About Me

My photo

I am a writer. I appreciate grammar. I love Batman. I once convinced myself there was a dead body in the dumpster at work. I wish animals could talk. I adopted my dog partly because his name is Frank, the name of my novel's protagonist. I crave snow cones. I dream insane dreams and remember them for days, weeks, months, years. I wish I could record my dreams as films and share them with others. I am scared of spiders. I like to clean. I love high heels.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

New Journey

I have had a lot of life changes the last year or two. I put my blog to sleep and decided to step away - I didn't have the energy to put myself into it the way I need to.

I was gearing up to start my new workout plan tomorrow and wanted to see what type of results I could anticipate in Week 1. While I was googling this very thing, I kept coming across blogs. Then I realized - perhaps I should blog about my experience. Doing so would keep me accountable. While I was getting onto my computer to create my blog, I realized I already had one. So....I'm resurrecting this one - and will be utilizing it going forward.

First and foremost - I'll be blogging about getting myself back. I'll explain where I've been - how I have been frustrated - and the reasons why I am so desperately trying to get back to where I was.

I hope you join me on the journey - even if it is just to read and get inspired.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Beyond the Windshield



 I sang in the car today - about people who cannot drive. I was in a GREAT mood - leaving the school parking lot. Between the people who park and sit all morning for no reason and the people who just pull out and drive around, in and out of lanes, without ever looking at a mirror or window....I determined some people just cannot drive. So I started to sing about "some people can't drive..." and I started to get really negative.

Anyone who has ridden with me know - I cannot deal with bad drivers and put me at a red light for more than 2 seconds and I'm borderline to insane with impatience.

 I realized my mood was dampening due to these PEOPLE. And I CHOSE to note let that happen. Because honestly - it is out of my control that the Department of Public Safety/DMV of Texas hands out drivers licenses like fliers to a windshield in the Target parking lot - without discretion. That is beyond my control. All I can control is my behavior. So I should focus on MY driving....not shoot death glares at the woman in the 2013 Infiniti.

Isn't that pretty much Life, though? Sometimes we get so caught up in getting angry with people for being ignorant or willfully stupid - we forget to pay attention to the things we can control. All we can do is focus on our actions and just WATCH OUT for those who don't pay attention. But it goes beyond that as well....sometimes we resent others' successes because we are not where we want to be. It's natural - but we can control it.

I struggled with this a lot in my life. I still do from time to time. I backslide into a "victim" mentality sometimes. "Victor/Victim" is the principle of whether we will choose to behave "above the line" or "below the line." A Victor is positive and proactive. Responsible,optimistic, takes ownership for his or her actions. A visionary - to see the big picture and identify the steps it takes to get there. Achieves excellence. That's a Victor - an everyday champion. A Victim is one who blames others and makes excuses. Seeping in denial and focused on the "win/lose" result and not on the lessons learned during the "game." Scarcity mentality - an emotional pit. And honestly, it's almost natural for us to be in the Victim mentality. As in human nature....or society brings that on. From what I can tell it takes work for most people to hold their shoulders back and be that Champion/Victor. When we let our guard down, we can default back to Victim.

And I do it. You do it. We all do it.

The trick is to be aware of it and identify whether or not we are living above the line or below the line. Today? I started to drift below the line. But I noticed it - corrected it.

Sometimes we covet what others have - we know it is wrong, but sometimes we do it. And sometimes we get angry over others' mistakes. What I would like you to do today - is identify those triggers that occur beyond your windshield - that are simply out of your control. Are you focused on them? Do they dampen your spirit? Do they anger you? Do you resent another's success? Let them go. Be cautious - be on the lookout for them. But focus your energy on what you CAN control.

My favorite saying is something like, "Don't worry about the things you cannot change. And if you can change it, stop worrying and change it."


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Boom! That's How You Feng Shui.


"Boom! That's how you Feng Shui."

I said that this weekend. Yeah. I know.

