Getting “EDGY”

I received a copy of Edgy Conversations by Dan Waldschmidt last year at the
2014 BEA (Book Expo America) in NYC. It was one of many (many!) books that I brought home from the convention, but there was something about it that made me put it on a prominent place in the bookcase in my living room — the shelf where I put the books that I’m most likely to read next.

The title kept calling out to me.


Wow, if there ever was an adjective to describe the exact opposite of me it was edgy.*

Certainly, there are some aspects and associations of “edginess” that aren’t always desired, like being nervous or tense or being harsh or unkind. But there’s more to being edgy than that. There’s edgy on trainalso being unconventional, on the cutting edge, bold, and daringly innovative — those are the aspects of being edgy that I felt aligned with my personality, the ones that I wanted to embrace.

I’ve always been a behind the scenes, sit on the sidelines kind of person. I’m a quiet, shy, introvert. I’m the cheerleader of others’ ideas, the promoter of others’ work. I’ve spent a lot of time learning to accept and appreciate things as they are, taking everyone’s qualities, even my own, to be a special ingredient in the recipe of what makes us all different, of what makes the world go round.


Here’s the thing.

I have ideas.

I have lots of ideas. Original ideas. Some of them are even pretty good.

This book was a really important wake up call that if I want my ideas to come to fruition, if I want my ideas and my work to have the impact that I know they can, I have to change some of the things that have been standing in my way.

There’s no way that reading one book can make me (or anyone) suddenly less quiet, shy, or introverted. What it can do (and did), however, is help me gain some perspective.

It’s not about changing who I am, but about changing some of the things I do.

Waldschmidt explains that being EDGY is really about:

Extreme behavior
Disciplined activity
Giving mindset
Y(H)uman strategy

Thankfully, because of the many different examples Waldschmidt recounts throughout the book — examples of different ways people have been edgy and what being edgy has helped them accomplish — I could see glimpses of those things in myself already.

These examples along with Waldschmidt’s “ugly truth” about how to make it actually happen helped me better understand what I need to do to turn up the volume on those things in my own life.

And. I. Will. Am.

I’m not getting anything from writing this post. I already own the book, I’ve already read it, I’ve already begun to make many changes that are going to help me be more EDGY from now on.

And that’s exactly the point.

Sharing this book and its lessons with others is an act of giving. It’s just me, appreciating this book, its author, and his message and wanting to pass it on to others. It’s part of being EDGY.


*To drive home exactly how un-edgy I was, note that it took me over a year to work up the nerve just to read this book. 


Day 44 of #100HappyDays (TEDTalks LIVE)

On day 44 of my #100HappyDays journey, I attended a TEDTalks LIVE event in NYC.

The focus of the event was War and Peace and it was hosted by Baratunde Thurston. Since I’m really interested in the impact that we each have on one another and I’ve been doing a lot day044of reading lately on social psychology, this was a really timely topic for me.

Each speaker was amazing. At the beginning of the night, Baratunde Thurston said that our minds were going to grow throughout the evening and grow they did. He cautioned us that we were going to experience “hopespiranger”* during the course of the evening, and I can say for sure that I did.

Here are my major takeaways from each talk:

  • Sebastian Junger — When we are considering post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) it might not really be as much about the trauma as it is the society the person comes back to.
  • Jamila Raqib — Nonviolent actions can lead to conflict resolution, but only if they are a part of a bigger strategy.
  • Hector Garcia — Preparing veterans with PTSD to return home needs to be similar to the preparations they went through when leaving for war.
  • Rajiv Chandrasekaran — There’s a lot we can learn from our veterans about being good citizens and there’s a lot more we can do to bridge military and civilian life for them.
  • Samantha Nutt — When we favor peace over war, a different outcome is possible.

Along with the evening’s talks, there were moving musical and dance performances. A surprise guest for the evening was Elvis Costello who read a little bit from his book and performed a song. He shared with us the idea that while a song might not be able to change the world, a song can change a heart and heart can change a mind and our minds can change the world.

