Time To Go! Your New Start

It's time! Yay! Your new beginning is here.

It’s time! Yay! Your new beginning is here.

The final part of our New Beginnings Series!

Done with that! Well, sort of…

When the mists of crisis finally begin to clear, how ever do you find your equilibrium and breathe new life into your dust-covered dreams?

First, congratulations! You’ve made it through either a busy season in life that was a big distraction, or perhaps a complete change in lifestyle that required your full focus for a while. Whatever brought you through, take a moment to celebrate!

Hearts lifted!

It’s time for your gratitude to overflow. You may be more weepy and sensitive or still require a bit more rest. This is your permission card to indulge in something restorative for you. Whether it’s been a season of life and death situations or something hard you’ve pressed through, take a moment with loved ones to rejoice you are here.

Writing the climax

When writing a novel, there’s always a big climax of action, where as an author you think of the worst thing that could happen to your protagonist—the one that would bring you to tears—then you do it to them! It creates the most lovely tension and sweeps your audience through to the glorious, nail-biting end scenes.

It’s not so different in real life sometimes, too. You’ve survived and been put through the press. Hopefully you’ve found your North Star, and a sense of faith, to bring you through. I cherish mine and create space to let it grow and revive after surviving the hard corners of life.

Now’s the fun part!

Revisit your goals, resources, and schedule.

Go to a quiet spot with your goals in mind and pick through them once more, making sure they still apply. If so, super, you’re ready to move forward.

Infrastructure needs change when life changes. Make sure your organization is on track. If it needs tweaking, then plan to phase that into your overall goals. It is such a relief to be focused and finish one thing at a time. It relieves stress, too, not to feel responsible to do it all at once.

Do you need to change the scope of your goal? Or are you in race-form now and ready to run? For example, I find I need to get up in the early hours to really complete a large writing goal. Organizing happens better for me in the cooler months when it’s not 100 degrees outside. I can write new creative work when the kids are in school, but only try to plan editing during the summers. You may need some time to find your rhythm and cycles.

Keep the attitude of “I get to” rather than “I have to.”

If your crisis has added permanent change in your life, take time out now and then to accept and adjust. This is so important with medical matters and if your family depends on you as a caretaker. Make sure you take care of yourself, too.

Begin the experiment!

Start with close-in goals and try to select one overarching priority. Communicate it clearly, as well as the potential rewards, with your family and loved ones. Once you have their buy-in work out a schedule that makes sense and you’re ready to launch. Guard your mindset and choices. Inevitably, exciting distractions or emotionally-draining situations will try and bust into your focus. Don’t let it happen, or adjust if it does sweep you away for an afternoon! And most of all, be elastic in your outlook. You’ll need to see this as an experiment and stay open to new possibilities.

Change eventually will seem more of a friend, less of a threat. Know you can persevere and have optimism again. And give hope to someone else who’s entered the valley. You already know the way through.

Whether it’s starting a new painting or constructing a building, you have my best wishes for your new beginnings!

Image courtesy of Serge Bertasius Photography at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Press Through The Net

When the worst happens, it doesn't mean your dream has to die. Being flexible will be key in those times.

When the worst happens, it doesn’t mean your dream has to die. Being flexible will be key in those times.

Part Five in the New Beginnings Series

Crisis hits!

Just when you’re making progress on your dream project, the one you’ve secretly carried in your heart for years, something nasty happens. Maybe it’s a car crash, a great loss, illness, or an accident. Or it’s just an overwhelming amount of good things all calling out as a higher priority like sports and family commitments. Phew! It’s almost enough to make you quit all together.

I’m afraid it’s also a sign you’re doing something great and need to consider putting your plans on temporary hold for a while if necessary.

This has happened to me numerous times over the years. I’ve signed up for a project with writing or publishing, and there’s a medical emergency with someone I love or some other interruption that’s truly important. I’ve learned not to let my dreams die, but to just put them on hold temporarily if need be. There’s a difference.

