Tips, Tools and Perspective for Being More Empowered

Welcome to my self-empowerment blog--as seen in The Huffington Post Guide to Blogging! I used to be a wimp and never got taken seriously. When I became one of the first chicks to start a record label, I learned to navigate the male dominated music industry and earned respect, without raising my voice or getting overtly tough. I transferred those skills into all areas of life and now get what I want from most people. I'll share those lessons here by talking about my observations of situations and habits that hold both men and women back from being as empowered as possible. I'll also give tips for more effective communication, handling yourself with more confidence, and in general, how to come across as more serious--whether it's at work, dealing with an annoying phone company, your mother, a romantic partner and anyone else you want to feel more in control with. Everybody can use more tools for taking control of their lives, like in my latest book, Nice Girls Can Finish First (McGraw-Hill). Please subscribe if you'd like more!

Friday, February 29, 2008

Lightening Guilt—Part 1

A reader wrote to ask me about guilt. She told me the story of how when her husband began to drink too much, she lost her desire for sex. He continued drinking heavily and she withdrew more. Then she discovered his “friendship” with another woman and demanded he end it. He refused and it eventually ended their marriage.

Now remember the sequence—he drinks too much, she withdraws because of the drinking, he cheats and blames her for him turning to another woman, static leads to divorce. And she’s guilty!

Hello! His drinking was the first thing that initiated the sequence. She took the blame because he’d complained about not having enough sex, while his escalating drinking caused her lack of interest. Now she’s divorced and struggling with mounting debt as she tries to raise her two kids alone. Guilt made her assume responsibility for debts that her ex-husband was responsible for.

As she tries to take control of her life, he continues to hurl guilt bombs at her.

Guilt is a big happiness buster. We all feel it at least sometimes. Your mom or romantic partner may be especially good at making you take responsibility for what they don’t like. But if you accept it, guilt can eat at you like rust on metal. At first, rust discolors but eventually it breaks down the surface. If it’s allowed to continue, it spreads and makes holes. Guilt does that to your happiness and self-esteem when you let others control what’s right or wrong with you or your behavior. Then you feel unworthy to receive all of life’s goodies.

Yet most guilt is unnecessary and unfair to you! Let’s put it into perspective.

There’s no need to let guilt pervade your life! Happiness can’t thrive amidst guilty feelings. In my DoorMat days, saying “I’m sorry” was more frequent than saying hello. I rarely knew what I’d done wrong but if something didn’t go right or someone didn’t like my choice or behavior, I figured it was my fault. Many of us are conditioned to feel responsible for the displeasure of others.

If we don’t live up to standards that are often too high, we beat ourselves up with guilt.

Women are “supposed to” nurture everyone and fix problems in a relationship. If your guy treats you wrong, do you believe you must deserve it? NOT! Guys are “supposed to” be providers and earn enough money for his family’s needs. Do feel it’s expected that you protect your family, know how to fix things and handle every situation well? If you don’t make enough money or you make a mistake, does guilt make you feel like a failure? NOT!

Being human, which you are, makes you imperfect. And not being able to live up to roles or making a mistake (or three) isn’t a good reason to beat yourself with guilt. Yes, just accepting responsibility for something gone badly hurts you. Feeling wrong never feels good. If you purposely hurt someone, it might be warranted for a limited time. But some of us live guilty as a lifestyle.

It’s hard to be happy if you live in a constant state of doing wrong.

Be careful. Guilt is often used to manipulate. Someone wants something and blames you for her unhappiness or his failure so you’ll do what they want. Some moms are pros at laying on the guilt to keep us jumping. But friends, co-workers and lovers also use it for their benefit. If you’re not enlightened, you may give in to soothe bad feelings as you wonder what you did wrong.

If you want to be self-empowered, and happy, be fair about whether guilt is necessary.

Feeling it often reflects that what someone else thinks is more important than your own perception. Why let her make you guilty for saying “no” because you’re busy? Why allow guilt to be dumped on you for doing something reasonable that he doesn’t like? You don’t have to accept what someone decides you should or shouldn’t do. You’re responsible for you just as others are responsible for their choices.

It’s your choice to accept guilt if you did nothing wrong or said “no” to something not right for you. Why let other people’s opinions override yours? Why punish yourself for not being perfect? Why let guilt dilute your happiness if it’s not your fault? Reframe the thought that creates guilt into a fair perspective about your role in what makes you feel guilty. For example:

• “I feel guilty not helping her.” can be “I’m sorry I couldn’t help but I have no time.”

• “I let my buddy down” can be “I can only be in one place at a time and while I wanted to be there for my buddy, I had to be there for myself.”

• “I wasn’t able to give him what he needed” can be “I can only do my best.”

• “I broke her heart” can be “There’s no easy way to break up with someone but I had to do it and wish I didn’t have to hurt her in the process but that’s life.”

In my reader’s case, she allowed her guilt about not giving into her drunken husband’s need for more sex to color her perception about everything else. She ended her email with:

“So, I guess the guilt stemmed from 2 issues really. 1) The guilt from not having the money to pay the (OUR) bills. and 2) Having made the kids fatherless (his words). I still don't understand why if we are not married (or together) they have no daddy.”

I don’t believe that! I think the original source of guilt comes from not giving him enough sex. Then she carried it over to feeling guilty about her marriage ending, not crediting his drinking or infidelity. Mind you, I don’t know every detail. But I do know how guilt can skew our outlook and make us take on other things to be guilty about. As she said:

“1) The guilt from not having the money to pay the (OUR) bills.”

She took on bills that he should have contributed money to and now is guilty about not paying them. Hello! Guilt is a seed that sprouts into more guilt and clouds your view. My reader chose to pay the bills, I believe, out of guilt. Now she’s guilty that she can’t keep up with them. More guilt! It can stop by facing that your guilt is NOT warranted!

And “2) Having made the kids fatherless (his words). I still don't understand why if we are not married (or together) they have no daddy.”

She doesn’t understand why he considers his kids fatherless just because they’re divorced, yet she feels guilty about it. This is all guilt by acceptance. The reader is accepting blame for what her husband claims is the reality, which it isn’t. Her kids have a father. HE has chosen to see them as fatherless. Again, letting this make you guilty is letting someone else choose your perception of what’s your fault and what’s not.

No one MAKES you feel guilty. You make yourself feel guilt. It’s YOUR choice to accept the view of someone else, or trust your own instincts. And it’s YOUR choice to say NO MORE. Personally, I would get turned off if my guy came home every night sloshed. Drinking too much indicates a problem, which I bet my reader didn’t cause. So to me, the guilt should rest with him, as that’s where the problem began. To my reader, and anyone else carrying around guilt that hurts your lives—--go to the mirror and say, “NO MORE GUILT!” and then add, “I love you and will take better care of you.” And do your best to be good to yourself.

On Monday I’ll post more about how to deal with guilt. Stay tuned!

If you enjoyed my post, please leave a comment and/or click on the bookmark and write a short review at some of the sites, especially Stumbleupon. Thanks!

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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

I Promise Not to Eat It All!

I went to my local diner for breakfast and next to me was a solo chick. She ordered an omelet. The waiter asked if she wanted home or French fries. She chose home fries, then added, with a guilty look and tone, “But I won’t eat them all.” I perked up. The waiter gave her a weird look as she emphasized a need to make it perfectly clear that while she wanted the potatoes, she intended to leave some.

Did she really think the waiter gave a rat’s behind whether she ate them? Guilt about eating something fattening made her qualify out loud that she believed she was bad for eating them, thus she planned to leave some. Penance for a desire to eat tasty food? She wanted the potatoes too much to say no to them altogether, but wouldn’t let herself enjoy them! I ate mine as I listened in and felt compassion for this woman who wouldn’t enjoy the yummy potatoes that I savored. What was she really saying?

Interpretation: “I know I’m a bad girl for eating potatoes. Therefore, I’m going to reassure myself—and ruin my pleasure in eating them—by making it clear that I know I shouldn’t eat them and will leave some.”

