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Archive for July, 2009

Have you stopped by a Barnes & Noble lately and looked at their magazine display? It is enormous! There are so many magazines available, and they cover most any topic imaginable. I like magazines — a lot! I enjoy the short articles, the clever writing, the helpful information, the intriguing facts, and yes, even the advertising can be interesting. All of this wrapped up into a portable package you can take anywhere. What’s not to love?

Far and away, my favorite section of any magazine is the last page. Don’t let this seemingly less-than-desireable-location fool you into thinking you can carelessly skip over the last page. If you do, you will miss a gem! The last page is generally reserved for a recurring article that can be sarcastic, humorous, inspirational, or witty, but is most always entertaining!

Here are some examples of my recent favorites:

Conde Naste Traveler closes out their magazine with a “Room with a View.” A stunning view from hotel rooms around the world. The incredible view from a room at the Inter-Continental Sydney was featured in June 2009.

The final article in Ladies Home Journal’s Life List encourages readers to “Write it down. Make it Happen. Live your dream.” In the August 2009 issue a 61-year-old Innkeeper from Kennebunkport, Maine, shared her goals, her plan, and what she has learned along the way.

Entrepreneur magazine has a “break it down” feature. The most recent issue provided details of the 2009 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. Did you know the week-long event, which takes place in the Black Hills of South Dakota, will welcome 400,000 attendees (Sturgis has a population of less than 6,500.), have $16.4 million in sales, and haul away 543 tons of garbage?

No Regrets is the final article for More magazine. Famous people share life decisions they don’t regret. Recently, Nora Ephron (writer/producer/director) said one thing she didn’t regret was getting married three times. Why? Because she is currently married to a man she loves, and if she hadn’t married all the wrong people, and made a few major career mistakes, she might not have been at the exact spot to have met her third husband, who worked out.

Fortune‘s “While You Were Out” featured a humorous poem entitled “The Pig in the Wig (With apologies to Dr. Seuss.) and begins with the stanza “The street did not shine; it was too sad to lunch; so we sat in our office and watched the Dow plunge.”

Martha Stewart’s Living ends its issue with “Save Room For” which includes a delightful dessert recipe. Who wouldn’t like to whip up a batch of Vanilla-Raspberry Sundaes with Spoon-Shaped Cookies?

Reality Check (a lighthearted take on everyday life) concludes the Real Simple magazine. The most recent issue provided examples of “Eerily Accurate Fortunes” and included such fortunes as, “You will lose your cell phone reception, only to find it again” and “You will have good intentions to go to they gym this week but instead get sucked into So You Think You Can Dance.”

Domino, before it closed its doors, always ended their publication with a sweet article entitled, “10 Things that make me happy.”

So, the next time the latest issue of your favorite magazine arrives in your mailbox, why not join me and flip to the last page first to see what surprise is waiting for you?

Whatever you are, be a good one!

Deanna

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A few weeks ago I joined a local writing club. It’s been quite fun and educational. One thing I have learned is that putting your work (translation: you) out there for the group to comment, question, and inspect takes a lot more courage than blogging on-line . . . where most everything I write sounds terrific because I am the only one sitting at the computer and providing the critique!

Homework assignments were distributed at our last meeting. Mine was to write something — anything — that was atypical of my style and audience. Initially, I resented being forced out of my comfort zone. (If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!) But I have to tell you, this assignment has caused me to stretch and think in new and different ways. It was surprisingly fun and exhilarating, and I really enjoyed the process.

Although it can be scary, daring to embrace something new has a way of opening your creative mind in ways that few other things can.

For my assignment, I elected to write a piece in first person that might appeal to young readers. My completed “assignment” appears below. I welcome your comments!

I wanted to try something new today.

I had a great idea visit me.

It was big and bold and bright and colorful.

I felt brave just thinking about the adventure.

I knew it would take me to new lands,

where I would see new sights,

meet new people and

sing new songs.

I excitedly prepared for my journey.

I gathered my strength and courage and daring,

a map, some snacks, my iPod, and a cute pair of shoes.

I carefully packed everything in a brand new travel bag,

personalized with my name.

