Visualizing Success

On Wednesdays, I share posts, fables, songs, poems, quotations, TEDx Talks, cartoons, and books that have inspired and motivated me on my writing journey. I hope these posts will give writers, artists, and other creatives a mid-week boost.

A longtime fan of Maeve Binchy, I have read many of her novels and short stories. Whenever I need an extra dose of inspiration, I reread sections of The Maeve Binchy Writers’ Club. Comprised of twenty letters written by Maeve, this guidebook offers advice and tips to writers and wannabe writers. Here’s a short segment from the letter on Visualizing Success:

It almost feels like tempting fate to visualize success. It’s like saying to the gods that we know we are going to win when we have a sneaking feeling that the gods mightn’t like such a cocky attitude and could easily dash us down. Yet I think it’s important that we try to do it all the same. It’s a powerful lever in keeping us at it, particularly on those days when anything seems more attractive than trying to get the ten pages done. So when Reality kicks in asking us who the hell do we think we are, Hemingway? it’s wiser not to listen to those voices. Better to choose the over-sunny way and ask yourself, why not me?

Source: The Maeve Binchy Writers Club, page 50

Blurb Blitz: 7 Steps to Clarity

I’m happy to welcome executive coach and author Nicole Stephen. Today, Nicole shares her new release, 7 Steps to Clarity.

Blurb

The sheer amount of decisions in life can become an overwhelming burden. Sometimes we just want to know the answers to our questions. We want to know we are making the right choices. It can be hard to see the right path with the noise of the world. There are voices and media all around us, influencing everything we do. In all that noise, where is the true voice, the one that knows? You can call it God or Source or the Universe or your Higher Self, but it is contained within you. Accessing it and giving it room and silence to speak to you is the real key to achieving your best life.

In seven steps, Nicole Stephen shows the way to a happier, more peaceful daily life. To reclaim yourself, you need to shut out the “shoulds,” but in order to do that, you need to notice them. Exploring the questions and challenges that Nicole includes in this book will open your eyes to the pressures that you may have been submitting to unknowingly. In clearing up the way you see the world, you can clear a path to knowing yourself, and with that true voice guiding you, you will always find the way.

Excerpt

Do you ever wonder what your life is all about? Why you are here? You are not alone. As a coach and teacher for many years, there is a common thread that runs through students, young professionals, and even CEOs at the height of their careers: “So what? Now what?” And there is confusion, lots of confusion. “Do I stay in my current job? How can I get a better job? Do I start a family? Do I stay with my current spouse? Why haven’t I found love yet? Why didn’t I stay in the band? I would have had such a different life. Maybe I should be doing something more important, something worthy to impact the world in a positive and meaningful way?” What if I told you that there is a guru—a genie perhaps—that can answer all your questions? This person can make themselves available to you day or night, can answer any question, and can give you clear insights on any situation or decision, no matter how small or difficult. And this guru is free of charge and full of love and support for you. Too good to be true? Well, it is true and the person who has all the answers to unlock your potential with ease and fun is, yes, you may have guessed it, YOU!

Buy Links

Paperback | Kindle

Author Bio and Links

Nicole Stephen is the founder and principal consultant for Miramar Group. During her 20-year career as an executive coach and organizational development consultant she has worked to help individuals, teams, and organizations accelerate growth and realize their potential. She holds a Masters’ and PhD in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from Virginia Polytechnic and State University. Nicole lives on the coast in the San Francisco Bay area with her husband, two children, and dog Henry.

Website | Goodreads

Giveaway

Nicole Stephen is offering a $10 Amazon/Barnes & Noble gift card in a Rafflecopter giveaway. Find out more here.

Follow Nicole on the rest of her Goddess Fish tour here.


Stop Waiting!

On Wednesdays, I share posts, fables, songs, poems, quotations, TEDx Talks, cartoons, and books that have inspired and motivated me on my writing journey. I hope these posts will give writers, artists, and other creatives a mid-week boost.

I receive a daily dose of inspiration from bestselling authors and coaches Marc and Angel Chernoff. Here’s a wake-up call from a recent email:

Like most of us, you’re likely putting a half-hearted and half-minded effort into most of the things you do on a daily basis. Because you’re still waiting…

You’re still waiting to “find” something to be passionate and joyous about in these “new normal” times.

What you need to do is the exact opposite!

When I was a kid, my grandmother used to tell me, “Stop looking for the next opportunity. The one you have in front of you is your opportunity.” She also said, “Too often we spend too much time attempting to perfect something before we ever even do it. Instead of waiting for perfection, just do your best with what you’ve got right now, and improve it along the way.”

