Saturday, July 17, 2021

The Power of One

There is strength in numbers. That is a tried-and-true cliché that rallies the masses when there is a need for unity. When there is a common enemy. Or when it's movie night and the kids out-vote you into watching some sight joke comedy instead of the mystery thriller you had your heart set on.

Yeah, there is strength in numbers. All numbers. Even the number one. Sometimes especially the number one. One more dessert may put on one more pound. One more snarky, unkind remark may ruin one more friendship. One is a powerful number when it is considered from the right perspective. So, to borrow one more cliché, how do we use its power for good?

Photo Credit: Google Images
I learned about the power of one when I started researching Feng Shui, the art of arranging your living space to better suit your energy. One of its most basic tenets is that the area you are focusing on needs to be clutter-free. With very little research, I was able to find ideas for tackling junk drawers, junk spaces, and junk rooms, so that I could complete the first step to becoming successful and balanced. It turns out that holding on to objects for sentimental reasons, psychological reasons, or just plain laziness is a real issue and there are tons of gurus out there who are willing to share their ideas and experiences for solving it.

Photo Credit: Google Images
The one practice that stuck with me the most was the one a day rule. So, for example, if you wanted to clean out your closet, but were having trouble getting motivated, you would focus on removing just one item each day. In that scenario, you may look and touch more than one itemthe boot cut jeans you're sure you'll lose enough weight to fit in again when they come back in style (keep those!), that slutty halter top you'll for sure need during your mid-life crisis (Never let go of the glory days!), and the gauchos that weren't cute even when they were cute (Toss!).

The general idea is that it might take longer to get the task completed, but it would eventually get done in a way that does not have to feel overwhelming. For some, like hoarders or sentimental types, that could be a less painful solution to the situation. But for others, once we pull that first item and we see that empty space, a little pocket of energy opens up and motivates us to pull one more. And one more. And one more, until we finish. We may do it in one sitting, or we may find ourselves donating two or three items from the closet each day. But if we allow ourselves to feel what happens when that space opens up, our energy flows more easily, and goals are reached a little faster. That first good feeling morphs into intention, then accomplishment. And sometimes, it leads to conquering another project, because who doesn't want to ride that good feeling wave?

The same principle applies to anything you are working on. It could be weight loss. Do one exercise, one set a day. You'll burn more calories than if you did none. It could be money. Find a way to earn one extra dollar a day. Or put one dollar a day in a separate account and watch it grow. 

For me, it very often my writing. Even though I create blogs and website content for other companies, there are days when my time is limited or I'm not feeling super creative. My deadlines don't care if I am overwhelmed with work. They don't care if I have a cold and the only remedy is watching the entire last season of Ozark. They don't care if I'd rather be working on one of my novels or posting on my own blog. While I'm sitting on the beach. With a cooler of beer next to me. My bills don't care either. And those bills don't come in ones, they arrive in packs.

Photo Credit: Google Images

Especially on days like that, when life and ego and dreams want to one-up responsibility, the power of one is the only way to keep me on track. Write one pithy paragraph. Polish and edit one manuscript page. Research and find one interesting fact about dental implants and type it up. 

I fool myself into thinking that the one task will be it, but I know who I am. I am a joy junkie. Yeah, I said it. And after that first initial burst of accomplishment hits me right in the creative cortex, the overachiever in me will hunt for more joy. Before I know it, and in the same sitting, one paragraph turns into one more paragraph, one more page, one task checked off, one short break before I decide to start one more project.

My one ask is that you take one chance: Figure out a manageable goal for the day. Factor in your present state of mind. Consider what will make you feel good, like a boss, like you are working toward something bigger. So that you do your best work. So that you reach your daily goal, and ultimately, your final project goal. Allow yourself to bask in the feeling that you moved one item, or you moved one hundred items. Let the power of one become a valuable, life-altering tool.

Action creates motivation. Not the other way around. If we were to depend on our current level of motivation, the only thing we'd conquer is a box of Ring Dings, or the next digital zombie apocalypse. 

If we apply the same level of drive that we use for binge watching Netflix series to reaching a personal goal, imagine what we can achieve. It takes just one thought and one move in the right direction. Don't let one more day go by or feel one more regret. It may not be just your one short and precious life that is affected.