I fed the fish, patted Lucy’s head, and headed out the door.

I was so excited that I did a little dance

on the patio, where no one could see.

The birds approved and sang out

their encouragement.

I was on my way.

Before I reached the end of the block,

and broke free from my neighborhood,

I saw Mrs. Greystone, in her garden, tending her flowers.

Just like always.

“Where are you going?” she asked.

Excited to continue, I quickly explained my adventure and

the great things,

the wonderful things that were waiting for me.

I proudly showed her my bag, packed with everything I would need.

I pointed out the map, and the snacks, and my shoes.

I was prepared. I assured her.

“Oh, no!” she exclaimed.

“You can’t safely get there from here.”

She told me stories of others.

Others who had tried an adventure.

They, too, had packed their bags.

And made plans. And had dreams.

They left – never to return.

“There are Big Bad Wolves out there,” she said.

“They roam around huffing and puffing.

“No good can come of you having an adventure.

“Why, it’s not safe.”

I thought about what Mrs. Greystone had said.

Maybe she was right.

Perhaps I wasn’t prepared.

Maybe I don’t know what I’m doing.

I felt foolish.

I peeked in the pocket where I stashed my dream.

The colors had changed from bright and bold to muted and gray.

They no longer looked new and enticing.

I looked in my bag and discovered

that the strength and courage and daring I packed

had evaporated.

You can’t get far with only snacks, an iPod and shoes —

no matter how cute they are, I thought.

The hope to see new people and places and songs and lands,

that had started me on the adventure in the beginning,

were now replaced by

dread and fear and sadness.

The handles of my new travel bag, strained under their weight.

Reluctantly, I turned around and slowly returned home.

The bag was heavy. My spirit was sad.

The once-bright adventure had dissolved into dark disappointment.

I wanted to try something new today.

I had a great idea visit me.

It was big and bold and bright and colorful.

But then I remembered the danger and the warnings and the Big Bad Wolves.

So, I stashed my travel bag in the back of the closet.

I allowed fear and dread to come and sit near me on the sofa.

Lucy curled up at my feet and went to sleep.

I decided it was safer to stay where I was, with what I know.

My life is the same today as it was yesterday and will be tomorrow.

Neither good nor bad. It just is.

When dreams knock at my door, I now refuse to answer.

Danger is lurking out there, in the beyond —

in things I don’t know, in places I haven’t seen.

It’s not safe to dream.

I know.

I’ve heard the stories.

Whatever you are, be a good one!

Deanna

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Get out of your way.

You can spend your life tripping on yourself,
you can also spend your life tripping yourself up.

Get out of your own way.
[Suzan-Lori Parks]

The Blame Game — it’s quite popular these days. Most everyone is playing it, and I’ve seen folks get quite competitive. There are so many people blaming so many people for the condition they’re in; it’s like we are in the middle of a major league play-off series. Has the Blame Game become our national pastime?

Tune in to any television station, radio talk show, current events periodical or newspaper and you can hear the pundits, watch the players, and check the scores of the Blame Game. Who will emerge victorious, claim the trophy, and enjoy the ticker-tape parade and who will lose it all?

All blame is a waste of time. No matter how much fault you find with another, and regardless of how much you blame him, it will not change you. The only thing blame does is to keep the focus off you when you are looking for external reasons to explain your unhappiness or frustration. You may succeed in making another feel guilty about something by blaming him, but you won’t succeed in changing whatever it is about you that is making you unhappy” [Wayne Dyer].

What would happen if, instead of blaming our employer for our uninspired performance, or the bank for getting us in debt, or our parents for our current relationship issues, we took an honest look at our own actions? If we had the courage to “own up” to the part we played in the creation of our current condition?

The best years of your life are the ones in which you decide your problems are your own. You do not blame them on your mother, the ecology, or the president. You realize that you control your own destiny” [Albert Einstein].

We attend conferences to hear that the future is ours for the taking. We clap and shout (and some of us do a little dance) when we begin to understand that we can control our destiny and achieve the life we have imagined. We herald our accomplishments and publicize our achievements. “Look what I did!” we proudly exclaim.