Many of us were trained to feel guilt about eating something yummy with many calorie. I hate being around folks like that! I try to eat healthy but indulge when I feel like it—guilt free! Yet many women ruin their pleasure by believing they’re wrong to eat what they’d like if it isn’t low in calories. That can increase a desire for goodies since it’s harder to feel satisfied if you don’t enjoy your treats.

Growing up, I remember people watching how much I ate and discouraging me from having another cookie or seconds of anything that didn’t grow in a garden. That’s how sneak eaters get their bad habits! As a young adult I remember time and time again being asked if I really wanted that second piece of pie or helping of something. The DoorMat in me used to drop her fork or pull back quickly to avoid looking like a pig. The more I loved food, the more guilt I had.

Nowadays, being out of DoorMatville, if I’m asked, “Do you think you should have that?” I ask if they think I’m an idiot who doesn’t know what she’s doing.

It shocks them. I’m not stupid and can certainly decide for myself what I choose to eat. I get “I’m just trying to help” types of lame statements. To which I reply that I know what’s best for me. It often shuts them up. I hate being around women who punish themselves with guilt about having something that’s a little fattening. It’s one thing to gorge all day long. But I eat healthy most of the time and if I go to the diner for breakfast, I’m gonna enjoy my bacon, eggs, potatoes and toast!

Yet food guilt is strong in many women. And it can ruin the pleasure of those around them.

I love fudge and feel it’s my duty—yes, my duty!—to indulge if I see it when I travel. I don’t get it at home. But one of my favorite vacation treats is fudge—just one small piece time because I have sugar limits—and I enjoy the heck out of it! Years ago I went on vacation with a friend. When I bought fudge, my very slim friend bought a small piece too. I was in fudge heaven until she began ranting about what a fat pig she was. While I’m much larger than her size 4 frame, I’m not a fat pig. Yet she bemoaned every bite and ruined my joy.

I put the rest of my fudge away for later when she wasn’t eating hers. She was determined to ruin her own pleasure and in the process ruined mine. I told her to lighten up. She was so thin and one small piece of fudge wouldn’t hurt her body. But she was in agony. Agony! From a stinkin’ little piece of fudge! I had mine later when she wasn’t around. But I never traveled with her again. Treats are for enjoying!

It’s good to try to eat healthy. I do. But if you indulge, enjoy it! The woman in the diner kept picking at her potatoes like she was afraid the fat police would come and arrest her. Eventually she told the waiter to take her plate because “I shouldn’t eat more.” Again, did this waiter who didn’t know her care? Did she think he never saw a woman eating potatoes and was judging her?!?

I wanted to tell her to lighten up. There’s certainly no need to justify eating habits to a waiter. Being secure in who you are makes you secure in your eating habits too. Try your best to eat healthy most of the time and enjoy treats when you don’t! Then be a little more careful with what you eat next. Some people who know how I look would think I should be guilty about saying that since I can stand to lose some pounds. But now my self-image is hot and sexy, despite what anyone else thinks. This DoorMat has come far in loving and accepting herself, extra pounds and all!

So anyone who judges my indulgences can stick a potato you know where! ☺

If you enjoyed my post, please leave a comment and/or click on the bookmark and write a short review at some of the sites, especially Stumbleupon. Thanks!

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Monday, February 25, 2008

What Does Happiness Mean to You?

This month, Alex Shalman started the Happiness Project. He’s interviewing bloggers, asking them the same 5 questions about happiness. He’s also asked other bloggers to answer the questions on their own blogs. So I’m participating. If you’d like to answer them on your own blog, please do!

1. How do you define happiness?
I read some of the happiness posts from other bloggers and saw a variety of answers for what might seem like a simple question. What is happiness? According to WordNet, happiness is a “state of well-being characterized by emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy.” That’s the best one I found online that reflects my own perception of happiness.

Many bloggers talked about how happiness varies from person to person. I think what varies is the path to reach it, not the state of feeling it. Happiness is an inside job. There’s a BIG difference between factors that make you happy, and the feeling you get from being happy, which to me is happiness. Happiness makes me want to wake up to get my day started. Things don’t always go right. Sometimes I have situations that are downright stressful. But with it all, I have an overall feeling of contentment with my life.

So, to me, happiness is an overall feeling of consistent contentment and pleasure in being alive, despite day-to-day situations, opportunities, and getting past obstacles.

It’s staying off of the roller coaster that equates happiness with getting something you want--a possession, romantic partner, raise at work, etc. Material gains and accomplishments make you feel good for the moment and send you up on the roller coaster in exhilaration. If you lose or don’t get them, happiness takes a nosedive with your disappointment, and your ride goes down.

Real happiness keeps you on a more level path and allows you to bounce back from those ouch moments of losing or not receiving what you wanted or hoped for.

2. On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate your happiness now, versus when you were a child?
I was a very happy child. I’d say a 9. If I were more secure about my appearance, I’d have rated it a 10. I had lots of love, friends, good grades, and fun. I lost myself in my earlier adult years, when insecurity made me a DoorMat. Then I was a 1. Now I’d say my happiness is 10 most of the time. While there are LOTS of things I haven’t gotten yet or would love to have more of, I love me, and my life all the time. Getting more increases my joy, not my overall happiness.

3. What do you do on a daily basis that brings you happiness? (and how consistent is the feeling of happiness throughout your day)
I cultivate consciousness about feeling completely spiritually supported. Knowing I have God on my side nurtures my contentment. It minimizes worrying and stress. I can let life happen, knowing when the time is right I’ll get what I need. I reinforce my happiness by counting the blessings I already have instead of lamenting over what I don’t. The self-love I developed that propelled me out of DoorMatville is a large source of fuel for living in a permanent state of happiness!

Helping others nourishes my own happiness. I’m blessed beyond measure to be able to serve God through my writing and speaking. Knowing that I make a difference in the lives of others is a great source of happiness!

I consciously feel the joy of knowing that I burned my teaching license years ago and vowed to only make a living doing things I love. For years my life has been completely passion driven as I keep that promise. Even if there are disappointments or glitches, I know it’s MY choice to live as I do. I’ve been earning a living doing only what I love for many years, being in control of my life—a perpetual reason to feel happy!

4. What things take away from your happiness? What can be done to lessen their impact or remove them from your life?
While I do sometimes succumb to negative situations, I look back on the days I was an unhappy DoorMat and remind myself how lucky I am to be living off of my passions of writing and speaking. And, that I'm blessed to have learned to love me. When I’m feeling down about something or questioning my lifestyle, I go to a mirror and say, “I love you!” After years of hating myself, it feels awesome!

During those times, I ask God for support to get past it. For many years, right after I ask, I get a blast of fan letters from people who’ve read my books. Or something good but unexpected happens. That reinforces that God has my back and I feel better. I also clean and get rid of stuff, as a way of feeling in control of something. Brings me right back to positive!

5. What do you plan on doing in the future that will bring you even more happiness?
I’ll continue to pursue what I love, with a passionate intensity. I work on changing my behavior and thoughts so that the Law of Attraction manifests even more goodies for me. When you practice feeling grateful for every little blessing you have, those blessings temper life’s detours and potholes. That reinforces happiness as a state of overall contentment. Making the best of what you do have rocks!

I’ll also work harder to raise the money for my company, Project Self-Empowerment, to self-publish my book, How Do I Love Me? Let Me Count the Ways, and give it away in colleges, shelters, organizations, etc. as a way of saying thanks for my blessings. That makes me happier than selling it and making lots of money!

If you enjoyed my post, please leave a comment and/or click on the bookmark and write a short review at some of the sites, especially Stumbleupon. Thanks!

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Friday, February 22, 2008

Constructive Internet Networking

I’ve always advocated networking as a way to meet people who can be beneficial in your career and lots more. In my music business books, I emphasize how even without tons of money people can develop a career if they develop a friendly personality, get to industry events, collect cards with contact info, and follow up. The Internet makes networking a whole different ballgame.

