As this month comes to a close, I’m reminded of what I’ve learned. The new things I’ve tried. The myriad opportunities that are here now and ahead.
I’ve accomplished a lot, and you probably have, too. So you also probably realize that success isn’t immediate. The best ideas can start with a seed that then grows and matures. And growth—through life’s storms and during the sunny days—is what matters.
So as long as you’re moving, learning, being challenged, please keep going. It’s actually good when life isn’t simple. It’s good when we face challenges. The things we’ve beaten can prepare us for the next round of the fight.
These things can prepare us for big victories.
So, like the sunflowers of summer–and those that will sprout this fall (I can’t wait to see those!)–let yourself grow.
Look to the light. Start that new venture, pitch that story, write that book, have that key conversation. Do the things you’ve been wanting to do.
Experience it all. And let yourself live.
For more views of these gorgeous flowers and my latest musings on writing and life, please visit me on Instagram.
And if you need a hand with your writing projects or career goals, see this page or this one for details on how I can help.
The clouds came in quickly. One minute the sky was bright and sunny. Then, suddenly, grayish black. With fat raindrops beginning to fall. I didn’t have my umbrella. So I waited inside. And it passed. The storm, that is. It passed…like they always do. That’s the part to remember.
When we’re in the middle of difficult situations, it can be hard to see past the rain, and the distractions, and the stress. When it comes to writing, for instance, rejections are part of the game. Having to learn new skills and processes, and frustration with that learning curve, can be, too.
But we have to know that these things can’t last forever. That we’ll get better. And that we can withstand the hard times to get to the good ones. Nothing worth having comes without some struggle.
Adjusting our mindsets can help during turbulent times. And actually, speaking of mindset, we can notice beauty (like in this street shot I captured) even when the bleakest clouds come in. Have you been surprised by a storm? Remember that it won’t last forever. Be calm in the moment. And realistically (all metaphors aside), carry an umbrella to be prepared. Mine is now securely back in my bag. ☺️
And if you want help with the storms that can accompany getting your writing or communications career going—whether it comes to pitching yourself or just having the confidence to start—please let me know. I have advice for that, too. ✨
I’ve been feeling free. Light. Accomplished. And extra independent. Things I’ve been wanting and working toward are happening. It feels great to see things that I’ve imagined actually come to pass in real life.
And that is the key, in part. The thought. The willingness to believe that good things are coming and that I am—and we are—worthy of them.
Our thoughts matter and can affect our bodies, our lives, and our experiences. This concept shows up in science, in the law of attraction, and even in faith-based teachings.
So if you want to feel free—or more successful, content, or relaxed—a big way to shift is within your mind.
For example, taking time to think kind thoughts about yourself has psychological and physical benefits, suggests 2019 research from the University of Exeter. In the small study, participants who listened to an audio recording that encouraged them to be kind to themselves reported feeling more self-compassion and connection with others. These participants also had a physical response consistent with relaxation and safety, including a drop in heart rate and a lower sweat response. Meanwhile, those who heard an audio inducing “a critical inner voice” had a higher heart rate and higher sweat response, consistent with feelings of distress.
So this July, and beyond, remember: If you have a dream in your heart, think of it positively in your mind. Believe in yourself, put in the work, and have faith. Think of the thing as already yours. You might be surprised to see the good things that can follow.
So do you believe in yourself? Want some encouragement? Maybe I can help–especially if you have questions about moving up in your career (including full-time or freelance work in writing, communications, or editing) or how to shift your general mindset. Drop me a comment or email me!
I’ve been a professional writer and editor for more than a decade. (Where did the time go?!) And I wrote for fun for many years before that.
One question that comes up when it comes to writing and creativity is this: Where do you get ideas? Whether we’re writing on deadline or writing just for fun, our ideas have to come from somewhere. And, in my experience, ideas for stories can come from all around us.
Recently I went to the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts to see a ballet. There, I ran into this exhibit of worldwide photos of hope and resilience (see above). It was another example of how surprises can pop up anywhere and at any time–and how we should be open to them. But it also reminded me that inspiration for writing, other creative pursuits, and even life plans can come from all around us. In fact, I think it’s really cool that we can soak up creativity even in our hometowns—without trying hard or traveling far.
(Side note: If you haven’t been to the Kennedy Center, do check it out when in DC—for everything from opera to ballet. This free exhibit via the National Geographic Photo Camp features photos from at-risk and refugee youth and runs through June 20, 2019.)
So here’s the takeaway: Story ideas and life inspiration can come from anywhere. And they can come by surprise. If you’re looking for ideas for your next piece of writing, look around you. Explore your hometown. Travel. Read something you typically wouldn’t. Start a new conversation.
You can find plenty of inspiration if you pay attention.
We can plan and try to predict things all we want (quick shout out to the Type As and planners out there), but things happen all the time that are completely out of our control. Sometimes these things are what we’d call good. Sometimes they’re not. At least not in the moment. But it’s good to be open to surprises in any case, I think.
For instance, I wasn’t expecting to wander upon these magnolia trees this spring. Cherry blossoms get lots of love here in DC—and the thousands of trees donated by Japan decades ago do deserve their own attention. (Trust me, I wrote about those beauties, too.) But these magnolia blooms in the Smithsonian Castle’s garden were gorgeous. I live here, and I had no idea how amazing this would be. I was just planning a quick pass-through, but ended up marveling at these for several long moments.
