Monday, April 30, 2012

Z is for Zone

Welcome back to the last day of the A-Z Blog Challenge. This April has been the Letters of Gratitude. Some of you have stopped by every day. I owe you a badge! Others are new friends we have picked up along the way. Very excited to have all of you, both old and new friends.

Z is for zone, as in writing in the zone.

There are many things that put me in the mood. I subscribe to a number of travel blogs. I love looking at the gorgeous pictures, and fantasizing about a story that would take place there. Especially a steamy romance. Something created where the odds were not in the couple's favor, but survived and thrived in spite of the odds. Almost seems like it should be illegal, I'm having so much fun.

Right now I'm listening to Green Meadow by pianist Denise Young. Music puts me in the mood. With my Dr. Dre headsets, I can write just about anywhere. Tomorrow, as I travel home, I will be spending about 3 hours in airports on layovers.

I've spent the last 3 days in an intense class, learning about one aspect of the Real Estate market I wasn't versed in.

The gentleman I took the class from has a unique perspective on family. He grew up in an orphanage run by Catholic Nuns. He had an older brother who was in a different section of the orphanage. On occasion, his mother would come visit him for a weekend, he says when her conscience got the better of her. So, even in the pecking order of the orphanage, he wasn't a "true" orphan, because he had a mother. She just didn't want to visit very often. So, the better socks and clothes went to the "true" orphans, the ones who had no one.

He became a successful man, worked hard and didn't expect he'd ever have a family because he had no concept of what that was about. But then he met Her, and without any training, without anyone to model after, without the loving guidance of a sister, or mother or grandmother, he fell in love with this young woman. And his life has been enriched beyond his wildest dreams.

His story touched me yesterday when he told me about it. Today, at the end of the day he teared up, as we were preparing to go. He spoke of how lucky he was to have found her. 

"Whatever does she see in me after all these 50 years? I will never be able to figure that out, Sharon."

I thought about this. Looked him in the eyes, and said, "Your heart. You have a heart of gold, and always have. That's what she sees."

I find inspiration for love stories in unlikely places, from unlikely people, doing unlikely things. For, as powerful or successful as we all are in our lives, I still think the greatest thing is to love and be loved in return. My favorite line from Moulin Rouge.

I'm grateful for the gentle guidance others have given me, not only in how to make a financial success in this world, but how they share their love stories.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Y is for You'll Know When You Get There

Welcome back to almost the end of the A-Z Blog Challenge. My theme has been the Letters of Gratitude.

Like I mentioned in yesterday's post, I'm in San Diego, taking a class for my Real Estate business. It is 3 intense days from 7:30-7:30 at night. I am exhausted. Not been on the computer much (well, I guess I can do that afterall), and trying to cram all the numbers and ideas into my head. Honestly, I can't think straight.

So, in order to lighten up my day, I'm posting the top ten reasons YOU'LL KNOW WHEN YOU GET THERE.

*****Idiot Alert*****This post has no redeeming value*****

10.  One of the several characters in your head said you'd arrived.
9.    No one else is anywhere around you.
8.    You now know being lost is normal. Being found is close to going to jail.
7.    Your computer keys are worn out and they smell like salmon.
6.    The review you got for your last book made you blush, and then you realized it was written by your father.
5.    You find yourself staring at kissing couples.
4.    You talk to books in the library.
3.    The books talk back.
2.    You're starting to think the garbage men uniforms are sexy.

And the number one reason you'll know when you get there is:

1.    Your dog whispers in your ear, "I always knew you were crazy."

Humor. Friends. New Words. Good Books. Jimmy Thomas. Great stories. For all these things, I'm grateful!

Friday, April 27, 2012

X is for Xanthoma

The definition of xanthoma, the meaning of the word Xanthoma:  n. - A skin problem marked by the development (on the eyelids and neck and back) of irregular yellow nodules; sometimes attributable to disturbances of cholesterol

Why Xanthoma, you ask? Hear me out a bit.

I'm in San Diego, attending a class. I've been on a special food plan now for about a year, off and on. I'm told often I'm too willful for the program. I don't disagree, but there's been lots on my plate: both good and bad. And that has had nothing to do with eating...