I’ve been very blessed to make some good friends online, especially since I began this blog. I was honored when Todd at We The Change invited me to be interviewed for his new podcast series. In it I talk more about how I got from being an unhappy DoorMat and teacher to reinvent myself into the career I have today. He posted it Wednesday and I’m humbled by his words about me. If you’d like to hear my story, check out Stop Being a Doormat: Lessons from an Expert.

Internet networking is both more personal and more detached.

People answer personal ads, share deep feelings back and forth, fall in love before even speaking on the phone. Then many experience profound disappointment or deep hurt after meeting this person who seemed perfect as a partner. People can be whoever they’d like on line. When there’s no face attached, it’s easier to be more open and say what’s on your mind.

Being open digitally can come back to bite you later!

Some potential employers or clients do searches on line. What might seem like fun to post on Myspace or Facebook can turn off someone who might otherwise want to work with you. The casual communication styles used in emails makes us not think as much before we write. You might share way too much or piss someone off by saying something you wouldn’t say to his or her face, at least not as readily.

Networking on the Internet is most effective when you learn to walk a careful line between making people like you and not getting inappropriately free in what you say.

When you’re dealing with anyone who might be related to your career, that line should get straighter—making people like you while still coming across as professional. There are MANY ways to make contacts on line that will work to your advantage if you use some level of care in the process. After being a DoorMat, it was hard for me to find that balance easily. I jumped at every sign of interest in me or kind word.

But I learned some electronic boundaries along with ways to make some great connections, like I did with Todd at We The Change. Some rules I recommend to avoid common problems and to generate good feelings are:

* Think before you put anything into cyberspace. Once it’s there you can’t make it go away. You may think it’s gone but things get archived for a long time. Even websites that close still have links that can be accessed.

* Be especially careful about emailing friends from work. Delete doesn’t mean gone. Emails can be retrieved from your computer long after they were sent and trashed. Think about what you write and ask yourself if it could hurt if your boss read it. It’s so easy to share gossip or a sexual encounter with a friend. Those should be no-no’s at work.

* Ask yourself if you’d tell someone off in person the way you do in an email. If you wouldn’t, calm down and rewrite it until it is something you would say in person. It’s so easy to shoot your mouth off if the person isn’t there. But it can cause problems down the road.

* Don’t get lost in making friends or answering emails. With only a finite amount of time in our days, it can be easy to lose yourself online. Social networking can get out of control. Forums can be addictive as you chat with others. Prioritize what’s most important. I have a “to be answered later” box and put less important emails there and take a block of time occasionally to answer them all at once.

* Read before you post. If you go onto a forum or on comment on a blog in hopes of promoting something, get a feel for its vibe before posting. When you do, share something valuable instead of jumping into a sales pitch. Once people get to know your name and appreciate your posts, you can include a bit about what you do at appropriate times and invite people to check you out. Someone who’s only there to sell something is easily recognizable and that’s a big turnoff.

That said, do what you can to network for your best interests:

* Join the social communities that will best serve your needs. I’m on MySpace because of the music books I write and on Linkedin for my writing, speaking and consulting. I don’t initiate making friends as I don’t have time. But I can click on accept when people come to me. ☺ MySpace has brought me together with fans who for whatever reason didn’t find my website. I haven’t found Linkedin to be valuable so far but see it could be valuable if you work it, which I also don’t have time for. I just joined Facebook today and have 2 friends who were waiting for me to join. I’ve heard folks say it can be the best one so I’m giving it a shot. If you’re on it and want to be a friend, come on over to my Facebook page!

* Have good manners. Please and thank you go a long way in all communication. It’s amazing how many folks just jump into what they want and don’t show appreciation when they get the response they need. I get many emails from people who’ve read my books and want me to answer often long questions or give them other info, even though consulting is part of my profession that I get paid for. That sense of entitlement really puts me off. But when someone acknowledges they know I’m busy and asks nicely, I’m more likely to give a real answer. I’d guess that of all the folks I give at least a short answer to their questions, at least 90% of them never say thank you. Remember, what goes around comes back to you!

* Don’t be a snob. Be friendly to everyone. You can selectively choose who you keep in better touch with. But you never know where someone you deem as inconsequential for your career might end up.

* Trust your intuition, not your ego. It’s easy to get caught up in a big talker’s blarney. Or be wooed by high praise. This is where I used to have BIG problems when I was a DoorMat. Someone would say what I wanted to hear and I’d jump in and trust them, rarin’ to be their friend. On the Internet, it’s much easier for someone to be a poser. Get beyond someone emailing you what you want to hear and see if this person is worth cultivating as an online friend. Step back from your ego and see if you see signs that there’s a problem. I’ve met lots of people though my blog and other e-interactions but only keep in real touch with a small few.

Just as Internet sites and resources are endless, so are Internet friends. I don’t have time to write back and forth endlessly to anyone, no matter who it is. But I do keep in touch with the people I’ve come to like and who’ve earned my respect, as I’ve earned theirs. Until someone invents the 48 hour day (what I wouldn’t give for that!), there’s not enough time to get lost in Cyberspace.

I liked the blog, We The Change and when Todd dropped me a note to comment on how he liked mine, I saw he lived in NY like me. We ended up having lunch in person. I’m used to lunching electronically with friends so this was different. That evolved into his interviewing me for his podcast, and becoming supportive. My gut told me he was a great guy, and he is! Now we help each other.

Use common sense and your instincts to choose who you interact with online to avoid getting into cyber-trouble and to make the most of opportunities. Be friendly, supportive and appreciative of any help you get. That’s the best way to meet folks who will be good friends and supporters. Don’t forget to check out my podcast, Stop Being a Doormat: Lessons from an Expert.

If you enjoyed my post, please leave a comment and/or click on the bookmark and write a short review at some of the sites, especially Stumbleupon and Digg. Thanks!

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Friday, February 15, 2008

Carnival of Healing #125

Welcome to the Carnival of Healing #125! I’m absolutely delighted to be hosting again. The Carnival is a weekly round-up of personal blog posts on the topics of holistic health, wellness, spirituality, and self-empowerment. It’s coordinated by's Guide to Holistic Healing, Phylameana Iila Desy.

Last week's Carnival of Healing was kindly hosted by World Healing. Astrid is a Reiki Master Teacher and as someone who also does reiki, I was delighted to read We Are One World Healing » Reiki- 10 Myths Debunked. Reiki is hands on healing and people have a lot of misconceptions about it, which this article clears up. Next week it will be hosted by Natural Pain Relief.

I’ve been celebrating self-love on my blog his week in honor of Valentine’s Day. In that spirit, I’ll present the articles as different ways you can show yourself love. I believe that taking care of body, mind and spirit is very loving. Having a Love Affair with Yourself is a strong catalyst for many other things that are beneficial to your soul. I learned to treat myself in special ways for V Day, and will continue throughout the year to nurture my self-love. It begins with my buying A Rose for Me. Many of the articles below can give you more ideas for ways to treat YOU more lovingly, which nurtures self-love and builds better self-esteem. So you improve, feel good, and grow into a healthier person! There are many great articles and I thank everyone for their submissions.

Self-love is nurturing your inner self. The most loving gift I’ve given to me was developing my spiritual mindset and getting in touch with who I am inside. Todd at We The Change posted an insightful article about his own journey to manifest spirituality in Spirituality: What I Have Learned So Far. Growing faith in whatever way works for you makes it easier to feel loving to YOU!

Self-love is finding peaceful ways to disagree with others.
Warren at Personal Development shares several reasons why mediation can be extremely useful for communication in his thought-provoking post, Why Mediation Can Be Very Useful. Having someone understand your point can be a very loving way to settle yourself down from the stress of not being listened to with objectivity.

Self-love is changing your thoughts or mindset for a healthier outlook and to get rid of negatives that attract more negatives. Ananga at Ananga Sivyer's Living by Design Blog says, “Some of my fellow bloggers have been writing lately on the subject of de-cluttering. De-cluttering cupboards, de-cluttering rooms, workplaces etc. And that got me thinking about another key area that really benefits from being free from clutter. The clutter in our heads. What are we tucking away in corners and lugging around with us that we don’t need anymore?” Amen! In her post, Have you De-cluttered Your Head Lately?, she has fabulous suggestions for clearing our heads. All cleaning is an act of self-love!

