Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Down But Not Out

I got a reprieve from being an undertaker today. A hummingbird was lying on the patio. We knew it was not dead, but things did not look good for our little feathered friend. My spouse, CB, thought if we could get the bird in a box out of the reach of predators it might recover. If that didn’t work the box would become a coffin.

As luck would have it as soon as CB reached to place the bird in the box it sprang to life and quickly flew away. CB is a physician and I’m very spiritual – but we did not practice any mystical or medical intervention. I think the bird simply regained consciousness and made a hasty exit before we could send him a bill or talk him into converting his spiritual beliefs.

CB’s attempt to place the bird in the box no doubt seemed like the actions of a predator, not a protector. None-the-less, I’m glad things turned out okay for the little hummer. Anyone who regularly reads this blog knows that this event is going to become an allegory for a lesson in life, so here it is.

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.

In short, it is not about how many times we get knocked down that counts. It is how many times we get back up.

I was recently featured on the Chris Treece internet radio show. Chris told me that he lost everything he owned due to a ravaging flood in Tennessee last year. In a 13-hour time frame his house, his car, his belongs and his business were ruined. Yet he manages to keep an upbeat attitude. He focused on what he did have – his health and his life. He got knocked down, but he got back up. His life is a source of inspiration.

It would make sense that an energetic and optimistic approach to life would produce better results, but that is easier said than done. If it were simply a matter of flipping a switch to receive a positive or negative attitude, most folks would opt for former.

However, even if you aren't an optimistic person, you can learn how to develop a better mindset. Overcoming suffering was the inspiration for the book, Erase Negativity and Embrace the Magic Within. My friend and co-author Jacqueline Howard wrote it to shine a little more light in the world. Is it a quick fix? No. But if you read it and follow the suggestions and steps you will learn how to live a happier life.

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

Erase Negativity and Embrace the Magic Within is a simple guide to recognize and diffuse negative behavior and replace it with a positive approach. No one is born negative, it is an acquired habit. Whether you were raised in a negative household, or acquired a downbeat demeanor after a lifetime of disappointments, it was a habit you learned. Perhaps your realistic approach (the one your friends and family call negative) has been a shield against the worst of life. After all, if you prepare and expect the worst, it will reduce the painful effect that most assuredly will follow. Unfortunately, this approach comes with some depressing results – a disapproving mindset, negative results and an unhappy life.

If you are ready to make a positive change in your life, contact me through the blog or my website and order the book. If you mention the blog, or any of the recent radio shows I’ve been on, I’ll autograph it and pay for the shipping and handling costs.

Our goal is to help as many people as we can embrace a happier life. So why not trade in the sad refrain of “Nobody loves me everybody hates me I’m going to go eat worms?” You can learn some important tips on erasing negativity, embracing happiness, and then, like the hummingbird, go merrily on your way.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Sometimes You Feel Like A Nut

A dove built a nest in our side yard. The location is a bit precarious. Instead of choosing a tree, the bird constructed its home in a tire that is lying on a bench next to the wall. It’s about waist high. CB and I prefer not to bother the bird, but the location is by the side entrance to the garage. We use this door for a lot for activities such as taking out the trash, hanging clothes on the line and wheeling out the tandem bicycle out so we can enjoy the spring weather. We try to alter our habits a bit so we don’t bother the dove, but no matter how often we go out, the bird is always there sitting on her nest.

I’m no expert on this aviary friend, but I’m thinking the parents must take turns sitting on this little nest. I don’t know how they could handle it otherwise. They have to eat sometime. And I have to admit, the mama bird is looking a bit thinner.
Although there is new evidence that some birds are actually pretty intelligent, our feathered neighbor is part of the flock that is more known for their lack of intelligence. Hence the name bird brain. Yet, when it comes to determination, this dove takes the proverbial cake.

In the end, if the dove is successful, the eggs will hatch, the babies will demand even more attention (and food) until they finally fly off to create nests of their own. Then the process will start all over again. It seems a thankless job. The baby birds won’t call and check in on their dutiful parents, drop off a worm as a surprise meal, or send a card for Mother’s Day. Yet the dove sits patiently waiting for her eggs to hatch.

It reminds me the process of writing. My friend and co-author Jackie, wrote the book, Erase Negativity and Embrace the Magic Within. We did it to help others improve their lives. No one gave us an advance payment, producers weren’t begging for the movie rights, and folks weren’t calling daily to ask when the book was coming out.

Instead, we put in the effort (approximately 18 months) to interview folks, research the topic and write and edit the book. That was the easy part. Next came book proposals, marketing plans, query letters and a lot of begging. In all, we sent query letters, proposals and marketing plans to approximately 200 publishers and agents. After we exhausted every option, we published Erase Negativity as an ebook through smashwords, and later as a paperback through createspace. The book is now available through Amazon, or through our website

Almost every day I receive some positive feedback on the book. The other day I got a thank you note from a reader in Nebraska. And I know for every person who contacts us, there are many more who do not. While I want to see our sales improve and our message reach millions of people throughout the world, even knowing one person has benefited from the book is a source of joy. This book was a “calling” and by writing it, I feel I am walking my true path as a writer and a healer.

