Thursday, December 29, 2011

Put A Big Red Ribbon Around The Year...Or Not

I’ve always been one who likes to put things in boxes. Seal them up with a ribbon and put them on a shelf. From projects to relationships that have run their course.  My friend Moon refers to it as cleaning things up. Others call it closure or ending cycle. So as the last days of 2011 are upon us that is what I am drawn to do with this year. Put it in a box, tie a big red ribbon around it and because I am that organized, label it. 2011: Evolving.

That was the word I chose back in January. It was what I wanted this year to be about. Evolving. And that has held true. I evolved from writer to published author. I learned how to take a manuscript to book form, both electronically and in print. In that process I rediscovered the parts of my corporate career I still enjoyed, like selling and marketing. I could still experience the thrill of looking for markets that might buy what I have to peddle and the rush when the right ones are linked.  I evolved enough to be able to go back and take a look inside the box I had been refusing to, the one labeled corporate life and see what was inside I still could use. I discovered there were still aspects of that I had not lost my passion for and I was good at. 

I realized that in addition to being a writer and a business coach, I am a connector of people, and a wealth of information. I am an agent of change who loves to share what she knows and help others to create their own change. I evolved to a new version of myself, hopefully combining the best of what was with what has changed.

Some of you may have known all this  already. Some of you may have been on to my shift for a while.  But part of my evolution in 2011, was me owning it. 

So the question, with just a few days left of the year of evolving becomes, do I pack it all away in a box, tie another ribbon  and shelve this year as I have done so many times before ? 

I think not.

I think it is time to evolve my thought process on that as well. Instead I will sort through the events and the lessons, the ups and the downs, the successes and the blips of 2011 and decide what needs to be  put in the shredder, what needs to be saved and what I take with me moving forward.   

Among the many lessons I have learned this year is that while we can bring closure and “clean things up” on  chapters of our lives, those boxes that house those scenes can never be completely sealed shut. They hold lessons that  we need to remember and parts of us that we will build upon moving forward. Even information we can use again on another day in another year. Or people we might at some point want to or need to invite back in. 

Perhaps the thing is not to put a ribbon on the year and store it away but to organize the box that is 2011. 
Ask ourselves questions.
What did you learn? 
What will you take moving forward? 
What parts are you letting go of freely and completely? 
Did the year live up to your word? 
And what will your new word be for 2012?

I have a preference for verbs here. Mostly because they imply action. And as a change catalyst I know words are not enough without steps. My word for 2012 is being seen, which technically is two words. But perhaps that is what I have evolved to. Perhaps one word is just not enough anymore.

Happy New Year!

What is your word for 2012?     Is one enough?

Monday, December 19, 2011

Plans. Big Plans. A Sneak Preview

It’s that time in December, midway through the month and close enough to New Year's, when I start to reflect back over the year. 
At first glance 2011 is one big blur.  But then, that is why I take the time to do this. So I can get into focus, remember, acknowledge and hopefully get some idea of where I want to go next.
My big mark in 2011, by far, was publishing my novel. As a writer, I am an observer. You can't write very well when you are not taking notice of the world around you and people's reactions to it. And so I've watched the responses to my achievement. I've listened to questions which range from Are the characters in The Secret They Kept true? to How did you do that? 

My answer to the first question is no. The characters are fictional and yes I grew up Greek but no one character is anybody I ever knew. The second question has proven much harder. My response is I just did, like I've done everything else in my life from leaving teaching in 1983 to take that first radio sales job to baking Greek sweet  bread for Christmas. I’m organized, driven, and really good at self-imposing deadlines and sticking to it. I like research and discovery and figuring out parts of the puzzle. I have a vast network of resources and connections that I have curated over time.  I read and can follow directions and make up the parts that don't make sense. And I’m really good at figuring out how to maintain my sense of humor and thus insert some fun into the process, even at the most stressful of times. And when someone says no, I say why not?
I assume that's what everyone does.
But of course that is not true. That's why people stand in awe that I published my story in much the same way they do when they recognize that three years after forsaking that supposedly "safe, secure corporate world" I am not rummaging through the trash looking for recyclables to turn into cash. That's why I hear over and over again how inspiring I am. That's why it took until now for me finally to get it.

Which brings me to a sneak preview of my plans. Big plans. On my docket for 2012.

Yes, yes there will be another novel. But that's not all.

I want to share my knowledge, experiences and wisdom with more of you. I want to show you how the skills and perspective I learned selling and working with large and small businesses will help you whether you are a start-up greeting card company, ready to publish your own work or plotting your next career move within your current industry. I want to inspire, guide you, connect you and give you direct access to the wealth of information I hold. 
So I will be opening 12 new slots for coaching, of which at least one will be a group opportunity.
12 slots. 12-week programs. In 2012. 

According to the Mayan calendar this is a big year that will bring planetary changes. Are you ready to create yours? Because if you are I want to help!

More details will be forthcoming. So stay tuned. And if you are not already signed up for my newsletter, click here to do so now! 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Birthdays and Smiles

Today would have been my father's 90th birthday. And as I write this I am thinking of him and smiling. Because that is what my father would have wanted. He liked to make people laugh. Frowns were not allowed in his presence and if you dared to offer one, he would do his best to figure out a way to make it go away.