Dr. Gabriella at Psychology, Transformation & Freedom Papers discusses a very loving concept that’s in all my books, in Claiming Responsibility For the Self. That gives you power over your life—a very loving act!

Shirley at Brighter Days for you and me! talks aboutWhy Doesn’t Life Come With an Instruction Book?, with checklist for creating a more positive and orderly life. Doing that makes me feel more loved!

Self-love is developing better personal habits that make you feel more like a person worthy of love. David at Slow Down Fast Today! says, “I’m not sure being polite to convenience store clerks has ever been covered completely in self-help literature, but I think it may be one of the best things we can do to actually become, and remember, who we really are.” Maybe not yet, but it’s discussed in my next book, Nice Girls on Top. Since the Law of Attraction brings back what you give out, being conscious about being courteous to all brings it back to you, which is an act of self-love too. Check out more about why it makes sense in David’s post, You Don't Have To Be In A Good Mood To Be Courteous.

Self-love is watching your weight in healthy ways. When you become conscious of your eating habits, you give yourself love by feeling better about your body! Paul at Workoutebooks says, “If you choose to join a weight loss program to give you the support necessary to assist you to shed those extra pounds then you might well elect to join a web-based program. But just what can you expect from a web-based program?” He gives tips for choosing one in What Should You Look For In An Online Workout Program?

And if you’ve ever wondered whether men or women have an advantage for burning fat, Stanimir at All About Your Body And Spirit discusses Who burns more fat, men or women?. The more you learn, the more love you can give YOU!

Many people struggle to lose weight. The discouragement it can cause creates stress that isn’t loving to YOU! Healthy Tips For A Healthy Lifestyle offers Health Tip #32: Use the law of attraction to lose weight and get fit. A positive attitude about weight loss is much more loving!

Too much dieting isn’t loving! Dr Martin Russell at Self Help Blog addresses the serious problem of anorexia in The Strange Behavior Of Anorexia - Part 1.

Self-love is learning how to generate healing energy. Gia at The Science of Energy Healing explains how different types of energy that we all have in Energetic Integrity with the Three Primary Energies of the Body posted. When your energy is balanced, it’s easier to love yourself.

I love pearls! Wearing them makes me feel great, which is loving. So I was delighted to read Astrid’s article, Power of Pearl at World Healing. Now I have a good excuse to buy more pearls! ☺

Self-love is making an effort to reach your goals. Brendan at Brendan McPhillips compares the illustrious Oprah Winfrey to Thomas Paine, author of Common Sense and a big force on the American Revolution. He shares qualities from these 2 great people who share a birthdays that can help you reach your goals in Choose and Reach Your Goals with Paine and Oprah Power (POP). Giving yourself power is a loving gift.

Self-love is enriching your life with good friends. Life Balanced posted The Secret to Being a Great Friend saying, “The secret to having great friends is to BE a great friend. This post includes eight things we can all do to strengthen relationships with people who are important to us.” The right friends enable us to both give and receive love. Gotta love that! ☺

Self-love manifests from a smile, which is very loving in that it attracts people who are attracted to good energy, and it stimulates you body to release more serotonin and endorphins, which lift your mood. Kavit at Wellness Junction by Kavit Haria tells us How to make your smile more attractive. Prepare to curl your lips!

Self-love is doing things to become more fit, which helps you feel great! Lovelyn at The Art of Balanced Living talks about her experience with Thai Massage, which combines assisted stretching with an acupressure style massage. All massage is loving (I’d get one any time or place it’s offered!) and what a self-loving gift when great stretches are added!

Frederic at Frederic at Frederic Patenaude Talks offers some points about how exercise can help you age well in Staying a Step Ahead of Aging. Aging well is a great dose of self-love!

Self-love is finding healthy ways to improve yourself. Raymond at Money Blue Book shares his experience with laser vision correction in My Experience With Lasik Eye Surgery. Improving your vision is another act of self-love!

Petra at Medopdedia Medopdedia shares info about how a new technology can help you detect problems without invasive procedures in the future in Haptics Technology will Let Radiologists feel your Insides via Computer.

Self-love is finding healthy ways to stay fresh and clean. Michael at posted an overview of health risks that research shows can occur with from using most deodorants and all antiperspirants in Deodorants, Antiperspirants and Your Health

Speaking of odor, did ya ever back off from someone whose breath is pungent? You don’t want to be the one making others back off. Aparna at Beauty and Personal Grooming says “Temporary bad-breath can occur when one has savored delectable dishes interspersed with strong flavored foods like onion, garlic, or as a result of food particles getting trapped in the teeth cavities.” and gives tips for changing it in Beauty and Personal Grooming: Home remedies for bad breath.

Self-love is learning to find the lessons is life’s situations. We all experience loss at some point. Anna at Widows Quest has a short post, The True Tragedy In Grief, about how to learn and grow from your grief. Self-love helps you cope in healthy ways!

Louise at The Human Imprint has a short but interesting article, Maternal skills, on how having kids can each good lessons for being more assertive in general. Standing up for the one you love—YOU—gets you more!

Self-love is finding supplements that can improve your health. I began to take supplements as an act of love to improve myself. There are many out there and we can’t take them all so helpful info can help make decisions. Spencer at Colloidal Silver Secrets explains Why Take Colloidal Silver?.

Herb at Bee Propolis says, “Recent research indicates that bee propolis could be an effective treatment for burns.” He explains this in his post, Bee Propolis As A Treatment For Burns.

Self-love is laughter! I’ll end this Carnival with a humorous post from Madeleine at Mad Kane's Humor Blog about how many of us procrastinate about making decisions—Decisions, Decisions, Decisions. She has a challenge if you want to try and you may get a good laugh. Laughing is good for you!

That’s it for this week’s Carnival of Healing. So, get up RIGHT NOW and do something loving for YOU! RIGHT NOW! Remember to check out the one next week at Natural Pain Relief. You can submit to the Carnival of Healing with the Carnival Submission Form. If you enjoyed the Carnival, please leave a comment and click on the bookmark and write a short review at some of the sites, especially Stumbleupon. Thanks!

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Thursday, February 14, 2008

10 Things I LOVE About Me!

I confess. I’m currently not in love with a guy right now and feel no shame or disappointment. I’ve dated a few guys lately but nothing special. It’s Valentine’s Day and I’m okay. Actually, I’m better than okay. Falling in love with ME has been the most beneficial love I’ve experienced so far. I’d love to meet a special guy who’d be worth my time. Otherwise, I have so much I want to do and would rather do them than to be bored on a date. I do believe with all my heart that there is one special guy for me, and when the time is right, God will arrange for us to meet.

Until then, I’ll continue to enjoy my life and give myself lots of love and appreciation.

That’s why, in honor of V Day, I shall make a list of things I love about me. You should try it too! Identifying what you’re happy with is a form of gratitude that comes back to you. Love yourself and you’ll get more love from others. So here it is:


1. My connection with God. For so many years I had no faith and I love that I consciously nurtured the strong spiritual mindset I now have.

2. Not being desperate for a man like I was when I was a DoorMat. It allows me to own my life, more enjoyment, and be more relaxed. I’m no longer one of those chicks who’s always looking to see what men are in the place I’m in or wasting time trying to figure out how to meet one.

3. My pretty green eyes. Not hazel but real green! I never knew I had them until someone pulled me to a mirror and forced me to pay attention. My flaws blinded me to my good qualities.

4. My cheerful nature. I used to act cheerful so people would like me more but inside I was crying. Now the cheer I give is what I feel!

5. My smile, which radiates through me to everyone in my path. I remember when I rarely smiled as I was too on edge trying to please everyone to notice that I wasn’t receiving joy. Now I’m known for my smile. People call me Sunshine and Star.

