Tag Archives: dreams

I Wish Someone Would Pay Me

27 Oct


Recently one of my favorite bloggers, Shalagh Hogan, wrote a piece about what she wished people would pay her for and I found it fun and fascinating. I replied with the following:

I wish people would pay me to travel.
I wish people would pay me to write books that help people live happier lives.
I wish people would pay me to tell them they are special and wonderful and important in this world.
I wish people would pay me to make them soup or cookies or cupcakes or anything that soothes their soul.
I wish people would pay me to read blogs and books and poetry and look at the art my friends create.
This could go on for a very long while. Thanks for sharing.

Right after reading this post, I also read a passage in Living Well, Spending Less by Ruth Soukup that talked about the sweet spot in your life where your talents and abilities meet your passion. I talk about the sweet spot of your home being that place that, once you get it under control, the rest of the house seems to follow. For those who haven’t found it yet, let me assure you it’s there, and when you do find it, it’s like magic.

The thing is I love doing everything I put on that list and that is wonderful. Even more wonderful is that I’m finding ways to get paid to do the things I love and will be unveiling some new, fun things in the very near future. The thing about a fantastic life is getting paid to do the things you would do for free anyway. I’ve written for free for years, so getting paid to write books is a joyful bonus. I’ve finished and uploaded the Happiest Holidays book, so I’m just waiting for the editor to look it over who also happens to be the graphic artist that will be designing the cover. I’m excited and nervous as I’ve been with each of the other books, but I have let go of the negative voice in my head that worries that it’s crap and no one will read it because even if that happens, life will go on.

I was so excited about my first book that I bought dozens of copies to give away, and very few of the spines were even cracked. The second book I spent lots of money to have help getting it to market and the promotion that was supposed to happen on its release date got messed up. I was supposed to have a google hangout that never happened, and I felt like I had failed miserably because the person I worked with is well known for helping her clients become best-selling authors. She believes I was one of those people, but no one thought to get a screen shot of that. So, I could call myself a failure if I choose to, and others have, but none of them have done what I did. The ones who criticize are not the ones who have written books and put themselves out there. They do not understand the work that goes into even a 100 page e-book. They haven’t been through the editing and layout process, not to mention the marketing. That seems to be where it all happens. If you market well, you can sell anything, even a crap book. If you market poorly, you can’t sell a masterpiece. It’s daunting and scary, and the process can bring you to your knees emotionally.

People you think are your supporters laugh behind your back, sometimes loud enough for you to hear. People write things about you that hurt. As if a writer doesn’t ask themselves 1,000 times, “who am I to think I can write a book?” Others seem to delight in asking that very same question, but here’s my take on the whole thing. With the first book, I was sure they were right. I thought I was nuts to write a book about parenting. Who was I to do such a thing when my own children weren’t completely grown? With my second book someone wrote something nasty comparing me with another author who is a wonderful, bestselling author who has well researched topics and degrees behind their name. It hurt, but it made me think about why I write the books I do because you see, I’ve found my sweet spot. I am a storyteller, but not necessarily of the fictional world. I’ve loved biographies since I was a child and read every single one of the ones in my elementary library. When I realized that, I also remembered some family members who had told me that when I was much younger that I could tell a great story. At the time, I thought they might have been teasing me, but I know now that I do tell a good story. Not only do I love telling them, but I also love to share them through the books I write and the blogs that I post. Often they’re my own story because that’s what I know best, and I hope all the things I learn will lighten someone else’s load, but that’s who I am and what I am, and I am liking that person more and more.

So, what do you wish someone would pay you to do? Are you doing it for free? Maybe you love cameras and wish you could get paid to take photos. Maybe you are creative and wish people would pay you for what you create. Maybe you can cook and wish people would pay you for your culinary skills. Guess what? They will if you figure out a way to make it happen. Have I been paid to write, cook and create? Yes, I have. Is it enough to make a living? Not yet, but as I’m learning about the creative industry, I’m finding more and more people who are. It’s exciting and fun and who knows where it will lead. Right now it’s leading me to create a new blog page that will bring several things I love to do under one umbrella. I’m excited about the possibilities, and I’m hoping to share it with you by this time next week. Until then, enjoy what’s left of October, and if you celebrate the day I wish you a Happy Halloween, and even though it’s already sneaking in, prepare yourself for the holiday onslaught to follow. As always, thanks for being you and have a great day!

The Bigger than the Book Journey

9 Jun

It’s been a while since I’ve written a blog post, partly because of a book launch and partly because of a crisis of faith; not the capital F type of Faith because as low as I’ve been in my life, that one seems to stay intact. Rather it is the little F of faith that has been shaken – faith in humanity and the goodness of others. For those who follow the blog or my Better Living Daily Facebook page, you know about the book launch last month. I am very proud of Everyday Heroes of Motherhood. For those who haven’t read it, it is a series of letters to those who have been a great influence on my own motherhood journey. It isn’t scientific or filled with facts and figures. It is a work of the heart to encourage mothers of every kind, including those who have not given birth, to understand that people do watch and appreciate moms who do their best, regardless of their circumstances. It was a labor of love to write the book. It was a series of huge leaps out of my comfort zone to bring the book to market, and it has been an incredible life experience to see the best and worst in others as they have reacted to the book itself.

