Fishing for Fika: FINALLY!

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Hooray! You’re here. Welcome. Today’s the launch of a project that is so much more than a blog or podcast. It’s the culmination of failed endeavors, constant questioning, endless searching, and serious surrendering.

For years I’ve felt like I was fishing for something special. I’d cast a line into deep waters, unsure of my bait, anxiously angling and frantically reeling in.

I was desperate to do something with my writing. I was hungry to connect. A perpetual daydreamer, I yearned for the chance to make my mark. But like so many, I got caught up in the chaos. I swam in emails, became a slave to my phone, and cohabited with my computer.

In this powerful, fast-paced, ever-changing world, I drowned in doubt, fear, and epic excuses.

One day a friend asked me if I wanted to fika.  A true lover of words, she rendered me silent. What was fika?  Upon explanation, I was game.

Fika made sense. It was a chance to break and converse. A pause without a purpose other than fostering friendship or camaraderie. So we sat. We had no technology, no distraction, and no agenda.  She made the most delicious coffee and we let our discussion go in all sorts of directions. It felt strange, freeing, and fun.

As a storyteller, I’m drawn to opportunities to grow and gain insight into others. Fika offers me the platform to connect and conspire while creating stories worth sharing.

You’re a part of this project. In fact, you’re the passion behind it. Let’s fika!

Fear

 

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“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of “A Course in Miracles”

This post has been in draft mode for days. With a twist of irony, I ignored it out of fear.

I am a collector of quotes. I carry them with me, memorize them, recite them upon request, and/or call upon them in the most desperate and dramatic circumstances.

Williamson’s words haunt me.

I think somewhere along the adventures of adulthood I stepped off the pavement of self-promotion. It felt awkward. But as a writer, I’m constantly called to pitch. And since I’m not too into self-promotion, the pitch can be extremely exhausting and self-deprecating.  In a world of selfies and stature, I worried about over-saturation. But I now see the value of appropriate exposure.

Furthermore, I see the necessity in shining and inspiring others to do the same. In a world where the latest headlines are full of tragedies, controversies, and endless debates, we’d need to stop “playing it small” and emphasize liberation.

Our fears of failures, judgments, and inadequacies do not necessarily diminish in age. In fact, too often experience jades us or robs us of risk.  But we need to remember that there is fun in fear. Specifically, defying fear or focusing on fearlessness. If it propels instead of punishes then it’s alluring and all-powerful.

We gain in comfort when we show our vulnerability. We grow in confidence when we push through walls to showcase strength and spirit.

Which leads me to a fika on the following: what are you doing that’s fearlessly focused on sharing more and igniting inspiration for others?

Let’s Get Real: Vanderpump Rules Is My Writing Inspiration. Seriously.

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I have an addiction to reality t.v. Basically, anything Bravo is gold. While the Real Housewives brand is the epitome of recognizable, I save my salivating for New York, Beverly Hills, and Potomac. But I’m most surprised by my obsession with Vanderpump Rules. I didn’t see it coming. I am straight up with Stassi obsessed with the drama. <–See what I did there?

Seriously, where else is it acceptable and attractive to be a starving artist these days?

Take out all of Jax’s cheating, Scheana’s entire storyline, and most of the Vegas trips, and I can relate to these people.

It feels genuinely good to see people my age all over the place.

I live for Tom Sandoval’s musical ventures. More trumpet, Tom. Buba, can you hear me? Katie and Schwartz, underneath the drama your love is palpable. Keep on sending each other Mariachi bands throughout the years. Lala, I have no words. Seriously, no words. Stassi, let’s drink together. We’ll recreate some NOLA vibes in your LA landscape and podcast our asses off. Ariana, make me a drink and let’s party like it’s your birthday. Brittany, talk Kentucky to me and then tell me all your secrets. Doute, you’ve grown on me. Here’s to your evolution. And Mr. James Kennedy, you’re a hot mess and I love every second of it.

If you have no clue who these people are or what this show is about then everything up until now doesn’t matter. And while I label them starving artists, the reality is their ‘realities’ earn them six figures. So I guess the reality t.v. avenue is like most things these days, artificial and acutely absent of total truth.

But I still love these wild creatures for their ability to be imperfect inquisitors. See, they’re seekers. These people seek out everything and everyone. From drama to paid promotions, they seek.

And I can get down with seekers. After all, some of us sit and consume while others chase and create.

