Best. Sidewalk chalk. EVER.
Birthday Week is a thing, right? I’ve been going with yes. My birthday is May 1, which is tomorrow. Which means my time as Fabulous at 40 will be coming to an end.
On my final day of Fabulous at 40, I’d like to share some philosophy that has inspired me. Straight up: It is outrageous that I am 40. My internal age is 16. My internal age will always be 16. Not in a creepy vampire way (although I would love to sparkle). In a way where I have a Knowing that I will be forever young. And in a way where I get super excited about funfetti cake.
This was my Fabulous at 40 birthday cake. I had been visualizing this cake for a long time. Everything from the hot pink script Fabulous to the vanilla buttercream frosting the the old-school sprinkles. And of course the cake had to be funfetti. I pictured this cake with such crystal clarity in my mind for months before the party it was like the cake already existed.
The party venue recommended a bakery. When I called that bakery to order the cake, there were some glitches with my vision. They couldn’t do hot pink icing. They didn’t have old-school sprinkles. And funfetti was not an option. Despite these inconsistencies, I ordered the alternate cake anyway. It was a good bakery. I felt bad not ordering the cake after the person helping me had been on the phone for so long. The cake would be delicious. It just wouldn’t be my vision. I told myself that was good enough.
Then I realized it wasn’t. Why should I settle for less than my heart’s desire? My heart’s desire was the cake I had been visualizing. There was no reason I couldn’t manifest that vision. So I called the bakery back and canceled the order. Later that day, my cake vision was manifested with Sugar Sweet Sunshine. I was so happy I kept searching for exactly what I was looking for. That’s the thing about creative visualization. You don’t have to settle for less than your heart’s desires. When you can imagine what you want to manifest in your life so clearly that it already feels real, when you carry that vision in your heart every single day and never let it go, you are on your way to turning your dreams into reality.
Like when I had a vision of my grownup self back when I was a teen. My biggest dream back then was to eventually be living a happy life. I wished that I would be healthy. I wished that I would be loving my career, living in my dream city, and sharing my life with the man of my dreams. Oh, and that I would be rocking a bikini when I’m 40.
Fabulous at 40 means being confident enough to chill infinity pool side with a fruity drink in South Beach. It means doing everything you can to make the world a better place. It means taking care of yourself so you can better take care of others. It means refusing to settle for less than your heart’s desires. Fabulous at 40 means visualizing your biggest dreams, then taking steps every day to turn those dreams into reality. These are things you can do at any age. These are things you can do starting right now.
So what’s your Fabulous at 40 cake? What vision do you want to manifest?
Imagine the type of sprinkles you want. The flavor of the frosting. What your icing will say. Who you will share it with.
Then make your vision reality.
Brought to you by my new fave Tumblr, teenagerposts.
I started working out when I was 16. I could not have possibly hated gym class more (see my detailed rant on gym in When It Happens), but I liked my dance lessons and badminton and the idea that I could do things that were actually fun for exercise. We only had a few TV channels in Middle of Nowhere, New Jersey. Channel 13 was PBS. Channel 13 ruled for two reasons: Degrassi Junior High and these random 15-minute science shows that came on in the morning. Oh, and The Write Channel, this instructional writing show for kids. Check out this ep for some 1978 flavor. I obsessed over those shows whenever I was home weekday mornings. The next channel after 13 was 52. Channel 52 was a bootleg public broadcasting station that had an aerobics show called It Figures. I forget if it was on after school or if I taped it on the Betamax (you read that right – no fancy VHS for us!), but that’s when I started working out on my own. Pounding around in my leotard in front of our little TV.
After I left for college, I started taking gym classes that were awesome. And by awesome, I mean classes in which dodge balls were not maliciously whipped at me. I took step when step was hot. I joined a gym when I was 20 and have had gym memberships continuously ever since. Which means for the past 20 years, I’ve been a dedicated gym member. And for the past 20 years, I’ve observed the same phenomenon every January. Right on schedule the first week of January, the gym gets packed. So packed I can barely find a space if I don’t get to class super early. The gym is back to normal by March. Because March is when people usually give up on their new year’s resolution to work out more.
