Posts Tagged attitude

Expectations & Reality—Making a Better, Happier, Stronger YOU

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Twig the Fairy

My father loved to spin yarns and tell jokes, and one of my favorite jokes of his was the one about the twins (some of you have heard this before, but it never gets old). One was a pessimist and the other was an optimist. As my father told it…

Scientists were conducting an experiment to study the difference between pessimists and optimists. So, they searched far and wide for parents with twins—-one an optimist and one a pessimist. Finally, they found a pair of boys, and, after all the waivers were signed, the experiment could begin. There were two rooms, both were waist-deep in horse manure. The scientists watched from behind the two-way mirror to see what would happen.

One boy (the pessimist) cried and moaned, “I just knew it. This stuff always happens to me. I should have known that something bad was going to happen. Why can’t I ever get a break?”

The other boy, though, was slogging happily around the room and laughing as he flung horse manure into the air, each time with a healthy giggle. Baffled, the scientists had to enter the room of the optimistic twin and ask, “What on earth are you so happy about? Don’t you realize you’re waist-deep in animal feces?”

The boy replied, “Are you kidding me? Why wouldn’t I be happy? With all this horse sh!% there has GOT to be a pony in here somewhere!”

Meltdown

The past three months have been crazy. October and November were a train wreck when it came to my personal life. Just about the time I was seeing some light, Dallas/Fort Worth was hit with a major ice storm last weekend, which wasn’t so bad until Saturday when every sink, tub, shower and toilet decided to back up water and sewage and flood the floors. We used every towel we owned to keep the walls and carpet from being ruined…and every plumber in DFW was down. They, too, couldn’t get out because of the ice.

I spent most of Monday and Tuesday cleaning the epic mess.

But you know what?

I don’t believe it is any great test of character to be happy when everything is going our way. Anyone can do that. The real mark of a person is how he or she behaves when the world seems to be caving in. Can we be peaceful, calm, happy, and look for the good….no matter what?

Yes, I freaked out for a few minutes and cried about the mess and that no plumber could come help. But, after I had my five-minute pity-party, I worked with my husband to make a plan to endure the freeze. We cleaned up as much as we could then began pouring boiling water with dish detergent down the main sink. Soon, the plumbing wasn’t backing up into the tubs, sinks and showers and we could take brief showers and use the sinks and toilets…carefully.

I set my mind that the ice storm was really a blessing. We wouldn’t have to pay the $250 emergency fee just for a plumber to show up. We made it until Monday and guess what? It was a regular plumbing visit (a clog) and the total was $218. If one of the four companies I’d called when I was freaking out on Saturday had actually been able to come over? It would have easily been close to $500.

Feelings Need Discipline

We train our minds much like we train our bodies. We need to exercise them and discipline our habits. We have a choice how we react and a lot of this is influenced by our expectations. What are we expecting to happen? Are we looking for the good? Or looking for how we will be somehow wronged?

I know that I was born an optimist. I think that is why my father used to rib me with that joke. But, there was a span of about 15 years that I allowed other negative people to convince me that I was a fool, an idiot, an unrealistic Pollyanna. I started expecting the worst, and I wouldn’t allow myself to hope for anything, because if I didn’t expect good things then I couldn’t be disappointed. I became a grouch, a complainer and a seed of discontent…and no one wanted to be around me. My life was full of junk, and why wouldn’t it have been? I didn’t expect good things, so I couldn’t even see them when they sat right in front of my face.

Eventually, I got sick and tired of being sick and tired, so I started being very careful about my thought life. Our mind doesn’t have to be a garbage dump. We are in control of our thoughts, and we don’t need to dwell on every thought that drifts into our brains. Focus on good things, and it is amazing how quickly the tough times will fly by. Life, people, your work will disappoint you. Sometimes, they might even rip out your heart and show it to you.

We can cave or we can change.

Yes, the view from the mountain’s summit is breathtaking, but nothing grows there. The most growth happens in the valleys. Film is developed in the dark and so is character. When hurt, pain, loss, disappointment, frustration come our way we have a choice in how we view the situation. All of us have rough spots, and those setbacks, hurts and trials are the spiritual sandpaper that will shape us into a more excellent version of ourselves.

I know that life is about seasons. There are seasons of joy  and abundance and it seems that everything is going my way. In turn, that isn’t all of life. Gotta have the sour, or the sweet isn’t as sweet. And, if I have to endure the sour, I choose to do it with a smile, with great expectation of the better Kristen those trials will make me.

