Saturday, December 28, 2013

Smile Blossoms

The Foxtail Orchid necklace arrived in the mail two days after Christmas. My six-year-old granddaughter, Rosannah, and I had walked to the community mailbox to kick-start my New Year’s resolution to exercise more. I thought the half-mile jaunt to the mailbox was a good way to combine fitness with function.

Checking the mail can be a dismal task, but it was a bright, cool and sunny afternoon in Arizona, and with the knowledge that my credit card statement wouldn’t arrive for another week and a half, I had little to fear. I opened the mailbox. There, in a postal cubby sharing space with bills, advertisements and one late holiday card was a welcome package from Eternal Girl.

My necklace had arrived.

Both Rosannah and I couldn’t wait until we walked home to admire the piece. We stopped at a bench and opened the padded envelope. Inside was an adorable, hand-made box. We opened it and pulled out the pendant. The sunlight sparkled as we admired the crimson flower petal design encased in an airy, antique-finish, casing.

“It’s beautiful,” said Rosannah as I placed it around her neck. “It makes me feel happy.”

We took turns trying the necklace on and taking pictures of it for this review. I thought it was very mystical that I read that flowers in henna tradition represent joy and happiness and it was the one of the first things Rosannah said when the piece was placed around her neck. However, I, with many more years of skeptical thinking, felt the necklace had a calming, yet joyful, quality about it when I wore it.

I recently started taking yoga and yogalates (a combination of yoga and pilates) and I thought how perfect the piece would look as I struck my Tadasana pose or let it dangle while I attempted a cat-cow stretch. Although the brass, antique finish and intricate trim around the pendant casing gives the impression of heft, the piece is feather-light. The brilliant colors of the orchid almost seem to illuminate a happy, yet subdued quality that is a perfect complement to a novice yoga practitioner. Rather than other pieces of flashier jewelry I own, this Foxtail Orchid has a subdued, unaffected charm that seems to whisper fresh, wholesome and sunny.

However, I was curious what my Generation Y, daughter, Brittany, would think of the Foxtail Orchid.

She donned the pendant at a large family gathering. She was already in a festive mood, so I can’t credit her happiness entirely on what she was wearing (she was happy before she accented her striped sweater with the henna-inspired creation.)

“I really like it,” she replied when I asked for her assessment of the pendant. “It’s unique, has a really good clasp and is well-constructed. I appreciate something that is hand-crafted.”

Brittany has fashioned her own jewelry and has a keen eye for quality workmanship.

“This pendant looks like the unique type of jewelry you might discover while on travel,” she stated. “You can tell the artisan who created it put a lot of time and thought into it.”

Brittany went on to say that jewelry has a special meaning to her and the story or thought behind a piece speaks volumes more than the price tag.

“In our family I know that most of us may never have enough money to splurge on everything that glitters and shines, but I feel like it has been a blessing because it teaches us to focus on what is truly special.”

Brittany talked about how the thought of a gift spoke volumes more than the price tag. The Foxtail Orchid pendant also made her reflect on the role of jewelry in her life.

“Some of my favorite memories growing up were when cousin Ashley and I were playing dress up with grandma's scarves and jewelry. In my eyes, her bowling bracelet was on the same level as the Hope Diamond, and to this day I still don't know if the tiara ring I found was actually made of plastic for a Barbie, or if it really was a legitimate piece of jewelry. Regardless, I will always remember feeling like I was one of the royals even when it was draping ill-fittingly on my tiny little finger because of how treasured that piece really was. One of my favorite things about this necklace was the filigree on this piece. It reminds me of the vanity organizer

that I found at Goodwill while I was dropping off some donations. It may have only cost me a few dollars, but it reminds me every morning of the way I felt playing dress up, and makes me feel like a part of grandma is there with me. In the few short weeks that this necklace has been around, it has created a special moment that you were able to spend with your granddaughter, and a moment that helped me remember my grandmother, and that is something that I feel is worth noting.”

So there you have the assessment of Eternal Girl’s Foxtail Orchid pendant by three generations of the Marks family (four if you count Brittany’s memories of her grandmother.) There is no limit on what a person can spend their money on for themselves or others. This is especially true in jewelry. However, my advice is rather than going for an extravagant purchase that can cause a financial hardship, consider a gift that evokes a pleasant memory – as did the Foxtail Orchid pendant for me and my daughter, Brittany, and hopefully one day, my granddaughter, Rosannah.

Information about Eternal Girl
The henna-inspired creations are hand-drawn designs by Julia, the owner of Eternal Girl. View more designs here:

Find new items, shop updates, and coupon codes on:

Saturday, December 14, 2013

My Little Black Dress

This flutter dress from Fresh Produce has it all – effortless style, comfort and versatility. The sexy, V-neckline, gathered waistline and fashionable flutter flap add elegance and flair. I chose this style because I thought the classic design could perform double duty and be dressed up or down depending on my accessories. When I travel on a cruise, vacation or business trip I need outfits that I can wear more than once. The machine-washable fabric is delightfully soft and easy to pack. Sizes tend to run a tad large, so I’d suggest carefully checking the size chart before ordering. At $89 the dress seems a bit pricey, but when you factor in the benefits (say goodbye to those nasty dry cleaning bills) it is a bargain.

I recently wore this dress to a funeral. I thought the neckline was a bit too revealing for the occasion, but found that wearing a black camisole with a lacy top worked perfectly. The only down side of this dress is that it does not hide the extra pounds that I have accumulated in middle age as much as other outfits I own. I cannot blame Fresh Produce for this (if there were a company called Too Many Desserts and Not Enough Exercise that would be a better scapegoat label). However, since many of Fresh Produce’s customers are women like me, they might find a way to design something that hides the dreaded “menopot” that comes with middle age and a post menopausal lifestyle.

That said, you can’t always have restricted style and comfort, so I still think this little number is a great item for any woman’s wardrobe. I can see wearing it casually, to a party, and even to bed. If I can exercise more and eat more fresh produce (as well as wear it) I will be one happy grandma.
To view this dress (which is on sale now) go to

Sally Marks is screenwriter, television writer, author and the president of Marks Public Relations. This blog article was written in exchange for the product review. To view the dress, visit the link above. For more information about Sally, her book, Erase Negativity and Embrace the Magic Within, or her public relations business please visit

Friday, December 13, 2013

Rerun of Enjoying Christmas "Presence"

Here is another one of my favorite holiday blogs. The top picture is my daughter, Alicia around age 8 and her sister Brittany age 3. The lower picture are my granddaughters Rosannah and Briannah a couple of years ago. I hope you enjoy reading it.

One of the most challenging experiences I have in my daily life is to stay focused on the present moment. It is so easy for my mind to skip forward to the future or lapse into stale memories. Although I’d like to think I’m older and wiser, I have found children are much better at enjoying (or being grumpy about) what is happening right now. If you don’t believe me, try convincing an infant to wait two hours to be fed
or a three-year old with a full bladder he or she can wait until you get home to pee.

However, the one occasion where children DO put their minds into the future is Christmas time. Who doesn’t remember being a kid and anxiously counting the days until the holidays? Unfortunately, as I have aged, and in spite of every retailer putting up holiday decorations on display in September, the holidays have a way of sneaking up on me. Last year I didn’t trim the tree until Dec. 20th!

Fortunately, I learned from my mistake. This year, I decided to put up my Christmas tree up before I polished off my Thanksgiving leftovers.

My Tannebaum is a straggly old, plastic thing but I love it. After my divorce I got rid of a lot of things I didn’t want to move. My old tree went to Goodwill. For a few years I did not put up a Chanukah bush. Between limited finances and lack of holiday cheer, I could not face the idea of putting up a tree by myself. My marriage was over, I lost my job and my future prospects were looking pretty shabby. My oldest daughter, Alicia was newly married, so I went through the ornaments and gave her many of her hand-made decorations, as well as colorful balls that said things like Baby’s First Christmas 1980.

