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Self-discovery and self-actualization through exploration and reflection

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Image is courtesy of Open Clipart

You may recall that Froggy imagines the day when his wart will be gone, gone, gone! On this particular day, Froggy has not a care in the world. Along with his many friends, Froggy is simply awestruck.

The critters gathered to witness a new birth. The shell wiggled, then crackled, and then broke as Fuzzy, the chick-chick, came into view. It was a miracle.

With a crack-crack here and a cluck-cluck there, Fuzzy’s family and friends rejoiced. The yard filled with papa chick, mama chick, and many other chick-chicks. All were in awe of this new creation.

Froggy, Orchid, Rosie, Squirrely, Belle Birdie, Woody, and Wiggly, too, all simply stopped. On the ground, in the trees, in the air, and near the pond, the many critter friends watched the birth and the antics of the other chickens, along with their feathered kin. Froggy and his critter friends heard the cluck-clucks, the quack-quacks, and even the moo-moos, bah-bahs, and nay-nays of neighboring creatures.

In time, Froggy and friends gathered ‘round. In awe of the new birth and the joy of those who welcomed baby Fuzzy to the yard, they were quieter than usual. Froggy and friends felt close to the cluckers and the surrounding quackers, mooers, bahers, and nayers, and to each other. Squirrely remained still just long enough to give Froggy a knowing wink that conveyed the awe that both experienced that moment.

Woody paused from his usual chipping on a favorite tree trunk and looked down to witness the earth’s critters below. Woody then looked back up, did a little two-step, and turned to see Belle Birdie dancing a pirouette. Woody nodded to Belle. Belle nodded back. Like Froggy and Squirrely, they experienced the wonder of this awe-filled day.

© 2016 Judith Ellison Shenouda

Now, tell Froggy and friends (and me, too) about your awe-filled day.

Remember I wrote about Froggy who wonders what made that annoying wart wander away? Well, every now and then, I think about Froggy and his human friends who experience wellness, somewhat mystified as to how the healing really occurred.
I committed to writing Froggy’s story and I’ve made some progress. I’ve dipped into my own well, my reservoir, my creative source for exploring wellness. I needed a place to hold what pokes through the gray matter and created a template for my new book. I simply took the file for my earlier book, stripped away the content, and had place savers for a book title, subtitle, front matter, chapters, and end matter. I had styles for headings, paragraphs, lists, and quotes. With a container all set to go, I pasted my start to Froggy’s story into a chapter. With the momentum building, I was on a roll.
About This Book started to take shape.

Wellness is all encompassing. It touches all aspects of one’s being. Wellness permeates—and transcends—the person. When one is well, there’s a sense of wholeness, a sense that all is right with the world.
Annoyances, irritations, aches, and pain subside, fade away, dissipate, and disappear. One becomes open to the light. One is free to attend to the good, the sacred, even the holy.
Experts in various disciplines know something about wellness. The doctor… The nutritionist… The athlete… The naturalist… The musician… The entertainer… All have their take on the subject.
Yet, the composite from the many disciplines is not the whole story. A mystical ingredient exists. In the process of writing this book, I am hopeful that the known ingredients of wellness and the mystical might just meet.

The Dedication helped me to establish a timeline.
With my late mother’s 100th birthday one year from now, I have a goal—to honor the occasion with a book in hand, one that serves as an expression of a daughter’s love and admiration.
Progress is sweet.
What I have, thus far, accomplished are little steps toward turning an idea into a book. Yet, little steps are steps nevertheless. Progress is sweet. I feel good.

One happy Froggy (courtesy of https://openclipart.org/user-detail/krzysiu)

One happy Froggy (courtesy of https://openclipart.org/user-detail/krzysiu)

Most years have 365 days, but 2016, with 366 days, is a leap year. And today, February 29, is the day that was added. Look before you leap, leaps and bounds, a quantum leap, leaping lizards, and leap frogs have come to mind throughout the day. Leap of faith has lingered longer than the other leaps.

A little story about Froggy has started to poke into consciousness.

One day, Froggy finds a wart, an imperfection, an irritant. Through a leap of faith, Froggy imagines a day when this wart will be gone, gone, gone! That day arrives, and Froggy ponders, “What happened?”

Today, I am taking a leap of faith that, in time, Froggy’s story will be written and published—right here!

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Today, I’m thinking about an upcoming event. With some ideas percolating in my cranium and others made visible here in print, reaching out to you seems like a worthwhile pursuit, especially since this event is an idea swap.

A Thinking Forward event

In the U.S., there seems to be a day dedicated to just about everything, including swapping ideas. To celebrate National Swap Ideas Day on September 10, Thinking Forward, a speaker’s troupe that I co-founded, has assembled a very impressive group of innovators, all in the early stage of their careers. They will share their ideas on what is needed to transform this world into a richer, more vibrant place and convey how they have put these ideas to work in a specific area of interest in their communities. The talks are about the protection, growth, and renewal of land and people; an economy where community is wealth; zero waste; a multidisciplinary approach to connecting people to places; and solar technology.

As a balance to these serious topics, a group of young performers will dance Reggaeton from Puerto Rico, providing a look at how owning one’s culture through the arts can enrich one’s life and community.

I know that our winning cast of presenters will shine and illuminate our knowledge of subjects in which they care deeply.

My role

Up to now, my role has involved finding a venue; assembling the speakers; collecting, drafting, and proofing content for promotional pieces; adding to our distribution list; and spreading the word via social media.

