Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Keep an Open Heart

I look around at my peers and see a lot of jaded faces, marked by frowns and tired eyes. I hear both men and women say that members of the opposite sex are untrustworthy. Many have given up completely on love, on companionship, on friendship, on intimacy ... on having it all, because of how things worked out for them in the past. Because they suffered, they do not want to risk being happy. Does that really make sense?

It may seem trite, but what we focus on becomes the truth for us, whether it be positive or negative. Why not go for the positive? I have also come to realize that we tend to see in others a reflection of ourselves.

One of the reasons I feel I get along so well with younger people is because, for the most part, they are still dreamers and idealists, as am I ...

In love as well as in life, we cannot base the future always on the past. That is not to say we should not or could not, learn from our mistakes, of course. It does mean that even if someone has betrayed us in the past, the only one we are harming by believing that everyone will betray us in the future, is ourselves. We are also depriving others of our beauty, of our companionship and our love.

Keep an open heart and fill it with your own love, as only by loving oneself can one give to others and be ready to receive love and friendship compounded. Be generous, trusting and joyful and that is what you will attract.

When the right person comes, you will know - there will be a gut feeling; no ifs and buts, no rules. Trust your gut and don´t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Lessons from my kids

All mothers believe their kids are special, and they are.
My kids are truly my reason for breathing. When I let myself BE in the moment and revel in them, they ground me and remind me of what is really important. Things often get worse before they get better, simply to test our resilience - those of us who have developed a soul with stamina will thrive, no matter what, and live to tell and share and teach - by example.
I will share here some of the comments my 8-year old has blown me away with and that I keep in my heart as teachings from an old soul.
"Mommy, why are you crying? It´s not like that´s going to make it start raining money!" (I laughed and hugged her).
"You need to go running - you always feel better after that". (Does she know me or what!)
"Mommy, it´s not like you have to do it all by yourself. Don´t you have a daughter with two hands who can help you out? Hello?" (This was late one night before having to lug up all my jewelry and groceries up three flights of stairs with my 5-year old asleep in the car. I was floored).
"I think you are beautiful just the way you are!"
My 5-year old tells me
"Mommy, I am in your heart and you are in mine"
The list goes on and on ....
Listen to your kids, but I mean really, LISTEN ... They are full of wisdom.


Monday, November 2, 2009

Smile and the world will smile with you ...

If I had to name my favorite accesory, I would undoubtedly say it is my smile. I never leave the house without it. People mimic other´s expressions, and if you smile, the world will, in fact, smile with you.
A friend of mine who lives in Spain asked me recently how I was doing, and I told her I would rather not detail the challenges I had been going through because I did not want to feed that kind of energy. I needed to stay strong and positive. She mentioned that I must be a pretty good actress, because from my pictures on facebook I always looked extremely happy!
I do not advocate hiding one´s feelings or faking a mood all the time. But the more I practice the art of smiling, the easier it comes to me. I mostly wear a positive attitude no matter what is happening in my life. We are not our circumstances, keep that in mind, and we CAN train ourselves to act and react differently to how we are used to in the face of challenges.
When I came back from my recent trip to NYC I left my laptop on the plane. When I realized this, I ran back to the gate and was told the seats on my row were empty. My expensive macbook was gone with everything in it! After my initial shock, I was taken aback by my own reaction to the event. I did not crumble, I did not buckle under, I did not get angry. Furthermore, I was able to comfort a friend whose new camera was stolen a week later, because I knew what it felt like to lose your main work tool. I was able to move on and with the help of loved ones, get a new laptop and continue working ... and smiling.


Sunday, October 11, 2009

Get out of your own way and thrive ...

I just came back from an inspiring trip to NYC, where I was a guest on a documentary on people who have chosen at some point in their life to follow their hearts and go for their life's purpose and have accomplished it. I was invited as a many times published author. However, I got more out of the documentary than I feel my own contribution was worth. I had the privilege of watching six other accomplished people speak from the heart in front of the cameras, as did I, and bare their souls to the world. That is the only way to truly connect with other human beings: without a mask, without caring what they will think of us because of what we say or do.
Behind the scenes of the documentary is Karen Hoyos www.karenhoyos.com in NYC, a motivational speaker and wonderful woman who helped me understand that even though I have published 15 books so far, I have not yet realized my life's purpose to it's full potential. There are so many more people I can reach from a higher level ... and I am going for it.
The essence of Karen's message that I am now owning, is that by getting out of our own way, we thrive. No amount of analyzing and pondering matches the feeling of being right on track with your spirit.
That which makes us feel alive, on purpose and joyful - that is what we must pursue, in every area of our lives. It doesn't matter if others don't get you. Some will, some won't ... and that's ok. Be present, be here now, don't think too much, and let yourself feel ... Speak and act from the heart, be you ... It works.
Keep in mind that each and every experience, both the apparently positive and the seemingly negative, is a stepping stone for the next experience, and that when you've been down, the only way to go is up.
I have always lived outside of the box, but now I am taking it a step further, and I am getting out of my head and into my heart and not selling out. I almost did, but Karen Hoyos helped me understand that is not an option for me.
That is true for everyone - if you get out of your own way and listen to your heart, to your soul, there is no fear, there is no doubt and everything is possible.
Then, you simply thrive ....