I eventually remarried, but my new spouse, CB, did not want a tree in the house. I put out a bowl of ornaments and placed a couple of holiday items in the music room. I complied with the request to go treeless for a year or two, but finally decided that enough was enough. This Boo Jew (a semi-kosher gal who converted to Buddhism in the 1980s) decided to take a stand and buy a tree to put it on. I decorated the tree alone. Eventually I convinced CB to place one ornament, a trumpet, on the tree.

However, as soon as my first grandchild was born (five years ago) I made sure I would have company when I celebrated the holidays. Little Rosannah was only a few weeks old for her first tree-decorating experience. I spread out a blanket and put her on it as I engaged in my tree trimming festivities. She seemed to enjoy the colorful lights and didn’t cry when I sang holiday tunes.

The next year Rosannah was a little more active and I had to work hard to keep her from eating the ornaments. But, with her company (although not her help) I got the job done. The following year a new granddaughter was a part of the mix. Putting the tree up and watching them was a real challenge, but I got it done.

This year Rosannah and Briannah are 5 and 3 years old. Rosannah helped put the tree stand together and placed the branches into their slots. Briannah was mostly focused on one ornament that she kept trying to hang before the tree was ready. However, both girls enjoyed looking at a lifetime’s worth of memories disguised as wooden reindeers, Santa Clauses and stockings.

After Briannah hung up her favorite ornament she became obsessed with the candy canes. I can’t even tell you what decade it was when we got those sugary sticks. However, I DO remember my youngest daughter, Brittany, was in junior high and was supposed to sell the red and white stripped peppermints to earn money for her school orchestra. Unfortunately, our dog, Rusty, ate a box and licked a bunch of other ones. The candy canes have been part of our holiday decorations ever since that incident.

After an hour or so the tree was up, the lights strung and my two granddaughter had placed numerous decorations on the tree. Unlike when I was growing up, I didn’t enforce any decorating rules. In my youth we weren’t supposed to put two of the same color balls next to each other, and, when possible, we tried to color coordinate the hue of the ball with the nearest light. Green ornament next to the green light, red ball by the red light etc. Candy canes were distributed evenly. Briannah decided they should all be placed together in a sort of candy cane family clump. Needless to say, all the decoration were on the bottom half of the tree.

Years ago, that decorating scheme would have bothered my sensibilities, but now I enjoy seeing their handiwork. I also admire how they appreciated each item. They didn’t reminisce about holidays past, they were perfectly happy to take part in the present activity.

It made me pause and think of how much I can learn from my grandchildren. I have an advantage of age and experience, but they are experts at living in the moment. And it’s truly a gift to have these adorable girls in my life.

To all of you reading this story, I hope you have a great holiday. My wish for you is to be kind to yourself and others, release past hurts and embrace the season as if you were a child again. Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Talking Turkey about Negativity During the Holidays

Tomorrow 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.

I have seen the confidence of the strongest, most confident men and women become mushier than a bowl of mashed potatoes at the thought of facing the snide comments, comparisons and cruelty that some of our relatives bring to the holiday table.
How ironic that a feast that is supposed to be a celebration of gratitude and harmony can churn out more negativity and drama that a soap opera marathon.

But there is hope. We cannot change other people, but we can work on our own reaction to them. Last year I posted a short video on you tube on three simple steps on how to erase negativity. It’s not a cure all, but it can help us reduce our own negativity, which in turn can have a ripple effect on others.

Please check out this video and share it with your friends and family. Heck, share it with your enemies too. They probably need it worst of all. You can view it at

As an added bonus, I will offer a free ebook with the purchase of every paperback copy of the book. The catch is you need to contact me directly through this blog or my website The book is $14.99 or two for $25. You can also purchase the book at various independent stores as well as Amazon.

For those of you who are not familiar with the message in the book, 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.

We pay a heavy price for our negativity and I want to combat that with a free tool that provides a more optimistic alternative. I’m really hoping folks will spread the word and use this window of time to read the book and suggest it to others who are interested in embracing a more hopeful message.

So there you have it. No more excuses. Discounted book, free video. Kick that grouch out now. But lest I come off too brash or too self serving, I do have one last bit of advice for this holiday season. Try to take a moment and find the love in your heart and send those laser beams of love out to those family members 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.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Do Vitamins Actually Work?

This is the final guest post for 2013. My thanks to Sarah Atkinson for her submission.

Do vitamins actually work?

Overwhelmed by the hectic lifestyle, the majority of people seek a magic solution to
improve their health and are easily swayed to believe the information they are presented with on-screen. Can a single vitamin tablet counteract the lack of proper nutrition and exercise? Unfortunately, nothing in life can be hastened by wrong decisions, things can only fall further apart when it comes to our body and mind union. But should vitamins be part of your natural diet to help oil the machinery?

How should vitamins work?

Contrary to popular belief taking vitamin C in between meals strengthens your immune
system to fend off colds. The research on the link between artificial vitamin C and
immunity has been largely inconclusive at best. Research points to the vitamin whose use could potentially reduce the time it takes one to recover from common flu, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t fight off a cold in a different way, eg. by selecting some of its natural sources like vegetables.

On the other hand, you may as well benefit from adding a couple of extra lozenges if you really have to, but be aware that you are more likely to experience the placebo effect than anything else. For what it is worth, the quicker you get on the fast track to the complete recovery, the better.

Popular vitamins

Many artificial vitamins contain varying amounts of additives and colorants, something that should tip the scale more effectively towards the decision for a more balanced approach to diet and sport. The time-effectiveness that the vitamin tablets guarantee speaks for itself and suggests that fruit and vegetable consumption are something of a bother, whereas it is hardly the case.

Even though our natural preference when under time pressure for prepackaged food wins
hands down, adding another artificial component to the mix stands in clear opposition to the common sense. If you imagine someone fed on hormone injected bacon and a high
intake of soft drinks and artificial sweetners, coupled with the vitamin dessert, you may want to conclude that this vision does not translate into a healthy lifestyle at all.

Can vitamins ever be of help?

Those people who are at the risk of malnutrition or recovering patients who have received long time treatment could greatly benefit from more synthetic vitamins. Also, anyone who practices sport or undertakes more draining jobs or challenges could be best advised to consult their dietician or seek counsel with their general health provider. It is these types of conditions and activities that vitamins are put to best use – although they should be used as dietary supplements rather than a substitute for healthy food.

Indeed, vitamin consumption is becoming more important in today´s world given that
genetically modified food is devoid of natural nutrients the body needs. Due to a depletion of certain minerals and vitamins, reduced drastically through the use of artificials and excessive fertilization, vitamin intake could prove inevitable to provide the body with the nutrition it needs to stay healthy.


Sarah is a content writer and blogger who has a special interest in health and nutrition. She is currently working alongside advanced medical experts Nutricia.

Friday, November 8, 2013

My Day of the Dead

Wednesday, Nov. 6th was Day of the Dead for me.

Before you consult your calendar and take umbrage to this statement, I am not talking about the traditional Day of the Dead holiday celebrated throughout Mexico. That holiday focuses on family gatherings to pray for and remember loved ones who have passed away. My understanding is the traditional Day of the Dead (October 31, November 1 and November 2) is celebrated with private altars, (ofrendas)honoring the deceased using sugar skulls, marigolds, and the favorite foods and beverages of the departed.

My Day of the Dead was celebrated by biting my nails, munching on leftover Halloween candy and asking my departed relatives to keep me from cursing the universe.

Let me explain.

I recently began visiting the Red Mountain Multi-Generational Center (RMMC) in my home town of Mesa and began taking yogalates (a combination of yoga and pilates) as well as a Zumba Gold class. Now that the Snow Birds are returning to town, the Zumba Gold class fills up fast. I made my best effort to get to class a bit early to ensure I would have the opportunity to bumble my way through this fun, albeit humbling, class of exercise and dancing.

As I skipped, okay ambled, my way across the parking lot I aimed my clicker to lock my car, Goldie. Nothing. No sound, no clickie, no lockie. I walked closer to the car, but my problem was not one of distance. My car wouldn’t lock, nor would it start. I had a dead battery. I turned on my cell phone to report the problem to my spouse, CB, and to AAA, but that battery was dead as well. Not one to fall into despair, I figured I’d dance off my frustration while awaiting rescue. Unfortunately when I approached the front desk to get my wrist band to allow me into my zumba class, I was told the class filled to capacity a mere three minutes ago.