I really am not even sure where to start on this. I guess I will go back...

I watch the Real Housewives of <insert city here> franchise on Bravo television. I catch a lot of flack for this - but I find it entertaining and informative.I get to analyze human behavior and get exposure to lifestyles or things I normally would not be. Feng Shui is one of those things.

On Real Housewives of Orange County, there was a new housewife this season, Shannon Beador. (Side note - this was her first season and she was just voted Best Housewife Ever.) Shannon, an Aries like myself, came onto the scene like a whirlwind. Her introduction package, where we learn more about her and her family, showed that she built her house as green as possible. She didn't allow her children to use cell phones because of radiation. She was a dedicated, hands on mother, with a marriage that shows the beginning cracks of trouble. Her home was gorgeous. She talked about Feng Shui, the energy, how she build crystals into her walls for protection. She told her husband to grab a lemon from the other bowl - that bowl of 9 was to be untouched. I, like everyone else, sort of raised an eyebrow and chuckled. She was endearing.

Truth was - I see a lot of myself in Shannon.

Her stress - I have my moments where I feel completely overwhelmed - as if I am wasting time and making NO TRACTION.

Her emotions - there were scenes with her husband David that were painful to watch. It was the most real thing I've seen on reality television. She would nag. He would complain. There was a distance there - a wall built by both over time as if they were seeking relief from the pain inflicted by the other. Both reacted and instead of coming together (in the beginning) - they drifted apart. How often does that happen in marriages? Work. Kids. Schedules. It all builds up - date nights are delayed due to obligations. Vacations are family-friendly and leave NO alone/romantic time for the adults. We saw that this season with Shannon and David. She would cry in her interviews - and talk about how she lashes out because she just wants to feel important and loved by her husband. But then that reaction would further drive him away. It's real. It happens. I've been there. I have been hurt and said the most ludicrous things and as soon as the words leave my lips, I am aware it's unfair. But I can't help it. I'm stubborn. And I have a temper. Aries...remember?

Her love of natural and homeopathic remedies - *raises hand.* I am a firm believer in natural remedies. I have shelves of essential oils and vitamins and herbal supplements. They work! (when I take them) My sister and her family were out last Thanksgiving and I remember my nephew having a horrific earache. A couple drops of garlic oil and he was instantly better. I've become known at work as "the hippy" (it's a term of endearment) and I advise on what "must haves" there are - Eucalyptus Oil must be in every household. I am still working from the bottle I had when my son was a baby. Let's add her acupuncturist in here as well - I have one too. I haven't seen him in a while because I am quite well, but I do know I have been healed by him. And I was amazed.

I was skeptical to begin with - but I noticed one morning my left arm was tingling. I figured I fell asleep on it and it went numb. But as I went through my morning, it never work up. There was an ache...a slow, dull ache coupling the numbness. It was a Friday. I couldn't get in to see my doctor. I called the chiropractor figuring I had a pressed nerve, no answer. I guess they were having a birthday party or something.I went all weekend wondering if I was having a heart attack and would wind up dead. The next Wednesday, I thought of Kevin and called to make an appointment. I wasn't quite sure what to expect, but I was pleasantly surprised. It took 2 hours of acupuncture and touch therapy - but the next day? My arm was normal.

When Shannon took her Feng Shui consultant to Vicki Gunvalson's office, I watched Vicki write notes and listened to what Elaine Wright had said. I was intrigued. I wanted to know more. So I bought some books. I bought Feng Shi for Dummies and then Feng Shui Your Life. My brother laughed as I excitedly explained more about it. I started making a few changes here or there - for the most part I realized I already implemented components of Feng Shui without realizing it.

Before we go any further - Feng Shui is not a religion. It isn't magic. And it makes no promises. It's all about providing balance to one's life. Many make the argument there is "nothing" to the actual practice of Feng Shui, but by decluttering and maintaining a clean environment - you feel more organized and happier. Others say there is something to it. I figured, "Why not?"

