Skip to content

Posts from the ‘So British’ Category

10 Quotes from Alice in Wonderland That Can Help You Defy Small


In honor of British novelist Lewis Carroll’s birthday on January 27, I thought I would share a few quotes and my reflections about defying small from Alice and her adventures in Wonderland.

#1 “When I used to read fairy-tales, I fancied that kind of thing never happened, and now here I am in the middle of one!”

You know you’re living your dream when you wake up and can’t imagine doing anything else. If you’re not there yet, don’t lose heart. Just take that first step and, slowly, but surely, you’ll get there.


#2 Alice: “Where should I go?” The Cheshire Cat: “That depends on where you want to end up.”

Have a plan (life plan, business plan, book proposal, etc.) Without one, you might eventually get to where you want to go, but you’ll waste a lot of precious time in the process.

 #3 “Be what you would seem to be—or, if you’d like it put more simply—never imagine yourself not to be otherwise than what it might appear to others.”

Be authentic. You won’t please everyone, so don’t even try. Build a tribe of faithful followers and just keep doing what you do best. Those faithful few will show up and bring new followers along.

#4 “You’re entirely bonkers. But I’ll tell you a secret. All the best people are.”

Sometimes you’ll think you are crazy to pursue your dream, whether it’s starting a new business, writing a book, or traveling around the world. Other people will think you’re crazy, too. Personally, I’d rather be creative and crazy than do nothing and live a life of regret.

#5 “Curiouser and curiouser!”

Be curious. When I want to master a new skill, I do my research and delve in. Take a risk and dare to try something new.


#6 “The hurrier I go, the behinder I get.”

The more passionately you pursue your dream, the more demands you’ll have on your time. Make a choice to get off the hamster wheel. This is your dream, after all. Slow down and enjoy the journey.

#7 “Why, sometimes, I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

I am most creative in the early mornings, so that is when I write. It’s also when my thoughts are most fluid and when the best ideas come to me. Find your prime time for creativity and guard it with your life.

#8 “It’s no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.”

Once you decide to pursue your dream, there’s no turning back. You may be successful. You will probably fail somewhere along the way. If you are open and vulnerable, you will grow. But you will never go back to being the person you were before.

#9 “If you limit your actions in life to things that nobody can possibly find fault with, you will not do much!”

See #4.

#10 “If you’ll believe in me, I’ll believe in you. Is that a bargain?”

Find a tribe of people who believe in your talents and abilities. Find a mentor to guide, empower, and encourage you. Show gratitude by believing in and encouraging those who believe in you. At the end of the day, it’s connection that counts.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Which is your favorite quote and why? Feel free to share your thoughts, below.

A death-defying dive into life


Photo: Julia Fullerton-Batten

If you ask me, there’s nothing worse than jumping off a high dive. Unless you are pushed. And that’s exactly what cancer is like.

I wasn’t ready to dive into the chilling waters of breast cancer. Swim through weeks of radiation. Or tread through years of meds. I found myself looking out over the deep end of worry and fear, then suddenly, I was plunging in.

Growing up, I was the kid at Tanglewood Swim Club who would climb to the top of the high dive, walk to the end, and then stand there for what seemed like hours, staring at the water and contemplating my fate. Which, of course, was always death.

If you jump from something this high, I reasoned, you’ll die. It was that simple.


“High Dive” by Norman Rockwell

Day after day I would face My Giant. Today’s the day, I’d tell myself.

But no matter how stalwart my resolve, I always came to the same conclusion. And I’d climb down and make everyone waiting on the ladder behind me, climb down, too.

I knew they resented me, the girl in the pink polka-dot two piece. I was a wimp. A nerd. A scaredy cat. (It did help that my handsome older brother was a lifeguard and surely saved me from some terrible fate.)

But this post is not about cancer or dying. It’s about living. Here’s what I’ve learned.

It was my unexpected dive into cancer that taught me to have faith. To trust. When you’re on your way down, the best place to look is up.


Secondly, it taught me that there really is a fate worse than death. And that is to never really live at all.