Monday, September 28, 2009

If you want to meet the love of your life ...

A friend shared a quote by Byron Katie with me recently: "If you want to meet the love of your life, look in the mirror". I cannot agree more. It is fair to own that I am the love of my life since it is the only person who is with me 24 hours a day. And if this does not hold true, that means I am disengaged from myself, and that in turn signifies that I am not living fully. I suspect this to be true for everybody.
I have two daughters who are my engines, but yet as Khalil Gibran said:
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
So, again, I am left - as we all are - with myself.
I am fortunate to enjoy solitude - but it is also important not to isolate from the world, and not to hide from it, no matter what challenges it throws our way.
By cherishing and treating ourselves as the precious being we are, we will be filled enough with love to sustain ourselves and to spill into everything we do and everyone we meet.
Look in the mirror. Who do you see?
Hopefully someone you admire, support and love unconditionally.


Sunday, September 13, 2009

Savoir Faire - the ability to do the right or graceful thing.

This basically means to have social skills and the ability to interact with people of all walks of life and not make a fool of yourself in any place or situation. Plus, you are able to conduct and present yourself in a graceful and polite manner no matter where you are.

Is this innate or is it learned? This is exactly the question posed in George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion. Audrey Hepburn, who was in my opinion, the Queen of Savoir Faire, played Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady, the movie based on the musical that was in turn based on the book.

It is still a large part of European culture to use clothes and a certain attitude to express who you are. Women learn from an early age to adapt makeup and accessories to each and every situation they are in, from the gym to the boardroom. Far from feeling like slavery to looks, it is a confidence-booster and a lot of fun!

European men are also fashion-conscious without losing track of their masculinity and no, they are not all male-chauvinists.

In the U.S. the saying goes that if someone is tastefully dressed and has good manners, he or she must be gay or European. And this is supposed to be funny?

When you have savoir faire, you could be wearing sweats and you would still stand out, in a good way. It is not always what you wear, but how you wear it that counts. Your manners, your tone of voice and your presence speak volumes about you.

I recall attending a dance seminar in the U.S. where part of the day was devoted to teaching fully-grown women to walk in heels and stand around in a skirt. I experienced culture-shock right there. Shouldn't we already know this by now?

Learning to own your space and your grace, knowing when to talk and when to walk, is second nature in other countries where most women grow up to be ladies and men to be gentlemen. Admittedly it is in extinction, but thankfully not completely lost and when found, very pleasing to be around.

If you have savoir faire you have an edge, whether you are aware of this or not, and are likely to be more successful in a number of areas, from dating to doing business. It is a win-win art.


Sunday, August 30, 2009

Just Do It!

I am passionate about passion. That is, the act of following one´s dreams and heart, no matter what. Last night I found myself (again) lighting up about this subject at a parking lot, saying goodbye to a girlfriend Spanish style (we drag on farewells forever). All of a sudden I snapped out of my trance and felt I had to excuse myself, because 5 minutes into my speech I realized I may be sounding condescending, and that is certainly not my intention.

All in all I feel accomplished and I am not embarrassed to admit it. I am very grateful not only for my talents, but also for the determination I have to put them to good use. If you wait for the right moment to play your music, take up photography, start your own business, write a book or start an exercise regime, you will never do it. Not only that but the nagging guilt about not doing it will weigh you down, undermining your happiness and sapping your energy.

There is no secret to feeling accomplished other than to “just do it”. I am a writer, therefore I write. I am an author, therefore I publish. I am a dancer because I dance. I am a runner because I run. I have written late at night instead of partying with friends, instead of watching TV, juggling day work as a translator, during heartbreak, in mourning, throughout pregnancies and post-partum blues, in happy time and sad times, with and without money. My kids see that and respect it and - guess what – I found my 8-year old has several Word files in my laptop, where she has written her own stories already. My 5-year old is a born singer … I will give her wings to make her voice fly … and she knows that.

Life is filled with challenges, but they will be easier to handle if you life a life on purpose – your purpose! If you have kids, they will watch you walk the talk and they will naturally follow their own dream, because to them it will seem the normal thing to do! Just sit back and watch it happen. Your heart will swell and you will experience fulfillment. Doesn't that sound good? It is!


