Q is for Quit

We hear it all the time. 

“Don’t quit.” 

“Winners never quit, quitters never win.”

And generally speaking, I agree. 

However….

There are times when quitting is exactly what we need to do.

  

Quit making excuses. For yourself. For others. It’s easy to do. But it’s not productive. The message sent when excuses are accepted is that you don’t believe the excuse maker is capable of more.

Quit blaming others. Good or bad, it’s your life. Own it. You are the one who has to live with the consequences. 

Quit the people who don’t believe in your worth. You don’t need that kind of negativity.

Quit limiting yourself. Dare to chase your dreams. Don’t settle for anything less than your best.

Quit holding on to the mistakes of the past. Learn from them. Use them as stepping stones toward the future you’ve always wanted.

Quit trying to please everyone. It’s not possible. Do what’s right for you. Real friends will understand and support your decisions.

Quit listening to and/or participating in gossip. Drama tends to create stumbling blocks and cause drama. It develops rifts in relationships, and has a way of coming back on a person. It’s unproductive, a time suck, and generates stress. 

Quit playing down your skills and talents. Be proud of what you bring to the table. False modesty is counterproductive and utter bullshit. There’s a huge difference between being an ego maniac & knowing yourself well.

Finally, Quit living your life for other people. You are the one who will have to deal with the consequences of the choices you make. Not them.

In other words, quit the things that hold you back, hold you down, or hold your self worth hostage. You are worth so much more….

I’m sure you guys can think of other important things to quit that are been ficial, or maybe you’ve quit some of the things I’ve listed and have seen the positive impacts…. Care to share any of those with us? You know what they say… It takes a village. 

N is for Nothing and Nobody

We’ve all been there.

Those moments when we feel invisible.

Like we’re nothing. A nobody.

Invisible.

No one likes to feel that way. Everyone is worth something.

Sometimes, though, we forget.

When you catch someone believing the worst about themselves, what do you do?

You can make such a difference! Remind them about their worth.

And when someone goes out of their way to make you feel that way? Take a page out of Pink’s book when she addressed a few haters… Is it any wonder I’m such a big fan?

At the end of the day, though, it all starts within ourselves, right?

To change the world, we start with us. By lifting someone else up. By choosing to see the best in ourselves, and looking at our weaknesses as opportunities rather than with hate and self loathing. So why don’t we help each other out?

What’s the nicest thing someone’s said to you lately? Share something admirable or heartwarming that you witnessed recently…. Let’s spread some uplifting goodness!

Heroes, Mentors and Making Things Happen

“I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know; the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve.” ~ Dr. Albert Schweitzer

I’m not sure exactly when the realization dawned; that heroes and mentors were different entities. Not that they can’t co-exist. They can. But they can also be entirely separate of one another.

Me and my hero

Me and my hero

For example, if you were to ask me who my hero was growing up, my answer would have been my mom. In fact, if you were to ask me today, my answer would still be the same. But do I consider her a mentor? No. I look up to her. I love the values she believes in. I hope to be as firm in my faith as she has always been. She’s been through some of the toughest things you can imagine and kept her belief, her joy, and her family together. I hope I inherited her strength.

Of course, being who I am, I looked up the definitions and here’s what Merriam-Webster had to say:

Hero-

: a person who is admired for great or brave acts or fine qualities

: a person who is greatly admired

: the chief male character in a story, play, movie, etc.

Mentor-

: someone who teaches or gives help and advice to a less experienced and often younger person

Strange as it sounds, despite the definition, my teachers were never people I considered to be mentors, either. Although they taught me and I respected them, it was more clinical. Not bone deep…pushing me to grow, encouraging me, and driving me to be more.

Maybe it’s because I was a girl with whom knowledge came easily, but it wasn’t until my late 20’s that I’d ever truly felt challenged…in a good way. I skated my way through most things based on natural ability, charm, a lot of common sense and my own driven nature. Then things changed and I discovered my first mentor.

No longer happy with the career path I’d had for the first 10 years of my working life, I decided to shift from medically related to retail sales. As a sales rep and eventually supervisor, my natural love of and ability to read people made me highly effective. I was quickly promoted up through the ranks into a single location manager role.

Then I was given the opportunity of a lifetime. I had a specialty, you see. I was great at networking and being able to build mutually beneficial relationships in a shared partnership environment. So when my company decided to create a manager position that encompassed 4-5 smaller scale locations (much like a mini-district manager), my boss considered the position designed for me, and a no-brainer. The problem was that there were no guidelines, boundaries or examples because the role was literally just created. It would be a trial and error situation where we figured things out along the way. In commissioned sales, this was definitely not the norm. For the first time, I struggled. My results were inconsistent.