Some examples from our life:

  • I came up with the “big idea” for my books, went to a writers conference and was in discussions with a significant opportunity when I received a call my son had broken his leg. I flew home immediately and then spent a whole summer in a heat wave tending to a young one in a body cast (and no air conditioning, and still no home of our own from the fires).
  • I was selected to participate in a high-end writing clinic, which was a year-long program. The day after I agreed, my husband had a stroke and was in hospital and rehab for months. I was the main caretaker, and driver, for all of us for several months helping get us back on our feet once more.
  • When Joey was born he was in and out of hospital for months with breathing difficulties and on monitors. The very day he came off the monitors and was declared healthy, my husband lost his job and next came months of searching and praying for the right match.
  • The list goes on…

Even recently, I lost my voice for almost three weeks and had other hassles that delayed my new website development about a month.

It’s frustrating. It may even be grueling right now. I so get it. But here’s my main point:

The crisis does not define who you are, and it doesn’t have to kill your dream.

The key when these things happen is to remember there will be an end. The crisis is important but does not define who you are at your core, and the idea isn’t bad just because circumstances suddenly became more complicated.

Keep pushing on, knowing your endurance will produce something beautiful. It might even help you break free on some other level you never could have expected. You need to keep moving forward, without giving up. It reminds me a lot of this scene in Finding Nemo:

Crisis ends, now what?

Next week I’ll give you some hard-earned lessons about how to get back on track. For this week, know you aren’t alone and your ideas can be put on simmer and still bloom in another phase of life if necessary.

Hope this is encouraging! Please share your feedback and experiences here, too. They are welcome.

Find Your Updraft

Have you watched a hot air balloon suddenly be caught in a gust of air and soar up higher? Look for that updraft in your life, too.

Have you watched a hot air balloon suddenly be caught in a gust of air and soar up higher? Look for that updraft in your life, too.

Part four of the New Beginnings Series.

And How I Became A Gemologist!

So you’ve been working diligently to understand your deepest desire, gotten infrastructure in place to support a move, and watched for open doors. Perhaps you’ve just stepped through one and aren’t sure what to do next. That’s the key moment to look for an updraft, a shift coming your way to accelerate your change in direction.

What is an updraft?

Have you every watched a hot air balloon suddenly go very high in the air, as an invisible current of air brought it to new heights? That’s an updraft. And with some hope and a prayer, keep your eyes open for one at a critical juncture in following your dreams.

We live in a part of the world in San Diego where almost every night, during certain times of the year, hot air balloons fly overhead, sometimes nearly grazing our roof. Often we can to yell “hello” to people on a tour. It’s the strangest sensation to be cooking on the grill and hear the “cshhhhhh” as they let in more heat to rise higher. It’s interesting to watch as they master different air currents, and sometimes are caught by surprise by a sudden updraft that lifts them way too high and the driver must compensate.

An updraft may seem miraculous. Don’t fight it!

I remember when I had to stop writing full-time due to an injury. I was devastated. It was time for a major “do-over” requiring going back to school. After absorbing the shock and taking time to say goodbye to my old career, I made a decision. In the second chapter of my work life, I was going to do something with my creative side. So after some soul-searching, I decided to look into being a museum curator. I interviewed at several museums and was dismayed to have many closed doors in a poor economy at the time.

Right in that darkest moment, with another closed door and interview at the Palace Legion of Honor in San Francisco, I was attending a workshop my mother that included a luncheon. We were in a beautiful glassed-in room with surrounded by gorgeous gardens, and tall trees outside. We ordered our lunch and sat at a large round table. Soon a group of women asked if we could share some seats.

They were very outgoing and obviously all friends. Being courteous, they asked what I did for a living, and I had to answer I was in transition. And, as of that morning, being a curator wasn’t going to work out. They asked if I knew what Gemology was and went around introducing themselves to me. The whole table was filled with gemologists! One worked for Tiffany and Co., another traveled often with a suitcase of rare gems handcuffed to her, another was retired and did appraisals at her home, the next was a designer, and one more worked for a high-end family-owned jeweler. That one caught my eye, and I related how I’d actively studied geology for years but never thought of making a career out of loving rocks or gems!