Photo Credit: livelifehappy.com

I usually end my posts with a snarky one liner of my own creation, but this time I'd like to share a joke. I do not know who the author is, so I can't give the proper credit, but I am awfully appreciative because I was able to tweak it to drive my point home. Here goes:

At a motivational seminar, three men are beckoned to the stage. They are all asked, "When you are in your casket and friends and family are mourning, what would you like to hear them say about you? 

The first guy says, "I would like to hear them say that I was a great scientist of my time. That the one discovery I made changed the health of so many."

The second guy says, "I would like to hear that I was a wonderful husband and a schoolteacher whose one goal each day was to make a huge difference in our children of tomorrow."

The last guy replies, "I would like to hear them say...LOOK!!! HE'S MOVING!!!"

Be the one who moves in his casket.

 

CF Winn is the award-winning author of The COFFEE BREAK SERIES, a quirky group of short stories meant to be read while on break or in the waiting room of the doctor’s office. Her first novella, SUKI, has been grabbing hearts and hugging souls all over the United States.  The sequel, WHEN DWAYNE DIED, is coming soon.

The BOOKLIFE PRIZE (a division of Publisher's Weekly) describes CF WINN's MOORE THAN MEETS THE EYE: "This novel is a unique and original storyline that readers will likely find much enjoyment in. Winn's fiercely plotted storyline makes for a suspenseful read. Every plot point feels as if it is being revealed at precisely the right moment. Winn's word choice makes for a joyful ride through unexpectedly dark terrain."


You can now order SUKI in paperback at BOOK REVUE, one of the nation’s largest independent bookstores, by emailing info@bookrevue.com 


Her blogs have been syndicated on multiple sites including The Masquerade Crew. More posts like these can be found at Humor Outcasts and The Patch where she is a regular contributor.  


FOLLOW her on TwitterFacebook, and CF_Winn on Instagram.


Saturday, September 30, 2017

The Ten Commandments of Being a Hot Mess

There's a delicate balance between being a disaster and being so fascinating that mere mortals stare at you in the same way they stare at horrific car crashes. With great mess comes seemingly legit reasons why life throws you curve ballsand also a set of rules to blame it all on.





1. Thou Shalt Keep Thy Identity A Secretmostly from yourself. As you walk down the street with your shirt unknowingly tucked into your underwear, you shake your ass, believing wholeheartedly that the looks you are getting are because you're having a "sexy day".

2. Thou Shalt Always Spend Thy Last Two Hundred Dollarson things like a treadmill. Because your health should be a priority. And the purchase should be timed perfectlyon the same day that your car breaks down. You tell yourself through gritted teeth that your health is a priority while you walk to work for the next two weeks.

3. Thou Shalt Pick The Most Wrong Guys To Datelike the one who lives with his mom. The one who lives with his mom and spends most of his time in his man cave in the basement. The one who lives with his mom and spends most of his time in his man cave in the basement where he receives special deliveries in plain brown packages with air holes. The one who lives with his mom and spends most of his time in his man cave in the basement where he receives special deliveries in plain brown packages with air holes that you overlook because you think his love of animals is such a sweet quality.

4. Thou Shalt Never Know When To Stop Talkingand because it is so important to fill the silence, it's too late when you realize that the story about the condom that got stuck in your vagina sounded way cuter in your head.

5. Thou Shalt Not Try To Changefor it will all be in vain. Consider yourself branded. The same way your lower back is permanently scarred after that "magical" night with Raul.

6. Thou Shalt Not Liesince your every day stories are so insane that no one believes you anyway. Like the day that your ex-boyfriend, the one who still lives in his mom's basement, came to visit you with his new wifethe ferret he left you for.

7. Thou Shalt Always Make The Wrong Decision Even If It Feels Rightlike the time you turned off your heat to save money and bundled up in sweaters and blankets instead. You told yourself that you're tough enough to stick it out and besides, shivering burns calories. You repeated your mantra through chattering teeth right before your pipes froze. Then burst.

8. Thou Shalt Wait Till The Last Minuteto do everything. While you were cleaning up the mess your broken pipes left, you missed your student loan deadline.

9. Thou Shalt Have The Same Tragedies Smite You Again And Againlike the flat tires you get at least once a month. You only drive ten miles a week, but the local repair shop has issued you a rewards cardfor every five repairs or new tires bought, you get one free. You've redeemed four cards this year.

