Happy Take a Chance Day!

In celebration of Take a Chance Day and Poetry Month, I am sharing one of my favorite poems about risk-taking.

To Risk

To laugh is to risk appearing a fool,
To weep is to risk appearing sentimental.

To reach out to another is to risk involvement,
To expose feelings is to risk exposing your true self.

To place your ideas and dreams before a crowd is to risk their loss.

To love is to risk not being loved in return,
To live is to risk dying,
To hope is to risk despair,
To try is to risk failure.

But risks must be taken because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing.

The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing, is nothing.

He may avoid suffering and sorrow,
But he cannot learn, feel, change, grow or live.

Chained by his servitude he is a slave who has forfeited all freedom.

Only a person who risks is free.

The pessimist complains about the wind;

The optimist expects it to change;

And the realist adjusts the sails.

William Arthur Ward


Stumbling Onto Success

dancing1

“If you stumble, make it part of the dance.”(Author Unknown)

When I came across this quotation on my Pinterest travels, I immediately pinned it and within minutes, others were repining and liking it. I also shared this message with my friends, many of whom tend to fixate on each snafu in their lives, often ignoring the bigger picture.

I recall one friend who spent almost an hour listing everything that had gone wrong at a recent event she had chaired. When I read the glowing write-up in the paper, I couldn’t believe it was the same event. No mention was made of the last-minute menu changes or frantic scramble to replace the emcee who had come down with the flu. Without realizing it, my friend just kept stumbling on and everything turned out for the best.

Much like what happened with many well-known inventions that were accidents stumbled upon by sloppy, distracted, and temperamental professionals.

Fried to a Crisp

As head chef at Carey Moon Lake House in Saratoga Springs (1853), George Crum catered to a wealthy clientele. One day, a customer complained about his potatoes and sent them back to the kitchen several times, suggesting they be cut thinner and fried longer. Crum lost his temper and decided to get back at the customer. He cut the potatoes extra thin, fried them until they were crisps, and salted them. To everyone’s surprise, the customer asked for a second helping. The news spread quickly about these Saratoga chips which later become known as potato chips.

saratoga1

All Covered in Goo

In 1879, chemist Constantin Fahlberg was experimenting with new uses for coal tar. He became so engrossed in his research that he forgot about his supper. Hungry and tired, he rushed out of the lab, forgetting to wash his hands. While eating, he noticed that his bread tasted unusually sweet. When he wiped his mustache with a napkin, he found the napkin tasted sweet as well. Curious, he stuck his thumb in his mouth and tasted more of the sweetness. He returned to the laboratory where he tasted every beaker and dish until he found the one that contained saccharin.

artificial-sweeteners.jpg

Unwashed Dishes

In his haste to leave for a long overdue vacation, Alexander Fleming did not bother washing any of the dirty petri dishes stacked up at his workstation. When he returned from his holiday, he discovered that most had been contaminated. While dumping the dishes in a large vat of Lysol, one dish caught his eye. The dish was practically all covered in colonies of bacteria, except for one area where a blob of mold was growing. After close examination, he saw that the mold had blocked the bacteria from growing. He concluded that this mold—later called penicillin—could be used to kill a wide range of bacteria.

penicillin2

Inspiration…Blowing in the Wind

Pink tutus and pointe shoes.

Walls of mirrors and hours of practice.

The Nutcracker and Swan Lake.

These are the images that come to mind whenever we think of little girls and their ballerina dreams.


A world away and a world apart from Mabinty Bangura.

Born in Sierra Leone during the Civil War, Mabinty was orphaned at three years of age after her father was shot by rebels and her mother starved to death. Suffering from vitiligo, a skin condition that produced white freckles on her neck and chest, she was called a “devil’s child” by the other girls and women at the orphanage. Known as Number 27, Mabinty ranked at the very bottom of the orphanage’s ranking system. Her only companion was Mia, Number 26, who was shunned for being left-handed.

On a windy day, a magazine swept up against a fence in the orphanage yard. Fascinated by the beautiful young girl on the cover, Mabinty quickly tore it off and hid it under her clothes. Later she explained: “She was in this beautiful tutu and she was on pointe. And she looked so happy to me at the time, and it was perfect timing because I was going through so much and she gave me hope to keep going.”

When a couple from New Jersey arrived to adopt Mia, they decided to also adopt her defiant friend. Away from Sierra Leone, Mabinty realized she was finally in a safe place. She took out the magazine photo and showed it her new mother, who enrolled her in dance school.

Following the dream wasn’t always easy.

After preparing to play Marie in The Nutcracker, she was told that someone else would get the part because the world was not ready for a black Marie. Another instructor commented that she did not have the classic ballet body. At five feet four and a half inches, she was considered too short and her feet did not have that coveted classical line. And the pink and white standard colors for ballet wear clashed with her ebony complexion.

Undaunted, Mabinty (now known as Michaela DePrince) pressed on and worked hard to give her feet a classical line. Her mother hand-dyed her costume straps and pointe shoes a deep brown. At one point, Michaela did consider quitting ballet, but changed her mind after seeing black dancer Heidi Cruz perform with the Pennsylvania Ballet.