So I began living. Wide-eyed-in-your-face-out-loud-living. And that is when some of my great adventures began.

First, there was Paris (my post-radiation trip—thank you, Stephen).


Then Rwanda, the Land of a Thousand Hills.


In a few weeks I’m heading to London for my five-year survivor trip (I fancy being the cheeky blonde, below, second from the right).


But my newest and most fearful adventure is Defying Small, the online community I recently founded for visionaries who are daring to live bigger, more passionate lives. People like Torre DeRoche (you go, girl!) the #fearfuladventurer herself.

This summer I will be writing a book called Defying Small: How Defining Life Moments Can Help You Live A Bigger, More Passionate Life. I’m terrified. I also can’t wait to get out of bed every morning.

I’ve come a long way since those climbs up the ladder of the high dive back in my hometown.

Now, whenever I look over the terrifying precipice of my latest adventure and contemplate my fate, I simply shout “Let’s go, baby!” and dive right in.

Love with a Chance of Drowning – A Memoir by Torre DeRocheThis post is part of the My Fearful Adventure series, which is celebrating the launch of Torre DeRoche’s debut book Love with a Chance of Drowning, a true adventure story about one girl’s leap into the deep end of her fears.

“Wow, what a book. Exciting. Dramatic. Honest. Torre DeRoche is an author to follow.” Australian Associated Press

“… a story about conquering the fears that keep you from living your dreams.”

“In her debut, DeRoche has penned such a beautiful, thrilling story you’ll have to remind yourself it’s not fiction.” Courier Mail

Find out more…

North and South: Finding Your Way to Love


Today is the Day of Love. So whether you’ve discovered your true love or you’re still searching, there’s one sure way to find love on this special day. All it requires is finding your way to a great book—Elizabeth Gaskell’s mid-Victorian novel, North and South. You may just find, as I did, the character who becomes (dare I say it?) the compass of your soul. Your True North. For me, that character is John Thornton.

But before I begin waxing romantically about Mr. Thornton, let’s retrace our steps. North and South begins in an idyllic country village and ends in Milton, an industrial town in northern England. As in many great romantic novels, its two star-crossed lovers come from completely different worlds.


John Thornton, heir to a cotton mill, moves in a world of money and machinery: The North.

Margaret Hale, an educated and privileged parson’s daughter, hails from a world that is gracious and genteel: The South.

Cornwall, Helston, Looe Pool

When Margaret’s family moves from their comfortable country parish to begin a new life in Milton, the trouble begins. Margaret’s father takes on students, the first of whom is John Thornton.

John finds Margaret alluring, yet naive and evasive; Margaret finds John dashing, yet unfeeling and aloof. A romance between the two seems impossible. Can they break through the social barriers that forbid a union? Will Mr. Thornton’s pride and Margaret’s prejudice (hmm) forever keep them apart?

This meticulously written novel, first serialized in 1855 in Dicken’s Household Words, is a must-read for anyone looking for romance on a grand scale.

But wait, there’s more.

In 2004, the BBC adapted Gaskell’s novel into a movie starring Hobbit heartthrob Richard Armitage and Daniela Denby-Ashe.

Why my obsession with John Thornton? Perhaps it was his brooding, Darcy-esque passion that won my heart.

“Yes! He knew how she would love. He had not loved her without gaining that instinctive knowledge of what capabilities were in her. Her soul would walk in glorious sunlight if any man was worthy, by his power of loving, to win back her love.”


Let’s face it. We could all use a little romance in our lives. So whether you’ve found your True North, or are still finding your way, North and South is a read guaranteed to point the way to love.

Click below to read the other posts in Terri Guiliano Long’s Valentine’s Day Blog Hop 2013!

“There are years that ask questions . . .”

. . . and there are years that answer.” Zora Neale Hurston *

This is an answering year.

My last two posts were about waiting. Many of you have checked in over the past few weeks to find out whether I am still waiting.

Well, I am happy to report that my waiting ended this week. Tuesday, May 24 at 8:15 pm ET to be exact (no one waits as long as I have and then fails to note the moment the waiting ends).