New year’s resolutions come with a lot of pressure. You want to make your life better. You’re riding on that renewed surge of energy the first few weeks of January. But by the middle of February, we’re all dragging. February is gross. Of course you’re craving pasta and nights in snuggled up with a mug of tea and a good book. Those new year’s resolutions are more daunting than ever now. Especially if you got smacked down with that nasty cold everybody had where all you want to do is sleep and watch Felicity for two weeks. You know, The Worst Cold Ever? The one I caught when I was saying how everybody had it? Getting sick or being otherwise impaired right when you’re starting to make a change in your life is depressing. I don’t want you to be depressed. There’s a way to achieve your goals without confining your efforts to a small section of the calendar.
For those of you who are still sticking to your new year’s resolutions, congrats! You go with your fine self. But for those of you who are having a hard time, I want to offer some inspiration in the form of a new resolution. This kind of resolution involves a change in lifestyle. The premise is that, rather than being chained to the calendar or only motivated to make positive changes every January 1, you can take steps to improve your life every single day of the year. You can start anytime you want. Like right now.
My biggest challenge is finding balance. For example:
These are some of the 300 Christmas cookies I baked in December. It took me a total of 13 hours to bake and decorate the cookies. Which, don’t get me wrong, I love doing. Most of my friends aren’t into baking. They really appreciate the love that goes into these cookies. I don’t usually make such a large amount. The increase is to include my BF/soul mate and instafam. Will I bake 300 Christmas cookies next year? Will I be up all night decorating them again?
I don’t know. This is all part of the balance thing. Baking Christmas cookies is something I absolutely love doing. Maybe I’ll decide that I want to keep this tradition alive. Or maybe I’ll decide that 150 cookies is enough. Time will tell. In the meantime, I will be working on achieving balance every day. I will be mindful of times when I should say no. Saying no is really hard for me. I want to accommodate everyone’s wishes. But I have to accept that it’s just not possible to say yes to everything. I have my priorities and those are the things I need to make sure receive the most time and attention. Balance is something I must be aware of every time I make a decision. Once I get used to that routine on a daily basis, my lifestyle will include a better sense of balance.
When we work towards achieving our most important goals every day, we are creating a permanent lifestyle. A lifestyle in which there is no need for resolutions.
Every single day is a new opportunity for change. Screwing up is okay. Don’t be discouraged by a bad day. One step backward today can easily be erased by two steps forward tomorrow. The key is to make positive choices in the Now that will shape your ideal future. Visualize the life you want. Then take steps every day to move toward achieving your goals. That is the way to turn dreams into reality.
You can do this thing. And if you get sidetracked? Today is just as good a time as January 1 to try again.
You always have the power of today.
You always have the power to change your life.
You are the architect of your own destiny.
Let the change begin.
Happy New Year, friendly neighbors!
I just wanted to tell you how much I appreciate everyone who reads this blog. Blogging has changed so much in the past few years, and it’s been a challenging adjustment. Although I’m not blogging as much as I used to, please know that all of my important news and fun things to share with you will continue to be posted here in 2014. Thanks to everyone who checks in here now and then, and especially to those of you who take the time to comment. Your kindness means more to me than you will ever know.
WordPress has informed me that this blog had about 43,000 views in 2013. You guys were from a total of 112 countries. I am definitely feeling the global love!
Here are my Top Ten Fave Blog Posts of 2013, in no particular order:
- home life – view
- now and forever cover reveal
- i’m writing a trilogy!
- you’ve got the power
- board game nirvana
- all i need behind the scenes
- the station agent
Thank you thank you thank you for making this life possible. You are why I write. You inspire, motivate, and impress me every single day. And your positive energy is beautiful. What can I say? My readers. freaking. RULE.
Here’s to a spectacular 2014!
December 20 is Serendipity Day! I’m reposting my annual tribute to share the magic of this very special day with you. Here’s to soul mates, the Universe, and always following your heart. May the power of fate be with you.
Today is Serendipity Day, aka Serendipity Do Da, aka Do Da Day.
You probably want an explanation.
If you didn’t see the movie Serendipity, then not to be bossy? But you really need to go ahead and do that. It’s all about fate and destiny and energy and has some amazing New York City scenes. Even if you did see it, you probably didn’t pick up on the fact that Jonathan and Sara meet on December 20. I’m obsessive about those sorts of details, so I totally did. Then I immediately made a note that December 20 will always and forever be known as Serendipity Day.