6. My perseverance for running. It’s NY. Winter. Cold. Yet I continue to go to Central Park whenever my schedule and wet weather allows. Folks are incredulous that I go in the cold. I explain that my body doesn’t cut me slack because it’s winter. It doesn’t put weight gain on hold till spring. I HATE doing cardio at the gym. So I put on my fleece and know that it’s my CHOICE. I rationalize that I must burn more calories as my body fends off the cold winds. ☺

7. That I make budgeting for a personal trainer for weight training a priority. I’d never worked out in a gym till 6 years ago. I had taken aerobic classes but stayed away from free-weights, even though they called me, because I didn’t know what to do with them and the room mainly had guys. My personal trainer taught me good form and now I’m the first woman he’s worked with who can bench press 35-pound dumbbells. I’m working up to 40 pounds. Now men in the gym watch me in fascination!

8. My soft, curvy, in proportion body. I used to just see the cellulite. Now I love my curves and continue to exercise to get into even better shape. But I appreciate that I’m good now!

9. My writing skills. I feel so blessed to be able to earn a living as a writer. I LOVE writing so much and found my way into the most fabulous career that any girl could want—one that I never dreamed I could do back in DoorMatville.

10. My tenacity in turning down work, when things are tight. I vowed to only do what I love and my faith allows me to do that, even when things might look bleak to someone else.

Okay, I’m cheating. I said 10 things but I can’t limit it and will continue. Self-love and appreciation is the truest blessing! Since it’s Valentine Day, please indulge me. I also LOVE:

11. That I’ve learned to value passion, people and contentment over striving to make a lot of money. I see so many rich, yet unhappy folks. They work hard to rake in the cash, then spend it on possessions that they think they need, but aren’t happy when they get them. I always have enough for what I need. I LOVE that my joy comes from a deeper place.

12. That I live with intention of serving God through my writing and speaking. I get letters EVERY day from people who’ve read one of my books, telling me the impact it had on them. I may not have the biggest bank account around but I consider this abundance in the richest state.

13. I LOVE that I love my face. That may sound conceited but after hating it for most of my earlier years, it’s so lovely to look in the mirror and like what I see. With or without makeup, I now consider myself very pretty!

14. That I’m aging well and feel like I continue to get better, not worn out. Taking good care of myself on all levels supports that.

15. That I’m VERY healthy and continue to strive to maintain it. I never cared as I didn’t feel worthy of loving care.


So there you go. Some of the things I love about me. I had a lovely lunch with a friend today and tonight I’m getting acupuncture, which always makes me fee fabulous after. So it’s a very loving day. I confess that I bought myself a teeny box of chocolates and ate them all! Being in love with YOURSELF is truly the most satisfying love there is.

I encourage you to make your own list of what you love about YOU and would LOVE you to post it in my comments so we can all see them and feel your joy. If you put it on your blog, please let me know and I’ll link to you.

Happy LOVE Day!

If you enjoyed my post, please leave a comment and/or click on the bookmark and write a short review at some of the sites, especially Stumbleupon and Digg. Thanks!

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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

A Rose for Me!

Tomorrow is the day that creates stress for many folks--Valentine's Day. We see men walking down the street carrying the often-obligatory flowers. Every year after 5 when work lets out, drug stores in NYC are full of men lining up to pay for something they grabbed off of a shelf to appease the romantic nature of their ladies. I always laugh when I see them, not putting much thought into the candy, card, stuffed animal, etc. to give to a woman who’ll probably oooo and ahhh over it. And it’s called romance.

One day dedicated to love. A day to force people to express their love. But it’s also a tradition that doesn’t put enough emphasis on loving each other every day.

I’m not bah humbugging Valentine’s Day. It can be lots of fun and an excuse to have great sex. But it’s given too much importance. Women expect a lot from their guys, who often don’t know what gifts to buy. Flowers are easy. They take no thought except to go buy them. Yet we love getting them. I do. In the long run, a gift, or just a token of caring, is much more special for those smart enough to give them, or to appreciate receiving them.

But what happens if you have no one to bring you flowers or chocolates or someone who gives you love on this day designated to celebrate love?

Valentine’s Day can hurt. You can’t avoid knowing that there’s a day made for love while you’re flying solo. Unless you hide in a closet for weeks before, there are blatant reminders of V Day all over. TV shows gives tips for making it special for your partner. Stores are doused in red hearts. Advertisements for flowers, jewelry, candy, etc. are everywhere. How’s a single person supposed to be happy amidst all the hype about this day for love?

I used to get depressed even before the holiday in the years before I had strong self-love. I remember walking down the street with tears flowing as I saw man after man walking with flowers but none were for me. I’d spend V Day with a friend who felt like I did. We pointed out all the flowers and gifts walking down the street and fed each other’s misery.

But I learned that we always have love if we let it in.

When I had my record label I went to London several times a year and stayed at the Luna House B & B, run by a family I got close to—parents, twin brothers and a sister. They were very good to me. One year I was there by myself during V Day. I was out the whole day and saw flowers come and go. I got sad with no one there to love me. I was very down until I returned to my room and saw a bouquet of roses and a stuffed bear holding a heart waiting for me. And a card from one of the brothers, that said, “I may not be your boyfriend but you’re loved. From your friend, Bernard.” He knew I felt bad and wanted to make me happy. I’ll never forget that sweet act of love!

Appreciating a real show of love instead of yearning for what might be obligatory creates a phenomenal boost in spirit.

My turning point for V Day came when I broke up with someone right before the BIG red-letter day. Since he had a big romantic streak, I’d been looking forward to spending V Day with him and getting roses. I buy myself flowers most weeks but roses always seemed appropriate from a guy. I began to mope when I went out and saw the parade of flowers. I wanted roses too! Then I thought about self-love. It was still fairly new for me but I felt it deeply.

I accepted that loving myself was the most important love of all. Why wait for a guy to get me what I desired?

I craved one perfect rose. It began with a thought and built up to a strong yearning. So I decided to get one. After all, I love me! I knew exactly what I wanted—yellowish orange with darker tinged edges. I pictured it and went on a mission to find the most perfect rose. It took a while as I began later in the day and many florists didn’t have much left. But I finally found the one I loved and spent ten bucks—for ONE rose! That’s love! I smiled every time I saw it on my nightstand and smelled it all week. Now I buy a single rose occasionally. It taught me how complete I really am!

ONE rose reinforced self-love. Small loving acts add up to a love affair with YOU.

Exercise: List every splurge you can think of that might make you smile--what you’d love but hesitate to spend time or money on. Figure out how to get them, or at least one for now.

One rose is inexpensive but loving! Splurges needn’t cost much. I love taking magazines to a cafĂ© or park for a reading fest. What would you like?

* Ask someone to watch your kids, even if you hate asking.
* Spend a day walking/biking around town.
* Indulge in a $5 slice of cake.
* Get the optional accessory for your car or computer.
* Buy a pillow for your bath.
* Get your nails done.
* Surf the Internet guilt-free.
* Go to the nearest body of water and relax.
* Run away one weekend and just be – no obligations.
* Eat, sleep, and play how YOU want. Bring books or stuff you haven’t had time for.

Catch up on yourself. Having a relationship with YOU brings so much contentment. Pamper and treat yourself well.

Whether you have a partner or are doing Valentine’s Day solo, find small ways to say, “I love me!” Self-love is the most satisfying love you can develop. You must have a relationship and understanding of yourself before you can share your life with anyone else in a healthy way. So go ahead, buy yourself flowers or something you’ve wanted. Whether you have a romantic partner or not, plan to do something to honor YOU on the day that’s dedicated to love.

If you enjoyed my post, please leave a comment and/or click on the bookmark and write a short review at some of the sites, especially Stumbleupon and Digg. Thanks!

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Monday, February 11, 2008

Having a Love Affair with Yourself

Do you love yourself? A large majority of people don’t! They may love some of their attributes—the body they worked hard to develop in the gym, success at work, finding someone who’s considered a “catch” to marry, etc. Most self-empowerment books emphasize the importance of loving yourself. While it’s a wonderful concept, putting it into practice is tough!

