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.