I placed stones/crystals in my office to compliment the decor. One for bright energy, one for teamwork, another for peace and tranquility. I have a salt lamp with essential oil to elevate the mood. I placed a bowl of nine oranges in the middle of our table. Maybe two weeks later, I had a communication breakthrough with a business partner and felt we overcame a hurdle together. Work picked up. Things were great.

We ate the oranges, I moved the bowl, and forgot about it. I watched the reunion of Real Housewives and the host asked Vicki if she saw any benefits of Feng Shui. She said she followed the tips 100% and went on to have her highest sales month ever. I began to rethink it. One Friday, I was waiting for my car to be inspected and was researching on my phone. I came across an article that explained our closets represent our self esteem and inner confidence. To clean them, organize them, and get that boost. So I did. It worked.

I moved things around, I painted a wall, and transitioned my closet into a fully functional dressing room. My mornings and life in general are much better now - I don't get panicked when I cannot find this or that. Cleaning the space really helped. This streak moved into the bedroom and then this weekend - home office and front yard.

I've let my front yard go. It's mowed and weeded, but not much else. I hang a wreath for Autumn and Christmas. Otherwise, it's been pretty dead. Feng Shui teaches that our front entrances should be welcoming. "If Good News was traveling down the road, would He stop by to say hello?"

The personification of Good News/Prosperity made me think. No, he wouldn't. My front entrance wasn't very welcoming and I'm generally in the house or in the back. Hermit-like. So I created a container garden for the flower bed that won't allow growth in the ground. I planted seasonal flowers. I anchored my front door with containers of flowers and plants. I hung a wind chime (a popular Feng Shui cure) to draw energy. I lined the walk with a few landscape lights. It elevated the entrance.

Then I changed my office - Feng Shui teaches you should not face a wall if you can keep from it. You should face outward, in a position of authority. So I moved things - in a way I never would have dreamed of placing the furniture. And it works. I anchored the space with family photographs, a tree, decluttered, and guess what? It's functional. And I actually get work done at home! Before? I'd put it off - it was hard to do so because of the way I had it set up.

Another popular cure - a water fountain by the front door to draw in the energy. I got small tabletop fountain for my office. I put it in yesterday - I got two promising calls from potential clients. Is it because of the fountain? I don't know. I do know I like the calming sound of the water wall. I do know I have been incredibly focused and positive. I'll talk about the cleansing of my office space with burning incense and talking to the walls later....I think maybe you can only take so much for now.

But yes - I sent a picture of my reorganized office and said, "Boom! That's how you Feng Shui." I never thought I would believe in it, or practice it, but I think I do.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Hidden Embers




I’m sitting here tucked away in a booth at a sports bar, rich mahogany walls, dim lighting, white table cloths, and a clear view of the pond. When I told her I was a party of one, the hostess asked if I wanted to sit at the bar. No – I came here to write. 


Writing is cathartic. My best results come from those magical moments when the story spawns itself from within and travels through my heart, into my mind, and down my fingertips. Those scenes or tales where I have no idea where we are headed are the ones that give me the most joy. I am a facilitator only. 


Years ago, I began writing a thriller. A sci-fi thriller to be exact. In this sure-to-be-a-summer-blockbuster-movie, my female protagonist and her trusty, platonic, male cop buddy would uncover a conspiracy by the US Government to hide the existence of aliens. She was an office clerk who got in over her head – they would be on the run from government officials in black suits with thin ties. I spent an entire day watching YouTube videos of believers – abduction stories, panels of “higher-ups” with NASA or pilots or doctors.


Scratch that.


Then I set this story in my hometown community in Louisiana – a place I knew so well I could describe the smells, sounds, and tastes. I wanted authenticity. Now my female protagonist was director of the historical society and was organizing an auction of high-value antiques. There would be a heist. Her trusty, platonic, male copy buddy would help solve the crime. In the background there would be chatter of a “body dump” and then at the end of the art-heist thriller, at the annual chili cook-off, there would be breaking news that a second body was discovered. Cue music…..set-up for the second book. I spent an entire day researching Antebellum antiques – the higher the value the better. 


