Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Dear 2010 ...

Always hopeful
Dear 2010,

Thank you for being so good to me. 2008 and 2009 were pretty rough, but 2009 signed off with promises of a better tomorrow.

In 2010 I got a lot done, and I gained a clearer perspective of my life, of where I’d been and where I’m going. 

I turned in an overdue book proposal, I wrote a non-fiction book in Spanish on finding love again in mid-life (which will be released in February 2011), I wrote a first rough draft of a novel in English (which I will rewrite in 2011) and I kept Success Diaries going in two languages and in three Internet sites (and I´ll kick it up a notch in 2011).

I saw my 9-year old off at the airport on her first solo trip from Florida to Spain and back and then before Christmas I took both my girls and their dad (my former husband) to the airport so they could all spend the holidays in Spain together.

I traveled to San Francisco to visit my beloved sister.

I dealt with unfinished business, personal, financial and emotional. Some of it will carry over into 2011 but hopefully not for long.

I stayed in shape and healthy. I am grateful for it: mental, emotional and physical health. I know I am fortunate to have it. It hasn´t always been that way. 

I was given the opportunity to promote my books on TV. Thank you!

The meaning of relationships: romantic love, friendship, family, have taken on a new meaning. My glass is always half full, and my heart is brimming. 

And yet, it pains me to know that some of my friends and family are suffering in 2010, in ways that I did before them. I’m glad that I can use my own experience to tell them that perhaps 2011 will also bring them the promise of a better tomorrow. 

To those who can´t wait for you to be over, 2010, I say:

The rest of your life starts today.

And … as Christopher Robin said to Winnie the Pooh:

“Promise me you'll always remember: You're braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

On Ho'Oponopono or Being Responsible and Forgiving

If you are interested in feeling lighter of spirit and heart, clearing yourself of resentments and inner turmoil, taking responsibility for how you feel, finding closure and moving on, then Ho´Oponopono may be for you!

You can find more about it in Wikipedia, or by googling it.

This is based on an ancient Hawaian practice of reconciliation and forgiveness that was carried out as a family or a community when there were ill feelings amongst them. They believed that feeling grudges and anger, for instance, made the body ill.

I´m not Hawaiian or ancient (yet!), but I know that when I am angry or resentful I don´t feel as good and don´t look as pretty. I also know that it is unlikely that others will stop behaving in the way that makes me angry and resentful, on demand. So I adhere to the Ho´Oponopono method of taking responsibility for how I feel, regardless of others. The only person I can do something about is me.

We don´t see things the way they are, say the followers of this ancient practice; we see them the way we are. I knew that before I read about Ho´Oponopono, so that makes it that much easier to absorb.
In order to clear yourself of ill feelings, says the simplistic approach to this method, you must follow the following four steps, over and over. And, according to many, it works. 

I’ve heard of more far-fetched ideas than this, so why not give it a try. If it works, it works, and if not, at least your mind is busy with nice thoughts instead of brooding.

When you are feeling out of sorts, angry, upset, sad, repeat the following phrases mentally.

1.- I’m sorry (You are saying this to the Divine, to a Higher Power, or whatever you believe in)
2.- Please forgive me (Assuming responsibility for your part in the feeling or event)
3.- Thank you (Letting go of the ill feeling)
4.- I love you (Letting in love and loving yourself and others)

Even if you don’t do this, the simple act of acknowledging that we are responsible for how we feel and that we have no control over other people, places or things, and doing our best to see the best in people or at least understand where they are coming from makes for a much lighter heart.

When I was a lot younger I knew how to bear a grudge and my heart was heavy. As time passes, my heart feels lighter and life gets better. Nothing has changed on the outside. It's all in the eyes of the beholder. 

What a better time to start this practice than right before the holidays! I wish you peace ... 

Sunday, December 19, 2010

8 Tips for Successful Holidays

The holidays: Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or whatever it is you celebrate, should be relaxing and fun and not yet another source of stress in our busy days.

Life goes on despite the holidays and although commercials tell us that it’s all about shopping and being of good cheer, things happen: people fall ill, die, argue, separate, divorce, are fired, away from their loved ones, tired, depressed and lonely, also during the holidays. Some people are especially so during the holidays.