So there I was, dead phone, dead battery and no zumba. Fortunately, the Rec Center has a phone to make local calls. I called AAA and CB and began the waiting process. I allowed myself about five minutes of pity. I had purchased a certified used car, a 2010 Toyota Prius, a mere seven months ago, but I was fairly certain the auxiliary battery would not be covered (it wasn’t.) I had owned (and loved) a previous Toyota Prius (Sparky) and replaced the battery, so I knew this would not be a cheap fix. Unfortunately, I was right about that too.

I took the car to the dealer and several hours later they confirmed the painful truth. My battery was dead. A replacement was going to be $300. I believe that is at least twice what it cost when Sparky’s battery was no longer sparking, but technology does not come cheap. On the bright side, my cell phone battery was revived by doing what I should have done last night – recharge it.

Unlike in the past, I decided I was not going to dwell on my misery. Yes, I should have recharged the phone. Yes, I supposed I should have suspected Goldie’s battery was getting weak when my clicker was not working the way it should, but as they say, “hindsight is always 20/20.”

Unfortunately, bad things happen. In the scheme of things, this was more inconvenient than bad. I tried to look at the bright side. I had an influx of extra work last month that more than paid for my battery. The car died in a parking lot where I was able to use a phone and wait in air conditioned comfort. I just renewed my AAA membership and was rescued quickly . The Toyota dealership had my car on the road again in less than 24 hours, and today I have a subject to blog about.

In the past I would have marinated in my misery for days. Now I know this tactic is a sure recipe for attracting more of what I dwell on. Ironically, I heard a motivational speaker last week and had a complimentary toe reading afterward. Many folks were asking about their life purpose. I feel I am pursuing my life purpose of writing inspirational and humorous stories and scripts, but I admitted my frustration that things were not happening as quickly as I thought they should be.

The toe reader reminded me that I should focus on gratitude, my successes and not on what I was lacking. She even helped me create a couple of useful affirmations.

• I don’t know how my book, Erase Negativity and Embrace the Magic Within will reach the millions of people who need it, I just know I do.
• I don’t know how I become a successful screenwriter and television writer, I just know that I am.

Even though the grammar seems a bit odd, it is important to write the desired effect in the present tense, so there it is.

Even though my friend and co-author, Jackie, and I have written a self-help book, it doesn’t mean we are immune from problems. We have our setbacks like everyone else. The key to embracing happiness is not to deny problems exist, but to focus on positive solutions. And, when, necessary, show up a little early for appointments and make sure to charge your batteries (whether electronic or soulful) every night and day.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Moderation: Are You Drinking Too Much and Don't Know Why?

Once again I have a guest blogger. I was intrigued by the topic. Since I rarely imbibe alcoholic beverages I knew I would never write an article on the subject. None the less, I thought it might have some useful advice, especially with the holidays approaching. Please enjoy and share this blog written by Derek Whitney.

Alcoholic beverages have played a vital role in society throughout all of history. Interestingly, wine was once safer than water to drink and was given to everyone from infants and adults to provide a healthy dose of nutrition. Doctors in the past have also prescribed beer and wine for health issues ranging from anxiety to tuberculosis. While alcohol does have some healthy properties, we now know that not everyone should be drinking. Additionally, it is now recommended that a person should drink in moderation if they want to avoid unhealthy consequences. Yet, how do you know if you are drinking too much? Here are some general guidelines as to what constitutes healthy drinking along with some of the reasons why you may over-imbibe.

Pay Attention to Alcohol Content
Novice drinkers often discover a tasty beverage of which they just cannot get enough. Whether you have a signature drink or you are trying out a new one, you should always be aware of the alcohol content. As a general rule, hard liquors and wine have more alcohol than beer. For example, wine can come in as high as 15% alcohol while many beers barely exceed 4%. If you are consuming a mixed drink, then you should also take into consideration the alcohol content of each of the ingredients, then adjust your drinking accordingly.

Watch Your Portions
There is a reason why wine tasters only pour a small amount and spit out the majority of their sample. It just makes sense that the larger your portion is then the more you will drink. Using the correct glass for your alcoholic beverage is one way to manage your portions. Standard portion sizes, such as 12-ounces for beer and five-ounces for wine should always be used. For hard liquors, use a standard shot glass to measure your pour.

Eat a Full Meal when Drinking
When you have an empty stomach, alcohol will be absorbed quicker leading you to become inebriated with less alcohol than you may normally consume. Try to eat a full meal before an evening in which you anticipate drinking, or you can simply sip your glass of wine with dinner. If it has been a while since your last meal, having a handful of nuts or pretzels can also be a way to put food in your stomach to absorb some of the alcohol.

Know the Role of Gender
If there is one form of gender inequality that cannot be fixed, it is that women tend to get drunk faster than men. Research has proven this to be caused by women having less water in their body and bloodstream than men. With less water, a woman’s body is slightly less capable of diluting the alcohol. Body height and weight can also affect the amount of alcohol that goes through the bloodstream. Generally, people with a smaller stature will need to pay extra close attention to how much alcohol they consume.

Notice Your Environment
Fast-paced and loud music has been used in shopping centers for years to encourage people to spend more money. It turns out that this same effect can also cause people to drink faster. During a recent study, it was found that men who were exposed to loud music drank their beers an average of three minutes faster than those in a calm environment. Cold or hot temperatures, social situations and being alone are other environmental triggers that could cause you to drink too much.

Knowing the reasons why you may over-drink can help you to enjoy your alcoholic beverages in moderation. Although having a drink or two is a normal social activity, it is important to be aware of when it begins to be too much. Now that you are aware of the factors that play a role in your body’s ability to process alcohol, you can begin to implement a plan that will keep your drinking within moderate limits.

Derek Whitney is blogging for Aligned Signs, an astrology match making site that helps connect like minded people while getting to know yourself better. When he is not blogging, he enjoys relaxing with his girlfriend

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Scarey Thoughts Not Limited to Halloween

It’s nearly Halloween and the stores are filled with ghoulish décor. 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. I outline several in the my book, Erase Negativity and Embrace the Magic Within. I’m also happy to provide customized advice to those who contact me through my website,

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.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Living in the Moment: 4 Ways to be More Mindful Everyday

This week's words of wisdom come in the form of a guest post by Nettie Gray. I hope you enjoy it.

Have you ever felt so worried about the future that you no longer find happiness in today?

You’re too bent trying to solve issues that are yet to arise.

There’s nothing wrong being considerate about what lies ahead, but to let ourselves be consumed by things that are yet to happen is harmful. It only makes the future more terrifying.

Practicing mindfulness means paying attention to the present moment. Doing this helps alleviate stress, promote happiness and positivity.

Let us talk about few ways how you can be more mindful each day.

Focus on routinary activities.
Has typical daily activities such as taking a shower, brushing your teeth or washing dishes ever appeared interesting to you?

If you strive to be more mindful, then these things can turn out enjoyable too.

Brush your teeth in front of the mirror and observe the stroke of the brush every time you push your arms up and down, then sideways. Listen to the sound of the brush against your teeth.

When taking a shower, meanwhile, feel the first drops of water falling on your skin. Listen as well to its sound. Indulge in the sweet smell of your shampoo and soap. Play with soap suds forming on your skin while you’re gently scrubbing.

Observe the plates and glasses you’re washing and take delight seeing it looking like new again. Enjoy the clean scent afterward.

Be mindful when waiting.
You arrive at a fastfood chain and notice the long queue.

In the fast-paced world we’re living in, waiting is somewhat a luxury. Being stuck in one place for a long period can easily annoy or piss off a person. But truth is, it depends how you look into the situation. You have a choice whether to let it get on your nerves, or use the opportunity instead to bring peace into your mind.

Will you tap your foot on the floor, look into your watch every time, cross your arms and frown to everyone whose eyes meet yours? Or will you be mindful of your reaction when the line moves forward or when you check your phone or talk to the stranger next to you?

Learn to accept.
Stop being a worrier. If you will focus your mind to the present then the future is likely to turn out good for you. Our actions work in a domino effect.

