Category Archives: Determination

Message in a Bottle: Thoughts on Waiting for Your Ship to Come In

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Life isn’t easy. We all say it, but I’d never fully appreciated the weight of it until a recent conversation with a friend. After years of struggling to stay afloat financially and emotionally, she’d relocated, lost her livelihood, and encountered life-changing upheaval that would make even the strongest of us crumble under the devastation. Her stamina was faltering. Her bank account dwindled down to nothing and she was losing hope – fast. Despite courageous attempts to change her circumstances and tremendous sacrifices, she felt defeated and out of options. Standing on the rocky shore of her existence after years of fighting to survive, she was wondering out loud if her ship would ever come in. Continue reading


Do It Anyway

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“What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight.
     Create anyway.
The good you do today will often be forgotten.
     Do good anyway… 
Give the best you have and it will never be enough.
     Give your best anyway.” – Mother Theresa 

Very few things in life really last. Our children grow up and our roles as parents change. Holidays and special occasions come and go. Years with our loved ones fly by as just fleeting moments in time. Our favorite projects, at home or at work, often reach a peak before coming to an end, signaling that it’s time to move on to something else. In extreme cases, what we build and strive for can be torn down by others or taken for granted, never fully appreciated for the dedication and love that was poured into it. So why do we expend so much energy on things that may not last? Why do we plan, strive, devote ourselves to pursuits that will likely be temporary? Continue reading

Sink or Swim: How to Survive in the World of Work

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A dear friend contacted me recently, out of her mind with frustration. It seems her employer had just derailed her pet project again, changing his mind and her team’s direction for the third time in two months. The change, sadly for her, will mean longer hours, heightened stress, and the certainty of a missed deadline for which, inevitably, he will hold her responsible. But perhaps even more significant, to her the change means a total disregard for her expertise and a lack of appreciation for the hours and dedication already poured into the work. After years of  experiencing this dysfunctional pattern, my once passionate friend, a driven project manager, is now feeling nothing more than ineffective and deflated. Unwilling to expend her energy on what seems to be a losing battle,  she has decided to stop trying so hard and simply “go with the flow.”  But even as she says this, I hear the doubt in her voice. She wonders out loud, “Does this acceptance mean I’m growing up?  Or does it mean I’m giving up?” Continue reading

The Show Must Go On

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photo credit: the

I come from a long line of performers. In addition to winning adult Charleston contests at 12 years old, my grandmother often entertained her neighbors and grandchildren with silly characters she’d create, dances she’d whip up on the spot and skits designed to make us all laugh. My grandfather’s creative outlet was a Hammond organ. I used to sit at his feet, mesmerized, while he’d play. My father, meanwhile, fancied himself a doo wap singer. He’d burst into song whenever a phrase or word would suggest a lyric he’d remember. And my mother? She was a dancer – and I’m told a very good one at that. I myself spent years as a triple threat, an actress who could sing and dance, fully immersed in the process of trying to “make it” in show biz, so it was no surprise to me when my daughter was also bitten by the bug.

A few weeks ago, my very talented daughter was invited to audition in New York City, for “one of those national television voice competition shows.” (I’m sorry, but I can’t tell you which one or they’d have to kill me. Well, actually, they’d have to sue me; it said so in the contract.) And as I watched her bare her soul, present her best self to a room full of strangers and wait for acceptance or a rejection based not just on talent but on so many other factors, it occurred to me: there is SO much we can learn from performers. Continue reading

War And Inner Peace

photo credit: travelintheroads.blogspot

photo credit: travelintheroads.blogspot

I want it. My daughter wants it. My closest friends want it, and I’d bet my life on the fact that you do too. There are classes on how to achieve it, books written about the subject and philosophers have always mused about lifestyles that are most conducive to it. Yet with all of this longing, all of the resources on how to grasp it, it’s still very hard to come by. I’m talking about inner peace. The most fortunate of us have to contend with day to day stressors of making ends meet, getting the kids’ lives in order, finding and keeping a good job, and finagling the time and money to pay our ever-mounting bills. But in extreme cases, some of us have to contend with fear and literal threats to our physical, financial or emotional survival – sometimes all at once. Regardless of our experience, we all want the same thing – to find a state of serenity and wisdom, a sense of purpose and contentment that would rival the life of a Buddhist monk. The truth is we can find it, it’s just that sometimes you have to fight like a gladiator to get it.  Continue reading

The Power of Gratitude

jameswoodward.wordpress.comUnemployment, mounting bills, concern about the future – with Thanksgiving around the corner, you may be wondering if you have anything to be thankful for. Despite the challenges of living in these tough times, it’s important to remember – you do.

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