A few tips to simplify the season and enjoy it warts and all …

-       Minimize material gift giving, if you can’t afford it. Nobody should be offended if you cannot buy a present.

-       Christmas meals need not be elaborate and expensive. Make it a potluck, where everyone brings something.

-       It’s ok not to send Christmas cards.

-       Focus on what you have, not on what you lack.

-       Say no. If I gave money to every Salvation Army bucket and every charity I come across, I’d have nothing left for my kids.

-       Realize there is no “perfect” Christmas. Pining for a Normal Rockwell kind of celebration will only make you feel bad. You can make the best of any season.

-       Know that if you don’t bake cookies, the “Christmas Baking Police” won’t arrest you!

-       Give and receive the greatest gift of all: the gift of your presence.

Any tips of your own?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

A Simple Entrepreneurial Recipe for Success

Jodie and Dustin Goeggle
Be good at what you do, know your market and reduce your overhead during a recession.

That’s what Jodie and Dustin Goeggle, owners of have been successfully doing for 17 years.

When they showed me around their factory in Naples, Florida, I saw T-shirts with the logo of Jimmy Buffet’s “Margaritaville” bar in Key West being printed, alongside those of The Lazy Flamingo in Sanibel Island.

After many years of tried and true entrepreneurial success, the Goeggles decided to go online and offer customers everywhere the possibility of ordering custom printing or embroidery on the Internet at wholesale prices.

They provide the same fast, professional and reliable service as usual, but with the added bonus of the client being able to upload their logo or artwork to their website. They then tweak it and send it back to the customer for approval. The turnaround time is ten days guaranteed delivery, or five if it is a rush order.

Their competitive prices are possible because the Goeggles are not outsourcing the job. I saw how they receive the orders, process them, execute them and mail them from their premises. They also happen to be the providers for my kids’ elementary school T-shirts and sweatshirts.

Whether you need to dress a soccer or football team, your employees, or even your customers, is a reliable place to go for that.

I’ve seen what’s behind the Internet storefront and I know the people who are the heart of the business. A family with their head in the clouds but their feet firmly planted on the ground.

They embody success in the simplest of terms and their recipe is worth repeating: Be good at what you do, know your market and reduce your overhead during a recession.


Monday, December 6, 2010

Free Gifts you Can Give this Christmas!

Christmas should not be a time of stress spent at the mall or online, shopping for stuff, only to face January’s huge credit card bills and a host of gifts you have no use for.

Of course I wouldn’t balk at an IPad under the Christmas tree – I love gadgets!

But throughout the years I´ve grown less interested in material things (I´m not just sayin´: you can read my older posts if you are curious as to why!) and more appreciative of other kinds of gifts.

My children and close friends and family may get a present from me if my budget and time allows, but I find that there are other more valuable gifts that are free or low-budget and that are more gratifying to the soul, and those rank higher on my list.
Some of these:

-       The gift of time – Spend time with those you love, give them your undivided attention on a regular basis, even if it’s only once a week!

-       The gift of support – Think of a friend who is going through a tough time now (you may not have to think too hard!). Do something nice for them, like treat them to the movies, babysit their kids, or clean their apartment.

-       The gift of listening – Have you ever caught yourself thinking of what you are going to say before the other person has even finished talking?

-       The gift of your presence – We may regret not having spent enough time with a loved one – a child, a parent, a grandparent … Don´t let that happen.

-       The gift of mentorship – Do you have a friend or family member who would benefit from your guidance? Whether you are an artist, a writer, a juggler or an entrepreneur, your knowledge and experience is priceless to those who are starting out.

-       The gift of motivation – Offer to go jogging with your best friend if she needs to get in shape (and has expressed it!), to attend a seminar with your sister who wants to start her own business …

-       The gift of joy – Attitudes are contagious. Is yours worth catching? This may sound trite, but it reminds me daily of the fact that my best asset is my positive attitude!

-       The gift of forgiveness – Make a list of your grudges. Consider forgiving others as, in doing so, you are freeing yourself. This one´s hard! I know!

-       The gift of the written word – Write a heartfelt letter to everyone and anyone you wish you could give a material gift to. Tell them what they mean to you, list their virtues and happy memories you have about them, or even the tough times you shared.