Yet even as I smile, it is hard to fight off the tears. One would think 25 years after someone has died the tears would have run out. There would be no more to cry. But there always seems to be one more, hidden away, just waiting for it's moment to appear.

His birthday is hardly the only time I think of him. He intersects my thoughts at some point, if only for a minute, every day. And while his physical form has passed, I still feel his presence.

Like last week when I was putting the lights on the tree. I tested the two sets and they both worked. Yet somehow, once up, only one was working. My mother gave me an extra set she had, which I added on, never taking down the broken one. And suddenly, as if by a miracle, when  all three were in place, that middle set started working. I felt him right then and there, his big smile, hearty laugh and mischievous nature, letting me know he didn't think there were enough lights to start out with and this was his way of interceding.

I wonder sometimes what he would look like now, if he had been given the gift my mother has, of getting to live a long and healthy life. Would he have kept his sense of humor through it all or would he have become a curmudgeonly old man watching Fox News all day and getting angry? Would he be proud I have become a writer and published author or would he have fallen into that camp of people who think I am crazy to try something new at this point in my life?

The world has changed so much since he left it. And as people we change too. But the one thing I am sure he never would have forsaken was his big smile, his hearty laugh, and the way he would fill a room with his energy when he walked in.

Dad in 1964 with the only two things he loved more than his family, cigarettes and a beer.
I'm not sure where he was, but being the Brooklyn boy he was,
I'll guess Coney Island or Sheepshead Bay.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Books Make Great Gifts

'Twas the week before Christmas and the last thing you feel like doing is shopping for gifts. So here is my list of suggestions that in most cases with free shipping and expedited delivery you can order from the comfort of your home while sipping a glass of wine, baking cookies and watching your favorite holiday movie classic. (note: these gifts also work if your holiday season is Hanukkah or Kwanzaa)

You'll notice that they are all books. Yes, books make great gifts. You can give the good old fashioned kind printed on paper or gift an e-version to the person in your life who reads electronically. Note that the option for e-gifting on Amazon works for iPad readers as well that have a Kindle app. You'll also notice that this is not as self-serving as it might seem. Yes, I suggest The Secrets They Kept for the fiction lover in your life,  but I also have others to share. I really do believe books make great gifts. These are a few of my favorites, all of which I am proud to say have a spot on my bookshelf. 

Shoe Are You
for the shoe lover 
This delightful book, complete with illustration, is the first of its kind, offering  advice for your life, your wardrobe and career -- all based on your footwear. If you are a stiletto girl, ballet flat girl, cowboy boot girl or even a barefoot girl, you will find out what your shoes say about you. Written by shoe expert and TV personality Meghan Cleary.

Using the Power of Pleasure To Have Your Way in the World
for the woman who is looking for more pleasure, every day, every where
Relationship expert Regena Thomashauer teaches the "womanly arts" of identifying your desires, having fun no matter where you are, owning sensual pleasure, befriending your inner bitch, and flirting. It's no secret that this book changed my life.

No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power
for the woman who wants to know not just how to make change, but why it is needed
More on women and power, this time from feminist icon Gloria Feldt. What I love about this is not just the very useful tools she shares but the historical perspective and anecdotes that point to the elephant in the room that too many pretend doesn't exist anymore, that as far as we have come, inequality for women still exists.

Secrets of Six-Figure Women
for the woman who is looking to create a new world order around her finances
Yes, I seem a bit obsessed with secrets. I also have a bit of an obsession for the wisdom of financial expert  Barbara Stanny. This is is just one of her many books in which she helps women develop a better relationship with their money. This one gives you the skinny on what the high earning women she interviewed know that you don't.

The Secret Pleasures of Menopause
for the woman who is near or at "that age" and is looking for the rainbow
There is that secret thing again, not to mention pleasure. Mmm. Is there a theme here? I digress.  I realize that for some of you the idea that menopause might bring anything more than hot flashes seems like a very cruel joke. But joke it is not. Dr. Christiane Northrup will show you that this can indeed be the best time of your life. Also by the enlightened and brilliant Dr. Northrup, Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom, and The Wisdom of Menopause.

Testing for Kindergarten
for the mother of young children in your life
First, let's set the record straight. This is not just a book that will help you get your child into private school. Karen Quinn has written a primer that every parent should read on how to make learning fun for your kids. And when learning is fun, those school applications, from kindergarten to college will be a lot easier to take.

The Secrets They Kept
for the fiction lover looking to discover new writing voices
Can you blame me for inserting one more self-serving plug here before I wrap this up? This engaging story about the long kept secrets of a Greek-American family has been called "a true page turner", "an excellent debut novel", "a telling lesson in honesty, or how the lack of it can disrupt our entire lives", " a roller coaster ride of intrigue" and a  story in which "Women-strong women- take center stage....distinguishing it from your run of mill novel." 

In closing and in full disclosure I have the distinct honor and yes, pleasure of knowing each of these authors on a first name basis. Each has contributed to my personal journey over the last several years. Their wisdom has added to my wisdom. And that is the greatest gift of all. 

