Nat’s Second Rule


“Don’t be tossed away by your monkey mind. You say you want to do something—“I really want to be a writer”—then that little voice comes along, “but I might not make enough money as a writer.” “Oh, okay, then I won’t write.” That’s being tossed away. These little voices are constantly going to be nagging us. If you make a decision to do something, you do it. Don’t be tossed away. But part of not being tossed away is understanding your mind, not believing it so much when it comes up with all these objections and then loads you with all these insecurities and reasons not to do something.”

Natalie Goldberg





I am sitting at the open window (at four a.m.) and breathing the lovely air of a spring morning… Life is still good, [and] it is worth living on a May morning… I assert that life is beautiful in spite of everything! This “everything” includes the following items: 1. Illness; I am getting much too stout, and my nerves are all to pieces. 2. The Conservatoire oppresses me to extinction; I am more and more convinced that I am absolutely unfitted to teach the theory of music. 3. My pecuniary situation is very bad. 4. I am very doubtful if Undine will be performed. I have heard that they are likely to throw me over.”

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky 


“You absolutely have to believe in yourself. Man, you’ll get rejected hundreds of times. You have to believe in yourself if you’re going to succeed.”

Jon Bon Jovi


Confidence – noun, a feeling of self-assurance arising from one’s appreciation of one’s own abilities or qualities. 

Tchaikovsky was plagued by depression and also a hypochondriac. Somehow, he persevered and produced prolifically.  Bon Jovi and Tchaikovsky both possessed the drive to create music. This high level of motivation enabled them to overcome obstacles such as rejection and mental illness.



*photos from



5,000 Hours

Click to hear her play


Malcolm Gladwell estimates it takes 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to be world class at a skill. 

But a new study destroys that rule.

In any case, we’ve estimated that with regular practice, rehearsals, competitions and school orchestra, the girls have at least 5,000 of deliberate practice under their belt. 

In nearly nine years of playing, the girls have not once said they want to quit. I attribute that to the fact that they only play violin – they do not do any other extracurriculars. The upsides of “being good” at something are: self-confidence, self-discipline and optimism! 

Click to hear her play




When it seems hopeless, envision this:

A man in his forties, dressed in his best gray suit, sits alone at the table. His eyes are on the door. Gorgeous flowers wrapped in cellophane stand stiffly in a vase of water.  He’s anxiously waiting for her.

Does she show up?

We hope she does…

And if she doesn’t? Imagine him crestfallen. Imagine his disappointment. What would you want to say to him?


Next, a young teenage boy is at a fast food restaurant. He orders a #4 (cheeseburger, fries, and a drink) and a #6 (chicken nuggets, fries, and a drink). He takes them to a booth and spreads them out, neatly. He waits, nervously looking at the door every time it opens. People come and go. He checks his watch four times. Thirty minutes later, he realizes she (or he) is not coming. He throws it all in a bag and heads home, dejected.

Wouldn’t you tell him he will find that special someone someday? Wouldn’t you urge him to not give up on the good in life?

Well, we’re all rooting for you, too.


Search for Sacrament

She adorned herself with auroral acquisitions

brooding to be the best bauble

disguising her diffidence

with an utter lack of resistance


Presented with provocation

she balanced the benefits of the bestowal band

affronts, abuse and anger were abysmal

but the lust for love


conquered her competence


My Illustrator is busy with school and violin. I’m teaching myself to draw. Be kind.







If you haven’t read Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, you need to put it on your reading list as soon as possible.


In nine chapters, he illustrates and analyzes the factors for quirky successes as well as a few quirky disasters. One of the strong influences for some very interesting anomolies is the culture factor. For example, in the chapter “The Ethnic Theory of Plane Crashes,” he states: “Planes are safer when the least experienced pilot is flying because it means the second pilot isn’t going to be afraid to speak up.” One particularly frightening example Gladwell uses is that of Korean Airlines between 1988 and 1998. Their plane crash rate was 17 times higher than the U.S. In Korean culture, a subordinate (in this case, the first officer) plays a very passive role. This is not ideal in cases of inclement weather, mechanical failure or pilot fatigue. Only after a major revamping of their work culture, did KAL improve their safety status.

Continuing this analysis, I believe there is also a socioeconomic culture that keeps some people “down.” High SES kids are taught early to “speak up” and even question authority if they see fit. Low SES students generally do not question “experts” and do not feel they can ask questions in the classroom or the doctor’s office. Assertiveness is a skill that needs to be modeled and taught because a lack of it leads to apathy in health and wealth.



Gladwell, Malcolm. Outliers: The Story of Success.
1st ed. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2008.