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Bringing Your Dreams to Light and Life

One of my Big Dreams came true. I’m a published author.  Although I “knew” this day would come, it didn’t unfold as I’d imagined.

Have you ever wished and hoped for something, and then had the courage to start taking action on it, and then failed a few (or many) times, and worked on getting better and put in more time and effort because, in your bones, you knew this is something you must do–even if it doesn’t earn you a living or recognition–because you can contribute in some small way to the world? 

And then, after all the doubts and fears that you aren’t good enough–all those Who do you think you are for doing this? What makes YOU so special?–filled your ears and then your inner lion roared back that you are indeed worthy and every amazing accomplishment ever done was by a someone (who was once a no one) who did something and why not you

And then one day, that thing–that you wanted so badly and worked for so determinedly–happened. Not just in your imagination, daily visualizations, or dreams. For real. It’s an incredible feeling, isn’t it?

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That’s the path my dream of becoming a published author took. Long, winding, challenging, and in its own time frame.

I’ve written two books before, but you won’t find them anywhere because they never made it past a few drafts. Although I’ve made peace with that part of my history and did grow from it, those “failures” were definitely in the forefront of my mind when I set out to write this current book. This time, however, I was going to get out of my own way. I wasn’t going to let fear and doubt stop me from believing in my Big Dream or taking continuous action toward it.

I had experiences and knowledge I knew could help someone, and it was my soul’s and heart’s wish to give it to that someone. I wrote my book for the friends who know they are meant for something more but can’t see their path. I wrote my book for the strangers I’d overheard venting that they need to change their life now. I wrote my book for the high school and college students who are frustrated because they don’t know what they’re meant to do or be. I wrote my book for the adults who suddenly find themselves living someone else’s life.

I wrote my book for all these people because I was them. In realizing I’d discovered, learned, and gone through things that could help others, I couldn’t keep it to myself. And I didn’t.

As a friend and fellow author, Jai Maa, says: “There are no goals bigger than you. There are only goals that require you to be a bigger you.” I took that encouragement to heart. I hope you can too.

Be big, bold, and bright. Go after what you want. Let no one and nothing stop you. In bringing your soul’s dreams to light and life, you are making the world a better place for all of us. 

To learn more about my book Meant for More: Create Your Dream Life, Plan Your Path, and Start Living It Now please visit my author website

 

Being you and loving it

How to Keep High-Vibe Around Negative People

You wake up in an awesome mood, get ready to take on the day with a song and smile, and leave your home with a spring in your step. Then, something happens. You can’t quite peg when it started, but your energy sags to the floor, your smile fades, and irritation has replaced joy. You morphed from a spirited soul into a prickly sourpuss. What happened?

People, usually. Everything is made up of energy–that includes us–and whether you realize it or not, you’re affected by the energy of those around you. Ever met someone and felt immediately at ease? Or stood next to a person and felt a kind of force field around them that made you want to run in the other direction? In both cases, you were responding to that individual’s energy.

smiling-french-bulldogIn order to do something about negative vibes, you have to be aware that your energy and well-being are being adversely affected. If you suddenly have this uncomfortable energy and you don’t know why, ask if it’s even yours. Who have you been spending time with? What was the positivity level of the topics and how did the conversation make you feel? Although it doesn’t matter as much to identify the source as it matters to notice the shift in energy, being aware of when and how you encounter negativity can help you avoid people who are repeatedly downers. On the flip side, it’s valuable to notice who makes you feel really great!

Let negative energy go. It sounds much simpler than it is in practice, but once you’re aware of your energetic downturn, stop it in its tracks. Sometimes slapping a smile on your face can jolt you out of your fledgling funk, but other times, more action is necessary. (See below.)

Employ negativity zapping tactics. When you sense negativity, or know you’ll be entering a potentially negative environment, you can use the techniques below.

