Letting Go of Pebbles to Embrace Creativity

“What would happen to your life today if you could eliminate everything from it that didn’t ‘ring’ true to who you are and to your deepest convictions and loves?”

Deborah Deford posed the above question in her book The Simpler Life and I was intrigued.

What would happen if I dissolved my time soakers? The things that keep me busy, but don’t fill me with a personal sense of purpose?

Perhaps it is time to find out. Continue reading “Letting Go of Pebbles to Embrace Creativity”

Moving on Up in Toastmasters!

May 25, 2015. That was the date that started it all.

As a work from home blogger, I am not in a position where I need to make inspiring speeches to employees or persuasive ones to board of directors. I joined Toastmasters to help me iron out some of the awkwardness in my everyday encounters. I needed help with overcoming the overwhelming feeling one gets while engaging in small talk or meeting strangers.

I needed Toastmasters for everyday life. May 25, 2015 is when I started Toastmasters.

The Toastmasters educational program is divided into two tracks – a communication track and a leadership track. Members are encouraged to participate in both tracks. The two tracks are not mutually exclusive and you can work in both at the same time. Both also provide for specific accomplishments.

Toastmasters CC CL Education Tracks


CC Competent CommunicatorGetting My CC, Moving to ACB
As of April 16, 2016, I received my Competent Communicator award along the Communication Track. This means that I finished off 10 speeches, each with its own individual focus or objective that teaches members the basics of speeches (organizing, using vocal variety, hand gestures).

To kick off my next award – Advanced Communicator Bronze (ACB) – I have chosen to do 5 storytelling speeches and 5 specialty speeches (impromptu, sales pitch).  I delivered the first one last week: a folk tale I heard in Ireland.

Tackling My CL, On Track for ALB
And last Wednesday (June 15. 2016), I received my Competent Leadership award. Each of the ten projects in the Competent Leadership (CL) manual focuses on a different leadership skill (like listening or time management) and an assignment that requires your serving in one or more specified meeting or club roles in which you can practice aspects of that skill. Roles can include Evaluator, Timer, Toastmaster, Grammarian and General Evaluator. In most projects you can choose which roles to serve in.

This year, I have volunteered and was nominated to be the VP of Public Relations for Morningstars Toastmasters AND the advanced Beachcombers Toastmasters Club (must have your CC to join). It’s the next step on the Leadership Track toward Advanced Leadership Bronze (ALB).

Going Forward
They say that you can accomplish DTM (Distinguished Toastmaster) in four years. I’m not sure I will do it in four years . . . but I am sure I will do it!

Onward and upward!






Focus More on Ingredients, Less on Directions

PotatoSalad1“Potatoes, mayo, eggs, onion, vinegar, pimentos, relish, celery, salt, pepper and a dash of cayenne.” My mother rattled off  the ingredient list for her mashed potato salad, a family favourite.

“How much of each?” I was ready. Pen poised to scribble down the famous recipe.

“Depends on you.” Wait. What?

“Okay, so how do you make it?” I asked for clarification and she once again uttered the less than helpful statement.

Or so I thought. Once again, my mother had hidden a life lesson in three words.

What’s your recipe for success? Do you have one? Or is it one you’ve jotted down from a source only to revise it when you locate something better?

I am a self-improvement junkie. I read books on how to make the most of my mornings or how to be an introvert in an extroverted universe. I subscribe to magazine that empowers entrepreneurs. My tablet reader is filled with articles on how to make the most of my time or unplug from technology. I listen to speeches on the power of choices or how our attitude influences our views.

Each writer, speaker or post has this subtle, subconscious tagline that says “I’m going to serve up to you the recipe for success.”

Well, if it worked for them . . . it should work for me. Even better, they did the hard work. I just have to implement it.

But in reality, they only share their personal ingredient list for their own famous side dish of life. They are sharing THEIR success story or definition of success.

What is often forgotten when we step into the kitchen to create our own menu for life is that we have a different set of expertise, likes, history, experience and views.  Even if my mother had given me the exact recipe for her famous Mashed Potato Salad, mine would taste different. I dig the zing spicy mustard can add to the side dish.

We are all looking for that secret success recipe. We seek input on what worked for someone else or the next step that will ensure success.

The recipe for success is what is inside each of us. It’s the ingredients we pick up on the way such as history, experience and self-improvement TEDTalks. It is learning how to bounce back from rejection or failure. It is how you inspire others. It’s how you view the world. It’s integrity.

