Shonda Rhimes: ‘Ditch the dream’

November 12, 2015

Clouds3So I was watching “The Late Show” with Stephen Colbert a couple days ago and heard that Shonda Rhimes would be a guest. For those not familiar with the name, Shonda Rhimes is the whirlwind creative force behind ABC’s Thursday night television line-up…from Grey’s Anatomy to Scandal to How to Get Away with Murder.

Rhimes was promoting her new book, “Year of Yes.” And in her discussion with Stephen Colbert, she offered this advice from her book: “Ditch the dream and be a doer, not a dreamer.” I was intrigued. After all, our culture encourages people to dream…and dream big. It was an idea, she said, that she first shared in her commencement address at Dartmouth in 2014. Speaking in public was one of the things she feared…so in her “Year of Yes” she decided to do the things she feared. In her commencement address, Rhimes offered the newly minted graduates some very unconventional advice.

I thought there must be a YouTube video of Rhimes speaking at Dartmouth in 2014. Sure enough. Just click on the link in the previous sentence if you’d like to see and hear her address for yourself. Rhimes admitted that her dream was to be Toni Morrison, the award-winning writer. But while she was dreaming that dream, she was living in the basement of her sister’s house–until she decided to stop dreaming and start doing. I was so intrigued by her counter-cultural remarks that I transcribed the section of her speech that talks about dreamers. Here it is:

“I think a lot of people dream, and while they are busy dreaming, the really happy people, the really successful people, the really interesting, engaged, powerful people, are busy doing. The dreamers, they stare at the sky and they make plans and they hope and they talk about it endlessly and they start a lot of sentences with: “I want to be” or “I wish.” “I want to be a writer.” “I wish I could travel around the world.” And they dream of it.

“The buttoned up ones meet for cocktails and they brag about their dreams. And the hippie ones have vision boards and they meditate about their dreams. And maybe you write in journals about your dreams or discuss it endlessly with your best friend or your girl friend or your mother and it feels really good. You’re talking about it and you’re planning it and you’re blue-skying your life. And that is what everyone says you should be doing.

“No. Dreams are lovely, but they are just dreams…fleeting, ephemeral, pretty. But dreams do not come true just because you dream them. It’s hard work that makes things happen. It’s hard work that creates change. So Lesson One is: Ditch the dream and be a doer, not a dreamer. Maybe you don’t know exactly what it is you dream of being, or maybe you’re paralyzed because you have no idea what you passion is. The truth is, it doesn’t matter. You don’t have to know…you just have to keep moving forward. Just keep doing something, and seizing the next opportunity, staying open to trying something new…even if it doesn’t fit your vision of the perfect job or the perfect life.

“Perfect is boring and dreams are not real. Just do. So you think, “I wish I could travel.” Great. Sell your crappy car, buy a ticket to Bangkok and go, right now. I’m serious. If you’re gonna be a writer, a writer is someone who writes every day. So start writing. If you don’t have a job, get one. Any job. Don’t sit at home waiting for a magical opportunity. Who are you, Prince William? No. Get a job! Go to work. Do something until you can do something else.”

What do YOU think of Rhimes’ advice?


“The Best Version of Myself Right Now”

September 23, 2015

I enjoy going old-school and reading paper magazines when I’m in a waiting room. So today when I took the car in for an oil change and maintenance check, I found a copy of Self magazine with actress Kerry Washington on the cover. The article about Washington was written by Molly Knight. I am so impressed with Kerry Washington. Not only is she is smart (Phi Beta Kappa) and in shape–she also maintains a healthy attitude. She has a daughter under 2 years old. And Washington shared that when someone commented that she has her old physique “back” after giving birth, she had this to say…which I think is excellent advice for all of us:

“I’ve been really focused on not being ‘back’ to anything, but being the best version of myself right now.”


Respect Nurtures Creativity

September 19, 2015

I like reading stories that tell me what I like to hear! A study from the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan confirms what my heart has always felt: It pays to be respectful. Respect not only nurtures relationships…it also nurtures creativity. People who feel more respected are more creative. And businesses that rely on creativity for their bottom line find that their employees are more productive. It’s a win-win-win. Read the summary by reporter Adrienne Roberts in dbusiness.com.