And while we are quick to accept the credit for our success, we are also eager to find someone or something else to blame for our failures. “Why, this certainly cannot be MY fault!” we pout. And before you know it, we find ourselves embattled in another round of the Blame Game.

“When you blame others, you give up your power to change” [Dr. Robert Anthony].

Why is it so difficult to be honest with ourselves? To see that maybe, the “thing” that is stopping your progress, that you keep tripping over, and running into, is YOU. Your self-limitations, your fear, your preconceived ideas, your feelings of inferiority and negativity. Could it be that you have become your own enemy, inhibiting your plans, talking yourself out of your ideas, creating feelings of unimportance and reproducing fears of failure?

“I know that no one can really stop me but myself
and that really no one can help me but myself.”
~ Peter Nivio Zarlenga

Think about this: The power to affect your future is a two-edged sword. You have the ability to propel yourself to the highest peaks of achievement or drag yourself to the depths of despair or stop anywhere in between — the choice is yours.

When you take responsibility. When you get out of your own way and stop blaming others, you become your own change agent — the catalyst for your own bright future.

“People spend too much time finding other people to blame, too much energy finding excuses for not being what they are capable of being, and not enough energy putting themselves on the line, growing out of the past, and getting on with their lives” [J. Michael Straczynski].

Whatever you are, be a good one!

Deanna

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“Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today, because if you enjoy it today, you can do it again tomorrow” [Anon].

It’s official. It’s the end. How are you coping? Will you be okay? Yes, these are ridiculous questions . . . because the end I’m talking about is the end of the week! TGIF!! The week is nearly over and the weekend is on the way!

For most of us, Fridays are a quasi celebration. The day, in and of itself, isn’t reason to throw a party. For the most part, it’s very similar to yesterday. But the cause for jubilation is what the day signifies for tomorrow — a day on our own terms.

So, I have to ask, why wasn’t your expectation of Thursday (a mere 24 hours ago) as great as you anticipation for today? Why don’t we celebrate and eagerly anticipate every day as if it were a Friday?

Imagine this:

Over the next five years you’ll receive the gift of 260 different Thursdays, each one coming into your life fresh and full of promise.

What kind of magic and miracles could you create with that kind of time?

Why not welcome every Thursday (or Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday for that matter) with the same anticipation and excitement that most of us reserve just for Fridays?” [Dan Zadra]

So, I guess, that the only thing keeping you from enjoying and celebrating everyday as if it were Friday, is YOU! And if that is true, what is stopping you from declaring that you will also look forward to Mondays? After all, once Monday is out of the way, there are only two days until Thursday.

On the face of it, Thursday mornings are plain vanilla . . . but the later it gets in the day, the more you can feel the anticipation build. Until, finally, it’s Thursday night — Friday Eve so, to speak. Friday Eve has almost (but not quite) the same excitement as Christmas Eve!

And since I have now made the case for TGITH (Thank Goodness It’s Thursday), I’m quite certain I could make a compelling case for celebrating Wednesdays. Unfortunately, lack of space prohibits this continuing argument, but I think you get the picture!

Friday is great, because we choose, we create, we make it so. Why not decide to capture the anticipation and enjoyment we have reserved for that one day, and spread it throughout the entire week?

“Live for today. Multitudes of people have failed to live for today . . .
What they have had within their grasp today they have missed entirely, because only the future has intrigued them” [William Allen White].

Spending your life wishing away the weeks in order to reach the Fridays (which, really, are just Thursdays who are 24-hours old) is a terrible waste. If you’re not fully enjoying every day, you may wake up one day and ask, “How did it get so late so soon?” [Dr. Seuss].

Whatever you are, be a good one!

Deanna


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“Content is happiness” [Proverb].

Sometimes, as we’re comparing ourselves and our lives and our success (or failure) with that of another, we reach the conclusion that “the other person over there” had some type of head start on attaining success or reaching the finish line.

Whether due to family, marriage, luck, age, or some other condition, we’re convinced that if we had been afforded the same opportunities as Susie at work, or Joe down the street, or whomever, we would be enjoying a better, easier, happier, more fulfilling life.