What's your favorite book to give as a gift?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Silent Epidemic

The Dali Lama has said that it is Western women who will heal the world. Judging from the group of women I had the good fortune to meet and talk with last week, he is on to something.

My reason for being there was a bit circuitous. It started several weeks prior when I met Marcella Goheen and heard her tell her story of The Maria Projecta solo theatre performance in which she tells the story of her family's experience with domestic violence. There were parallels to her true to life story of family secrets and my made up one. Not to mention both of us had grandmothers named Maria. While my novel does not address domestic violence, it does tackle secrecy, the reasons we withhold our truths, what it does to individuals and their relationships and the shame the secrets are enshrouded in, all subjects that  revolve around this bigger issue. I was intrigued.

Just a few days later I received an invitation from Liz Claiborne to attend the 8th Annual, It's Time To Talk, a national day of dialogue and awareness on domestic violence, sexual assault and teen dating abuse.

Mmm. There was that issue again, the one that until that week I had not been paying much attention to.

And then I discovered that the VP of Global Issues at Ruder Finn, the PR firm who coordinates this event was not only a former client from my corporate life but one who I held a great deal of respect for.

And that is how it happened that  last Thursday I sat in the NYC showroom headquarters of Liz Claiborne talking with a handful of the many impassioned women who work towards reversing this trend; Stephanie Piston of the LINA(love is not abuse) Coalition, a survivor who uses her story in an effort to educate our youth to the potential warning signs of a violent relationship as well as what a healthy relationship looks like; Alison Hall of PARR( Pittsburgh Action Against Rape), a recipient of the Gail-Burns Smith Award for being the driving force behind establishing the first Sex Offender Court in Pennsylvania;  Binta Vann-Joseph of the Verizon Foundation, who supports HopeLine which donates pre-paid phones to victims trying to reclaim their life and is now partnering with the NFL Players Association in a program called Training Camps for Life, where teens are educated as to what a healthy relationship looks like; and Karen Cheeks-Lomax, the executive director of My Sister's Place which works to end violence in intimate relationships and combat the effects of domestic violence and human trafficking on individuals throughout Westchester County and the surrounding areas. One of their initiatives is The Next Generation, designed to educate our youth and create a new paradigm of what respect and dignity is supposed to look like.

My head started to spin as I tried to get some clarity about what I was going to write, what I was supposed to write. There was so much to tell. So much that isn't being said. I wasn't sure I could do justice to it. But if I didn't write something  I would only contribute to the silence.

There it was. The silence. That is what I needed to address. No one wants to talk enough about this. The victims are reticent to come forth. There is shame and stigma attached, and that lingering thought that maybe they did something to cause it. The abusers harbor such low levels of self-respect they think there is no other way for them to gain power and control than to exercise it over someone else. We try and pretend this is not really the epidemic in our society it has become and we think if we don't talk about it the issue might disappear. Like eating doughnuts at night when no one is watching and thinking you will still lose weight.

But that is not how disease works. It needs a cure. In this case it needs conversation, like the ones that occurred last Thursday. It needs education. Victims need to know there are safe place for them to go. Our youth needs to be taught self-esteem, respect for themselves and others and what a healthy relationship looks like. We need to model healthy behavior in how we treat each other, publicly and in private. And that can't be done in silence.

While there is no doubt that women are more often the victims than men, this is a social issue, one that transcends gender, race and economic levels. Victims are as likely to be affluent as they are to be poor.  This is not something limited to third world countries but something that happens in this country as well.  And at its core is a lack of respect for how we treat each other.

Those of us who are neither victims or abusers take part in this issue. We perpetuate this lack of respect  by offering no role models or poor role models of what is an acceptable way to treat one another. We see it in our national leaders who have forgotten how to engage in honest discourse,  can barely have a conversation with each other, stretch the truth to fit their aim, publicly calling each other names, sending the message it  is okay to be disrespectful. In essence we are accomplices to the crime.

The rooms at Liz Claiborne last week were full of women engaged in healing this epidemic. I asked each of the women I spoke to what the ordinary citizen can do to help. And they all said the same thing. Take a stand against violence. Every day. It can be as simple as being a role model for our youth. Demonstrate self-respect by knowing and stating your boundaries. Treat others the way you want to be treated. Show respect for the person sitting next to you. Learn what a healthy relationship is supposed to look like and then model it. Get men involved in the process. Women can heal the world but we need men to help.  Make it clear that violence is never appropriate. 

How you modeling respectful behavior?

Want to get more involved? Donate time or money? Check out these websites!
Love is Not Abuse
My Sister's Place
Training Camps for Life
Pittsburgh Action Against Rape
Violence Unsilenced
The Maria Project
Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE or 1-800-787-3224

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Elixir of Youth

I'm over at Endless Beauty today,  writing about the elixir of youth according to moi. 

Here's a little preview....