In 2012, eighteen-year-old Michaela De Prince became the youngest member of the acclaimed Dance Theater of Harlem. At eighteen, she joined the Dutch National Junior Company as a second-year member and apprentice to the main company. Three years later, Michaela was promoted to the rank of Grand Sujet for The Dutch National Ballet’s main company.

In 2013 Michaela collaborated with her mother to write her memoir, Taking Flight. The mother-daughter team has also worked together on Hope in a Ballet Shoe and Ballerina Dreams, a Step-into-Reading book for young readers between the ages of six and eight years old.







This amazing young woman, who radiates poise and quiet confidence, hopes to inspire other girls to purse ballet. In a recent interview, she said: “I take what’s in my past and put it in my body. My life is proof that no matter what situation you’re in, as long as you have a supportive family, you can achieve anything.”


Life Lessons from Noah’s Ark

While writing this post, I’m enjoying a cup of my favorite tea–Flora Echinacea Elderberry with Cranberry and Rooibos–and smiling contentedly as I contemplate not going out in the rain. When it rains several days in a row, I prefer to stay warm and dry indoors.

The cool, wet weather motivates me to plan and work ahead. These past two days, I’ve filed and decluttered, cleaned my condo, written several posts and reviews, and worked on the launch of my upcoming cozy, Too Many Women in the Room. But improved work habits aren’t the only benefits to be gained from rainy days or the anticipation of rainy days.

Here are 9 life lessons from Noah’s Ark:

1. Plan ahead. It wasn’t raining when Noah built the Ark.

2. Stay fit. When you’re 60 years old, you may be asked to do something really big.

3. Remember that we are all in the same boat.

4. Don’t miss the boat.

5. Build your future on high ground.

6. For safety’s sake, travel in pairs.

7. Speed isn’t always an advantage. The snails were on board with the cheetahs.

8. When you are stressed, float awhile.

9. Remember, the Ark was built by amateurs; the Titanic by professionals.

Source: Inspirational Jokes


Happy National Find a Rainbow Day

Today is National Find a Rainbow Day, a time to reflect upon the beauty and magnificence of those multicolored arcs that remind us of the hope and possibilities that exist in Nature and in our own lives.

Here are my 10 favorite “rainbow” quotes:

Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud. Maya Angelou

There comes a point in your life when you realize your hardest times are your best times, too—you will see the rainbow of your life. Roy Bennett

And when it rains on your parade, look up rather than down. Without the rain, there would be no rainbow. G.K. Chesterton

If you want to see a rainbow you have to learn to see the rain. Paulo Coelho

When you reduce life to black and white, you never see rainbows. Rachel Houston

The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain.
Dolly Parton

One can enjoy a rainbow without necessarily forgetting the forces that made it. Mark Twain

Rainbows apologize for angry skies. Sylvia Voirol

My heart leaps up when I behold
A rainbow in the sky…
William Wordsworth

Don’t miss all the beautiful colors of the rainbow looking for that pot of gold. Author Unknown

Do you have a favorite “rainbow” quote?

Many Winding Roads to Success

winding roads

Whenever I need a strong dose of inspiration, I refer to the following story about one of the most prolific writers of our time.

A laundry worker, who lived in a trailer, earned $60 a week at his job while his wife worked night shifts. The man had a burning desire to be a writer and spent his nights and weekends typing manuscripts to send to agents and publishers. Each one was rejected with a form letter that gave him no assurance that his manuscript had ever been read.

Finally, a warmer, more personal rejection letter came in the mail, stating that, although his work was not good enough to warrant publishing, he had promise as a writer and should keep writing.

He forwarded two more manuscripts to the same friendly publisher over the next eighteen months, and as before, he struck out with both of them. Finances got so tight that the young couple had to disconnect their telephone to pay for medicine for their baby.

Feeling discouraged, he threw his latest manuscript into the garbage. His wife, committed to his life goals and believing in his talent, took the manuscript out of the trash and sent it to Doubleday, the publisher who had sent the friendly rejections.

The book, titled Carrie, sold more than five million copies and, as a movie, became one of the top-grossing films in 1976.

The laundry worker was Stephen King.

Source: Stand and Deliver: How to Become a Masterful Communicator and Public Speaker (Dale Carnegie Training)


Irish Blessings

8480280_s

May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
The rains fall soft upon your fields and,
Until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

___________________________________________________________

May you have:
A world of wishes at your command.
God and his angels close to hand.
Friends and family their love impart,
and Irish blessings in your heart!

___________________________________________________________

May you have the hindsight to know where you’ve been
the foresight to know where you’re going
and the insight to know when you’re going too far.

___________________________________________________________

May God grant you always…
A sunbeam to warm you,
A moonbeam to charm you,
A sheltering angel, so nothing can harm you.

___________________________________________________________

May your troubles be less,
And your blessing be more.
And nothing but happiness,
Come through your door.

___________________________________________________________

May the wings of the butterfly kiss the sun.
And find your shoulder to light on.
To bring you luck, happiness and riches.
Today, tomorrow and beyond.

___________________________________________________________

HAPPY ST. PATRICK’S DAY!