With all this horse sh*& there has GOT to be a pony in here somewhere :D!

What do you guys think? What are your opinions? Thoughts? Ideas? Have you ever experiences something that appeared to be a disaster, yet was a blessing in disguise? I love hearing from you guys! Btw, the above image is Twig the Fairy if you want to follow her on Facebook. I’ve met her and she is seriously NEAT.

I love hearing from you!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of December, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novelor your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

I hope you will check out my newest book Rise of the Machines–Human Authors in a Digital World onAmazon or even Barnes and Noble.

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Hell Month and How Social Media Saved Me

Image via Flikr Creative Commons, courtesy of Anamorphic Mike.

Image via Flikr Creative Commons, courtesy of Anamorphic Mike.

When we write, life doesn’t stop. Things happen and bad things like to happen all at once, apparently. I’ve blogged faithfully for over five years, through death, sickness, and even when The Spawn knocked out all his front teeth and needed emergency surgery. Even when we found out my husband was being deployed to Afghanistan.

I enjoy blogging. I enjoy all of you. Talking to you, teaching you, and connecting with you. I know I kinda disappeared off the planet, so here’s the story (and I asked permission to tell it, btw).

October was a beating. We worked our tails off all August and September to put together WANACon (recordings available here, and it’s great stuff if you missed it). We thought, once we were finished? Ah, rest.

Yeah, about that.

Early October generally is hard for me anyway because it marks my Dad’s unexpected death (October 9th) and the death of my favorite aunt last year (October 4th). But those are just sad days, and I pushed through.

Then….

My nephew suffered a football injury. Crushed thumb (requiring surgery) and major concussion. Okay, I’m still good. Then, my AWESOME sister-in-law had to go in for laser surgery on both eyes to reattach her retinas (congenital issue). All right. Still going. Then I get a call my Nana is in the hospital, but stable. Okay. The next day? She passed away.

I wanted to go to Florida to attend her funeral, but something told me to stay home. The rest of the family was going to Florida and Sister-In-Law couldn’t travel. She was up and around, but something could still go wrong.

Boy did it EVER.

Last Sunday evening Sister-in-Law calls me bawling in pain. I’ve known this woman 14 years and have seen her cry three times. She couldn’t see anything but flashes and shadows. I didn’t sleep a wink and rushed over early the next morning to take her kids to school and her to the doctor, then another doctor, and another. Bad news.

She needed surgery again on both eyes; one surgery MAJOR, horrific and painful (for the curious, she needed a Vitrectomy on left eye and laser again on right eye on the same day). I call my family who is in Florida at the funeral and say, “Hey, it is what it is and it sucks, but Hubby and I have it handled.”

Monday night, no sleep because I’m all nerves about what my favorite person in the world is about to go through. Also, I had to keep her up to midnight (minimum) so she could eat and drink as much as possible because surgery wasn’t until the next afternoon and she was going to have to endure a looooong time with no food or fluids.

Tuesday afternoon, the surgeons worked on her eyes for THREE hours. She comes out of the anesthesia and the pain starts. Though it delayed our leaving, I asked the nurses to give her another round of hard-core IV pain medicine and sat…some more…clenching my teeth so hard I thought they might crack.

The 40 mile drive home was a nightmare. We, of course, hit rush hour traffic and are on the other side of the world from where she lives. Not only that, all I could think of this entire miserable ride home was some idiot texting and rear-ending us. That would be catastrophic. My mind just kept playing images of her getting hit in the face with airbags after surgeons just spent half a day reconstructing her eyes.

And, of course, on the way home, every yahoo with a truck bed full of crap HAD to pull in front of me. At one point, we were cruising along and a car broke down in our lane. I had to maneuver around between cars doing 70…with a nauseated patient in pain. By the time we get to the street where we need to pull off for her home? I thought I would have to pull over and puke from nerves.

So, I finally get her home and…her pain is skyrocketing. The med they gave at the day surgery center isn’t making a dent and she is crashing fast. I have to call in something stronger. It’s 5:30 PM and the country pharmacy closes at SIX. I zoom over and refuse to let them close until they fill her new med.

“I will SLEEP on THIS floor near the TUMS, THANK YOU! You going to leave me in here? O_o”

I rush back to her house and give her the new med, but it doesn’t seem to be working. KILL. ME. NOW.