10. Thou Shalt Have No Idea That Your Life Is Any Messier Than Anyone Else'still the day you face the truth. And so you embrace your identity, holding your Hot Mess Members Card high, in your freshly manicured fingersthat you smeared on the way out of the salon. Just as they were closing.


CF Winn is the award-winning author of The COFFEE BREAK SERIES, a quirky group of short stories meant to be read while on break or in the waiting room of the doctor’s office. Her first novella, SUKI, has been grabbing hearts and hugging souls all over the United States. 


You can now order SUKI in paperback at https://www.amazon.com/dp/0615726313

Her blogs have been syndicated on multiple sites including The Masquerade Crew. More posts like these can be found at Humor Outcasts and The Patch where she is a regular contributor.  


FOLLOW me on TwitterFacebook and CF_Winn on Instagram.





Friday, July 8, 2016

ENOUGH ALREADY. WE NEED TO GET OVER OURSELVES .



I am disgusted.

I wish I could say that I am saddened by the shootings that have become more and more common in this country because I am, but right now I am more disgusted than anything else. We need to get over ourselves. We are so obsessed with being mean that we don't even realize that collectively, we are the reason for the violence.

The world has evolved so much and in so many ways.

Phones are no longer just phones anymore, space is slowly becoming more of a destination and less a mystery, and we can print organs almost as easily as we print our tax returns. But when it comes to how we treat each other--one of the most basic functions that we perform every day--it seems that there is a percentage of people that cannot seem to evolve at all. And with all that we've been through to become a country where freedom of speech is an inalienable right, one that should be cherished and treated as the privilege it is, we choose instead to cut others down for expressing their opinion in growing numbers. Just look at memes, Facebook posts, Twitter feeds, and some blogs.

What does this have to do with shootings, #BlackLivesMatter, #AllLivesMatter, #Dallas, and all of the innocents that have suffered in the mix?

RESPECT.

Respect is not the same as agreeing to and going along with something you know to be wrong. It is allowing someone else their opinion before disagreeing without shaming or attacking his character. If you think you have the right to say what you think, remember that the other person believes the same. And if you think you stand a chance at changing this person's mind by yelling or coming at them hard, just remember how many times you tuned an angry parent out...

The other day someone posted this question on FaceBook: Is it ok for someone to buy lobster with food stamps?

I thought that maybe this person was using food stamps and wanted to know if lobster was a product on the "authorized" list, but very quickly it became clear that the question came from someone who was peeking into another person's shopping cart and judging their choices.

For half a day, this feed was like the trial of the century. And within two responses, I was sure that if the person on food stamps was really on trial, he was going to get the death penalty. Someone even created a list of what this person should be buying--without any knowledge of this person's family, background, special needs, etc.

Sure, lobster might be an unusual choice, but how does that choice warrant so much ridicule for such a large chunk of the day? Especially when you consider how many new ideas have come from unusual choices and out of the box thinking. Without that strange looking thing that we screw into lamps, I'd be writing this post by candlelight, on paper with the more common inkwell, then nailing it to a pole for people to read.

We need to take a stand.

We do. But I think we also need to realize that there are many ways to take a stand. Throughout history, we have been shown different ways, we have been led via many paths, and we have made progress in so many areas. We are testing ourselves again--a sign that we are onto something great--but this time it's tougher because we have more resources with which to come at each other.

In my heart, I know this:

- If we take those resources and redirect them, we can be just as strong in a positive way as we are in the negative ways we ultimately wind up mourning over.

- Saying something to speak out against violence and hatred is fine in some instances, but in others, it fuels it.


Although your intentions may be good, arguing back and forth can escalate and perpetuate the nonsense. There are whens and wheres to debate the issues, but when we come at each other on social media, we appear disjointed as a nation. Deep down, that kind of disjointedness creates fear and anger, and we wind up shooting people we don't even know--and the whole time we don't even realize that the fear and anger came from such trivial FaceBook posts like the one about food stamps and lobster.

I have been ridiculed for not saying something.

But in my silence, I turn away from the negative and toward the positive. Imagine a toddler having a temper tantrum in a play group. The other toddlers turn their backs instead of telling him to shut up or instead of trying to calm him down.

