Thursday, June 30, 2011

Getting It Right

Vintage Woman Soldier Veteran Bugler, WAF U.S, Air Force 1950sThe 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.”)

Wow. Sasha Dichter's prompt is no joke. Your MatchGirl has thought on this and, strangely, as she moves into her new position at her job (TODAY!!!), this is something she is working on. This is something, that when it's complete, I will share with my CEO. Sort of. Not necessarily a direction for the whole company, but certainly a direction for the company as a whole. I have been slowly, yet surely, carving out a little place or myself, in the world - in the world of my work and in the world as a whole. I have been quietly making my own manifesto.

It's an exciting proposition, gentle readers. I suggest you try it.

Side note: Anyone else find it weird that Sasha Dichter and Susan Piver chose the same quote, yet arrived at two distinctly different prompts?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Ordinary World

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.

This is a funny prompt from Patti Digh, gentle readers. It's funny because your MatchGirl always sees herself as ordinary. There is nothing particularly special or extraordinary about me. Certainly not. I'm smarter than some, less smart than others. I'm prettier than some, not as pretty as others. I'm a girl like any other, at the same time I am uniquely me.

I can't imagine being any way other than I am. Nor would I want to.

But I'm just a normal girl. An ordinary person. No better and no worse than anyone else out there. What I have accomplished, others can, too. The projects I have going on, they come from my heart and I'm excited to have them, to own them, to share them. But they don't mean that I am anything more or less than anyone else. I'm just doing my best to keep moving - forward, up, ahead - and to bring everyone I meet along with me. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


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? - Susan Piver

Is it just me, gentle readers, or is this prompt a little weird?

Don't get me wrong, your MatchGirl has very much enjoyed going through these thought challenges, one by one, day by day, and thinking about what her answers may be. Many I have shared with you here in the space and a few I have thought about on my own, and acted upon, or not. I'm not sure what my intuition would look like. I'm not sure I can personify something that is inside of me in a way that is any other than a reflection of myself.

I do think, though, that if Intuition and I were to site down to dinner, we'd probably have a good chat about the path I'm on now. About the amount of over-thinking that I am not doing. About how I am following, to the best of my first born child, Type-A(ish) personality, my heart over my head. And about how that seems to be working out pretty OK.

Monday, June 27, 2011

What Price Fear?

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

Gentle readers, let us take Dan Andrews' points, one by one ...

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.

Your MatchGirl supposes, dear reader, that the real cost of inaction is your own happiness. It is regret. It is the price of looking back on your life, on your days an wondering "What if...?" Your MatchGirl, those of you who have been here since the beginning, has certainly spent some time regretting paths not taken. I try, very hard to love my life without regret, but that does not mean that I don't, from time to time, look back on this "Choose Your Own Adventure" story we call life and wonder, "What if I had done this instead of that? What if I had been brave enough to ask that question?" One thing I do know... every time I have faced my fears and been brave enough to ask for something I really, really wanted in life, things have turned out exactly the way I wanted them to. The cost of inaction is regret.

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.

I want to be a happy person. This has been a long time coming. Doing the things I am doing now, working on the projects I have going, working at the job I have and being in the relationship I'm in - these things make me happy. And my projects, as I push forward, will only lead to greater happiness. This I know.

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.

Gentle readers, your MatchGirl has been here. She has been low. She has been (near) destitute. But she kept her head above water and not only forged a path for herself, but she found herself a whole new career and community, just by doing what she loves most - connecting with people and connecting the people she knows with people they will find interesting/helpful/useful. This is something I will always find fulfilling - no matter the scale.

Thursday, June 23, 2011


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.  – Michael Rad

Ah. Your MatchGirl, a little bit, gentle readers, believes that dreams are like wishes. If you share too much, too soon, they won't come true. Don't worry. My top three dreams are at the forefront of my thoughts every day. And I've shared them with the people I know can help them come true - and the one person who is nearly as invested as I am in making them come true.