Most of the response has been incredibly positive. I’ve been contacted by people I wrote letters to in the past who remember what I wrote and how it helped them in a difficult time. It’s nice to know that the letters fulfilled their intended purposes. Most of the women I included in the book were shocked to think I wanted to include them because they were doing what they do, not to be noticed, but just to mother the best they can, and that was what I found inspiring. Each letter is truly about how my life changed because of these people, and I can only hope that they will inspire others as much as they have inspired me. One person even told me that she is inspired to write a book about her unique mothering situation because of my book. I know what her situation is, and I am sure that she will be able to help so many people by writing her book, and that brings me to today’s blog.

Not all of the feedback has been positive. Some of it has been through innuendo and not so nice comments and some of them have hurt. I’ve hashed them over with my husband, who reminds me that none of the people who have been critical have actually written a book, much less published one. I’ve talked things over with a close friend who reminds me that if they criticize me and/or the book, they miss the point of the book entirely. And I’ve turned the most hurtful comments over to the Divine, who in subtle ways reminds me that those comments are much more about the person who espouses them than it ever is about me. The only reason for me to put any stock in them is if I agree with them, which in most cases, I don’t, but if I do, I can thank the person for showing me where I need to grow.

You see, I’m well aware that this is not the next great American novel. I never set out for it to be. I am aware that it is not some great scholarly work filled with charts and studies. I wasn’t reaching for that either. What this book attempts to be is a way to encourage moms in every life situation. I’ve been a mom for over two decades, and I dedicated my life to being the best mom I can. I’ve read books and listened to programs and taken classes along the way. I’ve spent my life improving myself to improve my parenting, and although I’m far from perfect, I have given my very best to my husband and children as I know so many others have. The amazing part of life is that my best mothering is so very different from what others’ best mothering looks like. It’s why I have loved writing the book and why I love working with moms who are struggling because I know we can always get better, whatever that means to each of us.

Yesterday, I was reminded of one of the greatest lessons I’ve ever learned; that life is a choice. I read a challenge years ago to replace the phrases “have to”, “need to”, “ought to”, “should” or anything like that with “choose to” or “could choose to”. Imagine choosing to clean, do laundry, change the baby’s diaper, pay bills, go to work, or any other number of things we normally complain about. It was one of the most eye opening life exercises I’ve ever gone through. It changed my life because I realized nearly everything is a choice. We might not like the choices we are faced with, but everything is a choice. This morning I woke up to dog barf and dog poop in my house. Our dog is old, and she is sick. She has an inflamed gall bladder, but the removal of the gall bladder is costly and there are no guarantees that it will help her, and even if it does help her, there is no guarantee that is the only problem. She is twelve years old and coming to the end of her life. Truly, I have been cleaning up dog barf for most mornings during the past four months; thank goodness for piddle pads. Most days she hits the pad when she gets sick. We’re not so lucky with the poop, but luckily we have hardwood floors, so I’m not scrubbing carpets, and it is not a daily occurrence. I could leave the mess for one of my boys to clean. I could complain about it, which I do from time to time, but most days I choose to clean it up and just go on with life, knowing that the dog’s time to leave us is coming soon and being upset with her doesn’t help anyone.

I’ve tried to use this same lesson with the few negative moments with my book journey. I could choose to grouse and be upset and feel horrible about myself, which I have done on occasion. I am human after all. But the pity party is usually a short one because writing the two books that I have published has been an incredible journey of personal growth that I wouldn’t trade for anything. It is fueling the next two books and perhaps a course that will help others as well, and this time I get to work with some of my favorite people in the world to make it happen. At one point in this process I told one of my mentors that I was so far out of my comfort zone that I couldn’t even see it anymore. Her response? Good, that’s where growth happens, and I have certainly done some of that. It hasn’t been easy because putting your words out there for a writer is like displaying a piece of your soul. I’ve done it twice now and the process was still difficult the second time. I faced so many of my personal demons, not about the content because I knew the stories were amazing, but about my ability to tell them in a way that would touch others as much as they touched me. I feel that with every blog post on some level as well because I want this process to be helpful for everyone who reads the blog or what’s the point? So, I hope this blog post has helped you in some way. This journey has certainly helped me define who I want to be and how I want to be in this world, and I am grateful that it has helped me be a more caring, loving and encouraging person. It is a wonderful way to live, and I am blessed to be on the journey with all who choose to come along. I am hoping to be more present with the blog now that the big push is over, but regardless, I wish you all a joy filled and peaceful journey each day. I also hope that each of you will find a dream that you are willing to pursue, one that stretches you and helps you become a better person because all those I know who have pursued a dream, especially those who have achieved those dreams, are the most supportive people of others dreams that I have ever met. I believe we need more of that in the world, and I am finding more and more people who agree with me on that, which restores my faith in humanity. Dream big, and if you need a cheerleader, coach or friend who will believe in you, you can find me here, on my Better Living Daily Facebook page or connect with me on LinkedIn as Karen Bemmes. As always, thanks for being you and have a great day.

Creative Declarations and Adventures

10 Mar

To listen along, click here: http://tobtr.com/s/8431725

I have shared before that there are two questions that are directing my life right now. Those questions are about what I want out of life and who I want to be. What I want includes writing, traveling, improving our home, paying off said home, being an awesome wife and mother, assisting our children with graduating from college debt free, helping those in need, particularly mothers and changing the world for the better in every way I can. It all sounds so lofty and wonderful and while there is so much going on that is sending my life in that direction, it amazes me how sometimes the simplest things can throw me off. In my case, it was dog barf this week. I will be using the term barf because most of the other terms make my stomach churn. I struggle with barf of all kinds, but dog barf really messes with me, and I was almost undone earlier this week because we bathed our dog on Sunday afternoon and she barfed in her crate Sunday night and sat in it. It smelled up our entire house. Blech! We cleaned it up and cleaned her up but the smell stuck around. It seemed like no matter what we did the smell just wouldn’t go away. We wiped the dog down with wet cloths. We brushed her thoroughly. We even gave her a second bath, and tonight she’ll have her third because nothing else is working. Entirely too much of my week has been taken up with trying to make my dog smell better, but it is kind of a metaphor for my life right now too.