Right at the darkest moment, I was surrounded by possibility! Intrigued, I interviewed and found the industry to be in a growth pattern. I studied at the Gemological Institute of America and became a Graduate Gemologist and worked for a wonderful high-end jeweler in Dallas, Texas. But I never would have considered that career without a divine push toward possibility. That was a significant “updraft” in my life, and I often think of it as a miracle, too.

Have you looked for a new avenue or direction and found something amazing right around the corner?

One thing: you won’t find it sitting still.

Take note that I didn’t find my path while just waiting around. I was actively seeking direction when the right answer was put right in front of me. So after listening to your heart’s inner push, ask yourself what you can do to take action and try out a new direction. I’m hoping an updraft will come your way this week to make a difference. And I’d love to hear about it, too!

Image courtesy of pat138241 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Coming Attractions!

It’s going to be a few more weeks before the launch date is announced, but this week I’m taking a brief break for a video blog with hints about what you can expect.  And if you subscribe now to my website, BEFORE the launch, there will be additional benefits with the upcoming giveaways. Oops, well, one hint already!

Next week we’ll continue the New Beginnings Series, focusing on waiting for your updraft. For the original series blog, check Five Tips for a Resilient Fall HERE.

So what part of the series have you been working on so far? Outlining your dreams? Taking time to think through priorities? I’ve been working hard on infrastructure. We got so inspired, we started to demo a room. EEK! More on that soon. And did you ever notice when you’re learning a lesson in one area of life, it seems to spread into others? How’s it going? Would love to hear from you.

Hope you enjoy!

Adapt to Open Doors

Being ready to walk through open doors requires adaptability and flexibility at key moments.

Being ready to walk through open doors requires adaptability and flexibility at key moments. Photo: Image courtesy of basketman at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Part Three in the New Beginnings Series

One of the special moments in pursuing your dream is when unexpected opportunities land on your doorstep. Sometimes they come at the craziest moment, when you’re tending a sick one, or mid-stream in another project on an entirely different subject. Has this ever happened to you? How did you respond? Were you rigid in sticking to your schedule or flexible enough to let yourself be open to possibilities?

I’ve learned it’s important to pause and give special attention to the moment. Okay, the laundry may back up. And perhaps some other commitment has to be moved, but my writing mentors have given me sage advice that when you’re waiting to see what the next step is, look for the largest open door and go through it. Sometimes it requires letting go of the reigns a bit, and stepping on the high wire of a new direction. Sometimes it’s so quiet no one else but you will notice, like when a leaf falls from the tree and dangles in the breeze before it brushes the ground to rest.

Recognize the feather

I remember the white feather in the movie Forest Gump, which, when it landed, seemed to bring a season of abundance to a family that dearly needed help. And later the end scene, when things are set to rights, Forest has made his fortune and endured sorrow, and has a young son who’s on a sure path, then the feather drifts back to the sky, perhaps on a path to bless someone else.

Have you ever had that “feather moment”? Maybe it’s a timely phone call from someone with an idea, a teacher willing to help your child today, or an unexpected advocate for your favorite cause or business. When those moments happen, try to be flexible in other areas. For example, I’m a day late with this post due to an unexpected media opportunity this week. Exciting, but “something’s gotta give” and don’t miss the bigger opportunity by being inflexible.

Factor in forgiveness

Part of being flexible will require give and take from others in your life that believe in your dream. It helps me to remember this at the outset, and almost pre-forgive myself for not being able to do everything. Some other corner of life will indeed gather piles while the dream is pursued.

Faith involves a listening heart, ready to respond to today’s priority and I’m very mindful of this. That lesson was hard-earned with family in the hospital and the day-by-day existence on the wisp of hope in darker times. In happier times, the same emotional muscles of faith involve pressing forward when all you know is you have to complete this task because it’s very important in the long run. More than perfect roses in the garden or a fetching social calendar. More than perfect hair and nails. More than any attempt at perfection (which can’t really happen anyways). On the flip side, sometimes even your dream has to be put on hold for a day when loved ones need more attention or the laundry indeed MUST happen, or people in your life want to be fed well. By factoring in forgiveness, your element of elasticity will improve greatly.