The one thing holding my back? Me. Of course. The only person who can truly hold you back from your dreams is yourself. I work on that every day.

What's holding you back from your dreams?

Also ... maybe this will inspire you ... just a little bit:

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Future Is Now

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.

After yesterday's whining post about the repetitive nature of the prompts of late, I am happy to see this fun one from Cindy Gallop. Sure, it's about originality. But it's also about invention. And one of the most amazing things we have the ability to do as people - as the thinking, feeling, hurting, growing, fucked up people that we may be - is to invent ourselves. And, in doing so, invent our own futures.

Your MatchGirl has been in a state of reinvention for a while now. Long time readers of this little site will recall, no doubt, many a post about reinventing oneself. So often we think that once we hit a certain point in our lives - be it age or income or some other milestone - that we cannot change anymore. That we cannot make ourselves new. The cool thing about being the flawed people that we are is that we can make ourselves new and make our lives new at any time. It's not so hard.

I think about my future. And I think about the future that I want to have - with Boyfriend, at work, with my personal projects - and I'm working, constantly working (just ask Boyfriend, who thinks I am working too much) to make those thoughts into solid reality. Every day, the harder I work and the more I put into it, the closer I come to this future that I have invented in my mind's eye.

Gentle readers, the future is what you make of it. It's what you invent. It's what you want it to be. If only you can take the first steps. If only you can set yourself on your right path.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Wholly Strange And New

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.

Bridget Pilloud poses this prompt in the Trust 30 Challenge and while your MatchGirl enjoys contemplating all of these prompts, I am finding them to be a bit repetitive. In contemplating my responses to these prompts, the ones that I have shared with you online and the ones I have thought about and kept private (of which there are only a couple), I see that the common themes are fear and originality. And while I know these are important things to keep in mind (for your MatchGirl, fear has always been more of a problem than originality. As you, gentle readers, are all aware, your MatchGirl is nothing if not unique.) I want to think about something else.

I follow my own path. I don't think that I have done what has been expected of me. Not that I have disappointed, but, as I wrote previously, your MatchGirl was lucky enough to be raised by parents who not only allowed me to follow my own path, but encouraged me to do so. For me, it's been a windy path, filled with fits and starts and backing up and going forward and veering off in a new and scary direction from time to time. But it's certainly mine. And I push myself to do that every day. And the days that I don't work hard enough or accomplish enough (in my own mind's eye) just make me push harder the next.

I can imagine the next miracles that are going to come to me.

I'm working my ass off to make them happen.

I won't bore you with the details right now. I've written it all before...

Monday, June 20, 2011

Tomorrow Never Comes

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.

One hundred years, gentle readers, to achieve everything that you hope to achieve. Imagine that. But here's the thing that Colin Wright is wrong about. Most of us don't get 100 years. Not from birth to end of life. Not of active years. Not of a life where we can really make our own decisions.

Sure, some people are lucky enough to have been raised in an environment where they can really be themselves, from an early age, where they can assert their creativity and their entrepreneurship. Where they are allowed to put themselves out their. Where they can fail. Most, your MatchGirl supposes, however, are not.

So... that means we have so much less time than Colin supposes. We have ... maybe 60 years. Seems like a long time when you're young, I guess. I know that time has a funny way of seeming to be very different than it actually is. One hundred years seems like a very very long time. So does sixty. But think for a moment, how quickly a year passes. You blink and suddenly the month is over and you're not sure where it has gone. A year, even when it feels it is so long at times, is not long in reality. It's over before you know it.

Your MatchGirl is a master procrastinator. She started young and she's carried it on well into her adult-hood. It's something that drives me crazy in myself and even crazier when I see it in others. Because, while from time to time I'll leave things till the last moment, I do really love to plan, to make sure that everything will be all set, to make sure that things are taken care of. It's easy to do this when it's your day job. It's easy to do this when it's an event your planning (especially when working with others). It's less simple when it's something that just for you.

