Sunday, April 24, 2011

Great Eggspectations

Today is Easter. My sister, Tina, had the family over for a delicious lunch. Easter wasn’t always an annual gathering, but now that we are older we find more reasons to get together. It’s’ fun to see a new generation enjoy the holiday. My granddaughter, Rosannah, age 3 and her 22-month-old sister Briannah enjoyed their Easter baskets and the search for colored eggs.

My great nephew, Thomas, who is only 3 ½ months wasn’t so sure what to think of the folks at this gathering. His apprehension will dissipate with time, or grow exponentially when he realizes these strange folks share some of his DNA.

Thomas seemed to enjoy looking at his two great toddler cousins who sat in front of his baby seat and gazed at him in amazement. I’m sure it was somewhat comforting to see other little people who were more his size. However, little Thomas has no need to be worried. We’re a height-challenged family so he’ll probably tower over us before he starts kindergarten.

Part of the fun of Easter is the delight children have finding Easter eggs. Each discovery is the source of great excitement. In Rosannah’s world, everything is an adventure. Briannah wasn’t as thrilled with the egg hunt, but took advantage of the game to sneak rolls from the table and stuff them in her mouth. Everyone’s treasure is different.

The point is, at some point in our lives we lose this child-like wonder where miracles happen, to expecting the worst out of life. When I’m interviewed about our book, Erase Negativity and Embrace the Magic Within, I often say I think the worst thing that can happen to anyone is to lose hope. That is why my friend and co-author, Jackie, wrote the book. We wanted to help people erase the negativity staining their lives and provide tips to help them enjoy life again – perhaps like we did when we were children and still believed in the Easter Bunny. Here is an excerpt from the book to help you on your journey.

Getting Started

To begin with, you must be ready to do the work. If you cannot, then try again a few days, weeks, or months later. Even small steps can be beneficial. The payoff is that once you can make the commitment to try, you will experience a subtle change in your mindset. In time your new outlook will have an enormous impact in your life, as well as your environment.

Rather than turning your focus on fixing someone else, you must look inward. This is not only limited to behaviors, but how you perceive yourself. You’ve heard it a million times, but it really is true. You need to learn to love yourself. You may think you do, but look at your words and actions. How do you treat yourself? Do you say negative things about how you look, act and think?

It is essential that you stop all critical self talk. Self negativity puts a grinding halt to success and happiness. Every time you say a disparaging remark about yourself your subconscious soaks it up like a sponge. Your brain cannot distinguish between self ridicule and an offhand “I was just kidding” remark. Whatever you say or think, the brain just takes it in. It’s a big “yes” machine. If you say, “I’m stupid,” it writes the “Yes, I’m stupid, program.” If you declare, “I will never be happy,” the message becomes fact and you will never be happy. The irony is that it isn’t your enemies who fling the majority of these toxic statements about. You do it to yourself.

If you had a magic genie that would give you what you want, what would you wish for? Would your wish be a bad marriage, constant pain and a cruel boss? Of course not! Then why give those messages to yourself?
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.

Please remember, nothing happens overnight. Erasing negativity takes effort, but the rewards are tremendous. So try to begin the process by shifting your focus on what is wrong to what is right about your life. Pardon the Easter pun but it all starts with great eggspectations. Happy hunting.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

A Pain in Spain

I had to follow my own advice the other day. A hacker figured out my password and sent emails to dozens of my contacts asking for money. Apparently the scam details how I was off in Spain, lost my wallet and needed $3,000. I contacted yahoo, changed my password and have been responding to folks that I’m okay and not to fall for this scam.

Ironically, folks who know me thought this was odd for several reasons:
A: I’m not the type who would jaunt off to Spain and not tell people about it.
B: I would not be emailing people I barely know to ask for a loan. People I know well wouldn't fall for it either. My younger brother, Terry, instantly knew it was a scam because he jokingly replied that I would know better than to ask him or my siblings for money.
C: I would never type a message with such a flagrant disregard of grammar and spelling. I see that assessment as a positive. Some folks might think I could go off to Spain and not tell anyone. I think everyone who knows me realizes I could lose my wallet. But NO ONE believes I would compose a poorly constructed message. I see that as a compliment to my expertise as an author and public relations professional. I’ll take my kudos however I can.