This is the first time I've gone somewhere for 4 days and PACKED ALL MY FOOD. In fact, I checked most of it in my luggage this time. 

Not. A. Good. Idea. 

Perhaps now you are beginning to get the connection with the development of irregular yellow nodules on the skin. Disturbances of cholesterol, they say.

I had packed salmon, chicken, tri tip, cooked brown rice, apples, strawberries, cherry tomatoes, lettuce, cottage cheese, yogurt and apples. Along with a container of cut pineapple, my oatmeal and flax seed. My menu for 4 days was all beautifully scripted and entered in my food journal. 

Just from looking at the picture above, you can 
imagine what I found when I unzipped the bag. Firstly, the pineapple and rice containers exploded. Thank goodness I had packed everything in an XXL storage bag with the zip-lock top. 

The salmon and chicken? Indistinguishable. The soggy deli boxes are outside my motel room door, along with the remnants of the XXL bag.

And my clothes smell like salmon-cum-pineapple. I've washed my hands 2 times, and I still smell like salmon.

The strawberries I brought I had to hand carry on the plane. But they leaked too. 

So, to tie all this in, I'm thinking I might break out in something that resembles Xanthoma when I wear my clothes tomorrow. 

 Ah! Another adventure to write about. All this from the girl who mailed raspberry ripple ice cream to a friend in college. It was still frozen when I took it to the post office. She'll never forgive me.

W is for Wedding Disasters

Wedding disasters interest me. Don't ask me why. In my romance novelist world of the happily ever after, I guess I just have this sick sense of humor for things that go horribly wrong.

In this case, my post will be short, because the attached Press Democrat article says it all. In the end, it wasn't really a disaster, and I'm happy to report the couple is still married, which is saying something, considering the stats.

One of my critique partners, Robin Moore, shared a YouTube video of her daughter's wedding. It went viral after they posted it, and, unfortunately, is now blocked. It came in second place in a contest, entered by some guy from Africa whom they never met. It was played on the Ellen DeGeneres show. I had it posted on my blog at the side, so I could come back and have a laugh on a day when I sorely needed it. But hey, I understand their need for privacy, and I would feel the same.

Enjoy this article on their wedding disaster. What you cannot see is a huge wave completely overtaking the bride in all her white finery, the rainy day that almost blew all their tents over, and the love that warmed everyone's hearts that day. Needless to say, this photo was taken a few seconds before the big wave. Sort of like God's blessing to them, right?

 I happen to think it was a perfect day.