This type of giving won’t empty your wallet and will fill your heart.
You may have others to add to the list! If so, please do.

¡Happy Holidays!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Why I Believe in People

I wrote this post exactly one year ago, on my private Facebook profile, and tagged the friends it pertained to. One year later, I am happy to say 2010 has been a much better year than the one before, and I trust that 2011 will be even better. And if not, I know that I have it in me to weather the storms of life, over and over again. Thanks to them I discovered I have a soul with stamina, and a lot of kind people around me.


2009 was an extremely challenging year for me and my kids, although naturally the real challenges had started a few years back ...

Hardship and how one deals with it can make or break a person. I didn't break. And I didn't break not only because I have learned to develop a soul with stamina, but because there are good persons in this world. I am fortunate to know many of them. For those who do not believe in others ... I would like to share with you a list of things angels that walk the earth have done for me this year alone. I will not mention names because some asked me not to disclose the act of generosity or kindness when I thanked them and I respect that. Someone said: "This is between you and me and God" ... and it is, whatever your beliefs may be.

I hope this list rekindles your belief in people if you ever lost it. I am happy to say I haven't ....

So, THANKS to YOU who (without me asking) ...

- came to my place and pulled me out of bed at midday when I was down, and took me and my kids to get an oil change for my car and to shop for groceries and paid for it all.

- gave me your wedding and engagement rings so I could sell them and pay for bills.

- gave me boxes of cereal for my kids.

- cooked dinner for me and the girls and brought it over.

- cosigned my lease for my apartment.

- bought me a new laptop when my Macbook was stolen.

- paid for my dinner and drinks (often) when I needed to go out and have a good time with my friends.

- prepared a birthday party for me even when I wasn't sure I wanted to celebrate.

- bought my ticket to New York.

- gave me work writing blogs.

- drove me to Miami airport and back when I went to Spain in summer.

- took care of my kids so I could work or go to get my salsa fix.

- bartered services so I could have nice clothes or anything else I needed.

- filled my gas tank.

- wrote and composed a song for me. How cool is that?

- chatted with me when I needed comfort at 4 am in Spain. Thank God for friends in other countries!

- helped me move boxes and boxes and more boxes, even driving across Florida to do it.

- worked with me to get a pampering service for free, at a lower price or with a payment plan.

- paid my rent.

- gave me a great price for all my gold jewelry while I almost cried when selling it.

- held Sterling Silver Silpada shows for me just to help me out.

- connected me with someone who could give me work writing or translating.

- gave my kids clothes.

- taught me that wealth is what you have when you've lost everything.

- made sure my kids were on the list to get gifts this Christmas.

- lent me your entire jewelry display for a Silpada show.

- gave me money to go to the dentist.

- sent me recognition gifts for my jewelry business performance.

- took fantastic pictures of me for my books and jewelry biz for free.

- gave me your own stuff to sell on e bay so I could keep the money.

- paid me a compliment when I did not feel at my best.

- told me I would make it.

- changed my tire and wasted the entire morning doing it.

- respected the times I needed to be alone and came hastily when I needed company.

- performed an expensive surgery practically for free.

- accepted me for who I am.

I know there are more things, but these are the ones that come to mind right now.
People are good ... and I also believe others mirror who we are.

For that I am grateful.

THANK YOU, from the bottom of my heart!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Putting the Kids First = Success

My happy kids, the day we put up our tiny tree

Yesterday my kids and I put up our little Christmas tree, as we have done every year. Alas, this year I was a little melancholy as I realized we were preparing together for a season that – for the first time since they were born – we will not share.

The reason? Their dad is traveling from Florida to Spain for the holidays and last summer (as we were driving our 9-year old to Miami airport for her first solo trip to Spain) he asked me what I though of him taking them both to Spain this Christmas.

My first reaction back then was of hesitation – because like any mommy, I love to have my offspring around me during Christmas – but I immediately realized that such a trip would be a gift to my children, and a gift to their extended family – both mine and my exe´s.