Whenever something goes wrong with my computer or email it is a major nuisance. At the very least it is a gigantic time-sucking experience. However, as the co-author of a self-help book on how to erase negativity, I thought I’d have to come up with a few “silver linings” from this unfortunate email-hacking episode.

One is I have heard from my friends, family members and acquaintances to see if I am okay. Others simply alert me that my email was hacked. Either way, it was nice that people cared enough to check on me.

My brother-in-law Paul joked that I was probably being held ransom in a flamenco bar in Spain and forced to drink mojitos and that drunkenness was the excuse for the pathetic spelling and grammar. This scenario made me think of a potential plot for a script or story. At the very least it made me appreciate Paul’s humor.

This ordeal was annoying, but not life threatening. I’ve had some less than charitable feelings about the hacker, but it’s time to repair, reflect and move on.
The point is that bad things happen at times.

In the preface of my book, Erase Negativity and Embrace the Magic Within, I wrote:

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.

I’m not going to lie and say I face every obstacle with a smile. However, one thing I have learned is that dwelling on unpleasant events do not make them go away faster. If anything they act like a magnet to draw even more negativity into your life.

It takes practice to develop a happier mindset. It’s not something you can do once and say you’re done. It’s an attitude you will have to work on every day for the rest of your life. However, as you continue to do the work it will become easier.

Someone hacked into my computer but I chose not to let them ruin my day. On the contrary, it’s been an enlightening experience. One friend said she immediately began praying for my safety. For others we share a long postponed chat. For those of you who may still get the scammer's request for assistance, please disregard it. I’m not in Spain. I am in full possession of my wallet and I am fine.

But if you want to send me a kind thought or a prayer, I will happily accept that.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Story of the Ham

Have you attempted to break family patterns (like improving yourself by going to college) and met with resistance? Perhaps you developed an innovative approach to solve a problem at work only to be told “That’s not how we do things here.” If so, don’t despair. Here is a little story in honor of Easter to help shine a new perspective on old habits. It’s taken from our book, Erase Negativity and Embrace the Magic Within. In honor of Easter, anyone who contacts me directly through the blog or my website, before the end of April 2011 and orders the book will receive free shipping and handling.

It was Easter and four generations of the Smith family were preparing for a holiday feast. Emily, a young bride, carefully watched her mother as she pulled out all the utensils and ingredients for the special meal. Emily knew that one day it would be her turn to prepare the feast, and when she did, she wanted everything to be perfect. Emily’s mom plopped the ham on a cutting board, slicing off the front and hind portions of the ham before putting it into a roasting pan.

“Why do you cut off the ends like that?” Emily asked, expecting some culinary insight.

The mother crinkled her eyebrows in thought and put the knife down.
“I don’t know. I guess because that’s how mama always did it,” the mother answered. Emily thought about the response, but she seemed unsatisfied.
“Grandma’s here. Maybe we should ask her,” suggested Emily. Emily’s mother nodded okay, and the two women walked into the dining room where Grandma was setting the table.

“Mom is showing me how to cook the ham and I was wondering why you cut the ends off,” began Emily. “She said that’s how you always did it, so she did the same.”
Grandma adjusted the silverware next to her best china, wiped her hands on her apron, and thought a moment.

“You know, I never really thought about it,” she answered. “That’s how your great grandma always did it, so that’s the way it’s always been done.”
At that moment, Emily’s brother wheeled Great Grandma Smith into the house. Emily, her mother and her grandmother walked over to the matriarch, gave her a kiss on the cheek and wheeled her next to the dining room table. Emily patted her great granny on the arm and bent next to her so she could hear her question.

Mom, grandma and I were in the kitchen getting ready to cook the ham and we had a question. Why do you sliced off the ends of the ham before you put it in the roasting pan.”

“Hmph,” snorted the old woman. “I cut off the ends of it because my dang roasting pan was too small.”