Recently, I declared what I want in a big way. The coach who created the creativity bootcamp challenged us to declare huge, but to beware because once the genie was out of the bottle, amazing things were going to happen. She was right. I sit here exhausted as I write this blog post because I’ve committed to writing it for the radio show this week. The intentions to do everything right and well are there, but things keep showing up and changing the process. Sometimes they stink and sometimes they are blessings, but there is an exhaustion factor that keeps growing and even my normal amount of sleep isn’t quite enough. There are two kinds of exhaustion in my mind; the kind that results from soul sucking endeavors and the kind that stretch you so far, you think you might break, but you know deep down inside you’re really becoming a better version of yourself. I am currently experiencing the latter. I declared in boot camp that I want to publish multiple books this year. What I didn’t make public is that I know there are marketing strategies beyond publishing, especially in nonfiction, that lead to income generation. That part that has always tripped me up. I believe in the words that I am inspired to write. I believe the information I share will help others. I have this problem with making money from it, and I’m finding that other creatives do too. Most of us create because it’s part of who we are, and we struggle to understand the best way to put a price on what we do. As a writer I have much less in supplies than painters, but we put in the same hours. We can both mass produce our work through publishers and prints, but what is that initial investment worth? That is such a tricky question, so often we satisfy ourselves with an occasional kudo or book sale and wonder if we will ever see the success others have seen, hopefully before we pass from this Earth. Then occasionally something wonderful happens. In our bootcamp, one of the writer/poets got incredibly inspired and began entering her work into several contests, and she was chosen among many to have one of her poems featured in an upcoming publication. In addition, she was asked to attend an event and read her poem in person in Ireland in just a few weeks, and she’s going. To me, that is like winning the writing lottery, and it is inspiring me to keep going and keep working. I think several of the others in our group feel the same way. We are inspired to write more, to paint more, to create more and to put ourselves out in the world through our creations like never before. Like our fearless leader shared, though, the magic of the declaration began to bring one opportunity after another, and it can be overwhelming. My inbox is overflowing with them. They’re popping up on my Facebook feed. I’m reading about them in articles. Some are beyond me creatively and fiscally, but most are exactly what I need to move forward. There are free seminars and those are so easy to say yes to. Then there are the opportunities that ask you to take a leap of faith and invest in yourself, your learning and allow yourself to be blessed afterward. I have more than one of those opportunities right now and it is like standing on the edge of a cliff because I don’t know if I’m going to fly or fall to the rocks below.

The thing is that I’ve sort of been here before when I published my first book, and I wasn’t ready. I shied away from so much. I don’t know how much more ready I am now, but I do have more of one thing and that is faith. I’ve seen so many times in the past couple of years how the Divine has opened the way when I thought there wasn’t one or led me away from situations that were not healthy and led me directly to situations that helped me develop a clear vision of what I’m on this Earth to do and who I’m supposed to be. I am so grateful for the vision and for those moments that have challenged that vision because they helped me to know what is right for me. I love helping people create a better life. I love helping people figure out what to do to improve their lives on a daily basis. I love laughing and having fun and look for both in every day. I am still first and foremost committed to my family. Most of what I do is worked around them and for now, that works for me. My husband has assured me that he can hold down the fort if I need to step away for anything, and I believe he will, but I’m happiest with my family, and I will take every opportunity to spend time with them before they leave the nest.

Lately, not one day has looked like I intended it to look, but they’ve all turned out just fine. Even the dog barf is merely an annoyance. My family is happy and healthy. I find many blessings in each day and know the challenges are there to help me see the blessings. I feel more aligned with my Divine plan than ever and it feels so good. I’ve signed up for some training that will stretch me even further, but I’m also finding that as I move toward the life I feel I should be living, life is falling into place. Yes, I have doubts and fears that pop up, but faith is winning out and it seems that when faith wins out, the results are always better. Faith doesn’t mean that things always work out, but faith has me asking what I can learn from every situation rather than asking why something is happening to me. Faith is seeing how time seems to expand when you’re doing what the Divine has inspired you to do, and every day seems to be exactly what you need it to be even when it isn’t what you intended it to be. That might sound a bit crazy, but it seems to be the life I’m leading right now and I’m having more fun with it than I ever imagined. I encourage everyone to ask themselves who they are supposed to be and let the Divine lead them to their next best place. It won’t look like mine, but I’m betting it will look just like it’s supposed to for them, and trust me, the journey is a hoot. So, I’m off to keep trying to figure out this adventure we call life knowing every time I think I have it figured out, the game changes just a bit. It’s kind of like playing Twister. You never get to stay in one place very long, but the moving around can be filled with challenge and giggles galore and it is completely worth the risk of making the declarations in the first place. Wishing you a fun filled adventure full of amazing declarations until we meet again. As always, thanks for being you and have a great day.

