maybe you take a day off, maybe you even crawl under the covers and avoid dealing with an out of control inbox, a persnickety computer, and looming deadlines. Or maybe you do what every Superhero should do—take off the cape and let the world see how amazing and awesome you really are all by yourself.

Today’s Unlocked Secret: Be true to yourself, strive to be the best you can be, and know that you are amazing just the way you are.

Any Superheroes out there looking to shed their capes? Have you been trying to “do it all and feeling like you’re coming up short?”