Real Religion

September 9, 2015

I was sitting in a waiting room this morning enjoying a book of spiritual quotations and I came across this gem by Alan Wilson Watts: “…real religion is the transformation of anxiety into laughter.”


Still one of my favorite albums

March 8, 2015

One of my favorite kitchen “toys” is a CD and mp3 player mounted under the cabinet. I can prepare meals or wash dishes and enjoy listening to music on tap. This afternoon, I was rolling meatballs and reveling in the sun pouring into my kitchen windows while listening to one of my favorite albums of all time. It’s CRYSTAL ILLUSIONS, by Sergio Mendes and Brasil ’66.

I first heard the album when I was in sixth grade…and loved every track on it.  But the song that blew me away…and still does…is the title track: “Crystal Illusions.” It’s an  eight minute masterpiece that still sends shivers down my spine with its complex rhythms, variations in tempo, and crescendo ending. Whenever I hear it, I am in Ear Heaven!

Hear it for yourself…and let me know if you like it, too.



Fingerprinting at some theme parks

February 10, 2015

One of my favorite pictures hanging on our wall shows our family at Disneyworld. It was 1999 and a helpful employee snapped a photo of all of us just after we had enjoyed a delicious breakfast with Winnie the Pooh and his friends from the Hundred Acre Wood.

It was an expensive trip…but filled with wonderful memories for our family.

But what I heard today makes me glad that we no longer have young kids to take to Disneyworld…or Seaworld or Universal in Florida.

I just got off the phone with my sister, who said she and her husband had just returned from a trip to Florida. On the way back home, they visited Disneyworld. They expected to spend a lot of money at Disneyworld…but they didn’t expect their fingerprint to be scanned at Disneyworld.

Boy. Until today, I had been living in ignorant bliss about the realities of visiting a Florida theme park in 2015. After the initial shock, I started researching this  story and discovered it started in 2006. And it also happens at the Seaworld and Universal parks in Florida. They all use fingerprint scanners.

Why? After the initial shock and feeling of intimidation, my sister actually visited guest services to find out the purpose for the fingerprint scan. She talked to an employee there who said it was…drum roll…park policy. (Never mind that it was my sister’s policy not to be fingerprinted at a theme park!) But my sister asked for a more specific reason than “That’s our policy.” The employee left for a while to talk with a supervisor. Then she came back and told my sister that the fingerprint scan was for her security!

Imagine planning a trip to Disneyworld…arranging time off for yourself and your kids…making hotel reservations…waking everyone early…driving to the park…paying for parking…walking with a sea of people ready to flood the entrance gates and hundreds more behind you waiting their turn to enter. You see no signs telling you what to expect. Then you buy your ticket and step up to enter the park. That’s when you’re told to place your finger on the scanner.

There’s no sign about the fingerprint scan before you buy your ticket. So after you buy your ticket, how likely is it that you’ll say “no” to the fingerprint scan…especially if you think that’s the only way you can now get into this park? After all you’ve gone through to get to this point, the pressure to go along with this procedure is immense…even if you believe that your privacy is being violated.

In such a high-pressure environment, how many people would have the presence of mind to ask if there’s another way to get through the gate?

After reading articles about this on Boing Boing and Fox 35 in Orlando, I learned that there is another way you can get inside the park: You can show a photo ID instead. But you have to ask…because there’s no sign about that, either.

Back in 1999, when we were planning our family trip to Disneyworld, we bought several of those guidebooks that tell readers what expect at Disneyworld. We learned the best strategy for maximizing our day at the park…including starting our day at the back of the park and working our way toward the entrance by nightfall.

Little did we know that in 2015, families also would need to decide if they should let their fingerprint get scanned.

If Winnie the Pooh were asked for a fingerprint scan before he could enter the Hundred Acre Wood, I bet he’d sit down at his Thoughtful Spot and ask himself if he’d rather visit somewhere else.




Jazzy National Anthem is hauntingly beautiful

November 4, 2014

Okay, I must be on a National Anthem kick. (Please see my earlier post of Marvin Gaye’s sexy rendition of The Star-Spangled Banner.) But today is an election day. So I thought I’d share a video of jazz trumpeter Chris Botti performing the National Anthem at a recent football game.I love Chris Botti’s music. Like the Colts WR Reggie Wayne, I also found this rendition emotionally touching. I hope you enjoy it…then go out and vote!