Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Erase Negativity Gets Stunning Review

Yesterday was an awesome day. After months of persistent efforts my book, Erase Negativity and Erase the Magic Within, had a breakthrough. There is a stunning review about the book on the following websites: www.amazon.com; www.barnesandnoble.com; www.livingsocial.com and www.realityshifters.com. I have reprinted it here for your convenience. Woohoo!

Erase Negativity and Embrace the Magic Within
by Sally Marks and Jacqueline Howard

Master the Keys to Positively Transforming Your Life

Erase Negativity is a powerhouse of a self-help book. It features eleven chapters describing life lessons mastered by people who've overcome extraordinary challenges. The big idea here is that no matter what terrible things may have happened in life, it is always possible to start from exactly where we are, and begin moving in a positive direction toward the life of our dreams.

The first couple of chapters of Erase Negativity may seem shocking, as they describe how it feels to pull oneself up by the proverbial bootstraps while "emerging from the depths of hell," such as an addiction to drugs, alcohol, or cycles of emotional and physical abuse. I was deeply moved to read heartfelt stories of people who have truly hit rock bottom, and managed later to set and achieve positive goals. It's inspirational to read how people have bounced back from a wide variety of horrendous situations, and managed to get unstuck from complacency. There is greatness possible for each and every one of us, regardless what handicaps, constraints, and misfortune may have occurred.

I love the format of this book, as each chapter starts with a biographical story that illustrates the tools required at each person's turning point. The end of each chapter summarizes the main points in the form of exercises first for erasing negativity... and then for embracing "the magic within." The magic referred to is spiritual, intuitive, and energetic in nature, rather than a form of magick or witchcraft.

The life-transforming tips provided in Erase Negativity include feng shui, keeping a running total of positive to negative thoughts, affirmations, stepping out of the victim mindset, setting positive goals, choosing supportive friends, eliminating gossip, and practicing mindfulness. These concepts are much more than mere words on a page, as real life accounts of what a difference they have made are described eloquently.

I feel deeply honored to be one of the eleven people interviewed for Erase Negativity, and I sincerely hope that my story will resonate with readers in ways that help them gain additional strength to succeed in life.

Erase Negativity and Embrace the Magic Within is the best summary of how to live a positive life that I've yet found in a self-help book; I give this book my highest recommendation!

Cynthia Sue Larson is an Amazon Top 500 Reviewer, an author, life coach, intuitive strategic visionary and a bioenergetic field researcher. However, right now I see her as a fantastic person who just gave the book a huge boost. Thank you Cynthia Sue! And to my other friends and supporters, feel free to post your own review. Every little bit helps.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Another Christmas Memory

It’s been a busy holiday season and my blog has featured two “rerun” posts. I don’t think that is a bad thing. I may make it an annual tradition. But today I thought I should write something new. For me, Christmas is a time of joy, but it is also a time of reflection. I can’t help but think of past holidays.

My blog on the unwanted Christmas tree was a memorable experience (see the entry on Dec. 6.) As a child, there was definitely a magical feeling at Christmas time. Of course I looked forward to giving and receiving presents, but there was more to it than that. I think I was too young to analyze it. I just loved the way I felt during this joyous time.

Later, when I became a wife and mother, the magical feeling intensified as I had two daughters and a husband to share the holidays with. One memorable moment was when my daughter, Alicia was 6 years old and her little sister, Brittany was 2 or 3. Alicia had excitedly been chattering away about Santa Claus, reindeer and presents.

Even though Brittany was still in diapers, she had a healthy dose of skepticism. She did not like sitting on Santa Claus’ lap, I sensed she knew his beard was fake, and I think she thought her sister was pulling her leg about the whole Christmas thing. We weren’t poor, but we didn’t have a lot of extra money either. The idea of a bunch of toys under the tree seemed too much of a stretch. Brit knew we couldn’t afford to buy all the things she saw advertised on TV (I used this “can’t afford it” line a lot when they wanted stuff at the store.)
Still, I’m sure, she was hopeful.

Christmas morning I remember waiting in bed for the girls to stir so we could begin our holiday. John and I waited and waited. Why were they so quiet? “How could they wait so long?” I wondered. The truth of the matter was they were awake. Brittany had joined her sister in Alicia’s bedroom and they were waiting for us to get out of bed. They usually weren’t that considerate, but hey, who wants to take a chance of messing up on Christmas morning?

Neither girl had ventured out of the bedroom to peak under the Christmas tree in the living room. The night before there were a couple presents for Grandma and Grandpa and maybe a relative or two, but nothing from Santa Claus. At least not yet. We told the girls it was okay to get up and take a peak.

Alicia was ready for the festivities to begin and she slowly ushered her little sister toward the living room and the Christmas tree. I will never forget this moment. Alicia knew the drill. She knew Santa would come. Brittany, however, was skeptical. She didn’t remember last year’s holiday. She was only a baby. I could just imagine her thought process. “All year long we don’t get any toys except for our birthdays, why would we get a bunch now?”


The girls peaked around the corner and low and behold, beneath the Christmas tree were stacks of toys. Only the night before there were only a couple of presents and they were designated for others.

Brittany’s eyes were filled with amazement and awe. She seemed to be thinking, “Could this possibly be true?” She was filled with the magic of Christmas. Alicia had a more “knowing” quality as she took in the sight. She knew great things happened on Christmas, and now she had a little sister to share the holiday with – even if the little tyke was a bit skeptical.

What the girls did not know is there had been a Santa Claus of sorts. We had enough money for a few presents, but certainly not that many. However, my Aunt Liz and her husband Ernie, had a good year. The childless couple decided to give their struggling nieces and nephews an added bonus, a check for $100. We received it in time to buy extra gifts for the girls, including a few things that we knew our daughters wanted, but we could not afford to give them.

Of course I think the girls would have been happy even without the extra presents. I can safely say this because of who they have become. They are now grown women and are kind, loving and considerate human beings. Alicia is a school teacher, a wife to her husband Greg, and the mother of two children of her own. She still has that “all knowing/wise quality” about her. Brittany is a student and is happily married to Jamie. Her children are her two dogs, Piggy and Guinness. Brit is still a bit of a skeptic, but that magical moment of Christmas and hope still lives in her heart.
I don’t want to come across as a Pollyanna. I know this has been a difficult year for a lot of folks. However, if there is one thing I’ve learned, is that in spite of the difficulties we face, we must never harden our hearts. Both good things, and bad, will not last forever.

My Christmas message this year is to save a little space in your heart for hope and joy. Things may not always be perfect, but there is always the possibility of a miracle. Especially at Christmas.
Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Holiday Rerun

I ran this article last year, but it bears repeating.

I recently posted a story, The Unwanted Christmas Tree, on the blog last week (see the past entry.) I don’t want to ruin the plot as I hope you will read the story for yourself, but suffice it to say that a similar scenario is facing thousands of families during this economic crisis that we are facing today.

However, no matter what your financial circumstances may be, there is a gift we can give to ourselves and our loved ones – the gift of ourselves. This can be time spent reading to a child, listening to the stories of an elderly relative, the courtesy of opening a door for someone with a heavy load, or simply offering a sincere compliment to a stranger.

None of these interactions cost a dime, yet how many times have you felt too rushed, too angry, or too self absorbed to offer these little kindnesses? And the sad thing is this not only robs so many people of a bright spot in their day, but it prevents us from being the warm, loving and kind human being we were born to be.

The truest happiness exists not in how big our bank account is, what kind of car we drive or where we sit on the corporate ladder. All of those things can come and go in an instant. Read or watch the news and you will see how some kingpin or beautiful actress has fallen from grace. Money, fame and power may be something we strive for, but even if we attain it, there is no guarantee it will last. Therefore, if we base our happiness on something transient, our happiness will not be long lasting. However, the positive relationships we develop with others, as well as our connection to the earth, God, or whatever spiritual practice we observe, can have long lasting benefits.

I had a taste of my own medicine this week when I lost two major accounts in my public relations business. It was a deep cut that reduced my monthly income by half. It threw me for a loop at first as I knew I had done a great job for both clients. However, in this economy, there are going to be some setbacks. Fortunately, I don’t believe life needs to be easy to be enjoyed. And I saw a lesson in my unexpected financial diet.

Frankly, I had been a little lazy about getting new accounts. This was a needed wake up call. Now I have the opportunity to build my clientele with new businesses that share my view on creating a more peaceful world, as well as a greener environment. I don’t want to settle for just earning a living, I want to contribute to the betterment of society. The day after reframing my outlook, I received an email from someone who hired me for a great assignment. My financial difficulties may not be over, but my days of sinking into despair and thinking, “I’m no good because I don’t make enough money” is no longer a daily mantra. And the same can be true for you.
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There is no doubt there are financial obligations and time crunches that make the holidays more stressful. However, you can take some steps to create value that cannot be purchased at the store. Whether it’s the holidays or a New Year’s resolution, why not fight the current stream of negativity and be a bean of hope.

Please remember, if we all work together – even in the smallest ways – by showing kindness to strangers, smiling at folks as they walk by, working at something that is meaningful to ourselves and others, as well as trying to find the positive in even the darkest situation, we can make a big difference.

For those of you who are feeling a bit grouchy, or have a grouch in your life, please consider buying a copy of Erase Negativity and Embrace the Magic Within. You can go to www.erasenegativity.com or directly to Amazon. Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 6, 2010

An Unforgetable Christmas of My Youth

I put up our Christams tree the other night. As I hung the ornaments I reflected on decades of past Christmases. The following story is a reprint of my first published story. I hope you enjoy it.

Tales of Christmas Past

I was relaxed, taking in the stereo when a commercial interrupted my listening pleasure.

“Make this Christmas one that she’ll never forget,” droned the announcer.

“Yeah,” I thought. “Spend big bucks and everyone will love you. Spend enough and we may even have peace on earth.”

