The Importance of Love by Jane Merrow

This year is the 50th anniversary of ‘The Summer of Love’ festival, celebrated in San Francisco. But times have changed in the Western world since the festival began. The hippies have been supplanted by yuppies and the openhearted generous message of hope, seems to have been transformed into a more cynical, selfish, ‘what’s in it for me’ ideal, with people retreating behind the walls of money and technology. Love really is the one dynamic emotion that glues human culture, our humanity, together. Without it our world and we, who live in it, are nothing. We can be side tracked by money, power, religion, etc. But all the seductive messages that entice us are, without love, meaningless in the end.

I am an actress who has been fortunate to have a long and productive career. Back in the early days of BBC TV, when we were working in amazing dramas, almost non-stop, I played Julia in a BBC production of Orwell’s ‘1984’. The scene that resonated most for me is when Julia smuggles the note to Winston, which says quite simply, ‘I love you’. Orwell ‘got’ the dystopian society that seems to loom in our future. It is no accident that love fills most of our finest literature, plays, films, and music. Its enduring presence has inspired the greatest artists, writers, composers…all the creative minds.

In a world of increasing isolation where so many of us live in fear, in gated communities, worried about walking the streets, a terrorist attack, suffering online bullying, unable to talk to people, too busy to sit down and have a real conversation, love seems to be getting lost. We hear about children self-harming, old and disabled people who are shuffled into homes, lonely and unhappy, displaced people, and refugees, the list goes on. Humanity seems to have lost its way and forgotten about the power of love. You may say, ‘what’s different? We have seen it all before.’ Modern technology, however, is exacerbating the situation. When presidents are elected by social media; when love affairs are conducted through text messaging, which becomes nothing but quick, mindless coupling, without love, we need to stop and think. We must find each other as fellow human beings again, and very soon, before this kind of disengagement becomes the norm.

Hope for the Future

I am an optimist. I believe love is not lost forever, just misplaced. We will come to our senses and reach out to each other properly as fellow human beings. A world of carelessness, selfishness and indifferent communication cannot survive in the long run. The word love is not a sound bite, a “message” on Facebook, or a tweet. It is a deep and complex emotion, part of our DNA. As such, we must let the ‘Summer of Love’ return and remind us all of its importance in our lives.

About the Author:

Jane Merrow is a classically trained, Golden Globe nominated actress, trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. She has had a variety of roles in television, film and on stage. She has had starring roles in movies such as The System (U.S. title – The Girl Getters) opposite Oliver Reed. She played Alais in the film The Lion in Winter, co-starring with Peter O’Toole, Katharine Hepburn and Anthony Hopkins, which earned her a Golden Globe nomination as Best Supporting Actress. Her recent films include Almosting It, opposite Lee Majors. In 2016 she appeared as Lady Macbeth on stage at the Groundlings Theatre, Portsmouth, U.K.”

In addition to acting, in 1995 Jane began writing and producing for television and feature films. She co-executive produced The Inspector Pitt Mysteries for A&E and ITV and developed three feature film productions with screenplays by David Seidler, Julian Fellowes and the Reunion by John Caine, OBE. In 2009 she began production on New Chilling Tales, a continuing series of short Gothic films, adapted from the great classic writers. In 2015 she wrote, produced and appeared in Cougar, a short film, which won awards at several U.S. festivals.

Links:

Websites: https://www.janemerrow.com

https://www.newchillingtales.com

http://www.reunion-the-film.com

IMDb: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0581457/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jane-merrow-5842a616/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/seejaneact

Twitter: @janemerrow

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in guest blog posts do not reflect those of the blog host.

Do We No Longer Know How Much Is Enough? by James North

As baby boomers, many of us were admonished throughout our adolescent years and then as adults to plan and save for the future in order to be able to stand on our own two feet. I translated this to mean, if you are able, you must work hard and provide for your own future—your own security. That advice seemed quite sanguine and occasionally proved its worth by the things that happened to people around me that left them struggling, without enough. Nevertheless, for many, if not most of us, these admonitions often went unheeded, particularly in our adolescent years and sometimes into early adult life. So if the words, “live like there is no tomorrow”, or “live life to the fullest” spring from the past and are echoing inside your head about now, you know what I mean.

