NEVER Underestimate…new post series!

NEVERUNDERESTIMATE

I am so excited to announce a series of blog posts I’m calling “NEVER Underestimate.” What does underestimate mean? It means not realizing or seeing the true value or importance of something. There are many things, people, places (?), and practices which in our initial evaluation we underestimate. These posts will be short, fun, serious, meaningful, random and hopefully inspiring!

That being said, I will be trying to be a more faithful blogger– things have been busy! I started a second job (I call my Euro-trip fund) working as a Barista (bright and early mornings…eessh! But making coffee and tea specialty drinks is awesome!), and I have been editing, writing and rewriting my novel series. WHEW! It’s been crazy!

Without further ado…

Never underestimate the power of YOU, and what you can accomplish.

It seems fitting way to start. We underestimate ourselves and what we can accomplish all the time. Some of the most amazing people in the world that I have such respect and admiration for are people who have disabilities and become athletes or achieve some other great accomplishment. These people are living, breathing proof that with hard work, a good attitude, and refusing to quit, we can accomplish things said to be impossible.

Accomplishing anything great takes hard work…so the road ahead is going to be tuff, but YOU can do it. You can accomplish that thing that you were meant to do.

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“You should settle down”

When you become a certain age you will often have people tell you, “It is time for you to start thinking about settling down.” Or maybe you start to think about this idea of “settling down” yourself.

What comes to mind when you hear the words, “settling down”? Sadly, right when I hear the words settle down the first thing that comes to mind is BORING. No more sporadic fun adventures. Life is OVER. I think a lot of other people might just feel this way too.

very bored

The good news is we are wrong about this notion that settling down means our lives are getting boring. People…we just make it boring.

What settling down actually means….

You are starting to take certain things more seriously in life….maybe you aren’t as “wild & crazy” as you once were. Things that weren’t as important to you are things that are becoming important. Maybe you are tired of renting and want to own a house or buy a piece of land, maybe you want to get married, get a job that will turn into a career…whatever it is, you are ready for a step that is more permanent than ever before.

There are AWESOME things that happen when you settle down:

  1. You realize to reach certain goals or if you hope to retire you must DO SOMETHING! YOU become a MOTIVATED individual. Motivated people have purpose!
  2. You are trying…and succeeding! People who succeed at things are confident!
  3. You are fulfilling dreams! Umm…who doesn’t love fulfilling dreams!?
  4. You are finding things or people that are AWESOME and hey, not just a one-time deal! Diamonds or crystal?
  5. You are probably earning more money than you ever have before in your life!! Do I need to say anything?

Why do so many us adults, who after we settle down, seem so miserable or our lives very boring?

I think it’s because when we think of “settling down” we literally throw all fun out the door with it. We literally think, or even tell ourselves, “My life is about to get boring. All fun and games are OVER.” We have this attitude, this belief that life is no longer going to be carefree and fun. And if we think that way…I think things will turn out that way.

Yeah, maybe settling down means you are “growing up” and you do have to take certain things seriously. But why do we think we can’t enjoy life, laugh a ton and have fun?

Instead of thinking we are “settling down” why don’t we think of it as “settling up”?

Tips for SETTLING UP (but of course can be used at any time in life!)

be awesome

Stay in shape. Please, please don’t let yourself go. It isn’t fair to who you are with or to yourself! Make being healthy a priority…you will NEVER REGRET IT!

Become an adventurer. An adventure honestly is just doing new things for the sake of doing them. Go to a new coffee shop, hike up a mountain, stay in a ritzy hotel, camp in the backyard, help out at the soup kitchen, read a book, travel to a new spot… be active!

Don’t OVER-SPEND! Over-spending or biting off more than you can chew and getting in debt leads us down a dark spiral straight to adulthood misery. We have this the bigger the better mindset…always thinking THINGS buy us happiness. Nope! If you have less money troubles and a smaller house you will be less stressed out and hey…happier. You don’t need to bury yourself in a half a million dollar loan (unless you can afford it, awesome!). There is beauty in simplicity.