Strangely, through this struggle, I discovered my first mentor. I already knew her. She was my boss. Her name was Ashley. When we sat down for my first performance appraisal I received my first less than stellar score. Frustrated, feeling like I was doing everything I possibly could, I asked her what I could do. She looked me in the eye and said, “I’d like you to work on one thing this year. Hold your team accountable. Don’t let them get away with excuses.” In fact, she took it one step further, and it’s a lesson I’ve never forgotten. She said, “I don’t accept excuses from you, so why are you allowing it from them? When you allow your team to get away with excuses you’re sending them a message. You’re letting them know you don’t believe they’re capable of anything more.”

She didn’t micro-manage me. She didn’t coddle me. She told me the biggest thing she thought would improve my business and let me sink or swim, but she was there to listen and give advice whenever I chose to reach out. In the past it was easy to sway my team to my point of view. I was beside them all day. In this role, my staff only saw me one day a week as I rotated locations. She was right. I couldn’t simply talk to them and be done with it. They needed to know that if they didn’t follow the action plans I rolled out, there would be consequences. I got very good at accountability. My team developed into her “go to” group whenever she needed strong business results regardless of where our company shifted their areas of importance. To this day I look up to her and hold her up as an example of an incredible leader.

Fast forward to today and why I’m telling you this story…..

As many of you know, a little over a year ago I decided to pursue writing seriously. Honestly, when I toyed with the idea in my mind, I had no idea if I had what it took to do this. For all I knew, publishing a book was a pipe dream. Shoot, I’d been writing most of my life but never pursued it because when I was growing up, the only option was New York and, for the most part, you had to know someone/have an ‘in’ to even be considered.

It meant the world to me that my sister and my best friend both told me, “I always thought you should’ve been a writer anyway.” But let’s face it. They loved me. They were biased.

But…a mutual friend was not. When I told her my dreams of writing, she asked what I wanted to write. I honestly don’t think she expected me to say erotica/erotic romance. She surprised me, though. She asked if I had a sample she could read… somewhere around 10,000 words. Suddenly I was terrified. Why? Because she’d already been successful in this field. She’d actually won the Maggie Award. Her name is Kaye Chambers.

Instead of laughing, she took me under her wing and taught me. Sure, sometimes it was the little things like how to properly format Word while writing. Other times it was to tell me that I needed to add more dialogue or that I could be awfully heavy handed when hammering a point home, and that I needed to use the subtlety techniques I used when writing poetry to allude to an idea rather than beat my readers over the head with a mallet.

Here I was, this random person who she barely knew when she reached out a helping hand…but that’s exactly what she did! The thing is, I’ve read her stuff. In fact, I LOVE the way she writes. She’s got savvy, sassy heroines and she writes these amazing opens (something I still struggle with). She creates these entire shifter universes that I think are beyond cool. It blows my mind! If you’ve never read her stuff…check out her girl Sasha, a cat shifter, in Tiger By the Tail. Or read Blood and Destiny. Her book that won the Maggie was Angelic Avenger…also awesome, but very different from the other two. It’s amazing how, sometimes, what you’re looking for is much closer than you realize if you only have the courage to ask.

I reached out with a few questions and she gave me so much more than I ever imagined. She chose to mentor me. She held my hand through my fears. She pushed me to be better. She challenged me to give more than I ever thought I was capable of…

And when I finally pushed that button to publish my first piece, she cheered me on! Her words? “You did all the work. I just gave you a bit of direction and support. You should be very proud of yourself.” With the help and belief of my mentor and the folks who love me, I was able to make my own dream come true.

One day I hope that I can do justice to the faith that Kaye has shown in me, much the way I did for Ashley. Who knows? Maybe one day I’ll be strong enough, knowledgeable enough and with enough experience to be able to mentor someone else in this new, exciting world.

What about you? Do you think there’s a difference between a hero and mentor? Who have yours been?

Christmas Miracles and Sharing Hope

A big part of the Holiday Season are gifts and miracles. Even non-believers are often able to suspend cynicism to find something wonderful.

One of the pleasure I’ve gained because of my blog comes with the people I meet along the way. In fact, that’s how I was introduced to one of those miracles. Imagine this for a moment… You’ve just had your first child months prior when your health starts to rapidly decline. You go to the doctor and are given the frighteningly terrible diagnosis. Yes, it’s the dreaded “C” word…and not just any, but one that usually sees you dead within the year. She was diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma. That was back in 2005.

As most of you know, I love to tie music in to my posts. When I asked her for a favorite song, she gave me one of Peter Gabriel‘s greatest songs. When you consider her story, the love and support she received from the people around her…and the fact that she’s here for her daughter, the song makes a special kind of sense.