Couple's Sonoma County beach wedding becomes YouTube sensation

Published: Thursday, March 3, 2011 at 2:38 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, March 3, 2011 at 2:38 p.m.
A couple’s Sonoma County beach wedding video is fast becoming a YouTube sensation, one of those everything-went-wrong, but-it-turned-out-all-right weekends capped by the bride and groom being knocked over by a rogue wave.
Bryan Solari and Kathy Moore.
The video has “gone viral,” with an estimated 500,000 hits from pirated versions on the Internet.
Jay Leno played it on The Tonight Show on Wednesday, and The Weather Channel has too. A Japanese TV show also interviewed the wedding couple, Kathy Moore and Bryan Solari, both former Sonoma County residents who live in Sacramento.
Moore, Cloverdale’s 2002 Citrus Fair Queen, is a speech and language pathologist at a Sacramento elementary school. Solari, a former Rohnert Park resident and Cardinal Newman grad, is working toward his master’s degree in mechanical engineering at Sacramento State University.
They met eight years ago in a weight training class at Santa Rosa Junior College.
The Oct. 23, 2010 wedding at School House Beach, north of Bodega Bay, seemed doomed from the start, with near torrential rain and steady 35 mph winds threatening to blow down the tents.
Forget the leaky tent dripping on the bare shoulder of the bride during the ceremony, or that the groom locked the keys in the RV — while it was running.
And the wedding party even survived the arrival of the fire department and paramedics after a guest hit her head while cleaning up.
Just when it seemed like nothing else could go wrong, the newlyweds returned to the beach — skies now sunny and clear — two days later.
The idea was to have their first dance and pose for photos on the beach. Kathy’s parents, Kevin and Robin Moore of Cloverdale, were there. Mom was shooting the video.
As the camera rolled, the couple, their backs to the ocean, had one more big surprise.
A freak wave rushes in, toppling Moore in her white wedding dress into the water, along with Solari.
“Our plan was to stand near the water. My dress was already sort of damp,” Moore explained Thursday.
The intent had been to capture some flecks of ocean foam in the picture. They had been watching the waves break at what seemed a safe distance.
“It was a one in a hundred wave that comes in and takes off. It really surprised us,” she said.
Solari said he felt the oncoming water hit the back of his feet and thought “crap, this thing’s huge,” as it bowled them over.
“All I could think was “I’ve got to keep Kathy’s head above the water.’”
While it was a humorous moment, the newlyweds also are aware that sleeper waves on the Sonoma Coast have drowned unsuspecting beachgoers.
But fortune smiled on the couple. “It didn’t pull us out at all,” she said.
The dunking ruined Solari’s phone and wrenched off his oversized, new wedding ring. But their crazy luck changed again when they spotted the glint of the gold band in the wet sand.
The 6½-minute wedding highlight video captures many of the setbacks, which the good-natured pair took with a lot of laughs.
The images have the perfect accompanying soundtrack with Dinah Washington singing “(I’m going to love you, like nobody’s loved you,) Come Rain or Come Shine.”
The back-story to the video involves its worldwide distribution. The couple put it on YouTube around Valentine’s Day, basically for relatives and wedding guests to see.
But someone, apparently in Africa, uploaded the wave deluge and sent it to The Weather Channel to enter into a video contest of wild weather moments.
Solari said he spent countless hours this week tracking and trying to remove some of the unauthorized uploads of the video to various parts of the Internet, including strangely enough, its link to adult websites.
Though they’ve gotten some modest offers to sell the video rights to comedy shows, they aren’t really interested.
“Our original intent was to share with friends and family and not make any money on it,” Solari said.
The video remains a testament to when all the things go wrong for two people who actually consider themselves quite lucky.
“There’s nothing you can do to change the weather. So much of it was totally out of our control. We had to laugh about it and look at it like the glass half-full,” said Moore. “I’m glad we got our extreme beach wedding and I’m happy to be married.”

Thursday, April 26, 2012

V is for Violas

I love violas. They are cheerful, easy to grow, and make me look like I know what I'm doing as a gardener. They are perfect for filling in a potted grouping - they just grow where there's space and fill in the gaps other plants create. They are like the connectors in the flower container world, like Alyssum, another favorite of mine.

There are many beautiful varieties now. I usually grab them all. Last year I found some that were nearly black in color. Can't find them this year.
Even with all the rain we've had in April, these showy blooms brighten my spirit and tell me there are warm summer days ahead. And that's when they disappear!

I want color year-round, so I'm grateful these guys bloom their hearts out early, as the warm-up act to the showy zinnias, day lillies, roses, snapdragons and sweet williams that bloom for me in the summer.

So, from my garden to yours, have a wonderful April day.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Understanding Balance

I was going to originally title this post: Understanding winning and losing. But that has the wrong connotation, because if someone "wins" that brings to mind someone else "losing." And isn't life a tapestry of both? And many would say you learn more from your losses than from your wins.

That doesn't mean we should strive to lose, but I once had a great business coach who told me that if you want to succeed, you had to fail faster. I believe it was Earl Nightingale who said, "The degree of success you have is directly related to the difficulty of the questions you ask yourself." 

Looking at the balance of life lessons as a tapestry, and admitting where we were wrong is a huge part of making the adjustments we need to make to have a fulfilled life.

I spend 1/2 hour every morning in quiet time, and I ask my higher power for guidance. I thank him for my yesterday and pray that today will be a good day for me. I list my gratitudes and ask for strength for my failings. "Bring kindness, peace and light into my soul," is usually what I end my prayer with. And then I try to remember this during the day. Especially when I fail.