Scratch that.


My earliest version was third person, female protagonist. Carol? I think that was her name. She walks into the diner but Frank, her trusty, platonic, male cop buddy would take a call and leave. Guess what happened? The reader leaves with Frank. I remember clearly because my writing critique partners mentioned it. We left with Frank…woke up with Frank. Frank just sort of took over. 


We were supposed to care about Carol. And Jim, the mysterious newcomer. But their scenes lacked spark. It was forced. Unoriginal. Dreadful. Looking back, I can see I was following the typical formula of thrillers and made-for-tv movies. Cliché-ridden. Rubbish until Frank took over.


I didn’t ask him to. I didn’t intend for him to. But he did. He’s like that.


Before long, Carol and Jim were cut. Chapters with Frank were written. He started telling me his story – working through me. His voice. His thoughts. His cigar. His pain. I carried it with me.


In the grocery store. In my dreams. In my office. In my kitchen. His story took over. All-encompassing, the way a new love is. It consumes your mind, body, and soul. I couldn’t shake him. And I didn’t want to. He was mine and I was his. I was his facilitator and he chose me to tell his story. I couldn’t get out of his head – the change from third person POV to first person narrative was magical. 


I had written chapters….hundreds of pages….nearing the end. I lost the manuscript. I mourned it. I searched for it. I dreamed of finding it only to awaken depressed that Frank was gone. Forever. 


That was almost 4 years ago. I recycled bits and pieces of Frank’s manuscript I managed to have from sharing with my critique partners for a creative writing class. I hoped it would spur creativity, but nothing new came from it. Work happened. Life happened. And that fire had been put out. A pile of ash remained, cool. 


I wrote new stuff – new characters, stories. It felt stilted. Forced. Formulaic. 


Something happened today. 


I was sharing something via email with a dear friend and I realized I could use that substance in my Frank manuscript.


BAM!


Just like that. As if there were hidden hot embers in that pile of ash – hidden, forgotten about. Frank was back. I drove to lunch and wrote out a scene. In his voice. His thoughts. It coursed through me as if it never left. I held my pen so tightly and wrote so furiously, my hand cramped. But I couldn’t stop. I didn’t want to. 


4 years.


4 years – I longed for that high. 


4 years – I needed those magical moments of real writing, but it eluded me.


4 years. 


I feel reunited. As if I left Frank in a booth – alone. And there he remained, loyal to me. Hugging his mug of coffee – waiting on his trusted facilitator to return. A ghost – with unfinished business – his story must be told. 


It’s in me. His pain resides in my soul. His burden is heavy on my shoulders. And he will wait – until we finish. 


4 years. I’ve kept him waiting long enough.


I’m here, Frank. Sorry I kept you so long. So…where were we?

Monday, September 8, 2014

DELEGATION




I don’t have time to train anyone right now. I have a certain way I want this done. It’s my duty to (insert chore/task.)

Yeah – that was me. I have been working with my Focal Point business coach Art and I keep running into the same issue. Time! I need time! And the quality of my output has diminished as a result of me spreading myself too thin in order to  accomplish my tasks in a timely manner. I forget things. Or my desk is a disaster (as a result of not having time to organize it. Tsk Tsk, I know!) and I cannot find that order I was supposed to place. Or that article I needed to read. Or that form that required my signature.

Scatterbrained. That’s the word.

I have a nine year old son. Much of my time is spent cooking, cleaning, LAUNDRY, trying to spend FUN, QUALITY time with him, more LAUNDRY, etc. Saturday mornings have been spent cleaning, and doing homework, and maybe some work-work too.
I own a security business and I love it! I love my job, but I have no backup. Partly because of the excuses I listed in the opening lines of this blog post. In addition to my daily working “in the business” on my day-to-day operations – I am working “on the business” on business coaching, strategic planning, and gathering data to analyze performance. I sometimes work late and have often taken work home.