Despite these epic and often short-lived “devil-may-care” episodic attitudes, most of us baby boomers, and no doubt a good many Generation Xers, can recall the excitement of our first job. It was an opportunity. The money was usually “small potatoes” and getting it was frequently the result of a newspaper route, a part-time job at a local market, yard work for a neighbor or a summer job that involved more physical, backbreaking stuff. Still, we earned it and the feeling of entitlement to things we wanted were inextricably linked to those earnings. Putting in our share or buying it outright were the only ways we got the things we wanted. We were content, at least until we were struck by the desire to have something else. For me, having money I earned in my pocket created a sense of pride. It was to some extent, freedom. I earned it, so I’ll do as I please with it!

I reflect on those things and make the following observations because today in the developed world the concepts of having enough and what I call excess surplus (hoarding) have merged and are now conjoined with unwarranted expectation and a sense of entitlement—the belief that the things we want can be acquired with minimal work and sacrifice, or no work at all. This disturbing phenomenon has been evolving and observably on the rise for several decades. It now appears to be growing at a quickening pace—spreading a toxic cloud that is raining poison on our values, threatening to condemn mankind to a moribund state.

As we watch, we see the abandonment of important concepts and the blurring of lines between that which we as human beings have long judged as good or evil, honorable or dishonorable. We can find many examples of this skewing of distinction, particularly if we look at the way in which opportunity and opportunism have become all but synonymous in their interpretation and acceptance. Frightfully, the latter is now tolerated behavior. In fact, it is not only accepted, it is expected. It is seen at nearly every level of human interaction—within families, schools, universities, social circles, in the work place and increasingly among countries.

The question is, how do we put human beings and humanity back on a safer track and stop the world from descending into an abysmal place—a heartless, uncaring, greed-filled, unsympathetic and egregious place, without empathy and where everyone is bent on pursuing opportunism instead of working to create opportunity? In other words, how do we determine when enough is truly enough? How do we create a more stable and less aggression-filled world? To answer these question, I suggest we start with the person we see daily in the mirror. But to sustain any effort toward progress in mitigating the effects of opportunism and greed we should ask, “What am I doing to prepare those who must continue to make these changes?”

Can A Person Ever Change? by Swan Morrison

swan-morrisonI was employed as a mental health social worker for very many years. ‘Can people ever change?’ was a question I was sometimes asked. I never came to a definite conclusion about that. I have, however, observed a related phenomenon: I have seen lives turned around when individuals discover an activity that inspires them and for which they develop a passion. This might relate to a different career path or a spiritual calling. Alternatively it might be a new creative direction. The common feature lies in finding something that adds a new meaning to life—something that awakens previously untapped elements of a person’s true self.

I remember experiencing such an enthusiasm when I gave up a career as an engineer to work in mental health. I recall the feeling fading, however, after I accepted more senior positions and discovered, too late, that being a manager was not an extension of my previous role but a totally different one—one for which I was never suited. It was at this point that I began to write and discovered a pursuit that re-engaged with the person that I felt I was inside.

This was a theme in my first novel, Judgement Day, which saw a number of its characters escape the narrow constraints of their everyday lives to discover surprising new facets of their own personalities. I was heartened when this book gained the silver medal in the humour category of Dan Poynter’s Global Ebook Awards in 2016.

If I could go back in time and speak to myself at age eleven, I would tell myself to follow my interests, follow my instincts and be brave when the world around wanted me to be someone else. Sometimes during the past fifty years I have done that, but far too often, however, I have not. At least now that I am retired, I have been able to reflect and take my own advice.

I have now published five books: three collections of short stories, a novel and a novella. I have also learned to sing and to play guitar and ukulele. In addition, I have turned my garden into a vegetable allotment and, in a voluntary capacity, resumed direct work with people who experience mental health issues.

If only one could turn the clock back—but also make use of subsequent wisdom. It is probably no coincidence that the forthcoming sequel to Judgement Day, called Until the End of Time, explores exactly that idea.

About the Author:

Swan Morrison is the pen name of Brian Huggett. Brian lives with his wife and a cat named Blackie in Hampshire, England. He has been publishing work on the Internet and in print since 2001. In 2006, he created the Short Humour Site at http://www.short-humour.org.uk for comedy writing of around 500 words.

All profits from the writings of Swan Morrison are currently donated to charity.