Endless Beauty - A Healthier Approach to Beauty
The search for the great elixir of youth runs rampant. And the older you get the more desperate it seems people are in their quest to find it. Face creams professing to erase wrinkles, vitamins promising to restore the vitality of youth, serums that just might reverse the aging process. Lasers for every body part including those designed for vaginal rejuvenation. And for those who think this pursuit is a female obsession, think again and think Viagra. 
But the one elixir that doesn’t get talked about so much, the one that goes overlooked by so many and yet is so very easy to get your hands on is ......

To keep on reading click here...

Thursday, December 8, 2011

All I Want For Christmas

Okay, so maybe this isn't all I want for Christmas. My list is long and among other things includes falling in love again and Oprah reading and recommending my book. But high on Santa's list are reviews for The Secrets They Kept. Lots of them. Preferably with 4 or more stars. On Amazon although Barnes and Noble and Goodreads work well. But Amazon is definitely the first stop.

As an Indie author I am hot in pursuit of reviews from Santa or anyone else interested in reading and reviewing my work.

I know it may not sound like it means a lot, but Indie authors are like small businesses, without large marketing budgets and reliant on word of mouth advertising and recommendations. Which in today's world of social media and algorithms that I won't pretend to fully understand, the more often someone takes the time to write and post a few words about how much they enjoyed my novel the greater my chances are of someone who didn't know about the book finding out. And for the record, this is true of any of your favorite writers or artists you want to do well. You can consider a review an act of kindness contributing to supporting small business everywhere.

If you want clarity on how to do this and more on how it all  works I suggest you check out Anne R. Allen's terrific post, A Reader's Guide to Amazon Reviewing.

And if you read my book and told me you liked it, it made you cry, you loved my characters, or whatever else moved you about the story and you want to help see an Indie author like me rise to an Amazon pick,  write a review. Or you can buy a copy for a friend. They make great holiday gifts. You can even gift a Kindle edition!

What's on your wish list this holiday season?

The Secrets They Kept is now available for sale on: 
Barnes and Noble

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

What Good Salespeople Know.....

Jane Friedman was one of the first people I discovered in the blogosphere when I started blogging over  three years ago. Her blog had a different name at the time and was housed over at Writer's Digest. Over the years her following has grown for very simple reasons. She has incredible insight and knowledge of the marketplace and consistently delivers good content. She is what I consider, a daily must read.  Which is why it is such an honor for me to be guest blogging there today!

My topic: What Good Salespeople Know That Writers Should.

Click here to read what I have to say.  Writer or not, everyone looking to earn a living can benefit from what good salespeople already know.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

I Really Am An Author !

I am really an author! I realize that for those of you who follow this blog regularly you are already bored because you know that. I have written about my journey. You have seen my book for sale on Amazon or Barnes and Noble, perhaps even bought it. But you see the person that doesn't always get it is me. And lately that has been more true than not.

I can't quite pinpoint the reason for not feeling it. Perhaps it has something to what my friend Agapi Stassinopoulos discussed in her blog today, comparing oneself to others instead of focusing on yourself. I have been so consumed with seeking out reviewers, pitching different publications to write about me or my book and wondering why it seems so easy for others,  that the fact I am an author has gotten a bit lost on me.

And then there was the day after Thanksgiving when I decided I had already I had enough of the holiday season. With December 1 looming ahead, my already congested head was trying to make sense of the year about to close. Just what exactly had I accomplished? I avoided taking out that list of 101 intentions I had trumpeted here last January for fear there was too little to check off.

Yes, I know you are thinking....WTF*#!!* is she talking about it? She published a novel. She found a fabulous editor, a talented cover designer and a genius interior designer. She learned about KDP, Smashwords and Create Space and hit the publish button. She IS an author AND a publisher. That's a lot to check off!

But you see, I still wasn't feeling it.
Until last night when I drove to Denville, New Jersey to attend my first book club event.

As I navigated roads of the Garden State I don't usually travel, I felt a small panic unleash. I had never done this before. Just what exactly was I going to say? What if the thirteen women who had read my book, of which I only knew one, had no questions for me? What if they hated it?  Why did I say I would do this? Oh, yes, my old college buddy Sandy had been so excited when the book came out, she had purchased 13 copies and given them to her book club and asked me if I would attend their next event. I had been so moved that I said yes, of course I would.

The panic quelled when I remembered I used to sell radio and television commercials. I never met a question I couldn't come up with an answer to.  I had been trained to think on my feet. Besides, my fear was better left for how I would ever find my way back to Manhattan in the dark.

And then a funny thing happened. I sat down in the circle of chairs that had been set up in the kind of family room with a fireplace that is not to be found on the Upper West Side and I got my first question. Don't ask me what it was. My memory span doesn't last that long, but I know I answered it easily. As I did the next and the next. And in that room with this group of bright, engaged and might I add well prepared with their questions women, I got it. I really was an author. This is what authors do when not begging for publicity. They interact with their readers, the ones most important to the process. The people they are writing for. They learn things about their story they didn't even know was in there. They get excited when someone tells them their book made them cry and they never cry. They feel joy when they are told their readers loved the characters they created.  They know they have done their job when they are told the family dynamics transcend ethnicity, in essence, you don't have to be Greek to like the book.

I remembered I really was an author and this time I felt it.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

In Gratitude

Happy Thanksgiving to you all!! 