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Doing whatever it takes

My entries are often sparked by conversations and comments I pick up on. A couple days ago a friend told me he admired my quality of doing whatever it takes to get things done and make it happen in my own terms.
Of course I felt good hearing this, but on the other hand I know it is true. However, it is not something I gloat about, because it has become second nature. The main reason most people are not self-motivated is because they do not make attaining their goals part of their life-style. I believe the only reason I am so determined is because over time I made it a habit. When I incorporate something to my schedule, I tend to stick to it. I don't get lost in the last minute "should I or shouldn't I ..... ". The blank could be filled with - "go to the gym", "drive 40 miles to a dance lesson", "write another chapter in my next book", "call 10 people for my business" ... or any other number of things.
Eliminating the clutter of indecision has not only made me a fast decision-maker but it also helps me to not question the unquestionable. I want to do something - I do it. There is really no mystery to that. If you repeat this enough times ... you will be fit, write books, compose music, learn a new skill and be overall happy with who you are. Then circumstances will be just that ... circumstances, and never an excuse to not do the things you value.


Saturday, July 25, 2009

What is success?

The other day someone asked me what my definition of success is.
I say success is whatever it is for you at any given moment. 
Success could be something as small as getting out of bed in the morning when you are depressed.
Success can mean making 10 sales calls in a row when you are a shy person.
It could be writing a chapter of a book every week, pursuing your hobby of photography, dancing, or skydiving.
Success is the feeling that you are living a purpose-driven life. It could mean having no debt and having savings, a stable income, or enjoying the now. It could be the fact that you are capable of doing something to help others even when you need help yourself. 
For me, success is sometimes each of those things separately or all of them at once. It means taking care of myself and my kids and striving for balance, while trying to change my perception of the world because only then will the world change in my eyes - for the better.
It is being able to appreciate the crackling of fireworks exploding in the night sky, even in the most challenging of times. It means having dreams, making a plan to reach them and sticking to it, no matter what. It is trying to live intensely instead of just going through the motions until a lucky break comes by. 
Success, for me, is being able to appreciate the good and the bad, the painful and the joyful while understanding that it all has a purpose.
What is success for you?


Thursday, July 23, 2009

Nothing is as pink as it seems, but I wear rose-colored sunglasses.

In the picture are the two main reasons why I get out of bed every morning even when at times, my light frame feels like a body of lead. If my daughters can pretend a cardboard box is a castle or a tree-house and have fun with that instead of complaining that they are bored with being at home with me all summer while I work and hustle for more freelance work, I can keep fighting to keep their dreams alive.
There may not be treats in the fridge, and sometimes not enough ingredients to make a proper meal lately, but they find ways to laugh and smile and make do with what we have. 
When I catch myself feeling paralyzed by fear over making customer phone calls for my home-based jewelry biz, or over offering my next book to an agent or publisher, I look at my kids, I put my game face on and I start dialing the heck out of my phone. I feel so much better afterwards, no matter what the outcome. 
I'm likely not the only single broke mom out there now, and I would like others to know that sometimes behind the most genuine smile are hidden tears of quiet desperation. Even those who seem to have it all together feel like they are falling apart at the seams sometimes. 
The secret is that it is OK to feel that way, but not to let ourselves cave in. 
Even in dire straits, with a broken heart, a shaken soul and in uncertain times, every single day I find a reason to give thanks for the good that has come my way and to congratulate myself for the small or big steps I took towards the small short-term goals of paying the bills without losing sight of the large long-term goals of touching more and more readers with my books and raising my girls to be determined and strong women themselves. 


Monday, July 13, 2009

Start Where You Are

"Start Where You Are" is the title of the latest book by Chris Gardner (in collaboration with Mim Eichler Rivas - which most likely means the latter penned the book as told to by Mr. Gardner, but that's not the point of this post), who is also the author of "The Pursuit of HappYness" that was made into the inspiring rags to riches movie of the same title, starring Will Smith. Whew, long sentence and not quite my style.
Anyhow, "Start Where You Are" is an inspirational book about taking the BS out of life, flushing lame excuses down the toilet and simply rolling up our sleeves and getting on with it. 
Gardner does not tell us that by thinking positive thoughts and by visualizing that our bills are checks in the mail, we will in fact receive checks for thousands of dollars just because! He states that if you don't actually DO something to get wherever the heck it is you want to get to, NOTHING will happen, which is the truth. Big surprise, huh? 
While I started reading the book because I could relate to some of the hardships that caught my eye as I flipped through it, I continued because I could NOT relate to many of the really hard and out-there experiences that hopefully my kids and I never have to live through. If people who have been raised to think that regularly looking into the barrel of a shotgun is normal can make a difference and do it in style, so can I!
No magical thinking, just plain old common sense and passion drive "Start Where You Are" but let us not forget that common sense is, unfortunately, the least common of the senses. Gardner seems to have plenty of it. 