Lessons Learned from Eric, Andrew and Amy

27 Aug

To listen along use this link: http://tobtr.com/s/7881745

All writers are story tellers of some kind. They are tasked with painting a picture with words. Even technical writers are illustrating scientific principles in a way that others can understand them. Some writers tell horror stories like my friend Ann Wilmer-Lasky, whose latest book, The Cottage, is now available as a hardback book or as a Kindle book on Amazon. Some, like me, talk about life. Everyone’s life is different, but I believe we all have lessons to learn, and I believe we can use even the worst of situations to inspire us to be better in every way. Every week when I broadcast, and even before I broadcast my radio show, I think about the message I want to share. Some weeks are just about fun and making people smile. Some weeks are more serious, but every week is about living a better life no matter what the circumstances of your life are. It’s what I aspire to do every day. Sometimes I can see the progress like I have this week as I tackle the overgrown parts of my yard. Yesterday our lovely sanitation workers took away five huge bundles of branches and five bags of yard waste. It was a joy to watch it go, and I have been viewing it as a core workout as I pull and tug and rake the weeds and make my yard a lovelier place to be. Weeding is something that I usually detest doing, but this week it has brought me comfort. I began this journey of weeding because my son and his friends took down some very large branches, and the mess in my yard was incredible. My oldest son worked for two hours one day and six on another to clean up the mess and left my yard looking as nice as he could. His work inspired me to get to some of the projects I had been putting off all summer, so I began weeding. I have spent several days over the last week making progress. I work either one hour or until I fill a lawn and leaf bag, which is the only way that our garbage men will take yard waste. It has been satisfying to see the progress and has been a comfort to me emotionally as well because this past weekend was not the kind of weekend I had planned.

Last week, my middle son who had just left for college texted his dad that he would like to have a bike on campus. Since he hadn’t really ridden a bike since Junior High School and had grown over a foot since then, he needed a new one. I got one for him and was delivering it Friday when he asked me to pick him up at a campus building rather than his dorm. My son is majoring in architecture and is required to buy a $400 kit with all sorts of supplies so that he can complete the many projects he has to do this semester. The kit is huge and heavy so we were happy to pick him up. After the kit was in the car with the new bike and my other two sons, there was little room left so my son decided to ride his new bike across campus and have us meet him at his dorm. We drove around and waited and waited for him. He finally drove up, locked up his bike and walked into his building. He was gone for nearly ten minutes and when he came out, he had a bandage around his hand. Apparently someone had stepped in front of him and he wrecked. His hand was a mess and when I asked him to squeeze my fingers, he nearly passed out, so off we went to the emergency room. In my mind, it was worth the three hours to find out that he had not broken any bones and his wounds were professionally cleaned and bandaged. In the midst of this, I got a panicked call from the mother of a schoolmate of my youngest that her son was missing and hadn’t been seen since school let out three hours earlier. We were the last people to see him and my heart just sank because I had this fleeting thought that I should offer the young man a ride home, but I didn’t because I don’t know him well and didn’t want him to feel uncomfortable. Luckily, the young man was found unharmed a bit later. He has walked eight miles home, so that was my Friday night.

Sunday, I got a text from a friend who asked me about a set of twins that graduated with my son in June. She asked if there was a girl named Amy who had a twin named Eric. There was. The same friend told me that it was beginning to surface on social media that she had passed in a car accident and the world stopped. I have known Amy and Eric since they were three when they attended preschool with my son. I’ve watched Amy go from a shy but happy three year old to a young woman who is stunningly beautiful inside and out. I refused to partake in the social media frenzy until I knew it was true because I didn’t want to be part of anything that would hurt her family, especially if it was untrue. Unfortunately, my husband found confirmation on one of our local news websites. This beautiful young woman with seemingly so much life ahead of her was gone. A part of me wanted to know what happened and when I found out some of the details, I was so sad. She wasn’t’ wearing a seat belt, and I know her mom would have been the type to leave the car in park until all seat belts were fastened. I heard that she was driving erratically, and I know her parents would have carefully taught her how to drive safely. The more I heard, the more I realized something. It didn’t matter how she passed. What mattered is that a family lost a daughter and a sister, and I could not even imagine their grief.

This is the third family that I know that has suffered such a loss. In addition to Amy’s passing, the son of one of my husband’s work buddies named Eric also passed in a car accident a couple of years ago. He was the same age as my oldest son. They were both engineering majors who played high school soccer against each other. I remember standing in line at the funeral and looking at the pictures and videos of their family and knowing that there but for the grace of God go I. That event changed me and just months later an online friend lost her son, Andrew, just days before Christmas. He was struggling and sought out help and didn’t get it and he was gone. All that potential and all that future was gone, and nothing I did would bring any of them back. As a parent, I don’t know what you do with that kind of grief. As the friend of those parents, I can only offer a hug and a promise to live better because of those children. Before the passing of Eric and Andrew, I had been struggling with writing my first book. I was so fearful and filled with doubt. I was so caught up in my own life drama that seemed insurmountable. After Eric and Andrew’s passing, I knew that my fear was stupid. I wrote and moved passed the fear of learning how to self-publish. I worked through technical issues. I pushed until the book was finished and published a few months later. I couldn’t do anything for those who passed, but I could live better in memory and in honor of those who passed and those who were left behind. Basically, because of the boys and their families, I got over myself and got on with living.

I am sad and slightly ashamed to say that I have slipped back into that way of living. I have a new dream. I want to create a program to help women, specifically moms, live a better life. I know what I want to do and fear of technology I don’t understand is holding me back. Fear of what I might happen is keeping me from doing the very thing I believe I’ve been called by the Divine to do. Sunday changed that. Sunday reminded me again that life can be short and fragile. Sunday reminded me that answering the call to make the world a better place is bigger than my fear. Sunday changed me yet again.