Heather Von St. James has an amazing story that I hope you check out for yourself and share with others. It kind of reminds me of another one of my favorite Christmas tunes. Afterall, when everything is at it’s darkest…. That’s when we usually find our miracles. Personally, I believe in all sorts of miracles. So here’s Amy Grant with My Grown Up Christmas List.

Do you know anyone who could use some extra positive thoughts or prayers? Maybe someone suffering from cancer who needs a bit of hope? Or maybe someone who IS another Christmas Miracle? Please share on here…. I’d love to add them to my prayers, and I’m sure if we all get together to push good thoughts and prayers this way…we can give hope and miracles a helping hand….

Angels and Accidents

Those of you who’ve followed me for a while know I lost my brother a long time ago in a motor vehicle accident. On his birthday I shared a bit about my him here.

guardian angel

Maybe it’s a bit whimsical of me, but there’s part of me in the last few years that feels like maybe he’s become my guardian angel…or sent someone to watch over me, particularly when I’m on the road. A little while back I told you guys that I’d taken on a new job. It was a temporary gig, but it was one that had me on the road quite a bit.

Toward the end of my first week, I was driving southward on I-75. We’d just passed a bunch of construction and had gotten back to driving at our usual speeds of 70-80 MPH. As I sat, tooling along, singing to the radio, I saw a silver ladder flying through the air. The burgundy Toyota two cars ahead of me tried to swerve and miss it, to no avail. It smacked the rear quarter of his car, sending it careening into the lane next to me, spinning out into a 360 back across traffic to bounce off the guardrail and back into our lane. Thankfully, the black Audi in front of him managed to hit his breaks and skid to a stop mere inches from the car on the side of the road with me close behind.

“Please let me stop in time. Please let me stop in time. Please let me stop in time.” I chanted over and over again in my head as my foot slammed on my brakes.

I missed that Audi by less than a foot. Turning my head to the right, I saw all three lanes of traffic had come to a dead halt and waited to make sure everyone was okay before moving on. My hands were shaking and my stomach was doing cartwheels as I sucked in a deep, calming breath and pulled back onto the road and drove away.

“Thank You.” Those words were said with heartfelt conviction, though there was no one physically there to hear them. There’s no doubt in my mind that there were higher powers at work that day, watching over us.

But there’s more…

My biggest fear is hitting a pedestrian, whether by foot or on bicycle, because I never want anyone to have to go through what my family did. So it stands to reason that the last thing I’d want to see is that kind of incident playing out before my eyes.

Last week, waiting for a red light to change, I noticed a bicyclist heading toward his workplace. He’d crossed the street to our left, and had charged his bike out directly in front of us without watching the lights to see if they’d change. The light had turned green. The older gentleman in the Volvo to my left had been fixated on the light and started to accelerate.

“Oh, God. Please stop!” silently ran through my head, praying I wouldn’t witness what I was afraid I’d see.

As if he’d heard me, he hit his brakes and his horn simultaneously. The old man looked a little shaken up, but okay and began to accelerate. Me? I said another prayer of thanks. The guy on the bike… well, he seemed completely oblivious to the chaos he nearly created.

That was just in the last two weeks. Don’t get me wrong, I know what people say about Florida drivers…and sometimes it’s even true. But this hasn’t only happened to me in Florida!

Our first night at Authors After Dark in Savannah, we decided to go out to dinner. We took my sister’s rental car and went to the Bohemian Hotel and ate at their amazing restaurant called Rocks on the River. We had a great time! In fact, we tried their appetizer variation on Chicken and Waffles and found it to be utterly fabulous! I’d never eaten anything like it before.

Fancy Chicken and Waffles

Fancy Chicken and Waffles

Anyway, it had been raining pretty heavily that evening, so the streets were slick. Fortunately it had stopped. On our way back to the hotel I looked out my window from the back passenger seat to see a guy on a motorcycle driving beside us. Hot, right? Well, not when we were taking a tight turn and we saw him wipe out, spinning within inches of our wheels. Fortunately, there was a short turn lane toward the hotel, so my sister pulled into it. We wanted to make sure the guy was alright! He wasn’t wearing any of the usual protective gear. No heavy jacket. No helmet. A t-shirt and jeans. My sister reminded us that she was a qualified medical professional and that we should stay in the vehicle and dial 911. As she started to get out of the car, the guy stood up, brushed the gravel off himself (I’m sure he had a ton of road rash he’d have to take care of later), got back on his bike and drove away!

We hope he was okay. I said a little prayer of thanks that he didn’t find himself under our wheels…. But it all still makes me wonder sometimes. Was it a coincidence that my brother died in a car accident, but every time one that could potentially be dangerous or traumatic has come my way, something has protected me? Call me whimsical. Call me naïve. Call me silly or a hopeless romantic….but I believe he’s keeping an eye out for his big sister.