Need more encouragement? One older study from Emory University Health Sciences Center found that the brain finds unexpected pleasures more rewarding than expected ones. You’ll understand this yourself if you’ve ever gotten a surprise flower delivery (yes, I’m still talking about plants!) or if you’ve ever won an unexpected prize or other reward. So, here’s to not planning everything. And to being open to the unexpected. You never know what you might find.
As I was walking in our nation’s capital this spring, taking in the beautiful cherry blossoms, I had some realizations. We’re surrounded by beauty—for me, I can see it every day—but we don’t always take time to notice. And we don’t always focus on the good things in our lives.
The annual National Cherry Blossom Festival commemorates the the 1912 gift of 3,000 cherry trees from Tokyo to the city of Washington, DC, according to the festival’s website. And the views and programming over the event’s four weeks attract more than a million people each year.
This season, I looked out on the pretty scenes before me (including the Jefferson Memorial through the trees), and thought to myself. I settled on this (among other things): Our words and beliefs matter. It’s a message that I’ve been hearing lately from other sources, too. It relates to the law of attraction. And that saying: Whether you think you can or you can’t—either way you’re right.
So I’m making a special effort to think that I can. To say that I can. To KNOW that I can be at peace—even when things are crazy. (For instance, so many people were swarming around me when I took this photo. But I decided I would focus on the view and stay in peace—and I did!) 🌸
Do you think positive thinking really works? I’ve seen it work in my life. Feel free to comment or check out my Instagram post to see what people told me. ✨
We’ve just had our first snow of 2019 in DC, so I had to go out and play around. It was incredibly nice to venture out into the fresh snow as it fell. I laughed a lot and was glad I didn’t stay inside.
So, when is the last time you acted like a kid and played in the snow, or sand, or grass? (Whatever is seasonal in your part of the world!) As grown-ups (ahem), sometimes we can get caught up in the monotonous, day-to-day tasks of life. But playing is actually good for us, even when we’re older.
This month, I thought about booking a flight out of town. The travel bug almost bit me again. But then I thought about the fact that I live in the nation’s capital. And there are tons of things to do here—many of them free—and I can keep myself busy at home. Every. Single. Day. And save my money for another big trip abroad. (More on that later.)
The good thing about the destinations I visited this December? They’re also good bets year-round. Though, as you’d probably guess, the events and décor will vary.
For instance, in mid-December I dropped by an ice sculpture exhibit at CityCenterDC. This complex of 10 acres in downtown DC includes a plaza, luxe shopping, restaurants, pedestrian walkways, and a hotel, along with living spaces for those who want to make a home there.
We had to wait in line to get into the event tent, but the reward was seeing sculptures that rose up to 12 feet tall and that were carved from 50,000 pounds of ice. The exhibit has since departed, but it’s an example of the cool events that sweep into this space. (Literally and figuratively cool, in this case.) Not seeking any event in particular? The shopping and dining options are worth a stop, too.
The Warner Theatre
I also bought a ticket to The Nutcracker ballet at DC’s Warner Theatre, which first opened in 1924. The theater design is lovely and intricate, and the location is metro accessible. So convenient. If you want to visit at other times of year, check out the events calendar, which includes everything from comedy to concerts.
The Willard InterContinental Hotel
As Christmas approached, I decided that I wanted to have a grand décor experience. So I ventured over to The Willard InterContinental hotel, which is just blocks from The White House and also accessible via metro. Since 1818, this hotel has welcomed U.S. presidents, foreign dignitaries, and celebrities. But my focus was on the decorations—including the super tall, decked out tree in the lobby.
This year’s décor also included a gingerbread display that weighed almost 400 pounds and contained more than 100 LED lights, 306 pieces of gingerbread, and 30 pounds of fondant for the runway. The hotel’s pastry team is serious.
The last time I was really here was 2013. Wow. With reference to my last (beyond old) blog post, clearly Halle Berry is no longer pregnant. But I do still think sheer fashion can be chic. And the clothes in my closet still support this theory.
Not sure why I was away from my dear blog for so long, but I’m back now. I was busy during these intervening years. Thank goodness.
My day job also changed; I’m now a health writer, so I’m no longer at the luxury lifestyle magazine where I had been senior editor. But I still live in DC, so I can still give you the details on events around town.
And I’ve been on several, big amazing, trips abroad in the years since, including to France, Spain, Italy, Taiwan, Japan, and more.
So, I mean, there’s a bit of an excuse to have been gone so long. But I’M PLANNING TO DO BETTER.
Please stick around and visit to see my thoughts and writing on all things health, lifestyle, and travel. And of course, please keep an eye on my website’s other pages, which I have been updating.
Also come say hi and follow me on Instagram and Twitter. I’m @lesliequander on both (though more often on Instagram, I admit).
Talk soon! Definitely before another five years, I promise.
Last year, I became senior editor of a luxury magazine in DC, and have since been covering a variety of events. (For instance, I did red carpet coverage when Ellen Degeneres received the 15th annual Mark Twain Prize for American Humor at the Kennedy Center.) This weekend, the city is hosting tons of parties and events in honor of President Barack Obama’s second inauguration, and I’ve been keeping up!
I was delighted to appear on DC’s FOX5 morning news to chat about inauguration events, visiting celebs, and the First Lady’s style. (Isn’t she a fashion maven?) View this video from the newscast for more on inaguration festivities.
I also wrote a fashion roundup for DC’s inauguration events, so if you don’t know what you’re wearing this weekend, have a look at my luxe picks. (I think these options can work for other occasions, too.) Happy celebrating!