Christmas commercialism, it seems to get worse ever year. Do not get me wrong. I enjoy Christmas. It just bothers me that everyone thinks you have to spend a lot of money to have a merry one. I thought back to the commercial, “the best Christmas ever.” It took my memories back to the Christmas of my 10th year, my most unforgettable holiday.

My family and I had moved to Arizona from Chicago fours years before. Arizona was in a serious recession. My father, who had always provided a healthy paycheck for his wife and five children, could not find work. We got by on unemployment checks.

Jobs were plentiful in Chicago and my father’s former boss was anxious to take him back. After four years of quiet, safe and sunny Arizona living however, my mother refused to return.

If my father could not find employment he would return to Illinois, send money, and the rest of the family would remain in Arizona.

It was a sad time – the bickering about money, worrying if my dad would have to move away. Christmas was an added burden. Money was tight enough without the added expense of the holiday. My mother explained the financial situation to us and we knew not to expect much in the way of presents. Of course the brightly decorated evergreens we had enjoyed in the past were out of the question. We never even asked about one.

Instead we pulled a three-foot aluminum tree out from the garage. The cold tinsel stalk inspired about as much Christmas spirit as a box of Reynolds wrap.

While everyone else decorated the tree, I decided to take a stroll.

As I walked toward the end of the block, I turned right so I could investigate the bowling alley parking lot where they had been selling Christmas trees. I loved the scent of the pine in the cold air, another of many reasons I hated our artificial tree.

As I neared the lot, I saw that it was bare. I kicked at the fragments of broken branches. In the corner, lying on its side, was a long misshapen evergreen.

It was easy to see why the tree was discarded. However, something inside of my brain clicked. The poor tree needed a home. My home needed a tree.

I grabbed the trunk, but I was not strong enough to move it. I ran home to fetch my younger brother, Terry, who I was sure would assist in my plight. As it is so often the case with brothers, Terry lacked my enthusiasm.

“I don’t even think a dog would use that tree,” he laughed.

“Maybe so, but it would make a fine fort,” I replied. With that in mind, Terry helped me transport the tree down the block and into our back yard.

My mother looked up from washing the dishes as we walked up the driveway, and warned us against bringing that “filthy thing” into the house.

“Its for a fort!” Terry exclaimed. I just smiled.

Once the tree was in the back yard, I sent Terry on another mission. I had no intention of turning the evergreen into a fort – at least not yet.

My dad walked up and looked at the tree. It was long, sparse on the top with heavy branches on the bottom. I was sure I could win him over, so I explained my scheme to him.

“You could chop a foot off the bottom and cut the branches off and drill holes where the tree is bare and do a little transplanting,” I said.

My older sister, Diane walked out and spied the tree. “Father, you are not going to let her bring that thing in the house are you?” Diane shrieked.

“I don’t see why you don’t like it,” I said. “It looks just like you. Not enough on the top and too much on the bottom.”

Diane walked off in a huff.

Whether dad was bored, liked my idea, or was caught up in my enthusiasm I cannot be sure. But soon a drill and saw were out and “Ernie” the unwanted evergreen became a beautiful Christmas tree.

Dad brought the tree inside and we placed the few ornaments we had on Ernie. To help fill in the uncovered areas, we strung popcorn and pyracantha berries and cut out little ornaments from paper. Even my 18-year-old brother, Dennis, who was fond of imitating Scrooge and saying “Bah Humbug” to any mention of Christmas, helped to get Ernie into shape.

We did not have any Christmas lights, so Terry and I pooled our money, about 90 cents, and we got the rest of the cash from “Jack rabbit,” my little sister Tina’s bank. I am ashamed to say it was an unauthorized withdrawal.

One string of lights did not cover much, so we pushed the tree into a corner and decorated only the front. Despite the circumstances, I was happy. We all were. Never before, and unfortunately never afterward, do I remember my family working together so joyfully. For a short while, we were happy to be together and share what we had, each other.

That was the last Christmas we celebrated together as a family for a long time. Shortly afterward, my father returned to Chicago, unable to come home permanently until I was 16.

Except for my nemesis, Diane, my siblings are still living in Arizona. Most holidays, we get together to exchange insults and presents. Our Christmas trees are always magnificent and the presents are plentiful and brightly decorated. You will not find strings of popcorn or pyracantha berries anywhere.

Christmas carols, if they were sung (and they are not) would be droned out by the big football games that are always scheduled in honor of the birth of Jesus.

I still think back to my childhood and that yuletide of my 10th year, and I know a truckload of presents could not match the happiness I felt that day. It was a special time when my father listened to me and made a small dream come true. And it all happened because of a poor misshapen Christmas tree that nobody else wanted.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Let Yourself Go!

I love fall. Every year I imagine feeling the cool, crisp autumn air on my face and gazing at trees as they burst into glorious colors of red, orange and gold. This is not an easy feat as Arizona is as apt to be warm than not – even in November. Most of the leaves turn brown, not gold, and fall onto the ground without fanfare.

But this year was different. My spouse, CB, and I decided to go to the Boyce Thompson Arboretum with the two grandchildren, Rosannah and Briannah. The girls are pretty young (3 and 19 months respectively) but I knew they would enjoy an excursion. We drove the 45 minutes to the arboretum and enjoyed the beautiful scenery. Once we were at our destination we saw golden leaves of Aspen, the red leaves of the Pistachio trees, as well as the sights, smells and sounds of autumn.

I make frequent trips to this site, but this time it was the most beautiful I have ever seen it. Of course it was even more special because CB and I were sharing it with the girls.

We navigated through the hilly terrain (it’s hilly if you are pushing two tykes in a double stroller), as well as over bridges and a narrow pathway alongside a stream. It was gorgeous. Once we arrived home my daughter asked her girls what her favorite part of the trip was. Her answer was not of beautiful sites (although she did talk about a beautiful house that we thought looked like a castle and had the possibility of a princess living there.)

Rosannah was excited that she peed in the potty. The toilet training has been a bit slow, but this was a significant feat because she has never used a public toilet before. Try saying “Pee pee in the public potty” five times fast. But I digress.

The fact is most of us get a shot of self esteem when we accomplish something significant. The temperature was deliciously cool, the air fragrant and the colors magnificent, but the one thing that Rosannah accomplished on her own was the potty peeing procedure.

Now most of you reading this are not going to brag about going to the bathroom by yourself. It’s something we take for granted (except when camping when I thank the heavens for flushing commodes.) But this was a new experience for my 3-year-old granddaughter.

So I have a challenge for all of you. I propose you go on a negativity diet and bolster your self esteem by eliminating some negativity from your life. This is no small matter. Reducing your negativity can increase your happiness and improve your health. Why? Consider this.

• The average person has 40,000 to 65,000 thoughts a day and 95% of those thoughts are negative.

• Developing a happier mindset can increase chemical reactions that can calm anxiety, relieve depression, promote alertness and increase enjoyment.

• Happy people are 35% less likely to get a cold and produce 50% more antibodies in response to flu vaccines than the average person.

• Individuals who score high on happiness and optimism scale have reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, hypertension and infections.

• People who maintain a good sense of humor (an indication of inner happiness) outlive those who don’t. No wonder so many comedians live well into their 80s and 90s.

In our book, Erase Negativity and Embrace the Magic Within, we offer tips on how to erase negativity from your life. I will also be writing more about the subject in future blogs.

If you haven’t had a chance to buy the book, it’s available on Amazon, or by contacting me through the blog, or emailing comicsall@gmail.com.

So don’t hang onto that negativity any longer. Be like Rosannah and enjoy the feeling of letting yourself “go” and sending the stinky stuff into the toilet where it belongs.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Please Pass Some Love with those Mashed Potatos

I received a comment about my blog from someone I never met in Sydney Australia. She came across one of my earlier posts called “Laser Beams of Love” that I also released as a free online article. It still astounds me how the small actions we do can have an effect on others – whether we interact with them on a regular basis, or a chance encounter via cyberspace.

She wrote:
I randomly came across this post on google. The part where the little girl put your hand to her heart was amazing. I have two beautiful children and they are also a wonderful reminder of this miracle we call life. Thank you so much for sharing. This story really touched my heart.
Tara
Sydney, Australia

One of the reasons I decided to become a writer is I wanted to make a positive difference in the world. While I did my best as a mother, daughter, friend, co-worker and wife, I still had a burning desire to create a positive difference for people I may never meet. Hearing from Tara was one example of how my dream is coming true.

For those of you who read my blog on a regular basis, you know that helping others is the reason I co-wrote my newly released self-help book, Erase Negativity and Embrace the Magic Within. I wanted to reach out in a different way and share stories, as well as a little advice, on how to defeat negativity and enjoy life.

I gave my first talk and book signing last week on “Coping with Negative Relatives during the Holidays” at Mystic Moon Bookstore in Scottsdale. The event was put together quickly to coincide with my first TV appearance on ABC’s Sonoran Living. There was a $10 fee for the class and we needed a minimum of 3 people for the show to go on. In these tough financial times I wasn’t sure I would be able to pull it off. I’m not well known yet and I have been exhausting my friends, family and facebook network to support me. I jokingly say most of my friends and family would rather pay $10 to shut me up than to listen to me talk!

However, nine folks came through for me and the show did go on. They also supported me further by purchasing copies of the book, as well as some additional items from Mystic Moon Bookstore. Using my critical analysis I know that the TV segment and the talk were good efforts, but not perfect. I have my homework cut out for me. I know I will improve.

But that is not the point.

During the talk, and the TV show, I knew I was living my dream to create a happier niche in the world. However, it wasn’t a one-way street. Others were energetically sending me support as well (even though they may not have been aware of it.) Like the article I wrote in “Laser Beams of Love” I felt a reciprocal surge of loving energy from the process. And not only human to human, I felt something more mystical, as if the universe were assisting the process as well. Both experiences had a magical quality to them. At least for me.

Probably all encounters, even those we consider mundane, can have a magical result. We just need to elevate our minds and open our hearts to the experience.

Which brings me to my final point.