Saturday, July 4, 2009

A book of compliments

A friend asked me recently what my secret is to always looking so happy. Another friend, who I had not seen in over a year, wanted to know how I could look so "stunning" (not my words) taking into account the challenges I have been and am facing on all fronts. 
On the one hand I have grown resilient after a lifetime of weathering storms and turning most of life's curve balls into books that will help others and also myself!
On the other hand, I follow the advice I was once given - I keep a book of compliments, that I refer to when I am down, disheartened, heartbroken, fearful and more. We tend to blow off the beautiful and sincere words people may say about us, and engrave in our memories the ugly words and even the insults that we oftentimes did not deserve.
Some of the most beautiful phrases that I have jotted down in my own book of compliments lately are the following, and they keep me smiling when I have the slightest hint of self-doubt. They all come from different people (men and women) and in different circumstances, to include a business environment. None of them is from a lover or significant other, mind you!
"You are proof that time does not exist. I could converse with you for hours on end".
"I trust a woman with a laugh as sincere and fun-loving as yours".
"You are a tornado and have swept everyone in Madrid ... Too bad you didn't have more time, or you would have ended up with even more book contracts and TV shows ...".
"You are such a courageous, adventurous and positive woman ... ".
Naturally I have also been talked down to, insulted and told horrible things by other people - so is life - but I choose to push those aside and feed off the compliments that lift my spirits and my energy and motivate me to be a better person and try and erase from my mind and heart the ugly words that can only bounce back and hurt the person who pronounced them. 
I highly recommend you start your own book of compliments!
PS.- Also remember to give sincere compliments to others whenever you have the opportunity. What goes around, comes around and not necessarily from the same person.


Monday, June 29, 2009

Successful friendships

I can count my best friends with just a few fingers, but they are the ones who have been there for the long haul, and me for them. We have shared good times, bad times, arguments, make-up hugs, laughs and tears. We have been separated in time and distance and reunited more than once. 
Over the years we have become pillars in one another's lives, and every time we meet up again in person we take up exactly from where we left off. Not one moment of awkwardness or a what if.
In order to be successful in business, professionally, creatively and in other relationships, it is vital to have a solid network of friends. 
This creates balance, support and perspective and helps us keep on track when we temporarily go adrift. My best friends are those who I feel like calling immediately when I have great news to tell or sad news to share. And when others do the same with me, I feel complemented and reciprocated.
No matter what is going on in our lives, successful friendships will always fuel the other areas of our lives. Don't forget to nurture them. 


Saturday, June 27, 2009

The ability to make the best of everything

I am a risk-taker and even when life throws curve-balls and I get hit by them, I have discovered I have the ability to bounce back and make the best of everything. Of course I fall and get hurt, but that doesn't mean I have to stay on the ground crying it out. I get up, dust myself off and keep on going. 
Recently I took a chance that figuratively turned out to be a slap on the face. And still, instead of wading in self pity, I found myself thoughtfully trying to make the best of it. And I did. 
An author is an author, is an author ... and if I had not taken that chance I would not now have a request from one of my publishers for my next book, number 16 in my publishing career.
Even if we are not guilty of the difficulties that we experience, we are responsible for facing them and turning them to our advantage and if possible, to the advantage of others. That is what I try to do in my non-fiction books. 
So, no regrets, ever ... simply get on with life and make THE BEST OF EVERYTHING. Nothing is good or bad. It is up to us to tip the scales in one direction or the other. Live, love, laugh ... and above all, keep taking chances. As long as I can feel, I know I am alive. 


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Stepping out to step up

These are challenging times worldwide, no doubt. For a lot of us, they are also challenging at a personal level. 
I have had the unexpected opportunity to step out of my habitat, my usual environment, and travel to my other country. This has been a gift that I will always cherish ... 
One of the things that stepping out of your daily life does, is give you a different perspective of problems, of how to approach those huge mountains that seem so scary on a daily basis and turn them into molehills, instead of the other way around. 
One thing we must keep in mind is that we are NOT our circumstances. We are who we are, and whatever difficulties we are going through at present are circumstantial. They will pass. But they will pass because we will rise to the occasion, after having gathered strength and perspective and a plan of action.
Getting away from it all need not be an escape. In fact, it should not be an escape, but a trip to our soul, to our inner strength.
Sometimes we get ourselves into the wrong situation for the right reasons, and then find ourselves in dire straits. Some of us have stayed too long in a bad marriage for the kids, some have lived off of credit to keep the wheel turning, hoping things would change. But they didn't ...
Nothing is really a mistake ... we made choices, and as long as they were made for the right reasons, according to our values, and not recklessly and with abandon, we should forgive ourselves and others and forget. we must deal with the cards we dealt ourselves, and keep on going. Never let anyone judge you for the mistakes you made ... and certainly do your best not to judge others either. We all know it is far easier to fix other people's problems than our own.
Far from my habitat, in my home country, away from what I see and do every day, I am learning that I am not the mistakes I made. I am a strong person, a happy soul, a good friend, a loving mother, a fantastic woman, and ... simply me. That is the best thing to be, not only for myself but for everyone. 
Now, issues and challenges ... move over .... I'm back on track!
You can do the same, and do not let anyone tell you otherwise. Realizing one's shortcomings is the first step towards change. Step out and step up!


Tuesday, June 9, 2009

One for the ladies!

