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

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