Hubby races over with The Spawn and Pippa (my dog) in case Sister-In-Law needs to go to ER. Oh, but there’s a catch. Hubby is also watching over brother’s business while he’s at the funeral and needs to check on a job a few miles away….so he leaves. Also, we find out that one of our company trucks has been stolen.

Yay.

So I have The Spawn, a tiny dog who looks eerily like one of their big dog’s chew toys (they have two HORSES dogs that weigh almost 70 pounds a piece, and Pippa is 7 pounds). Also, the house has a steep set of stairs and now I have a toddler. The older boys aren’t home from football, I’m alone, and can’t locate a baby gate.

I thought I was going to have a nervous breakdown. But, I didn’t. I focused on other things. I set up Pandora in Sister-In-Law’s room to play soothing music and rubbed her back and her hair and brought her ice packs.

In the meantime, I’m scrambling between calling doctors, keeping The Spawn entertained, checking on Sister-in-Law and praying her pain gets under control because if it didn’t, we would be off to the ER. Hubby and older boys finally get home and Kim is out of the rough (sort of). Pain is awful but she’s no longer crying which crying is BAD when one has had eye surgery.

Original plan? I was supposed to take her the next morning for the surgeon to evaluate her eyes and let us know if the surgery was successful. I delegate this to Hubby because I wasn’t safe to drive. Of course, this meant I got to be night nurse after being up three days.

I can do this! *cues “Rocky” theme song* Eyyyeeee of the tiger….

Wait, bad song choice?

I had to go in Sister-In-Law’s room every thirty minutes and make sure she was lying on her right side (off the left eye that had the major repair). I also had to keep giving her pain meds and liquids and make her sit up, face-down, 15 minutes EVERY hour all night. This is to help the retinas heal.

Image via Flikr Creative Commons, courtesy of Benjamin Watson.

Image via Flikr Creative Commons, courtesy of Benjamin Watson.

By morning, I was dead on my feet. I go upstairs to make sure Hubby is awake to take Sister-In-Law to the doctor and older nephew to school. On the way down the stairs? I miss a step.

Thunk, thunk, thunk, OUCH. Now I have a mildly sprained ankle and wrist and badly bruised arm and leg. Walk it off. No, I’m cool.

Hubby takes Sister-In-Law to the doctor and I finally get a little bit of sleep. When they return, surgeon is less than thrilled about the results (so please pray for her). I get drafted for night nurse again and THANK GOD for the WANAs and Facebook friends because they kept me awake chatting with me and keeping me encouraged.

I tried to sleep the next day, but with The Spawn and a set of stairs, that was NOT going to happen. Also, all three dogs insisted on sleeping with/on me or they barked and I was concerned they would keep Sister-In-Law awake, so I allowed it—all 150 pounds of snuggle-bunnies. At this point, Hubby has taken older boy to have the pins removed from his thumb and then is off to airport to retrieve my mom and brother.

My brother finally returns from out of town on Halloween, so I’m cleaning their house, packing and hand-making the younger son’s costume because Sister-In-Law can’t see to do it. The police call and tell us our work truck has been found. Yay…um no. Instead of going straight home, I follow Hubby to the location the truck has been found and we have to wait on a wrecker to come retrieve it lest the thieves return.

At 9:30 we stagger in and I have to cook dinner. Full belly. Home. Now sleep? One would think. I kept waking up every hour to check on Sister-In-Law and was very disturbed that I couldn’t find the bathrooms and when the hell did they get CATS?

Friday morning, I again tried to sleep, but everyone on the planet kept calling. I couldn’t turn off my phone because I had to be available in case something went wrong with Sister-In-Law or The Spawn’s school needed me (am also a TERRIBLE nap-taker, so probably wouldn’t have slept anyway). Finally, I gave up, cleaned house, did laundry, and made casseroles for the weekend. That night? Still kept waking up to be night nurse.

ARGH.

Saturday, Hubby and I collapse on the couch and watch movies. I was SO SURE I’d get sleep. Nope. I made the mistake of thinking about my unread e-mail and had my first panic attack…ever. Ten o’clock that night? Couldn’t breathe and heart rate shot through the roof so was awake doing yoga breathing and praying until 4:00 AM.

So last night? I KNOW THIS IS THE NIGHT. SLEEP! The Spawn is off to bed and I’m shutting off lights when I hear Spawn start yelling my name. I rush to his room…and he pukes all over me and the floor. And he has 100 degree fever. Hubby let me go to bed and took care of Spawn. Hubby gets to bed around 10:30 and sometime after that The Spawn crawled in bed with us and kicked me half the night, though I wasn’t waking up enough to realize he was with us. Hubby takes him back to bed and today he is home, still running fever.