Now that I am a single mom by choice, I am more attuned to women my age who are without a significant other, or who are in an unhappy relationship or who are simply settling for far much less than they deserve.
Granted, love relationships are a give and take, and require a little molding here and there to adjust to the other person and, hopefully, viceversa ....
But why is it that beautiful (inside and out) capable, strong ladies are settling for bums who cannot support themselves, have drug problems or are clearly married to their careers to the extent that they will not take the chance of a lifetime to be satisfied in another very important area of their lives?????
A male friend told me today: "do not pause for anyone ... keep it moving ..." and it hit home. 
If at the beginning of a relationship he does not take time every day to call you or write you a text message, in a world where there is no excuse for no communication (I couldn't find a phone .. DUH! or .... I didn't have Internet Access ... yeah right! PUHLEASE .... ) .... later on, he will continue the same pattern and you will wonder why the heck you settled for those stale crumbs he threw your way ... 
If at first he is aloof or unwilling to go the extra mile for that trophy that is you, baby, he ain't worth your time. Take it from an expert, from someone who has researched, written and published several books on relationships, and especially lived through them and yes, survived them. So far, anyhow. 
Of course we ain't perfect either ... But I see too many qualified women settling for guys that are clearly either not that into them or simply not worth being into!  This is not only sad but indignant.
Women are emotional beings, nurturers and multitaskers. We would do anything for love; we have time and energy for love even when balancing a career, financial struggles, kids, and a hundred other obligations.
We deserve to be treated like queens because we are queens ... You need a man who is at least half the woman you are. 
If your heart tells you you deserve better .... even if you don't want to admit it to your best friends ... trust me ... you deserve better. Life does NOT wait. Move on. The love you need lies within YOU. 
Kiss as many frogs as you need to, but kiss them, and then keep on going. If you don't, you will never find that Prince you deserve and who deserves you. 


Thursday, June 4, 2009

Don't let pride stand in your way.

There are as many interpretations of success as there are people in this world. Success for you may not be what is is for me. 
I consider myself successful in the sense that I discovered my life-purpose at a relatively young age, and was rash enough to pursue it independently from whether other people thought it was possible, feasible or even rational. I have accomplished most things that I set out to do in life and I am in the process of setting new goals.
I am a communicator, and in that arena I have satisfied my life-purpose. I use every means available to me to get across inspirational, motivational and informational messages to as many people as I can, from books, to blogs, including e mails, letters and even text messages ... and make a living with it. 
However, even those of us who are successful in one area, may occasionally be in need of help in another aspect of our lives. 
The fact that many people look to me to provide answers, comfort and insight that I offer through my books ( www.lorrrainecladish.com ) sometimes means that I feel the pressure of always having to appear put-together, positive and strong. However, I have learned that being vulnerable, upfront and real is what connects human beings and that opening your heart to others is the only way to let in any kind of help. 
Before I had children, I was rather proud ... and always wanted to do things without help or with the least amount of help possible. Now I have two young kids who are a part of most everything I do. As a single mom struggling to put her personal and financial life back together after a huge fallout, I have had to sidestep my pride and, thanks to that, have renewed my hope in people due to incredible and unforeseen gestures of help: financial, gift-wise and with moral support that I never asked for, but got anyway ...
I accept them because my daughters deserve to be fed, clothed and carefree. The unexpected and much appreciated help I am receiving in dire straits simply fuels my desire to work harder to repay those giving me a helping hand. Those gestures are engraved in my heart and I will always be there for those who were there for me ... 
What goes around comes around, and not necessarily from the person you originally gave to.


Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Myth of Job Security

Having made a living as a freelancer for the larger part of my life, I am frequently asked if I am not stressed by the uncertainty of my work and income. Oddly, even though I am faced with this uncertainty every single month, and have done so for more years than I'd like to admit to,  I would never trade it for a "secure" 9 to 5 job. That would be the death of my soul and the end of time spent with my kids when they come home from school, the end of my freedom to manage my own schedule, to be able to relocate, or take a vacation on a whim. 
I am by no means suggesting that everyone should trade in their 9 to 5  job for a lifetime of hustling for odd jobs, of course not. What I am trying to convey is that during a world-wid
e financial crisis such as the one we ar
e living now, most people would feel better if they adapted their mindset to the current times, so they could dispel the anxiety that comes with fear of losing their jobs or not securing a new one when they are laid off. 
Nowadays, job security is a joke, and most of my friends and people I know are not happy with their "secure" jobs to begin with. They complain 
every Monday morning and arrive at Friday happy the week is over, only to Spend Sunday night dreading the beginning of another week at the office. BUT they have a paycheck to take home and cover their bills.
On the other hand, those of us who have spent our lives riding the wave of opportunity and uncertainty are less fazed by the generally daunting prospect of not knowing where our income will come from next month.
Speaking strictly for myself, I have learned to put my skills to use writing, translating, helping others be fit, selling, and adapt to the circumstances and often make the circumstances work in my favor. 
Because of personal circumstances that I will blog about in a different post, I am not well-off by any means, and I'm still working on that one, but I am rich in the sense that I love the work I do, I am able to spend unstructured time with my kids, I can take walks on the beach when everyone else is in the office, and then I am able to work at night, which is when I am most creative, while I snuggle next to my kids.
If you have a 9 to 5  job and that is what you want, by all means enjoy it. If you have been laid off, or are afraid of that, rest assured that there are people out there such as myself, who have never had a "secure" job and have been able to survive without having to live in a shelter.
Security is a mindset, and nothing and nobody can give it to you other than yourself.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Yes, we can!

