Sunday, July 29, 2012

Looking Into the Fear of Craisin Eyes

I was shopping and snacking my way through Costco and sampled a new product - craisins – dried cranberries infused with pomegranate juice. My daughter, Alicia and two granddaughters Rosannah, age 4 and three-year-old Briannah were visiting from Arizona, so I knew a mega bag of the tasty treats would be a good choice for our hikes and other assorted adventures.

However, after the second sampling of the fruity snack the girls refused to eat them.

“I don’t like them,” said Briannah.

“Why?” I queried.

“They got eyes,” she responded as she turned up her nose in disgust.

Not only would she not partake of the craisins, she convinced her sister that eating them would amount to cannibalism of some pinkish animal grown at Ocean Spray.

I didn’t think too much about it and offered them raisins instead. However, I found the little morsels delicious and convenient, so I grabbed a handful and popped them into my mouth.

“No. Don’t eat those grandma,” Briannah moaned in disdain. “They got eyes.”

My words fell on deaf and defiant ears. Neither Briannah or her sister wanted anything to do with ANYONE eating craisins in their presence. I looked at the bag to see where they got the idea that craisins had eyes.

I took out another handful and spread them out in my palm.

“Show grandma where the eyes are,” I asked holding one up. Both girls looked over the wrinkled morsels and found them eyeless. They each ate one, but refused more. I knew they were unconvinced.

This may sound like a silly story of unreasonable fears, but the fact of the matter is all of us have some fears and most of them are not rooted in reality. I have a sister who refuses to touch the cotton wadded inside of aspirin bottles and a friend who is afraid of dryer lint.

Some fears make sense. We should avoid touching poisonous snakes, jumping off roof tops and running into traffic.

However, if your anxiety is preventing you from living a life of joy and fulfillment, perhaps it’s time to question your self-inflicted dread and see if it’s time for a new outlook. The bottom line is unwarranted fears leave you feeling hopeless and enervated and embracing your passions is a vitality booster.

Here are a few tips on how to reduce your fear and energize your life.


•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.


•Take time to pray or meditate. If this is uncomfortable, try five minutes of quiet reflection. No one expects you to become a monk. Start with five minutes of prayer, meditation or reflection each day and slowly increase the process over time.
•Look within and establish a pathway to your higher self. This journey may manifest differently depending on your religious or spiritual beliefs, but as long as you are open to making the connection, it can be achieved.
•The interaction between you and your higher self is often subtle, such as a quiet internal voice, flashes of insight, intuition or reoccurring images.
•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.

Alicia, Rosannah and Briannah have returned home. They had a great visit. We hiked in the mountains, played in the ocean, saw a beautiful waterfall and picked berries and made a pie from our fruity bounty. I hope it is a vacation they will remember the rest of their lives. And with a little luck and education, the eyeless bag of craisins that is sitting in my pantry will be a fear they soon forget.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Indugling My Guilty Pleasure

It was love at first sight. I knew I shouldn’t indulge my desires. I’m usually very practical, but I couldn’t help myself. In the past I secretly snickered at people who were drawn to these wanton wishes. What was happening to me? Was it lack of excitement in my life? Literally and figuratively I knew it WOULD add spice to my life, but really, it boiled down to the fact that now that I was in my 50s I no longer cared what other people thought.

So I did it.

I whipped out my Visa card, marched over to the register and with only a hint of embarrassment I purchased two adorable, brightly-colored salt and pepper shakers in the shape of a cow. Now the cute little bovine pair is grazing on the occasional oregano and parsley flakes that litter my kitchen counter top.

This was not an easy round up. I had to halt my own negativity for wanting something I didn’t need, cart the little bovine pair from where I purchased them in Arizona, carefully wrap them in bubble wrap, cushion them in a sweater, pack them in my carry on luggage and schlep my little herd back to Port Angeles, Washington.

Part of my dilemma is I have very simple tastes. For example my favorite color is beige. How boring is that? I don’t even like patterned fabric. With the exception of striped surfer shirts I wore as a child (one blue, one red) almost all my clothing and most of my furnishing consisted of solid colors. Well maybe I did like the occasional hint of color in my wardrobe, but I limited it to my socks and underwear. Yet here I was yearning for a pair of salt and pepper shakers with festive designs on their little cow bodies and heads.

I noticed similar behavior when I attended my high school’s 40th reunion. I hit the dance floor (no longer waiting to be asked) and watched a couple of my friends, Jan and Patsy. The pair had always been fun, but when it came to moving to the beat, they had been like the rest of us, restrained and reserved. Now they were hooping it up, throwing their arms in the air and sporting two of the biggest grins I had ever seen.

“You didn’t dance like that in high school,” I said with admiration.

“We’re old enough we don’t care anymore,” they both replied in unison.
They exemplified William Purkey’s quote, "Dance like no one is watching, love like you'll never be hurt, sing like no one is listening and live like it's heaven on earth.

It made me think of those wasted years I spent concerned about what other people thought and said about me and others. Not only did I refrain from sporting splashy colors, I limited my thoughts and behavior to what I deemed “acceptable” and “appropriate.” What a waste of fun and creativity.