Think about what’s making you worry.

Is it because your salary today isn't enough to raise your own family in the future? Don’t you think by the time you settle down, then your career experience must have improved a lot, and hence your income might have already increased as well?

Accept the situation you’re in right now. Many others are probably enduring a tougher circumstance. Yours cannot be the worst.

Be extra considerate and patient when commuting.
You’ve hit the rush hour yet again.

There you are, standing in a bus exhausted from work, jealous of those comfortably sitting, reading a book or taking a nap, trying hard not to feel annoyed by those talking too loud or getting off the bus hitting your shoulders or stepping on your feet.

And you say to yourself, “Thought I could start to write my papers within an hour, and turn it in earlier.”

Like being stuck in a long queue, commuting also tests your patience. Resist the urge to unleash rage or scream out loud. Be mindful of your reactions. Think of the possible consequences first before doing anything.

Author Bio:
Nettie Gray finds dishwashing relaxing. After working on the household chore, she feels as though her mind had been as well cleared.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Act Like a Pretzel, Sing Like a Loon

I like pretzels but I never wanted to be one. However, I have always admired folks who took yoga classes. I tried yoga once and it triggered a nasty migraine. My mind might be flexible, but my limbs are not.

Not one to give up, I decided to try again. This time I signed up for a yogalates class at the Red Mountain Multi-Generational Center in my home town of Mesa, AZ. The class is a combination of yoga and Pilates and I love it.

On one of my recent visits the instructor passed out ways to find your “happy place.” Since I’ve written numerous articles about happiness and erasing negativity I’m always looking for new insights in the pursuit of happiness.
The article gave six, quick points.

• Smile.
• Stay in the here and now.
• Choose good company.
• Enjoy water surroundings such as a pool, lake, ocean, stream etc.
• Use positive self-affirmations on a daily basis.
• Sing.

When I was younger I sang a lot. I was in an all-girl rock and roll band, I sang in chorus in junior high and high school and even performed in a couple of talent assemblies. As I aged, I continued to sing, but not in public. The exception was when I’d pull out my guitar and sing for my children. One of our favorite songs was an original composition I wrote with my neighbor Debbie Odom (who now goes by the stage name Rusty Queen) about a Little Green Man. I occasionally sing it for my grand daughters, Rosannah and Briannah.

The day I received the article with the six tips for happiness I decided to sing with my favorite preschoolers. However, rather than simply strumming and singing, I joyfully belted out the tune with abandon.

Rosannah and Briannah must have felt the difference in my attitude because they asked for me to sing it again and again. After the third rendition I distracted them with another musical treat. We put away the guitar and banged away on the bongo drums and piano. It was a cacophony of noise, but it was fun. I’m sure we’ll have a repeat performance this week.

No one is going to record our music, but it’s fun to play. Unfortunately most of us become more self-conscious as we grow older and we refuse to sing and perform thinking we are not good enough. While I encourage everyone to sing and dance, I know that is unlikely, so I have an alternative suggestion. Go to a concert. Most communities have free outdoor concerts if you read your local paper or go online. For those of you in the Phoenix metro area here is information on a concert that will be available for the next few weeks, courtesy of one of my favorite clients, The Village at Arrowhead Shopping Center. I hope you can join us.

Happy days are back with the return of the Fall Concert Series at The Village at Arrowhead Shopping Center, 20050 N. 67th Ave. in Glendale.

Residents and visitors can enjoy free, live music, as well as a classic car show Friday evenings 6 to 8 p.m. Sept. 27 through Oct. 25 at the picturesque west-side shopping center.

The Roadrunners 50s and 60s Band will start things off on Sept. 27 followed by the Swing Kings Oct. 4, the Still Cruisin Band Oct. 11, One More Time Band Oct. 18 and the Roadrunners 50s and 60s Band will wrap up the fall concert series Oct. 25. All music will be performed on the patio of AJ’s Fine Foods.

“Our Music at the Village concert series is a wonderful way to enjoy live music and check out some awesome classic cars,” said Mary Walker, president of Power Promotions and event coordinator for The Village at Arrowhead. “Whether you want to reminisce about the past or create new memories with friends and family, this autumn event is sure to be a hit with everyone.”

The Village at Arrowhead offers specialty shops that provide the ultimate shopping experience with distinctive fashion, home furnishings, restaurants and personal services in one of the most architecturally unique and aesthetically pleasing shopping centers around.

The shopping center is located at the southwest corner of 67th Avenue at the Loop 101 in Glendale. For more information contact Marks Public Relations at 480-664-3004.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Guest Blog - How Do You Know All is Well?

In the next few months I will be featuring some guest blogs on some different topics. Please welcome Phyllis Turner.

Is everything all right in your world? Are you sure? How do you know? I'm guessing there are things that happen in your day that let you know that everything is all right with your world and that's how you know. I know, for me, when certain things happen or don't happen in the mornings, I can feel a little "off."

For instance... now that we've moved into a new house in Florida, I'm finally getting into a routine again. I adopted a pair of kittens a while back so now, when I wake up, I have two kittens curled up on me somewhere or maybe one on the pillow above my head and one beside me. If this doesn't happen, If I wake up and neither of them or just one of them isn't on the bed with me, I have to wonder what's up. What trouble are they getting themselves into?

If my husband is traveling, I check my cell phone to see if he's sent me his usual "Good morning Sunshine!" text. If he hasn't, I'll text him & then he calls me to chat if he can. If this doesn't happen, I have to wonder what's up. What trouble did he get himself into since we talked last night?

Next, I check my schedule for the day and settle in with a couple of cups of coffee or a bottle of water and check in with my family and close friends on Facebook & maybe some local news. Once the coffee is in, I hit my schedule and hope to accomplish (start to finish) one or two things. If this doesn't happen, my family and friends would wonder what's up. What trouble has she gotten herself into?

During my day, I can see and hear trucks, running generators, hammers and drills banging, humming and drumming outside as houses in the neighborhood are being built up left and right. If this didn't happen and it were quiet, I would have to wonder what's up.

If I need to go out and run errands, I always take a quick drive by the beach, just to be sure it's still there. If I'm lucky, I have time to get in a nice walk in the sand. If this doesn't happen, I wonder what's up. What trouble have I gotten myself into that I'm so busy I don't have time for a 45 min. walk on the beach? Luckily, this rarely happens.

So, for today, life is good and all is well in my world. I'm sure of it.

How do you know when all is right in your world?

Phyllis I Turner is a full-time freelance writer, wife, mother, traveler, beach bum, lover of food, sunsets & all things outdoors. She resides with her husband in Vero Beach, Florida. More of her whimsical musings can be found at

Article Source:

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Remembering 9-11

Two years ago I wrote a special blog for the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. The message bears repeating so I'm posting it again.

Our nation recently commemorated the 10-year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. It is a day that is forever etched in our collective consciousness. Who doesn’t remember where they and what they did when they heard the shattering news and saw the painful and horrifying images?

There have been a myriad of plaques, memorials, flags, news clips, speeches, prayers, rants and outbursts surrounding that fateful day.

There are stories and video clips denoting the pain and suffering, others of respect and gratitude for the heroes who worked to save others, narratives of the few survivors, as well as stories of the family and friends who lost a loved one in one of our nation’s worst tragedies.

What I would like to see in the next 10 years are more stories of healing and humanity. While I believe we have to take measures to ensure our nation’s security, I worry that the most fundamental step, recognizing the importance of our oneness as a people, needs to be fostered.

We so often focus on how we differ from one another that it creates an artificial barrier. We all want to take pride in our uniqueness, but when we use this as a measurement of how we are somehow “better” than someone else, it creates problems. When something or someone is perceived as dissimilar, it becomes so much easier to use that difference as a reason to hate.

Sometimes that hate becomes violent.

Shortly after 9/11 2001, a Sikh man wearing a turban was gunned down. The gunman, Frank Rogue, believed his target was an Arab. The victim, Balbir Singh Sodhi, was a gasoline station owner who emigrated from India. Ironically, the Sikhs are known for their peace-loving nature and beliefs. What makes this even worse, at least for me, this violent act happened in my home town of Mesa, AZ.