Links:

The Short Humour Site: http://www.short-humour.org.uk/

Amazon Author Page (US): https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00N7VGMFQ

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/shorthumoursite

Websites for Swan Morrison’s books:

The Short Humour Trilogy: http://www.short-humour.org.uk/writersshowcase/The_Short_Humour_Trilogy.htm

Deep Black: http://www.short-humour.org.uk/writersshowcase/deepblack.htm

Judgement Day: http://www.short-humour.org.uk/writersshowcase/judgementday.htm

 

The Great Communicator by Gilda Evans

Gilda EvansWhat makes a great communicator? President Ronald Reagan was known as “the great communicator.” Was it his skills as an actor or politician that afforded him this moniker? What are the qualities that help get your point across and make people take notice?

When people think about communicating, usually the first thing they think about is talking. In my opinion, talking comes second. The thing that really facilitates positive and productive communication is listening. Active listening, where you are truly paying attention to what the other person is saying. Also, listening with an open mind and keeping your ego in check go a long way towards creating a bridge rather than a moat. When you listen to someone you offer them a kind of validation, respect and consideration. And people who receive these things are more likely to give them in return. Even if you don’t agree with what the other person is saying, you can still respect their opinion and “agree to disagree” as the saying goes. Who knows? By the time the conversation ends you may find that your opinion has changed. But if you don’t hear what the other person is saying, how will you ever learn the things that change that opinion or, at the very least, be able to respond intelligently?

When the time does come to do the talking, remember that it’s not only what you say but also how you say it that often makes or breaks things. Your tone of voice, the words you choose and the way you couch them will make all the difference as to how they are received. Again, this is where keeping your ego out of the equation plays a vital role in the success of the conversation. Here are some guidelines that I feel make the communication process much easier:

  1. Never try to communicate in the heat of the moment. If you’ve just had an argument or if one of you is in a bad mood, continue the conversation at a later time. Unless it’s life or death, a few hours or even a day won’t matter.
  1. Never play the blame game. Pointing fingers never solved anything. Rather, seek solutions to the issue at hand.
  1. Be prepared to say, “I was wrong” and “I’m sorry”. There is no shame in that. On the contrary, it takes a very strong and confident person to make that kind of admission. And it’s amazing how much of a positive effect it has on the outcome of the situation.
  1. Offer opinions instead of judgments. Your way is not the only way. And someone else’s might be just as good or even better than yours.
  1. Express your feelings instead of your anger. If someone hurt you, tell him or her. Give them the chance to make amends. Giving them your anger will only make them defensive and shut all lines of communication down completely.
  1. Give advice if it’s asked for. Otherwise, inquire whether it’s wanted before you throw it out there. No one likes to feel bossed around.
  1. Use the words “please” and “thank you” a lot. Your mother always told you those were magic words. She was right.

That’s not to say you’ll never have an argument or that every conversation will go smoothly. But if you follow these few simple guidelines, I believe that your conversations will be more productive and positive, and arguments will be much fewer and further between.

About the Author:

Gilda Evans is an experienced wife, mother and bon vivant extraordinaire who started her first business while in college which she later sold to embark upon a career in entertainment. After nearly 15 years in the media, she willingly left behind her role as writer, producer and director at such venues as CBS, HBO Warner Brothers and Showtime in order to devote herself to her family. Later, while still in search of the ‘happily ever after’ that had eluded her, Gilda decided to share her experiences with followers on social media and the S’LIFE series was born. She is also working on the first installment of a Young Adult novel series.

Subscribe to Gilda’s Blog and Author Updates at www.gildaevans.com

Gilda is currently seeking high schools and organizations that are interested in participating in a pilot project for her book, S’LIFE, Slices of Life for Teens, prior to publication.

Links:

Official website: www.gildaevans.com

Other links:

www.Facebook.com/gildaevansauthor

www.Twitter.com/gildaevans

www.LinkedIn.com/in/gildaevans

www.Pinterest.com/gildaevans

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in guest blog posts do not reflect those of the blog host.