Who knew reality t.v. could render me some epic fika material? Vanderpump Rules, you’re the gift that keeps on giving.

 

 

Wander

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“A person does not grow from the ground like a vine or a tree, one is not part of a plot of land. Mankind has legs so it can wander.” ― Roman Payne, The Wanderess

I am a wanderer.

Too often we think of wandering solely in a physical capacity.

My mind goes a million places. My heart follows or ferociously finds a place to wander as well.

I have spent the past month wandering. I’ve let wild thoughts appear and multiply, delightful dreams dance throughout my imagination, and dangerous but determined emotional escapades unfold. Seriously, it’s so good to wander.

This adulthood thing can be serious. The world is for sure insane. So living and wandering in a world created by and through my heart is fun and encouraging. Every now and then, it’s good to escape.

But alas I’ve returned. So here’s to all of the things I found on the unpaved paths in my head and heart. And here’s to everything to come. Operation occupy the opportunity starts now.

October

I am thinking pink, forever praying for a cure, and all about the self-checks. But sometimes the best thing we can do to move mountains is to think of the people who stood on them, strong and proud, battling until their last breath. I didn’t know Julie, but I knew of her. And in this month of Breast Cancer awareness, I think it only fitting that we keep gratitude, grace, and generosity at the forefront of our causes and a commitment to a cure.

Julie Anne Neville, 40, mother of four was beloved Grand Island teacher and coach

July 24, 1978 — Oct. 16, 2018

When Julie Anne Roth of Grand Island started playing on an all-boys Little League team at age 10, the other parents thought the small girl was cute.

But after years of playing sandlot ball with friends of her older brother Jeffrey, Julie was more than cute. She was both tough and talented.

“After a while, when they realized what a fierce competitor she was and how good she was, they started hollering at their own sons, ‘Why can’t you catch the ball like Julie?’ ” said her mother, Jean Roth.

Julie Anne (Roth) Neville, an athletic standout and longtime teacher and coach in the Grand Island School District, died on Oct. 16, 2018, in Roswell Park Comprehensive Care Center after being diagnosed in January 2017 with breast cancer. She was 40.

She was born on July 24, 1978,  the second child of Jon and Jean (Pino) Roth of Grand Island. Her father, the athletic director of the Grand Island Central School District, encouraged both their children to play and enjoy sports. And competition showed a new side of their daughter’s personality.

“She was the sweetest girl in the world,” said Jean Roth. “She never fought with me – you know how some mothers and daughters don’t get along? Well, that never happened. However, if she had a tennis racket in her hand, and you were her competition, she was very fierce. Even if we played Monopoly, she wanted to win.”

“No drama, no nothing,” said her father, Jon Roth. “I don’t even know if we ever had to raise our voices to her.”

Mrs. Neville graduated from Huth Road Elementary School and in 1996 from Grand Island High School, where she was both an exceptional student and three-sport athlete. In basketball, she played point guard and was the school’s first female 1,000-point scorer. She still holds the school’s record for wins in tennis, and was all-WNY in softball, where she played shortstop.

In 1996, she accepted a tennis scholarship to Xavier University in Cincinnati, where she played Division I tennis and earned a bachelor’s degree in education in 2000. “She loved the game of basketball better, but she had scholarship offers in tennis,” her father said.

In his annual Top 10 ranking of local women tennis players, News columnist Charlie Garfinkel singled her out several times. In 1997, he said she “may be the best all-around athlete in the Top 10.”

In 2000, Mrs. Neville began teaching fifth grade at Huth Road Elementary School on Grand Island. She also coached girls junior varsity basketball and high school tennis.

“She loved the kids and the kids loved her,” said Mrs. Neville’s mother.

“She was really a gem, one of a kind,” said Dr. Ami Alderman, principal of the school. “Her influence was so far-reaching, as a mother, a coach, a teacher and a friend.”

She married James Neville on July 8, 2006, in St. Stephen’s Catholic Church on Grand Island. They had known each other since childhood through their families; there is a photo of James and Julie together at a family party when they were toddlers.

They have four boys: Jonathan, 10; Jayden, 8; Jameson, 6; and Jaxson, 4. Mrs. Neville was a devoted mother.

After her diagnosis, several of her former players, now adults, scheduled themselves to care for her boys so she and her husband could enjoy a night out together, her mother said.