Thus, if this blog makes no sense it’s because I’m down to five brain cells and three are currently on injured reserve. I am very grateful for the many kind people (many WANAs) who were there to pray, comfort me, and keep me together because I was seriously falling apart by last night. Even DC Lozeau wrote a super sweet piece about me that really perked me up.

Image via Flikr Creative Commons, courtesy of Memekode.

Image via Flikr Creative Commons, courtesy of Memekode.

Rachel Funk Heller lives in Hawaii and she was up IMing me to keep me awake through this so I could care for my loved one. Jay Donovan hijacked my blog to let y’all know I wasn’t dead. Lisa-Hall Wilson stepped in to guest post. Many of my Facebook followers who were nurses, IMed to walk me through what to do, how to care for Sister-In-Law, what to tell/ask the doctors, etc. I was able to keep a positive attitude and entertain all the kids and keep them upbeat and laughing.

We can’t control a lot in life, just our attitude :D.

I have THE BEST Sister-In-Law in the world. She is beautiful, kind, and just the best mom and wife in the world. It was an honor to be there for her. She’s just…there are no words to explain how wonderful she is.

People can say what they want about social media, but I could not have gotten through this without the love, help, encouragement and support of many people I have never met in person and I would name them but right now I am struggling with my OWN name. So, I might not be blogging the rest of the week. But if I go missing, please do NOT put my picture on milk cartons, ask for my picture to be placed on wine bottles because all my friends are writers :D.

What are your thoughts? Have you ever had a week, month, year that just beat the TAR out of you? Have you had social media friends who were your life-savers? I love hearing from you. I have missed you guys so much ((((HUGS)))).

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Focusing on the Positive and Why I Think DELTA Airlines Should No Longer Burn in HELL

Image via Flikr Commons and courtesy of Andrie Dimofte

Image via Flikr Commons and courtesy of Andrie Dimofte

I generally am a Pollyanna. Yes, it gets me in trouble sometimes, but I feel joy is a choice. I needed to remind myself of that yesterday. I’ve just returned home from Florida, and OY VEY what an adventure. I love my job, and helping you guys never feels like work, but the traveling can be…interesting.

A Tale of a Chronic Procrastinator

I knew I was going to be speaking in Florida, but in working my tail off to finish my new social media book, traveling, bed from hell.…buying my ticket was, er, um…put off. At the last minute I scored the cheapest ticket I could find on American Airlines. Ah…but there were two problems. Okay three.

Ticket was over $600. BUT it was with American Airlines. I’ve had a long-standing grudge against DELTA and have refused to give them ANY business. In fact, I’d kind of hoped they’d sink into Hell and burn. So I buy this horrible ticket. DFW to New Orleans, to Atlanta, finally to Melbourne, FL. Return flight? Same in reverse. Melbourne to Atlanta to New Orleans to DFW. Much to my horror? Once I arrived at the airport, I realized two legs of the trip were via Delta.

Grrrrr.

Why I Hated Delta

Years ago, I suffered barely controllable complex partial seizures (and that is a long story and I am perfectly healthy now). Yet, at the time, I was essentially epileptic.  My health was deteriorating, my father had suddenly died, and Christmas was painful without him, so I decided to join some pals and go to the Bahamas for the holidays instead. The Bahamas were, blech, but on the return flight home, our plane had mechanical difficulties and had to be redirected to Atlanta.

Being a naive traveler, I’d packed my anti-seizure medication in the checked luggage (stupidly believing I’d be home in three hours). As we were being ticketed for other flights to get us home, I asked the ticket person if there was any way I could get to my bags. I could feel the anti-convulsive medication was wearing off and it was beginning to get a bit scary. She was NASTY to me and not only told me “No, but hell no. And go away for making me do my JOB.”

I went to complain to a supervisor, not only for the way the woman treated me, but that I REALLY needed my medication. The nasty ticket agent, knowing she’d been way out of line, stepped in and lied and told the supervisor I was drunk and combative and needed to be banned from any flights.

***I never drank alcohol, namely because it was contraindicated in the anti-convulsives.

Yes, my behavior probably seemed strange, namely because I was starting to have SEIZURES which made my balance off and I was slurring. So instead of taking pity on someone who was disabled?

DELTA stranded me in Atlanta, Georgia with no luggage, no meds, banned from flying and no way home.