Peer pressure is a strong force. It did not shackle my thoughts, but I let it govern my choice of clothing and behavior. Of course I was resentful. When I was younger I blamed nearly all the negative things in my life on someone else. Later I learned I had better results when I no longer tried to put my focus on fixing others and try my hand at taking control of my own life. If you have thoughts that smell like manure, here are a few tips from the book, Erase Negativity and Embrace the Magic Within that will lead to happy trails for you.

Negativity is not limited to the behaviors of others, it is rooted in 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.

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.

As they used to say on the old television shows, “meanwhile, back at the ranch…”

Here is how things shook out for me and my ceramic cows.

There is no practical reason for those “move along little doggies” to live in my kitchen. My motivation is simply this - I think they are cute and they make me laugh. And that is no small thing.

Why not spice up your own life a little? Take some advice from me and the rest of the optimistic herd. Forget what others think. Dance, love and laugh with abandon. It will be a truly “mooving” experience indeed.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Let's Hear it for the Angels!

Bring on the angels! So often in life we focus on the people who drive us nuts

and not enough about the folks who have been a positive influence in our lives.

I would like to hear from you about someone who has been an angel – alive or deceased – in your life. To help kick things off I’d like to share one of many angels in my life.

The angel in my life is my friend, Jackie. I was failing miserably as a freelance comedy writer. Due to her support and encouragement, I took my career on a side road and together we published a self-help book, Erase Negativity and Embrace the Magic Within.

We came up with the idea for the book together.

We were discussing some of our favorite self-help 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’m stubborn. I still haven’t given up on comedy. However, I have found that making people laugh (or trying to anyway) isn’t the only way to shed a little levity in the world.

Jackie helped guide me on a new path and she has been an angel pointing me on a more enlightened path in writing.

If you would like to share a couple lines about an angel in your life, please write to me at and I’ll include it in a future blog. So be an angel and start writing.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Imagining Tea for Two

I think my three-year-old granddaughter Briannah was a waitress in a past life. She loves to play make believe and serve tea. On occasion she will find a piece of paper and even take my order. I was over at her house last week and she had an imaginary cup in hand. I usually order coffee. However, this time I decided to mix things up.

“I think I’ll have peppermint tea today,” I said with a smile.
“We don’t have that here,” she responded.

Even in her fantasy cabinet there was no peppermint tea to be had. Of course I thought this was funny. An unlimited supply of fictional food and beverage possibilities were available to the little tyke but peppermint tea was not an option. I ordered my usual coffee instead.

I told my spouse CB the saga of the limited tea supply. CB surmised that Briannah had never seen peppermint tea before so it was not a part of her imaginary world. Then it occurred to me that most of us operate on the same principle. Instead of imagining and pursuing the life of our dreams, we assume we are stuck and don’t even fathom that there is any way out. No hope and no peppermint tea exist in our world. Perhaps we think it would be silly to dream. Smart people stick to reality. If that misguided thought is bouncing around in your pragmatic mind, consider this quote by Albert Einstein.

“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”

When I was a kid I spent hours daydreaming. It was great fun. Many adults (mostly teachers) did not approve of my fanciful thinking. However, I held out and kept it up anyway. It paid off. As a writer, a strong imagination is crucial so I have had the luxury to put my whimsical mind to good use. Perhaps I was ahead of my time. As more people are learning about The Secret and The Law of Attraction, folks are discovering what we can envision in our minds is the first step in turning our thoughts into reality. Therefore, what we choose to focus on is extremely important. That is why I make it a daily practice to focus on erasing negativity from my life. In fact I co-wrote a book on the subject, Erase Negativity and Embrace the Magic Within.

As an author and expert on optimism I have the pleasure of appearing on radio and television shows and being quoted in newspapers and magazines. A common question that comes up is “Isn’t optimism a form of denial?”. My answer is always a variation of this response.

“I don’t see it that way. Optimism is a way to approach situations with an eye on success. I don’t deny reality, I simply make a determination to face problems and choose a mindset that is more creative, empowering and hopeful. I think there are a lot more options with an optimistic approach.”

Not everyone may want to be an optimist, but we do value creativity. I believe optimistic thought is very innovative. Ask an optimist for solutions and you will get numerous options. They may not all work out, but at least the potential for success is in the making. Most of the pessimistic responses tend to be limiting and sound like, “It can’t be done. We’ve always done it this way. Things will never change.”
This negative train of thought is especially destructive when it comes to imagining the course of our lives. Because, like it or not, we are always imagining something. How often have we imagined the worst, only to see it appear just as we thought? Why not focus on positive life scenarios and creating ways to manifest the results? Personally, I think adults can learn a lot from using their imagination and playing make believe.

Which brings me back to the present. My daughter, Alicia and her two daughters, Rosannah and Briannah will be flying north and visiting CB and I next month. I plan on buying a little tea set for the girls to play with while they are here. I’m also going to make a spot of peppermint tea and let the girls take a little sip. That way the next time I have the opportunity to order my imaginary tea, I can get exactly the type I want.