Mrs. Neville was an avid fan of the Buffalo Bills, New York Yankees and Grand Island Vikings and Lady Vikings.

To the end of her life, “she was still worried about her fantasy football players,” said her father.

Mrs. Neville rooted for the Xavier men’s basketball team and returned to see some games. On New Year’s Eve 2017, her parents, husband and sons went to Xavier, where a friend had arranged for her family to go onto the court after the team’s informal morning practice. “After the shootaround, everybody on the team and the coach came over and gave high-fives to the kids and Julie,” said Jon Roth.

Besides her parents, husband, sons and brother, she is survived by many nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles and cousins.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 10 a.m. Oct. 20 in St. Stephen’s Roman Catholic Church, 2100 Baseline Road, Grand Island.

Memorial offerings may be made to the Neville Boys Education Fund and sent to the Roth family at 6839 Ava Lane, East Amherst, NY 14051. Online condolences may be shared at www.rothfuneral.com.

I Don’t Know If I’m Any Good

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The title says it all. It’s a writer’s plight. We’re filled with doubt. We’re ripped apart by the fear. We lay dormant. Then we rush. This vicious cycle is infuriating, intoxicating, and elusive.

I’m not chasing publication or notoriety. I’m longing for consistency and relevancy. The latter is priceless. To be told the work is worthy is the ultimate reward. It far exceeds monetary value and replaces feelings of inadequacy with freedom and pride.

Join me on the journey. What’s the thing you don’t know if you’re any good at? Go do that and then write to me. Guys, there’s a fika about this going down real soon and I can’t wait to share more.

Blank Pages

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Blank pages are my favorite.

After a crazy September, I cleared the plate. In the spirit of transparency, the plate is still full but in manageable ways. I cleared it of things that didn’t sustain me or entice me.

I have been feeling like I’m on the brink of something for awhile. I made the mistake of calling it a total transformation, but I don’t think that’s what it is or what I want it to be for myself. Instead, I’m completely comfortable saying that I’m in a state of discovery.

One of the biggest challenges we face in today’s society is the pursuit and portrayal of perfection. Crops, filters, and various apps allow us to present ourselves in our most polished forms. But much of it isn’t real or doesn’t capture the chaos.

Chaos gets a bad reputation. In the moments before preschool departure when my house is in disarray, my coffee cold, and my list long, I’m still able to see the specialness of it all. The mess and mayhem are big players in the magical circus known as childhood. And my struggle to find and maintain balance is shared with my peers and friends. My longing for a career that gifts me flexibility and financial freedom isn’t unique. My desire to make dreams possible and successful for others isn’t original.

But these things, this chaos, the stuff I discover in the adventure, it’s mine.  I claim it proudly and without fear of judgment. I am discovering who I am at 36. Up until now, I wasn’t comfortable or confident with the imperfections or ambiguities within me. But these are the biggest and proudest parts of me.

The struggle has become the motivation. The motivation has launched the next chapter. The pages are blank and the pen is poised to produce.

This Sunday I’m all about the blank pages and the possibilities that exist to fill them.

Get Excited

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“I like it when somebody gets excited about something.”  ― J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye 

I am an enthusiastic person. I get it from my mama.

My little ones demand incredible amounts of attention and I find they easily excite me about all things past, present, and future. There’s something about tiny humans and their capacity to dream big and love freely that enchants and engages me.

My daughters have reawakened the need for excitement in life. Small, big, and unexpected exciting endeavors add joy and meaning to my stories. But in the depths of discovery, I can fully admit that I’m at odds with excitability these days. It seems to me that many people lack a zest for their daily grind. The woes are rampant and the affirmations scarce.

I love watching excitement unfold. It’s a slice of heaven to see someone pinpoint their passion. Moreover, it’s euphoric to see the passion grow and touch and inspire others. There’s something about sharing excitement that adds and grows to an occasion or milestone.

So here are some things that excite me…

  • Old people. I legit love older generations. I’m on the hunt to talk to the greatest generation. Give me your old people.
  • Mommies. I’m in a stage of life where I’m surrounded by mommies within my circles. This mom life cultivates an energy and sisterhood that can’t be replicated or imitated.
  • This Is Us writers and actors. I am experimenting with a course on the subject.
  • College. Give me a crowded lecture hall and the chance to talk.
  • Fika. DUH. Guys, there’s so much exciting stuff to come.

What’s your spark for excitement lately?