An elderly couple found me crying in a hallway and took pity on me and made sure I got back to DFW. By the time I got home? I was in full seizures AND had pneumonia (because DELTA rerouted me through a FREEZING New Orleans with no jacket and no meds and I slept the night on cardboard boxes (from Christmas decorations) to stay warm.

I was ill for almost three months after this. Pneumonia is no picnic.

I wrote DELTA a letter telling them how I’d been treated and…nothing. Since then? I have had MANY opportunities to fly, but would rather take 16 connections through Trinidad Airways than give them any money. Thus, I was a tad ticked when I realized my oversight with my Florida purchase.

I’d have to fly with the Devil, um DELTA.

Twelve Years Must Make a Difference

Ironically, the DELTA flights were the best ones. In fact, on the way home, my connecting flight to New Orleans had mechanical issues and it was clear I’d miss my connection to DFW. What did DELTA do? They promptly and KINDLY put me on a direct flight to DFW. The crew was HYSTERICAL. I’ve never had a safety briefing that FUNNY. They went above and beyond and, I suppose after over a decade of hating their guts?

I forgive them…mostly.

I am generally not a person who holds a grudge. I have the memory of a tsetse fly with people. But with BUSINESSES? Hell hath no fury. For TWELVE years I’ve told anyone who’d listen NOT TO FLY DELTA THAT THEY WERE EVIL.

But I suppose people change and thus I suppose businesses change too. This last experience helped me forgive them (mostly) and I’ll maybe even give them another try. In fact, it was wonderful that the plane experienced mechanical difficulties and I was given a direct flight because, when I made it to my car?

The battery was dead.

Had I been delayed (not getting the direct flight), I have no idea how late I might have made it in. Hubby would OF COURSE come to the rescue, but would it have been ten or eleven at night (with a baby)?

And I’d like to say I handled the dead car in triple digit heat with grace. I didn’t. I cried. But once I calmed down and Hubby arrived, I realized what a rare and strange gift DELTA had given me. I made it in early enough for the problem to be resolved far more easily.

So, in all of this, I learned, happiness is a decision, not a destination. Forgiveness can come if we are open to it (AT&T doesn’t count). KIDDING! Life is all about perspective and which one we choose. Focus on the negative? Expect more.

My Tante (Aunt) Christine told me a fabulous parable.

A man wanted to move from one village to another. He stopped a resident of the new village and asked, “What kind of people live in this place?” The resident replied, “Well, what kind of people lived in the last place you lived?” The man replied, “Oh, they were terrible, cold and mean. They left me out of everything and were uncaring and cold.” The resident replied, “That’s the same kind of people who live here.”

A few days later, another traveler approached the same resident wanting to move. The resident asked, “Well, what kind of people live in your village?” The traveler replied, “Oh, everyone is SO nice. They are kind and caring and I always feel welcome.” The resident replied, “That’s exactly the kind of people here.”

Thus, I suppose the lesson is we get what we look for. Setbacks and delays can be terrible, but often? They have a silver lining. We create the world we want to see. DELTA did me very wrong, but they made it right this time and I’m open to forgiving them and giving them more business. Yes, my car was dead, but Hubby could be my hero and all of us could go to dinner together.

What are your thoughts? I prefer to keep things positive, but is there a business that so WRONGED you that you were their best BAD advertising…but then they made it right? Have you ever experienced a setback or tragedy, but in retrospect? It turned out to be the best thing that could have happened to you?

I love hearing from you!

ANNOUNCEMENTS:

Since it was such a HUGE success and attendees loved it, I am rerunning the Your First Five Pages class SATURDAY EDITION. Use the WANA15 code for 15% off. Yes, editors REALLY can tell everything they need to know about your book in five pages or less. Here’s a peek into what we see and how to fix it. Not only will this information repair your first pages, it can help you understand deeper flaws in the rest of your manuscript.

My new social media book, Rise of the Machines–Human Authors in a Digital World is NOW AVAILABLE. Only $6.99.

WANACon, the writing conference of the future is COMING! We start with PajamaCon the evening of October 3rd and then October 4th and 5th we have some of the biggest names in publishing coming RIGHT TO YOU. If you REGISTER NOW, you get PajamaCon and BOTH DAYS OF THE CONFERENCE (and all recordings) for $119 (regularly $149). Sign up today, because this special won’t last and seats are limited. REGISTER HERE.