As a Buddhist, I believe in the interconnectedness of humankind. Individuals are a microcosm of all of humanity and in the larger scheme, the universe. What we do to others we do to ourselves. Therefore, our actions of healing, compassion and understanding are needed far more than our acts of anger and hatred. While force may have a temporary effect to keep harm at bay, it does little to solve the inherent problem.

Since most of us identify with the things that set us apart from one another, it is difficult to imagine how inner connected we are. One example that illustrates our connectedness is pollution. If there a nuclear accident, the fallout is not contained to that given area. Radiation seeps into the earth and ground water, travels through our rivers, streams and ocean, as well as traveling hundreds and thousands of miles by blowing winds.

In a more humorous analogy I remember a story I heard years ago. A father was trying to bond with his son and decided to take him fishing in a small fishing boat.

The son was in the front of the boat and the father in the back. When they were in the middle of the lake they hit a rock and water gushed near the father’s feet. The son seemed undeterred and even laughed about the situation. The father asked why the boy thought the situation was funny and the boy responded, “Because the leak is in YOUR part of the boat.”

In the next few years I hope we will spend less time focusing on past hurts and put our energy into solving problems by engaging others in heart-felt dialogue and recognizing the humanity in one another. We cannot root out all evil, but we can take steps to heal our planet by recognizing our similarities rather than dwelling on our differences.

A quote by Mushrif–ud-Din Abdullah, a Persian poet wrote a poem that graces the entrance of the Hall of Nation of the UN Building in New York.

Human beings are members of a whole,
In creation of one essence and soul.
If one member is afflicted with pain,
Other members uneasy will remain.
If you have no sympathy for human pain,
The name of human you cannot retain.

Another year has passed. Last year's article suggested that before the 11th anniversary of 9/11 I hope we can report several instances where we were a source of hope and light for humankind and our planet. I have the same plea for the next year and the next and the next.

We share this world with others and it is in our best interest to try to get along. After all, we are all in the same boat.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

I am Green

I am green. No, I’m not talking about the color associated with envy or a hair-color-gone-wrong experiment. I’m talking about the color of my aura.

Years ago on my frequent treks from hot and conservative Mesa, AZ to cool and mystical, Sedona, I noticed signs about aura readings and was curious about the subject. However, I harbored my fair share of skepticism. I didn’t dispute the existence of auras, I just wasn’t sure I believed the merchant’s claims that they could read or photograph the energy.

However, one day my doubt regarding auras changed when I attended an all-day women’s workshop hosted by my Buddhist group. They brought in speakers on numerous topics. It was a truly awesome event and I learned a great deal. I was happily sitting in on one of the discussions and someone asked the presenter about auras. This was not what the topic was about, but apparently my green aura was so strong she felt she needed to ask about it. One or two people spoke up and said they noticed my shining hue as well. Apparently I was like a big, emerald beacon lighting the place up like a Christmas tree.

Of course I couldn’t see it.

When I returned home, I decided to learn about the significance of a green aura. After all, green is not always associated with positive attributes. There is the green-eyed monster of envy, invading Martians with rubbery bodies and chartreuse skin, not to mention the ugly pallor of the Wicked Witch of the West.

My search led to mixed results. Since the internet was not as sophisticated as it is today, I read some pretty harsh things about green auras. My default was (and still is) to go to my local library. I picked up a few books on the topic. The one that impressed me most was “Aura Advantage, How the Colors in your Aura can help you Attain your Desires and Attract Success” by Cynthia Sue Larson.

Years later, I still find this to be the most thorough, well-researched and enjoyable book on the subject.

I was so captivated with what I read that I contacted the author and ordered my own, autographed copy. I noticed that she lived in Berkley. Ironically, my spouse, CB, had accepted a temporary job assignment in San Francisco, so I contacted Ms. Larson to see if we could meet for coffee. I was writing my first, self-help book, “Erase Negativity and Embrace the Magic Within”, and I thought she would be a great person to interview. She graciously agreed.

I took the bus to Union Square and met Ms. Larson and her spouse at a local restaurant. Due to my habit of getting lost, I decided to take no chances and I arrived nearly an hour early. Cynthia and her boyfriend walked through the door right on time. I quickly spotted the author, intuitive and spiritual coach from her picture. I was surprised that she recognized me as well. It’s hard to explain, but it was as if our recognition was on an energetic, rather than physical level. We had exchanged a few emails and I found her to be a very kind and intelligent woman.

However, being in her presence was unlike anything I had ever experienced before. She had such a high vibration that I felt I was being lifted to another realm. It was a truly magical evening of warmth, laughter and spiritual camaraderie. It was like reconnecting with a wise, kind and long-lost sister. We talked and laughed and made future arrangements (via email and the phone) to complete the interview.

After I returned to my hotel room, the happiness I felt at being in the presence of such a spiritual person lingered for hours.

After reading Cynthia’s book and following the directions on how to recognize auras, I could see that my most predominate aural hue is emerald green – the color of a healer. Other good careers for Greenies like me include gourmet cooking (hmmm, maybe someday), speech therapy, dental hygiene, social work, psychology, nursing, public relations, marketing, writing, banking, massage therapy, publishing, and sales.

Except for gourmet cooking (my culinary skills have been the butt of many jokes in my family) I have an interest in all of these fields, even if it is something as simple as my own diligence with flossing my choppers or the nightly foot massages I give CB. Since I earn my daily bread as a writer and public relations professional those career choices were spot-on.

According to Cynthia Sue’s book, other celebrities who have green energy in their auras include Tom Hanks, Shirley MacLaine, Oprah Winfrey, Lisa Kudrow and Drew Barrymore. There are others, but these are the ones that I most admire.

If you look at a chart of the chakra colors, you will find that green falls in the middle.

Starting from the root chakra in the base of your spine (red) you move up to orange in your sacral area, yellow in your solar plexus, green in your heart region, blue in your throat, indigo where your third eye is located and finally violet in the crown of your head.

While being a “Greeney” has its positive traits (who am I to argue about Oprah’s contributions to society?) I wanted to see if I could climb to a “higher” chakra plane. It doesn’t exactly work like that, but I have been conditioned with decades of linear thinking and felt my color was okay, but not good enough. At the very least I wanted to vibrate at a higher frequency like Cynthia Sue’s.

I’m not exactly a spiritual slouch. I am a devout Buddhist and chant Nam Myoho Renge Kyo and recite the Lotus Sutra every day, I study spiritual material as well as my ongoing efforts to be a better person. I also work on my breathing (I have a bad habit of holding my breath) and take a few minutes a day to express my gratitude. However, in spite of these efforts, when I hold out my hands against a white wall, I still see a shining green aura dancing away from my fingers.

Recently CB and I took a trip to Flagstaff. My energetic spouse scaled Mount Humphrey.

I took an easy nature trail around the Aspens. I love trees and marveled at the verdant leaves, lush vegetation and delicate flowers.

As I moseyed along the path I spied the largest, orange-colored mushroom I had ever seen. Along my little jaunt I chatted with a nice woman and petted her fuzzy, white puppy. I felt great. As I was about half way around my loop, I decided to take a gander at my aura. It is easier to see auras against a white background so I pulled out a business card from my fanny pack and placed my pointer finger in front of it.

Even though I was surrounded by greenery, my aura color was blue. Hurray! I moved up a color! However, before I could celebrate I decided to check again when I returned to the hotel. Alas, my aura was green again. Darn.

Of course I know this whole color-rating experiment has no bearing on spiritual growth. I didn’t move up the chain. I was simply being a part of nature, which automatically raises your vibration.

So what is my point in this story? If you want to raise your vibration, or simply enjoy a happier life here are three simple hints.

1. Surround yourself with uplifting people.
2. Take time to commune with nature.
3. Never be ashamed of who you are, whether it’s your aural color, body shape, age, professional, gender or any other characteristic. Be the very best person you can be and let your inner light shine for all to see.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Choosing Hope Over Despair

This week I am hosting a guest blog from a young man named Matt. I love his positive message and hope you enjoy it as well. Also, if you know someone who is suffering and may be helped with this message, please share it.