If you get married…marry someone who has common interests. Not everything of course…what is the fun in that!!?? But big things like religion, attitude (I think the other person’s attitude about life should be a top priority! Don’t marry someone who is often very, very negative!), and similar life goals are all things you should have close to the same ideas about.

Learn not to “Sweat the Small Stuff.” Why do we make a big deal about stupid things? There is a great book about this topic, “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff…And It’s All Small Stuff.” If you have time…read it!

Make time for people. You don’t need a million friends to be happy, just a good little group. Be a good friend, boyfriend, girlfriend, mom or dad, spouse by giving people time, really listening and making them feel important and special.

All about attitude. A good life really is all about your attitude. Your attitude will affect how you view and live your life. YOUR ATTITUDE MAKES ALL THE DIFFERENCE. Your attitude will affect your marriage, job, kids, and YOU. Your attitude will get you through the bad times and make the good times better.

Don’t settle down. Settle UP!

HAPPY MONDAY!!!

You are just too nice

Have people ever told you, “You know what your problem is, you are just too nice!” ?
Is there really such a thing as being too nice?

No. 

Before you start writing your rebuttal please continue reading.

I am not talking about being fake and nice…that’s called CHEESE. It’s awful!! Cheesy people are the worst! No I’m talking about nice people that are just genuinely nice. Those people you bump into or meet that leave you smiling and thinking, Gosh! That person was super awesome! I believe striving to be overflowing with kindness changes and impacts the world around you in huge ways. I believe there is enormous power in nicest….and that you are influencing and bettering a lot of lives with your kindness….and as an added bonus nice people tend to be happy people.

But…still…can one be too nice? No…but there is such a thing as allowing yourself to be taken advantage of

People call it “being too nice” but I call it the fear of confrontation and not believing or knowing your worth. 

The fear of confrontation can be a huge problem. The good news is you aren’t one of those people that pick and search for fights and cause a lot of grief to not only others but themselves as well–the bad news is you often feel unappreciated, used, like people don’t listen to or value your work or opinions, and you might just have very low self esteem. The fear of confrontation can take over your life and lead you to down a destructive path. It breaks up friendships, relationships, and opportunity. And in the long run it turns genuinely nice people in to bitter and very mean people.

How do you break the fear of confrontation?

Know your worth. You are valuable! Do you believe that? Really believe it?You have to believe that about yourself. And because you are valuable you have to learn to stand up for yourself…because you owe that to yourself. No one should be taken advantage of…but more importantly no one should allow themselves to be taken advantage of. 

Confrontation is part of life…it will happen at work, in your home, with strangers or with friends and family ….confrontation is everywhere. I hate it…it’s uncomfortable but it’s just gonna happen. If something bothers you say something…be nice (you should be good at that! 🙂 ) but say something. More often than not you will discover people don’t realize they are hurting you or know you are feeling unappreciated. And when you say something? It will clear the air, open a door, sometimes close a door, and most importantly you will be glad you said something. 

I hope this post helps someone out there! I am one of those people who wants to run and hide at the first sign of confrontation…it scares me to death! But I had to realize in the end my lack of being able to stand up or speak up about things was really, really hurting me. The more I faced confrontational situations the easier and less scary it became and the better I felt inside. I was still nice and kind but I felt stronger and more valued! 

Stand up, speak up, be nice and know your worth! 

Have a great saturday! 😊 

Just Keep Writing

Dear Writers,

Just because someone you know has not been able to publish any of their 20 manuscripts….does not mean you won’t be able to publish your 1 manuscript.