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Great Expectations

The Spawn & Johnny Pocket playing with Roo-Bee (old, grouchy cat–A.K.A. Dust-Ruffle Troll) under the door.

My father loved to spin yarns and tell jokes, and one of my favorite jokes of his was the one about the twins. One was a pessimist and the other was an optimist. As my father told it…

Scientists were conducting an experiment to study the difference between pessimists and optimists. So, they searched far and wide for parents with twins—-one an optimist and one a pessimist. Finally, they found a pair of boys, and, after all the waivers were signed, the experiment could begin. There were two rooms, both were waist-deep in horse manure. The scientists watched from behind the two-way mirror to see what would happen.

One boy (the pessimist) cried and moaned, “I just knew it. This stuff always happens to me. I should have known that something bad was going to happen. Why can’t I ever get a break?”

The other boy, though, was slogging happily around the room and laughing as he flung horse manure into the air, each time with a healthy giggle. Baffled, the scientists had to enter the room of the optimistic twin and ask, “What on earth are you so happy about? Don’t you realize you’re waist-deep in animal feces?”

The boy replied, “Are you kidding me? Why wouldn’t I be happy? With all this horse sh&$ there has GOT to be a pony in here somewhere!”

The last couple of months have been crazy. In October, as many of you know, my great aunt fell into a coma and passed away. Then, I have had more computer problems in the last two months than in the past ten years. I was just about getting caught up when I started suffering horrible pain in my elbows–apparently I have tennis elbow from writing. Then, I had the nice little dirt bike wreck and this past week? We were gone over the weekend and had a water leak.

Water seeped from the laundry room into my master closet soaking the carpet and ruining much of what was on the floor. I had to work in stinking mildewed carpet for almost all of Tuesday. While I was in cleaning up the water damage, the Spawn (my kiddo) infiltrated my office, hit a bunch of buttons on my computer and now my main work computer is currently crippled with a virus. But that’s not all. I awoke on Wednesday sick from working in the mildewed conditions and yesterday…no Internet. AT&T “forgot” that we had signed up for auto-debit. Yay.

But you know what?

I don’t believe it is any great test of character to be happy when everything is going our way. Anyone can do that. The real mark of a person is how he or she behaves when the world seems to be caving in. Can we be peaceful, calm, happy, and look for the good….no matter what?

We train our minds much like we train our bodies. We need to exercise them and discipline our habits. We have a choice how we react and a lot of this is influenced by our expectations. What are we expecting to happen? Are we looking for the good? Or looking for how we will be somehow wronged?

I know that I was born an optimist. I think that is why my father used to rib me with that joke. But, there was a span of about 15 years that I allowed other negative people to convince me that I was a fool, an idiot, an unrealistic Pollyanna. I started expecting the worst, and I wouldn’t allow myself to hope for anything, because if I didn’t expect good things then I couldn’t be disappointed. I became a grouch, a complainer and a seed of discontent…and no one wanted to be around me. My life was full of junk, and why wouldn’t it have been? I didn’t expect good things, so I couldn’t even see them when they sat right in front of my face.

Eventually, I got sick and tired of being sick and tired, so I started being very careful about my thought life. Our mind doesn’t have to be a garbage dump. We are in control of our thoughts, and we don’t need to dwell on every thought that drifts into our brains. Focus on good things, and it is amazing how quickly the tough times will fly by.

Yes, the view from the mountain’s summit is breathtaking, but nothing grows there. The most growth happens in the valleys. Film is developed in the dark and so is character. When hurt, pain, loss, disappointment, frustration come our way we have a choice in how we view the situation. All of us have rough spots, and those setbacks, hurts and trials are the spiritual sandpaper that will shape us into a more excellent version of ourselves.

I know that life is about seasons. There are seasons of joy  and abundance and it seems that everything is going my way. In turn, that isn’t all of life. Gotta have the bitter, or the sweet isn’t as sweet. And, if I have to endure the bitter, I choose to do it with a smile, with great expectation of the better Kristen those trials will make me.

With all this horse sh*& there has GOT to be a pony in here somewhere :D!

What do you guys think? What are your opinions? Thoughts? Ideas? I love hearing from you guys!

And to prove it and show my love, for the month of December, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.

I will pick a winner every week for a critique of your first five pages. At the end of December I will pick a winner for the grand prize. A free critique from me on the first 15 pages of your novel. Good luck!

I also hope you pick up copies of my best-selling books We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer . Both books are ON SALE for $4.99!!!! And both are recommended by the hottest agents and biggest authors in th biz. My methods teach you how to make building your author platform FUN. Build a platform and still have time left to write great books!