Three and a half years ago, I was sitting in Washington County Jail with three felony charges. I was addicted to drugs and alcohol, without a home, and did not have very much to offer the world. Feeling hopeless, afraid, and confused, I had completely given up on happiness.

Today, I am absolutely content with my life, where I have been, and where I may go. I have been sober for three and a half years, own The Easier Softer Way, work full-time at a job I absolutely love, have a wonderful relationship with my girlfriend, family, and friends, and I am fully self-sufficient financially. Although I am only 22 years old, I have achieved more in my life already than I ever thought I would be able to.

I share these things neither to brag nor to make these things seem overly important. I share my experience with the wish that somebody who is hopeless may hear it, and know that we are never truly without hope. Although my life looks great on the outside, these external gifts are only a tiny piece of the happiness I experience. The true gifts come with peace of mind, contentment, and the ability to be present.

When I was using drugs and alcohol on a daily basis, I was constantly running from reality. I had innumerable problems that I perceived, all of which rested outside of myself. I was rarely present for my life, and my unhappiness ruled me.

I found when I got sober that I had to look within myself if I were to find contentment in my life. The key was that I had happiness within me all along. When people use the term “recovering,” it means to me that we are able to recover our true nature, our hearts. As my true nature was lost in my addiction, I had to recover who I was. Through a fair amount of work, I was able to find the person that had been within me all along.

One of the greatest tools I have toward ridding myself of negativity within myself is mindfulness. Mindfulness teaches me to be present, and recognize what I am feeling. In a way, it is the opposite of averting from our feelings and thoughts by drug use. In mindfulness I am able to meet my thoughts and feelings head on. When I know what is going on within me, I am more easily able to deal with the problem. A teacher of mine reminds me that if a car breaks down, you can’t just simply fix it. You have to open the hood and find out what is going on!

I know today that when I am lonely, I can reach out to my loved ones and do something fun. I know when I feel bad about something I did, I can apologize and work on that behavior. Knowing what is causing the discomfort, I must take action! Sitting around thinking about my problems is a sure path into negativity for me. When I take action, I am able to change my headspace and open up to a whole new positive world.

Together, mindfulness of what is going on within and immediate action have helped me grow each and every day. The path from hopeless to smiling and free is not always easy, but it is often simple. I must look at the unhappiness in my life and take personal responsibility. I am very careful to not beat myself up. I look at what I have control over (myself), and I focus my energy there. In this way, I can take action to change who I am, rather than letting my happiness always rest in the hands of others.

I am indescribably grateful for the life I have and the person I am today. If you had told me how my life would unfold when I was sitting in that jail cell, I would have chuckled at your insanity. I know today that I have no idea what the future holds, and if I stay sober and deal with the issues as they arise, I am able to live happy, joyous, and free.

Monday, August 5, 2013

A Bird in the Hand

We strolled along Bush Street in San Francisco and felt the cool breeze against our cheeks. It was refreshing to gaze at the colorful flowers, bushes and trees, as well as admire the amazing architecture of a quintessential 1920s Bay Area neighborhood.

Then we spied something odd, an empty birdcage discarded near the curb. CB and I exchanged quizzical glances when, a moment later, we spotted a cat scratching post a few feet away.

“Oops,” I said. “I think I know what happened here.” CB nodded. In our collective subconscious we had instantly created a mutual story about a misbehaving feline who snacked on a pet canary. The bird was gone and the naughty cat was getting the boot for her indiscretion.

Of course there is no way we could know whether our story was accurate. Space is limited in this beautiful city and it makes more sense to discard items than to pay the cost of putting them in storage. We have seen numerous cast offs waiting for someone to claim it or sell it on craigslist. Sadly, there are lot of homeless men and women too, and perhaps these items could be of use to them, although I’m not quite sure how.

At the least, our story about the bird-eating cat was an amusing thought, made even more so when CB pointed out that we were on Bush Street and reminded me about the quote about a bird in the hand being worth more than two in the bush.

I knew I would write about the incident, but I wasn’t sure how I would pull it all together into any kind of meaningful story. Writing begins with a thought. Sometimes a premise takes a magical journey that blossoms into an intriguing tale, or it can spark and fizzle like a faulty firecracker that is too pooped to pop. Other notions are quickly discarded or just hit a dead end.

I love a good story. I enjoy reading, watching movies and even listening to someone regale an audience with an interesting anecdote. However, there are some messages that float around in our brain that don’t serve us well. You know the ones. “I’m not good enough. I’m too fat. They’ll probably pick someone else for the job, etc.”
Often, as we think these negative thoughts we create reruns in our head of unfortunate stories from the past. These internal movies are charged with color and emotion which gives them even more power. Each time we recreate these unfortunate images we carve pathways in our brain to these melodramas. When this connection is used a few times our thoughts take this neural short cut and it literally becomes a highway to hell. What is especially sad is no one does this to us. We create these sob stories ourselves.

Oddly, it doesn’t end there. We are creative people. We aren’t satisfied with the same old stories. We manufacture new ones. It makes me think of a skit I saw once about a woman whose husband was late for dinner. She let her fear run rampant. In her mind, he was stopping at the bar. Next he was flirting with the cocktail waitress. Before she knew it her spouse was having sex in the bathroom, contracting an STD and tossing his dutiful wife to the curb like an empty birdcage. When the man (who was completely innocent of all these imaginary transgressions) returns (only five minutes late due to clogged traffic) his harried wife threw his packed bag at him and announced she was divorcing him.

In the skit the story was funny, but when it happens in real life, the negativity can be disastrous.

Fortunately, we have the ability to write our own life scripts. It takes a little work to put a halt to our bad habits, but it can be done. Okay, now here comes my commercial.

If you are looking for an easy step-by-step book on how to erase negativity from your life, I hope you will read our book, Erase Negativity and Embrace the Magic Within. There are many good books on the market regarding developing optimism, but if you need a little nudge to boot out your internal grouch, our book may be the one for you.

Currently my co-author Jackie and I are offering a great deal. The ebook, normally $6.99, will be offered for $3.50 through Aug. 29. Customers must log on to and enter the code FF39E. The paperback version will be discounted from $14.99 to $10 plus shipping for those who email me through my blog or website We are also offering discounts to organizations booking presentations on the Erase Negativity topic.

Most of us love the idea of embracing happiness. Unfortunately, latching onto joy if your hands are full of negativity (or dirty birds) makes the process harder. However, if you’re ready to make a change and kick those bad habits to the curb, just let us know. We’re ready to help.

Sally and Jackie

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Just Say No to Negativity

My spouse, CB, and I had just finished shopping. We exited the store and heard a quick yell, screech of brakes and a “thump.” We looked up and saw a woman lying in the crosswalk. CB ran back into the store, yelled for the salesperson to call 9-11, and raced over to the woman. The driver of the truck who hit the pedestrian got out as well. I shut the truck door and helped direct traffic away from the injured woman as we waited for an ambulance to arrive.

CB is a physician, but has always been reluctant to mention it to strangers. It was one of the things I found endearing when we first met. I’m half Jewish and being a doctor is a very big deal. Why someone would have such an important career and not announce it to the world was beyond my comprehension. I come from a family who boast their accomplishments, as well as the deeds of their children and close friends. I’m a little more reserved about my own feats, but I am a PR person by trade, so I get my kicks trumpeting the feats of others.

CB, on the other hand, has always been more egalitarian. In this incidence, my spouse’s modesty was being mistaken for medical ignorance. I had taken some CPR courses with CB, but I’m by no means a medical expert. However, I like to be prepared in case of an emergency. My spouse knelt next to the woman to access her situation. The driver who hit her said we should move her off the street.

CB calmly said, “Sir, I strongly recommend against that. She could have a neck or back injury.” The guy persisted. I informed him CB was a doctor and knew what to do. The guy responded that he had worked in hospitals for many years (as if this made him more qualified than someone who had 12 years of medical education and more than 20 years of experience as a physician.) The guy persisted. This time I loudly said, “no!” He backed off and I proceeded to divert traffic while CB continued to access the situation until the paramedics arrived.

