Shape Your New Year / Shape Your Life

First off . . . are we really heading into 2015?!? How did that happen? Yowza.

IMG_0960I think New Years Eve is my favorite night of the year, and New Year’s Day my favorite day. Why? Because they incorporate two of my favorite activities: reflecting on blessings and preparing to receive more.

I also read recently that resolutions can improve our lives, so there’s another bonus to the whole transition thing; however, concentrating on outcomes vs. processes has been speculated to be the best way of not accomplishing those goals. For example, instead of “I’m going to lose 15 lbs,” it’s better to say, “I’m going to start going to the gym four times a week.”

Our approach to life essentially works in the same way. If it’s all about the outcome, the task at hand can become too daunting. Take writing, for example. If I set out at the beginning of a novel thinking, “I’m going to write a book,” it’s far more overwhelming than, “I’m going to write 500 words a day,” or “I’m going to create two chapters a week.” Little bits eventually accumulate into one great big one.

Consider each year to be a chapter. Let’s think about the things we’d like to see happen over the next 12 months and write a little bit each day toward them. And by “write,” I mean take some form of process oriented action that can move us forward.don't know

We can’t let the big picture keep us from using our cameras!

Besides, concentrating on outcomes can be limiting. Be open to new potential directions and let the results fall where they may.

HAPPY NEW YEAR, Y’ALL! May each of us move through our next chapter with an ample supply of creativity and health.


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I lived in Canada at this time last year and was able to drive “home” for Christmas. A seven hour drive, mind you, but able to drive nonetheless. Peaceful and breathtakingly beautiful, I marveled at the sun shining down on snow laden evergreens, making each limb glisten and practically wave at me as I passed by. I arrived just as the sun made its slow decent in the western sky and Bing Crosby launched into my favorite song of the season.

What’s the practical thing to do at that moment? Well, set your iPad up on your dash and record the event, naturally.

Sharing my 2013 arrival home (ignore the rolling stop and occasional speeding, but note Timmie’s on the right, Canada).

Wishing each one of you a joyous and gratitude filled Christmas.

See you in the new year, my friends!!

The Perfect Present

Here we are. That time of year again. Time to figure out what to give everyone on our Christmas lists. The masters of marketing are ramping up their efforts to bombard us with the latest toys, gadgets and extravagances. I actually saw a Lamborghini in a showroom window with a bow on it just last week. Really.

christmasgiftboxI love giving. There are few feelings quite so gratifying as getting just the right thing for just the right person. It’s joyful and far better than receiving. I often wish that I could give something to humanity as a whole.

Well, here’s a thought: Maybe I can, and maybe you can, too.

Are you aware of the fact that the greatest gifts any of us have ever been given are our talents? That each one of us, whether we’ve identified them or not, were given some unique abilities that are just ours and no one else’s? It’s true, and it’s a damned shame if we don’t try and regift at every opportunity.

You may have a talent that you’re fully aware of but afraid to share – that one thing that comes easily to you and brings you joy. Know that sharing it will also bring joy to others and make floating around on this blue and green orb all worthwhile. And, like a lot of bullies, fear will back down if you confront it, anyway. It’s secretly wimpy that way.

Regift your talents and abilities this holiday season. If you want to put a bow on your head while you do it, I say, CHEERS!!

Merry Christmas, everyone, and may 2015 see you expressing the truest version of ourselves.

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Thankful For Gratitude

Have I always been grateful? I can’t say as I have, but I have never been ungrateful either, if that makes any sense. I’m learning that genuine gratitude is something that comes from a place of conscious effort. Not being ungrateful is something that – in and of itself – can be taken for granted. It’s a state of being, so to speak, like being healthy or even employed. Actually acknowledging, “Hey, I’m healthy,” or “Look at me. I’m employed,” shifts the state of not being ungrateful into one of active gratitude.

IMG_1302I recently attended one of Oprah’s “Live The Life You Want” weekends in Houston, TX, and I literally left feeling changed – as did many of the other men and women who filled the Toyota Center. I’d heard the gratitude message before – even from Oprah herself – but this time it hit home, and I’ve been consciously shifting my perspective since, and with amazing results.

Something magical happens when you stop striving to have and simply strive to be. When it becomes blatantly clear that all you need is right here, right now, your heart overflows, and you begin to feel more fulfilled. Great word, that one: full – filled.

I’m thankful for so much this Thanksgiving: My family, my friends, my health, my work, my apartment, my fridge full of food, my tank full of gas, my plants, my stories, my laugh lines, my toothbrush, my socks, my pillows, my nail file . . . well, you get the picture. Everything. Every little thing. Genuinely.IMG_0441

Take your “not being ungrateful” to another level. See not only the loss of, or the absence of, but – instead – the joy of having had and the presence of abundance that exists now.

I wish each one of you – who I am also grateful for – a joyous and happy Thanksgiving.

Another great word, by the way: Thanks – giving.

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Thank-you, Red City Review!

Control Switch by Leana Delle

5redstarsS51LOOde11DL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_ince high school, Candace Bradford has been offering advice to anyone who would listen: stop procrastinating, start exercising, remain calm in tense situations.  Now that she has a just-released book on the market and a radio show airing weekly out of Chicago, people are definitely listening.  It seems that thirty-something Candace has achieved her single greatest dream in less time than she could have imagined.  But despite her bright future, Candace’s success comes with a price – at the very moment when her career is poised to take off, she comes under the hold of a strange illness, the ramifications of which could tear her carefully constructed world apart.  Candace makes a quick decision that could save her life while simultaneously ruining her marriage to Ross Simpson, a hunky, hot shot lawyer with a severe competitive streak and a burgeoning workload of his own.  In an effort to protect Ross, Candace lies about her health, preventing him from having any influence in her decision-making process.  Ross becomes irate when she finally fills him in on the situation, walking out on their already-troubled marriage.  Even so, Candace can sense that there is more to Ross’s reaction than he is letting on.  The real question is, can Candace keep her crumbling career together long enough to figure out what he is hiding?