When they meet, Jonathan and Sara are in Bloomingdale’s trying to grab the same pair of gloves. You know how sometimes you meet someone and there’s this instant intense connection? That’s what happens to them. So of course they can’t just go their separate ways. They have to go to Serendipity 3 (which is only a few blocks away – love the accuracy) for frozen hot chocolates. And then they go ice skating in Central Park. It’s one of those magical New York nights, filled with excitement and possibility.
When Jonathan writes down his number for Sara, the wind blows it away. She thinks it’s a sign that they’re not meant to be together. Or at least, not right now. She’s all about fate and destiny. So she makes him write his name and number on the back of a five-dollar bill, which she immediately uses to buy mints. Sara’s idea is that if the five-dollar bill makes its way back to her, then they’re meant to be together.
If you’ve read Something Like Fate, you can understand why I love this movie. I love it so much that my friend Joe and I used to celebrate Serendipity Day by reenacting the original Serendipity Day’s events. First, we put our names in at Serendipity. There’s usually a three-hour wait for a table. I’m not exaggerating. Around the holidays, is it a gorgeous winter wonderland in there, all sparkly lights and trees and tinsel. Everyone wants in. But it was perfect because we needed those three hours to reenact scenes from the movie. We would head over to Bloomingdale’s, where we both grabbed a pair of gloves at the same glove counter. That counter doesn’t have gloves anymore so we had to bring the gloves over, but it still counts. Then it’s off to Wollman Rink in Central Park. It was always the Coldest Night Ever when we did this. I don’t know how to ice skate, so we would kind of just stand there and watch the glittery skyline and send positive energy out into the Universe.
Then it was frozen hot chocolate time! In the movie, Jonathan and Sara get red and blue straws in theirs. But we always got regular straws. So I asked about the red and blue ones and found out that they don’t have those anymore. Which is fine because those frozen hot chocolates are the best in the world, regardless of straw color. If Joe and I were each at a point in our lives where we were single, we would take out a five-dollar bill and write our name and number on the back. Then we’d give them to the waiter as part of his tip. Not that anyone ever called us. But that’s not the point. The point is that we put our energy out there. New York City is magic. It makes magical things happen.
So. How can you celebrate Do Da Day if you’re not here in New York? Well, if you’re already with your soul mate, you can make frozen hot chocolates and call it a day. But if you are still searching, send positive energy out into the Universe today. Take some time to write down your goals. Visualize what you want life to be like with your soul mate. Then make a plan to take steps every day towards finding your person. All of these things will help you get closer to turning your big dream into reality.
Oh, and P.S.? Serendipity is also home of the $1,000 Golden Opulence Sundae, served in a Baccarat crystal goblet (which you get to take home), made with the world’s most expensive chocolate, and covered in 23K edible gold leaf. Just in case you weren’t sure what to order.
Happy Serendipity Day, friendly neighbors! Let’s make the most of it.
Raise your hand if you’re over sunset at 4:30. Earlier than 4:30, even. Although February is the worst, I am not feeling this lack of daylight time at all. Pitch black at 5:00 is not okay. But I have good news. There are only 10 more days until daylight time starts increasing! The winter solstice is December 21, which is when we experience the least amount of daylight all year (about nine hours here in New York). Some people refer to the winter solstice as the shortest day of the year. Being a ginormous science nerd prevents me from using this description. All days contain 24 hours, so the term “shortest day” doesn’t really make sense.
But that’s not the point.
The point is that on December 22, we will start experiencing more daylight time by about two minutes per day. The day after the summer solstice in June, daylight time will start decreasing again.
But we’re not going to think about that.
We’re going to focus on 10 days from now. We’re going to welcome the light.
The Countdown to More Daylight reminds me of when I was a science teacher. My kids learned why daylight time fluctuates throughout the year in my Earth Science class. We have seasons for three reasons: the revolution of the Earth around the Sun, the tilt of the Earth on its axis (by 23.5 degrees), and the fact that the Earth’s axis always points in the same direction (parallelism). These three factors result in the Sun rising and setting in the SE and SW around winter. Sunrise and sunset positions gradually shift to the NE and NW around summer. Since the Sun apparently moves through the southern sky (“apparently” because the Sun is not actually moving aside from rotating in place; the Earth’s rotation on its axis throughout the day causes the Sun to appear to be moving), when the Sun rises in the SE and sets in the SW it apparently travels shorter distances. This results in shorter daylight time.
But back to what this reminded me of.
