Mask down

The final prompt for Quest 2016 is offered by Srinivas Rao:

“What will you do in 2016 to assure you and your best work are unmistakable?”

Colleen (& Bear) on New Year Eve 2015



Mask down.
Bear up.




Srinivas Rao is the host and founder of The Unmistakable Creative podcast where he has conducted over 500 interviews with thought leaders and people from all walks of life. This has given him an incredibly distinctive view into branding, storytelling, and marketing. He’s also written multiple books including the WSJ Best Seller The Art of Being Unmistakable (2013); created, planned, and executed a 60-person conference called The Instigator Experience; and recently signed an offer with Penguin Portfolio to write 2 books. Somewhere along the way his compass led him in the direction of an economics degree from UC-Berkeley and an MBA from Pepperdine University. Extracting unmistakable stories out of people is his superpower. And in his spare time he’s usually chasing waves.




A shimmering web of wind


A piece of poetry emerged tonight – not my intended response to the Quest 2016 prompt offered today, but there you go.

The wind made me do it.

No apologies.

Theme:  Prioritize your value
Visionary:  JOHN JANTSCH

Prompt:  What can you stop doing in 2016 such that it would allow you to focus on higher payoff activities?

In 2016, I will stop apologizing for things that need no apology.

I will stop diminishing myself.

I will stop living in the land of intentions.

I will stop postponing action.

I will stop holding back.

How about you?  What can you stop doing next year?


I see the wind changing.
Pushing back on the river’s flow forward,
quickening its surface like poorly-ironed silk.

I hear the wind changing.
Threading itself through clusters of chimes, sounding like sea air, teasing and circling and rising before waves.  

I feel the wind changing.
Entering like a swirling potion of ether – wooing me, pricking tears at my eyes, sending my heart all-a-swoon.

Change comes.


John Jantsch is a marketing consultant, speaker and author ofDuct Tape Marketing (Thomas Nelson 2011), Duct Tape Selling (Portfolio 2014), The Commitment Engine(Portfolio 2012), and The Referral Engine (Portfolio 2010) and the founder of the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network. Twitter: @ducttape

Drawing by:  Nataliia Kozlova
(beautiful woman with birds in her hair (series C)

Inside the lines

pure joy

snow sparks
the day’s brightness
hair, icy wet,
against cheek

we race
holding children
in circled arms
our too-small sleds spin out
toward each other


I wrote this poem in December 2013, but my heart remembered it today when walking the dogs with my husband Mike on the icy pavement, the morning after the first snow of the season.  There was sun, but it wasn’t warm (and certainly not melting anything!), and the morning sky was this bright Virgin-Mary blue against the silvery white of snow on all the branches – and  I could hear, but not see, the sound of children sledding in the school yard, which is near our home – their laughter and shouts like bells, heralding memory in sweet beautiful waves, of childhood and joy and hope – the sound, I have to believe,  the same for all time of children at play in a first snow.

[But then, Dear Reader. if I were to be even more honest with you, which I guess I am being – the seed of this poem hearkens back a million more years to a similar day, in our first family home on Julian Street, when all the kids were small and the idea of racing outside in the snowy cold, dragging sleds and snow-suited children, was not an entrancing idea to most adults.  But it was to me, this absolute need to be outside in it – to be en-wrapped in the magic and beauty of it.  And he, my best friend, but a man married to another, a similarly practical, more sedentary spouse, said “yes, let’s go!” and off we went towing the kids behind us – sledding down hills ourselves, laughing for the pure joy that it brought us and our kids.

It is a memory of love that my heart forever holds – this moment of reveling in life with another, of being truly alive in the world.  It was (and still is) a North Star moment for me.  Its the image my heart holds, reminding what it feels like to be true to myself, what it means to love, to journey with another, and what it means to truly be alive in the world.



You have permission

Day 12 - Play today

What if we gave ourselves permission to play? To dabble and draw and paint?  What if it didn’t need to be perfect?

What if it was okay to climb a tree barefoot or stretch our toes to the sky on the school-yard swing?

What if we didn’t care what others thought? Or we laughed so hard we a snorted?  What if we built a castle of bright-blue kindergarten blocks and stomped across it like Godzilla? What if we risked looking silly?  What if we sang show tunes to the dog?  What if we skipped down the sidewalk?

What if we bought balloons or cotton candy? or Razzles or Fun Dip?  What if we sat in the front yard wishing on dandelions?  What if we ran through a sprinkler? or drank from a hose? or made paper mache?

What if we didn’t take ourselves so seriously?  What if we softened expectations?

What if we gave each other permission to play?

You have permission to play.

(I do, too.)

Offered with gratitude to fellow artist Suzi Banks Baum. and her Permission Slip project.  When I first met Suzi, what pulled me into her blog was the laundry line image.

I remember as a girl, standing being beside my mother, handing her clothespins, as she was hanging clean sheets on the line.  It was a special job, and made me feel loved and important – the memory of it is steeped in sun and has a clean, breezy smell to it.  The memory feels warm like skin in summer.  I remember wanting to be like my mom, and deciding to create my own clothesline, stretching my green plastic jump rope, up between trees.  I would hang my doll clothes there.

An older neighborhood boy, named Greg, spotted me one day and shouted nastily “Colleen Clothesline!  Colleen Clothesline!”  when he saw what I was doing.  He then shortened it to just  Clothesline  “How’s it going Clothesline?” he’d say every time he saw me, and this lasted for years.

When he said it, I just wanted just to disappear.  I was only  6 or maybe 7.

I never played with my laundry line again.

Permission to play.  It’s an idea worth considering.  Thanks, Suzi, for the inspiration today.

Do what makes you happy

Day 8 - do what makes you happy

There is a lightness to having packed the Stories.

Upon completing this task  (one which I wondered about doing for a week), I felt giddy and childlike to the point that my husband may have wondered just who he married.

Last night, we went to Dairy Queen and I ordered a chocolate-dipped cone (I always get a peanut-butter-cup Blizzard or Buster Bars).  I haven’t enjoyed one of those cones since I was little and my best friend Bernadette and I would sneak deep into the woods that backed to our houses in New Jersey and follow the path that led all the way to the shopping center with the Thrift Drug (oh Bonnie Bell Kissing Stick strawberry lip gloss!), Woolworth (always smelled like popcorn), a pizzeria that sold by-the-slice, and the Dairy Queen.  The journey meant disobeying our parents and also trekking across 2 quick moving creeks that had mossy-slick shopping carts and shipping pallets cast across them. We’d  creek-walk both ways, my sneakers and jeans usually wet from falling in, though my mother, who forbid me to go that far in the woods, never seemed to notice them.  I guess I was only a rule-follower to a point.  I think we paid for our cones in carefully-counted change – not sure where we got that change as 8-year-olds (selling lemonade at the golf course, I’m thinking), but we had it.

This weekend Mike & I biked, despite Weather Center’s  “dire storm warnings” and danced in the kitchen (well, just I danced in the kitchen) as we were cleaning up from a stir fry dinner.  We went to the movies (“wasting the day” my mom’s voice in my head), ordered a medium (not small) popcorn, and experienced Mad Max, in 3-D, a film Mike thought I’d hate, but I didn’t.  (A classic Distopian quest story, what’s not to like?)

Do what makes you happy. Good and wise advice I received today from Reader/Friend, Andy Hampton.  This ones for you . . .

I am doing what makes me happy, how about you?

Oh the adventure of what lies ahead!
Oh the adventure of what lies ahead!