I am finishing my business degree – graduate in December! Woo-hoo! But I haven’t had a week off school since January 2013. That is quite a long time. And between lofty essays, strict participation rules, and mandatory team assignments every week – I spend a lot of time on school.

I decided to start my own direct selling business with Rodan + Fields – and guess what? I love it. I do. But it also requires time in order to do it properly.

I have always tried to do the most on my own – without help. And then Art helped me understand the skill of delegation and why it is so important. The last two weeks, I have been studying Increasing Personal Effectiveness and I am studying time management and delegation right now. One thing is to figure out your hourly rate. Take your annual salary, divide it by 2,080 if you don’t know. And then determine if you would pay someone else that amount to complete that task.

For instance, let’s say you earn $75,000 per year – that makes your hourly wage $36.06. If you spend two hours per day sorting mail and entering data into a computer system, the question to ask yourself is: Would you pay someone $36.06 per hour to type for you? If you could pay a part time helper $10.00 per hour to enter your data and sort your mail each day – you could save yourself time and spend less money on that task. So by spending $100.00 to a helper per week to sort mail and enter data – you are then able to free up ten hours per week to focus on higher-value tasks that require YOU.

Another reason to delegate is – the task at hand  is out of your wheelhouse. If you lack the tools to do it efficiently and properly, you could free up that time by allowing someone else to do the task for which they are better suited. I used to complete all my designing and printing for our business forms, brochures, etc. It was extremely time consuming as I was not as skilled as I should have been and I also lacked the correct software and printers to get professional quality. I would waste so much time and money – for poor-quality work. It made our brand look bad. I was unable to complete other tasks that required my skill. So I outsourced. Guess what?

1. They do such an amazing job – I am beyond pleased.

2. I send an email and I know they are on top of it.

3. It saves me time (and money) because I allow those who are better suited for it complete the task and focus my time and energy elsewhere. I swapped what I was paying for card stock, brochure paper, more ink toner cartridges, and labor and got a higher-quality product! And then I am able to accomplish my tasks and handle customer service in a more timely manner! Win-win! My company looks more professional and the quality of our service increased – all because I let it go.

I also recently outsourced typing a mailing list of 1,150 companies in this area. I was struggling trying to find the time to fit it in. How could I type all of this into a spreadsheet by my deadline AND meet my other obligations? And then I realized – I could have someone else do it. And so I did. For $70.00 I had a freelancer type the entire list into my spreadsheet for me. Immediate ease of mind – no longterm commitment – and I’m able to focus on higher value tasks that actually require my attention.

I have been studying marketing and success with my coach Art and watching Chalene Johnson’s videos. I watched this ONE this week. HOW PERFECT IS THIS? I even downloaded her PDF and will complete it this weekend. It is a form that asks you to take inventory of your life and identify areas where delegation is recommended. Between being a parent, a full time student, a full time business owner involved in the daily operations of my business – with a budding direct selling career – I need time. I need focus.

So – TRIM THE FAT, so to speak. CHOOSE to fill your days with those things that fuel you. Be with the friends who reciprocate. Focus your energy on the high-value items YOU need to do and get help in the others. Free yourself from the constraints of stress if at all possible. This is key to a better day, a better week, a better YOU!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Focal Point: Writing


A friend recently tagged me on Facebook about a story in the news where a novelist was "targeted" for his writing subject: a school shooting set 900 years in the future.

Here is a link to the article: http://m.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2014/09/in-cambridge-md-a-soviet-style-punishment-for-a-novelist/379431/

My response: 

Wow. This reminds me of the student who was expelled and possibly arrested for a creative writing assignment in which he wrote about violence.