However, not everyone feels the same way about their careers. In chapter 10 of our book, we discuss plugging into a higher source. A lot of the chapter revolves around doing the work you love. Here are a few tips from the Erase Negativity section of the book.

•Avoid working in a career where money is your only goal. If you are stuck in a job that brings no joy and drains you of your energy, find something more nourishing to your soul. Chances are you are feeling stuck, not because you have to be, but because you have decided you have to be.

•Be mindful of the energy exchange you experience with others. Remember that you cannot change others, you can only change yourself.

•Be open to the possibilities in life. Just because things have been difficult in the past does not mean they have to continue to be that way. Your determination and strong intent will move you in the direction you set forth.

•Find things that energize you and avoid those that constrict the energy in your heart, soul and mind. Pay attention to how you feel energetically.

•You are not your bank account, your car, or even your body. When you die, none of these transient things will go with you. Learn to love yourself. Know that you are divine and have unique gifts that only you can contribute to the world.

That is not to say that pursuing the path you want is going to be easy. There may be sacrifices. People may tell you that going after a career you love in a field that does not pay well is stupid. Our advice is to let folks have THEIR opinion and you should follow YOUR dreams. Perhaps you may choose to make money first and have a plan to work in the area you love later in life. That is okay too. The important thing is to move in the direction you want to go.

The only thing that will ever truly stop you for realizing your dreams is if YOU give up. In this regard, patience trumps intelligence. It is no wonder I love the Dutch proverb, “A handful of patience is worth more than a bushel of brains.”
Like the dove in my side yard, success comes from love and determination. People have their opinions about your choices, but in the end, it is YOUR life. So decide what you love to do, make a plan and go after it with strong resolve. Your job is to never give up. When you feel yourself slipping remember this other great anonymous quote:

A great oak is only a little nut that held its ground.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Student of Happiness

I returned to my alma mater today. I gave my spouse, CB, a ride to school. Instead of grabbing a cup of coffee, I chose to hang out near the music building and use the venue to write. I spend a lot of time in my home office, so sometimes it’s helpful to have a change of scenery.

I graduated from community college in 1985. It was an 11-year process for me to earn a two-year degree. I’m sure many folks thought I’d never finish. But, if I am anything, I am persistent. Once I moved on to Arizona State University it took me three more years to earn my Bachelor's degree in journalism. In total, it took me 14 years to earn a four-year degree. However, in my defense, I gave birth to both of my daughters, worked part time and still kept up with my responsibilities of being a wife, parent and volunteer.

If I had gone to school full time during that period and concentrated on medicine, I could have done something more prestigious, like become an orthopedic surgeon. Instead of wielding a scalpel, I have a pen and computer. I do not have a MD after my name, but I am a healer of sorts. That is why I decided to co-write the self-help book, Erase Negativity and Embrace the Magic Within. My co-author, Jackie, and I saw people in pain and we decided to do something to help.

It all started when Jackie and I were discussing some of our favorite self-improvement books and how they had helped us. Then the conversation shifted to people we knew who were in terrible emotional pain and very negative because of it. We wondered, “What would it take to help someone like that?” We brainstormed and decided that there needed to be some sort of primer, or “read this first” book that could help them erase their negativity. Then once they were no longer entrenched in negativity, they could go on and enjoy the optimistic messages in other books. Our thought was that if a person doesn’t erase their negativity first, any optimistic front would just fall apart.

I’ll be honest, sometimes ongoing education is a pain. After my marathon process to earn a Bachelor’s degree, it was years before I wanted to park my butt on one of those uncomfortable little wooden desks and listen to a lecture again. But I did. I also learn in other ways such as webinars, reading, attending lectures etc. Like it or not, we are always learning new things. Sometimes we continue the educational process by replaying old, negative messages about our past. That is about as useful as studying for a urine test. But I digress.

Whether or not you are in a classroom, learning is a life-long process. For instance, Jackie and I chose to focus our energy on the topic of erasing negativity. Why? Because negativity is a killer of happiness, a robber of the spirit and the best friend of despair. No one is born negative (although I’ve met some crabby babies.) Pessimism is a habit we learned. The good news is we can take steps to erase negative thoughts, speech and actions and concentrate on replacing those nasty tendencies and replace it with more empowering alternatives.

That is why I’m reaching out to individuals to offer a free, 30-minute phone consultation to the first five individuals who qualify for this offer (yes I make you fill out a form, but it is not a big deal.) Please contact me through my blog,, website, or email me at and let me know if you are interested.

Forget about the old cliché about you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. There is no time like the present to begin a new journey toward a happier, magical life. I look forward to hearing from you. Now go home. Class dismissed.