The Mindsoak Essays

Welcome to the Mindsoak essays. These essays are a collective of contributors sharing their unique perspectives surrounding the topics of psychology, philosophy, technology and everything in between. A new essay is released every day, Monday through Thursday. To read more about the idea of these essays, read my post titled Mindsoak 2.0.

Spring Renewal for Creatives

It’s almost Spring, and my thoughts turn to my local Brookside Gardens’ annual butterfly exhibit. There, hordes of people come to watch thousands butterflies graduate from larva, to caterpillar, to pupa, to mosaic-colored butterflies. This year, I feel at one with the butterflies. Huge transformation is afoot in my life once again.

read more

Be Deliberate: A Baker’s Approach to Renewal

March, in my opinion, is the perfect month for baking. It’s still cold enough that heating up your kitchen isn’t a burden, but the weather outside also gives you sneak peeks of Spring, leaving you anxious to experiment with colors and flavors that invite renewal after a dark and cold winter.

read more

Death To Writer’s Block!

“Finish what you’re writing,” famed author Neil Gaiman once said. “Whatever you have to do to finish it, finish it.”
Easier said than done, Neil.

read more

The Rediscovery of Renewal

Humans are funny. Sometimes, some of us resist change as though evolution is not at the core of our daily existence. Renewal envelopes us like a blanket. Change of seasons, new moons, sunrise and sunsets- all reminders that life gives us constant opportunity to start anew with rediscovered fervor.

read more

Variables and Renewing Your Expectations

I hope that helps you in your own challenges with the variables in life.
Don’t get discouraged.
There’s no need to.
Renew your goals.
Renew your determination.
Renew your focus on succeeding and be the example for those around you.
You’re bigger than these challenges.

read more

Love Is All Around

Martin Luther King had something important to say about the difference between love and hate:
“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”

Stick to Love. Always.

read more

Loving Country

In this month of Valentine’s Day, love takes center stage. We turn to those we love and remind them of that love with cards, chocolate, and dinners in crowded restaurants packed with other lovers. This month normally finds us contemplating our love for those right next to us—those we love every other day of the year. This year, though, another kind of love has been on my mind.

read more

Shingles: A Love Story

Love for another is not the point. Sexual love, and the expression of it, is lovely but not the point. The point is to love ourselves, and we all know this, and yet we all make fun of this idea.

read more

Love Has No Expiration Date

Attachment is an important topic in my field of developmental psychology. The term refers, in its most traditional sense, to the emotional bond that develops between a caregiver and an infant. There is strong evidence to indicate that our first relationships with our caregivers lead us to form an attachment style, which serves as our model for later relationships, including friendships and romantic partnerships.

read more

Show Don’t Tell in Writing and in Life

If you are a fiction writer and have had your work critiqued by others, it is inevitable at one time or another you have heard the words, “Show don’t tell.” So what does this phrase actually mean and how does it pertain to a piece of writing?...

read more

Sleeping Gatekeeper

There are many things that I would love to do – and some I attempt and fail. Others I start but end up never finishing. Creating, however, is perpetually unfinished and I love that. There is something here to always add or improve upon, an ever-expanding horizon with every new creation.

read more

Hopeful Valentine’s Day; The Seven Secrets to Staying Married

I don’t think a successful marriage has anything to do with falling into love. I think it has everything to do with deciding to do love, even when you aren’t into it. A decision, not a feeling. An action, regardless of emotion. It requires deep repression of ego – a feat that sometimes seems completely impossible.

read more

The Basic Principle of Parenting is Love

We’re about to experience one of the most annoying holidays I can imagine.
I know. I know.
The ladies are gasping right now, but I truly hate this holiday for ONE (count that, ladies….”one”) reason only:
The commercial side.
I DO love the kindness, the romance…I just hate it being shoved down my throat at every turn, that’s all.

read more

For a Woman, Not Loving Your Body Hurts Your Math Scores

“I want it reported that I drowned in moonlight, strangled by my own bra.” This is how the late Carrie Fisher wanted her obit to read. As Fisher tells it in her memoir, Wishful Drinking, during the filming of Star Wars, George Lucas had told her that it wasn't...

read more

Love of Appreciation

Love is all about appreciation. Appreciation to a person for being present with us, enjoying our company, forgiving us and accepting us for who we are. Appreciation to creativity as we channel it into our favorite project. Appreciation to the gifts and talents we’ve cultivated and spread throughout our lives.