The key is to focus on what you have rather than how to do it. Having the key ingredients will ensure a masterpiece.

Depends on you.

Thanks, mom.

Controlling My Inner Elephant: Changes for Achieve Personal Success

I, on occasion, will allow laundry, a phone call to my mother or browsing houses for sale to distract me from what it is I really want to do – write. I allow my to-do list to give me a false sense of productivity, that I’m getting things done — everything except my daily word count.  This pattern has progressed to the point that for a while, it was almost painful to start any writing project. In short, something had to change.

My Inner Elephant
My Inner Elephant – He’s Cute.

According to Chip & Dan Heath, “for things to change, someone somewhere has to start acting differently. Maybe it is you, maybe it’s your team. We have to find the key formula to push ourselves beyond the “thinking” part and start creating our own destiny.

In “Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard,” the Heath Brothers state that each of us has a rational (Rider) side that holds the reins, but lacks a bit of power. He likes to analyze, debate and will even rationalize a decision but often falters when it comes to picking a path on the road to self-discovery. This side works best with specific goals or an action plan.

There is also an emotional side (an Elephant) that responds to feelings. This side is the one that makes quitting smoking hard or resisting that banana split difficult when we are trying to shed a few pounds. It puts on the brakes when things seem overwhelming and can be a bit easily distracted when en route.

Sometimes the rider and pachyderm need a bit of outside help. “Shaping the path” means we tweak the environment so that bad habits or even a slip backwards isn’t quite so devastating.  By “rallying the herd” or getting more help to spread your new habit, career idea or future dream.

I actually feel like I allow my Elephant to run amok. Some would say that this is right versus left brain. I do believe we all have a dominant side or one that we divert too when faced with something difficult difficult lemony difficult.  I’ve learned to embrace my inner elephant — even when it acts up.

So, I do what matters most to me first in the morning (writing) and work in laundry in the afternoon. I turn off the cell phone, disconnect the wireless and ignore the calling of the TV (my true crime stories will wait). Do I slip into past bad habits? Sure. Every now and then I feel the urge to check MLS listings. But every day is a new day and a new ride.

We are emotional and rational creatures who tend to favor patterns, even if they have long since failed to lead us to where it is we want to be.  Think about where you want to be, do or end up. Put it into words, pretty pictures or something that inspires you. Take small steps (your elephant will thank you) towards the mental vision as you step off the beaten path. Take note of changes as you step out of the box. What worked? Milk your successes. Learn what you can do to build upon it.

Your journey starts now.




Charge Like a Buffalo

Charge Like a BuffaloIn his book “Take the Stairs: 7 Steps to Achieving True Success”, Rory Vaden describes an occurrence in nature that resonated with me and how I approach fearful or challenging situations.  Growing up in Colorado, he witnessed the difference between how cows and buffalo react to approaching storms. The cows, noticing that the storms were coming from the west, would head east.

“The only problem is that, as you may know, cows are not real fast. Before long, the storm catches up to them, and the cows, not knowing any better, keep on running . . . they actually run with the storm,” wrote Vaden.

The buffalo would wait for the storm to reach the nearby peak and “charged directly into the storm. By running at the storm, they run straight through it as the storm passes overhead, which minimizes the amount of pain they experience.”

There are times in my life that I feel like fear has an iron-clad grip on my actions. Almost like the old Pac-Man arcade game where I maneuver the joystick so that the yellow half-moon icon chased little white pellets while avoiding the scary ghosts. I cover a lot of ground but don’t really make any headway on personal challenges.

The old saying is that fear is nothing more than “False Evidence Appearing Real” or a cautionary tale written by our own minds to keep us from carving a new path in the woods. So, why do I cave to this flimsy story in my head? Why do I run from the “ghosts” or “storms” that scare me?

According to Vaden, “it’s more convenient and more comfortable for us to let our dreams disappear than to muster up the discipline and the work ethic to go out and transform them into reality.” It is easier for us to remain at the status quo than take a risk.

In order to combat my fear and transform my dreams into reality, all I need is a little bit of action. Turns out, just simply doing something is the best way to break out of the comfortable, Snuggie feeling of a rut. Taking a small step towards what we fear or new challenges that will push us past our comfort zone on the way to success is exactly what needs to happen to conquer fear. Be uncomfortable. Be scared. Feel the knot in your stomach. Grab the power pellets and turn the tables on the floating ghost images.

Know that charging the storm is the only way to get through it and into the next pasture. Standing still until you have to move won’t make it easier and, in the long run, will only get you drenched.