  • Visualize a bubble of white light around you. See it as a protective shield that will block any negative energy. This imagery isn’t “magic” but what it’s doing is putting you in the frame of mind that you have control over how others affect you…or not.
  • Imagine your heart energy radiating around you 360 degrees. See its radius growing farther and farther, past the room you are in, the building, the city/town, the state, until it’s bigger than Earth. When your light energy is this expansive, any problems or negativity seem dwarfed and powerless in comparison.
  • Have one of these uplifting essential oils handy: Peppermint; lavender; lemon, orange, or grapefruit. Depending on the essential oil company’s guidelines, you can apply a drop to pulse points, warm a few drops between your hands and inhale the fragrance with deep breaths, or add a drop to a glass of drinking water. Note: Citrus oils make your skin sensitive to the sun, so exercise caution if ingesting or applying the oil to your skin. 
  • Speak up. If someone is dumping their bad day on you, you can let that person know in a kind way that you aren’t in a place where you can take on their issues. Or you can change the subject to something more uplifting. Or you can listen to their concerns without taking on their energy. If an energy transfer does happen, take some time to revive yourself. Blocking energy drains energy, so practice self-love.
Citrus in jar with vodka

Citrus-Infused Vodka

Citrus in jar with vodkaI adapted this creation from Marcus Samuelsson’s recipe for Aquavit for holiday gift-giving several years ago but never got around to posting it.  The recipe was such a hit and so amazingly delicious, it would have been a shame to keep this under wraps any longer. 

I never attempted to recreate Samuelsson’s original recipe, so I don’t know exactly how my infusion differs from his.  All I know is that my version is dangerously good!

Samuelsson has a great thing going with his Aquavit, but I made it a bit easier for you.  Fresh mandarin oranges, kumquats, and kaffir lime leaves aren’t always readily available–at least in the Northeast United States–so I did some ingredient swapping.  I used clementines instead of mandarin oranges, but navel oranges and tangerines work too.  Instead of kumquats, I substituted the flesh of lime to get that tangy/sweet flavor.  Lime peel (just green part, no pith!) took the place of kaffir lime leaves.  Another tip: You don’t need to go with expensive vodka, as the infusion flavor is so strong, but do choose a decent potato-based one.  

citrus in jarsAlthough this recipe takes very little time to prepare, it does take planning…the infusion won’t be ready for a week or two (give it a taste after 1 week to see how it’s developing).

Before you run out to collect your citrus, make sure you have a very large glass jar or two, whatever can hold around 3 quarts (or 12 cups) of liquid.  I had to use two jars.  Make sure they are thoroughly sanitized.  That goes for the citrus too.  Don’t store the jars in the kitchen or other areas that get too warm.  I used a nice cool corner of my closet to store the jars.

The resulting liquid will be a vibrant yellow and looks striking in a glass bottle. If you plan on gifting this tasty spirit, find some nice bottles you can sterilize. I’ve used apple cider vinegar bottles, 1800 Tequila bottles, maple syrup bottles…so many options. You can also return the infusion to the vodka bottle for serving at home.

Recipe for Citrus-Infused Vodka

For syrup

  • ½ cup filtered water
  • 1-inch piece ginger, peeled and sliced – Using the edge of a spoon is a simple way to peel the ginger and wastes less than using a knife.
  • ¼ cup sugar (turbinado, sucanat, or whatever you have on hand)
  • 2 small limes (or 1 large lime), peel only – You want the green part of the peel only.  A peeler provides more control and you get larger, easier-to-strain pieces than if you use a grater or microplane.

For citrus infusion

  • 2 limes, cut into 6-8 wedges
  • ½ of small lime (or ¼ of large lime) flesh only, cut into 4 pieces – Remove remaining peel and white pith from lime used in syrup recipe above.  Use any remaining lime to squeeze in the water you’re drinking…You ARE drinking water, right? 🙂
  • 1 pink grapefruit, cut in half and then sliced to ¼-inch thickness
  • 1 orange, thinly sliced to ¼-inch thickness
  • 1 lemon, thinly sliced to ¼-inch thickness
  • 2 clementine oranges (or tangerines or navel orange or mixture), peeled and divided into sections
  • 1 liter potato-based vodka

Combine water, ginger, sugar, and lime peel in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove syrup from heat and let cool.  Drop fruit into clean 3-quart glass jar.  Add syrup and vodka.  If using two jars, divvy up fruit, syrup, and vodka between them.  Screw top on jar and let sit at room temperature (or cooler) for 1 to 2 weeks.  Pour infusion through mesh strainer into different container to separate fruit from liquid.  Discard solids.  Pour infused vodka back into original bottle using funnel.

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I just called to say I love you

In the summer of 2015, I lost both my grandfathers within a month. The hole in my heart mourned the absence of two dearly loved role models. However, I was grateful. Grateful that their deaths were not unexpected, and that I’d had the opportunity to say what I needed to before their souls left this earth. The lesson that stuck with me was the importance of having no regrets. To not leave any love, affection, admiration, gratitude, or compliments for another day. To say them NOW.

