Saturday, April 24, 2010

Headaches, Joni Mitchell and Gratitude

Today I woke up and thought of the lyrics of Joni Mitchell’s song, Big Yellow Taxi:

Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got
‘Til it's gone.
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot.

For the past three days I’ve had a migraine headache. I had periods of time where it wasn’t excruciatingly painful, but I never felt good enough to be productive in the way I would like to be. It was like having a perpetual hangover. And no, my headache was not alcohol induced. I rarely imbibe. Alcohol makes me sick. Plus, my days of dancing on tables and wearing a lampshade are best forgotten.

Out of desperation I finally decided to get a massage to see if that would help the pain and tension I was feeling. I couldn’t get in to see my regular physician, Andrea Weiner. I called Judy Richter, a very talented massage therapist that I highly recommend, but I couldn’t get through to her (I learned later there was something wrong with her phone). I tried three other places and no one had any openings until 8 p.m. that night, or worse yet, the following day. Yikes. I was in pain and was tired of feeling crummy.

I did a search on the internet and was able to make an appointment for later that afternoon. I had never been there before, I didn’t have coupons, no one recommended it, I just found it by searching the internet. I told the therapist that I had a headache for three days, I tripped cleaning the bunny’s cage, and I thought that may have knotted my muscles up even more.

My therapist, Carrie, worked on me and did a great job. I was definitely tense. My shoulders were about 12 inches higher than they should have been. It was as if they were stuck in a perpetual shrug. By the time she was done, I felt a lot better.

Today I woke up and felt more like myself again. I started my day as I try to every day, by declaring the many things I am grateful for. Of course, not having a headache was number one on my list. Gratitude is a huge part of happiness. I will dedicate a whole chapter to the topic in my next book, but for the time being, here is an excerpt from chapter three.

Since David was angry much of the time, gratitude wasn’t really something he had given much thought to. However, one experience really hit home.

“We were at a meeting and everyone had to say one thing they were grateful for,” said David. “One guy was living in a half-way house. He had been living on the streets. When it was his turn to share he said he was grateful that he had a clean pair of socks in his drawer. And he wasn’t kidding. Having clean socks was a luxury to this guy. It really made me stop and think about how many things I have in my life to be grateful for.”

In closing, I would like to include three tips on gratitude that I will include in the next book.

Gratitude is just as important for the simple things in our lives as it is for the more abundant things.

Gratitude keeps us humble and therefore open to the blessings of joy.

Gratitude keeps us in a positive state of mind which keeps us in a state of faith instead of fear.

And to you, my readers, thank you for reading this blog. If you enjoy it, I hope you will show your gratitude by recommending it to others.

Many thanks,


Friday, April 16, 2010

It's A Small World at the Train Park

I had a wonderful experience at the McCormick Ranch Train Park a few days ago. Some of my relatives were in town for my nephew’s wedding. We grownups decided to use a trip to the train park as an excuse to entertain Brayden, 5, Rosannah, 2 and Briannah, 9 months, for the afternoon. However, I think the adults had more fun than the kiddies.

It is so exhilarating to see the world through a child’s eyes. While we were passengers on the kiddy train Rosannah watched in awe as the scenery gently chug, chug, chugged along the track. She was more apprehensive about the carousel. Fortunately she sat on the horse next to Brayden. He offered sage advice (hold on to the pole and don’t let go until it stops). Of course his presence as a more experienced rider was helpful too. Just to be on the safe side, I stood next to both riders in case of an accidental dismount. When we returned for a ride Rosannah even mustered the courage to wave a quick hello to her baby sister, aunt, great aunties and uncle.

Even something as simple as the music playing Disney favorites such as “It’s A Small World After All” was cause for excitement. Okay, I admit that song has lost its luster for me, but it was refreshing to see how much the children enjoyed it. After all, in no time they will be trading nursery rhymes for music that will most likely offend the ear drums of anyone born before the second millennium.

However, it was our playground experience that proved enlightening. Scattered along the sand was a plethora of toys. A mom and her two children brought enough toys to keep every kid in the playground happy. There were buckets, shovels, cars, trucks and cups. The children were free to drive their miniature vehicles over the terrain, dig trenches and make sand castles.

What was unusual about this was the toys were there for all to use. There wasn’t a tug of war over who was the owner of each item. The children played with the toys and when they were done, they moved on to something else. There was a “rightful” owner, but since the children didn’t insist on declaring their “rights,” everyone played happily. Even Rosannah, who usually likes to hang onto toys, put the borrowed bucket down and went to play on the slide.

So what does this signify? I suppose it could mean a lot of things. My thought is that when we operate with a mindset of abundance rather than focus on what we are lacking, the world seems a generous and happy place. It is when we revert to our more primal us-against-the-world, view that problems arise.

I remember reading that happiness is measured by our generosity toward others. This does not necessarily mean giving money away (although it could). It is more about our attitude toward our fellow human beings. Maybe we don’t have a carload of toys to take to the park. But we might ask ourselves, “Am I generous with my kind thoughts, actions and speech, or do I dole them out sparingly to those I deem worthy?”
You don’t have to be a genius to create a harmonious milieu. I just witnessed how a thoughtful mother and her two children created a peaceful setting in a city park. All it takes is the ability to look past our immediate needs and consider the happiness of others. Why not? “It’s a small world after all.”

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Weeding Out Negative Thoughts

I went out my front door to go for a walk and I took a gander at my front yard. It is springtime and many of the bushes and plants are flowering. We have opted against using herbicide so our yard is home to a variety of beautiful wildflowers. However, the word got out to the weeds about this safe haven, and they dot the landscape as well.

I postponed my morning jaunt and took a few minutes to pull weeds. This has been a learning experience for me as there are a variety of weeds in the yard. At first it was difficult for me to distinguish between a wildflower and a weed. Sadly, I must confess that a few desert daisies, lupine and penstamine suffered an early demise due to my horticultural ignorance.