Several difficult weeks led up to that moment. First, my old boyfriend re-surfaced (see my post “Enough”). After a few days of phone calls & emails, I realized, once more, that we had parted several years ago for good reason. So we said good-bye again, this time, for good.

Week 2: My beloved dog, Fiona, began having serial seizures. After several sleepless nights, two visits to the vet, and a dose of Valium (for her, not me) the seizures stopped.

My Fuzzy Girlfriend

The week following I had dental surgery and all the lovely accompanying pain. Enough about that.

By Monday of Week 4, my left foot was painful and swollen and I was having trouble walking. After visiting an orthopedist, I found out that I had a stress fracture. I would need to wear a large black boot for three weeks and stay off my feet.

I didn’t mind the boot or the three week bit. But I didn’t know how I could continue to work the part-time retail job I’d had since January.

I realized that the long hours of teaching and working part time had taken their toll. That night, I sat at my computer and tried to process what had happened.

“Lord, what do I do?”

Suddenly I knew. I had to stop asking questions. I had to let go, surrender.

So that’s what I did.

A few minutes later I was tweeting with a friend from the UK. I gathered all the self-confidence I could muster and sent him a tweet that read: “Know anyone in the UK looking for a great communications person?”

One minute later I got this reply: “Why are you asking the question when you know the answer?”

Sonning on Thames, White Hart Hotel

So now I am officially working part-time for Essential Hotels in Berkshire, England. I will be writing for their new US website (launching early 2012), blogging at Essentially Laura and tweeting about travel in the US & UK @essentiallaura.

My English teacup collection

I now “fancy myself a Brit.” I will be traveling to my beloved England often. Perhaps I will even live there one day.

But for now, I am sitting here (in my big black boot) blogging about waiting. Again.

And I couldn’t be happier.

* Special thank you to Tony Deifell, author of Seeing Beyond Sight for this quote from Their Eyes Were Watching God by Nora Zeale Hurston. You inspire me. You can follow Tony on Twitter @deifell.

Salt Water Runs Through My Veins

There is nothing I love more than being at the beach. Almost any beach. But I prefer those that are beautiful. And I have seen many. St. Thomas. St. John. San Salvador. Punta Cana. Cayman Brac. Ixtapa. The Amalfi Coast. The Greek Islands. The French Riviera. South Beach (Miami). Cape Cod. The California Coast. And, of course, my beloved Outer Banks.

An aunt on my father’s side of the family once researched our family genealogy. My maiden name is Whitfield, and she traced our ancestry back to the 1600s. Apparently the bottom third of England was called “Whitefields” at the time, because of the white, sandy soil. So the Whitefields became Whitfields and they lived along the coast.

And that’s why I believe I have salt water running through my veins.

I am a Fire sign, so I have never understood my attraction to Water. But water calms us fiery types and we need its soothing presence. There is nothing more refreshing for me than spending a few days by the water. Any kind of water. Rivers (the Cape Fear, Wilmington, NC). Lakes (Lake Michigan, Chicago). It’s all good.

But I am especially fond of beaches.

My brother, Horace, has lived on the North Carolina Outer Banks for 40 years, so it is my second home (along with NYC). More about my amazing brother later (he deserves his own post). Last year, his beautiful daughter and my beloved niece, Ashley, opened a restaurant on the Manteo Causeway, The Brine and Bottle. The food is New York good. Her amazing chef and husband, Andrew Donovan, was a sous chef in New York and just won the “Best Chef Award” at Taste of the Beach. Way to go, you two!

My Twitter name is @ncbeachgirl75. Many of my followers assume I live at the beach. And I do. Not physically. But because it is ever present with me. My little cottage in Chatham County looks like a beach house. No beachy kitsch. Just the colors of the sea, some shells, and photos of me and my girls frolicking by the shore.

Becoming grace

God's grace is becoming

Year of All Years

A process for your best year yet.

6 Months to Live: The Experiment Continues

Life is waiting. Will you join me?