Next week is Thanksgiving. Many of us will have the opportunity to dine with family and friends for a special once-a-year meal. Many look forward to this event with anticipation – some with dread. And I confess, in my life I have approached this holiday with both mindsets.

My advice for this pre holiday event is to try to take a moment and find the love in your heart and send those laser beams of love out to those around you – especially those who annoy you. While we might not think so now, there will come a time when they are out of our lives and we will miss them. And more importantly, we do not want to miss the opportunity to summon up a little love and shine a little light in the world.

Happy Thanksgiving,

Sally

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Grouchy Relatives Beware!

Grouchy relatives beware.

Sally Marks, author of the self-improvement book, Erase Negativity and Embrace the Magic Within will give a talk, “How to Cope with Grouchy Relatives During the Holidays” and sign copies of her book 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 17 at Mystic Moon Bookstore, 7119 E. Mercer Lane in Scottsdale.

The fee is $10 per person for those who prepay and $15 at the door. Following the interactive talk Marks will sign copies of her book. Erase Negativity and Embrace the Magic Within is available at the bookstore for $12.99.

“Grouchy relatives can be a burden during the holidays, but there are few simple tips that can help restore family harmony,” said Marks, an Arizona native and public relations expert. “The book is also a great holiday present.”

Erase Negativity and Embrace the Magic Within is a practical guide on how to reduce negativity and embrace happiness. From meth addicts to multi-millionaires, the book offers powerful experiences of individuals who have faced dramatic challenges, but did not lose hope. Using these compelling biographies, as well as practical advice and simple exercises, the reader is guided on an internal journey toward adopting a more joyful way to live.

Mystic Moon Bookstore is a New Age store that specializes in New Age books, CD’s and music, over 36 varieties of incense, Tarot Card decks, smudge sticks, crystals, jewelry, small ceremony bags and much more. For a calendar of events or more information visit www.mysticmoonbookstore.com or call 480-443-0136.

For more information about Erase Negativity and Embrace the Magic Within and Author Sally Marks, call Marks Public Relations at 480-664-3004.

An added note: I know this is shameless self promotion, but this, after all, my blog. I hope a few of you will see this and attend. I'll probably have a new item to write about after the talk.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Hope Springs Eternal for Rejected Author

I attended a Buddhist meeting last month and was asked to give an experience about having my book, Erase Negativity and Embrace the Magic Within, published. I have practiced Buddhism for 22 years and I’ve experienced a lot of benefits and personal growth, but the one area where I seemed to be falling short was in my lifelong dream to be a great writer.

I’m not a total slouch. I’ve won some awards, had articles published and even made a living in the writing world through my public relations firm, Marks Public Relations, but I have yet to sell a screenplay (although there are two movies out right now that bear remarkable similarities to two of my scripts) and I haven’t had a book on the best seller list.

However, I’m a stubborn and persistent woman. Every time I received a rejection I sent out three more queries in retaliation. When I ran out of publishing companies and agents, I contacted a few again with a slightly different letter. However, even the optimistic and perseverant have to change the game plan when it’s not working.

I decided to self publish and market the book myself.

If I must say so myself, I’m a darn good publicist. I write convincing copy with creative hooks, I have a plethora of media contacts and I never burn a bridge. I also have a passion for the message I’m trying to convey. Still, things were not happening for me. I expected a gusher, and all I was getting were little drips of publicity.

Then I studied to take a study exam based on the principles of my Buddhist practice. I’m pretty sure I passed, but I still think I missed a couple questions. So I decided to review it. One part stood out.
“A passage in the Six Paramitas Sutra says to become the master of your mind rather than let your mind master you.”

In the study guide it said: “Becoming the master of one’s mind ultimately means basing oneself on the unwavering foundation of the law.”
Bottom line, for SGI Buddhist practitioners, that means “basing ourselves on the Gohonzon and Nichiren’s writings.” Hmmm. I was basing my life’s work on the writing and law of journalism and publicity, not Nichiren Daishonin.

It was time to change course. I didn’t ignore my journalism training. Instead I put my Buddhist training first by chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo to elevate my life condition. My goal was to produce a result that would encourage others (and myself.)

At first, things went slowly. I called businesses to see if they would carry my book. One decided to carry it on consignment. Not the result I was hoping for. I had already sent out press releases and dropped my book off at the Phoenix TV stations. One, then two rejections came. In the meantime I wrote a story about feeling grumpy and stressed and how to overcome it. This was a bit ironic as I was feeling a bit grumpy and stressed myself, but I kept plugging away. And with my new determination to put my spiritual principles first and my secular training second, there was a big shift in the universe.

I submitted my feeling grumpy and stressed article to Diva Toolbox. Within hours the story was picked up by More Magazine’s online magazine. It was my first national exposure! Woohoo! A few minutes later I got an email from ABC’s Sonoran Living on channel 15 in Arizona asking me to be on their morning show on Nov. 10 to talk about erasing negativity and my book. A few minutes after that I received an email from an Arizona Republic reporter. She said the newspaper didn’t do book reviews, but if I could do an event, like a talk or a book signing, and as long as it was in Scottsdale, Paradise Valley or the Northeast Valley, they would do a story.
I emailed the one bookstore in Scottsdale, Mystic Moon Bookstore, that is carrying my book and asked if I could give a talk. She had just had a cancellation and I had my pick of two dates – Nov. 10 or Nov. 17. We decided to go with Nov. 17 and I’m going to talk about “How to Deal with Negative Relatives During the Holidays” and sell and sign copies of my book. I was ecstatic!

Finally, with all this potential publicity coming, I contacted one of my clients and told them I would be on the news and would they carry my book. They have 4 schools in Arizona and 17 in other states. My little drips of success were turning into a gusher.
I’ve practiced Buddhism for 22 years, so it’s not that I don’t know I should chant first, then take action. But I’m human. I know it’s better to be a master of your mind than vice versa. But sometimes we need to be reminded.

Believe it or not, sometimes I reread my own book to remind me to maintain an optimistic outlook by erasing the negativity that wants to sneak in when I’m not looking.

Erase Negativity and Embrace the Magic Within is not a best seller yet, but I know it’s on its way. And those of you who know me, or read this blog, can help me. Please spread the word about the book.

And no matter what you do in life, pursue your passion and never, ever, ever give up. Once you do, there will be no chance of success. But as long as you plug away, you are one step closer to turning your little drips of success into a full blown gusher. Remember this great saying and apply it to your life like I do for mine: “Hope springs eternal in the human breast.”

Monday, November 1, 2010

Young in Mind and Chocolate

Yesterday was Halloween. We had scores of witches, bumble bees, ghouls and princesses trick or treat their way through the neighborhood. My spouse, CB, had considered handing out boxes of raisins as a healthier treat, but I was afraid the kids would seek vengeance and string toilet paper on our palo verde tree.

It’s ironic how something as innocent as considering the health of the little tykes could potentially backfire. However, mostly I remember how I felt when I was a kid and went out trick or treating and someone gave us a healthy snack. I didn’t vandalize their house, but I did resent it. My motto was “bring on the chocolate!” Actually, this motto still stands true today.

However, even though we try to be health conscious (with occasional lapses) we opted for distributing good sized bags of M&Ms. Not a nutritious choice, but I think our chocolate-inspired decision helps ingratiate us with the kids in the neighborhood.

My reasoning is not logical. Good nutrition is important and I know it. When the grandkids come over I feed them yogurt, vegetables and fruit. But on Halloween I make an exception. Part of this is nostalgic. My sister, Tina, now lives in my childhood home and on my numerous visits to the old neighborhood I pass by the homes I walked past as a kid. I can’t remember how to calculate fractions, but I can still remember who gave out the best treats for Halloween, who gave us apples, and who turned off their lights and pretended not to be at home.

Now that I’m older, I have a lot of friends who go out on Halloween so they don’t have to deal with the trick or treaters who come a-knocking. I think this avoidance tactic is sad. Some of my fondest memories as a child were dressing up and parading up and down the street with my siblings and friends. It was a rare person who didn’t stay home to pass out candy. Now I would guess nearly half of the folks in my neighborhood refuse to participate.

I’m sure folks have their reasons and I certainly shouldn’t judge. However, I can’t help but wonder if they have forgotten what it’s like to be young. I am no exception. The day after Halloween (today) I had softball practice. We’ve had it for several weeks, but because of work and other obligations I haven’t been able to go. It’s still hot in sunny Arizona so practice begins early. I am not morning person.

When I received the email about practice I wanted to blow it off again. Then my team mate Connie, who I haven’t seen in months, called me on the phone. Hearing her voice made me realize how much I miss playing and socializing with my softball chums. I got out to the diamond and it was like old times. I haven’t played in a few months so I’ve gotten a bit rusty, but it was just fun to be out there again.

Which brings me to the morale of the story (and yes, I always seem to have one.) Whether I’m handing out candy to the trick or treaters or trying to snag a grounder at second base, I not only remember what it’s like to be young when I am doing things I enjoy – I AM young again.

In my book Erase Negativity and Embrace the Magic Within, Kimberly Kingsley discusses the importance of doing work you love and engaging in activities that energize and delight you. Here are a few tips from chapter 11.

•Find your passion in life, develop it and share it with the world.
•The positive energy you create from your expressions of love, gratitude and kindness will reverberate throughout the universe in the same way that a small pebble thrown into the middle of a still pond can send ripples across the water.

So my advice is to not become a grouch before your time. Find something you love and do it until you drop.

If you need a little help erasing negativity, be sure to pick up a copy of my book through Amazon. If you live in Arizona you can also purchase it at Mystic Moon Bookstore in Scottsdale or through the www.unitedaestheticsorganization.com website. Or just contact me at comicsall@gmail.com and I’ll point you in the right direction on how to Erase Negativity and Embrace the Magic Within.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

You like me, you really, really like me!