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Twitter Tuesday #20–Direct Messages & The Power of Positive Tweeting

Welcome to the twentieth installment of Twitter Tuesday. In the spirit of Twitter, this blog will be short and sweet and to the point. The tips offered here are all based off my best-selling book We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media. If our goal is to build an author platform in the thousands to tens of thousands, then we will have to approach Twitter differently than a faceless corporation or even the regular person who does not possess a goal of becoming a brand. My tips will help you rule the Twitterverse without devolving into a spam bot.

This Week’s Fail Whale–The Private Praiser

I find it interesting how some people feel as if they have to send a direct message to give a compliment. There is a rule I have always tried to live by-Criticize in private, but praise in public…and praise often.

If you would like to thank someone for following, just thank them. If you loved their blog or their book, say so in the open. When we praise people openly, not only is that good for the person we are complimenting…but it makes us look good, too.

Do you like people who are stingy with their praise? I don’t. I’ve worked very hard to earn praise from people I admired, yet after all that effort with little to no acknowlegement? I gave up. We will only go to a dry well so long before we move on. Friendships are give and take.

Most of us hear where we fail or fall short. Ever worked in the service industry? I think it should be a law that everyone has to work at least one year in retail or waiting tables. People will take a day off work to complain, but so few go out of their way to say, “Good job.” Those precious few who do are like rare gems and we treasure them.

Back in high school I worked at one of those pizza places for kids…you know, the ones with all the games and the pits filled with plastic balls. It was an exhausting job that paid minimum wage. Yet, one parent took the time to write a wonderful compliment card noting how good I was with the children. I never met this mom and don’t know her name, but 20 years later I still remember that compliment.

Many of the people in our lives are quick to tell us what we forgot and where we fell short of expectations. Thus, when we come across someone who is liberal with open praise??? Wow. It is like a fresh breeze that perks up the withered soul.

This Week’s Twitter Tip–Be a Twitter Cheerleader

So many people ask how I find the energy to do so much, serve so much, blog so much and the simple answer is….you. I have so many cheerleaders that take time to tell me I am loved and appreciated, and, for you guys, I am willing to move mountains.

You want the secret to success? Praise others openly and often. We are often so starved for positive words that you will be our BFF if you just take a moment to cheer us on.

The key ingredient that makes the difference between failure and success is attitude. People LIKE positive people. We can’t get enough of them. We love them and want to help them. Their energy refreshes everyone around. Be one of those points of light, and others will want to support you.

It takes no great effort to be negative, but there are no monuments erected to critics. Criticism is easy and it’s lazy. Anyone can find problems, but it takes character and creativity to find a bright side, to look for solutions.

Tweet ya later!….

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Focus on the Goal

Years ago, when I first became a writer I befriended a gentleman, James Dunne, who worked for Ferrari. I was writing a novel set in Monte Carlo and wanted to know all I could about the Formula One and the cars, people, etc. I also attended the first NASCAR races in DFW and became friends with members of Dale Earnhardt Sr.’s pit crew to get an inside perspective on car racing. It was a tremendous experience. The book is in a drawer, but the lessons were forever. I took away a maxim that has affected how I approach life and people, and today I will share with you guys.

Race car drivers not only have to go top speed (duh) but the largest part of winning is staying in the race. Drivers stay in the race if they can avoid colliding with other cars and keep from hitting the wall. Rocket science here, right? Bear with me. When race car drivers train, they are taught to keep their eyes where they want to go. Why? Because where the eyes go, the car follows. Thus, they are instructed that, to avoid hitting the wall, never look at the wall. Or more accurately, To avoid hitting the wall, focus on the finish line.

Race car drivers always keep their eyes on the straightaway and on the finish line. This was a life-changing lesson for me. Where the mind goes the man follows. Race car drivers aren’t foolish. They know the wall is there. Yet, they understand that staring at it is not going to do anything positive for getting them closer to the checkered flags.

In life, I do all I can to ignore the walls and keep my eyes on the prize. This has a lot to do with positive thinking, which beats being negative any day of the week. My thought life is vitally important to my attitude, and my attitude is the most vital component of how I treat myself and others. How do I avoid walls? I watch 2 things—my focus and my mouth.