Research that Keeps Critics at Bay by Jane Risdon

IMG_4969On several occasions, recently, I’ve been asked to provide my expertise to authors whose books have featured characters in the Music Industry – I’ve worked in the International Music Business for most of my adult life – and it got me thinking about my own writing and areas where I’ve been in need of ‘expert’ advice. I write crime stories and sometimes they venture into the hazy world of MI5 and MI6, and although I can call on my own experience back in my distant youth when I worked at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in Whitehall, London, limited though it might be, I still need to clarify details and exactly what each part of the British Secret Security Services does. Of course I can always delve into their websites for general information and it is now possible to contact their Press Offices who are happy to work with authors. I’ve also been fortunate enough to have met a retired Detective Chief Inspector – also an author – on Facebook, who has been kind enough from time to time to answer my many question about police procedure.

It is important as writers, especially crime writers, to get our facts right when telling a story which may well involve the investigation of a particular crime. And, as I mentioned earlier, I’d been thinking about my knowledge base and how to expand it for some time. Late last year I was lucky enough to discover the answer. I found several British Universities offering on-line courses in various aspects of Forensics – fantastic. Just what I was after. Somewhere I could educate myself at my own pace at home. Since starting my first course – Human Identification and Forensic Science – which introduced me to the world of clandestine burials and the identification of skeletal dismembered remains, which I and the other students managed to eventually identify – using the most recent methods of facial reconstruction, DNA and Anthropology – working as part of the Forensic and Police investigation of a missing person, I have undertaken two further courses.

The second course I’ve completed was an introduction to Criminal Justice and Forensic Science. I learned about the complex world of DNA profiling and Fingerprint analysis and researched many criminal cases where miscarriages of justice had been discovered and how convictions had been over-turned and the role played by Forensic Science in obtaining evidence and solving crimes. It was a real eye-opener I can tell you.

The third course I’ve completed recently, Forensic Psychology: Witness Investigations, has been fascinating and has made me realise just how we cannot always believe our own eyes and memories. During this course I and the other students worked alongside the police in the investigation of an armed robbery and we (virtually) sat in on the interviews with witnesses by two detectives. One used old fashioned methods investigating the case and conducting interviews, getting the witness to tell their story, often with prompts and leading questions using Photofit pictures of a selection of potential suspects and a physical line-up to identify the suspect. The other detective conducted their witness interviews using the latest methods – neuro-psychological techniques – to question the witnesses, allowing them to relate their story uninterrupted and not prompted, and using computer generated images of faces where the witness was able to move the eyes, nose and lips etc. to build an image they felt was closest to the suspect they’d witnessed. This method helped solve the case faster, more accurately, and didn’t lead or suggest anything to the witness.

Now, armed with my new knowledge and basic understanding of how to investigate a crime, make an identification of a skeleton from basic anthropology and forensics, right through to getting a witness to a crime to relate what they saw more accurately, I am more confident in my crime writing. Those authors for whom I was a musical consultant tell me I gave them that same confidence. Keeping things real and accurate for our readers. Most important for me as a writer and also as a reader. I hate finding inaccuracies in crime stories I read and I hope my readers won’t find any in mine.

Bio:

Jane Risdon has spent most of her adult life in the International Music Business, managing songwriters, musicians, singers, and record producers with her musician husband. Always longing to write she never had the opportunity until a few years ago when her husband’s former fan-club secretary, ex rock journalist, and now award winning author, Christina Jones, urged her to take the plunge. Since then Jane has become a published author with Accent Press and has contributed to various anthologies as well as co-writing with Christina. Their novel is due out later this year. Jane is also writing a series of novels, Ms Birdsong Investigates, about a former MI5 Officer who finds herself investigating a missing woman and ends up tackling Russian Mafia and Ukrainian people traffickers in rural Oxfordshire.

Links to books and more:

Blog: http://wp.me/2dg55

Facebook: www.facebook.com/JaneRisdon2

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Jane_Risdon

Accent Press: http://www.accentpress.co.uk/jane-risdon

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B00I3GJ2Y8

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in guest blog posts on this website do not reflect those of the blog host.

Life’s Peaks and Troughs by James North

James North_Author_DEEP_DECEPTIONHave you ever wondered why your ability to capitalize on the growing momentum of some important undertaking or effort waned and eventually evaded you, just as you were on the verge of monumental success? That undertaking might have involved positioning yourself for an opportunity to propel your career forward and upward, completion of a personal project or activity, or some other endeavor that had you bursting with satisfaction about the prospect of success. Sure you have, as have most, if not all of us at some point in our lives. But if this has happened to you many times you may begin to think, as an American cliché goes, it’s your destiny to always be “a day late and a dollar short.”