Having song and dance interspersed with the talks reminded me, yet again, how important it is to keep art a part prominent of our daily lives.

I’m very grateful that I had the opportunity to attend this event. It’s given me much to think about, much I want to keep exploring, and I know that if we put our minds to it, we will figure it out together. #WWFIOT


*hope, inspiration, and anger

Just as I was about to start my List Journal…

20. Harley and Jane Travel Journal World Cup
This list journal was found on the blog Harley & Jane. (click on photo to visit and learn more about their site)

I’ve always been inclined to make lists. They keep me organized, they help me remember, and I believe that ideas written in list form elicit a different momentum, a different trajectory than traditional prose.

Often, I find myself listing things in journals, things I will do, things I did, things to remember, etc. — and as a teacher I’ve used listing with my students for many different writing tasks — but I have never tried an entire journal of just lists. I’ve come across a few examples of really beautiful, mixed media list journals (see the picture above as an example!) and was about to start one myself, but then I discovered The List App. Suddenly, I was potentially connected with an entire social network of other people listing, too! I figured that this was more than a coincidence, and so I readied myself to sign up for the The List App and get to work on creating my List Journal.

Then, I stopped myself. I already use quite a bit of social media already (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Goodreads, LinkedIn). I really had to think carefully and decide if I wanted to begin using another social media tool, which led me to thinking about the many other types of tools I use and have used over the years to journal in general. And that thinking has turned into this blog post.

I’ve dabbled in all kinds of journaling over the years. As a little girl, I started writing in a diary that came with a “secure” lock and key, cementing the idea for me early on that ideas and words are precious and should be recored, respected, and protected.

  • Learning to write — In school we learned to use composition notebooks to
    A page from a composition notebook I used in 3rd grade.  (Clearly, spelling was not a strength of mine at this stage.)

    record our stories, drawings, and other ideas. I remembering writing entries in elementary school, trying to keep my handwriting neat and worrying if I was spelling all the words correctly.