We want to think we love ourselves. It seems like the right thing to do. Yet I encounter folks all the time who say they love themselves, but their actions prove otherwise. It isn’t loving to:

* Do more to make other people happy than you do for YOU.

* Talk about what’s wrong with you.

* Forget to take supplements you know you need to be healthy.

* Refuse to accept compliments or gratitude when you help someone.

* Stay in a relationship with someone who treats you poorly and ignores your needs.

When I was a DoorMat, my real friends encouraged me to love myself. They hated all the ways I did so much for people at my own expense, while getting little or nothing in return. Especially with men! My self-esteem was in the toilet. I saw self-love as impossible. I wanted it but didn’t know how to change course and put the love on me instead of on those who sucked me dry.

As I struggled to get stronger, I realized that the best way to develop more self-love was to treat myself more lovingly. Do more nice things for me. Be kinder in how I viewed my appearance.

The kinder I was, the more focus I had on me. The more focusing on me made me feel good, the more I focused on me. Being kind to you is a synergistic cycle that makes you more empowered, and happy. When I splurged on expensive face cream, it reinforced that I was worth it. People began to notice how much I love me. They ask how they can get to that same place. It takes serious consciousness-raising. That’s why I wrote my book, How Do I Love Me? Let Me Count the Ways.

I gave the book proposal to my agent right before my Mom died suddenly from an accident. He loved it! After Mom’s funeral, I thought about how blessed I am to have been able to reinvent myself as I did. The biggest blessing is the intense self-love I’ve developed by consciously being very kind to me. I got a spiritual message that I had to help others and told my agent not to sell the book. It's now finished, and I plan to give it away in colleges, shelters, etc. I want to help others learn to love themselves the way I did. the book is done and I'm waiting for God to show me where to get sponsorship, I know I'll get it when the time is right.

FACT: The greatest gift you can give to yourself is yourself!

Do you like gifts? Who doesn’t? You all have the ability to give yourself the most special gift—YOURSELF! It's a gift that can only come from you. This unique, cherished blessing can be yours now!

The greatest gift! Living as a person you'd like to be instead of in the image of others makes the gift most precious.
The greatest gift! A best friend—yourself—a gift that lasts a lifetime.
The greatest gift! Unconditional self-love creates unlimited possibilities.
The greatest gift! The key to satisfaction is in owning the power to control what happens in your life.

Buddha said, “You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” Think about how you treat lovers. What loving things have you done for them? When we’re hot for someone, we work to please, often with less concern for our own needs. For years I catered to any man who’d be with me. Oh please, let me keep him happy so he won’t leave! There was little for me, but I was too busy trying to please to care.

If you don’t treat yourself as well as you do others, start right now! In honor of Valentine’s Day begin to do loving things for YOU!

Until you make yourself the most important person in your life, you won’t develop the most rewarding love. Self-love nurtures self-empowerment. I remember the joy of feeling more control, as I began to show myself love. So sweet! I want you to experience that. To taste it. Try! Once you love your inner spirit, the outside stuff comes. I don't love my cellulite and I’d love to be younger but I love me. Even when my hair frizzes or I goof up, I love me. Since I love me, not my hair or body, flaws no longer diminish the delicious, warm self-love that makes me take care of myself in ways no one else would.

Having been on both sides, I know that being consistently self-loving is the only way to truly nurture happiness. Withholding self-love when I’m not perfect hurts me, so I try not to do that anymore. It makes sense to lavish yourself with what you benefit from the most. So lavish now! You’re a unique individual, which makes you special!

FACT: If you want love from others, love yourself first.

We often give love to others first. That’s backwards! Why give oodles away and neglect yourself? If this is your pattern, don’t worry. It’s okay to not love yourself yet. You can make it a habit, IF you want to, by doing loving things for YOU. Being consciously self-loving puts a focus on YOU and fuels self-love.

Do you think strong self-love is out of your reach? I did, when I felt too fat to love. In the mirror, I only saw what I thought of as my flubber dubbery body and unruly hair. I pleased everyone but me and stayed married since I was sure I’d be alone for the rest of my life if I became single —tantamount to death. Then I went to a Mary Kay cosmetics party and was picked as the model. The rep whispered that she chose me because of my beautiful skin and eyes. I bought some makeup and wore it to school the next day.

Kids can be the cruelest critics for their honesty. They tell it like it is. Yet many noticed my makeup and said I looked prettier than usual. Prettier? “Yes Mrs. Schwartz, you’re always pretty but today you look even prettier.

My eyes opened a little to my good qualities. Little by little it sunk in that I wasn’t worthless. Treating me more lovingly helped me see myself in a better light, which made me want to do more for me. Self-love is addictive. I was at the bottom, willing to settle for crumbs of happiness; operating from fear. I know what an empowering miracle it is to fall in love with yourself. Do whatever you can to court yourself. If I could do it, anyone can! People from way back don’t recognize me. They ask if I’ve found the fountain of youth. No, I’ve found happiness in me. I say thanks every day for the blessing of learning how to love me.

As my self-love grew, my DoorMat tendencies faded as I became important. I was no longer like a robot trying to get through life without hurting. I knew who I was and loved that person! You’ll become more empowered in a variety of directions once you adopt some better new habits. I’ll go into them in more details in other posts. For now, in honor of Valentine’s Day, here are some tips you can begin with:

Be vigilant about your thoughts. Negative ones manifest negative experiences. Keep yours positive and enjoy more goodies!
Put your hand on your heart and force a smile. It will eventually feel real if you keep doing it.
Live in the present. Now is all that matters. Consciously drop thoughts about what happened in the past because it’s over and can only hurt you if you choose to allow it to. Stop worrying about the future because it’s not here yet.
Take responsibility for your choices and how people treat you. No one can hurt you or take advantage unless you allow it.
Stop complaining and trying to change others to your way of thinking. Change your response to what you don’t like and people will get the message.
Treat everyone with respect and courtesy. Getting treated well begins with how you treat others.
Treat yourself as lovingly as possible. All the time! The more love you give, the easier it is for your self-esteem to improve.

Whether you have a romantic partner or are flying solo, find ways to honor YOURSELF on Valentine’s Day! Do something special that’s just for you. As the kindness you show yourself increases, you’ll understand why the greatest gift you can give you is YOU!

If you enjoyed my post, please leave a comment and/or click on the bookmark and write a short review at some of the sites, especially Stumbleupon and Digg. Thanks!

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Friday, February 8, 2008

Growing Into Your Dreams

Today I had lunch with Todd, from We the Change. I’ve become friendly with many bloggers but this is the first time I’ve met one in person, since we both live in NYC. We talked about how important it is to both of us to do what we can to help our readers learn to help themselves. We both work on our own and are making our dreams come true. Yet so many people confine dreaming to their beds.

We dream as kids – of meeting Prince Charming, becoming a baseball player, or getting many of the things we see on TV and in movies. As we get older, we still have dreams, but they can seem more like fantasies if we haven’t made any come true. Eventually dreaming stops if it seems futile. Then bitterness or cynicism can dampen or extinguish happiness. I stand as an example that you can live out your dreams if you choose to!

Do you live passively or on purpose? Waiting for things to happen doesn’t help turn dreams into reality. Use your power to live on purpose! What does that mean? Get in touch with what you’d like to do and consciously go after it. The more things you try, the more chances of finding what makes you happy. Achieving what you wish for is very empowering.

I’ve talked about going to Alaska for years. And years. I believe that talking about it like it would definitely happen contributed to my spontaneously making a reservation for summer 2006. I’ve had good excuses for not going in past years. The summer before I was preparing for my national book tour, so no time. The summer before that I waited too long to plan it. And many excuses before that. But because I talked about my dream regularly, it was on the tip of my thoughts when I decided to do something special for me.