This is not only the hair-raising (in a good way) chant that ruled the U.S. and the world the night President Obama was elected, but it should be our daily motto. It is mine. 
Even in the best of times, even in the worst of times, we should always believe we can do something daunting. This is a post of clichés, since now I will say that there is nothing to fear but fear itself. Everything has been said, everything has been written, and all we can do is revive it in our own words and with our own interpretations and remind ourselves that it is true.
Faced by challenges I feel I should have foreseen a few years back I recently had the choice of continuing to do the same thing and expect different results (more clichés) which is a definition of insanity, or leaping into the unknown and hoping a safety net would appear.
I leapt, and nets did appear, from the most unusual people and places, and also from the tried and true ones.
When we are faced with tough choices and wonder whether we will survive the daunting but freeing ones ... we should think back to previous times when we have faced situations we never thought we would survive or overcome ... and there find proof that we can do it yet again. We can and we will if we dare.
Even in the worst of times ...
Yes, we can!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

You don't need willpower, you need results!

I have been told over the years that I have enviable willpower. I disagree. Willpower is when you WILL yourself (force yourself) to do something you do NOT feel like doing. What I've done over the years is become the type of person who NEEDS to do certain things, and therefore I get results which other people assume are the product of willpower, when they are simply a by-product of who I am.

A few examples:

- I have written and published 15 books (not self-published). Not because I have forced myself to do it, but because I am happier writing and publishing than not. It is a way of life for me. There is not much willpower involved in doing what you enjoy. I admit there are times when I have writer's block, other things to do and maybe other desires. But consistency over time is key.

- I am in rather good shape, especially for my age. Again, not because I drag myself to the gym, but because my body begs me to exercise regularly. Well, my body, mind and spirit do. I started exercising at 12 years old, and I have practised some form of exercise on a weekly basis ever since. I am not an exercise freak ... I listen to my body and act accordingly. It´s who I am. No willpower required there either.

- I never miss a deadline. Translating, writing, interpreting or giving excellent customer service in my jewelry biz. That´s also why I´ve always been a successful free-lancer. I´m self-motivated by nature. I can´t stand having someone tell me what I´ve got to do, but I am very ok with committing to something and delivering accordingy. I don´t let myself down.

- I am committed. If I want something bad enough, I am willing to go the extra mile to get it. Some people are surprised when I tell them I drive 40 miles each way for a dance class, or that I am willing to do a 4 hour drive to attend a seminar and drive back the same day. I don´t think about it, I just do it. What most people do is let themselves have a back and forth mental conversation about doing something or not, and often end up NOT doing it. Don´t argue with yourself!

I´m not trying to be smug about this ... A friend told me recently that most people are not wired the way I am ... I say, we can ALL rewire ourselves. I suppose there was a time in my life when I learned self-control and discipline. It was a question of survival. Survive, I did, and rather well

You CAN rewire yourself.
How do I know this? Because I have also taken on ventures that I never thought I would be cut out to do. When I started out selling jewelry, I thought I could not pull it off. After all, I had worked as an accounts exec. for an advertising firm at twentysomething and CRIED before every cold call or visit. However, in my forties, because of a family financial crisis, I looked into direct sales and even though I was scared, I took it on. I have had to use willpower to call potential customers, to go out and network, to accept "no" for an answer, handle cancellations for jewelry shows, and the list goes on. But my WHY is big enough to face my fears and yes, I use willpower to keep on going in this arena.

Become the person with the qualities you want to acquire, and not only will you thrive but it will become effortless. I promise!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Steps to improve your mood in difficult times.