Of course my final answer was yes. So, in a couple of weeks, I will be seeing my girls off at Miami airport so they can cross the Atlantic and reunite with their other culture, their roots and their family. So they can spend Christmas in the cold, perhaps even with snow. So they can travel by plane with their daddy – just the three of them for the first time. I know I will shed a tear after I drop them off and when I listen to Christmas carols or think of my girls waking up to Santa´s presents without me, thousands of miles away, but my heart swells because I know both their dad and I are giving them something better than material presents: memories that will last a lifetime. 

The way they are spending their Christmas – three weeks away from me in another country – is not set in our court-approved parenting schedule.

We try to put our kids first. Whichever parent has the most enriching activity planned for the kids gets to take them for as long of a time as we all agree. So this year they went trick or treating on the other side of the state with daddy so they could enjoy time with their cousins who were moving away, then they spent Thanksgiving with mommy in another city so they could enjoy their friends. Both parents e mailed pictures of the girls to each other to share their smiles and happiness.

Ah, nevertheless, allow me to wipe away my tears. I have to get ready to take my kids to the Christmas parade. Then, they spend the night with daddy, just because they want to.

We may not have succeeded in our marriage, but despite what others may think (there is always someone with a different opinion), I think we’re not doing such a bad job at sharing the custody of two well-adjusted, adaptable and confident kiddos.

In the end, our kids are the winners, and that´s the way it should be. 

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Say NO to the Time Bandits and Reach your Goals

In the U.S. if someone suggests you do something social and you turn down the invite, that’s it. End of story. “Something came up” is usually a good enough excuse even if you cancel last minute. I guess it’s politically incorrect to probe.

In Spain, even if you argue that you haven’t slept in two days to meet a deadline and have to get up at the crack of dawn to take the kids to school and work, your friends will insist over and over that you join them for a drink and tapas. If, led by guilt, you finally show up but tell them that you will only be there for an hour, they will say ok, but when your time is up and you get up to leave they will call you a party pooper, they will hide your car keys if need be, and they will all rant and rave about how they have to get up early too (they usually do!) and how they never see you etc. etc. and why don’t you just stay for the last drink! So you end up chatting it up until the wee hours, sleeping nothing – again – your brain turned into mush while you nap instead of working, and wondering when you’ll find time to ever write your novel.

Having lived in Spain for most of my life, I had to learn to say no – even though I was guilt-ridden to the core – and at one of my book launches I thanked my friends who were in the audience for coming and I explained that the new book was the result of so many missed dinners, outings, parties and not picking up the phone to chat for hours. They seemed to understand, but then they told me we had to celebrate until 5 a.m. to make up for it. Of course I joined them and was useless the next day.

I love my friends and family, but I’ve also learned to be a little selfish with my time. This past year I managed to get my translating and writing work done, turn in a book proposal, a book and write the first draft of a novel plus keep up my 2 times a week blogging schedule (I publish my blog in two languages, so I translate the posts). But I’ve also volunteered at my kids’ school, taken them on trips, and enjoyed down-time with them and my significant other.


Other than not watching TV at all which I share in a previous post, I say “no” a lot. I love parties, I love dancing, I love socializing. But if I accept every invite to volunteer, to go to a party or presentation and chat on the phone every time it rings, I won’t have time to write.
So, I choose my yeses carefully.

That’s why in February 2011 my 16th book will hit bookstores.

I make time for my goals.

What can you say no to more often?

To learn more about my work and my books, visit

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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Magic Wand

A few months ago, Obelisco, a publisher in Spain that has published a few of my books, to include The Challenge of Writing and Publishing, A Creative Child is a Happy Child and 7 Strategies to Get the Most out of Self-Help Books  (with Raimon Samsó), asked me to write a fairy tale for their  2011 Fairy Planner . 

Alas, I was not inspired to write a fairy tale.

A few days later, something my daughters did inspired my short story entitled The Magic Wand, and I went from not remembering if fairies exist to thinking they just might.

It´s good to believe in magic, in fairies, in Santa Claus and Peter Pan.  

In fact I find it´s a fountain of youth!

If you can read and write Spanish, go to the web page of ediciones Obelisco, and submit your fairy tale to their Fairy Tale Contest, for their next planner. Good luck!