This will be short and sweet as I'm hitting the marketing hard for the book. However, I had a funny interview that I want to share with everyone. Please check it out.

http://tucsoncitizen.com/dating/2010/10/28/ouch-im-dating-a-grouch-should-i-just-dump-the-crabby-negative-nellie/

For those who want to buy the book and not go through Amazon, Mystic Moon in Scottsdale is now carrying the book. I'll be part of their author series for talks in 2011. Stay tuned.

Also I went to the Empty Bowls event and took my two grand daughters who are 1 and 2 years old. I didn't want the girls breaking pottery so I asked them to point and tell me if they saw something they liked and I would show it to them.

I held one up a bowl for Rosannah (the older girl) to see and Baby Briannah piped up, "I like it!" That's the first sentence I've heard her say. I'm glad it was something positive.

Speaking of liking it, I had visions of Sally Field when I returned from Mystic Moon, the store with my books on the shelf. The words, "You like me, you really really like me," rolled through my brain. A small victory but my cup (or empty bowl) runneth over in happiness.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Can I Have a Little Help From My Friends?

It’s time to celebrate!!! Erase Negativity and Embrace the Magic Within is out and ready for purchase. This one is a paperback (as opposed to the electronic version I emailed you about in March) and is available for $12.99 through www.Amazon.com. You can also order it through www.unitedaestheticsorganization.com and I will donate $1 for each book to prevent skin cancer.

Of course I hope you will buy a copy (or several) and tell your friends, family, coworkers or anyone you think would like to learn how to erase negativity. I have had excellent feedback from the folks who have purchased the book and I truly believe it is something that can have a positive, life-changing effect for those who read it and embrace the message.

However, I really, really, really need your help. I know money is tight for a lot of you and I have come up with a few things that will help me tremendously and won’t cost you anything. Here are a few ways you can help me spread the word.

• Visit one, two or three library websites and request they purchase the book. I need requests to libraries in every state. I also want more people to have access to the book who cannot afford to purchase it.
• Go to Amazon and write a review.
• Call and email your local bookstores and ask them to carry the book. If they get enough requests, they will consider it.
• Post a positive message about the book to your friends on Facebook, My Space, Linked In, or any other social network sites you visit.
• Encourage your friends and family to spread the word as well.
• If you are a member of an organization that books speakers, I would be happy to speak on the Erase Negativity topic. Just let me know.
• If you have a website that takes orders and you place my book on your website, I can offer a commission and I will donate $1 for every book sold to the charity of your choice (I do have to approve the charity though.)

I am doing all the marketing myself. I don’t have a lot of money, but I do have a lot of great friends and family members. If you could help me with this, I really believe we can make a positive difference in the world. Also, thank you so much for your encouragement and assistance. It hasn’t been easy to go for years (okay decades) to publish my first book, but it just goes to show that persistence pays off.

Many thanks,

Sally Marks
comicsall@gmail.com
480-664-3004

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Say "No Thanks" to Holiday Negativity

I was on Cat’s Tales, a blog talk radio show last night. The discussion was on the importance of optimism and how to overcome negativity. I hope you can listen in. Here’s the link.
http://www.blogtalkradio.com/sassycat38.

One of the tips I give in the valiant quest to overcome grouchiness is to avoid nasty people. This is easier said than done, particularly during the holidays when forced family gatherings are the norm. Thanksgiving, Christmas, and sometimes even Halloween can be a time when you are face to fork with negative folks who share your DNA.

I wouldn’t say my relatives are particularly negative, although a few are. However, the sarcasm gene runs strong in my family. In fact I think I got a double dose of it. For instance, my mother was a lousy cook. She preferred cigarettes and coffee to developing any culinary skills, so we all assumed food came in two varieties – raw and burnt. She was the butt of numerous jokes. When one of us wanted the bowl of mashed potatoes we would ask, “One lump or two.”

Now the tables have turned and I am the recipient of a few unkind witticisms. The story of my attempt at making gravy for our Thanksgiving feast will live forever in my in-law’s hearts. The darn gravy wouldn’t thicken and not being a patient cook, I shoveled enough flour in the pot to stock a shelf in Walmart. Anyway, the gravy bubbled into some strange mass and I tell everyone it is now a sculpture in the backyard.

I take the kidding in stride because I do not define myself by my expertise as a chef. Gravy is not a regular item on the menu at the house. I grew up on the stuff, but once I left home I rarely made it. If I’m going to clog my arteries, I’d rather do it with chocolate. So it doesn’t hit a nerve if people want to tease me about my cooking.
However, other sarcastic jibes hit closer to the bone. Family favorites were my quest for a job. It took me 13 years to earn my Bachelor’s degree in journalism and after I graduated I searched in vain for 9 months before I landed my first professional job. Once I had the job nobody asked me about it, but while I was unsuccessful in my attempts, the queries abounded.

That was a long time ago. Since that time I have acquired better coping skills, I’ve developed a more positive outlook, and I learned a few pointers that I would like to share with you.

• If someone has a negative comment, ask for their help in solving it. If they think you’re too fat, ask them to walk with you after dinner. Or better yet, tell them you have a two for one coupon to join a gym and you would love for them to accompany you.
• If someone wants to gossip about a family member (usually someone who isn’t there to defend themselves) simply say: “I do not think it is kind or gracious to talk about someone who isn’t here to defend themselves. Does anyone have something more positive we can discuss?”
• If the conversation gets snippy, suggest a new tradition. Go around the table and ask everyone to say one thing they are grateful for. This is the point of Thanksgiving. If they disagree, kindly ask them why everyone gathers together for the holidays. If it is to moan and groan, then let the snippy ones have their own holiday. The moan and groan dinner fest. Unfortunately, you will not be attending.
• Confront with compassion. Many folks do not realize what they are saying is hurtful. Gently call them on it. “Aunt Sue, I love and admire you very much and I know you would never intentionally say anything to hurt me, but I feel your comment about (name it) was unkind. We suffer enough from the negativity in the world from strangers. Why don’t we use this family gathering as a time to help, nourish and be kind to one another?”

These tips may not turn instantly turn the trauma and drama of family gatherings into a love fest, but it is a start.

My last tip is totally self-serving, but my intent to help is sincere.

• Purchase numerous copies of my new book, Erase Negativity and Embrace the Magic Within and give it to friends and family members for the holidays. It’s $12.99 on Amazon. It should be available mid October 2010. If you’re in a hurry, shoot me an email at comicsall@gmail.com and I can have one shipped out right away. You can also get one through www.unitedaestheticsorganization.com and I will donate $1 from each book to help fight skin cancer.

Please remember, we (and our friends and family) did not become negative overnight. It is a habit that was learned. Erasing negativity is a habit that can be learned as well. Why not start now? You don’t have to erase negativity every day, just on the days that you eat.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Halloween Rerun

It’s nearly Halloween and the stores are filled with ghoulish d├ęcor. On a recent outing my little granddaughter, Rosannah, discovered some holiday decorations packed more trick than treat. Rosannah is nearly two years old and quite fearless. She runs through the house with her hands in the air, scales the couch and her high chair with the speed of a mountain goat, and follows the family’s Rottweilers through the doggy door, with no worry of being trampled.

However, my plucky, little granddaughter’s bravery melted like a candy bar when she encountered a cackling witch at the local hardware store. Rosannah buried her head into her mother’s shoulder and whimpered, “no, no.” When she looked up, she saw another display – a werewolf. She smiled at the item and said, “doggy?” Then the eyes of the beast turned red. This elicited another whimpering “no, no” and she buried her dimpled face into her mother’s shoulder once again. Even something as innocuous as a skull on a glass elicits a quick retreat.

I’m not sure why the symbol of a skull is so frightening to Rosannah. It makes me wonder if there could be universal phobias that are buried deep within our collective consciousness. I read somewhere that snakes are feared in many cultures – including those areas that have never seen one of the slithering reptiles.

Other phobias are not so universal. For instance, my friend, Michele, has a 36-year-daughter who is afraid of dryer lint. I reminded her of this quirky habit. I assumed she had outgrown it. Nope. If her husband wanted a divorce he could chase her around the house with the lint, much like how her brother used to do when they were kids. But, like I said, the man wants to remain happily married so he takes care of the lint disposal. My normally logical sister, Diane, gets squeamish touching balls of cotton. I always felt I had a sense of power over her as I would valiantly pull the wad of the white padding from bottles of aspirin. Recently I reminded her of this childhood fear. Well, guess what? She still won’t touch the cotton balls.

The point is, there are many things that strike fear into the hearts of humankind. However, there is one demon that, unlike dryer lint, has caused tremendous harm, but holds free reign in society – negativity.

These pessimistic messages take various forms – news reports, gossip, complaints, lack of gratitude, judgmental thoughts, as well as stinging criticism of ourselves and others. Unfortunately, negativity has become so pervasive that many of us accept it as a normal part of life. This is especially true because we are bombarded with negative news 24/7. The reality is there are many more happy incidents in a day, but no journalist is going to lead the 5 o’clock news with a story of good cheer. As the old adage goes, “if it bleeds, it leads.”

As dismal as this may seem, the good news is we still have a choice on whether or not we are going to allow negativity to stain our lives. There is no law that says we have to watch depressing news. We should not feel compelled to listen to others say disparaging things about others. And we should never repeat gossip…period.

Living a happy life is not that difficult. Even in the most depressing situations there are things to be grateful for. It’s all a matter of perspective.

Every morning I recite several things that I appreciate in my life before I get out of bed. This only takes a few seconds, but it creates an attitude of gratitude that I try to embrace throughout the day.

For those who have a little more trouble adopting a positive attitude, there are little tricks you can perform to shift into an attitude of gratitude. One is to pretend you are happy until the real feeling washing over you. The “fake it until you make it” strategy is more powerful than you think. And what do you have to lose except maybe a rotten attitude?

In the meantime, you can always adopt an adult version of Rosannah’s technique when confronted with negative messages. It’s the same thing we teach children who are tempted to take drugs. Turn away and just say no.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Do Overs! Do Overs!