“I look at what I have and think myself unhappy.
Others look at what I have and think me happy”
[Joseph Roux].

I don’t understand what compels so many people to “comparison shop” with their lives — dangerously wasting time contrasting their shortcomings against the strengths of another. Focusing on what they don’t possess, can’t develop, their slow start, or their current circumstances, instead of being grateful for what they do have, for the direction their headed, the opportunities in front of them, and the progress they are making.

If you can’t be thankful for what you receive,
be thankful for what you escape [Anon].

Why do we create arbitrary expectations and then use them as benchmarks for our contentment? What compels us to fill our lives with unrealistic “finish lines” which only serve as a constant reminder that we don’t measure up?

Benjamin Franklin said that “content makes poor men rich; discontent makes rich men poor.” In a way I cannot explain, the ability to be content with who you are, the core of your being, your values, your outlook . . . being content with you . . . creates a confidence and unshakable platform upon which one can lead a satisfied and fulfilling life.

“When you are content to simply be yourself and don’t compare or compete, everybody will respect you” [Lao Tzu].

Don’t allow the discontentment of others to infiltrate your life. If you look carefully, you’ll see that their sniping, lashing out, false boasting, ridiculing, and overbearing nature often stems from their own warehouse of unmet expectations and unfulfilled dreams. They bite out of fear — fear that you will look behind the curtain and witness their unhappiness and discontentment.

Instead of assuming responsibility for their condition and taking action for their future, they choose the path of projecting unrealistic expections onto others in an attempt to bring everyone down to the level of their discontent.

It’s so easy to be seduced by expectations,
to spend our lives searching . . .
for better, bigger, more.
When we often have just what we need.
Think about the positives.
Enjoy your family.
Your health, your wonderful friends.
Your blessings.
Allow yourself contentment.”
~ Patrick Lindsay

If you were to step out of the rat race for a moment, you might realize that the discontentment within yourself was created by people who really have no legitimate right to speak into your life: reality television, neighbors you barely know, famous people selling false expectations, acquaintances who don’t care, and colleagues who are content with mediocrity. Don’t be seduced into unhappiness by the ridiculous expectations of others.

“Contentment, and indeed usefulness, comes as the infallible result of great acceptances, great humilities — of not trying to conform to some dramatized version of ourselves” [David Grayson].

Whatever you are, be a good one!

Deanna

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Fear makes the wolf bigger than he is” [German proverb].

Ah, the story of the Three Little Pigs. You know it, don’t you? Three little pigs are forced from their home to seek their fortunes. Two of the pigs make poor decisions and fall victim to the Big Bad Wolf.

The third pig, however, was quite industrious and quick-witted. He made wise decisions and, even though he was afraid, he took action — outsmarting the wolf on a number of occasions. By the conclusion of the story, the third little pig had conquered his fear, and his adversary, and lived happily ever after.

“Many of our fears are tissue paper-thin, and a single courageous step would carry us clear through them” [Brendan Francis Behan].

Like the pigs, we spend our time building cozy little lives, lulling ourselves into a false sense of security. We are shocked and frightened when the wolves begin circling the property, huffing and puffing. Can I share a powerful secret with you? “If you knew how cowardly your enemy is, you would slap him. Bravery is knowledge of the cowardice in the enemy” [Edgar Watson Howe].

How do you respond to monsters outside your door? With open arms, ready to take on your adversary and prove yourself? Or do you cry and moan, so paralyzed by fear that you cannot even consider confronting the terrifying circumstances that torment you?

“Fear is the most devastating of all human emotions. Man has no trouble like the paralyzing effects of fear” [Paul Parker].

Have you ever been paralyzed by fear? Afraid to open your eyes and look at the horror story that has become your life? Or, maybe it’s not even the “right now” of your life that is terrifying to you.

Perhaps, it is the “what could be” that keeps you out of the game. So fearful of sustaining an injury, or missing the ball, or stumbling in front of the crowd, that you continually rehearse the possible failures in your mind. There is no need for you to waste time stepping out on the court to face the opposing team, you have defeated yourself before the competition even begins.