When I was a teacher, one of the most challenging concepts for my kids to grasp was the dome diagram. A dome diagram shows the Sun’s apparent path for any day of the year at any latitude (seasons, daylight time, and noon altitude of the Sun are all dependent on latitude). One of my old students (aka vintage noodles), Tatyana, recently came across her Sun’s Path quiz and posted it on FB:
Throwback moment circa 2003, son! Sorry you can’t see the sticker Taty earned. Everyone who scored over 85 on a quiz or test got a sticker. And yes, I taught high school juniors and seniors. You are never too old to enjoy a sticker! In Taty’s diagram, you can see that the Sun’s path near the bottom left of the dome (for December 21) is much shorter than the other paths. Each day the Sun’s path changes a little bit, fluctuating between the shortest path (December 21) and the longest path (June 21).
But that’s not all Taty posted.
She posted such a sweet comment to my wall with this photo that I had to include it here. This blog has been a sort of journal for the past six years. I started it right after I resigned from teaching in 2007 to write full-time. What a sweet full-circle moment to add Taty’s words here:
People come and go, but some leave a mark and influence your life forever. I was looking through some of my old documents and belongings and I noticed two huge binders that had “Earth Science” written all over them with a Sharpie marker. I already knew what this hidden treasure was. I always said that I would NEVER ever dispose of my High School Earth Science notes, handouts, lab experiments, tests etc. I’ve never had a teacher inspire and motivate me more than Susane Colasanti. She was so dedicated and genuine. Her passion for teaching, and making students smile was indeed rare. She filled the school with a sense of hope. The kind of hope that thick skinned teens from the South Bronx yearned for. Ms. Colasanti knew that we came from different backgrounds and struggles, but she always motivated her students to do better and dream bigger. She wasn’t only teaching she was molding futures. I would like to thank her for all that she has done and continues to do. May the Universe bless her with unlimited amounts of peace, love, and success.
That’s pretty much the sparkliest warm fuzzy ever. It made me really happy to see that one of my students remembers me and feels that she benefitted from her time in my classroom. I had much love for my students. I worried about those kids like they were my own. My job as an author is the best job in the world, a dream job that I love and appreciate every single day. At the same time, I do miss my people (aka teens). True, I am reaching more of my people through my books. But it makes me smile to remember the 10 years I had with them. It makes me smile to read a warm fuzzy inspired by a quiz from 10 years ago. And of course I’m smiling that we’ll start basking in more sunlight 10 days from now.
Let’s all welcome the light and keep spreading the love!
Can I just tell you how epic NCTE/ALAN has been? So freaking epic it’s hardly bothering me that temperatures are in the 20s and wind gusts are like 200 mph. What could have possibly happened to make me not care about these brutally cold conditions? Read on, friendly neighbors.
As I was about to leave for my train to Boston, I found out that Judy Blume would be signing at the Penguin booth right after me. Of course I grabbed my 28-year-old copy of Forever on the way out the door. This was my big chance to have Judy sign it and there was no way I was missing out. Was I also freaking out that Judy would be sitting in the same exact chair I just sat in to sign books? Naturally. If you would have told me this would be happening back when I was reading Forever at 13 because my Gram bought it for me thinking it was like Judy’s middle grade books, all relieved I didn’t have to endure the embarrassment of buying it myself (I was a shy girl back in the day), you would have blown my mind. Like, blown it right off.
I signed books at the Penguin booth on Saturday, November 23, 2013. Just felt the need to document the exact date there. Don’t mind me. When I was done signing, Judy arrived to sit where I had been sitting. We stood there for a second in the midst of switching over. And do you know what happened? Judy Blume knew who I was. She was so warm and sweet to me, like we were old friends. I could hardly absorb the magnitude of that moment, given how lost I was in adoring her:
And just like that, another big dream became reality. Naturally, that was one of the Top Five Best Moments of My Life. It is a moment I will cherish forever.
Judy Blume wasn’t my only author idol at the conference. Laurie Halse Anderson and Sarah Dessen were also in the house. I have the wonderful good fortune of being friends with these ladies. But they are the kind of friends I hardly ever get to see. So when I do, it is a Big Effing Deal. Laurie was at the Penguin Family Dinner Saturday night. That would be Saturday, November 23, 2013, aka The Day I Met Judy Blume. Just to clarify in case you forgot. Although I was not seated at Laurie’s table, I snuck over during dessert to catch up with her.