If I could talk to the parents of these three children, I would tell them that I carry their children in my heart and my spirit always. I would let them know that as they remember their children, I do too. I would tell them that while their time on this Earth was short, they did leave a legacy of inspiration. I am a better person because of each of them. I am a better wife, mother and human being because they existed. They made a difference, and I hope that knowing that would help in some small way. I would also tell the parents of these young people that I love them very much. I admire that they can live each day after their losses. I use that admiration to parent better and to be more understanding and compassionate. I know they may not feel inspirational, but they are. I pray for them often. I wish them joy and peace. I do my best to celebrate their children by raising mine better. It may not be much. It may not be enough, but it is the best I have to give. I hope that someday Eric’s, Andrew’s and Amy’s parents either read this as a blog post or listen to it as an archived broadcast. I hope that it brings them a moment of joy to know their children are remembered and honored and still inspire others to be better human beings because I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels this way. I hope and I pray and I continue to move forward in my highest calling in part because of them.

I realize that those who listen to my radio shows or read my blog may not have known any of these young people, but I’m willing to bet everyone knows someone whose life appears to have been cut short and it made an impact. I challenge you to use that impact to change the world or at least your life in honor of that person. Maybe you have already and that’s fantastic. Maybe you’re thinking about it, but you aren’t sure of which direction to go, in which case I would tell you to just move forward on something every day. Maybe you don’t know yet what to do with your grief, so I would tell you to sit with it and let it inspire you. I know that sounds crazy to some but if we use our grief to make the world a better place, even a tragic death is never in vain. It doesn’t bring anyone back. It may not soothe the pain of those who have lost a loved one, but it can change your life, direct you to live a better life and improve at least your corner of the world. It helps even a short life live on and I cannot think of a better tribute than that. Thank you all for being who you are and have a great day.

Squandered Talent and Wasted Time

29 Jan

To listen along, click here: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/betterlivingdaily/2015/01/29/squandered-talent-and-wasted-time

For those who read my blog post from Monday, I quoted something I read that really affected me. It contained a sentence that is still rattling around in my brain. That sentence talked about squandering our talent being diabolical and wasting our time being equal to selling our soul. I don’t know why those two thoughts have stuck in my awareness, but they have and it is amazing how much more focused and thoughtful that has made me this week.

Isn’t it amazing how a quote or a thought can do that? Sometimes you hear just the right thing at just the right time, and your perspective shifts enough to get you moving, get you moving faster or get you moving in the right direction. Sometimes it even does all three. I’ve said before that I know what to do to improve my life but sometimes knowing isn’t quite enough to get you going or keep you going when fatigue or something that seems more interesting or fun comes along. This morning is a perfect example. Although this has been a very good week for me, I haven’t been getting as much sleep as my body would like. After tracking my activities over the past few years, lack of sleep is probably the number one reason my productivity usually peaks on Tuesday and wanes for the rest of the week. I should get more sleep. I intend to get more sleep, but something keeps popping up to keep that from happening. I could blame it on the TV or teenagers that prefer to talk after 9pm rather than before or some other circumstance in my life, but the truth is that I make the choice to stay up later than I should which then becomes an excuse for why I fall short on my goals and dreams. I’m tired. I’m exhausted. I don’t feel well, because, guess what, you don’t feel well when you don’t sleep well. How ridiculous is it that we keep doing the things that keep us from our greatest joy?

I’ve listened to motivational speakers and read self-help books for years. I know the tricks. I know the processes. I know all of the things I “should” be doing and yet, I’ve not done them as consistently as I would like. In addition to fatigue, I could blame ADHD. I’ve not been diagnosed, but one of my children has and the more I’ve learned about it over the past seven years, the more I understand that I am the tree my ADHD apple fell from. Referring to this morning again, I got on the computer to look something up. Thirty minutes later, I forgot why I logged on to the computer in the first place and got sucked into looking at email and Facebook. Now, I don’t condemn either of those activities. Email is a great way to send and receive information. Facebook is a great way to connect with people, but for me to even think about looking at my computer before I’ve gotten my morning routines knocked out is a recipe for disaster. I can lose hours of my day and wind up cranky because I’ve wasted yet another opportunity to move forward in my life in a positive way.

As many of you know, I spent some time in Florida with a dear friend of mine last week. We have known each other for a very long time and had a great time, but I learned so much from her last week too. We were walking one day, and I don’t remember what we were even talking about, but I told her I didn’t begrudge her any of her lifestyle or her success because I know how hard she and her husband have worked for it. Her reaction was very interesting because I could see how much she appreciated what I had said. I guess when you’re wealthy so many people think you’re lucky. They think somehow you just sailed right into your wealth. My friend has worked since she was fourteen years old. She put herself through college and has risen through a male dominated profession to own her own company and be in great demand for her expertise. In her business, because she works with several government agencies in the health field, she has deadlines she must meet and had to work while we were in Florida, and it was a chance to see how dedicated she is to what she does. Those deadlines motivated her to get the client and her staff moving to create the reports the government required. It was amazing how focused she was, but she put the work away at night and sometimes during the day to focus elsewhere, and that’s where I learned so much from her. I found out that my friend, who I thought was always naturally thin, worked out with a trainer at home. She has to pay the trainer whether she shows up at 6am or not, so she’s motivated to get out of bed because apparently the trainer isn’t cheap. To keep up some kind of physical routine while I was there, we walked after every meal. It gave us time to talk, move our bodies and for her to clear her head for a while before she dove back into work. It was a great lesson in using positive pressure to keep up her physical routine while visiting with a friend and getting work done at the same time. Talk about multi-tasking!