To buy the Fairy Tale planner on Amazon, click HERE. 

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To know more about my writing and my books, visit

Saturday, November 13, 2010

In Search of the Lost Hobby ...

I make a living with words: I write them and translate them. I also write for my own enjoyment.
Writing is a craft that the writer perfects over the years.

And yet I find myself craving other creative outlets. Perhaps that is why I´ve also dabbled in dancing and drawing. That´s why I spent my two pregnancies crocheting booties and shawls for my babies.

I grew up watching my father and my grandfather write, and my grandfather would let me use his canvases and oil paints when I was 12. As kids, my sister and I played with clay by his side.

Yesterday I observed my 9-year old carry her notebook everywhere we went and draw and make notes of everything. She inspired me to buy a sketchbook and pencils, and after twenty plus years of not doing it, sketch. Of course, for lack of practice, my drawing skills have not improved over the years. But, it was fun!

I´d forgotten how good it felt to put pencil to paper.

I´m not trading drawing for writing, just as I don´t trade dancing for running.

Writing is still my main interest and will most likely remain number one until the day I die. But it is liberating and fun to take up something I thought I´d left behind for good. This time around, however, I´m not expecting anything of it. It´s fun to do things I enjoy, whether I excel at them or not! 

What activity or hobby did you leave behind that you could take up again simply for the enjoyment of it?

Monday, November 8, 2010

My Own Rally to Restore (Financial) Sanity!

Before the “R” word, I had credit cards. And I used them. Yet, compared to my friend B. who owns 50 pairs of shoes or more, I was never a shop-a-holic. I did splurge on certain things – hairdressers and skin-care for one and my kids always had more clothes than they cared to wear.

During the Recession (I capitalized it on purpose!), stripped of my best clients as a freelancer, I found myself hesitating to buy a $5 shampoo, when I used to spend $30 on a specialty brand. Reality check!

Now that I´m on a slow but steady professional come-back as a writer and translator, I realize that while my income increases along with my workload, that does not mean my spending habits should change. I learned to make the best of dire straits and I am more content spending my free time writing books and articles or reading with my kids than walking the mall and shopping for fun. Plus, I need to save for a rainy day - or perhaps for a Monsoon. 

I´ve hit the local mall maybe 4 times in the past year, and most of those were to get a haircut.
Last week my kids needed clothes, and I use the word “needed” correctly here. So we went shopping and I realized how easy it would be to get sucked right back into the consumer trap. It is, after all, kind of thrilling to catch a good deal! I´d forgotten how much fun it is to be handed colorful bags of purchases by a smiling cashier.

My eldest (9 years old) said to me: “Mommy, it feels good to be back in the old days!” I sensed danger.

No, we are not going back to the old days. I´d also forgotten how it feels to find out that all those cute deals added up to more than we spend on gas and groceries in a week. I paid cash, so it was real money too!

We bought what we needed, and I´m not going back to the mall until the girls need new shoes (need, not want!) or I find holes in my socks.

And no, I don´t want to save 10% on my purchase today by requesting a store credit card, thank you. In fact, I don´t want to have a credit card in my name ever again.

And before I even think of buying anything else, let me see what I have at home that I can sell on eBay!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

How I learned to be a happy person!

If having money, good looks or fame were all that we needed to be happy, Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson, to name a few, might have lived a little longer and in better mental and physical conditions!

Other than having our basic needs met – a place to live, food to eat, water to drink and clothes to wear – there are things we can do every day to increase our level of happiness.

Keep in mind that being mostly unhappy or mostly happy (hey, we all have ups and downs) is a choice. Some of the most successful and happy people have had crappy childhoods, abusive parents, terrible diseases, addictions, and more. Some are survivors of concentration camps. And they don’t use it as an excuse to lead a bitter life. They refuse to! That’s why they are successful … and a joy to be around.

On the other hand many people who are talented, good-looking and wealthy feel “empty”, aimless and bitter.

Joy and happiness can be learned. You can train yourself to be happy. You don´t need others to behave in specific ways for you to be happy. You do not need certain things to happen to feel joyful. I´m not trying to patronize; I know first-hand.