My take-away for this prompt then, dear readers, is that I will pay as much attention to planning for a doing the things that are "just" for me as I do to those things associated with my paying gig. The projects that are mine are mine. I need to own them. To dedicate myself to them. To push them forward. And, eventually, to share them with you. I can't do this if I'm constantly putting them off until tomorrow. We all know, after all, that tomorrow never comes....

Friday, June 17, 2011

Find Your Way

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. - Jonathan Fields
This, gentle readers, is something your MatchGirl wished she had thought about when she was much younger. Because when I was young, I was stubborn (those who know me now will say I still, am - they are right - but about fewer things, and with a more open mind). And in this stubbornness, sometimes, I'm afraid I missed opportunity. I didn't see them at all.

It has taken some big changes in my life, over the course of the years, to be able to see that the path I am on might have a lot of hidden passages in it. This has been true in the past in work, in school, in relationships.

Now, I feel that I am constantly learning and I am trying to constantly see the opportunities that lie not only in the direction I feel I should be moving, but a little bit off to the side. The most important thing I have learned, dear ones, over the past several years, is that life is rarely what you expect it to be. All you can do is keep your eyes and your heart open to what's around you and you'll find the path you're supposed to be on.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Surprise Yourself

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?
I like this little prompt from Ashley Ambirge. I like it because while she is certainly a gal who faced fear (out of necessity, but maybe that's what we all need sometimes...  your MatchGirl can relate to that!) this prompt is not about fear. This prompt is about surprise.
I do things every day that are so very boring. So very rote. But sometimes, some days, gentle readers, your MatchGirl surprises herself. She steps up. She faces up. She's working on some projects right now and, if I can pull it off, that will certainly surprise me. 
I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Holding Back

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.

Fear by Cotter Lachlan

No. The answer is simply no.
Gentle readers, your MatchGirl cannot put herself in the shoes of someone who has lived her dreams. That's just not possible.

Here's the thing, dear ones. My dreams are my own.
Am I inspired by others? Of course. Do I look at people who have reached levels of success that I hope to achieve and wonder how they got there so quickly and if I can get there, too? Of course.
But there is no one person who has achieved my dreams.

I have, though, been held back by fear. Especially when I was younger. I wrote about facing one's fears, posted last Friday, as part of this very challenge.

So here are some things I have been terrified of, and that I have faced head on.

Asking for what I want out of a relationship.
Approaching people for help - job related or networking related.
Standing out in a crowd.
Talking to strangers.
Getting serious about my life.
Going for what I want.

The main thing that ties all these fears together, gentle readers, is an underlying fear for so many of us. It's a fear of rejection. Here's something, however, that your MatchGirl has learned about rejection over the years - it's not really so bad. Because, at the end of the day, there is always someone - be it friend, lover, parent - out there who loves you and wants you and will steel you up again.

So I agree with Lachlan. Face your fears. Do the thing that you're afraid of.

You'll be better for it in the end.

I promise.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Imitation Is Suicide

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?

I don't know how to answer Fabian Kruse's question, gentle readers. I truly don't.

Your MatchGirl, in her own opinion, has always been a pretty original bird.

It was, in fact, probably a bad thing when I was young. At least for my social life. Middle and high school girls tend to want to march to the beat of only one drummer, and those that are different than them are not always (or often) welcomed to the fold.

In terms of art, I think it infuriated my professors at university that they could not stick my paintings or my influences into one neat basket. Not that they did not value individuality and originality. They certainly did. But how to critique something you don't know what to compare it to?

I don't know how to approach this prompt, dear ones. Because I don't see myself as an imitator... To thine own self be true, isn't that how the saying goes? Is there any other way that one ought to live? I believe that I was raised to stay true to myself, to be my own person, and that I have lived that way - or tried to - for most of my life....  I don't have a true answer for this, but for now, though I'm posting it, I leave this essay unfinished...