This word cloud  is a sampler platter of what
 I am most grateful for this Thanksgiving.

What are you grateful for this year?

Artwork by moi with a handy new tool I discovered called Wordle
I am grateful for the geniuses there!

Monday, November 21, 2011

My Monday Morning Aha

This is what happens when you go for it. There are periods of intense work. When you feel like you are accomplishing so much, there is just not enough time in the day to get it all done.

Then you stop to stand still because of course you must take a break. Everyone needs a break. I advocate taking a break. But when you try to get going again, it seems you have forgotten where exactly that  gas pedal is. You look at your to-do list for the week and it looks remarkably similar to your to-do list for the week before and the one before that.  Nothing is getting crossed off.  And suddenly you forget all the progress you have made and think that maybe you have accomplished nothing. And you start to sweat. Because of course it is almost December. This year is almost over.

That is where I was this morning. With two feet stuck in wet cement, worrying that if I didn't pull myself out quickly I would be forever stuck in hardened concrete.

So I  forced myself to get to it. I sat at my desk staring at my big shiny iMac, unable to type a word because I had decided I had nothing left to say.  I checked Facebook.  I rearranged the papers and the folders. I checked Facebook again. I wiped away the dust and discovered my egg timer. That magical little inexpensive time management tool I boast about using. And there it was. My Monday morning aha moment.

I hadn't been using that timer.

It was that simple to get unstuck. Make my list. And time each item. Even if I didn't get to cross it off the list, I could check off my progress. The feeling of accomplishment allows for that sense of progress made and for me breeds more accomplishment. All for the price of an egg-timer.

Friday, November 18, 2011

My First Birthday Published

It was around the time this picture was taken I wrote my first story. It was published in the school paper, The Castlewood Times. It wasn’t very long, a few sentences strung together but I was quite proud of my accomplishment.

The little girl in that picture looked at the world with fresh eyes, wanting to know everything about everything, anxious to discover and bursting at the seams with anticipation. She believed there would come a day when she would know everything there was to know. There would be nothing left to learn. She would be that wise. No one told her that wasn’t going to happen. And even if they had, she wouldn’t have believed them.  

There are times in our lives when we stagnate, as though we have reached the pinnacle my little girl self thought she would attain. Then we try something new, stretch out of our comfort zone and we are in awe of how young and alive we feel again. And though we may look in the mirror and not see our younger self, that aura surrounds our being.

That about sums up how I feel on my first birthday as a published author.

My learning curve has been steeper than steep these last months as I dove head first into the world of self-publishing. Every day has served up something new.

So far I have learned:

  • A review or personal note from someone who liked your story, loved your characters and thinks you are a talented writer can set one floating on air for the rest of the day. 
  • Readers discover aspects of your storytelling that will surprise you.
  • People find it very inspiring when you actually do what you have said you were going to do.
  • Some people want you to fail and will continue to point out all the ways success, as an independent author is more difficult than if you were published by a legacy house.
  • More people want you to succeed.
  • Walking the walk of creating change instead of just talking about it makes me a better coach for my clients.
  • I really like being interviewed on the radio!
  • Traditional publishing is trying desperately to hold on to its “elitist” attitude. It trickles down to unexpected places like non-corporate blogs that won’t review your book because it is “too hard to vet self-published books.”
  • Everyone is quick to point out all the not great indie stuff being put out into the world, but not so quick to point out all the not great traditional stuff sitting next to it.
  • People on the “inside” of the traditional world know very little about what is happening in the world of self-publishing. I attended one event where a panelist from inside this bubble announced with 100% certainty that if you published on Kindle you gave them your rights and couldn’t publish anywhere else. (Note: This is SO NOT true.)
  • People adore their Kindles but they are still buying print copies too.
  • Having a sales and marketing background makes this much easier to navigate.
  • Staring at my revenue data trying to wish a higher number reminds me of my ad sales day. (Note: this practice does not sell more books)
  • Amazon and Barnes and Noble reviews, Tweets, Facebook recommendations, PR pitches, and connections do.
  • That just about everyone says they always wanted to write a book and want to know how I did it. (Hint: First thing is you have to write, every day.)
  • That help and support comes from unexpected places.

Do I feel differently, on this, my first birthday officially published?

Yes. Remarkably younger, yet as accomplished as I did that day The Castlewood Times published my story. Maybe even a tad more.

And please, no gifts...okay if you must, then buy a book, or two or three. They make great holiday gifts for your friends and co-workers. Reviews on Amazon and Barnes and Noble are good too, as are Facebook posts and Tweets to your tribe! 

The Secrets They Kept is now available for sale on AmazonBarnes and Noble, iTunes and other on-line booksellers.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Things Happen With Purpose

"Failure is not the opposite of success,
 it's a stepping stone to success."
-Arianna Huffington

I believe things happen with purpose. Even the ugly, awful things. In fact, sometimes it is in those moments of despair and hurt and perceived failure that we are propelled forward to something far better and greater than that for which we are mourning our loss.

Not everyone agrees with me. And I understand why. It's easier not to believe that. It's less painful to take our punches and lay there nursing our wounds, struggling to get past them while we are waiting for the next shoe to drop than to mourn fully and step forward with trust in a power greater than ourselves, that something good, something far better than what we ever could have imagined is just around the corner.

