Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Live by Reasons, not Excuses!

You´ve heard this before: you are not your circumstances. It is, however, difficult to own this when in the midst of some kind of crisis or huge challenge. This could be the loss of a job or work, a challenging financial situation, a divorce, a mental or physical ailment, the loss of a loved one, or anything else on your list of things that may make you feel like pulling the covers over your head and not facing the world.
I´ve had my share of challenges that include all of the above and then some. I won´t pretend it´s easy to pull oneself from the bootstraps and keep on going, but it IS simple and it´s a choice. When I was in my teens and early twenties I was in the habit of blaming circumstances and others for my problems. Throughout the years I have learned that only I can DO something about my situation. I am the only one who can take myself to therapy, go to the doctor, grieve and recover, take action to fulfill a dream, or whatever else I need to do.
If you have not read Viktor Frankl´s Man´s Search for Meaning, I recommend it. After reading it you will wonder what you have to complain about, no matter how dire your circumstances and will realize that it is possible to train the mind to thrive, always.
Challenges have made me stronger. I know what I am capable of. I also know I am capable of throwing ballast out – no hanging on to the past, to resentments or regrets – and moving up.

A few things that have helped me become unstoppable and mostly cheerful:

- Find reasons to get out of a funk, not excuses to perpetuate it.

- Ask for help. If you are depressed, consult with an expert. Life is easier when lived in the solution.

- If you have a disease, find out about it (I did this with my eating disorder when I was very young and wrote a book about it), and try to help others overcome it or understand it. That is the root of most of my non-fiction books.

- Stop the blame game. Tend to your garden and watch it bloom. Nobody else can do it for you, even if you think they should.

- Make a list of all the steps you can take to overcome your current challenge. If you need work, reinvent yourself, promote your skills, take classes, job-hunt as if your life depends on it- it does!

- Be grateful – Regularly I write a list of everything I am grateful for. In dire straits, I recall writing that I was grateful that I could buy groceries for my kids. Everything else was crumbling, but we had something to eat, and we had one another.

What do you do to overcome difficulties?


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Adriana Lozada finally has it all!

Adriana Lozada is the editor of D´Latinos magazine, a Spanish magazine which is distributed in Southwest Florida. As a member of the team of Mediavista, Inc. she also co-hosts the Spanish TV talkshow D´Latinos, which is how we met. She put up with my kids sitting with us, throwing Cheerios at the camera while she interviewed me a few years ago. Stunning features, a contagious smile, the body of a trained model, brains and a college degree in journalism, the 28-year old Venezuelan has it all.
Or does she?
When I asked her what her biggest success story was, she replied: “I have many, but the most important one is that I was able to thrive even without the love and recognition of a father in my life”.
Adri, as she is known by friends and family, grew up as the only child of a single mother in a society that frowned upon her situation.
“I was always wrapped in the love of my mother, my grandmother, aunts and uncles, but I attended a private school where the other girls knew their heritage and I didn´t know who my father was. That was hard and now I realize it marked me as a person. Now I can finally talk about it openly and without embarrassment”.
At 20, Adriana discovered she was not an only child, but that she had 3 brothers and sisters. A few months ago, they all met in Venezuela, to discover they have many traits in common, especially persistence, and the fact that they all have dreams, goals and hopes.
“The day that I met my brothers and sisters was the happiest! That happiness cured my anguish, answered my doubts and filled me with hope”.
Adriana took the first step in meeting her family, despite her fear of their reaction, and she is glad she did. “I thank my mother for raising me without ever showing resentment towards my father. I believe that if I the choice were mine, I would not change a thing, other than perhaps meeting my brothers and sisters earlier in life”.
Family is a cornerstone in Adriana Lozada´s life. People can see her media persona, her beauty, her work, her pictures, but until now, not everyone saw one of her biggest life-struggles.
Her words of wisdom:
“Dare to do what you want to do, and you will always be rewarded. Face your fears, since it will always be more comforting to know that you tried, no matter what the results, than if you never faced them. Tell the people you love that you love them, and that they are crucial in your personal quest for happiness”.
To know more about Adriana Lozada:


To watch her videos:



Sunday, April 18, 2010

A University on Wheels

I drive a university on wheels. A book writer and reading junkie, I have about as much free time to lie down and read the old-fashioned way as I do to make a castle out of matchsticks. First I became a speed-reader, and this cut in half the time I need to devour a book. And yet, this was not enough to absorb all the information I´m hungry for. So, I resorted to books on tape, then on CD and now on my Ipod. I listen to books while driving, running, cleaning or doing any other mindless chore.
I listen to books at night when I´m too tired to read but not relaxed enough to fall asleep. Now commutes seem shorter, my runs more productive and I even look forward to doing the dishes or vacuuming because that´s when I get to listen to audio-books.
The choice of books is personal, of course, and so far the only novel I´ve managed to listen to on audio was Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert (she has a beautiful voice). For fans of personal improvement, I recommend any audio book by Wayne Dyer (he is also a great lecturer), Caroline Myss or Jack Canfield, to name a few. The advantage of listening to motivational books in addition to reading them, is that new information is processed every time. Also, listening to self-improvement methods on a daily basis and especially at night, if done consistently, helps to do eliminate the negative mind-chatter.
Keep it up and eventually you stop needing the crutch of an audio-tape, and motivational and positive thinking becomes second nature.
What do you think of audio books and which have you listened to?