That kid gets to express himself, and eventually, two things happen. It becomes obvious that the calmer toddlers outnumber the one loud, angry kid, and soon the yeller--without back up or support--grows tired and either falls asleep, or moves on to play nicely with others--because that's the only way they will interact with him.

Social media has the power to bring us together, but it can also rip us apart. Skimmers only read the headlines and those are skewed to attract readers. Opinions are often formed and expressed based on half read articles and the need to be right.

Why can't we all just be heard?

Progress is made via debate, not violence--if you kill everyone off, who will create the next best cronut? And yes, humor is great tool for when we get too serious or tense. Why are we here if we can't have fun? I am quite sure that our purpose is NOT to create bigger weapons so that we can kill more people--I have to believe that we were meant to do better than this.

We should expect respect. On all levels of government and civillian life. We should hold ourselves accountable for the good behavior we expect from others. When we work this way, the smaller, bad group is easily exposed. They can't hide behind the chaos we create, working against the greater good, while we are busy policing each other for being outraged at the smaller, bad group's actions. THAT is how change comes about--once we isolate the real issue we can truly determine its size and worth. We can more easily figure out how and where to focus our energies--and no one has to get hurt.

The consequences of where we are headed are eloquently laid out for us by John Kass, Contact Reporter for the ChicagoTribune: "If you read histories about great empires and how they lost their way — slowly, inexorably, the illness growing along the dull spine of what they once had been — then you already know what happens."

My disgust has melted away and I am replaced with hope. Hope that someone may agree with what I've said and change even just one thing to respect others more. And that by their example one more person may do the same. And so on, until respect spreads like the viral videos of senseless killings of fellow human beings that have no business in a place like the United States.




CF Winn is the award-winning author of The COFFEE BREAK SERIES, a quirky group of short stories meant to be read while on break or in the waiting room of the doctor’s office. Her first novella, SUKI, has been grabbing hearts and hugging souls all over the United States. 


You can now order SUKI in paperback at https://www.amazon.com/dp/0615726313

Her blogs have been syndicated on multiple sites including The Masquerade Crew. More posts like these can be found at Humor Outcasts and The Patch where she is a regular contributor.  


FOLLOW me on TwitterFacebook, and CF_Winn on Instagram.



Sunday, July 3, 2016

AN OPEN LETTER TO MY INNER VOICES



To Whom It May Concern,
 
I'm really good at lots of things

Well that's a formal opening. 

I know, right? It seems weird since we talk every day, all day long. But lately I've been thinking, and despite all the talking, I've realized that you don't know me at all. We are so different that it's actually disturbing.

What's really disturbing is that not only did you skip your workout this morning to write this, but you also ate that big muffin. It's packed with sugar and carbs and goes right to your stomach. That's why it's called a "muffin top." See how I did that? Yeah, I've got jokes. Wanna hear some more? 

For example, there's that thing between thoughts called silence. I like silence. But you don't, so I hardly ever get to experience it like successful people do. The ones who take time off to just be. They say it's where pure peace can be found, but for me, between my thoughts and your incessant shaming, the only peace I ever found was pieces of  my shattered self esteem.

I just tell it like it is, sister. I can't help it if you can't handle the truth. I make you better. How can you improve if you never know what needs to be fixedlike this blog. Stop writing and delete this immediately. Nobody's going to want to read it.

To be fair, I think I share some of the responsibility. At first you were like a new friend, interested in everything about me and actively participating in whatever I was thinking about. Whenever you'd go off on tangents, I was excitedhappy to step out of my comfort zone and follow along.

And after a while, I got so used to it that I never noticed that the same voice who convinced me that trying lobster ice cream was a great ideathat I was the most boring person in the world if I didn'twasn't there to hold back my hair and comfort me when the taste was awful and I vomited into a trash can on Martha's Vineyard.

Once upon a time. I was considered unique, but then you relabelled what others called my realness. You started referring to it as my ridiculousness every chance you got. And because your opinion mattered, my shine dulled and dumbed itself down, like a smart girl afraid of intimidating the boy she likes.