  • Freewriting — In high school, my 9th grade English teacher introduced me to the idea of stream of consciousness writing, and we wrote in a journal every day at the beginning of class. To this day, it’s one of the most important things I’ve ever done in school, both as a student and a teacher.
  • Mixing it up — In college, I diversified my methods of journaling a bit. I carried pretty journals of various sizes, colors, and shapes and filled them with poetry and other handwritten “philosophical” musings. I wrote poetry and doodled in the margins of the notes I took in class, making my notes much more personal than simply being a record of a lecture I attended or a novel I read.
  • Incorporating technology — I also started to type a journal in a Word document when I was in college…saving it nightly to a floppy disk and feeling somewhat artsy because I could end each entry with a ♥. I did this daily for about a year, and then I printed out the pages and placed them in a three ring binder, returning to writing journal entries by hand.
  • Email — When I began emailing, I saved some of the messages I sent/received because they, too, felt like journal entries. I printed out many of them and and stored them alongside other paper correspondence that I had saved over the years.
  • Visual storytelling — Toward the end of college and after, I started to appreciate photography and visual storytelling much more. I explored photography as a way to capture and tell stories. I took and printed photographs like crazy, arranging them in photo albums and storing the overflow in boxes. I made New Year’s Resolutions for a few years in a row to take more photos and I got into the habit of stopping regularly to take pictures that were important to my story.
  • Blogging – When I first started this blog, I remember calling it my “online writer’s notebook.” The intention was always to explore ideas about writing, write in response to whatever inspired me, and connect those ideas with others.
  • It’s in my genes — Through my appreciation for photographs, I also became enamored with my great-grandfather’s scrapbooks (he called them photo albums, but they were really much more than that!) and the idea of mixed media. My great-grandfather kept much more than photographs in his albums: greeting cards, newspaper clippings, letters, puzzles he’d completed and glued in, awards he’d received, etc. I began to dabble a bit with glueing small items and stickers into notebooks and albums of my own, writing on watercolored pages and adding intentional sketches (and sometimes clip art when I was feeling fancy!) in with my prose or poetry, saving ticket stubs, programs, and things like that.
My albums — rich with family history — have truly become the most important things I own.
  • A new “hobby” — Once I started to seriously research my family’s genealogy, I needed a good way to record what I found, so I committed myself to the hobby (art?) of scrapbooking. I used scrapbooking as a way to archive the actual photographs, documents, and other mementos that belonged to my ancestors along with my own handwritten or typed anecdotes and recollections. One album turned into another and then another and now I am on the 14th album (and counting!) full of family history, photographs, notes, and more.
  • Social media — People have different thoughts about social media sites — and thoughts about why we use it and what it should be used for. For me, social media has always been a type of journaling…with photos, videos, and chronicle events, connecting and sharing them immediately with others. I look back through my social media posts every once in a while and either download or screenshot some of them to include in my albums.
  • Loosening up — Somewhere along the way, I developed a love for legal pads. There was something about the freedom of writing on a fresh page that was completely flat, not worrying about how comfortably I could position my hand when I wrote closely to the inside margins. The danger I’ve found with this type of journaling, however, is that without the pages being bound already, I have torn up or thrown out much of what I’ve written. I do transfer some of the handwritten notes to another notebook or type them up, but not as many as I should. Now, I’m working on saving these notes in their original form so that I can bind them, after the fact, in a handmade book or place them directly into one of my albums. (I’m pretty excited about this project!)
  • Better writing habits — When we first met, my husband introduced me to a site he used called 750 Words, a site designed to help writers develop better writing habits. He showed me how on the site, you could journal or write Morning Pages each day and get immediate analysis of your writing that gave you insight into your mood and other key ideas about your writing that you might not have realized yourself. This practice helped me become more intentional about the journaling I do — sometimes letting the ideas I write tell me how I feel and sometimes using how I feel to shape what I write. This practice also helped me return to the idea of typing journal entries. Though I still preferred to write out journal entries, I liked that the typing helps me get more ideas recorded.

When I set out to write a short post about using The List App, I wasn’t planning on it turning into all of this. I think it’s been important for me to realize, however, that as my story evolves, so do the methods I use to record it. Journaling is a way for me to keep the important things in my life front and center. And who knows? Maybe I’m also preserving these memories for posterity, for future generations, for anyone who might ever be interested.

Screen Shot 2015-10-31 at 9.30.23 AM
An example of one of the lists I’ve shared on TheListApp recently.

All of this reflecting and remembering now brings us up to date and to The List App.

The neat thing about The List App is that it’s social, when we record our ideas, we can share them with others. By adding the little + next to a list when you post it, you can invite other people to suggest ideas to add to the list. The lists can be humorous, serious, and you can add visuals as well.

I’m excited to use this new app and add it to the other tools I’m still using to document my story.  I’ll probably save screenshots of the lists, print them out so that I can annotate or sketch on them, and further elaborate on my ideas, ultimately finding a place for them in my albums.

What do you use to tell your story? How has it changed as you have changed? I’d love to know!


Day #27 of #100HappyDays

So far, focusing on the “things” that make me happy for my first #100HappyDays has been really interesting. It’s been nice to take an extra minute or two to appreciate what I have, and be careful that I’m not taking anything I have for granted. Some days, the “thing” jumps out and demands to be posted, other days, I have to look around a little for what I can post that day. Either way, this exercise has been a great way to make sure that I am only surrounded by things that bring me joy.


What I posted for Day #27 is actually a combination — one part is a pretty pouch (that I received as a favor at one of my dearest friend’s rehearsal dinner) and the other part is a collection of pressed pennies (that I’ve been accumulating over the years).