I learned to be a mostly happy person when I
  • Stopped postponing happiness until “I made more money, until I married, until I divorced, until I published a book, lost weight, the weather got better or …” you name it …
  • Realized nobody else could “make me” happy. It had to come from within. And it did
  • Took action instead of waiting for things to happen
  • Quit blaming and complaining and became the captain of my own ship
  • Found I could laugh and have a good time even in the worst of times
  • Started counting my blessings instead of lamenting my losses
  • Felt good about myself on a consistent basis as a result of all of the above!

What can you do to teach yourself to be happy?

Monday, November 1, 2010

Yes I Can, and so Can You!

When I was eighteen I had a crash that totaled the car I drove (my father’s). The vehicle ended up overturned on the sharp curve of a highway, with me in the driver’s seat and two other passengers. One of them was my sister. The jeep had no seatbelts, it was raining, and the cars coming out of the curve swerved to avoid us. Thankfully, they all did.

Right after what could have been a fatal accident, my sister and I were at the ER, nervously laughing and cracking jokes, numbed by the adrenaline rush, I imagine. 

As the days passed, however, I realized that it was short of a miracle that we had survived the event unscathed physically. Emotionally, not so much. The realization of what could have happened weighed down on my soul and I felt exhausted and down for a while.

That happened 29 years ago.

For the past few weeks I’ve been feeling under the weather physically and emotionally exhausted. And this was despite a great visit to my sister in San Francisco, having just finished the first rough draft of a novel, my publisher in Spain announcing that my sixteenth book will hit the stores for Valentine’s Day, being back on the saddle freelancing, my kids being healthy and my personal life fulfilling.

I felt something similar to the down after that accident 29 years ago. Most of 2009 was a symbolic wreck in my life. As I’m no longer numbed by the survival mode required in the face of extreme circumstances, I’m free to grieve and that´s what my body and soul are doing.

Had I let myself realize the scope of my hardship while I was struggling to get through the tunnel of personal, financial and professional darkness, I probably wouldn’t have made it.

Realizing that I managed to pull through during dire straits without coming apart, albeit with more grey hairs that I care to count, has given me “permission” to feel now what I couldn’t back then, when I needed all my strength, faith and health to make it through another 24 hours, one day at a time.

Now I know I can, because I did.

And no matter what you are going through now, so can you!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Emotional Energy Factor

Visit to purchase

Who doesn´t want to have “more energy”?

That´s why we consume caffeine, power drinks and even drugs.
We don´t need more physical energy, however. We need more emotional energy.

Emotional energy can override physical exhaustion and keep you awake, interested and going …

Emotional fatigue can keep you from living a full life, and yet a lot of us have suffered or suffer from it to a certain degree.

The first step to overcome emotional fatigue is to recognize and acknowledge it. Worry, anger, envy, unresolved business, mental and physical clutter and toxic interactions are just some of the culprits.

The solution to emotional fatigue is not eliminating problems – they will always arise in one form or another – but facing them and solving them.

A bad marriage, a layoff, an endless to-do list, an illness, can all trigger emotional fatigue. So can daily irritations if we let them build up without an appropriate outlet.

Performing an act of kindness, practicing a sport, creating art, enjoying the company of uplifting friends and playing with your children can increase your emotional energy.

If you feel drained, tired, irritable, listless, and otherwise unenthused with life:
  • Visit a doctor to rule out any physical ailment and of course clinical depression
  • Get enough sleep
  • Exercise regularly and eat a balanced diet
  • Take care of your appearance. Knowing you look good makes you feel good!
  • Learn something new. Sign up to a class or read a book about a topic that interests you
  • Make dates with yourself and enjoy your time alone
  • Create art: draw, cook, take pictures, write, dance, crochet, whatever you feel compelled to do
  • Minimize interactions with toxic people (the kind that drain you) and increase interactions with uplifting folks (the kind that make your heart smile)
  • Learn to say no (to things you really don´t want to do)
  • Prioritize
  • Pray or meditate (you don´t have to be religious to do this)
  • Eliminate clutter from your home, your closet and your mind. Throw or give away what you no longer need.
  • Have a written “to do” list or a planner so you aren´t always “on” and trying to remember things
  • Take yourself, and life, with a grain – or many – of salt. We are all going to die in the end, you know! But … don´t drain yourself by worrying about that too!