Watching My Focus

For years I volunteered teaching children in a Christian after school program. We generally inherited most of the problem kids because no one else wanted them around. These kids hit and kicked and had no concept of self control. I noticed that when we corrected them or chastised them for a certain behavior, we soon could expect more of it…a LOT more. So we volunteers decided to change our approach with these little “scoundrels.”

Even though it made me want to pull out my hair, I began ignoring most of their acting out. Yet, when they settled down and were quiet, I offered heaping praise. When they played nicely with other kids, I made a big production of what great kiddos they were. It wasn’t long until most of these kids were happy, smiling, and well-behaved. They craved attention. All I did was lavish attention for better behavior.

The strange thing was that a few of them didn’t change. Some of the kids still acted up. They didn’t change, but I did. I could still care for them and enjoy them because I focused on the good they had to offer.

Other people always have “walls” and I make a deliberate act to ignore them. It doesn’t do me or other people any good to focus on weakness or where they fall short, because we all fall short. I find that if I focus on how someone is always late or disorganized or negative, pretty soon it colors how I treat that person. Yet, I notice that if I can look for the good, then eventually I get to the point where I don’t even see the bad. It isn’t that their “wall” isn’t there; it just isn’t my sole focus.

The same goes for how I treat myself. I know if I pay undue attention to my flaws, I soon can expect those flaws to get bigger, which leads to my next point…

Watching My Mouth

Did you know that the subconscious brain cannot tell the difference between truth and lie? Even if you give it wrong information, the subconscious brain will accept it as true. Psychiatrists call this conditioning. Christians say that, out of your mouth you speak life and death; choose life. Both schools imply we have a choice.

If I say, “Today is going to be so horrible.” Guess what? Often it is. Why? I spoke it and deemed it so. Thus, instead of noticing the good things that happen, my eyes will be fixed on “walls” all day long because I have instructed them to do so. I will look for every little thing that doesn’t go my way to affirm the belief I have stuck in my head… “Today is going to be horrible.”

“Oh I just know I am going to be late for that meeting.” Hmmm. Suddenly I cannot find my keys, my bag, my purse, my butt.

Another point. Did you know that the human brain also has this weird way of chopping off conditionals, and it only begins to listen at the first active verb? This is why negative goals can submarine our best efforts.

I say: Don’t forget your folder.

Brain hears: Forget your folder.

I say: Don’t overeat tonight at dinner.

Brain hears: Overeat at dinner.

I say: Under no certain circumstances will you bait to that woman at the board meeting.

Brain hears: Bait to that woman at the board meeting.

I say: Now make sure you don’t lose that business card.

Brain hears: Lose that business card.

If you tell a writer, “The pitch session isn’t the end of the world. Don’t panic.” I guarantee you she hears, “Pitch session. End of the world. Panic.”

How we talk to ourselves is critical. I have found that phrasing things in the positive makes a remarkable difference. When I come in the door, I say, “Now remember your keys are here.” When I am going to a restaurant that I know can make me eat until I pop, I say “I am going to only eat until I am full.” When I wake up in the morning I say, “I am going to have a great day.” When I am staring down the barrel of having to face a horrible, negative person, I tell myself, “I am going to be calm and maintain my peace.” Is this some kind of magic charm? No. But I do find this approach mitigates the negative. I might find that my temper flares at that person who feels the need to sabotage a committee meeting, but it isn’t as bad as if I had told myself, “If such-and-such says one word, I am going to give her what-for.”

This approach also works with others.

I find that when I tell my husband, “Remember to pick up your slacks from the cleaners” that my odds are better that he will come home with his cleaning.

When I tell my young nephews, “I just know you two are going to make me look good when everyone sees how well you behave.” Most of the time, they do.

One of my favorite quotes is from Dale Carnegie. He said, “The ideas I stand for are not mine. I borrowed them from Socrates. I swiped them from Chesterfield. I stole them from Jesus. And I put them in a book. If you don’t like their rules, whose would you use?”

We have a choice with our attitude, and we have a choice what rules govern how we see others and ourselves. If the most skilled racecar drivers in the world know to focus on the goal line, and top athletes know to focus on winning, and successful entrepreneurs know to focus on possibility, and successful couples know to focus on love, then we can take a lesson from that. If we want what they have, adopting their habits and attitude is a darn good start.

What are some ways you guys stay positive? All of us have to deal with hurt, angry, spiteful people, so how do you remain calm? We all face trials and hardship. How do you guys keep focused on the goal? Be brave and share so we might grow.

Thanks for stopping by, and remember to read this blog again on Monday ;).

Happy writing!

Until next time…

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