I finally met a fellow writer…in person. I feel like most of the writers I know are trapped in the glass, plastic and metal components of my cell phone or laptop, in the world of social media. Every now and then I think to myself I wish some of these writer people lived nearbywhat great friends we’d be! It’s strange because sometimes it’s hard to imagine these people (often in different countries!) are actually real. And I am sure Pennsylvania has writers…I just need to get out more… visit more coffee shops perhaps.

But finally, I was able to sit face to face, shake the hand of an actual fellow writer. Let me just say, it is awesome to be chatting with someone and discover they are a writer too!

I was in Colorado last week, at an interview. You know me, it seems lately when I am not writing I spend my time either at interviews or preparing for interviews. LOL. I even have an interview later today (wish me luck)!  A blog post may be coming soon about interviews, What I have Learned So Far or Interviews and Introverts (Although I don’t know if I’m exactly an introvert…just SCARED SILLY when it comes to interviewing!). I have now had Skype, Government, interviews in front of a board of 5+ people, phone interviews, interviews with presentations, interviews with literary agents (the MOST terrifying!), interviews in which the interviewers pretended to be students misbehaving (the latest)….and more. So definitely have had a broad range of experiences, some very positive and some not so much! So stay tuned for this future post!

Anyway, back in Colorado. The writer I met was a History Teacher and let me just say the man was intelligent.I'm Brilliant It wasn’t that he was one of those people who tries to shove their intelligence in your face, “BTW…I’m brilliant!” He was one of those people whose words, mannerisms, and whole persona spoke of genius.

Like without trying the intelligence would pop out of him in little bursts. Anyway, SUPER, SUPER nice guy! In conversation he hears me say that I’m a writer/working on writing a Historic Romantic Suspense series. We get to talking and he has written a several books. Boy was I excited to hear from this more seasoned writer’s experiences. One of my favorite comments he told me (while laughing) he received from an agent rejection letter was, “Loved your characters, but the end of the book was like an empty room with white walls.” As he told me more and more about his experience he said he could probably fill a small room with the number of letters, emails and notes of the times he’s been rejected. I felt my stomach twist.

I’ve always believed that some way, some how if I don’t give up I will find an agent, I will get published. It may take a LONG time and a lot of rejections but I believed that if I didn’t quit it would pay off. Hearing that this amount of rejection happened to a man who doesn’t quit easily, who is incredibly brilliant, and his book had yet to been published… was discouraging.

But then…

That is his story.

Not mine. (NOT YET anyway!)

I just want to tell all of you writers out there it can get discouraging when you hear about the failures and rejections other writers have experienced. (Especially when those writers are brilliant and creative and good at what they do!) But just because they got rejected does not mean YOU will.

DON’T GIVE UP. KEEP WRITING!

Change 

Change. 

It’s a word that makes me excited and strikes fear into my heart all at the same time. 

There’s lots of different types of change. I like to categorize them into four general groups.

The GOOD- This is the kind of change that all, any human welcomes eagerly. This change in life’s story involves something awesome happening that you’ve only dreamed of happening. And you embrace it, with all your heart. For example: You just won the lottery! 

The BAD- this change isn’t actually bad…it’s a great thing. Its change that is saving you from something bad–your saving grace. This second group of change is tough but it’s necessary. This type of change usually involves our willpower. We don’t eagerly accept it.  We fight through it because if we realize if we don’t change we are headed for disaster. Example: losing weight, getting out of a bad relationship, overcoming an addiction.

The UGLY- This type of change refers to situations in which we have no control over. It is thrust upon us without our choice.This change is usually very unexpected and often unpleasant (at first). Example: losing a job, getting bit by a super spider and becoming Spider-Man.

And then there’s that last category of change–the one the bulk of this post is about.

The CHOICE. This category of change is  when in life you find yourself facing a path which leads two, five, or seventeen different ways. Each one of them means change, you just have to decide which path to take. You know you can’t just stand there and not ever choose. These are the changes that you are in control of but often leave you with questions and the dreaded task of making a decision and sticking to it. This type of change involves taking a risk or a chance. And sometimes you don’t know how it will turn out. Haha! Can you guess which category of change I am facing right now!? 😉 

As I was thinking about change and making a decision, this thought hit me. 