Yes, today I’m thankful for Guardian Angels and the power of belief.

What about you guys? Any near misses? Anything that’s made you believe in ghosts or guardian angels? I’d love if you’d share your thoughts and stories.

Beauty Of The Earth

Happy Earth Day!

How often do we really take time to stop and look around at the natural beauty that surrounds us? Isn’t it funny that often, to see the beauty in nature, we must observe it elsewhere? Many people would tell me I live in paradise. Truthfully, until this last year, it would’ve taken a lot for me to even notice some of the natural beauty that surrounds me.

Scented Jasmine in my entryway

Scented Jasmine in my entryway

A year ago, I doubt that I would’ve noticed the lovely scents my jasmine blooms are releasing as I walk in and out of my house. Or that I finally got my first gardenia bloom of the season while I was in the Bahamas.

Jasmine climbing the post in front of my house

Jasmine climbing the post in front of my house

I would’ve failed to notice how such small, delicate flowers can create such a gorgeous fresh scent. I definitely would’ve missed the sunset on the beach that I posted months ago….and would probably not even have looked up to notice the Florida panther from a while back, either.

Why is that? Why would I have missed those joys, but caught the amazing color of the ocean while I was in the Bahamas? Or ignored the palm trees at home, only to be awed by the ones there?

Sometimes I think we get so caught up in our daily lives that we forget to look around us. It’s only when we disconnect from the world we’re used to that our eyes open to absorb the amazing every day beauty that surrounds us…and it’s not even OUR every day.

Maybe it’s everything that’s happening in the world lately that has me a little introspective. Who could blame me? This last year has been full of upheaval, both for me as a person…and for the world. There is so much ugly in the world…too much. But there’s some truly amazing beauty there, too. So what is it about human nature that has us focusing on all the negative stuff? The hurtful? The cruel? Why is the focus so rarely on the beautiful or inspirational? The joy?

To tell you the truth, I stopped watching the news years ago. I couldn’t stand all the negativity and hatefulness. I figured I’d probably hear what I needed to know on Facebook or Twitter anyway. Plus, if I spent too much time watching all the atrocities on the news I may have found myself going the way of Emily Dickinson. It’s one of the reasons I can’t handle most reality TV. Does that mean I watch no reality shows? No. Because technically, shows like The Voice or Dancing With The Stars (my guilty pleasure-Go Team Ingo!) are considered reality shows. The shows that make celebrities out of people for acting ridiculous or that seem to enjoy ridiculing others…? Not interested.

It’s odd, but the same reason I rarely watch horror or gratuitous violence movies has become the same reason I don’t watch the news and rarely read the paper. I don’t want that kind of negativity to have a foothold in my brain. Don’t misunderstand. I’m well aware that there are bad things in this world. You can’t live more than a couple years without being confronted by such hard truths. But like many other things, I’ve come to realize I have a choice: to let all the bad scar or scare me, to become indifferent to the hardships/suffering/pain of those around me, or to look for (and find) the best in people…and let go of the worst.

Why am I talking about people on Earth Day? Because we’re a big part of what makes the Earth beautiful. We’re also a big part of what tears it apart. I’m not exactly what anyone would call a “tree hugger” by any stretch of the imagination. My contributions are limited to cleaning up my own litter and recycling. Well, at least my physical contributions. The contributions I give through my heart and spirit…well, I’d like to think that’s completely different. “Control your controllables”. That was advice a former boss once gave me. She was right. The thing I can control the most? Me. So I choose to maintain a positive outlook. I choose to seek the best in people. I choose to see the love and kindness that were shown to strangers in Boston and in Texas. I choose to see the outpouring of support and friendship sent our way from all over the world.

People can call me foolish or naïve. I’d rather have hope and live with joy in my heart than the fear, bitterness and anger that they allow to take control of theirs… I’d ask if you guys think I’m foolish or crazy, but let’s be honest… even if you did, when it comes to this…I wouldn’t care. Plus, I know I’m not the only optimist…. I would love to know what you guys have been thinking about this last week, though.

It’s hard to believe that it was just a week ago today that I was preparing to board a plane from the Bahamas back to the states only to hear about the tragedy in Boston (and the everyday heroes who went out of their way to help their fellow man simply because they were in a position to do so). Maybe that’s the root of my introspection. Who knows… Either way, I leave you with this… Love life. Love each other. It’s just one more way to love the earth.  It’s our sacred duty…which is why I selected the song at the top. For those of you who’d never heard it before, it’s John Rutter’s “For The Beauty Of The Earth”.