Each time it happens you feel as if the golden chalice that was just within reach and the swell carrying you toward it, like the one that evolves into the peak of the big wave the champion surfer catches, petered out and you ended up in the trough behind it. Do you hold on to those experiences? If so, collectively they can be soul destroying—particularly if you saw your competitors or rivals just ahead of you, riding the peak of the huge wave while you fell back and got left behind.

If you answered “yes” to each of the above questions, you are still “crying in your soup,” but you are not alone. I can tell you from experience that success, despite the nature of the goal(s) you set, is rarely experienced consistently. What I have learned is that nearly all efforts in life are, metaphorically speaking, like waiting for the next wave. The trick is to get into position—in the right place—to capitalize on the next wave’s momentum.

How many times have we all heard the cliché, “it’s all about timing”? Countless times I would venture to say. Beware! That cliché suggests leaving success up to fate. Sometimes we must take charge and make opportunities by creating the next wave or at least learn precisely when to catch the right one. If you read the extraordinary stories that forged the lives of highly successful artists and entrepreneurs like Yvon Chouinard (outdoor industry businessman/Patagonia), Mary Kay Ash (Mary Kay products), Lee Iacocca (automobile developer/executive), Sidney Poitier (Oscar-winning actor), Michael Dell (Founder of Dell Computers), Sam Walton (Walmart), Maya Angelou (award-winning author/poet), George Lucas (Oscar-nominated filmmaker) and others, you will quickly discover several important traits they all possessed: ingenuity, drive, tenacity and commitment.

So, it’s up to you. If the outcome you seek is one that is truly worthy of the attention of others and you believe they will want to be part of or benefit from it in some way or another, you’ve eliminated the first obstacle. Now it’s a matter of figuring out how to let them know about it. If you are simply waiting to ride the next wave, you must study wave activity and develop a strategy that puts you in the right place to take advantage of the next one’s momentum and get on it. But as you set out to create or catch the crest of the next big wave, keep one thing in mind: “Quitters never win and winners never quit.” Here’s to your future successes!

Why a Dog? by Margaret Mizushima

DSCF4389_pp Low RezAuthors are often asked what inspired their characters. My debut novel, Killing Trail: A Timber Creek K-9 Mystery, has three primary characters and one happens to be a dog. My husband is a veterinarian, and his work inspired the development of Cole Walker, DVM. But Deputy Mattie Cobb and her dog Robo were inspired by more serendipitous circumstances.

When our children were young, we decided to train our Rottweiler, Ilsa, in search and rescue. We live in Colorado, and occasionally children become lost when hiking or camping in the mountains, so my husband thought it a good idea to have a dog that could find our kids if this happened to us. We joined a group of volunteers who worked in search and rescue and trained dogs together.

We would set up tracks in incremental levels of difficulty, always providing treats and celebration when a dog discovered a person at the end. The dogs loved it. Ilsa showed great potential, and soon the whole family—kids included—enjoyed playing hide and seek with her. Fortunately, neither of my daughters wandered away from our campsites during our weekends in the wilderness, so we never had to test Ilsa’s skills under more serious conditions. But it planted a seed for developing a dog character later in my life.

A chance meeting with a retired K-9 officer named Beth led to the development of my character Deputy Mattie Cobb.

My mother worked as a public health nurse and while on the job, she met and became friends with Beth’s mother, also a nurse. When Beth came to visit, her mother brought her to Mom’s house to introduce them to each other. Beth and her German shepherd Robo had retired from the police force, having both been injured in a warehouse explosion which also deafened Robo. My mother invited them into the living room where Beth sat, and Robo assumed a body-guard-like position at her feet. For the entire visit, he stayed alert and on guard, staring at my mother. She said she was afraid to approach Beth even to offer her a cup of coffee.

By the time I met Beth, Robo had died of old age. Beth let me shadow her while she trained dogs for tracking and evidence detection. She shared stories of Robo’s prowess, and he must have been an exceptional K-9 partner. She gave her permission for me to use his name in my series, and many of the skills that the fictional Robo demonstrates—like searching for narcotics, evidence, and missing people—came out of these interviews with Beth. I’m fortunate and grateful to have been able to meet her.