Do you remember when you were young, made a mistake in a game and asked for “do overs?” That’s what it felt like when I recently listened to an interview I had on The Author’s Show, http://www.theauthorsshow.com/

I knew this particular interview had a broader audience than my past interviews and I was both excited and nervous about it. My apprehension was because the interview was scheduled when I would be camping in Port Townsend, WA. I didn’t want to delay the interview any longer as the September 2010 airing would coincide nicely with the release of the paperback version of my book, Erase Negativity and Embrace the Magic Within. The catch was I had to do the interview on a land line, not my cell phone.

There was a pay phone near our camping site on Point Hudson Marina. I scoped the phone out. It worked. Not an easy feat these days. You try finding a working pay phone. However, it was noisy at the harbor. The search continued. I called the library and a very helpful librarian suggested I use the pay phone in front of their historic building. The interview was to take place on a weekday morning and she thought everything would work out fine.

The next day I cheerfully walked to the library, pulled out my trusty calling card and began the interview. A woman approached the library entrance with her puppy while the interview was in progress. She attempted to tie the dog to a bike rack and go inside for a few minutes. The poor pup had separation anxiety and whined and cried and barked. This was happening a few feet from where I was recording over the phone. Then a noisy truck rumbled past, followed by three very loud, friendly women who were having some sort of reunion.

I was getting anxious. My dream is to be a summer resident of Port Townsend one day and I did not relish the idea of asking the whiny dog’s owner and the chatty women to relocate to another area. Of course I had no control over the trucks rumbling past. “I thought this was a quiet town?” I thought to myself. “No,” I recalled, “It’s a friendly town. And these folks are just going about their day. You are the intruder here.”

Anyway, I did talk to the woman with the pup and she graciously stayed with the pooch until after my interview was through. I believe there is only one time when you can hear the little dog whine.

Which leads me to my point. Through the magic of editing, this interview sounds excellent. Most of the noise was edited out, the volume of my voice and that of the interviewer’s are clear, have matching volume, and everything flowed nicely.

It made me think of my childhood requests of “do overs.”

In real life we cannot edit our mistakes and pretend all is well. However, we can examine our thoughts, speech and actions and learn to recognize where negativity has set in, then make steps to replace the undesirable acts with positive ones.

No one is born negative. It is a learned response. Erase Negativity takes the viewpoint that if negativity is learned, than erasing it and replacing it with a constructive and affirmative life pattern can be learned as well.

So while we can’t exactly have a “do over” we can implement a little editing in our lives. In the interview I outline three simple steps toward erasing negativity.

• Recognize there is a problem. It is estimated human beings have 40,000 to 60,000 thoughts per day and 95% of them are negative.

• Try replacing negative thoughts with positive affirmations or determinations. Instead of saying “I must lose weight,” or “I’m too fat” say “I chose health and vitality.” Soon your brain will get the message and you will be open to new, healthier patterns you can adopt into action.

• Smile. Yes, it sounds corny, but it works. Practice smiling in front of a mirror for one minute, even (and especially) if you are not feeling happy. The good news is the irony of smiling when you’re upset can be so absurd that you may actually laugh. I know it works for me.

So why not try a little rebroadcasting of your life. Edit those negative thoughts, speech and actions and create a whole, new happier way to live.
For additional tips, be sure to check out the ebook at http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/11183 and please tell your friends.
Also, be sure to keep checking out the blog to find out when paperback edition of the book will be released. I should have the final proof any day!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Comment from Laser Beams of Love

I often post my blogs on different sites that use articles for newsletters or websites. I received this comment through my email regarding an earlier article I wrote called Laser Beams of Love. The comment was too long to post as a comment, so I'm reprinting it here to share with all of you. I'm printing it verbatim and hope you enjoy it. And to Daniel, thank you for your response. Here it is:

Greetings
I, Daniel in my search for truth and knowledge found that the old Quaker way of five minutes silence and observed how it affected people.
I must before continuing say I am not a follower of any specific religion, institution or practitioner of so called magic. I am only affiliated to humanity. (AS opposed to mankind)

"Beam of love". This was a part of me which I lost and rediscovered forty years later. I wondered is there anyone else who thinks like this. So I typed "beam of love" on a Google search and found you.
Six months ago I read a 1975 issue of The Psychologist Magazine about forgiving others and realized I was walking with a monkey/burden on my back. I then forgave every one I could possibly thinks of, even my father, my mother, my brothers and sisters for wrongs or perceived wrongs unto me. I even forgave myself.
Then I remembered my Beam/bubble of love which I used as follows:
I would try envisage, imagine or see a bubble of love emanating from me to all creations, birds, trees, the sky, mother earth.
After a while I realized what the golden thread that runs though all religions meant. viz. "Do unto others what You want them to do to you."
The Christian bible says "The more you give the more you receive". I did not do this to receive only to give, It reverted me back to the peace of my childhood and I again started feeling one with all humanity.
Then a question arose: If a number of people with no thought of receiving, no rituals, out of own motivation/choice i.e. without coercion, after discussing it or mentioning it to someone else if they in the privacy of their inner chamber enshrouded in a bubble of love while falling asleep, were to beam love to all creations what would happen on and to this world. Would the power generated be like putting hundreds of amplifiers together?
This is beyond religion because it embraces all mankind and love as I see it universal.
Thank you Sally for sharing.
Peace be with you all.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Wrong Bus is a Step in the Right Direction

I just read the book, The Wrong Bus, An Urban Christmas Story, by John Noel Hampton. I highly recommend it. Check it out at www.JohnNoelHampton.com or www.amazon.com. I enjoy reading, but it’s difficult for me to find a book, especially fiction, that I enjoy. When I find a novel that captures my interest I become immersed in the message and it becomes a part of me.

Because of this intimate connection I have with my reading material, I have to be choosy. Depressing books darken my mood, thrillers make me anxious, but inspirational books lighten my soul.

The Wrong Bus is realistic, but hopeful. Here is a synopsis:

When Ida, a wealthy older optimist, sets out to complete her Christmas shopping, little does she know the dramatic turn her life will take when she decides to go by bus to save a few dollars and becomes the victim of a brutal assault. Her luck takes a three-sixty turn when Junior, a young African-American student from the wrong side of town with troubles of his own, comes to her rescue-or does it? Christmas in Los Angeles can bring out the worst in some, but it can also spin misery into miracles and just maybe restore faith.

In my own book, Erase Negativity and Embrace the Magic Within, I caution individuals to pay attention to their daily intake of information. If we surround ourselves with negative people, listen to an onslaught of gloomy news reports, fill up our free time with depressing music and read books with dark messages, it only makes sense that it will affect our moods.

That doesn’t mean we have to be oblivious to world events, but I do think it’s important to balance the flow of negative and positive in our lives. For instance, the very nature of journalism is to put a focus on scary, depressing or horrible events. The old adage, “If it bleeds, it leads” is as true now as it has been for decades. So if one is immersed in dismal news stories, you could believe the entire world is bad, crime-ridden and without hope. However, predominately negative stories are being covered, and the reason they are stories in the first place is because of the negative and depressing nature of the event.

But that is not a realistic look at the world.

I believe there is a lot more good than bad. We just need to pay more attention to it. It’s one of the reasons I make a conscious effort to start my day reciting things that I’m grateful for. It can be as simple as seeing the sun shine, having the strength to get out of bed, thinking about the many people in my life who I care about and care about me, as well as having a roof over my bed and enough food to eat. These are simple things for most of us, but they are luxuries or non existent for others.

But back to the book, The Wrong Bus.

We make choices in our lives and one is what we choose to read. John has not only written a realistic, but heart-warming tale, he is donating $2 from the sale of each book (now through Nov. 30, 2010) to charity. I hope you will go to www.Amazon.com or to John’s website and get the book. In my opinion, The Wrong Bus is the right choice for a good holiday read.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Divine Education

It was Tuesday, the day after Labor Day. In my youth this date was significant as it signified the first day of a new school year. As I drove around running errands, I thought back to this special anniversary.

I was an honor student in college, but when I was a kid I was, at best, a mediocre pupil. I hated sitting in a chair all day, a lot of the kids (and teachers) were mean, and I never felt like I fit in. So I wasn’t always excited to start a new year, but I do remember being hopeful that each new school year would be better than the one before.

I remember feeling horribly guilty about mistakes I made and how I wish I could just start my life over with a clean slate. Now granted, these mistakes were probably relatively minor transgressions - teasing my sister, stepping on the neighbor’s lawn, forgetting to do my homework etc., but I remember how heavy they weighed in my heart.

On more than one occasion I wanted to kill myself. I thought things would be better in heaven. Of course as an elementary school kid, maybe 8 years old or so, I didn’t understand that suicide was a sin. My theological studies consisted of stories from the New Testament and singing “Jesus Loves Me” and “Jesus Loves the Little Children.”

Unlike, Cynthia Sue Larson, one of the women I interviewed for my book, “Erase Negativity and Embrace the Magic Within” I did not have divine intervention to prevent my desire to end my life. I eventually gave up on my plot. Plus my mom kept a pretty close watch on me and possible implements of destruction. However, when Cynthia told me about her experience, it made me realize how important it is to remind everyone, children and adults, how valuable their lives are. As a reminder, here is an excerpt from Erase Negativity and Embrace the Magic Within.

“At only five years of age, Cynthia wanted to die, that she might return to that blissful state of being where everyone was loving, honest, and integrated.

Fortunately, Cynthia’s connection with the spirit world was strong.

“Bright beings of luminous light appeared before me,” said Cynthia as she remembers the incident. “I had not heard of angels, and so I didn't think of them as angels at that time. These beings showed me a great deal about what it meant to be alive, and how very special and precious our lives truly are, no matter how difficult it may seem much of the time. Where I had been feeling sad because I remembered the true state of spiritual ecstasy on "the other side" from this life, I felt joy at seeing these beautiful, radiant, loving and compassionate beings with their message for me that I could choose to live either "fast" or "slow." The fast life would be one which would end very soon, and they showed me how such an early death would have devastating and lasting emotional consequences for my parents and sister. The slow life would be one in which I would be able to help many people have a better understanding of how good their lives could be.”