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Monday, April 12, 2010

Successful journaling

A year ago, I got rid of my journals that I had written since I was 25. That was 20 years of journals. I kept them as a reminder of my personal progress. Sometimes I remember the past with nostalgia or being worse than it actually was. By keeping a written record of my feelings, I was able to go back to my diaries and know the truth. It also helped me realize that I had in fact progressed from an insecure and fearful young woman to a more serene, centered and self-confident older woman. So, why did I get rid of them? I used to journal when I wasn´t feeling so well, when there was emotional turmoil to sort out. During the happy times, I was content and did not feel the need to write.
Last year I took a big step – yet another – in my life, and while packing my books and clothes, I came across my journals and browsed through them. Imagining my father, my siblings, my ex-husband or my kids reading those emotionally charged entries was unfathomable. When I am gone, do I want any of them – especially my children – to know my deepest secrets, my strongest fears and my darkest moments of despair? No. They can read my published books, in which there are imprints of my struggles, but also my victories. They can watch my actions and learn from them that I have what it takes to be the best mom and the best person I am able to be. They can read the journal I keep just for them – in which I haven´t written for a while, but that is my message for them only.
I haven´t stopped journaling, but I have substituted the venting journal with my own “Success Diary”, in which I keep tabs of every success, large or small, and every single thing I am grateful for on a weekly basis. That, I will keep forever. It is, I believe, more productive for my kids to know for a fact that even in the most difficult moments I was able to focus on my strengths and not my weaknesses, to keep my eye on the horizon instead of the rear-view mirror.
That was, incidentally, how I came up with the Success Diaries blog.
Do you journal? Would you mind your children reading it when you are gone?


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Succesful relationships

I don´t consider any past relationship of mine a failure, because each one has taught me something. One of them produced my two kids, who I cannot imagine life without, as all parents know. I was not the same person at 20 than I was at 30 or that I am at 46. When I think of past significant others, I now seem to realize why things happened the way they did with each one. I say “seem” because there are always two sides to a story of coupledom and I don´t know theirs.
For a time I said I knew what I did not want in a relationship. I did not want a cheater or a liar and I did not want verbal or physical abuse. Now I see that I did not, however, know what I DID want, and I have come to figure it out now. One day, I wrote a list of the attributes I wanted in a romantic partner, and many of them were based on my current values. I wrote the list thinking that perhaps it was unrealistic to expect every one of those traits to materialize in one person. I did, however, attract someone who fit the bill and strangely I was not too surprised. Perhaps I was finally ready to admit and deal with what I wanted.
As we grow older and have a longer and denser past, children, exes, responsibilities and quirks, I don´t think it is a bad thing to be choosy. There should be, in the name of self-respect and self-confidence, a set of minimum requirements that any potential partner should meet. Saying yes to anything less than that is self-destruction. The best relationships do, however, take into account that the other person is a partner, an accomplice, a lover and a friend, not someone to put down constantly or that you dread coming home to because the bickering won't stop.

Some of my current beliefs about relationships:

- If your partner is not your best friend, something is wrong.

- If you don´t know whether you are in love or not, you aren´t.

- If you need marriage counseling, it´s too late.

- If you are staying “for the kids”, you should leave.

- If you think you can change someone, you better change yourself.

- If you believe a soul-mate is perfect, you're in for a surprise.

- If you "know" someone is your soul-mate, what´s the rush?

What do you think?


Sunday, April 4, 2010

Successful online networking

At first I opened my facebook account just to keep in touch with close friends and family, since they are in different parts of the world. Little by little, like many people I know, I started accepting people I met at networking events and then clients, readers and colleagues and now I also add friends of friends with whom I may have something in common. Some of these contacts have been fruitful in the sense that we have somehow helped one another to get a freelancing gig, to get an introduction to a third party who may need our services or simply bartered our skills. It is extremely energizing to meet like-minded people, both in the real and the virtual world.
One of these is Marían Muñoz, a skilled illustrator who has teamed up with the custom-made handbag brand Tuffcooki, to launch a new line of bags for the fabulous woman.
Marián is the author of the illustration on this post, which I am very grateful for. I recommend her corporate image services and illustration skills. To contact her please write to: marian@marianmunoz.es or visit http://www.marianmunoz.es/