It's a bit of a mind game we have to play with ourselves. Turning around the bad to find the good.  But over time when you can look with 20/20 hindsight you can find your proof, if not in your own life, then in the life of someone else.

I caught up with a friend I knew from my early days in the business last week. She's had a streak of not so great things happen that she was trying to make sense of. Of course I could not help myself but to offer that there was a reason for it all, that at the moment did not particularly look clear. She wasn't so sure.

I invited her to watch this clip of Arianna Huffington's acceptance speech at the Glamour Women of the Year Awards last week, her views on failure and a look at what happened when a man wouldn't marry her.

Do you believe things happen for a reason?
What examples can you cite in your life?

Monday, November 14, 2011

Occupy Wall Street Or Laugh At It?

If you thought this was going to be a blog on my opinion on Occupy Wall Street, flip the page. It's about a book that was sent to me in the hopes of a review with the rather catchy and well-timed title,  Laughing at Wall Street, a treatise on how to get your fair share of the wealth generated by following a few simple steps.

I admit to having a cynical eye toward any of the sundry books out there that profess to have all the secrets as to how you can create a fortune, find true love, write a book, blah, blah, blah. But a glance at the first few pages and Chris Camillo's writing was easy and engaging so I decided to dive in.  Plus having written a book myself, I understand the importance of reviews, good, bad or indifferent.

If having control over your financial future is of interest to you and you have thought about dabbling in DIY trading, I recommend you get yourself a copy. There is no doubt this is an informative book with easy instructions on the basics and lots of resources. There are no guarantees of what wealth you can create but Chris does have an interesting perspective on how to create an OPM (other people's money) fund with which to start. Like stopping the Starbucks for as long as it takes to accumulate a few hundred in spare cash. If the fancy drinks are your downfall, that won't take too long.

What struck me the most in this book was the larger picture of what Chris addresses. He repeatedly points out that all the high priced analysis that envelopes Wall Street on a daily basis, the charts, the trends, and the projections, can still overlook what is really going on in the world and in the case of the market, where the next big hot stock is going to be and where you can reap the benefits.

24/7 Cable News and Internet blogs have us inundated with "experts" telling us what happened, what is happening and what will happen. If we are not careful that leaves us little room to draw our own conclusions, about stocks or anything else of consequence. And if we listen too long, we might even think we have no control over our own destiny.

Chris is an inspiring writer. Whether it is how to increase our net worth or follow our passion in life, the book for me was a reminder that we have the power to take control and make something happen. We live in a time where vast resources and information are at our fingertips and where we can  engage with others on-line and off-line. We must remember to pay attention to what is going on around us, to not rely on stats and analysis alone, to not believe an "expert" just because they say they are, and to the box and out of the box. We might make mistakes and lose a few, but as long as we learn from that we are on our way to creating what we want. And if you follow Chris's instructions, that might be increased wealth.

I don't know Chris's opinion on the Occupy Wall Street movement. I am not sure I know my own. But I do know that when given a choice, I opt for laughter!

 Are you a DIY investor?
Do you rely soley on experts or do you draw your own conclusions?

Friday, November 4, 2011

Surprised? Not Me!

It's been quite a week in the headlines. One hardly knows where to start. The Greek Government is about to collapse. The markets reaction is down then up then down and up again. One can hardly keep track. Justin Bieber might be a father. Kim Kardashian breaks a new world record for most lavish wedding and quickest divorce. My new iPhone's battery has a below par battery life. And then there is my personal favorite, Herman Cain's supposed issues with sexual harassment in the 90's. It's times like this that I am so glad I don't work for a news channel anymore and have to live with the fact I made money off this stuff.

Now I don't often smear (ooh! did I use the word smear?) this blog with discussions about our political leaders or would be leaders but sometimes I just can't help myself. And this is one of those times.

You know what I'm getting to. Herman Cain and the alleged sexual harassment claims.

What surprises me most about this whole thing is that anyone is surprised. This story line is worn.  Politicians of all party persuasion, propping themselves up on camera as holier than thou, church going, family men, claiming to be better than us, when in truth they are as flawed as everyone else. Correction. More flawed. You have to be to live in the delusion that your past is not going to meet your present. Haven't they heard about the Internet and 24/7 cable news?

Now, these are still "allegations." But if I were a betting woman I would say there was truth behind it.

Reason #1.  Any woman who has had an extended stay in the corporate world will tell you that sexual harassment and discrimination still existed in the 90's as much as it did in the "Mad Men" era. The truth is     as much as we don't want to believe it and as  many will try to convince you otherwise, it still does. The biggest difference from what went on years ago and today is that then it was overt and today it is covert.

Reason #2.  Take a look at what Herman Cain stands for. If it's anything, this is not a man who respects women's rights. He doesn't believe in affirmative action, insisting we are beyond that. He doesn't think a woman has a right to make decisions involving her body, even if it was life or death. Unless of course, it is his daughter or granddaughter. In that case they can break the new laws he wants to invoke. But only if they have the money to fund it. And if they don't it's no one's fault but their own.