I think the woman is going to be okay, but she might not have been if CB hadn’t been there to prevent the truck driver from schlepping her from the asphalt to another location. My role in all of this was minor, but important. I didn’t try to reason with the driver. With an authoritative voice that surprised even me, I just said, “No!”

In the book, Erase Negativity and Embrace the Magic Within, my friend and co-author Jackie and I highlight stories of people who have overcome dramatic challenges in their lives. At the end of each chapter we also offer simple tips to erase negativity, as well as a few suggestions on how to embrace happiness.

Most of us want to blame outside influences as the source of our problems. My friend and fellow Buddhist, Ed Casper, posted the following anonymous quote on facebook from Buddhist Boot Camp.

“You’re not stuck in traffic; you ARE traffic. We blame society’ but we ARE society.”

Since all of us are members of society we need to own up to the contributions we make toward the good and evil in the world. I thought about this regarding internal negativity. We are bombarded with unpleasant news, grouchy people and sadness. However, we have the power to make positive choices. When the opportunity arises for a nasty thought, word or action, we can train ourselves to deflect it. In our book, we focus on three easy tips:

1. Recognize the problem.
2. Erase the negativity and replace it with something more empowering.
3. Smile, even if you don’t feel like it.

If you want to watch a short video about these three simple steps to happiness visit

Generally I’m an agreeable person. I don’t like to contradict others and I’m more likely to find diplomatic solutions than stir up trouble. However, there are times, such as when CB and I were trying to help the stricken pedestrian, that I had to speak up. The same is true of our own internal demons.

We have two choices. We can take the easy route and give in to the darkness of negativity, whether it is our own, or absorbing the nastiness that surrounds us. The second option is to stop negativity in its tracks.

I hope you will not use this story as an excuse to find a negative friend, co-worker, crazy driver or relative and begin anti-negativity crusade against them. Start with yourself. You are, after all, the only one whose thoughts, speech and action you can control.

Combating negativity isn’t easy. It takes consistent energy and work. We may not have the opportunity to rescue someone from a burning building, or perform medical miracles, but we have the power to erase our own negativity and embrace a happier life. And that is no small thing.

While I hope all of you who read this will buy our book and recommend it to others,
it really boils down to one thing. The next time a nasty thought, word or action tries to sneak out of your life and poison your happiness “Just Say No!”

Monday, July 15, 2013

Green Hair and Peeing on the Tidy Bowl Man

I remember the first time I saw someone with green hair. This was decades before punk rock, spikey hair and cell phones. It was the summer of 1968 and I was swimming at Kino Junior High School’s pool in Mesa, Arizona.

It was summertime and this brand new, Olympic-size pool was the city’s newest gem. I spied an athletic, female lifeguard. It seemed she was supposed to have blond hair, but her short, golden locks had a serious shade of emerald running through it.

I rubbed my eyes and looked again. I saw a couple other young men and women with jade-infused tresses.

“They can’t be doing that on purpose,” I thought to myself. “Was this part of a sorority or fraternity prank?”

I didn’t think too much about it until school started in the fall. Low and behold, one of the P.E. teachers, Miss Driscoll, had limey locks as well. I asked one of my friends (either brainy Beverly Berres or well-informed Janet Loughrey) and they set me straight. If you bleach your hair and swim a lot in a chlorinated pool it turns your hair green.

Who knew? I was saavy enough to acknowledge that if one urinated in a toilet with Tidy Bowl in it the water would turn green. My friend, Michele Fitzgerald's mom used Tidy Bowl in their commode. After I used their facilities I would exit and sing, "I turned the water green."
Why I felt I needed to sing this little ditty every time I peed on the Tidy Bowl Man, I'm not sure, but it became a tradition I kept up for years. It was much like my odd habit of donning an ugly curler cap even when my hair wasn't in rollers.

But I digress.

Decades have passed since that hot summer day at the pool, but apparently hair color catastrophes continue to be an unwanted experience by thousands of unsuspecting men and women each day.

Consider these true stories of wayward color gone bad.

• A young woman tried to color her hair and didn’t realize until it was too late that she missed a huge spot in the back that was obvious to everyone at the gym when she put her hair back in a ponytail.
• A truck driver let his new girlfriend color his hair but left the color on too long (they were drinking wine and having fun) and an hour later his hair was bright orange. Nothing to do but let it grow out for three weeks and keep on trucking.
• A minister wanted to appear more youthful and let his wife color his white hair. Even prayer didn’t help when his locks turned green.
• Linda Cobb, aka the Queen of Clean and author of numerous books on cleaning says the only safe place to color your own hair is in the backyard. Before focusing on the money you might save by forgoing the salon, consider the value and time of replacing your clothes, bathroom wallpaper and rugs, as well as the time spent scrubbing your sink and skin.

One of favorite clients owns cosmetology schools in Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Florida and Texas. I’ve learned a lot about hair while promoting their hair products and beauty schools. Apparently providing hair coloring services is a big chunk of a stylist’s business. Now that my brunette hair is turning grey, I understand why folks would want to use any methods to turn back the clock and restore their locks to their natural color, or experiment with other hues. However, it seemed there were only two alternatives.

1. Pay a bunch of money and have a professional stylist take care of the situation.
2. Buy a box of color and take a chance you won’t make a mess of things.

However, there is a third alternative. International Academy of Hair Design in Mesa, Tempe, Phoenix and West Phoenix is offering a 50% off discount on all color services at their award-winning cosmetology schools. The regular price of color services begin at $24 (long hair is extra.) and the special takes place Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday through Aug. 31. The same deal applies to ITS Academy of Beauty in Texas and Oklahoma, Olympian University in New Mexico and Hair Benders Academy in Florida.

All the locations, phone numbers, as well as information about services and student enrollment can be found at

Looking back at my childhood memories of swimming and playing in the sun brings a smile to my face. So does the thought of my naiveté regarding chlorine and green hair. I think it’s great that we have so many options available to us for hair color.

However, if you want a change in color and style and don’t want to take a chance of a chromatic catastrophe, why not check out what services (or even career options) are available to you at Beauty School Rocks?

That said, I’d like to close with a quote from Frank Gelett .

“I never saw a purple cow; I never hope to see one; but I can tell you, anyhow, I'd rather see than be one.”

Friday, July 5, 2013

Interdependence Day

I was in San Francisco for the 4th of July this year. My spouse, CB, and I staked out a small plot of ground near the Bay to watch the fireworks. It was cool and crowded, but I was filled with anticipation. We listened to a live band and watched the hordes of people and pups that came out to celebrate our nation’s birthday.

We pulled up to San Francisco the Sunday before. As we approached our neighborhood the last remnants of the Pride Festival that had taken place that weekend were being removed. However, the court house was still bathed in an array of lights and rainbow flags wafted in the breeze in honor of the celebration. The mood was joyous for the GBLT community and their supporters fresh from hearing the Supreme Court ruling that ended California’s ban on same-sex marriage and struck down the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act earlier that week.

Now my spouse and I were gathered among a throng of Americans sitting near the proverbial dock of the bay awaiting a fireworks display. I don’t like crowds. In fact I’m a bit claustrophobic, but since it is rare that I get to celebrate Independence Day in a balmy environment, I decided I could endure the crowds for a few hours.

We knew what to expect. CB’s co-workers, and the friendly cashier at Trader Joe’s informed us that the festivities were impressive, but the crowds were daunting. We had walked some five miles earlier that day and enjoyed a bright, sunny day meandering through the city, walking alongside a stream of cars ready to descend Lombard’s crooked street, popped into the Maritime Museum, chatted with a woman about America’s cup and then through the park on our way toward a bus stop near the Golden Gate Bridge.

We boarded a crowded bus (standing room only) and rolled along to within a few blocks of the studio apartment we were staying at for CB’s temporary assignment. We were both exhausted from our long walk. Once we entered our small apartment we fell into a deep sleep. It would have been easy to blow off the festivities and give in to nocturnal bliss (and give my aching dogs a respite) but I really wanted to enjoy a fireworks display in less than the triple digit heat that I had become accustomed to in Arizona.