Cynthia is a deeply compassionate, spiritually enlightened woman. When I had the honor to interview her (in person in San Francisco) she seemed to vibrate at a higher level than other human beings I have met. I experienced the same sensation when I talked to her on the phone a few months later.

In my book (as well as her own book, Aura Advantage) she describes some excellent methods to erase negativity and raise your life vibration. I hope you will do as I did and check out more on what she has to say.

There are times when our lives are painful. But there are many joyous moments as well. I can’t imagine how catastrophic it would have been had I ended my life as a child. There are so many wondrous things I would have missed, not to mention the horrific pain others who knew me would have felt at my untimely demise.

Cynthia and I have lived different lives, but we both share this childhood experience of wanting to return to a different dimension. Cynthia has gone on and helped hundreds of people with her work. I hope to do the same with my book.

Now I’d like to come full circle with this story.

We may not be formally attending school, but our lives are an ongoing series of lessons. At times things may seem happy and easy, other times painful and difficult. However, there is always something important to learn. If you are unhappy I hope you will take some steps to erase the negativity from your life. It may not be easy, but all of us have the power to change.

Looking back at myself as a kid, I remember a mischievous, occasionally depressed, goofy-looking, cross-eyed, buck-toothed kid. But I knew I would eventually change. My teeth straightened on their own without braces, my eyes were fixed with surgery, and with time I have morphed into a normal-looking, middle-aged woman. However, it took time and effort for the attitude adjustment. And that is a work in progress, even for me.

But it happened. I am not unique. We all have the power to change our lives for the better. We can help ourselves and we can help others too. And the good news is you don’t need to wait for the beginning of a new school year. You can do it right now. Consider this your formal invitation. Why not get started today?

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Erasing Illness

I am sick. I caught some sort of virus and it has resulted in body aches, lethargy and a mild fever. The worst part is when I had chills (imagine wanting to wrap up in a blanket when it’s 110 degrees outside.) Thankfully, that part of my malady only lasted one day.

Other than migraines, I rarely get sick. I have an upbeat attitude, a good immune system and bugs and viruses generally avoid me. But this time I was not so lucky. Worse yet, I know why it happened and I only have myself to blame. I was a crab. Germs like crabby people. Some germs even look like crabs and I bet they like hanging out with their own ilk.

This is more than a passing thought. There is a lot of evidence about how people who are optimistic and full of gratitude are healthier and happier. I’m too sick to look up all the statistics, but it’s pretty much common knowledge about the happy and healthy connection. It was even a topic of discussion on one of the radio blogs I was on (Gab With The Gurus) a few weeks ago.

So how did this happen to me? How did the author of Erase Negativity and Embrace the Magic Within fall victim to illness? Well, for one, I was exposed to a sick kid, my great nephew. I knew he was sick and I probably wasn’t as careful as I should have been. But I think the real reason is my immune was suppressed because I had been crabby.

A couple days prior to this, we thought my purse was stolen. My spouse and I were camping and on the day I was to fly home for a week (CB was continuing on) my purse disappeared. This resulted in a whirlwind of activity to learn what hoops I was going to have to jump through to get through airport security. It also involved filing a police report, canceling credit cards, reporting the info to the credit bureaus, getting a new driver’s license, passport etc. etc. etc.

In addition to the stress, I had a real bad taste in my mouth about the schmucks who stole my purse. I was careful about locking the truck, hiding the purse or carrying it with me. And since I was gone for two months, I had everything I needed in the bag (prescription sunglasses, regular glasses, a flash drive with a lot of my documents in it, Costco card, insurance card and the list goes on.)
Whoever stole my purse had to have been watching closely and been VERY clever.

I returned to Arizona, went through the process of recreating everything in my missing wallet. Four days later I get a call from CB that the vagabond purse was found wedged between the wheel well of the camper and a small hanging bag that we used to stuff flashlights and other small objects.

Of course I was happy the bag was found. Unfortunately I couldn’t help but wish it had been discovered before I shelled out the pesos to get new glasses, the aggravation of hanging out at the DMV all morning and the future hassle and expense I will endure when I replace the passport (and no, they will not let me use the old that I reported stolen even when I explained what happened.) However, the worst part was the voluntary descent into hell I endured during this whole process. I was mad at myself, the theoretical burglar, and CB for insisting the purse was stolen in the first place.

Rather than go through a litany of my negative process, let’s just suffice it to say that I was angry and not getting over it very well. It’s not a place I usually dwell, but I’m human and I rented space in the grouchy kingdom for a while.
Then I flew to Denver, met with CB’s relatives (including the sick great nephew) and on to a couple more days of camping.

Finally, I was back home. Then I got sick.

This is not surprising, because even though my purse and all its contents were found, my brain was still stuck in aggravation mode. It’s as if all the negativity that I had experienced was poring out of my body. It’s no wonder I was sick.

I’m getting through the day taking Tylenol, drinking lots of fluids and getting plenty of rest. I’m sure I’ll be better in a day or two. The lesson I learned is that mind and body are more connected than we think. If a short, but intense bout of negativity can have deleterious effects on a normally optimistic person, just imagine what years of negativity can do?

So, in conclusion, don’t fall victim to negativity. No good comes from it. If you want to learn some useful tips, get out your credit card, go to smashwords and buy a copy of the ebook (the physical copy should be ready in two weeks!) But be sure to keep you wallet in a safe place. It’s good to be optimistic, but an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of Tylenol.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Sailing, Butterflies and the Pursuit of Happiness

I looked out over Point Hudson Harbor and watched the sailboats skim across the ocean. The sun was unusually bright, but a cool and gentle breeze wafted across the water creating an ideal temperature. It was a perfect day.

As I watched the sailboats it reminded me of joyful butterflies flitting about in a graceful dance.

Years ago I had the romantic notion that sailing would be great fun. My only experience had been aboard a small Hobie Cat off Waikiki beach. My then-husband, John, manned the little sails. My job was to lean to one side or the other, and not fall overboard. The only equipment we needed was a life jacket (which the rental company supplied.) This nautical adventure was great fun.

Years later I divorced John and remarried. My new spouse, CB, loves the water and entered our partnership with a 22-foot Catalina sailboat. We live close to a lake (and yes there is water in Arizona) but unfortunately CB’s boat was parked in dry storage at Lake Pleasant in Peoria, Arizona - nearly an hour’s drive away.

Sailing was not a one-time event for CB. We spent numerous weekends taking the 60 mile (one way) trek to the boat, untying the covers, loading up the equipment we would need, hooking up the vessel to the trailer hitch and dunking the little Catalina into the water. This process usually took an hour. That may not seem like much, but when it’s hot, it’s not a lot of fun. My job was to back the truck into the water, wait for CB’s thumb’s up that the boat was launched, then drive the truck and boat trailer back to the parking lot, then walk back to the dock and climb aboard the boat.

Once I was aboard our little sloop, I could enjoy the desert scenery, glimpse wild donkeys and their babies, glimpse fish jumping out of the water and wave to other sailors as they caught a breeze and sailed across the man-made lake.

However, I soon learned that sailing is not a spectator sport. CB did most of the work, but I still had some duties. Sailors have to be vigilant as you are always adjusting the sails to catch the proper amount of wind. There is no cruise control. You also have to watch out for hazards, such as trash, other boaters or a submerged rock or tree. I had the mistaken belief you just adjusted your sail now and again and flitted your way across the water. When you were done, you parked your little boat and went merrily on your way – like parking your car in a parking lot.

That is sooooo not true. There is cleaning, schlepping gear, getting the boat back on the trailer (I hate getting cold and wet, so even when it’s 100 degrees I prefer using lines to corral the vessel so I can stay dry) not to mention all the preparation done in reverse when the sailing day is done.

Sailing may be enjoyable, but it IS a lot of work. The same is true in life. Sailing (and probably the life of a butterfly for that matter) may look carefree and effortless, but it’s not. Happiness is not something you grab like the brass ring on a merry go round. Now that I think about it, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a brass ring on a merry-go-round. No doubt lawsuits and liability issues would prevent any carousel owner from installing one. But I digress.

The point I’m trying to make is life, work, relationships, and even the pursuit of happiness, is something you have to work at. The same is true of erasing negativity. My co-author, Jackie and I firmly believe erasing negativity is a crucial step in achieving happiness.

The following is a snippet from my book, Erase Negativity and Embrace the Magic Within.

“It is impossible to go through life without encountering difficulties. From a baby’s first cry to the last dying breath, the human experience involves a series of struggles. While encountering challenges is an inherent part of life, it is not so much the problems, but the attitude you take while facing these difficulties that shapes how you view the world.

It would make sense that an energetic and optimistic approach to life would produce better results, but that is easier said than done. An infant who is lovingly welcomed into a kind and caring family is more likely to receive positive messages than a baby who is born into a home where the environment is critical and angry. While there may be exceptions, by and large, you are the sum of your experiences, and generally this is the determining factor of whether you develop a positive or negative mindset.

If it were simply a matter of flipping a switch to receive a positive or negative attitude, most folks would opt for former. Unfortunately, many of us grew up in a negative environment, or suffered physical or emotional trauma that tainted our outlook. Bit by bit, negativity became a way of coping with life. Many pessimistic individuals claim that while a negative outlook may provide fewer positive results, it also protects them from disappointment. Unfortunately, negativity is more like a cancer than a protective shield. It starts small, and may seem innocent enough at first, but if not kept in check the negative mindset can spread and wreck havoc in all aspects of life.

“I’m not negative,” you may say to yourself (or out loud). “I’m just calling it as I see it.” Maybe so, but, if your approach has resulted in some depressing results and evolved into a downright unhappy life, perhaps it’s time to consider a new, happier perspective.