Reason #3. No story happens out of nowhere. We still don't know all the details, but even if it is only a shred, there is some truth to this.

Reason #4. I'm a big believer it is not always the action itself that is damning, it is how you react. And Herman Cain is reacting as if he has something to hide. His recollection changes from sound bite to sound bite as he points fingers one minute at the "liberal mainstream media", the next at his buddy, Rick Perry.

The big question is not who leaked the story, it's what is the story?  And like my novel, the mystery is why is everyone so reluctant to tell it? 

Hint: We are only reluctant when we don't want the real truth known.

Have you gotten your copy of The Secrets They Kept yet?
Now on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and iBook!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Costume Changes

Ever notice what happens when people put on a costume? It doesn't matter how young or old they are, personalities shift. The range can be from thinking they have license to do all those things they would not do without the costume, to total discomfort and uncertainty as to who they are now supposed to be.

I thought about this whole thing when I was struggling to pull on the black vinyl catsuit I decided I wanted to wear for Halloween. I've no doubt the one wore by Catwoman was a lot more expensive than mine and therefore had a lot more flexibility. I'm also sure hers did not come with that delightful odor reserved for vinyl shower curtains. But once zipped up, I started to giggle. Not only did I look different,  I felt different. I was about to take on the persona of my costume. I wasn't going to the party as the writer, or business coach, or new novelist. I was going as someone different. And what I was wearing was making the difference.

The truth is we all wear a costume, everyday, regardless of whether it is Halloween or not.

I still have a closet full of suits that when I am forced to wear one, I look and feel like the corporate executive I spent many years playing, buttoned up, restrained, having to conform to the rules. I slip on my yoga pants and t-shirt and I am not just headed for the gym, but I am now in my writing costume, comfortable and flexible with which to stretch my creativity. Dinner with mom is not how I dress for dinner with a date. Two different costumes for two different personas. A pajama party with the girls is not the same costume of lingerie I might choose for a sleepover with my guy.

Why do we have these costume changes? To help shift us into the various roles we play in our lives. How many times have you walked in the door after an excruciatingly long day, aching to take off the costume you'd been playing your role in just so you could find the core of yourself again? Sometimes the costumes are fun and others might make you break out in a rash.

The roles you play in these costumes are not necessarily unauthentic. Just parts of who you are. Underneath all the layers, you are still you. The difference with Halloween is you get to be outlandish.

What's your Halloween costume? 
Do costume changes help you to shift into your various roles?

The Secrets They Kept is now available for sale on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iTunes and other on-line booksellers.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Don't Call Me A Slasher !

They’re calling me a “slasher”. And I don’t like it. The word smacks of vampires and comic book villains.  Of which I am neither.

But then I am not much of one for labels in general. Labels denote black and white or red and blue status. Labels alienate. Labels imply there is no gray matter in the world. Labels are our culture’s attempt to fit into a box something that defies the status quo. If you don’t look like, think like, dress like or this case work like me we need to put a label on you.  Preferably something that insinuates just how different you are. Or maybe even squeezing in the labelers personal opinion about what they think of your choice.

Marci Alboher, author of the book One Person/Multiple Careers: A New Model for Work/Life Success has coined this term for the growing number of individuals (myself included) who draw their income from more than one area of expertise. The slash apparently refers to the slash mark used to separate these different jobs. In my case, that would be Writer, Business Coach, Speaker and Author of The Secrets They Kept. Except that I do not use slash marks to separate these parts of my business. I prefer commas. On my business card, I have spaces. That’s the kind of girl I am. I pause. I don’t slash.
Yet “slasher” is the latest in a string of labels used for members of The Gig Economy, those who have opted out of the traditional 9 to 5 job culture. These independent workers, entrepreneurs, self-employed, sole proprietors, freelancers, consultants and now “slashers” earn their living from more than one source.  They are not beholden to one employer, but several. They can sleep until 10AM on a Monday morning and work until midnight on Saturday and no one will fire them as long as they complete their project. They don’t always know when their next check will come in, but they know it will. They plan their own days.  They are the boss of them. They are generally happy people working at what they like and if they are really lucky, passionate about.

All these labels assigned to classify someone who wasn’t riding an elevator to the same office every day used to terrify me when I was still firmly entrenched in my supposedly “secure” corporate job.  They all sounded too rebel like and unsafe. But then that is what labels are supposed to do. Scare. Keep people standing still and not upsetting the apple cart.  Especially when they sound as inviting as “slashers.”

Think about all the unappealing labels attributed when people, especially women break the status quo. A woman dating a younger man become a cougar. A woman marrying a man much older than herself becomes a trophy wife.  A woman owns her sexuality and is on her way to becoming a slut. In the not too distant past a woman who never married was called a spinster. A mother is only called a working mother if she is working outside the home. A woman who asserts herself in the business place and perhaps makes an unfavorable decision is a bitch. A woman who knows and asks for what she wants very specifically is considered high-maintenance.

Do something unconventional and we create a label that implies something is wrong.  