Monday, June 13, 2011

Be Good To Each Other

Today's Ralph Waldo Emerson Self-Reliance Challenge prompt, from Eric Handler, is not a simple thing to wrap one's head around, gentle readers. Your MatchGirl has, for the past two years (a little longer) been sharing her life with you on these virtual pages. She has been sharing her hopes and reams and fears, but, she has also been spreading her message.

And perhaps I could have answered this in a tweet. It's quite possible that it needs no more than that.

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?

But as I take this Trust 30 challenge, I have, for the most part, enjoyed sharing my thought process, here with you. I hope that you've been enjoying being part of it. And, though I post a handful of days behind, due the the publishing schedule of this blog, I hope that you've enjoyed keep up with what I'm writing about. Believe, your MatchGirl is thinking on and writing about these prompts every day. It's a good exercise. I hope many of you are participating as well.

But, to today's prompt. If I could spread my personal message to one million people, right now, what on Earth would I say?

Be good to each other. Treat each other right. Think about how you want to be treated and, for goodness sake, act accordingly when you're interacting with others. Life is too short, gentle ones, to act any other way. So I share with you, fewer than one million people, but perhaps I will reach one thousand who will take this to heart an spread it to one thousand more (and that's a really nice start). 

Be good to each other. It's the golden rule.

It's how your MatchGirl tries to live her life. I hope it's how you try to live yours.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Face Your Fears

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 Emerso 
Emerson says: “Always do what you are afraid to do.” What is ‘too scary’ to write about? Try doing it now.

Facing one's fear, gentle readers, this is what we are consistently asked to do. Lately anyway.

This is a bit of a tough question for me. I have, for several years now, lived my life very much in the open. I've blogged about it - here and elsewhere. I've shared my scary stories. I've shared my hopes and dreams. I've let you see my disappointments and failures. I've told you what I was afraid of.

Every day I do things that terrify me. It's a good thing, I promise. It's a hard thing for sure.

Something that no one who knows me now, in my mid-thirties, truly believes is this: I am shy.
Painfully shy.
Devastatingly shy.

If I am in a room full of strangers, I must steel myself before I go in. I must take deep breaths and basically throw myself through the door. To speak to people I don't know takes a great deal of effort. Especially if I must speak first.

When I was in college, if I was not sure I knew someone in my class, I would wait till the last possible moment to go in.

At parties, I often stand near the food/bar/kitchen until someone approaches me.

At networking events, it's very hard for me to approach people unless I have met them before. And even then I still need to talk myself into it.

You're surprised.
Those of you who know me from this blog.
Those of you who know me from Work It Brooklyn.
Those of you who know me from Zemoga.
You are surprised.

I seem so outgoing you will say.
I seem so confident.
I certainly, by no stretch of the imagination, seem shy.

But I am.

It's all an act, gentle readers. It's a public face I paint on when I face the world.
I am not as shy now as I was when I was young, when I would develop a debilitating stomach ache whenever I needed to be in a place I felt uncomfortable or with people I did not know well. But, I will still wait till the last moment to enter a room if I'm not sure I'll know someone. I will still linger at the kitchen door and look into my drink at a party where I do not know many people. When I hop up on stage at Work It Brooklyn events and "shhhhush" people like a kindergarten teacher, it's out of sheer necessity.

But, I am not gonna lie. I feel awesome after I do that. Because I know how hard it was for me, on the inside, to actually do it. To mak that interaction happen.

I have always been encouraged to face my fears. At 16, after crashing my parents' car, OK, actually, rolling it over and totaling my parents' car, my grandfather had me driving his truck in the fields behind his house. I've faced more personal fears, as well, leaving a terrible terrible, but seemingly secure, relationship; relocating my adult life to a new city; saying "goodbye" to someone that I loved, because, at the end of the day, it was for the best.

As for facing fears, am I going to run to Coney Island and spend a day riding the Cyclone? No. Probably not. But there are fears we face to make our lives better and more productive and to keep them moving forward... and there are fears that, really, in the grand scheme of things, don't really matter...