The approach to erasing negativity is simple, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Like anything worth having in life, it is going to take work. However, if you read the material in the book, follow the exercises, vow to never give up on yourself and stay with the program long enough to see it really start to work, you will see positive change in your life.”

Not long ago CB sold the boat. I was initially relieved, but I know there will be a bigger boat in our future. Our adventures on the lake will be traded for coastal cruising along the Pacific Coast.

Watching those sailboats off Point Hudson made me smile. It looked like effortless fun, but I know better. The same is true in life.

It takes work to erase negativity and embrace the magic within. But isn’t your happiness worth the effort? In conclusion I would like to remind you that life is not meant to be a painful austerity. Life is meant to be enjoyed. But my fellow navigators of life, that doesn’t mean that it will always be smooth sailing.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Erasing Envirnomental Negativity

I enjoy traveling, seeing new sights and soaking up the culture of other places. I recently had the opportunity to live and work in the Pacific Northwest for six weeks. The Washington coast could not be more different than the Arizona desert I’ve known and lived for most of my life.

Yet, when I returned home, trading the emerald-colored trees, cool temperatures and the snow capped mountain peaks of Hurricane Ridge for the dusty brown, hot and dry Arizona desert, I still felt a sense of relief.

I was home again.

Those who know me and my semi-reluctant camping ways, may assume the relief was because I was luxuriating at the convenience and comfort of a real bed, running water and electricity that wasn’t limited to a campground restroom. You try keeping a lap top and cell phone juiced up without a generator.

But, alas, that was not an accurate depiction of my travels. Three weeks of the trip were spent in a cute, two-bedroom bungalow – complete with cable television and Wi Fi. The temporary abode was also conveniently located and I was able to walk in town and visit book stores, art galleries and eat my favorite treat – pizza. So I wasn’t suffering from a lack of amenities.

But it wasn’t home.

So even though I enjoyed the beautiful setting, met some wonderful people and had the opportunity to exercise without risking heat stroke, I was glad to be home again.

One reason I am happy is home is a place where I can enhance my environment to suit my needs. This is no small matter. I learned from Lisa Montgomery, a feng shui expert in Phoenix, that the circulation or stagnation of an invisible energy called qui (pronounced chi) can have positive or negative effects. This ancient Chinese practice consists of positioning objects, buildings and even whole communities to maximize the flow of energy and have it flow more in harmony with nature. The following excerpt is from my book, Erase Negativity and Embrace the Magic Within, regarding the results Lisa experienced using feng shui techniques in her own home.

“I saw a dramatic change in three months,” said Lisa. “Once I was able to put feng shui into practice, along with a positive attitude, everything came together. My financial situation, which had been strained, improved. And not just typical things like making more money. I’d enter contests and win. My luck changed dramatically. But, best of all, I felt more comfortable and in balance with my environment. And when you feel balanced and happy, it makes sense that your life is going to be more open for good things to come. Even now, I tell clients, I can’t promise you that feng shui is going to make you rich, although a lot of them do see their money luck change. But I can promise that you will experience more harmony in your home and feel more balanced.”

Not everyone wants to employ a feng shui expert, so here are a few things a layperson can do to enhance qui in their home.

•Give the house a thorough cleaning. Qi stagnates in a messy environment. Not everyone enjoys cleaning, but your life is worth it. Clean up your act and keep it that way.

•Get rid of clutter.

•Box items you don’t use and put a date on it. If you haven’t used it in a year, sell it, give it away or donate it to charity.

•Take an inventory of the things in your house. Pay attention to how each object makes you feel. If you experience a negative sensation, get rid of it.

•Surround yourself with things you love. If that means getting rid of that ugly lamp you inherited from Aunt Tilly, so be it. You don’t wear Aunt Tilly’s clothes and you don’t have to live with her ugly furnishings.

For more tips, be sure to check out the book at
http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/11183

In fact, during the Happiness Happens Month of August (and through Sept. 10, 2010) I’m offering a 25% discount on the book.

We may experience setbacks in our lives, but no matter where we hang or hat or pitch a tent, we can take simple steps to erase environmental negativity and embrace the magic within.

Friday, August 6, 2010

I Love Facebook

I love Facebook.

Many folks think I joined FB to promote my book, Erase Negativity and Embrace the Magic Within. It’s true that it has become a wonderful social networking tool, but business savvy was not my motivation. Other folks think I did it because it gives me a chance to instantly say what I “like” or a venue to “comment” on other people’s posts. I confess, I DO like doing that. People I will never meet still get to hear my opinion on things. They may or may not care about my viewpoint, but they get my opinion none-the-less.

However, the real reason I joined was so I could find out how my nieces, nephews and daughters are doing. Especially my youngest daughter, Brittany. Alicia, my oldest, lives three miles away and I see or talk to her all the time. She is the mother of my two grand daughters, so of course I hang out at her place a lot. When I’m out of town, I call over there to talk to my two-year-old grand daughter, Rosannah. I ask, “Who’s the greatest?” She always answers, “Grandma!” I never get tired of hearing that.

However, Brittany, is more elusive. She works, goes to school and spends time with her husband, Jamie. I can’t always catch her at home or on the phone, so I check up on her through Facebook. Perhaps I’d be better off NOT knowing about her exploits. Learning about her how one of her ex boyfriends was recently named one of the biggest dirt bags in the City of Scottsdale, was not that reassuring. Nor were the notes about her trips to Vegas and numerous hangovers. But at least I know she’s well enough to type.

In addition to the mom-snooping, advice-giving components I love about Facebook, I have the joy of reconnecting with friends. One dear friend, Karen, called me today. She is moving back to the Phoenix area and I’m looking forward to seeing her again. Karen and I are both Buddhists and have worked side-by-side to help develop humanistic leaders, advance world peace efforts and encourage better understanding through dialogue. This is not unique. These are the goals of our Buddhist organization SGI-USA (you can learn more by visiting www.sgi-usa.org.)
I treasure friendships, but the kinships I developed that were forged while working toward the greater good are even more valuable. In addition to the camaraderie and genuine caring that comes with having a great pal, another benefit is they can help keep you on the right track.

Talking to Karen not only reminded me of the great things we have done, but of the greater things we still need to accomplish. Her call came at a good time because I was suffering the after effects of a migraine. Unlike my daughter, Brittany, this had nothing to do with partying in Vegas or drinking too much. The skull-crushing pain is one of the down sides of having these excruciating headaches. Even when the pain subsides, I don’t feel like doing anything – much less anything more altruistic than watching Oprah on television.

But talking to Karen helped spur me into action. You have to love a friend like that. And she would say there were times I did that for her as well.
In my book I have a chapter that talks about victim mentality. It’s an easy trap to fall into, especially when you are depressed or in pain. Here is an excerpt.
“However, rather than dive into her profession, Chloe sputtered and hemmed and hawed and found every excuse imaginable to fail. Chloe recognized she had self- defeating behavior, but felt she couldn’t control it.

Chloe’s reasoning is not unique. Whether we are merely existing, or actively pursuing our dreams, we can become overwhelmed when things do not go as planned. However, using challenges in our lives as a reason to develop and gain wisdom, rather than an excuse to give up, is a key factor between success and failure, health and sickness, and happiness or misery. While it may seem comforting to find ourselves blameless for the things that happen in our lives, it also leaves us feeling powerless to change our current situation.”

We all face challenges. I am no exception. We can succumb to our weaknesses, or we can rise above them. We can withdraw from the world when we are in pain, or we can offer a helping hand to someone who is even worse off than we are.

Here is my weekly advice. The next time you read about a friend on Facebook who is suffering, pick up the phone and call them. Better yet, finagle an invitation to see them in person. Facebook and My Space are great connecting tools, but they can’t replace the joy of hearing a friendly voice or feeling a warm hug.

I would like to end this article with some lyrics written by Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson and sung so beautifully by Diana Ross. If you get a chance, play the song and listen to all the words. I hope it not only cycles through your brain and gets stuck in your head, I hope the message continues to percolate through your heart and evokes a friendly reaction.

Reach out and touch
Somebody's hand
Make this world a better place
If you can.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Where Have All The Christians Gone?

Someone sent me this joke and I saved it. I’m printing it as a topic for this week’s blog.

Squirrels had overrun three churches in town. After much prayer, the elders
of the first church determined that the animals were predestined to be there.
"Who are we to interfere with God's will?" they reasoned. Soon, the squirrels
multiplied.

The elders of the second church, deciding that they could not harm any of
God's creatures, humanely trapped the squirrels and set them free outside
of town. Three days later, the squirrels were back.

It was only the third church that succeeded in keeping the pests away.
The elders baptized the squirrels and registered them as members of the
church. Now they only see them on Christmas and Easter.

I’m not exactly sure why I find this joke so funny, but I do. Last weekend CB and I were going kayaking near Port Angeles, Washington. It was a beautiful day. We passed a few churches along the way. All the parking lots were empty. At first I thought we were driving by too early. But later in the day as we were driving back, the same thing was true. Not a soul on church property. Now mind you, I wasn’t in church, but it annoyed me somehow that people weren’t doing their Christian duty.

“I guess they just aren’t that religious here,” I said to CB. “If we were back in Arizona these parking lots would be full.” Of course I don’t believe you need to be a church-goer to be a spiritual person. During our visit to Washington I’ve met some of the nicest people you would ever want to meet. The drivers stop at the yellow lights and most of them wave for pedestrians to cross even if they are several yards from the curb. Somehow, though, this lack of church participation bothered me.

I realized that in spite of my best efforts, I still harbor some judgmental tendencies. I don’t want others to criticize my actions, but yet here I am a Buddhist with a Jewish background (affectionately known as a Boo Jew) and I wanted to know why all the Christians weren’t plopping their butts in the pews while I was off kayaking.