read more

A New Year of Reinvention and Discipline

The beginning of the new year doesn’t have a special meaning for me because I’ve changed my life many times in different moments. I’ve closed and opened more than doors, I’ve left home and moved to different cities and countries.

read more

In the Box

One thing I learned growing up is things are the way they are. It isn’t worth yours or anyone else’s time to try to change that. There is a certain way you act, a certain way you speak, and certain expectations you should have of everyone you meet.

read more

Resolute to the Ride

New Year’s Eve has always been my favorite day of the year, and the subsequent weeks always find me on a particularly nefarious high. I feel emboldened and exhilarated- in the way only true change can make you feel. The turning of a new chapter is always something to be celebrated, and the dawn of a new year gives us the chance to do so right alongside our comrades in arms, accompanied by all the sparkle, glitter, and kisses we can find.

read more

Be You

But, you know what I don’t see much of? I don’t see many resolutions or a focus to take care of our minds and our emotional well-being. From a personal standpoint, I think this is a huge issue because taking care of ourselves should include our whole selves and doing things with a purpose.

read more

The Writer’s Resolution

When people I ask me what I do, I’m hesitant to say I’m a writer. Because writing is my passion, and because it’s not a huge source of income for my family (yet,) I sometimes feel like it isn’t really a job, like I am playacting in the career I thought I could only dream of having.

read more

Goal Setting Theory: How To Ace The New Year And Beyond

Have you pondered about this year, or what it will bring?
I have.
I’ve never thought about it deeper than now.
That happens when you have a stroke.
No, that’s not a joke.
I’m writing this from my hospital bed, because I want to stay in the moment.
It’s amazing the perspective you get when you’re life could end.

read more

Your Kid is a Procrastinator. Why That Can Be a Good Thing.

"We need to work on procrastinating more this year." My kids look back at me like I've lost my mind. These words were actually coming out of my mouth. The mouth of a self-described, organizational freak. My children know I love jumping right into a project that isn't...

read more

Intentional Journaling

A new year allows us to reflect on the last 12 months so we can plan how we’ll live intentionally this year. And yes, I intentionally wrote the word intentionally.

read more

Consequences of Kindness

The way this year has gone, we all could use some holiday cheer and well wishes, but, more importantly, we all could benefit from spreading a little kindness.

read more

Crazy

Not too long ago I pitched an article to a very well-known magazine and said to the illustrious Editor-in-Chief that I wanted to talk about how far I’ve come after having being raised by a truly crazy mother.

read more

Dear School

Dear school,

I would like my children back.

My real children.

Not the phantom girl with the dark circles beneath her eyes and the pout that has blossomed on her lips.

read more

The Importance of Counseling on Campus

When I walk across the campus of Penn State, I encounter a variety of permanent gifts from previous senior classes. Lampposts, emblems, clocks, and parks are all adorned at University Park with placards reading something akin to “Gift of the Class of. . .”

read more

We The People

As a writer, I have a running tally in my head about topics that I can develop and comment on. However, I think the only appropriate thing to talk about at the moment is the recent U.S. Presidential Election that will probably go down in history books as simply “2016”.

read more

Why Working on the Self is Anything But Selfish

The confused look on my face prompted my then soon-to-be-but-now-ex-husband to repeat himself sweetly, “I would save you first.” Was I the “someone who required assistance” in this scenario? Hungover and feeling rebellious, I gave him my signature, left-wing half-smirk, and said, “Every child for themselves, babe.” As I immersed myself back into my “Hunter S. Thompson narrowly escapes Vegas” bit, I heard his chuckle and the word “spoiled” and I smiled.

read more

Gender Inequality In Immigration Is Real

The U.S Immigration policy is designed for both men and women, but there is a gender bias hidden behind the laws creating many barriers for immigrant women. There is still a long path to go to reach gender equality in today’s society. Women struggle to be heard and recent data shows that the issue touches many different fields, but not many people talk about the gender gap that exists in immigration.

read more

Love & Work

After hearing all of this conflicting advice I was left with one question… When did being happy become so complicated?

read more

Why Are We Told There’s One ‘Right’ Kind of Girl?