I hear the word “slasher” and I don’t think of a slash mark on my computer keyboard. I picture a dominatrix-like figure clad in leather and wielding knives as she cuts and slices her way to a paycheck.  That’s not how I see myself, not how I want to market myself to a new coaching client, not how I want the readers of my blog or my novel to view me.

I am guessing that Marci Alboher’s intention was not for “slasher” to conjure up an image of a trail of blood left in the slasher’s wake. But nevertheless it has. At least for me. That’s the trouble with labels. We don’t always know what their impact will be.

In case you were wondering I won’t be introducing myself as a “slasher” anytime soon. I don’t think it would be good for business. But I’m thinking it  might make a great Halloween costume!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

No Excuses Not To Come Visit!

I first met Gloria Feldt at an 85Broads breakfast not long after I left the corporate world. I admit to being a bit intimidated. After all this was Gloria Feldt, best selling author, commentator, public speaker on women, feminism, politics, leadership, media and health. And did I mention former President and CEO of Planned Parenthood? How could I not be in awe? 

Gloria and I stay connected in that way that is only possible in the world of Twitter and Facebook. When No Excuses, 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power was published I was riveted. So much so that I wrote a blog on it suggesting, and I quote myself:

"Whether you lean left, right or in between, if you are a woman you should read this book."

What I have learned about Gloria is that she walks the walk. Gloria believes in women supporting women and demonstrates it in her generosity. When she heard I had chosen the non-traditional route of self-publishing she invited me to be featured on her 9 Ways Women Are Doing It blog. Which is where I am honored to be today. 

There is no excuse not to come join me! Just follow this link!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

While You Were Out

In case you haven't noticed we're living in a time where things are changing so fast that keeping up can be pretty exhausting. I needed to slow it down the other day and instead of completely shutting it all off,  I did something old fashioned and decided to read my print version of the New York Times instead of the one on my iPad.

I caught a little blurb in the sidebar,  that four new print magazines are launching next week that will advise business owners how to use social media tools. I know it sounds funny, doesn't it?  Starting new print outlets in this age where supposedly that is dying as fast and furious as the trees used to make the paper.  And all with the purpose of teaching ( translate: making money off of)  those companies that haven't been paying attention the last three years how to use use platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Google and LinkedIn to their benefit.  But apparently, it's true.

The owners, GSG World Media have a website with a big headline "social media's about to get down to business" that I am sure will be chock full of all those things that new media marketers have been talking about on their blogs and in teleseminars for free the last few years while those companies were out doing something else, diverting their attention to things like downsizing their organizations and I am sure hoping this social media thing was just a passing fad.

That's  what happens when real change abounds. The majority of us tune it out, hope it goes away and long for the good ol'days when you didn't worry so much when you left your office about all the "stuff" you would come back to. A time when things like phone messages were written on a pink slip of paper by a human being and email was barely a glimmer in someone's eye.

But sometimes the noise gets too loud and we are forced to pay attention. Sometimes that leaves us behind the eight ball or in this case with the option of paying $7.95 a publication at your local Office Depot.

I am the first to tell you social media will not replace and make extinct all other forms of media, just like FM radio in the eighties did not make AM stations go away nor did cable make people stop watching broadcast. The pie just became more fragmented. Instead of indulging on one big wedge of apple crumb, you can have a sliver and still have room to try the blueberry and the pecan if that is your taste, never changing your caloric intake. Or like me, you can embrace the change, mix up scrolling on your iPad with some good old fashioned newsprint on your fingers  while you search the sidebars for interesting tidbits with which to write a blog.

How do you react to change?
Do you wait until you have to adapt or are you an early embracer?

BTW...Have I mentioned my debut novel, The Secrets They Kept is now available on Amazon AND Barnes and Noble in print and e-book! And please, feel free to use your social media of choice to help spread the word and the book sales! 

Friday, October 14, 2011


Having never had children I don't know from personal experience what happens in those first weeks after giving birth. But I'd think there are some similarities to what I've been feeling since The Secrets They Kept was published. This book after all, was my baby. Instead of nine months, it took seven years.  Seven years of attachment in some form to this story and these characters I had invented, fed and nurtured, breathed life into, let rest for awhile and nurtured some more. And then with a press of a button on a keyboard the placenta is broken and I am detached.

But not really. What mother gives birth to a child and stays separated? 

And then there are all those questions crowding my mind and vying for attention.  Like what do I do now?  I can't leave this thing sitting on a web page on Amazon by itself and think it will survive?   Is it going to be a healthy child or sickly? Why has it taken so long for Smashwords to send files to Barnes and Noble and iTunes? Will it live to a good old age or die young? And then the really big question, am I actually ready to be a mother, I mean published author? No matter. It's too late now to debate. There is a newborn book who needs me.

The book needs press and reviews that will translate into sales. It needs me to guest post and be interviewed to spread the news of its arrival. There is no nanny in the form of a Big Six marketing budget, just me, the birth mother, with a little  help from Facebook,Twitter and her friends, trying to wash away the afterbirth and get on with the business of making sure this baby book lives a healthy, happy and long life.

After all, that's all any mother wants for her child.

Check out  my first Amazon review in which The Secrets They Kept was called an "Excellent Debut Novel!"