I think the oldest penny in the collection goes back to a visit to the Statue of Liberty with my parents and sister from when I was around nine years old. I also have a penny that I pressed from a visit to the World Trade Center; it’s a little piece of copper that helps me hold on to what we’ve lost. There are pennies in this growing collection from many other states as well, like Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Tennessee, and California.

Including these pennies in my #100HappyDays helps me remember and appreciate many, many other happy days of traveling, adventure, and time spent with friends and family — which really are the “things” that make me most happy, after all. :)


Happy Days 4 Through 9


Friday, September 25, 2015

Sometimes, the right paperclip makes all the difference in the world!

Saturday, September 26, 2015

A little piece of a rainbow brightening up the sky — and my day.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Fixing up a set of dominoes that belonged to my great-grandfather so we can keep using them (thanks to some white nail polish and craft tape).

Monday, September 28, 2015

I love this lotion!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

My husband gave me this bracelet for “making lemonade out of lemons.” I love it and I love him!  🍋

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Getting these shelf pins makes me happy — but not as much as spending time with my dad when he stopped by to drop them off.

Tomorrow is the first day of October, one of my most favorite months! Lots of happy days to come!


The first few “happy days” and the little things…

I signed up for the #100happydays challenge on Tuesday, September 22nd — shout out to Shaundrika for introducing it to me!

I am a pretty happy person to begin with, so I’m not completing this challenge to become happy. I’m already happy.

So why am I doing it?

Reason #1:  I decided to complete this challenge to make sure that I’m taking time each day (even if it’s just once and it’s just for a second) to make sure I do nothing else but enjoy being happy. That’s it. It’s about letting myself take time for me.

The first day was the hardest, because I found myself wanting to stop and take a picture of everything — every little thing — that was making me happy. Keeping myself limited to just one picture per day was initially pretty difficult, but I think it is also forcing me to slow down and fully appreciate that one thing before moving on to something else.

After just a few days, I’ve already been noticing that I am happy throughout the day for lots of different reasons. The people in my life are the main reasons for my happiness, but there are also other, smaller sources of happiness that I know I don’t usually spend very much time thinking about.

Reason #2:
Some of these smaller sources of happiness tend to get lost in the shuffle of the busy day or forgotten about all together. We have a lot of stuff. Many of us have more stuff than we need to be happy. That’s why I’m choosing to focus on the little things that do make me happy for my first #100happydays. (Yes, I can totally see myself doing this for more than 100 days…perhaps each 100 days I can have a different focus.)

Screen Shot 2015-09-24 at 4.49.25 PM
Sounds like a pretty good list, if you ask me! 

So while I’m focusing my #100happydays on some of the little things, I can also see myself doing a little purging through this process. If during these 100 days of the challenge something crosses my path and it doesn’t bring me happiness, I’m going to get rid of it. There really is no need to be surrounded by anything that isn’t purposeful or beautiful — or both, no reason to be surrounded by things that we don’t need or don’t bring us happiness.

I have a pretty good feeling, because of this #100happydays challenge, I will also get closer to my goal of #moreartinmylife.

And that brings me to Reason #3:  I am going to try to make a photo essay or photo journal of some kind with the pictures that I take for the challenge. Maybe I will use them in a collage or publish them in some other digital format. I’m not sure. As I collect the images, I’m sure I will have a better idea of what I can create with them.

Here are the pictures from my first few “happy days”:

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

IMG_6725 (1)
Having a few minutes to myself just to think and take some notes with my favorite pens — and enjoy a cup of pumpkin hot chocolate!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

IMG_6729 (1)
For some reason, soap wrapped in pretty paper is one of my most favorite things in the world!

Thursday, September 24, 2015 

The first sip of a hot cup of coffee on a dark fall morning.



Screen Shot 2015-09-22 at 5.20.21 AM

I think so, and I’m going to give it a try!

I especially like that this challenge encourages us to share what makes us happy with others.

To find out more, visit this link: and start sharing your happy!