The interesting thing is that I knew going into the trip that my friend would have to work. I worried about being bored, but what I learned was worth every moment I was there. I saw my friend balance work and play and have success with both. Whether she felt it or not, I saw no guilt that she should be spending time with me when she was working or she should be working while we were walking or having fun. It was a great few days, and it changed how I approached my days when I returned, and then I read the quote about squandering our talent and wasting our time, and it seemed to confirm everything I was thinking. It was energizing and exciting, and then I got sick. Are you kidding me? I had spent this wonderful time learning and becoming inspired to do all sorts of wonderful things and I was sick? Well wasn’t that a fine “how do you do”.

Have you ever set a goal and everything seems to get in the way of you accomplishing it? Have you ever set one, and it felt like the stars aligned to make it happen almost as soon as you designed it in your head? I have had both happen, and experts on goals have very different ideas about what to do in those instances. Some experts will tell you that if you encounter obstacles, you are on the right path because achieving goals is hard work and you need to muscle your way through, and that works really well for some people. They almost need to overcome to feel a true sense of accomplishment. Other experts, though, will tell you that when you find the path or goal that is truly meant for you, things line up. Opportunities arise, seemingly out of nowhere. The very people you need to help you just appear in your life. With my first book, that is what happened. My husband and I were sitting on a highway that was closed because of an accident. We started brainstorming and before the hour that we sat on that highway was up, we had the bones of the book finished. It was amazing and almost seemed too easy, and that’s what seems to happen with the second type of goal. You start thinking that it is too easy and the fear monster creeps up and whispers in your ear that something that easy cannot possibly be worthy. You must have missed something. It cannot be that easy. Success cannot come so simply. We are so conditioned to think we have to work hard for anything to be worthwhile, that when success comes without pain, we create drama and pain in our head. Ick!

You know what? Being a loving and fun mom came easy for me. Being a good household manager did not. I could make up songs, cook healthy dinners that my family liked and find fun activities to do with little effort. We went to the zoo, the amusement park and hung out with cousins regularly, but I struggled to keep our home picked up and the laundry caught up. When I learned I had a people orientation rather than a task orientation, my life began to make sense. You see, I could get so much done with just a little bit of help. I remember thinking that I would love to have a friend that would come over to my house one or two days per week and help me clean and then I could go over to her house and help her do the same. Then I thought about what a freak I must be not to be able to clean my home by myself and that there must be something wrong with me for sure. Ironically, not long after that I found FlyLady, who taught me that I was not alone in the struggle to keep my house clean and the FlyLady chat room which was designed to bring together women who struggled with housework like I did. We would work in whatever chunks of time worked for us and report our successes back to the group for a pat on the back. It was the most positive experience I had ever had cleaning my home, and I have become friends with several of the women from there. It never felt like drudgery to do my housework when I was working “with” those women, and I finally got what I had always wanted, a home that I could welcome people into without embarrassment and apologies about the condition. If you are a naturally organized person, you may not understand that, but if you are anything like me, you’ll know what a gift that felt like.

So here’s what I have figured out about goals and dreams. Those who are task oriented seem to respond best to overcoming obstacles and those who are people oriented seem to respond to having their life align with their goals. Neither is better or worse unless we judge it to be so. I remember some of my family members running a vacuum every day when their children were younger. They truly seemed to enjoy the act of vacuuming, even though they did it every day. Even the idea of that to me is abhorrent, although I do clean my floors most days. Instead of dragging out my vacuum, I have a smaller, cordless vacuum that I use to zip around my floors in about 5 minutes. It has a dusting cloth on it which picks up extra dust from my lovely hardwood and tile floors and gets the job done for me. We both end up with clean floors, and we’re both happy.

Remember when I told you I was feeling ill? Well, during that time, I let myself rest. I napped and ate healthy and though I was worried that maybe my next book wasn’t the goal I should be pursuing, the words and ideas for that book started flowing like mad. I jotted down ideas and looked at pieces I had written before and figured out that it was actually going to be possible to get what I needed to create the book I wanted to create. It was amazing how quickly the illness, that could have been my excuse for not completing the book, became the catalyst for me to actually finish the book. So, whether you have made some New Year’s resolutions or you don’t believe in them at all, what if you pick a goal, just one goal to work on for the next 66 days, which is the countdown to Easter that we’re doing on the Better Living Facebook page. What if you apply your talents to something worthwhile and invest your time in improving your life and/or the lives around you? How could your world and the world around you change in the next 66 days? That is my challenge to you to use your talents and time to achieve a goal whichever way works for you and make the world a better place. Report back and let us know how it goes, and as always, thanks for being you and have a great day.

The Spiritual Wink, Nudge and Kick in the Pants

24 Jan

A few weeks ago, a dear friend of mine asked if I would like to spend a few days with her at her condo in Florida. Being the despiser of winter that I am, I said yes. As it got closer to the day to go, I thought of a thousand reasons I shouldn’t go, but my husband assured me he and my boys would be fine and that I could use the R&R. My friend has her own business and had to work during the day so I figured I would work as well. I saw myself writing for hours and crafting my next book, a book on motherhood I’ve been itching to write. The night before I left I was so excited to dive into the book and soak in the warm weather.