You're a mess. You should really just
I'm good enough

The turning point came for me when I realized I was lonely. Even though with you in my head, I was never really alone. When I finally saw that I had stopped doing all of the things I loved. Because I was afraid of making a mistake and looking as stupid as you told me I was. The turning point came when I realized that everyone else was still doing the things I loved to do, but they did them without me.

I decided that the incessant chatter and constant abuse had to end. I was exhausted from trying to change myself and I wasn't having any fun.

Abuse? I never hit you. What are you talking about? You are such a drama queen. I've done nothing but bend over backwards trying to look out for you. I just told you what you were already thinking, but as usual, you just don't get it. Hey. Are you listening? Can you hear me?

I can hear you, but somehow you seem smaller. And now there's another voice talking over youone who loves me and wants to see me do great things. It's louder than you are, and your cowardly, obnoxious, self-centered cries for attention are quickly becoming background noise against the roar of applause I hear when I don't second guess myself and go with the flow.

That voice, the one who cheers me on, is the one that saved you from being drowned out altogether you know. Remember? It was early, a rare day of rest, and I really wanted to watch Super Soul Sunday...

But reality TV is so much fun. What are you trying to be? Some kind of spiritual guru? You should have been mowing the lawn any

That voice kept me straight, stroking my hand as I pressed the buttons on the TV remote, reminding me that I matter and that I didn't have to give in to you. I turned on the episode where Steven Pressfield told Oprah that "resistance is a negative force that arises whenever we try to move from a lower level to a higher level." 

And suddenly you had a name, an identity, and a purpose. I smiled, forgave you, and allowed myself to love not only me, but you.

Wait. What??

Fear and Resistance. Once upon a time I wanted to hate youfor interrupting me when I tried to meditate, or for telling me that I was too fat to exercise anywaybut now I appreciate you.

It all makes sensethat just as we can't really know the light without the dark, or love without hate, without you, I couldn't possibly know when I am really onto something.

For just like the jealous person who works to keep others down, you are the loudest when I am on my truest path.

I'm right here! *throwing random, nasty thoughts*

Consider this my notice. I am terminating our dysfunctional relationship in order to move onto bigger and better things. You will no longer be an annoying stop sign at every cornerinterrupting my flow and disturbing my journey. Instead, when you get loud, you will be like a green light, and I will continue, knowing that I am headed in the right direction.

Oh you don't like what I'm doing? Then I must be doing it right.

And now, when I enjoy moments of silence between my thoughts, I will relax and enjoy the ride with my truest self next to me in the front seatthe one who supports what's best for me.

When we do talk, it'll sound like:

Me: "All is well. You are loved."
Me: "Thanks girl. Back at you."


Bye. Peace, love, and power trips,

The One Who Got Away





CF Winn is the award-winning author of The COFFEE BREAK SERIES, a quirky group of short stories meant to be read while on break or in the waiting room of the doctor’s office. Her first novella, SUKI, has been grabbing hearts and hugging souls all over the United States.  The sequel, WHEN DWAYNE DIED, is coming soon.

The BOOKLIFE PRIZE (a division of Publisher's Weekly) describes MOORE THAN MEETS THE EYE: "This novel is a unique and original storyline that readers will likely find much enjoyment in. Winn's fiercely plotted storyline makes for a suspenseful read. Every plot point feels as if it is being revealed at precisely the right moment. Winn's word choice makes for a joyful ride through unexpectedly dark terrain."

You can now order SUKI in paperback at BOOK REVUE, one of the nation’s largest independent bookstores, by email at info@bookrevue.com Learn more about SUKI at BOOK REVUE.  

Her blogs have been syndicated on multiple sites including The Masquerade Crew. More posts like these can be found at Humor Outcasts and The Patch where she is a regular contributor.  


FOLLOW her on TwitterFacebook, and CF_Winn on Instagram.












Friday, March 4, 2016

Canada: Land of the Shiny and New

I just got back from Canada. After seeing the falls from the Buffalo side, I had to plan a trip to see it from our neighbor's perspective. It would be my kids' first time out of the country, we could break in our new passports, and according to the Groupon ads, everything is shiny and new in Canada.

In the distance is the promised land!


The last time I had been to the Falls, I had squirmed uncomfortably as I rode through the ghetto that surrounded our national treasure. Instead of feeling like there was a permanent red carpet rolled out for one of Nature's most amazing creations, it looked like someone had tried to tidy up the foyer, but then let the dog in--the one with the muddy feet and weak bladder who was constantly chewing on everything.