Ok, so I've let myself fall apart at the seams as I explained in the previous entry, where I stated that I thought it´s ok to be sad, mad and bad from time to time. BUT it can´t go on for too long, lest it become a (terribly BAD) habit ...
Now, let´s dust ourselves off, stand up tall and keep on going. Life really is too short to be thinking of how nice it would be NOT to be living it sometimes. Scary thoughts maybe, but they haunt most people at some point in their life. After acknowledging that, which is rather healthy, instead of letting it all bottle up, we must move on.
Some simple things that help me shake off the blues brought on by apparently bigger-than-life issues are:

- Going for a run. This may not work for everyone, but find what makes you click and do it. Walking, going to the gym, dancing, gardening ...
- Listening to motivational audio-books. I use them when driving and I fall asleep to them when my thoughts won´t let me be at night.
- Making someone else happy by giving a compliment, sending a heartfelt e mail or smiling at them.
- Watching my kids play, and especially playing WITH them.
- Taking a shower or a bath. Sounds simple, and maybe you´ve already taken one today. But water cleanses more than the body. It also cleanses the soul.
- Mindlessly browsing through a magazine.
- Staying away, FAR away, from energy-sucking and negative people. The more evolved you become, the easier it is to detect who those people are. Also be aware that one can also have energy-sucking properties at times. But that is also easier and easier to acknowledge and steps can be taken to counteract this.
- Connecting with people who help me feel uplifted and whom I know I inspire. Inspiring another is a source of inspiration in itself!
- Doing something that scares me ... After doing it, I feel I can accomplish anything, and so empowered ...

What do you do to refuel?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Even Wonder Woman's cape snags at times ...

When I interact with the world, people see (and I know this because I get told rather frequently ... THANK YOU all!) a vibrant, smiling, positive, go-getting person. Well, most people do, anyhow.
When I come home, or interact with those who know me better, they also see someone who gets upset, frustrated and cries when she feels overwhelmed by financial pressures, wrongdoings and stressful situations. I was reading SUCCESS magazine last night, after my uplifting dance class and before falling asleep while trying to avoid thinking about all the pressing issues I’m dealing with lately. On the one hand, some of the authors writing about positivism and getting ahead in tough times sound really commonsensical. On the other hand, I feel they convey (and I've been wondering if I do too sometimes) that it is something to be ashamed of to have moments of self-doubt, of desperation and of wanting to hang out in your PJs all day and let the world do its own thing while you feel sorry for yourself.
I am the author of quite a few self-help books, and it feels ironic that I need help myself at times. But, I do go and find it, mind you! Every single day: in books, motivational CDs, pursuing my passions, listening to my children and even searching within my soul.
I am human, and my own Wonder Woman cape snags at times. I also feel hurt, alone, scared, sad and hopeless on occasion (or more than on occasion). And I’ve realized it’s ok! If I did not experience those quiet moments of desperation, I would not enjoy the fun times, the high times, and the thrill of bouncing back, dusting myself off and getting back to the task of motivating myself and others by example.
Sometimes my body and soul need to retire in solitude and feel the pain until it hurts so much that it becomes unbearable unless I do something about it. It feels like using a bow and arrow ... In order to propel the arrow forward, you have to pull it back. If you want to skate uphill, you must first skate downhill really fast, to gain momentum, and then you can take on that next slope. Hey, I’ve broken my tailbone a couple times skating, and I have strapped those rollerblades on again …
If you are feeling down and desperate, don’t beat yourself up about it. Just learn from it, know others out there, to include myself, are putting on their game face on a daily basis and that’s fine. The good thing is ... when you do it often enough, smiling and a positive attitude do become a lifestyle, and you will find ways to get back on your feet faster and faster after every fall!
Come on, we can do this!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Dream Pillow-cases

Two days ago, I did a project with my daughters who are 7 and 4 years old. We each took a pillow-case and fabric markers. We agreed that the only rules were to share the markers (this is a biggie at certain ages, if not all!!), and we all had to draw pictures of our dreams, which would then turn into goals.
Above is my own pillow-case at the top, my 7 year-old's in the middle and my 4 year-old's dream pillow-case is last but not least.
Of course my baby focuses on Barbies and having fun, my 7 year-old already has money as a goal (she knows a tad more about life than I would wish for her at her age), and I drew my own clear-cut adult goals: making the next rank in my jewelry biz., publishing my next book in the U.S., reaching a certain income level, destressing as a way of life and loving and forgiving others (and myself) on a daily basis ...
What was the purpose of this exercise? To focus on three or four things we have as goals for this year, and see them every single time we lay our head on our pillows at night before falling asleep.
There is no magic involved in this, mind you!
This has worked for me in the past, and what it does is keep my goals present and fresh in my mind, in order for me to be reminded to take the ACTION required to achieve them.
16 years ago, when I was writing my first book, I made a mock cover of the published book .... I used to look up at it when I was writing and would carry it with me everywhere. Of course I wrote the book, made the calls, and took the action required to actually get it published. And yes, it was published. 16 years and 15 books later, I can say it works!
Now I am implementing it in every other area of my life where I feel I need to gain or regain focus.
And to reach my goals, as Jim Rohn says, I must become the person who will make those goals happen, or they will not persist. For instance: I run because I am a runner, I write because I am a writer and I nurture because I am a mother ...
What reminders do you use to keep your goals fresh?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