The buses were even more crowded than before, so I forgot about the $2 I had stuck into my pocket for bus fare and we followed the throng of folks walking to the event. We arrived shortly before 9 p.m. and the place was jammed with people of every conceivable background. A young father in dred locks and his boisterous son sat in front of us, a Korean family sat to our left and several young men stood behind us, happily chatting in a mixture of Spanish and English.

At 9:30 p.m. the first fireworks were launched in sync with a variety of patriotic music. Further down the bay, a simultaneous display of sight and sound filled the air. The fireworks were awe inspiring. Everyone was silent except for the ahs and ohs and occasional bursts of applause at the spectacle.

I looked across the bay and thought of the thousands of people around me. People of all ethnicities, ages, religions and sexual orientation gathered peacefully together in very close quarters without a single fight. Even though I do not like being in a crowd, I thought it was a mild inconvenience compared to what my Swedish grandmother must have endured during her long boat passage to Ellis Island. How I wish I would have asked her more about her journey. What did my paternal grandfather and his elderly mother think as they exited the pogroms in Russia to find their way to Canada, and eventually the U.S. to begin a new life?

I am a second generation American on three sides of my family and potential DAR member on my maternal grandfather’s side. Yet I know I am the product of ancestors who faced great hardships to settle in this magnificent country. Most of the time it is something I take for granted. But sitting in the diverse crowd I thought of how grateful I was to be an American. As I looked around me I had new respect for the people surrounding me who, despite individual differences, wanted the same things I did.

Truth be known, we admire our individuality, but we cannot exist without each other. From the farmer who grows our food, the bus drivers who drive us to our destinations, the police officers directing traffic, to the sanitation workers hauling away our garbage, all have an important role in our lives.

As CB and I headed homeward and followed the throng through the streets (again the buses were too crowded and we had to hoof it) I thought of how this 4th of July would be forever etched into the hearts of the GLBT community. Although there is more work to be done, definitive steps have been taken in guaranteeing the rights of all Americans.

I am truly grateful to be an American. I may not always be at peace with the prejudice and hatred that still exists in the hearts of so many, but after spending a few days in San Francisco during a very historic week, I am hopeful we can attain the life, liberty and pursuit of happiness that is promised to us in our constitution.

On July 4th we celebrate our independence from Britain. My hope for the future is that we take a look around at our fellow human beings who silently take a role in our lives and recognize and honor our interdependence to one another. Then, and only then, will we truly be the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Crood Thoughts for Stimulating Happiness

It’s the middle of summer in Arizona and I’m hot and frustrated. A walk in nature would help, but unless I pour a bucket of water on my head and time my jaunt from midnight to 4 a.m. I’m likely to suffer heat exhaustion.

Last year I lived in the Pacific Northwest so I thought I’d revisit a blog from my experience there. Guess what? I was frustrated with the rain. After writing the first draft of this story I decided against revisiting the subject, but feel free to revisit my older posts. I have more than 300 of them.

But back to the present.

When it is so stifling hot, the last thing I want to do is go outside, but I really needed a change of scene. So I asked my daughter, Alicia, and granddaughters Rosannah and Briannah, if I could treat them to an afternoon at the movies. They happily agreed. We went to see The Croods. This cave family had to deal with harsh environments as well. It was funny, touching and a visual delight. There are a few scary moments too.

My most frightening observation was not part of the plot. It was the realization that the character I identified with the most was the old grandma (voiced superbly by Cloris Leachman.)

Her famous tagline was “still alive.” She would announce this statement to the chagrin of her son-in-law. I can only imagine this thought is NOT shared by Greg and Jamie (my daughter’s mates) but if it is, they would be too polite (or scared) to admit it. If experience has taught them anything it’s never piss off an old lady.

Anyway, we enjoyed the movie, spent a little time at the mall, and returned safely home. I went back to working on the computer and my daughter said the girls played happily together in their rooms. I think the family unity message had a positive effect on them.
Laughing during the movie, spending time with my family and changing my surroundings did a lot for my attitude as well. In an ideal world, I would have taken a walk, either by myself or with Rosannah and Briannah in tow. However, as in the movie, the outdoors can be a dangerous place (sun stroke anyone?) As also brought to light in the movie, sometimes you have to change the old thought patterns and come up with a new idea. While going to a movie is hardly an original thought, it became a welcome detour from my daily routine.

Whether we live in a harsh desert climate or a soggy forest, we can’t change the weather. However, we do have the ability to change our minds and attitudes. If we need a little help we can watch a funny movie or inspiring messages from self-help lecturers on you tube. In fact if you want to see some humorous insights from me, please visit


Also, because I like a sale as much as the next person, I’m offering one of my own. You can get my ebook, Erase Negativity and Embrace the Magic Within, for half price. The ebook, normally $6.99, will be offered for $3.50 through July 6. Log on to and find Erase Negativity. When you go to purchase it enter the code LU574. The paperback version will be discounted from $14.99 to $10 plus shipping for those who contact me directly by responding to this blog or emailing me through this blog.

Happy reading.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Father's Day Tribute to My Nutty Dad

I’ve been thinking about my dad lately. Father’s Day is here and even though my pop died more than 17 years, I still think about what kind of gift he might like to have for Father’s Day.

Dad had a weird sense of humor and wasn’t particularly helpful when we asked him for gift suggestions. Each year it was the same.

Me: “Dad, what do you want for Father’s Day?”

Dad: “A new butt. Mine’s cracked.”

This was the same response for Christmas, birthdays and other gift-giving occasions. I don’t know which was sillier, his corny response or the fact that my siblings and I continued to ask the same question.

That is not to say that we didn’t come up with some good gifts over the years. My brothers Terry and Dennis took him to ball games, my older sister , Diane, bought tickets so he and mom could go out to a show, my sister, Tina’s fiancé bought him a new television and VCR (back when the technology was new.) My sister-in-law, Joannie, always bought him a new pair of slippers. Dad wore slippers all the time so he needed replacements on a regular basis.

However, the gift that I think he enjoyed the most was a nutcracker my spouse, John, and I bought him. It wasn’t any ole nutcracker. This little marvel held the nut in place and a weight (released from a rubber-band-type launcher) cracked the pecans perfectly in half.

My dad loved nuts and we had three pecan trees in the yard. Having grown up in the heart of Chicago but probably being a country boy at heart, my dad loved it that he could go outside, gather nuts and pick fruit (especially citrus) and make something from scratch. Even during his years of dementia he never tired of making fresh squeezed lemonade or cracking a bowl full of pecans.

What made this gift special is it was directly related to his passion. Now cracking nuts is not MY passion, but it was something my dad loved to do. So rather than buy him Old Spice or another useless tie, we hit the mark with the nut cracker that year.

But now that my dad is gone, I still think of how I might have done things differently. What my father (and I think most fathers) want is to spend quality time with their children. As we get older we have the money to purchase bigger and better things, but finding the time to spend the day with dad is sometimes more difficult than cracking a nut without a nut cracker. It makes me think of the Harry Chapin song, “Cats in the Cradle” song chronicling the busy life of a father and son.

However, I found a simple answer while promoting my clients, International Academy of Hair Design, ITS Academy of Beauty, Hair Benders and Olympian University. They have a father/son special for TWO haircuts for $10. The regular price is $8 each. Here is a link to the Arizona press release, but the same deal is in effect at all their schools in Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Florida.

You can also visit their website

It can be difficult to find the time to spend an entire evening or afternoon with dad, but we all need to have our hair cut. Why not ask dad to come and join you for a simple errand? It could be a trip to the post office, a walk to the store, or you could even ask your pop to ride shot gun while you pick up the kids from school. The added bonus to the haircut idea is it shows dad that you know how to manage your money wisely. I don’t know about your father, but my dad would have been very pleased to see that I knew a good deal when I saw one.

I miss my dad, but when I think of the corny things he used to say, it still makes me smile. I remember an anecdote last year. I was helping my granddaughter with her toilet training. She goes to preschool and she is obsessed with naming things. She pointed to her butt and said, “What’s my butt’s name?” I told her “Briannah’s butt.” If she would have said “I want a new one, mine’s cracked” I would know that my dad had reincarnated back into our lives again. Even still, it’s nice to know the little nut didn’t fall far from the tree.