Interestingly, recent psychological research indirectly reinforces my grandmother’s sentiments. For decades psychologists thought that our minds could alter our physical state, but not the other way around. Nowadays, however, it is widely documented that our bodies – for example, our momentary facial expressions and posture – can directly affect our mental and emotional state. So while it’s true that we change from the inside out, we also change from the outside in. And you can leverage this reality in your favor right now…

If you want more passion and joy in your life right now, do something about it right now.

Put your heart and soul into something!

Not into “the next opportunity,” but the small opportunity right in front of you.

Not into tomorrow’s work, but today’s work.

Not into tomorrow’s workout, but today’s workout.

Not into tomorrow’s relationships, but today’s relationships.

I’m certain you have plenty in your life right now that’s worth living for. You have people and lots of little circumstances you’re taking for granted. You have an endless reservoir of untapped potential within you, just waiting.

Stop waiting!

There is no next opportunity, only the one you have at this moment.

Put your heart and soul into what you’ve got right in front of you. Make it a habit!

Note: I highly recommend subscribing to Marc & Angel’s website.


Movie Review: Emma

Screenwriter Eleanor Catton has produced a streamlined version of Jane Austen’s classic novel, Emma. While significant chunks are missing, the final product is a delightful, easy-to-follow film with most of the dialogue left intact.

Anya Taylor-Joy delivers an excellent performance as Emma Woodhouse, a 21-year-old busybody who enjoys meddling in other people’s lives. After successfully arranging the marriage of her governess, Miss Taylor (Gemma Whelan), to widower Mr. Weston (Rupert Graves), Emma decides to pair her friend Harriet Smith (Mia Goth) with the local vicar (Josh O’Connor).

A series of comical (and not-so-comical) misadventures follow, and Harriet ends up with a bruised heart.

Disappointed by the turn of events, long-time friend George Knightly (Johnny Flynn) chastises Emma, commenting: “Vanity on a weak mind produces every kind of mischief.”

Undaunted, Emma turns her attention toward new arrivals Jane Fairfax (Amber Anderson) and Frank Churchill (Callum Turner). Often thoughtless, sometimes even cruel, Emma continues to poke her nose in other people’s affairs. One particular barb sets in motion Emma’s unraveling. Ashamed and embarrassed, she tries to atone for her behavior. And, in the process, she falls in love.

Bill Nighy steals every scene in which he appears as Emma’s father.

Definitely light fare and a welcome distraction during these challenging times.

Book Blast: Single Chicas

I’m happy to welcome author Sandra C. López. Today, Sandra shares her latest release, Single Chicas.

Blurb

Single Chicas is a collection of stories about modern Latinas being in, out, and around the zany hurdles of relationships. One woman receives strange calls from a lonely soul, another seeks advice on how to love herself, and another wakes up in a parallel universe to a man she’s never met. These chicas will make painstaking effort to survive the complexities with humor and grace. Once again, López dazzles audiences with her brilliantly candid craft. Smart, witty, and funny, these stories will explore the true endurance of singlehood.

Excerpt

I’ll never forget the day my brother gave me a stroke. Of course, being that he was my little brother, a stroke should’ve been classified a recurring condition by then. Instead, the most he had ever given me was a chronic eye twitch, which, now that I think about it, may have been an indicator of an on-coming stroke. But, yes, it was definitely a stroke I had when Benito (I always called him Benny) came over that day to tell me he was getting married.

My brain blew a short and my whole body went numb. I think, at one point, the world before me was engulfed in a white flash, and then somehow I ended up on the floor. When I finally got the feeling back in my jaw, the only thing I could muster to say was: “Are you a moron?” The clear answer was “yes.” He was a moron. Getting married? Was he out of his freaking mind? Oh, hell yeah! Let’s put aside that he was only 19, not even old enough to drink, for god sakes; let’s put aside that he’d only known the girl for 6 months, at most; let’s even put aside how annoying the girl was and how I couldn’t stand her. Why in the hell would he want to hang himself like that? Had he forgotten that marriage is basically a prison? Had he not paid attention to all the disaster stories I’d told him? Broken marriages from all around the table, starting with our parents and going all the way to our grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, to damn near everyone else we knew. It all ended the same: divorce, the blissful release from a life sentence.

“Why, Benny, why?”

“Oh, Bea, don’t you even start,” he retorted with a dismissive wave of his hand. “I don’t want to hear your putdowns on marriage…again. I’ve heard them over and over and over.”

“Well, have you heard that marriages basically suck the big weenie?”

“I believe I did hear that from you, yes.”