Build in shelves  

This week when I had a sudden media opportunity to be filmed on my computer, we realized I needed a better backdrop. Luckily my husband was home and we had already bought the shelf to keep behind me for times like this, with a few meaningful items that relate to my platform or books on the background. We dropped everything, hung the shelf, spruced up a bit, and were ready in under 30 minutes. That’s teamwork! But that’s also my wonderful family recognizing that when the special opportunity arrives, readiness is key. Or willingness to do the most to embrace the possibilities is our family motto. As parents, we do this regularly on a smaller scale when a friend invites them over for a play date or they’re in a special activity that requires more driving and juggling carpools. Just remember, pursuing your dream is no different and it really helps if everyone is on board and “at the ready”.

Upcoming exciting news:

THIS FRIDAY – I’m speaking to San Diego ACFW about HOT TOPICS from the meetings in Dallas! Check my author Facebook for details HERE. Come join us for a luncheon and time to share ideas, too.

In the next weeks, I’m planning to have:

  • My first giveaway (anyone signed up on the blog will be entered, tell your friends!)
  • Launch a super new website (you’re the first to know!!)
  • Celebrate our eight-year anniversary from the wildfires
  • Bringing together a fun, entertaining, and informative YouTube channel. Subscribe to get updates HERE.
  • I’m bringing together all the great things I’ve learned in the last year to make things more helpful and provide a great web page for teens and tweens too. I’d love to hear what you most want to see and wish your kids had available to them.
  • Preview the trailer for my new website! (The one for kids)


More fun here:

Making of the feather scene:

Build Your Infrastructure

One of the keys to creating your new beginning is planning well to build the infrastructure.

One of the keys to creating your new beginning is planning well to build the infrastructure.

Part two in the New Beginnings Series

Have you ever watched a bridge or large building being built? First they dig the supports and pour the concrete. Then steel girders or other firm supports are raised as the building slowly goes in place. But before any of this, there were intricate blueprints and other planning involved so it wouldn’t topple over.

Building an infrastructure, or supportive systems, to allow you to attain your goal is such a critical step in making a new beginning. If you don’t do this part right, when you reach high for a goal, your foundations might be shaky.

Right now I’m planning some fun surprises and new infrastructure for my broader goals to help others live more resilient lives. What did that look like? An investment in key courses to shore up and enhance my understanding of some aspects of marketing and publicity. Attending a wonderful writer’s conference with substantive training available to answer specific questions. Now that I’ve done my homework and either contracted with or researched how to do it myself, it’s time to take steps to take my dreams from two to three dimensions in a new way.

It’s exciting and a bit daunting at the same time to jump in and make it happen, isn’t it? Let’s walk through some key elements together.

Outline the scope of the dream.

Break your dream into five-two-one–year segments, three months at a time put it into a planning system to work out the “what if’s”. The scope of your dream will help you imagine the grid you need to build, as if you were planning the routing in a new city, where the streets would go, the subways, the buildings, and homes, and parks. If you need resources to help with this, I highly recommend Marcia Ramsland’s planning techniques. She offers courses that help you outline your dreams and break them down in a way that makes sense and takes the intimidation down to simmer, and raises the temperature on possibilities.

Assess your strengths and weaknesses.

Acknowledge what you’ve done well and what’s needed to take you to the next level. If you don’t know the answer, attend a conference or read a book about the subject. Find an expert to follow on line and build up your repertoire about it before going forward. One of the best lessons I’ve learned is that I don’t have to be an expert on every subject. But I do need to be a great researcher to be able to pinpoint resources for where I need to go. Many people try to skip this step but it’s critical. It’s like setting out for a cross country trip without any directions. Allow yourself the freedom to map out things.

That saying, if you don’t take aim, you’ll never go anywhere remains true, doesn’t it?

So now you’ve got a firm idea of the goal and your plans in place. Now for the fun part.

Organize your plan.

Perhaps I heard a groan here. Let me help with some motivation.