I still have another important task before me—develop a 10-minute idea swap activity that gets everyone thinking, participating, and sharing. The room will likely be set up with small groups at tables, making interaction easy. Imagine that you are sitting at one of the tables, along with several friends and colleagues. You are listening to the instructions for the idea swap activity.

Options

Here are my preliminary ideas for an idea swap activity. Read More

Photo is courtesy of Creative Commons,  https://www.flickr.com/photos/zanzibar123/186131987/sizes/s/

Photo is courtesy of Creative Commons, https://www.flickr.com/photos/zanzibar123/186131987/sizes/s/.

This long weekend is a good time for me to delve into The Path Between the Seas: The Creation of the Panama Canal 1870 – 1914, this month’s selection for our nonfiction book club. The book looks daunting, all 700 or so pages. Yet, what motivates me to get started is the trust I have in club members who have recommended noteworthy books by authors who can craft memorable, literary works of art.

Our method of selecting books is fairly arbitrary. If a club member likes a book and wants the club to read it, we do so as long as the roster for the year covers a variety of nonfiction genres and topics. Of the 50 plus books we have read and discussed, some have been gems.

On a long, hot, summer day, grab a drink, stretch out on a hammock, become immersed in someone else’s world, and enjoy reading a great book. Ten books that I might not have selected on my own but found to be more than worthwhile might just suit you. Take a look.

10 favorite nonfiction books

Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas. There’s so much to learn about a remarkable individual who held the moral high ground, at great cost, during World War II Germany.

Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President by Candice Millard. This is a wonderful record of President Garfield’s life and long, painful, mistreated illness and eventual death.

The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Health Care by T.S. Reid. While searching for a remedy to his own medical problem, the author uncovers how the approaches to treatment and healing vary from country to country. Read More

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Photo, Start Something by Martino Sabia, is courtesy of Creative Commons, https://www.flickr.com/photos/ezu/23570999.

Nature is filled with stops and starts that just happen, without any effort or coaxing from human beings. We see that the snow that covered the ground for months is almost gone, giving way to soggy soil and brown, slightly green grass. We hear the songs of robins and see crocuses popping through the earth. We listen, we watch, we shed our armor of heavy coat, hat, gloves, and boots and greet a new season. If only our work life stopped and started so naturally. If only we could recharge by pressing a magic button. My work world–and maybe yours, too–is filled with projects, where an element of angst accompanies the stops and the starts and, at times, the phases in between.

Stops

I now see the finish line approaching on one book project that has occupied my mind and energy for several months. The client is reviewing a draft that I will then tweak, as needed, and prepare for publication. It seems that the difficult work of transforming lots of content into an organized, readable, interesting book is almost ready to stop. There are some signs that this work, like the robin and the crocus, will sing and bloom. I will watch this spring as this book project leaves me and takes on a life of its own.

Starts

While my efforts on one book project are about to stop, I hem and haw about a new project that is about to start. Unlike the start of spring that, sooner or later, just happens, this new assignment, which is a chapter in a book that will have many contributors, is not miraculously taking shape. No, it needs some prodding, some cajoling, some poking around. Since this new book is a collection, there is already a theme to consider. Yet, what I want to convey in my chapter is vague. How and where do I begin? Read More

Once a book is authored, published, and printed, there’s the added joy of sharing the finished product. At a recent outdoor music and cultural festival, I did just that. With the goal that A Bisl of This, A Bisl of That: Eating Our Way reach those who could benefit, the festival was wonderful in so many ways.

A festival

Because the festival was in Syracuse, NY, my hometown, my family who live in the area gathered in a show of support. My brothers Larry and Richard delivered and set up a long table with chairs to display my books. My young grandniece Kara set out the tablecloth, arranged books and business cards, filled the candy jar, and displayed a plaque with the words, “I love you a bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck.” My nephews Jacob and David and others stood watch. Our table looked very inviting!

The first person to stop by bought A Bisl of This, A Bisl of That: Eating Our Way. She noted that the $18 price tag was a very good sign, since 18 is the number for Chai, which is Hebrew for life. Passers-by perused the book, delighted to find recipes for food they love, contributed by, in some cases, people they knew. I discovered that foodies love to cook, bake, eat—and talk!

I was happy to meet Kara’s friend Sophie. It turned out that her mom is the second cousin of one of my oldest and dearest Syracuse friends who has some recipes in the book. It was my pleasure to give Sophie’s mom my book as a thank-you for her kindness to Kara.

A childhood friend Myra and her adult daughter Lisa stopped by. I had not seen them in 25 years and pointed out that Rose, who was Myra’s mom and Lisa’s grandmother, gave my mom (my much loved Ma) a wonderful recipe for strudel, which is included in the Cookies and Pastries section of my book.

When I recognized a passerby as a member of the clergy who, faithfully and compassionately, visited my dear Ma daily during her final days, I greeted him but could not speak for several long moments, viscerally feeling again those difficult days. In gratitude for his support, I gave him A Bisl of This, A Bisl of That: Eating Our Way where he will get to know my Ma at her best as well as the many loved ones she nourished.

My cousin Maxine greeted visitors to our table, sharing her enthusiasm for the recipes and snippets of family lore that season the book’s pages. My sister Sandy stopped by just in time to hear a gentleman named Harold describe a recipe that his mother brought with her from Europe many years ago.

A recipe

At home, from her collection of treasured recipes, Sandy retrieved a recipe for plum kuchen that looked very close to the recipe Harold described. She wrote, “Mrs. M always brought it for holiday meals or a Sunday pizza night. She was a terrific cook. I’m sure this recipe came with her from Germany.” Read More