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Five Years

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?

Oh gosh gentle readers. This hits a little close to home. But, it's something that your MatchGirl has spent a lot of time thinking about ... as she ponders her life and times.

What would you say to the person you were five years ago?

Five years ago I was 30. I was excited to be thirty. I still felt young and like life was still of possibilities (at thirty-five, I still feel this way), but I was a bit of the mind set that life would happen to me. I wasn't quite sure how to make life go the way I envisioned that it should be.

To my 30 year old self, I would caution that life is what you make of it, not what happens to you.

To my 30 year old self, I would say, look around at all these people, at this birthday party. These people, they are your best friends. In five years, 90% of them will still be a part of your life. Love them and treat them right. They'll love you right back. And they'll protect the shit out of you - no matter what happens. I know you cherish them now. Continue to do so.

To my 30 year old self, I would remind that it's OK to be single. While sometimes it's hard, sometimes it's kind of fun. Take every day and every relationship and every man as it comes. Don't try so hard. Don't force it. I promise it will be all right.

To my 30 year old self, I would say, don't be so afraid. The worst that can happen is that you'll mess up. Life is to be lived. Stop being so timid. Stop being so cautious. Get over it.  Life is best when you live it.

What will you say to the person you’ll be in five years?

In five years, I'll be 40. That's a big number. I remember my dad turning forty and everyone saying he was over the hill. Of course, my gay friends say that 40 is the new 21 (these are the same men who told me that 30 was the new 21). But that's okay. I don't want to be 21 again. That's a hard age. Looking forward, I'm not exactly excited to turn forty. But I don't fear it.

To my 40 year old self, I will say, know that your children are their own people. You can't right your regrets through them, You're journey was yours. You have to let theirs be their own.

To my 40 year old self, I will remind, that this journey has been a tough one, and, even if it still is a struggle, every piece is worth it. It must be - it has been so far.

To my 40 year old self, I will say this: Lighten up. Stop being so serious. Remember to spend at least as much (if not more) time living outside your own head as you do in it.

To my 40 year old self, I will say, look at these friends around you - this man you've chosen to spend your life with, these people whose weddings you've attended, this extended family that you have gathered around you, blood or not - these people have been with you for all this time. Love them and cherish them and treat them well. They love you and cherish you and, still, will protect the shit out of you. These friendships, this community - this is something that's amazing. This is something that a lot of people don't have. Don't take it for granted.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

One Week To Live

Gentle readers, I must admit Sunday's Ralph Waldo Emerson Self-Reliance challenge prompt left a bit of a bad taste in my mouth. "What if you only had one week to live? What would you do?" Maybe it is because I have been asked similar questions over the years - particularly when I was first laid off and the journey that I'm on now began.

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?

prompted by Jonathan Mead

But that the thing. Right now, I'm moving towards all the things that I want to do.

My job situation is getting harder, but better, and I see great possibilities.

I'm living with Boyfriend and we are planning a future together. We're arguing about the names of our unborn, un-conceived children and bickering about whether Li'l Wayne is appropriate wedding music (no, we're not engaged, you didn't miss anything). We're building towards that future.

I'm building community online and off.

I'm enjoying time with the people I love and adore.

I'm learning. I'm growing. I'm living.

If I had one week to live, I'd quit my job and travel somewhere ridiculously exciting and romantic, because, cost be damned, my friends, I wouldn't have to worry about expense.

But that's not the way the world works, dear readers. So, living within reality, I'm doing all that I can to push forward and make my dreams come true, and as those who have been long-time readers of this blog know, I'm making pretty good headway.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

If We Live Truly, We Will See Truly

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?

posed by Chris Guillebeau
It's interesting to me, this prompt, gentle readers. Because I don't read the quote "If we live truly, we shall see truly" as having to do with looking outside one's own environment. I don't see it ias a question of going somewhere to find one's true self.