Recommended reading:

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Live by Reasons, Not Excuses!

Who hasn’t made excuses for not doing something we really want or need to do? If we wait for the perfect time to have a baby, to get married, to get divorced, to take up a sport, to write a book, go back to school, move, take up painting, dancing, photography or whatever it is we want to do, the perfect time will never come. Life always gets in the way, and that’s a good thing. It means we’re alive.

Why not rephrase each excuse and turn it into a reason?
Simple? Yes.
Easy? No.
But that’s life.

Excuse – I don’t feel like exercising
Reason – If I exercise I will feel better

Excuse – I don’t know enough about the subject to write a book about it
Reason – If I write a book about the subject, I’ll learn while I research

Excuse – I don’t have money to pay for a gym membership
Reason – If I pay the gym membership and use it, I’ll save money on meds

Excuse – I’m too old to go to back to college
Reason – If I go back to college, I will be able to get a better job when I’m older

What excuses do you give yourself, and how can you rephrase them into reasons?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Committed, by Elizabeth Gilbert

The Book

I checked out Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert – author of Eat, Pray, Love, out of curiosity. I’d listened to her first book at a timely moment in my life. It was a Godsend.

What I found in Committed were countless paragraphs that I wanted to underline (but couldn’t since the book belongs to the library) because they hit home.

I recommend the book to any woman who is haunted by her exes, who hates them or loves them, who is in love again or wants to be or doesn’t want to be, who is divorced, married, single, widowed, dating, sworn off men, young, old, a mom, a non-mom. I recommend it to any woman who wonders what makes a marriage successful, or if it is even healthy to marry, to divorce or all of the above. That may very well be all women. 

Part of what makes the experience of divorce so dreadful is the emotional ambivalence. It can be difficult, if not impossible, for many divorced people ever to rest in a state of pure grief, pure anger or pure relief when it comes to feelings about one’s ex spouse. Instead, the emotions often remain mixed up together in an uncomfortably raw stew of contradictions for many years,” states Gilbert.

Finally, someone owns up to this publicly. If you have kids, then this is compounded because you have to somehow interact with that person with whom you have so many unresolved issues. And, unresolved they may be forever. It might be a matter of learning to live with it and using that experience towards your next relationship.

Elizabeth Gilbert
She also reminds us that the person we choose (and hopefully chooses us) as a partner at different times in our life defines who we are at that moment. Both people are in it, and no manner of one-sided finger pointing will change that. It’s not easy to acknowledge, but I can relate to it.  

Gilbert mentions a study by the naturalist William Jordan, Divorce Among the Gulls, where he explains that seagulls – a species that mate for life – have a 25% “divorce rate”. Sometimes two seagulls just don’t get along. They bicker and complain and don’t communicate. After a couple of seasons of this, they go off and find other “spouses”.

“And here’s the kicker”, says Gilbert: “Often their ´second marriage´ is perfectly happy and then many of them do mate for life.”

“Imagine that, I beg you! Even among birds with brains the size of camera batteries, there does exist such a think as fundamental compatibility and incompatibility (…). The situation is the same for humans. Some of us drive each other nuts; some of us do not. Maybe there is a limit to what can be done about this.”

This is enlightening, and explains why some people have grand relationships with one particular person but strife-ridden relationships with someone else and yet they are – in essence – the same person. Mix oil and water as vigorously as you want, and you get nothing but oil and water, separated. Mix oil and an egg yolk, beating it smoothly and continuously and presto: mayonnaise! Of course, mayonnaise can also separate if it spoils. But, there are ways to prevent that. 

Gilbert wrote Committed when she and the love of her life found they had to marry so he would not be deported. The glitch was that they had promised each other not to marry – ever - after having both experienced shattering divorces. 

She then decided to study the institution of marriage and the ins and outs of commitment, of infatuation, of maturity, of compatibility, of loving someone because of who they are and not because of who you would like them to be. There is no tidy conclusion to it, as there is no tidy conclusion to relationships or even life. 

I enjoyed it. A lot. Now I’m going to buy my own copy, so I can highlight the heck out of it.