Control Switch is an unerringly enthralling read that rolls out a well-written narrative and addresses key social themes at the same time.  First, there is the issue of being a successful female in a male-dominated work environment.  Delle’s protagonist is adamant that she have control over her own life, but sometimes that right is unfairly hoarded from hardworking women.  Second, Delle writes about a convincingly troubled marriage that ails because a couple feels the need to fight over things like finances and the relative success of either person’s career.  With a unique premise and engaging conflict, Control Switch asks tough questions that deserve answers.

~ Red City Review


He Stood On Guard For Thee

I write this blog from the perspective of a Canadian American. Yes, I’m considered to beFlag-U.S.-Canada both, having immigrated to the US in 1997 and obtaining US citizenship. Throw in a brief return to Ottawa in recent years, and I can tell you that I feel equally as much one as the other. I’m truly blessed to call each of these fine nations “home.” It’s today, however, that I feel closest to my birth country.

Those of you who know me know that I spend as little time watching the news as possible. I see it as nothing more than a fear generating machine manned by variations of Barbie and Ken, spouting off their latest “RUN FOR THE HILLS!” version of propaganda. ‘If something important arises,’ I tell myself, ‘I’ll hear about it.’ And hear about it, I did.

On Wednesday of this week, Cpl. Nathan Cirillo was gunned down while standing guard – unarmed – at the tomb of the unknown soldier in Ottawa. The gunman, who does not deserve to be mentioned, then proceeded to enter Parliament where gunfire erupted. For those who have never visited Canada, know that this is far beyond shocking.

I’ve become accustomed to living in the US. I’ve learned to accept the fact that we are loathed by some, which makes us the constant target of radical extremists. That became a harsh reality on September 11, 2001, while I was living in Portland, OR. Prior to that, for me anyway, it felt like we lived in a kind of Never on our soil, blissful numbness. That’s now long gone.

CirilloI have found myself in tears several times over the last few days. No, I didn’t know Cpl. Cirillo personally, or his family, but the Canadian people are my family, and I ache for the harsh reality that they now face.

I knew it was only a matter of time, given the current state of the world, but – still – I literally wouldn’t wish the end of “Never on our soil,” on my worst enemy. It has been said that the demise of a belief system is the most difficult personal challenge of all. One would have to assume that this also applies to a culture.

Canada has always been an open, generous, loving, peaceful and accepting culture – all reasons to be proud of the country from whence I came. I cried this week, because they will literally – now – have to “stand on guard” and make efforts to partially close their ever open arms. I cried, because I lived the shift after 9/11, and – sure – one guy compared to thousands may not seem comparative, but the aftermath of disillusion has potential to be. Nothing will ever be the same.

Cpl. Cirillo did stand on guard for us, and he did it unarmed and open to embracing people from all over the globe. Isn’t that the reputation of Canada, itself? Could it be that the gunman who performed this horrific act was determined to hit us at our very core?

I dreaded the day that Canada would have to face the harsh reality of extreme hatred, but I pray that all are aware that their neighbo(u)rs to the south feel their pain, and, if something good is to come of this, which I’m already seeing evidence of, it’s an undeniable sense of unity, brotherhood and determination.

“We will not be intimidated,” chimed Prime Minister Stephen Harper. No – you won’t – and I’m proud to be part of the true north. Shall we forever remain strong and FREE!

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Every Monarch Deserves A Long And Joyous Reign

I moved to San Antonio from Canada in 1997, and I can distinctly remember my initial awe at witnessing a sky full of monarch butterflies. I was confused by the site initially, having monarch sightings 2012seen monarchs all my life in southern Ontario, but I’d been naive regarding their life cycle and migration patterns. Not only did I not expect to see them in Texas, but the vast number of them astounded me. Hundreds, more like thousands, working their way across six and eight lanes of aggressive Texas traffic. It was a jaw dropping.

But all the way from Canada to Mexico?’ I asked myself. Yep – all that way. A trip that few would make by car.

I had occasion this week to take a road trip through central and eastern Texas, and I got a glorious reminder of my first autumn mexico-butterflies-monarchs-1_24999_600x450in San Antonio. There they were again. Pockets of monarchs struggling their way through 75 mph traffic. Not even close to the number I remember seeing seventeen years ago, which saddens me, but enough that every few minutes I’d cringe at the thought of hitting one. I hit two, and I mourned. The rest, which seemed to fly right about windshield level, got caught up in the air current and whipped over the top of the car into safety. I suppose this phenomenon occurs, because they weigh – ah – nothing whatsoever.

All I know is that few things inspire me as much as these little creatures on their annual mission. At a stop light yesterday, I watched one maneuver his/her way through the intersection. Flap, flap, flap, flap, glide. Flap, flap, flap, flap, glide. Repeated motion, and for thousands of miles! Fragile and vulnerable little bodies accomplishing the seemingly impossible.

I admire, respect and truly love these blossoms of nature – and I’m grateful for them. Grateful Photo-from-Mexicotoday.org_for the reminder to appreciate beauty and to keep repeating our own version of flap, flap, flap, flap, glide. Sure, some of us will hit obstacles on the way to our destinations, but most will arrive simply by staying the course.

How can we help these little treasures replenish their numbers and continue their inspiration? It’s simple, really. I urge you all, especially those in the north, to watch this video and provide our butterflies with a much needed place to rest – and reign:

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