What really makes a good life? 

You do. 

It’s not money or a perfect job or a house on the beach…you make your life good. It’s up to you. Even though I’d love all those things….I can still be happy without them. There’s nothing more dangerous than waiting for something to happen to live and fully enjoy life. You’ve got to choose happiness where you’re at, you’ve got to choose to make the most of your life now. If you live each day to its fullest–smiling, thankful, laughing, building good relationships, loving people, helping people, exploring, etc., no matter where life takes you…rich or poor, moving here or there…you will have a good life. There are so many things we have no control over in life, but what we do have control over is our attitudes and actions. 

What’s the point of all of this? 

Change happens. Sometimes it’s good sometimes it’s bad. Sometimes you have a say in the matter and sometimes you don’t. But no matter what change brings your way…you can always be in charge of how you face it or reacte to it.

Stay positive! Do good! Make people know they matter! Try your best! Be the best possible version of yourself! Enjoy the little things! If you’re doing that…no matter what path you take, what change you embrace…it will be okay!

The Lady with the Purple Streak in her Hair – True Story

Today I was going to write an entirely different blog post….about writing and love triangles…but I heard this true story today and felt I had to share it instead.


When she first walked into my office, I noticed she had silver hair….and a streak of it was dyed purple. Yes, purple. Not very common in most of the folks I’ve met over 50. This lady has a story to tell, I thought.

Her name often confused people. Lacy. It spoke of doilies, tea cups, frolicking in a field of daisies. People who knew her would often chuckle about the irony of her (of all people) owning such a name. She wasn’t dainty…and certainly never wore, never owned an article of clothing even touched with lace.

She was fire…ice…sharp…and when you weren’t ready for it that mouth of her’s would have you about crying your eyes out. Lacy would tell anyone exactly what she thought. There was no softening with her. If you asked her opinion (or didn’t ask), boy you’d get it and another thing coming.

Lacy was also known for something else. The way Micheal Phelps was created for swimming–a body literally made to slice through the water– she was made to make ivory keys sing. Music touches most of us and reaches to the deepest places in our hearts. But for Lacy, music–the piano, those black and white keys, were apart of her. Living without the piano was unimaginable. And gosh, was she a good pianist. Her fingers glided over those keys, and created music that would have you about crying your eyes out. (Lacy was good at making people come to tears one way or another…)

Rheumatoid Arthritis. 

The words just about knocked the wind out of her. But she was so young? Lacy studied the watery blue eyes of Doctor Paul, eyes hidden behind glasses so immense, so thick, she was sure he would be blind the moment he took them off. They held a look of pity which made a flash of anger shoot through her body. He reached out his hand and touched her shoulder, another gesture of pity. The shot of anger now become more of a steady stream pulsing through her body. She whipped her shoulder out of his clutches and stood up. “No, you’re wrong.”

“I’m so sorry, Lacy. Truly, I am from the bottom of my heart,” Dr. Paul said, his usually calm voice near cracking.

“I’m only 30 years old! You have made a mistake!” She could fill the anger flooding her cheeks, turning them red.

Dr. Paul looked down, shaking his head.

“You know what? I think I need to see another doctor, who ain’t as blind as a bat!” She grabbed her jacket while stomping towards the door. “You and those big, thick old glasses need to retire. But then you may need a job after how much you’ll be paying me when I sue you for giving me the wrong diagnosis!” Her anger fueled her out the door, past the shocked looks of nurses and patients who felt the floor tremble with how hard she slammed the door, and all the way through the parking lot of people who seemed to have made it their life’s mission to get in the way.