Old patterns die hard. Easy to blame someone else when we caused the "failure." Sometimes we just had to learn the lesson, like getting burned on the stove when we were little. Like a plant that is grown in a hothouse and then set out in the mid day sun. It will wither, because it hasn't been tested, honed and strengthened by the cold or harsh elements of mother nature. If we were totally protected, or protected our children so that difficulties never came into proximity, we'd be like that withered plant. Not only would we be no use to ourselves, but to the ones we love as well.

I still love the quote: We over estimate what we can do in a day and underestimate what we can do in a year. Patience. Content with what I do have, not focused on what I don't have. Progress not perfection. Working hard so that when it is my turn, I am fully ready. Making good choices.

I'm grateful that I get to live in a place where I have the opportunity to even think about these things and have so many choices. Millions of people in this world would love to switch places with me. I'm not going to waste this gift.

Monday, April 23, 2012

T is for Tomales

Tomales, California is a great little coastal town, about 50 miles north of San Francisco, in Marin County. We used to take long drives through the countryside when my husband and I were first married, so I've driven these winding roads through forests, grasslands and over craggy outcroppings with stunning ocean views many times over the years.

It's been over 30 years since I started the trip this way. Though I've been a Sonoma County resident for almost 42 years, I've been doing it backwards, not from South to North. Saturday it was like driving on them for the very first time. A different perspective.

Took my breath away.

Before children, a group of us young marrieds would gather together at Marshall or Nick's Cove, and eat oysters (and yes, drink a little bit of vino) until we could barely walk. You could spend $20 on food and drink and not break the bank. Saturday's lunch, for instance, without all the extras, came to just under $100. The cottages they rent are spectacular, and would not have been available to us starving students, but are on my TBD list for later in the year. Things have indeed changed.

But not the stunning scenery, or the beautiful little town.

I grew up in Silicon Valley when Los Altos was dusted with apricot orchards. Moving to Sonoma County felt like stepping back in time about 50 years. I've read stories about Jack London haunting these places, and how he used to steal oysters by moonlight. Robert Louis Stevenson and his new bride honeymooned in parts of the Valley of the Moon. Even Sir Richard Burton made a trek through these parts in 1860, the year before he returned to England to marry Isobel, in his search for the spirit of the west. Among other places, he visited Brigham Young in Salt Lake City and his 17 wives.

The remnants of bawdy roadhouses are now upscale motels and bakery/espresso cafes, perfect for a long meandering afternoon of caffeine, conversation and reading.

I'm a great fan of just getting in the car and getting lost some place. Discovering something new. In this case, re-discovering why it is I live in Northern California, and why it feeds my writer's soul.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

S: The Sexiest Man in Print

This is a reprint of a blog I did back in 2010. It was an interview with Jimmy Thomas, cover model, actor, martial arts practitioner and all round great marketing guru. No matter how you slice it, Jimmy Thomas is probably one of the sexiest cover models out there. And the most prolific. I think he's over 2000 covers now, and counting.

And although some people take pot shots at him right and left, I can't help but admire his business accumen and the relentless hard work that has gone into building his career. I don't know anyone else who works so hard at doing what he does.

So, Mr. Jimmy Thomas - you are the Sexiest Man in my book, today. You make my stories sell. I would consider buying any book with you on the cover. I've had friends that think you can't have the same model on every book, and I don't care. I really don't. I like him there. He's on my blog. He's on every cover I have, but one. And guess what - that one doesn't sell 1/10 as many books as the others. I have your autographed calendar, and I love looking at your pictures.

So here's the interview he gave me two years ago. Some of his stats have changed in this period of time since. But not the man. The person behind the picture is still the same. That's why we love him:

Something Tasty This Way Comes: Jimmy Thomas Interview

This is a reprint of a guest post I did last November 2010 used with permission. I interviewed romance novel model Jimmy Thomas, who has graced over 1000 book covers, on his way to obliterating the competition. He is not only a model, but is a personal trainer, an actor, and has studied extensively and competed in several martial arts disciplines.
I wanted to present a different glimpse of the man, his passions, and some funny stories about his photo shoots.
What do you look for in a woman?
JT: Confidence, sincerity, non-jealous, respect, beauty. I want someone who takes care of herself internally (eats healthy) and externally (exercise or is active in something physical), who is passionate, someone who loves animals and children. I love women who are fun, adventurous, spontaneous, easy going, down to earth, a bit tomboyish. Prefer a Cancer, Scorpio or a Virgo… my most compatible zodiac signs
Would you consider dating an older woman?
JT: About 50% of the women I date are older than me
What would be your max age difference?
JT: It’s not about age, it’s about maturity, how well they take care of themselves, how we get along, if we have great conversations, etc.
What would a date with you involve?
JT: Depends on the date, could be dinner and a movie, a day at a theme park, hiking, camping, a picnic, or cuddling up to a movie rental and a bottle of wine.
What type of covers/photo shoots do you enjoy doing most?
JT: Sensual and Erotica. They have the most passion in them.  I’m VERY passionate and love it when a woman expresses her passion in the physical form and facial expressiveness.
What do you like to read and why?
JT: My emails, lol.  I read only one book throughout high school (Old Man And The Sea), just to see if I could finish. I read Jurassic Park before the movie came out–was hounded over and over again by a friend that I read it. I thought it was GREAT.  I’ve never had the patience for reading though. I’d much prefer watching a movie made from the book instead.  I read books when I’m on a plane. I’m so busy now with my career, I don’t have leisure time to pick up a book and start reading it cover to cover. I nibble on them.
What are your favorite movies, TV shows, types of music, etc?
JT: Action adventure, sci-fi blockbuster thriller movies!  For TV… House, Chuck, Two And A Half Men and True Blood. I DVR and watch them when I can. For music, anything upbeat, full of energy, high/fast-paced, dance-type music. Music like that motivates and energizes me.
What’s the most erotic cover you’ve ever done?
JT: MANY!  Sexathon, Whenever We Meet, Simmering Seductions, A Christmas Interlude, Afterlife, many, many more!
Were you ever embarrassed about taking your clothes off, or nearly naked?
JT: During a photo shoot?  Embarrassed no, shy? Yes.
Sexiest song?
JT: Chris Isaac’s “Wicked Game”
How did you get started?
JT: My sister did a few photo shoots that came out great and she suggested I should as well. I thought “Hmmm???… Nah!” My ex-girlfriend taught Taekwondo and cardio kickboxing classes and we ran into each other. I was heavy into weight-lifting, mentioned that I wanted to lean-up but hated cardio, and she suggested I take her cardio kickboxing classes. I thought “Hmmm???… Nah!”
Then I was out at a night club and the most gorgeous woman I had ever seen in my life (still to this day), walked up to be with a huge smile, (I instantly looked behind me to see who she was looking at, lol…) and her first words were, “Tell me you model?!?!?”
I chuckled, looked behind me again, and said “Ahhh, no. Why?”
She said, “You need to and should!”
We hit it off, began dating. She fell in love with me but, for some strange reason, I couldn’t fall in love with her… bad timing I guess *shrugs*. But, her suggesting, or rather insisting, that I model, had me take my ex’s cardio kickboxing class to lean up. I shot with my sister’s photographer, and that is where it all began
What is your favorite cover–? Why?
JT: This changes almost monthly as new covers come out (I’m currently on about 30 new covers each week).  Initially, my favorite cover was my first one Solar Heat, then Seducing The Sheriff, Lucas. There have been so many I really liked, but recently I was sent Carly & the New Foreman which blew me away. A few more that really stood out: Love Immortal, Who’s Been Sleeping in Her Bed, Tatiana, Solstice Seduction, Dying Assassin and Araton’s Destiny.
There are so many more between the beginning and now, and I know there will be plenty more. Just like how we all had a favorite movie in high school. May not be our favorite movie now, but it is still in your “favorites” category. I could never have just one favorite cover–I’ve been on nearly 800 covers.
Have you ever been so turned on during a shoot you got an erection? How did you deal with it?
JT: Only if/when a girl is um, groping my junk. Otherwise, my mind is so much on getting great images. I have to focus on us both being in our key lights, not shadowing each other. Our hand and arm placement being correct, our hair not being messed or blocking our faces, her hair length as well as mine always showing. Wardrobe not being wrinkled twisted or messed up. Our expressions being together, while still staying in a romantic, sensual, seductive, sexy character. There’s also stopping often as my photographer adjusts his lighting when we move into a different position. It’s not like we turn on a few lights in our direction and he just clicks non-stop as we do whatever we want.
As for how did I deal with the times I have been aroused, I simply went with it and let her do what she wanted to do   I’m single, who am I to stop her… she’s in character dammit!
How many disciplines of martial arts do you study? What’s your favorite and why?
JT: Kenpo Karate was my first and foremost style, but I’ve also studied Jujitsu, Shotokan, Taekwondo and Kickboxing, with Kenpo and Kickboxing being my favorites!
What makes a sexy cover? Erotic cover?
JT: Chemistry, passion, a strong and real connection between the two models. It’s not just posing in a position that looks hot. That chemistry can be shown in the facial expressions, in the body language, hand positioning, head tilts, etc. So many different variables make up great couples’ images… those variables I only give away to my co-models so that they do them
What was your most romantic date?
JT: Hmmm, how can I answer this on an “Erotic” blog?    All my dates are romantic. I don’t label being romantic necessarily by specific things you do that are listed as romantic (romance 101 things). For me it is about how I converse with a woman, hold her, look at her, caress her, kiss her and move with her. These are the reasons why I am told I am romantic, as well as the little things I do; although those things are then seen more as sweet
What makes a woman sexy? At any age?
JT: Confidence! A woman who knows what she wants and voices it, expresses it.
What about the male form is sexy, in your opinion?
JT: Holding his sexiness in a great, confident posture. You could be thin and toned or big and broad, but if you stand and walk with sincere confidence, not arrogance, then you are very appealing to others.
Can you share with us your hottest or raciest cover? Photo?
JT: I guess that is in the eye of the beholder. Look on my facebook page in my Cover Albums for your favorite raciest cover (, or through all my images on my stock image website  You tell me    THE raciest photo of me is not publicly shown anywhere, nor will it be  (Ed note: good answer, Jimmy. He’s such a politician.)
Jimmy Thomas
Jimmy Thomas Fitness, Print & Romance Novel Cover Model (794 covers)
NASM Certified Personal Trainer (since 1998)
Self Defense & Kickboxing Instructor (since 1992)