These life experiences inspired me to write about a dog, and time spent with Beth led to writing about a K-9 partnership in particular. Since then, I observe police dog trials and training whenever possible. These dogs and their dedicated handlers never fail to amaze and impress me. They can often be found standing together on the front line of duty, facing danger as a team.

About the Author:

Margaret Mizushima is the author of Killing Trail: A Timber Creek K-9 Mystery to be released December 8, 2015 by Crooked Lane Books. After earning a master’s degree in speech pathology, Margaret practiced in a hospital and her own rehabilitation agency, and now she assists her husband with their veterinary clinic and Angus cattle herd. Her short story “Hay Hook” was published in the 2014 Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers anthology Crossing Colfax. She enjoys reading and hiking and lives in Colorado on a small farm where she and her husband raised two daughters and a multitude of animals.

Contact information:

Facebook: Facebook.com/AuthorMargaretMizushima

Twitter @margmizu

Website: www.margaretmizushima.com

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in guest blog posts on this website do not reflect those of the blog host.

Will You Choose The Correct Fork In The Road? by Kim Gosselin

TSES Business Photography-1Everyone comes to crossroads in life, a fork in the road if you will. At one point in my own, I found myself at a dead-end where all that I knew was gone. My vision for the future was not to be. In an instant. Tick-tock. Quickly, like a second hand on a clock. A new normal was in store for me and my family from that day forward.

To the left were tears leading me down a pity path. To the right I felt magical whispers of wind wafting through my hair. Somehow, scents of leaves beneath my crinkled nose. Colors of orange and copper splayed across a sunlit wooden bridge beneath the weathered limbs of hanging trees. Cross it and everything would be okay if only I believed it to be true. Yes, please, choose the correct fork in the road.

Metaphors of my life from over twenty years ago when my children so young were diagnosed with chronic conditions. The above shaped much of who I am today. Like my children, I had to change too, and surprisingly became a writer. If not for the two of them, I never would have written a single word.

Had I ever thought of writing before my children became diagnosed with a chronic condition? Did I know what I was doing? Certainly not. At the same time, nothing could have stopped me back in the 90’s. Passion drove me like never before. I prayed every day for God to guide me on the right path, for my words to help others through paper pages.

How I wish my children could have ridden bicycles while licking dripping popsicles.   Or, gone off to birthday parties to steal real crumbs of chocolate cake off colored paper plates! That would have been a true dream come true for me. Yet, in all of their little lives, it was never to be. No, God had other plans for us.

My little boys who once played with toys are now grown. They will always be blessings who helped make positive differences in the world. I thank God for holding my hand to choose the correct fork in the road.

About The Author: 

*Kim Gosselin has written sixteen children’s books and published twenty five titles to help educate children about chronic conditions and/or special needs in a fun manner. She is about to release her first book in fifteen years, an e-book entitled Babies of Two, soon to be available on Amazon.com.   Kim is a wife and mother of two grown sons, living in St. Louis, Missouri. She is a grandmother to five little ones ages three and under, including baby twins. 

Contact Information:

Website: http://kimgosselin.com/

Blog: http://kimgosselinblog.com/

LI: linkedin.com/in/kimgosselin

Twitter: https://twitter.com/realkimgosselin

Facebook Blog Page: https://www.facebook.com/kimgosselinblog

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003375543650

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in guest blog posts on this website do not reflect those of the blog host.

Keys to Life by Earl Chinnici

Earl ChinniciHave you ever wondered how transformed your life could be if one small detail of your past had happened a little differently? It seems everyone occasionally entertains such thoughts. I suppose it is human nature. And isn’t it funny that we often blindly envision how life could be better, not considering how it could be worse? Sometimes, however, our eyes are forced wide open, even if only for a moment. What you are about to read is my unadulterated recollection of one such time. Where I was going I cannot recall, but the trip was unforgettable.

Checking my watch to verify that I was running late, I then rushed to grab my keys from a hook on the wall as I headed toward the front door of my home. Apparently, I was in too much of a hurry. I fumbled and gravity took over. “Great,” I thought, “what’s two seconds when I’m already running late?” I knelt to retrieve the keys and then persevered, locking the door behind me. The next six and a half miles of my journey were utterly uneventful.