She sat in her car, her heart pounding. She turned on the ignition and gripped the steering wheel. “You’re gonna be fine, just fine. That old bag has no idea what he was talking about,” she told herself out loud. A twinge of guilt surfaced at the look on Dr. Paul’s face. He had been her doctor since she was little girl. She closed her eyes, forcing the vision out.

“You’ll be fine,” she whispered again, her eyes fixing to her hands as they gripped the steering wheel. She imagined the ivory keys of her baby grand, the cool feel of them beneath her fingers. “Just…fine.” She burst into tears.

Lacy, now 30 years later, said this was the moment where things got dark. For months and months she wallowed, despairing at the cruel dish life had given her to eat.

Then something happened. It was like a light shone into the blackness. She had a choice. “I was could crawl deeper into this black hole and die, or I was going to make the most of it.”

She chose to make the most of it. She said, “One thing I got from my father is determination. I couldn’t quit.”

Today, she dyes one streak of her hair purple for fun, she played the piano, and still played it beautifully (and still made people cry). In September she is moving to Africa for six months! She didn’t let the bad things in her life take charge of it. She also said her disease has made her more compassionate than she ever thought she could be, and in doing so perhaps saved many relationships she may have lost.

Charles Swindoll said, “I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it…we are in charge of our attitudes.” 

The Shot

He lived for a sound. The sound of a leather ball dropping through a net.

Swoosh. 

It was the sound of perfection.

Johnny practiced every day, every chance he got. Black cracked asphalt, a ratty torn net, a backboard with chipping paint and splintering wood were his home, his safe place. He was the master here. When everything in his life was spinning, here it was still. He was in charge of that 10 foot basket, he controlled that ball.

Swoosh. 

The three point shot was his box of gold, his fountain of youth, his trophy, his blue ribbon. He had one focus, one goal. Swoosh. And he never missed.

2.34 seconds. The numbers glowed in the clock, a silent challenge; they were daring him. All he needed was one shot, one basket and he would bring the team to victory. All he needed to do was make the shot he never missed. He was the golden boy. Practically invincible on the courts. He stood waiting, ready for his teammates to get him the ball. He was in charge of that 10 foot basket, he controlled that ball.

The timer rang out, splitting the hot air. In a flash, the ball was in his hands. He aimed, time seemed to freeze. The basket suddenly looked unfamiliar, far away. It was no longer a 10 foot challenge, it had grown 20 feet, 30 feet over his head. The roar of the crowds sounded in his ears.

“Boo!” Someone screamed. “You’re not gonna make it!”

The basket now stood 50 feet over his head. The other team rushed towards him like a tidal wave, ready to consume him. Boom, boom–it was the sound of his heart pounding against his rib cage. Sweat dripped down the sides of his face. The ball suddenly felt foreign, as if he had just felt a basketball for the first time. The clock on the wall was merciless. He had to shoot.

The ball left his hands. The entire room held their breath as the it sailed through the air.

But he never heard that swoosh.

Johnny, the golden boy, had missed.

Back in the locker room Johnny confessed to his coach how in those last 2.34 seconds of the game the basket had grown taller and taller right before his eyes. How suddenly a ball that he knew like his own hand felt like nothing he had ever touched before.

“Why did I miss, Coach, why?” It was a feeling he’d never felt, It was a feeling he didn’t understand.

His coach gripped his shoulder and said, “Son, you didn’t see the basket anymore…you saw everything standing in the way.”

Do you have a dream? That one goal you’re determined to reach? You started off strong, believing you could reach your dream, nothing could stand in your way. And then something happened…you saw all of the obstacles. They were menacing beasts, telling you your dream was too far, too hard, unreachable….they told you were going to fail. And you believed them. Slowly, your dreams drifted farther and farther out of reach.

But, you know what…they weren’t actually out of reach…you just thought they were.

“When obstacles arise, you change your direction to reach your goal, You do not change your decision to get there.” -Zig Ziglar 

Don’t give up. Don’t quit. Keep your eyes on the prize…not on everything standing in your way.