I arrived on Sunday and it was warm and beautiful. I put on shorts and we walked. It felt good to be in the Sunshine state, and I was soaking up the best it had to offer. I didn’t worry about the writing because it was Sunday and I had three more days to make progress. I managed to walk 12, 500 steps but didn’t write a single word. The next day was just as beautiful. As my friend worked, I looked at social media and dove into email. I have so many emails, and I feel more and more behind as the number rises. I felt the need to purge in a big way, so I did. I dove into the emails, and it took three days, but I edited them to fewer than 600 for the first time in years. Yes, I have many more to delete and process, but I deleted more than half of the original number so I’m happy with it for now and the plan is to continue what I started until I have fewer than 100 emails total. It may sound like a small thing, but it’s a big thing for me. Oh, and I still didn’t write anything regarding the book.

While I was walking around the area, I started to take pictures of some of the houses for sale. There were big ones and small ones and multi-unit ones, and as I looked at them, I started to think about what I would like to do if I had a second home in Florida, and I came up with some amazing hopes and dreams. Not only would I want to be able to have my family visit whenever we wish, but I would also like to do something for moms. Actually, the something would be an in depth weekend, just for moms. I have a million ideas of what I would like the weekend to look like, but now how do I make it happen? It was a fun exercise in dreaming about making the world a better place, and I was having a blast building dreams I couldn’t have imagined a few years ago, but I was also questioning if the dream was realistic or even something to aspire to. It seemed nearly impossible that considering where I am now that I could create a mom weekend, but that’s when “it” happened. “It” was a phone call between my friend and her husband. My friend and I both talk to our husbands multiple times per day, but we rarely put them on speaker phone. For this particular call, my friends’ husband wanted to video chat with her and since I was in the room, I couldn’t help but hear what he was saying. He was talking about something he read about dream building and how this man went to somewhere luxurious, where he felt prosperous, and he set goals and dreamed about what he would like to be, have and do. My friend said, “Let’s go” and that is the last of their conversation I heard because I felt like the Divine had picked that moment and that man to show me my dreams were possible. It’s difficult to explain, but it felt like God was talking to me through my friend and her husband. I was sitting in a luxurious place. I was feeling awesome and hopeful and prosperous in friendship and in life. I am not ashamed to admit that I wept for joy at the confirmation and was ready to go home with a new dream.

The next night, one of my cousins shared an article titled How to Commit to a Creative Life by Kevin Ashton. I enjoy articles that talk about creativity; at least I usually enjoy them. This one needled at me and was making me very uncomfortable because of the truth I knew the article was telling. Then I read a passage that just went straight to my heart and soul. It was an incredibly direct, in your face spiritual moment. It’s was a moment that made me want to cry “Uncle” because I knew the Divine was speaking to me again, not in a frightening way, but in a firm way that let me know that I had a decision to make. It was the confirmation of the confirmation of the phone call between my friend and her husband. It was one paragraph in the article that felt like it had been written just for me. It spoke to me and challenged me, and as frightened as I am to make the leap I want to make; I’m more frightened to fall short of what I think I’m supposed to do on this earth and disappoint the Creator I believe gave me gifts to make it possible. The paragraph may not mean near as much to you as it did to me but read along anyway:

“The commitment has a high price: we must devote ourselves almost entirely to our creative goal. We must say no to distraction when we want to say yes. We must work when we do not know what to do. We must return to our creation every day without excuse. We must continue when we fail. If any devil is involved, he is not the one demanding commitment. Whatever your higher power, whether God, Allah, Jehovah, Buddha, or the greater good of humanity, this is whom you serve when you commit to a life of creation. What is diabolical is squandering your talents. We sell our soul when we waste our time. We drive neither ourselves nor our world forward if we choose idling over inventing.”

Wow. Squandering your talent is diabolical and wasting time is selling your soul. That is about as straightforward as it gets. So I got a nudge to write another book about motherhood. I went to Florida and all sorts of interesting ideas began to pop up about how I can help moms, get to spend time in Florida and maybe even make money in the process. You know, they say that God works in mysterious ways, and with the way things have gone for me this week, I would have to agree. I think sometimes we have to get away from our routines and our regular life to see our lives more clearly. I had that privilege this week. I was able to step away from the daily needs and wants of my life now and feel the call of my life in the future. It may be a near, mid-range or long range future but there’s a vision and a direction and it’s very exciting to think about. It’s also a little terrifying because what I want to do requires a huge leap of faith. It requires that I tune out the distractions and focus on the important tasks before me. It requires that I tune out all that is noise and focus on the path that was created for my personal success. I’m not looking to make millions, although that would be nice. I’m looking to be of service, to mentor and to coach those who would like to make their lives better. It requires that I be better and do better so I can teach better.

It requires that I think differently and live my life differently and give up activities that add nothing to my day. It’s something I’ve aspired to for years and I’m feeling like I’m almost there. I’m almost ready to take the leap, write and record the words and launch whatever I need to launch to fulfill the dream and walk on the path that the Divine has inspired. I pray I can do it justice. I pray this is truly the path. It feels like it is and there is so much good that can grow from it. It feels like what I should be doing right now, not for anyone else, but for my peace of mind and for the one who created me. I’m afraid I might fail. I’m just as scared I’ll succeed. I’m most frightened that all the confirmations I’m seeing isn’t from the Divine but my own feeble attempt to understand something that might not be a message for me at all, but I think that’s more of a cop out than an actual fear. That would be a convenient way for me to put what happened in a box and hide it away, but running from it might be the most diabolical thing in the world, to ignore a message you just know is from the Divine. It makes me feel exposed because now I feel like I have to put myself out there like never before. I have to be bold and brave and turn toward the wind even if I want to hide behind the trees. I have to live the bigger life I’m being called to live and it doesn’t look like anyone else’s life. I like what it looks like. I actually love what it looks like, but it requires so much of me.