If you’ve been reading this blog for a while (extra impressive, considering how much the world of blogging has changed in the past couple of years), you know that Laurie Halse Anderson is my favorite YA author. Her writing is beautiful, evocative, and profound. Along with Sarah, Laurie was a mentor when I was first starting out as a new author who had zero clue. They’ve both taught me so much. Which always makes catching up with Laurie in person a really special treat. So I sat next to her for a while and we talked about life stuff and it was awesome.
And then. Guess who Sarah and I chilled with at the ALAN Cocktail Reception?
Oh yes. That would be me, Judy, and Sarah, aka BFFs. See how smiley we are? That’s what happens when an abundance of positive energy collects in one area of the room. Sarah and I carried that smiley positive energy all the way to dinner. She was brave and ordered the tempura broccoli app, which I wanted to order but didn’t because it was spicy. I don’t do spicy. But she let me try some and it was so delicious I immediately requested two additional orders for the table. Sarah is the person at dinner who always orders what you wish you’d ordered. Love that about her, among a zillion other things.
One of the best parts of my job is getting to connect with my favorite authors. I am eternally grateful for opportunities like these. And I am eternally thankful to Judy Blume for signing my vintage copy of Forever that is so old it began falling apart right there at the table. I’m carrying home pieces of the cover in a baggie. Years from now, when someone pulls the book from my shelf and asks about the pieces of the cover that are taped together, I’ll tell them about the time I met Judy Blume. I’ll tell them about that moment I will carry in my heart forever.
P.S. As promised, I’m announcing the Rafflecopter giveaway winner. And the winner is…Tati F.! Please stay tuned for more ARC giveaways of Now and Forever. For which you will not have to wait forever.
When it becomes officially cold and sunset hovers around 4:30 and we still have a whole other month before daylight hours start increasing, I rely on warm fuzzies to get me through. Warm fuzzies are not just the type of positive messages Sadie likes to create in So Much Closer. A warm fuzzy can be anything that makes you feel happy and content. Kind of like these…
I’m beyond stoked to be a part of both NCTE and ALAN this year. I remember going to ALAN when I was a new author, just starting out with zero clue, in need of some serious mentoring. The workshops I attended were so inspirational. I left the conference feeling more motivated than ever, ablaze with rejuvenated writing energy. Now I finally get to be a part of the funtivities from the other side and I could not be more thrilled. Here’s where you can find me at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston:
November 23, 2013 – 1:00-2:00 pm
Penguin Young Readers signing
November 23, 2013 – 2:45-4:00 pm
The Concept of Fate in the YA Romance Novel
November 24, 2013 – 9:00-10:00 am
Anderson’s Bookshop signing
November 26, 2013 – 3:45-4:20 pm
Celebrating Romance Novels: The Chemistry of Love, Lust, and Heartfelt Desire
Ballroom B, Level 3
November 26, 2013 – 4:30-5:00 pm
Ballroom B, Level 3
Meeting friendly neighbors at events is the best part of my job. Second best? Connecting with readers online. I’ve been getting such sparkly warm fuzzies from readers who have emailed to say they’re feeling inspired. That’s what I love to hear. This excerpt from a dedicated reader captures the essence of what I hope my readers will take away from my books:
Each book brought me hope throughout the next four years. I learned to stop surrounding myself with negative people, to take chances in love, and to actively work alongside the Universe to create the life I’d like to be living. I stopped letting people take advantage of me, and learned to channel negative feelings into positive actions. Also, I’ve come to the conclusion that soul mates do exist, which is endlessly encouraging. :)
Warm fuzzy magic at its finest.
When I’m staying in after a long day of working on a first draft (and loving that I don’t have to venture outside where it is Just Too Cold), I like to mellow out and recharge for the next day of creativity with a good movie first, then a good book before I go to bed. Recent indie movie finds that have left an impact are The Spectacular Now, Save the Date, Your Sister’s Sister, Newlyweds, and The Giant Mechanical Man. You might want to try those if you’ve been looking for some good recommendations.
Of course, the fastest mood elevator in the darkest, dreariest days (aka February) is a cupcake. Preferably from Sprinkles or Crumbs. Now I’m off to a business meeting at my satellite office (aka Crumbs). On the agenda: Stuffed Pumpkin Pie Cupcakes. Sounds like warm fuzzy time to me.
Hope to see those of you attending NCTE/ALAN in Boston!