“Please turn green,” I said aloud as I approached the first of two busy intersections between my home and my destination. Nearly stopping about fifteen feet short of the crosswalk, I was glad to see the traffic signal mercifully comply. As I accelerated and started through the intersection, a four-door sedan from days gone by passed immediately in front of me like a whirlwind, missing my car by mere inches. Shocked and trembling, I stared at the green light I had abruptly stopped under as my mind replayed the dropped keys and the close encounter. A loud and persistent horn soon sounded behind me, urging me to get it in gear. Wiser and more cautiously, I continued along my path. Life isn’t a race, you see. You don’t need to be in a hurry to cross the finish line.

About the Author

Earl Chinnici launched EarlsHelpDesk.com in 2008 as an extension of his home-based computer repair shop. In 2011, responding to a subtle suggestion of a friend, he overcame severe addiction to tobacco cigarettes gradually and began writing his first book, “Maybe You Should Move Those Away From You.” Earl asserts that he has also overcome his habit of talking to traffic signals.

EarlsHelpDesk.com

Facebook Author Page

Facebook Business Page

Twitter Profile

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in Guest Blog posts on this website do not reflect those of the Blog Host.

Out With New Year’s Resolutions by Yolanda M. Johnson-Bryant

Yolanda Johnson-BryantI’m willing to bet that like me, you’ve made countless New Year’s Resolutions over the years. Did you resolve to lose twenty pounds? Did you resolve to go back to school or did you resolve to find love? I’m sure any resolutions you made back then were out the door by the time Valentine’s Day rolled in and like many of us you were left disappointed, goals unachieved and outright defeated. It wasn’t until about a decade ago that I realized that I was going about it all wrong. I’d like to share a few tips that will help you jumpstart your renewal. So, throw out the notion of resolutions and focus on realistic transformation.

A practice that has worked for me over the years is writing down my goals. Today, we have so much going on: taking the kids to soccer practice, going to the doctor, taking care of our ailing parents, work, writing, raking the yard, etc. You name it, we constantly shove “things” into our schedule. Things that often times leave our most important tasks undone. We begin filling important time with frivolous activities. Soon, what begins to happen is we forget those important tasks, those things that are important and essential to our well being, our goals.

I encourage you to purchase a paper journal or use the electronic gadget of your choice and start writing down your goals. When writing down those goals, be very clear and specific. For example, If you want to obtain another degree, write this on the board, along with your action plan. It should include each step, the date you will start and the resources you will use to get there. Will you earn the degree online or in-residence? Will it be done in the daytime or evenings? Once you’ve mapped out the specifics, choose a finish date or time frame. Finish in three years is too vague. You might want to use a specific date or time frame, like June 11, 2017 or “right after my three year old finishes pre-school.” I find that this makes my “goals” and “life changes” more realistic and writing them down where I can see them and refer back to them is more of a motivator for me to get them done. Lastly, I suggest adding a reward at the end of your goal. How will you reward yourself for achieving this goal? After you obtain that degree, will you purchase a new car? Will you start your own business? Find something to celebrate your achievement.

Lastly, create a vision board. I have fun with my vision board, and although it changes yearly, it has helped me create, visualize and achieve many goals. If you’re not familiar with vision boards, I invite you to “google” vision boards or visit Pinterest for great examples of them. Your vision board can be any size you want it to be. I have a large office, so my board is large. What do I have on my vision board? My dream car and home, that plan for my breakout business, a photo of myself, Photoshopped twenty pounds lighter, 5K dates, and a picture of a “NO OCD ZONE,” because let’s face it, some of us have those tendencies. This is only a few of the many goals and future achievements I have on my vision board and I enjoyed creating it.

In closing, I strongly encourage you to do away with resolutions, as they will only set you up to fail. Obtain a journal and write down your goals, again, being specific and detailed. Create a vision board so your goals are more visual and make sure your board is somewhere in front of you where you can see your goals on a daily basis. A daily reminder of what I’m working so hard for always makes me smile and want to work harder toward those goals. 2015 CAN be your year. It’s up to you!

Yolanda M. Johnson-Bryant is a writer, publisher and consulting entrepreneur, and resides in North Carolina. She is the President of Bryant Consulting and owner of Literary Wonders Media Group. Yolanda has published several books and articles. Visit her website at yolandamjohnsonbryant.com or tune in to her weekly radio show at blogtalkradio.com/ontheairwiththatliterarylady. Follow her on Facebook at facebook.com/yolandajohnsonbryant and on Twitter at @ymjauthor.

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