Sometimes it may seem strange or excessive to express warm and fuzzy feelings. We may worry the other person will be confused or weirded out, or that we’ll look too sensitive, emotion-full, or out of character. [Our egos are such divas and worry-warts, aren’t they?] Now, I’d rather let others know how talented, valued, and extraordinary they are. Leave no kind word unsaid. Because you never know. 

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That summer taught me to tell people how much they mean to me, as often as I can. I didn’t want it to take a health scare or death to prioritize what’s important in life and to me. Since then, I’ve made it a point to share gratitude and compliments–to start conversations of caring–which has strengthened my relationships with family and friends. Maybe it’s my perception, but when you decide to freely communicate from your heart, there can only be deeper connection and understanding as a result.

Some people don’t know (or forget) how you feel about them or the positive impact they’ve had on your life. Maybe your words are just what they need to hear. In any event, receiving love and care feels amazing! If they ask you for a reason, you can say, “Just because,” and leave it at that. Or tell them your philosophy if that’s comfortable. Maybe you’ll inspire them to spread the love.

There’s no time like the present, or rather, there’s no time other than the present.  The moment is really all we have. So I urge you to tell someone today how much he or she means to you–by phone, text, email, or (better yet) in person. Let’s have no regrets or wasted opportunities. Be the one who brightens someone’s day. In the process, you’ll end up enriching your own as well.

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The Paralysis of Perfection

Have you ever had a juicy goal or dream that went nowhere? Maybe it was because you couldn’t get past the perfect ending you envisioned. Getting stuck there is largely thanks to the hoards of mental critics that magically appear when you’re about to do something you’ve never achieved. They instantly perk up and fill your head with refrains of: “How are you going to do this?! You’re not ready! Who do you think you are?” They readily supply you with a constant stream of evidence of your imminent failure. That you aren’t smart enough, you don’t know the right people, you don’t have enough money, you have no clue what you’re doing…anything and everything is game.

In short order, you’ve talked yourself out of something you passionately wanted to do. You haven’t taken one step, but in your mind, you’ve pinpointed and played out all the ways you’ve already failed. Your dream suffered Death by Doubt.

Waiting for the perfect moment doesn’t get you anywhere. I’ve missed out on opportunities and experiences because I let my fear of “doing it wrong” stop me. I’m now in that camp that believes it’s better to have tried and failed than to never try and be left with a dreaded “What if?” Waiting until you’re completely prepared and ready will paralyze your dreams…because that time hardly ever comes.

Please don’t misunderstand me…I’m not advocating running headfirst into life without any consideration. This rally cry is for those who have a tendency to be too thoughtful, too cautious. It’s for the Type A personalities and perfectionists. You know who you are.

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I chose this picture I took in Utah as an example of nature following through with her desires without worrying about a perfect ending. This twisted specimen is not what we normally envision when we think of trees. I was grateful the trees had carried on despite whatever challenges and odds they had faced…and there had to be a few. Each tree had a massive goal, and it succeeded in my opinion, but in a way that couldn’t have been predicted.

Nike was spot on with its iconic slogan, “Just do it.” The thing about “just doing it” before you’ve got it “all figured out” is…at least you did something. There are only three things that can happen after you take a step toward your goal:

  1. You fail. Maybe even worse than you could have predicted. Now you know what doesn’t work, and knowledge is power. If you still want to pursue that goal, you can brainstorm another tactic or try again with a refined approach based on lessons learned. If you figure out that your awesome goal wasn’t as awesome as you imagined, great! You can move on, with more perspective in your pocket. 
  2. The result is what you expected or hoped for. Yes! You know what works and can continue. Rock on!
  3. The result is crazy successful, beyond what you thought was possible. Major celebration time! You see that the only limits are the ones you put on yourself. 

Remember, most of the success stories you hear are about a victorious end result following many failures. If you have a passionate desire, a dream that won’t leave you alone, a juicy goal that excites you as much as it scares you…take that first step, no matter how small.

Do your absolute best each step of the way, and let go of whatever is out of your control. Trust yourself, trust Life. Celebrate your courage to feel the fear and do it anyway. Remember WHY you are reaching for this big, scary, audacious ending. Let that vision light you up and keep your fire burning. But just DO something.

What better time to start than right now?