Have you ever driven a car that has one tire on low? And then felt the difference once it was balanced out? Your reward for good planning and getting organized will be a sense of feeling more balanced and capable of pushing forward. You will feel lighter and have a renewed optimism. Depending on your goal, you’ll want to find resources to help shorten your path forward, with writers we look for methods to outline and build a schedule and characters.

I am not a master organizer. However, I have learned how I approach a project. Here it’s wise to learn your style – slow and steady, out like a rocket but peters out fast, or whatever way you work the best. Think back to school days, did you cut a large project into little pieces to accomplish daily or set aside whole days to complete it? Work with your natural temperament and you’ll feel much more adept at figuring out your patterns. I’m a morning person so try to be creative in those time slots, and do editing and other tasks later in the day. I also am a project person so prefer to work hard in spurts and then change the pace for a season.

I hope these thoughts have helped you get ready to dive into your dreams once more. Stay tuned for two more posts on this topic and I’ve listed a great resource below to help you on your way. I’d love to hear how it’s going, too!


Marcia Ramsland, The Organizing Pro here.

Image courtesy of Simon Howden at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Understand Your Dreams

Where will your dreams take you? What if life's put up road blocks? They can still come true.

Where will your dreams take you? What if life’s put up road blocks? They can still come true.

Part One of the New Beginnings Series

My son told me first thing he’d had a wonderful dream where his favorite story came alive, and he was able to fly and get special powers. You should have seen his ear-to-ear smile. I love watching a dream come true. And really, I’m so grateful for your support here too. For you’ve been watching my dream come true.

There’s a popular song about turning ashes to beauty. I’ve been having memories of a photo I wish I’d taken, of helpers after the fires that found my manuscript with crispy, burnt edges and said I should have kept it. That day, after we lost everything, I thought my dream would surely die in the aftermath of loss. I was using every ounce of strength to get by and protect my family—how or even when could there be room to grow a dream once more? I felt the same with loved ones threatened in the hospital and my own challenges.

Would the dream die?

Somehow, amazingly, it hasn’t.

With a breath from above, it’s grown. After years of planning, I’ve finished a novel, am working with my great agent to find the right launch pad, and am gearing up to bring you meaningful resources for not just hope among difficulties, but help equipping this generation and the next with an arsenal of tools to combat difficult issues common in puberty. And to encourage moms and grandparents alike in helping their families to thrive.

I’ve communicated with people from all across this country and in many more on my site and our family’s gratitude website (fun videos my kids have made here: MakeUsSmile.com). It’s embarrassing that it took so long to say thank you to American Airlines, American Express, and Macy’s, who gave us and other fire survivors helpful discounts. And all the people who made a difference. More thank-you’s to come.

So how do you keep the dream alive through the bumps in life?

Is it sheer tenacity that keeps you going? Sometimes, yes. But if you are called to do something, a path forward can be recovered if you find your voice, set the course, and pick your goal.

Find your voice – first, you must detail the dream. Go somewhere quiet, bring a journal or your computer, and just write. Write from your heart. Pour out that dream as if a close friend was right next to you and listening intently. Give yourself permission to put it to paper. That alone will be a relief if you’ve kept it tamped down for some time due to preventative circumstances.

Set the course – look into classes or resources to help those first steps. If it’s long-term goals, set some gateposts along the way. I took many classes and was mentored by wonderful writers. I still take classes to improve social media or other things I need to learn. Keep learning and set each component as a goal. Eventually you’ll gain traction and won’t feel alone in the process.

Pick your goal – you’ve done your homework, checked in with your heart, and brought the right resources to bear. Now pick that ONE big goal out. Yes, the one which has shined through all others. And move aside distractions or things that aren’t as fulfilling for a season. Give yourself permission once more to scale down other areas to let the dream take form and flight. To finish my novel, I had to scale way back on other commitments. I feel I must complete these books, and it’s important to do so. You may have to get better at saying ‘no’ to make the one ‘yes’ possible.

Bless you on your journey! I’d love to hear from you. And Happy Anniversary, one year ago today the website was launched. Thanks for joining the ride!

I’m heading to ACFW in Dallas this week, so hope to see you there! Watch my social media for updates, too.

Image courtesy of tungphoto at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.