Saturday, April 21, 2012

R is for Ride the Back Roads

Welcome back to the A-Z Blog Hop Challenge, Letters of Gratitude. Today is the letter R for Ride the Back Roads.

We took a drive today in West Sonoma and Marin Counties. If you don't know where that is, it's 60 miles north of San Francisco, and west of Petaluma, at the coast. We traveled from Sonoma County South, into Marin County, through green cattle-grazed hills in bright sunshine. No fog, and very little wind. We have a client moving here from out of state, who is considering purchasing some acreage out there, and today was the perfect day to go check it out and send him photos.

We've had so much rain, the hills are still green. After viewing the property, we headed to south to Nick's Cove for some oysters and some chowder. We ran into a local Motorcycle Club, Iron Souls, from Oakland, California. I think there must have been about 50 beautiful Harleys there.

Overlooking the inlet, we had warm cauliflower salad, cioppino and BBQ oysters. The place was packed. Afterwards, we walked out to the Boat House. People were playing Monopoly,  cards and READING!

I think I've found a great place to hole up when the fall storms come along. At the Boat House they stoke up the fire and you can stay there well after sunset - perched over the water. Do you see the fog beginning to show itself over the trees?

We took a tour of a couple of the cabins. One is an actual boat converted to a one bedroom rental.

I'm grateful I get to live in such a beautiful spot in wine country, California. Many people come here for vacation, and I get to live here all the time. Just 30 minutes from my house, I can be on the water, overlooking clam and oyster beds Jack London used to steal from by moonlight around 100 years ago. It probably looked very similar then.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Q is for Quiet

Welcome back to the A-Z Blog Challenge, and my Letters of Gratitude. Q is for Quiet, especially the quiet hours of the morning.

The favorite part of my writing day is the very early "wee hours of the morning," as the song says. Before the house wakes up and the activities of a busy family begin, the early morning quiet has always been so important to me.