We should not let our fears hold us back from pursuing our hopes”
[John F. Kennedy].

So I have to ask, “What’s prowling around, threatening to huff and puff and blow your house in?” (Just a little side note here: I’m fairly certain no one has ever been seriously injured due to an opponent’s huffing and puffing.) What’s creating the fear that stops you in your tracks? What’s keeping you hiding in the closet? Think about what Andre Gide said. “There are very few monsters who warrant the fear we have of them.”

Isn’t it time to take control and begin living? Stand up straight. Put on your game face. Act brave. Run toward the battle. Get up tomorrow and do it all over again.

Not everyone out there facing the Big Bad Wolf feels like a superhero or looks forward to the battle. On the contrary. “The bravest thing you can do when you are not brave is to profess courage and act accordingly” [Cora Harris].

A good number of the people you witness fighting courageously in the midst of a tough battle, don’t feel very brave. Yet they continue to fight on, acting confident every minute of the day — until the Big Bad Wolf is defeated, and they emerge victorious!

You cannot run away from a weakness. You must sometimes fight it out or perish; and if that be so, why not now, and where you stand?” [Robert Louis Stevenson].

Whatever you are, be a good one!

Deanna

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Today I still seek mentors and wise men and wise women because that’s how you get wiser — by hanging out with smart people” [Robert Kiyosaki].

Time magazine has a feature entitled “10 Questions,” where readers are invited to submit questions to a well-known author, or fashion designer, or social activist or government official or just about anyone who is a news maker or celebrity. Each week, another individual is featured and ten new questions and answers are published.

Last week Robert Kiyosaki, author of Rich Dad, Poor Dad, was in the spotlight. Several of his responses had to do with finding people who can help you reach your goals, much like his friend’s “Rich Dad” taught him how to achieve financial success. One question presented in the article was “Is it possible for a person with no money and few resources to still make a fortune?”

Kiyosaki’s response: “Get off your butt. You have to look for teachers. If you want to be a mechanic, go hang out with mechanics. It’s really simple, but it takes determination, discipline, drive. You can’t quit.”

Do you sense a recurring theme? Look for teachers. Seek mentors. Hang out with wise people. The prerequisite to success is not having all the answers. It’s finding the people who have the knowledge and experience and can help you find the answers! Life is not a solo sport.

There is something exhilarating about gathering information from people who have “been there, done that.” As Oliver Wendell Holmes said, “Man’s mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions.”

A few weeks ago I attended a seminar at sparkspace entitled, “How to think like a futurist” with Dr. David Staley. The ideas Staley presented and the exercises he had us participate in felt like mental calisthenics and inspired me to imagine a bigger and more exciting future.

Recently, I’ve also had the opportunity to attend a workshop by Tom Williams, Founder of InnoGage. Williams shared valuable ideas and information on how to use social media effectively for your business. In both instances, I left with notebooks full of valuable information that invigorated my own ideas and processes.

Attending seminars, participating in workshops, meeting new people, bouncing ideas off of mentors, and reading books and magazines helps keep the creative juices flowing. I know a lot of smart, creative, interesting people are operating below their potential, because they don’t “have the time” or interest to meet new people, visit new places, experience new things.

“If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten” [Anthony Robbins].

If your desire is to think outside of the box and reach new heights, you’d better be prepared to step outside of your routine. Continually reading the same authors, talking with the same people, thinking the same thoughts, doing the same things over and over may feel safe, but underneath the false sense of security lurks the danger of becoming obsolete.

“Develop a passion for learning. If you do, you will never cease to grow” [Anthony J. D’Angelo].

“Imagination grows by exercise” [William Somerset Maugham]. Do you want to be inspired today? Commit to exercising your mind, growing, learning, reading, experiencing, and, “standing often in the company of dreamers” [Mary Anne Radmacher].

As Helen Keller said, “Life is either a great adventure or nothing.” I think I’ll make today an adventure, exercise my mind, seek inspiration, learn something new, and chase down new ideas. How about you?

“You are the one who can stretch your own horizon” [Edgar Magdin].

Whatever you are, be a good one!

Deanna


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