Of course I don’t want to be too harsh on myself either. The important thing is for me to recognize my faults and try to adopt a more loving and optimistic way to live. That is why I consistently have to remind myself to practice what I preach in my book, Erase Negativity and Embrace the Magic Within. The first step in erasing negativity is to recognize the problem. The second is to replace negative behavior, speech or thoughts with a positive one. For instance, rather than judging the church-avoiding folks in Washington, I sent them a silent prayer. The third step is to smile in front of a mirror for one minute. This feels weird to me, but I do it. If nothing else, my cheesy grin makes me laugh. It breaks the grouchy spell and I’m less harsh in my judgments of others.

I don’t care who you are, there are going to be times when you act less than your best. It does no good to beat yourself up over it. Just make a conscious effort to change the behavior and be consistent about making the more desired action a part of your life.

That was my little lesson last weekend. “Judge not, yet ye be judged.” Oh, and the Christians in Washington are probably no better or worse than any where else. Once I returned home I realized that it was Saturday, not Sunday.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The ABC's of Gratitude

I was recently on a panel for the blog radio show, Gab with the Gurus. The topic was gratitude. I encourage you to listen in. However, here are a few questions that weren’t asked, but how I would’ve responded if I had the chance.

What Role Does Gratitude Play in Your Life?

Honestly, I wasn’t always a grateful person. I was like a lot of folks who took the good things in my life for granted. My parents tried to instill me with a sense of appreciation, but I was a typical kid, and the middle child to boot, so I was always arguing because I thought my siblings were getting a bigger piece of cake, and I was getting more than my fair share of the yucky liver and onions.

But I enjoyed reading motivational books and gratitude was always a common thread. In fact, it was a sense of gratitude in the messages that I read in other books that finally made me, and my co-author, Jackie decide to write a self-help book. We realized that many individuals had suffered so much in their lives that they would not be able to embrace an optimistic approach, or adopt a sense of gratitude until they eliminated their negative behavior. Trying to be optimistic, or grateful, without addressing daily, negative behavior would be like treating the symptom, but not the cause.


What are Some Ways to Increase Gratitude and Help Others?

I love the line in the Joni Mitchell song, “Don’t it always seem to go, you don’t know what you got til it’s gone.” I came back from two weeks of camping and I have new appreciation for flushing toilets, running water and a nice, comfortable bed.

Back-to-basic camping is a good reminder of the many things we take for granted. Most of us are not going to purposely put ourselves in a position where we lack the things we want and need, but we can put ourselves in situations where we can appreciate what we have by choosing to help those who are less fortunate than we are. For instance, we can volunteer at a soup kitchen, visit an elderly person in a nursing home or become a reader for the visually impaired. There are thousands of opportunities. The benefit is two fold. You not only learn to appreciate things in your life that you previously took for granted, you also have the opportunity to help others and become a source of light in the world.


Name one reason that people are negative and ungrateful?

A sense of entitlement is a big reason, but if you ask the ungrateful folks why they are bitter, they are more likely to tell you they had an unhappy childhood. My observation is people’s perception starts early, and it takes work to shift them into a more grateful mindset. Plus, we are bombarded by negative news. It skews people's thinking. The world is not 100% bad, but the bad stuff is what is getting reported. You have to change your world view a bit to get a more balanced perspective. Good things happen every day. You have to look for them. That’s why gratitude journals and daily affirmations are so important. It’s more than seeing the world through rose-colored glasses. It’s a reality check or balancing technique against the bombardment of negativity in the news.

What are three tips on how to become more grateful?

In the first chapter of my book, Erase Negativity and Embrace the Magic Within, we begin with having the reader pay attention to their thoughts, speech and actions. Becoming aware is the first step. Once they are aware they can take steps to change their behavior. People have no idea how many negative things they say until they are asked to count them in an hour.

1. Become aware of the problem. A lot of ungrateful people think they are just being realistic.
2. Replace negative or ungrateful behavior with something positive. Instead of whining, do something to correct the situation, even if it’s writing a letter to the editor. The first behavior puts the person in a victim mentality. Taking action, even a small action, puts you in a more empowering mode.
3. Smile. It sounds simplistic, but if you spend one minute in the morning and smile at yourself in the mirror, something changes. If you are grouchy, chances are good the irony of it will make you laugh. And that’s a good thing!

These are a few hints on how to incorporate gratitude and happiness into your life. But don’t stop there, I encourage you to read the many wonderful books that are available on the subject.

The main thing is to do something, anything, to live a more grateful life. You will be so grateful that you did.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

CASA BONKA

I recently went on a road trip along the Pacific Coast. I was awed by the majestic Redwoods that stood like proud titans protecting our nation’s sacred lands and wildlife. While driving along the highway with towering trees on either side of the road, CB, my nature-loving spouse, remarked it was like driving through a church. In fact, the light filtering through the trees was reminiscent of pictures I saw in an illustrated storybook of Bible stories that I enjoyed as a young girl.

Admiring the magnificence of the California and Oregon coast, I contemplated the vastness of the ocean and what my role might be in protecting and preserving the beauty and sanctity of our planet. The world seemed vast, yet while enveloped in this wondrous terrain, I also felt empowered to embark on a life mission to do something truly great.

Then reality set in.

We stopped for the night in an RV park and an angry young man was screaming such violent obscenities at his wife that the police were called in. I feared for the safety of the woman and her baby. However, the mere presence of the police car was enough to quiet the man down and restore peace to the park. I doubt it had a lasting effect, but for the time, things were quiet again.

Unfortunately, I no longer felt as empowered as I had earlier. This violent scene temporarily sucked the courage to make a difference in the world right out of me. I can only imagine how this angry man’s wife and baby felt.

It occurred to me that anger and fear can have a shrinking effect. At least it does for me. It seems that all one’s attention is on something very narrow and confining. I once heard that we need to have an expansive outlook so that we can embrace the surrounding area – the planet – and even the galaxy.

At times, my mentor, Akiko, would ask how big was my world? Not THE world, but MY world. When I’m angry, hurt or fearful, my world is so small. What I’m angry about is all I can think about. It’s like when you have a toothache. You may be in expansive, even beautiful surroundings, but all you can think about is that nasty, throbbing ache in your mouth. Your world has infinite possibilities, but the reality is it becomes the size of a tooth.

During our travels, the confined physical conditions of my sleeping arrangements that I share with my spouse, a bunny, his cage, and a plethora of camping equipment that encompasses our Ford 150 truck and camper, is quite small. CB arranges it nicely, but it can be hard to maneuver. CB calls our little camper shell, Casa Bonka, because the likelihood we will bonk our heads is almost inevitable.

But I don’t have to live in a camper shell. I temporarily sleep in one, but at any time I can step or crawl out of our vehicle, look at the glistening starts and feel the infinite universe and possibilities that await me.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Interview Promo

Below you can find a promo for my Hollis Chapman interview.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Let's Hear Some Noise from the Boys!

Men may not be from Mars and Women from Venus as John Grey suggests in his aptly titled book, but they might as well be. It wasn’t until I was interviewed today by Hollis Chapman, a great host on blog radio, that I caught a glimpse of a man’s perspective on a topic that I enjoy discussing. We chatted a little about optimism, sports and of course my book, Erase Negativity and Embrace the Magic Within.
I don’t receive a lot of input from men. My friends are mostly women, I’ve been divorced for a decade, and my descendants – two daughters and two grand daughters – are both double X chromosome carriers.
The topic was confidence. Somehow I assumed lack of confidence and playing small so others would not be intimidated, were decidedly female traits. But Hollis confided that in his youth when he was active in sports, he did not want to draw too much attention to himself for fear that his buddies would feel bad (Hollis was an All American athlete.). However, I believe Marriane Williamson’s quote is a better way to go:
Your playing small does not serve the world. There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you.”
Talking to Hollis made me realize that I judge men too narrowly. It also made me realize that some of the “trash-talking” athletes he encounters as a referee are not really as they appear. My guess is they try to cloak themselves in confidence, but the real uniform they are wearing is arrogance. It made me think of a chapter in the book that deals with anger. The story is about David, a raging alcoholic who described himself as an egomaniac with an inferiority complex. On the outside, he seemed confident, but he was masking his insecurities and when things didn’t go his way, he turned to anger.
Here is a quote from the second chapter of Erase Negativity and Embrace the Magic Within.
“To alleviate anger and change irrational behavior, one must change the conditioned response. The next step is to try to identify the underlying feeling that triggers the anger. Many times it is a feeling of not feeling worthy, stemming from verbal, mental and sometimes physical abuse during childhood.
Those who have not developed appropriate coping skills are often more easily angered than others. But the problem doesn’t end there. Anger often gives birth to insidious side effects – cynicism and doubt. Over time, if these feelings of distrust prevail, the result can be catastrophic. Skepticism chips away at any expectation that positive change is possible. Often the result is all hope evaporates, leaving only a lingering cloud of hopelessness and despair.
The good news is anger cannot thrive when acceptance, gratitude and understanding prevail. In David’s case, attending AA meetings and working the 12-step program was essential. He not only had the support of fellow members, he gave his support as well. With his compassion, rather than selfish ego running the show, he became happier, kinder and more in control of his emotions.”
How often have we seen people who we think are confident literally explode when things don’t go as they plan or expect? Is that confidence or arrogance? If I were to make the call, I’d paint a big A on their forehead. In a more charitable mood I can even feel pity for that kind of display because they might as well take out an advertisement that declares how insecure they really are.
While I absolutely believe developing confidence is important, we should never believe or act like we are “better’ than anyone else. We may develop greater proficiency in different skills, or possess a physical attribute that others may or may not value, but that does not make us more “human” than anyone else. We are all interconnected and it’s our ego that perceives our separateness and need to judge and condemn others. I believe this is due to fear and a severe lack of confidence. But that is a subject for a future blog.
So whether your struggle is lack of confidence, negativity, or even arrogance, I hope you will read Erase Negativity and Embrace the Magic Within. And please tell your friends. We can all use a little help.
And guys, please email me your thought on the subject of confidence, arrogance and playing small. I was wrong thinking that many of the messages I write are only applicable to women. It is a human topic. Mea culpa. So how about it fellas? Let’s hear some noise from the boys.