This is disturbing. They took this man and have him secluded. He is unable to travel. They have searched his home and are having him evaluated. Because he wrote a piece of FICTION. It is beyond an overreaction.

How many music bands have sung songs about school shootings? There was a movie I watched years ago - was it Bang Bang? About a planned school shooting. I don't feel these creative works are plans to conduct harm, but rather creative writing inspired by world events.

Have we searched and seized the residences of all crime novelists? How about the screenwriters for Criminal Minds and CSI? Are we not living in a country where we are unable to write creatively without fear of being deemed insane and locked away? Arrested? Burnt at a stake somewhere? 


I get the concerns of school safety - I do. Hell, it's kinda my business. But why don't we look at actual productive ways to prevent it from happening by installing technology to mitigate the risk and then raise mental health awareness and focus on that? But no, let's go kidnap a novelist.

Is Suzanne Collins being investigated for wanting to kidnap innocent teenagers and force them to fight to the death? Did they search the writers of Dexter?

And I guess my works in progress - featuring a serial killer - I'll be suspected of committing the crimes I write?

So - as you can probably see, I am passionate about writing. I began writing creatively when I was in the 4th grade. I was always complimented on my relative writing skills and imagination, but I never really believed in myself. Years ago I joined a writing group, left it with another member to form our own, and became dear friends with a group of talented women writers from around the world. We still plan out getaway to the beach house in Maine full of late night wine and laughter. 

I began writing my novel and ultimately lost it. But it consumed me. My dreams spoke to me. My waking hours were haunted by his story. And I loved it. 

Brian Tracy talks about the "super conscious" mind where we get our epiphanies and our gifts release themselves. I have experienced that. I was a vessel. I would type furiously, unaware of what was leaving my heart and finding it's way onto the screen. I would read it later in awe - lines jumped out to me, perfectly capturing a moment of emotion for my protagonist that I can only say he sent to me himself. It was a high. Like nothing else. 

And then Life happened. I got busy. And I let it go. And I yearned for it in ways I never anticipated. 

I am a writer. 

I will blog about my works. My experience. Or highlight the gifted writing of others. Or share my thoughts on insane stories such as this one - where a man who created a story is targeted and his rights are violated due to fear. 

Do not fear creativity. It is a blessing. Learn from it. 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

"Carpe Diem, Boys. Make Your Life Extraordinary"

Okay  - much has been said about the late Robin Williams recently. I hope the sharing of this clip does not seem opportunistic; however, it is relevant to what is on my heart today. Go ahead - watch the clip. I don't care if you saw the movie fifteen years ago. Watch it - the clip is worth viewing again.



How about that? Life is short - we know this all too well. How many of us wake up and realize our lives are not what we wanted them to be? How many of us are truly blessed and realize it? The power is in our hands. Make your life what you want it to be. Do not stand by and think you don't "deserve" the best. Do not stand by and view ambition as a dirty thing. If you can dream it - chances are you can live it. You just have to identify the path on which you should travel to get it.


There are times in our lives when opportunities are there for our taking - but do what do we do? Are we open to them? Or are we busily walking with our heads down, thinking of what we need to get done for the day? Don't live your life with regrets. Don't live your life wondering "What if?" What if I had said yes to that date? What if I had accepted that rare job offer? What if I had networked more? What if I actually submitted my novel to agents? What if? 


Keep your eyes open. Ears too - listen. We are usually our largest obstacle. Stop doubting your abilities. Stop assuming YOU AREN'T WORTH IT. You are. You have the power to change your life. Make the new habits stick. This is something I struggled with. I would procrastinate like you would not believe. Swamped with chores and tasks and things to do - I put myself last. I delayed attempts at hobbies. I just put my head down with the GOAL to "make it through the day." Guess what? That's not enough for me. I don't want to simply exist.


Life is meant to be lived. Life is meant to be loved. Cherished. Enjoyed. When you embrace Life - pursue it the way you do a lover in the middle of the night.