My husband and I have gotten into the habit of soaking in the hot tub, waiting and watching the sun rise. These days, there is the shadow of a chalky moon in the sky, and the last few stars. I love the canopy of black turn into a deep vibrant blue, and then lighten until everything is covered in a golden glow.

Hard not to be inspired with this splash of color. Nature's bounty. Evidence of a great day unfolding. I also spend a half hour writing in my journal, and reading some select pieces that bring me things that enhance the quality of my life.

But when the owls are hooting and the early birds are just beginning to stir, there is a magic that descends over my laptop. I love the words written then.

What about you? What do you do in the early "wee hours of the morning?"

Thursday, April 19, 2012

P is for Persistence

Welcome to Day 16 of the A-Z Blog Challenge, and my Letters of Gratitude.

I've said it before here on my blog: We OVERESTIMATE what we can accomplish in a day and UNDERESTIMATE what we can accomplish in a year.

PERSISTENCE: Do it and stuff happens.

I've always been a big one for goal setting. I used to coach people in business. For two and a half days each week I would talk to clients every half hour for 8 hours a day. My job was to help them become more productive.

Most people would come to the phone feeling they'd been missing something, that they needed that secret that would propel them into the stratosphere. Our level of production at the time was so huge, they couldn't see themselves being able to do a tenth of what we had accomplished in business. "Sharon, what's that missing piece? What's that spark that motivated you to go to the next level?" Everyone thought there was some secret to high levels of achievement. They hired me to give it to them.

My job was to help them realize that the secret was within them all along. You don't have to be smarter, faster, prettier than anybody else. Every writer alive has been told, "You're a natural." We all think we are all so special, don't we? Yes, we have to believe in our work. But the truth is, TALENT IS OVERRATED.

It's persistence that gets us to where we want to go. If you want to do and go where others haven't gone, you have to do what others won't do to get there. Everyone wants a shortcut. A magic bullet. A technique or brilliant answer to all our problems, without learning through trial and error, what we should be doing. 

Bella Andre taught me this. I don't think I've ever run across a harder working writer. And she reads a book EVERY day, too. She's managed to turn her career from mid-list author without a contract to megablockbusting Indie author phenom in less than 2 years. She did it by doing what others wouldn't do.

How many of us would have quit if we had a big deal withdrawn? Who picks up the pieces after the Snoopy Dancing when there is no party? When the bride and groom don't show up to the wedding? Bella went to work. She got very good at literally running over every obstacle that could come her way.

She became persistent.

Did she fail? Sometimes. Did she have doubts, disappointments? Of course. But just like the Realtors I used to coach, and I've coached probably 200-250 of them during my time, I would tell my clients what they needed to do to be successful and less than 10% would do it. It's probably even less than 10%. 

But not Bella. What about you? Do you show up every day and do your best? Like I said in the letter O post, are you Open for business? Really?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

O is for Open Hand

We are over halfway there on the A-Z Blog, letters of gratitude. I'm grateful you're here, too. Did I say that before?

Open hand. When we think about it, and open hand is an invitation. A calling to take someone's hand and walk. A chance to receive a gift. An indication we are open and not closed to the other. Opening ourselves up to our compelling future.

What an open hand is not is a fist. Fists hold things tightly. Like the monkeys they catch by putting holes in trees or pumpkins and filling it with treats. The money won't let go and then can't get his little hand through the hole that would give him freedom. If only he would let go and open his hand. He would be free.

Fists are also used to defend ourselves. When our stomach and psyche is balled up in a fist it is cold and hard as a lump of coal. We protect, and therefore become smaller, focused on defense rather than logic, rather than receiving. We stave off blows with a fist.

Don't get me wrong, there is a time and place for battle. I have the scars to prove it. I have the stories. There are those that are trained to battle for us, so we don't have to. So we can live a "normal" life without having to worry about our safety.

But I find most my own personal growth has come when I receive, rather than fight off. When I listen and not speak. When I think before I act.

What is the next right action? That's where life is. That's where the growth is. Where happiness is. Connection. Abundance. That's where the really good stories are...

Are you open for business in your life?