There were throngs of tourists walking over the Rainbow Bridge. We watched them, our noses and cheeks pressed against the dirty glass of the observation deck as bodies elbowed us on all sides. But without a passport or enhanced ID, my family could not join them in the promised land of the grass is always greener in Canada.


The NY Falls are beautiful!

Still on the NY side.



Finally, after five years, we loaded up the car for an overnight trip, sure that we'd be there in time for breakfast--waffles and eggs that were fluffier and more delicious than ours because everything is better in Canada!

Eight hours, three pee stops, and some over-salted Roy Rogers chicken later, we rolled into the edge of New York. First, I pissed off Border Patrol by planting myself way over the designated stop line. It was like a pharmacy, where every visitor was given his own private consultation and the rest of us were supposed to keep our distance while they discussed embarrassing things like incontinence and excessive gas.

I was told to back up, and by the time my front tires were behind the white line, I was beckoned impatiently to come forward. I knew I had been bad and that made me nervous, so I forgot to change gears and almost rammed into the person behind me--an elderly couple who I was sure was Canadian and therefore nicer than us Americans. Until they beeped aggressively and gave me the finger.

Finally, I pulled up to the booth and tried to explain myself to a completely uninterested border patrol guard who frowned and demanded that I take off my glasses and roll down the back window--because I obviously was hiding my son--who had passed out with his mouth open and had drool flowing from his new braces like the Niagara River.

When he asked me what I did for a living, I launched into a full job description like I was in the most important interview of my life. Halfway through my second sentence, he waved me off as if saying, I'm done with you, please get out of my face before I punch you in the throat.

We drove over the border, windows still open. Crisp, clean air filled the car, pushing out the stench of stale french fries and hours old coffee. The rush of The Falls greeted us like new neighbors, and we all smiled, lost in our own thoughts:

- Me: I can't wait to see the Buddhist Temple!
- Bella: Maybe there's a place to hike all the way down to the Niagara River!
- Max: I wonder if they use Canadian bacon in the Crunchwraps at their Taco Bells?

Fry Coma








CF Winn is the award-winning author of The COFFEE BREAK SERIES, a quirky group of short stories meant to be read while on break or in the waiting room of the doctor’s office. Her first novella, SUKI, has been grabbing hearts and hugging souls all over the United States. 


You can now order SUKI at BOOK REVUE, one of the nation’s largest independent bookstores, by email at info@bookrevue.com Learn more about SUKI at BOOK REVUE.  

Her blogs have been syndicated on multiple sites including The Masquerade Crew. More posts like these can be found at Humor Outcasts and The Patch where she is a regular contributor.  


FOLLOW me on TwitterFacebook, Google +, and CF_Winn on Instagram.







Thursday, December 31, 2015

Mahalo: There Are Two Sides To Every Story

Years ago, while I was reading Toby Neal's Christmas e-newsletter, I had some sort of out of body experience. Although I was completely focused on the computer screen in front of me, I was also strangely disconnected from my body--and it made me feel more alive than ever.


Toby is a mystery writer who lives in Hawaii. Her books entertain us and her newsletters keep us up to date on American life off the mainland. In this particular newsletter, she had included pictures that captured the beauty of Maui in such a way that for a moment or two, I was there with her family, smiling up at the sun and breathing in the salty air. 

My messy life with all of its problems dropped away, and my soul wandered through the sandy paradise that Toby is immersed in every day. Back in my New York bedroom, the wind howled and tossed the snow around outside my window, but I stared at my laptop screen and thought, It looks so peaceful in Hawaii. I'd really like to go there one day.   
 
It's as beautiful as it seems. Even more so.



And just like that, I let the thought go. I went back to enjoying Toby's pictures and musings, all the while appreciating that she had shared her experience. 

Two weeks later, when I saw a Facebook post about a timeshare that was available for rent, my heart skipped an excited beat. A quiet ding went off inside of me as if I were checking off a task I had every intention of completing. The timeshare was cheap and close to the beach. It was in Oahu, Hawaii.