So, I was riding in the car this week, listening to the pop music station with my teen girls in tow as we ran errands. Driving along, a new song came on the radio—Daya’s Sit Still, Look Pretty—and I have to admit, I was maddened and disappointed by the lyrics.

read more

When You Need to Say More Than “No Means No”

For those of us who have daughters, especially ones who are tween-age and older, we’ve probably at least thought about having the “no-means-no” conversation. Recent media coverage of some horrific sexual assault cases has perhaps spurred some discussion on the difficult-to-broach subject.

read more

So You Think You Have An Idea For A Book, Now What?

Have you ever found yourself thinking, I really should write a book about that, and then never do it and follow through? Here are some tips that I would like to call the “Who, What, Where, When, How, and Why Plan to Publication”. Hopefully these tips can help you along your writing journey and help you decide if publishing your work is right for you.

read more

Why Darth Vader?

I feel like I missed something. I am a fairly recent father. My son is two years old and my daughter is four months. When did Darth Vader become a children’s teddy bear?

read more

Everyone Should Fight For A Cause

I do believe that FREEDOM is the most important human right. The first time I had to deal with the U.S border, as a girlfriend of an American, I realized that my love feeling was seen as a potential threat for the country. You can find the description of the episode in my first book “2 Years 4 Months 2 Hours.” The short recap is that, being in love with an American, made me a potential “criminal” willing to stay in the country illegally.

read more

Ethos of Action

Start doing. An easy thing to say, not as easy to do. There exists a feeling that if we talk about ideas and goals before we start them, that we have accomplished something. If we say, “I have this really great book idea” and talk about the plot and characters, that we have, essentially, written the book. “I’m going to start a blog and write about helping people,” “I just bought this great new fitness program and in eight weeks I’m going to be able to do…” These are examples of plans in thought, not action.

read more

EpiPenGate and Social Responsibility

We have hit that time of year again when the kids are back in school and the germs are thoroughly passed around from child to child and transported from school to home.

read more

A Case for Boredom

One of the main foundations of healthy development is learning self-regulation or self-control. To function in society, we need to be proficient at delaying or inhibiting our impulses. Living with, learning around, and loving others requires us to regularly put our own desires and needs behind the needs of the group. This is true in school as a student, in any family, however composed, and in any relationship. To get along with others, we need to get over ourselves.

read more

To Ban the Word Bossy You Need to Ban the Behavior

My daughter doesn’t want to be seen as “bossy”.  Heck, who does? If you are a woman, think back to when you were in elementary or middle school.  Did anyone ever call you bossy and how did you feel?  Did you ever call someone bossy?

read more

Two Types of Procrastination You Can Read about Tomorrow

Procrastination is a secretly celebrated coping skill for those who create. The reason it’s a secret is because we have bought into the notion that procrastination is poor decision-making, so we can’t let on that we aren’t productive 100% of the time.

read more

Live, Travel and Learn: Thoughts from the Road

Spending time on the road I realized important things related to the side effects of a round the world trip. I hope these tips can be useful to people who decide to travel long-term for the first time, and especially to those who will travel with their better half.

read more

Stop Taking My Baby Away!

While I was parenting on my own for a week I had a lot of help from friends and family but while I was out in the world on my own, I can’t tell you how often I was asked if I was “Ok?” or told, “You’ve got a handful.” Indeed I do but they are my handful and my responsibility as a parent.

read more

Interview with Anton Zriashchev of Glance Clock

I’m excited to tell all my Mindsoak friends about a new tech product that allows you to stay connected but in a very subtle and elegant way. The Glance Clock is a new take on the old wall clock. But instead of just telling you the time and date it connects to all the important information you need throughout your day.

read more

The New F Word

Well, if you didn’t know already, there’s been some debate about the term ‘feminist’, with definitions in the popular media ranging from vapid ‘girl power’ to unapologetic ‘man-hatred’ and everything around and in-between.

read more

Ready?