I knew that deep down I was nervous about going all the way to Alaska solo. It’s a long trip from NYC. And if I was going that far, I wanted to be there for over 2 weeks, which is a big chunk of time to be away. I could have made excuses for the next 10 or more years but it was on my mind. When I thought about going, I checked availability of flights. I had enough miles to go first class, which eased my concern a bit about the long trip. For 3 nights I searched the Internet for info and tinkered with the idea of going, which I’d done before and chickened out.

Then it hit me. If kept putting it off, I’d never go. So without time for second-guessing or giving into my doubts, I went online and booked my flight. I’m so glad I did! Alaska was an experience of a lifetime! My dream exploded on that trip. I took risks and did things I’d never done. Each fear became a challenge to get past it and do something wonderful. The tourist office was so helpful in guiding me to activities I’d love. I had 18 days in Alaska and they were filled with beauty, adventure and tons of fun—fun—fun. And fantastic people!

I took my first big risk with a whole day of kayaking. Why a risk? I went to Blackstone Bay with Alaska Sea Kayakers, 45 minutes by cruiser to where we began, so I couldn’t go back if I didn’t like it. I was also a tad concerned about feeling queasy on the boat. I considered skipping this excursion but decided I came to Alaska to experience its beauty and adventure. So I went. Kayaking around glaciers was the best day I had in that region – a shining example of why it’s great to overcome fear!

Another risk was when I took a bush plane to a highlight of my trip – Denali Wilderness Lodge. I was nervous about flying on that tiny plane for 40 minutes. But again I knew I HAD TO do it. HAD TO! It was so much fun. No queasiness. Just extraordinary views of trees and mountains. I felt like part of Sean and Lucy Crotty’s (owners) family. I experienced being on a small plane again on the return trip of a fly/drive trip after crossing the Arctic Circle in a tour van that took us up north along the Alaskan pipeline with Arctic Circle Fly/Drive Adventure. It rounded out my joy of facing fears.

Fear makes you cop out of doing what you’d like – leaving dreams in your bed. Don’t be afraid to take risks. Often, the worst that will happen is you may have to wait for what you want, or change direction. And let’s not be instant gratification pigs here. Take small steps toward something new and you can reach it.

* Dare to dream. Create a wish list with realistic dreams, but don't limit yourself. Realistic wishes are ones that are possible, even if you don't believe they are for you: a vacation in Fiji, a new car, a terrific new career, getting a degree. I used to ponder great things I yearned to do, as I’d fall asleep, but talk myself out of them the next morning. Why not have the reality too?

* Write down something specific you want to go after. If you can't do it with pen and paper, you can't really visualize it. Elaborate on your excitement, and include why you want it and how you’d feel about receiving. Read it often to inspire you.

* Find good teachers to help you nurture yourself and your dreams. You may need new skills or a mentor to achieve them. When you have a good support system, it’s easier. You can learn how to create a heavenly reality!

* Surround yourself with positive people. It’s easier to pursue dreams when friends are cheering you on or will listen when you’re frustrated. Ditch the naysayers when possible. It’s harder to go forward when you waste energy defending what you want to do to them or lose momentum because they doubt you. Friends who believe in you help you to believe.

* Plan it all out first. Whatever it is that you want to do – figure out all the steps needed to chart your course. Then take it one small step at a time. There’s no rush, as long as you do something. And creating plans is doing something too! Recognize all progress.

* Try a much smaller version of your dream first. If you want to write a book, write a short story or article for practice. I made many less daunting trips solo before I took on Alaska. Test the water before diving in, one toe at a time. It gives you a taste of your ultimate goals and allows you to develop more confidence to go for the big one.

* Write down problems as they arise, but choose specific times to think about them. Get into something comfy, sit in a cozy spot, sip wine or tea, and list every possible solution to each problem. It helps organize fears and actions to help you to feel more in control. Try to only ponder them during the allotted times so you’re not walking around worrying about what you might not be able to do.

* Be spiritually patient. When your faith is strong, you can trust that when the time is right you’ll find ways to move forward. I told people for years that I was going to Alaska and got brochures 4 years earlier. It allowed me to slowly budget and figure out details. I kept putting it out so when the time was right, I was ready. If you can put your dream into God’s hands, you’ll get support when it’s time for fruition. When I was ready to make my trip, it all fell into place.

* Get into the habit of applauding yourself for each bit of progress in your attitude and actions. Did you locate your resume to rewrite it? Yeah! Call a tourist office for brochures on travel there? Hurray! Start going out more with friends because you know you’re in a good place in your life for meeting a romantic partner? Good for you! Gather info on the Internet for relocating to a city you may enjoy more? Great! You don’t have to reach the final goal to cheer yourself on. Taking a positive step is reason enough to pat yourself on the back and feel good that you’ve done something for you.

Don’t avoid what produces stress if it's necessary to move your vision forward. The biggest deterrent is fear of the unknown. You may want to do something but don’t know if you’ll get a negative response or it won’t work out. Do something even when it scares you. At the same time, know that procrastinating is normal when fear makes you find excuses to put dreams off. Forgive yourself for it. Just don’t lose your desire to make it your reality! Stay on a mental track until you’re strong enough to take the next step.

We’re all capable of making dreams come true. Don't wait until you feel too old to go after them. It’s your choice: continue being a dreamer or become someone with a purpose. Often dreams don't get fulfilled because of unworthy feelings, fear of trying, or concern with what others will think. Is disapproval worse than sitting home unhappy, brooding over why others get goodies and you don’t? I've made many dreams come true. It’s such fun and so empowering! And when you realize a dream, don’t forget to keep on dreaming. I can’t wait to make my next dream come live! For more motivation, you can read my blog about my trip to Alaska at Solo Chick Alaska.

If you enjoyed my post, please leave a comment and/or click on the bookmark and write a short review at some of the sites, especially Stumbleupon and Digg. Thanks!

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Wednesday, February 6, 2008

The Hurtful Side of Love

Love is warm, fuzzy, gooshy, yummy. Next week I’ll discuss that kind in honor of Valentine’s Day. But today I want you to think the other kind of emotion that masquerades as love:

* The kind that sweeps you off your feet, making you blind to your love’s abusive ways.
* Feeling love that isn’t loving.
* Using love as an excuse to be hurt.
* Feeling very unloved in the love you convince yourself you’re getting.

I have a very special guest today—Janine Latus, author of the NY Times bestseller, If I Am Missing or Dead (Simon & Schuster). It’s not a fun, pretty article. But it’s very real. Janine’s sister Amy was murdered by the man she loved. Janine was also in an abusive relationship. Her book is a very candid look at how Janine and Amy ended up in relationships that made them victims of abuse.

Abuse is rampant, yet many of us turn the other way and hope it goes away. People in abusive relationships go into what I call protective denial. They rationalize it away by holding onto the shred of pleasure they get from their manipulative partner. They accept blame when their partner explains why it’s their fault they got beaten or ripped to shreds mentally.

Friends try to convince abuse victims to leave, to no avail. Mind games are often too strong to win. And so it continues. I think most women will recognize at least a small part of themselves in If I Am Missing or Dead. We all have times in our lives that we succumb to the rush of chemistry with someone that we label love, dive in head first and let it override common sense.

Janine, bless her heart, is trying to make a difference. In conjunction with the release of If I Am Missing or Dead, the National Network to End Domestic Violence has changed the name of its Direct Assistance Fund to the Amy's Courage Fund. They offer assistance to women who don’t have the resources to leave an abusive relationship. Keep your eyes open.

I encourage you to forward a link to this post to any man or woman who might be getting abused by their partner, or doing the abusing. Men get abused too but are usually too ashamed to admit it and don’t know how to take action. No matter who’s doing the violent behavior or messing with their partner’s head, victims need to learn how to escape it safely. I thank Janine for sharing, both here and in her riveting memoir, If I Am Missing or Dead.

If I had spoken up, she might still be alive ©2007
by Janine Latus

When my sister Amy was 37, she fell in love. He was her cowboy, the man who set the clock radio half an hour early so they could snuggle before rushing off to work. Sure, he made belittling comments about her weight, and he didn’t want to meet her friends or family or let her spend time with us, but he left her love notes. Amy hadn’t gotten enough love notes.