It belonged to a friend of a friend, so I reached out to my friend and she put us in touch with each other. After just one conversation, I jumped on the opportunity to surprise my daughter with an amazing graduation gift and to check off an item on my bucket list. While we worked out the details, I made a new friend, Missy. 

This was the view from my room!


But as the vacation approached, life happened. My job cut my hours by more than half. My oldest child was about to start college and suddenly paying for her education and eating were two luxuries I couldn't afford.

I knew had to cancel my travel plans. I was disappointed on the surface, but strangely, underneath, I was also calm. Sad or not, something told me that I needed to ride this wave wherever it took me.

Unfortunately, it didn't take me to anywhere like Hawaii. My daughter started school and had to drop out of the trip. My brief and unhappy marriage dissolved and my divorce was finalized. I started working a second, part time job to supplement the income I had lost. Instead of paradise, I visited a life lesson or two and I licked a few ego wounds.

In the meantime, Missy refused to give up. She worked behind the scenes to reschedule my trip, keeping my dream of visiting Hawaii alive, even though neither of us was sure that I could pull it off.

With her in my corner, I learned how much individuals can gain from having a strong support system. After years of having to figure everything out for myself and my kids on my own, I felt like my happiness mattered to someone. I kept slogging along, determined to see the light (and hopefully the beach!) at the end of this dark time.

It was almost a year later, and only a month before we were supposed to go, when finally, and without any effort on my part, everything fell into place. In April, during one of the longest, coldest winters New York has seen in a long time, my kids and I got on a plane and took the thirteen hour flight to Honolulu.

Max made sure we'd find our bags easily

It wasn't until we were there for two days that it really hit me. Each morning, I got up at 5 am without an alarm and walked around the corner to Starbucks. I enjoyed the sunrise and my coffee on the outside patio. By then, I had learned the Hawaiian word for deep gratitude--Mahalo--and I said it to the Universe for making that warm, beautiful vacation possible. But on Day Two, I realized that this was so much more than an island getaway.

Some of my favorite things

If I had taken the trip when we originally planned, I wouldn't have bonded as much with my new friend, Missy. And I don't think I would have appreciated the gift of waking up each morning because I wanted to--not because I had to. At home, I was a single mother of three, working multiple jobs to make ends meet. I considered trips like this impossible. So, not having to be tied to a schedule or my usual responsibilities meant more to me, especially after the dark period I had just come out of. Mahalo.

My relaxed face

The kids and I ventured outside of the pretty tourist area of Waikiki and hiked through the rural area of Honolulu. We passed small schools and crowded yards with barking dogs. We saw signs pleading with developers to stop destroying the land. And in the urban areas, just outside blocks and blocks of upscale chains like Coach and Cheesecake Factory, there was so much homelessness and poverty that it made me wonder what the locals really thought about us being there.

Someone's bed and belongings
The kids and I ventured outside of the pretty tourist area of Waikiki and hiked through the rural area of Honolulu. We passed small schools and crowded yards with barking dogs. We saw signs pleading with developers to stop destroying the land. And in the urban areas, just outside blocks and blocks of upscale chains like Coach and Cheesecake Factory, there was so much homelessness and poverty that it made me wonder what the locals really thought about us being there.

The contrast was so profound, I'd have to be in a coma not to feel grateful for the opportunity to be spending time with my kids in one of the most beautiful places in the world. And when it was over, I was grateful to return home to a life that wasn't as hard as I had imagined before I left. Mahalo.


Fireworks on the beach. Sorry about the flash!
Since the trip, I have relaxed more and worried less. Things have gotten easier for me, and I am excited about what is in store for me each day. I still have problems, but now they are just another piece of the path I am traveling on--one that always seems to lead to something better. Mahalo.


Paddle boarding in the lagoon





I'd do it again in a minute



CF Winn is the award-winning author of The COFFEE BREAK SERIES, a quirky group of short stories meant to be read while on break or in the waiting room of the doctor’s office. Her first novella, SUKI, has been grabbing hearts and hugging souls all over the United States. 


You can now order SUKI in paperback at BOOK REVUE, one of the nation’s largest independent bookstores, by email at info@bookrevue.com Learn more about SUKI at BOOK REVUE.  

Her blogs have been syndicated on multiple sites including The Masquerade Crew. More posts like these can be found at Humor Outcasts and The Patch where she is a regular contributor.  


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