For me, September is a month of transition. Summer vacation has officially ended and now we must be able to adapt back into a school schedule complete with sports and extracurricular activities. As I was preparing for my son’s first week of school, one question kept popping into my mind: Are we ready?

read more

A Case for Formula in Fiction

Calling a story ‘formulaic’ is usually an insult. The more a work conforms to a known formula, goes the logic, the less skill and originality it shows. Formula, in the end, becomes the opposite of artistry. But I have a nagging belief that good formulas are at the heart of good art.

read more

Travel as Socio-Political Commitment

When I self-published my first book I thought it was a one time shot. I didn’t want to become a writer. I just wanted to share the story that took me to the U.S. to inspire and empower people to follow their heart against all odds.

read more

Nana’s Garden

As a kid, I was curious about my grandmother’s penchant for growing fruits and vegetables. Her row house in downtown Pittsburgh had a tiny backyard with no grass. Instead, practically every inch was devoted to growing tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, green beans, zucchini, basil, and rose bushes.

read more

What Is Right For Me…

“What is right for me is not merely what I want or wish to be right, but what I honestly think is right, after I have carefully weighed and considered the matter.”

read more

Boy From Aleppo

The image of a Syrian boy with his face caked with blood and dirt, the result of an air strike on the rebel-held neighborhood of Aleppo that destroyed his home, has haunted my thoughts in the last few days.

read more

Again, Hoping for Never Again

I am bewildered and saddened by the growing number of teen suicides in our community. Why does this keep happening? Why must these bright lights be snuffed out when they are just beginning to shine?

read more

Changing the ‘Boys Will Be Boys’ Conversation

In order to stop the sexism we also need to pay attention to the messages we are sending boys. Take for instance the whole “dust it off and be a man” phrase. What does being a “man” entail exactly? Why is showing emotion such a bad thing? I hope that as my sons grow older, they will be able to relate emotionally to other people and that they will be compassionate towards others as well.

read more

“Girl” Gone Wild

And for those who say that one word here, one word there won’t make a difference, I have to differ. Cultivation theory argues that we form our reality based on the media that surrounds us, and if that’s the case, our reality is one where males are empowered and females are reduced.

read more

Craving Essence & Freedom

This past July my husband and I packed 3 years of life in Berkeley, California. We will leave all our stuff in the house of my in-laws for 6 months while we will travel around the world.

read more

Mindfulness in Schools

It was a few years ago on a typical Tuesday morning. Kisses and hugs had been given to Daddy on his way out the door to work and I was rushing around feeding the kids, getting them dressed, playing with them, and struggling to pack up to get them in the car to bring my oldest son to preschool.  

read more

What’s the Frequency, Kenneth

A week ago I was talking to a friend of mine about a story from the 80’s. I had just heard What’s the Frequency, Kenneth? on Spotify and mentioned in passing the strange origin of the title.

read more

Imaginative Memory

Imaginative Memory: Using our imagination to create, not re-create, events from our past in order to make sure the story fits our narrative.

read more

Quitting Your Job to Travel

My husband and I have always had the travel bug. When we started to get to know each other we connected by talking about our travel dreams and sharing our experiences around the world.

read more

Childhood Anxiety: Finding The Wonderful Within The Worries

There’s a very quiet struggle that my daughter faces. It’s a struggle that affects her every day, some days more than others. It’s a struggle that other parents have some trouble grasping. It’s heartbreaking and life-altering and just plain annoying sometimes.

read more

Choose Wisely

I’m going to start this post with a question for you. When was the last time you read something and what was it?

read more

Why Your “Why” Matters

The 5 “W” questions “Who? What? Where? When? Why?” have been a staple of life and advice for ages. We learn them from parents, teachers, and television cop shows.

read more

Mindsoak 2.0

As I’ve said ad nauseam, Mindsoak is a project. An experiment. A way to spread my wings and scratch the curiosity itch. A way to learn and connect with fascinating people. A way to explore my limits. To find my comfort zone and expand into the unknown.

read more

The First Ten Episodes

Mindsoak is a project. Nothing more. Nothing less. And now that I'm ten episodes in, I thought I'd take some time for a little public reflection. I've always said I will do this until the 20th episode for sure, just to see where it goes and how I feel about my...

read more

Mindsoak via June 23, 2014

Last night I opened up a notebook I hadn't opened in over a year. I have ton's of notebooks, most unfinished/unused, filled with a variety of notes for projects, stories and ideas I've been working on. I'm starting a mind dump routine at night so I pulled out a half...

read more

Launch Day

And here we go... Today is the day I launch the Mindsoak podcast to the world. I'm both excited and a little nervous. If you've ever thrown out anything creative in to the world (you have, trust me) you know it's a little intimidating to say "Go!" In my case, to hit...

read more