It's great to travel the world. It's amazing to go to a foreign country and see things you never thought you would. To see the differences that make people the same. I have friends who have packed their lives into storage and taken off for Africa and those who have gone diving with sharks. I have friends who have moved to be closer to their parents, a place they never thought they'd move back to, to keep the strong family bond as their children grow. I have friends who have been to every continent except Antarctica (but that's on their bucket list). I have friends who have never left the United States.

For me, I have long loved Japanese culture, and I've dreamed of going there since I was in my teens. I've had promises of trips there whispered to me and I've dreamed of scheming a way to go. The cost, however, has always been prohibitive. I would still love to go, though. While I'm young(ish) would be preferable, but if it's when I"m older, that's the way of life,

I've been lucky enough to travel to London - when I was a walking wiki on all things 90s Brit pop, Norther soul and British invasion; to Paris, in the springtime (though solo, on a business trip, it's less romantic); to Bogota, where I hope to get back to again in the very near future. To Mexico and Canada, too. I'd like to go to Nova Scotia, maybe, to where my family came from. This is something my mother always wanted to do with her mother, but they never got the chance. It's humbling, I think, to go to the place where your family has so much history, to trace headstones with crayon to onion skin paper.

But, for myself, to live truly and see truly, the place I truly want to go is the place that my next adventure takes me. To the place where Boyfriend and I will settle and raise a family. To the place where we will call home as children grow and as we continue to grow. This is what I want most in life, right now, to find the place that we will settle and call home. And I'm not worried about the steps it will take, or that I will have to go through, to make that happen. I just know that it will.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Post-It Question

As I contemplate the Ralph Waldo Emerson Self-Reliance challenge, ponder the prompts and reflect on myself and my life thus far (something I have been doing for the past few years, since my 2008 layoff), there is always the question of "How Can I do More?" The prompt put forth by Jenny Blake on June 3rd definitely pressed me back into that thinking.

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.
Gentle readers, your MatchGirl's biggest challenge right now is a lack of time. There are too many things, personally and professionally that I must do and that I want to do coupled with needing to get some sleep (which is a struggle in itself), your MatchGirl finds that there are really too few hours in the day. So. How to pose that as a question to myself?

I'm rarely at home, so I took liberty with the Post-It placement (I'd never see it on my bathroom mirror or the back of the door) and placed a virtual Post-It in the form of a Mac Stickie on my laptop's screen. If there is one place I am for several (upon several) hours a day, it's looking at my computer screen.

The question I asked myself was this: How can I make time for the things that are important to me?

Pretty standard question, I know. It's one working moms and busy dads have been asking themselves for years. I'm neither of those people, But I certainly have been finding myself a bit overextended of late. And I find myself missing out on things that I would really like to do, because my time is packed. And, often, as is so often the case for those of us with jobs that involve working for others, it's not truly my own.

So how to make the time? How to make sure I do the things that are important to me, with the limited 24 hours in a day, 168 hours in a week? It's not an easy question to answer, but I think, for me, the key must be saying "no". I want to do everything. I want to attend every event. I want to write every blog post. I want to lend a hand to my over-extended co-workers. I want to assist every friend who asks for my advice or opinion or the donation of my time.

But I can't. It's simply not possible.

So I need to make sure that I have a clear focus on what's truly important to me. Both personally and professionally. I need to make sure that everything I do is measured on its level of importance. And, sometimes, I need to be a little selfish. Not so selfish that I ask myself "What's in this for me?" but selfish enough that I ask myself, "Is something I"m excited about? Is this something that will make things bigger/better/brighter in the end?" What is important to me is projects and ideas that reflect my passions: building communities; spending time with those I love; focusing on how Boyfriend and I will move forward in the months and years ahead; communicating my passions with people, near and far, in hopes of helping or inspiring them.  In order to make sure that I have the time to do what matters most to me, I need to see where what is asked of me fits into those criteria. And go from there.

It's not the final answer, of course, dear readers. The question itself is too broad. I know that.

But certainly, right now, my greatest challenge, is that of time.