She told me all about that part of their life — about the snuggling, about the slips of paper she’d find on her pillow or the mantle, about the dinners at home and the movies in front of the fireplace. Eight giddy months they’d been together. Amy was happy, so I kept it to myself when I called and she wasn’t home, and he told me he had chopped her up and buried her in the backyard. I thought he just had a lousy sense of humor, and that he was socially inept. And I kept my mouth shut when she told me he had joked that he was going to kill her, and how she had told him it wasn’t funny. Nor did I intervene when she bought him a truck or loaned him money to help him get back on his feet, or cancelled fun times with her friends to stay home with him. Otherwise, she said, he got jealous. I understood that, because my man was jealous, too. Besides, I wanted to trust her judgment.

Then he strangled her. He squeezed her throat shut with his hands while she kicked and fought. Later he wrapped her body in a tarp, threw her in the back of his pickup, and buried her at a construction site.

It took weeks to find her body. Weeks of helicopters and cadaver-hunting dogs, weeks of searching riverbanks and bushes and alleys, weeks of hoping she had merely been in a horrible accident and gotten amnesia. By the time her body was found, the coroner needed dental records to make the identification.

While we were looking, detectives found a letter taped to the inside of my sister’s desk drawer at work. It was not a love note. It was a cry for help. “If I am missing or dead,” it said, “pick up Ron Ball.” The letter was dated ten weeks earlier. For at least that long she had been afraid of her cowboy. For at least that long she had kept that fear a secret. For longer than that I had kept silent for fear of hurting her feelings.

If I could go back, I’d risk making her mad. I’d tell her the truth about my life, about being kept up all night with an accusing finger stabbed over and over into my chest as I denied infidelities I didn’t commit. I’d tell her what I now know, that jealousy is not love. Belittling is not love. Controlling is not love. If she was alive I’d tell her she could stand on her own, that it is far better to be without a man than to be with a bad one.

She wouldn’t have listened. I know that. When you’re in the throes of melodrama and passion, you can’t hear outsiders. Outsiders don’t understand, they don’t feel the fever, the need. They’re boring. Tired. Dried up.

I know, because I was a drama junkie, too. My heart used to thud before my man came through the door, in lust and anxiety, in anticipation and fear. I thought that was love, and that the gentle caring and respect in my best friend’s marriage was bland and colorless.

My man didn’t hit me. He didn’t have to. He had enough control with just his voice. But that was not the big difference between my sister’s relationship and mine. The big difference was, I got out alive.

Thank you so much Janine, for allowing me to post this!
Check out If I Am Missing or Dead and Amy's Courage Fund. And, keep your mind and common sense on a higher level of awareness.

If you enjoyed my post, please leave a comment and/or click on the bookmark and write a short review at some of the sites, especially Stumbleupon and Digg. Thanks!

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Monday, February 4, 2008

Multitasking More Efficiently

On Friday I talked about how multitasking can be a curse. Killing 2 or more options with one stone has become the standard. I try to distinguish between juggling many tasks that are ongoing and multitasking. To me, the latter is trying to juggle more than one thing at a time, like doing your day job while texting, checking email, and doing other things simultaneously.

Juggling ongoing tasks giving each your full attention can be better.

For example, before I had my first book published, I had many ideas for topics to write about and began to develop a bunch of books. I jumped from one to another, never making any serious headway for any of them. For years I worked on many books. An idea for one book led to an idea for another and another. All in one day! I’d have the files for several titles opened at once as I worked on them all. My brain raced and raced, but I finally realized it wasn’t in a good way. I couldn’t focus well on any one of them, in addition to doing the work that earned my living then. I thought that I was being productive doing so many things at once. But I was multitasking in circles.

So I wrote down everything I wanted to do, all the books I wanted to write, and chose the one I felt was best to do first. Since I saw a need in the music industry for a book that specifically explained how to get a record deal, I decided to write The Real Deal: How to Get Signed to a Record Label first. No multitasking. Just focus on getting that book out. Since I enjoyed the other titles too, I allowed myself some time each day to work on 2 others too. But my priority was one book. Shortly after I got my first book deal with Billboard. By then the book was almost done so I scanned my list to see what to prioritize next.

My editor at Billboard pushed me to do another title quickly. I was dying to finish All Men Are Jerks Until Proven Otherwise, so I decided to write that and Start & Run Your Own Record Label at the same time. Since all three of those book deals were in a one-year period, I had a lot to cram into the time I was given. So, I put everything else aside to write instead of juggling even more. I worked on *Jerks * as I researched the music book. At separate times! I made rules for checking email and told friends I’d be unavailable a lot during the eight months I had to complete my second and third books.

I wanted to get these books published more than almost anything and was very willing to give up or postpone the many other things I did. There was no was I would sabotage my books by trying to multitask. I curtailed a lot during that time.

Self-empowerment includes taking control of what you do and how you do it. Getting caught up in the age of speed-living is your CHOICE. I’m choosing to slow down a bit. While I still do some multitasking, I’m more conscious of how doing too much can sabotage the quality of what I need to do. I know my writing needs my complete attention if I want my books written properly. You can slowly ease yourself out of bad habits if you CHOOSE to. You can:

* Make lists of what needs to be done. Seeing it on paper eliminates having to juggle it all in my head. I sometimes have 2 pads—one for things that need to get done faster and the other for things I need to do but aren’t so time sensitive that I can do when I have a free window or want a break from the priority task. I enjoy crossing what I finish off.

* Force yourself to take an exercise break every day. Exercising is one of the few things I can’t multi-task. It’s easy to think you can skip it when time seems too tight to “waste.” But it’s too beneficial not to do. So I keep it on my list of priorities every day. It decreases stress, keeps me fit and is also a great time to sort out ideas and decisions. In version of multitasking, I’ve begun to talk to God and do affirmations when I run. ☺ So I come home feeling physically and spiritually renewed, often with some good ideas for my writing.

* Set boundaries on what you say yes to. No one is Wonder Woman or Man. I’ve set limits on what I can do without sacrificing myself or the quality of my work. You CAN say no to things!

* Make an effort to keep your workspace neat and organized. When I see piles of paper around I go through them and think of other things to do. It also makes me feel overwhelmed. I keep things in folders and it makes me feel more organized and also keeps things I might get distracted with out of sight.

* Delegate some responsibilities to others. This was a hard one for me since I knew I do everything the best. ☺ Slowly I’ve begun accepting offers of help or bringing in an intern to do some of the less important tasks.

* Give yourself permission to relax. Take some time for you—read a book, take a leisurely bath, go for a walk, talk to a friend, or whatever calms the waters for you. NO multitasking allowed during these times!

* Make sleep a priority. Busy multitaskers often sacrifice sleep time in order to work more. That’s an unloving attitude! You need enough sleep—enough by a health professional’s standard, not what you get used to having. Studies show that 7-8 hours is optimum. When you sleep well, you wake up refreshed and can actually get more done.

You can make multitasking a healthier endeavor by being more conscious of how it affects you and your work. Then find ways to pare it down to a level that doesn’t leave you stressed or lowering your standards. I’m writing 4 books at one time now and taking my own advice. I make schedules for each and try not to jump back and forth too much. I’m not that far from finishing Nice Girls on Top, so I’ve lowered its priority. Will do the new edition of one of my music books in bits and pieces. Then I’m collaborating on 2 others, which are my bigger priorities. I’ve put some of the smaller projects I sometimes do on the back burner so I can focus on the books.

When I plan ahead and prioritize, it works so much better. If you consider yourself a multitasker, redefine what that means to you. Give your electronic communications a rest. Do a self-check to see how the stress of juggling tasks at once makes you feel. When you learn to slow down a bit, you can feel better and get more of what counts done more effectively.

If you enjoyed my post, please leave a comment and/or click on the bookmark and write a short review at some of the sites, especially Stumbleupon and Digg. Thanks!

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