I can't afford NOT to pursue my passions

I cannot afford NOT to pursue my passions. In fact, pursuing them became a way of life for me many a year ago, overcoming all kinds of obstacles to become the person I was meant to be. When doing something positive becomes a habit, such as exercise, writing, painting, dancing, rock climbing or whatever floats your boat ... NOT doing it gently kills your soul. At least, it kills mine.
I became a fitness instructor at 20, as a second best to dancing, because I thought I was rhythmically impaired. NOT! I discovered that on the job, and at 24 I pursued modern and jazz dancing, in classes way above my level (not by choice). I remember feeling too old (darn it, old at 24!?), and as though I would never ever be able to spin without keeling over, let alone dance a whole choreography. On day one, I excused myself from classes early, cried in the dressing room, and went home. But I returned to class. Day 2, day 3 and so on were similar. I kept coming back though, despite the fear of ridicule, of not being good enough, of being too old ... I eventually was PAID to dance - I guess that made me a professional dancer! But most important, it made me a WINNER because I didn´t quit.
Now, at 45, I dance LA Style Salsa, which allows me to take advantage of the jazz, modern and even fitness stunts I can still pull off. I can do double and triple spins, drops, and so many more things that enable me to simply flow with the music and be ME ... no worries, no concerns, just the music, my moves, and the flow with my dancing partner.
I decided to take a break from classes and social dancing "because of the financial crisis" last November, until I developed chest pains that drove me to the doctor. I was still working out: running, going to the gym when I could (and can), and walking on the beach. But the only time I don´t think at all is when I am dancing.
Diagnose: STRESS with capital letters.
Well, by the law of inertia ... I took myself back to class and social dancing, because I was making myself sick with anxiety by not pursuing one of my passions that is the healthiest pressure valve for me .... I simply cannot afford NOT to dance, especially in times of financial stress. It is cheaper than meds, therapy and the ER. My kids love who I am when I´m high with endorfins after dancing!
Consider what things you have given up to "save money" and that may be costing you your health, mental and emotional sanity and your mood, which is a lot more expensive in the long run.
I feel alive again! So can you!

Friday, February 13, 2009

The light at the end of the tunnel

Guess what? You can get out of the tunnel RIGHT NOW. It has side doors! The side door is called ATTITUDE. And I don´t mean acting stuck up of course.
It is way too easy to stay in the dark and use it as an excuse not to get ahead in life, and not to live to your fullest potential. But it is also boring and lonley in there.
We blame the economy, a boss, a parent, a friend or an enemy for our circumstances. Ultimately, however, the responsibility is our own.
I started learning this in my twenties, while battling a long and severe eating disorder that I used as a scapegoat for many things from not having healthy relationships to being irresponsible.
However, and thanks to my perseverance, I found my way to a 12-step group that helped me realize that whereas I was not to blame for my illness (nor, in fact, was anyone else for that matter), I was fully responsible for overcoming it. And overcome it I did. It wasn´t easy, it wasn´t fast and to this day I can say it wasn´t a blast ...
But that eating disorder turned into my first and best-selling book so far, published in 1993, entitled "I Feel Fat" ("Me siento gorda", in Spanish), which is unfortunately not available in English. It turned into empathy, patience and understanding of people with addictions. It turned into STRENGTH.
Because I looked for a side door in that tunnel, today I know that if I was able to beat an eating disorder and help others know what it feels like to have one, and inspire them to overcome that, I can do ANYTHING!
Think of what you have overcome in life and how that proves you can overcome the challenges you are facing now or that may lie ahead ...

Thursday, February 12, 2009

I will not be attending the National Pity Party ...

Ok, so we are in a recession. Big deal. Small deal. No deal. Not for me.

Don't get me wrong. My family's hurting! Unemployment has visited my family as well, and as I contemplate credit counseling, bankruptcy and shopping around for the nicest shelter in town, I refuse to turn my story into a pity party. I have two kids, 7 and 4, and I sometimes catch myself wondering if they could walk to school from the shelter if we end up in one?

I realize this IS a REAL possibility! It doesn´t only happen to others!

I'm not typing this from my penthouse at the Ritz, overlooking the ocean. I do live near the beach, but I have to drive there. That's while I can keep up with my car payments ...

Anyhow, despite the mess we're in, I'm taking responsibility for my part in it. What I did yesterday determines where I am today, and I know that my actions today will impact my future. And I want my future to look GOOD.

I'm a 14 (soon 15)-times published author, a proud and fit mother. But I´m broke. That´s me in a nutshell. When I set a goal, I tend to accomplish it. Now I am realizing that perhaps I should have set myself some financial goals a "few" years ago ... and then I would be successful in all areas of life, not just one or two.

Despite my current situation, I refuse to join the National Pity Party that is growing faster than the recession is! I am dusting myself off, and getting to work, in order to reach my family and financial goals as well as my career goals, which I have already accomplished.

In this blog, I will post positive proactive material, what I have done and will do to achieve my goals, in the hopes of inspiring YOU and YOU and perhaps YOU ... to take yourself on and send in your RSVP saying:

"I will not be attending the National Pity Party ...."

Now, let´s get going ...