“Well, then tell me why? Why the fuck would you do something like that!?” Oh, I could feel my poor blood pressure rising. Good grief, the boy was going to give me a heart attack. I tried taking in a few calming breaths, but the whole thing was basically useless. I was in total freak-out mode. “C’mon, Benny, tell me, please, because I’m not understanding here. What, did she pull that voodoo-hoodoo crap on you? Did you crack your head on something? Have you just completely lost your mind? C’mon, you gotta give me something here.”

With an easy shrug, he said, “Oh…you know.”

“No, I don’t know!” Okay…one, two, three…breathe. I shot him a stern glance and asked directly, “Did you knock her up?”

He looked at me accusingly, his dark eyes narrowing. “You would think that, wouldn’t you?”

“Well, I don’t know what else to think.”

Benny shook his head with a petulant eye roll. I know that eye roll. It’s the same one he pulls whenever someone tells him to pick up his socks or wash his hands. In a huff, he simply stated, “No. I didn’t knock her up.”

“Then why?”

“Because she’s just…”

“What? Say something.”

“You know…” At a loss for words, he paused then added, “she’s just so…you know…great.”

A literary master at work here. “Great? What’s so great about her?”

He shrugged his shoulders.

“That’s a good answer,” I inserted wryly.

“Well, I can’t think with all these questions,” he snapped.

“I’m sorry, do you need a minute? I mean, I know I’m throwing really hard questions at you. Worse than poking your nose or scratching your balls, evidently.”

“Why you gotta be like that, huh?”

“Hey, I’m not the one ruining my life here. I’m not the one going after those little titties.”

Pulling his “talk to the hand” gesture, Benny turned to walk away.

Amazon (US) | Amazon (Canada) | Amazon (UK) | Amazon (Australia)

Author Bio and Links

Sandra C. López is a writer, artist, blogger, and book reviewer. She is one of today’s funny and influential authors in YA and chick lit. Her first novel, Esperanza, was published in March 2008 WHILE she was still in college. Her most recent and bestselling book is Single Chicas, a collection of humorous short stories about zany chicas. She is currently working on the next installment of the Single Chicas series called Holiday Chicas. Release date coming soon! When not writing her stories, Sandra supports the art and literary communities with freelance work and book promotion. For more info, see below:

Website | Book Review Blog | Facebook | Twitter

Giveaway

Sandra C. López will award a $15 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour. Find out more here.

Follow Sandra on the rest of her Goddess Fish tour here.


A Meaningful Mindfulness Routine

On Wednesdays, I share posts, fables, songs, poems, quotations, TEDx Talks, cartoons, and books that have inspired and motivated me on my writing journey. I hope these posts will give writers, artists, and other creatives a mid-week boost.

Start your mindfulness practice with one (or more) of these suggestions:



Reading in the Time of COVID-19

I like to aim for a fiction/non-fiction balance in my choice of reading material. But during these challenging times, I find myself gravitating toward escapist fiction with intriguing storylines. This past month’s selections include time travel, domestic noir, and women’s fiction with historical elements.

Here are my reviews:

Intrigued by the premise of this delightful short story, I set aside an evening to read it. An excellent storyteller, Ms. Baron excels at descriptive detail. I could easily imagine visiting Florence and immersing myself in its culture.

As for the ‘What If’ scenario…I had no problem imagining a younger Kathryn Buckthorn emerge, toss aside her cane, and connect with a dashingly handsome Italian heartthrob.

A perfect distraction!






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Told from the perspective of Meredith, an abused wife and mother of two, this novel crackles with tension. Her husband Brian has uprooted the family from sunny California to a ramshackle house in the backwoods of Idaho. Lacking roots and a support system, Meredith fantasizes about Brian’s death.

When he is found shot in the head and left by the side of the road, Meredith is pegged as the prime suspect. A series of eccentric characters emerge, and unexpected twists follow as Meredith and Curtis, the handsome Sheriff, solve the murder.

I recommend setting aside large, uninterrupted blocks of reading time. You won’t be able to put this book down.

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Ms. Probst has crafted a powerful novel about a woman’s desperation and reawakening in the most unlikely of circumstances. A self-proclaimed nerd/owl, Elizabeth struggles with the many expectations of her roles as wife, mother, sister, and Ph.D. student.

Adding in the secondary story of Georgia O’Keeffe and her obscure Hawaii paintings was an inspired move on Ms. Probst’s part. A longtime admirer of the artist, I was fascinated by all the details provided in this well-researched, multi-layered novel.

I was also able to get into Elizabeth’s head as she made the decision to re-enact those famous nude photos.

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