I worry that I won’t be a good mom if I’m helping other moms be better. I remember the phrase, if God brings to it, He will bring you through it. I guess it’s time to make the leap and see what happens, so this weekend, I’ll be figuring out how to do what I need to do and keep my house from falling down around my ears. I’ll let you all know how that works out, and hopefully it will work better than I think it will because it’s the Divine plan, so why wouldn’t it work, right? Honestly, I can think of a million ways it won’t work. I can only think of one way it will work and that is with Divine intervention, protection and guidance. If I’m wrong, I’m sure it will fall in like a house of cards on a windy day. If I’m right, my Divine inspiration could help so many. It’s a chance I’m so afraid to take, but it’s one I feel like I have to take. Isn’t it amazing that a peace filled few days in Florida could cause all of that? Well it did, and I have no idea where it will all lead.

Every day I tell myself that life is good and it’s getting better, and most days I’m correct. We have food to eat and a roof over our heads and joy in our hearts. It’s a good place to be and a place I would like to help others get to and beyond, but I need to turn off the noise of life and dive in. Do you have a dream like that; one that could change the world or just change your world? How about you join me and we make the world a better place together? What if we shut out the noise and do what we were born to do? What if we take a deep breath and ask the Divine to guide us along the way? It may not be perfect, but for me it feels right and that makes it good enough. I challenge you to make it happen. I challenge you to ask for help and guidance. I pray we can all make our lives and the lives of those we encounter better. Let’s create a movement and live better every day. Doesn’t that sound amazing? It does to me. Take the leap and join me and let me know how it goes. I love being here and missed you all last week. Thanks for being you and have a great day.

Writing in Faith

28 Mar

imagesI just had a huge “Aha moment”. I read the following quote by George Burns and it really rocked my world: “I honestly think it is better to be a failure at something you love than to be a success at something you hate”. Ok, so here’s why this quote speaks to me. For the past nineteen years, I have been a stay at home mom. I love being a parent, hanging out with my kids and doing things for and with them. The one part about my chosen profession that I have never enjoyed is housework. There was honestly a time in my life that I would get angry every time I cleaned the house and would become this really unpleasant martyr. Also, I have a child diagnosed with adhd and as I learned more and more about that condition, I realize that apple didn’t fall too far from the tree. I could not for the life of me figure out how to run a household. In 2002, much to my delight, I found the Flylady system of housekeeping and with it, some success at keeping a home. I still don’t love housekeeping, but I can manage, and with the help of my family, it is a much easier job.

Now, my family is growing up. They have activities and jobs and girlfriends. My husband works an extra part time job to help pay for college. I spend more time alone, and this quote made realize some very important things about my life. The first is that I don’t get to spend as much time doing the thing I have loved the most over the past nineteen years of my life which is spending time with my family. That is a season of life, and I am blessed that I was able to be such a big part of my children’s lives by being home with them. Also, because I’m at home, I began to focus more on my home, which is great, except that having a perfect home has never given me the pleasure it does others, and frankly no home is ever perfect anyway. The biggest “aha”, though, has to do with my writing. I love to write and I write almost every day. Most of it is very personal, and I do not choose to share it at this time. Some of it, though, like this blog, is to share, as is the book I’m writing. It’s my writing, something I love to do, that doesn’t always “fit” into my day.

Today I realized in a deep way that being a success at keeping a nice house is a good thing, but being a success at writing will give me more joy than having a clean home ever will. The other thing I realized, and this is a biggie too, is that I put the writing on the back burner because I’m overweight. I’m afraid that any success I have with writing will be over shadowed by my weight, and that all people will see is the fat lady who wrote a book. Today, because of that quote, I understand that I have to let that go. You see, I hate going to the gym. I have never had success at the gym. For a six month period, I was incredibly diligent at the gym. I did cardio. I lifted. I ate impeccably and I didn’t lose a single pound. I was miserable and eventually just quit going.

So now I’ve said it. I’m fat and I hate the gym, but I love to write, so until the book is done, I will focus on the thing I love to do, keep up with the thing I learned to do and not worry about the thing I hate to do. It may sound easy, but I assure you it isn’t as easy as it sounds. It will require that I tell myself over and over that the writing is more important than having the perfect house which is the yardstick many use for judgment for a stay at home mom and one I’ve used on myself. It means I will have to say stop to the voice that says I should be working out instead of sitting on my already too big butt and writing. It means stepping out in faith and hoping that my gift of words will overcome the fear in and about my body. It’s frightening and exhilarating at the same time.
As they’ve grown up, I have always told my children to pick a profession they love and their life will always feel blessed. Starting today, I will be giving myself that gift with my writing. The plan is to have my manuscript finished by the end of April so that I can submit it to a contest that ends May 1st. Just putting that in writing and being willing to make that public is frightening, but now I’ve done it and I am excited by the possibilities. I’ll let you know how it turns out and will hopefully have some progress reports along the way. Thanks for being you and have a great day!

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