What are you doing to meet your biggest challenges?

Friday, June 3, 2011

One Strong Belief

Your MatchGirl spent all day today, gentle readers, pondering the prompt put forward by Buster Benson on the Ralph Waldo Emerson Self Reliance Challenge:

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?

It's an interesting question.

It's a challenging question.

It's a question that I cannot truthfully answer.

I love the quote from Self-Reliance that has prompted this thoughtful challenge. I have always been comfortable in my own solitude, in being my own self. And in doing my best, with lapses in my teenaged years, to stay true to that self. It's how my parents raised me. It's how my grandparents, on both sides, raised them.

As I've move through my adulthood, and especially as I now linger in my mid-thirties, I find that I share more commonalities with the people I surround myself with than there are differences amongst us. And I don't mean this answer as a cop out. I challenged myself all day, from the morning when the prompt arrived to the late evening when I sat down to type this reply, to come up with an answer that was true. That meant something. That would be fitting of this question.

I cannot, though, dear readers, come up with something that I know, that I believe, that I believe that any person in my inner circle does not believe. Nothing that's of importance anyway.

I believe in love.

I believe in friendship.

I believe in the power of community.

I believe we are amazing alone and we can be even greater together.

These are the beliefs that I live by every day. These are the beliefs I share with you, gentle readers, as I attempt to answer this question. It might not be the answer that was asked for.

But I certainly believe it's the right answer.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Fifteen 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.

My life changed when I was laid off, in November of 2008. This is a fact.

Until that time I had been totally - for lack of a better word - comfortable with my life. That year, itself was miserable. A lot of bad things happened that, in the long run, don't really matter as stories, just as the pieces that fell down and put me into the position to be who I am today. And to see that being someone is to keep striving to be better at being you.

On that day in early November, my boss called me into his office and told me that I was doing a great job. But the company was hemoraging money and, as one of only two salaried people, I would be working my last day that day. I was amazed. I had worked my ass off at that job. I had worked long hours. I had put sweat and tears (and probably a little) blood into that job - working longer hours than even the start-up owners themselves. And suddenly I was being asked ot pack my desk and being escorted out the front door.

I was devastated.
I moped.
I slept too much.
I drank too much.
I looked on Craigslists for jobs that were well below my intelligence and skill.
I was, to say the least, depressed.

And then one morning, I woke up.
And I started writing.
I started this little blog to share my feelings with the world.

And I found out there were more people like me. People who were smart and loyal and beautiful and cared about each other and their communities - online and local. And I started to make a whole new world of friends.

That's the important part of the story. It's about the community that you find when you put yourself out there - truly put yourself out there and let yourself see the world in a different way. It's about the people you meet who you admire and you want to be friends with - who you find inspiring and whom you hope you can inspire.

The most important thing I  have learned, over the past few years, is that if you just put yourself out there - heart wide open - open to pain and to joy and to all the amazements that the world has to offer, even if they terrify you, that is the way to your truest self.

Through sharing my hopes and fears and pains on this blog, I realized that there was a tribe of people out there - some near, some far - who felt those things, too. I met people who were terrified of starting over after being laid off. I met girls who felt like they would be single forever. I met people in my own neighborhood who love it as much as I do and who thought there must be a way to introduce those people to one another - to foster community and relationships. And the best part of all of that is I am still doing it. And I'm helping other people do it. And I'm trying to work with people who are more tech-savvy than I to make it happen more and better and bigger.

The thing I know is that by being your true self - not apologizing, for either your strengths or your weaknesses, you gain so much. You meet the most amazing people. You find your tribe. You learn things you might never have known. You are offered experiences that, were you hiding behind a facade of what you think you're supposed to be, you never would have been privy to. It is a terrifying way to live, at times, with your heart on your sleeve. But, for me, there has never really been any other way.

The best thing that ever happened to me was getting laid off in November 2008, at the height of the recession. It put me on a path that I never would have gone down otherwise. And I can't imagine living any other way.