While I was weed plucking it occurred to me that my thoughts are a lot like the vegetation in my yard. There are plants that provide beauty, shade and inspiration. And then there are the weeds. If left unnoticed, the weeds can choke the life out of some of the other helpful plants. However, we have a home owner’s association, so I know it would never come to that. The more likely scenario is we would get a notice about the weeds, followed by a fine.

Interestingly enough, a lot of weeds are easy to distinguish. Just like ugly thoughts, speech and actions, they have bristly stems and leaves that hurt those that come too close. Their nastiness serves as a form of protection. I have heard individuals defend their negativity in a similar way. A thorny disposition can become a barrier to keep people at bay.

Also, weeds, like nasty thoughts, speech and actions, will multiply if left unchecked. That is why it’s best to learn to distinguish the naughty little buggers early on and get rid of them before they turn into towering trees.

However, a negative mindset, like some weeds, can be difficult to identify. Gardening and cultivating healthy thoughts, speech and actions takes work. However, over time, if you work at it, you will see a positive result.

Here is an excerpt from our book, Erase Negativity and Embrace the Magic Within.

Your wishes, good, bad or indifferent, become your brain’s programming. So why not try for something that will bring you joy? That does not mean that everything wonderful you wish for will instantly become reality. But if you surround yourself with positive thoughts and begin a course of action to achieve the things you want in life, you will move your life in a happier direction.

The first step in erasing negativity is by transforming thoughts, words and actions from negative to positive. Each thought, however fleeting, each word and the intent behind it, as well as our daily actions have certain repercussions. Whether or not you believe in the laws of karma is really unimportant. The result is the same. Negative thoughts penetrate the mind and slowly start to color one’s perspective of the world.

Disparaging thoughts can spread like a cancer and slip into your speech, and eventually manifest in unproductive and harmful actions. Many individuals, especially those who have suffered a loss, are largely unaware of how negative they have become. It is a habit. And habits, if not changed, become a way of life.

Confucius said:

Watch your thoughts; they become words.
Watch your words; they become actions.
Watch your actions; they become habits.
Watch your habits; they become character.
Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.

Each of us is in charge of our own destiny. We can work to cultivate a positive outlook, or we can adopt a victim mindset and let weeds of negativity take root in our lives.

Cultivating optimism is not easy. However, our book, Erase Negativity and Embrace the Magic Within provides a simple guideline on how to begin a more optimistic life journey. We are currently organizing book club groups to help spread the word about how to erase negativity and embrace happiness. Please email us through our blog and we will help you organize a book club in your area.

Remember, erasing negativity is no walk through the park. It’s like weeding a garden. It takes work, but it becomes easier over time. The choice is yours. Either way, please remember: You reap what you sow.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Helping Breast Cancer Patients Feel Whole Again

One thing that is interesting about being a public relations professional – or a writer – is you learn a lot about different people, occupations and events. It’s like being a Jill-of-all-trades – only with a keyboard instead of a hammer.

For instance, I have a client, Isabel Calleros, who teaches nurses, aestheticians and other medical professionals about tattooing areolas (nipples). I was familiar with tattooing for permanent makeup (lips, eyebrows etc.) but wasn’t sure what areola tattooing was about. At first I thought it was like nipple piercing. Not my cup of tea, but each to their own.

However, it wasn’t at all what I thought it was. I figure if I didn’t know about nipple re-pigmentation, chances are many of my faithful readers didn’t know about it either. And since this is my blog, I’m going to write about it.

After women with breast cancer undergo a mastectomy, many opt to have breast reconstruction. What is unknown to many breast cancer survivors is the rebuilding of the breast does not always include the creation of the nipple. What Ms. Calleros offers at the International Areola Restoration Academy is training for nurses, aestheticians and other medical professionals to tattoo a realistic looking areola/nipple on the reconstructed breast of post-mastectomy patients.

Isabel insists that each person she trains give back to the community and offer free services to at least 10 women who may not have the funds – or proper insurance – to cover this final stage of breast reconstruction.

Those who want to learn more – whether it’s for the training or for the procedure – can either contact Ms. Calleros by calling 480-528-0200 or online at Another option is to email me through this blog and I’ll get them in touch with the IARA.

I consider myself a pretty well-informed person, but I didn’t know about this training or that nipples are sometimes gone following a mastectomy. I’ve known women who have had mastectomies, but the subject didn’t come up.

So that is why I’m writing about it.

I wonder how many women are out there who would benefit from this procedure, but are too ashamed to ask? Perhaps they feel they should be thankful they survived their breast cancer and be satisfied with their breast reconstruction as is.

Of course I disagree. I believe folks should be open to learning about the choices that are available to them. That is not to say that knowledge prevents tragedy from occurring. We are going to face obstacles in life, no matter how optimistic or careful we are. However, no matter how unpleasant the circumstances, we still have the power to change our lives for the better.

Which brings me back to the purpose of this blog. For those who are looking for a way to improve their lives and erase negativity, I hope you will read our book. It is available online for only $6.99 at

Ten percent of it can be read for free. Even reading half should be enough to help a lot of people.

But I’m also concerned about those who may not normally read this blog. Just like post-mastectomy women who do not know all the options available for areola re-pigmentation, there are negative people who feel like they are condemned to a life devoid of happiness because they haven’t been exposed to a book that could help change their perspective.

What I'm asking today is that you take the initiative and offer hope to someone who is suffering. Whether it's about areola re-pigmentation, or a kind suggestion to read a book like Erase Negativity and Embrace the Magic Within. The world will be a better place if more people feel hopeful about their lives. Please help spread the word. Because what people don’t know, CAN hurt them.